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Marion Pleasant Spartans High School Athletics



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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