WESTFIELD TWP. — It’s becoming a broken record for Wadsworth’s football team, but it’s also the truth.
When the Grizzlies play physical, good things happen. When they don’t, things get ugly in a hurry.
Friday night, Wadsworth hit early, hard and often and rolled to an impressive 34-0 Suburban League victory over suddenly reeling Cloverleaf.
The inconsistent first half of the season is now behind the Grizzlies (3-2, 1-1) following a 2-1 record against Medina County rivals Medina (win), Highland (loss) and the Colts (3-2, 0-2) in consecutive weeks.
“This will be a great point for us moving forward to the rest of the season,” left guard/defensive tackle Connor VanFleet said. “Hopefully, this will get us going.”
Wadsworth did little wrong en route to winning its fourth consecutive game over Cloverleaf. Led by hard hitting from cornerbacks Cyler Caldwell and Eric Yetzer and tackling-machine linebacker Nick Winkler, the Grizzlies held the Colts to 132 yards total offense and without a first down for a 23-minute stretch.
Meanwhile, Wadsworth’s running game was fueled by the big play that came mostly from the legs of Scott Campbell (3 TDs) and fellow junior Martice Jackson (TD), as each finished with 141 rushing yards. The Grizzlies ended with 429 yards total offense, highlighted by 231 on seven long gains.
It amounted to a textbook performance heading into next week’s game against winless Revere, and one that had Campbell savored the moment after moving from Cloverleaf to Wadsworth two years ago.
“It means a lot because I grew up here, really,” Campbell said after chatting with former classmates Brandon Zajaczkowski and Devin Cunningham of the Colts. “When I was in peewee, I played games on this field. I loved it.”
Sparked by a 32-yard punt return by Ryan Looser, Wadsworth struck in unlikely fashion when, facing a second-and-23, Campbell took a draw out of the shotgun and raced 35 yards for his first score of the night.
On the Colts’ next possession, Caldwell came through with the hit that wowed the crowd when he decleated Chandler Laux on a pass over the middle.
It was the bone-crushing moment that signified Wadsworth’s dominance. Jackson took the ball down to the 33 on a 39-yard scamper, and Campbell finished the drive on the next play to put the Grizzlies on top 14-0.
“It was really important (to be physical),” said Caldwell, whose secondary also received an interception from safety Austin White. “We practiced hard all week on our physicality and it really paid off.”
As if Cloverleaf needed any more deflating moments, Wadsworth wasn’t done when it was on its own 25 with 2:10 left in the half.
Grizzlies quarterback Matt Alic executed a perfect fake to draw the defense and found wide-open tight end Nathan Aberle near the 50. Aberle was caught at the Cloverleaf 5, but fullback Greg Young found the end zone to make it 21-0.
Wadsworth pounded its way down the field on its next drive — Campbell bowled over from 3 yards away — to go up 28-0 with 8:11 left in the third quarter.
At that point, the Grizzlies were outgaining the Colts 314-76.
“It feels like they can’t stop us,” VanFleet said. “It’s the best feeling ever. You don’t even have to pass the ball. You just keep running the ball.”
Things weren’t as uplifting for Cloverleaf, which has opened SL play losing to Nordonia and Wadsworth by a combined 85-14 count.
Medina County leading rusher Cunningham was held to 49 yards on 16 carries — the junior added four receptions for 59 yards to account for 108 of the Colts’ 132 yards from scrimmage — and quarterbacks J.D. Schleich and Garrison Flora were 6-for-16 passing for 69 yards while appearing out of sync without All-Ohio receiver Robby Buckwald (shoulder).
“We didn’t tackle very well and we didn’t block very well after that first series,” coach Bob Lake said. “We couldn’t stop them tonight on plays that we worked on all week — lead, toss and belly.
“Right now, we’ve got to find an identity on offense. I thought we could be physical with them up front, but after that first drive, it didn’t happen.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 34, Cloverleaf 0
WADSWORTH 7 14 7 6 — 34
CLOVERLEAF 0 0 0 0 — 0
W — Scott Campbell 35 run (Luis Escudero kick), 2:38.
W — Campbell 33 run (Escudero kick), 3:50.
W — Greg Young 3 run (Escudero kick), 0:39.
W — Campbell 2 run (Escudero kick), 8:11.
W — Martice Jackson 10 run (kick blocked), 10:10.
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