Trip to Canton comes with expectations of return trip: Highlights, by the numbers of Chardon’s 36-6 win vs. Camden

CANTON, Ohio — Despite Chardon’s success of the last two years — two state championships and a 30-game win streak that goes with it — a large portion of the Hilltoppers’ roster played its first game Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

In addition to senior quarterback Alex Henry and junior running back Andrew Bruce, few offensive playmakers handled the football in last year’s OHSAA Division III state championship against Hamilton Badin.

Beyond junior Logan Bryant, the rest of the offensive line watched Chardon’s 21-14 win on the same field in Canton.

That made Saturday’s 36-6 win against Camden (NJ) during the Freedom Bowl showcase a vital experience. The Hilltoppers, ranked fourth in this week’s cleveland.com high school football Top 25, have high hopes of making it back to Canton in December.

“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do as high school coaches is provide experiences,” Chardon’s Mitch Hewitt said. “Hopefully we can do it again later, but we’re a million miles away from that.”

Where they still have plenty of experience is on defense, where edge rushers Alex Kisley and Cooper Felger are back up front with an instinctive senior middle linebacker in Heath Fetchik. Bruce is one of three returning starters in the secondary, which is one of Ohio’s most talented groups regardless of division.

Bruce and junior safety Leo Colombi have Division I college scholarship offers, but Trey Liebhardt, their senior teammate and one of Chardon’s most experienced players, could be one of Northeast Ohio’s most overlooked players when it comes to the next level.

He made a massive impact against Camden, which brought seven players with scholarship offers. Here is a look, by the numbers, at how Chardon overcame that and made another statement:

Zero — Penalties by Chardon, compared to eight for Camden. The Panthers lost 75 yards because of those infractions.

three — Interceptions on the season by Liebhardt, who had one in the fourth quarter last week during Chardon’s 14-7 win against Olmsted Falls. He came back Saturday with one in the first quarter that he nearly ran into the end zone before being stopped at the 2-yard line. In the fourth quarter, Liebhardt made sure his second interception reached the end zone on the return. He scored for the second time against Camden after a 60-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Five — Combined turnovers by the teams. Chardon committed three of them, including a lost fumble and two interceptions. One of those came on a trick play with Colombi looking deep on a reverse pass.

Nine — Passes thrown by Henry, who completed five of them for 108 yards. He also rushed for a game-high 74 yards on 19 carries. Chardon gained 137 yards rushing as a team and 240 yards total, outgaining the Panthers, who finished with 119 yards. They had only 99 yards against Chardon’s starters before the reserves played a final possession during a running clock.

Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or e-mail (mgoul@leveland.com).

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