BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Football teams don’t grind out more than 300 yards of offense and put up 42 points by accident.
Led by its offensive line, that is exactly what Anthony Wayne did in a 42-0 Northern Lakes League rout over Perrysburg on Home-coming at Schaller Memorial Field last Friday.
The Generals finished the game with 21 first downs to the Yellow Jackets’ four and amassed 325 total yards to Perrysburg’s 44.
AW, ranked No. 4 in the state in the latest Division II AP poll, remains undefeated at 7-0 and is now tied with Napoleon (5-2 overall) for first place in the conference, with both having 4-0 marks.
Perrysburg saw its two-game win streak snapped and fell to 2-5 (2-2).
Junior running back Ezra Scott led Anthony Wayne with 154 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
Scott’s TD runs came in the first half on carries of 14 and 3 yards. He will have a chance to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in AW’s game at Northview this Friday, needing just over 100 yards.
The shutout by the defense, in addition to Scott’s yardage, can be credited to the Generals’ success controlling the trenches on both offense and defense. The players to thank for that are the linemen, who obviously know their job well.
“That’s where football is played – if we win that, we win the game,” said AW senior lineman Carter Holck, who plays offensive guard and defensive tackle.
“We just worked all week to get plays down and making sure that we’re making holes for Ezra to run through.”
Two-way tackle Mike Cousino added that when the big men up front do their jobs well, Scott shows his appreciation.
“Ezra Scott thanks all of us, every single time. Whenever he makes a big play, he always comes up to us and says, ‘Good job, guys. I couldn’t have done it without you. It all starts up front,’” Cousino said.
“I think it’s the sense of family that we have – the brotherhood that we have. We’re born on every play in the trenches, we’re raised on the field and we just grind every single day to make sure we get better.”
There were still lessons to be learned heading into the Perrysburg game, however, and AW coach Andy Brungard said his linemen are always striving to improve their performance.
“Actually, we watched a lot of film on them from the Maumee game (42-0 AW win),” he said, “and we put a lot of pressure on them to clean things up this week and they definitely responded.”
Holck said he had a penalty called on him in the third quarter, but it was just one of two called against the Generals line all night.
“If we can get that under control, that will be good,” Holck said.
AW’s success on the ground freed up its passing game, and senior quarterback Max Denman completed 10-of-19 passes for another 128 yards and three TDs. Denman also ran for a 3-yard score in the first half.
Denman threw an 18-yard TD pass to junior back Mason Alberts and completed a 16-yard scoring pass to junior tight end Bryce Boyer, all in the first half.
After the break, Denman threw a 19-yard TD strike to senior wide receiver Max Bradfield, who has been one of his favorite targets all season. The “Max-to-Max” connection accounted for 47 yards on three receptions against the Yellow Jackets.
Brungard said it helps that Denman stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 185 pounds and Bradfield is 6-3, 210. Both are receiving offers to play in college.
“When you have a big receiver like that and you have a tall quarterback like that who can see over the pocket, it’s fun to watch,” Brungard said. “They are definitely two great athletes. They are two very smart athletes.
“That one touchdown, Denman called himself, and he knew it was going to be open to Bradfield. It’s fun to watch those two guys play.”
It was Mason Alberts, however, who became Denman’s favorite target against Perrysburg, catching five passes for 66 yards. Junior tight end Dylan Jennings also had one 7-yard reception.
In the fourth quarter, AW sophomore back-up quarterback Garrett Pike threw a 19-yard completion to junior wide receiver Kyle Ray.
Ten different backs carried the ball for Anthony Wayne, but Scott accounted for most of the team’s 178 total yards on the ground.
Denman had seven carries for 16 yards, senior Jacob Neumeyer two for 16 yards, Mason Alberts two for 11 yards and Ray one for 6 yards.
In preserving the shutout, the AW defense held the Jackets to 7 yards on the ground and 37 through the air.
Senior running back Kevin Olds led Perrysburg with 16 yards on three carries. Four other Jackets carried the ball 21 times, but finished with an accumulated net total of minus-9 yards.
The Generals defensive line not only controlled the trenches, but on play after play they caught Perrysburg players behind the line of scrimmage before a play could even develop.
There were seven negative-yardage rushing plays, one of them accounting for minus-12 yards.
In the first half, Perrysburg senior quarterback Clay Denstorff did complete 6-of-8 passes for 29 yards, but two of them resulted in negative yardage.
Sophomore wide receiver Aiden Pratt had two catches for 19 yards and sophomore tight end Luke Jaco had one 9-yard reception.
In the second half, Perrysburg senior Dustin Carter had just one completion – an 8-yard pass to junior wide receiver Kameron Vidales.
The Yellow Jackets also had just one first down in the second half, which was sped up by a running clock since AW was winning by more than 30 points.
Coach Brungard’s teams are now 32-6 since he took over four years ago, and this team is the first since 2001 to start the season 6-0 – and that team lost three games to close the season.
The Generals do not plan to duplicate that outcome, as they travel to Sylvania to face off with Northview (3-4, 1-3) this Friday.
AW will finish the regular season with two of the NLL’s most serious contenders – at Napoleon on October 19 and at home against Springfield (5-2, 3-1) on October 26.