When it comes to trying to find a way to defeat the South Rebels, it most certainly calls for Kareem measures.
However, even they might not be enough to defeat the four-time defending Premier Athletic Conference champions of coach Matt Duffy, whose squad will host coach Tony Hassett’s in the PAC opener for both teams Friday night.
The undefeated Rebels (3-0), led by Hunt, a 5-foot-11, 204-pound Mr. Football candidate, are coming off an impressive 41-7 romp at West Geauga.
Hunt, a tailback, ran for 240 yards on 21 carries and scored 6 touchdowns... in only three quarters of action.
According to Bill Tilton’s varsitychalktalk.com, Hunt has rushed for 674 yards on 72 carries in victories against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Mayfield and West Geauga and has also caught a touchdown pass and ran back two kickoffs for scores in the opener against NDCL.
Hassett knows how special Hunt is and how good South is to boot.
“This is their best team I have seen,” he said. “They pretty much have everyone back from last year’s squad.”
And, how about Hunt, who ran for 176 yards on 18 carries in the Rebels’ 49-21 triumph over the Eagles in Week 4 a year ago at Spire Stadium?
“Hunt has both great power and speed,” Hassett said. “He can cut on a dime. Just when you think you have him, you don’t.
“He can dominate a game. He has put up some ridiculous numbers last year and this year. He will be a handful, to say the least.”
When asked to compare Hunt, who rushed for a staggering 2,519 yards and scored 39 touchdowns a year ago as a junior, to other great backs he has seen, Hassett offered some high praise.
“O.J. McDuffey, at Hawken, was the most explosive I ever saw,” he said. “But I would have to say that Kareem reminds me of Jarrod Bunch of Ashtabula (who played at the University of Michigan and was a first-round draft choice of the New York Giants).
“Both had power and speed to take over a game. They seem to run so effortlessly in a game. They are outstanding.”
The Rebels, who return 10 starters on offense and 8 on defense from a team that went 8-3 after a 1-2 start a year ago, also have a strong, talented offensive line and their offense is run by quarterback Casey Klicman. The 6-foot, 195-pound senior threw for 1,825 yards and 13 touchdowns last year as a junior.
“Klicman is very elusive and can throw the ball to a number of outstanding receivers,” Hassett said. “Their line is experienced and can open some huge holes for Hunt.”
Which is what Geneva did last week in shellacking visiting Conneaut, 69-0. Sophomore tailback Aaron Rossi ran for 260 yards in the win, the fifth-highest single-game total in Geneva history.
The likes of Justin Ales, Matt Kozlowski, Seth Juncker, J.J. Hawk, Austin Williams, Logan Morrow, Ron Varckette and Eric Juncker cleared a path for Rossi all night.
“Aaron had a huge game. I was shocked... I did not know that he had that many yards,” Hassett said. “He came out of the game with about 4 minutes left in the third quarter. He has all the tools to be an outstanding running back for us. He has good, balance, vision, speed and strength. He is a hard worker and listens to his coaches. He is always looking to improve his game.”
But it does start up front, he said.
“We all know that if the guys up front do not do their jobs, the best runner is going nowhere,” Hassett said. “And Joey Joy, our fullback, has done an outstanding job blocking for him all season so far. Aaron knows to follow him.
“Joey has made some key blocks to free him.”
South leads the all-time series, 39-18-1, and has won the last 8 clashes. Geneva’s last win was a 26-13 verdict in the season-opener Aug. 27, 1999 at South. The two teams did not play from 2007 through 2010, when the Eagles were finishing their obligations to the now-defunct Northeastern Conference.
“They might just be one of the best teams in the state,” Hassett said. “They have an excellent quarterback and an outstanding group of receivers.
“What makes them so special is that they can play any style of game. They can throw with the best of them or they can just power you down the field.
“They are that good.”
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