June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Great finish looms in SL

For the first time in Medina County history, three area schools are undefeated in the Suburban League with four games remaining.

Cloverleaf, Wadsworth and Highland are 3-0 and tied atop the SL, and all have yet to play each other.

It can’t get any better than that.

The preseason favorite Hornets (6-0) have been dynamite all season, especially defensively, where the first-string defense has allowed 16 points in three league contests.

Chris Snook, Nick Knerem, Ben Brown, Jarrod Swick and Kyle Callari have given the team a balance on offense that can’t be matched, with all having big games at some point in the year.

Other than Tallmadge, Highland has yet to be tested, although a complete 37-7 manhandling of a good Green squad — one that Cloverleaf and Wadsworth barely got by — was one heck of a confidence booster.

The Colts (6-0) have been the dream story of the 2008 season in arguably all of Northeast Ohio.

Offensively, Cloverleaf has been good but not great, but the defense has been tougher than ice road truckers all season long.

The secondary is where the Colts are at their best with plucky Heath Eby and Keegan Conry at the corners and Division I prospect Cody Roberts at safety.

The “O” has revolved around old-school wing-T principles by spreading the ball around. No one has emerged as a true go-to guy, but Roberts, Kyle Juszczyk, Adam Cepik, Devin Hansen and Conry force the opposition to worry about everything and anything.

The Grizzlies (5-1) are trucking along behind the defensive leadership of Jake Palidar and a balanced offense similar to that of the Colts.

Wadsworth has really slammed the door on SL offenses, including making Barberton standout quarterback Kyle Snyder look like a rookie last Friday.

Quarterback Caleb Busson and wide receiver Anthony Schrock have paced the offense, but lightning-quick Aarick Jones is starting to come around at tailback.

As of this moment, I’ll take Highland at 7-0, Cloverleaf at 6-1 and Wadsworth at 5-2 to cap the season.

Of course, that probably means Cloverleaf or Highland will beat Wadsworth, which will beat Highland or Cloverleaf, which will give the SL its second-ever three way tie (2004 — Green, Tallmadge, Copley).


Random thoughts

Cloverleaf boys soccer player Chris Matejka looks like early 2000s Highland standout Israel Jones. It’s uncanny, really. …

Oh, and Highland offensive tackle Chris Kunze looks like “Roseanne” star John Goodman. …

In case anyone was wondering, Grindle Casino and Resort has Buckeye minus-39 against Columbia and Highland minus-27 against Barberton. …

The new Cloverleaf Colts logo is a much-needed upgrade. The school ripped off the Denver Broncos’ logo for much of the decade. …

Over its past three games, Black River’s run defense has allowed an average of just 93.0 yards. Although two of the games were against Oberlin and Brookside, the Pirates are starting to come around. Once playmaking safety Neil Jones comes back from injury, the defense will only get better. …

Cloverleaf still beat Tallmadge despite the Blue Devils having a 342-122 advantage on the ground, which got me thinking. The last time Cloverleaf was outrushed by 200 or more yards in a single game and won was, well, never. … 

The Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division is 7-23 this season. Those seven victories have come against schools with a collective mark of 14-28. … 

Highland kicker Eric Duale’s 50-yard field goal against Green was just the third of that distance or longer in county history.

Brunswick’s Tony Minjarik pulled off a 52-yarder against Strongsville in 1985, while Medina’s Bob Kozel booted the pigskin through the uprights from the same distance in 1951 against Wadsworth.

Kozel’s first-half kick, which ended up being critical in an 18-16 Bees victory, was particularly interesting.

The Gazette reported “the ball sailed far and true, a perfect kick that just cleared the crossbar.”

Um, let’s just say that wasn’t the whole story.

The Wadsworth News-Banner saw the play in a different light, saying, “The officials, who were in no position to see whether the ball cleared the upright, ruled the kick good. WHS coaches and many fans who were near that end of the field claimed the ball lacked distance and fell under the crossbar.”

Nice to see that even 57 years ago Medina and Wadsworth had things to having a you-know-what match about. …

Wadsworth’s Matt Reed needs five extra point kicks to pass big brother Nate’s career county record with 89. Think there will be some bragging rights in that household?

Of course, Nate is now an All-Mid-American Conference player for Kent State. I would say he still wins the argument. …

Congratulations to Black River slot back Jake O’Connor. With an 83-yard pass reception and 71-yard run against Brookside, the sophomore became the first player in school history to score from at least 70 yards via receiving and rushing in the same game. He also netted the Spencer Redbirds a ridiculous 43 points in Gazette Prep Fantasy Football. …

Pirates all-time leading rusher Charlie Moskal is the only other Black River player to score two TDs of over 70 yards in a game, with both (93, 78) coming on the ground against Mogadore in 1998. Moskal, a Gazette All-Century pick in 2006, finished that contest with a then-county record 337 rushing yards.

Aaron Munyan came close to matching the long-distance feat in 2002 against Ashland Mapleton with 78- and 67-yard TD carries.

Grindle may be reached at agrindle@ohio.net or 330-721-4043.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.