It could have been Medina senior Chris Ford’s worst nightmare. Instead, it only further entrenched his belief that the University at Buffalo football program is one of integrity.
At an Ohio State football camp over the summer, Ford, a 6-foot-1, 302-pound defensive tackle, was shining brightly. Buffalo, Ball State, Toledo, Akron, Ohio and Youngstown State were salivating over his services.
Then, an opposing offensive lineman didn’t take kindly to Ford grabbing all of the attention. One chop block later, Ford’s left ACL was torn.
His season was over before it began.
“I’ve never been injured, so at first I didn’t know what it was,” the articulate Ford said. “Then it came to me: I got cheap-shotted. I freaked out at first because I never experienced that kind of pain.
“It stinks. It still does every day when I’m out there watching my teammates.”
It would have been easy for Buffalo to rescind its full-ride offer. Thanks to a very strong endorsement from former Bees teammate Mason Schreck — a freshman tight end with the Bulls — it was upheld.
Ford, who verbally committed at an official visit, couldn’t have been happier.
“I want to thank Mason because what they scout is character, and they look for someone who is more than just a player,” Ford said. “He told them, ‘Chris is a good kid. He’s not just some athlete. He’s a person.’ They believe a lot in teamwork. I’ve had a lot of help from people to get to where I am now.
“Most schools would have said, ‘You have a torn ACL. Forget it.’ But that shows me they have characteristics of good people. They don’t just look for numbers. They know I’m a good athlete and I’m a good person, so they’re going to stick with it. It was neat to see.”
Cloverleaf coaches saw leadership, poise, quick decisions and accurate throws.
Though the timing was a bit awkward, the decision was clear: senior J.D. Schleich had to be the starting quarterback.
Coach Bob Lake made the move Monday and the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has continued to look strong as the Colts head into tonight’s opener at Buckeye.
Sophomore Garrison Flora was entrenched as starter when two-a-days began and didn’t play terribly, but Schleich, who was originally slated to be the first-string tight end and backup QB, asserted himself and kept gaining momentum.
“With his size and leadership, right now it’s the difference between a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old,” Lake said of Schleich, who will be replaced at tight end by junior Tom Wangler. “Not that Garrison did a bad job, but for this team with 22 seniors J.D.’s the guy.”
The coaching staff wanted to see Schleich in action before making a concrete decision. He missed the opening scrimmage vs. Normandy with an eye infection, but sparkled in the closing moments last week against Midpark.
With the Colts’ offense struggling mightily — it had three turnovers in 1½ quarters — Schleich led it on a TD drive that took at least 10 plays and made great reads and pinpoint throws.
Now, he’s got the reigns, and his play will be critical as Cloverleaf will be without All-Ohio wide receiver Robby Buckwald (fractured collarbone) for at least the first two games.
“I was always working at quarterback, so it’s not too much of a change,” said Schleich, who was 7-for-20 for 119 yards and a touchdown last season. “I know how to do it.”
Longtime Black River coach Al Young can break former Brunswick mentor Rich Nowak’s Medina County career wins record tonight at Western Reserve. Young is 152-79 as he enters his 23rd season, while Nowak was 152-49 from 1982-87 and 1998-2009.
With a 33-22 record, Highland coach Tom Lombardo needs one win to tie Bob MacFarland (34-9-2; 1968-73) as the all-time leader at the school.
How’s this for impressive? Brunswick has won 26 of its last 27 openers. The only loss was a 33-25 decision at Shaker Heights in 2004.
Buckeye has lost the last five meetings with Cloverleaf by an average of 21.6 points.
Since 1977, Wadsworth has failed to score in a season-opener just once (1993 in a 3-0 loss to Cloverleaf).
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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