Tuesday, June 25, 2019 Medina 72°

High School Football

Long hair but plenty of care for Wadsworth's Jack Simmons in win over Brecksville


BROADVIEW HTS. - Things were starting to get (really) hairy for Jack Simmons - in more ways than one.

The talented wide receiver hadn't scored a touchdown in two years as a starter until reaching the end zone twice Friday night, helping the Wadsworth football team blank Brecksville 33-0 in Suburban League National Conference play.

The Grizzlies (9-0, 6-0) clinched at least a share of their second straight conference title, won their 20th regular-season game in a row and guaranteed themselves a spot in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs, but all that paled in comparison to the 6-foot-4, 201-pound kid with very long, blond hair hauling in his first two career touchdown passes.

"I've been hearing it from my family," said Simmons, who had 35 career catches before recording his first TD but just 37 before grabbing his second. "It was great. When I crossed the pylon (on a 15-yard catch-and-run with 10:37 left in the opening quarter), I didn't see the referee put his arms up. Then everyone came over and congratulated me, so I knew I had finally gotten one."

Once Simmons got his first, the second came quickly, as he leaped high in the end zone to haul in a 19-yarder from Trey Shaffer to put the Grizzlies up 14-0 with 3:25 left in the opening period.

"It's definitely been one of our main priorities," Shaffer said of getting Simmons a TD. "He's a great receiver. He deserved it."

With Schaffer completing 14-of-15 passes for 224 yards and three TDs - he was 13-for-14 for 200 yards and three scores as Wadsworth went up 26-0 at halftime - Simmons finished with five catches for 59 yards.

The senior still has an even longer streak to end, however, and has vowed to do so at a to-be-determined date.

Simmons' locks, which flow freely out of his helmet and onto his upper back, have not met scissors since a pre-homecoming dance cut when he was a freshman. That will come to an end - eventually - in order to keep a promise to girlfriend and Highland High goalie Allie Mazzaro.

Over the summer, Mazzaro posted on Twitter that Simmons would get a haircut if she got 1,000 retweets, and that goal was met just prior to the deadline.

"That girl over there did it," Simmons said, pointing to Mazzaro, who was standing just outside the gate surrounding the playing field. "I'm going to do it, but I want to get best hair in my (senior) class."

The Grizzlies were definitely the best team on the field Friday, taking a 33-0 lead over the Bees (0-9, 0-6) with 6:25 left in the third period. The rest of the game was played with a running clock.

Wadsworth went up 26-0 at halftime when Barret Labus (4 catches, 78 yards) ran a perfect rub route and hauled in a 48-yard TD pass from Shaffer on third-and-17.

The Grizzlies' only second-half touchdown was all Brock Snowball (8 carries, 69 yards). The running back first caught a 24-yard pass from Shaffer, then had runs of 30 and 20 yards in a three-play, 74-yard drive that ended the night for Wadsworth's starters.

Dom Loparo, who shares running back duties with Snowball, had a 12-yard TD run while finishing with 43 yards on four carries, while Tyler Montgomery had four receptions for 63 yards as the Grizzlies finished with 337 yards in just 40 plays.

"They were giving us the underneath stuff," Shaffer said. "Early on we were just executing well. Our receivers blocked really well on screens and it just clicked for us."

Things went so well for Wadsworth that it scored just four plays after a Brecksville onside kick attempt to start the game went only 3 yards.

After making it 14-0, the Grizzlies needed just 43 more seconds to make it 20-0 after Noah Alic recovered a Wadsworth kickoff at the Brecksville 27. (Wadsworth's first kickoff actually went out of bounds, but the Bees elected not to take the ball at their own 35 instead choosing to make the Grizzlies kick again.)

Factor in a 51-yard interception return from defensive end Beau Casey and a pick by Cole McComas and the final score could have been worse, but the Grizzlies lost a fumble at the Brecksville 5 and Shaffer, who didn't have a pass hit the ground in 2ï¾½ quarters of work, threw an interception with his team inside the Bees 10.

The only other negatives for Wadsworth - in a game that didn't feature a punt until 42 seconds remained in the third period - were a missed extra point and its vaunted defense struggling to stop the Brecksville rushing attack.

The one-dimensional Bees racked up 248 yards on the ground and 17 first downs - tailback Ethan Hatcher had 25 carries for 132 yards and quarterback Garret Kubitz had 17 for 82 - but failed on fourth-and-1 from the Wadsworth 33, fourth-and-8 from the Wadsworth 26, fourth-and-1 from their own 40, fourth-and-2 from the Wadsworth 26 and fourth-and-5 from the Wadsworth 20.

"That's something we've got to look at," Grizzlies coach Justin Todd said. "I don't know if we weren't tackling or weren't in the right gaps. We were bending and not breaking, but we were bending a little too much for my liking."

What Todd liked, however, was Simmons finally finding his way into the end zone.

"How about that, huh?" he said. "I'm glad it happened. We had been starting to force it a little bit to try to get him one, and then we finally said, 'You know what? It's going to happen organically.'"

It did.

Now all that remains is a haircut.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.

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