Sports Shorts: Panther cagers host Vikings Dec. 4 in home opener
Although it has been a while since the Euclid Panthers and the VASJ Vikings have faced each other in football, the neighborhood rivalry is alive and well on the basketball court. In fact, Euclid will be hosting the Vikings in its home opener Dec. 4. This year, both squads will feature players who were standouts on their school’s respective football teams—Euclid’s Chuck Bradford and the Vikings’ Clinton James.
Coach Andy Suttell’s Panthers open their season the night before, Dec. 3, with a road game at Lorain. Other Euclid home games in the early part of the season include: Mentor on Dec. 10, Cleveland Heights Jan. 7, East Tech Jan. 15, and Willoughby South Jan. 18.
Bob Mullin, head wrestling coach at VASJ, is optimistic about the prospects for his matmen this winter. “We have a really solid lineup coming back,” he said, although he was unsure when Phil Wellington would be ready to compete. Wellington qualified for state at 171 pounds last year. This year he might move up to the 189-pound slot.
Currently rehabbing a knee injury incurred during a summer “open mat” match, Wellington should be ready for action by mid-season, Mullin expects. “By then he should be in great shape.”
The Vikings have six returning Division III district qualifiers, several of whom are products of the CYO wrestling program begun several years ago at Holy Cross (now Our Lady of the Lake). In addition to Wellington, the “Super Six” include: Mato Vunak (119 pounds), Ryan Gallagher (145), Kawmae Sawyer (171), and a pair of 215-pounders: Di’Ante Jackson and Tim Harrison. Also among the returning starters are Chris Pokorny (125), Paul Rini (160), and heavyweight Ed Basemore.
Coach Mullin anticipates scheduling a February meet with Euclid.
Euclid Athletic Director Steve Hardaway reports that Panther volleyball coach Tamika Drake has been named the Lake Erie League’s “Coach of the Year,” chosen by her fellow coaches. This season, Coach Drake notched her first-ever volleyball triumph over Mentor, the defending league champion.
Also, the Panthers’ Marissa Wilson was named Lake Erie League Player of the Year, while three of her teammates — Shaniqua Chisholm, Allegra Johnson and Rebecca Maxwell – also earned spots on the All-LEL team.
By the way, Hardaway collected a nice honor himself recently. Now in his second year in the A.D. post, he was inducted into the Hiram College Hall of Fame in September. He was a standout basketball player for the Terriers.
Emily Sweet, the Panthers’ cross-country ace who was featured in last month’s Euclid Observer, achieved her goal of winning the LEL championship at Forest Hills Park and followed that by winning the Division I district meet at Lakeland Community College on Oct. 23. However, an illness foiled her hopes of qualifying for the state meet, forcing her to pull out of the regional race at Youngstown Boardman. But since she’s a junior, she should get another shot next season.
Last month’s paper noted that Emily’s racing talent may have a genetic component, since her mother and grandmother were top-notch distance runners. However, the story neglected to mention that Clifford Sweet, her great-grandfather on her father’s side, also was an outstanding runner. He starred in track at Painesville Harvey High back in the 1920s.
The first Briardale Invitational Golf Tournament took place at Briardale Greens Oct. 17, with the proceeds benefiting the Euclid Hunger Center. The four-man scramble event was won by the foursome of Bill Vidmar, Mike Yalch, Dale Sibits and Tony Citrano, who posted an 18-hole score of 63. The runners up, shooting a 65, were: Mike Shaver, Skip Rodick, Brian O’Neill and Steve Kavulich.
The WELW radio team, which otherwise did an excellent job broadcasting the regular season football finale between Euclid and Mentor two weeks ago, erroneously reported that the Panthers, who absorbed a 48-7 shellacking from the Cardinals, had posted their first losing campaign in 30 years. That’s not true, says Euclid Coach Tom Gibbons, pointing out that the Panthers had a losing record in 2004.
Even so, Euclid’s final mark of 4-6 is a rarity. It’s only the third time in 30 years that the Panthers have not finished with a winning record.
Coach Gibbons found a lot of positives in the 2010 campaign. For instance, even after losing five straight games early in the season, his charges bounced back with a three-game winning streak. “We could’ve thrown in the towel,” Gibbons says, “but our kids and our coaches rolled up their sleeves and went to work … There was no quit in these kids.”
Also on the positive side, a number of Panther underclassmen, including quarterback Benny Walker and running backs De’Andre Rollins and Juwan Ford, got ample playing time, “so we’ll have a good nucleus of experienced kids coming back next year, especially on offense,” the coach points out.
Euclid’s lone score against Mentor, a late touchdown by Demetrius Ivory, averted a shutout and snapped Mentor’s streak of 82 unanswered points against the Panthers dating to the 2009 season. Ivory, a senior, finished with more than 100 rushing yards.
The VASJ Vikings also ended up with a 4-6 record after losing their final game to Elyria Catholic, 50-26. The Elyria gridders, who compiled a 9-1 mark, finished the season ranked among the top ten teams in Ohio in Division IV by the Associated Press.