By Kenneth L. Coleman
MACEDONIA — A Grizzly ran wild in Summit County on Friday night, and all attempts to tame the beast were met with brute resistance.
It sported a white No. 5 jersey and was named Jack Snowball.
As he’s done all season, Wadsworth’s senior running back chewed through another opposing defense for 253 yards on 28 carries, including three touchdowns.
More important than his statistics, Snowball’s performance led the Grizzlies to a 41-7 Suburban League win over Nordonia to wrap up a Division I, Region 2 playoff berth.
“Jack makes plays for us and he’s been doing it all year,” Wadsworth coach Greg Dennison said.
Current Wadsworth seniors were sent home early from the playoffs by GlenOak as sophomores, but this time around they’re out to prove something.
“Coach Dennison has built a good program here,” Snowball said. “Getting into the playoffs is great, but we want to do some damage this time. We’ll stick with our physical game plan.”
Against the Knights (2-8, 2-5), Snowball set the tone early with 45 yards on his first two carries. He finished the possession in which he had 72 of the team’s 80 yards with a 1-yard run to put Wadsworth up 6-0 late in the first quarter.
Nordonia responded when quarterback Tyler Alders (6-of-14, 90 yards, 2 interceptions) hit receiver Austin Petite (2 receptions, 83 yards) on a post to tie it at 8:35 of the second quarter.
The Grizzles (9-1, 6-1) took the ensuing possession 70 yards to go up 14-7 on a 23-yard Snowball score. The run included a juke move that left a Knights defender grabbing for air at the 10.
Nordonia entered Wadsworth’s half of the field and threatened to tie it late in the quarter before Chester Foth intercepted Alders to kill momentum with 1:14 on the clock. It was the first of two picks for Foth.
Snowball finished the first half with 123 yards.
In the third quarter, Wadsworth outscored the Knights 13-0 to take a 27-7 lead. Fullback Bret Baughman scored on a 3-yard plunge and Nate Winkler took a Nordonia punt 35 yards to the house.
Winkler’s return was impressive, as he herked and jerked his way through the middle. Snowball put the game out of reach with a 7-yard score off tackle early in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Scott Campbell closed the scoring with a 12-yard burst up the middle late in the game.
Wadsworth now awaits its playoff matchup, and Dennison is confident his team will be ready no matter the opponent.
“It’s good to have momentum going into the playoffs,” he said. “The kids are excited, but they know it will take their best efforts to move on. Credit goes to all the seniors for the leadership they’ve shown and all the time they’ve put into this program. They have a lot to be proud of.”
Contact Kenneth L. Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadworth 41, Nordonia 7
WADSWORTH 7 7 13 14 — 41
NORDONIA 0 7 0 0 — 7
W — Jack Snowball 1 run (Clay Smalley kick), 0:08.
N— Austin Petite 27 pass from Tyler Alders (Ryan Bauer kick), 8:35.
W — Snowball 23 run (Smalley kick), 4:38.
W — Bret Baughman 3 run (Smalley kick), 8:50.
W — Nate Winkler 35 punt return (kick blocked), 2:36.
W— Snowball 7 run (Smalley kick), 9:35.
W— Scott Campbell 12 run (Smalley kick) 2:09.