High school football: Columbus Grove advances in Division VI

COLUMBUS GROVE — When you’re facing Columbus Grove’s football team, you have to be wary of Trenton Barraza’s physical running style behind a stout offensive line.

Sophomore quarterback Landon Best showed Black River that he had some moves of his own Friday night, as Columbus Grove topped Black River, 34-0, in the regional quarterfinal game. The Bulldogs have won nine games in a row, with eight of those by double digits.

Best, who had 13 carries for 110 yards and three touchdowns, complementing Barraza’s 135-yard rushing day to lead the Bulldogs. His ability to pull the ball back from his running back and sprint it himself was evident on his 26-yard touchdown run, which included an equally nifty move at the 5-yard line to leave a defender in his dust.

“We really worked on that option during the beginning of the season, and now it’s really, really paying off in practice and games,” Best said.

Columbus Grove (10-2) will face Carey in the region semifinals at a site to be revealed Sunday.

The Northwest Conference champion Bulldogs came out running and in control Friday, building a 19-point lead barely three minutes into the second quarter with touchdown runs by Best and Barazza, along with a 16-yard TD pass from Best to Barraza. Overall, Columbus Grove out-rushed Black River 332-96 in the game.

“They’re just a great, great team,” Black River coach Kyle Clark said. “I mean, physically, there’s not really any holes that they have on their offense or defense. They’re just an all-around good team.”

The Columbus Grove defense had a strong outing, including a fourth-down stop of a hook-and-ladder play that helped set up Columbus Grove’s fourth touchdown.

The only thing that seemed to work for the Pirates (8-4) was a quick pass over the middle, which kept getting gains of 15 to 20 yards. Bulldog coach Andy Schafer challenged his team to take that away in the second half, and Grant Eversole and Zach Reynolds each had interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter to protect the lead.

Columbus Grove only allowed 72 total yards in a dominant second half.

Black River’s leading rusher was Seth Gaspari, with eight carries for 55 yards, mostly on jet sweep plays. The Pirates’ top rusher this season, Jayce Hopek, was limited to 36 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Eric Groesser completed 10 of 18 passes for 98 yards and also kicked two second-quarter field goals for the Pirates’ points.

Now the Bulldogs face Carey next week. Carey blasted Columbia, 48-0.

“The nice thing about playing Carey is they’re a football community,” Schafer said. “Columbus Grove is a football community, and there’s nothing better than when two football communities clash. That’s going to be a big one, wherever it is. They’d better have enough seats, because everybody in both towns is going to be there.”

Game summary

Black River Columbus Grove

10 First downs 17

194 Total yards 373

96 Rushing yards 332

98 Passing yardage 41

10-18-2 Passing 7-11-0

1-1 Fumbles-Lost 1-0

3-44 Punts 3-32

5-25 Penalties 7-50

Score by quarters:

Black River 0 6 0 0 — 6

Columbus Grove 13 6 8 7 — 34

First quarter

CG-Landon Best 7 run (Evan Verhoff kick), 10:22

CG-Trenton Barraza 4 run (run failed), 6:09

Second quarter

CG-Trenton Barraza 16 pass from Landon Best (kick failed), 9:01 BR-Eric Groesser 37 FG, 5:18

BR-Eric Groesser 34 FG, 0:06

Third quarter

CG-Landon Best 5 run (Zach Reynolds pass from Landon Best), 7:40 Fourth quarter

CG-Landon Best 26 run (Evan Verhoff kick), 9:51

David Trinko wrote this for LimaScores.com. Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.