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Game of the Year: Comets, Fans Prepare for Unbeaten Mentor

Anticipation builds as Solon and Mentor face off in Game of the Year

The unstoppable offense against the unyielding defense.

A battle for first place in the NOC Valley Division.

A 26-game regular season unbeaten streak.

And enough computer points to virtually guarantee a top seed in Division I, Region 1.

Other than that, there's not much on the line when Solon hosts Mentor in what many are calling the Game of the Year at 7:15 Thursday night. The contest will be televised live on Fox Sports Ohio.

This is the one the fans were talking about during the summer. A game pitting the high-flying Cardinals, ranked third in the state poll, against the stout defense of the Comets, ranked 10th. A loss won't end either team's season but a win just might propel the victor to even greater heights.

Solon beat Mentor 31-21 last year. The Cardinals have outscored their opponents by a 264-100 margin this season while the Comets have an amazing 223-35 scoring advantage which includes three shutouts.

"They're a tremendous team with an outstanding front four, great linebackers and a really good quarterback," said Solon head coach Jim McQuaide. ""They're throwing the ball all over the place and they do it very well."

Mentor quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-14 victory over previously unbeaten Brunswick last week. Trubisky runs the Cardinals' five receiver set, which is capable of scoring points in a hurry.

""They don't have a tight end or a fullback," said McQuaide. "It doesn't matter if it's snowing, raining or 100 degrees, that's what they do. That's the beauty of high school football -- there are so many different defenses and offenses. You have to make adjustments each week."

Solon is coming off a hard-fought 17-0 win at Medina last week as the Comets did not put the game away until the final period of play on a 43-yard field goal by Alex Knight and a 29-yard touchdown run by George Berry.

""We believed going in that they (Medina) were a good team and they played us tough," said McQuaide. "We didn't have the same concentration we had in some of our other games. We can't just show up and expect to win."

The Solon defense has showed up all year long. Nick Davidson had another standout game Friday night with 15 tackles and an interception. The Comets' quickness and speed on defense will be tested against Mentor.

"We've got to handle the pace of play at the beginning of the game and then adjust to playing at that level," said McQuaide. "The best way to help our defense is to keep the ball away from their offense."

Solon will have the benefit of playing at Stewart Field, where the team has won 20 consecutive games. Everyone in attendance is hoping to witness a game for the ages.

"This is the perfect example of a great rivalry," said McQuaide, who has coached in his share of big games over the years. "We have a great deal of respect for them and I'm sure they have respect for us. Each team is going to go out and make plays."

The best game plan for The Game? Get there early.

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