Editor’s note: This is the fifth of seven pieces that will focus on the schedules of each Medina County school as it prepares for the 2011 football season.

WADSWORTH — Being decimated by injuries is never fun.

But when the aches and pains of a 2010 high school football season lost translate into a successful 2011, the bumps and bruises are easily forgotten.

Wadsworth suffered its first losing season since going 3-7 in 1995, coach Greg Dennison’s first year on the job, but is looking forward to taking the next step toward success.

“That’s the motivation for us,” Dennison said. “Part of our problem last year was our injuries.

“But one of the positives is we have a lot of kids with experience back this year. There’s no substitute for game-time experience. The growing pains you usually go through at the start of the season, we won’t go through. Having all those starters back is important.”

That’s especially true considering the way the season will start for Wadsworth, as two out of its first three games involve playoff teams.

While Ashland (12-2) lost a ton, it has been to the postseason four of the last five seasons, making the Arrows an important game out of the chute. After that, it’s a home game with Wooster (7-3) before a trip to playoff qualifier Medina (9-3).

“Our non-league games usually are pretty good, but this is as tough a non-conference schedule as we have had,” Dennison said. “When we come to Suburban League play, we’ll know where we are and that’s a good thing.

“When you play those good non-league teams, it prepares you for the league and for the playoffs. If you play a non-conference schedule that’s not as tough, you kind of get a false sense of where you are.”

With Cloverleaf (4-6, 2-5), Revere (3-7, 2-5) and Green (5-5, 5-2) to follow, the chance to slip into a comfort zone might be easy. But Dennison isn’t looking for the Grizzlies to hit the snooze button before games against Copley (9-2, 6-1) and Tallmadge (11-1, 7-0) in Weeks 7 and 8.

In fact, the three-game stretch with the Colts, Minutemen and Bulldogs might just show the seasoned coach all he needs to know about his Grizzlies.

“I think our kids are well aware that you can’t look ahead,” he said. “There’s not a team you can look past. Cloverleaf always gives us their best game of the year. We need to keep it one week at a time. When you face good teams, you want to be playing at your best. You have to be at the top of your game, so getting off to a good start is going to be huge.”

Wadsworth closes out the season against Highland (4-6, 3-4) and conference newcomer Nordonia (2-8). Dennison was quick to point out the Hornets were hit by the injury bug as well last season and that the Knights played in the always-tough Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division in 2010.

“In our league, there’s no easy one anywhere, top to bottom,” he said. “If we are fortunate to make the playoffs coming off Highland and Nordonia, we’ll be ready. It will be good preparation for us.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.