Rootstown rolls in dominant debut

·4 min read
Rootstown's Cody Coontz celebrates in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against Crestwood.
Rootstown's Cody Coontz celebrates in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against Crestwood.

ROOTSTOWN — There's starting with a bang.

Then, there's whatever the Rovers did Friday.

Rootstown was dominant out of the gate in its season-opening 33-0 victory over Crestwood Friday at Robert C. Dunn Field.

"We were super excited," Rovers senior Drew Nero said. "They beat us up last year​ pretty bad. We were talking about how we​ we​re going to beat them up last year and ​it ​obviously didn't happen, so I think we were just ​ready to kick ​them out​ of​ here and win."

Senior Cody Coontz, who had 17 carries for 283 yards and four scores by halftime, punctuated the Rovers' first three drives with touchdowns.

"I just wasn't going to get tackled," Coontz said. "That's it, and our line was just crazy. They opened up the hole and gave me space, and after I got space, I was gone."

Rootstown (1-0) was no less impressive on defense, with Nero knocking down a pass at the line on each of Crestwood's first two drives — along with a tackle for loss — and the senior lineman added a sack by the intermission.

All told, the Rovers held the Red Devils to just 49 rushing yards and had a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six by sophomore Tristan McKibben.

"It starts with the line. We got to dominate, execute. If we do that, then you're going to win the football game," Nero said. "You got to start with the front line. [Defensive coordinator Randy] McCoy is a genius. He knows what to do. He knows we're going to blitz. We've all been working hard in the offseason so it paid off tonight."

The Rovers never let up, keeping a home student section that brought its own music dancing throughout the summer evening.

Cody Coontz, Rootstown score on four of first five drives

The Rovers wasted little time Friday, marching 65 yards down the field in just eight plays on their opening drive. Seven of those eight plays were runs and six of those seven were inside runs. All six inside running plays went for at least seven yards, well, at least until Coontz's one-yard touchdown plunge.

Up 7-0, Rootstown followed by forcing a three-and-out, capped by Nero swatting down a third-and-seven pass at the line.

The Rovers raced back on the field and scored on just two plays, with the right side of the line giving Coontz a seam off the guard, and the senior taking full advantage for a 69-yard score.

"I honestly didn't think I was going to break any [long runs]," Coontz said, "but my coach has been telling me every single day that I'm going to and I just need to keep attacking hard and running hard and it happened."

Nero followed with another dominant drive on defense, starting with a tackle for loss and capped by another batted-down pass.

Back came Rootstown, up 13-0, and it finally faced some adversity on its third drive of the night.

But on second-and-23, the Rovers ran a beautiful pitch play to senior Branden Bobbs for 29 yards and they followed by converting their first third and fourth downs of the game on Coontz runs. The latter was a fourth-and-two slash through the right side by Coontz for a 10-yard score, his third of the evening.

He added his fourth score with 19.1 seconds remaining in the opening half, as the Rovers lined up in a power package, seemingly to kneel or run it up the gut before pitching right to Coontz for a 71-yard touchdown and a 27-0 halftime lead.

Coontz finished with 21 carries for 318 yards, taking just four totes after the intermission.

And Rootstown, which dropped four of its last five last season after a 4-2 start, had a great night to start the 2022 campaign.

"It just proves our hard work and boosts our confidence a little bit going into the season," Coontz said. "We still know we have a lot to work on, but now our confidence is up and we know we can win. We know we can make big plays. We know we can make stuff happen."

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Cody Coontz, Rootstown roll, top Crestwood in dominant debut