If I wouldn't have known any better, I'd think that there was a "t" missing at the end of Warren G. Harding senior Ty Artis' last name. His play on the field has truly been a work of art as on just 9 catches this season, he has accumulated 293 receiving yards and three touchdowns as well as a kickoff return for another touchdown. His latest score was a 22-yard tear drop that he caught the other night against Austintown Fitch from quarterback Elijah Taylor, who continues his development as a leader as he now has 670 yards and 6 touchdowns through the first four games. It was the only time that the Raiders crossed the goal line the other night, but a 35-yard field goal by Noah Murry and a stiff defense provided just enough cushion to lift them to a 10-7 victory over the Falcons, their first loss of the season.
Speaking of defense, junior linebacker Emarion "Tank" Perkins spent as much time in Fitch's offensive backfield as their quarterback as 8.5 of his 12.5 tackles went for a loss, both of which are career highs. Jarriel White (2), Mar'Rall Brown (1.5) and Da'Mari Freeman also recorded tackles for losses and in total, 13 different Raiders each registered stops to help hold the Falcons to season lows in rushing (98) and total yards (224), a performance that was much needed after week 3's laid egg against Massillon. Offensively, junior Elizah Smith set the tone with his 137 yards of total offense, which included a career-long 38-yard catch that put the Raiders in Falcons territory and led to the eventual field goal by Murry. Finishing long drives has been a point of emphasis for Harding head coach Steve Arnold, which him and his staff will look to improve on as they'll welcome an old rival with a familiar face back on the sideline.
If you were to read a copy of Harding's 2003 football program, you'll see a bio for then-assistant coach Dan Reardon, his last year on the Warren football staff. Within the bio, it said says that he has a son named Matt, who was born just before the start of the 2003 season. Fast forward sixteen years, Matt Reardon is now a junior athlete with college coaches on his radar playing for his father, who is back at the school who gave him his first head coaching job. In his original run at Youngstown Ursuline, Coach Reardon led the Fighting Irish to three consecutive Division V state championships in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2010, the exclamation point was put on the run when Ursuline athlete Akise Teague took home Ohio's covered "Mr. Football" Award. The Fighting Irish had previously won the Division IV state championship in 2000 to give them four in their school's history.
With a young team and a brutal schedule, Coach Reardon will look to secure his first win in 2019 when the Irish come to Mollenkopf this Friday. Davion Jones is among their more versatile athletes he has compiled 281 yards (200 rushing and 81 receiving) and 3 touchdowns worth of total offense, 5 kickoff returns for 168 yards (33.6 YPR), and 22.0 tackles on defense. The Irish will be led offensively by sophomore quarterback Brady Shannon, who enters Friday's contest 45 of 86 for 500 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.
Matt Reardon has shown some versatility of his own as he thrown for 112 yards and two touchdowns, has 17 catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns, has an interception on defense, and averages 32.7 yards on 14 punts. Defensively, the Irish are led by Western Michigan linebacker commit James Phillips, who has 23.0 tackles (17 solo and 12 assists), one sack, and one tackle for a loss while sophomore Demarcus McElroy comes in with 21.5 tackles (19 solo and 5 assists) while being a threat offensively with 5 catches for 63 yards and one touchdown. His lone score was a 49-yard touchdown catch against Ohio powerhouse Cleveland Benedictine.
After having such a solid performance defensively against Fitch, the Raiders have to be very cautious about a potential letdown against a hungry Ursuline squad, who is coming off of a very controversial double-overtime loss to Youngstown East. This will be Coach Reardon's fifth game back as the Ursuline head coach and his resume suggests that one of these days, the Fighting Irish will once again emerge as one of the small school powerhouses in the entire state. Coach Arnold and his staff will do all they can from preventing that day to be on September 27 when they'll honor the old Harding Panthers tradition.
LEEEEEEEEEEEET'S GOOOOOOOOOOOOO RAIDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERS!!!