TWINSBURG — When the going gets rough, Wadsworth can always lean on Dom Loparo and Brock Snowball.
The Grizzlies running backs combined for three touchdowns in a 41-0 trouncing of Twinsburg on Friday. Before the first half ended, Wadsworth pulled its starters and the officials started a running clock.
But the lopsided win didn't tell the whole story.
The Grizzlies (8-0, 5-0 Suburban League) were without their top receiver, senior Carson Risher, who suffered a season-ending leg injury last week at North Royalton. Before the injury, Risher already had double-digit touchdowns and more than 700 yards receiving, far more than any other player on Wadsworth’s roster.
But Grizzlies coach Justin Todd said he was confident his offense would respond this week without Risher, primarily because of the leadership of his running backs. It didn’t hurt that junior quarterback Trey Shaffer passed for 81 yards and a touchdown, or that sophomore receiver Barret Labus caught Shaffer’s scoring throw and rushed for another touchdown.
"[Loparo and Snowball] complement each other — they take as much pride in blocking for one another as they do in running over people and being physical," Todd said. "Anytime you lose a kid the caliber of Carson, you don’t ever replace somebody. We hate to lose a kid on any position on the field, but it’s a cumulative effort."
The Grizzlies weren’t just dominant on offense. Senior defensive back Justin Herbert intercepted two passes and the defense forced three fumbles, two of which the Grizzlies recovered. The Tigers (4-4, 3-2) picked up just one first down before halftime — which came on a Wadsworth roughing the punter penalty — and didn't cross midfield for the first time well into the third quarter.
"When it’s wet, offenses play differently, so we had to capitalize," Herbert said. "Personally, I was [prepared] and it sure seemed like my team was."
But Wadsworth wasn’t the only team missing playmakers.
Twinsburg quarterback Adam Van De Motter was ruled out before kickoff, and senior Max Brazie — who’s listed as a defensive lineman and tight end — started in his place. Brazie was held to just nine yards rushing, 18 yards passing, and a pair of two interceptions as the Tigers relied on predictable screen passes and quarterback keepers that only picked up short yardage.
The Grizzlies defense, meanwhile, handed its offense excellent field position and Loparo helped Wadsworth take full advantage. The junior rushed for 83 yards and two scores and Snowball, a senior tailback, contributed 53 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Josh Bach added a four-yard touchdown run.
"Going into this week, it was imperative for [the offense] to take the next step since it’s becoming late in the season," Loparo said. "We need to always come out in the game and be ready."