CHESTERLAND–Absolutely stunning weather in bucolic Geauga County set a sunny stage for West Geauga’s (1-1) first win of the season, a 28-0 home victory over visiting Geneva (1-1) that head man Adam Sopkovich deemed “a complete team win.”
“What these guys showed me tonight, man, we came out on a short week of practice and, you know, these guys performed,” the coach said after the win. “They worked hard all week and what they did tonight was extraordinary. So, I’m hoping we can build off this.”
Hard work indeed paid off on this night for the Wolverines, who dropped a tough one the week prior to Bay Village at home. But, the payoff would take some time to come to fruition.
A scoreless first quarter where both defenses dominated the opening action gave way to a similarly tight second stanza. West G struck first, pulling ahead with a minute left in the half after capitalizing on a Geneva fumble. A few plays later it was West Geauga senior receiver Torry Stazzone racing around left end on a counter from 12 yards out, sending the home team to the locker room with a 7-0 lead it would never relinquish.
Kicking off to start the second half, Sopkovich and his staff shrewdly called for talented sophomore kicker/punter Joseph Dialla to dribble an onside kick right down the middle of the field. With the Geneva front line apparently playing for a return, junior Michael Cavasinni pounced on the loose football, and the home team had basically just stolen an extra possession. In a closely fought contest, it made all the difference in the world.
“You know, we’re going to take every opportunity that we can to put our team in a successful situation, and when you capitalize on those things, it’s a big boost (for momentum),” Sopkovich said of the decision to open with the surprise onside.
The second half saw more of the same home side mastery, with West Geauga featuring a four-headed stable of running threats out of the backfield and on the outside to take control of the trenches and wear down Geneva. Sophomore running back David Fofona, a slashing, patient runner who confounded the Eagle defense all night long, and speedy senior scatback Ty Bose highlighted a deep and productive running back group.
After a few nice jaunts from his aforementioned quartet of running backs, Stazzone again finished off a drive, this time catching a 10-yard play-action rollout strike from senior quarterback Danny Stewart, who seemed to grow more confident as a passer as the night wore on.
Leading 14-0 now, Geneva once again turned the ball over, this time via a fumble recovery by freshman middle linebacker Lucas Sadler. Five minutes of gameplay later and Stewart was connecting on a heady wheel route–once again off play-action–with Cavasinni to put the Wolverines on top 21-0.
On Geneva’s ensuing possession, a couple of big plays in the backfield by senior defensive tackle Austin Pascoe got the Eagles offense off the field and a shanked punt gave the Wolverines offense great field position. Once again, a few short moments later they were in the red zone again, and Stewart plowed across the goal line from one yard out for the final score of the night with 11 minutes left in the final quarter.
“The roles that each one of those guys played tonight, it’s hard to get ready for all four of those guys,” Sopkovich said of his running back room. “And you know, when you have that kind of passion and that kind of athletic ability, it can be hard sometimes when there are egos involved. But we don’t have egos. They’re all like, ‘Hey, good job.’ And the offensive line played great, receivers played great, Danny played great, and our defense pitched a shutout. We had guys subbing in and guys subbing out and stuff like that. So, you know, all in all, a complete team win. I do see some things that we have to fix before we go to Parma next week, but we’re going to let these guys enjoy it tonight, and then we’re gonna get right back at it.”
Stewart finished the night with three total touchdowns, one on the ground and two through the air, while Stazzone found pay dirt twice.
West Geauga heads out on the road next week as it takes on Parma High School at Byers Field at 7:00 pm on Friday. Geneva hosts Springfield.