FOREST PARK, Ohio – The iconic hip-hop group Public Enemy recorded a song in 1987 called “Yo! Bum Rush the Show.” That’s exactly what the Winton Woods Warriors did during a four-minute stretch against the Moeller Crusaders Friday night.
The 28-point, first-quarter explosion led the Warriors (9-1) into the Ohio Division II playoffs with a rout of one of the city's most storied Division I teams, 35-14, at Charles Fredrick Stadium.
PHOTO GALLERY: Winton Woods 35, Moeller 14
It was Senior Night for Winton Woods and linebacker Gianni Gamble made it a night he’ll never forget. Gamble was responsible for three touchdowns during the game-changing stretch in the first quarter. Gamble blocked a punt that was returned for a score, returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble for a third score.
“A lot of times we go as Gianni Gamble goes,” said Winton Woods head coach Andre Parker. “He’s a key contributor for us in the secondary and we use him in matchup.”
Gamble’s night did not start out the way he would have hoped, but he was able to recover quickly. Moeller (4-6) jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 5:32 left in the first quarter on Mitch McKenzie’s 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brendan Bates.
“Moeller’s got a really good tight end (referring to Bates). He beat Gianni early in the first quarter on a touchdown. I think what that did is refocus Gianni and he started making plays,” Parker said.
Gamble and Winton Woods took the initial Moeller punch and retaliated with a flurry of punches that gave the Crusaders a standing-eight count. The Warriors scored 28 points during a four-minute period in the first quarter.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Winton Woods sophomore running back Miyan Williams raced 77-yards to the end zone. Williams passed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with a 159-yard performance on just 14 carries.
The Warriors defense forced a three-and-out, stalling the Crusaders' drive on their own 22-yard line. Gamble blocked the punt and the ball ricocheted into the air, landing into the hands of Navar Gannaway, who virtually walked into the end zone from the 3-yard line.
With Moeller staggering from the special teams onslaught, Gamble struck on defense, intercepting McKenzie’s pass and returning it 20 yards for a touchdown.
Gamble and the Winton Woods special teams were not done putting points on the board. With the ball on its own 2-yard line, Moeller set up to punt once again and the result turned out very bad. The wet football slipped out of the center’s hand on the snap and was recovered by Gamble for a 28-7 Winton Woods advantage.
Cornell Beachem added a 4-yard touchdown run, giving Winton Woods a 35-7 halftime lead.
A steady rain through the entire game put a premium on defense. Winton Woods created five turnovers along with the blocked punt. Senior nose guard Maurice Chapman lead the team with nine tackles.
“Maurice Chapman is a very, very, very special young man. I think he’s the best nose guard in the state of Ohio. He plays both ways for us (center of offense) and he plays a nasty position,” said Parker. “You can look at our schedule that we play and he goes against the best. He’s been our rock and he doesn’t take plays off.”
Chapman has been part of a senior class that has led Winton Woods back into the playoffs after a three-year hiatus.
“We have a real experienced group. The majority of us are three-year starters,” said Chapman. “It’s a great feeling and we going to be consistent and get through it. Everybody deserves it because we’ve worked hard. We’re going to the playoffs and get the job done.”
Winton Woods has likely earned the right to host a first-round playoff game next week. Playoff pairings will be announced on Sunday and the Warriors look to be a team that can make a run toward the Division II championship.
The loss for Moeller (4-6) left it on the bubble in Division I, according to WCPO's playoff projections. The Crusaders needs Cleveland St. Ignatius (8-1) to beat Lakewood St. Edward (9-0) in Cleveland Saturday night or they're out.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Moeller 7-0-0-7 – 14
Winton Woods 28-7-0-0 – 35
E – Bates 17-yard TD catch from Mitch McKenzie (Kevin Thibodeaux kick).
WW – Williams 77-yard TD run (Velasquez kick).
WW – Gannaway 3-yard punt return for TD. (kick failed).
WW – Gamble 20-yard interception returned for TD. (pass good).
WW – Gamble recovers fumble in the end zone for a TD (Velasquez kick).
WW – Beachem 4-yard TD run (Velasquez kick).
E – Willis 49-yard TD catch from McKenzie (Thibodeaux kick).
RECORDS: Moeller (4-6, 0-3); Winton Woods (9-1)