Thursday, October 30, 2014

Weninger Leads Kenston to Senior Night Victory
October 26, 2013 by John Karlovec | No Comments

West Geauga Drops Another in CVC

Bombers March Toward Playoffs with Home Win

Drew Weninger knew Friday night’s game between his Kenston Bombers and the West Geauga Wolverines would be the last regular season home game of his high school career — and he made the most of it.

The senior defensive back scored three touchdown, blocked two punts — one of which he scooped up and returned for a 30-yard TD — and made the key defensive play of the first half to lead Kenston (7-2, 5-1 CVC) to a 38-24 win on senior night at Kenston Bombers Stadium.

“Anytime it’s senior night and these guys are playing their last home game we want to go out on a great note,” Kenston head coach Jeff Grubich said. “I could not be more proud of this group of seniors. Starting the season, expectations were high for us as a team, as this young group of seniors, there’s 14 of them, they’ve been great leaders.”

For Weninger, who battled sophomore Parker Gdula in the preseason for the starting quarterback job, the win was extra special.

“It means a ton to me, especially on senior night. I wanted to go out and give 100 percent,” he said. “First five games of the season I hadn’t really been playing that well and it’s my senior year, I’ll never get the chance to do it again and I knew I had to give it my all.”

The night began with traditional senior night rituals; all 14 of the Kenston seniors were introduced to the crowd before walking in front of the home stands, each one escorted by their parents.

When the game finally got underway, though, it was the visiting Wolverines that seized the early momentum.

Starting at their 19-yard line, West Geauga (6-3, 4-2 CVC) worked a methodical seven-play scoring drive, with junior running back Adbul Levy eventually punching the ball into the end zone from four yards out. Senior quarterback Connor Krouse carried the ball four times for 68 yards on the drive, including runs of 36 and 29 yards.

Leading 7-0, West Geauga forced a three-and-out on Kenston’s first series and took over on its 41-yard line. But the Bombers’ defense held Krouse and Levy to minus-one yard rushing on three plays, forcing a punt.

Weninger flew around the right edge and blocked Zach Suba’s punt, picked it up and took it to the house, tying the game at 7-7 with 5:43 in the first quarter.

“I knew I was going to go, I knew the kid wasn’t going to touch me, but I didn’t think I was quick enough to get there,” Weninger said. “We ran it in practice and I never got there a single time … so when the game came and I was three feet away, I jumped up in the air and thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It kind of surprised me, especially when it hit me, but that was huge.”

The Kenston defense came up big on the Wolverines’ ensuing drive when junior Josh Hummer sacked Krouse and forced a fumble. Senior defensive lineman Anthony Hajdu recovered the ball at the West Geauga 30.

Five plays later, senior running back Pedro Velasco (28 carries, 134 yards) scored from four yards out and the Bombers never looked back. Parker Deuley’s second extra point of the quarter made it 14-7 with 3:10 on the clock.

After the Wolverines turned the ball over on downs at the Kenston 26, following a 10-play, 55-yard drive, the Bombers went on a 15-play scoring drive that culminated with Deuley’s 19-yard field goal.

Weninger then finished the half with a flurry.

He blocked his second punt of the half on West Geauga’s next possession, giving the Bombers the ball at the Wolverines’ 14.

“Every week you try to look for a weakness and try to exploit it,” Grubich said. “Luckily tonight we were able to execute it.”

Five plays and two holding calls later, Kenston got creative and executed a fake field goal. Weninger, the holder, took the snap and raced 12 yards around the right side for a touchdown and a 24-7 Kenston lead with 3:44 until halftime.

“With the tempo of the game and the way everything was going, we thought we could catch them on their heals a little bit there and once again we were able to execute,” Grubich said. “It’s a credit to the kids and the coaching staff. They did a great job.”

Krouse promptly moved the Wolverines 67 yards on 10 plays, but on fourth and goal from the Kenston 1, Weninger stopped Krouse shy of the goal line with seconds left in the half.

“He’s just an excellent kid, a great young man, hard working, dedicated to the team, do whatever he needs for the team,” Grubich said of Weninger. “He’s a complete team player.”

West Geauga cut the deficit to 24-14 on the second play of the third quarter when defensive end Sean Larrick tipped a Gdula pass at the line of scrimmage and Mike Koller intercepted it for a pick six. In a flash, the Wolverines were back in the game only 30 seconds into the third quarter.

The Wolverines dominated the rest of the quarter and pulled to within 24-17 on Brendan Judson’s 24-yard field goal with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter.

West Geauga got the ball back with 9:38 on the clock and had a first down at midfield. But on the sixth play of the drive, senior Billy McDermott stepped in front of a Krouse pass and returned it to the Wolverines’ 14-yard line. Two plays later, Gdula (8 of 17, 63 yards) found Weninger in the left flat for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a 31-17 lead.

The Wolverines began their next series in excellent field position at the Kenston 49. On first down, Krouse (12 of 28, 219 yards) hooked up with senior Tom Snavely for a 48-yard completion, giving West Geauga first and goal at the 1. Two plays later, Krouse went up the middle to pull the Wolverines closer, 31-24, with 7:07 to play.

West Geauga got the ball back with 3:55 left in the game, when senior Nick Rakich intercepted a Gdula pass at the Wolverines’ 23. But the visitors turned the ball over on down four plays later.

Grubich praised his team’s defensive effort, despite surrendering 455 total yards to the Wolverines.

“They played their butts off. The offense put them in some bad positions in the third quarter,” he said. “They’re not a big group of kids in terms of size, but they’ve got great heart; they’re just scrappy kids. Someone nicknamed them the Silver Bullet Defense because they fly to the ball. They’re little but they sting like heck.”

Gdula scored a late touchdown on a 4-yard keeper with 1:16 left to make the final score 38-24.

Kenston and West Geauga both control their postseason destiny with one regular season game left to play. The Bombers, currently ranked fifth in Ohio Division 3, Region 7, travel to Aurora (8-1, 5-1 CVC) to face the Greenmen, currently ranked eighth in Region 7.

The Wolverines, ranked sixth in Division III, Region 7, visit Beachwood on Saturday afternoon. The Bison (6-3, 5-1 CVC Metro) are ranked third in Ohio Division V, Region 15.

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