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Marion Pleasant Spartans High School Athletics



Pleasant in Must Win Game Against Clear Fork

They were both unbeaten when they played last year, this time Pleasant has a loss and they must beat undefeated Clear Fork in order to have a chance at claiming the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title.

Last season, in an instant classic, Clear Fork rallied to score twice in the last four minutes to tie the game and beat the Spartans (20-17) in overtime and ended up winning the conference outright.

After losing for the first time this year to Buckeye Valley (18-6) two weeks ago, the Spartans battled back last week to smack around their arch rival River Valley (42-0) in a conference game.

Coach Aaron Cook says it was a good way to respond. “Our kids did a really good job of bouncing back. That is our big rival. We have played River Valley every year since all of the way back to 1962, so it a big game for us around here for our kids to bounce back against a rival like that. Obviously, we were happy about that,” he said.

Pleasant’s Patrick Blubaugh leads the “MOAC” in rushing TD’s this season. He had over 240 yards rushing and four scores last week against River Valley.

Pleasant (7-1,4-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Clear Fork (8-0,5-0), #1 in the large school division. The Colts have won 18 straight regular season games.

Cook says the Colts have no weaknesses. “From top to bottom they are just very, very talented football team. The first thing that pops off is just how well coached they are on both sides of the ball and how talented they are. They don’t have a weakness anywhere,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are big, they are quick, they are fast. The scheme they do on both sides of the ball is deadly. They are as good as it gets in high school football at our level.”

Clear Fork is lead by two quarterbacks, who have almost equal playing time in senior Jared Schaefer and junior Brennan South and they lead the conference in passing yards. They have a number of options, including leading rusher and scorer Trevon Trammell, he scored five times last week, and receivers A.J. Blubaugh and Kadin Flynn.

Cook says they score for anywhere on the field. “They are just very, very athletic. They are one of the most athletic teams I have coached against in my career. I can’t remember too many teams I have faced that are able to do what they are able to do, so definitely a challenge,” he said.

The Colts defense has been underrated with the all of the points they have scored, but they have only once allowed more than two scores in a game and most of those have come in the second have with running clocks.

Cook says they are well schooled by former Pleasant defensive coordinator Mike Carroll, the brother of Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll. “It comes back to their athleticism. They are big up front they are physical. They tackle well. (Defensive coordinator) Mike (Carroll) does a great job scheming and they are solid. They are good against everything that anybody has tried to do against them they have been able to stop. They are just very well coached in all phases,” said Cook.

The Pleasant defense is likely the toughest Clear Fork has faced. They own three shutouts, including last week.

A home playoff game likely awaits the winner too.

Cook says the kids have a blast playing in a game like this. “These are definitely fun. These are probably more fun for kids than coaches. You get nervous with these types of games. The kids love playing in big games. I am sure Clear Fork’s kids will be ready to play. It will be great for fans, just a fun overall environment,” he said.

Published 10/16/18

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Pleasant With Another Challenge

Marion Pleasant is unbeaten through six weeks of the high school football season an shares first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with Clear Fork.

They play at Buckeye Valley this week in a conference game.

Last week, they beat a solid North Union squad (35-13) in a “MOAC” game.

Coach Aaron Cook says it was just a very good performance by them. “We were obviously really happy with the outcome. Our kids played really, really well. I still stand by the statement that North Union is an excellent football team. We just played really well and it was a really good high school football game,” he said.

North Union possesses a very strong running game, but Cook says they were able to bottle that up. “Our kids played really, really well against their run. We did a good job of stopping their run game. I want to say we held them to 20 or 30 yards. That isn’t something that is easy to do and I will credit our kids for doing that. Again, they are a very talented team and they do a lot of things well,” he said.

Pleasant (6-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, is at Buckeye Valley (2-4,2-1) on Friday night. The Barons beat Ontario (19-16) last week.

Cook calls them am excellent team. “Buckeye Valley is a very good football team. They are setting with two wins in the “MOAC” already. They are a typical “BV” team they are very, very big. It seems like every year you pop in the tape and Buckeye Valley has big kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are very athletic. It was a heck of a game last year with these guys and I see a lot of same guys and it should be a great game again.”

With the exception o a (44-0) loss to Clear Fork two weeks ago, the Barons have been pretty good on defense. Cook says it is their size that makes the difference. “They are doing a lot of stuff on defense. Again, it comes down to the fact that they are big and physical and anytime you have that on a defense you have a chance. That is just what I see on film they are a very good defense,” said Cook.

Published 10/03/18

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Unbeaten Pleasant Faces Toughest Challenge

Marion Pleasant has had a pretty easy time with everyone they have played so far this season, but that might change this week.

North Union is clearly the best team that will have faced this year when they get together at Pleasant on Friday night for Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game. Right now, Pleasant shares first place with Clear Fork. North Union is a game back with their only loss coming to Clear Fork (42-14) two weeks ago.

Pleasant pitched its second shutout in three games last week when they blanked Marion Harding (34-0) in a conference game.

Coach Aaron Cook says their defense has been outstanding. “Our defense has played really well all year. Obviously, this North Union team presents challenges like we haven’t seen. Form top to bottom they are the best team we have seen. We are going to have to play really, really well against these guys,” he said.

North Union (4-1,1-1) destroyed Ontario (47-14) last week and Cook says they are just good all over the place. “They are really everything you would want in a football team. They run the ball well, they throw the ball well when they want to. They play great defense. They are very big, very athletic. They are just a really, really good team from top to bottom,” said Cook.

North Union’s Trevor Moran leads the “MOAC” in rushing with 632 yard and eight TD’s. Pleasant’s Patrick Blunaugh is second with 570 and 12 scores.

When ask about trying to force North Union to throw the ball, Cook says the Wildcats are going to do what they do. “They are going to run the ball. When they get that run game going, and they really have been able to do that most games. That is something you have account for,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Obviously, they have the ability to do it and they are going to do it when they want to do it. You just have to try and match up and play to the best of your ability. It should be a great game.”

Pleasant (5-0,2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, is pretty good on offense too. They average almost 40 points a game. Cook says they would like to keep North Union off the field. “If you can keep on the field and score points and all of that good stuff you are doing well. This week will be a different challenge I mean it is easier said that done against North Union’s defense. We haven’t seen a defense like this all year. So, it is just going to present some different challenges. It should be a good game,” he said.

Published 9/26/18

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Pleasant Hosting Worthington Christian

Marion Pleasant completes a three game homestand in non-conference play by entertaining the Worthington Christian Warriors on Friday night.

They beat Fredericktown (43-7) last week.

Coach Aaron Cook says they saw growth with the football team. “I think our kids made some strides. It was the first kind of hot game. Game one was kind of cool and it was a little bit easier from that standpoint. Last week was kind of hotter, so you have to battle that. I thought our kids did a good job with that. It kind of sputtered us out a little bit here and there. Overall, we played a cleaner game and a sharper game,” said Cook.

Pleasant has a long tradition of winning and Cook says his players know what it takes to become winners. “Our kids they want to get better. They want to work hard and that is something they take pride in. Like I have said a ton of times, and I say it to a lot of people, we just attack each day and try and get better. That is what our program has,” he said.

Worthington Christian (1-1) comes to Pleasant on Friday night. They have a win over Springfield Northeastern (20-13) and a loss to the Northmor Golden Knights (48-26) last week.

Cook says they are going to have to play well to win. “Worthington Christian is kind of a different team than what we have faced. They do some different stuff. They have some really nice athletes. Their numbers are around 35 kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are not a huge team as far as numbers, but the quality is there and they play hard. It is one those games where you have to come out and be on your “A” game. They do some nice stuff, obviously, they won week one. We just have to go out and play hard.”

The Warriors are a spread team and that is a little different than what they have seen so far, according to Cook. “Every week is a new challenge when it comes to the scout team. Everybody has some new wrinkles. The first two opponents were kind of similar, so that made it a little bit easier. Just some of the things Worthington Christian throws at us is a little different than those first two opponents. There is more teaching involved. The scout team there are things they have to do different each week, which presents a challenge. We have a pretty good system of teaching them how to do it and they do a good job with it,” said Cook.

Published 9/07/18

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Pleasant Respects Fredericktown

Pleasant entertains Fredericktown on Friday night in week two high school football action.

In their opener, Pleasant took apart Indian Lake (40-7) last Friday.

Coach Aaron Cook says they did some good things. “It was a good game for our kids. Obviously winning week one, winning a non league game, that is always a step in the right direction. Our kids were ready to go and the played pretty well,” he said.

One thing they did do was commit too many penalties and Cook says that is something they must address going forward. “Penalties jumped out at me. We committed some really stupid penalties early on. Some real uncharacteristic things for us and that was a big point of emphasis this week. That is something we need to correct. We needed to be more disciplined and our kids worked hard at this this week,” said Cook.

Pleasant beat Fredericktown (39-14) last season.

The Freddies were smacked around by Clear Fork (63-0) last week.

However, Cook cautions that the matchups this week are going to be different. “I’ll say this, Fredericktown, with a lot of the same kids, with us it was a 13-7 ballgame there right before the half. I see a lot of fight in those kids, those kids play hard. It really is a bout matchups. That is the thing I try to tell our kids and our people. We are distinctly different than a Clear Fork type team in the way we go about running our offense. The things they were able to do is something that we don’t even try to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think it is just a different match-up for both teams. Our kids know how well coached Fredericktown is from watching them on film. How hard their kids play. We played them a year ago and it was one heck of a game. Obviously, you have the be on your “A” game and come out and execute the game plan and play hard.”

Published 8/31/18

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Pleasant Takes on Playoff Type Team in Opener

Marion Pleasant has made the post season playoffs 22 times and they haven’t done that by playing the little sisters of the poor.

They open this season at home Friday night against Indian Lake, a team that also made the division five playoffs and has a lot back.

As normal, Pleasant coach Aaron Cook says expectations are high with the Spartans. “We sure hope so. We work really hard at it. We have a great group of seniors. We have 16 seniors that were part a couple of playoff runs here the last two years and they have set some goals and obviously they work really, really hard. Every team in Ohio has those same goals. You just have to take one game at a time. We are excited for our kids getting the opportunity to play under the lights. I mean there is no better time of year than the start of school and fall, just high school football in general,” he said.

16 seniors are quite a few for a division five team and Cook says they will lean on those guys. “There are four seniors that we have that have started all four years and it is night and day with them to just see their daily routine. How well they are accustomed to everything we do and how well they adapt and handle it. The little things when adversity hits. Those guys are the first ones leading. They have been through it. You compare that to some of the younger kids, the sophomores we have playing it is all knew to them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “You kind of see those ups and downs with them. You can just set back and appreciate how kids grow, which is really cool as a coach. Just see the young kids that struggle right now handling those things and then the seniors that have been through it it is just another day. It is really neat to see that.”

When it comes to Indian Valley, Cook says the present a big time challenge to the Spartans. “Indian Lake is obviously a great program. They are in our region. They were in the playoffs last year. They played Archbold last year week 11, we played Archbold week 12. We are pretty familiar with them and they are pretty familiar with us. A lot of kids return for them. It is going to be a heck of a game. It is one of those games that you schedule and you think do we really want to do this? Talking to their coach it is such a great game for both sets of kids and the fans. It is just going to be really a neat kickoff for both of us,” said Cook.

Published 8/22/18

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Pleasant is … well Pleasant

Marion Pleasant is clearly a candidate for the Mount Rushmore of football programs in North Central Ohio.

Thy are coming off another playoff appearance, their 22, and a runner up finish in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

Coach Aaron Cook says it has been a good start to camp for the Spartans, but they can still get a whole lot better. “I think every coach at this point is finding things to improve on and things the kids are doing well. We have a veteran team. A lot of kids were with us last year. We return seven, eight guys back on both sides of the ball. So, they are pretty much used to the routine that we do and it has been really good so far,” said Cook.

Cook says the seniors he has this year are battle tested and now what it takes to win football games. He says their expectations for this group and this season are high, no question. “This senior class feels like it is one those groups that has been around forever. Five of them started as freshmen, so we are pretty familiar with them and they are pretty familiar with us. They know the routine and know what our expectations are and they just do a great job of meeting those expectations,” he said.

With Shelby coming into the conference replacing North Union, the “MOAC” gets bigger. Cook says they always expect to be competitive, but they understand it will be a big challenge this fall. “I would say most high schools they all have high expectations. At Pleasant, we have a lot of expectations that are self imposed and we put stress on ourselves with that. We always have high expectations at Pleasant. This year is no different, but again we are going to come out and take them one game at a time. I mean our schedule is tough, our league is tough,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Being the smallest school in the league that presents some unique challenges that are a little different than what we are used too. We are just kind embarking in this league, three or four years now. Obviously, being a small school when you are playing division two schools, division three schools, a couple of D5’s in there. It is just a different challenge for us. We look forward to it.”

Published 8/07/18

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Pleasant Faces Unbeaten Harvest Prep in Next Round

Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion Marion Pleasant will take on unbeaten Harvest Prep in the district tournament on Tuesday night at Olentangy Orange High School.

Pleasant (20-4) has beaten Amanda-Clearcreek (63-44) last Monday and Newark Catholic (69-58) on Saturday in tournament play in division three.

Coach Ben Snively his team has played consistently well this season. “It has kind of been a strange season for me in that we got to 20 wins this year and I have never done that as a coach and all of the credit goes to the kids. You always have the peaks and valleys throughout the course of a season, but I just have never felt that way. Three of the four teams we lost to this year were state ranked at the time and the other was to Clear Fork, who I felt was a very good basketball team. I guess right now we are kind if nitpicking at things. We are finding things here or there that we are looking to do a little better, but for the most part the kids have played at a high level all year,” said Snively.

One of the real kicks about winning Saturday, according to Snively, is they still get to go to practice. “I am not going to set here and lie I am not one of the hardest working coaches we have fun with the kids and it is just a joy to be around them. I think they enjoy being around us as well. Obviously, it keeps me younger than I am. It is a fun time of the year. We always talk about making it to March. We are the last team in the conference to still be playing. We have reached a lot of goals this year, including winning the title and just like where we are at and try to continue to play on,” he said.

Snively says a key to their success this season has been they have had a lot kids contribute to their success. “Jacob Harter, one of our seniors, he is just a role player kind of kid, led us against Amanda Clearcreek with 16 and Saturday night Bryce Flickinger, our other senior that doesn’t get to score much led us with 14. (Ethan) Warner and (Nick) Kimmel got in foul trouble early and looked a little scary, but these seniors came off the bench and they have just filled a role all year when you need them the most,” he said.

Harvest Prep (25-0) hammered East Knox (70-21) on Saturday and Snively says the Warriors are incredibly athletic and they will have to be at their very best to have a chance. “They are the number one team in the state. We have played them once this year. They have a sophomore point guard that is a first team all district player, one of the best sophomores in the State of Ohio and they have a 6’6” kid that is also very good with a bunch of athletes around him and shooters. They are an athletic team, but they really shoot the three and sometimes their best offense is to miss a shot,” he told Swankonsports.com, “It will be really important for us to get a rebound. They really want to play an up tempo game, they were averaging 90 points a game. I just told our kids we are going to need everybody’s “A” game. I believe it can happen. We are not going to sneak up on them we played them tough at their place. We have an opportunity to knock off the number one team in the state and I know my kids will be ready for that. Just really excited for them and the opportunity they will get Tuesday night.”

This is not the first meeting between the teams. Pleasant led in the fourth quarter on February 17 before losing to Warriors (66-56) on the road. Snively says that gave them a bit of confidence. “I think the biggest thing with a Harvest Prep is a lot of times you can watch them on film, you can see them live, but until you play against their athleticism and speed live you don’t have any idea. I think a lot times you come out and get punched in the mouth by a team like that because your kids just don’t have an understanding what to expect. It is probably not a bad thing that we hung tight with them and lost to them, but our kids came off the court feeling we can compete with them,” said Snively.

Published 3/05/18

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“MOAC” Rivals Pleasant and North Union Tangle

Pleasant takes on North Union is the girls’ division three district tournament at Ridgedale High School on Tuesday night.

It will be the third meeting of the season between the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference rivals.

Pleasant beat Utica (41-36) on Saturday to advance in the central district tournament. North Union downed Newark Catholic (51-33), also on Saturday.

Coach Nate Dendinger says it was their defense that gave them the win. “The last couple of games have really been grind out kind of games for us. We are having a hard time putting the ball through the hoop. We are really getting great looks, but they just haven’t been dropping for us. We have really been relying on our defense quite a bit. We have been able to make some plays, Saturday night especially, to get us the win,” he said.

He adds they knew they had to be physical if they were going to win on Saturday. “We knew coming into the tournament games are a little more physical. We just told the girls that you have to be really, really aggressive. We tried to pressure their guards a lot so they couldn’t just make nice easy passes into their post,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Utica had a nice post player. Once she got position there wasn’t a whole lot we could do to stop her. I thought our guards played really well. Grace Davis, who played the post, was really physical and did the best that she could when it came to their post.”

It’s Pleasant (17-7) and North Union (17-7) on Tuesday night. Their two meetings were just as close. North Union won both times (40-39) on December 9 and (53-51) in overtime on January 19.

Dendinger expects another battle. “It is just one of those classic battles between two “MOAC” teams. You know exactly what each team is going to do. We have lost to them twice this year by a total of three points. There is nothing new that is going on here. Our girls know it is going to be a slugfest. There are some things we have to do a little bit better this time. Hopefully, we can make some corrections and see what happens,” said Dendinger.

Rebounding and patience on offense are going to be keys for the Lady Spartans, according to Dendinger. “We have up a lot of offensive rebounds in the two games. Their size and their physicality gives us a little bit of a problem, so that is one of the big areas that we are really going to try and focus on. We have to continue to try and be a little more patient offensively. I think sometimes we settle for quick shots. They are open shots, but they are a little bit quick. We are not really making the defense move,” he said.

Published 2/27/18

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Pleasant With a Chance to Share

Marion Pleasant has the opportunity to share the boys’ basketball title in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. They need a win over Ontario on Thursday night to do it.

Pleasant (17-3,12-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat Clear Fork (67-65) in overtime last Friday to move into a share of first place with the Colts.

Coach Ben Snively says they have to gut out the win. “Nick Kimmell came out and I believe and made four threes in the first quarter. That was real big for us I think at one point we led 20-5, we led by as many as 16 maybe. We talked at the end of one that Clear Fork is a good basketball team and we were on their floor. We knew they were going to make a comeback. Anytime when you are up or down the other team is more than likely going to make a run at sometime. As good as they are we knew they would be making a run and they cut it to seven I believe at halftime. Right out of the gates in the second half they cut it to three or four and we kind of maintained that for the most part. It got down to about 1:30 when they took their first lead. Of course, that is when I got a little nervous. You watch a lot of basketball games where somebody is behind the whole game and in the last minute they take the lead. We were fortunate our point guard Williams got a tip on a play at the end of the game and that kind of forced overtime. We got down by four in overtime, but the kids they kept battling. We knew out backs were against the wall. We were fortunate to come out with a win there,” said Snively.

Pleasant beat Ontario (11-7,9-3) in their first meeting (53-48) back on January 27. Snively believes the Warriors are improved and he says they are going to have to find a way. “They are coached by a hall of famer. They have great basketball players. They do have some young kids and any time you have young kids they are going to improve over the course of the year. They have a 6’7” player in the middle. Their point guard didn’t play against us the last time. The freshmen they have #23 (Griffin Shaver,) he is a heck of a ballplayer. It is going to be big challenge for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There are seven teams beside us in the league and there are five others I rather see come to our gym on Thursday than Ontario. It is a home game for us. We had another good week of practice and I think the kids are focused and ready to do. It is our home floor and we have to be ready to defend and we are just going to do everything we can to score one more point than they do.”

Snively says they can’t rely on anyone else. They have to go out and secure at least a piece of that title on Thursday night. “I would imagine our students are going to show up. We are going to have a nice crowd and I am sure Ontario will travel well. Minus the “BV” loss they are right there with us. I am sure coach Balogh has talked to his kids about you have the two teams in first place right now and at the very least let’s go prove to them that we belong. Us three teams have been at the top all year. I think we are in good position. We have talked about we can’t depend on anybody else. Clear Fork does have two games left they travel to Harding (Thursday) and they have Ontario coming in as well. The nice thing is it is an opportunity to share the title if things would not go our way. We are not focused with what is going on with the other games we are focused on taking care of business and coming out and getting a win,” said Snively.

Published 2/15/18

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Pleasant and Clear Fork Square off in Huge Game in “MOAC”

Marion Pleasant trails Clear Fork by a game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference standings heading into their game at Les Hauenstein Gym at Clear Fork on Friday night.

The Colts (15-3,11-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Pleasant (66-61) on January 23 to take first place in the league.

Pleasant coach Ben Snively says the Colts are a team that likes to push the tempo and they make good decisions. “They came into our gym earlier in the year and stole a game from us. They are a very good basketball team. We have been preparing all week for them. We had Highland on Tuesday, but our focus has still been on this game. They are just very fundamental. They push the basketball. One quote that always comes to my mind is what John Wooden used to say play fast, but don’t be in a hurry and they kind of reminds me of them. They really look to push the ball, but they just play smart basketball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “As far as Friday it is going to be very difficult for us to go up there and get a win. It has been a good week of practice. We played pretty well against Highland on Tuesday night. We had a 20 point lead or so, but we did let is slip a bit. We were able to hang in there and win buy 10 or 12. It is going to be a big one. I think the kids are excited. I’m excited. It is a Friday night, so hopefully the fans come out. Hopefully, we play a good basketball game.”

Snively says both teams bring pressure, but they do it different ways. “They have been improving all year and that is exactly what good teams do this time of year. You can’t stay stagnate you have to continue to get better. We talked in the first matchup we pick people up, we don’t really trap that much. They do a little more trapping than we do and they are sneaky about it. It is not all of the time. They are smart about it, you don’t know exactly when they are going to do it. They have good smart basketball players that know when to do that. Ironically, in the first matchup I think we had nine turnovers and they had eight or nine, both I think under 10,” he said.

Sometimes games like this that have some hype don’t live up to it. However, Snively believes this one will. “It is two good basketball teams. A couple of years ago we made that run to regionals and we often talk about how the deeper you get into the tournament the more clean the games become. I think that is what you will see Friday night two good basketball teams playing a pretty clean game. At the very end it is going to come down to who can make more shots. The last time they came into our gym and hit 7 out of 9 threes in the first half and then didn’t shoot one the second half. Clear Fork is a very smart team and it is going to be a good match up for us,” he said.

Of course, the football title in the “MOAC” boiled down to these two teams as well. Snively believes these are similar schools that are developing a rivalry. “Pleasant we have always kind of been a football school. I think Clear Fork might kind of be in the same boat. Our football game this year came down to they beat us in overtime and that was a real good football game. We had a chance. We missed a field goal by a couple of yards there at the end of the game. We might be forming a little bit of a rivalry here early in this. I told the kids (Thursday) the hay is in the barn at this point. They are going to go out there and play. We have given them tools to use. We are just going to go out there and give them all we can and see how we fair at the end of the night,” said Snively.



Pleasant With Business to do

Pleasant is right in the middle of the race in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference race, a game behind Clear Fork, and they have two tests this week.

The Spartans play at Buckeye Valley on Thursday and home against rival River Valley on Saturday.

They hung onto second place with a (53-48) win at Ontario on Saturday night.

Coach Ben Snively thought they were able to handle the Warriors pressure defense pretty well. “It was a very good win for us anytime you can go on the road against a program like that and come away with a win it is a very key win for us. Their point guard was out that night and that hurt them a little bit. He hit his head the last play against Buckeye Valley the night before. Both of us were coming off games on Friday night and the kids might have been a little fatigued and things. They ran a diamond press against us all night and we only ended up with seven or eight turnovers. I think that was the key even with our point guard getting into some four trouble there our other guards were able to handle that a little bit. We got some easy baskets off of it. It was just a back and forth game the entire night and in the end, we were able to make a few more plays than them and we got the victory,” said Snively.

Pleasant (13-3,9-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Buckeye Valley (4-12,3-7) on Thursday night. The Barons beat Ontario (46-42) last weekend too and Heath (52-40) in a non conference game on Tuesday.

Snively hopes their experience pays off on Thursday night. “This is a team we have been in the league with since the beginning of the “MOAC” back in the early 90’s. It has always been a tough game for us. You have the Ontario and Clear Fork games and we still have both of them left and they are going to be big games, bit without these games against “BV” and River Valley it could really set us back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are playing better basketball now. They have some young kids. We went and watched them (Tuesday) night. They have three sophomores starting. Hopefully, our experience can help us out there. My first couple of years coaching was around the time coach (Andy) Gast was a player, so I know coach Gast really well. They always play hardnosed defense and they will shoot the threes. So, anytime they catch fire you could be in trouble.”

Pleasant and River Valley are longtime rivals. The Spartans won the first time (67-47,) but Snively says it likely will be a better game on Saturday. “River Valley is our biggest rivalry game. I feel better about that one just because it is at home. I think early in the year they were trying to do a little more pressing and giving up some easy layups. They have since become more disciplined with the ball. The first time we played them we were down one or two at halftime and their kids play extremely hard. I think coach (Barry) Eagan is doing a nice job getting them to play hard. Teams can go one way or another at the end of the year and they are still really competing. This is a throw the records out the window for us in this game no matter what your record is River Valley-Pleasant is always going to be a battle to the very end,” said Snively.

Published 2/01/18

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Pleasant Wants to Force Clear Fork Turnovers

It is almost two months deep into the regular season and Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference co-leaders Marion Pleasant and Clear Fork finally meet on Tuesday night at Pleasant.

The Spartans are coming off two league win last week over Galion (50-40) on Thursday and Marion Harding (54-32) on Saturday to stay in first place.

Pleasant coach Ben Snively says Tuesday night is an important game, but the whole season is not riding on it’s outcome either. He says they have other games that are important other than the Colts and Ontario. “I talked to my kids about that (Monday.) We have some natural rivalries already with the schools we have been playing for 20 years in the league. It is obviously going to be a huge game (Tuesday,) but all of us still have to play each other twice yet. I talked to the kids that we never look ahead, but the key for this league thing for us we have to go to North Union, we have to go to “BV” and we have River Valley at home. Those are three games I feel like that we need to get them because who knows what is going to happen with Ontario and Clear Fork. I stressed (Tuesday) just a little bit more because it is the home game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Anytime you are going to try and win a conference you have to win your games at home. I told the kids regardless of what happens (Tuesday) we are still going to have six games left in the league. We want to win every game and put yourself in that leadership role in the league, but I am really concerned about those two road games and obviously River Valley being our biggest rival coming to our place and playing better now. There is a lot of basketball left to be played and in a short amount of time. This is a big week for us, but we have a lot other games we have to take care of.”

Pleasant (11-2,7-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is at Ontario (8-3,7-0) on Saturday.

When it comes to Clear Fork’s (9-3,6-0) strengths, Snively says there are a lot of them, but he thinks the most dangerous in their perimeter shooting. “I think they are very athletic. I think they have five kids that dribble the basketball, pass the basketball, and shoot the basketball. When you have a bunch of kids that can do the basic skills of basketball it doesn’t seem like a lot. They can put a lot of pressure on you, they can trap you a little bit, they like to get the ball down the court, they shoot the three ball very well, which is a big concern of ours. I think the three ball can be a back breaker either way for a team. We really talked a lot (Monday) about getting out and defending the three point line and making sure we do a good job on that. The other aspect to that is a team that shoots a lot of threes is a good offensive rebounding team as well, which Clear Fork is. They kind of remind me of us a little bit. They are guard dominated. It should be a fun game. We will probably run up and down a little more than we normally do,” said Snively.

One of the keys to Pleasant’s success this season has been their ability to force turnovers and they hope to be able to do that on Tuesday night. “They are just really athletic and well coached. They are averaging nine-something turnovers a game, which is really, really good. We do a good job of turning people over this season. It will be interesting. It is not a make or break game (Tuesday,) but we have been waiting to play this game against them and Ontario and it should be a lot of fun,” he said.

Published 1/23/18

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Pleasant Faces Road Tests

Marion Pleasant remains in a share of first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with Ontario and Clear Fork entering conference play this week.

It is a pair of road games for the Spartans as they play at Galion on Thursday and at Marion Harding on Saturday.

They have had games postponed with the other leaders the last two weeks due to weather and coach Ben Snively says they can’t be thinking about those games. “It is kind of crazy with this weather that Ontario, Clear Fork and ourselves have kind of avoided each other to this point. I thought we were playing pretty good basketball at the time and I would have liked to be able to get them in but as it stands it is not. It is really scary for us at this point because we have taken care of business thus far. It is kind of different for us because we have never played Clear Fork or Ontario, but these other teams we have all played,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Marion Harding we have yet to win a game there in the four or five years being in the league with them. Buckeye Valley is coming up down the line, we have never won there, North Union is a tough place to play. Ontario and Clear Fork we have them in the next week are kind of on the back burner. This is a real big week for us with games at Galion and Marion Harding. Our kids have had a good couple of days of practice here, but you are out of school, you are in school, you are on delays. It is going to be a big couple of games for us this weekend.”

Galion (4-7,2-5) lost to Buckeye Valley (72-53) on Tuesday. The Tigers have shown the willingness to push the pace of play.

Pleasant (9-2,5-0) beat Galion (65-44) on December 8 to open the league season, but Snively believes they are improved. “I will tell you and I think this has happened with a lot of teams. We are at this point in the season where some teams have decided, hey, we are pretty good, some teams have maybe said we are not that good. I think Galion is a team that I look at and they have improved since the beginning of the year. I talked to my kids about that. You are on the road going to Galion. We have actually played pretty well at Galion the past couple of years since they have been in the league, so I feel pretty good about that. As far as tempo is concerned we have the type of basketball team that can play either style. If you are making shots you like the up tempo game we will feel that out as we go. They have a couple of nice basketball players. They have done a nice job at Galion, coach Valentine has,” said Snively.

Pleasant also beat Harding (3-7,1-4) in their first meeting (49-39) and the Presidents like to control the tempo a lot more than Galion. Snively believes they will approach that game with confidence. “I feel like we have already gotten over that hurdle. They had beaten us more in a row than we would have liked here at Pleasant. We had the same struggles with them in football. We did get over the hump with them in football and we have quite a few kids that play both sports. Going in there it is going to be a tough game for us. The thing is with Ontario and Clear Fork is we don’t have those rivalries with them yet, we haven’t played them yet. With Harding and BV and North Union and all of these teams that have been in the league we kind of know what to expect with each other and they are always battles. Obviously, Thursday is going to be big for us and hopefully we can take care of business there. We have to play well to do that. One thing I have always liked about these games against a bigger school, and some of our people have complained about that, but the nice thing about that with Harding and Pleasant and River Valley is we always get real nice crowds and it will be a nice environment on Friday night. Yeah, you want to win the league and do all of those things, but when kids get to play in front of large crowds in a rivalry game that is kind of what high school sports are all about. Those are the things you will remember down the line,” said Snively.

Published 1/18/18

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Pleasant Preparing for Ontario

Marion Pleasant is in a three way tie with Ontario and Clear Fork on top of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference standings and they head for Ontario for a crucial game on Friday night in league play.

Pleasant hammered Mt. Gilead (75-36) in a non-league game on Tuesday night. They also won their last league game in beating rival River Valley (67-47) on Thursday night. Clear Fork postponed a game with Pleasant on Saturday night, due to cold temperatures.

Ontario beat Galion (71-61) on Saturday night.

Pleasant coach Ben Snively says Ontario has a great tradition and the O-rena is a difficult place to play. “The are obviously and established program with coach Balogh there, one of the best coaches in the State of Ohio. We know what we are getting into there. We have talked about us having the majority of our league games at home early on. We had River Valley, we went over there and took care of business last Thursday and this will only be our second road game in the league. It is a very good basketball team, very good basketball program. So, we are looking forward to the challenge, but they are a very good basketball team,” said Snively.

Some of the Ontario scores this year have been in the 30’s and they have not been able to push tempo as much as in the recent past, but Snively thinks they have some versatility. “I have been able to watch Ontario on film a couple of times against some other people. Ourselves we really don’t have an identity either. I feel like Ontario is the type of team, like ourselves, that there really isn’t an identity, they kind of feel out the game. They can push the ball and with the athletes they have they do want to. They have a big center and a couple of nice shooters and they are very athletic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I don’t know a whole lot about Ontario other than their tradition as far as the way they have played in the past. I think like us they can play any style that they want to and I think they just allow the game kind of dictate how that is going to go and the flow of the game. We are kind of the same way if you want to slug it out with us and play defense or get up and down a little bit I think we can do that as well. We will both figure it out in the first half and then make adjustments and see where we are at.”

It might be defense that tells the story on Friday night. Snively says he believes they play hard and well on defense and if that is what takes they can do the job. “I feel like any good basketball team and program your identity better be defense. I know our kids play hard. I have a guy that takes care of all of that for me in coach Bob Smith. He does all of our defense and he does a tremendous job. Our kids play hard, their kids play hard. We have to go in there and try and steal one on their home floor and that will be a difficult task, but we are up for the challenge and we are looking forward to it,” he said.

Published 1/10/18

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Pleasant Looking for One Against Harding

Marion Pleasant got off to a good start in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last week and Thursday night they host Marion Harding, a team they have not had a lot of success against in recent years.

They play North Union in a conference game on Saturday night.

Pleasant (1-1,1-0) beat Galion (65-45) in their conference opener last week.

Coach Ben Snively says they were able to get more shots to go in than in their opener against Northmor. “Like I said earlier in the year we have a lot of home games early on the conference, basically this whole month. So, it was very important for us to get off to a good start. We shot the ball much better. Still, unfortunately we had 22 turnovers. You are not going to beat many teams with that type of turnovers. However, we were able to turn Galion over I think 28 times. When you get older you learn anytime you get a win at the varsity level it’s a great win, especially your home opener in the conference. We shot the ball better and we were excited to get a win,” said Snively.

Turnovers have been an issue for the Spartans this year and Snively says they just need to be able to complete the play. “I am not upset with some of them. I think our kids are looking ahead. Basically, it is a situation where we have people open. We try and get out and run a little bit and we just aren’t making the plays. Maybe not putting enough loft on the ball. They are not terrible turnovers. It is not so much violations like traveling, double dribbles, things like that. It is a matter of executing. Sometimes you need a bounce pass with a little finesse on it. We are struggling in that area a little bit right now. It is not that they other teams are pressuring us, so much it is a lot of unforced. We just have to clean that area up a little bit,” he said.

Harding (0-3,0-1) lost to Ontario (37-34) last Friday. The Presidents had the ball in their hands down three within the final minute and could not convert.

Snively says the Presidents are athletic and this has been a tough game for them since Harding was added to this mix of teams. “I’ll be honest it has been a while since we have beat them. They have got us quite a few times. We are on our home floor. There are no excuses when you are home. They (Elisha) Browley kid, he has hurt us the last two years. He has had a knee injury this year. He had a couple of threes against Ontario and I think he is getting back to health. Normally he plays a little more inside. The game I saw him play against Ontario he hit a couple of threes and is looking more outside. I don’t think he is 100 percent. They have got good athletes,” he told Swankonports.com on Monday, “They like to slash to the basket and pick us up half court and trap us. If we turn it over against them we will be in trouble. They are a big school and we are a smaller school, but it is a Marion County rivalry game. It is always real exciting for the kids because not matter if we are here or there the gym will be packed. Plus, they are also hungry for a win right now. I wish they would have got one the other night and maybe that pressure isn’t there as much.”

Published 12/12/17

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Pleasant Looking to Shoot Better

Marion Pleasant opens play in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Friday night at home against Galion.

In their first game they lost to a talented Northmor team (38-37) when the Golden Knights cashed in on a free throw in the finals seconds.

Coach Ben Snively says they gave a real good effort against a good team. “I definitely felt our kids would go over there and compete and we did that. Both teams played extremely hard, but in the end I think we ran into they are real long team, 6’8”, 6’7”, and we really struggled around the hoop. Give them credit they made one more play at the end of the game. They hit a free throw on us late. I was really proud of our kids, especially going on the road,” he said.

Pleasant went three weeks deep into the football playoffs, but Snively wanted to play. “I had a couple of people asking me what we were doing opening up with Northmor. In the past at Pleasant we really have never scheduled games for the opening weekend. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s we were making deep playoff runs. It just seemed like when I got here they were always trying to avoid that first weekend. Again, this year we had no opening weekend games and we got Northmor to agree to play us. I know coach Ruth has five games in the first week and half. I was just happy we made another playoff push this year and we had three kids that were joining us late, but the other kids were playing, and I was ready to get out there and get a game. It was a really good test for us early in the year. I was really happy and proud of the kids, but we talked about 21 more games and there are no moral victories,” said Snively.

When it comes to improvement, Snively says they need to shoot the ball better and they must reduce turnovers going forward. “My assistant coach I talk about this all of the time really. The game is so much easier when you make shots and we shot I believe 34 percent for the game. Again, it is opening night and all of that goes into it. They shot 36 percent I think. It was kind of an ugly game. I would prefer to play in the 60’s if possible. I think they turned it over 16 times and we turned it over 20. We have to clean that area up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday. “We are not going to win a lot of basketball games turning it over 20 times. We only got to the line nine times. We only shot 11 threes. We tried to attack the rim, but with their length inside, especially the Kegley boys. They are big in there and our kids went in there, but it is difficult at times. They do a really good job, we got no second chance points at all. They really did a nice job of rebounding. The main thing is now we get the jitters out of the way and shoot the ball better like every team in the state and we have to cut down on turnovers.”

Galion (1-0) was a (67-50) winner over Bucyrus in their opener. Snively says it is a matter of them getting better. “With our league it is a meat grinder. They don’t have a wealth of experience coming back, nor do we. I look at this game it is on our home floor, it is our home opener and we have to go out and do the same things we did against Northmor defensively and work on our execution a little bit more on offense. In the “MOAC” there are no nights off. If you walk out and think you are going to beat anybody you might fool yourself. Our focus is really on us right now and not so much concerned with what everybody else has. I know that most teams won’t have the length that Northmor did, so I think our kids are feeling better that we can get some stuff done around the rim,” said Snively.

Published 12/07/17

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Pleasant Ready to See What They Have

Marion Pleasant is not postponing anything they want to get ready to play basketball and will visit talented Northmor for a non-conference game on Friday night.

Coach Ben Snively says they some football players that will be part of their mix, but they are ready to be tested as a basketball team. “Everybody is anxious to get back in the gym again. Obviously, we went to week 13 with our football team this year, so I have three kids that will play varsity this year that were on the football team. Two of them could possibly be starters and the other will be a key contributor to our team. They have been in the gym now for a week and half. We have been working them in a little bit and it just that time of year it seems the older I get the less time you have to prepare for games and things like that. We are ready to get out there and get a game in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Unfortunately, it is against Northmor who is going to be very, very good this year. We are anxious to get out there and see where we are at. It’s a long season, so week one you go out there and figure out where you are at and learn from your mistakes and try and get better that point forward.”

Snively says these kids that played football are going to make them better as a basketball team. “Kind of ironically with that we actually had 36 out this year, which is the largest amount I have at Pleasant in five years and we have nine or 10 that are football players, whereas the first couple of years I has here, I think the first year we had 33 and 23 were football players. I am at the games every Friday night. I am a Pleasant Spartan through and through. I enjoy watching the football team. We root for the kids. The biggest thing is avoiding injuries in that area and we were able to do that this year even though 13 weeks of football. We need to get their legs back under them and get their shots back, but these kids are resilient they just move from sport to sport. We will just continue to keep working and getting better,” he said.

Northmor is going to be pretty good this year. Snively says they have talent all over the floor. “Obviously, with scrimmage season we have not gotten a chance to see them. I got out the film from last year the one kid they did lose I got their roster and he was number 32 and the new 32 is a 6’5” sophomore. I said that is great to add to that 6’5” and 6’7” they already have on the court. Of course, Meechie Johnson is as good as the area has at the point position has far as doing a just a great job of creating for others. He is a long jump state champ and led Northmor’s football team to their first playoff. He is just a tremendous athlete. It’s a big challenge, but you know one thing I love being at Pleasant is our kids won’t shy away from that they will be ready to go Friday night,” said Snively.

Published 11/29/17

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Pleasant and Eastwood Square off Again

Marion Pleasant and Pemberville Eastwood meet in the division five regional final on Friday night at Lima Senior Spartan Stadium.

It is the fifth time they have played in the playoffs, a signal these are two established programs.

It didn’t look like the Spartans were going to be in this game at all. They scored with less than 10 seconds to go to beat Archbold (28-24) last week in a regional semifinal game.

Coach Aaron Cook says it was a tremendous game. “That game was a heck of a game. It went back and forth the entire game. It was kind of one of those deals of who got the ball last. Going 99 yards was something where you really have to pull one out at that moment. Credit our kids for making plays and never giving up. It was an exciting finish for sure,” he said.

Pleasant concentrates on a power running game, but they were not in position to do that with first and 99 with less than a minute. Quarterback Ethan Worner hooked up with Lane Russell for a 92 yard pass and then to Tristin Conklin for the score.

Cook says they have confidence in their passing game. “We obviously want to run the ball first. The thing about our team, and it is probably why we are playing week 13, is we have great kids. Our quarterback Ethan Worner is 6’5 and has a huge arm, probably the strongest arm of anybody I have coached. He can throw the ball it is just something we don’t do a lot of. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in him and the receivers when we do do that. He threw it about as far as he could throw it and Lane came down with it. It was just a great play,” said Cook.

Eastwood beat Otsego (41-14) Last week. The Eagles have posted three shutouts this season and four other times limited the opponent to just one score. They beat Pleasant (35-28) in the playoffs last year.

Cook says he knows what they are all about. “Obviously familiar with them. This is the third time I have seen them in the playoffs as a head as a head coach and saw them twice as an assistant. They are the number one team in the State of Ohio for a reason. They are the same team that knocked us out last year. As I walked off the field last year knowing what they had coming back that that team was going to be a team to be reckoned with and they would have a great shot at winning division five,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Top to bottom they are about as solid a team that I have seen in division five in a long time.”

The Eagles are a team based on a strong running attack and a great defense. Cook says they have all the elements of a great team. “They do it by running the ball. They have the ability to throw the ball. Their quarterback is a heck of a quarterback. They are solid everywhere. They score a lot of points and keep you off the scoreboard. Their defense is the best defense I have seen in a very long time and we have our work cut out for us, but we are happy to be playing week 13 and we have a tremendous amount of respect for Eastwood,” said Cook.

In approach, both teams do a lot of the same things. Cook says each side knows what it has to do to win. “We are very similar teams. We run similar offenses and similar defenses. It is kind of scary schematically how similar we are. I have been around small school football for a long time and what we do here has worked for us and what they do up there works for them. There is a reason we have played five times in the playoffs because our kids at both schools really understand the system and execute it very well,” said Cook.

Published 11/17/17

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Pleasant Locks Horns With Archbold

It’s a regional semifinal match-up in division five on Friday night as Marion Pleasant meets Archbold at Findlay Donnell Stadium.

Pleasant (9-1) has been in the playoffs 22 times, that is more than any school in North Central Ohio. Archbold (9-2) is no stranger, this is the appearance number 12 for them.

Pleasant’s only loss this season comes in overtime to unbeaten Clear Fork (20-17) on week nine of the regular season. The Blue Streaks lost by one to Liberty-Benton (34-33) and (33-27) in four overtimes to Swanton on the final week of the regular season.

It was a big second half for the Spartans last week as they downed Genoa (48-21) in a first round game, scoring four unanswered touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.

Coach Aaron Cook says they did a super job of executing the adjustments they talked about at halftime. “Our kids played really well, both teams played really well. The first half was a whale of a first half. Our kids did a great job coming out in the second half and executing some of the adjustments we had made and really played good football,” he said.

There are only 16 teams left in division five and Cook says when you get to this level you must make adjustments against very good teams. “When you get to this point in the year everybody is well coached and everybody has good kids. You just have to do your best as a coach to put your kids in the right position to try and win a game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Sometimes you do that and sometimes you don’t. It really comes down to whether the kids can execute and our kids did an awesome job of that last week.”

Archbold beat Indian Lake (23-14) in their first round game. Cook says the Blue Streaks bring a lot to the table on both sides of the ball. “Archbold is again a solid team. One of the better teams we have seen all year. Fast, big, athletic. There is a reason they are playing week 12. They are different than any team we have seen all year. They are just solid from top to bottom. What you see them from both sides is scary. They are a good football team for sure,” he said.

The Blue Streaks has athletic kids and Cook says they do a lot of different things on both sides of the ball. “They are different just schematically with some of the things they do. We have seen a bunch of stuff in our league. Just what they do and some of the kids that they have to execute the schemes are outstanding. Just how multiple they are on defense. A lot of teams in our league you kind of know what you are getting with them. With these guys they run a bunch of different things. It is hard to pinpoint,” said Cook.

Pleasant has a dominate running game, they don’t throw it much, and Cook says they are going to change what they do now. “At this point your kids are familiar with what you do and how you do it. You just try and get better, that’s the biggest thing, getting better day to day. That is just what we try and do and the approach we take,” he said.

Published 11/09/17

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Pleasant Ready for Playoffs

It’s time for the high school football playoffs and the Marion Pleasant Spartans embrace everything that that means, including the weather.

It looks like rain and 40’s when the Spartans host Genoa in the division five regional quarterfinals on Friday night and Pleasant is alright with that.

After their tough overtime loss to Clear Fork (20-17) on week nine, Pleasant flattened Ontario (41-14) last week. Coach Aaron Cook says that allows them to take some momentum into the playoffs. “Our kids did a good job of bouncing back from the Clear Fork loss. It was just an emotional hard fought game and coming back and getting a win against Ontario on the road. I always tell them anytime you go on the road and play in somebody else’s backyard and get a win that is always something that is big. So, I was proud of our kids to be able to do that,” said Cook.

Pleasant (8-1) is home for Genoa (8-2) in the first round on Friday. Genoa has been in the postseason in nine of the last 10 years and Cook says they know about the playoffs too. “Genoa is a traditional power. I have been watching them a long time. It’s a great program, well coached, kids very similar to ours that just love football. They are a very good team. They do a little bit of everything and they do it well. So, it is definitely going to be a challenge for us,” he said.

For Pleasant, they have been in the playoffs 22 times, winning state titles in 1972, 1996, and 2002. Cook says the postseason is a time when football is measured with a microscope. “At this point and time everybody’s got talent, everybody’s well coached. In order to win you have to do the itty ditty things right and Genoa definitely does that. Like I mentioned before we have our work cut out for us. Our kids know they need to do. Now, it’s just a matter of trying to go out and play well and do it,” he said.

Pleasant has not thrown very many passes this year and that is by design. Cook believes that you have to be able to run the ball in order to win playoff games in November in Ohio. “It is just something we have always believed in around here, long before I even got here. It is just something we do. That is kind of the foundation of our program. We love this weather,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “This is playoff weather. Watching the rain come down and the cold (Monday) at practice was awesome. Our kids embrace it. They love it. We are just ready to go play.”

Published 11/01/17

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First Place on the Line in the “MOAC”

Marion Pleasant hosts Clear Fork, both an unbeaten, in what is a huge game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Friday night.

To the winner goes no less than a share of the “MOAC” football title.

Both are first in their computer region, Pleasant in division five and Clear Fork is division four. The Colts have already clinched their berth, Pleasant likely will on Friday night.

The Spartans (7-0,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat arch rival River Valley (27-14) last week to remain in that share of first place.

Coach Aaron Cook says it was what they expected. “That game is always intense and always emotional on both sides. I thought both teams came out ready to play and both teams played with that emotion and it was a great rival game like it always is,” he said.

Clear Fork head coach Dave Carroll and his assistant and brother Mike Carroll both coached at Pleasant and Cook says the coaching staff is a key reason the Colts are unbeaten. “Clear Fork first and foremost is very well coached. I am very familiar with coach Carroll. I have been around him for a long time. He does a great job. They are well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are big, physical, and fast. They are pretty much everything you would want in a football team. It is definitely our toughest challenge to date and it should be a great football game on Friday night.”

Playmakers seem to be all over the place on the Clear Fork offense led by quarterbacks Blake Dinsmore and Jared Schaefer. They are able to get the ball to some athletic skilled players. Cook says they have to be sound one on one tacklers. “That is the way coach Carroll has built is team and he has the athletes to do it. That is where football is played anymore it is in space and that is the name of the game. Our kids are going to have to do a really, really good job of tackling in space. That is hard to do, harder to do than you think and easier said than done. That’s our goal and we will see what happens,” he said.

On defense, the Colts allowed negative 35 yards of total offense and no first downs last week in a (35-0) win over Ontario and it has been the defense that has been very consistent for Clear Fork this year. Cook says that is no surprise. “They are well coached. Mike Carroll does a great job on that side of the ball. Mike and I coached together for 15 years and I know how good of a job he does. He is phenomenal. It is a typical Mike Carroll defense. They are big, tough, physical and very sound. You are hard pressed to beat them at anything. That’s why they are good. There is really nothing to exploit. You just have to try and execute to the best of your ability and hope that your kids do that and play hard,” said Cook.

Published 10/18/17

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Unbeaten Pleasant Plays Rival River Valley

Marion Pleasant is unbeaten and shares first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with Clear Fork with three weeks left in the regular season.

They play the Colts next week, but this week is a very important opponent on their schedule in their biggest rival in the River Valley Vikings.

A big second half led to an easy win over Buckeye Valley last week. They beat the Barons (42-17) in “MOAC” play.

Coach Aaron Cook says the players did what they asked them to do. “Our kids really listened to us and adjusted very well in the second half and came out and played really, really hard. We were able to beat a really good “BV” team. We were really happy with that and the way we executed and created turnovers in the second half,” he said.

The Spartans (6-0,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, got two interceptions for scores in the fourth quarter last week. Cook says those are big plays. “Our kids really did a good job of creating those. Our defensive front did a great job of getting to the quarterback and pressuring him all night. Obviously, when that happens balls tend to get thrown up in the air a little bit and our kids did a great job of breaking on it and making the best of it,” he said.

River Valley (3-4,1-3) played well last week in a (27-0) win over injury plagued Ontario. It breaks a three game losing streak for the Vikings.

Cook says River Valley always plays well against them. “This is our big rival. This is our big county rival. We have played River Valley for a very, very long time. There aren’t any finer coaches out there than Doug Green. He does a tremendous job with that program,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are a very good football team. I have seen this game go both ways, crazy ways, and every way, so we will be ready to play and I am sure they will be and it will be a great high school football game.”

Cook, a former player at Pleasant, understands this rivalry and knows they are going to have to come out with some intensity. “Energy and intensity those are the biggest things with these rival games because you know what you are going to get on the other side. That’s how you lose them if you don’t match them that becomes a problem. Getting ready to play on both sides is the way you have to do it,” he said.

Published 10/11/17

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Pleasant Faces Physical Marion Harding

Marion Pleasant again is one of the best football teams in North Central Ohio and that should come as no surprise since they have as much tradition on the gridiron as anyone.

They are at home for Marion Harding this week in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

In their conference opener, they buried Galion (45-21) in a game that really wasn’t that close.

Coach Aaron Cook was pleased with the performance. “I was really happy with our kids. I didn’t see that coming at all. Our kids just executed the game plan. Looking at the scoreboard going in a halftime and it’s 45-7 I never dreamt that we would be able to do that against a good Galion team. Our kids came out and played really, really well, so credit to them,” he said.

Pleasant has been pounding opponents with a ground game featuring a number of backs. Cook says that has always been the foundation of their program. “That’s what we do. That has always been my philosophy, it was our philosophy when I was an assistant at Pleasant, when I played at Pleasant. That is what we know and what we have always done. It is just something we try and do. We do try and be balanced. We have that ability, we just have had some success this year running the ball,” said Cook.

Pleasant (3-0,1-0) plays at Marion Harding (3-1,1-0) beat Ontario (21-17) last week. They scored two touchdowns in the second half on fumble returns.

Cook says they are a very athletic team again this year that is very physical. “Anytime you play Harding you are going to see a bunch of athletes. They are no different this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are big up front, they are physical and they present challenges athletically. It is a good football team and for us it is a step up playing a bigger school. That is obviously a challenge and makes it fun.”

Harding has some big kids, but Cook says they have to match their physicality if they want to win the game. “That is one thing we have always preached to our kids. We tell our kids all of the time too we are pretty physical too. We are going to go out and try and play a good football game and execute the game plan and see where the chips fall,” he said.

Published 9/22/17

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Pleasant Ready to get Things Started

Marion Pleasant plays its first football game for real this season on Friday night at Fredericktown in non-conference play.

Their game last week with Greenon was cancelled due to two untimely deaths in the Greenon district.

Pleasant coach Aaron Cook says there is no question they are ready to get one in the books this week. “Our kids are excited to go play. It has been a while since we have played taking that week off. Our hearts go out the Greeon community, obviously it is very tragic what happened. Nobody wants to go through that and we completely sympathize with them. Our kids were great about it and we kind of used it as a life lesson,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have talked to them about just trying to focus in on Fredericktown. We gave them Friday night off. We kind of treated last week like a game week and let them go watch some high school football. Came in Saturday morning and treated like we would have after a game. They are excited to go play this week.”

Fredericktown didn’t score until late in the game and lost (27-6) to Clear Fork last week. Cook expects the Freddies to play well. “I know Clear Fork is a really, really solid football team this year, so the score with the two kick returns, it was a pretty close ball game. Fredericktown has been relevant to high school football for a long time. Coach Hartley does a great job over there. We know what we are going to get. It is going to be a great high school game. It is going to be two teams that are going to be well disciplined and go out and try and do what they do. On film, I have been impressed those kids are tough kids. Exactly what you expect from a Fredericktown team,” he said.

With their offensive line from last year back in full. Cook says the Freddies, like a lot of other teams, are going to want the football first. “I think small school football in general if you look at the most successful teams, there are exceptions to that rule, a lot of teams try and run the football. If you can run the football and play good defense it is usually a recipe for success. That is kind of what their program does. They have the ability to throw the ball. They will keep you on your toes with that. By all means they are a physical football team. They look very similar to my kids. They just look like good kids that want to play football,” said Cook.

Published 9/01/17

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Pleasant Needs Another Win


          Marion Pleasant remains in the thick of the red division race in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, just a game behind Jonathan Alder and Marion Harding with four games still left to play.

          Last week, the Spartans (5-1,2-1), #3 in Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, shut out North Union (14-0) to keep themselves in the conference race.

         Coach Aaron Cook says their defense was just outstanding again and they were the difference.  “Our kids played extremely well on defense and that is something we have been doing consistently all year.  Our kids have been running to the ball and tackling very well.  Obviously we played a very good game against a talented and well coached North Union team.  It was a great high school game.  It was 7-0 late into that game and our defense came up big multiple times to get stops for us,” he said.

          Their only loss came three weeks ago to Jonathan Alder (33-16,) but since then they have two straight.  Cook his kids have continued to work hard to get better.  “Our kids have done a pretty decent job of improving from week to week.  Our completion has been pretty much consistently difficult, so every week you have to bring you “A” game.  Our kids understand that.  They have been doing a pretty good job of working and that is easy to do when you win, keeping engaged, they want to get better and they work hard.  Hopefully we can continue that process,” said Cook.

          Pleasant hosts Buckeye Valley (3-3,2-1) in a red division game on Friday night.  The Barons played very well last week in losing (28-20) to conference co-leader Jonathan Alder. 

          Cook says the Barons are a big, physical team that is pretty athletic too.  He says it will be a test.  “They are one of the biggest and most physical teams that we will play all year.  They present some problems for us with their size.  They are very skilled on the outside.  They have a great quarterback and they play great defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is going to be a challenge.  Everybody in this league has great talent and quality teams and you have to come ready to play.  Hopefully our kids will come ready to play and play a pretty good high school football game and we will see what happens.”


Published 10/04/16

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