Sports

Prepping for the game: a week following Wadsworth football

October 12, 2022

BY BRENDEN BARLETT & CARSON BERNARD

Monday consisted of a sun-filled afternoon when the Grizzlies made their way out to the practice field after watching their film. Coming off a 56-0 shutout over the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees, the Grizzlies were determined for their upcoming conference game against the undefeated (4-0) Hudson Explorers. 

Senior and Varsity Team Captain Thomas Arnold spent the majority of Monday drilling his pass routes and working hard to improve his timing for key lead blocks and supporting blocks for other plays. As the starting tight end for the Grizzlies, his blocks can be crucial in the process of creating an effective offensive play. 

“We practice and run plays for about two hours Monday through Thursday, and then we watch ‘film’ and just study the defense,” Stack said.  “Coach Todd does all the work looking for film and chopping it up, then it’s on us to actually watch it on our own time like when we get home from school.”

Meanwhile, while Arnold spent the majority of the practice with his focus directed towards pass routes and blocking, Junior, and current quarterback for the Grizzlies, William Stack, focused heavily on passing to his receivers, backs, and tight-ends, determining when he should pass or run the ball, and leading the offense. Stack’s role as the quarterback is crucial because the quarterback is the player tasked with telling the rest of the team what play they are supposed to execute on offense.

Arnold and Stack are just two of the Grizzlies’ players who put in a great deal of work on and off the field while still balancing their school life and potentially their job as well. Like most of their teammates, they dedicate a portion of their time outside of practice to watching films of their roles in previous games and practices in order to critique or credit themselves when due and to learn from previous mistakes. 

Nathan Metzger (11), Will Stack (11) and Tommy Arnold (12) running a play during practice. The team practices the interior and exterior playbook Monday through Wednesday working on old and new plays. Photo by Jade Wilcox.

Stack mentioned that it took a lot of additional time to prepare and study for Hudson’s defense specifically and that apart from watching game film, they also film and watch parts of their own practices. On top of watching ‘film,’ Stack said that specific game plans could take a lot of studying, which can add up when he has homework to finish as well. 

“I always have to have a study hall at some point during the day, which is where I get most of my homework done,” Stack said. ”But after practice, I go home and finish any homework I haven’t done. Some gameplans you really have to study for a while, though, so along with nights of homework, you really have to buckle down and get to work.” 

Despite the amount of time they have to dedicate to football outside of practice, Stack only feels slightly overwhelmed, while Arnold said that he honestly does not feel overwhelmed. 

“It isn’t really hard to balance everything since a lot of it goes hand in hand,” Arnold said. “Balancing school can be tedious at times, but it’s really not too hard, and despite how difficult it is, I chose this for myself, and I made the commitment to football, so I stay true to that and just get things done.”

While Arnold at worst sees balancing his workload as tedious, Stack mentioned that he personally avoids having a job during the Football season because he feels that if he were to have one, it could become overwhelming. Even though Arnold does not feel overwhelmed, he does possess the additional responsibility of being a team captain for the Grizzlies. 

“Being a captain doesn’t add any additional stress,” Arnold said. “It’s an hour to be considered a leader by my teammates, guys I’ve played football with my whole life and grown up with. It’s an amazing feeling to know they look at me as a leader.”

Arnold said that the most important thing about being a team captain is being a leader for his teammates and making the right decisions both on and off the field. 

“To me, being captain just means being a leader and representing the team the right way on and off the field,” Arnold said, “and being someone that your teammates can count on and that knows cares about them and will be there for them when they need it.”

Tommy Arnold, a senior at Wadsworth, poses catching the football. Arnold is a tight end for Wadsworth. Outside of football Arnold works on weekends. Photo by Brenden Barlett.

Arnold also mentioned that even if they go through a tough week of practice, it is worth it, as his favorite thing about football is, come Friday night when he and his teammates get to ‘go out and battle for four quarters and leave everything on the field.’ Arnold has played football for 11 years now and hopes to continue his football career post-high school. 

Stack also made a point about Fridays and said that he loves the atmosphere during “pre-game” and spending time hanging out with friends after their game. 

 “Seeing everyone focused and locked in,” Stack said about why he loves pre-game, “it’s nerve-wracking though because you’re nervous about playing but also excited and ready. It’s super fun, though, because I’ve been going to the games since I was a kid, and finally getting to play in them with all your friends is super fun.”

As for the way the season has gone so far, both Arnold and Stack said they feel very confident about the rest of their season and the direction that the team is going in. 

“I think before the season started, everyone was a little unsure of how things would go,” Arnold said, “but through success and failure, I’ve learned a lot about how we are as a team, and despite the outcome of games, it’s back to work the next morning, so I’m definitely more confident because I feel like no matter what you can’t count us out cause we’ll always keep fighting.”

Stack added that he felt confident with the season and with having started with a 3-1 record, though he mentioned that the narrow loss to the Medina Bees in a 35-45 point game was extremely tough. Despite their loss to the Medina Bees, both Arnold and Stack explained that the goal was to win the Suburban League. 

“The goal is the suburban league,” Arnold said, “and of course, I think everyone would love another shot at Medina.”

The Wadsworth Grizzlies are set to face the Hudson Explorers on Friday, September 16; afterward, Arnold and Stack will speak to us again about how they felt about their performances, the team’s performance, and a follow-up on the goal going forward for the Wadsworth Grizzlies. 

On Friday night (September 16), the Wadsworth Grizzlies faced off and lost in an extremely close conference home game at the Art Wright Stadium against the Hudson Explorers. An early mistake saw the Explorers gain a 7-0 lead over the Grizzlies in the First Quarter, and while the Grizzlies’ offense saw some success in later quarters, the story of the game was defense, and the Grizzlies lost 17-7, enduring their second loss, again at home and by just ten points.

Will Stack, a junior at Wadsworth High, posing with the football. Stack is a quarterback for Wadsworth. Outside of football Stack also enjoys running track in the winter. Photo by Carson Bernard.

“I think we played our hardest,” Stack said. “We did everything we could, but that was a really good Hudson Team, and we definitely missed some opportunities with a few mistakes we missed out on.”

Arnold also agreed that the Grizzlies put in a lot of effort against the Explorers but expressed how crucial the loss was. 

“We fought hard but couldn’t capitalize ya know,” Arnold said, “you gotta play better ya know, you have to win games like that, against teams like that, it was a huge game. Everyone obviously is disappointed, but everyone fought hard. That’s a given. When you play here, you always play hard. We have to go back on Monday and get ready to play hard.”

Even though they came up short against the Explorers, Stack felt that he learned that every one of his teammates would fight hard no matter what the score was or how the game was going. 

“I think that game is going to make us a better team moving forward because we know how to fight until the end,” Stack said, “and we have been tested, and not a lot of teams have had that yet.”

Despite their narrow loss to the Explorers, the Grizzlies quickly bounced back on September 23 against the Nordonia Knights. Tasked with facing another undefeated (5-0) team in a conference game at home, the Grizzlies came up big with a 41-14 victory over the Knights, solidifying the Grizzlies in second place in the Suburban League.

Fueled by a successful first half of their season, the Grizzlies are prepared to take on the challenge of the Austintown-Fitch Falcons this Friday, October 7,  for Wadsworth’s Homecoming game. Win or lose, Arnold and Stack both believe that the goal will remain the same: that being to win the Suburban League and prepare to fight during the playoffs.

*UPDATE* Ultimately the Grizzlies came up short after a tough loss with the final score being 35-42. The Grizzlies went through four OT against the Falcons, but the variety of a blocked field goal, a crucial injury and other factors played a role in the Grizzlies close defeat.

Now 5-3, the Grizzlies remain Second in the Suburban League and look to face the North Royalton Bears (4-4) on Friday, October 14, in the Battle of the Bears for the Grizzlies final home game of the regular season.

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