No one needed to remind the Medina football team that talk is cheap. Seemingly every year, the area’s historically enigmatic program was surrounded by grumbles about why it wasn’t winning. If the Bees did get off to a good start, they either played the us-against-the-world card or proclaimed their greatness before beating anyone of substance.
Senior running back Jimmy Daw flat-out refused to let Medina fall into old habits this fall. No smack talk. No disrespect. No entitlement. No more 4-6 records.
Nothing is given. Everything is earned. Shut up and work, but, above all, never, ever give up.
The Bees followed their humble, mature and magnetic superstar to the letter, and the results were undeniable: Nine wins, a Week 10 game with the Greater Cleveland Conference championship at stake, a legendary comeback win in the first round of the Division I playoffs and statistically the most explosive offense in Medina County history.
There was never a doubt that Daw would be Gazette MVP.
“Our guys started to believe in themselves and that we had something special here,” Daw said. “We were done thinking that we were going to win four games this season or four games next season. We knew we had the pieces and the parts to go out and win nine games and make it to the second round.”
Standing 6-foot-4, weighing 223 pounds and blessed with remarkable vision, hands and attitude, Daw was the centerpiece of a team that averaged 43.2 points — posting no less than 26 in any game — and 433.2 yards.
Every opponent’s scouting report had a full page dedicated to jersey No. 14, but those defensive coordinators still couldn’t stop him. If Daw couldn’t cut and rumble downhill against linebackers in the box, he moved to split end and created mismatches as a receiver against undersized cornerbacks.
The Bees went through three starting quarterbacks. They faced 21-0, 19-6, 16-7, 24-0 and 24-0 deficits in the second half of the season, yet won twice and had legitimate shots to steal the three others. The 24-0 hole against Toledo Whitmer in the playoffs ended 38-31 Medina on Daw’s short TD with 2 seconds left.
Very few times did the Bees carry themselves with arrogance, and never Daw except a lone incident when a defender twisted his ankle and prompted a reaction. Medina’s collective attitude shined much brighter in losses than wins, as complimenting opponents like adults became the norm.
That may be the lasting legacy of the 2016 team.
“Jimmy set the tone for the whole team,” former coach Dan Sutherland said. “With Jimmy, he’s so humble. He’s one of the best players in the state and the best player in Northeast Ohio, in my opinion, but you would never know it by the way he acts. He was so quiet and humble — almost shy-like.
“He also has a great rapport with the guys on the team. They naturally gravitate toward him. He walks into the room and you want to be around him. There’s not many people like that in the world. He’s going to be really successful because he has that attitude. Because he’s so good, the kids fed off that.”
Daw undoubtedly was the team leader, but the Ball State recruit, GCC Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Ohioan also was its biggest star.
The statistics are mesmerizing, as the four-year letterwinner scored 248 points, had 229 carries for 1,385 yards and 32 touchdowns, caught 36 passes for 818 yards and nine scores and posted six games of at least four TDs. The point, rushing touchdown and total touchdown totals are county records.
Daw had oh-my-god-did-you-see-that runs against Kenston and Brunswick — the latter was called back for a penalty — but his most historic performance was in a 51-43 loss to Solon, compiling 27 touches (21 rushing, 6 receiving), 225 yards from scrimmage (122 rushing, 103 receiving) and six touchdowns.
Daw then was a stud with his hands in the playoffs, racking up eight receptions, 212 yards and two TDs along with four scores on the ground.
The final three games also were when Daw’s unselfishness shined, as he willingly left the backfield and played wide receiver for long stretches. The switch proved vital in the Whitmer game because sophomore Daylonte Davis sparked the comeback with scat-back rushing in his varsity debut.
Daw, who also played free safety for the first half of the year until Nick Hoptry returned and linebacker in the season-ending loss to Olentangy Liberty, did whatever was necessary to win. He even threw punishing lead blocks on jet sweeps by Dylan Fultz and Demetrius Shannon.
If Daw was willing to sacrifice, everyone else was, too.
“I’ve been kind of a leader for a bunch of these guys forever,” Daw said. “Leading’s just kind of my thing. It’s what I like to do.”
For his career, Daw had 577 carries, 3,384 yards and 62 TDs, 91 receptions for 1,459 yards and 14 TDs and 466 points. Only Wadsworth’s Paul Macko (2001-03) and Buckeye’s Trevor Thome (2012-15) were in the 2,000/1,000 club prior to the season, let alone a 3,000/1,000 split. Only Black River’s Andrew Vaughn (530, 2010-13) had more points.
Daw also broke Erastus “Tunk” Simmons’ 93-year-old Medina career scoring record and Dean “Mighty Mite” Brubaker’s 68-year-old career rushing records for yards and TDs. As if they weren’t enough, Daw is second to Mike Chase for career receptions and yards despite being officially listed as a running back.
Forget all the numbers, however, because for Daw the memories meant the world.
“Unforgettable,” Daw said. “It was an unreal season. Everyone one of us guys will never forget it for the rest of our lives.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.