by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Their playoff spot was secure.
And win or lose, they probably locked up a home date for week 11.
But there was something just as important riding on the Blue Devils’ final regular-season game.
That would be a league championship.
The host Tallmadge football team won its third consecutive Suburban League title after posting a commanding 35-7 victory over Green Oct. 26 at Rossiaky Stadium.
With the win, the Blue Devils (8-2, 6-1) have the Suburban League championship all to themselves.
That became official when Nordonia lost a 41-20 decision to Wadsworth Oct. 26.
Tallmadge, the top seed in the Division II, Region 5 playoff bracket, was scheduled to entertain eighth-seeded Chagrin Falls Kenston Nov. 2. Results were not available at press time.
The winner faces the Chardon-Warren Howland winner Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
“Our first goal has always been to win a league championship,” Blue Devils head coach Joe Vassalotti said. “It was great for our seniors. They have been a big part of the last three years.”
Tallmadge put the contest away with a 28-point outburst in the second quarter.
The Blue Devils added seven points in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs (6-4, 4-3) scored their only points in the fourth quarter.
Tallmadge quarterback Anthony Gotto rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another. He had a one-yard run to get the Blue Devils on the board just 18 seconds into the second quarter.
He added an 80-yard TD run less than three minutes later and threw an 87-yard TD pass to wide receiver Jimmy Aumont with 2:06 left in the half.
Gotto, who was named the team’s offensive player of the week, concluded his big night with an 11-yard scoring run with 28 seconds remaining in the first half. Running back Bobby Clark capped off the scoring for Tallmadge with an 11-yard TD run.
“We felt like it was our best overall game of the year,” Vassalotti said. “Whether it was special teams, offense or defense, we put it all together.”
Gotto rushed for 131 yards on seven carries and completed 7-of-9 passes for 163 yards. The Blue Devils ran for a total of 305 yards.
“We had two drives in a row that lasted two plays,” Vassalotti said.
“That swung the momentum in our favor. Anthony has good speed. He’s not perceived as a running quarterback.”
Green committed three turnovers. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, had zero miscues.
“It was one of those games where we jumped on them early,” Vassalotti said. “It was good to see that we didn’t have any turnovers. We were minus-11 in our previous three games.”
Tallmadge’s defense did its part too.
The Blue Devils finished with five sacks and all three of defensive end Daniel Ray’s tackles were for a loss. Defensive backs Cordt Skraba and Johnny Linn each had interceptions for Tallmadge and strong safety Davis Moore had a fumble recovery.
Vassalotti said the entire defense earned player-of-the week honors. Kicker Kody Edwards, who converted all five point after tries for the Blue Devils, was named special teams’ player of the week.
The scout team players of the week were Jason Wiebrecht and Logan Dawson.