TORONTO — The air was full of excitement as the Toronto football started its season, and the Red Knights started it in grand fashion.
Toronto entered the season with high expectations, and the Knights took the first step in reaching the teams lofty goals as Toronto defeated East Canton, 34-0, Friday night at Clarke Hinkle Field.
“The message to our team was to come out and take care of business,” Toronto (1-0) head coach Josh Franke said. “We know our potential, and our kids were able to rise to the occasion. We had a couple of hiccups. We were not perfect. We got off to a good start.”
The Red Knights recorded big plays in all three phases of the game.
“We are spoiled,” Franke said. “We have a lot of weapons. We are able to spread teams out. We live and die by the big play. It is the same thing as last year. We were able to make things happen.”
Toronto totaled 438 yards of offense with 297 coming on the ground and 141 through the air.
Defensively, the Red Knights intercepted three passes — one of which was returned for a touchdown — and held the Hornets to just 16 yards on 15 carries. The Red-and-White also blocked a punt.
Three of Toronto’s touchdowns came from at least 35 yards out.
“That was what we preached to them tonight before we left the team meal,” Franke said about his team creating big plays and turnovers. “The equation is making the most big plays and winning the turnover battle. We did a good job of that tonight.”
East Canton (0-1) collected 136 yards of offense.
The hosts scored on their first possession of the game. After stopping the visitors on downs, Toronto took over at their own 36, and they drove 64 yards for the opening score.
Kam Baker, who ran for 53 yards on six carries and hauled in one pass for 18 yards, scored on a 1-yard run to give Toronto a 6-0. The extra point sailed wide keeping the home team’s advantage at six points with 4:48 remaining in the first quarter.
Baker’s touchdown was set up by a 35-yard run by quarterback Zane Kinsey.
The Red Knights nearly scored on their second possession of the night, as the Knights traveled down to the East Canton 12, however, the Hornets were able to intercept a pass in the end zone to bring that scoring chance to an end.
The victors led just 6-0 at the end of the first, however, they scored four touchdowns in the second stanza to break the game wide open.
After throwing an interception, Kinsey returned the favor to visitors as he intercepted an Owen McCroskey pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to make the score 12-0 with 10:29 remaining to be played in the first half. The 2-point conversion pass failed to keep the score the same.
Next, Mason Marchbank collected his first of two touchdowns on the night as Toronto extended its advantage out to 20-0. Marchbank hauled in a 15-yard score from Kinsey, and Kinsey hooked up with Aiden Filby for the 2-point conversion to increase the Red Knights’ advantage to 20-0 with 8:02 left to play before halftime.
Dom Bouscher scored on a 35-yard run to give Toronto a 26-0, and Michael Henry split the uprights with the extra point to make it a 27-0 ballgame with 2:44 left in the first half.
Marchbank scored Toronto’s final touchdown of the night as he snagged a 45-yard touchdown pass from Kinsey, and Henry kicked the extra point to make the score 34-0 with just 16 showing on the scoreboard clock.
Marchbank’s touchdown brought the running clock into play.
Neither team scored in the second half.
McCroskey — East Canton’s starting quarterback — went down with an injury in the second quarter, and he did not return.
Ian Spencer led the way for the boys in white as he had more than 100 yards receiving on the night.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Franke said. “They are a pretty good team. They kept their foot on the pedal the whole time. They are going to win some games.”
Kinsey ran for 99 yards on nine carries, and he threw for 139 yards and two touchdowns. His backup — Russ Dickinson — had a 56-yard run late in the victory before taking a knee to run out the clock.
Dom Bouscher ran the ball three times for 55 yards and a touchdown, and the senior speedster also hauled in two catches for 21 yards. Marchbank led the team with four catches for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“It is hard to say one player played better than another,” Franke said. “This was a team win.”
Both teams are scheduled to return to the field at 7 p.m. Friday night.
Toronto is slated to play East Palestine on the road up at Reid Memorial Stadium. The Red Knights defeated the Bulldogs, 42-7, last season at home.
“There is a lot of excitement around the Toronto Red Knights,” Franke said. “I think a lot of fans are going to make the trip up to East Palestine. They are going to want to continue on this journey with us.”
Meanwhile, East Canton will meet United at home inside Foltz Stadium. The Golden Eagles defeated the Hornets, 55-21, last season at home.
Toronto 34, East Canton 0
East Canton 0 0 0 0 – 0
Toronto 6 28 0 0 – 34
TORONTO: Baker 1 run (kick failed), 4:48
TORONTO: Kinsey 36 pass interception return (pass fail), 10:29
TORONTO: Marchbank 15 pass from Kinsey (Filby pass from Kinsey), 8:02
TORONTO: Bouscher 35 run (Henry kick), 2:44
TORONTO: Marchbank 45 pass from Kinsey (Henry kick), :16
RUSHING: East Canton 15-16 (McCroskey 3-(-16), Dye, 6-31, McCauley 1-(-5), Reda 2-(-4), Peterson 1-(-2), Hawthorne 1-3, C. Stubblefield 1-10); Toronto 25-297 2TDs (Kinsey 9-99, Baker 6-53 TD, Do. Bouscher 3-55 TD, McEwen 2-8, Dr. Bouscher 3-17, R. Dickinson 2-55)
PASSING: East Canton 16-28-120-0-3 (McCroskey 9-15-60-0-1, C. Stubblefield 7-13-60-0-2); Toronto 10-19-141-2-1 (Kinsey 9-17-139-2-1, R. Dickinson 1-2-2-0-0)
RECEIVING: East Canton 16-120 (McCauley 1-(-4), Spencer 6-103, Stubblefield 2-3, Reda 1-5, Stephens 2-4, Mitchell 1-1, J. Stubblefield 1-2, Pollard 1-1); Toronto 10-141 2TDs (Marchbank 4-80 2TDs, Filby 1-18, Baker 1-18, Do. Bouscher 2-21, N. Dickinson 1-2, McEwen 1-2)
FIRST DOWNS: East Canton 7; Toronto 18
PENALTIES-YARDS: East Canton 6-46; Toronto 4-35
FUMBLES-LOST: East Canton 0-0; Toronto 0-0
PUNTS-AVG.: East Canton 2-7; Toronto 0-0