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High School Football

High school football playoffs: Wadsworth comes from behind to advance to regional championship

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Wadsworth's Brett Randolph celebrates after a defensive stop against Tri-Valley during the fourth quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

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DOVER — Returner Brett Randolph was drilled on the opening kickoff. Running back Brock Snowball was speared into the FieldTurf on a short reception. Quarterback Trey Shaffer took a fourth-down shot that resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty.

The Dresden Tri-Valley defense lived up to its reputation and more in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal.

But despite the seventh-seeded Scotties’ bone-crushing hits, despite ghastly self-inflicted wounds and despite wind, rain and snow at Crater Stadium on Friday, second-seeded Wadsworth showed the world it had a little dog in it, too, and pulled off a battered-and-bruised, come-from-behind 13-3 victory.

Shaffer was at a loss to describe how he felt after the Grizzlies (12-0) broke the school record for victories and advanced to play undefeated Massillon for a regional championship at a site to be determined.

“Oh, man, it’s an easy question that people get asked a lot,” a relieved and excited yet composed Shaffer said. “When you get asked, it’s hard to answer because there’s really nothing to describe how I feel right now.”

How about this? Wadsworth had guts — lots and lots of guts.

Seemingly nothing went the Grizzlies’ way for 2½ quarters. Wadsworth had drives that ended on downs at the Tri-Valley 49-, 27- and 18-yard lines, then missed a 30-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first half to keep the score 3-0 in Tri-Valley’s favor.

Something had to change. Snowball was dinged up and only played half the snaps. The Grizzlies kept committing bone-headed penalties — they finished with nine for 113 yards — and Shaffer didn’t have many open receivers.

Wadsworth finally broke through when soon-to-be All-Ohio linebacker Mason McMillen subbed in for an exhausted Dom Loparo (22 carries, 109 yards) and plowed in from 6 yards to make the score 6-3 with 49 seconds left in the third quarter. The 12-play, 83-yard drive that took 5:57 was kept alive by the roughing-the-passer penalty, which moved the ball inside the 10.

The breakthrough was a shot in the arm for a team that desperately needed it.

“That was crazy,” Shaffer said. “With our guys on the sideline, our fans (celebrating), it was unreal.”

A Wadsworth defense that got turnovers from Jake Herbert, Alec Miller and McMillen again stood strong — the Scotties had only 186 yards — giving the offense an opportunity to put the game away.

Shaffer (17-for-29, 198 yards) and Barret Labus (5 catches, 65 yards) were the men of the hour.

Wadsworth took over on its 27 with 9:26 remaining, and coach Justin Todd unleashed the RPO (run-pass option) for one of the few times all game. Labus responded with catches for 16, 17 and 10 yards — the middle reception was initially a 45-yard TD called back for holding — but Tri-Valley manned up in the red zone and the Grizzlies faced fourth-and-4 from the 9 with less than five minutes to play.

Shaffer, who was 8-for-9 for 98 yards in the second half, took a shotgun snap and had protection from Mason Fortner, Logan Egleston, Brendan Gordon, Conner Raymond and Matt Gabel. The right-hander fired over the middle, where Tyler Montgomery cut off teammate Jack Simmons, caught the ball and fell to one knee in the end zone, sending the Wadsworth crowd into hysteria.

The defense did the rest, forcing a quick four-and-out before McMillen recovered a fourth-down fumble on the Wadsworth 9 with 55 seconds on the clock.

Game over.

“We were running the option, and (Shaffer) kept looking over at me on the bubble (route),” Labus said. “I just took off.”

The start could have been disastrous for the Grizzlies, who went for broke and came up short on fourth-and-1 from the Tri-Valley 49 just 2:03 in.

The Scotties then relied on power running out of the pistol formation and a 20-yard strike from Luke Fargus (4-for-17, 67 yards, INT) to Blake Sands to reach the red zone, but Jake LoGuidice, Jack Grice, McMillen, Miller and Co. buckled down and Tri-Valley settled for a Kaden Bay 30-yard field goal.

The rest of the first half featured little yardage by the Scotties but a whole bunch by Wadsworth, which possessed for 16:30 and had 44 plays for 204 yards but nothing to show for it. Drives stalled for various reasons, be them Shaffer being forced to throw the ball away to key third-and-short stuffs to three holding penalties that totaled 38 yards.

The missed field goal, which never got above the crossbar, added to the frustration, but the Grizzlies never panicked.

“Hudson Week 10 (trailing 13-0) and last week we were down, what, 17 (vs. Wooster)?” Shaffer said. “We’ve been in that situation before, and we knew what to do.”

All the Grizzlies needed was a spark. They got it in the nick of time and survived, but that’s all that matters at this stage of the season.

“Coach Todd said we had to bring our sledgehammers,” Shaffer said. “It was a meat grinder, as some would say.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Wadsworth 13, Tri-Valley 3

Division II, Region 7 Semifinal at Crater Stadium

WADSWORTH 0 0 6 7 — 13

TRI-VALLEY 3 0 0 0 — 3

First

T — Kadey Bay 23 field goal, 7:30.

Third

W — Mason McMillan 6 run (kick failed), 0:49.

Fourth

W — Tyler Montgomery 9 pass from Trey Shaffer (Blake Turano kick), 4:35.

W T

First downs 21 10

— by rushing 7 8

— by passing 10 2

— by penalty 4 0

Rushing 45/148 35/119

Rushing average 3.3 3.5

Passing 17/29 4/18

Passing yards 198 67

Avg. per attempt 7.3 4.0

Avg. per completion 11.6 17.0

Total offense 74/346 53/186

Avg. gain 4.7 3.5

Punting 2/30.0 3/41.3

Third-down conversions 5/15 5/12

Fourth-down conversions 2/5 0/2

Penalties 9/113 6/59

Fumbles 1/1 1/1

Time of possession 30:38 16:22

WADSWORTH

Rushing

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Dom Loparo 22 109 5.0 0

Brock Snowball 12 32 2.7 0

McMillen 3 8 2.7 1

Barret Labus 2 2 1.0 0

Shaffer 6 -3 -.0.5 0

Receiving

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Labus 5 65 12.5 0

Jack Simmons 2 48 24.0 0

Carl Pennington 2 24 12.0 0

Loparo 2 21 11.5 0

Montgomery 4 20 5.0 1

Brock Snowball 2 20 9.5 0

Passing

Name Com. Att. Pct. Yds TD-I

Shaffer 17 29 .586 198 1-0

Missed field goal

Turano 30 (SH).

TRI-VALLEY

Rushing

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Jordan Pantaleo 16 75 4.7 0

Blake Sands 15 59 3.9 0

Fargas 3 -9 -3.0 0

Cade Sterling 1 -6 -6.0 0

Receiving

Name No. Yds. Avg. TD

Rob Wachter 1 37 37.0 0

Sands 1 20 20.0 0

Drew Richert 1 6 6.0 0

Carson Simpkins 1 5 5.0 0

Passing

Name Com. Att. Pct. Yds TD-I

Fargus 4 17 .235 67 0-1

Sands 0 1 .000 0 0-1



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