Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – At 6-foot-4 AJ Coons provides a perplexing problem for opposing defenses.
Do you give the smooth moving Solon receiver a cushion to prevent against the deep ball over the top or press him at the line of scrimmage?
Is double coverage the answer? An extra safety?
Solon quarterback Cam Miller isn’t sure the best way to defend his top target.
“He’s big, he’s fast, I wouldn’t want to cover him if I was another team,” Miller said of Coons. “He’s a matchup nightmare.”
On Friday it was Mount Vernon that couldn’t figure out how to deal with Coons.
Coons hauled in a 61-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage and finished with three touchdown grabs as Solon rolled to a 34-14 win over Mount Vernon in the season opener for both teams at Spartan Stadium.
“If you give him space we are going to take the quick stuff, if you want to play one-on-one and press him then we are going to take shots down the field,” Solon coach Kevin Miller said of Coons. “That’s what they chose to do is play man press coverage with no one over the top and so we took those shots because we liked that matchup.”
Coons added touchdown grabs of 27 and 3 yards and finished with 10 receptions for 147 yards as Solon won its season opener for the third year in a row.
Miller threw for 174 yards and four touchdowns and the Spartans forced six turnovers while running its winning streak over Mount Vernon to 16.
“I think in rivalry games like this it’s really big to get those first touchdowns get that early momentum to really get going,” Coons said. “That really carried on throughout the game.”
Solon jumped to a 20-0 lead after one quarter and the third touchdown grab of the game by Coons, a 3-yard slant on a fourth-and-goal play, put Solon up 34-0 with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
“I think we have a really explosive offense and I think there is so much more than we can do,” Coons said. “We just have to tighten everything up and I think we can take it to even the next level in upcoming weeks.”
Coons gave Solon a led just 52 seconds into the game when he blew past a Mount Vernon cornerback on a go route and hauled in a pass from Miller in stride.
The 61-yard touchdown grab gave Solon a 7-0 and the momentum and the Spartans wouldn’t give up either the rest of the game.
“We knew that on the drive we were going to try to get a big play and it came early,” Coons said. “It was good to have that to get a quick lead and just build on from there.”
Coons grabbed a 27-yard touchdown pass on a nearly identical play with 3:07 left in the opening quarter.
The Spartans made it 20-0 when Adam Bock recovered a fumble in the end zone after an errant snap on a Mount Vernon punt attempt.
Solon held the Mustangs to 32 yards in the first quarter while building an insurmountable 20-point cushion.
“I just thought as a whole we played solid defensively,” Kevin Miller said. “We were running to the football and creating turnovers with our speed and athleticism. What we lack in size I think we make up for with our speed and athleticism and just playing hard.”
Solon took a 27-0 lead into the locker room at halftime when Cam Miller connected with senior running back Hunter Kula for a 23-yard touchdown on a screen pass with 1:07 left in the second quarter.
“That was big because we knew they had the ball to start the half,” Cam Miller said of the late score. “To score there was huge for our team.”
The Spartans stopped a Mount Vernon threat on the ensuing possession when Jackson Pipolo picked off a Brady Ketchum pass at the 5-yard line with under 10 seconds to play in the first half.
The pick by Pipolo was the first of four interceptions for the Spartans. Coons added an interception and Dillon Hoit had a pair of pickoffs.
“I was most interested to see how we played defensively and on both lines because we don’t have a lot of experience in those areas,” Kevin Miller said. “Some of the these guys were thrown into the fire but I’m really proud with how they performed all in all.”
Miller hit Coons on a slant pattern for a 3-yard touchdown to cap the Solon scoring with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
Mount Vernon scored a pair of late touchdowns and accumulated 159 of its 272 total yards on a pair of fourth quarter drives after Solon began substituting.
“It’s an adjustment you have a different role from year to year but I like this team a lot,” Coons said. “I like the players that we have. Offense, defense, special teams I think we have a lot of playmakers. I think the line is playing well so hopefully we can take care of business and have similar results to last year.
First downs 11 17
Rushes-yards 28-79 32-159
Com-Att-Int 12-24-0 18-36-4
Passing Yards 174 113
Punts-Avg. 6-37.8 5-29.6
Fumbles-lost 3-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 4-45 4-19
Mount Vernon 0 0 0 14 – 14
Solon 20 7 7 0 – 34
SOL – AJ Coons 61 pass from Cam Miller (Cael O’Neill kick)
SOL – Coons 27 pass from Miller (Kick failed)
SOL – Adam Bock fumble recovery in end zone (O’Neill kick)
SOL – Hunter Kula 23 pass from Miller (Dall kick)
SOL – Coons 3 pass from Miller (O’Neill kick)
MV – Paul Ryan 18 run (Logan Griebel kick)
MV – Garrett Hormann 5 run (Griebel kick)
RUSHING – SOL: Hunter Kula 12-29, Cam Miller 5-19, Seamus Poynton 4-16, Mason Stahle 3-14, Coal Flansburg 1-6, Adam Bock 1-4, Thomas Brandt 1-(-2), Team 1-(-7). MV: Paul Ryan 20-103, Zach Baker 4-64, Garrett Hormann 4-35, Brady Ketchum 2-(-8), Ike Appleton 1-(-5), Team 1-(-30).
PASSING – SOL: Cam Miller 13-22-0 174; Seamus Poynton 0-2-0 0. MV: Brady Ketchum 18-36-4 113.
RECEIVING – SOL: AJ Coons 10-147, Hunter Kula 1-23, Seamus Poynton 1-6, Aidan Dall 1-(-2). MV: Detrick Vondracek 2-41, Zach Baker 7-39, Mitchell Louwagie 3-16, Aidan Nosek 2-10, Blake Booth 1-5, Paul Ryan 3-2