December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria vs. Elyria Catholic 2013: Disparity in number of students bringing city rivalry to a close

Elyria Catholic fans cheer after a first-half touchdown during the Panthers' win in the inaugural 2010 game.

Elyria Catholic fans cheer after a first-half touchdown during the Panthers’ win in the inaugural 2010 game.

ELYRIA — Tonight’s fourth edition of the “Battle of Elyria” at Elyria Catholic will be the last one.

“It’s run its course,” Elyria athletic director Heather Beck said. “It was nice to have a game so close and it was a good four-year run.”

This is the fourth year the schools have played. Elyria Catholic won the first game 56-35 and Elyria has won the last two, 37-14 and 43-7.

While the series has generated good crowds and good sportsmanship between the schools, Elyria is a Division I school with 921 boys, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association website, while EC has 182 boys and competes in Division V.

The Pioneers will renew their rivalry with Lorain starting next fall. Cleveland Central Catholic will take Elyria’s place on EC’s schedule.

“I was not here to initiate the decision,” said EC athletic director Bob Thayer, who retired as Lakewood’s AD before coming to EC at the end of last year.

“I can tell you this from an outside perspective: It was a boost of excitement to the community. It seems to have been something the community has looked forward to. It was a fun four years but the overriding factor was the disparity in the enrollments of the two schools.”

Still, not everyone involved is happy to see the series end.

Elyria Catholic coach Mike Polevacik would like to see Elyria return to the schedule one day.

“The goal is to keep everybody talking,” Polevacik said. “If we win, it’s 2-2. Both won on the other’s field. Both won at home. Then everybody can talk about doing this again.

“If we lose, then people say, ‘Well, look. It’s just what people think. It’s D-I plays D-V, D-I wins every time.’ My goal is to keep the city talking and hopefully get some pressure to maybe revisit this.”

THE GAMES

2010 — Elyria Catholic 56, Elyria 35

EC’s Danny Reaser threw a record six touchdown passes and rolled up 508 yards through the air in leading the Panthers before a sellout Thursday night crowd and a regional TV audience at Ely Stadium.

The key play came late in the first half.

Elyria had just scored three unanswered touchdowns to tie the game at 28 and had the Panthers bottled up on a fourth-and-4 from their own 22-yard line. EC’s coach at the time, Ben Malbasa, rolled up his Riverboat gambler sleeves and went for it with less than a minute to play in the half.

“We had a lot of good things going on,” then Elyria coach Steve Hamilton said at the time. “Things were going in the right direction. Fourth down and they throw a simple hitch, our guy falls. He goes 78 yards.”

EC led 35-28 at the half and quickly extended the margin in the third quarter. The Panthers never looked back.

2011 — Elyria 37, Elyria Catholic 14

Elyria got its revenge the next season at Elyria Catholic’s Knights of Columbus Field under Kevin Fell’s direction.

The Pioneers scored the game’s first 17 points and withstood a 91-yard scoring pass from Jeremy Holley to Jordan Alpater.

Elyria’s senior quarterback Dustin Stolarski, who threw for 290 yards and two scores the year before, ended up with 396 yards and two touchdowns. Stolarski also scored on a 19-yard run. Holley finished with 178 yards and two scores but also had two interceptions.

The key stat was the rushing yardage. As sophomores Jumarr Lewis and Jordan Connell combined with junior Keon Neely to lead Elyria, which piled up 165 yards and two Lewis TDs on the ground. EC was held to -3 yards rushing.

2012 — Elyria 43, Elyria Catholic 7

Elyria wore down the Panthers last year at Ely Stadium.

After a scoreless first quarter, Neely and Connell scored on runs in the second quarter, but EC answered with a Holley TD pass to Jacob Moore to pull within 14-7.

The Pioneers added a touchdown late in the half on a 24-yard toss from sophomore Hunter Parsh to senior Darrin Terry for a 21-7 lead.

The second half was all Elyria. Connell scored on a 31-yard run, Holley was sacked in his own end zone for a safety and Terry caught another touchdown pass to put Elyria up 37-7 after three quarters. The Pioneers added one more score in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

Elyria racked up 446 yards in total offense and held the Panthers to -34 on the ground — most of it attributed to quarterback sacks. Connell finished with 144 yards, Neely 63 and Lewis 24.

Holley threw for 195 yards, Parsh 189. Both are back for the fourth and final round tonight.

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at timothygeb@msn.com.