The postgame beverages for Gazette freelance writer Chad Grant were well deserved last week.
Ever the high school football fanatic (as well as late-night catfisherman, but I digress), Grant was on an emotional high after witnessing the highest combined score involving a Medina County team since 1923 — Black River’s 72-57 win at Western Reserve.
The head of the 6-foot-4 former Buckeye lineman was spinning. How could any writer put such an epic outburst into words in such a short period of time? The game didn’t end until approximately 10 p.m. (thanks, defenses) and The Gazette writing deadline is midnight. (Think it’s easy? Try it sometime.)
The flashing lights of police cars only added to the situation.
Grant rolled a stop sign at the circle in LaGrange, which was fitting since neither defense stopped anyone on the football field, either. Two of the village’s finest didn’t think that was cool, and they certainly didn’t think the “alleged” smell of marijuana coming from Grant’s rickety 1999 Pontiac Grand Am was cool, either.
(Disclaimer: Grant bought the car only recently, and sources close to the situation said his only experience with Mary Jane involved seeing it on the movie “Pineapple Express.”)
Just when Grant, who may be the most laid-back dude in the history of ever, thought his chances of meeting deadline had gone up in smoke, the officers found nothing during a consented search and kindly let the stop sign violation slide (Pfew!).
Clearly, last Friday was one to remember. And, no, not just because it was the final appearance of the used-to-be-300-pound Grant’s fat guy headshot in the Gazette Pick-It Line.
Oh, there also was a wacky football game in which Black River rolled up 72 points. Let’s hit on that, shall we?
The Pirates are a novelty in this age of high school football. Sure, scoring has hit absurd levels due to sophistication of spread offenses, rule changes and a culture that breeds go-for-the-big-hit mentality instead of fundamentally sound wrap tackling.
But Black River’s double wing-T is supposed to be an archaic offense that undersized teams use to level the playing field and burn clock. The wing-T became so dialed in by D-coordinators it is now nearly extinct — like the Notre Dame box, single-wing, T-formation, wishbone, veer, etc., before it.
Clearly, the Pirates are dominating offensively after scoring 60 points for the third time in their last eight games.
That should sound familiar. Just 342 days ago, the Pirates defeated Clearview 64-60. Three weeks after that game, they crushed Firelands 73-35.
The run of offensive amazement hasn’t slowed, as Black River has averaged 46.6 points on 400.8 rushing yards beginning with that epic game against the Clippers. That includes a dud against Keystone with six points on 197 rushing yards.
Coach Al Young isn’t doing anything innovative despite using the shotgun exclusively for the first time in his 25-year career. That Black River continues to light up the scoreboard like a Pink Floyd concert with only 10 or so plays (and that’s if Young needs to pass) is a testament to the coaching staff and the execution of its players.
What made last week so special was the Pirates did it without graduated 6,000-yard rusher and 500-point scorer Andrew Vaughn, who many thought was irreplaceable. He’s surely smiling on the campus of Ashland University knowing his old teammates tore it up.
Let’s take a second look at history that suddenly isn’t so rare anymore — four of the county’s top five scoring games have come in the last two years — and hash out some you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me notes:
(Disclaimer II: The original Gazette box score has been edited using game film):
• The basics: The teams combined for 129 points, 1,133 yards (865 rushing) on 118 plays (9.6 average), 41 first downs and 10 two-point conversions.
• A sequence in the fourth quarter saw 28 points in 42 seconds after a 5-yard run, 61-yard run, 15-yard fumble return and 81-yard kickoff return (and don’t forget two two-point conversion). The first three scores were on consecutive plays from scrimmage.
It was the heart of a stretch in which 42 points were scored in 3:08.
• The Pirates had scoring drives of 14, three, 13, seven, two, two, one, one, seven and four plays for 83, 62, 65, 70, 35, 49, 61, 16, 51 and 61 yards. The Roughriders had scoring drives of 10, one, four, six, one, four, six and one plays for 77, 41, 63, 65, 45, 80, 62 and 81 yards.
That averages to 4.8 plays for 59.3 yards.
• Great hustle by Western Reserve quarterback Dakota Stump kept Black River from potentially scoring 80 points. Pirates corner Kyle Petruzzi picked off Stump with less than a minute left and headed down the sideline, but was caught by Stump at the Roughriders 10-yard line, where Black River took a knee.
• Western Reserve could have scored more than 60 as well, but failed to reach paydirt after facing second-and-3 from the Pirates 5. The drive ended when Black River’s Dalton Toth, who also rushed for 114 yards in his first career start, broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
• Black River scored 22 points in the third quarter and 34 in the fourth. The latter was more than Buckeye, Cloverleaf and Medina combined for overall in Week 1.
The Roughriders followed a similar path, as they scored 43 of their 57 points in the second and fourth.
• Stump (272 yards rushing, 151 passing) and running back Jack Klingshire (153 rushing) had all but 1 yard of the Roughriders’ total offense. Western Reserve began the game in a double wing-T, but scrapped it quickly for a one-back shotgun set. The only running plays they ran out of that formation were halfback trap and QB counter.
• Stump, a left-handed converted wide receiver who can run like a deer, would have pushed 300 rushing yards if not for a 16-yard loss in which a shotgun snap went through his hands. His four TD runs covered 167 yards.
• Western Reserve was unsuccessful on three onside kicks in the second half. The first went 9 yards, the second was recovered by the Roughriders after 9½ and the third was snuffed by the Pirates. Black River scored after two of the onside kicks.
• The Pirates didn’t have a kicker, so they attempted two-point conversions. Western Reserve had a kicker, but Jarrett Hraha attempted only one extra point because his team was trying to keep up with Black River.
• (Different sport, but notable: Black River’s basketball team hasn’t scored 72 points in a regulation game since Feb. 20, 2010.)
• Pirates wingback David Bell rushed 12 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter. He had just six totes for 22 yards in the second half, as Western Reserve committed an extra linebacker to the strong side of formations (where Bell usually ran to).
• Meanwhile, Black River fullback Colin Filak saw 106 of his 115 rushing yards come on 45- and 61-yard traps for touchdowns. His 11 other carries netted 9 yards.
• The Pirates missed 24 tackles, while the Roughriders countered with (only) 16. Western Reserve’s problem was over-pursuit, as first-half counters looked like the best play calls in the history of football.
• Black River’s nine offensive touchdowns covered a surprisingly low 26.6 yards, while Western Reserve countered at 37.9 on seven scores. The teams combined to cover 504 yards on 16 offensive TDs — the other two came on defense and special teams.
• Money downs were owned by the Pirates, who were 7-for-15 on third down and 3-for-3 on fourth. Western Reserve was only 2-for-8 and 1-for-3.
• Pirates quarterback Vernon Beard threw for a career-high 118 yards. That doesn’t sound like much, but consider this: Black River didn’t reach 118 passing yards for the 2013 season until Week 7!
• Beard’s top throw was a doozy in the fourth quarter. Facing third-and-10 from his own 43, the junior faked a handoff, rolled right, escaped a sack attempt and while on the run threw a dart to Alex McIntyre for a 46-yard gain. Beard hit Filak for a 6-yard TD on fourth-and-5 shortly thereafter.
• Pirates safety Allan Benson’s late interception all but sealed the game, but the ensuing nail-in-the-coffin drive had the slickest plays of the night.
Bell had the first when he broke a wrap attempt at the line of scrimmage and carried another defender 6 yards for an 18-yard run.
Two plays later, Beard faked a jet sweep, juked inside to his right and left a linebacker in the dust by spinning left and sprinting to the house. The play covered 34 yards and capped the scoring.
At that point, there was only one notable thing remaining: Grant showing those nice police officers his papers.
(C’mon, get your mind out of the gutter. We meant stat papers!)
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or [email protected]
Buckeye 72, Western Reserve 57
BLACK RIVER 8 22 8 34 — 72
WESTERN RESERVE 8 23 6 20 — 57
B — Dalton Toth 5 run (Vernon Beard run), 4:23.
W — Dakota Stump 15 run (Stump run), 0:47.
B — David Bell 49 run (Toth run), 11:50.
W — Stump 41 run (Jack Klingshire run), 11:35.
B — Toth 20 run (run failed), 6:08.
W — Colton Puder 67 pass from Stump (Jarrett Hreha kick), 5:37.
B — Bell 11 run (Bell run), 1:54.
W — David Martin 26 pass from Stump (Klingshire run), 0:27.
W — Stump 45 run (run failed), 5:38.
B — Toth 8 run (Colin Filak run), 0:43.
W — Stump 66 run (pass failed), 11:41.
B — Filak 45 run (run failed), 10:53.
W — Klingshire 5 run (Logan Croft pass from Stump), 9:15.
B — Filak 61 run (Beard run), 8:59.
B — Allan Benson 16 fumble return (run failed), 8:48.
W — Darrin Fannin 81 kickoff return (run failed), 8:33.
B — Filak 6 pass from Beard (Beard run), 5:11.
B — Beard 34 run (run failed), 1:54.
First downs 20 20
By rush 16 11
By pass 4 7
By penalty 0 2
Rushing 53/439 38/426
Rushing average 8.3 11.2
Passing 4/9 7/18
Passing yards 117 151
Avg. per attempt 13.0 8.4
Avg. per completion 29.3 21.6
Total plays/net yards 62/556 56/577
Avg. gain per play 9.0 10.3
Punting 4/38.7 2/38.0
Third down conversions 7/15 2/8
Fourth-down conversions 3/3 1/3
Penalties 10/80 3/25
Fumbles/lost 0/0 4/2
Name No. Yds. Avg. TD
D. Bell 22 178 8.1 2
Filak 13 115 8.8 2
Toth 15 114 7.6 3
Beard 3 32 10.7 1
Name No. Yds. Avg. TD
Filak 2 52 26.0 1
Alex McIntyre 1 46 46.0 0
D. Bell 1 19 19.0 0
Name Com Att Pct Yds TD-INT
Beard 4 9 .444 117 1-0
Tackes: Curtis Roupe 7, Russell Bell 5, Benson 5, David Markiewicz 5, John Ternes 4, Logan Norton 3, Toth 3, Ryan Slone 2, Dylan Lewis 2, D. Bell 2, Matt Potter, Cory Hamilton, Filak, Glen Crabtree, Travis Sexton, Kyle Petruzzi.
Tackles for loss: Roupe, Hamliton.
Forced fumble: Derek Hawley
Fumble recoveries: R. Bell, Benson
Passes defensed: R. Bell, Norton
Interception: Benson, Petruzzi
Name No. Yds. Avg. TD
Stump 18 272 15.1 4
Klingshire 18 153 8.5 1
Martin 1 2 2.0 0
Kyle Fitch 1 -1 -1.0 0
Name No. Yds. Avg. TD
Puder 4 114 28.5 1
Martin 1 26 26.0 1
Croft 2 11 5.5 0
Name Com Att Pct Yds TD-INT
Stump 7 18 .389 151 2-2
Tackles: Fannin 13, Jessie Muenz 7, Jeremy West 7, Martin 6, Aaron Fashing 6, Klingshirn 5, Luke Buck 4, Kyle Winebrenner 3, Rod Workman 4, Kenny Bement 4, Elliot Courtney 3, Puder 2, Brandon Workman.
Tackles for loss: R. Workman 1½, Martin 1½, Fashing 1, West 1, Courtney 1, Bement 1, Buck ½, B. Workman ½
Sacks: Fashing ½, B. Workman ½.
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