Wadsworth's Trey Shaffer (7) is sacked by Hudson's Michael Caniglia (91) and Drew Lightner (17) in the first quarter of Friday's game. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
WADSWORTH — Daylight Savings Time doesn’t end for more than a week, but the Wadsworth football team turned back the clock a little early Friday, as senior running back Brock Snowball had himself a senior night to remember in a 35-13 Suburban League National Conference victory over Hudson.
Snowball carried 41 times for 234 yards and two touchdowns in the regular-season finale at Art Wright Memorial Stadium, giving him 10 scores on the season as Wadsworth (10-0, 7-0) overcame a 13-0 first-quarter deficit.
“Our offensive line, no one works harder than that group and no one gets coached harder than that group,” Grizzlies coach Justin Todd said. “For them to respond the way they did against a physical Hudson front, we knew Brock could do it. It was just a matter of when we needed him to do it.”
The win gave Wadsworth back-to-back undefeated regular seasons for the first time since 1967 and back-to-back league titles for the first time since 1978, as it clinched the SL National outright. The Grizzlies await official word on who they will host in the Division II, Region 7 quarterfinals next week.
“I don’t really know how to explain (how these last two seasons feel),” Snowball said. “Growing up, I couldn’t dream anything like this up.”
The Explorers (3-7, 3-4) featured a strong running game highlighted by wildcat looks early and took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on a 10-yard run by running back Brady Ludewig.
Snowball fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive, and Hudson sophomore John Innamorato jumped on the ball. Ludewig capped a short drive one minute later with a 16-yarder around the right side. A botched snap on the extra point kept the score at 13-0.
Todd showed his faith in Snowball right away, and the senior rewarded that commitment with 10 carries for 43 yards on the next drive, including a 4-yard score through the right side to make it 13-7.
“That’s the most (carries I’ve had in a game), by far. Not even a question,” Snowball said. “The line did an excellent job blocking and I just ran.”
After Snowball’s battering ram-like efforts forced Hudson to put more defenders in the box, junior quarterback Trey Shaffer took advantage and found sophomore Barret Labus (3 receptions, 104 yards, 2 TDs) wide open down the right sideline for a 38-yard touchdown to put Wadsworth up 14-13 at halftime.
Snowball went back to work to start the second half, carrying 10 times on a 12-play drive, including a 7-yard score. Senior Mason McMillen, a fixture on defense who entered Week 10 with a Medina County-leading 92 tackles, found more work on offense as Dom Loparo nursed an undisclosed injury.
“With all due respect to any kid I’ve ever coached, because I’ve coached some wonderful ones, Mason is the greatest leader I’ve ever been around,” Todd said. “The kid motivates me. He instantaneously changes our demeanor in practice, and I’ve never seen anything like him.”
Shaffer closed the game with two more touchdown passes. The leader of what is usually a balanced, high-octane offense only threw eight times but completed seven for 151 yards.
Senior free safety Jake Herbert preserved the shutout over the final three quarters when he intercepted quarterback Jacob Paltani in the end zone in the fourth quarter. It was Herbert’s ninth pick of the season, with Jack Grice adding a fumble recovery.
“I have to rely on the front to get pressure and the other four DBs to cover,” Herbert said. “I need them to cover, and I can make a play wherever he throws it.”
Contact John Urchek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 35, Hudson 13
HUDSON 13 0 0 0 — 13
WADSWORTH 0 14 14 7 — 35
H — Brady Ludewig 10 run (Jake Vidmar kick), 2:32.
H — Ludewig 16 run (Pass failed), 1:17.
W — Brock Snowball 4 run (Blake Turano kick), 6:49.
W — Barret Labus 38 pass from Trey Shaffer (Turano kick), 1:26.
W — Snowball 7 run (Turano kick), 7:29.
W — Jack Simmons 9 pass from Shaffer (Turano kick), 1:25.
W — Labus 57 pass from Shaffer (Turano kick), 8:14.