Wadsworth's Clay Wagner (44) celebrates with Nathaniel Davis (22) after Davis recorded a sack in the first quarter of Friday's game against Nordonia at Nordonia High School. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
MACEDONIA — If early returns mean anything, the Wadsworth football team is going to score points and churn up yards.
That was evident Friday, when the Grizzlies outlasted Nordonia 57-29 in a Suburban League National Conference game that didn’t lack in offensive numbers.
That’s become the norm for Wadsworth, as Joey Baughman and the gang put up 577 yards in a donnybrook with the winless Knights (0-4, 0-3).
“I love it,” Baughman said. “It’s awesome. Coach (Justin) Todd prepares us every week to put up those numbers. It’s not just us. It’s a lot of credit to him and his offensive coaches.”
A team that came in averaging 450.3 yards torched Nordonia with one big play after another.
Baughman went 16-for-27 for 284 yards and three touchdowns against one interception and hit seven receivers. His biggest targets were Grant Martinez (3 catches, 99 yards, 2 TDs, 2-point conversion) and Christian Szalay (6, 92, 1).
The offense was unbelievable, as 24 plays went for 10 yards or more as the Grizzlies averaged 8.6 yards per play.
Brock Snowball (9 rushes, 107 yards, 3 TDs) and Dominic Loparo (16, 88, 2) accounted for the lion’s share of the 263 yards rushing.
“Give all credit to Coach,” Martinez said. “He did all of this in the offseason. You have to give credit to Joey Baughman as well. He’s just a stud. He’s a Virginia commit for wrestling. The line is doing great. It’s just quick throws and like you saw, we executed. I mean, 57 points.”
It turns out the Grizzlies needed them, as Robby Levak (32-for-43, 397 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs), Donny Wizniak (10 catches, 158 yards, TD) and Tye Evans (7, 106, 1) found success against a Wadsworth defense that gave up 21 points over the first three games.
Every time it looked like Wadsworth was going to pull away, the Knights reminded the Grizzlies they weren’t about to roll over. In fact, Nordonia trailed 27-22 and got the ball to open the third quarter.
But Joey Fernholz (4 sacks, interception) and the Wadsworth defense took over. The unit forced an interception, turnover on downs and a three-and-out as the Grizzlies responded with 23 straight points.
The Grizzlies sacked Levak 10 times.
“That second half was huge,” Fernholz said. “We knew coming out we didn’t play well. Defensively speaking, we knew we had to play better. We knew if we came out and got a few stops, our offense would do what we do. Once we got those stops, things were just rolling.”
That was evident, as the four Wadsworth scoring plays covered 15, 65, 5 and 41 yards. Those drives churned up a combined 224 yards and only took a combined 5:45.
“Like Coach always says, emotion always makes up the first half and the second half is execution,” Martinez said. “That’s what we did. Every team that comes up against us, yes, they have emotion and, yes, they might beat us there, but when it comes down to executing, we always win. We’re always on top.”
Wadsworth will have to learn from its defensive mistakes quickly as undefeated Stow (4-0, 1-0) visits Art Wright Memorial Stadium in six days in a fight for what could be for the National Conference title. The Bulldogs had absolutely no problem Friday with North Royalton, winning 49-21.
“Next week is a big test for us,” Baughman said. “We’re going to see a team that’s solid all around. It’s time to set the tone to them and the league that we’re here.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Wadsworth 57, Nordonia 29
WADSWORTH 14 13 23 7 — 57
NORDONIA 7 15 0 7 — 29
W — Christian Szalay 26 pass from Joey Baughman (Ryan Larj kick), 10:49.
W — Brock Snowball 1 run (Larj kick), 7:25.
N — Robby Levak 10 run (Evan Wiehe kick), 3:38.
W — Grant Martinez 21 pass from Baughman (Larj kick), 11:42.
N — Danny Wizniak 45 pass from Robby Levak (Levak run), 7:32.
W — Dominic Loparo 9 run (pass failed), 5:36.
N — Tye Evans 40 pass from Levak (Wiehe kick), 2:30.
W — Snowball 15 run (Martinez pass from Baughman), 7:43.
W — Martinez 65 pass from Baughman (Baughman run), 3:50.
W — Dominic Loparo 5 run (Larj kick), 0:56.
N — Brendan O’Donnell 25 pass from Levak (Wiehe kick), 10:49.
W — Snowball 41 run (Larj kick), 8:35.