Over the years, the Brunswick football team has had its share of gamers — those who step up and laugh in the face of adversity and just simply win.
At the quarterback position, no one may have been better than 2008 graduate Sean Bedevelsky.
The 29-year-old will be inducted into the Medina County Sports Hall of Fame during June 13 ceremonies at The Galaxy Restaurant in Wadsworth, and those who know him will tell you just how worthy he is to be enshrined.
“He was always the same,” former Blue Devils wide receiver Jordan Gribble said. “He was never too high, never too low, but was going to perform when the lights were the brightest. You didn’t have to worry about him being shook. He was always locked on and locked in.”
Birthdate: Oct. 24, 1989.
Family members: Dad Douglas, mom Karen, sister Brooke, brother Ryan, aunt Kim.
Car: 2014 Hyundai Sonata.
Hobbies: Golfing, lifting weights, running, Netflix, Happy Hour.
Favorite TV shows: “Breaking Bad” and “The Office.”
Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption.”
Favorite actor: Denzel Washington.
Favorite athlete: Peyton Manning.
Favorite song: “3AM,” by Matchbox 20.
Favorite book: “Fight Club,” by Chuck Palahniuk.
Favorite number: 13.
The best compliment I ever got was: “That I was a great athlete, but a better person.”
The thing I like the most about sports is: “The competition.”
The thing I dislike most about sports is: “Eventually, it ends.”
My idea of the perfect day is: “An 8 a.m. tee time followed by a Saturday full of college football.”
Gribble should know. His Medina County records for career receiving yards (2,086), career receiving touchdowns (26), receiving yards in a season (1,579), receptions in a season (96) and touchdowns in a season (19) are a direct reflection of Bedevelsky.
It wasn’t just Gribble. Ben Karaba’s 1,142 yards receiving in 2007 rank fourth in the area and his 67 receptions in the same year rank sixth.
If you were open in the two seasons Bedevelsky was at the helm, he found you.
Cool Hand Luke
There might not be a better story about being cool under pressure than the 2007 Division I, Region 2 semifinal against Toledo Whitmer.
Fresh off a 49-25 opening-round win where Bedevelsky threw for a then-school-record 383 yards against GlenOak, the senior was ready to carry his team to victory again.
The problem was the bus ride from Brunswick to Fremont Ross took its toll when he fell asleep wrong on his right arm and couldn’t lift it two hours before the game.
While everyone was freaking out and wondering how they were going to get on without him, he went into the locker room, popped a couple of Ibuprofen and came out ready to play.
“He was always the steady hand on the team, stone-faced and not worried,” Karaba said. “Anytime you got in the huddle, he was cool, calm and ready to go. We knew he was going to be there no matter what injury he had. He was going to give it everything he could every time and we could always count on him.”
On top of Bedevelsky’s arm situation, the junior varsity quarterbacks left all the team’s footballs on the bus, which had already left the stadium. A couple members of the team convinced school officials to take them on golf carts back to the bus.
“He came back, loosened his arm up and threw for like 8,000 yards,” then-Blue Devils coach Rich Nowak said. “It was one of those crazy days. It was a long bus ride, and then the kids left the balls on the bus. It’s the second-biggest game in the history of our program. I’m worried about my quarterback’s arm falling off, and it all ends up like ‘Beda’ plans it.”
It wasn’t 8,000. It was a school-record 390 in a 37-23 win over the Panthers. Bedevelsky threw for a touchdown and ran for three more, proving he was ready whenever the team needed him.
That’s what you got from Bedevelsky, who was nicknamed “Cool Hand Luke” by special teams coach Dave Draiss.
“I was just having fun, and that’s what we did all year long,” Bedevelsky said. “We never stressed about anything. It was, go out and throw the ball around with your buddies and win football games. We really didn’t know about the extent of what we were doing.”
Gribble claims the only high school quarterback he’s seen that was better than Bedevelsky was Mentor’s Mitch Trubisky, who later became the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Standing 6-foot and weighing 180 pounds when he was on stilts and soaking wet, Bedevelsky never looked like a QB who could throw for 5,048 career yards and 49 touchdowns, but no one had in-game smarts like him.
“He just understood football,” then-Brunswick quarterback coach Bill Turner said. “You had confidence that he’d make the right play. He had great players to throw the ball to. It seemed like he always put the ball in the right spot. He worked hard at it every day and that’s what made him so good.”
In the midst of chaos, Bedevelsky was the calm everyone needed.
He never lost a regular-season game, going 20-0 and finishing his two-year career 24-2 overall. Bedevelsky was the 2007 All-Northeast Inland co-Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Ohio.
“His brain capacity to get three plays, get to the line, run one and be successful was insane,” Gribble said. “He could call out the protection, tell everyone which way the play was going and have it work. I can’t imagine as a coach giving a high school player that much leeway to do whatever he wanted.
“He knew exactly what every receiver was supposed to do and what the running back was supposed to do. As a teammate, if you weren’t sure of the play call, all you had to do was ask ‘Beda’ and he put you in the right position at the right time. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact Nowak and everyone gave him free rein to do whatever he wanted.”
Gribble, who is a receivers coach at Highland, marvels at what Bedevelsky accomplished, especially his senior season when he led the Blue Devils to the state semifinals before losing to Mentor 39-14.
Bedevelsky threw for 3,041 yards, rushed for 669 and had a combined 39 touchdowns that season.
“When that many people have that much confidence in you, it makes it a lot easier,” Bedevelsky said. “They’re going to have your back the whole time. From the coaching staff to the players to the fans to my parents, we just rode the wave that we were having fun and winning games and it made it easy.”
Learning from Lanzara
As good as Bedevelsky was, he picked up quite a bit from 2005 Gazette MVP Anthony Lanzara, who he sat behind during the Blue Devils’ 9-2 season.
Ever the student of the game, Bedevelsky would put himself in every situation he could from the sideline and then employ it on the field in the junior varsity game.
“He taught me how to handle the position,” said Bedevelsky, also an All-Gazette baseball player who led the county with a .474 batting average as a senior. “There were successful teams before me. Just watching how he handled himself and the faith the coaches had in him, you wanted to be like him.
“You wanted to be successful, throw the ball all over the field and win football games. When you’re sitting on the sideline and watching your team win every single week, you want to do the same. We were fortunate not to lose that many games. That’s the effect Anthony had on me.”
It wasn’t just what Bedevelsky saw in schemes and defensive reads during film and in game situations, it also was what he saw when football wasn’t the story of the day. Lanzara handled himself with class off the field and Bedevelsky copied that.
“Everybody asks me what my claim to fame was for winning 80 percent of my games, and it was I never screwed up great players,” Nowak said. “He was the prime example of that. You just gave him his wings and let him go. We could talk about all those other things, but all those things happen because we had good football players. We had a few great ones, and he was the one.
“He knew when somebody was better. He knew not to throw toward a cornerback who was very good. He got the game. He knew at that time we were a better team with Lanzara, and I never heard him complain once. What he always did was he learned the game. Whether it was Lanzara or the quarterback on the other teams, he’d watch reads from the sidelines. That’s why he was farther ahead than anybody else when he came up as a junior.”
It was more than that. It was being a leader every second of the day, whether that was in the film room, weight room or during a 7-on-7 drill.
“If something was wrong, he’d sit there and talk it out,” Gribble said. “He’d never blame you. If you dropped a pass, he’d blame himself. You don’t see that in this day and age, and that’s what made him so good. He was just a great teammate.
“He didn’t have a huge ego. He was friends with everybody. … When you saw the best kid on the team was the hardest worker on the team and one of the most coachable kids, he just did the right thing all the time.”
When Brit Musal came in as a scared-to-death sophomore and stood next to Bedevelsky, the quarterback knew enough to calm his nerves. Now a running backs coach for Highland, Musal has never forgotten that.
“When you’re comfortable enough not to be stressed in stressful situations, it takes you to that next level,” Musal said. “He’s the kind of guy that would alleviate that stress and part of it was because he was so good.
“I remember being nervous and he told me to look in the stands. He said, ‘Look at all these people. They’re cheering for us.’ When you have someone like that who can say something like that instead of turning it into an expectation, it’s very calming. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, man, look at the situation.’ It was, ‘Let’s have fun.’
“The guy just always wanted to win. I’ve never had more fun playing with an individual player than him. Standing in the backfield was the most fun I’ve ever had. You combine the optimism with the confidence and the natural talent he had and it was a dangerous mixture.”
To this day, Nowak thinks Bedevelsky was shortchanged when the Associated Press gave the Mr. Football award to Mentor quarterback Bart Tanski. He is not alone.
Gribble points to the five-wide system the Cardinals ran, adding Bedevelsky would have had even better numbers if put in that offense.
“I’ve been doing this for 45 years, and I’ve never had a better, more talented player on my team,” Nowak said. “He was a great player, but his ability to make the people around him better was more important than anything. He was too slow. He was too short. They said all these things about him, but his reaction and playmaking ability were great. The people measure the combine stuff, but I’m telling you this kid could make plays. He’s one of those kids that comes around once in a lifetime and you remember the plays and you wonder how he made them.”
The one person who never complained was Lake Erie College coach Mark McNellie, who snatched Bedevelsky up in a heartbeat.
With the Storm looking for a quarterback in their transition from being a club team to Division II, they found the perfect fit in their eventual four-year starter.
“He was a winner,” McNellie said. “He had that confidence regardless of who was on the field, regardless of what everybody thought about him. A lot of people stayed away because he wasn’t a certain height on a yardstick, but every time we threw on the film, he was winning, he was leading. He dripped that confidence you want a quarterback to have. He had that swagger that he was going to be on the right side of that scoreboard.
“If he’s 6-3, I know we wouldn’t have been able to touch him with a 10-foot pole. He was a gem. He was different. If he had a chance to play in a better program, I think he could have excelled even more than he did with us. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever been around.”
Bedevelsky still holds school records for total offense (10,672), TDs responsible for (91), passing yards (8,738), completions (675) and passing touchdowns (63) and is second in school history in career rushing attempts (510), yards (1,934) and rushing touchdowns (28).
“Coming from a successful high school program, I knew I had to take it up a notch at the college level,” Bedevelsky said. “I tried to bring the same mentality to Lake Erie. It was extremely hard, going in with a bunch of 18-year-old guys against seniors that were 22, 23, basically grown men to us.
“You never feel sorry for yourself. … You try to instill that same success at Brunswick in other guys and put that winning mentality into everyone.”
Beda Believe it
Gribble, a tireless worker with an even better set of hands, knows that without Bedevelsky, he wouldn’t have achieved what he did.
“I tell anyone who will listen, I had the easiest job in the world,” Gribble said. “I just had to run the right route and the ball was on me. It didn’t matter. I can only remember one time Sean made a bad throw and the only reason I remember it is it was the only bad throw he ever made. The touch he had, whether you were running a hitch, a slant, an over route or a fade, he’d put that thing on target every single time.”
Brunswick would go through practice and the ball would never hit the ground. Not only that, defenders wouldn’t come anywhere near batting passes away.
“It was incredibly easy with him,” Karaba said. “Every ball was perfect. You never had to worry about an errant throw. To be 17 years old and to make throws like that, it was amazing.”
To this day, Bedevelsky is humble about his accomplishments, pointing to his coaches and teammates as the reasons for his success.
“Yeah, I put up great numbers and got a lot of the praise, but I wouldn’t have been anything without those guys,” Bedevelsky said. “I grew up with those kids. What am I without those guys? Gribble made 100 catches, setting records all season long. Karaba was an absolute stud. Musal stepped up when we needed him most and it trickled down through the entire offense.”
- Brunswick Hall of Fame announces latest inductees
- Explosive offense, supreme confidence made 2007 Brunswick football team elite
- Six schools represented in Medina County Sports Hall of Fame
- Juszczyk, Morey, Schrock top Medina County Hall of Fame class of 2019
- College notes: Sean Bedevelsky finishes career with flourish
- Lake Erie QB Bedevelsky getting better on football field
- Bedevelsky finds perfect Storm
- Bedevelsky, Tanski square off again