MVP HD: Whitmer handles St. John’s in Northwest Ohio heavyweight showdown


MVP HD Video

A Jumbo-Tron? Ohio’s 2011 Mr. Football? A freak without a leash? A
graduation ceremony? A rock concert performance? All these question
marks answered on MVPHD’s Game of the Week.

Video by Alex Sator


By Tim Langevin

A Jumbo-Tron? Ohio’s 2011 Mr. Football? A freak without a leash? A graduation ceremony? A rock concert performance? All these question marks answered on MVPHD’s Game of the Week.
Toledo Whitmer marched with pomp and circumstance Friday evening for an ostentatious 35-7 victory over rival Toledo St. John’s before 7,156 spectators at Whitmer Memorial Stadium, a venue with prescription turf and a Jumbo-Tron.
It was a rock-n-roll performance by Whitmer. Senior DE Chris Wormley rocked the Titan offense with two sacks for minus-12 yards, eight tackles, and one forced fumble. And senior RB Jody Webb rolled the Titan defense for 208 yards on 14 carries with two scores.
Wormley is a freak. The Michigan signee measures 6′ 7″ and weighs 270 pounds with about seven-percent of body fat. He runs a 4.61 40-dash and bench presses over 300 pounds.
“We played fast and hard and we were hitting,” Wormley said. “We mixed up our schemes and threw a lot of blitzes at them. Our plan was to pressure their quarterback.”
The plan worked. Junior standout QB Brogan Roback was sacked three times, hit and hurried several times, and never found his rhythm until late in the third quarter. Roback, one of the top QB prospects of the 2013 class with strong interest from Ohio State, struggled this night. He completed 11-of-24 passes for 116 yards and one TD. Roback threw 25 TD passes his sophomore season.
St. John’s first three possessions netted 14 yards and heading to the sidelines Roback yelled in frustration, “I’m getting hit on every play.”  One of the assistant coaches replied, “Get used to it.”
It was an ominous start for the Titans. The opening play from scrimmage, Webb took the hand-off, juked inside, then skirted down the left sideline at mach speed for an 85-yard TD. After the PAT by Michael Baldwin, the Panthers led 7-0 and the pomp was on.
Whitmer coach Joe Palka said, “That play was as big as it gets. Instead of being backed in our own territory, it gave us the early momentum.”
Does the name Akise Teague (2010 Mr. Football) ring a bell? This kid resembles Teague in size and running style, not to mention ability. Webb slinked through the creases unnoticed and then jetted for daylight. If he keeps putting up the numbers, his name could be on the 2011 award.
Webb has rushed for 533 yards and nine TDs on the season. More impressive, he is averaging 8.5 yards a pop. Last season Webb was named All-Ohio First Team, rushing for 1,571 yards.
Webb said, “Give all the credit to my teammates and the offensive line. They make my job seem easy.”
It helps to have OL Storm Norton (6′ 8″, 300 pounds) leading the way. Norton has committed to Toledo University.
Heavily recruited by Bowling Green and other MAC schools, the knock on Webb has been academics. However, Webb claims all that is behind him, “For some reason, people think I’m still having grade problems. My grades are fine now. That was two years ago. I came here from Bowsher (Toledo) to get a better education and better myself. I am doing well.”
No wonder BGSU is interested, Webb ran a 4.37 40-dash time this past summer at their camp.
Webb added, “I hope to get faster and get more colleges interested in me. My goal is a D-I offer.”
Whitmer sccored again on its second possession of the game. The Panthers drove the field 67 yards in five plays and RB Leroy Alexander capped the drive with a 19-yard TD run. Webb started the march with a nifty 20-yard run and QB Tyler Smith hit Mark Meyers on a 33-yard slant pass two plays later. The home team led 14-0 with 8:28 left in the opening quarter.
The second quarter echoed the lyrics, “the same as it ever was” with two more scores to pad the lead 28-zip at the break. All the scoring was accounted for by back-up QB Smith. The senior completed 3-of-4 passes for 59 yards and one TD and ran for a TD from four yards out. Can you say QB controversy when starter Tyler Palka returns?
Smith finished the game with 7-of-10 passing for 109 yards and one TD and ran for 20 yards on seven carries and one TD. No doubt, Smith did a nice job of managing the Panther read-option spread offense with no turnovers and letting his playmakers do the job.
Palka said, “We were missing some starters, but the kids stepped up. That’s this team and a reflection of our coaches. Tyler (Smith) stepped up big time. He was prepared to start and put the ball in his playmakers’ hands and the defense did the rest.”
Junior QB Tyler Palka injured his foot last week in the fourth quarter against Toledo De Sales. Coach Palka believes that his son will be ready for action by week seven.
Whitmer scored again with 5:53 left in the third quarter to take a commanding 35-0 lead. Once again, it was “catch me if you can” Webb with a spectacular 59-yard TD run. This time he took the hand-off and zig-zagged between defenders like a scared rabbit.
But perhaps his best run of the game was a five-yard gain. The little, 5′ 8″ 150-pounder covered 67 yards in about 12 seconds after reversing the field from one side to the other with several jukes in between. Can you say 2011 Mr. Football? Sure you can!
St. John’s QB Roback put the Titans on the board for the first time with 18.7 ticks left in the third quarter on a 13-yard TD strike to WR Joe Robie. Roback has thrown for 831 yards and 10 TDs on the season.
That play snapped Whitmer’s 14-quarter shutout. The Panthers have outscored their opponents 215-13 after five games.
Coach Palka said, “Our defensive unit was mad when they scored. That’s the kind of kids we got. That’s a great sign.”
Wormley wasn’t happy about it, “Them scoring was a big let down. I can’t believe we let them score. We take pride in our defense…I think we let our guard down and didn’t attack with as much aggression.”
Wormley also talked about his future intentions, “I want to enjoy my senior year. Win a state title, then play basketball and run track. Then I will head to Michigan. It will be great to play in front of 115,000. We have a great recruiting class. It should be fun.”
St. John’s was held in check most of the night, totaling 190 yards. They passed for 116 yards and rushed for 74 yards. It must be noted that 43 of the rushing yards came about on a run by junior RB Connor Lake late in the fourth quarter.
“We were like a deer in the headlights in the first half,” St. John’s coach Doug Pearson said. (Kind of like a scared rabbit)  “We showed some character in the second half and put a couple of drives together…We’re still a work in progress and it’s a long season. The same thing happened last year and we went on to have a pretty good season.”
Pearson was referring to last year’s 49-24 regular season loss before losing to the Panthers again in the regional finals 14-10.
Whitmer has won four straight against their league rival and 14 consecutive conference games.
Whitmer accounted for 429 yards of total offense with 13 first downs. Webb contributed 217 yards, including a nine-yard TD reception.
Coach Palka said, “St. John’s is a great team with a great program. I didn’t expect the game to turn out the way it did. We still have a rough schedule ahead. We still haven’t played to our potential, yet.”
That’s scary.
Whitmer improves to 3-0 in the inaugural season of the TRAC and 5-0 overall. St. John’s drops to 1-1 and 4-1 overall. Both teams get a respite week six as the Panthers host 1-4 Clay and the Titans return home against 1-4 Lima senior.
Side Note:  The Toledo Whitmer football program is currently under investigation by the OHSAA to determine the legitimacy of transfer students on their roster. The investigation centers on six or seven individuals who have joined the program since the end of the 2010 football season. Among those individuals are starters Jody Webb (two years ago), Leroy Alexander, and Alonzo Lucas.
The Board recently eliminated a statue of limitations, meaning its investigation is not limited in scope to just this season. The Whitmer camp denies any wrong doing and has been cooperative with Board members the past two weeks.

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