By TED RADICK
MCCOMB — Fisher Catholic coach Tony Hurps stood Saturday on McComb’s Doc Miller Field with a bit of a rueful smile.
“I’ll say one thing,” Hurps said after McComb dismantled his Irish 57-6 in the nonconference season opener for both schools. “I know that nobody else in our league can play to this caliber. To me, that’s good for our kids.
“I knew this would be a good test for us. We knew they were big, and we knew they could sling it with their good quarterback. This is a good learning test for us; this is a Division VII playoff team and that’s what we’re striving to be.”
McComb scored early and often, building leads of 23-0 after one quarter and 44-0 at halftime. Once it became apparent Fisher Catholic was outmanned and outgunned, McComb coach Kris Alge wanted to keep tabs on his players’ mental approach.
“I think the main thing was to make sure the kids stayed focused,” Alge said. “In the second quarter, we got sloppy with our fundamentals.
“It’s important to keep playing well no matter what the score is. Keep your fundamentals, don’t get sloppy.”
The Panthers came out of the gate quickly, opening the scoring with a safety and scoring three touchdowns in the opening quarter.
“The kids came out in the first quarter and, I think, played well on offense and defense,” Alge said.
A bad shotgun formation snap put the Irish behind the 8-ball on the game’s opening drive. Fisher Catholic tried to get some breathing room on third-and-27 from its 3, but Hayden Muckensturm was brought down in the end zone for a 2-0 McComb lead.
The Panthers scored on the ensuing possession, and two more after that. Clay Grubb ran 5 yards for a touchdown, Jake Crouse sprinted 46 yards for a score and Grubb found Trey Hanes for a 20-yard scoring strike.
Grubb was 12 of 14 for 221 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. He found Tyler Parker for an 80-yard scoring pass in the second quarter and Hanes on a 6-yard TD pass late in the first half.
Grubb finished the game 15 of 19 for 271 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Hanes had four receptions for 83 yards, and Parker three for 87 yards.
“We didn’t know what to expect from Fisher Catholic,” Alge said. “Hey, we got a win, it’s a game and we’re 1-0.”
Fisher Catholic struggled to move the ball until a late fourth-quarter drive.
“We had a lot of drops on offense, and a lot of plays we could have converted and didn’t,” Hurps said. “On the outside, we lacked a little bit of focus and dropped some balls we could have had.
“It just wasn’t a good day for our receivers. We had some openings in the option where we could have had something if we’d blocked the cornerback, and we whiffed a couple times.”
Irish quarterback Jared Faulkner was 13 of 25 for 112 yards, but was victimized by at least four drops of catchable passes. Ben Kerns caught nine passes for 78 yards, and scored on a 3-yard run with two minutes left in the game to avoid the shutout.
“At halftime I told the kids, you just have to keep working and keep getting better,” Hurps said. “Don’t quit, and our guys responded to that. Physically, they’re much bigger than we are and I think they exposed that, especially in the middle.”
The second half was played under the OHSAA’s new running clock rule.
“The negative thing about the 30-point rule is, you try to get kids in and get them playing time,” Alge said. “We wanted to get our twos in, and some other kids behind them, and then you look up and there’s 30 seconds left.
“You want to keep your varsity kids in, at least for a series or two in the third quarter, just for conditioning purposes. The kids from Pandora (McComb’s next opponent) went four hard quarters last night, so that’s the only bad thing about the rule. The young kids didn’t get the reps they normally would have gotten.”
FISHER CATHOLIC 0 0 0 6 — 6
McCOMB 23 21 6 7 — 57
MCC — Safety, Muckensturm tackled in end zone
MCC — Grubb 6 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — Crouse 46 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — Hanes 20 pass from Grubb (Beeson kick)
MCC — Skilliter 3 run (Beeson kick)
MCC — Parker 80 pass from Grubb (Beeson kick)
MCC — Hanes 6 pass from Grubb (Beeson kick)
MCC — Davis 10 pass from Grubb (kick blocked)
MCC — Abbot 1 run (Beeson kick)
FC — Kerns 3 run (kick failed)
First Downs: Fisher Catholic, 8; McComb, 15
Rushes-yards: Fisher Catholic, 23-11; McComb, 18-158
Passing Yards: Fisher Catholic, 112; McComb, 273
Comp-Att-Int: Fisher Catholic, 13-25-0; McComb, 16-21-1
Punts-Avg.: Fisher Catholic, 5-33.3; McComb, 1-38.0
Fumbles-Lost: Fisher Catholic, 1-0; McComb, 1-1
Penalties-Yards: Fisher Catholic, 2-4; McComb, 5-45
RUSHING — Fisher Catholic, Muckensturm 12-22, Kerns 5-22, Collier 1-0, Conrad 1-(-2), Faulkner 4-(-29). McComb, Crouse 4-52, Grubb 4-51, Skilliter 3-29, Abbot 3-21, Swisher 4-5.
PASSING — Fisher Catholic, Faulkner 13-25-0-112. McComb, Grubb 15-19-1-271, Abbot 1-2-0-2.
RECEIVING — Fisher Catholic, Kerns 9-78, Muckensturm 2-25, McCall 1-9. McComb, Hanes 4-83, Parker 3-87, Davis 3-29, Morris 1-38, Beeson 1-12, Shoop 1-6.
Send an E-mail to Ted Radick