Thanksgiving dinner at the Solis household will undoubtedly come with a side of ribs this year.
It doesn’t matter if Twinsburg football coach Mark Solis wins tonight or if Brunswick mentor Luke Beal— Solis’ brother-in-law— comes out on top when the two face off. In the end, someone will have bragging rights for a year, while the other will be reminded of the final score every holiday until the two meet again.
“It adds to the fun, but it’s not like I want to get him,” Beal said. “The topic will probably come up, especially if he wins. But it would make Thanksgiving supper a lot easier if we did (win).”
That line of thinking runs throughout the entire Brunswick team. In 2009, the Blue Devils lost to Twinsburg in the regular season and then got bounced by the Tigers in the first week of the playoffs.
The 21-14 postseason loss has stuck in the craw of Brunswick (3-1) for almost a year. It happened in heartbreaking fashion when Twinsburg tight end Doug Talentino caught his fourth pass of the season and rumbled 74 yards for a score with a little over four minutes left.
“We remember,” Blue Devils linebacker Brandon Mendrea said. “We want it bad and we’re going to get it if we play football like we’re supposed to. There’s no reasonwe can’t win. The key is being physical and playing with intensity.”
Brunswick will start the game behind as wingback Tevin Jackson, tight end Ray J. Brown and defensive end Jake Mauer have been suspended for violating team policy.
The Tigers (4-0) also come in with a load of confidence on the defensive side. They haven’t given up more than 14 points in a game and have allowed just 7.0 on average.
A lot of that has to do with the play of linebacker Nico Gagne-Cross (32 tackles, 1 sack), defensive tackle Brett Gulosh (19 tackles, 2 for loss) and safety Michael Baker.
Behind the trio, Twinsburg is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry, 174.8 yards per game and has logged 10 turnovers.
“They really have set the tone,” Solis said. “They’ve played very, very well. It’ll be what we do up front, how we control the line of scrimmage on both sides.
“I’m not worried about how physical our team plays. They’re not afraid of collision. They need to bring that to the table (tonight).”
The offense, which Solis compared to a car whose timing belt is off, will need to come to play as well.
While John Barton (34 carries, 279 yards, 4 touchdowns), Aaron Macer (48, 272, 1) and Sam Burgess (34, 200, 2) have done enough to push the Tigers along, Solis wants more from the three.
That scares Beal, whose defense finally came of age last week vs. Garfield Heights.
“Last week, we were able to execute and control the tempo,” he said. “We didn’t put ourselves in bad situations. We have to be able to find a way to get first downs this week.
“We don’t want to give their offense chances. It’s critical for our defense to play fundamentally sound. They will probably be the fastest team we play all season. We have to make them work for every inch they get.”
Speaking of inches, Brunswick will need big games from Nick Roberts (83 carries, 445 yards, 6 TDs) and James Grega (39-of-89, 413 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs).
If the tandem can put together a solid performance, it might be enough to move the Blue Devils up in the Division I, Region 2 race. Brunswick, which has made the playoffs nine straight years, needs it, as the school sits in 11th place in the region.
“Twinsburg has a handful of playoff points,” Mendrea said. “If we win this one, it’ll make the rest of the season easier. This is the biggest game we’ve had so far, maybe the biggest we’ll have this year.”
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