High school football: CJ comes off big challenge to face undefeated Fairmont

Chaminade Julienne receiver Kenyon Owens breaks a tackle against Hamilton Badin in a 2019 game. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIUBUTED
Chaminade Julienne receiver Kenyon Owens breaks a tackle against Hamilton Badin in a 2019 game. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIUBUTED

Twenty-eight hours before kickoff last Thursday, Chaminade-Julienne football coach Marcus Colvin faced a difficult decision.

Want to play Cincinnati Moeller?

“I said, ‘No way. That’s not happening,’” Colvin said.

CJ’s scheduled game had just been canceled because of COVID-19 quarantines at Belmont, and the Eagles started looking for another opponent in the same situation. But Moeller? A couple hours later he changed his mind.

“The further we got into the evening it was our only option, and I started to consider the way COVID is still around and nothing’s guaranteed,” Colvin said. “So I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Moeller understandably gave Colvin pause. The Crusaders entered the season ranked No. 17 in the MaxPreps preseason Ohio top 25. CJ is playing in Division III this year and has made the playoffs the past four years.

“Us lining up against them was a humongous challenge,” Colvin said.

The Eagles (1-1) started fast at home against Moeller and led 14-7. Then converted a fake punt, got into field-goal range with a chance to lead 17-7 but missed the kick. From there, Moeller exerted its muscle, took advantage of two CJ turnovers in the third quarter and won 42-28.

“I loved the way our kids competed,” Colvin said. “We obviously still lost, and I made sure our team knew that. Don’t let people trick you to make you feel all good that we were heroic trying to play this team. We lost the football game, and we had chances to keep that game in reach, and we just let it get away.”

The schedule doesn’t get easier tonight. The Eagles go to Fairmont (2-0), which is coming off wins over Alter and Trotwood-Madison. This week, at least, the Eagles will be fully prepared for what’s coming.

Fairmont’s strategy is easy to see – control the ball on the ground, control the clock, play shut-down defense – but not so easy to stop. The Firebirds ride the power running of fullback Drew Baker (296 yards, two touchdowns) and a defense that has allowed seven points and 115.5 yards a game.

“They’re very content with three-and-a-half yards a carry,” said Colvin, who is facing Fairmont for the first time in his 11 seasons. “So while it looks to an onlooker in the stands that they’re just running the same plays, to a football coach I respect what they do. I respect what they force us to do as a way to compete with them. It’s a challenge.”

CJ’s goal is to get the lead again this week and keep it. Senior quarterback Luke Chandler passed for 225 in the opening win over Troy and 253 yards against Moeller. The Eagles have an explosive target in senior receiver Kenyon Owens. He caught 32 passes in seven games last year and has 11 already this year. Owens’ presence has opened the field for junior Jonathan Peltier, who has 13 receptions.

Owens also leads the defense from the secondary or wherever the Eagles choose to line him up. He has a team-high 13 tackles and an interception.

Other games to watch:

Canton McKinley at Wayne: The Warriors (2-0) are playing for their first 3-0 start since their undefeated 2016 regular season. Jordan Ward is leading the rushing attack with 269 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman Tyrell Lewis has thrown for 282 yards and four touchdowns. McKinley is 0-2 and coming off a 5-3 season and has been a regular playoff participant since 1993.

Bellbrook at Tecumseh: Wing-T offenses face off in a battle of 2-0 teams. The Arrows are off to their best start since 2014 behind the running of Lucas Berner (335 yards, five touchdowns) and Josiah Botello (224 yards, three touchdowns). The Arrows are 0-for-2 passing, but Bellbrook is throwing it more. Carson Labensky has passed for 219 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions.

Versailles at Marion Local: In the first big MAC matchup, Versailles (2-0) hopes to snap an eight-game losing streak to the Flyers (2-0). Last year’s game came down to a failed two-point conversion in overtime.

Piqua at Troy: The longest rivalry in state history will be played for the 137th time Saturday night. The game was moved from Friday so more Troy players, who have been quarantined, could have a full day of practice. Troy leads the series 66-64-6.

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