Thomas Jefferson's Brian Baldrige looks for breathing room against Cleveland Glenville yesterday in Wheeling, W.Va.
By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WHEELING, W.Va. -- A little stronger. A lot bigger. And a whole lot faster.
One of the top high school teams in Ohio was all those things against Thomas Jefferson yesterday, and it all added up to a whipping of the No. 1-ranked Class AAA team in Pennsylvania.
Thomas Jefferson put up a workmanlike effort at times on this hot Labor Day, but the undermanned Jaguars eventually wilted and lost to Glenville High School of Cleveland, 34-13, in the first game of the Friends of Coal Prep Classic at Wheeling Island Stadium.
The loss broke Thomas Jefferson's 16-game winning streak, but maybe the outcome shouldn't be all that surprising. After all, Glenville is a bigger school that plays in the largest classification in Ohio. The school draws players from all over Cleveland, and coach Ted Ginn Sr., whose son plays for the Miami Dolphins, has turned Glenville into a perennial power. Troy Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy a few years ago, also is a former Glenville player.
Thomas Jefferson, meanwhile, plays in Pennsylvania's second-largest classification. The Jaguars have been highly successful in the WPIAL, but the Jaguars weren't considered to be on the same level as Glenville. And while this was Thomas Jefferson's season opener, Glenville already had played a game and beat St. Ignatius, another top Cleveland team.
"We won't see anything near that in Pennsylvania in Triple-A this year," TJ coach Bill Cherpak said of Glenville's talent.
Glenville's nickname is Tarblooders, and they had Thomas Jefferson's blood on their hands by late yesterday afternoon.
"It's a great experience playing this caliber of talent. I'm sure it will help us in the long run," said Thomas Jefferson running back Brian Baldrige. "We're just not used to seeing this kind of speed and talent."
The most noticeable Glenville advantage was evident when the Tarblooders' offense came onto the field. By high school standards, Glenville is huge. Its line looks more like a Division I college line, averaging 6 feet 4, 266 pounds. The leader is 6-foot-5, 350-pound Marcus Hall, who has scholarship offers from Ohio State and Alabama, among others.
The other advantage Glenville had was speed -- and it was evident on the first play when receiver Shane Wynn sped past Thomas Jefferson's defensive backs and caught a 43-yard pass. Glenville was in the end zone three plays later when Ethan Cargill ran 2 yards for a touchdown.
Glenville's other two first-half touchdowns came on long passes from Terrence Owens to Michael Edwards. One covered 39 yards, the other 46.
Thomas Jefferson's only first-half touchdown came on Tyler Wehner's 16-yard pass to Dan Virgin with 7:05 left in the first half.
One of the key plays came with Thomas Jefferson trailing, 14-6, and driving deep into Glenville territory. On second down, quarterback Wehner scrambled from a sack, but threw an ill-advised pass to the goal line that was intercepted by Glenville's Theon Dixon with 2:12 left in the half.
Four plays later, Edwards was in the end zone on his second long touchdown reception.
"That was big because it could've been 14-13," Cherpak said. "Then, all of a sudden, it's 21-6. We practice that a lot, just throwing the ball away. But we just didn't throw it away that time."
Brian Baldrige scored on a 3-yard run with 8:41 left in the third quarter, but Cargill scored on a 7-yard run less than three minutes later. Glenville's final touchdown came on Robert Walton's 7-yard run with 2:37 left.
Walton finished with 134 yards on 20 carries and Owens was 5 of 8 for 180 yards. Wehner was 12 of 25 for 175 yards. Baldrige, in his first game since injuring his knee in the season opener last year, finished with 78 yards on 22 attempts.
"They're just so tough to defend because they have so many weapons, and they use all of them," Cherpak said.