Cardinal Sports History
BASEBALL TEAM DOMINATES THE 1990S
The 1990s saw the Huskies attain their greatest accomplishments, becoming a perennial Division III power under Coach Rich Driscoll. During his tenure as head coach, Driscoll's record of 153-33 ranks him second in the program's history in wins and first in winning percentage (.823). Coach Driscoll produced five East Suburban Conference and Chagrin Valley Conference titles, five District titles, and one Regional championship. He coached five conference MVPs and the programs only 1st Team All-Ohio player, his son Jason in 1996.
The 1996 season was a magical one. The Huskies narrowly mussed a trip to the state Final Four the season before, falling to Campbell Memorial 6-5 in the Regional Championship game. Led by Jason Driscoll, Bill Kumher, Josh Yoder, Seth Klepper, and Todd Yoder, the Huskies crusided through the tournament in 1996, defeating Northwestern 8-4 in the REgional Championship game and earning a trip to the Final Four. The Huskies then went on to defeat Versailles 9-4 in the Semi-Final game before losing 4-1 to Wheelersburg in the Championship game. The Huskies finsihed the 1996 season with a 27-2 record, setting the mark for wins in a season.
The Huskies continued their dominance throughout the 1990s, narrowly missing the Final Four again in 1997 after losing to Elyria Catholic 3-1 in the Regional Championship. Cardinal won District Titles in 1998 and 1999. Coach David Bronson continued the program's success, winning conference titles in 2000 and 2001.
2002 FOOTBALL SEASON
In 2002, the Huskies football team has a season to remember. The 2002 team won the most games (11) in Cardinal football history; were the first Cardinal team to make the state playoffs; were the first Cardinal football team in 31 years to go undefeated in the regular season; and the first Huskie team in a quarter century to win more than 8 games.
The team started out the year with three solid victories over Garrettsville Garfield, Pymatuning Valley and Beachwood. The week four opponent was West Geauga, the defending overall CVC champs – a team that had beaten the Huskies 44-33 in a shootout the year before. But now the game was at Richard A. Moss Field and it was a hard-fought nail-biter. The Huskies won, 24-22. “Cardinal sends shock waves through CVC with win over Wolverines” the News-Herald reported the next day. Senior quarterback Nick Adams threw for three touchdown passes. The margin of victory was Mateo Villa’s 33 yard field goal. As time was running down in the 4th quarter, All-State lineman Titus Phile stuffed a WG two-point conversion attempt that could have tied the game.
If anything, the Huskies outdid themselves the very next week in the second crossover game with a Chagrin Team, Aurora. Down 21-14 at the half, Cardinal scored 21 unanswered points after the break. Quarterback Nick Adams threw for four touchdowns (then a school record), and ran for a fifth. Lance Fisher caught one of those TDs, but put on a punting clinic, driving one 61 yards to the “coffin corner” inside the Greenmen’s 10 yard line. Reseiver Jesse Soltis, battling the flu and 101 degree fever made the key play of the game. Catching a short slip screen pass from Adams, Soltis raced 63 yards for the tying TD in the 3rd quarter; the Huskies never looked back. The next morning, Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Tim Warsinskey observed: “Numbers lie. The numbers say the Valley Division of the Chagrin Valley Conference is for smaller and presumably weaker football teams. The truth, in the case of the Cardinal Huskies, is that size does not matter. Cardinal’s 35-21 victory over Chagrin Division opponent Aurora sent a message that will be heard throughout the CVC.”
The Huskies breezed through their next four games, clinching a playoff berth—the first in school history—but not yet clinching the league championship. The conference crown hung in the balance as the Huskies traveled to Gates Mills to play a Saturday afternoon Week 10 game against Hawken, the defending Valley champ. Once again, the Huskies found themselves down 21-14 at the half. No problem. As Coach Eric Cardinal told Ashtabula Star Beacon reporter Karl Pearson, “One of the kids came in [at halftime] and said ‘Hey, this is just like Aurora.’ That’s all we needed.” Jesse Soltis scored three TDs in the game. Nick Adams once again threw for three touchdowns. But both of the backs gave the real credit to the offensive line in the next morning’s papers – tight ends Nick Hall, Nick Mihalik, and Brett Anderson; and interior linemen Nick Urso, Thad Wojtacik, Titus Phile, Mateo Villa and Zach Burzanko. “It was all the line,” Soltis said. On the last touchdown, a 57 yard Soltis run, “one blocker, number 61, Zach Burzanko, had the block of his life,” Soltis said afterward. It was that kind of year.
In the playoffs, the Huskies hosted and won their first playoff game in school history 13-6 over Gilmour Academy. The Huskies were eliminated later in the playoff run by Dalton.