Injury plays key role in Garfield win
Brookfield QB Gibson sidelined
It also didn’t take long before the Warriors to be without the services of one of those seniors, and the most recognizable player in the program. Fourth-year starting quarterback Haden Gibson, a second-team all-Ohio performer last season, was injured after his team’s first possession, which resulted in the Warriors’ only score of the contest. The G-Men dominated from then on, with a physical offense that grounded up big yards and rolled to a dominating 46-7 victory.
“He got rolled up on by a teammate and has an injury between his knee and ankle,” said Brookfield coach Randy Clark, whose team fell to 2-1. “I hate to speculate because he’s going for X-rays now and he’s on crutches. But it doesn’t look good and possibly could be a broken tibia or fibula.”
Gibson led a four-play, 67-yard scoring drive after Garfield chewed up over 7 1/2 minutes of game clock on its opening 14-play drive before surrendering the ball on downs.
Brookfield opened with a 22-yard pass from Gibson to Donovan Pawlowski. After a pair of runs, the duo connected again and Pawlowski stayed off the ground on a tackle attempt, stood up and raced the final 20 yards for a 37-yard touchdown.
Garfield, which moved to 3-0, then covered 75 yards in 10 plays, with Anthony Demma’s 24-yard run around the left end knotting the score at 7.
After Gibson was injured on a routine play, the Warriors’ next possession resulted in a three-and-out and Garfield started at its own 5-yard line. The G-Men continued to dish out punishment along the offensive line and, 14 plays later, fooled the Warriors when quarterback Brody Swigowski threw a 14-yard TD to Joe Perrine on a third-and-9 play. It was Garfield’s only completion in three attempts in the game.
A 16-yard punt late in the first half by Brookfield set up Garfield near midfield and Colin Lysiak’s 34-yard field goal on the final play of the half made it 17-7.
“It was the most complete game we’ve played this season by far, but there’s always things to work on, and I thought we had some penalties in the first half that we’ve got to clean up,” said Garfield coach Mike Moser, whose team had a 41-10 advantage in plays from scrimmage in the first half and scored on three of its four possessions. “Even when we didn’t score, we held the ball and moved it some and kept their explosive offense off the field.
“Hats off to our guys for playing their best so far against a heck of a team over there. We were physical tonight. Riley LaPorte, Austin Roman, Shawn Barber, Payton Yancy and Aaron Craver were outstanding, as was our blocking back, Noah Baker.”
The game was preview of years to come, as Garfield joins the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference-Gray Tier next season.
“This was going to be an interesting game with our throwing ability and balanced offense against their physical, single-wing,” Clark said. “It was good to have them on the schedule because they’re in our league next year and they’re tough to prepare for because you never see that offense. I mean, it’s been six years since we’ve played a Wing-T team. When you have three days for the defense to prepare, it’s tough.”
It didn’t help matters for Brookfield that defensive end Codi Hoover also was injured in the contest and Clark feared a broken collarbone.
“We lost our top player on offense and top player on defense, and both are good leaders,” Clark said. “Making adjustments is tough because we move our top receiver to quarterback. We have to move things around and see what works now. But I’m telling you what, (Garfield) is a great team and they were more physical than we thought, and then they’d slip in a misdirection play and bust it for big yards. They’re good and they’re hard to prepare for.”
Pawlowski, the Warriors’ leading receiver, stepped in for Gibson behind center. On the third play after intermission, he was picked off by Mike Baczkowski, who returned the ball 46 yards as Garfield led 24-7 just 52 seconds into the third quarter.
On Brookfield’s following possession, Baczkowski outleaped Isaiah Jones at the goal line for his second interception. The G-Men then went 99 yards in 12 plays with quarterback Austin Lysiak scoring from 4 yards out.
Lysiak ran with power all game and finished with 127 yards rushing on 23 carries. Demma led the G-Men with 151 yards on 18 runs as the team rung up 414 of its 428 yards on the ground.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys that can run the ball and that allows us to mix it up,” Lysiak said. “You can’t run the ball as much as we do with one running back. We need multiple guys, and we need the linemen to do their job like they did tonight. Everything worked well.
“I came in with a chip on my shoulder because I heard about how good their quarterback is. We all came in with a chip on our shoulders because no one expected us to win. We played our best. Their quarterback is a great player, but we felt we could keep them off the field with long drives and that’s the way it played out. Our defense was very strong, too. It was a combination. Everything worked in our favor.”
At its own 36-yard line, the Warriors failed on a fourth-down pass late in the third quarter. Garfield’s Noah Baker covered that distance on the following snap to make it 38-7 with 24 seconds left to produce a running clock the rest of the game.
Garfield added its last score on a 10-yard run from Vinnie Grandizio with under 4 minutes left.
Brookfield plays at Newton Falls and at Champion in the next two weeks. The G-Men have two big tests ahead of them with a home game next week against John F. Kennedy, followed by a road contest at perennial power Mogadore.