BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — The defending Northern Lakes League champion Anthony Wayne football team was glad to be on the gridiron last Friday night.
“It was hard to contain at times, for sure,” said AW coach Anderson Brungard. “It was great to be out and playing a football game on a Friday night.
“It was such a good feeling after having to deal with the coronavirus and everything else for five months, (with) everything canceled. It was nice for them to play finally – get them out and doing something.”
After not scoring in the first quarter, the Generals notched four touchdowns in the second on their way to a 35-3 victory over Northview at Sylvania’s Cat Stadium.
It was a good start for an AW team that has won the last three Northern Lakes League championships.
The Generals went through the regular season 10-0 last year and cruised through NLL competition, shutting out six of seven teams and outscoring the league opposition, 311-7.
For the season, AW outscored opponents 468-108, averaged 290.3 yards per game on the ground and had 54 plays of 20-plus yards.
The Generals graduated 22 seniors, however, seven of whom earned All-Ohio status, and at least four players were going on to play NCAA Division I football.
Due to the large margins of victory last season, second stringers saw plenty of playing time. In addition, the success of the junior varsity team and an undefeated 9-0 freshman squad mean plenty of talent returns.
It took a while for the Generals to get marching last Friday, but once they did, they could not be stopped.
“I think in the first quarter, after having a rain delay, we came out kind of slow,” Brungard said. “It was hard for our kids to get going after sitting inside for an hour.
“On top of that, having 19 new starters and for them adjusting to being out there on a Friday night, it took a little bit of time. But once they got it, we started rolling.”
Northview started the scoring on a 39-yard field goal with 4:09 remaining in the first quarter.
On the first play of the second, AW senior quarterback Garrett Pike threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end T.J. Winston. Zain Hamid added the point-after to put the Generals up, 7-3.
Charles Reninger, a senior running back, ran for two consecutive touchdowns, one from 1 yard out with 7:04 to go in the first half and then from 5 yards with 2:29 left in the half. Hamid’s extra points gave AW a 21-3 advantage.
Then the defense went to work. Junior cornerback Jacob Copley returned an interception for six points with 1:23 remaining in the half, and the Generals were comfortably ahead, 28-3.
Reninger added his third rushing touchdown with 5:15 left and finished the game with 111 yards rushing on 25 attempts. Hamid, a returning third-team NLL kicker, was 5-for-5 on PAT kicks.
Pike, who started the 2019 season opener at Findlay but was injured in the first offensive series and out for the season, returned to complete 8-of-16 passes for 87 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
“He looked good,” Brungard said. “Obviously, he was going to shake some rust off as he gets back into it and he has some things mentally, so we need to keep repping with him. But for a first full game, I was proud of how he did.”
Pike’s top receivers were junior wide receiver Ryan Robertson, who caught five passes for 48 yards, Reninger with one catch for 22 yards, Winston with one reception for 9 yards and junior wide receiver Evan Ray with one 8-yard catch.
On the ground, junior running back Kaiden McAllister had five carries for 21 yards and Robertson rushed three times for 9 yards.
As a team, AW had 224 yards of total offense to Northview’s 103. The Generals ran for 137 yards to the Wildcats’ 66 and AW accumulated 87 yards passing to Northview’s 37. Anthony Wayne had 19 first downs to Northview’s eight.
For the defense, junior linebacker Ty Grooms and sophomore cornerback England Allen also had one interception apiece.
Junior cornerback Jeffrey Mold made five tackles, one assist and one tackle for loss, while senior linebacker Adam Miller, a returning second-team NLL selection, had three tackles and two assists.
Junior safety Chase Saneholtz, junior linebacker Bryce Kahl and senior linebacker Kaleb Wymer had three solos and one assist each.
The Generals had two quarterback sacks – one each by junior defensive lineman Jack Bauer and senior defensive lineman Devin Garrett.
Anthony Wayne will be back in action this Friday when the Generals host Perrysburg, which opened its season with a 45-18 pounding of Springfield.