Look past Wadsworth defensive end Jake LoGuidice and you’ll find yourself staring at stadium lights.
Seventh-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley did last week in a 13-3 Division II, Region 7 semifinal, when the 6-foot-1, 202-pound senior had a career-high 12 tackles, including two for loss and a sack.
“He is always in the weight room busting his butt,” outside linebacker Jack Grice said. “It’s incredible. That kid has an unbelievable drive, and it shows. I think a part of that is because the strength that he has and the speed that he has allows him to do well. He’s not afraid of anyone. That makes him really special.”
Undersized but determined LoGuidice has used that perception to his advantage after making the switch from linebacker.
It’s led to a senior season in which he has 33 tackles (6½ for loss, 2½ sacks) and two pass breakups.
“It makes me try to be more physical against my opponent,” LoGuidice said. “I use my strength and speed to my advantage rather than just bull rushing and using the old-fashioned technique. I have to come up with different ways to get in the backfield on my own.”
That also has helped those around him excel.
Grice plays directly behind LoGuidice and was named first-team All-Northeast Inland District for a junior season in which he has 104 tackles (17½ for loss, 6½ sacks), two forced fumbles, a Medina County-best five fumble recoveries and an interception.
Those numbers pop, but Grice knows they wouldn’t be near as good without LoGuidice in front.
“He’s been incredible, especially last week” Grice said. “Throughout the season, the linebackers and defensive line have worked with each other synergistically. They take up blocks, and we’re free. We take up blocks, and they’re free. It’s back and forth. He’s done awesome.”
While part of LoGuidice’s drive comes from being overlooked, the other part comes from this being his senior season.
“I knew they were looking for different guys to come up because everyone graduated from last year,” LoGuidice said. “I was definitely up for the challenge. So far, I like it a lot.
“I’m willing to do anything for the team. If we’re winning then that’s all that matters to me. It’s not about the stats. It’s about getting to the next week.”
When third-seeded Wadsworth (12-0) travels to North Canton Memorial Stadium on Friday to take on top-seeded Massillon (12-0), LoGuidice knows it could be his last game.
That’s the way he has played all season, and it has helped the Grizzlies reach 12 wins for the first time.
“Physically, he’s not going to get off the bus and be imposing,” coach Justin Todd said. “When he plays, he plays with great leverage and strength. That’s through the training he’s always done. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, but not so much because of his size, but because it’s his senior year and first year to start.
“Jake knows that your football life is only so long, and he’s taking advantage of every opportunity.”
LoGuidice also knows football teams are successful when all 11 hats play as one.
Rather than look at his own statistics, LoGuidice is more than happy the Grizzlies held Tri-Valley to its lowest point total of the season.
He’s also ecstatic over the fact Wadsworth has shut out four opponents and comes into a game against Northeast Inland District Offensive Player of the Year Jamir Thomas with six wins while holding opponents to seven or fewer points.
“He’s the consummate teammate, so to watch his hard work be rewarded, it’s why you coach,” Todd said. “To see kids fulfill this part of their dream is great.”