CLEVELAND HTS. — If Larry Laird was curious what the Medina football team was going to give him in his third overall season as football coach, the Bees answered him loud and clear Friday.
Medina used a solid passing game, great defense and even better special teams in a 43-20 non-conference win over Cleveland Heights to begin the season.
There really was a little bit of everything, as Ryan Fischer quarterbacked a fantastic game and special teams recorded a safety, blocked punt and continually put the Bees in scoring position with long returns.
“I thought, honestly, we came out pretty focused,” Laird said. “I was very happy in all facets of the game. Our offense really clicked tonight. Our defense played lights out and took away their team speed. Like I said before, this game was won up front.”
With offensive linemen A.J. Coltz, Ralph King, Nate Maier, David Solomon and Charley Herman leading the way, Fischer may have been the most impressive of the lot.
The St. Vincent-St. Mary transfer stepped right in and looked like he had been leading Medina’s offense from the time he was a freshman.
Fischer was 11-for-15 for 176 yards with four touchdowns, and a lot of it was to Luke Hensley, who finished with four catches for 69 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was extremely impressed with Ryan,” Hensley said. “It all started with the offensive line blocking and doing their job. Our coaches prepared us well. We were coming in as the underdogs and never let it get to our head.”
Fisher’s first touchdown pass came on a four-play, 55-yard drive that took 57 seconds when he hit Hensley on a 13-yard strike.
Fischer called Hensley’s number again on a 5-yard strike 2:12 later and the onslaught was on. Just for good measure, he found Kaedin Andrasik in the second quarter to put a bow on a first half that had Medina up 29-6 at intermission.
“I didn’t expect that quick of a spark at the start, but we’ve been working our tail off,” Fischer said. “We prepped a lot for this team and the game plan ended up working out.”
It wasn’t all Fischer, as Nathan Spatny and Nick Yanky had quite the games on special teams.
Yanky set up Hansley’s second score by returning a punt from Justin Wodtly 51 yards to the Cleveland Heights 5.
After that, it was “The Spatny Show.” Spatny, who added three sacks defensively, tackled Wodtly in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter and blocked a punt in the second to set up Medina’s final first-half score.
“It was very satisfying coming out here and doing what we prepared for all week,” Spatny said. “Our coaches put together a great game plan and we came out and did what we were supposed to. It was a phenomenal team win.”
Not to be outdone, the Bees showed some teeth defensively against a Tigers team that features Josh Harris (Syracuse), Rob Morgan (Toledo, Kent State), and Nolan Johnson (Air Force) with big-time Division I offers.
While the final numbers say Cleveland Heights gained 228 yards, they were completely cosmetic. Harris ran for 45 yards on one play and 32 on another, and the Tigers refused to take out their first string despite the Bees trotting out their third-stringers in the fourth quarter with a running clock.
“I was impressed with how we got together as a unit,” defensive end Noah Nunn said. “We outprepared them. In the end, we worked together and the momentum carried us.”
Medina running back Daylonte Davis added 41 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Medina 43, Cleveland Heights 20
MEDINA 16 13 14 0 — 43
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS 7 0 0 13 — 20
M — Luke Hensley 13 pass from Ryan Fischer (Ian Gummo kick), 9:03.
M — Hensley 5 pass from Fischer (Gummo kick), 6:51.
M — Safety (Justin Wodtly tackled in end zone by Nathan Spatny), 5:26.
C — Josh Harris 45 run (Jack Dyer kick), 0:40.
M — Kaedin Andrasik from Fischer (kick blocked), 10:35.
M — Daylonte Davis 6 run (Gummo kick), 1:18.
M — Hansley 10 pass from Fischer (Gummo kick), 5:58.
M — Davis 4 run (Gummo kick), 1:59.
C — Rob Morgan 14 pass from Harris (run failed), 11:04.
C — Alain Trace 4 run (Dyer kick), 1:36.