by Dan Holland
The Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School Bees varsity football team returned to the OHSAA playoffs for the first time in three years, winning their first-round matchup on the road against Westlake 30-3, but falling in the second week quarterfinals to #1 seed Avon 49-7.
The Bees, who were the #9 seed in Division II Region 6, finished the regular season with a 5-5 record with wins against Tallmadge, Maple Heights, North Royalton, Stow-Munroe Falls and Padua Franciscan.
The first week playoff matchup win on Oct. 27 against the #8 seed Westlake Demons at UH St. John Medical Center Stadium in Westlake saw Bees senior running back Eli Beach carry the ball 32 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Kyle Keener scored an additional touchdown on a 25-yard pass completion from senior quarterback Colin Seibert. The Bees also tacked on a safety when Westlake junior quarterback Sam Brucchieri was flagged for intentional grounding in his own endzone.
Brucchieri, who averaged 162 yards passing per game during the regular season, was limited to 120 yards passing, as the Bees defensive line applied heavy pressure throughout the game and stopped a number of sustained drives into their own territory. Westlake senior running back Matthew Porcelli, who averaged 135 yards per game during the regular season, was held to 90 yards rushing.
Bees’ special teams also factored in, with senior wide receiver David Zambounis blocking a punt during the second quarter, scooping it up and returning it to the Westlake four-yard line to setup one of Beach’s three TDs.
The Demons’ sole score came early in the first quarter following an interception by senior wide receiver Cooper Rummel, who took the ball to the Bees’ 14 yard-line, which was followed by a 23-yard field goal by junior Sean Evilsizer.
The Bees traveled to Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet Stadium in Avon on Nov. 3 for their quarterfinal matchup against the top-seeded 11-0 Avon Eagles.
The Bees scored first in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead on an 11-play drive capped off by a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Seibert. Unfortunately, that would prove to be the only points the team would muster in the 49-7 loss.
Eagles all-time rushing leader Jakorian Caffey, a senior commit to The University of Cincinnati, stole the show with 174 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Additional TDs for Avon were scored by junior wide receiver Matt Maxey on a 14-yard pass from junior quarterback Nolan Good, a 13-yard run by sophomore Cam Wendel and a final TD by senior wide receiver Paul Leftrict on a 54-yard screen pass from backup quarterback Blake Elder.
The Bees ended the season with a 6-6 record – a mark that head football coach Jason Black hopes to build on next year.
“For next year – now that the bar has been set to where we needed to get it – that next group has to raise it to another level,” Black said following the loss to Avon. ”I’m expecting the same competitiveness, physical play, and playing every single play like it’s our last. Those are standards that are set through the entire program, and the senior class this year was able to reinforce those elements.”
Black said he was happy with the play of the seniors and underclassmen all season. “I am extremely pleased with everything that the seniors were able to accomplish this year; it’s really a tribute to them as players, revealing their character in the way that they played,” he said. “No matter what, they played hard all the time, and that is something impressive to me.”
Black, who is the BBH Middle School Athletic Director, returned as varsity football head coach last season after stepping aside from the position following the 2016-17 school year.
“The growth of this team – especially since Jason Black came back last year as our head coach – has been phenomenal,” said BBHHS Athletic Director Mark Maslona. “He’s brought a lot of excitement to the school along with the excitement these kids have brought to the school. We play in probably the toughest conference in Northeast Ohio, and we’re right there with all the top teams.”
“We won a playoff game in the first week – the first one for Jason in ten years – and the first one for the team since the 2020-21 COVID year,” Maslona continued. “I can’t put into words what it’s done for everyone’s morale. I’m so proud of this team and this coaching staff.”
Black said he is looking ahead to further success in the coming years. “Success doesn’t come easy – you have to pay the price and put in the hard work – and hopefully, come January through July, we’re going to do what we need to earn success on the football field,” he said. “I’m just grateful for the seniors and all their hard work and sticking with it through tough times. Tonight wasn’t the greatest result for them, but they had a lot of fun during the season.” ∞
Photo (above): Bees senior quarterback Colin Seibert takes a snap. Photo by Phil Packard.