July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Blue Devils dominate

Brunswick running back Jake Ambrose celebrates the Blue Devils first touchdown during the first quarter against Medina. (AARON JOSEFCZYK)

Albert Grindle

The Gazette

MEDINA — The formula works: Ground, pound and then go up top.

Behind rookie quarterback Steven Ficyk and dominating lines, the Brunswick football team passed — and passed and passed — its first test Friday with a 42-13 non-conference drubbing of Medina in front of 6,000 fans at Kenneth Dukes Stadium.

The Blue Devils pulled away with 28 unanswered points over an 11:35 span in the heart of the game. Eighteen of them came via Ficyk touchdown passes to Ethan Engelke, Zach Parker and Joe Pinzone off fakes.

Toss in a momentum-changing blocked field goal by Tyler Laffin and impressive balance and Brunswick put its right foot forward heading into next week’s home opener with Padua.

“It was a great start,” said Laffin, who added two tackles for loss from his defensive end spot. “No one thought we would win because we were smaller, but we put in more work than they did.”

The Blue Devils utilized a run-heavy offense early with tailbacks Richie Norman (10 carries, 67 yards, TD) and Chase Rieg (10, 35, TD), allowing Ficyk (9-of-15, 216 yards), who lost a center exchange on the first series, to expose the Medina defense on play-action.

Once Ficyk got his bearings — his 54-yard strike to Gary Clift Jr. on third-and-long set up Brunswick’s first score — things got ugly in a hurry. Ficyk completed six of his final seven attempts, and the final three resulted in the touchdowns.

It was a sparkling debut for the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, who helped the Blue Devils average 7.3 yards per snap behind a line of Brandon Hemeyer, Mark Witthun, Brandon Cerovac, Jack Dralle and Tom Knuff that paved the road against a vastly smaller Bees front.

“Once I settled in, it was the greatest feeling in the world,” Ficyk said. “My offensive line did a great job. They kept me upright. Running the ball, our offensive line can do no wrong.”

Brunswick led 7-0 following a short TD run by Jake Ambrose, but Medina received a big boost when Ryan Wehrmeyer took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards — David Kelty caught him from behind — to the Blue Devils 12-yard line.

Unfortunately for the Bees, who alternated Collin Minor and Jerry Klue at quarterback, they were forced to settle for a Dean McNeil 22-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by Laffin.

The Blue Devils then went to the ground with Norman, Rieg and fullback Justin Boey. Ficyk also hit Clift and Boey for first downs, and Rieg capped the 12-play, 75-yard drive by breaking two wrap tackles for a score.

Medina got new life with a roughing-the-punter call and capitalized on an Ian Crawley plunge to make it 14-7, but Ficyk hit a wide-open Engleke in the corner of the end zone with 34 seconds left in the half.

“We couldn’t stop them on third down,” Medina coach Dan Sutherland said.

Things got out of hand midway through the third, when Parker was left unattended following a double-move and outran two defenders down the sideline for a 61-yard strike. Norman raced 25 yards up the middle following a 48-yard punt return by David Kelty, while Ficyk twisted the knife when he scrambled right and found check-down receiver Pinzone for a 25-yard score.

It was the perfect recipe for Brunswick, which is trying to replace multi-year starters at quarterback, tailback and wingback. Eleven different players touched the ball for the first-string offense, and no one received more than 10 totes.

“We were able to get the ball in a lot of different people’s hands offensively,” coach Luke Beal said. “We wanted to really establish the running game, but we were able to throw in key times.”

Medina did little of either.

The Bees’ statistics were misleading, as nearly half of their 239 rushing yards came on long runs by Connor Tanferno, Kyle Scherer and Wehrmeyer, whose 34-yard TD came with 2:29 remaining. The other 33 attempts averaged 3.5 yards as the offensive line couldn’t get to the second level.

Brunswick defensive linemen Laffin, Eliot Laisure and Eric Bulic had a field day as a result, and Medina’s passing game provided no relief with 12 yards on six attempts.

“They were more physical and they out-executed us,” Sutherland said. “We’ve got to go back and get better. Our practice habits have to be better, and we’ve got to be sharper in what we’re doing.

“I believe we’ll be better next week (at Eastlake North). It takes time and it’s a process. We have to keep fighting the battle.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Brunswick 42, Medina 13

BRUNSWICK                  7  14  21  0  — 42

MEDINA                                 0  7  0  6 — 13


B — Jake Ambrose 4 run (Kyle Hotz kick), 6:34.


B — Chase Rieg 6 run (Hotz kick), 11:30.

M — Ian Crawley 1 run (Dean McNeil kick), 5:00.

B — Ethan Engelke 17 pass from Steven Ficyk (Hotz kick), 0:34.


B — Zach Parker 61 pass from Ficyk (Hotz kick), 6:49.

B — Richie Norman 25 run (Hotz kick), 4:16.

B — Joe Pinzone 24 pass from Ficyk (Hotz kick), 0:57.


M — Ryan Wehrmeyer 34 run (run failed), 2:29.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.