Ferndale knocks out Blacklick Valley; Zamboni retiring
JOHNSTOWN — Blacklick Valley concluded the 2017 season Saturday afternoon with a 41-21 first-round District 6 1A playoff loss to Ferndale, and in the process brought down the curtain on the career of veteran head coach Bill Zamboni.
Zamboni, who is retiring after a tenure of 16 seasons at the helm of the Vikings, expressed thoughts about his players, both present and past. When asked what he considered the highlight of his career, an emotional Zamboni said that “I touched a lot of lives.”
The long-time mentor’s last game with the Vikings saw his squad jump out to an early lead over the Yellow Jackets, but a combination of mistakes and a monster effort by Ferndale quarterback Hunter Kinsey proved too much for Blacklick Valley (4-7) to overcome.
Kinsey completed 24 of 36 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns, outdueling Blacklick Valley’s Corey Simmons, who completed 13 of 26 passes for 267 yards and three scores.
“We’ve been playing great defense recently, but not today,” Zamboni said. “That’s a tribute to Ferndale.” “They have a great offensive scheme.”
The Yellow Jackets (8-3) advance to face Portage in a second-round contest next Saturday night. “This is huge for our seniors and what they overcame in the last few years,” said Ferndale assistant coach Shawn Furfari. “They have done a spectacular job.” “Today we tried to throw some different formations to keep them off guard, and we just took what their defense gave us.”
Blacklick Valley stunned the Yellow Jackets by needing just four plays to drive 63 yards for a touchdown on the game’s initial possession. Simmons found Jordan McEvoy for a 26-yard gain into Ferndale territory, and two plays later the same combo connected for a 22-yard touchdown. Justin Fleck added the first of his three extra points for a 7-0 lead.
Ferndale came right back with the equalizer after a 12-play, 77-yard drive. Kinsey completed four straight for 35 yards to help set up Nate Pudliner’s 3-yard scoring run, and Pudliner’s PAT knotted the game.
The Yellow Jackets caught a huge break on the ensuing kickoff. Ferndale kicker Tajahi Thomas shanked the kick as he slipped on his plant foot, but the unintentional squib was recovered by the Jackets’ Anthony Ribblett at the Viking 48. Kinsey then found John Herring for 26 yards on a screen, and four plays later he drilled an 11-yard touchdown strike to Pudliner to give Ferndale the lead heading into the second quarter.
Blacklick Valley’s next possession ended with a lost fumble at midfield, and Ferndale capitalized. Kinsey completed three passes for 30 yards as the Yellow Jackets marched to a first-and-goal at the Viking 4.
Blacklick Valley’s defense then forced two incompletions and stopped Kinsey for a short gain, but on fourth down Herring took a direct snap and plowed in for a 2-yard touchdown that produced an eventual 21-7 halftime lead for Ferndale.
The Yellow Jackets’ explosive offense struck quickly to open the third quarter. On the second play, Kinsey found Ty-Rique Rozier down the right sideline for a 70-yard touchdown, but after a three-and-out by the Vikings, Blacklick Valley got back in the game thanks to a Ferndale miscue.
Riley Cressley recovered a fumbled punt return in Yellow Jacket territory, and two plays later Simmons went deep. A Ferndale defender went for the pick and mistimed it, leaving McEvoy a clear path to the end zone on a 43-yard score to make it 27-14.
Ferndale responded with a 15-play, 71-yard scoring drive that consumed over seven minutes. Herring carried six times for 29 yards, and he caught an 11-yard touchdown pass on a quick slant over the middle to extend the Yellow Jacket lead to 20 heading into the fourth.
Kinsey fired a 28-yard touchdown strike to Devin Newcomer to complete the Ferndale scoring, and the Vikings subsequently set the final with just over two minutes left when Simmons threw his third scoring pass to McEvoy. The 77-yard touchdown was McEvoy’s fifth catch for 195 yards on the day.
McEvoy is one of only four seniors on the Viking roster. “There’s a good group coming back next year,” Zamboni said.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Blacklick Valley 7 0 7 7 — 21
Ferndale 14 7 13 7 — 41
BV–McEvoy 22 pass from Simmons (Fleck kick)
F–Pudliner 3 run (Pudliner kick)
F–Pudliner 11 pass from Kinsey (Pudliner kick), 3:15.
F–Herring 2 run (Pudliner kick), 10:44.
F– Rozier 70 pass from Kinsey (kick failed), 10:54.
BV–McEvoy 43 pass from Simmons (Fleck kick), 8:57.
F–Herring 11 pass from Kinsey (Pudliner kick), 1:32.
F–Newcomer 28 pass from Kinsey (Pudliner kick), 3:07.
BV–McEvoy 77 pass from Simmons (Fleck kick), 2:13.
RUSHING: Blacklick Valley– Teeter 2-13, Fleck 2-8, Altimus 3-11, McCallay 1-4, Thomas 2-5, Simmons 5-minus 29, Little 1-2, Napolitano 1-minus 2, Rager 2-4. Ferndale– Herring 17-72, Kinsey 13-31, Pudliner 2-5, Grow 2-6, Ribblett 2-15, Mitchell 1-9, Korenoski 1-4, Thomas 1-minus 3, TEAM 1-minus 15.
PASSING: Blacklick Valley– Simmons 13-26-2-267. Ferndale– Kinsey 24-36-0-303.
RECEIVING: Blacklick Valley– McEvoy 5-191, Gdula 3-46, Fleck 3-19, Teeter 1-11. Ferndale– Rozier 4-104, Pudliner 5-60, Herring 5-50, Grow 4-24, Mitchell 2-21, Ribblett 2-8, Newcomer 2-37.
INTERCEPTIONS: Blacklick Valley– none. Ferndale– Ribblett, Pudliner.
TEAM STATISTICS BV F
First downs 9 16
Rushes-yards 18-16 40-124
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 13-26-2 24-36-0
Yards passing 267 303
Total yards 283 427
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 5-33 4-26
Punts-avg. 5-35 3-20