At a school that has produced fantastic players like Dru Jones, Jack Snowball, Martice Jackson and Brock Snowball in the last dozen seasons, Dom Loparo would seem like the next great to etch his name at running back-rich Wadsworth.

That said, you could argue the 5-foot-9, 186-pound senior has already arrived and you wouldn’t be wrong.

“I don’t think he’s the next-in-line guy,” Grizzlies quarterback Trey Sheffer said. “I think he’s better than the next-in-line guy. Maybe I’m biased, but I believe he is one of the best running backs to have ever come through here. Colleges should take notice because I believe he’s one of the best players in Northeast Ohio.”

Loparo exploded onto the scene last season during Wadsworth’s run through the Suburban League National Conference and trip to the Division II regional finals.

Sharing the load with Brock Snowball most of the season, Loparo stepped into the limelight and carried his team to the round of eight after his counterpart went down in Week 11.

Loparo finished the season with 1,143 yards on 151 carries. He scored 16 touchdowns and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

“Dom has got this relentless pursuit of perfection,” Grizzlies coach Justin Todd said. “He’s as physical a runner as I’ve ever coached. He’s got the ability to make you miss. He’s got a low center of gravity. He’s got great balance, but he’s strong. He’s a throwback running back playing in a modern offense. He’s going to lower his shoulder. He feels better running through you rather than around you. He’s somebody we’re going to really, really rely on this year.”

Loparo is also someone Wadsworth is very comfortable with.

A relentless runner, who will give his teammates grit and determination every play, he is very proud of the fact he’s a running back with a middle linebacker mentality.

Keep your 4.5 speed and ability to streak down the sideline, Loparo will run you over and still score the 40-yard touchdown just the same.

“I’ve been blocking for Dom my entire life,” right tackle Logan Egleston said. “We grew up playing youth football together. Dominic Loparo is a bad, bad man. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he doesn’t care. He’ll run through you and get after it. He makes it fun. It’s that old saying — it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

"I said it previously, when he steps on the field, he’s playing his game. He’s a wrecking ball.”

On an offense that returns eight starters, Loparo can be the bell cow for the Grizzlies, who can toss it around as much as they can run it.

Todd is just as comfortable handing the ball off to his star back as he is letting Sheffer (2,419 yards passing, 22 touchdowns) throw it all over the field.

“He got an idea of what we’re going to do this year,” Todd said. “Even though we have pieces on the edge and our quarterback back, we have a special running back in Dom. The last few games last year were centered around Dom and they will be this year, too.

“I don’t believe in a 50/50 balance in offense. If you’re giving us the run, I’ll run it every play. We did that last year. There were times where we ran the ball darn near every play and there were times we threw the ball 40 times.”

Loparo can’t wait to be the man in the backfield this season, but he also wants to continue the tradition that Brock Snowball taught him last season as a leader.

He wasn’t afraid to be vocal in Game 13 against Massillon last season and he’s not afraid to be the ringleader this season on a squad full of standouts.

“What I took from Brock last year was being a leader,” Loparo said. “It was always doing the right things and working hard in practice and motivating other people, while I’m motivating myself.

“My favorite part is when you score and turn to the crowd in a big game and they just erupt. It’s probably the coolest feeling ever. I want this a lot. That’s why we spend so much time in the offseason so we’re ready for whatever Coach Todd needs us to do and whatever task is at hand.”