Tron Lofton had various times on Saturday night where could've sworn he was back in 1993 again — and he and his Sandusky football teammates were locked in a tight fight with Vermilion for Erie Shore Conference supremacy.
Lofton's old coach, longtime Blue Streaks coach Larry Cook, was on the sideline barking out plays. And when Cook felt the urge, he turned that fire on certain individuals he felt weren't quite performing up to his standard.
Typical stuff for an alumni game.
“He had the old juices flowing, which brought back all kinds of old memories,” Lofton said, who was the oldest player to compete for the Sandusky alumni (1993 graduate) in the alumni contest against the Sailors on Strobel Field at Cedar Point Stadium.
Sandusky forced a Vermilion fumble inside the 10-yard line with 1:43 left, securing a 14-7 victory.
“I told these guys, 'When I come out, I come out to win,'” Cook said. “I got on them a little bit in practice even leading up to tonight, and they wanted that. They wanted to win, too. I told them we have tremendous talent out here, but everybody can't be doing their own thing. We had to put it together and do it as a group.
“As a result, they bought into it and played hard,” he added. “And for an alumni football game, it was pretty well played game.
The Blue Streaks tallied a pair of second quarter touchdowns – a run of 20-plus yards from Aries Irby (2007 graduate) at the 8:43 mark and a 15-yard catch by Davion Caston (2010 graduate) from Trevor Dehn (2004 graduate) just as the first half clock expired. Paco Romero (1995 graduate) kicked both of the team's extra points.
For his efforts, Irby was named team MVP for Sandusky.
“It felt great,” Irby said of making it into the end zone again at Strobel Field. “It was a great night. Me and El Da' Sheon Nix (2000 graduate) put it together. We blew this thing up and took it from a game to an event.”
A decent-sized crowd on both sides didn't see the prettiest football played. But it was competitive, especially on defense. Fumbles and interceptions dominated the scorebook, including a long 62-yard interception return by Cordney Strickland (2011 graduate), who had two on the night.
“I think both sides played good defense and, at times, decent offense,” said Vermilion's Travis Carter, a 2001 graduate. “There was a lot of pregame jibber-jabber going around on both sides on Facebook and Twitter — all fun of course. I would say both sides could walk away impressed with the jobs we did with the short amount of preparation.”
Vermilion only had 12 total practices leading up to Saturday.
“Once this game came down and we saw Sandusky could field a team, and other teams couldn't, we jumped at it and were like we want to play,” Carter said. “Hopefully, we can get another game together, maybe even next year with these guys on our turf.
“We're also hoping to play another game either at the end of August or early part of September against either Amherst or Firelands,” he added.
Each roster featured players that ranged in ages from early 40s to early 20s, some were even straight out of high school.
“What was so funny about tonight,was some of the kids I was running behind like Cordney Strickland, Eric Jordan (2009 graduate) and Aries Irby, was I coached all those kids when I was here,” Lofton said. “So that was even more special for me.”
Sandusky made the playoffs in 2010 for the fist time in 20 years. Before that, it was Lofton's 1990 squad.
“I'm a diehard,” Lofton said. “I love the Blue Streaks. This was a special night for the community.”
Cook was the coach at Sandusky from 1984-2000, compiling a 110-66 record while reaching the playoffs three times and going unbeaten in the regular season twice.
“It brings back a tremendous amount of memories,” Cook said. “I hadn't coached a football game at all in 13 years. To be back on the sideline here at Strobel Field really felt good. I had tremendous help from a lot of good coaches tonight.
“Most importantly, the kids believed in what we were doing,” he added. “We made some mistakes, there's no doubt about that. We kicked ourselves in the teeth a few times when we could have put this game away in the first half. But the kids believed in what we were doing, executed, and made the plays when they had to.”