Friday night was cold. A more normal night to kick off playoff ball. No rain, no snow, not a lot of wind. Just cold. The concession stand was even selling hand warmers. Thankfully, we brought our own. With hand warmers in our gloves, we were ready to watch the West Geauga Wolverines take on the Poland Seminary Bulldogs.
Before the game, there was a lot of chatter on how this game was going to go. Poland was 9-1. West G was 7-3. Poland had a schedule this season full of some powerful teams. West G also had a lot of big schools. This was a game where we knew it could go either way. It was going to come down to the last whistle. Just you wait until you read how this game went.
The game started off with West G receiving the kickoff. The Wolverines were forced to punt, but they didn’t let that get them down. On Poland’s first drive, West G held them to four downs and forced them to punt. The snap was over the punter’s head and caused them to turnover the ball on their side of the field.
This time the Wolverine’s took advantage. You knew they were ready. With 2nd down and 16 yards to go, Joe Kijauskas caught the ball with centimeters left between it and the ground. You knew right then that these boys came to play ball. With Kijauskas’s catch, Connor Krouse was able to capitalize on it. He finished off the drive with a one yard touchdown run. Brendan Judson’s kick was good and West G put the first points on the board with a score of 7-0. Oh and that was with 17 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter.
Seventeen seconds was a lot of time for the boys. On Poland’s next drive, they fumbled the ball and our own David Wolfhope recovered the ball. That set up Krouse’s longest run of the night. With zero time left on the clock, he ran the ball 38 yards for the second touchdown of the game. Judson’s kick went through the uprights and the quarter ended with the Wolverine’s up 14-0.
The second quarter started off with the Bulldog’s receiving the kick. They still weren’t able to fight against the West G defense. The boys held them to another 4th down and forced them to punt. Abdul Levy caught the ball from Krouse on 4th down giving the Wolverine’s the will to stay alive on the drive. That was just one of the many passes Levy would bring in. The West G offense kept it going down the field and topped it off with another one yard touchdown run by Krouse. Judson did his part and made the score 21-0.
This is when the Bulldogs offense caught fire. On their next drive, Dom Petrony tossed the ball 20 yards to George Chammas for a Bulldog touchdown with only 49 seconds remaining in the half. The score was now 21-7 Poland, not wanting to go into the second half down by two touchdowns, went for an onside kick. They were able to convert it and took over the ball once again. This time Chammas caught an 11 yard touchdown pass from Petrony and they were able to get the extra point making the score 21-14. That’s how the half would end. The players all took off to the locker room to warm up and set up a second half game plan. The rest of us watched to halftime show.
Both schools brought us a show. Poland entertained us with a drumline performance that was very intense. You could tell they were prepared to show the West G line what they could bring. If most of you don’t know, West G has a drumline that everyone needs to watch. They know how to give you a show and most school’s want to have a drum battle with the line to see if they can hold up their own. Only one answer to that. West G line has a lot up their sleeve. Who else has blue light up sticks?
The West Geauga Wolverine band and the drumline gave us some dance action during their performance. Paired up with dancing to Pretty Woman, they had everyone watching and laughing. The band played the fight song as they left the field and it was time for the second half.
West Geauga was scoreless in the third, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t fight hard. Even though Ross Gould from Poland ran the ball in 10 yards for a touchdown to tie it up, they never backed down. Robert Cline snagged an interception for a great stop to a Bulldog drive. Levy marked down his longest run of the night with a 52 yard run.
You may be thinking that with all of that why weren’t they able to score? Let’s just say it was one of those times where you had to be there. Time to move onto the fourth quarter anyways. That was a no score quarter period. It was full of boys who were not wanting to end the game without a win. The game was tied at 21-21 and the whistle blew. This called for only one thing. Overtime.
West G won the coin toss so they were able to start first. The ball was set at the 20 yard line. They would have eight downs to complete a touchdown. Krouse and Kijauskas wouldn’t need them. On the very first play, Krouse hit Kijauskas perfectly in the endzone for a touchdown. Judson had a perfect game when he hit the final point after attempt of the game. The score was now 28-21.
Poland was up next. I don’t really know how to tell you how they started off their short drive. Why? After the Wolverine line rattled them a little bit, they somehow got a call in their favor and were able to convert on 4th down. They had four more tries. They scored a touchdown on their next play and it was time to decide if they were going for the one point kick to tie it up or risk the game and go for a two point conversion. The Bulldogs went for the two points. Gould took it up the middle and with one last push he was in. That made the final score 29-28. Poland would move on in the playoffs.
The West Geauga High School varsity football team needs to be proud of their season. This is only the second time in school history that they played a playoff game at their field. Just in case you don’t know, home field advantage goes to the higher ranked team. To have home field advantage is a great opportunity. They were ranked 4th and Poland was ranked 5th. Those boys had topped teams that other schools around weren’t able to.
The Wolverines gave me a great show at the Orange game and from what I have heard from others, they had done that all season. Everyone single one of those boys plays with heart. They play with one goal in mind; to win, and win together. They may not have advanced in the playoffs, but every single person at that game knows that it wasn’t for a lack of trying. West G didn’t stop until that last whistle was blown. That was the way they played the entire season.
I am proud of you, Wolverines. I am glad that I had the opportunity to see you play twice this year. I had the opportunity to watch seniors Mike Cline, Joe Kijauskas, Dan November, Connor Krouse, Nathan Ickes, Curt Williams and all the others finish off their high school careers. You all played hard, and I know you have left a legacy for the underclassmen for years to come to live up to. Keep your heads high. Be proud.
Photographer’s note: It was so cold that my camera quit working just as overtime started (of course!) I hope you enjoy the photos and videos that I was able to take. Trent will be compiling them into a highlight video soon.