FINDLAY – The best-kept secret in the Northeast Ohio Conference isn’t much of a secret now.
Brunswick football coach Luke Beal saw flashes of brilliance in Nick Roberts during dress rehearsal. The first-year coach for the Blue Devils just didn’t know how much the sophomore running back could handle coming in.
A 39-30 non-league, season-opening win over Findlay on Friday told Beal all he needed to know as the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder busted runs of 57 and 50 yards for second-quarter scores to prove he was the real deal.
“He had a bum ankle and missed a lot of camp and this is the first week he’s been healthy,” Beal said. “He asked if he would be the starting tailback at some point. I said, ‘Don’t tell me, show me.’ He made a statement tonight.
“We knew Nick was tremendously talented, but we didn’t expect a night like that. That’s what we hoped we would get out of Nick Roberts.”
For good measure, Roberts added another touchdown scamper. This time it came around the left side to start the third quarter and make it 30-2. He finished with 210 yards on 19 attempts.
Making things even more impressive, fellow running back Tevin Jackson had five catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
“I was expecting to be on the bench, to tell you the truth,” Roberts said. “This is more like an honor.
“It’s like a dream to fight like that with your brothers. I have to stay healthy. I’m not going to curse myself about the future. We’ll see.”
Beal knew where his bread was buttered to start the season and the Blue Devils’ defense didn’t waste any time proving its strength.
At least for the first 24 minutes.
The unit recovered a fumble in the first half, intercepted a pass and watched the special teams block a punt.
But then the blue and white forgot what to do. Two big kickoff returns led to two scores for a Trojans squad that had minus-2 yards total offense in the first half.
Then 21 unanswered points by Findlay in the second half made it a 37-30 game and the Devils were on their heels again.
Tyler Mack put a bandage on the wound with an interception of Matt Spragg halfway through the fourth quarter.
Following a three-and-out by the offense, Ken Dobbins put away the defibrillators on the next defensive play for Brunswick, picking off Spragg near midfield.
Jake Mauer and John Bruketa registered a safety with 1:12 left to end the scoring for Brunswick, sacking Spragg in the end zone.
“It was an eye-opener in the second half,” Dobbins said. “We were flat. We have to come out stronger after halftime. But the win shows we can stick together and pull things out.”
The win marked the opening of the Beal era, as he is taking over for Medina County legend Rich Nowak.
Nowak compiled a 152-49 record with Brunswick. Beal came from a successful program at Fredericktown, making the playoffs three of the last four years while compiling a 35-9 mark.
“It’s a nice sigh of relief to get a win under your belt against a good football team,” Beal said. “It was ugly at times, but we got it done. Now we can just go to work and concentrate on this tough schedule.”
Safeties came in bunches in this non-conference opener. The Blue Devils blocked a punt and had a safety for a pair of two-pointers. Findlay had a blocked punt for two as well.
Contact Brad Bournival at medina-gazette.com