MEDINA — The Old West couldn’t have scripted it better. Cool Hand Luke will square off with Larry the Legend on Friday in what is easily the biggest game of the year for both Brunswick and Medina’s football teams.
Bees coach Larry Laird will look for Medina to beat Luke Beal’s Blue Devils in what could very likely be a win or go home scenario.
Both squads sit outside the playoff picture in Division I, Region 2, but both have shots at postseason glory with a victory. Medina’s chances are very realistic even though it sits 10th in the region. With a win, the Bees (7-2, 2-2) could leapfrog Massillon Perry in the standings.
They would need Amherst Steele (8-1) to fall to Avon Lake (7-2) or Toledo St. John’s Jesuit (8-1) to lose to Toledo Central Catholic (8-1).
There’s a realistic chance Perry could lose to Canton GlenOak (4-5) as well, so a second playoff berth in school history isn’t out of the equation.
Brunswick (5-4, 2-2) needs a win and a lot of the same scenarios to take place if it wants to jump from its 11th-place positioning and into a 10th straight postseason.
“It’s huge for us,” Laird said. “We have a lot on the line, not only with the playoffs, but as a program.
“We’re trying to make a statement. We feel that beating a school like Brunswick, Strongsville or Solon is very important to the growth of our program. We’re not only fighting to win, we’re playing for a playoff spot.”
So are the Blue Devils, who haven’t missed Week 11 since they went 5-5 in 2000.
A 17-14 loss at home to Mayfield last week put a kink in their plans and has the squad fighting to stay above the break-even mark in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division.
“This game is always a big game. It’s a rivalry game, but there’s a tremendous amount riding on it,” Beal said. “For us – after the way we played last week – it’s more about finishing the season with some pride. We don’t want to finish with two losses.
“We need to redeem ourselves after a difficult loss. That’s the most important thing for us. We were kind of surprised we still had a shot of getting into the playoffs. So the chance of getting a win against Medina with the possibility of getting into the playoffs, that’s important for us.”
There’s no love – or secrets – lost when it comes to these two. Both teams know what they need to do in order to win. If the Blue Devils want to knock off the Bees for the 13th time in a row, they’ll likely need to score first.
That said, Medina is looking to get over a 36-6 loss to Solon last week.
“We want to start fast and score fast,” Brunswick monster back Eric Fox said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do this year.
“Our main focus is to score quick, force them into three-and- outs and put points up to hopefully fold them over. We have to go up there and smack them in the mouth. Let them know what Brunswick football is all about.”
The Blue Devils have the luxury of getting Tevin Jackson (31 carries, 167 yards, 11 catches, 211 yards, 4 Tds) back after the senior sat out a five-game suspension.
That will give the squad a crushing running attack with Nick Roberts (153 carries, 726 yards, 13 Tds) and Eric Fox (92, 456, 8) in the fold as well.
“They’re good, but we’re aware of them,” Medina strong safety Ben Hamel said. “We won’t game plan around them. We’ll just play like we have all year.
“That’s our game plan, to stop the run first and make them uncomfortable. They don’t want to pass; they want to run – just like us. If we can get them out of their comfort zone, we should be successful.”
Brunswick is going in with the same philosophy. The Blue Devils saw Solon completely neutralize Medina tailback Jason Suggs (207 carries, 1,396 yards, 14 Tds) last week.
It’s the first time the senior has been stopped and it proved to be the manuscript on how to shut down the Bees.
“He’s their go-to guy,” Beal said. “The one you have to stop. Our defense has played well against the run.
“We’ve given up some big plays in the passing game, but the run is the strength of our defense. We have to make them earn every inch they get.”
With two evenly matched units squaring off, the bottom line might come down to momentum.
Medina hung with Strongsville, but gave up a touchdown just before halftime. The Mustangs used that score and abused the Bees in the second half.
Brunswick trailed Strongsville in its game just before intermission, but scored in the final minute to make it a one-score affair. The Blue Devils stormed through the Mustangs in the third and fourth quarter and won.
“These are high school kids, momentum is important,” Laird said. “We need to control the football, control field position and control the scoreboard. We need to play with the lead and not from behind.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.