LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The pressure was on the Gilman football team before it even stepped onto the field for the season opener Sunday afternoon.
Facing St. Edward (Ohio), one of the top-ranked teams in the country, in front of a nationally televised audience, the Greyhounds knew they'd be in for a test. And the Eagles lived up to the billing — starting strong, finishing stronger and breezing to a 38-7 victory.
"I don't think we prepared for anything. We got walloped … absolutely hammered," Gilman coach Biff Poggi said. "If I was in Maryland, and I was on our schedule, I wouldn't be afraid of anything. I'd look forward to facing us. We looked like a poorly coached team, an unprepared team … and that falls directly on me as the head coach. The kids deserve a better effort than I've gave them the last month."
St. Edward made things tough for the Greyhounds from the start, scoring on its first two drives to grab a 14-0 lead.
Eagles running back Cole Gest scored on a 2-yard run on the game's opening drive. Then, St. Edward used a trick play when quarterback Brett Kean threw a lateral to receiver Frank Geib near the right sideline, and Geib launched a 58-yard touchdown pass to Alex Stump, who was left unguarded by the Gilman defense.
The Greyhounds finally answered on the ensuing kickoff. Senior wide receiver Jelani Roberts caught the ball on the 11, split a pair of St. Edward defenders, made a cutback move toward the left sideline and sprinted 89 yards for the touchdown.
"I caught the punt, and my teammates really made excellent blocks. I wasn't touched," Roberts said. "That was all my teammates."
With a 24-7 halftime lead, Gest erased all hope for Gilman with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns — from 30 and 81 yards. The junior finished with 194 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries.
"They are really good. They're as good as anyone we've ever played," Poggi said about St. Edward. "They are as good as [New Jersey's] Don Bosco [Prep] was when they were undefeated for three years in a row. St. Edward has great athletes, and they are so well-coached.
"They get those athletes in space — they know how to get them in space, and they know when to get them in space. They just play hard and fast, and we didn't."
Gilman quarterback Kai Locksley, a Florida State commitment, had a rough outing in the lopsided loss. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound senior couldn't find seams in the St. Edward defensive front to run through, and his passing targets were also hard to locate.
Locksley completed 2 of 8 passes for 13 yards, ran 16 times for 45 yards and was sacked twice.
"They had him scoped out," Poggi said. "It's not a one-man thing. We didn't block anybody, and Kai took a lot of shots. I'm proud of how he played, but we've got to get a lot better."
Despite the inauspicious performance, Locksley managed to find the silver lining.
"That's the kind of team that you'd play in the championship game at the end of the season when everyone's at their best," he said. "So the fact that we played them in our first game — a championship-caliber team — I think it can only be great for us down the road.
"We just played one of the best high school teams I've ever played against, and we have the whole season ahead of us. So now we're in that mode, and we have that right frame of mind."
St. Edward 38, Gilman 7
SE—Gest 2 run (Walton kick)
SE—Stump 58 pass from Gelb (Walton kick)
G—Roberts 89 kick return (Cohill kick)
SE—A. Dowell 1 run (Walton kick)
SE—Walton 25 FG
SE—Gest 30 run (Walton kick)
SE—Gest 81 run (Walton kick)