BRUNSWICK — It wasn’t the kind of history Medina’s football team was hoping to make at the beginning of the season, but it certainly put a positive ending on a frustrating year.
By virtue of a 7-0 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division win over Brunswick on Friday, the 2011 Bees became the first Medina team to defeat the Blue Devils and Strongsville in the same season.
While a 4-6, 2-3 record wasn’t what the Bees envisioned coming off a 9-3 season and the first playoff victory in school history, ending the year with a win over Brunswick (6-4, 1-4) had a lot of Medina players smiling. The Bees have now beaten the Blue Devils two straight, the first time they’ve done that since 1997-98.
“Obviously it was a disappointing year, but if we had to have a disappointing year, beating Brunswick and Strongsville is how I’ll take it,” said senior linebacker Alex Harris, who blocked a field goal, came up with a key stop on fourth-and-2 and was in on at least a dozen tackles.
“I huddled the guys up in the locker room before the game and said, ‘We’ve got to get a shutout to win the game.’ I got in everyone’s ear. If it wasn’t for the younger guys stepping up, we wouldn’t have won.”
Foremost among those younger guys were juniors Josh Kuehn and Justin Watkins.
Kuehn intercepted two passes with Brunswick deep in Medina territory, while the 6-foot, 198-pound Watkins tackled Nick Roberts (24 carries, 104 yards) for a 4-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the Bees 45 with 1:31 remaining.
“I blitzed the gap and thought I was going to get him, but Justin made a great cut to the ball and latched on to him as hard as he could,” Harris said of Watkins’ stop. “He made a big play.”
Kuehn, a transfer from Walsh Jesuit, personally stopped two Brunswick drives in a game where the Blue Devils accumulated 290 yards and never punted, but failed to put a point on the scoreboard.
Facing third-and-6 from the Medina 7 midway through the second quarter, Brunswick quarterback Dan Yohman attempted to throw into the end zone, but Kuehn was the closest player to the ball and made the easy pick.
Kuehn’s second interception, with 1:27 left in the third period, was even bigger. On the first play after the Blue Devils’ Anthony Bova returned a punt 45 yards to the Medina 15, he picked Yohman (6-of-13, 38 yards) again, this one coming on a play where a Brunswick receiver was initially wide open.
“They ran a crossing route,” Kuehn said. “The kid was open for a while, but the quarterback hesitated and that gave me just enough time to jump it.”
It was that kind of night for the Blue Devils, who also lost a Roberts fumble, this one recovered by Benny Cunningham, at their own 49 on the second play of the second quarter.
Brunswick outgained Medina, which didn’t officially throw a pass in the second half, by 133 yards and had 18 first downs to the Bees’ six.
“You just can’t turn the ball over in the red zone,” said Blue Devils coach Luke Beal, whose team won its first five games and lost four of its last five. “It’s just that simple. That’s the story of the game.”
Medina scored the only touchdown of the night on a 55-yard run up the middle by reserve tailback James Dahlheimer, who wasn’t touched, on the third play of the third quarter. That play accounted for one of the Bees’ two first downs in the second half.
Dahlheimer finished with 66 yards rushing on five carries, while starting tailback Laterian Brown carried 13 times for 36 yards. Quarterback Mason Schreck was 2-of-8 passing for 13 yards and one interception, by Keith Yohman, and rushed 15 times for 42 yards.
The Medina defense, which bent but didn’t break, and special teams made sure that was enough.
Harris blocked Thomas Kuczma’s 24-yard field goal attempt with 3:41 left in the third period, then tackled Dan Yohman for a 6-yard loss on fourth-and-2 from the Medina 14 with 6:31 left in the game.
On Brunswick’s final drive, Watkins got Roberts for a 4-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the Medina 45.
“It didn’t look like it was blocked very well,” Beal said. “We didn’t have anywhere to run.
“If you put it in the hands of your best back and can’t get a yard, you don’t deserve to win the game.”
Brunswick lined up to punt three times. On the first, Medina jumped offside, giving the Blue Devils a first down. On the second, Brunswick unsuccessfully tried to pass out of punt formation with eight seconds left in the first half. On the third, the Bees were called for roughing the kicker.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com.
Medina 7, Brunswick 0
MEDINA 0 0 7 0 — 7
BRUNSWICK 0 0 0 0 — 0
M — James Dahlheimer 55 run (Will Hiteshue kick), 10:39.
Bees beat Brunswick, Strongsvile in same season