WADSWORTH — Now a freshman quarterback at Elon University in North Carolina, reigning Ohio Mr. Football Joey Baughman texted his successor at Wadsworth High School on Friday afternoon and delivered a simple message: Be you.
Junior Trey Shaffer took those words to heart, throwing three touchdown passes in the first 6:26 as the Grizzlies rolled to a 63-0 season-opening, non-league win over Firestone.
“Joey told me not to think about it,” Shaffer said. “Obviously, Mr. Football means I have big shoes to fill, but he told me to just be myself and play my game.”
The 6-foot-1, 181-pound Shaffer completed 11-of-13 passes for 124 yards, including 17- and 18-yard TDs to Carson Risher and a 4-yard score to Tyler Montgomery, as well as an 8-yard two-point conversion pass to Barret Labus.
Shaffer did all that in a little more than a quarter-and-a-half of work as the Grizzlies scored 35 points in a span of 3:33 in the first period.
“Honestly, I felt pretty good,” he said. “Last year I got some time because we blew a lot of teams out. I felt ready. I wasn’t nervous at all, other than normal first-game jitters.”
The Wadsworth defense was just as good as the offense, holding the Falcons to zero or negative yards on their first 11 plays as the Grizzlies bolted to a five-touchdown lead.
Included was a 26-yard pick-six by linebacker Jack Grice, with backup defensive back Robbie Lynn adding a 34-yard return for a score in the fourth period.
“It’s our time to step up as a defense,” said linebacker Mason McMillen, who was all over the field. “Obviously, the offense got a lot of headlines last year, and deservedly so, but we definitely think as a unit that it’s our time.”
Following 1-yard TD runs by McMillen and Josh Bach in the second quarter, Wadsworth led 49-0 after a first half that took 90 minutes and featured 17 penalties, including nine for 75 yards on the Grizzlies.
At that point, 20 of Firestone’s 32 plays had gone for zero or negative yards and Wadsworth had forced four turnovers. And one of the plays that went for positive yardage resulted in the best hit of the night, a textbook tackle of Falcons quarterback Gerorge Rozier by 5-11, 152-pound defensive back Cole McComas.
“We’re as experienced as anybody in the state in the secondary because we have all our starters back,” Grizzlies coach Justin Todd said. “Our linebacking group, I don’t think you’ll find a better three, and our defensive line is athletic. I think our defense can be one of the best in Wadsworth history. We’ll see.”
The Grizzlies also got a 4-yard score from backup quarterback Jake Russell while putting up nine touchdowns on a night when All-Gazette running back Brock Snowball didn’t carry the ball after suffering a minor shoulder strain while returning an early Firestone punt. Snowball sat out as a precaution, but Todd fully expects the senior to play next week against Wooster.
The best news of the night, however, was Shaffer’s performance at quarterback, though he did lose a fumble near the goal line — Firestone fumbled it back on its first play — and suffer a sack when he ran into his running back.
Not nearly the running threat Baughman was for Wadsworth, Shaffer was extremely accurate while completing three passes to Jack Simmons for 39 yards and two each to Risher (35 yards), Montgomery (18), Labus (13) and Carl Pennington (19).
“A lot of people don’t remember that Joey Baughman wasn’t the same Joey Baughman when he was a junior,” Todd said. “The expectation on our quarterbacks is not the same as a junior as when they’re seniors, and we’re not trying to do the same things (with Shaffer). He’s a different player. I thought he did a real nice job.”
Wadsworth 63, Firestone 0
FIRESTONE 0 0 0 0 — 0
WADSWORTH 35 14 0 14 — 63
W — Carson Risher 17 pass from Trey Shaffer (kick failed), 9:07.
W — Dom Loparo 62 run (Barret Labus pass from Shaffer), 8:28.
W — Jack Grice 26 interception return (Blake Turano kick), 8:11.
W — Risher 18 pass from Shaffer (Turano kick), 6:00.
W — Tyler Montgomery 4 pass from Shaffer (Turano kick), 5:34.
W — Mason McMillen 1 run (Turano kick), 9:20.
W — Josh Bach 1 run (Turano kick), 5:49.
W — Jake Russell 4 run (Bach run), 7:20.
W — Robbie Lynn 34 interception return (kick failed), 5:15.