ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — After a rocky first half of the season, the Geneva Eagles, for the second week in a row, have resembled the type of football team they have been known as — tough and physical with the ability to execute on offense, and dominate on defense.
Friday night, the Eagles pounded the ball on the ground with quarterback Wyat Fuduric and running back Brady Peet to the tune of 300 combined yards in a 40-0 Chagrin Valley Conference win over Edgewood at Corlew Stadium.
The win was the second in a row for Geneva, moving its record to 3-4. As they head to the final stretch of the season, coach Chip Sorber seemed cautiously optimistic that his program is back on track.
“It would appear that we are back on track at this point,” he said. “Give credit to our defensive coordinator Don Shymske and our defensive staff. They put together an excellent game plan that really did a good job tonight.
“I’m really pleased with the way we bottled up their offense. Offensively we stumbled through the first half with multiple turnovers and key penalties. We got on them a little bit at halftime, got them refocused and we came out and were able to get things done.”
Getting the most done was the running tandem of Fuduric and Peet. Fuduric went for 171 yards on 15 carries, while Peet picked up another 129 on 19 rushes.
Peet put the Eagles on the board with a 2-yard plunge across the goal line on the opening drive of the game. The scoring play was set up by a third-down 40-yard scamper by Fuduric, giving Geneva a first and goal.
Edgewood forced a punt and recovered a fumble on Geneva’s next two possessions, but the Eagles defense stymied the Warriors offense.
Geneva’s offense figured it out on the next possession ,going 62 yards in just four plays. Fuduric ran 32 yards for the score.
Aside from playing quarterback, the Geneva senior also played in the secondary and returned kicks.
“He’s a great all-around athlete,” Sorber said of his multiple-positioned player. “He’s a good kid, smart kid, he fills a lot of roles for us and he just keeps plugging away.”
The defense kept plugging away as well and it paid off. Edgewood quarterback Tony Hall was sacked in the end zone early in the second half, giving the Eagles a 17-0 lead and possession of the football back. They turned that into another touchdown to gain command of the game.
It was the first of two safeties the Geneva defense recorded. Luke Smith also returned an interception 40 yards for a TD.
Edgewood interim coach Olajuwan Cooper was pleased with his team’s effort, but said the mental breakdowns are something that his team has to learn to overcome.
“The biggest thing right now is we have to play smarter,” Cooper said. “We’re giving great effort, but we’re not necessarily playing the smartest brand of football. We make momentum plays and then we get behind the sticks or something bad happens.
“We have to get a lot tougher mentally. We’re a young football team and we’re playing a lot of young guys. But, that’s no excuse, we had a great opportunity tonight against a great Geneva football team and in my heart, I thought we could have won this game.
“Now, execution-wise we didn’t get it done so you have to live that. You have to go back, look at the film and see what we can do better. But, ultimately, I was proud of our effort, we just have to play smarter.”
Edgewood will travel to Chagrin Falls next Friday, while Geneva will look to continue its winning ways with a home game against West Geauga.
“We want to try and win out and see if we can play in Week 11,” Sorber said.
The Eagles entered play Friday night ranked 20th in Division III, Region 9, four spots out of the last postseason spot.
Sorber said it’s a bit of a bizarre situation this season with teams taking byes to help their chances at getting in.
“The problem in our region now is teams are taking byes and getting their divisor to divide by nine or eight, which is much better than dividing your total points by 10,” he said. “This has really foiled up in my opinion the playoffs this year. It’s a weird scenario this year.”