Open season started for the Bulldogs as they hunted down and humbled a team full of Grizzlies.
The Stow Bulldogs took on the Wadsworth Grizzlies on Sept. 17 after coming off 0f a nail-biting 13-10 win the previous week against Solon. Stow sat with a 3-0 record going into Week 4.
Wadsworth held a 1-2 record after being handled by Medina 42-6 in Week 3. It would have been easy for Stow to look past a game like this, but memories of last year’s match up with this Wadsworth team were fresh in their minds.
With a perfect record on the line, the Bulldogs just barely edged out a 24-21 win over the Grizzlies in their last bout together. This time, however, there would be no doubt of who had the better team.
It was all Stow from the start and all Stow to the end. Senior quarterback Kyle Vantrease led the way with a 20-yard touchdown pass to receiver Joe Andrassy to help put the first seven of the night on the board. From there, the Bulldog defense came up with a stop, forcing a punt by the Grizzlies. The result was another efficient drive by Vantrease and his receivers which culminated in a 10-yard sweep ran in by junior Terrian Wray.
As if that was not enough, following an interception by safety Bryce Sheppert, Vantrease found Andrassy yet again for a 10-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-0 to end the first quarter.
If Wadsworth could have packed up their bags and left, they probably would have but unfortunately that was not the case.
The entire Stow football team was a well-oiled machine. Led by Vantrease’s 6’3 big body, and an entourage of reliably efficient receivers that could only be compared to a Ford Fusion, the team could essentially score at will.
Couple that with a wall of defense that Trump could only dream of, it was quite obviously a dismal time to be a Grizzly.
Senior Matt Esterle put his, “slow feet don’t eat” motto to work, staying light on his toes with a hook-and-ladder play successful enough to consider getting the 240-pound guard some more touches with the ball.
Vantrease capped off the Bulldog offensive with a 13-yard pass to senior receiver–and Valparaiso University commit–Logan Lindsay to pull the lead out to 28-0 with seven minutes left in the first half.
With the absence of senior kicker Austin Burnham, Stow has been up in the air with their kicking situation. Vantrease initially filled the void, showing his versatility not only with his arm but his foot as well.
Still, expecting a quarterback to handle the kicking responsibility is a large task and certainly would cause a bit of concern for close game situations.
This week, the Bulldogs brought the boot of junior Gavin Costello to the field, and his successful field goal attempt pulled Stow to a 31-0 lead to end the first half.
Burnham, who suffered a torn quad just before the first game, is ready to get back on the field.
“It’s been extremely hard not playing the past month and a half. I never missed a game before so missing the first four of my senior year was tough,” Burnham said.
What Stow may have been missing in kicking they made up for in everything else. Their defense allowed no points to be put on the board by Wadsworth, and the offense led 365-95 in terms of total yardage over the Grizzlies all in the first half.
Cruising through the second half, Stow finished the game with a 38-15 win, putting them at 4-0 and gaining their first win in the Suburban League National Conference this year.
Vantrease completed 15 of 17 passes totalling 245 yards with three touchdowns, and Wray led the rushing game with a total of 51 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Stow will take on the Nordonia Knights Sept. 23 at home for their next game. While it is the school’s homecoming game, it should also feature the return of Burnham and hopefully a restoration of confidence for the Bulldogs in the only area they are struggling in.
Burnham said, “My quad’s feeling 100 percent. I haven’t lost any confidence, I’m just really eager to get back out and help out the team.”