They share the same first name, though not the same spelling. They share the same positions on offense and defense, and the same grade in school.
They even share the same group of friends.
“Yeah, we’re close on and off the field,” said junior Conner Riddell, one of Elyria Catholic’s starting wide receivers, of the Panthers’ other starting wide receiver, Connor Hrobat.
The starting duo, along with senior Jacob Moore, were on the receiving end of a prolific day from junior quarterback Jeremy Holley last Friday night at Huron.
Holley completed 17 of 30 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns.
Hrobat led the way with six catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns — one of which was an 80-yarder. Riddell added four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown — a 48-yarder that wound up being the game-winner – as well as a 2-point reception.
Moore’s 82-yard touchdown was not only the longest scoring pass Holley threw, but it was also EC’s first touchdown of the game and cut Huron’s lead to 7-6.
“It shows a lot about our offense and it shows how everyone worked together,” said Hrobat, who is in his first year as a full-time starter. “Our line blocked perfectly. Jeremy barely got hit at all. Our receivers got down quickly and blocked.
“On my big reception, both Conner and Jacob were down field blocking for me, so I give all the credit to them. We couldn’t have gotten it done without everybody being a team.”
Riddell was an All-Lorain County selection last season and helped Holley achieve All-Ohio honors as a first-year starting quarterback.
“It’s been the typical type of offense since I’ve been around as a freshman,” Riddell said. “It’s good knowing that you can come here and be a receiver and get a chance to catch the ball, especially if you want to go into college and play ball. Getting this type of experience now really should help a lot.”
EC coach Mike Polevacik, in his second year, thinks a lot of his junior receiving duo.
“I think the first thing I would start with is their hands,” he said. “Obviously, that’s what you’d want out of great receivers. They both have tremendous hands. They catch the ball out in front of them. We really run some complex route combinations, and they really understand how to run themselves open. That really makes the whole offense better, because they’re very heady kids.
“They know how to get themselves in the right places. They know how to find windows. They definitely know how to throttle down in the soft spots. It makes Jeremy’s life easier because he’s got a good report with both of them. They are critical to our success.”
Hrobat’s first touchdown — a 15-yarder — cut Huron’s lead to two, and Riddell’s extra-point reception tied the game at 14 after a quarter. Hrobat’s 80-yard touchdown came with 5:15 remaining in the first half and gave the Panthers a 23-14 lead.
Holley threw a pick-six to Huron’s Cody Thompson early in the third quarter. However, he came back to find Riddell on the ensuing drive for the 48-yard score, which put EC up 30-20.
“Hrobat’s 80-yard touchdown and Riddell’s 40-yard one were in response to Huron scores,” Polevacik said. “Jeremy does a great job of getting them the ball, but they both did a great job of doing something with it. Both of those plays were huge momentum plays for us. Those kids are gamers. And Hrobat made another great catch for a touchdown where he ran himself open in a goal-line situation.
“Riddell made the most ridiculous diving catch where we were backed up in our own end zone and we needed to get out there, and it was late in the game, and we needed to keep the chains moving. And he made a full-extension, NFL-highlight reel catch.
“Those guys make plays and they make them consistently.”
Riddell and Hrobat credit their coaches for making them better players.
“Our position coach, Dan Wakus, he helps us out a lot,” Riddell said. “We’re out here every day catching balls from the JUGS machine before and after practice. He’s a good man and he knows the techniques. He knows what he’s doing. So that definitely helps a lot.”
Added Hrobat: “Along with Coach Wakus, Coach (Joe) George (EC’s offensive coordinator) helps us as well. They never let us slack off. They’re always making us work. We run non-stop. We work as hard as we can to make each other better. We’ll go do box drills and stuff like that, receiving drills, we’ll go against each other and play our best on best and just go at it. We all make each other better.”
They both also start in the defensive backfield.
“Neither of them are hulking guys, but they’re both incredibly in shape,” Polevacik said. “Riddell started on defense and made two really nice, big hits on Huron’s receivers to break up some balls. And later in the game, we had to use Hrobat at safety, and he stepped up and got a big fumble recovery.
“They’re such great athletes that you notice them first on offense, but they both made some huge plays defensively in that game also.”
Polevacik said it’s sometimes easy to forget that Holley, Hrobat and Riddell are all just juniors.
“I think that this is, hopefully, the beginning to a great story,” Polevacik said. “This is just the beginning of what they’re going to accomplish here over the next two years. It makes you feel good. Hopefully, we’ll be competing for some important stuff if these guys keep developing at the rate they are, and it’s due to the work they all put in.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
THE BATTLE FOR ELYRIA III
• WHO: Elyria (1-0) vs. Elyria Catholic (1-0)
• TIME: 7:30 p.m.
• WHERE: Ely Stadium
• TV/RADIO: WEOL 930-AM