The Westerville North High School football team used a dominant defense and produced enough offense to defeat host Groveport Madison 27-0 and dampen the Cruisers’ other festivities Aug. 25.
The Cruisers were christening their new synthetic turf and holding their annual hall of fame inductions. Le’Veon Bell, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Groveport graduate, was involved in both events, as his donation of $750,000 provided the funds for the new turf and this was his induction year.
The field was renamed Le’Veon Bell Field at Cruiser Stadium.
The Warriors muted the celebration after the opening kickoff.
“Our goal was to limit their big plays and to get some positive plays of our own early on,” North coach Scott Wetzel said. “When we did that, it kind of took the wind out of their sails.”
Jacob Woods intercepted a pass on Groveport’s first possession and then threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Harvey 10 plays later.
Although the Warriors’ next possession was a three-and-out, Groveport muffed the punt and North recovered on the Cruisers’ 16-yard line. Bodi Bien took a handoff and darted up the middle on the next snap to give North a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
“It was a great way for us to start,” said Bien, who finished with 102 yards rushing on 21 carries. “The defense played very well and allowed us to make some plays of our own. I thought our offensive line did a good job hammering away at them.”
The score remained the same until North offensive lineman Alek Downs recovered a fumble by running back Rondale Smith in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.
Smith finished with 83 yards rushing on 14 carries and Woods added 32 on six carries.
“I was very happy with the way our defensive line and linebackers played,” Wetzel said. “We were very solid on defense tonight.”
Groveport played without standout receiver Izayah Aekins, who suffered an ankle injury in the final scrimmage. But with 13 freshmen and sophomores starting, it may not have made a difference, as quarterback Jacob Huffman was harassed into 7-for-23 passing for 71 yards.
Running back Emmanuel Anthony led the Cruisers in rushing with 48 yards on 10 carries.
“We’re young and we made some mistakes in the special teams and offensively, but it’s the first week and we’re definitely going to grow and get better from here,” Groveport coach Bryan Schoonover said.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final WESTERVILLE NORTH
14 0 0 13 27 GROVEPORT
0 0 0 0 0
WN—Harvey 3 pass from Woods (kick blocked)
WN—Bien 16 run (Woods run)
WN—Downs recovered fumble in end zone (run failed)
WN—Shehee 5 run (Thomas kick)