SHELBY - Grass and pray for rain.
That may be the best defense against the Columbian offense.
So while Shelby and Mother Nature held the Tornadoes to a meager three touchdowns, it was the Columbian defense that was the story.
Rain. Wind. It didn't matter what Mother Nature or Shelby threw at the Tornadoes' D. Nothing was getting by it as Columbian shut out the Whippets, 19-0, at William J. Wilkins Stadium.
"(Defensively) we played awesome," Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio said. "They're a pretty physical team and they have a nice running back and we did a great job. Our offense was trying to find itself for awhile and our defense kept us in the game."
The Tornadoes (7-0, 2-0 Northern Ohio League) held Shelby to 133 total yards, only 54 of which came in the second half.
"It was very important to come out against Shelby, who's a good team, and get that shutout," defensive end Chandler Hoover said. "It was a little sloppy out there but you take choppy steps and you play the best defense you can possibly play."
Colatruglio said his team came out a little slow out of the gate.
"I didn't think (in the first half), we had the same intensity we had in the last couple of games," Colatruglio said. "The field was part of it. But give Shelby credit. They played hard and I knew they would. It was their homecoming and they're a proud team."
The Whippets (1-6, 0-2 NOL) played Columbian tight in the first half, allowing just a 10-yard touchdown pass from Michael Rohrbach to Jordan Dye in the first quarter.
"We were real proud of the way our kids came out and played. We got them to come out and perform and that's what we needed them to do," Shelby coach Steve McCoy said. "We did a real good job keeping Jacoby wrapped up. That was our whole focus, the whole game."
Shelby held Columbian to just two first downs in the half and 104 yards, 62 of which came on a Jack Jacoby run to set up the lone first half score.
"Our emphasis and plan was to come out and get a stop against Tiffin and just move the ball down and score and just tie the ball game," McCoy said. "If we could just hold them off, then we're looking to play them into overtime if we can. We were doing what we could to at least tie them up in the second half."
But a fired-up Tornadoes squad came out in the second half and while it stalled out on the first drive, it made up for it on its second one.
"Honestly, we needed to make some plays in the passing game. They loaded up on us and the field conditions were obviously less than ideal, which made cutting pretty tough," Colatruglio said. "When they had that many guys in there, it made it tough to run downhill and we really couldn't get to the edge and we couldn't cut very well."
It was Rohrbach to Dye again. This time on a 29-yard toss over the Shelby defender and into the waiting arms of Dye as he strode into the end zone on the home sideline.
"So we had to make some plays in the passing game," Colatruglio said. "Michael Rohrbach stepped up and made that big touchdown to really get things going in the second half."
After two more three-and-outs for Shelby, Columbian struck again with a 10-play, 57-yard touchdown drive. This time it was Tanner Fisher who Rohrbach found in the left corner of the end zone. The 11-yard TD came on a fourth-and-7 play, putting the final nail in the victory.
"There's a kid who didn't play football until his junior year and really in the offseason turned himself into a pretty good player. He made some pretty big plays for us tonight, getting his first ever touchdown and made another big catch," Colatruglio said. "It's guys like that we're starting to see step in and make plays. That's huge for us. It makes us more diverse on offense when someone like Tanner can step into that role."
Rohrbach had 110 yards on 8 of 17 passing with an interception. Dye finished with five catches for 65 yards.
Shelby was paced by Andrew Baird, who had 75 yards rushing on 22 carries and another 19 passing on a 3-of-13 effort.
McCoy said he was hoping for a sloppy field.
"For us, we had an idea that if it was raining, that was definitely going to be an advantage for us," McCoy said. "They don't play on a lot of grass and the turf was going to be loose. Our kids have played three home games but it's been raining every game. We felt like that was going to be an advantage for us."
Colatruglio said he hopes they can play some games on grass without Mother Nature playing as the 12th man.
"We've only played on grass twice and it's rained both times. We've struggled a little bit in the rain." Colatruglio said. "I'm proud of the defensive effort though. It's always great to put up a zero. That's something that talked about all week that we wanted to accomplish: to put that goose egg up there."