By Ryan Kaczmarski
The 24th-ranked Baldwin-Wallace College football team defeated Ohio Athletic Conference and Cleveland cross-town rival John Carroll University, 45-37, on Saturday in a key game on the Tressel Field at The George Finnie Stadium. The win gives hope to a Division III playoff berth, returns the Cuyahoga Gold Bowl Trophy to Berea and gives B-W the advantage in its all-time series with JCU.
The game featured 67 points and 843 yards of total offense.
With its win, B-W improves to 8-2 overall and finishes second during the OAC regular season with a 7-2 record. More importantly, the win puts B-W, ranked sixth in this week’s NCAA Division III North Region poll, in position for a possible berth in next week’s NCAA Division III national playoffs. The berth would be its first since 2003.
In addition, the victory returns the Cuyahoga Gold Bowl Trophy to B-W and Berea for the first time since 2008 and gives the Yellow Jackets a 24-23-4 all-time series lead and a 12-11 advantage in the Cuyahoga Gold Bowl Trophy series. JCU ends its season at 5-5 overall and 5-4 in the OAC.
The game also featured players on both sides of the ball from the Westshore area. Both B-W and JCU each have four members of the teams from the area.
On the B-W roster, there are junior cornerback Brandon Russo (Olmsted Falls HS), junior wide receiver Bryan Boss (Bay HS), freshman defensive end Luke Reimenschneider (Rocky River HS) and senior defensive end Matt Lewis (Bay HS).
“There are a lot of high school teammates that I get to play against,” Lewis said. “It’s a cool thing that I get to play with a lot of those guys too. There are guys I couldn’t stand in high school, because they were our rivals, are now my best friends. At the end of the day, it’s great to be playing with these guys and against them.”
Along with having to adjust to playing at the college level, Lewis had to make the transition from playing linebacker (in high school) to playing defensive end at B-W.
“I had never played defensive end before in my whole life,” Lewis said. “It’s a big position change for me. Also, the speed of the game is a lot quicker.
“Guys here (at the college level) make moves a lot faster,” he added. “The college game is more mental than anything else. In high school you can have a couple of guys that are big, strong and fast and get some wins. That’s not so here. It’s a very mental game and if you don’t know what you are doing, it doesn’t matter how strong and fast you are.”
“He is one of the best kids I’ve ever been around,” B-W head coach John Snell said about Lewis. “He is a great young man that works extremely hard.
“I’m very blessed to have great kids in this program,” Snell added. “Matt’s one of the best kids I’ve ever been around.”
The four players on JCU’s roster from the area are senior full back Corey Castro (Olmsted Falls HS), senior outside linebacker Emmett Lydon (Rocky River native and St. Ignatius graduate), sophomore strong safety Alex Cameron (North Olmsted native and St. Edward graduate) and freshman center Jack Corrigan (Rocky River native and St. Ignatius graduate).
“I’m a Cleveland guy,” said JCU head coach Regis Scafe. “Everybody knows everbody (on the field) and to have the local guys here with two really great programs like this at our level, it’s awesome to have this game. This is a big game every year, no matter when it is on the schedule.”