WADSWORTH — When it came to crunch time Friday night, it was the Wadsworth football team’s offense that answered the call in a Division II, Region 7 playoff game against Wooster.
For senior offensive lineman Conner Raymond, the Grizzlies’ 42-38 victory — they scored on six of their 11 possessions in the game — was extra special.
Although Raymond played most of last week, the Wooster game was his first varsity start.
“To play for three years and get my first start in this game, it’s crazy,” Raymond said. “It’s like nothing I can explain.”
Raymond began playing in Wadsworth’s youth programs in the third grade. Senior running back Brock Snowball started when he was 8. Both were trained to be Grizzlies, but in a very different offensive world than they are experiencing as seniors.
Under former coach Greg Dennison, the Wadsworth system, taught from youth programs through the high school varsity, was a power running game that stressed ball control. That’s the kind of game Raymond and Snowball learned.
But when Justin Todd took over the varsity program in their sophomore seasons, the schemes changed.
“The first year with Coach Todd we went 5-5, I think, and then as juniors we had Joey Baughman, and that scheme fit perfectly with the players we had,” Snowball said. “We had all the pieces for the new offense, and we do this year.”
Although the offense now features more motion and different blocking schemes, Raymond said it hasn’t been a difficult transition.
“They make it so simple to follow,” he said. “You wouldn’t think it would be, but they make the calls one word, so it’s easy to figure out.
“There’s so many different options. If something isn’t working, we can try something else.”
Todd said this year’s offense, which is a little less of a spread look than it was under Baughman’s direction last year, is more like what he hopes to instill moving forward.
“We looked kind of like that old school Wadsworth offense at times tonight,” Todd said with a laugh. “But we’ve evolved a lot over the last couple of years, and we look more like this year what we want, that balance that we can bring.”
Snowball said as a running back, seeing the offensive line open holes and creases to run through is the best part.
“The way the blocking schemes set up is not too bad to read,” said the senior, who played quarterback coming through the youth program before moving to running back last year. “It kind of comes naturally to me.”
Despite all the offensive success Friday — the team rolled up 522 yards and Snowball ran for 163 yards on 21 carries, while Dom Loparo added 124 on 18 — the game came down to a defensive stop.
Watching from the sideline for Raymond was both thrilling and frightening.
“If we lose, I’m done with football forever. If we win, I get to play another week,” Raymond said. “So all those emotions are running through my head, and we just needed to get a stop.”
And when Noah Alic broke through for a sack to seal the win?
“I was so pumped,” Raymond exclaimed.
For another week, anyway, the Grizzlies offense gets a chance to lead the way and keep the team alive in the playoffs.
“The offense does make us feel really confident,” Snowball said. “We know what we can do.”
Contact Chris Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.