Football Team Seeks Championships
by Eric Leventhal, Editor-in-Chief
West Geauga hasn't been known as a perennial gridiron power, since the early 80's, but this year's team is looking to put West Geauga on the high school football map for good. Ranked at 10h in the most recent Plain Dealer poll, and with a record of 6 -0, the Wolverines are already off to their best start since 1988. In fact, the Wolverines have been consistently receiving some votes in the recent Associated Press weekly coaches polls.
Senior quarterback Pat McDonald, in his third year as the starter, is having a great season. With help from dynamic receivers Joe Lubelski, Robbie LaTourette (who unfortunately suffered a season - ending foot injury in week four), and Charles Prueter, McDonald is averaging almost 300 yards passing per game. Lubelski in particular has become McDonald's favorite target, with 24 catches thus far in 2003. The running game is also flourishing, with seniors Joe Konieczny and Ryan Kleve, each averaging over 5.5 yards per carry. "We can be effective either running the ball or passing the ball," said McDonald. The defense is led at middle linebacker by Kleve, who aspires to go on to play big-time Division I-A college football next year.
With such firepower, the Wolverines are heavily favored in each game they play. Does overconfidence pose a problem? "We don't want that to happen, but that can happen sometimes," said McDonald.
Much of the team's strength arises out of their mental toughness and teamwork. Coach Mr. Matt Rosati feels that it is not outstanding individuals, but great team unity, that makes the team successful. "We play as a team. Every single person on our team likes each other," said McDonald.
After blowing out NDCL and Brush to start the season, the Wolverines had a bit more difficulty with highly touted Kenston, but still prevailed 30-13, aided by ten-points late in the fourth quarter. The offense had little difficulty with Kenston star Anton Narinsky. As Coach Rosati put it, "Ryan Kleve didn't have a problem knocking him three yards into the end zone." McDonald agreed, saying Narinsky was "overrated." Both schools featured great senior classes, so the victory was particularly sweet to the team's seniors.
Excluding the possibility of upsets, West Geauga is favored to go undefeated the remainder of the regular season. Following the Kenston blow - out, West registered convincing victories over squads from Cardinal, Berkshire and, most recently, Aurora. Their stiffest tests will be the homecoming game versus Perry on October 3 and against perennial rival Chagrin Falls a week later. McDonald admits that a weak schedule could hurt the team in the long run. "We haven't faced a lot of adversity."
The Wolverines had better learn to deal with it because they will face plenty of adversity in the playoffs. West G. is in Division III, Region 9, which is touted by many as the toughest region in any division this year. It includes many tough teams like Buchtel, Lake Catholic, Walsh Jesuit, and Buckeye, not to mention powerhouses Hoban and Benedictine. Benedictine senior tailback Raymond Williams strikes terror in the heart of defenders with his speed and agility. "It's sick watching that kid play," said McDonald. Ranked at #1 in the Plain Dealer poll, Benedictine is thought by many to be the best team in Ohio this year in any division. How will West Geauga match up against such a juggernaut? Rosati isn't worried. "I feel they are going to have to worry about how they match up with us," he said. If West Geauga can make it through Region 9, the Wolverines stand an excellent chance of winning their first ever state championship in football.