CHESTERLAND — The record will show that on Sept. 11, 2020, the Geneva Eagles traveled to West Geauga High School and won a big football game.
But to coach Chip Sorber, his Eagles won this battle of previously 2-0 teams in the months of November through March this past year.
“We pride ourselves in our offseason program and conditioning and our kids are starting to believe in that,” Sorber said after watching his team put together a big second half to come away with a 28-14 victory over the Wolverines.
After a scoreless first half, Geneva found its offensive rhythm in the second half by scoring on four of the five possessions it had the football.
“Our kids have to just hang in there and keep battling,” Sorber said. “At some point, we hope we can break the other team because we aren’t always as talented as the teams we play. We have to out-grit then and out-gut them and outwork them in the offseason, and we are seeing that.”
West Geauga showed some talented playmakers with senior tailback Trae Zimmerman and the junior tandem of quarterback Danny Stewart and wide receiver Torry Stazzone throughout the game.
But, despite controlling the field position and the ball for most of the first half, the hosts were not able to capitalize after having the ball inside the red zone three times in the opening half.
Zimmerman had 110 of his game-high 156 yards rushing in the opening half as West Geauga outgained Geneva (170-98 yards) in the first half.
But a missed field goal, coupled with a pair of defensive stops on fourth down along with a fumble recovery right before the half kept the Wolverines off the scoreboard.
“They had the ball the whole first half and they had the field position won the whole first half, but our defense just found a way,” Sorber said. “We kind of bend at times, but we don’t always break.”
The Eagles then asserted themselves in the second half, rushing for 259 yards on the ground after only having 85 in the opening half.
Senior tailback Charlie Taylor was held to just 36 yards rushing in the first half, but finished with 150 yards and touchdown runs of 10, 34, and 2 yards, respectively, the first three times the Eagles had the ball in the third quarter.
The Wolverines countered with a pair of Danny Stewart-to-Torry Stazzone touchdown passes in between, the second (29 yards) cut the Geneva lead to 21-14 with 8:02 remaining.
Geneva countered by driving to the Wolverine 33, but risked giving the ball back to the hosts with 3:45 left. Senior quarterback Ben Scibona, on fourth down and five, rolled left and found junior Brady Peet for a 16-yard gain to keep possession of the ball.
Scibona then capped off the drive four plays later with a 7-yard touchdown scamper with 2:26 remaining to secure the victory.
Scibona finished with 95 yards rushing, while junior Clayton Queen added 53 yards and Peet’s 46 yards in what Sorber called his “four-headed monster” of a rushing attack.
“Our kids asserted themselves and knew how important this game was and wanted to get it,” Sorber said.
The Eagles are home to Lakeside on Thursday.