The fun and games are over. It's time to get down to business for the Solon football team.
The unbeaten Comets, coming off a 48-0 conquest of Normandy, begin defense of their NOC Valley Division title Friday night at Medina. Solon has cruised through its first five games but the second half of the schedule is full of potential pitfalls.
"We told our guys that was kind of like the pre-season," said Comet head coach Jim McQuaide of the first five games. "Now we have to start defending that championship. We've won it the last two years and we don't want to give it up."
Solon is ranked fourth in the current Division I, Region I computer rankings behind St. Edward, Mentor and Cleveland Heights. The Comets are 11th in state poll but all of that can change in an instant.
"If we go down to Medina Friday night and aren't ready to play we will lose," said McQuaide. "Winning this week is the only thing that matters. You've got to be 1-0 before you can win the league."
The Bees, a playoff team last season, are 2-3 after a tough 20-15 setback at the hands of Lakewood last week.
"We saw them play Friday night and they have some tremendous players," said McQuaide. "They beat Canton McKinley in the playoffs last year. I don't know how they're 2-3 ... they shouldn't be."
While the team and coaching staff is focused on Medina, the fans are already anticipating next week's clash at Stewart Field between Solon and Mentor in what should be the Game of the Year in Northeast Ohio.
The Comets were once again dominant against Normandy, exploding for a 34-0 lead at the half. George Berry scored on a one-yard run and a 21-yard interception return while Jesse Circelli added scoring runs of three and 28 yards. Quarterback Patrick Kramer connected with Nick Davidson for a 14-yard TD pass and teamed up with Anthony Restifo on an 18-yard pass for another score.
Davidson continued his standout season on defense with eight tackles, matching the total recorded by Dione Gibson.
"We went there and did what we were supposed to do and we did it with everybody playing," said McQuaide, whose team stretched its regular season winning streak to 25 games.
Two key players should return to the lineup Friday night as Khoury Crenshaw and Cory Stuart are back. Crenshaw has been out since suffering a concussion in the season opener against Shaker Heights.
How does McQuaide assess his team's performance thus far?
"I'd say we're much more consistent effort-wise than we were at the beginning of the season," he said. "I would say we're an improving team."