July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Grizzlies a great second-half team

WADSWORTH — Even if it doesn’t rally to win the Suburban League championship, Wadsworth is already making a strong case for the best second-half football team in Northeast Ohio.
The Grizzlies once again dominated after halftime, as they scored all but six of their points in the first 12:03 of the second half to crush Devin Cunningham-less Cloverleaf 35-0 in SL play.
Wadsworth (4-1, 1-1) has outscored opponents 98-17 in second halves this season. On Friday, they shut out a Colts team that hadn’t posted a donut since Oct. 1, 2010.
“We really have to start playing two halves,” Grizzlies fullback/linebacker Greg Young said. “We come out slow in the first half, but in the second half we come out great. We fixed things in the locker room.”
Due in large part to a pair of turnovers inside the Cloverleaf 20-yard line and strong defense from the Colts (2-3, 0-2), who lost Cunningham to a knee injury against Nordonia but are expected to get him back next week vs. Green, the Grizzlies led just 6-0 at recess.
Then, like Moses parting the Red Sea, the gates to victory opened.
Wadsworth’s four scoring drives began on the Cloverleaf 48, 37 and 34 and Grizzlies 48. The great field position was set up by a bizarre double-touch by the Colts’ Kyle Sasinka on the kickoff, an interception by Ryan Looser, a fair catch of a punt and a Cyler Caldwell pick.
Tailback Martice Jackson (19 carries, 115 yards, 2 TDs) scored two touchdowns, tight end Austin White caught a pop pass for a 22-yard score on fourth-and-2 and fullback Greg Young (6 carries, 82 yards, 2 TDs) capped the bonanza with a 1-yard plunge.
During the sequence, Wadsworth outgained Cloverleaf 173-9.
“We just got worn down in the second half, but it wasn’t for lack of heart or lack of effort,” Colts coach Bob Lake said.
The rest of the evening clearly belonged to a Grizzlies defense that smelled blood from the opening kickoff.
Without Cunningham, who was replaced by junior Jared Talmon (9 carries, 16 yards), the Colts were content on using the short passing game to move the ball. It worked initially, as left-handed quarterback Garrison Flora completed six of his first seven passes and All-Gazette pick Austin Smith (8 receptions, 47 yards) was doing damage all over the field.
The problem was the Colts stalled once they reached Wadsworth territory, as Tyler Erbse, Spencer Shelton, Zach Metz and Jett Lecko came up with tackles for loss.
After the hot start, Flora was just 5-of-12 for 23 yards and Cloverleaf didn’t reach positive rushing yardage — its leading man was 5-foot-7, 140-pound third-stringer Kyle Foster (9 carries, 24 yards) — until late in the third quarter.
“We really pride ourselves on good defense,” Young said. “We try to hit hard every single play. That’s what we do at Wadsworth.
“With No. 26 (Cunningham) out, they were going to switch to their passing game. We came out a little slow on that, but we fixed it up at halftime and got the job done.”
Adding to the Colts’ second-half misery, Smith left the game with a lower back/tailbone injury while attempting to make a diving catch along the sideline.
Though Cloverleaf received a huge game from hard-nosed linebacker Brandon Zajaczkowski (2 tackles for loss, sack, fumble recovery), its slim hopes for a comeback were crushed at that point.
“Give Cloverleaf a lot of credit. They came out and played real hard and were physical up front,” Grizzlies coach Greg Dennison said. “In the second half, I think we wore them down a little bit.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.
Wadsworth 35, Cloverleaf 0
CLOVERLEAF 0 0 0 0 — 0
WADSWORTH 6 0 22 7 — 35
W — Greg Youn 35 run (kick failed), 7:28.
W — Martice Jackson 15 run (Eric Perebzak pass from Adam Dennison), 9:03.
W — Jackson 7 run (Aden Campbell kick), 7:51.
W — Austin White 22 pass from Dennison (Campbell kick), 3:58.
W — Young 1 run (Campbell kick), 11:57.

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.