WADSWORTH — Papa Dennison will be proud.
Jim Dennison made the I-formation famous locally with his outstanding University of Akron football teams in the mid-to-late 1970s. One of his sons, Greg, has made a 125-win career out of it at Wadsworth.
Needing to build momentum heading into the Suburban League schedule, the Grizzlies went back to the basics Friday, rarely came out of the I-formation and rolled to a not-even-close 29-0 non-league victory over Medina.
“We knew we had to get back to being physical and winning the line of scrimmage,” Greg Dennison said. “Last week, Wooster took the line of scrimmage away from us a little bit. Our kids responded.”
Wadsworth (2-1) rushed for 277 yards on 53 carries and didn’t attempt a pass in the second half. Juniors Martice Jackson (28 carries, 146 yards, 2 TDs) and Scott Campbell (15-92, 1) were an impressive one-two punch behind a bulldozing offensive line that was boosted by the return of 6-foot-3, 274-pound left tackle Daryk Maki from suspension.
The defense was equally impressive — Medina (1-2) had just five first downs and 91 yards total offense — but the night belonged to Jackson and Campbell, who are faced with the daunting task of trying to replace Jack Snowball, one of the greatest backs in Medina County history.
“We just go with what we have,” Dennison said. “Both of them run real well and we weren’t unhappy with one or the other. If one guy got tired, we went with the other, but up front is where we won it.”
Wadsworth rode Jackson to its first score, as the 5-11, 198-pounder carried the rock five times for 43 yards and went in from 20 yards out late in the first quarter. Gunnar Graham scored 2 minutes later to make it 14-0.
Shortly thereafter, momentum changed permanently.
Medina running back Emerson Buckland took a third-and-3 handoff on his own 37, broke a tackle behind the line and then tried to churn his legs into the heart of the defense. His right knee bent awkwardly during the pileup, and he was unable to leave the field under his own power.
Bees coach Dan Sutherland felt it was time to roll the dice on the next play, but quarterback Jerry Klue (17 carries, 63 yards) was stuffed well short of the first down on fourth-and-2.
Jackson’s 8-yard TD just before halftime was, for all intents and purposes, the dagger.
“I think that was the one that changed the game,” Maki said of the fourth-down stuff. “They lost all their momentum. They just shut down after that.”
“Obviously, it’s no secret we’ve been struggling offensively for a couple weeks now, and we’re trying to get some kind of spark going to ignite the kids,” Sutherland said. “No second-guesses. I’m pleased with that decision. It just didn’t work out.”
Campbell took over in the second half.
During a 10-play, 71-yard drive midway through the third quarter, the 5-9, 181-pounder carried the ball seven times for 45 yards. He capped what was essentially a one-man show with the play of the night when he took a handoff right, broke a tackle, trucked another defender and carried a third 5 yards into the end zone.
It was a noteworthy night all-around, as Jackson and Campbell each finished with career-high yardage totals.
“(Scott) keeps me fresh,” Jackson said. “I cramp up late at night, so it’s a good change of pace. This just leads us into the Suburban League so we can get the title.”
Wadsworth concluded the scoring when Luis Escudero finished a whopping 21-play drive with a 28-yard field goal.
Not to be outdone, the Wadsworth defense was feeling it on a field that was drenched by a thunderstorm 2 hours before kickoff.
Led by Maki at tackle and linebackers Graham and Nick Winkler, the Grizzlies made sure the Bees found little room to maneuver outside of Klue scrambling during a bizarre second-quarter sequence in which he had runs of 12, minus-14, 15 and 14 yards.
“We have a new perspective heading into next week,” Maki said in reference to hosting rival Highland. “After our loss to Wooster, everybody had to pick it up, and look what we did.”
Medina, which has scored 18 points in three games, gained a paltry 13 yards on 12 snaps in the second half, as Klue moved to tailback and sophomore Collin Minor took over at quarterback. Seven of those yards came on a Minor pass that found Jake Brandon as time expired.
It’s clearly back to the drawing board for the Bees, who also lost starting fullback Mac Lengel to injury and, according to Sutherland, have just three healthy running backs left on the roster.
“They were more physical than us in the first half,” Sutherland said. “I felt offensively we were a couple plays from busting it. We just couldn’t break that single tackle. We’ve got to have two or three guys tackle us. We’ve got to make guys miss and make guys gang-tackle us.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.
Wadsworth 29, Medina 0
MEDINA 0 0 0 0 — 0
WOOSTER 7 13 6 3 — 29
W — Martice Jackson 20 run (Luis Escudero kick), 2:26.
W — Gunnar Graham 3 run (Escudero kick), 10:16.
W — Jackson 8 run (run failed), 2:07.
W — Scott Campbell 21 run (run failed), 2:44.
W — Escudero 28 field goal, 1:58.