Chardon football: Hilltoppers lose a tight one, but coach is encouraged

Aug. 28—You don't often see potential playoff previews in Week 2 of the high school football season, but that was the case Aug. 18 at Frost Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin.

Brayden Roggow threw for five touchdown passes, the fifth coming woth 20 seconds remaining. His two-point conversion pass to Brady Gooding provided Tiffin Columbian with a 50-49 victory over Chardon in what could be a potential Division III state semifinal pairing in late December.

"Our kids battled," Chardon coach Mitch Hewitt said. "I felt better about our team on the bus ride home than on our way there. Considering all the mistakes we made, all the errors, all the things I know we can get corrected ... if we played some flawless game and lost, I'd feel different. But there's a lot we didn't do.

"We've never EVER given up those kind of points, not even to Lynn Bowden."

Chardon lost to Bowden and Warren Harding, 49-31, in a regional game in 2016. Bowden went on to play at the University of Kentucky and then in the NFL.

Roggow shredded Chardon's defense for 335 yards through the air. While the Hilltoppers held Columbian to 67 yards rushing on 28 attempts (2.4 average), Roggow was a difference-maker.

"Not many teams have a Division I (college) quarterback," Hewitt said. "We saw one Friday night."

Chardon's quarterback was up to the challenge. First-year signal-caller Will Francis carried 25 times for 294 yards and two touchdowns, part of the Hilltoppers' 450-yard effort on the ground. Vinny Colombi ran for 45 yards and three scores, while Caleb Hewitt ran for 73 yards and two TDs.

"Our offense was dominant," Hewitt said. "We have a ton of weapons on offense. We still made a lot of mistakes, but I'm encouraged. We've got to get better because our schedule has no salvation anytime soon."

Chardon hosts Avon Lake (2-0) this coming week, followed by St. Francis, N.Y. and then a road trip to Columbus Bishop Watterson (2-0). Then comes the WRC opener against Kenston (2-0).

"We're playing good teams," Hewitt said. "That's something I'm proud of. Our program is to the point that our nonconference games are no gimmes. We have to be ready. When you have the success we've had, EVERYONE has us circled. We can tell the kids that, but until you're in the fight you don't see it. We've got to buckle our chin-straps every Friday night."