GIRARD – John Helms left Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium with a loss, a series of bruises and a broken finger on Thursday. The former Liberty wide receiver and Trumbull County All-Star caught four passes for 63 yards, including a 34-yard reception that he bobbled before being wrecked by a Mahoning defender in the third quarter of the annual Jack Arvin Classic.
The Mahoning team won for the second-straight year, 34-26.
The pain was all worth it for Helms as he takes with him the memories of playing four years of high school football in the Mahoning Valley.
“I broke the finger early in the second quarter,” he said. “But I shook it off. It’s football; it happens. I knew I had (the long catch). I just thought I had a touchdown.”
Trumbull ran 22 pass lays, compared to zero from Mahoning. Lakeview’s Elijah Henderson led with four catches for 99 yards. Helms, a shifty wideout, stands just 5-foot-7, but Henderson towers at 6-foot-2.
“We had some speed and some height out there so we had to put it up,” Helms said.
Mahoning tallied 292 rushing yards on 45 carries. Fitch’s Matt Futkos, the game’s MVP, racked up 142 yards on 16 carries. He scored three touchdowns and got Mahoning on the board first with a 1-yard run. The Clarion recruit added another 1-yard scoring run with a 25-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
“I felt a little bit (rusty),” Futkos said. “Once the first play happened, everything went out the window and we started playing again – getting back to what I do.”
Struthers’ David Stewart had 66 yards, Cardinal Mooney’s Justus Ellis-Moore had 62 and Youngstown East’s Derrick Tensley added 20.
“We knew early on that we could run it against them,” Mahoning coach Jeff D’Altorio said. “In that first half, we knew they were tired right away. We took advantage, went no-huddle and kept on the move.”
He considered mixing in a pass play or two in the second half. Considering he had a pair of 6-foot-4 receivers in Jamir Humphrey (East) and Ryan Coyier (Youngstown Christian) it may not have been a bad idea.
“That offensive line said ‘Let’s just keep pounding them,'” D’Altorio said. “We went with their instincts and it worked out.”
Mahoning took a 20-0 lead in the first quarter. Ellis-Moore scored on an 8-yard run and Lowellville’s Geno Moore picked off an Eric Lockney pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.
Lockney was solid for the remainder, though. The former Howland quarterback was named Trumbull MVP for his 10 for 16, 228-yard performance. He threw another pick late in the fourth quarter, but a 50-yard toss to Henderson kept Trumbull alive in the final two minutes.
“It’s definitely great to air it out a little more,” Lockney said. “At Howland, when you have a running back like De’Veon Smith, you have to get your playmaker the ball.”
Henderson took his defender one-on-one before making the basket catch near the right pylon.
“Coaches told me the first look was to the trips side,” said Lockney, who will walk on to the Youngstown State football program. “Henderson had him one-on-one, so I knew I just had to look left and come back to him and he’d make a play.”
Henderson did as he was told.
“Lockney said, ‘Just run and do your thing,” Henderson said. “I’m used to running down the field and catching the ball. He put it in the perfect spot where only I could get it and I knew I had to score.”
Trumbull scored twice in the third quarter on a Roger Craig (Warren G. Harding) fumble recovery and a Tommy Duffy (Niles) 2-yard run.
Trevor Watson (Lakeview) and Casey Porter (Mineral Ridge) recovered a fumble inside the Mahoning 20 with a minute and a half remaining. Fitch’s Keith Lawrence picked off a Lockney pass on the first play of Trumbull’s ensuing possession. Trumbull had another chance to score in the final 35 seconds after Mahoning went three-and-out. Lockney threw three incomplete passes before being sacked by East’s Tar-Vail Scott to end it.
Nearly 1,400 fans attended the game to honor Arvin, a former Brookfield head coach who assisted at Hubbard and Girard. He passed away in 2001.