BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Napoleon became the fourth straight Northern Lakes League team to be shut out by the Anthony Wayne defense last Friday night at Schaller Memorial Stadium.
The Generals defeated the Wildcats 21-0 to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the NLL.
AW has now outscored its four league opponents by a combined score of 125-0. Napoleon falls to 3-4 (2-2).
On Napoleon’s final possession, a pass thrown by senior quarterback Andrew Warncke on third down was knocked down by AW senior Shane Williams.
“It felt good. I used to be a defensive back and deflecting that ball, there were some flashbacks there,” Williams said.
On the next play, a fourth-and-1 at the Generals’ 40-yard line, junior fullback Jarrett Gerdeman was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs with 1:06 remaining in the game. That preserved the shutout.
“Another shutout, that’s fantastic,” said AW coach Andy Brungard. “Shane Williams, our special teams and our defense – our D-linemen are the difference this year for sure.”
Williams had a big night on defense, but he credits his teammates for the Generals’ fourth straight shutout.
“Everything is just pushing out to the next guy. Everybody has got their assignments, just filling in gaps and with everyone doing their job it just works out,” Williams said.
On offense, there were the usual rushing numbers – 268 yards – but the Wildcats made it a little tougher than normal for the Generals to generate points.
“I’ve been telling our kids all week that’s a tough football team,” Brungard said. “Any time you play Napoleon, you have to respect how tough they are.
“They definitely challenged us in the box and they’ve got some tough linebackers and D-linemen who got after us.
“They forced us to throw the ball, so even with that it’s a good thing for us to work on those things because other teams are going to start doing that.”
AW’s Youngstown State-bound senior running back Ezra Scott had 120 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, but when he needed a break, junior back Charles Renn-inger stepped in.
Renninger had 67 yards on 14 carries and scored a TD, senior quarterback Mason Alberts had 64 yards on 14 attempts and junior back Adam Miller had one carry good for 18 yards.
There were other reasons for the Generals’ low – for them – output, just 21 points, their lowest in an NLL game this season.
“When Ezra had to come out, Charles had a few big carries,” Brungard said. “Unfortunately, we had three holding penalties that stalled a couple of our drives.
“We’ve got to correct those things on film and in practice, but overall Charles and even Adam Miller went in and ripped off a big run for yardage, so kudos to our O-line and our running backs. They did a nice job.”
When Renninger scored his TD, a 1-yard run with 8:47 remaining in the game, he was announced as Charles “Ice Tray” Renninger.
Renninger had made that request to the public address announcer before the game.
“It’s just a nickname I got from my teammates,” Renninger said. “Week one I didn’t get in a lot, so I jumped on an onside kick and they just called me Ice Tray after that. They said it’s because it iced the game.”
Renninger has been filling in for Scott more and more, making him a second weapon in AW’s running game.
“I’m giving all the credit to (assistant) coach (Marcus) Waugh – he’s groomed me, he’s taught me everything I know,” Renninger said.
“He’s a great guy, he’s a great coach and being behind Ezra – he’s a great mentor. I’m behind him and that’s fair, honestly. He’s such a great guy and such a great athlete. It’s an amazing feeling.
“The offensive line, honestly, I’m nothing without them. They’re amazing. Running behind them is a breeze.”
The Generals found out how tough Napoleon’s defense could be from the get-go. On their first possession, a 10-play drive covered 65 yards but stalled at Napoleon’s 19, where Anthony Wayne turned the ball over on downs.
On the next possession, an Alberts pass was intercepted by junior linebacker Jaden Brubaker, with Alberts making the touchdown-saving tackle at the AW 42.
The Wildcats drove to the Generals’ 15 before a Warncke pass fell incomplete on a fourth-and-12.
AW then drove 85 yards on 15 plays, taking 6:13 off the clock, with Alberts scoring from a yard out with 6:25 left in the first half.
Napoleon then moved to the Generals’ 19, but on a fourth-and-2, Williams and senior cornerback Dawson Frederick stuffed Gerdeman for a 1-yard gain, and the ‘Cats turned the ball over on downs again.
Next came the Alberts-Miller show, as the AW quarterback would throw four completions to senior wide receiver Bobby Miller, accounting for nearly every yard on a seven-play, 82-yard drive.
On the 22-yard TD pass, Alberts found Miller in the right corner of the end zone with 32 seconds left in the half, putting his team up 14-0 at intermission.
Alberts completed 6-of-12 passes for 88 yards, including four to Miller for 76 yards, one to senior Bryce Boyer for 10 yards and one to senior Kyle Ray for 2 yards.
Unfortunately, he also had two passes intercepted, including one by Napoleon senior Hayden Speaks in the fourth quarter.
It was an interception by AW senior safety Jacob Potkanowicz, however, which led to the Generals’ final touchdown.
Potkanowicz had to dive to catch an errant Warncke pass at the Napoleon 42 with 11:11 to go in the game, and a seven-play drive was culminated by Renninger’s touchdown run.
Anthony Wayne had 356 total yards of offense, compared to Napoleon’s 176, and time of possession was barely in AW’s favor, 25:01 to 22:59. The Generals had 22 first downs to the Wildcats’ nine.
For Napoleon, Warnke completed 3-of-9 passes for 24 yards, including two to Nathan Brubaker for 18 yards and one to Joshua Mack for 6 yards.
Gerdeman had 16 carries for 64 yards, Michael Chipps carried the ball 15 times for 56 yards and Justin Aldrich had six carries for 38 yards.
Anthony Wayne travels to Sylvania for an NLL contest against Southview (1-6, 0-4) this Friday.