Swank on Sports

 

 
 

News Line

 
 

 

  Norwalk St Paul Flyers

 

 
 

Three in Seventh Gives St. Paul District Win over Plymouth

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jason Higgins

 

          Norwalk St. Paul scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning and then survived a scare from Plymouth and beat the Big Red (5-4) in the division four district semi finals on Wednesday at Galion’s Heise Park.

          They will play New London, the school they shared the Firelands Conference title with this year, in the district final on Friday at Galion.

          Trailing (3-2) heading to the seventh the first two St. Paul batters were retired, but then they got busy.  Plymouth pitcher Austin Nester hit Curt Maxwell with a pitch and walked clean up hitter Luke Carper.  Colton Service then hammered a triple of the left center field fence sending two home and giving the Flyers the lead.  Shortstop Brandon Saldusky followed with an RBI single to give the Flyers a (5-3) lead.

          Plymouth battled back in the bottom of the seventh when Mitchell Chaffins led off the inning with a single and Jaret Miller added another single.  A.J. Hammond drove in Chaffins with a single to make it (5-4) a one run game.  St. Paul pitcher Nick Lukasko struck out Treven Lane to end the game.

         St. Paul coach Jim Carper says he had a little heart to heart with his players before the seventh.  “We had a huddle and that is the only one we had all day and I said you know this has been our M.O. all year and we have the top of the order up it and it is time to make things happen.  I said we do it now of we go home.  It’s all up to you,” said Carper.

          Nester gave Plymouth a (1-0) lead in the first inning with a solo home run, his fifth of the season, to right center.  The Big Red went up (2-0) in the third on an RBI single by Miller.  St. Paul tied it at (2-2) in the fourth on Service’s first RBI triple of the day and he later scored on an error.  Plymouth retook the lead (3-2) in the sixth when Hammond singled and scored on Anthony Montgomery’s ground out.

          Plymouth coach Jason Higgins says some of his kids didn’t react to pressure like he wished they would have done.  “Both teams played very hard.  There was a lot of emotion in the game.  Sometimes when there is emotion some guys tighten up, some guys start making plays.  We just got into a situation where we were on the wrong side of that,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “That happens in the game of baseball sometimes.  It is not ideal for the last game of the year we wished this game had come a little bit earlier in the year, but we are going to learn from it.  We knew what our potential was this year.  No one thought we would be here, but we got here and we showed we can play.”

          St. Paul had slipped back into a share of the conference title with New London when they lost to Crestview (13-12) in a conference game on Tuesday.  Carper says he told them they had to put that game behind them.  “I told them out in the outfield fellows forget about that that is over.  Come out and have fun and give it all you have got and I think they did that,” he said.

          St. Paul faces New London, they spit during the regular season, the Wildcats winning (6-1) at their place and St. Paul getting revenge (6-4) at theirs when they played back to back on April 25 and 26, in the district final.  They will not have to face New London ace Ryan Lane, who went the distance on Wednesday.

          New London beat Wynford (3-1) in Wednesday’s first game.  “I am looking forward to going home and getting some sleep and hope these boys just keep doing what they are doing and what happens, happens,” said Carper when asked about Friday’s district final.

 

Published 5/18/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
 

Colonel Crawford Edges St. Paul in Overtime

   

          Colonel Crawford outlasted Norwalk St. Paul (57-49) in overtime on Tuesday night in the division four district semi-finals at Willard High School.

          They play state ranked Mansfield St. Peter’s (23-2) in the district final on Friday night.

          The Eagles (18-6) made six of seven free throws in the final 1:09 of overtime to provide the final margin, but the game was close the entire way with the lead never more than seven until the end.  There were six lead changes in the game.

          A Heath Starkey basket gave Colonel Crawford (38-31) lead with 6:00 minutes to play, but St. Paul railed to outscore the Eagles (12-5) down the stretch.  Dylan Furlong’s follow with :27 seconds left tied the game (43-43) after a St Paul steal and missed layup.

          “It was two very good basketball teams.  Norwalk St. Paul has 16 wins and is a senior dominated team.  We knew it was going to a grind.  We had to go 36 instead of 32 (Tuesday) night,” said Colonel Crawford coach David Sheldon.

          Cameron McCreary scored with 3:27 left in overtime to give Crawford the lead (45-43) and Heath Starkey converted an old fashion three point play on the next possession to give the Eagles a (48-43) lead with 2:59 on the clock.  However, things weren’t over as the Flyers closed to (50-49) on Brandon McCall’s hoop with 1:11 left.  The Eagles free throws closed the game out.

          Sheldon says he told the players before the overtime started that they were going to being playing on Friday.  “We turned the ball over late in regulation and we take pride in that.  You get our teams in those situations and we are usually pretty good and we made some careless mistakes.  I told the guys between “OT,” I said hey let’s go, get your heads up, we are going to win this thing,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “McCreary hits a big one to start us off, Heath (Starkey) gets a post feed from Harley (Shaum) and a and one and we got some defensive stops.  I am proud of my guys.  We have talked all year trust the process with the schedule we play to get us ready for a district tournament.  You look at four freshmen and three juniors and one senior get to play for a district championship on Friday night.”

          St. Paul coach Mike Smith says he knows they had their chances, but he couldn’t be more proud of his kids.  “It was a heck of a high school basketball game.  People got their money’s worth.  Every possession matters.  For 36 minutes you look back and free throw there, a layup there, a check out missed.  I thought our kids were really dialed in to what we had to do.  I thought they were too.  They made plays and once they got the lead in overtime we had to foul and they were pretty good from the free throw line.  I can’t fault our effort.  The worst thing is I have seven kids that won’t be back at practice the next time we practice.  They are just a terrific group of seniors.  You won’t find any better as far as teammates and leaders, students, friends, basketball players.  We challenged our younger kids that it is a tough group to follow.  They have the whole package.  Every one of them, all seven, are going to be really good, successful people,” said Smith.

          Those seniors are Furlong, McCall, Will Ceccoli, Jimmy Adelman, Jacob Avendano, Noah Winslow, and Hayden Jaworski.

          During the overtime Colonel Crawford had four freshmen on the floor including McCreary, Reis Walker, Jordan Fenner and Gavin Feichtner.

          Sheldon says those kids have really matured as the season has gone on.  “It’s a special group and how about Reis Walker (Tuesday) night?  He steps off the bench and we knew going into tournament that Reis was going to play a lot because he gives us an offensive threat and he is long at the defensive end.  He got to hit some big shots.  Once again it comes back to the floor general though.  Cam (McCreary) created those off of his penetration.  McCreary is a special floor general and he created from other people all night and himself,” said Sheldon.

          McCreary paced Crawford with 14 points, followed by Starkey with 13, Walker with 11 and Jordan Fenner with 11.

          Furlong had a game high 17 for St. Paul.  McCall chipped in with 10.

          There was certainly a physical nature to the game, but Sheldon felt his kids handled it well.  “The more you get down the tournament line it turns physical and that is the way it should be.  The officials did a fantastic job and they let you play and that is the way it should be this time year.  Let the kids decide the outcome.  I thought our guys did a good job because I’ll tell you their two post players McCall and number 32 (Paul Pearce) they are physical specimens.  They are seniors and I thought we did a good job.  We got in foul trouble throughout the night, but other guys stepped up when we need them to step up,” said Sheldon.

 

Published 3/08/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Defense the Biggest Key For Flyers

  

          Norwalk St. Paul is enjoying one of its best years over the last decade and they take on Colonel Crawford Tuesday night in the division four district semi finals at Willard High School.

          The Flyers (16-7) beat Buckeye Central (53-45) with a fourth quarter rally in last Friday’s sectional final at Sandusky High School.

          Coach Mike Smith says he couldn’t be more proud of what his kids have accomplished this year so far.  “We talked about before the game having to earn everything in life and nothing comes for free and we had to go out and earn it.  That was kind of my approach before the game and if you want something bad enough you have to go out and work hard and get it.  I am really happy with the kids that we have.  They are a well deserving group of young men and I am glad they won a sectional championship.  Now we have to take it one game at a time and hopefully get a win Tuesday,” Smith said.

          Colonel Crawford (17-6) downed Lucas (59-50) in a sectional final at Sandusky last Friday.  Smith says the Eagles have consistently gotten better this year.  “They have grown a lot from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.  Their young kids have come across nicely.  Obviously coach (David) Sheldon and his staff do an excellent job of making their kids better and improving throughout the year and getting the most out of them.  They have done a very good job and have played very good basketball here in January and February and into March and I was very impressed with how they played Friday night,” said Smith.

          Being one of the overall biggest teams in the area, St. Paul has enjoyed an advantage in that regard most of the season, but Smith says Crawford has size too.  “Obviously Starkey and the Shaum kid have good size and play physical.  They have got good guard play.  They have shooters.  They have a nice package.  Like I said they will be prepared and ready to go.  They play good defense and they take care of the basketball.  It really should be a really good high school basketball game” he said.

          Smith says they have to execute when they have the ball, but the biggest key will be how they defend.  “We have to set the tone defensively.  We have to take away their first reads in their sets.  They run a lot of sets.  We want to take away the stuff they run to get their shooters shots and their post isolation.  We have to be able to take away their ball screens because they do set quite a few of those ball screens.  I think defensively we have got to set the tone.  I think our kids have a good feel for what their personnel can and can not do and hopefully we can apply that to a game plan,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Offensively we have to be able to execute and shoot the basketball, we have to be able to take care of the basketball.  We would like to be able to get stuff off of transition and if we can get some stops and get out and run and get some easy hoops.  Whether they play zone or man we have got to try to get the ball inside the best we can and maybe try to get them in foul trouble.”

 

Published 3/07/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on  Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight    

 

 
 

St. Paul Looking Forward to Friday

  

          Norwalk St. Paul tangles with Buckeye Central on Friday night at Sandusky Senior High School for the right to advance to the division four district tournament next week.

          The Flyers (15-7) finished third in the Firelands Conference, but they did lose their last three games to Western Reserve, Sandusky Perkins and Mapleton.

          However, veteran coach Mike Smith says he still thinks they are in good shape and he isn’t concerned about his team mentally.  “No not really. Those were three really good teams, Perkins, obviously, one of the better division two teams.  Our match-up with Western is difficult because they put five guys on the floor that can spread you out.  We have had trouble with our size guarding them.  We tried some zone and they were able to exploit us.  Match-ups a lot times have something to do with it as well.  Our kids played very hard.  We did a lot of good things it was not that we were playing sloppy or were not efficient.  I just think sometimes it is match-ups.  We have had a great week of practice.  Our kids were all able to go to Sandusky and watch the semis and we are looking forward to taking the floor on Friday,” said Smith.

          Buckeye Central (10-13) advanced with a come from behind (56-55) win over Plymouth on Tuesday night.  They trailed by double digits in the second half of the game.

          Smith says the Bucks will be well prepared Friday and have some players with talent.  “First off they are very well coached.  Coach Loy does an outstanding job.  Those kids are ready to go and the game plan is in place no matter who they play league or non-league.  I have a high respect for coach Loy.  They have some really good players.  They have two really, really good players in the Shade kid, I think he is dynamite, and Max Loy does a really good job handling the ball and shooting the ball.  He came up with a big three to tie them game on Tuesday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think the Sheaffer kid played very, very well.  Their other kids know their roles.  I think the Wurm kid is getting a little more comfortable shooting the ball for them as a sophomore.  They play good defense and they are well prepared, but I also think we match-up pretty well with them.  We will have a game plan in place and we will decide it at eight o’clock on Friday.”

          This has the makings of a close game at the end and Smith says his kids are confident in those situations.  “As a coach you can only control so many things.  Our kids have won a lot of close games as well.  I think we are comfortable is those situations.  We are very senior oriented and I like that.  Our seniors are excited about playing on Saturday.  I don’t think that is something that can be underestimated on how important it is.  We have some seniors that don’t want this season to end.  They want to continue to get back at it next week and compete for a district championship,” he said.

 

Published 3/02/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Flyers Must Have Win

  

          Norwalk St. Paul must beat Mapleton on Friday night to have a chance to share the Firelands Conference and they also need a Plymouth upset of conference leader New London.

          Coach Mike Smith says they know what is in front of them.  “We are trying to approach this as a sectional game.  We have really utilized our JV team as a scout team this week to try and take it up another notch and go through with a little more detail on the floor and we have challenged our kids to attack it that way.  Unfortunately at this point and time we do not control our own destiny.  We will be big Plymouth Big Red fans on Friday,” he said.

          Last week, St. Paul led Western Reserve by five heading to the fourth quarter, but ended up losing (56-51) in the end to fall out of a share of the lead.  They also fell to a very good Sandusky Perkins team (65-56) on Saturday in a non-league game.

          Smith says some missed shots in the lane and a lot of missed free throws were pretty costly both nights.  “We surely had our opportunities that’s for sure.  It wasn’t lack of effort.  Western did a nice job of spreading us out.  We lead the majority of the game.  Throughout the game we let some opportunities slip.  We had some drives that we didn’t finish and when we did get fouled we didn’t make free throws.  We were 4-12 from the free throw line on Friday night and that definitely hurt us.  Saturday was kind of a carbon copy,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Perkins is a really good team, and so is Western, and I thought maybe our kids would hang their heads a little bit.  I was a little concerned with that and they came in and they battled hard on Perkins home floor on senior night and they gave us a chance to win with 90 seconds to go it was a tie game, but unfortunately we were 12-27 from the free throw line and we left a lot out there as well.  Those games and those experiences hopefully will help us come tournament time.”

          St. Paul (15-6,10-3) plays at Mapleton (12-9,5-8) on Friday night.  The Mounties have been involved in two high scoring overtime games over the last week losing (92-90) in double overtime to New London last Friday and then beat Hillsdale by the same score (92-90) in one overtime on Tuesday.

          Smith says all they want is an opportunity and that is exactly what they have gotten.  “They surely can score the basketball and numerous people can do it.  When I did look at that score on Tuesday, I went and watched Crestview and Buckeye Central, and again I thought Mapleton was playing in the NBA with their last two scores in the 90’s and we know we will have our hands full.  It will be their senior night as well and hopefully we can spoil it and give ourselves and opportunity here.  That’s all you can ask on the last week of the season to have an opportunity to win a league championship.  I have been blessed with a special group of young men that have worked extremely hard and are deserving of their successes.  We are looking forward to Friday night and trying to get a win and then hopefully a decent postseason run here,” said Smith.

 

Published 2/24/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight     

 

 
 

Another Big Game for St. Paul

  

          Last Friday, Norwalk St. Paul won a big game to move into a share of first place in the Firelands Conference and now they must win another in order to stay there.

          The Flyers (15-4,10-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat New London (42-40) to move into a share of the lead in the conference with the Wildcats.

          Now, they host Western Reserve on Friday night and likely they are going to have to win in order to stay in first place.  Coach Mike Smith says they have been in a must win situation when it comes to league for more than a month now.  “I think our kids are comfortable with the situation.  Since probably January 6 it has been must win.  We have taken the one game at a time approach.  We have faired pretty well here.  We have a nice streak here in winning 11 of the last 12.  We want to continue that momentum and hold onto first place,” said Smith.

          To win games like thy have been winning you have to have leaders and Smith says they have that and that has been plus.  “We have great senior leadership.  Our kids like the game of basketball.  They like being coached and they thrive under pressure. So far, so good,” he said.

          Western Reserve (11-7,9-3) is coming off a (68-46) win over Crestview last Friday to remain in contention in the league race.  They were considered the preseason favorite, but they have been hurt by injuries this year, including to Jaret Griffith, last year’s Firelands Conference MVP, who hasn’t played in more than a month.

          Smith says the Roughriders are never to be underestimated.  “Coach Sheldon does a great job in preparing his kids.  They always seem to be getting better as the year as the year goes on.  They have had their share of injuries and sicknesses and so on all of us have had some sickness, but when you lose the reining player of the year for a good portion of the season that makes other guys have to step up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have been able to be very competitive.  They are only a game out, so I am sure they are looking forward to trying to pull off the win on Friday.”

          There is pretty good chance that Griffith may return Friday night against St. Paul and if he does and is even close to 100 percent that is going to make the Roughriders a lot better.

 

Published 2/15/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

St. Paul With a Chance

  

          With a win Friday night at conference leader New London on Friday night Norwalk St. Paul moves into a share of the Firelands Conference lead with the Wildcats.

          There isn’t a bigger game in North Central Ohio on Friday night.

          Veteran St. Paul coach Mike Smith says they are pumped up.  “I think our kids have improved from day one, that’s for sure, and we are looking forward to it.  It should be a great atmosphere and a great environment for a high school basketball game,” he said.

          New London (14-3,10-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in small school division, had to play well late in games last week to beat South Central (48-46) and Monroeville (50-42) in conference games.

          Smith says the Wildcats have a great player and play great defense.  Smith says they must dominate the paint.  “They have a great player in Ryan Lane and they have some shooters around him.  They are very well coached and defensively they create some problems with their different presses and different defenses,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “So, we have to be organized for 32 minutes and do a good job on Ryan and get to their shooters.  We have to control the inside.  For us to be successful we have to dominate inside on offense and defense.”

          Lane is a guy capable of getting 20 points and 20 rebounds, but Smith says you have to be careful about concentrating too much on him.  “Karson Howell is a very good player.  Woodmancy shoots it very well.  He is tough.  Gerlak, they don’t rely on him a whole lot, but if you leave him open, he will knock down shots.  Their bench has been productive with Matthews, Marschall and Eibel.  We will have our hands full, but I think our kids are really looking forward to it.  We have been taking it one game at a time from day one and we just want another win,” said Smith.

          New London beat St. Paul (13-4,9-2), #5 in our poll, this first time (36-31) on January 6.  Smith says the Wildcats are going to want this game to be faster.  “I think both teams are going to be somewhat nervous.  It should be a packed house and a great environment.  I think there might be a little feeling out process.  Coach Howell does a great job in preparing his kids.  I am sure they are going to try and speed us up and try and take away our inside game.  By the same token we create some problems as well.  It could be a little bit of a chess match early and once we get going it should be a very entertaining game,” said Smith.

 

Published 2/09/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Flyers Need to Keep Pace

  

          Norwalk St. Paul trails Firelands Conference leader New London by only a game heading into a double weekend of conference games at home this weekend against Monroeville on Friday and Crestview on Saturday.

          The Flyers lost for only the second time in the last month when Edison beat them (53-39) in a non-conference game last Saturday.

          It was their ninth game in 22 days and coach Mike Smith says they just didn’t shoot very well in the second half.  “We kind of ran out of gas on Saturday night.  They were up by one at half.  In the third quarter we just couldn’t score they basketball.  They played very well.  We just wanted to get the game over with at the end there and get to this week.  We have two big games against two Firelands Conference opponents.  We are down to five games as far as the league championship goes and we control our own destiny,” said Smith,

          Monroeville (1-14,0-9) comes to St. Paul (11-4,7-2) on Friday night.  The Flyers won the first meeting by only five (45-40) and Smith thinks the Eagles will play them tough.  “They seem to be improving each time out.  They have been a little inconsistent probably throughout the whole year, especially offensively.  Their zone creates some problems,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Overall they have some pretty good size and they have been able to control tempo and handle pressure and play some pretty good basketball.  You throw in the rivalry between St. Paul and Monroeville will create a tough match-up for us.”

          Crestview (8-7,5-4) comes calling on Saturday night.  The Cougars beat St. Paul (47-46) on the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s on a buzzer beater.  If the Flyers had won that one they would be in a share of first place.

          Smith says they can’t be thinking about the past.  “We have to take one game at a time and Crestview is on Saturday.  Our kids feel like maybe we let one slip there, but you also credit them for making the plays down the stretch.  I’ll be real honest our focus is on Monroeville because without a Monroeville win the Crestview game does not mean a whole lot,” he said.

          With first place New London still remaining, not to mention another game with rival Western Reserve, who shares second, the Flyers control their own destiny, but Smith says that is only if they win this weekend.  “It is the last double weekend as far as league games go.  After this it is a league game Friday night followed by a non-league game on Saturday.  So, this is a very, very important week.  We have to get two wins and then we will shuffle the deck and see where everybody else lies,” he said.

 

Published 2/01/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Doing a lot of Good Things

  

          A six game winning streak has kept the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers right in the thick of things in the Firelands Conference this year.

          They trail New London by two games in the conference standings and play at Plymouth in a conference game on Friday night.  They are at Edison in non conference play on Saturday night.

          Coach Mike Smith says they have played a lot of good basketball over a short period of time.  “I give the kids a lot of credit they have just steadily gotten better in all phases and that is something that we preach.  They want to learn.  They like coming to the gym.  They absorb the information that we give them and they apply that to the game plan,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It’s been a lot of fun.  I want to get to Saturday that will be nine games in 22 days.  We have played a lot of basketball and from here on out we have just Friday, Saturday.  So, we can maybe get a little rest and get ourselves ready for a stretch run as far as the league championship goes and get ready for tournament.”

          St. Paul held off Willard (62-59) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Smith says his players have done a solid job executing in close games.  “Our kids are comfortable in that situation.  A couple of times we got it to 10.  We had it 58-48 and they came roaring back.  It wasn’t because we turned the ball over.  They made some plays.  It really was a clean game.  I tell people Willard plays an unbelievable schedule for a division three school.  They are very well coached and they are very well prepared.  We are not Sandusky High as far as athletes go or Ontario or Lexington.  They came in with a lot of energy and it was a good high school basketball game, especially on a Tuesday night,” said Smith.

          The Flyers (10-3,6-2) are at Plymouth (2-11,1-7) on Friday night for a Firelands Conference game.  The Big Red lost (53-50) to Mapleton last Saturday night.  Smith agrees they have been inconsistent in their performance.  “Some of that is youth.  They bring back not a ton of experience.  Austin Nester has played a lot of over the last three years and the Myers kid has played a lot as well.  They played very well versus Mapleton the other night.  Probably good enough to win.  They are getting better and they have shown a lot of stretches where they have been able to play good basketball.  Coach is doing a nice job of preparing them and getting them ready.  It is a big road game for us and one we have got to win,” said Smith.

          Back by two to New London, the Flyers already need someone else to beat the Wildcats this year.  Smith says they can ill afford another loss in a conference game.  “We have told our kids all along that it is one game at a time, one day at a time.  We talked (Wednesday) that our practice on (Thursday) has got to be a good one. We have got a lot of information to absorb.  Plymouth is running a lot of sets and we really only have one day to prepare for them.  It doesn’t matter who you play you have got to be ready to go and hopefully we are ready to go on Friday,” he said.

 

Published 1/27/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Flyers Need to Keep Momentum

  

          Norwalk St. Paul is among a group of three teams that share second place in the Firelands Conference two games behind New London heading into two games over three days against Mapleton and South Central in conference play.

          Last week, the Flyers won two games they had to have to stay in the conference race winning at South Central (53-37) on Wednesday and at Western Reserve (56-50) on Friday.  Those are the other two second place teams.

          Veteran coach Mike Smith says they did what they had to do and played pretty well at both ends of the floor in those games and a non-conference win over Calvert on Saturday.  “I thought our kids played very well in some places where it is difficult to play on the road.  Even the Saturday night game, Calvert is a tough place to play.  That was our third game for the week, he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Having a nice win a Western.  I thought the kids came out and played pretty well in all three games.  Shot the ball decent and defended at a high level and we did that in all three games.”

          Norwalk St. Paul (7-3,4-2) is at home for the Mapleton Mounties (7-5,2-4) in a Firelands Conference game on Thursday night.  The Mounties are much improved this year.  They have not been able to beat any of the top four yet, but Smith knows they can score points and calls them dangerous.  “Their first five are as athletic as anyone in our league.  They all shoot it well.  They play hard.  The games I have seen them play or on film they play hard.  They are very talented offensively.  We will have our hands full.  Again anybody can beat anybody on a given night.  They are a very dangerous team,” he said.

          St. Paul just beat South Central (7-4,4-2) on the road and they host the Trojans on Saturday night.  The game last week is the only one in the last three weeks where the Trojans have not put up big numbers.  Smith expects a different approach from South Central on Saturday.  “I expect to get a great effort from South Central on Saturday night.  I know they have a big game with Western Thursday.  So, everybody is playing Thursday-Saturday this week.  We played pretty well at their place.  Every night we take the floor in this league we better be ready to go.  I am sure they are looking for a little revenge,” said Smith.

 

Published 1/19/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

This Week’s Games Critical For St. Paul

  

          Norwalk St. Paul is really a whisker from being in first place in the Firelands Conference, but they now trail New London by two games in the standings.

          They lost (36-31) to New London last Friday and at the horn (47-46) to Crestview the week before.

          Coach Mike Smith says they did everything right last week accept they forgot to make shots.  “I really thought we were dialed in defensively.  We were 0-15 from the three point line.  Our shot selection was good.  We have to make those shots.  They did a nice job doubling down.  If you look at our season we are three possessions away from being undefeated in the league.  That is how close we are,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We surly can shoot the basketball better than we have shown. We have taken a little extra shooting practice as the kids come into the gym before school to try and get some work on the gun.  We are going to come out of this thing and when we do that we are going to be really, really dangerous.”

          Wednesday night, the Flyers (4-3,2-2) play at South Central (5-3,3-1) in a Firelands Conference game that is going to be pretty big for both teams as they chaseNew London in the conference standings.  The Trojans are coming off a (76-43) dusting of Plymouth last Friday in a game they led (57-17) after three quarters.

          Smith says the Trojans have good floor balance and have a number of players that can hurt you.  “They have got a lot of offensive weapons with a mix of their young kids and their veterans.  They are shooting it well.  Defensively they are changing some things up a little bit with man and running the 1-3-1 and doing a nice job.  They are sharing the basketball.  When you look that their roster they put a lot of guys on the floor that can shoot the perimeter shot and they still have size and strength inside.  Coach is doing a nice job with them.  They have definitely come a long way since the first game of the year,” said Smith.

          St. Paul plays at Western Reserve (6-4,4-1) in a conference game on Friday.  Smith, the dean of Firelands Conference coaches, says these are two games they pretty much have to have.  “If we want to be in the league race we have got to try and win these next two games.  It would not surprise me if the league champ or co-champ or tri-champ had three losses.  I just think every night you are in for a dogfight.  There are some great coaches, guys that prepare, there is a lot of talent and it makes for an interesting race.  Unfortunately those last two games in the league three possessions either way and we are undefeated, but we are going to keep working at it.  We believe in our kids and we are going to right this ship,” he said.

 

Published 1/11/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

St. Paul Meets Conference Leaders

  

          Norwalk St. Paul hosts New London in a big early season battle in the Firelands Conference on Friday night.

          Crestview beat the Flyers (47-46) with a buzzer beater last Friday handing the Flyers their first conference loss of the season.

          Coach Mike Smith says the Cougars made a big play at the end, but they kind of let them back in the game.  “I credit the Crestview kids.  We had an eight point lead with I want to say 3:40 to go.  We did the thing that we needed to do we got to the free throw line.  Unfortunately we were 5-17 from the line for the game.  We were 1-7 in the fourth and missed three front ends of one and ones.  We went 1-4 in two shot free throws.  That definitely didn’t help us.  The LaFevre kid did a nice job of staying with the play and came up with a really tough shot at the buzzer with .5 to go.  It is surely one we wish we had back, but we also realize we have a lot of basketball ahead of us.  We have to learn from the good things that we did and the decisions that we made and continue and try and get better,” said Smith.

          When you lose a close one you do a lot of over analyzing things.  He says they have to move on.  “Jimmy Adleman is a 90 percent foul shooter and Dylan Furlong, if I were to pick those would the two would be at the line.  Dylan was at 85 going into that.  It is just one those things where you can’t change the outcome you have to put it behind.  We have a whole week here to prepare for New London, a very good basketball team and the only undefeated team in the league.  This is a huge game on Friday,” he said.

          St. Paul (4-2,2-1) entertains New London (7-2,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, in a Firelands Conference game.  The Wildcats beat Monroeville (47-33) in their last conference game on Friday.  They lost to Edison (49-42) in a non-conference game on Monday.

          Smith says they have one of the area’s best players and some other weapons too.  “Obviously Ryan Lane has had a great year.  He has played about as well as anybody I have seen on film on our schedule.  He has had a tremendous year.  He can post you up and shoot the perimeter shot.  They have shot the ball extremely well for most of the season.  They have some other weapons.  Carson Howell has had a good year as far as scoring for them.  Woodmancy is a kid that can stretch the floor and make threes and Gerlack is the same.  They are defending and creating some turnovers off their defense.  They play hard.  Again coach Howell has done a very good job with a nice group of kids.  Seems like they have great chemistry and are playing pretty well,” said Smith.

          When it comes to Friday night, or any other night, Smith says they have to score more.  “Our big dilemma right now and the thing we have to do is we have to better offensively, especially against a man defense.  We have kind of gone to a high, low offense and we probably need to run that a little bit more.  Our kids are thinking instead of reacting.  We need to have a balance of some things we have done in the past to just give them a security blanket.  There is no question we want to get the ball inside with our size.  We have to get better offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I am real happy with where we are at defensively.  We are taking care of the basketball for the most part.  We are averaging just a shade over 12 turnovers a game.  We our out rebounding our opponent.  We have gotten to the free throw line almost double our opponent.  The big thing is we have to make things a little easier on offense.  Defensively we have only given up more than 49 points once this year.  I am really thrilled with where we are at.  Our kids have attention to deal.  They are really doing a nice job with the scouting report.  We are just looking forward to getting better and this Friday night’s game with New London.”

 

Published 1/05/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Transition Defense Important For St. Paul

  

          Unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul plays host to Huron in a non-league game on Wednesday and plays at Crestview in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

          So far, the Flyers are unbeaten and coach Mike Smith says they have been playing pretty good basketball.  “We are pretty happy with the way we have played.  Obviously we have to get better each and every day we take the floor.  It looks like we are going to be healthy with everybody playing for the first time since the first quarter of the first game, so that is exciting.  We got Paul Pierce back on Monday and we practiced well on Monday and Tuesday.  We are kind of back to full strength and that is kind of exciting as well,” he said.

          Defense has been very good for the Flyers this year and their offense has been good at times, but Smith says they can do some things better on offense.  “I think we have to get better offensively.  Defensively we have been outstanding in not giving up more than 49 points a game.  We have won in the 30’s, we have a 40, a 45,and a 49.  So, defensively we have been doing a nice job.  In my 28 years of coaching I have never seen this in the Plymouth game we did not give up one offensively rebound.  Some of that has to be a little bit of luck too.  I did go through the film two times, once what we stated it and once when I broke it down and cut it up and could not find one offensive rebound.  So, I am really happy with where we are at defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think our shot selection has been good.  We are averaging just over 10 turnovers a game, which I think is good, although we have played some teams that have slowed it down and haven’t been as aggressive on the defensive end as some of the teams we are going to see here coming up.  You can always shoot the ball a little bit better.  From the free throw line we are 71 percent as a team and we are getting to the line a lot more than our opponents and that is also a good thing.  I think in all areas like clock management we can always improve.”

          St. Paul plays at home against Huron (3-1) of the bay division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Wednesday.  Smith says the Tigers are athletic and will look to run the floor.  “They are very athletic.  They don’t have a lot of size, but they are getting up and down the floor in transition, so our transition defense has to be good.  We have to keep the ball out of the lane.  They have numerous guys that can shoot the basketball.  They are a little limited inside.  When you look at them controlling penetration, contesting shots, rebounding the basketball, and transition defense, we have to limit those situations.  I think if we do that we can beat a good quality team,” he said.

          The Flyers (4-0,2-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays Crestview (4-2,2-1) in Firelands Conference play on Friday and again Smith says they have to get back on defense against the Cougars.  “When you look at them it starts with Colton Stevens, one of the better players in the entire league.  He is a scorer and we are going to have to do our best there.  They are very similar to Huron they like to get up and down the floor and push the pace, so again transition defense is important.  They do have some inside players in the Bond kid and the Stimpert kid.  They are solid basketball players and their coach gets them to play hard.  They will trap you in the half court with some 1-2-2 and some other half court traps, they will diamond press you, and pick you up full court man,” said Smith.

 

Published 12/28/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Flyers Eager For Conference Games

  

          Norwalk St. Paul off to a nice 2-0 start and now they are going to get into action in the Firelands Conference starting on Saturday night and that is the real exciting part of the season.

          The Flyers think they are contenders in the conference race and their talent dictates that is probably the case.

          They beat Fremont St. Joe (50-44) in their first game last Saturday night and coach Mike Smith says they did a lot of good things.  “I thought it was a typical opener.  I thought we played pretty well to be honest with you.  We have only seven turnovers and we gave up five offensive boards.  We shot 44 percent from the field and were 14 of 20 from the free throw line, so I don’t think we were sloppy,” he told Swankonsports.com, “St. Joe had a nice game plan.  They really spread the floor and were very patient offensively.  We had to go to a 1-3-1 in the second half and try to speed them up a little bit and get the pace a little quicker.  They shot the ball well.  They made 8-13 from the three point line.  I thought they played very well.  You are happy anytime you get a win, but obviously we have a lot to work on.  We haven’t had a scrimmage really in two and half weeks, so it was good to watch a little film and try to get better.”

          The Flyers picked up another win Tuesday night over Margaretta (50-49) and Smith says he likes the progression.  “If you are not improving you are probably not doing the things you need to do.  I am real excited about our team we beat a very good Margaretta team and made some adjustments between game one and game two,” he said.

          The Flyers (2-0,0-0) travel to Monroeville on Saturday night for their league opener.  The Eagles absorbed a beating at the hands of Western Reserve (70-44) last Friday.

          Smith says after a good starts they are eager to see what they can do against league foes beginning with Monroeville and continuing next week against Plymouth.  “We are looking forward to it.  We have a rival in Monroeville at their place, so we are looking forward to that on Saturday and we have Plymouth next Wednesday.  We want to jump in and get a couple here right before Christmas,” said Smith.

 

Published 12/14/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” with co-host Roy Shoulders airs live on

Swankonsports.com Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Norwalk St. Paul Opens Season on Saturday

  

          For most high school basketball teams the season opened last week, but for Norwalk St. Paul it is Saturday after another successful football season.

          Veteran head coach Mike Smith, the dean of coaches in the Firelands Conference, says the preparation for the first game against Fremont St. Joe has gone pretty well.  “Things have gone pretty smoothly and the kids are chomping at the bit.  We have had a lot of kids here since the first week of September and we have had to integrate two football players in Nick McCaskill and Paul Pierce to them.  It has been a long grind going to back to the preseason conditioning and individual instruction and the scrimmage season to where we are at right now.  I think we are ready to go and certainly looking forward to it on Saturday night,” he said.

          Especially with everybody else, or most everybody, playing, Smith says the players are ready to get started, not doubt.  “A lot of them really had the urge on Saturday and a lot them went out and watched the Margaretta game.  Some of the younger kids went to the St. Joe game versus Arcadia on Friday.  They came in with a little different look in their eye because everybody else is playing, but to be fair we had to give our football players a couple of weeks here.  We did not get them until the Monday after Thanksgiving.  As a contender our schedule allowed us to play two games before we open up conference play on December 17,” said Smith.

          Are they ready to go?  Experience tells Smith that is hard to say.  “We have had a great summer, but summer is summer, we have had a great preseason and scrimmage season and we have played pretty well.  We have not had a scrimmage with all of our athletes.  We utilized all of our scrimmages with the non-football players to kind of hold them together mentally instead of just going to practice everyday.  Paul played last year, so he really shouldn’t have any issues, but we are still not for sure where we are at, but I think we have a pretty good understanding of where we are headed,” he said.

          Fremont St. Joe (1-1) will be a capable opponent come Saturday. Smith says they are going to have to play well to win the game.  “In both of their games and talking to some people that have scrimmaged them they have played a lot of 1-3-1 zone and 2-3.  Very little man where as in the past they have been pretty much a man oriented team.  They first game they won by 30 versus Arcadia and played pretty well.  On Saturday night they lost at Cardinal Stritch by 30.  I think Arcadia was a little bit down and I also think Stritch is going to have a nice team.  They will have three games under their belt because Friday night they play Calvert.  So, they are going to have a little bit of a jump on us there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are going to have to shoot the ball and defend, get out in transition and run, our shot selection is going to have to be good.  They do have a little bit of size and are pretty athletic.  So, we will have a good test on Saturday night,” said Smith.

 

Published 12/08/16

© Swankonpsorts.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live Swankonsports.com

Fridays 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Traditional Small School Powers Meet

  

          Norwalk St. Paul and Warren JFK have combined to make 39 playoff appearances over the years and they meet Saturday at Strongsville in the division seven regional finals.

‘        St. Paul (12-0) advanced with a (24-0) win over rival Monroeville last week.  Coach John Livengood says it’s tough to play a team as good as the Eagles back to back, but his kids made the needed adjustments and executed very well.  “Our kids came out and played well.  It is always tough to play a team twice, especially two times within three weeks, actually four times in 53 weeks.  They are a good football team.  Having to play that kind of opponent that close together was difficult.  Our kids did a nice job of executing the game plan.  We were able to make some good adjustments from the first time we played them and the kids just did a great job with it and we were able to come out on top,” said Livengood.

          Warren JFK (11-1) downed defending state runner up Mogadore (16-3) last week and Livengood says they are the fastest team they have seen this season.  “They are a good football team and what jumps out to you is they have speed all over the field and tremendous athleticism.  The have athletes on offense, a great defense, a great kicking game, they have big linemen, so they are solid all the way around,” he said.

          Adjustments are key to success in football and the Flyers need to account for the JFK’s speed, but Livengood says they need to remember what got them here too.  “You have to adjust to their speed and what they are doing offensively and defensively, but you have to stay true to yourself,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “One of the things that we pride ourselves on is you have to make adjustments for what you are going up against and adjust your schemes to that, but what you really have to do is continue to focus on yourself and make sure you are continuing to improve and work on your techniques and fundamentals.  Each week you want to take that step forward and if you are able to do those things consistently usually you find yourself in a place like this at the end of the season.”

          St. Paul has been in the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 years and they were state runners up just two seasons ago.  Livengood says their staff and players are used to big games like they will play on Saturday night.  “Our kids don’t get too caught up in their surroundings or being on turf or anything like that or big stadiums.  Our kids that are seniors and juniors, the major group of our starters, where freshmen and sophomores and got to play at Ohio Stadium just two years ago.  So, they are kind of used to that kind of climate and being in these big type of games.  We have had some big games just in the regular season in going against Monroeville, going against Ashland Crestview, going against Tiffin Calvert, we scrimmaged Edison.  They know what it is like to go against real good opponents and they know what it is like to play in good venues, so they are going to be focused on executing our game plan and playing to the best of our abilities,” said Livengood.

 

Published 11/17/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio  

 

 
 

Flyers Still Have to be Better

  

          Firelands Conference foes Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville play Saturday night in the division seven regional semi-finals of the high school football playoffs at Perkins’ Firelands Regional Medical System Stadium.

          St. Paul (11-0) edged Monroeville (14-8) to win the outright conference title two weeks ago at Marsh Field in Monroeville in a game where there was no scoring in the second half.

          In their first playoff game last week, the Flyers blitzed East Canton (56-20) to advance.

          Livengood says they executed very well on both sides of the ball.  “East Canton was a very good team that we had a lot of respect for.  They had two 1,000 yard backs.  They had an offensive line that was much bigger than any other offensive line we had seen up until last week.  We knew that we had a good challenge ahead of us.  Our defense can out and played well.  Our offense was able to move the ball.  Our ground game got moving pretty good and we were efficient with our pass game and were good in the special teams.  So, it was a sound opening round win for us and now we are looking to play better this week,” said Livengood.

          Monroeville (10-1) beat Windham (55-6) in their first playoff game last week.

          As close as the first game was between the two teams Livengood says you might make little adjustments in your approach, but really it is going to come down to execution.  “I think both team are going to look at things kind of the same way in preparation.  You want to build on the things you did well and you want to improve on the things you didn’t do so well.  You have to make adjustments in your game plan and that sort of thing.  Monroeville is a lot like us and we share the same philosophy,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You know what you are and what you do.  You are not going to completely change what you do offensively or defensively from one week to the next.  You have to be solid and sound and build on what you are already doing well.  I would expect that from both teams.”

          He says both teams are going to be looking for some little things that will help get their offense going a little bit better than last time.  “I think both teams are very balanced and very comparable talent wise and coaching wise.  It is going to be one of those games where you can’t make mistakes.  You have to take care of the ball and play great special teams.  I think the big thing for both teams is try to control the line of scrimmage.  I think that was kind of a draw the last time we played.  I think the teams played pretty well defensively and struggled to get themselves going offensively.  Hopefully we are able to do that and take advantage of things and play great special teams, make big plays and take care of the football and hopefully come out with a win,” he said.

          St. Paul has been in the playoffs in 13 of the last 14 years and finished as division seven state runners up just two years ago.  However, Livengood says when you look into it they really don’t have much of an advantage when comes to playoff experience.  “Going into this season not many of our players have playoff experience.  They might have been on the sidelines or played special teams, but they did not have a lot of playoff experience in terms of being regular starters.  I think the same holds true for Monroeville.  I think last year when they played us in the first round it was their first time in the playoffs for several years, so I think it is kind of even in that regard,” said Livengood.

 

Published 11/10/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

St. Paul to be Tested

  

          Norwalk St. Paul is in the playoffs again.  That is like saying it’s November and the leaves are falling, it is something that happens in the late fall every year.

          To be specific it’s the 18th time and 13th in the last 14 years.

          They play at home on Saturday night against East Canton in the division seven regional quarterfinals.

          Coach John Livengood says they feel if they do things the right way week to week they are going to be in the postseason.  “That is always one of our goals.  Our first goal is always to win the Firelands Conference.  Along with that we want to continue to make that week to week improvement and get better.  If we are able to do those things and we are continuing to get better and working hard and putting ourselves in position to play meaningful games at the end of the season usually good things result.  Those results can be a conference championship, opportunities to get in the playoffs and get to play in the postseason.  Those are our goals going into the season.  It is our expectation for our kids to strive towards those goals,” said Livengood.

          Norwalk St. Paul (10-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Monroeville, another playoff team, for the Firelands Conference title (14-8) last week.

          Livengood feels their schedule gets them ready.  “We feel our schedule has prepared us pretty well for the postseason, even going back to our scrimmages.  We played a good Keystone team that had a lot starters coming back in our first scrimmage.  Our second scrimmage was against Edison that had a large number of starters back off of a state semi final team.  We had Tiffin Calvert in our non-conference schedule.  They are a very good team, well coached.  Crestview towards the latter half of our schedule.  Of course, Monroeville to finish up our regular season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, felt we had some really good, playoff caliber, football teams that were a tremendous challenge for us.  It allowed our kids to gain the type of experience where you are playing tough playoff type games.  We feel that serves us well going into the playoffs.”

          East Canton (6-4) won their last four games to make the playoffs this year.  Livengood says they have evolved a lot of offense this year in order to become a better football team.  “The thing about East Canton is they have kind evolved as the season has gone on.  We got some video on them early in the season where they were more into a spread type offense.  As the season has gone on they have really gotten into more two back running out of the “I” formation.  In the most recent weeks they have been in that full house look with a lot of three back formations.  They have gone back and forth between two back and three back with a mix of spread.  It is a multiple offensive look.  Obviously they have done a great job running the ball the last five weeks.  They have strung together three or four games where they have rushed for over 300 yards,” said Livengood.

          The Hornets drilled Tusky Valley (60-13) last week to get into the playoffs and Livengood feels they are playing very well right now.  “They played a big game week 10, very similar to us.  Basically a win or go home type of game.  If they won they were in the playoffs and if they lost they were not going to be in the playoffs.  They came out and won in convincing fashion.  So, they are playing their best football right now.  They have a lot of good size up front on the offensive and defensive lines.  They have really good skilled kids, great running back, they have a quarterback with good speed.  They are a very good football team.  They are well coached.  It is not your typical number eight seed team.  It is a team that is a very good football team and we are going to have to come out and play our best,” said Livengood.

 

Published 11/04/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

Antwerp Next Challenge for Unbeaten Lady Flyers

  

          Undefeated Norwalk St. Paul meets Antwerp in the volleyball division four regional semi finals at the Elida Feildhouse on Wednesday night.

          The Lady Flyers play a tough regular season schedule, including a lot of bigger schools, and they played very well in last week’s district tournament at Willard High School in beating rival Monroeville is straight sets 25-13, 25-19, and 25-14 in the semi final and once beaten Buckeye Central 25-14, 25-18, and 25-12 in the final.

          Coach Nancy Miller stopped short of saying they were peaking for the regional, but she does say they are playing very well.  “I think we are close to peaking.  I think we are playing some of our best ball that we have played all year.  I thought Thursday’s match against Buckeye Central was some of the best we have played.  I think our hitters are really starting to be dialed in and they have been really solid.  Our defense was phenomenal on Thursday,” said Miller.

          The Lady Flyers (25-0) have enjoyed consistent success under Miller and have played in a lot of big matches over the years.  She says a key is to keep things as normal as you can during preparation.  “A lot of that is trying to keep your routine the same and I try to do that with our practices and even our pre game preparation and stuff like that.  We have a lot of routines that we do and I try to keep them the same so we are approaching each match the same way,” she said.

          Antwerp comes in from the Green Meadows Conference near the Ohio-Indiana border and Miller says they have some talented kids, especially on the front row.

          She says they are playing very well right too.  “They are another team that takes care of the ball very well and they are playing some of their best ball of the year right now.  They had lost to Hicksville earlier in the year and came back and beat them in four last week,” she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think they have a real good middle hitter and a real nice outside hitter.  I think they are going to come in with nothing to lose.  I am looking for a real aggressive team to come at us.”

 

Published 11/02/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

Flyers Ready For Biggest Game Against Biggest Rival

  

          Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville are long time football rivals and Friday night they lock horns it what has the potential to be one the best games in this outstanding rivalry.

          Both schools are 9-0 and ranked in the top five division seven teams in the State of Ohio in the statewide media poll.

          There has been a lot of build up to this game at Marsh Field in Monroeville, but St. Paul coach John Livengood says they have tried to treat this week like any other.  “Obviously no matter who we are playing we are going to focus on what they do well and what we need to do to try and stop them and move the ball on them.  Our focus each week is trying to get better, continue to work on our fundamentals and focus on ourselves as well,” he said.

          Monroeville, #5 in the Swankonsports,com football coaches poll in the small school division, lost running back Blake Anderson about month ago to a leg injury, but Livengood says their running game hasn’t missed a beat.  “They run the ball really well.  They are very similar to us in terms of their approach and how they want to approach the game.  They do it a little bit different.  They focus a lot more on the perimeter and running their sweep action and iso and trap and power off tackle and they have the speed to do it.  They’ve got some real nice running backs, especially Colten Millis.  He has got a lot of speed once he gets to the edge,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have nobody on our team that can catch him, he is that fast.  They also run some play action.  The Rogers kid at quarterback does a nice job with play action and throws some deep passes.  They have done a nice job moving the ball this year.”

          Monroeville has probably shown its most improvement on the defensive side of the ball this fall.  Livengood says they are tough to move the ball against.  “Defensively, they are a team that has continued to improve throughout the season.  They get in their 4-3 defense, but they throw some different looks at you.  Fundamentally they have gotten a lot better throughout the season.  They do a great job up front and Hogan Scheid at defensive tackle, he is a bear in there,” he said.

          In big games like this one many times the kicking game can be a determining factor and Livengood says that is an aspect of the game that they work on quite a bit.  “We always tell our kids that every point matters and every play matters and we put as much emphasis on our special teams game as we do our offense and defense.  We know that we have to gain any advantage that we can and they are a very good football team and a well coached football team.  We have to play well in every aspect of the game,” he said.

          There will be a big crowd for this game and lots of media attention and Livengood says these are the games you want to be involved in.  “I have always said throw the record books out both teams could be 0-9 or 9-0 it doesn’t matter it has it has always been a good hard fought football game.  A lot of these kids are related to each other, they are friends and neighbors and cousins and that sort of thing.  It is a good rivalry.  The schools are about five miles apart.  There is a lot intensity with this football game, especially with both teams being 9-0,” he said.

 

Published 10/28/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

One for the Ages

 

          It’s week ten of the high school football season and we have a match-up of unbeaten teams as Monroeville hosts Norwalk St. Paul.  At stake is the outright Firelands Conference championship.

          Both squads have played well all year, but have clearly gotten better as the season has progressed.  St. Paul beat South Central (35-0) and Monroeville downed Western Reserve (41-16) on Friday night in conference games to set up the match-up.

          Norwalk St. Paul (9-0,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, coach John Livengood, who has been part of this rivalry for more than a quarter of a century says they have to keep focused on what they do every week and not get caught up in distractions.  “One the things we do in our league is we have the rivalry games at the end.  Probably the last 10, 12 years we have played Monroeville week 10.  You want to put your team in the position that you get the opportunity to play a game at the end of the season that means something.  This definitely means something with the conference championship on the line and huge playoff points on the line,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We know there is going to be a lot of build up to the game and we need to stay focused on what we focus on and that is getting better each week.  Try to take away what Monroeville does best, build on what we do well and get better at what we need to get better at.  We are going to focus on those things.”

          Monroeville (9-0,6-0), #5 in our poll, has played the last three weeks without leading rusher Blake Anderson, hurt in the second half against Mapleton, but Livengood says Colten Millis has just stepped right in.  “That is what you have got to do in any team sport really.  When somebody gets injured you have to deal with adversity and have guys step up.  They have done that and I think and that is a credit to coach (Scott) Stacher.  He is doing a great job over there in turning the program around.  They have a great running back in Colton Millis.  Blake Anderson, the kid that got hurt, is a big powerful guy with speed and once he got going in was hard to catch him.  He is a patient runner that sees the hole well.  Millis is a speed back.  He runs downhill and runs with some power, but man he has got speed.  He hits the hole quick.  With him they run a lot of sweeps and give him opportunities to get to the edge.  They have done a great job.  It is all about the team it is not about an individual player.  They have really improved defensively as well,” said Livengood.

          I have always defined this as the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry of North Central Ohio and coach Livengood says there is great respect between the schools and the programs.  “Both of the coaching staffs really respect each other.  A lot of the kids are good friends and they talk to each other through social media.  A lot of them are actually related.  You are talking about two schools that are five miles apart.  A lot of them are cousins and neighbors.  There is a lot respect.  There is a rivalry, but it is a rivalry with respect.  That is what makes the game fun,” he said.

 

Published 10/24/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 
 

Norwalk St. Paul Plays Different Look South Central

  

          Norwalk St. Paul shares first place with rival Monroeville in the Firelands Conference and they play the Eagles next week, but they have another piece of business first.

          They travel to South Central to face the Trojans in a conference game on Friday night.

          Last Saturday, the Flyers (8-0,5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, belted Mapleton (48-14) in a conference game.

          Coach John Livengood says they did a solid job of handling a pretty good Mapleton pass offense.  “It was a great performance by the kids.  It was one of those games where I think Mapleton’s record doesn’t tell you the kind of team that they are.  They played a very tough Monroeville team tough.  They were leading in the fourth quarter and Monroeville was able to come back.  They had Crestview on the ropes as well.  They are a very good football team, a well coached football team, a team with great skilled athletes.  We were very worried about them coming into the game because we knew what kind of team that they had, especially offensively.  They have a lot of weapons out there and they spread you out and try to get the ball to those guys in space.  We were able to come out and play the game in a dominate fashion.  It was a good game for us,” said Livengood.

          One thing that St. Paul sees a lot of is different looks.  Some teams even change what they normally do to make it more difficult for the Flyers.  Livengood says that makes them a better team.  “We see a variety of looks.  We see teams that want to spread you out and throw and teams that want to spread you out and run the ball, power offenses.  We see all kinds of different looks and a lot of different defensive looks as well.  Playing these good opponents really prepares us to play this tough road in the conference,” he said.

          South Central (2-6,1-4) lost to Western Reserve (35-28) last week.  Livengood says the Trojans have changed their approach on offense this year and they have some good athletes.  “I think they are much improved.  One of the things is that they are little bit different this year as they have also gone to the spread offense.  South Central traditionally has been a two and three back set.  They used to be similar to our offensive style with 220 pound fullbacks and 200 pound tailbacks.  They have gone now to more of the spread look.  They are featuring the quarterback, who is a heck of an athlete.  He runs the ball well and throws the ball well.  We just played Mapleton who wants to spread you out and get their athletes in space and throw the ball.  We played Tiffin Calvert that spreads you out and still wants to run the ball.  This team is a blend of that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “South Central will spread you out, but they are both run and pass.  They are about a 50/50 mix.  Their offense runs through their quarterback Lamoreaux who is a good athlete.  Josh Bonet has been very impressive on film on both sides of the ball.  He can run and is explosive and he can hit you.  Cristiano Murphy is another kid that is very impressive with the way he moves on the field and he is also a return man.  He has looked good on punt returns and has also looked good on some kick returns.  They have some good skilled kids.  They also have some linemen that look to be 250, 260 pounds.”

 

Published 10/19/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

Flyers Face Mapleton’s Spread Offense

  

          Norwalk St. Paul is right where they expect to be… in first place in the Firelands Conference.

          The Flyers actually share first place in the conference with the rival Monroeville Eagles, who they play in two weeks.

         They host the Mapleton Mounties (3-4,2-2) in a Firelands Conference game on Saturday night.

          In their toughest game of the season last Saturday, the Flyers (7-0,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, hung on to beat Crestview (14-13) last Saturday.

          Coach John Livengood says he was proud of the way his players worked hard to find ways to move the ball against the Cougars.  “We have the up most respect for Crestview.  Like I said going into the game probably the best defense we had seen so far this year.  They do a lot of things offensively with formations and jumping around and shifting.  You have to be prepared for that.  It was a taxing week for our defense in terms of preparation,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had to work hard to come up with some ways to move the ball against a very good defense.  It was one of those games when both teams did a good job possessing the ball, actually both teams had five possessions.  We scored twice and fortunately were able to make our extra point.”

          Livengood says the most important drive of the game for them did not result in any points.  “I think a key point for us in that game and the thing that I was most proud of with our kids.  They scored with about 7:30 left in the game to make it 14-13 and we got the ball on a kickoff return at about the 35 yard-line.  We were able to convert a bunch of first downs and run the clock out and not even give them an opportunity to get the ball back.  I thought our kids did a great job with that in adverse situations in a tough, hard fought and physical game and come out on top,” he said.

          In the world of pro and college football you see a lot of audiles called by quarterbacks.  However, Livengood says they don’t do much of that at St. Paul.  “We do that a little bit, not a lot.  A lot of that has to do with if we want to run to a one technique tackle or a three technique tackle depending on the play or we see a certain type of coverage we might want to change a play.  We don’t do it a ton we run what we call.  This week we have Mapleton and they run a spread offense.  I think more spread teams do that.  They like to see how you are lining up on defense and the coach will signal in a play from the sidelines based on the alignment of the defense.  That is something we will probably see a lot of this week.” He said.

          When it comes to Mapleton, Livengood says the Mounties has a very good passing attack that is hard to slow down.  “They spread the field out and have great skilled kids and they have a guy that can deliver.  He is only a sophomore, he started last year as a freshman and was very impressive last year.  He is a very actuate passer and has a quick release.  They’ve got guys that if you aren’t careful can put you in those one on one situations.  Chase Davidson is the kid that stands out most to me.  He is a great split end for them and if you leave him in a one on one situation he has already burnt his share of corners out there.  He is a good player and they have other good players as well.  If you overplay one thing they come back at you with something else.  They spread you out and do a good job with it,” said Livengood.

 

Published 10/13/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

Firelands Conference Co-Leaders Meet Saturday

  

          Defending Firelands Conference champion Norwalk St. Paul plays at home at Whitney Field on Saturday night against Crestview in a battle of conference co-leaders.

          The Flyers (6-0,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, posted their second straight shutout last week they blanked Plymouth (42-0) in conference play.

          Coach John Livengood says they did a good job of adapting to the Plymouth strategy.  “The kids came out and played well.  It was a different kind of scheme that Plymouth runs as compared to New London.  I thought we played pretty well.  We ran the ball pretty well.  They were trying to milk the clock.  They were taking their time and running the clock down all of the way.  They were able to convert a couple of first downs on that first drive and take some time off the clock,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We finally got a stop went on from there.  Overall we played well and were pretty happy with the shutout and how we moved the ball.  I thought our special teams were pretty good.”

          Crestview (5-1,3-0) comes off an exciting one point win (14-13) over Mapleton last week when they stopped a Mounties two point conversion with a matter of seconds to play. 

          Livengood calls the Cougars defense the best they have seen so far this fall.  “It is probably the best defense that we have seen all year.  They are very aggressive.  They are a 4-3 scheme, but they move their backers down and move their safety to the line of scrimmage and give you some seven, eight man fronts.  They are very aggressive and they have some good size.  Their defensive tackle inside is probably one of the best defensive tackles that we have seen all year,” he said.

          Crestview’s offense has been getting better too.  They scored more than 40 points in each of their first two conference games.  Livengood says they show a lot of different looks.  “They offer a lot challenges offensively because they throw a lot of offensive sets at you.  In the first 10 plays you can see 10 different formations.  They can give you anything from a run and shoot to a double tight, some trips, and some two back, with some unbalanced lines and sifting.  You have to be on top of your game defensively to recognize what fronts they are getting into and what kind of schemes they are running out of those fronts,” said Livengood.

          St. Paul has played in as many big games as any school we cover over the years.  Livengood hopes that helps them Saturday night.  “I hope that is something we can lean on, but a lot of the guys that are playing were subs last year.  We have a few guys coming back.  We had a big game week three with Tiffin Calvert and played well there.  We do have a program that is used to being in these types of games.  Hopefully we are going to be ready for the challenge on Saturday night,” he said.

 

 

Published 10/06/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

Flyers Starting to Hit Their Stride

  

          Unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul may have played their best game of the season last week and they begin the second half of the regular season on the road at Plymouth on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.

          They share first place in the conference with Monroeville and Crestview.

          Last Saturday night, they overwhelmed New London (56-0) in a conference game at Whitney Field.

          Coach John Livengood says it was likely their best overall performance of the season.  “I would describe as our most complete performance of the season.  We have been a little bit up and down on either side of the ball and special teams and stuff throughout the season.  We have been alright, but we haven’t been consistent in term of our play.  That is something we talk about quite a bit with our kids in playing the complete game and that was something we were able to do last Saturday night.  I was real pleased with that performance and looking for our kids to build on that and continue to put those complete performances together,” said Livengood.

          Even when you are enjoying a very good season your focus has to be on improvement.  Livengood says they want to take what they did last week into Friday night.  “At this time of year you are starting to play your more meaningful games that have a lot of impact on what you can do in the conference and what you can do in the post season.  We know we have some good games coming up, so that is important for you to continue to improve and get better each week.  That’s what we are striving for,” he said.

          St. Paul (5-0,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, visits Plymouth (2-3,0-2) on Friday night.  The Big Red is coming off a (33-27) overtime loss to South Central in conference action.

          Livengood says Plymouth carries a run first mentality and they have some guys that are tough to bring down.  “Most teams want to hang their hat on running the ball and I think they have some nice running backs.  Watching them last week against South Central and they ran the ball pretty well against Monroeville.  They have a team that has a lot of first year starters, but those kids are continuing to improve,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have Seth Bailey at running back, who was a starter for them last year as a sophomore and is doing a good job for them.  Dylan Carroll is running the ball well for them.  Jarred Stein at inside linebacker does a really good job for them.  He is one of the better linebackers in the conference.”

 

Published 9/30/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 

 
 

Getting Better is the Focus for St. Paul

  

          Norwalk St. Paul just goes about its business.

          That business is winning football games and they have won all four they have played this year so far.  They go for number five on Saturday night at home against New London.

          Last week, they began defense of their Firelands Conference title in grand style by blasting New London (56-21) on Friday night in Collins. 

          Coach John Livengood says they did a lot of good things, but they have a lot to work on too.  “We have plenty of work to do on defense, but a lot of credit there goes to Western Reserve.  They did a good job of executing and moving the ball on us.  Offensively we moved the ball pretty well and the passing game is coming along pretty good.  Special teams play was good.  Hopefully, we got to see some things on film that we can continue to work to improve on.  We can take those things and work to get better and visualize it so to speak.  Hopefully, we will see improvement this week in all areas,” said Livengood.

          St. Paul (4-0,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, and number four in its computer region this week, has been among a small handful of schools we cover that has been very consistent over the last 25 years.  Livengood says one of those reasons is they are always working to be better… every week.  “We talk a lot about preparing for our opponent.  Adjusting a little bit with what we do offensively and defensively.  A big focus of our practices is focusing on ourselves as well and making that improvement and being better fundamentally each week.  So, we always preach that we are going to try and be better each week than we were the week before.  That is something we take serious and keep working on throughout the season,” he said.

          New London (1-3,0-1) lost to Mapleton (56-30) in a conference game last Friday.  Livengood says their defense has been forced to stop some pretty explosive teams this and they have some offensive weapons themselves.  “Mapleton just had a great night passing last week against them.  A lot of that was Mapleton has a lot of skill that does a good job for them.  They have played a tough schedule, I think Cuyahoga Heights in the number four team in division six and they gave up a lot of points to them.  It has been some pretty good offensive teams that they have been giving up points to,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have some threats, no question.  Jacob Molnar, a senior for them does a great job.  Billy Woodmancy is a good receiver and defensive back for them.  Dane Matthews does a good job running the offense and he has a strong arm, but he is also a threat to run the ball.  He has good speed and quickness and can get by defenders.  They offer a lot of challenges to us.”

 

Published 9/21/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio

 
 

Flyers Ready to Defend

  

          Norwalk St. Paul begins defense of its Firelands Conference title on Friday night as they make the short trip to Western Reserve to take on the Rough Riders.

          Last Saturday, St. Paul (3-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, outlasted Tiffin Calvert (24-19) in their final non-conference game of the season.

          St. Paul coach John Livengood says he knew Calvert would play them tough.  “It was a hard fought game.  We knew going into it, it would be like a playoff game. Calvert is a playoff team each year.  We knew it was going to be a tough game against a talented, well coached team.  We knew we were going to have our hands full and it was going to go down to the end,” he said.

          The offense was moving the ball pretty successfully last week against Calvert, but they had too many turnovers.  Livengood says they have to get that cleaned up going forward.  “It was an important win for us because our young guys got to play in a big game and for the most part they preformed pretty well.  So, that big game experience was big for us.  The second thing is with the potential computer points with an opponent like Calvert that helps us out down the road.  We knew they were going to have a good season, so those points were up for grabs for the winner.  To come out on top was important for us.  Number three, with a quality opponent we see those areas that we need to continue to work on.  One of those areas this week for us is turnovers,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We did a nice job running the ball.  We rushed for about 350 yards and threw for about 100.  That is a good amount of offense and moved the ball up and down the field, but we turned the ball over four times.  We had good scoring opportunities in three of those four times.  One time we fumbled the ball at our own 25 and gave them a scoring opportunity.  There are a lot of lessons to be learned from an experience like that.  Hopefully we learn from that and continue to grow and get better.”

          Western Reserve has had some concerns this season, especially on defense in losses to Black River (50-7,) Margaretta (44-33) and Edison (49-14) last week.  However, Livengood believes they are improving and will offer a challenge to his team.  “Coach Stall does a nice job over at Western.  Last season I think they started out 0-4 and they finished up 6-4.  They have a tough non conference schedule and they open up with us.  It is a good rivalry.  We are only about seven or eight miles apart.  The kids know each other.  It’s a big game for us.  They are very aggressive defensively.  Last year when they played us, they played with 11 in the box and played about three or four yards from the line of scrimmage.  They showed a similar type of defense against Edison last week.  Traditionally they are going to run that unbalanced line.  They have some big offensive linemen.  They have an explosive back, who has the ability to score anytime he touches the ball.  They have a lot weapons, they are going to continue to get better and we know we have a big challenge if front of us this weekend,” said Livengood.

 

Published 9/14/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

Click on our listen line for 24/7 audio   

 

 
 

St. Paul Gets Together With Calvert Again

  

          After a one year absence Norwalk St. Paul and Tiffin Calvert square off again in regular season football this time on Saturday night at Whitney Field in Norwalk.

         St. Paul (2-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Fremont St. Joe (42-3) last week in their home opener.  Coach John Livengood says they made some improvements from week one in some areas, but there is a lot yet to make better.  “I think there were some areas where we made some improvement.  Our pass game looked a lot sharper than it was week one.  Special teams wise, defensively, we made some strides.  Running game wise we kind of stumbled a little bit in the first half.  St. Joe threw some different looks at us.  It wasn’t stuff we didn’t expect I guess, but we didn’t handle it very well.  We shored some stuff up at halftime and ran the ball pretty well in the second half.  Overall I think we made some strides.  Again when we have a young team like we’ve got we have got to continue to improve,” said Livengood.

          There are some young guys and some inexperienced ones in the Flyers lineup and Livengood says as those guys get more used to varsity football they will get better.  “It’s a combination of their youth and inexperience.  We don’t have a lot of experience coming back.  The opportunity to be out there under the lights a lot of these guys did not have that last year.  We also have some younger guys out there that are only sophomores and it is their first time getting out there and competing at the varsity level.  With those guys I think each opportunity to get on the field they gain in confidence in improving their skills and fundamentals.  That is what we are striving for.  We want to get better each week,” he said.

          Calvert (1-1) lost last week to Swanton (43-13) to even their record.  Livengood is very happy to have the Senecas back on the schedule.  “First of all coach Fox does a great job.  He is a good friend of mine.  He’s done a great job and gets to the playoffs almost every year.  Their kids play very solid football.  They are very fundamentally sound on both sides of the football and they play hard.  We have had some battles with them over the years.  Last year we the first year we hadn’t played them in about 20 years.  We got them back on the schedule.  We have played them in the playoffs in the past as well,” he said.

          He says the Senecas will try to spread you out on offense and create mismatches, but you have to be ready for just about anything.  “Offensively they are a spread team.  They will give us a little bit of a two back set on occasion out of the gun.  They did that quite bit against Hopewell-Loudon.  They are mainly a spread team.  Defensively they give you multiple looks.  Basically it is a 4-2-5 defense.  With coach Fox you have to ready for anything.  He is going to come up with some crazy formations.  It really forces your team to prepare for any type of scenario,” said Livengood.

 

Published 9/08/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

 

 
 

Flyers Good, Need to be Better

  

          Norwalk St. Paul opened the season with a shutout win, but they still need to get better as we head into week two of the season.

          The Flyers host the Fremont St. Joe Crimson Streaks in non-conference play on Saturday night.

          Head coach John Livengood says their young kids showed some good discipline in a (34-0) win at Sandusky St. Mary’s on Saturday night.  “I was pretty happy with the way they came out in kind of adverse conditions.  We had about a two hour lightning delay.  So, we had to sit in the locker room for about three hours until we could take the field.  We handled that well and came out with a lot of fire.  It’s one of those things where we got an opportunity to see ourselves on film for four quarters under the lights.  Get that opportunity to look at each other and look at ourselves and what we need to work on to get better for this week,” said Livengood.

          Even after a shutout win, Livengood knows they have to show improvement in all areas of the game they go forward this year.  “I think fundamental techniques all of the way around.  There are areas everywhere where we need to improve.  Stepping with the right foot or getting our pad level at the right spot or a read on defense.  All areas we need to continue to improve.  I think the big thing is between week one and week two we want to make that biggest jump in the season.  So, we are looking to make a big improvement this week.  We need to work hard and get better,” he said.

          Fremont St. Joe opened with a (39-14) loss to Mohawk in non-conference play last Friday.  Livengood says the Streaks are a whole better than they were a year ago.  He says they have some athletic kids.  “There is no doubt that they are a better team than they were last year.  They return quite a few starters from last season.  They have that year of experience.  They have gone to the spread offense.  I think they threw the ball around 50 times week one.  In fact, they ran close to 30 plays just in the first quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They have some nice skilled kids.  They have a nice running back.  Their quarterback does a nice job and they have two or three receivers that are explosive type kids.  Defensively, they are aggressive.  They are going to put at least seven, eight, nine guys in the box every time and they are going to come after you.  Those are things that we have to be prepared for.”

 

Published 9/01/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook  

 

 
 

St. Paul’s Young Kids Coming Along

  

          Last year’s senior class at Norwalk St. Paul led them to some pretty special things, including an appearance in the 2014 state title game, and an undefeated record in the Firelands Conference.

          However, this is a new year and some other players need to step up.

          Coach John Livengood says they have done a pretty good job of doing just that during the preseason.  “I think our kids are doing a nice job progressing along.  We are a young team we have only got five seniors.  There are a lot of juniors and some sophomores in the mix.  A lot of those kids saw the field last year with some situations that maybe they were rotating or on special teams.  Now maybe they are more on the frontline, but they are doing a good job with that,” said Livengood.

          They open the season at traditional non-conference rival Sandusky St. Mary’s on Saturday night.

          Livengood says he knows some of the players are in for a new experience this week.  “You get out there on Saturday night and get under the lights they will get their eyes opened up a little bit.  We are excited about the progress that we are making and look forward to how they do,” he said.

          Sandusky St. Mary’s are the defending Sandusky River League champions from a year ago.  Livengood says they still have a lot of good talent.  He says they are going to try and force them to throw the ball.  “St. Mary’s is still running a spread offense.  They have a new kid at quarterback and another new kid at running back.  They run that spread and they have some big kids up front.  They have a 300 pound left tackle, they have a 230 pound center, who was the state discus champion last year.  They have some good athletes out there with some decent speed on the perimeter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively they run a 5-2.  The last couple of years they have been very aggressive against us in trying to stop our run by putting a lot of times nine guys in the box, so we anticipate that same type of look.  We have to be able to respond and throw some different things their way to handle that type of front.”

 

Published 8/26/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

 

 
 

St. Paul Attempting to Reload

 

          The mark of a good program is not when they have excellent talent, everybody wins then, but when they may be down a little bit.

          Norwalk St. Paul certainly has less experience this year than the last few years, but it remains to be seen if their level of performance goes down any at all.

          We’ll see.

          Veteran head coach John Livengood says they have a lot of new kids they are counting on, but they have been working very hard so far during the preseason.  “We have a young group of kids this year.  We graduated 16 seniors this past season and most of those guys were two and three year starters.  So, we have a lot of fresh faces in the lineup.  We have got some battles going on to see who is going to step up and be our starters.  So, it has been a competitive camp to this point.  We are looking forward to going to Keystone this Saturday for our first scrimmage,” he said.

          Winning is what Norwalk St. Paul about and that isn’t going to change.  Livengood says the kids coming up have gotten some varsity experience and have been very good at other levels.  “That is always our plan, we want to be successful.  I like our group of kids.  They are hard working kids.  They put their time in and they got on the varsity field last year.  We tried to play eight or nine offensive linemen, three or four running backs, and three of four receivers.  So, a lot of these younger kids have gotten time at the varsity level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have had good JV careers.  Our JV team has not lost a game now in quite a few years.  These guys know how to win and they know what the expectations are.  It is their turn to step up and step into those starting roles.  We have high expectations for them, but their experience level is not what we have had the last three of four years.  They are going to have to grow up fast and step into those roles and do a good job.”

          Livengood says the Flyers know what the program has been able to accomplish and they work hard to keep that level every high.  He says this year is no different.  “We have been able to establish a pretty strong tradition.  Our expectations are always high and we try to live up to those expectations.  We are excited about the group we have.  They are tough and talented kids.  We are excited about watching them grow into varsity starters,” said Livengood.

 

Published 8/11/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on twitter at @Swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook  

 

 
 

St. Paul Has to have Patience

 

          Norwalk St. Paul faces Buckeye Central in the first round of the division four tournament on Wednesday night at Lexington High School.

          The Flyers (8-14) beat Mapleton (66-63) in their final regular season game in Firelands Conference play last Friday and coach Mike Smith says he likes what he sees right now.  "I think if you look at the last 12 games we have played pretty good and we have been in almost every game.  I like the way we have been playing.  Obviously we have a tall task ahead of us in Buckeye Central.  They are a very good team, very well coached.  They defend very well with good size inside and an inside presence. They are playing very well, so we definitely have our hands full, but we are looking forward to it.  I think the kids are prepared very well for it and we will see what happens," he said.

          Buckeye Central (16-6), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is led by district player of the year Grant Loy.  Smith says they have to get some help to guard him.  "Obviously he is on our radar, him and Shade.  They really dominate the paint.  Grant can step outside and knock down shots and we are going to have to give help when he is on the perimeter.  We are going to have to help when he is inside," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "He definitely has our attention and he is a great athlete.  In talking to his dad the other day he is looking at probably playing football .  He has had some looks from some high level football.  Obviously in basketball he can play at the D-two level and I understand he is a great pitcher.  He just a great athlete and for us we are going to have to slow him down.  They have some other guys.  They play some very good team basketball.  They execute in everything they do whether if is defense or offense."

          Buckeye is very good on defense and Smith says they will have to be patient and make sure they get a good look at the basket and work hard to get some offensive stick backs.  "You have to be patient because they will sit down and they are going to grind and they are going to make it tough for you.  They have good interior people and they rebound the ball well.  They will be very well prepared.  They will know what we run.  To counter that we have to have good patience and good shot selection and try to get to the offensive glass and maybe come up with some cheepees that way.  We need to push in transition.  This game could be in the mid 40's.  It should be very interesting," said Smith.

 

Published 2/24/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Ready For Postseason

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is one of those teams that is sort under the radar, but they can be dangerous when the tournament starts next week.

          The Flyers dropped two games last weekend, losing to Western Reserve (61-48) in a conference game on Friday and Sandusky Perkins (62-51) in non-league play on Saturday.

          Coach Mike Smith says they were hurt by Western's defensive pressure and just got too far behind Perkins.  "We definitely had a tough schedule there with Western at home when they are still in the league race.  I really thought we stuck our nose in and competed.  The difference in the game is they were nine for 20 from the three point line.  Also there defensive pressure.  They were really able to get up in us and really disrupt us offensively, especially in the second quarter.  Our kids responded and they competed very hard all of the way to the end.  The Perkins game I was a little disappointed," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I didn't think we came out with much energy.  We were down 21-3 early.  We put some different kids in and they really battled and they got the thing down to four points with 1:20 to go and had a five footer that just rimed out and a tip.  I was happy with how we competed.  It wasn't a great start, there was a lot of atmosphere in the gym.  That is something that can not happen in a tournament game.  We have talked about those situations.  Perkins is a good basketball team and they have won a lot of games.  I like where we are at and I would really like to get a win Friday night for our seniors in our last home game and kind of springboard us into Wednesday's game with Buckeye."

          St. Paul (7-14,6-7) plays at home against Mapleton (5-16,2-11,) a team that beat them (51-49) in mid-January.  Smith says they want to get that bad taste out of their mouths.  "They have played a lot of teams very tough.  The night we played was a Thursday and I thought they played very, very well.  I don't think we played bad.  They shot it well.  They have the Berone kid that can really control the game.  He is hard to press.  That was one where we were up five with 30, 40 seconds to go and they hit a three and we turned it over and we tied it and we turned it over another time and they went up with about two seconds to go.  That one kind of left a bad taste in our mouth.  One that we let slip away, but you have to credit the Mapleton kids though and hopefully we can redeem ourselves," said Smith.

          Smith says they need to be in top for next week because Buckeye Central (15-6) is really good.  "Coach Loy is one of the better coaches in the area in all divisions.  Their kids are always prepared.  They always do things the right way.  They always handle things with class.  They have two real, real good players.  Obviously, the district player of the year in Grant Loy and then the Shade kid inside.  Those two are a load inside.  The other kids do their job.  The have a real good point guard in the Heydinger kid that has played for three or four years.  They defend really well and they will be well prepared.  I have seem them a lot of film and I got to see them live Tuesday night versus Riverdale and we are going to have our hands full," he said.

 

Published 2/18/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul on the Way up

 

          Norwalk St. Paul hasn't always been that consistent this year, but they have proven they can be pretty good, no really good.

          Case in point was a (65-44) win over New London on Friday night in Firelands Conference play.  Veteran coach Mike Smith says they were good decision makers and that was the difference in what was a 32 point loss (58-26) the first time they played.  "The win Friday was a really, really good win for us.  We were disciplined on offense, we handled situations much better.  Those are things we have really tried to work on the last couple of weeks, but we haven't always gotten done.  We defended very well and we took care of the basketball," he said.

          Outside the second quarter, the Flyers played pretty well in a loss (59-43) to Sandusky River League champion Sandusky St. Mary's on Saturday night.  Smith says they just got to far behind.  "On Saturday night the second quarter really hurt us.  We only scored four points.  We kind of got away from being disciplined in our shot selection and we allowed them to control the pace a little bit and it allowed them to the get a decent lead at halftime and we really couldn't cut into that.  I think we were a little tied from Friday and they didn't play Friday.  They are a really good basketball team and hats off to them," said Smith.

          This Friday, the Flyers (7-12,6-6) take the short trip to Western Reserve (11-6,8-4) for a conference game.  The first meeting with the Rough Riders resulted in the other marquee win (52-50) for the Flyers this year.  Smith says they will have to play well.  "They are very well coached, Chris (Sheldon) does an outstanding job.  The Rough Riders can score.  Puder is doing a good job.  The freshman Griffith is an outstanding player.  They have some shooters and drivers.  They are going to be a big test for us," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We are looking forward going over there, it is one of our rival games, them and Monroeville.  I am hoping it will be a good one and that we just keep getting better each week."

          Saturday night, St. Paul hosts Sandusky Perkins (13-5,) the second place team in the Sandusky Bay Conference.  Smith says the Pirates do all of the things a really good basketball team does.  "When you look at our schedule it is a pretty good one for a division four school.  A few years ago we went to Perkins and had a big win that springboarded us into the tournament.  They are a power team, they are a young team, their size is typical of them, they shoot it well, they handle it well.  We are looking forward to that game making us better.  They are solid division two team in our district.  I think those games, if you approach them the right way only make you better," said Smith.

 

Published 2/09/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers With Two Tough Ones

 

          Norwalk St. Paul plays two of the better small school basketball teams in the area this weekend as they host New London in a Firelands Conference game on Friday and travel to Sandusky River League champion Sandusky St. Mary's on Saturday.

          Last week, they spilt their conference games in beating Monroeville (60-51) on Friday and losing at Crestview (72-64) on Saturday.  Coach Mike Smith thinks they put in two pretty good efforts.  "I don't think we did too bad the whole weekend to be honest with you.  Friday night we knew would be an emotional game at Monroeville in their new gym.  Hats off to their community and the people over there, what a beautiful place.  It was near capacity.  I thought we played pretty well," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "On Saturday night, we didn't play too bad.  We shot almost 50 percent.  The difference was they had 19 offensive rebounds.  That is too many extra possessions.  The Crestview kids played hard as we expected them too and they made some shots and they made free throws down the stretch.  They were 22 of 30 I think it was.  They played a very nice game."

          St. Paul (6-11,5-6) is at New London (11-5,8-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday.  The Wildcats lost to very talented Edison (51-49) on Tuesday night, but Smith says they are playing very well.  "Coach Howell has done a great job over there.  I did catch the Edison game on Tuesday night.  The played great and they are in a position to contend for a Firelands Conference championship.  They are playing with a lot of confidence and this is definitely a big game for them," he said.

          New London plays excellent defense and Smith says they are pretty efficient on offense too.  "They definitely change things up with zone, some different types of pressures, to man to man they are very well prepared.  Their shot selection is good.  They are very disciplined on offense, they take good shots and are patient at times.  They do have guys that can handle the ball and do a nice job controlling the inside.  We are looking forward to it.  We are trying to approach each game like it is tournament preparation.  I think the kids have had a good week of practice.  They are prepared for New London and what they do and now we have to go out on the floor and execute.  These next three weeks we are hoping to use to our advantage to get ourselves in position to have a nice tournament run," said Smith.

          Sandusky St. Mary's (17-1), #1 in our poll, just beat Fremont St. Joe (60-47) to earn a share of the "SRL" title on Thursday night.  Smith says they have the whole package.  "They are very experienced and they do have real good size.  Most of their kids played last year.  They did lose a couple of guys.  They are a veteran team.  I think they have one of the better inside players in the whole area in the Zimmerman kid.  Mormina gives them some size.  They have two 6'5" kids.  They are very athletic on the perimeter.  They are tough at their place.  Their gym is just a tad bit smaller and they will pressure you some, play some 2-3 zone and play some man.  They have some skilled athletes that can shoot the basketball on the perimeter.  We are looking forward to going over there.  It is a good measuring stick to see where we are at at this point," said Smith.

 

Published 2/05/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed

to swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Finding some Things

 

          Norwalk St. Paul won both of their games last week and the Flyers are poised for a stretch drive that could produce some interesting tournament results.

          The Flyers (5-10,4-5) beat Plymouth (51-36) in a Firelands Conference game last Friday and then Fremont St. Joe (66-46) in a conference game on Saturday.

          Coach Mike Smith says they are stating to do more things that can make them successful.  "I think we have definitely made strides, especially offensively. We have talked all year about shot selection and discipline, making good basketball decisions, basketball I.Q.  We have been pretty sound defensively.  Our instincts are starting to come around offensively.  The guys have started to fill into their roles nicely and they are working really hard," he said.

          The tournament seeding in the Northwest district is taking place over the next week with seed meeting held on Super Bowl Sunday.  Smith says it is going to be a war.  "Our sectional/district is a meat grinder.  It has some really good division four teams all lumped together.  I think our team is capable of playing with any of them.  I think it is going be a great sectional and district.  You have St. Mary's, St. Pete's, South Central, Buckeye Central, Colonel Crawford, Wynford, Mansfield Christian.  There is just a lot of good teams there and a lot of teams that could beat anybody on any given night," he said.

          The Flyers are at rival Monroeville on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.  Smith says the Eagles (2-14,1-8) have shown some improvement too.  "They are getting really good guard play out of Glen Clark.  I think he has been steadily scoring for them and they have real good size with Kendall.  The Klaus kid might be one of the most improved kids in the whole league.  Obviously we get to play in their new gym and we are excited about that.  Being St. Paul-Monroeville it should be a great crowd and their should be a lot of intensity and fire in there.  It is usually a pretty hard fought game," he said.

          On Saturday night, the Flyers are at Crestview (7-8,4-5) for another conference game.  Even though the Cougars have been a little inconsistent lately, Smith knows what they can do.  "He has them playing hard.  Even the couple of games that I watched here recently they did lose, boy they play hard with a lot chaos.  It seems like on a Saturday night after a Friday night maybe they don't have as much energy as they do on a Friday with the way they play and trap they spend so much energy that it seems maybe they struggle a lit bit on a Saturday," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They play hard and they have some talented kids.  They aren't really, really big, but the Stevens kid, Greybill, Durbin those guys create a lot of problems with their ability to shoot and get the ball to the basket."

 

Published 1/29/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul and Willard Look For a Boost

 

          Two teams that were hoping they would have more wins at this point than they do meet each in non-conference play on Tuesday night as Norwalk St. Paul plays host to Willard.

          The Flyers suffered two losses in Firelands Conference play last week (61-59) to Mapleton and (65-51) to conference leader South Central on Saturday.

          Despite those losses, coach Mike Smith sees a lot of bright spots in their play.  "Our kids are working extremely hard.  I think we are heading the right direction.  They are really locking down on what we want them to do.  Our shot selection is getting better.  On Thursday at Mapleton, Mapleton just played a little bit better than us.  We shot 50 percent and took care of the basketball, they just made some plays down the stretch and congrats to them.  In the South Central game with three minutes to go in the third it is 30-30 and they go on an 11-2 run to finish off the quarter and then you have to play from behind.  At their place that is tough to do.  They are very well coached.  Again, I think we are headed in the right direction," said Smith.

          Willard (2-9) is at St. Paul (3-9) for a non-league match up on Tuesday night.  The Flashes are led by a solid guard in Conner Robinson and Smith says they have played a really tough schedule.  "Conner is a really good basketball player.  When you look at Willard, and I had a chance to watch them on Friday against Ontario and Ontario is playing at such a high level they really took it to them.  They lost by four to Shelby, they lost by one to Perkins and Perkins has a nice team, they did beat Port Clinton, they lost to Tiffin Columbian in overtime, they lost to Sandusky by 17.  They are a scary team, " he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I think their record is 2-9, but when you look at them they do a lot of things well and they are well coached.  Like I said Conner does a nice job, the Cofer kid inside works so hard, I know he is only 6'2".  The Bohach kid does a nice job running the show.  The Barnhart kid shoots it.  They have Vipperman off of the bench.  Daub is a 6'5" kid and is athletic.  I am sure they are looking forward to (Tuesday) night."

          Smith believes they are well prepared for the game and it would be a nice win for them if they could get it.  "I am sure they are prepared and so are our kids.  We gave them a lot of information on Willard, their personnel, and what they run, and what to expect.  Hopefully, we can go out and get a good non-league win.  Despite their win loss record they will be a formidable opponent for a team from the Firelands Conference," he said.

 

Published 1/19/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Still There

 

          Norwalk St. Paul won their biggest game of the season last week and they hope to be able to take that momentum into a pair of Firelands Conference games this week.

          The Flyers upset conference co-leader Western Reserve (52-50) last Friday and coach Mike Smith says they took better shots and made them.  "We are progressively getting better.  I was real happy for the kids, they had been working hard.  We played one of our more complete games.  Our shot selection we had really been harping on, being disciplined and our shot selection had to get better.  We definitely shot the ball better and our shot selection was better.  We handled our selves well down the stretch.  It does make us a little bit of a player here in the league race," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "With South Central and Western playing on Thursday one of those two will have two losses and we get the opportunity to play South Central on Saturday.  The biggest game for us right now is Mapleton on Thursday.  The South Central game doesn't mean anything without a solid performance at Mapleton on Thursday."

          St. Paul (3-7,3-3) plays at Mapleton (3-9,1-5) on Thursday night in a conference game.  Smith says the Mounties are dangerous.  "The played South Central tough.  I did watch that game.  They shoot it well.  They don't have a whole lot of size, but they play hard.  They seem to play their best basketball at home.  We do have some mis-match problems with their size and quickness with guys trying to match up.  The Berone kid is a really, really good player.  He is quick and he keeps them organized and they aren't sloppy because of that.  If you don't have point guard play you tend to be sloppy and don't handle the pressure.  They are not going to have those issues with the Berone kid.  It's a dangerous game.  It is one where we have to me motivated.  We have talked to our kids all along that we have to be ready to bring it," said Smith.

          On Saturday night, the second round of conference play begins and for the Flyers that is a visit to South Central (8-4,5-1,) who beat St. Paul (70-43) earlier this year.  Smith says they are a different team now.  "As I watched that game a couple of days ago as I was preparing our report.  Our starting point guard had to set the first half Max Fitzgerald and Dillon Furlong, our best defender, and one of our better players, did not play due to a sprained ankle.  We are a little bit different than we were the first time.  Obviously, South Central has a very nice team.  They have guys that can score all over the place.  The seven guys that they rotate in bring a lot offensively and defensively.  They are a veteran team and they are playing at home.  Depending on what happens Thursday they could feel a little pressure either way with a win or a loss and maybe that could work in our favor.  They do play well at home and coach Seidel has them playing well.  We are really going to be challenged," said Smith.

 

Published 1/14/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Got to Make More Shots

 

          Norwalk St. Paul executes pretty well on both offense and defense, but they have not been making shots and in the game of basketball if you don't make shots it is hard to win.

          Last week, the Flyers made of 21 percent of their shots in a (58-26) loss to New London in Firelands Conference play.

          Coach Mike Smith says they really played well on defense and got some good looks at the basket, they just couldn't make them.  "We really had some kind of a mental thing in that game.  We really haven't defended as well as we did in maybe two and half years. We contested the ball, but we shot 21 percent from the field.  We missed 13 of what I would consider three footers and three break way layups.  It was one of those things were we struggled offensively.  New London is a good basketball team.  It is one we are going to have to put behind us.  We have to get better offensively.  Our execution offensively was good, we just didn't put the ball in the basket," said Smith.

          St. Paul (2-5) plays at Huron (3-4) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Smith says the Tigers are facing similar issues as they are this year.  "They remind me of us a little bit.  They have had a rough time as far as putting the ball in the basket.  They have a very good inside player, 6'5", and a couple of guys on the perimeter.  They are very well coached.  They have some other kids that can put the ball in the basket.  They play so hard.  We have to get better," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "If we play well we think this is a game we can win.  Both teams are very similar and both have really struggled shooting the basketball.  We are looking forward to starting the new year getting better.  We have three games here in five days."

          On Friday night, the Flyers host Firelands Conference co-leader Western Reserve (8-1,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, in a conference game.  Smith says the Rough Riders do a lot of good things on both ends of the court and he knows it will be a tremendous challenge.  "Chris has got them playing well on both ends of the floor.  They have an outstanding point guard in Jared Griffith.  They have shooters, they have defenders.  It is a pretty good rivalry between St. Paul and Western.  We will give them a shot and try to knock them off," he said.

          St. Paul plays Tiffin Calvert in another non-conference game on Saturday night.

 

Published 1/05/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Tangles with New London

 

          Norwalk St. Paul and New London both have two conference losses heading into their Firelands Conference match-up at New London on Wednesday night.

          The loser likely falls from the conference title hunt as both Western Reserve and South Central are unbeaten in conference games.

          St. Paul has not played since a (67-36) loss to unbeaten Edison on December 19 and coach Mike Smith says they have used that break from competition to work on their stuff.  "We were looking forward to this little break where we had 11 days since our last game, so we have gotten some good work in and tried to get better in a lot of areas in shooting the basketball and defensively.  I think it has been pretty beneficial for us.  We are chomping at the bit and excited about playing (Wednesday,)" he said.

          New London (4-2,2-2) beat Huron (47-44) also on December 19 and Smith looks for an even battle between pretty good teams.  "They are decent.  They are 2-and-2 just like us as far as the league goes.  They have been competitive in all of their games.  They lost a close one to Western and a close one to South Central," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have a nice quality win their last time out versus Huron, which was a good win for them.  They are playing good basketball.  They are very well coached.  They can shoot the basketball and they throw a lot of different defenses at you."

          Smith, the dean of Firelands Conference coaches, says the Wildcats will make you execute against a lot of different defenses and they have a legitimate scorer in Ryan Lane.  "They play a lot of different defenses.  They will full court press you, do some half court stuff, play some zone, play some man.  They will try to speed you up, they will try to slow you down.  They have a lot of guys that can score.  They are not overly big.  The Lane kid for a wing has good size.  The Fannin kid has done a good job for them inside.  They really haven't been hurt by anybody's post player.  They have definitely held their own.  It is a team that I think is still getting better," said Smith.

 

Published 12/30/19

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Handling Pressure Key for Flyers

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is developing into a pretty solid team coming off two Firelands Conference wins last weekend, they host Crestview in a conference game on Friday night.

          The Flyers (2-2,2-1) downed Plymouth (58-48) and Monroeville (59-45) in "FC" play last weekend.  Coach Mike Smith says they are starting to feel a little bit of confidence.  "We had a good weekend and when you have a couple of wins that helps.  The kids are working hard and they were two hard fought games.  Plymouth, winning on the road it's a good thing.  Our third game in a week when we played Monroeville at home and we got the win there.  The nice thing is we got another week of practice and an opportunity to try and get to 3-1 in the league in our game with Crestview Friday," said Smith.

          Crestview has a new coach in Daniel Spencer and Smith says he has the Cougars playing some pretty good basketball too.  "They are very athletic.  They aren't the biggest team, so I'm sure when he surveyed his players and his roster and he said we just can't beat it up inside.  He is using their talents well.  They have some guys that can shoot it.  They are creating a little by of chaos by trapping in the full and the half and trying to create tempo, so they can take it the other way," he said.

          Crestview (4-2,2-1) is coming off an (88-78) win over Plymouth in conference play. Smith says they are a team that likes to push the pace on both offense and defense.  He says they will need to handle a variety of presses,  "All week we have had the opportunity to work on it.  What they are doing is a little bit different.  They are front trapping and back trapping and trapping from all different areas with some full court man and some diamond.  They are also 1-2-2 half court trap." he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "One thing we have talked about is making sure we are spacing the floor and getting different people in the middle of the floor to try and beat that pressure.  One of the best ways to get out of that gambling is to reverse the basketball and center it and get easy baskets, so I think we are ready for anything.  They are playing very hard, they are athletic and they are aggressive."

 

Published 12/18/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Just Trying to Get Experience

 

          The Norwalk St. Flyers have the talent to be a pretty good team this season, they just need to get some minutes on the floor.

          The played their first game of their season last Friday and South Central pulled away in the second half and beat them (70-43) in Firelands Conference action.  "We have to get better in all phases of the game.  We knew that was going to be a tough one.  Probably our best player and our best defender was not able to go.  He sprained his ankle on Wednesday.  Not to make any excuses, but I think South Central really has a nice basketball team. We need to get everybody back in their roles.  He is going to be a tremendous player and we wanted to error on the side of caution.  We don't want to lose him for a month.  I liked what I saw from a lot of our guys.  It was the first time live and only the second time being in a competitive situation.  We only had one scrimmage with our football players.  I was encouraged after watching," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "It was a four point game with a two minutes to go in the second quarter.  They hit a three at the buzzer that kind of deflated us.  We are not where we need to be that's for sure, but I really like our outlook and the potential of this team.  I would be shocked if we weren't a good basketball team."

          Smith, a veteran of more than a quarter of a century on the St. Paul bench, he says they just need to get some time on the floor.  "We spend a lot of time with our kids on our offensive philosophy about ball movement.  I have really said since day one that the kids have done a nice job.  Again it is not an excuse, but reality is what it is.  We hope we can make the adjustments in week two and have some things click with some kids.  We are approaching Tuesday night like this is another chance for a live, I don't want to say scrimmage, but competition.  As fast as we can get them in scrimmages that will be the difference in games.  We are looking forward to kind of getting that bad taste our mouths on Friday night.  I think right now we just need to play some games and try to get better.  As I said this is going to be a very good team," said Smith.

          St. Paul (0-1) plays Margareatta (1-2,) who got their first win over Kansas Lakota (70-37) on Saturday.  Smith says they have some players that can make plays, but really it will just be about them getting back on the floor.  "Right now they are very young, but they have some really, really good players.  They have a post player that is about 6'5 and he is only a sophomore.  Their best player is about a 6'3" wing.  He does a nice job and is a tough match up.  They are very well coached.  They will throw multiple defenses at us.  They are playing on their home floor, a little bit smaller floor.  He has a couple of kids that I know are not in their rotation for discipline reasons.  They are playing hard.  They had a real nice win on Saturday night against Lakota and we were able to scout that.  We can't worry about wins and losses right now.  We definitely want to win and get some momentum going, but it is going to be great to just get back on the floor," said Smith.

 

Published 12/08/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Opens on Friday night

 

          Norwalk St. Paul will play its first boys' basketball game of the season on Friday night at home against South Central in Firelands Conference action.

          Veteran coach Mike Smith says they are have been able to integrate their football kids into their system and hopefully on Friday night they are going to be ready to go.  "We just got our football players last week.  We have a nice nucleus that has been in the gym the whole preseason.  We still lost four or five kids that are going to be part of our team and part of our rotation.  I like what we have been so far," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Our kids are working hard.  We have gotten some real good leadership and kids that like to play the game of basketball, but we haven't played that first game and it is going to be a tough opener."

          You can have practices and scrimmages, but Smith says you really don't find out what you gave until the games start to count in the win-loss column.  "Obviously the speed of the game and the pace of play if a lot different.  The football kids are used to playing hard and we do have some experience.  We don't want to use that as an excuse that's for sure.  We just have to ready to play.  I like our progression," he said.

          South Central (1-2,1-0) beat Monroeville (79-34) in a game that was played on Tuesday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.  Smith says the Trojans are a very good team.  "They have a real nice team.  I was there to see their game on Friday night.  That was an excellent basketball game early.  We all known how good Mansfield St. Pete's can be.  They took Ontario down to the wire on Saturday.  South Central is a good team that is well coached with some nice players.  Hopefully, Monroeville will wear them down," said Smith

 

Published 12/02/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul and Mogadore Clash in Regional Semis

 

          Names like Norwalk St. Paul and Mogadore just mean high school football in Ohio and they lock horns in the division seven regional semi-finals on Friday night at Ken Dukes Stadium in Medina.

          St. Paul (10-1) is making its 17th playoff appearance, all since 1995, all under current coach John Livengood, winning the state championship in 2009.  Mogadore has been in the tournament 28 times, winning three state titles (1979, 1996, 2002) over the years.

          Mogadore (10-1) hammered Jackson-Milton (63-13) in a first round match-up last week.  Livengood says this is a typical Mogadore team, another real good one.  "I think one of the things you can say about Mogadore, and you can say the same think about St. Paul football, is you are going to see the same type of consistent play throughout the years.  We played each other for the first time in 1995 and most recently in 2009.  In the course of the that time for 2009 to now you are going to see a lot of the same consistent offensive and defensive schemes and philosophies," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It is good hard nosed football based on a power running game and timely passing and real sound football on the defense.  They have the same type of kids that we have.  It is kind of like looking in a mirror, but looking at a kid that is wearing white and green instead."

          When both teams are this good, Livengood says it comes downs to execution and avoiding big mistakes.  "In a game like this were teams are very similar to each other I think it comes down to those types of things.  Not making mistakes, not doing the things to beat yourself, making sure you are playing a clean game, no stupid penalties, no turnovers, that sort of thing, play great special teams.  You have to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.  When you have an opportunity to make a play you have to step up and make that play," he said.

          Loudonville beat Mogadore (42-14) in a regional semi-final in division six last year.

          Turnovers are big momentum shifters and Livengood says they can't have those if they are going to come out on top.  "Turnovers and penalties.  I mean penalties can kill a drive and turnovers obviously can give the other team a lot of momentum.  That is one area where I think we have done a pretty good job of not turning the ball over this year and vice versa defensively we have done a good job of creating turnovers.  We have been fortunate enough to play some good special teams too.  We have to make sure we continue to get those areas to work in our favor and play a good sound ball game and hope things work out," said Livengood.

 

Published 11/12/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Taking Focused Approach

 

          Norwalk St. Paul smoked Monroeville (42-0) in their annual week 10 game in Firelands Conference play last week and they host the Eagles again on Friday night in the division seven regional quarterfinals at Whitney Field in Norwalk.

          Flyers coach John Livengood says they made some big plays that were able to turn the momentum last week against Monroeville.  "I think overall our kids played pretty well.  We also think Monroeville did some things well.  They were able to convert some fourth downs and keep our offense off the field for a big portion of the second quarter.  To start the game we came out strong and went down and scored, held them to a three and out, and scored on our second possession and got a quick 14-0 lead.  They kind of hung onto the ball there for a little bit.  We were able to get a couple quick scores right before halftime," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We took over with about three minutes left in the half and drove about 80 yards for a score.  The we were able to hold them three and out and get a punt blocked and go in at the half 28-0.  In the third quarter we were able to take control and put it away and play our younger kids to close out the game."

          Monroeville (6-4) has lost it last three games coming into Friday night, but Livengood doesn't look for them to change their approach much when it comes to their game plan.  "I think they are in the same position as a us.  I think both teams are going to want to look at things they did well and build on that and in areas maybe that they didn't do as well they are going to try and improve on that and maybe change some things.  Really our offense is our offense, their offense in their offense and you can change maybe some things with that a little bit, but you are not going to go with a totally different offense or a completely different defense at this point in the season.  It is the little things, it is the adjustments, and maybe teach a different fundamental on how you want to handle things.  I think those are maybe the kind of changes that you are going to see," said Livengood.

          Winning by six scores is their a chance to Flyers (9-1), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, will be complacent and take another win over Monroeville for granted?  Livengood says no way.  "Absolutely not.  I think our kids will be completely focused.  This is approach we are taking with things.  We anticipated that we might be playing Monroeville again on week 11.  We are approaching it like last week was the first half, the time we are preparing is kind of halftime, the time for us to make adjustments, we are looking at our week 11 game with them as kind of completing the game and the way we want to do that.  Our kids are not going to be complacent.  They know how to play playoff football and they know how important this game is and they will come out ready to play," he said.

 

Published 11/06/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Two Playoff Teams Battle

 

          Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville, that is really all you have to say.  It is just one of the best football rivalries in this part of the state.

          I can't help but think the late Mike Adelman, who passed away about a month ago, a longtime Monroeville booster, must be smiling from above as the Eagles improvement has brought a lot more to this game.

          Monroeville (6-3,4-2) has played well this year and is having its best season since Steve Ringholtz, a dear friend of Adelman's, was their coach.

          St. Paul coach John Livengood says the Eagles and the Flyers on Saturday night at Whitney Field in Norwalk should be a great game.  "I will be the first to tell you no matter what the records this game means a lot.  It is the small high school version of a Ohio State-Michigan type thing.  The communities are close and a lot of the community members are related, they are neighbors, that sort of thing.  it is a big rivalry and with the past success of Monroeville football and our program there have been some big games over the years," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Monroeville has had a nice year this year.  They started our very strong and put themselves in position to be in second place in the league and pretty much secured of a playoff spot.  It is really going to be a playoff like atmosphere this week."

          St. Paul (8-1,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, has already claimed the outright Firelands Conference title.

          Livengood says second year Monroeville coach Scott Stacher has been able to turn things around in a hurry.  "Number one they return a lot of starters form last year, so they have a lot of experience.  Coach Stacher has his second year under his belt now.  He knows what he wants to do and the kids understand what his expectations are and what he wants to do with the program.  They have settled in on some things offensively and defensively and fundamentally they continue to improve," he said.

          Monroeville wants to be a power run team and Livengood says they have the kids to do that.  "They have a real nice back in Blake Anderson, one of the best backs in the league.  He has size and speed and is a threat to break it once he gets loose.  Defensively, especially they have improved this season.  They have put themselves in good position.  They have lost two games here the last two weeks and they could have very easily won those games.  They could be looking at 8-1 coming into this game.  We have a lot of respect for them and we know it's playoff team and we are treating it like a playoff game," said Livengood.

          Monroeville is the underdog here and maybe they play with a chip on their shoulder, but Livengood knows his kids will play hard too.  "Records don't really matter.  If we were both 0-9 you would think we were playing for a state championship.  I think there is that kind of rivalry and that kind of intensity when our two teams play," he said.

 

Published 10/30/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

It's Championship Time for St. Paul

 

          A win on Saturday night over South Central  and Norwalk St. Paul will claim its 17th Firelands Conference title since 1992 and its fourth in a row.

          It would be their seventh title in the last nine years.

          They handled Mapleton easily last Friday, winning (56-13) over the Mounties.

          Coach John Livengood says he likes the progression he is seeing with his kids.  "One of the things we stress a lot with our kids is that continuous improvement from week to week.  Taking a look at those areas that we need to continue to improve on, address that each week, and see if that is something we can do.  We have been able to do that at at a steady pace throughout the season.  Things have been going well.  When you have games you can win soundly it was a good team effort.  I thought our offense played well and our defense played well and our special teams units played well.  When you put that all together we were able to have a nice, complete win," said Livengood.

          St. Paul (7-1,5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, isn't as balanced on offense as maybe they want to be.  Livengood says that is definitely something they are working on.  "It has been a little spermatic to be quite honest.  We were five for seven passing this past week, about 70 yards, a couple of touchdowns.  So, we preformed well, but the week before that I think we only had one completion and four or five drops.  So, it has been a little bit up and down.  When we are on and catching to ball we do a nice job with that.  That is one of the things that we want to consistently get better at and if we can do that we can be a complete offense," he said.

          South Central (3-5,3-2) will be at Whitney Field on Saturday night for a conference game.  They are paced by Cam Conaway who had 275 yards rushing and five TD's in a win over Mapleton two weeks ago.  Livengood says the Trojans have really improved since Wayne Hinkle became their coach.  "Conaway is one of the best backs in the league.  Their amount of wins doesn't surprise me at all.  Wayne Hinkle does a great job down there.  We have seen that the last few years with how much they have improved their fundamentals with good solid football.  He has the kids believing it what they are doing and he is teaching them the right things," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "You can see the continuous improvement with that.  They have a couple of special athletes, especially Conaway.  He is a big kid running the ball and tough to bring down.  He is a weapon for them."

 

Published 10/22/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Must be Ready for a lot

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is the standard that everyone in the Firelands Conference wants to get to and often due to the factor that there is a gap in terms of talent the Flyers are likely to see anything.

          St. Paul (6-1,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, shares the conference lead with rival Monroeville with three weeks left.

          They played a complete game last week in trouncing Crestview (48-7) and coach John Livengood says they were able to play a pretty good 48 minutes of football.  "I think of the keys to game for us is we came out and played well right for the start.  In some of our games we have had slower starts in the first quarter trying to adjust to what teams are doing to us offensively and defensively and what they are presenting for us.  We were able to come out and take our first drive down for a score.  They returned the kickoff after we scored down inside the five yard line.  We held them for two downs and then they popped it in.  Then we came right back with another score.  Our defense settled in and played really well the entire four quarters and we kind of got things rolling offensively and moved the ball well and took control of the game by halftime," said Livengood.

          No matter what a team does in their games leading up to meeting with St. Paul, Livengood says they are likely to see something radically different.  "Our experience, especially this year more so than in the past, we are seeing a lot of different looks on both sides of the ball.  That has been the case every game this year outside of our Huron game.  We have seen different defensive looks.  No matter what they have shown in prior weeks we are usually seeing eight, nine guys in the box, usually between two, three yards of the line of scrimmage trying to slow down our run game.  Being able to pass and pass affectively has been a big challenge for us.  So, we have had to make those adjustments as we go.  It is not necessarily what you prepare for all week it is what you see on game night," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "The same holds true for our defense sometimes we will see different looks.  A team that is an option team or a power football team and they come out with a totally different look and it takes us a little bit to settle in and adjust to what we need to do."

          On Friday night, the Flyers are at Mapleton to do battle wit the Mounties (3-4,2-2) in a conference game.  Livengood says they have t be ready for the best Mapleton can offer.  "No question they have been a little bit up and down.  I have seen them twice live, I scouted them against New London and I scouted them against Crestview.  They played well in both of those games.  I just watched them on tape.  They had a tough loss to Monroeville, they lost pretty soundly there, but they played pretty physically in that game as well.  We know what they are capable of we played them twice, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs last year in the second round.  Coach Mahaney does a great job down there preparing his kids and runs a very good system both sides of the ball and got that program turned around.  He has a number of starters back from last year.  Those guys know how to play championship football, playoff football.  So, we know we have our hands full going down to Mapleton this week," said Livengood.

 

Published 10/15/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul to Play Improving Crestview

 

          Norwalk St. Paul continues to march toward another Firelands Conference title and a possible showdown with traditional rival Monroeville on week 10 of the season.

          St. Paul and Monroeville share the conference lead.

          However, coach John Livengood says they are not about to overlook a Crestview team that is a lot better than they record indicates when they play at Crestview on Friday night.

          Last Saturday night, the Flyers (5-1,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, battled the elements and pounded the Plymouth Big Red (34-0) in a conference game. 

          Coach John Livengood says they did a lot of good things against a physical Plymouth team.  "I thought we did things well.  We handled the weather conditions.  We played on Saturday night in a constant downpour and 40 degree temperatures.  We handled the situation pretty well against a very good Plymouth team.  I know that their record is not what they want, but they are a big team with big, physical backs.  They came at us with everything they had and we were able to come up with the win, so we are happy with that," he said.

          When you have bad weather and field conditions ball security can be a factor, but Livengood says they did a pretty good job with that.  "We did a pretty good job hanging onto the ball.  I know we lost one fumble at the end of the game when we had our JV kids in, but other than that we did a pretty good job taking care of the football.  We had a tough time passing the ball, but we were able to get the ground game going.  Defensively we played well and held them to about 200 yards total offense and kept them off the scoreboard.  So, we were happy with how we played on both sides of the ball," said Livengood.

          The Cougars (1-5,0-3) have been the bad luck team of the season.  They have lost twice in overtime to South Central (31-30) and Mapleton (34-27) last week, plus another four point game to Western Reserve (27-23) two weeks ago.

          Livengood says they have talented players and it is just a matter of time before they put some things together.  "Watching what they do.  I went down and scouted them at Mapleton on Friday night.  They are a very well coached football team.  They do a lot with their option game.  They remind me of team we scrimmaged early in the season in Edison with what they do offensively.  They have some speed in their with their quarterback, Jay Oswald, who is just a sophomore.  He runs the option very well and I bet he is going to get better every week," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They have some speed out there with their pitch man in Trevor Durbin.  He does a nice job as their pitch man.  Their wingbacks run the counter and stuff like that.  There is a lot of team speed.  I know they are just getting into that system.  It is their first year and I think they are just going to continue to get better each week."

 

Published 10/06/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Have to Stop the Run

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is only two points away from being an unbeaten football team this year. 

          They have been dominate in the Firelands Conference so far this year, beating New London (56-8) last week.  They have been solid in all aspects of the game and coach John Livengood says that includes special teams.  "So far this year we have done a pretty good job with that.  Our coverage units have done a nice job.  We are in the mid-30's on our punt team.  Our returners have done a nice job as well.  We haven't had much a chance with our kickoff return.  A lot of teams are squib kicking to us and that type of thing.  We have handled those situations pretty well.  We did have a little breakdown against New London.  We gave up a kick return for their only score to start the third quarter.  That is an area where you want to continue to improve.  I would say overall for the first five games we have done a really nice job," said Livengood.

          On Saturday night, the Flyers (4-1,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, play host to the Plymouth Big Red (1-4,0-2) in Firelands Conference action.

          Livengood says Plymouth is a team that wants to feature the power run game.  "I think they have the type of personnel where they want to pound the football.  Seth Bailey at fullback is 205 pounds.  Grant Wetland at tailback is 215 pounds.  That is two pretty big running backs.  Dillon Carroll is doing a nice job as well running as well.  They are doing a nice job with that.  They have some nice offensive lineman.  They probably average 230, 240 across the line," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have one skilled athlete back from last year that was a pretty good athlete for them.  They have used him quite a bit in the past and that is Remington Smedley.  They have some different personnel.  They had some speedy kids graduate.  They have more of a power type team coming back this year."

          Against a team that relies heavily on the run you want to put them in bad down and distance situations.  Livengood says on Saturday night that are going to need to play well on first down.  "We kind of look at that as being our philosophy.  If you can control the line of scrimmage you can pass the ball on your terms and when you want to.  A lot of times that is set up by how you do on first down.  Obviously, we have to play very well on every down from our standpoint defensively, but first down is critical," said Livengood.

 

Published 10/01/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Focused on New London

 

          Norwalk St. Paul plays at New London on Friday night in Firelands Conference play and their goal is to win and continue to get better, it's that simple.

          The Flyers (3-1,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Western Reserve (34-0) last Saturday and coach John Livengood says they were a little more polished than they were the week before when the lost by one (7-6) to Huron.  "I think we made some progress in executing the little things, but just like any sport, any team, you are never really satisfied where you are, and you want to continue to improve.  Again we want to continue to improve on the things we aren't doing really well and hopefully get better this week," he said.

          They have allowed only four touchdowns this season and have two shutouts.  Livengood says his defense really gets to the ball.  "I think our strength defensively is our speed.  I wouldn't say any member of our team is a burner.  What I would says is overall I think our quickness is very good.  The kids do a great job of getting off blocks and flying to the football.  We have a very quick defense that gets to the football," he said.

          New London (1-3,0-1) lost their conference opener (27-6) to Mapleton last week.  Livengood says the Wildcats really want to run the football.  "I think this year a lot more than last year.  Last year, I think they ran a little bit more spread and wanted to throw the ball around a little bit more.  This year, they are more into a pro "I" set with a lot of toss stretch and counter leads, plays a long those lines.  They do spread it out a little bit.  They run almost a wildcat set where they move their fullback into the quarterback position and do a nice job with that," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Really had some success running the ball against Mapleton out of that set.  They like to play action pass off of their run game.  They have moved the ball pretty affectively so far this year."

          The first computer standings were released by the OHSAA this week and it had St. Paul on the outside looking in.  Livengood says they aren't worried about that.  "We take it week by week.  We don't look beyond what is happening this week.  Our focus is completely on New London.  We don't worry about where we are at in the computer polls at this point, or "AP" polls or that type of thing.  We just try to take it week by week and do our best and see where things are and hopefully when we get to week 10 we are in position to play another week and hopefully push that to 15 weeks.  We mentioned to our kids just the other day, hey, just as a reminder we are half way through our regular season after this game.  Just realize how quickly this goes, embrace it, and make the best of it and enjoy every minute of it.  Just go out and do as well as we can and do better each week," said Livengood.

 

Published 9/25/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Coming off Rare Loss St. Paul Starts "FC" Play"

 

          Norwalk St. Paul doesn't lose much and when they do look out next week.

          Huron edged St. Paul (7-6) in a non-conference game on Friday night. Coach John Livengood says they played as hard as they could, they just didn't execute quite well enough against the Tigers.  "I think it is the emphasis on the little things.  There were a lot of opportunities for us to win that game and unfortunately we had little breaks downs here and there with fundamentals and some alignments.  You take those things and look at them, you look at them on film.  One things in looking at that film and I see how hard our kids played I can't question their effort for one second," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They played their hearts out and played as hard as they could, but we made some little mistakes here and there that kind of cost us the game.  So, what we talk to the kids about is we want them to continue to play with great effort and continue to improve on those areas that we need to work and the next time we are in that type of situation we are going to be little more able to be successful."

          Saturday night, the Flyers (2-1,0-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays host to Western Reserve (0-3,0-0) in the Firelands Conference opener for both.

          Western is coming off a (42-0) shellacking from Edison in non-league action last Friday.  Livengood says one thing for sure is Western is huge.  "I think they came into the season a little inexperienced and each week they are going out there and gaining a little more experience.  One thing that you want to look at when you look at Western Reserve is their size.  They are big up front.  They have a 360 pound tackle, a 300 pound guard, a 255 pound center, and a 275 pound tackle.  They are big up front.  They have a 230 pound fullback and their halfback has good speed.  They mix some things up defensively.  So, they are quite a challenge for us," he said.

          St. Paul is used to being outsized and still performing.  Livengood says they will rely on their speed and quickness and ability to get to the ball.  "We never have a lot big guys up front for us.  Probably our average on the offensive line is about 185 and that is usually where we are at.  We have to rely on our technique and our quickness and speed.  We don't have any kids out there that you would say are burners, but we have a lot of team quickness and it's across the board in our offensive and defensive lines.  Move to the ball very well and do a great job executing.  It is going to come down to fundamentals and our team speed," he said.

 

Published 9/17/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Looking For a Test

 

          Norwalk St. Paul, the defending state runner-up in division seven is off to another excellent start and the Flyers are looking forward to their game at Huron on Friday night.

         St. Paul (2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, destroyed Fremont St. Joe (48-0), holding them to less than 50 yards of total offense last week.

          Coach John Livengood says it was just what they have been looking for.  "You are always looking to improve.  When you go through your scrimmages you always want to see improvement and identify areas that you want to continue to work on.  In that first game you go out there and get that game environment and four quarters of game action and you see things that you need to improve on.  We did see a big improvement from week one to week two in terms of our technique and fundamentals with plenty of stuff still to work on.  It was a good, solid effort for our kids, they played hard.  Again we felt that improvement and that's what we want to keep doing and continue to do that throughout the season," he said.

          When it comes to defense, Livengood says when makes them a good defense is their speed and attention to detail.  "Our quickness and speed to the ball and good fundamentals and keep things in front.  I thought we played well defensively against Sandusky St. Mary's even though we game up 21 points.  I felt like we played against a pretty explosive football team and did pretty well against some pretty talented athletes.  Last week, against St. Joe I think we held them to about 30 yards of total offense.  Again maybe they did not quite have the same skilled kids that Sandusky St. Mary's had, but what we were mainly looking at did we improve fundamentally? Did we come across blocks?  And did we read our keys and do things right?  Our kids did that and we saw some improvement in those areas and hopefully we continue to improve," said Livengood.

          Huron, the defending Sandusky Bay Conference champion, is (0-2) on the season with losses to Sandusky (20-3) and Bellevue (36-16,) but Livengood says don't be fooled by the record.  "I think anyone that looks at their record and thinks they are going to be an easy one doesn't know Huron football.  Huron is a very well coached team.  A very talented team.  They have had to play a very talented Sandusky team, a very talented Bellevue team.  Huron is a little bigger than us and Sandusky and Bellevue are a little bigger than Huron.  When you play those bigger schools like that with a little talent they have just had some growing pains and some different things they have been doing.  They are a very good football team, they are not an 0-2 football team.  In a lot of situations, playing schools their size, they would probably be a 2-0 team right now," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We have great respect for their coaches and their players.  We haven't beaten them in four years.  That was our only blemish in the regular season last year.  We are well aware of what kind of football team they have and what kind of football program they have and we are not looking at that record at all."

          Huron was the only team to beat St. Paul in the regular season last year and Livengood says this is always a good test for them.  "Huron every year has been in the playoffs.  They have been regional final like team in division four and division five the last three, four years.  Their losses have been against Coldwater, who is in the same league as the team that beat us in the playoffs.  Coldwater was the state champ, so we know what kind of teams they play and we feel like when we play Huron it is a playoff like game for us, maybe an even higher level than the division seven playoffs.  It's a great test for us, a great test for our program, and an opportunity to see how far we have come in the first couple of weeks," he said.

 

Published 9/11/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Face St. Joe For the First Time

 

          Defending division seven state runner-up Norwalk St. Paul handled Sandusky St. Mary's in their opener and now they are preparing for their first ever meeting with Fremont St. Joe on Friday night.

          The Flyers (1-0) downed St. Mary's (56-21) last Saturday night in their first game.  Coach John Livengood liked the way they adapted to what they were facing.  "Number one, Sandusky St. Mary's offered quite a few challenges, they were very talented.  They have a lot of skilled athletes and did a great job against us.  Coming out they really loaded up the box.  We had a tough time running the ball early on with nine in the box, so we went to the air and were able to execute there pretty well.  We ended up with 240 yards passing a couple of touchdowns.  We got some things loosened up and made some blocking adjustments at halftime and were able to open things up in the second half," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "It was kind of nip and tuck in the first half.  I think we had a 28-14 lead at halftime.  We ran about 45 plays to get those four touchdowns.  In the second half we were a lot more explosive.  We were able to score four times in 11 plays.  I thought the kids did a great job of adjusting to schemes and that opened things up for us in the second half.  Defensively we have some kids going through some growing pains.  There are some areas where we have to work to get better, but overall a good effort all of the way around."

          However, St. Paul has lofty goals for this year and the Livengood knows they have to get a lot better.  "Overall when I look at position fundamentals whether it is technique along the defensive line and getting off blocks and doing things right or our secondary coverage or reads from or linebacker position or sustaining blocks and maintaining our position on the offensive line or our running back blocking.  There are a lot of areas that we need to improve and we need to get better.  I think that is our big focus getting out there and getting four quarters of action with our starters.  The best part about that is your are going to be able to get that on film.  It's a chance to teach and show your kids what they need to improve on and get after it and work really hard this week get ready for your second contest and see what kind of progress you make," he said.

          St. Joe (0-1) is a traditional power, but they last year has not been very good for the Crimson Streaks.  They only won a couple of games last year and they lost (37-6) to Mohawk last week.  Livengood says there are some knowns.  "This is the first time we have ever played them in school history, so we are not very familiar with them.  We scouted them last week and they have some talented kids.  Their fullback Ron Snyder also plays safety for them.  He is a shifty runner, looks like a real physical kid.  They have a couple of big tackles on both sides of the ball that do a good job, so you know.  Offensively they are pretty similar to us.  They run a lot of wing-T type stuff.  They aren't afraid to get in the double tight and run the full house.  Defensively they are a 4-3 and 5-2 schemes.  It is something we are familiar with.  With the history of St. Joe we know they have been a playoff team in the past and have that kind of tradition going for them.  In a sense it is like the playoffs when you don't know a lot about the history of teams that you have never played before you have to take a lot of things off game tape.  We are looking forward to what kind of progress we can make from week one to week two," said Livengood.

 

Published 9/02/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Not Putting Pressure on Itself

 

          Norwalk St. Paul was the state runner-up in division VII last year and the Flyers have been predicted by some to the favorite to take home the trophy come December, but their coach says it is not state championship or bust.

          John Livengood, who led the Flyers to a state title in 2009 and three other title game appearances says they have made good progress in the preseason and that is what matters most to him.  "I think we are making good progress so far.  We have a lot of experience coming back off of last year's team and that experience has made things a little bit easier.  So far, so good, but as we emphasize to the kids we want to make sure we get better each time we are out on the field.  I think our kids really embrace that kind of thought and concept and do a great job with their approach to practice," said Livengood.

          St. Paul won the last two Firelands Conference titles and shared the flag with Western Reserve in 2012.  Livengood says his team, which has gone 31-7 the last three years, strives to be successful.  "Our senior class has experienced a lot of success the last three years and they would like to keep that going.  They come into the season with a lot of high aspirations.  They really embrace the feeling of getting a lot better every time out and be the best football team we can possibly be each time we take the field," he said.

          St. Paul plays host to Sandusky St. Mary's in its non-conference opener on Saturday.  Livengood believes their non-conference schedule will prepare them well for what he thinks will be a challenging conference schedule this year.  "Our quality of schedule is pretty good.  We've had two teams on our scrimmage schedule in Keystone and Edison.  We open up with Sandusky St. Mary's and Fremont St. Joe and Huron, three really quality programs for our non-conference schedule.  I think our conference is going to be strong again this year.  We had three conference teams make the playoffs last year.  We have some teams that might have lost some talent, but they have great coaches and great programs going on and I think there are some teams that maybe where down the last couple of years, but have returning experience.  I think it will be a balanced conference and we are going to have to are going to have to come to play week in and week out," said Livengood.

          As far as winning the state title?  Livengood says they approach it on a one game at a time basis.  "We have goals within the conference and make the playoffs just like every team in Ohio.  The thing I emphasize to our staff and I emphasize to our kids is we want to the best possible football team we can be and that means performing your best and working your hardest to improve yourself and identify your weaknesses and build on your strengths.  That's what we focus on.  When you have a lot of talent and experience back maybe those expectations are even higher," he told Swankonsports.com, "I think sometimes when you go out and have a 6-4 or 7-3 season and with your talent and experience that might be the best you can possibly do and you can be very proud of that effort as well.  I think putting numbers on wins and losses and that kind of thing can be a little too much.  The pressure for us is we want to be the best possible team we can be and we will let everything else take care of itself."

 

Published 8/24/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Controlling Tempo a Big Key for St. Paul

 

          Norwalk St. Paul challenges Mansfield St. Peter's in a division four sectional semi-final on Tuesday night at Ashland High School.

          St. Paul (4-17) beat Western Reserve (69-61) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Coach Mike Smith thought they played well and that the good preparation for the post season.  "It makes the game a lot easier when you can make baskets.  They kind of gave us a preview of what we are going to see Tuesday against St. Pete's.  They get up in you.  They try to speed you up.  They full court press you man to man.  I thought our kids did a good job of handling the pressure and make them pay.  When you make baskets is cures a lot of ills.  We are starting to play pretty good," he said.

          In looking at St. Peter's, Smith says they have good depth and they are athletic.  "They have good quickness.  They have gotten a lot better over there since their transfers have gotten to play with the Kent kid and the Osgar kid.  That gives them a little but more depth then they had earlier in the year.  I know they have some nice young kids and coach Jakubick has done a nice job with them," he said.

          The Spartans (14-8) have started to score more points and Smith says they can score in a variety of ways because they have a lot of kids with skills, including freshman Mason Campbell.  "The Campbell kid really seems to be stepping it up.  I think he is their best perimeter shooter.  He is a kid that make a move off the dribble and do some things.  They do have good quickness.  They are hard to pressure.  The Berick kid and the Payne kid do a nice job inside for them.  Their bench is contributing, they can go eight deep.  They bring the Shaw kid, and Kent, and the Jakubick kid in off the bench to give them some extra firepower.  They seem to be fundamentally sound.  They have a lot of weapons we are going to have to be aware of," said Smith.

          In order to come up with the upset on Tuesday night, Smith says they have to control the tempo of the game and make the Spartans beat them with outside shots.  "Obviously we have to keep the ball out of the paint.  Defensively, we have to rebound the basketball.  We have to try and control the tempo a little bit and take away their transition game.  They do a great job of pushing the ball up and down the floor.  We want to make sure we get back and keep them from getting those easy baskets.  We have to be able to handle their full court pressure," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Again I think the Western game really helped us prepare for what St. Pete's is going to do with their man to man and their full court pressure.  We have to make them take perimeter jump shots and rebound the basketball."

 

Published 3/03/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Norwalk St. Paul Looking for Easy Baskets

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is a hard working team, but they don't seem to be able to find anything easy, especially on offense, and that is holding them back from winning more games.

          They face a big challenge on Tuesday night in non-conference play when they host Sandusky River League champion Sandusky St. Mary's (15-3) at their place.

          St. Paul (3-15) is a young basketball team in terms of experience and coach Mike Smith says they go through spurts when they just find it had to score.  "We have really struggled putting the ball in the basket at times.  We have really been offensively challenged.  There have been nights when we play in spurts and stretches where we are really good, you can just see the body language, it is full of energy.  Then there are stretches, three, four minutes, where we have a rough time putting the ball in the basket.  When you do that it really makes things tough.  These kids have been working extremely hard.  They come in they are very coachable.  They are aware of how we like to do things and how we like to attack things.  We need to get in a stretch here where offense becomes easy.  We are shooting well in practice, but we are not carrying it over into games," said Smith.

          A lot of teams are good in practice when nobody is watching, but Smith says they Flyers are having trouble taking that to the court on game night.  "We are not getting easy baskets.  The Crestview game for instance on Friday night.  Crestview played very, very well and they shot it very, very well.  We had six turnovers on the night and we give up two offensive boards.  They shot 55 percent and made nine threes and on the other hand we shoot 29 percent for the game.  Some of that is their defense, but we are just struggling to make hoops," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We are still a young team.  We have one senior in our rotation and the rest are some sophomores and some juniors.  We talked (Monday) at practice about just being relaxed and do what we do in practice and carry that over into the game.  I would be concerned if  the kids weren't listening and weren't busting their humps, but they are busting their humps.  Hopefully, we can break out of that offensive slump.  Our shot selection has been good."

          St. Mary's has been a race horse kind of team this year that has averaged around 70 points a game and Smith says to have any chance they have to slow them down.  "They have one of the better players in the area in Melvin Jackson.  I know the night they played Mansfield St. Pete's he had 40.  They do have an advantage in their little gym where they get up and down the floor real well.  We do have them at our place.  Hopefully the size of the gym and the extra room will help us.  They are a team that relies on pressure defense.  They come and attack you and there will be some opportunities for us to get easy baskets versus their pressure, but at the same token the transition game with Jackson and the rest of hem is something we have to take away.  They have Zimmerman inside.  He is 6'5, very athletic, strong kid, and dominates the paint.  The Fitzthum kid is doing a nice job at point guard and distributes the ball.  Snow is another kid that is doing a nice job.  They bring a 6'5" kid off the bench that can shoot it a little bit.  They are deadly offensively.  We have to be able to control tempo to slow them down as much as possible and take advantage of maybe some of their lapses on the defense of end," said Smith

 

Published 2/17/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Facing Tough Test Against Plymouth

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is struggling a little bit to find itself and they are going to have to play an outstanding game if they expect to compete against Plymouth on Tuesday night.

          The Flyers lost to Western Reserve (56-52) and Tiffin Calvert (59-49) in games last weekend.  Veteran coach Mike Smith says they are just having trouble scoring enough.  "We are struggling to score and that makes it really difficult when you can't put the ball in the basket.  Our kids are working hard and we are trying to make adjustment as we go.  When you go through stretches where your just can't the ball in the basket it makes it very hard.  I like our shot selection.  We have one senior one our team now and the rest is a lot of young kids and we are having a little bit of growing gains.  I like the kids work ethic.  Last weekend we were right there and we let it get away from us.  We are going to try and keep getting better," he said.

          St. Paul (2-8,2-4) plays host to Plymouth (11-1,6-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, in a Firelands Conference game on Tuesday night.  Smith says Plymouth is really good and they just hope to be able to hang in there.  "They have a lot of kids that have put a lot of time into it basketball and have played in a lot of games and a lot of big games.  They have the best player on the floor every night.  They just have a nice basketball team.  They are hard the guard, they play hard, they are very talented, they are very well coached.  We are going to have our hands full that's for sure.  We want to go out and compete and maybe at the end of the game have a chance to get a "W" and that would definitely help our confidence.  Right now, we don't have a lot of confidence and understand why because we haven't had a lot of success as far as the wins and losses.  These kids are working extremely hard and I am not disappointed in their effort," said Smith.

          Smith says Plymouth post player Tyrell Edmiston is the best player in the league.  He says most things Plymouth does go through him and they force you to make decisions.  "We have tried some different things.  With only really having one day to prepare it is definitely a tough match-up.  The thing that impresses me with Tyrell is he is so unselfish.  His ability to make his teammates better with his presence.  If you don't double down and give some significant help he can beat you one on one in the post.  If you double down the guys do a great job of cutting away from the basket and he is such a phenomenal passer.  With guys like Dodge Collins and Bebee they are just hard to guard," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They are hard to pressure and Hunter Bailey does a phenomenal job of getting them into sets and taking care of the basketball.  When you look at them you kind of have to pick your poison.  You have to do what you think you can do and try to take away their inside game and you have to get to their shooters.  They are just so fundamentally sound."

 

Published 1/20/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Eager to Get Better

 

          This week is one of a number of three game weeks this season the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers, who go off to a late start due to the school's appearance in the football state title game.

          Veteran coach Mike Smith says they are kind of learning on the run.  "It is difficult and I am not going to make any excuses, but it is a difficult situation.  Each day we get on the floor we are trying to learn from our experiences and try to get better.  Unfortunately we are have to use games that count as wins and losses to go through that.  I am very encouraged by our kids are working hard and trying to learn and trying to make adjustments.  We are making progress we just have to become more consistent in everything we do," he said.

          Smith adds that unlike most teams their adjustments are resulting in wins and losses.  He says he thinks the players are doing a very good job with what they have on their plate.  "I like our progress.  Everybody gets a chance to go through five scrimmages and they learn and adjust.  Our ups and downs are counted as wins and losses.  I think our kids keep coming to practice and want to learn.  For instance our first game with Huron a very athletic team, it really would have been considered a first or second scrimmage, and they get after us with man defense and they are very good offensively, they've got good size, and there were things we didn't do and we weren't ready for that, it was their third or fourth game, and that's a big adjustment.  Our second game against Monroeville who just presses, and you have to experience that game, and I thought our kids did a great job," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "(Tuesday) night was a prime example and we didn't play very well in the first half, we had a lot of self inflicted wounds, and Mapleton has a really nice team, and we got down.  We battled really hard an actually won the second half, but we just gave up too much to a good team.  They gave us some three quarter court pressure, we worked on it, but we just didn't handle it very well.  I told our kids (Wednesday) morning that we had 15 turnovers in the first half, they had two steals, it was self inflicted.  In the second half we had two turnovers, so we had 17 for the game.  Those adjustments costs you in the win-loss column sometimes.  We came in (Wednesday) and we practiced hard and watched an hour's worth of film.  I think our kids realized that we are doing a lot of good things, but we have to be consistent in every aspect of the game."

          St. Paul (1-2,1-1) plays at South Central (6-2,3-0) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Smith says this will be another big challenge because the Trojans are really good.  "They have a really nice team and Brett is doing a great job with them.  All of their kids can score and they can handle the ball.  They create match-up problems for you and they defend.  They are a tall task.  We play over there and they are playing with a lot of confidence.  Again our kids have to sick there nose in.  They have been adjusting to scouting reports and personnel.  I think they are doing a good job that way and hopefully we can get a lot better from our last game to this one," said Smith.

 

Published 1/01/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Huron Lidlifter for St. Paul

 

          Nearly three weeks after most teams in North Central Ohio, Norwalk St. Paul tips off its season on Tuesday against the unbeaten Huron Tigers in non-conference play.

          Coach Mike Smith says they know they are behind other teams in terms of practice time, but it is time to see what they've got.  "We are definitely behind we just had practice number nine and we were fortunate enough to get in one scrimmage last week.  We were able to go against Toledo Central Catholic, who was kind of in the same boat as us.  We are to the point that we are ready to go and see what we have, and kind of watch film, and see how we can get better and get a little experience under our belt.  We don't want to make any excuses for our kids.  We need to get out there against a good non-league opponent and see where we are at, evaluate, and keep getting better," he said.

          The Flyers have had only one scrimmage, but Smith is confident they have the kind of kids that will compete.  "We bring back five lettermen.  I did really like our effort against Toledo Central Catholic.  They are a division one school, they are big, long, athletic and quick.  We weren't bothered by their speed as far as speeding us up.  They did extend their pressure and get after us.  We are not the biggest team in the world, but we are very physical and I don't think we got dominated in any respect as far as that goes.  We stepped in and competed very well, so in that regard I liked what I saw.  Practice has been going good, but there is just a lot of teaching.  Plus, trying to balance it our so we have enough rest that we don't burn them out.  We are going to play eight games in 17 days, so we are trying to find that balance of not getting tied and still teaching, and gwtting game experience, but still having something left in our tank to play games," said Smith.

          Huron (4-0) has gotten off to a good start.  Smith says this is a typical Huron team that has good athletes and knows how to play the game.  "They are very athletic, a typical Huron team.  I think they mirror their football team.  Last year and they year before they graduated some really good players this year's senior class has had a lot of success and they have kind been in the shadows of classes ahead of them," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The are athletic, they are long.  They look like they play well together and have good chemistry.  They shoot the basketball pretty good and they have some depth.  We are approaching this not as a scrimmage because it is live.  We are telling our kids to make effort, to take our scouting report and apply it to game situations, knowing personnel, knowing their sets they are running, so we know what we need to take away.  I think if we compete really hard and we do some things I hope with three, four minutes to go was have a chance to create some problems for them and we have a chance of winning our opener."

 

Published 12/23/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul the Underdog This time

 

          It isn't very often that Norwalk St. Paul would be considered the underdog, but that is the case this time and they are alright with that.

          The Flyers meet three time defending state champion Marion Local in the division seven state title game on Saturday morning at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University.

          Many football experts granted Marion Local the state title before this season even began.

          St. Paul (13-1) belted unbeaten Gloster Trimble (41-13) in the state semis at Mt. Vernon High School last Saturday.  Coach John Livengood says they very first drive was a key to the win.  "We have talked a lot about in the post season especially you have to have great special teams play.  We got a nice kickoff return to open the game up to midfield.  We put together a good 10, 12 play drive and punched it in and were able to take a lead right off the bat.  Defensively, we played well early on.  We had some real nice drives in the first half and unfortunately we weren't able to finish those drives.  Right before halftime we had a key play.  We had taken a drive down inside the five yard-line and turned the ball over on downs.  On Trimble's second play we created a fumble and one of our defensive ends picked it up and was able to take it in for a score.  That was a big turning point because it kind pf gave us a momentum boost going into halftime being up 14-0," said Livengood.

         St. Paul averages over 43 points a game and rushes for 360 yards a game.  Those are all good, but Livengood knows its is going to be defense that wins on Saturday.  "The thing that I found over the years in playing in these big games, these playoff games, when you get down to those tough ones it is going to come down your defensive effort.  If you can keep the game in touch you have got a chance and you can make some things happen.  Last week was a good example of the time I have been head coach I think it was the best defensive game we have played in a big game.  We limited what they were able to do offensively.  We were able to get seven turnovers for the game, six interceptions and a fumble.  Our kids really stepped up and played great an hopefully we can do that again this week," he said.

          Marion Local (14-0) is very, very good.  They blasted Columbus Grove (55-7) in their semi-final and they beat division five state finalist Coldwater (20-0) and division six finalist Minster (56-28) during regular season play.  Livengood says they are very athletic all over the field.  "I think the biggest thing is when you look at them they are athletic at every position.  I don't care if it is offensive line, defensive line, obviously their skilled kids, but they are athletic at every position.  They have kids that can run.  They get to the football really well defensively," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They play in a very tough conference in the "MAC."  Their top three teams, with Marion Local being the top team, are playing for state championships this weekend.  Coldwater, who was second in the league, is playing for the division five state championship, and Minster, who was third in their conference, is playing for the division six state championship.  It shows you the strength of their league and the strength of their schedule.  They play teams like Delphos St. John's that we have played in the state final four times.  They have kids that can play and they are well coached and it is going to take a special effort on our kids part."

          If St. Paul gets a chance to score on Saturday, if they get in the red zone, they are going to have to take advantage.  Livengood says they have to finish.  "We moved the ball well last week, but we put ourselves in some bad situations where two of our drives stalled simply because of penalties.  We got a couple of holding calls and false starts.  When you are trying to pound the football and put together lengthy drives you can't make those kind of mistakes.  We have to finish our drives and we have to make plays, control the line of scrimmage and hang onto the football.  I think that is a big key for us being successful on Saturday," he said.

          Everyone outside of North Central Ohio considers Marion Local a big favorite.  However, Livengood says they have played this role before.  "Obviously Marion Local is a great football team and a great football program, they have had a lot of success, but you know what we are a pretty good football team too.  Our kids have a lot of confidence in themselves.  that is one thing I am really proud about we are not going to go in there and be intimidated.  We are going to go out there and play hard.  We kind of faced the kind of situation in 2009.  We were playing Delphos St. John's, who had won the state championship the year before, and was projected to the win the state championship against us, and nobody gave us much of a chance.  Our kids went in their fighting and thought they had a chance to win and they found a way to get it done.  We are taking that mentality with us this week," said Livengood.

 

Published 12/05/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Play Trimble for State Title Game Birth

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is just one step away from their fifth berth in the state championship game, but their first since 2009, when they won it all. 

          They meet Gloster Trimble, last year's state runner-up, in the division seven state semi-finals on Saturday night at Yellow Jacket Stadium at Mt. Vernon High School.

          Last week, they rallied to knock off Berlin Center Western Reserve (18-14) in the regional finals.  Coach John Livengood says they gave all they had on every play and it was just enough.  "The kids came back and played well.  We knew it was going to be a war the whole game.  They are a great football team, have a lot of great athletes, and were a lot bigger than us.  Our kids had to play every play as hard as they could and fortunately we were able to come out on top," he said.

          The Flyers trailed to whole first half, but scored the deciding touchdown on a 44-yard pass from Sam Carper to Grant Dilger on their first drive of the second half.  Livengood says their defense was just tremendous in the second half.  "I can't say enough about our defense.  We were giving up at least 100 pounds per man and sometimes 150 pounds per man.  We had kids going out there against 300 pound linemen.  Our defense played great.  We gave up a couple of scores in the first half, but really played great in the second half.  Grant Dilger had a big interception with about a minute left in the game when Berlin Center was driving deep in our territory," said Livengood.

          Trimble (13-0) got past Shadyside (31-21) to advance to this game against St. Paul.  Livengood says in a lot of ways it is like looking into the mirror.  "I watched that game with Marion Local last year and they remained me a lot of ourselves.  They are scrappy kids that play hard and play to the whistle.  They were that kind of team and they are that kind of team again this year.  They were ranked number two in the state," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Offensively they like to line up in the wishbone.  They also run a little bit of "I" and two back sets.  They prefer to run the football.  They are very similar to us offensively.  Defensively they like to play a 5-3 defense, but will get into some 6-2 looks and some 4-3 in pass situations.  They prefer to play eight in the box, so very similar to us defensively as well."

          With both teams wanting to run the football you think about the trenches.  Livengood says they have to win up front.  "I think every football game is that way.  I will say last week I am not sure we controlled the line of scrimmage, we were affective, but we didn't dominate the line of scrimmage.  We base our football ream on controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and that is going to be no more true than this week," he said.

          When you get into games like these Livengood says you can't afford to be too conservative.  He says they will go out and try to make plays.  "We have to be aggressive.  Everything is on the line.  We have to win this game to get to the state championship game.  You can't be too passive or too conservative.  There are so many factors that go into winning a game like this just like last week, special teams, turnovers, field position.  All of those things factor in.  There are usually five or six plays in a game that can change the outcome and you have to make sure you are on the better end of that deal.  You never know when those are going to come so you have to play hard on every single play," said Livengood.

 

Published 11/27/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Grapples with Berlin Center Western Reserve Again

 

          It's a rematch from last year in the division seven regional final as Norwalk St. Paul meets Berlin Center Western Reserve at Copley Stadium near Akron on Saturday night.

          Last season, Western Reserve ended the season for the Flyers by beating them (22-2) in the regional final.

          Now last week, St. Paul (11-1) beat Mapleton (41-6) in a battle of Firelands Conference powers.  The Flyers won the regular season meeting (34-28) too.  Coach John Livengood says they bounced back from a bad start.  "Unfortunately the game sort of started off like our first meeting.  We turned the ball over on the 30-yard line and they were able to take the ball on a short field and go in and score and go up 6-0.  But, we came right back and from that point on we controlled the line of scrimmage and played pretty well," he said.

          Livengood says his players have been through a lot of big games and they don't get nervous after bad starts.  "Our kids are pretty even keel, they don't get too high or low emotionally.  We knew we made a mistake and put them in good position to take it down in four down territory and put it in the end zone.  We knew we had to bounce back and our kids came back and did a nice job.  We had a nice kickoff return, busted off a nice run, and got inside the five yard line.  I think we scored in two plays after they scored, so we kind of got the momentum going back in our direction and that carried us through the rest of the night," said Livengood.

          St. Paul has quick, athletic offensive and defensive lineman.  Livengood says Western Reserve (11-1) is quite different.  "They return a lot of their offensive linemen and they are big.  Their center goes 6'4", 360 pounds, their left guard is 6'3", 320, their right guard is 6'2", 290, and they are about 240 at each tackle.  Some of those guys start on the defensive line as well.  Their quarterback is a big 6'2", 195, runs pretty well, throws the ball well.  Their big target is their split end Joe Falasca, he was their top receiver last year and he is 6'6", 205," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "So, they have a lot of size, but they have some speed out there as well in their skilled positions.  Defensively they are very aggressive.  They have gone with a 5-2 front, but lately they have gone with more of a 4-4, 6-2 look.  They mix up those fronts and they bring a lot of pressure.  They cause a lot of problems for you."

          It was a year ago when these teams met the last time and Livengood says they haven't forgotten, but it is not something they dwell on.  "They remember it, it is not something that we harp on a lot.  We will use examples from that game I'm sure to show the kids that there are similar things that they are doing.  I am a big believer that you can't live in the past.  What we did last year, whether it is accomplishments, or maybe things that didn't go our way, you not going to sit and talk about that all of the time, it's about here and now and what you are going to try and accomplish in the future.  Is it a revenge game?  No thoughts like that have not entered our mind.  We want to play our best football game that we have played all year," said Livengood.

          On paper it looks like the teams are pretty evenly matched and Livengood says it is going to be who takes advantage and makes big plays.  "I think when you get in these big games it always comes down to four or five plays and it is how well you play on those particular plays.  You are going to have some adversity throughout the game that you and going to have to overcome and it's how you handle those situations determines the outcome.  There are a lot of factors in games, especially when the teams are evenly matched.  We have to try and control those factors as much as we can," he said.

 

Published 11/18/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

It's St. Paul and Mapleton Act Two

 

          They played in the Firelands Conference championship game three weeks ago and they play again Saturday and this time winner of the Norwalk St. Paul and Mapleton game gets a ticket to the Elite Eight.

          The Flyers (10-1) and the Mounties play in the division seven regional semis at the Bellevue Athletic Field on Saturday night.

          Despite the Cleveland Plain Dealer calling for an upset, last week the St. Paul Flyers led (42-0) after the first quarter and went on to punish Vienna Mathews (63-2) in a first round game.

          Coach John Livengood says their play in the early stages of the game was key.  "We came out and played pretty well.  Our kids had the right mindset when they came on the field played really well.  We dominated things early in the first quarter.  We had a big kickoff return to start the game.  We got it down to the 30, 40 yard-line and we were able to score the first play and create situations where we were going three and out defensively.  We ran a punt back and played well in all three phases of the game.  Our special teams set us up with short fields.  Our defense was going three and out.  We were able to create some turnovers in the first quarter," said Livengood.

          Of course, these two teams just played, but Livengood says they have quite a bit of experience with that scenario.  "We have had some experience with that.  I think four times we have played Monroeville in the post season.  In fact, I think we played them week 10 and then we hosted them week 11 in the first round of the playoffs.  It is something we are familiar with.  We met Sandusky St. Mary's two or three times in the playoffs after opening up with them week one.  This is a whole different animal and a whole new week.  We played Mapleton just three weeks ago and they are playing good football and we know we are going to have top play our best game of the season," he said.

          Mapleton (8-3) is led by the running of senior Travis Pickering, but Livengood says he is equally as good on defense.  "He is a great running back and has been a great running back in our conference for the last several years.  When we played them the first time the thing that I was most impressed with was how well he played linebacker.  He played a great game against us at linebacker.  We had a tough time blocking him, especially when he was on the back side.  He did a great job getting off our guards.  We are going to have to improve a great deal in that area if we are going to have success running the football," he said.

          However, the Mounties are more than just Pickering.  Livengood says Conner Black is the kind of kid that can change of the momentum of the game.  "Conner Black is the one that really stands out.  If you follow professional football he kind of reminds me of Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  He is kind of all over the place.  He will blitz from the secondary," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "From deep safety he will come all of the way up from the line of scrimmage and blitz off the edge or blitz up the middle.  They line him up in a lot of different areas.  Most of the time he is going to your strength, but there are times when he will switch things up and come off the weak edge.  You have to account for him because he is a great athlete and he causes a lot of disruptions for your offense."

          The first time they met St. Paul won (34-28) after Mapleton had taken a (21-7) lead after the first quarter.  Saturday night, Livengood says there are going to be big plays to be made.  "You never know when that play is going to happen and that is something that we talk to our kids about all of the time there is always going to be five or six big plays in a game that are going to be turning points and you never know when those plays are going to occur and you have to make sure you are always going 100 percent and you are prepared for when that happens.  That is the expectation of our kids and hopefully that is the way they play," he said.

 

Published 11/13/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Ready to Attack the Playoffs

 

          This week Norwalk St. Paul makes its 16th appearance in the state football playoffs as they play host to Vienna Mathews on Saturday night in a division seven regional quarterfinal.

          The Flyers (9-1), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, won the outright Firelands Conference title this fall.  Coach John Livengood says they are finally getting healthy at the right time.  "We still have a number of things to clean up and continue to get better, but we are doing things well.  We are running the ball well.  I would like to see us pass it better.  We have been banged up here the last four or five weeks.  It's just different injuries it seems each week.  Some key starters have been out, but we are starting to get a little healthy. Hopefully, three of the four starters than have been out will be back, so that is going to help with things.  We need to continue with that mindset of everything we take the field of getting better," said Livengood.

          St. Paul lost in the regional finals last year and return a number of players from that team, plus Livengood says they have played a lot of good teams this year.  "I think anytime you get into those bigger games, championship type games, playoff type games, I think that experience is always a little bit different," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I know we played three playoff games last year and we can look back on that and that is a valuable experience, but I also think this year we have played a number of teams that are in the playoffs in Huron and Tiffin Calvert, Plymouth and Mapleton, and we scrimmaged Keystone.  A lot of those games were playoff like games for us with that type of intensity and that caliper of competition."

          Vienna Mathews (7-3) takes a five game winning streak into the game on Saturday.  Livengood says this is a big team they will be facing and one that like to run the ball.  "They are primarily a three back set, they like to run the wishbone, they like to run the unbalanced line.  They are not a big passing team, they like to run the football.  Their main running back Brian Lepley is a 200 pound halfback, they have a big fullback that weighs 225 pounds, and their quarterback has run for over 1,000 yards running the option.  With the option a lot of times with the way you run it you can crate mismatches, you can block a guy simply with your read option, and they do a great job with that.  They have a  big offensive line and they outsize us quite a bit on the offensive and defensive line an in the backfield," said Livengood.

          What happens up front and who controls it will be a big part of this game and Livengood knows it.  "We have go to control the line of scrimmage and that is both sides of the ball.  They have that big offensive line, and its the same kids on the defensive line.  Most of out ours are 175, 185, 195 pounds, we don't have a lot of big offensive and defensive linemen.  We know our kids up front are going to have to get after it, play strong, and play their best game of the season to this point," he said

 

Published 11/06/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Plays Biggest Rival

 

          Norwalk St. Paul plays its biggest game of the season this Friday night and it is just because they are playing Monroeville, their biggest rival.

          This year has not been a very good year for the Eagles, but that doesn't really matter.

          Last Saturday, St. Paul (8-1,6-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, rallied to knock off Mapleton (34-28) in game between two teams that were unbeaten in the Firelands Conference.

          Coach John Livengood says the players remained confident even thought they were twice down by 14 points.  "To Mapleton's credit they really jumped on us early.  The first drive of the game we drove down inside the 20 and unfortunately we threw an interception and they took it back pick six and went up 7-0.  We got the ball back and fumbled on our third play and set them up at the 40 yard line and they popped off a big run and the next thing you know it's 14-0.  We came back and made it 14-7 an then they hit an 80-yard bomb on us.  At the end of the first quarter we were looking at a 21-7 deficit," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Our kids did a nice job maintaining their composer and stuck with the game plan.  We did a pretty good job of shutting them down defensively from that point on and moved the ball pretty well.  We were able to get a lead and hold on to it in the second half."

          The Flyers had handled everyone else the conference pretty easily and Livengood thinks playing a game like last week was important for them.  "It was a great championship game.  It was like I told the kids leading up to the game remember that Mapleton is playing for the same thing you are.  They are playing for a conference championship and high ranking in the playoffs.  So, everything we were playing for, they were playing for.  We knew it was going to be a really tough game and they have some talented kids, Pickering in particular at running back and linebacker, and Conner Black, those guys are game breakers, they are game changers out there on the field.  It was all we could to contain them and win the ballgame," said Livengood.

          Monroeville (1-8,1-5) won their first game of the season last week when they beat Crestview (14-7) on week nine.  Livengood says he doesn't care what the Eagles record is because he knows it is going to be a tough game.  "We went and scouted them Friday night and the played really well against Crestview.  They are playing with a lot more confidence.  Coach Stecher is doing a really good job over there and really emphasizing the run.  They are running the ball pretty decent and playing some decent defense and getting better each week.  This is a rivalry game for us.  I have always said you can throw the records out.  We have contrasting records, we are 8-1 and they are 1-8, but I think that really doesn't matter once you take the field.  They are going to give us everything they got and we are going to have to play our best game of the year," said Livengood.

 

Published 10/31/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Takes on Another Challenger

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has been the most consistent football team in the Firelands Conference over the last 20 years.  For many years Monroeville was a the biggest challenger, at times it was Crestview, and other times it was Western Reserve.  Now, its is Mapleton.

          Mapleton shares first place in the league with the Flyers and they come to Whitney Field on Saturday night to settle it.

          Last week, the Flyers (7-1,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, got off to a great start and buried Crestview (49-0) in a conference game.  Coach John Livengood says they were focused.  "I thought our kids came out and played well.  It was really one of our best games of the year as far as a half.  We came out and moved the ball well and defensively played really well and our special teams dominated.  We played well in all three facets of the game.  We started fast and were up (21-0) in the first quarter and (49-0) at halftime.  We were able to play the rest of our back ups there in the second half," he said.

          St. Paul has shown great depth as they have battled some injuries this year.  Livengood says they should be more healthy for Saturday night.  "We had two starters out going into the Plymouth game and had a third starter go down in the Plymouth game and we talked about a team win and how everybody has to step up and step in for those guys and our kids have done a nice job with that.  We are starting to get a couple of those injured guys back and healthy," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Derek Gross will be playing again this week, he suited up last week, but we held him out.  Jared Nicoli will be playing again this week.  He is kind day to day as he is recovering from his injuries.  We want to smart about it and make sure those guys are 100 percent before we let them back on the field, but we are stating to get some of those guys back.  They are big part of our team, so we are going to need them as we go on throughout the season."

          Mapleton (6-2,5-0) is on a six game winning streak and Livengood says they have a number of skilled players that can make big plays on offense.  "They are a great football team.  They did a nice job last year and made the playoffs and really had a nice season last season.  A lot of those skilled kids and back from that team.  Wade Berone at quarterback, Travis Pickering at tailback, one of the best running backs in the conference, and Conner Black at receiver, one of the best receivers in the conference.  They have those skilled kids to build around and they have that starting experience that comes back on both sides of the ball.  We know that they are going to be a tough task for us," he said.

          Travis Pickering is one of the best running backs in the area, regardless of division, and Livengood says the Mounties count on him, but they are not just about him.  "One things that I would say is they are pretty balanced.  They throw the ball pretty well, but they hang their hat on Pickering.  He does a nice job and is a patient runner.  When he is able to find seem, he is able to accelerate and he has got great speed and there are not a lot of guys that can catch him.  They have good balance, they throw the ball well and Conner Black is one of the best receivers in the conference.  They are not afraid to get out there and go four, five wide and throw the ball around a little as well," said Livengood.

 

Published 10/23/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Host Crestview

 

          With three weeks left in the regular season Norwalk St. Paul is tied with Mapleton for the Firelands Conference lead.  They play Mapleton next week, but they have Crestview this week,

          They dispatched of Plymouth (48-19) last week, handing the Big Red just their second loss of the season.  Plymouth scored on their first possession to take a (7-0) lead, but St. Paul scored the next four TD's.  Coach John Livengood says their defense did a very good job against an outstanding Plymouth offense.  "They have probably the most explosive athletes in the conference with Tyrell Edmiston at receiver.  He is a tough match-up problem.  He is 6'3", 215 pounds.  Their running back is a four year starter in Chance Butcher.  Hunter Bailey at quarterback is really shifty and strong for his size.  They pose a lot of problems and really spread you out on the field.  They have a lot of different wrinkles on offense.  Overall I thought we had a great defensive effort," he said.

          St. Paul ran for 358 yards against Plymouth, led by Devin Smith's 137.

          Crestview (2-5,1-3) is at St. Paul (6-1,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, this week.  Livengood is not fooled by the Cougars record, he has seen them on film.  "They are better than their record indicates.  I think they have two or three wins on the year, but they have lost a couple of tough, close games.  They have been a little bit up and down early in the season.  I think they are playing really consistent now.  They played really well against Western Reserve.  Their score didn't indicate it, but they played really well against Mapleton," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They have a lot of good football players and they play well every week.  All we have top do is look back to last year when we played them and going into the fourth quarter they were beating us 14-10.  We ended up having things go our way a little bit in the fourth quarter and ended up winning very soundly.  Up until the fourth quarter they really battled us.  They are going to show up ready to play and they are going to play us tough and we have to play our best game of the season so far."

          The Cougars are traditionally a run team, but they are throwing a lot more this year, they threw 20 in a (42-12) loss to Mapleton last week.  Livengood says they show good balance.  "They still like the double tight set.  They will run a lot of power.  Their tailback Conner Hickey has done a real nice job running the ball for them.  Tyler Brown is a big fullback, blocking back for them.  He is a sophomore, but he is 6'3", 225, runs the ball good, plays good at linebacker.  They like to get out there and throw the ball, a lot of play action, a lot of boot action.  Last week against Mapleton they ran a lot more spread, some unbalanced spread and did some different stings out of that with the jet sweep an some play action reverses.  It is not just the old double tight and snap it up and go they are moving the ball around different ways and pose a lot of problems," said Livengood.

 

Published 10/17/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul and Plymouth Clash in big one in Firelands

 

          Norwalk St. Paul shares the lead in the Firelands Conference with Mapleton, but Plymouth looms just a game back and the Flyers and Big Red play Friday night at Plymouth.

          It is a must win for Plymouth if they expect to win part of the conference title.

          Last Saturday, St. Paul (5-1,3-0) throttled New London (51-8) to remain on top of the conference standings.  Coach John Livengood says they played very well in most elements of the game.  "I thought our kids came out and played well.  We kind of jumped on things early.  I think we scored four times in the first quarter and defensively we were getting stops.  Really the only breakdown was I didn't think we played well in our special teams.  Our kickoff unit, which is normally a real nice unit for us, gave up a long kickoff return, New London returned it down to the two and we gave up another long return where we got it into good field position.  Those are areas where we have to continue to work on and get better.  Overall it was a good effort and we were happy to get out with a win," said Livengood.

          Plymouth (5-1,2-1) three times has scored more than 40 points this year and Livengood says they are scary explosive.  "When you look at Plymouth and you talk about talent there is a lot of talent there.  You start with Tyrell Edmiston, their three year starter at receiver.  He is 6'5" and 215 pounds.  Anyone that follows basketball knows what kind of athlete he is.  It looks like he runs about a 4.4 40.  He is a special athlete, especially in the Firelands Conference.  You just don't see kids like him," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Hunter Bailey is a four year starter at quarterback and he does a great job there.  Chance Butcher is a four year starter, a senior, at running back and linebacker.  Remington Smedley, a two year starter at receiver.  There are two or three kids on the offensive and defensive lines that have been two, three year starters.  Tyson Bebee, did not play football last year, but I know he is one of their best basketball players, has joined the team this year and he is playing running back for them as well.  So, they have a lot of talent and we know we have a big game ahead of us."

          Plymouth has worked hard on its defense and it showed last week when they blanked South Central (25-0) in a conference game.  Livengood says they force you to make plays.  "They played very well against South Central.  We scouted that game and they have some athletes out there, there is no question about it.  They like to play 11 within five yards of the football.  If you can't play action pass or break that long run you are going to have a tough time moving the ball on them.  They have kids that can run and they play 11 within five yards of the line of scrimmage," he said.

          In Plymouth games there tend to be big plays and Livengood says they need to make most of them.  "They do very well on both sides of the ball.  They make big plays on offense.  Edmiston makes a lot of big plays on offense for them.  He has caught to majority of their touchdowns.  Butcher does a nice job and Ramey running the jet sweep.  Bailey is the guy when they run the read option he is the guy that keeps the ball.  They give you a lot of different looks offensively.  They are very aggressive on defense and play a lot of light man coverage.  We know it's going to be tough task," he said.

 

Published 10/08/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Readies for New London

 

          Through two weeks of the Firelands Conference schedule Norwalk St. Paul shares the lead in the standings with Mapleton and they don't play until week nine.

          The Flyers (4-1,2-0) host New London (1-4,1-1) on Saturday night in a league game.

          St. Paul has outscored their opponents (34-7) in the third quarter and coach John Livengood feels that first drive of the second half was big in their (41-7) win over Western Reserve last week.  "Western is a good football team and they have some big, physical kids.  They have some good speed in the backfield.  They did a lot with moving things around and not giving a set front.  I took some adjusting to get where we could move the move the ball more consistent.  It was 21-7 at the half and we came out in the second half and had a nice kickoff return and we were able to score on the first play a go up 28-7.  We got a little bit more comfortable with things.  It was just a matter of getting into sink with things.  It was something we struggled with a little bit and I think that credit goes to Western Reserve and how hard they were playing us," said Livengood.

          Making adjustments is many times crucial in a high school football game and Livengood says making those adjustments last week were difficult because of what Western was doing.  "It was tough making those adjustments because they were moving around quite a bit and giving us a different front almost every down.  It was tough for our kids, but they were able to lock on an make plays and did a real good job with that.  Once we got the momentum going our way I thought the kids played well," he said.

          New London has struggled to find success this year under first year coach Brad Pickens.  However, Livengood says that is not because they don't have talent.  "I think they are trying to find an offensive identity and a defensive identity.  Anytime there is a change it is tough to get things going in the right direction.  The thing they have going for them is they have a lot of starters coming back from last year," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I thought they had one of the better offensive lines in the conference last year and I think four out of five of those same guys are back.  Their quarterback Josh Hamilton is back.  Their fullback Eric Phillips is back.  All of those same guys are two way players and back on defense.  They have a lot of returning experience and a lot of good football players out there.  I know coach Pickens is doing a great job and they are getting better each week.  Those kids are going to be a handful."

 

Published 10/01/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Out to Good Start in League

 

          Nearly everyone predicted that Norwalk St. Paul would repeat as Firelands Conference champions and they did nothing to disprove that theory last week.

          They led (53-0) at halftime and went on to punish South Central (60-0) in their first conference game of the season.  Coach John Livengood says they were able to throw the ball and played well all night on defense.  "The kids came out and really played well.  South Central really loaded the box for us and we were able to hit some play action passes early.  The backs ran really hard and the line blocked well.  Defensively we played pretty well, so it was a good overall win for us," he said.

          Now with four games under his belt quarterback Sam Carper has  show some good progression in the position.  Livengood says they have to continue to be able to throw the ball if they are to improve on offense.  "Our first two games we struggled a little bit throwing the ball, but the last two weeks we have really made good strides with that.  Our quarterback Sam Carper has really does a nice job completing passes over the last couple of weeks.  We like the progress he is making and you have to be balanced.  Our run game has been pretty strong for us and when they put nine guys in the box you have to be able to throw the ball," said Livengood.

          Perhaps the most consistent part of the St. Paul team this year has been its defense.  Livengood says they have played well in all of their games and have some improvement through the first four weeks of the year.  "I think our defense has played well all year.  We returned nine of our 11 starters on defense and they have played well in all four of our games.  Against Huron, a 14-7 loss, we really made some nice defensive stops and week two against Calvert too.  Huron and Calvert those are playoff type games.  Our defense stood up and played well," he told Swankonsports.com, "It was nice for them to get a complete game (Friday) night and get a shutout.  They have been flying to the football, make good decisions on defense, and getting in the proper alignments.  As long as we continue to improve good things will happen."

          It's another road game for St. Paul (3-1,1-0) as they travel to meet rival Western Reserve (1-3,1-0) on Friday night.  The Rough Riders beat Monroeville (33-6) in their conference opener last week.  Livengood says the Rough Riders last week showed what they have got.  "Western over the last five, six years has been very good.  I know they struggled a little bit early on with some tough losses to Black River, Margaretta and Norwalk, three good opponents.  They came out and played well (Friday) night against Monroeville.  They have a big offensive line, a quick quarterback that does a good job running the ball and a running back that runs hard.  We know it's going to be a big challenge this week and we have to continue to focus on ourselves as well," said Livengood.

          For many years Western was a run based team, but Livengood says over the last few years they have started to throw more.  "It is more of a mix and they have done that over the last couple of years.  They still hang their hat on the unbalanced, we call it a "Rider" formation.  Now they have mixed in the spread and the quarterback counter and throw the ball around more than they have in the past.  They really have a balanced attack," he said.

 

Published 9/22/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

St. Paul Begins Defense

 

          Norwalk St. Paul was clearly the best team in the Firelands Conference last year, as they have been many times over the last 25 years, and that seems to be the case again this year.

          That's even after they lost last Saturday to Huron (14-7) and perhaps that opinion has even been enhanced due to that loss. 

          Coach John Livengood says they had a good chance to tie or go ahead late and he was happy with the way they played against the Tigers.  "They are a very good program, well coached, coach Lagando does a great job down there.  It was a good challenge for us we were playing up two divisions against a perennial playoff team and "SBC" championship like team.  Our kids came out and played very hard.  I am very proud of how they played.  We found a way to make it a game.  We ended up driving from about out own 25-yard line inside the four yard line with about 30 seconds left, had a chance to tie the score, and unfortunately had a turnover.  I give our kids a lot of credit for how well they played.  I was very happy with their discipline and toughness.  We had a chance at the end and I think when you play competition like that it makes you better.  It gives you a chance to see areas where you need to get better and I think we are going to be a better team for it," said Livengood.

          They begin defense of their title on Friday night at South Central and Livengood says the idea is to get better in all areas.  "Our goal is to bounce back.  We talk a lot to our kids about every time we step on the field we want to get better.  Every week when we get out there for a game we want to be better than we were the previous week.  That goal has remained constant for the last 20 some years.  That's what I expect our kids to do to find our areas of weakness and build upon them.  I expect us to come out and play hard and play well on Friday night," he said.

          Wayne Hinkle is new coach at South Central (1-2) and Livengood is impressed by the transformation he has seen in a program that was winless a year ago.  "Wayne is a great guy I have known him for a few years as he has been the high school principal down at South Central.  His offense and defense is very sound.  He kind of took over in a tough spot with not a lot of kids on the roster.  He has them believing and playing hard and that was evidenced week one when they came out and beat Seneca East, probably a team they hadn't beaten in 20 years.  They are playing competitive football and their kids are playing hard," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They have a lot of big guys on the team, they are very big up front.  They have two big bruisers as backs in Jenny and Conway, those guys turn around and play linebacker on defense.  They have a three starter coming back at quarterback in David Carney.  They have a couple nice receivers.  We know we have a big challenge ahead of us."

 

Published 9/19/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers and Huron Lock Horns

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is always one of the best small school football powers in this part of the state and that appears to be the case this year too.

          They host Huron (1-1) of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Saturday night.  The Tigers are division four and likely will be as a good team as the Flyers will see until playoff time.

          They bested long time non-conference rival Tiffin Calvert (56-20) last Saturday.  Coach John Livengood thought they turned in a pretty good effort against the Senecas.  "Tiffin Calvert is a great football team.  It has been very tough for us to beat them the last four or five years.  In fact, they won from 2010 to 2013 then we were able to get them last year in overtime.  Fortunately we were able to come out on top this past week, but they are very good program.  Coach Fox has them in the playoffs every year.  They have a great athlete in Tyler Long and anytime we can kind of contain him, keep him under control, and come out with a win we feel pretty good about it," said Livengood.

          With really good teams like the Flyers it can be hard to determine improvement by just looking at the score, but Livengood thought they did get better.  "We did improve in certain areas.  One area in particular that I wasn't happy with on week one was the play of our secondary and our pass defense.  I thought we did a great job against Calvert breaking on the ball and getting pass break ups and interceptions.  I just thought we made a big jump from week one to week two in that area, so I was pleased with that.  I thought our special teams play was pretty good.  Offensively we made some good improvement.  We ran the ball pretty well and made a little improvement throwing the ball and that's an area that we need to continue to improve on," he said.

          St. Paul (2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coach's poll in the small school division, entertains Huron on Saturday night.  Livengood has great respect for the Huron football program.  "Coach Lagando is one of the best coaches around and runs a great program.  They are playing some bigger schools and a little higher level competition," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They opened up with Sandusky and had a sound win there.  They came out week two against Bellevue, another great program.  We went out and scouted that Friday night before it got a lightning delay.  It was a game that was decided by two defensive scores and Bellevue made their PAT and Huron unfortunately missed it."

          Livengood says they have to be very fundamental because Huron has tremendous athletes at every position on the field.  "The thing when you look at Huron they put great athletes at every position on the field.  We know we have to be prepared for that.  They have great schemes and great coaching and it is going to be a good game for us," he said.

 

Published 9/11/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 
 

Flyers Preparing for Calvert

 

          After a sound performance on the opening week of the season against Sandusky St. Mary's, the St. Paul Flyers are getting ready for a Saturday night match-up with Tiffin Calvert.

          St. Paul buried St. Mary's (54-13) last Saturday and coach John Livengood says they played pretty well on both sides of the ball.  "I thought our kids played pretty well, but we still have a lot of things we have to fix and some bugs to work out.  Overall we controlled to line of scrimmage pretty well on both sides of the ball.  We ran the ball pretty well and played some decent special teams.  Defensively we have very few breakdowns.  We were able to control things and come out with a pretty solid win," he said.

          A goal of the St. Paul program is to get better every week and Livengood outlines what they are doing this week.  "The number one thing that jumps out is we had three turnovers in the first half.  We probably could have had the game a little bit more under control going into halftime if we take care the ball a little better.  We had some holding penalties and things like that that we have to clean up.  Secondary wise we would like to see our kids break on the football a little bit better.  I thought we did a little better job of that in the second half.  Early in the game we kind of allowed some passes because we were standing around watching things.  We have to get a little more efficient with our passing game and get things going in that direction," said Livengood.

          With a more than 30-point lead last week, St. Paul had to deal with the state's new running clock rule.  Livengood says he likes it and doesn't like it.  "It is good and bad.  We were in a situation where we had a running clock.  By that time we had our second group in with our young kids.  A lot of time what we are able to do is play of second group for two, three series and when we get midway through the fourth quarter we are able to get our freshmen and anybody else on our roster in.  With that running clock it became difficult to get some of our younger kids in and get them experience," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Overall we got into a situation at the end of the game where we were driving and I was glad there was a running clock because we ended up taking a knee and really didn't want to score any more.  It is a good thing from that standpoint and a little bit negative because you want to get those kids in under the lights and we weren't able to get all of our kids in at that point."

          St. Paul beat Calvert last year, but lost to them the previous two.  To win this time Livengood says they have to control the Calvert quarterback and that won't be easy.  "The thing with Calvert is they have a very good quarterback.  Tyler Long is a three year starter.  He is a big kid that is being recruited by a lot of division one schools.  He hurts you as much with his feet as he does his arm.  We had a lot of trouble with him two years ago.  Last year we contained him a little better, but he is a threat to score on every play.  They have some nice linemen returning, particularly on defense.  They have played very well against us the last few years.  We know we have to be ready to go it's a big game," said Livengood.

 

Published 9/03/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Ready to Get Going

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is coming off a year when they advanced to the final eight in the division seven and won another Firelands Conference football championship.  This will be another good season them, how good may depend on how well they mature at certain positions.

          Longtime coach John Livengood says he has been happy with how the players have worked and progressed this year.  "Our kids have done a nice job through summer camps and two a days and I have been pretty happy with how our scrimmages have gone.  One of the great things about being able to go out and scrimmage, especially when you scrimmage good teams, is you get the opportunity to see the things that you work on and need to work on.  We have seen plenty of those and our kids have been pretty open minded about that and we have work hard to improve.  Now, that we are back in school we are ready to get in this game week mode and start rolling with the season," he said.

          There is quite a bit of experience back for the Flyers, but not at quarterback or in the kicking game and Livengood says they have been working hard in those areas.  "There are a few areas were we don't have experience, quarterback being one.  We have had Scotty Slaughterbeck as our quarterback the last two years.  Sam Carper is stepping in there as a junior this year.  Sammy started for us at safety last year, so he has been on the varsity field and knows what that's like, but now he is stepping into a two-way role and into that quarterback position.  That is an area where we have to continue to improve an get some experience," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Our kicking game as well, we have to replace our kicker and punter.  Those are big areas where we didn't have experience.  The tight end position, we have two new starters there.  We have to continue to work and improve in those two areas.  Obviously your fundamentals,, when you are watching tape and breaking things down you see some footwork here and some footwork there.  We want to keep getting better each week that we are on the field."

          Special teams is something Livengood says they work on with particular interest during practice sessions.  "That is something from day one in two a days that we start working on.  We will have all our special teams in on the first day.  We commit probably a third of our practice to special teams everyday.  We feel strongly about that.  You can control field position if you are on kick or punt coverage or on your return game.  We put a lot of emphasis on it.  Hopefully we have prepared our kids well and can hit the ground running when we hit the field on week one," he said.

          The Flyers head for Sandusky St. Mary's, now of the Sandusky River Conference, on Saturday night.  Livengood says the Panthers have some weapons.  "St. Mary's returns a number of starters and you kind of start with their quarterback Trevor Fitzhum.  He is a big kid six foot 185 and had a nice year last year as a junior, throws the ball well, runs the ball well.  I think three of their four receivers come back.  I think they have three of their four offensive lineman returning.  Defensively kind of the same thing they have a lot of kids returning with varsity experience.  They run the 5-2 on defense.  They are in the spread on offense.  They try to spread you out and get their athletes in space and they pose a lot of problems," said Livengood.

 

Published 8/29/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com         

 

 
 

Flyers Are Experienced and Polished

 

           Here is a warning for the rest of the Firelands Conference as if they didn't already know, the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers return a lot of talented varsity players and are ready to defend their conference title.

          Veteran coach John Livengood says they have quite a few kids back that got some time with the varsity on the football field last fall.  "We are pretty happy and excited about the number of kids that we have back.  We have a lot of kids that started for us last year and a lot of kids that received a lot of experience.  We ended up 11-2 last year and lost in the regional finals to Berlin Center Western Reserve and we have a lot back from that team," he said.

          Not all of the kids expected to be starters for the Flyers were there for the first play in all 13 games last season, but Livengood says they were certainly tested.  "We have guys that started for all 13 games and some guys that have started five games and eight games and four games and things like that because of injuries or rotations, things like that.  Offensively other than quarterback and tight end we have guys that have started three or four games back at every position," he told Swamkonsports.com, "Defensively it is the same thing.  Other than defensive tackle and inside linebacker we've got guys that have started at least four, five games for us last year.  That makes things a lot easier when it comes to summer installs and seven on sevens and things of that nature.  They have come up to speed pretty quick and then got the younger kids up to speed as well.  It has made for an enjoyable camp up to this point."

          The Flyers starting quarterback last season has taken his talents to the college game, but Livengood says they have a young man ready to step into that role.  "We lost Scotty Slaughterback, who was a great quarterback for us last year and was an All-Ohio kicker and punter for us.  He went on to Ashland University where he is doing really well right now.  He is a tough weapon to replace.  We have Aaron Carper, who is coming into his junior year.  He started at safety last year for us as a sophomore.  He has stepped into that role and he has made great progress for us over the last six, seven months.  He has a lot of intangible qualities such as his leadership abilities, his smarts and his understanding of the offense.  We have been really, really happy with his progress throwing the football and are really, really excited about his prospects for this season,' said Livengood.

          Last season, most of the Flyers conference games were over by halftime and Livengood says that gave them the chance to get some younger players into the game and that helps when preparing for this year.  "All of those kids want to be varsity players some day.  Anytime you can get those kids on a varsity field, get them some valuable experience, get them more comfortable rather than playing on Saturday afternoon or Monday afternoon, that's good.  We are able to play a lot of kids when we get leads like that.  We play a lot of kids anyway.  That helps in the transition to the next season and getting on the varsity field," he said.

 

Published 8/20/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com   

 

 
 

Norwalk St. Paul Finds itself

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has had its ups and downs this season, but they just might be playing their best basketball of the season heading into the district tournament this week.

          The Flyers (10-13) plays Buckeye Central (21-2), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the small school division, in the division four district semi-finals at Willard High School on Tuesday night.

          St. Paul beat South Central (50-49) and Fremont St. Joe (52-43) in sectional play last week.  Coach Mike Smith says they may have found something.  "I think I found the team I thought we would have this season.  We did a lot of soul searching there at the end of the year and tried to figure some things out.  It wasn't x's and o's and they are really good kids.  We have a lot of younger kids and there is a lot of competition among each other.  I think everybody was just trying to do too much and do things on there own.  When we got done with the Western game we were kind of out of whack.  I challenged our kids and told them let us coach you, let's play as one, let's up our focus in everything we do in practice and games.  You can see a different team in Tuesday versus South Central, but I think on Friday night we really grew up.  You could see a lot of focus, the preparation, all of things we talked about kind of came to fruition.  We are looking forward to a big challenge on Tuesday night.  They are just a great basketball team.  They are well coached and just explosive offensively," said Smith.

          Smith says Buckeye Central has the total package with an explosive offense and a stingily defense and he says they just don't make many mistakes.  "They don't beat themselves.  When you look at them Austin Wurm and Cade Kaple are dynamic players.  They both can shoot it well.  They can get to the basket.  They just do a lot of good things for them offensively.  They have nice chemistry, everybody has just filled in and done their roles," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I know the Heydinger kid doesn't score a whole lot, but he really brings a lot of the table defensively.  They get up in you and pressure you and he is kind of the one that keys that.  The Robertston kid on the inside does a nice job and obviously Stone Wurm.  They play within their means.  They get up and down the floor, something we have to be concerned with.  They get to the glass.  They are very explosive offensively.  They are very sound defensively.  Off the bench they have guys that fill their roles.  The Holis kid does a nice job and Grant Loy since he has come back from injury gives them another perimeter threat and another big body.  They have a nice team and we are going to have our hands full."

          Obviously Buckeye has a lot of very good players, but Smith says a lot of what they do starts with Kaple.  "I know Austin scores a little bit more, but if you look at the team honestly Cade sets the table for everybody.  He pushes in transition.  He playmakes for other people and himself.  He stretches the defense.  He will come down and pull up.  He plays very smart.  He is the ringleader.  He is the guy that makes them go.  He is a tough match-up.  They can also post him, so if you put a smaller guy on him, a little quicker guy, they will put him on the low block.  We have a good game plan.  We have to go out and execute it," he said.

 

Published 3/04/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to
swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum      

 

 
 

St. Paul has to Get Its Act Together

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has had some issues off the court and some issues scoring in recent games and they have to straighten that out if they are going to have a chance for success in the postseason tournament.

          The Flyers (8-13) will play South Central (7-14) in the division four sectional semi-finals at Norwalk High School on Wednesday night.

          Coach Mike Smith says they have to deal with their own concerns before they can worry about South Central.  "We have kind of been out of sorts here for a little bit.  I think we have some guys that have been trying to do too much on their own.  We have some guys that are pressing.  We have really tried to relax and get things in order to try to get them back in the right frame of mind," he told Swankonsports.com, "We went through a tough part of our schedule playing a lot of games against some pretty good teams.  We have had to mix our lineup.  We have had some issues there that we had to take care of.  On Friday we didn't start a couple of guys just for some minor things that we needed to correct and kind of get everybody on the same page."

          South Central beat St. Paul (50-45) in the Flyers first game of the season and then St. Paul returned the favor by winning in Greenwich (56-53) on January 18.  Smith says they have to get after it.  "We respect South Central obviously, they beat us one time, we beat them once.  They kind of went through some things with their team as well.  I think it is going to come down to who doesn't want to go home on Wednesday.  We have been preaching to our kids our kinds about our preparation and focus and intensity, kind of the refuse to lose motto has got to take affect on Wednesday if they want to play for a championship on Friday," he said.

          The Flyers have to play some good perimeter defense and Smith says they have to avoid going long stretches without scoring the ball if they are going to win on Wednesday.  "They have a lot of guys that can shoot the basketball.  Crestview played a lot of two-three zone and that helped South Central out.  They do have some talented players.  Coach Seidel seems like he has them headed in the right direction.  They are still pretty young.  It should make for an interesting match-up.  From our side we have went through some stretches where we just can't score.  We had a two-point second quarter on Friday night versus Western.  We had a two point third quarter against New London.  When you have that you can only defend for so long.  Making baskets cures a lot of ills," said Smith

 

Published 2/26/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum    

 

 
 

Flyers Trying to Bounce Back

 

          After kind of getting their heads handed to them by a very good Sandusky Perkins team last Saturday Norwalk St. Paul is trying to put things together as they complete the regular season with a Firelands Conference game against Western Reserve on Friday night.

          Last Friday, they just didn't shoot the ball very well in losing to New London (48-33) in a conference game.  Coach Mike Smith says they just couldn't throw the ball in the ocean.  "First of all New London played a very good game and they were able to break it open in the fourth quarter.  I think was a pretty competitive game we just struggled shooting the basketball consistently," he said.

          The on Saturday, Sandusky Perkins, #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, hammered the Flyers (96-45) and Smith says they were just overmatched.  "Perkins just overwhelmed us.  They are very good division two team.  Their three losses are to Perrysburg and two to Norwalk.  We had our hands full.  It was another busy week playing Monday, Friday and Saturday.  We are giving the kids off Monday and going back to work on Tuesday with a focus on Western and try to get on a streak here and start preparing for South Central on Saturday," said Smith.

          On Friday night, the Flyers (8-12,6-7) travel to Western Reserve (9-10,8-4) for a league showdown.  Western won the first game by four (51-47) and Smith says the Western gym is a tough place to win.  "Chris (Sheldon) does a great job and they have had a lot of success over there since he has been there.  It's in their little gym and they are a rival and try to get a little momentum going here before the tournament," he said.

          St. Paul opens tournament play next week in the sectional semi-finals against South Central.  Smith says they need to get their house in order.  "We need to get our heads on straight.  We just got clobbered by a good team and you not sure how you are going to react.  We were definitely over matched and we have to challenge our kids to step to the plate and keep digging in and keep battling," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I think that is the number one hurdle.  You just have to stay sharp and shoot the ball as much as you can in practice and work on the little things that make the difference.  This will be the first week in about three weeks when we have not had a game during the week going into a double weekend.  Maybe we can get rested and that rest can carry over into our play on Friday."

 

Published 2/18/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum      

 

 
 

Flyers Looking at Tournament

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is not going to win the Firelands Conference title this year, but that doesn't mean that can't have a successful season.

          A (68-65) win over Fremont St. Joseph on Monday night was the Flyers second win in their last three games.  Veteran coach Mike Smith saw a lot of good things in that game.  "I was really happy with the way we played.  I thought we shared the ball really well.  They have a nice basketball team and we were playing the road and so on.  We had numerous people step up and we had a 10 point lead going into the fourth and they made at us and we were able to finish it off in the end.  I was really happy for the kids it was our third game in four days.  We took Tuesday off and will come back at on Wednesday and hopefully the weather will cooperate," said Smith.

          With another winter storm hitting the Norwalk area on Tuesday night there is a pretty good chance there won't be any school Wednesday.  Smith says this has been a tough winter, but they are finding ways to deal with it.  "We are kind of balancing things out as far as when to go and when to rest as far as what we are doing in practice.  We are still trying to keep sharp shooting the basketball and making sure our legs are rested and we are good and healthy both mentally and physically.  I can't remember in my 25 years here where the weather has been so up and down.  It has kind of came in at the wrong time and reeked havoc.  We will get through it and keep preparing and trying to do the best we can and try to get ready here for the tournament," he said.

          St. Paul (7-8,5-5) will be at Crestview (5-10,4-6) on Friday night for a Firelands Conference game.  Smith says despite a four game losing skid, the Cougars bring talent to the table.  "I think the talent is there and I think coach Hall is doing a nice job for a first year coach.  They have good size and they definitely have good talent that's for sure.  I am sure that just like everybody they are looking for consistency," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They are still quite young and they are trying to feel their way around a little bit.  They beat us the first time by three and we are looking forward to going to their place and try to get one back that we lost the first time around."

          On Saturday night, the Flyers are at Sandusky St. Mary's (12-4) for big non-conference test.  Smith says it is games like this that make them better.  "They have a really nice team.  Obviously they are state ranked.  They have quickness.  They have shooters and they have size and for a division four team and they cause you a lot of problems.  You go their floor, which is a little bit smaller, and they like to extend their defense.  We are looking forward to it.  We haven't ducked anybody.  We are playing Perkins, Sandusky St. Mary's, we had Huron on our schedule, and Willard.  Those teams only make you better and going into the tournament you find out where you stand and hopefully we can get a second shot at them in the tournament," said Smith.

 

Published 2/05/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum        

 

 
 

A Key Week for St. Paul

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has played some good games this year, but they are at a point in the season where they need to pick it up a notch.

          Last week, they lost to Firelands Conference leader Plymouth (58-40) on Friday night.  Flyers coach Mike Smith says it was an unknown quantity that hurt them the most.  "You have top give props to Trevor Hammond.  He was the difference and kind of took the wind out of our sails.  I thought we did an excellent job on Tyrell and made him give the ball up.  He really only able to make one pass to a cutter, other than that I thought we did a nice job jamming.  He had 10, Beebe had eight, Bailey had six, and Collins had eight, so if you would have told me that we could control those guys a little bit we would have a good shot at winning.  The difference was Trevor Hammond came in and hit four threes," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "He makes four threes in the first half and that was kind of the difference.  If he makes two less of those and we make a few shots inside it is a four, five point game at halftime, but they were up 13.  We just couldn't get anything going offensively.  I really liked our focus defensively, but when you can't score baskets it makes it really tough.  We just had too much to overcome.  They are a real good team and they have a lot of weapons and when you are playing them you kind of have to pick your poison."

          St. Paul was to play Huron on Monday night and that game was cancelled due to cold weather and will not be made up.

          On Friday night, the Flyers (5-7,4-5) will be at rival Monroeville (3-10,1-7), just down U.S. Route 20, in a conference game.  The Eagles won their first league game last Friday when they outscored South Central (87-75) at their place.  Smith says they have some guys that can make long range shots.  "It was one of those nights when they shot it really well.  They made 11 threes.  They put up quite a few of them.  They are playing with a lot of enthusiasm.  They are good at home on that little floor.  The fans are really close to you.  I think we have always played pretty hard there, maybe because of the atmosphere and the rivalry.  Their young kids are shooting the basketball.  Coach Reer has them playing hard.  The Clark kid played well.  They all shot it well.  They got good contributions from kids off the bench.  Scoring 87 is quite the accomplishment for anyone," said Smith.

          St. Paul started the season late due to football and with a young roster.  Smith says the maturing process should be about done and they need to start playing more consistently.  "We keep talking to our kids that we have to keep grinding and we have to become more consistent.  I have seen flashes of playing really good basketball and then we will see something and in three or four possessions we don't adjust to it.  We have four sophomores in our rotation and they are almost juniors now since we have played half of a season.  We have got to get better.  We keep watching ourselves on film.  Overall I think our kids have been locked in.  It's time to grow up and get some wings here down the stretch and get a little momentum coming into the tournament," he said.

 

Published 1/28/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

or you can post comments

on our new forum   

 

 
 

St. Paul Looking Forward to Challenge

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has been playing improved basketball and they are going to find out how much they have improved Friday night when they host Firelands Conference leading Plymouth.

          Last Saturday night, the Flyers (5-6,4-4) took out South Central (56-53) in a conference game.  Coach Mike Smith felt his team played well on both ends of the floor against the Trojans.  "That is one thing earlier in the year that we had to hang our hat on is playing defense.  I thought we did an outstanding job.  In that game we were up 13 with 1:04 to go and I have kind of beat myself up because I made wholesale substitutions and it got a little hairy.  In the coaching ranks sometimes you look in the mirror at kids that have been working hard for playing time.  Up until that point I thought we did and outstanding job defensively.  We knew going in they were going to get up and press our young guards because that is what teams are going to do and I thought they did an excellent job as well.  I am happy with the progression of everybody from the beginning of the year till the end and we still have a lot of room to grow," said Smith.

          Plymouth (12-2,8-1) leads the conference standings by one game over Western Reserve and New London.  Smith says they have a lot of good players, but it really begins with Tyrell Edmiston.  "They have a nice basketball team and Troy has done a nice job with them.  It starts with their big four I would say.  With Tyrell (Edmiston) it's not just his ability to score and control the defensive glass, but it's his ability to make everyone better.  A lot of times you see that form the point guard position, but they do an outstanding job of getting him the ball as he is unselfish and creates for his teammates because he does demand a lot of attention.  The Beebe kid i just an outstanding scorer and good athlete and plays hard," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Bailey does a nice job of orchestrating and getting them into the things they do.  The Collins kids is a perimeter threat you have to be aware of.  So, you kind of pick your poison.  The have tried to develop some other people along way.   They have a lot options.  They are strong defensively and they try to get out and extend their pressure.  To be successful you have to handle all of those areas.  It starts with Tyrell and trying to keep the ball out of his hands and limit is ability to make plays."

          It is the Plymouth press that has turned some close games into blow outs for the Big Red.  They beat St. Paul (64-53) in late December.  Smith says they have to avoid that period when they turn the ball over three, four times in a row.  "When you put Tyrell on the ball in their diamond press, they have went a little 1-3-1 here recently, they are dangerous because they can score points in a hurry that way.  They are long and athletic.  In our first game I was not disappointed in how we played.  It was on the 30th and we hadn't seen a ton of pressure with our young kids and there was that one stretch when they were able to speed us up and get few turnovers because it was petty much six, eight points the whole way.  We hope that we can work from our mistakes.  We have a whole week to prepare, which is nice.  We are looking forward to trying to make this league race a little more interesting for some people," said Smith.

 

Published 1/23/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

or you can post comments on

our new forum     

 

 
 

St. Paul Faces Three Games in Four Day

 

          As we reach mid-January the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers are playing their best basketball of the season.

          Last week, they upset Western Reserve (51-47) in a Firelands Conference game and then blasted Tiffin Calvert (56-31) in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          With a three game winning streak, coach Mike Smith says they are starting to put things together.  “We seem to be getting better.  It’s fun to play a lot of games when you win and we have won out last three.  We are starting to jell a little bit.  We are still looking forward to next Monday when we can get a normal routine in.  The kids are excited, you know, Willard is a very good basketball team.  They are 8-4 and they are going to be a challenge for us.  We look forward to that challenge.  It’s a non-league game and one we hope can make us better,’ he said.

          On Wednesday night, the Flyers host Willard (8-4) in a non-conference game.  Smith thinks that Willard coach Chris Long has put together a nice team.  “I like their team I really do.  I have had a chance to study them over the last three days.  Number one, I think Chris (Long) has done a really good job over there.  Carson (Ebert) and Jay Cok really are the guys that were contributors last year on their varsity.  They did have a very nice JV team.  He brought those pieces in.  He’s a first year head coach, but he has been around.  You can tell they are well coached.  Their first five guys are really solid.  They fight hard.  They get after it defensively.  They run their stuff and they are well prepared.  We are looking forward to the challenge,” said Smith.

          The this weekend it is a pair of Firelands Conference games for the Flyers (4-5,3-4) as they take on Mapleton (1-9,1-5) on Friday and South Central (5-5,3-3) on Saturday.

          It is the second time they have played each beat Mapleton (78-73) in double overtime a couple of weeks ago and losing to South Central (50-45) in their first game of the season.  

          Smith says he likes the growth of his team.  “The Mapleton game was rescheduled from the second weekend of the year due to football.  We have had a couple of practices where we have been able to settle in and do some things that we haven’t done in three weeks.  We challenge out kids one game at a time.  We have three games to try and get us over .500 for the first time considering that we started 1-5 that would be a nice little accomplishment.  I can definitely see the growth of our team.  The more we play the more we understand how to play on and off the floor and the mental preparation for the game plan that we put in front of them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is a lot of fun to see that.  Winning is exciting, but if you are losing it can be a grind.  We are just going to try and get through this week and then approach next week with a full week of practice and be ready to play our best come tournament time.”

 

Published 1/15/14

© Swankonsports.com

comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Comments can also be posted on

Our new form    

 

 
 

Flyers Fighting up Hill Battle 

          This season has been like an obstacle course for the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers, but they continue to work hard.

          Last week, it was double weekend in the Firelands Conference for the Flyers as they lost to New London (55-42) and beat Mapleton (78-73) in double overtime. 

          Coach Mike Smith says they didn’t have a good mental approach on Friday, but they changed that around on Saturday.  “It’s a long season, but I thought we had been making quite a bit of progress.  We really got off to a bad start, and talking to our kids I really think they underestimated New London, we as a staff surely didn’t.  We played like that for the first 12 minutes of the game we didn’t play with much urgency and New London really played well and competed well.  Coach Howell had a really good game plan and they played well in their zone and we struggled in our zone offense.  We were inpatient and so on.  We had to kind of get after them.  We stopped them a 29-5 lead.  I liked the resiliency of our kids after we challenged them, but you can’t spot anybody 24 points,” he said.

          Smith says the late start they got to the season due to the football playoffs continues to haunt them.  “If I was to tell you this was easy I would be lying to you.  It has really been a difficult scenario for our young men.  To not get our kids until December 2 and we graduated a really nice senior class and we knew were going to have a lot of young kids.  We had 10 practices and we had to play.  So, you are kind of learning on the run and then you start playing and we make a little progress and then over the holidays we had two days off for Christmas and New Year’s Day off and there just hasn’t been time to do things that we need to do.  There are a lot of things we want to add.  We try and take game film and get mental preparation and get mental reps in our heads.  We just took a step back on Friday.  It’s not the kid’s fault, the kids and coaches are working extremely hard, but it’s a real challenge,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That first month when you can practice every day, get your work in, and get your scrimmages and make your adjustments for four weeks that’s a huge advantage.  For us to lose all of that and to come in with some young kids.  The when you throw in when things aren’t going well the outside influences of pointing the finger and everybody’s a basketball coach and you have to deal with that as well.  I challenged my kids on Saturday, my seniors especially, to take ownership in the team and get their focus to the highest level and to lead by example and I think we did that on Saturday.  I was looking forward to a week of practice and now with Monday off and Tuesday in jeopardy it has made things a little more interesting.”

          St. Paul (2-5,2-4) plays host to Western Reserve (5-5,4-1) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Smith says Western is improving he looks for a good game.  “We kind of match up with them well.  We are kind of similar.  I think they have two real good bigs and I think our two bigs match-up well with them.  Good is good as a perimeter threat and a scoring threat and Scotty Slaugterbeck brings that to the table.  They are playing a lot of 2-3 zone, which I don’t think coach Sheldon likes to do, but he adjusts to their personnel.  I think they are getting better and getting more consistent.  They are right there in the league.  They are 4-1 in the league.  Chris does an outstanding job not only teaching the game of basketball, but teaching about the game of life.  There is no question by the end of the year they were going to be a good team.  It should be fun,” said Smith

 

Published 1/07/14

© Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

Our new forum      

 

 
 

St. Paul Faces Big Challenge

 

 

          Norwalk St. Paul continues to work hard to improve as a team after getting a late start to the season and they face their most difficult challenge of the season Monday night as they take on the Firelands Conference leaders.

          On Friday night, St. Paul played well, but came up short against Crestview (45-43) in a conference game.  Despite the loss, coach Mike Smith was pretty happy.  “I thought our kids did a really good job.  I’ll be honest with you it was the first time that we really saw any zone in a limited preseason and in our first three games.  With their length I thought it was a good choice by coach Hall.  I was very impressed with how we ran our offense.  We got the shots we wanted.  We had guys taking shots that I think are in their arsenal.  We didn’t just come down and chuck it.  I was very encouraged by that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, “I was disappointed in the loss.  Starting so far behind we are trying to make adjustments on the fly instead of really being able to cover things in practice as much as we would like to I think our kids and making a lot of progress.  I saw Crestview gave Bucyrus a pretty good game on Saturday night.  I think they are a formable opponent and they are getting used to their coach.”

          Monday night, St. Paul (1-3,1-2) plays at Plymouth (6-1,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, for a conference game.  Smith says they have talent and depth.  “They are very talented.  I was at the Colonel Crawford game (Saturday) night and they don’t even start a senior.  They have a lot of young kids and that is scary.  I think the big three Bailey, TB, and Tyrell make them go.  On Friday night Dodge Collins was kind of the trump card.  He came in and made eight threes against Western.  He gives them an added ingredient.  I thought some of their other kids did a real good job against Colonel Crawford.  That was a heck of a game and a good win for Plymouth,” he said.

          Plymouth, who beat defending Western Reserve (67-55) on Friday night to take sole possession of the conference lead, has the ability to spread the floor and Smith says that makes them hard to guard.  “Tyrell is such a good passer out of a double team and he is so good he demands a double team because he is so good in the low post.  I thought Bailey might have been the difference on Saturday night versus Colonel Crawford.  He made some big shots so it is hard to concentrate on one or two guys.  Tyson Beebe is really good and can score.  He is fantastic off the dribble and is really strong and athletic.  Like I said he Bailey kid came up big and knocked down some shots.  He orchestrates everything and you don’t have to worry about him turning the ball over.  They have other guys that stretch the floor.  When you have Collins shoot the way he did Friday he brought some attention from Colonel Crawford on Saturday.  They just have a lot of weapons and they are hard to guard,” said Smith.

 

Published 12/30/13

© Swankonsports.com

comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

or you can post comments on our

brand new forum  

 

 
 

St. Paul basketball to Get Stated on Friday

 

          The Norwalk St. Paul football team advanced to regional final and with little time to prepare the Flyers basketball team plays its first game versus South Central in Firelands Conference play on Friday night.

          St. Paul has made the playoffs as often as almost any team we cover and Mike Smith has been their basketball coach throughout this period of football success, so he has been through this many times in the past.  Still, he says it doesn’t get easier.  “I don’t like to stop the field four to five weeks of practice.  We just finished our fourth day of practice and we have got four more and then we open up.  With nine days of practice and very little scrimmage time or evaluation time makes things a little more difficult than maybe you would like,” he said.

          There is some talent returning for the Flyers, including two, three year lettermen.  Smith believes if they get some good play from their younger kids they can be pretty good.  “We are still trying to figure things out, that’s for sure.  We lost a very good senior class.  They gave great leadership and good skill and we had very good team chemistry.  We have to find some replacements for those five.  We do bring back two, three year letter winners in Bob Harwood and Scotty Slaughterbeck and we also bring back letter winner Travis Smiley,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are going to lean on those guys early.  We have a lot of young kids that I think are going to be in the rotation.  We have four sophomores and one freshman in our top ten that will see varsity action.  I would like to think the sooner they can make the progression and learn from their experience this will turn out to be a really good basketball team.”

          South Central (1-2,0-1) comes to Norwalk on Friday night for a Firelands Conference game.  The Trojans lost their first conference game to Western Reserve (55-45) last Friday.  Smith says they have some guys that can really shoot the ball.  “I have had a chance to do some studying of South Central and they have numerous guys that can shoot the basketball.  They create some match-up problems because all five of their guys can step out on the perimeter and we do have some size.  We are going to have to have that size go out and guard a little bit.  At the same token we have to make them pay at the other end because they aren’t huge inside.  I have been impressed with how hard they work and how hard they play.  It looks like they have good team chemistry.  Bret (Seidel) is doing a really good job with them,” said Smith.

          Especially with the lack of practice time, Smith says they have to make sure they know what they are doing as much, if not more, than what South Central will try to do.  “I think this first week we have to take care of ourselves and just be as fundamental as we can on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, executing our out of bounds plays, all of the little things.  We just have to be consistent in everything we do because we don’t have a lot of time to put a lot of things in,” he said.

 

Published 12/10/13

© Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Flyers Must Overcome Size in Regional Final

 

          Norwalk St. Paul will be at a size disadvantage when they face Berlin Center Western Reserve is the division seven regional final on Saturday night at Ken Dukes Stadium in Medina, but the Flyers have overcame that many times in the past.

          St. Paul (11-1) threw a shutout in their semi-final game last week beating Wellsville (24-0) to advance and they have given up only one score in the playoffs and that was late in the game on week one to (55-7) Southington Chalker.  Coach John Livengood says that defense is really playing well.  “Since the Huron game our defense has played pretty well all year.  I think maybe two touchdowns is the most we haven given up since that game.  Our kids have done a nice job continuing to improve.  As we have gotten into the postseason we probably played one of our best games last week.  Wellsville was a very talented team with a lot of explosive athletes.  At times they moved the ball a little bit on us, but when we got down in the red zone our defense rose up and we were able to keep them out of the end zone.  We were able to create five turnovers with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries,” said Livengood.

          He says they are physical on that side of the ball and they have just gotten a lot of good experience throughout the season.  “I think our kids all the way around whether it is offense, defense or special teams are pretty relentless, tough and aggressive.  We don’t have a lot of size out there on either side of the ball or on special teams, but our kids work hard and they play hard and they are pretty physical.  Defensively, we start a number of sophomores and I think one thing that has happened throughout the season is they have gotten game experience and they get better each week just because of that,” he said.

          This is the 13th football game for the Flyers, but Livengood says they have not hit a wall.  He says they still are practicing and playing with a lot of energy.  “We have a group of kids that just love playing football and that has been right from the start.  I think the first interview I did before the season I said our team strength was team chemistry and senior leadership and we have those two things.  Our kids love being out there and they love coming to practice,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “A lot of times when you are out doing tough things like conditioning and driving the sled you might not see kids enjoying that that much, but you will see a lot of our kids smiling and enjoying it and working hard.  I think when they have that type of attitude that if you show up to work with a smile on your face you are going to be a better worker.  This season has flown by and we have loved every minute of it.”

          Berlin Center Western Reserve (12-0) is unbeaten this year and they outlasted Danville of the Mid-Buckeye Conference (31-26) last week.  Livengood says they are huge.  “The thing that really jumps out at you is their size up.  Offensively, their center is 6’4”, 350 pounds, their right tackle is 6’2”, 335. their left tackle is 6’1”, 285, their left guard is 6’4”, 245, and the runt of the littler is their 5’11”, 225 pound right guard.  Their smallest guy is bigger than anybody we have on defense. They are a big offensive line and bigger than any team we have seen up to this point.  They have a big quarterback that is 6’5”, 195 pounds, a real nice receiver that is 6’5” and 185 pounds that runs real well.  They have some really talented kids out there,” said Livengood.

          When the Flyers have the ball, Livengood says they are going to see a lot of pressure in the form of blitzes from Western Reserve.  “They are very aggressive defensively.  They bring linebackers almost every down.  They run basically out of a 5-3 front.  They bring at least one linebacker, sometimes two and sometimes three almost every down,” he said.

          When it comes to having success against a big, powerful team like Western Reserve, Livengood says they have to be very fundamental.  “Our approach has always been we want to be fast, we want to be physical and we want to have good technique.  A lot times if you have that discipline, that proper technique and follow the game plan that can overcome if you are giving up a lot size wise, or giving up a little speed wise or talent wise.  Our kids really understand that.  They know a lot of times we go against teams that have a little more talent than us, but we have that self discipline and we play hard and do things right we can make things happen,” said Livengood.

 

Published 11/22/13

© Swankonsports.com

comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com         

 

 
 

Norwalk St. Paul Must Play Full Game

 

          Norwalk St. Paul won their first playoff game since they won a state title in 2009 last week and have advanced to a division VII regional semi-final on Saturday night against Wellsville at Orrville High School.

          Last week, the Flyers (10-1), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, scored 55 points in the first half and went on to destroy Southington Chalker (55-7) in a first round game.

          Coach John Livengood says they did a lot of things right.  “Our kids came out and played well and every phase of the game was an area where the kids played well.  At the start we were able to get a three and out defensively, block a punt, and set ourselves up with short fields.  We scored on the first play and things kind of snowballed from there.  We were able to score 21 points in the first quarter.  They hit a screen at us and made it 21-7.  We came back and scored 34 points in the second quarter and it was 55-7 at the half.  We were able to play our JVs and freshmen in the third and fourth quarters.  Anytime you can do that in a playoff game and get those young kids some experience it’s a great thing,” said Livengood.

          He says they were sound in all aspects of the game against Chalker.  “We were able to block a punt and we were able to get a couple of fumble recoveries throughout the game.  I think the big thing was our kids came out an executed and did a nice job on our kickoff coverage, punt coverage, our return units did a nice job, both lines were able to control the line of scrimmage,” he said.

          Wellsville beat another team out of the Firelands Conference in Mapleton (39-21) in their first round game.  Livengood says they have some big kids.  “They are a team that presents a lot of challenges.  First of all they are big up front.  They have a couple of 290 pound kids, a couple of 240 pound kids, a 215 pound fullback.  Their skilled kids, their quarterback, tailback and receiver have a lot of speed.  It is going to be important for us to contain that speed and be disciplined on defense and not allow them to get free,” said Livengood.

          Wellsville will be a little bigger than the Flyers in the trenches and Livengood says they must be technically sound in order to control that point of attack that is always so crucial.  “The same holds true for us offensively.  We have to control the line of scrimmage.  They have a little bit more size than us up front, so we are going to have to execute and use good fundamentals, play disciplined and get off the ball the way we are capable of getting off the ball,” he said.

          They run a lot of wing-t based stuff, but Livengood says Wellsville is not a run only kind of team.  “They have thrown for about 1,000 yards, so they thrown about as often as we throw.  They are more of a wing-t type team.  The like the off tackle stuff.  They actually run a lot of spread.  The spread you out offensively and tray and run the ball.  Their backs like to bounce it to the perimeter.  They have a lot of speed, so if their get loose on the perimeter they are tough to catch,’ said Livengood.

          St. Paul has gotten off to some very good starts in games, but Livengood knows this game is not going to be over in the first half.  “Something I talk to our kids about all of the time is in big games it’s a four quarter game.  There is going to be a lot of emotion at the beginning of the game and you have to survive that.  It is kind of like a heavyweight fight you just have to keep throwing those jabs and hopefully your can land a big one in the fourth quarter.  You have to be consistent and you have to play hard every down.  You can’t get too high.  You can’t get too low.  It’s a four quarter game and you have to be there in the fourth quarter and put yourself in position to win,” said Livengood.

 

Published 11/14/13

© Swankonsports.com        

 

 
 

Flyers Reach Playoffs Again

 

          For the 15th time in school history, the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers, the 2009 state champions, have reached the post season and will host Southington Chalker in a division seven regional quarterfinal game on Saturday night at Whitney Field.

          They beat rival Monroeville (48-12) to finish as outright Firelands Conference champions and with a 9-1 record.  Coach John Livengood says he is happy with the consistent improvement from his team.  “I am really happy with the way we are playing right now.  Our kids, we have challenged them, since early in the season to continue to improve each week every time they step on the field and I think our kids have really worked towards that.  Since our week three loss to Huron we have continued to get better each week.  We see signs of improvement and that is what you want to do.  What you want to is get better each time out and give yourself a chance to do well at the end of season and play meaningful games.  Our kids put themselves in position to play for a conference championship here at the end of the season and qualify for the playoffs and now we have accomplished that goal and we want to take it week by week and see what we can do with it,” said Livengood.

          St. Paul, #4 in the final Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the small school division, carries a 28-13 record in playoff competition over the years.  Livengood likes what they are doing on both sides of the ball heading into the post season.  “I am very happy with our run offense and our run defense and that is two areas where we have played well all season.  Our special teams have continued to improve each week and have really made a big difference in field position.  We have created some turnovers, got some blocked punts, and created some short fields.  Our coverage units are good, our return units are doing a good job.  I think our best game passing wise was against Monroeville week 10, so I think we have continued to make some strides in that area.  We have a little bit inconsistent with our pass defense.  We have had some good games.  This past weekend we had a couple of breakdowns on a couple of plays and both of those resulted in scores.  That is an area that we want to continue to improve.  We have some quality players back there.  They just need to play within the scheme and do things right.  We do that we are going to be in good shape,” said Livengood.

          Southington Chalker (5-5) is making just its second appearance in the playoffs has lost its last two games to Windam (28-27) and last week to Pymatuning Valley (28-21) last week.  Livengood says they will give you a lot of looks.  “They come out from eastern Ohio.  We went out and watched them last Friday night.  They are a power football team.  They like to run the ball off tackle and sweep.  Defensively they will mix up their fronts.  They are mainly a 3-5 front, but they will jump into some 4-3 and give you some different looks out of that.  They are not a real big team in terms of physical stature.  They fly to the ball and play hard,” he said.

          Livengood says Chalker will give them a different look than they have seen all year long.  “They are not like a lot of teams in our league.  Our teams are either spread or power football.  They are kind of a blend in between.  They don’t have a lot of size, but they have a lot of speed and quickness,” he said.

 

Published 11/06/13

© Swankonsports.com   

 

 
 

Flyers Play Biggest Rival

 

          There are rivalries and then there are rivalries and Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville have one of the best and have for a long time.  It renews on Saturday night as they Flyers host the Eagles at Whitney Field.

          Last week, St. Paul (8-1,6-0) wrapped up no less than a share of the Firelands Conference title when they outscored Mapleton 28-0 in the second half for a (42-13) win over the Mounties, who are enjoying their best season in more than 20 years.

          Coach John Livengood says it was a game that unfolded much like the meeting with Crestview the week before.  “The last two weeks we have played some pretty competitive football teams with Crestview and Mapleton the last two weeks.  They are two very good teams, well coached, and it took some time to get things going for us and put things away, but their kids play hard.  I’ll go back to two weeks ago against Crestview, it was tough to match up with them physically.  We gave them some short fields with turnovers, which led to their two touchdowns and made things tight for us going into the second half.  And the same type of thing against Mapleton,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had a couple of three and outs early.  We started to drive a little bit.  We threw a ball in the flats and our receiver fumbled the ball at the sideline and Mapleton scooped it up and took it in for a lead and we kind of took the lead back and it kind of went back and fourth in the first half, but we really took control of the line of scrimmage in the second half.  We had to make a few adjustments to what they were doing scheme wise defensively and our kids stepped up and did a nice job.  Mapleton is a playoff team, if you can win 42-13 against a playoff team you have to be pretty happy about that.”

          A division seven school, headed for the playoffs again this year, St. Paul doesn’t have tremendous numbers of players, but Livengood says they do have some guys that can step in.  “We don’t have big numbers, but we do have that extra guard or extra running back or that extra tackle, those guys that rotate, that gives us a little depth.  That depth was really needed last week against Mapleton.  Our first kickoff return our running back Devin Smith, he is our leading rusher, and one of our leading outside linebackers rolled his ankle and we lost him for the rest of the game and we had to go down to our next running back and that was Brad Smith, a sophomore, and he came out and rushed for almost 200 yards and had a real nice game for us.  At outside linebacker Jimmy Easler, another sophomore, had to step in for him, and he led our team in tackles.  When you can have two backups on either side of the ball step in there and playing well you have to be happy about that.  That is one great example of how our depth has helped us,” said Livengood.

          Monroeville (1-8,1-5) is not having their best year.  They have been hurt by injuries a lot.  Livengood says that takes nothing away from the rivalry.  “We look at this game, and I know Monroeville looks at it the same way, this is like Ohio State-Michigan at the high school level.  We are two very close communities.  We are only separated by about four miles.  A lot of the families for the schools are related, cousins and uncles and that sort of thing.  It is a close rivalry.  I always saw it doesn’t matter what the records are.  You throw the records out when you go into this game.  It is a highly spirited contest.  Not only for our players, but our two communities,” he said.

 

Published 10/31/13

© Swankonsports.com    

 

 
 

St. Paul Invades Mapleton

 

          When you are at the top you are used to being everybody’s big game and that is the case for Norwalk St. Paul.

          Again this year they are in first place in the Firelands Conference by a game over Mapleton and Western Reserve.  They play at Mapleton, who has not won a conference title since 1991, on Friday night.

          Last week, the Flyers (7-1,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the small school division, found themselves behind 14-10 early in the fourth quarter against Crestview.  Coach John Livengood says they were a little sloppy early in the game.  “Crestview is a very good football team.  They came out and played us really tough.  Once they are running the ball and they get good field position they are hard to stop.  We turned the ball over on a kickoff return to begin the game and set them up on the 30-yard line.  They chewed up about half of the first quarter and punched it in.  We got the ball back and went right down and tied it.  We held them three and out and were able to take a nice drive down off a good punt return and kick field goal.  It kind of went back an forth in the second quarter and then we turned the ball over again deep in our territory, on the 30 yard line, and again, set them up on a short field and they were able to take advantage.  They have big offensive linemen and big backs that run hard.  They were able to take a 14-10 lead.  We put a drive together right before half and had it first and goal at the one with about a minute left in the second quarter and we couldn’t punch it in.  You have to Crestview a lot of credit they made a great goal line stand,” said Livengood.

          However, in the second half they turned this around and ended up beating (45-17) Crestview.  Livengood says they were able to get some big plays on both sides.  “The third quarter was kind of a draw and then in the fourth quarter we kind of got things going.  We put together and nice drive and went up 17-14 and things kind of snowballed for us there.  At that point we got an interception and a couple of big pass plays and went up 24-14 and things kind of rolled.  We were able to scored 35 point in eight minutes in the fourth quarter.  When our kids play with confidence and play determined I think they can do some good things.  I want to give a lot of credit to Crestview.  Their kids played hard and tough.  I think they are one of the best football teams in our conference,” said Livengood.

          With what is riding on the game for Mapleton, a share of the conference lead, some big time playoff points, Livengood knows it will be an electric atmosphere.  “We have gone down and scouted Mapleton twice.  I saw them against New London and saw them against Crestview.  What a great atmosphere for high school football.  Their stands were packed for both of those games and I expect it will be the same type of atmosphere for our game on Friday night.  There fans are behind them, their kids and excited, their coach is doing a great job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a good thing going down there.  There is a lot on the line.  There conference implications.  There are computer points.  It is going to be an intense game.  It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere.  We are ready and excited for it.”

          Travis Pickering already has 1,300 yards rushing this year and set a single game record against Plymouth, but Livengood says he is not their only player.  “He is a great tailback and he has had some big games this year.  You give him a seam and he is going to take it the distance.  He has real good speed.  He has good vision.  He runs hard.  He makes a lot of things go for them offensively, but if you focus on him you would be mistaken.  All I have to do is watch last year’s tape and see Conner Black catch about 15 passes on us.  He did a great job against us last year.  He was a first team all conference receiver.  He is one of their best athletes and really balances out their offense.  They have a new kid at quarterback in Barone and he does a nice job.  The have a big offensive line, some big tackles.  Those tackles really stand out, especially on defense.  I think their two best defensive football players are their defensive tackles.  They are both about 255, 260, so we have our work cut out for us,” said Livengood.

 

Published 10/25/13

© Swankonsports.com   

 

 
 

St. Paul ready for Crestview

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has dominated the Firelands Conference so far this year outscoring their opponents by nearly 200 points combined, but they know they better be ready for Crestview.

          The Flyers (6-1,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the small school division, blasted Plymouth (68-20) last Saturday night in league play.

          Coach John Livengood says they really got things going in the second quarter by forcing some big turnovers.  “They drove the ball down on their opening possession and hit a couple of big passes to Edmiston and were able to score on that first drive.  We came out and went three and out and punted to them.  They turned the ball over on about their own 35 yard line and we went in to tie it up in one play.  We are to hold them three and out and we put together a nice 60, 70 yard drive and went up 14-7.  They came back and had a couple of nice plays to Edmiston.  He was able to make a catch in the end zone on a jump ball.  That made it 14-13.  From that point on our offense really started to get clicking.  I think we put together two or three nice scoring drives.  We had two interceptions in back to back possessions by defensive linemen that set us up on shorts fields and we were really able to gain control and put things away there in the second quarter,” said Livengood.

          The defense has limited opponents to no more than two scores when the varsity has been in the game in league play.  Livengood says they have set the offense up in some pretty good positions, like last week for example.  “When you are able to score 48 points in the first half on three of those possessions you are able to get the ball inside the 35, 40 yard line that is a great advantage in terms of field position.  The kids have done a great job all year and our special teams have played really well in addition to that.  We had a nice kickoff return to open the second half and we did a nice job with our punt return and our coverage units.  I don’t think they had a kick return past the 25, 30 yard line,” he said.

          Crestview (3-4,2-2) has beaten both North Central Conference co-leader Wynford and Mapleton this season.  They beat the Mounties (30-21) last week by dominating the line of scrimmage.  Livengood thinks they are pretty good, no really good.  “I think they are one of best football teams we have seen all year to be honest with you.  Up front they are big and physical.  They have a very strong running game with Jay Hill and Aaron King.  They are both good backs, big, physical backs.  They are very content with being methodical and taking three, four yards a play and taking time off the clock.  We scouted them against Mapleton.  We had them running 40 plays in the first half and I think Mapleton was right around 15 plays.  They held onto the ball and didn’t let Mapleton get their offense on the field.  They controlled the clock and were able to finish their drive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have been playing really solid defense as well.  They are a dangerous football team.  They beat a Wynford team that turns around and beats a Galion team that was undefeated and knocked off Mapleton.  They have shown they can play some good football, no question.”

          Livengood says Crestview still relies on the run like they always have, but they are doing it in different ways.  “They might not have that one explosive back that maybe they have had over that last decade or so.  They have had the guy that can take it the distance at any time.  They have backs that are bigger and more physical and run hard and they are almost going to guarantee you that three, four yards per carry.  They are perfectly content with that,” he said.

 

Published 10/16/13

© Swankonsports.com     

 

 
 

Flyers Host Improved Plymouth

 

          Norwalk St. Paul continues to share first place in the Firelands Conference with Mapleton after three weeks of conference play.  They host Plymouth at Whitney Field on Saturday night.  The Big Red trails by a game.

          The Flyers (5-1,3-0) belted New London (41-13) last Friday on the road.  Coach John Livengood says they played well in all areas of the game.  “It was a good game for us.  New London is a very good football team.  They have really improved over the last three or four years.  They are big up front and they have great skilled kids.  They are playing well on both sides of the ball.  We felt fortunate to get out of there with a win,” he said.

          The Flyers were able to get off to a good start in game and withstand a Wildcats charge early in the third quarter.  Livengood says they were able to respond.  “We were able to take our first drive down and get a score.  Then it was kind back and forth with punts and then at the end of the first quarter we were able to get a second score and go up 14-0 right at the end of first quarter, the beginning of the second quarter.  We put a third score up in the second quarter and were up 20-0.  We threw an interception a couple minutes before halftime and gave them New London good field position and they were able to drive down and score with about 20 seconds left to cut to 20-7.  They were actually able to get another score in the third quarter and cut it to 20-13, but then we were able to open things up and get going in the third quarter and open up the margin and put things away,” said Livengood.

          After losing their conference opener to Mapleton (47-19), the Big Red (5-1,2-1) has railed to beat Monroeville (16-0) and South Central (49-20) the last two weeks.  Livengood expects them to crowd the line of scrimmage.  “I think they have changed up some things they were doing scheme wise defensively against Mapleton and that has worked pretty well for them.  They are aggressive up front.  They play a lot of man to man.  Their secondary guys are at the line of scrimmage and right in your face.  We are probably going to see 11 guys within five yards of the line of scrimmage.  That is how they have kind of played us the last couple of years,” he said.

          Livengood says the Big Red has a lot of offensive weapons and they do a good job getting the ball to them.  “They have a nice running back in Austin Durbin.  Chance Butcher is a really nice two way player.  Their quarterback Hunter Bailey does a nice job.  They have a big receiver in Edmiston.  They have a lot of weapons.  They lost some good lineman up front from last year, but the kids they have stepping in have good size and are doing a good job for them.  They are definitely a challenge,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Coach Genders has that program believing and doing the right things.  He is tough to prepare for, especially with what they present offensively.  You can see a wishbone one down, empty backfield-spread the next down, and you might see the single wing the down after that.”

          With the number of formations Plymouth runs, Livengood says it will be important for them to recognize things before the snap.  “It is going to be important for us defensively to recognize their formations and what their strengths and tendencies are and what they like to do out of those formations.  Week in and week out you are going to see different formations out of them.  Once consistent thing you are going to see is they like to throw the ball deep to Edmiston.  He is a big target and he can run.  Even if you have tight coverage on him he is able to make plays and come down with the ball and go the distance.  I am really impressed with Durbin and the way that he is running the ball.  Hunter Bailey does a nice job running the offense.  The next thing you know when you start focusing on those things he is going to run a zone stretch and run the ball up the middle on you,” said Livengood.

 

Published 10/9/13

© Swamkonsports.com       

 

 
 

Flyers Expect Challenge From New London

 

          There haven’t been many times in the last 15 years that Norwalk St. Paul, New London and Mapleton have been used in the same breath when it comes to Firelands Conference football, but that is the case this fall.

          St. Paul (4-1,2-0) plays at New London (3-2,1-1) in a conference game Friday night and they share first place in the Firelands with Mapleton, who beat New London near the buzzer last week.

          St. Paul destroyed one their traditional rivals in Western Reserve (49-0) last week.  Coach John Livengood says they did a good job in all phases.  “Our kids came out and played very well.  The key was we were able to control the line of scrimmage.  Western Reserve has given us fits over the years defensively, especially the last couple of years, we have had trouble moving the ball and putting points on the board.  We were able establish the long of scrimmage on offense and run the ball pretty well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively we were giving up a lot of size, but we were able to utilize our speed and get off blocks and make plays.  Western has gone with a little bit of a different look offensively with the spread look and throwing the ball quite a bit and our secondary rose to the occasion and played pretty well.  We got solid play from our special teams.  All in all it was a good game for us.”

          Livengood knows that if you are going to be a good football team you have to have good offensive line play and he says they have.  “I have been pretty happy with the way our line has played.  We are probably averaging 270 yards rushing a game and they have done a nice job for us.  We have some experience there.  We have three starters returning and they have done a nice job with that and we see a lot of different fronts and adjustments for our run game.  They have been able to pick that up,” he said.

          Young Justin Vorhies has helped to lead a resurrection of the New London program and Livengood says he going about it in the right way.  “Coach Vorhies has done a great job down there.  I have coached in an all-star game with him and got to be good friends with him.  His knowledge is good and he is very positive with the kids and he has them believing.  He has some talent there and he is utilizing it.  Prior to this I think he was their offensive coordinator.  He always does a great job putting schemes together and challenging a defense,” he said.

          The Wildcats can run or throw, but Livengood says their first thought is to put the ball in the stomach of Nick Thomas.  “They are a pretty balanced offense.  Nick Thomas, who is their tailback, is their go to guy.  He is the guy they are giving the ball too.  He has had a lot of success running the ball this year.  Josh Hamilton, who is their quarterback, is a returning starter.  He does a nice job of distributing the ball in the pass game.  Their go to stuff is behind a big offensive line and get it to Thomas,” he said.

          St. Paul plays at Mapleton on week nine of the season.  Livengood says the game last week between New London and Mapleton was a great example of high school football.  “I was able to scout that game because we played Saturday night and what a great atmosphere for high school football.  There was a packed house and it was great to see the stands full down at Mapleton.  New London was able to jump out on top.  They had a 27-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter.  Mapleton was able to get a couple of scores in the fourth quarter.  Their last score was with about a minute left in the game and they went for two and were able to take the lead.  It was a tough loss for New London and I know coach is upset about it.  It is good to see Mapleton and New London playing good football.  I say both coaches are doing a great job and both have their programs playing real well right now,” said Livengood.

 

Published 10/4/13

© Swankonsports.com  

 

 
 

Flyers Face a Different Western

 

          Norwalk St. Paul and Western Reserve shared the Firelands Conference title a year ago and they meet on Saturday night to see who is better this year.

          Last week, the Flyers (3-1,1-0) opened the conference schedule by crushing South Central (55-0) last Saturday.  After a loss to Huron (48-14) the previous week, coach John Livengood says they were well prepared for the Trojans.  “The kids came out and played pretty well.  We had a good week of practice.  I was really happy with the way they came out last Monday after the loss to Huron.  We talked about a lot of things we needed to work on to improve.  I think our kids embraced that and preparing for our conference opener.  We put together a good game plan and we did well on Saturday night.  We kind of fired on all cylinders and in all aspects of the game we played pretty well,” he said.

          In every year you have to battle some adversity and Livengood says it depends on how you react to things that come up.  “Each year you kind of evaluate at the end of the year and see how you have done and how you have handled tough situations. Sometimes you might not have the talent level to go 10-0.  If you can squeeze out a 6-4 or something like that’s the best you can get out of you talent, you have to be pleased with that.  Sometimes you might think you have a 10-0 team and you might be 7-3 and you might be disappointed in how things went,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We are looking at each week in that we want to improve and we want to make sure we put the best football team on the field that we can and improve each week and be the best St. Paul football team that we can.”

          Western Reserve (2-2,1-0) beat Monroeville (25-20) in game that was finished on Saturday night.  Livengood says the Rough Riders have changed their offensive approach… a lot.  “They are big up front, but it is not your typical Western team.  The big up front is normal of Western Reserve, but what’s different is how often they are passing.  Traditionally Western Reserve is an unbalanced line with a lot of belly, double belly counter type plays and they have been that way for years.  This year they are a lot of spread offense with shotgun and throwing the ball 40, 45 times a game, so it’s a little bit of a different look for Western.  Defensively there are some similarities as they are in a 4-3 and they give you some “50” look.  They are going to give you two fronts to look at.  They have some quick kids that can fly around on defense.  They are big on offense and have some real nice receivers,” said Livengood.

          Against good athletic teams you have to be good tacklers and Livengood says there is no question that is the case this week.  “They have a good receiver in particular in Nate Good.  He is tough in the open field.  He is a little point guard for them in basketball and he does a nice job.  If he catches the ball in the open field he is the type of kid that can make you miss.  We are going to have to make sure we corral things, break down, and make tackles,” said Livengood

 

Published 9/25/13

© Swankonsports.com        

 

 
 

Flyers Ready for Firelands opener

 

          Norwalk St. Paul was the preseason favorite to win the Firelands Conference this year and now we start to find out if that is a reality as they host South Central in their conference opener on Saturday night.

          The Flyers (2-1) suffered their first setback of the season last week when they were beaten by Huron (48-14) in game that got away from them in the second quarter.

          Coach John Livengood says they made too many mistakes to have a chance to compete with a team as good as Huron.  “I felt this way after the game and I felt this way after watching film.  Our kids did a lot of things right and unfortunately we did some things wrong too that ended up costing us.  Our kid’s effort was good.  We are going against a very talented team.  We had three turnovers.  There was a costly situation when we went for it on fourth down around midfield and all of that happened in the second quarter.  It went from a 7-7 ballgame to a 28-7 ballgame at halftime and we just weren’t able to reel it in.  You have to give Huron credit they are a great football team.  They have some great skilled kids, but with our mistakes we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. If you make those kids of mistakes against a team like that they are going to make you pay for it and that is kind of what happened,” said Livengood.

          Huron made some big plays, but on film Livengood and his staff found a lot of things that are correctable.  “It wasn’t any one thing in particular other than the turnovers.  We had two fumbles and that is something that has been a concern of ours over the first three football games.  We have had a number of fumbles and we have to do a better job with that.  We had some false starts and defensively we had some misalignments and breakdowns in responsibilities.  You have one guy that is supposed to come across the tackle space and instead he goes under the tackle space and he doesn’t fit up in that gap and the next thing you know it is a 40 yard run as opposed to a five-yard run.  Just little things like that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “One thing about playing great competition is it exposes those things and you are able to show the kids that as a teaching tool and learn from that to get better.  That is the thing that we really emphasized to the kids (Monday) in practice was that not only do you have to focus on our upcoming opponent and schemes and personnel and things of that nature, but we also have to focus on ourselves and make ourselves the best possible football team that we can.  We have to work hard on things that we can control.  There are some things that you can’t control in a football game, but there are some things you can control and you have to take care of them.  Things like turnovers and penalties and things like that.”

          South Central (0-3) comes in after their most disappointing effort of the season against Crestline.  The Bulldogs ended a 19 game losing streak with a (28-22) win over the Trojans.  Still, Livengood believes South Central has a lot good players.  “The first thing with South Central that stands out is their size.  They have got some big kids up front.  They have a big backfield.  Their tailback, their feature back, is 5-11 and 215 pounds.  He is only a sophomore, but he runs like a senior.  He is a tough runner and he is able to break tackles.  If he gets a head of steam he can get it rolling.  I think one of the things is we are going to have to put ourselves in position where we don’t give him the opportunity to get rolling.  We have to control the line of scrimmage against that size and use our speed and quickness to our advantage,” said Livengood.

          The St. Paul coach thinks that South Central will come out and give good effort and that means they need to as well.  “I think the record is a little bit deceiving.  They are a pretty physical football team.  I think you throw the record out.  I don’t think you look at 0-3 you look at the kind of personnel they have on offense and defense.  Coach Brokaw is doing a great job.  They are a very fundamental football team and they have improved a great deal the last three years.  They are doing things right and they have some hard nosed kids and that presents a big challenge for us,” he said.

 

Published 9/18/13

© Swankonsports.com       

 

 
 

Flyers Face Another Tough One

 

          Norwalk St. Paul came through when they had to last week and now they get the opportunity to defend one of the best athletes in the area.

          St. Paul got past Tiffin Calvert (21-14 in overtime) for the first time since 2009 last Saturday in Tiffin.  Flyers coach John Livengood calls it a hard earned win.  “Calvert has kind of had our number the last three years.  We haven’t beaten them since 2009.  To go over there and get a win against a great football team and one that has been in the playoffs the last three years and a team that we have had our problems with that was a great win for our kids.  It kind of got that monkey off our back a little bit.  We had to fight every minute and every second of that football game.  I couldn’t be more proud of our kids in the way they fought to get that win,” said Livengood.

          The veteran coach says Calvert played well too, but they just had a little bit more in the end.  “I wouldn’t diminish what Tiffin Calvert did either.  They were mentally tough.  We had them down twice and they fought back.  We went up 7-0 in the third quarter.  Our kids had a couple of goal line stands in the first half.  They came back and tied it.  We were up 14-7 with about four minutes left in the game.  We had our chances to put the game away, but unfortunately we fumbled about their 20-yard line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “With one more first down we put the game away.  They get the ball on the 20 with about 1:20 left and drove the length of the field and scored with no time left in regulation to tie it up.  Our kids could have hung their head.  They got a little momentum there, but we scored getting the ball first in overtime and our kids fought through it and pushed the ball in the end zone and held on on defense.”

Friday night’s game at Memorial Stadium in Huron is a battle between two teams ranked in the top five of our Swamkonsports.com coach’s poll in the small school division.  St. Paul is #4 and Huron (1-1) is tied with Marion Pleasant for #5. 

Livengood says they must contain Huron’s outstanding quarterback in Cody Thompson.  “They are one of the premier teams in the area.  Number one they are well coached and number two they are talented.  They probably shouldn’t have lost that game last week.  It was one of those things where a turnover lost them they football game.  They probably have the best football player in the area in Cody Thompson.  He is something special.  He does the things that you can’t coach and you can’t teach.  He can take a play that is totally broken down and turn it into a 60, 70 yard touchdown run.  He makes lots of things happen for them.  They have good football players all over the field,” said Livengood.

With a game like this there is likely to be some adversity for both sides, but Livengood says they have to battle though it like they did last week.  “We don’t want to lose our aggressiveness defensively, but we also have to understand that we have to play under control and keep (Thompson) contained and keep him from getting loose on us.  Our kids, one thing they have learned, and especially last week, is you have to fight through adversity.  That is kind of our plan again this week.  We know we have a very tough opponent.  We are going to have to play a good football game and be tough and physical and contain Cody Thompson for us to have an opportunity to win,” he said.

 

Published 9/12/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

 

 

 
 

Flyers Have to Get to Long

 

          St. Paul coaches have been having nightmares about Tiffin Calvert quarterback Tyler Long.  Controlling him has been a problem for the Flyers resulting in two loses to Calvert last year.

          They play at Tiffin Calvert on Saturday night.

          A four touchdown second half gave the Flyers a (42-7) win over Sandusky St. Mary’s in their opener last Saturday.  Coach John Livengood says they got some things figured out at halftime.  “We didn’t start out real well in the first half.  We had a couple of turnovers, an interception and a couple of fumbles.  Some penalty things that I didn’t care for too much.  We were still able to go into the half with a 14-7 lead.  We cleaned those things up at halftime and really came out well in the third quarter with 21 points.  Once we got some of those things straightened out and got settled down a little bit I thought our kids played really well,” said Livengood.

          Livengood, at the helm at St. Paul for 20 plus seasons, says halftime is critical at this level.  “When you are in high school football you have a lot of kids playing two ways and on the field it is hard to make those adjustments with kids you really don’t have a chance to talk to them.  You try to relay that information back to the huddle with kids that might be playing one way.  We were able to make those adjustments at halftime with some blocking schemes and that really helped us out,” he said.

          On Saturday night, Livengood says they had to adjust their blocking assignments in order to open up some holes.  “Wyatt Dive, a nose guard from Sandusky St, Mary’s, was having a great game against us in the first half.  He is a special athlete and impact type player, and we didn’t anticipate him playing nose guard and they put him in there and we had to adjust our schemes to account for him.  He was disrupting our backfield quite a bit in the first half,” he said.

          Calvert has had the same problem with McComb as St. Paul has had with them, they can’t control their offense.  Last week McComb got them for the third time in just over a year (39-7) in the opener for both.  Still, Livengood says the Senecas have some explosiveness.  “They return quite a few starters.  They lose some skilled guys.  They lost their big fullback from last year and they lost all of their receivers, but they do return their quarterback Tyler Long and they return all five offensive linemen.  Tyler Long is an impact type player.  We played them and lost to them in the playoffs last year.  He had a real nice game against us running the ball.  We have to find a way to contain him.  They return some big guys up front that are excellent blockers.  It is the same thing defensively, they return their defensive line, a couple of linebackers, but they lost some skilled guys in the secondary.  They have a nice team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Coach (Todd) Fox has done a nice job there.  They have been in the playoffs the last three years and we have had trouble beating them the last three years.  It’s a big game on our schedule.  We are fired up and ready to go.”

          Livengood says they have worked really hard at finding a way to slow down Long.  He says Saturday night they will find out if that new strategy will contain him.  “I think the biggest thing is containing Tyler Long.  Last year during the season we had trouble controlling the quarterback.  When teams have a special kid at quarterback in that spread offense and they are running some of that zone read we have trouble defensively containing that.  We worked real hard in the off season as a coaching staff trying come up with different ways to do that.  St. Mary’s presented that problem for us in the first game and our kids responded well.  We are going to see the same thing this week with Tyler Long and see the same thing next week with Huron with Cody Thompson.  We have three real good quarterbacks three weeks in a row to start the season that run out of the spread with a lot of options.  The key for us is not to give up those big explosive plays,” said Livengood.

 

 
 

Flyers Excited to Get Stared

 

          Firelands Conference favorite Norwalk St. Paul begins its schedule with a non-conference game Saturday night at Whitney Field against an improved Sandusky St. Mary’s. 

          John Livengood, the head coach at St. Paul since the early 1990’s, has been very excited about how hard his kids have worked and prepared for this season.  “Our kids have done a great job.  It started in the off season.  They did a nice job preparing in the weight room.  Going into the summer we used our camp days to continue in the weight room and began our conditioning.  It has just been building up since the beginning.  The kids have had great attitudes and great work ethic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “There is great chemistry there.  They carried that right into two a days and right into our scrimmages.  I have been pretty pleased with our kid’s attitude and our performances so far.”

          Things have been great so far, but Livengood knows full well that they have to take that attitude and that approach to the regular season.  “The thing is our kids have to carry it over right away.  Our first three games are against three very good opponents in Sandusky St. Mary’s, Tiffin Calvert, and Huron.  We are going to be tested early on.  We have to be able to control every aspect of the game and play our best early on,” he said.

          St. Mary’s was only 2-8 a year ago in the tough Sandusky Bay Conference, but Livengood feels they will be a much improved team this year and a bigger challenge.  “They have a nice quarterback that is very accurate.  They have a big receiver, a big 6’4” kid, that can run.  Their running back transferred from Sandusky in Lucas Will.  He has excellent speed and good size.  They have some dangerous kids out there.  They have some experienced kids coming back.  They run the spread offense and try to spread the field.  They give you a lot of things to defend.  They are well coached and disciplined,” said Livengood.

          The St. Paul coach says the Panthers have had an influx of talent this year and that is going to make them a lot better team.  “They lost a lot of kids last year to graduation.  They did bring back some skilled kids.  They have some kids that weren’t out in previous years come back out and they had a number of kids transfer in.  They went from having 23, 24 kids on their roster to being in the mid to high 30’s.  Some of those kids that moved in, and some that are moving up with experience, are good skilled kids and are difference makers.  I went and watched them against Tiffin Calvert this past Saturday in their scrimmage and they look good,” said Livengood.

          You can not talk about Norwalk St. Paul without mentioning the playoffs.  They won the division six state title in 2009.  Livengood says to have good season they have to get off to a good start.  “You want to start out on the right foot.  You don’t try to put any emphasis on any particular game.  We always want to start out our season on the right foot.  Like I have said our first three games are tough games for us and we have to be ready to play and be at our best early on,” he said.  

 

 
 

St. Paul Looking Good

 

          This week a panel of media members unanimously chose Norwalk St. Paul to win the Firelands Conference football title and their longtime coach seems to be pretty happy too.

          John Livengood says the Flyers played well on both sides of the ball in a scrimmage against LaGrange Keystone last week.  “We are making good progress so far.  We were pretty happy with how we played in first scrimmage.  We are starting sort things out in terms of who is ready to play varsity football and who’s not.  The kids played pretty hard and played pretty well and were physical.  We were excited about that.  Our preparation continues as we get ready for our second scrimmage to against kind of finalize things going into our first game,” said Livengood.

          The Flyers meet Edison in a scrimmage on Friday night at Whitney Field.  Livengood says there are still some things to work on.  “We want to get out there and see what we are doing in terms of who is starting and who is not starting and that sort of thing.  The areas that maybe we didn’t perform really well in our first scrimmage.  We want to see improvement in those areas.  We need to maintain our physicalness and we want to get out of that scrimmage clean and make sure we have no injuries headed into our first game,” he said.

          So far, the Flyers have been pretty good at the point of attack, but he would like to be better in the passing game, both on offense and defense.  “We have some areas where we need to continue to get better.  At times we look very good in our coverage and at times we didn’t look so good.  I think that is one of things that we are really emphasizing this week making sure we do a better job in the secondary.  Another thing is swarming to the football.  We want to make sure all 11 guys get to the football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage on both side of the ball.  I would like to see get things going a little better with our pass game.  We have some talented kids there.  We would like to utilize that.  We have some areas that we continue to work at and build on our strengths and improve our weaknesses and keep working to get better every day.”

          There are quality athletes at St. Paul, but right now Livengood says this team’s chemistry is its best trait.  “Probably one of the strengths of this team is our senior leadership.  I couldn’t be more happy with our group of seniors.  To be honest at this point to this is one my favorite groups I have ever coached.  They work hard and they take a good approach to practice everyday.  They want to continue to get better.  We have great practices everyday.  A lot of that goes back to seniors and their attitude when we approach things.  That chemistry and what you do with it is a big part of it.  You have to have some talent, but you need that chemistry and leadership and we have got those intangibles,” said Livengood.

 

 
 

Norwalk St. Paul Ready to Get Going

 

          Norwalk St. Paul won the Firelands Conference football title last year and they bring 16 starters back this fall.

          Veteran coach John Livengood says it has been so far so good for the Flyers.  “I like what I see so far.  The kids are really enthusiastic.  They are working hard and they have a really positive approach to the game.  They approach everyday with a lot of enthusiasm.  We have a lot of experience back and practices are moving a lot smother than normal.  I’m just really optimistic and I am looking forward to our first scrimmage on Saturday,” he said.

          St. Paul plays LaGrange Keystone in a scrimmage on Saturday.

          Livengood says his kids always enter the season with a good measure of confidence and this year is no different.  “I think our kids always approach the season with a lot of confidence and high expectations.  We are returning about seven guys on offense and nine guys on defense.  That really helps when you are in the huddle and introducing new things.  The fact that they were out there on the varsity game field last year and participating in varsity games they really have a lot of confidence going into things.  That experience and knowing what we expect has really paid off,” said Livengood.

          One thing that is a big bonus for the Flyers this year is the experience they have back.  Livengood says it has made practice a lot easier this year than they have been in the recent past.  “When you are inexperienced, especially with the skilled players, quarterback or running back or the receiver positions you are really limited and try to make things basic and one step at a time.  You really can’t build on the basic stuff until you have got that stuff down.  Our kids kind of came into the summer with that basic knowledge down.  That has allowed us to advance on things and look ahead and build on that.  Things have gone a lot quicker and smoother than maybe in some years past,” said Livengood.

          However, the coach says there are some spots that have open competition and they are some pretty important positions.  “We have to find two spots in the secondary.  Those are the two positions where we don’t return starters at safety and corner.  We have three kids battling for that safety spot and we have two other kids battling for that corner spot.  There is quite a battle there with those kids battling it out every day.  Once we get into the scrimmage and go against an opponent and other competition I think we are going to get a better look in evaluating them and see how they handle those situations.  Offensively we have a couple of spots on the offensive line that we are working on.  We are trying to sort out our other running back position,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Other than that we have a lot of our receivers back, our quarterback, our main running back from last year, and all of our forcing unit defensively.  We have a lot that sorted out with just have to find those other positions and find out who our special team kids are.  A lot will be evaluated and figured out after this weekend.”   

 

 
 

Fundamentals are the Answer for St. Paul

 

          Norwalk St. Paul locks horns with Colonel Crawford in the division four district semi-finals on Tuesday night at Willard High School.

          St. Paul (18-6) has played some pretty good basketball lately with wins over New London, Plymouth and Sandusky Perkins over the last month of the season.

          They beat Danbury Lakeside (84-35) in a sectional final game last Friday. 

          One of the key games over this last month might be a loss they suffered to Willard (78-58) because of where it was played.  Flyers coach Mike Smith hopes that is a plus come Tuesday night.  “Our kids have talked all weekend about how they really enjoyed playing at Willard.  We shot it pretty good.  We were just there three, four weeks ago.  That was one the reasons we wanted to pick up Willard.  The other was the tradition and the respect for coach Hirschy and the Willard basketball program.  We are hoping that pays dividends,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford (18-5) won the silver division of the North Central Conference this year and they won the district title last year.  Smith knows they are very good.  “I think they are very well coached.  They are disciplined.  They play very physical.  They have an outstanding guard in the McCreary kid.  I think Adams is equally as dangerous.  He is a shooter and with his physicality and post up ability that’s a tough match-up.  I think it is very, very important that we limit his inside touches, try to get a hand in his face and keep him off the glass,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think Jury and Klingenberger are solid inside people, very strong, very physical.  Klingenberger is very athletic and I think that will be a tough match-up.  I think the Tackett kid does a nice job.  The Entenmann kid comes off the bench and gives them some offense.  I think they have a nice basketball team.  They have been there before.  They won their league and it definitely won’t be an easy game.”

          Due to the fact that the players down in the post on both sides are so evenly matched Smith believes who wins on the block will have a pretty big impact in who wins the game.  “I think size wise we both match-up pretty well.  The Jury kid is a big, thick, physical kid.  I think Michael Griffin, our post player, is a strong kid and very athletic.  You look at Klinenberger and him and Harwood about the same kind of player, they can shoot the perimeter jumper and can go inside, scrappy and get to the offensive glass.  I think that match-up is going to be huge.  Then trying to defend McCreary will be a task,” he said.

          Overall, in Smith’s opinion the game is going to boil down to who does the fundamentals well, and oh yeah, shoots the ball the best.  “I think when you look at the game of basketball and you look at tournament play it becomes a half court game.  I think you can beat bad teams pressing.  You can throw some pressure in here and there, but with the level of play at the district level you just aren’t going to win pressing.  I think it comes down to half court offense and execution and it comes down to half court defense and execution and rebounding the basketball and taking care of the basketball.  You throw in free throw shooting.  I think all of those areas are very, very important.  I think the team that executes and shoots the ball is going to win,” said Smith.    

 

 
 

Flyers are Excited

 

          Right now the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers are bursting at the seems with confidence after playing some excellent basketball against bigger schools this past week.

          If things fall right, and Crestview upsets Western Reserve, the Flyers could find themselves with a co-title in the Firelands Conference if they can beat talented New London for a second time this year.

          Last week, the Flyers lost to Willard (78-58) on Tuesday, beat Crestview (59-52) in a conference game on Friday and upset Sandusky Bay Conference co-leader Sandusky Perkins (63-58) on Saturday.

          Coach Mike Smith knows his team in getting better.  “I have said all along that this basketball team is going to be a pretty good team at the end of the year.  I can’t think of too many teams we have had the privilege to coach that didn’t get better and be playing their best basketball at the end of the year and I think these young men are doing that.  They have improved a lot.  We have talked the last couple of weeks about upping our intensity and our focus.  We just went through a really grueling stretch here,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We’ve had five games in eight days.  Last week, we were at Willard on Tuesday and at Perkins on Saturday and punch in the Crestview game on Friday.  I am just really happy with what we got out of those games.  Saturday night was one of the most special ones on the road.  I just thought our kids were very focused and in tune to what we wanted to do.  I thought both offensively and defensively we handled ourselves very well down the stretch and came out of there with a big win.”

          Toward the end of the season it important to get kids rest as well as work on things in practice.  Smith says they will sit Tuesday out.  “We gave them Tuesday off to kind of rest themselves. So they are going to have Tuesday off.  We will try to regroup and get our batteries new charged and get after it on Wednesday and we are looking forward to Friday night,” he said.

          Smith thought they competed with Willard very well last Tuesday and were able to take a lot from that game.  “We took it up to another level.  I know we lost by 20 to Willard, but I don’t think that final score was indicative of how well we played and how hard our kids played.  Hats off to coach Hirschy.  They really shot the ball well and executed their stuff.  It was a physical game.  We had our opportunities to kind of be in there at the end.  With about four minutes to go he flood gates kind opened and allowed them to stretch that lead out to 20.  I was happy with the progress.  That is why we added that game to get on the floor that hopefully we will get the opportunity to get back on in a couple of weeks and I have high regard for coach Hirschy and his program and the Willard tradition.  We wanted to place that game in mid February to get us that experience and our kids did not back down,” said Smith.

          In what was likely the most important game on Friday night against Crestview, Smith thought they were a little flat.  “On Friday night I thought we were kind of tired.  We got the “W” and were up 10 most of the game, but I told them Friday after the game if we want to hang with a Perkins we have got to bring it and they did bring it in all facets of the game.  Hopefully this will be a springboard coming into the tournament.  Friday night should be a great atmosphere with New London.  We were fortunate to beat them the first time.  Again this game is going to make us a lot better come tournament time,” he said.

          The first time they played New London the Flyers beat them (67-52) in one of the biggest game of the season to date in the Conference.  Right now, Western Reserve and New London are 11-2 in conference games and St. Paul is 10-3.  Western plays Crestview on Friday. 

          Smith understands that New London has great talent, led by district player of the year Dane Held.  “They are very well coached.  Tommy does a great job.  They have the division III player of the year in Dane Held. Dane was on an AAU team for four years that I was fortunate to coach in fifth through eighth grade and he is just a wonderful person.  They have shooters around that you have to defend and they pressure you and do all kinds of things and we have to be ready for that.  We are looking forward to the challenge of our kids getting in that tournament type atmosphere and competing because right now I think we are playing pretty darn good basketball,” said Smith. 

 

 
 

Flyers Take on Big Boys

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is looking forward to the challenge of playing one of the Northern Ohio League’s best in the Willard Flashes on Tuesday night in a non-conference test.

          St. Paul, in third place in Firelands Conference, beat arch rival Monroeville (59-43) last Friday and coach Mike Smith says they did what they needed too.  “I thought we played pretty well on Friday night.  Monroeville is always a heated rivalry.  We went out and took care of business being down a couple of starters still,” he said.

          In the second game of the weekend the Flyers lost to Sandusky St. Mary’s (52-46) in what turned out to be a game for the top seed in the division four sectional at Norwalk High School.  Smith says short handed they game themselves a chance.  “Saturday night against a good St. Mary’s team the game was tied with a couple minutes to go.  We did not shoot the basketball very well.  Our perimeter people were 4-29 and that usually doesn’t happen, so if you would tell me we were 4-29 and with a couple minutes to go we still had a chance of winning that I would say we did some good things.  We should be back to full strength on Tuesday.  St. Mary’s has got a nice team, I just wish we would have shot the ball a little bit better, but I think their defense had a little something to do with that as well,” said Smith.

          In the sectional draw both of the top two seeded teams decided that they would not take the bye.  Smith explains they wanted to get on the floor as soon as they could.   “I was probably pretty happy with the draw.  I figured St. Mary’s would get one seed after beating us the night before and desirably so.  I know both (St. Mary’s coach) Lyle (Falknor) opted to play.  I just think there are a lot things that happen when you sit.  If you’re seeded and you figure you want to get on that floor as soon as you can I think it’s a big benefit.  Plymouth, with the third seed, jumped on St. Mary’s and then South Central jumped on us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday. “I think both of those teams said they wanted to play a game before they play St. Paul or St. Mary’s.  We were left with Monroeville going into the St. Mary’s and Plymouth bracket and Danbury coming to ours.  I am pretty happy with the draw.  We still have some big games coming up down the stretch to try to get us ready to play our best basketball come tournament.”

          The Flyers (13-5) plays at Willard (13-5) on Tuesday night.  Smith thinks this will be a fun and challenging game to play.  “They are a very good basketball team.  Probably if it wasn’t for the suspension they would probably only have three losses.  Coach Hirschy has done a great job there.  He is a good friend of mine and I respect him as a coach.  The way they play on the floor you can see the discipline.  His mark on that basketball team is they are very well organized.  They are fundamental and they defend.  The do a multiple of things defensively and offensively.  It will be a challenge for us,” he said.

          With the division four district tournament hosted by Willard, Smith says that is one of the reasons he wanted to start this series.  “One of the reason we wanted that game on the schedule, especially in February, is every other year we would get on the Willard floor right before tournament time and get an opportunity to get a little more comfortable on the floor where our district is held.  With the Willard tradition and coach Hirschy it seemed like a good fit.  Also the proximity, the drive between the two schools and both schools have nice facilities.  I think we have a pretty decent program as well,” said Smith.

          St. Paul has been able to play some pretty good defense this year, but Smith knows it’s going to be difficult to slow down the Flashes.  “Their three perimeter people with Davidson, Matt Cok, and Ebert, they flat out can shoot the basketball.  They are very athletic and quick.  Hayden Adams is a tough match-up as well.  He has a nice mid range game and can also go down low.  Also the Bohach kid, I think he does a lot of good things.  I have seen them play and seen them on film, it seems like he never misses a shot.  He doesn’t try to do too much.  He understands his role.  He screens and he plays hard.  He does all of the little things.  Their first five are pretty solid and then the kids that come off the bench know their roles pretty well too.  They have a lot of guys to guard that’s for sure,” said Smith.      

 

 
 

St. Paul Building For the Tournament

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has a real chance to be seeded in the division four sectional tournament and they can enhance their chances with a couple more wins this weekend.

          They host Monroeville, in a conference game, and Sandusky St. Mary’s on Saturday.

          Last week, with two of their best players not dressed St. Paul went to Plymouth and beat the Big Red (57-54) in a Firelands Conference game.  Coach Mike Smith was very pleased, especially considering the situation.  “We were missing our leading scorer and our fourth leading scorer and we had some kids step up.  They got Tyrell back.  I think they had a lot of momentum.  Our kids really did a nice job of both ends of the floor.  We got the ball inside.  I thought we defended well.  We took care of the basketball, something we didn’t do the first time we played them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We handled their full court pressure.  We made big plays down the stretch both offensively and defensively and were able to come up with some big free throws as well.  Under the circumstances I was pretty proud of our basketball team.”

          With the conference title pretty much out of their hands the Flyers have been concentrating on the tournament.  Smith says if they are at the top of their game they could do some damage.  “One thing that we talked to our kids about all week is trying to get more focused as we get toward the end of the year by valuing the ball and making every possession count.  I thought we played a pretty complete basketball game.  That was the second straight game against our sectional opponents, both of our games this weekend, Monroeville and St. Mary’s, are in our sectional.  We are seeing where we lie here against all of the teams except for Danbury going into the draw on Sunday,” said Smith.

          St. Paul (12-4,8-3) hosts arch rival Monroeville on Friday night.  They beat them (69-50) the first time.  Smith says this game always has some intensity.  “They are our rival in all sports, football and basketball especially.  Coach Rear has them playing hard.  They have struggled sometimes handling the basketball.  They have struggled a little it as far as shooting the basketball.  I know that we will get their best shot on Friday night.  I can’t think of too many times when St. Paul-Monroeville hasn’t been very heated.  I think as my son said the other night after the girls’ game it wouldn’t matter if we were playing ping-pong or cards or whatever versus Monroeville the intensity is always there in both gymnasiums,” he said.

          Sandusky St. Mary’s (10-7) has had a roller coaster type season.  Smith says they are back on track now.  “They got off to a good start, they were 9-2, then they lost five straight and then they just won their last one against Edison.  They kind of went through a little adversity and now they have their confidence back.  It should be a good basketball game.  They bring different types of pressure, full court, half court, three quarter court.  In our league we don’t see that.  They bring multiple defenses and I am looking forward to see how our players handle that.  Not looking too far ahead Tuesday night Willard kind of does the same thing,” said Smith.

 

 
 

Flyers Want Different Result

 

          So far this season, Norwalk St. Paul has lost only three Firelands Conference games.  Two of them come to conference leader Western Reserve, who is unbeaten in the conference.  The other is to Plymouth, who they host on Friday night.

          The first time the Flyers (11-4,7-3) faced Plymouth the Big Red won by 20 points (61-41) and St. Paul coach Mike Smith says they turned the ball over way too much against pressure.  “The first Plymouth game we didn’t play very well.  We did not handle their pressure very well as I went back and watched that.  I thought we were very impatient.  Those are things we have been preaching all year.  It might have been that loss that springboarded us to playing pretty good basketball.  We just have a single this week.  The kids have been practicing hard and really getting after it.  We are trying to get better each time we take the floor whether it’s in practice or in games.  I think our kids are striving to do that,” said Smith.

          Plymouth (6-10,5-5) has had their problems as of late in losing eight of their last nine games.  They played three games this past weekend, losses to Mapleton, Mansfield St. Peter’s and Bellevue, without sophomore Tyrell Edmiston, who was suspended.  Smith says the Big Red has other players who did a good job.  “He is a very talented individual and he definitely makes them a lot better when he is on the floor.  Without him they did play a very good game versus Mansfield St. Peter’s.  I think that could help their basketball team to realize they can play good basketball when Tyrell isn’t there.  If they get him in the right frame of mind, where he needs to be, that could be a pretty good basketball team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think they have shown signs of that.  They are very young.  When I went to scout them on Monday (against Bellevue) they had three or four sophomores on the floor and a freshman the majority of the time.  The Beebe kid is one of the better wings, and he is only a sophomore.  I really like the Bailey kid.  He makes them work and he is another sophomore.  I think they are getting good senior play from the Kregger kid.  It is definitely a dangerous team for us.  I think it is a game that will make us better and try to get a little confidence going here and start playing really good basketball down the stretch.”

          The word out of Plymouth, at least earlier this week, is Edmiston is expected to return to the roster.  How much he might play is unclear.  Smith says he makes a big difference when he is in there.  “They put him on the point of their diamond press.  Their 1-2-1-1, however you want to describe it.  He is very athletic.  He is big.  He has long arms.  He can deflect passes and when he gets steals he can score.  We gave up 20 points on just stupid decisions versus their press.  If you take those possessions away, especially 14 of those in the first half and it’s a little bit different basketball game.  All week we have been working that all well.  Hopefully our kids can make those adjustments and continue to get better,” said Smith. 

 

 
 

Norwalk St. Paul Focusing on Improvement

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is team that has gotten consistently better as this season has unfolded and they hope to continue that as they prepare for the postseason.

          Coach Mike Smith says they have played well and now they need to make that extra little push here in the last month of the regular season.  “We talked our kids on Monday about still trying to get better between now and the start of the tournament.  Obviously there are things we still need to get better at, but I like the progression.  Our losses have comes twice to Western Reserve, who is pretty dang good, to Fremont St. Joe, and we lost to a Plymouth team that played well.  We are looking forward to getting back on the floor on Friday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “These next four games are against every opponent in our tournament except Danbury.  It is kind of a preview of the tournament to kind of getting warmed up and also have quite a bit bearing on how the seeding will go.  I have been trying to use that a little bit for motivation in trying to get our kids to do a few things a little bit better.”

          Last Friday, the Flyers turned a 20 point deficit into a nail bitter before losing to Firelands conference leader Western Reserve (63-59) at home.  Smith says there are lessons that can be learned from that game.  “It can be a good thing if we learn from it.  We had a bad start.  We played fast offensively.  We need to slow down, especially in a big game at the start and get a feel for it and get your confidence going.  We played a little faster than we wanted to.  If we learn from that it only makes us better, which I think our kids will,” he said.

          On Friday night, St. Paul (10-4,6-3) plays at South Central (4-10,3-6) in a Firelands Conference game.  Smith says the Trojans are a team that is getting better fueled by the improvement of their younger players.  “Coach Seidel has a young team.  They are very young.  They have a couple of real good seniors in Seidel and Dotson.  Their leadership, along with the coach, has brought them around.  They had a nice quality win against Plymouth a couple of weeks ago.  We did get them on our floor and we think we played pretty well at our place.  We only have the one game this weekend, so are hoping we can go in and play hard and get after them and kind of disrupt them with our pressure.  It is a big game as far as seeding goes for the upcoming tournament.  We are looking for the challenge of playing a team that has improved a lot,” said Smith.

          Three games behind Western Reserve a conference title is unlikely.  Smith says their focus is on the postseason and what they need to do win those kinds of games.  “We take a lot of mental reps with watching film of ourselves, studying ourselves to try and get better.  A lot of these games when it comes tournament time it might be a six point game, which is a two or three possession game,  Everything adds up whether it is the start of the game with a turnover in the first quarter, maybe not closing out or blocking out.  All of those possessions are very, very important.  A point of emphasis for us is to try and be as good as we can be on every possession because when you starting getting in the sectional championship and district play the difference between winning and losing might be that made free throw, a made layup or a block out, maybe not closing out with a high hand, maybe not setting a screen.  It could be handling special situations like handling the ball in a delay game or coming up with a big steal out of a trap or a press.  We feel we have a pretty talented team.  One that if we play good basketball can compete with anyone in our district,” said Smith.

 

 
 

Flyers Can Make it a Race

 

          Western Reserve is threatening to run away and hide in the Firelands Conference, but Norwalk St. Paul has the chance to bring them back to earth.

          It’s a two game lead for the Rough Riders over both St. Paul and New London heading into this weekend’s action.  In addition to their Friday night game at home with Western Reserve the Flyers also travel to last place Mapleton on Saturday.

          Last week, St. Paul beat New London (67-52) to move into a two-way tie for second place.  Coach Mike Smith says it was likely the Flyers best performance of the season.  “I think we played out best game of the year.  These kids have come along way over the course of the season.  If you go back and watch the first game with Western and we aren’t even the same team.  I think everybody can say that, but I really like the progress that we have made.  They are great students of the game.  I think we are doing a pretty good job teaching.  I just like the progress of understanding situations and how we want to handle those things.  We are shooting the ball pretty well and that always helps,” said Smith.

          St. Paul (9-3,5-2) is a team that has shown considerable improvement over the last six weeks.  Smith says they have improved their inside scoring and therefore their balance.  “I think we have shot the perimeter shot pretty well all year.  We are becoming a lot more balanced.  We have some nice inside players that do a good job and our guards are doing an outstanding job of throwing it inside.  When teams have to collapse I think that is one our strengths I think our perimeter shot becomes even deadlier,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We made eight threes on Saturday night and I think we made six on Friday night.  Our posts are shooting well.  I know Michael Griffin is like 68 percent.  Bob Harwood is close to 60.  We are getting good shots.  It is a credit to everybody as far as this basketball program.”

          Western won the first meeting of the season back in early December and Smith says this time they have to play their game by just doing the things they have been doing.  “It was a 16, 18 point game halfway through the third.  We just have to play to our capabilities.  It was the second game of the year.  It was on the road.  It was against a veteran team and I think we had a veteran team as well.  We shot 28 percent and you are going to beat very many teams doing that and you definitely aren’t going to beat a good team like Western shooting 28 percent from the floor.  We have to handle them a lot better.  We have to slow down and be patient and do the things we have been doing the last month,” said Smith.

 

 
 

St. Paul Has a Chance to Move Forward

 

          If Norwalk St. Paul is to win a Firelands Conference championship then a win at second place New London this week is crucial for the Flyers.

          The Flyers (7-3,4-2) are in a share of third place in the conference standings, two games behind leader Western Reserve and one game behind New London. 

          In winning three of their last four games, coach Mike Smith says the Flyers are starting to do a lot of good things.  “I think we just keep getting better.  That has always been the goal to keep getting better everyday in practice and every time we take the floor.  We are learning some things about if team’s takes this away what do we do to maybe counter.  We had a pretty successful holiday.  We did lose a one point game to Fremont St. Joe.  I thought last week we played our best game of the year versus Crestview.  We really got after them.  We are looking forward to this weekend and a good match-up with New London.  For us to keep our title hopes alive we need a win,” said Smith.

          Offensively Smith says his team is starting to slow down and recognizing things a lot better.  “I think our defense has been pretty good.  Year in and year out we defend pretty well.  The one thing that has been a little bit behind has been our offense in taking better shots and slowing down.  We have been doing a nice job here recently and working extremely hard at getting the ball inside to our post players.  Our field goal percentage has gone up immensely.  We are shooting 35 percent from three, which is very good.  All year the perimeter shot has been there, but I think we have been taking some quick shots,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Some of that is the result of some team’s defenses.  Other times we are just impatient.  I am starting to see us slow down and starting to get that balance inside and out.  That could be the separator between us being good and being really good.  I’m looking forward to having a week where we get to have every practice as we get ready for a very good team in New London.”

          Friday night’s game is going to go a long way in determining who challenges Western for the top spot.  Smith says New London is tough to guard because they have so many players that can handle the ball and get their own shot.  “They are a very good passing team.  I think they share the ball extremely well.  They have four guys I think that shoot it extremely well in their starting lineup.  They do tend to be a tough guard, especially if you have a couple of inside guys that aren’t used to leaving the inside and having to guard on the perimeter.  It starts with Dane Held, he does it all.  He is a tremendous person, I know him very well, and he is also a very good basketball player.  He can shoot the threes and take you off the dribble and defend all five positions if he has too.  They have some other kids in Cory Smith and Josh Hamilton that shoot the ball well and handle the ball.  Luke Shayes has been playing well.  The Dillard kid inside has done a nice job.  They have played a few games without Nick Thomas, who is an athletic kid that can shoot the three.  He has had mono, but I expect him to be back.  They are a very disciplined team that defensively applies a lot of pressure.  It will be a challenge to us and we are looking forward to it.  We are looking to take the steps we need to take to become team I think we can be by the end of February,” said Smith.    

 

 
 

Flyers Rushing Shots

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has won four of its first five games, but still some work needs to be done.

          Last week they won a pair of Firelands Conference games beating Mapleton (57-26) and South Central (59-44) last weekend.  Still coach Mike Smith is concerned that they are making such a low percentage of their field goals.  “I was happy with the way we played.  On Friday night with Mapleton we were able to get a lot people involved.  We maintained our intensity for 32 minutes.  I thought that everybody that played, played hard.  We gave up just 26 points.  Sometimes those games tend to get sloppy and I thought we did a nice job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “With South Central on Saturday night I thought we played well in spurts, especially at the defensive end.  We still aren’t shooting the basketball like I think we ought to.  We shot just 33 percent from the floor.  I guess it’s a good thing we you can win by 15 on the road.  I am just hoping we can shore than up a little bit.  Our intensity for the first five games has been outstanding.  The kids are working extremely hard.  We want to get better every time we take the floor and we are just having a lot of fun right now.”

          Smith, the coach of the Flyers since the late 80’s, says they are getting good looks at the basket, but perhaps they are rushing their shot under pressure.  “Actually we are getting real good looks.  We might be rushing a little bit.  We are shooting 31-32 percent from three, so it’s nothing to do with that.  I just think with the speed of the game we are real anxious.  We are getting up a lot of shots.  We got 66 shots on Saturday night.  We are getting the offensive glass, but we are not finishing.  We are going to concentrate on trying to slow down.  I keep telling our coaches that somebody is going to pay dearly when we really start shooting the basketball like we have in practice,” said Smith.

          St. Paul (4-1,2-1) plays at home against Plymouth (3-2,2-1) in a conference game on Friday night.  The loser is going fall two games back in the conference race.  Smith says they have a lot of young guys that have logged significant varsity minutes.  “They have a nice nucleus.  When you think of Plymouth you think of Tyrell.  He can change the game.  He is definitely someone we are concerned about.  The Beebe kid is a real nice player along with Bailey and Kregger and Bret Roberts has played quite a bit.  Right now they are trying to get a little depth built.  He is still playing quite few young kids.  He is starting three sophomores.  I think they are looking for a little more consistency.  The only way to develop a bench is to play them.  I know coach Keene has been trying to do that.  They play hard and get after it.  They are going to be a challenge Friday night,” said Smith.

          If you are going to beat Plymouth you must contain the play of big Tyrell Edmiston in the middle for the Big Red.  “The three games that we played last year and our study of him all day on Sunday he makes them go.  You have to limit him as far as his touches go and try to take the ball out of his hands.  When a shot does go up he such an offensive rebounder.  He has tremendous hands, so a block is very important.  I think the other thing as I have seen him play over the last year and a half is his ability to pass the basketball and find the open guy.  If there is a double team he is going to find the open cutter.  It looks like he enjoys sharing the ball as well.  We will try to limit those things and maybe make somebody else beat us,” said Smith.

 

 
 

Flyers Must be Patient

 

          After looking really good on week one, Norwalk St. Paul took a thumping in their first league game and is looking to battle back.

          Western Reserve made eight three pointers on the way to a (68-41) win over the Flyers last Friday night in the Firelands Conference opener for both.  Coach Mike Smith says the Flyers started to press too much.  “We knew it would be a big game and it really came down to shooting the basketball.  Western shot it extremely well.  We did not shoot it very well.  We seemed to be very fast and I think part of that was what Western did.  They sped us up and our kids didn’t react to that as well.  They knocked down eight three pointers.  Everyone of those was contested,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That was probably the difference in the game.  I still think we had some guys that were trying to do some things on their own rather than letting the game come to them.  We talked about that being a little more patient offensively because we really have a nice shooting basketball team.  We have guys inside that can score and guards that can create.  We need to get better each time we take the floor.  It’s going to be a really good basketball team.  We are trying to learn from our mistakes.  Hats off to Chris’s team at Western they played very well.”

          Then on the second half of the double dip, Smith says they started to put together some things in the second half of a win (58-52) at Edison.  “On Saturday we went to Edison.  Again we kind of struggled the first half shooting.  I think the guys were getting a little anxious.  In the second half we scored 39.  Really I thought we played a pretty good game.  We turned it over just nine times.  They had 22 turnovers.  I liked what we did defensively.  We got out and pressured the ball.  We did some things, especially in the second half.  Our motto is to get better each and every day that we take the floor,” said Smith.

          The Flyers host Mapleton (1-2,0-1) at their place on Friday night.  Smith says new coach J.R. Keener has an interesting mix of players.  “Watching then on film.  They are just trying to do a few things and do them well.  They are getting decent guard play.  The Hickey kid is pretty good solid guard.  Brone, the sophomore, looks like he has done a good job.  The Barr kid is a good athlete.  The Greg kid inside does a decent job.  He is not tall.  I think he is 6’1”.  He used his body well and that gives them some experience.  I think coach Keener is looking for a little depth.  They are probably going to hit some peaks and valleys.  They did some nice things versus New London and New London is a pretty good basketball team,” said Smith.

          With more double weekends on the schedule Smith says he and his staff work hard to get the kids ready.  “Each week we try to make sure we are prepared for everything.  We spend a little extra time on some things that we know that they are going to run.  I prepare whether if it’s non league or somebody with a great record or a bad record.  Our kids have a detailed scouting report, usually in the six to eight page range.  We have a video highlight of all of our opponents.  Hopefully we are prepared for anything we see.  We saw a little box and one on Friday.  I think our kids handled that,” said Smith.

          More and more Smith thinks rest is important for the players on the second half a double weekend.  “I think it important to get some rest between that Friday and Saturday game.  We used to bring our kids in for a walk through.  Now we try to give them the opportunity to sleep in a little bit.  We bring them in a couple hours before the JV game and we give them the opportunity to shoot the basketball.  Then we go through the scouting report and anything that we feel we need to address before our Saturday opponent,” he said.

          The Flyers are at South Central (1-1,0-1) on Saturday in another league game.  

 

 
 

Flyers Get Big Win

 

          Norwalk St. Paul surprised many with a win over one of the Sandusky Bay Conference favorites in Huron last week and this Friday they play the favorite in their own league.

          St. Paul edged Huron (54-52) in their opener last week and coach Mike Smith says his team played well in the pressure situations the end of a close game brings.  “I thought we played well for the opener.  Obviously, I think we can play a lot better.  The thing I was probably most impressed with was how our kids competed.  They were focused and played with composer down the stretch.  Really the intensity in the gymnasium was more like a district final game.  I thought our kids just handled that well.  They were not afraid or intimidated by that situation.  It was a solid game against a very talented Huron team and one that has high expectations.  We are hoping we can build on that,” said Smith.

          On Friday night, the Flyers travel to Western Reserve (1-1) to face the Rough Riders in their Firelands Conference opener.  Smith says not a lot of people are giving them a chance in this one either.  “Nothing better than to face the preseason number one pick in the conference, the team everybody is picking to win our league on the road.  Our kids are really looking forward to the challenge.  Western is a very talented team.  They are well coached, Chris (Sheldon) does an outstanding job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “His record speaks for itself.  We have a lot of respect for them.  I had a chance to watch them Saturday and they played a lot better than they did on Friday.  Friday night they really struggled shooting the basketball.  When you are struggling to make baskets it makes it hard to win.”

          Western Reserve was the runner up to New London in the conference race a year ago and they did lose an all-state player at the guard position in Nolan Todd to graduation.  Smith says the Rough Riders are trying to go inside more, but their strength still lies on the perimeter.  “I would say they do have some nice size.  The Ash kid is 6’3”, the Hankins kid is 6’4”, and they have a perimeter kid that is 6’5”.  Obviously their guard play is very solid with the Bosse kid, the Good kid, the Munz kid and Willie Roth have all played for at least two or three years at the varsity level.  That is probably the strength of their team.  They probably took a few more perimeter shots than they wanted too.  I know that in studying them they are trying to establish more of an inside game so they don’t have those nights when they really struggle shooting from the perimeter.  Like I said they were a different team on Saturday night than they were on Friday night,” said Smith.

          Smith is the dean of coaches in the conference and he says that they have developed a little bit of a rivalry with Western over the years.  “It’s a pretty good rivalry.  Chris and I share a lot of film.  It is funny because we share a game film.  He probably watches 10 or 12 of our games every year and I probably watch 10 or 12 of his.  We’ll say I liked that new set you put in.  We have the up most respect for each other, but when the game is tipped it becomes a battle.  With the two schools being in close proximity and their success and our success and we are rivals in football makes for a good rivalry.  Their kids always play with class and I hope ours do to.  We are looking forward to it,” said Smith.  

 

 
 

Flyers Make Some Adjustments

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is a more experienced team this year and one that may be poised to do some damage in the Firelands Conference this season.

          Veteran coach Mike Smith says they have done some good things in the preseason.  “I have been pretty happy.  It has been a couple of years here in a row where we have been able to start fairly on time.  We have been able to get in our five scrimmages.  That was good and we made progress in each one of those.  Obviously we want to be more consistent in every thing we do, but so far I have been real happy,” he said.

          Last season, St. Paul went with the dribble drive offense as their base offense and Smith says they are going to continue with that this season.  “Our kids have looked a lot more comfortable running the dribble drive.  We actually have been able to run a few more sets.  In talking with the Oakland staff again this year probably we didn’t run enough sets last year, but I wanted to make sure we made a commitment.  Our whole program from the fourth grade on up has instituted the dribble drive with terminology.  I think we have scored the ball pretty well in our scrimmages.  There are some other things that we are doing,” said Smith.

          On the other hand, they are going to make some tweaks to what they do on defense.  Smith wants to limit the lay ups.  “Defensively we have taken a little bit of on the line and up the line and also some of the things that we have done in the past.  I think we have come up with something kind of half way between the on the line up the line and made a little more difficult,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I am a guy that hates to give up good scoring opportunities.  I think we gambled a little bit too much.  I think you have to make it hard for other teams to score.  We have instituted a little bit of that and tried to make our defense as sound as it can be.  I just can’t give up lay ups and gamble so much.”

          Most of the talk in the Firelands Conference is about Western Reserve or New London, but Smith says they have some nice potential.  “We bring back a veteran team.  We have six lettermen back, four starters and we were playing pretty good basketball at the end of the season.  Those veterans have stepped to the plate and done a nice job and the other players have stepped in,” he said.

          The Flyers start with a tough one.  They host one of the Sandusky Bay Conference’s best teams in the Huron Tigers on Friday night.  Smith says it will be a big challenge.  “Huron is probably a top ten team in division three.  They have tremendous size.  They bring back everybody, but one kid.  I think they won 15 games last year.  They are one of the favorites in the “SBC.”  They have some wings that are 6’5”.  Their post players are 6’3”, 6’4”.  They do create some match up problems are we will probably have to play some zone, something I don’t like doing.  When we look at the match ups that is definitely something that concerns us with Huron.  It will be a good test for our kids to kind of see where we are at.  We get them at home and I think our kids are capable of playing with a team like Huron,” said Smith.        

 

 
 

Flyers Out to Even the Score

 

          Tiffin Calvert beat Norwalk St. Paul on the second week of the regular season and the Flyers have a chance to get their revenge on Friday night as they host the Senecas in division six regional quarterfinals.

          Calvert beat St. Paul (34-20) on the second week, but Flyers coach John Livengood says he is impressed with how hard his kids have worked to get better as a team.  “It was a tough start to the year.  There were some different factors in there.  Number one, we played some very good competition.  Number two, we had a lot of youth out there on the field, not just inexperienced kids, but young kids, probably stepping into roles a little bit before their time.  Just getting that game experience makes so much difference.  We started off 1-2, at the midpoint of the year we were 3-3,” he told Swankonsports.com. “The thing I am most proud about our kids is how much they improved and kept fighting and kept their eye on the prize and that was to hopefully win a Firelands Conference championship and make it to the playoffs.  That is always our first goal.  I couldn’t be more proud of kids and how hard they have worked and continued to improve and put themselves in this good position.”

          Much of that improvement the Flyers have shown has been on the defensive side of the football.  Livengood says the defense has matured.  “Offensively we have played pretty well all year, with the exception of the Western game when we had six turnovers.  Other than that we have been able to put up points and played pretty well on offense.  Defensively, we struggled the first half of the year.  We had trouble slowing down people.  That is where we were young.  We had a couple of freshmen playing and three or four sophomores.  I think as they have gotten that experience game by game kids have kind of fallen into their roles and got that game experience.  Right about that midpoint of the year is when they made a jump.  We have been playing pretty good defense here the last four weeks,” said Livengood.

          Calvert (6-4) has been able to put up some points too at times.  Livengood says they have a talented quarterback in Tyler Long, who is a game breaker.  “The person that impresses me the most is their quarterback, sophomore Tyler Long.  He is an explosive athlete.  He is able to take a game over himself.  He has great feet, he has great speed.  They hang their hat on Daniel Wyatt, their fullback, a 6’, 200 pound kid, he is a bulldozer in there.  They run the zone with him.  They run the zone keep with Long.  If you focus too much on Wyatt, Long will burn you and take it the distance.  They have a real nice receiver in Nick Wannament.  He scored a couple of times against us the first time we played.  They have different facets of their offense that you really need to keep control of,” he said.

          Defensively, Livengood believes the Senecas will try to crowd the line of scrimmage in an attempt to shut down their running game.  “I think one of things they are going to try and do is load the box on us.  Most teams have done that throughout the year.  We have been able to run the ball pretty well.  We expect the same thing from Calvert.  They kind of changed up some things defensively against us the first time and load the box pretty good.  We have seen them against Carey and some other teams that run the ball pretty well.  We are going to see at least eight or nine in the box.  We have got to be prepared for that.  We have got to be able to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball well and pass on our terms.  That’s always the key to success, controlling that line of scrimmage,” Livengood said.

          St. Paul (7-3) is still going to try to run the ball with Michael Griffin and Connor Smith, but Livengood knows they are going to have to be able to throw it too.  “We have been a little inconsistent throwing the ball.  We have had some really good games throwing the ball.  We have had some games when we have had a number of drops or bad passes or that sort of thing or some break downs in projection.  We’ve had some games when we were pretty affective.  I think when we are most affective is when teams load the box on us and we hit that play action.  We have been working hard on that and that is another area where we need to continue to improve.  One of our key injuries this year was our quarterback Sky Slaughterbach.  He missed the first three or four games with an abdominal injury.  It has been basically playing catch-up getting him going here.  He has had a couple of good performances and we expect him to have a good performance this week,” said Livengood.

          It’s been three years since the Flyers have been in the playoffs and Livengood says he told the players that this is something treasure and experience.  “I told the kids after the game that we hadn’t won the conference in a couple of years since 2009.  We hadn’t been in the playoffs since 2009.  Our seniors were freshmen when that happened.  We did it for so many years in a row. The thing I told the kids is you can never take that for granted you need to savor it.  I’m as proud of our senior class, this group of guys, as I have been with any team I have coached because of the way they have persevered, they way they have improved and continued to fight and work hard,” said Livengood.   

 

 
 

A lot on the line again For St. Paul and Monroeville

 

          Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville, it’s a small town football rivalry they could make movies about.

          Again this season there are conference championships and playoff berths on the line as the Flyers make the short trip to Marsh Field to play the Eagles on Saturday night.  Right now, St. Paul (6-3,5-1) shares first place in the Firelands Conference with Western Reserve, a game in front of Monroeville.  The Flyers guarantee themselves a playoff spot with a win.  Monroeville (4-5,4-2) has a chance too if they win.

          At one time this year St. Paul was 3-3 after a loss to Western Reserve (32-0), but they have won their last three over New London (49-7), Plymouth (30-14) and last week (56-13) over Crestview.  Coach John Livengood says they have really responded to the challenge.  “Our kids have been playing well and they have gotten better each week and that is the thing that I am most proud of.  We were pretty inexperienced to begin the year.  Then we had a number of injuries and things of that nature.  The kids kind of overcame that.  They have worked so hard.  I couldn’t be more proud of them,” he said.  One of the hallmarks of the St. Paul program is the ability to get better each week and Livengood says this year’s team is a good example.  “They have seen that over years when they were kids coming up with the older kids and that’s how they have handed adversity.  We have gotten better each week.  Number one, with our younger, inexperienced players, but also number two with overcoming the obstacles and adversity that you have to deal with.  Everybody has to deal with that.  We all have injuries and things like that.  Our kids have been able to battle through that.  They have persevered.  They are really playing well and are playing with confidence right now,” said Livengood.

          Monroeville started the year by losing four of its first five games, but they have rallied too with three straight wins.  Livengood says that’s not unexpected because the Eagles have very good personnel.  “They return a number of starters from last season.  Some of them were forced into playing varsity football before they were maybe ready too, but that experience pays off.  They play a tough non-conference schedule.  One thing you say about the Monroeville kids is they keep fighting,” he told Swnakonsports.com on Thursday, “It’s a proud program over there.  They are playing well defensively especially.  They haven’t been out of any game.  I think their worst loss is by eight points.  They have continued to battle and stay positive and they have come up with some big wins here the last couple of weeks.”

          Both teams want to run the ball first and Livengood says control of the line of scrimmage will determine the winner of the game.  “It’s the basic philosophy of our program that we have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.  We need to be able to run the football and pass the football on our terms.  Contrasting that we have to shut down their run, that’s what they hang their hat on.  In Ricky Heck they have a big fullback that does a nice job for them and gets those tough yards.  We have very similar styles of offense.  I think it’s going to come down to a battle in the trenches,” said Livengood.

          There is great intensity in this rivalry, but there is great respect too.  Livengood says this is what high school football is all about.  “We have set up these rivalry games over the last six or seven years.  Our rivalry is obviously Monroeville.  There is a reason for that.  Number one I think you have two programs with a strong tradition and they are playing meaningful games at the end of the year.  I am really proud of our kids that we have put ourselves in that position that we are playing for a conference championship on Saturday night and playing for chance to play in the playoffs.  I always say this when we play Monroeville it doesn’t matter if both teams were 0-9 it’s going to be a slugfest.  It really is a high school version of Ohio State-Michigan,” said Livengood.      

 

 
   

St. Paul Back in First

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is back in familiar territory, in first place in the Firelands Conference and in position to make the post season playoffs.  They have done neither since 2009 when they won the division six state title.

          The Flyers put themselves in that position with a (30-14) win at Plymouth last Friday night.  Coach Jon Livengood says the kids responded well when they outscored Plymouth (16-0) in the second half of the game.  “Our kids played real well.  Plymouth is a real good football team.  They have some good skilled kids and defensively they were playing real well and get to the ball.  We played even the first two quarters and then in the second half we were able to go up by a couple of scores and also kick a field goal.  The kids played well, they responded well.  Our first two drives on defense we gave up some yards and gave up those first to scores but, after that our defense buckled down and played well,” said Livengood.

          After some mistakes that gave the Big Red some excellent field position in the first half, Livengood says their defense stepped up when called upon.  “Some of it was field position, some of it was adjustments.  We did make some scheme adjustments on both sides of the ball, but nothing too major.  We started off the game and we were trying to kick a squib kick and ended up giving them a short field.  It’s looked almost like an on side kick because it hit one of the front wall guys, but that wasn’t the intention,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We set them up on a short field.  We had a couple of good defensive plays run wise, but then they were able to hit as pass play on us and move down into scoring position, four down territory.  Both drives in the first half were kind of like that, short fields and them hitting some big plays on fourth down.”

          On Saturday night, the Flyers (5-3,4-1) host the Crestview Cougars (2-6,1-4), who are coming off a win over (42-28) over Mapleton for their first conference win of the season after winning the title a year ago.  Livengood says the Cougars are improving.  “They are a young team this year.  They lost a lot of real good seniors last season.  They are starting to play better.  They have a lot of sophomores and juniors out on the field this year and they struggled a little bit early on.  The reality is when you watch them on film it’s the same Crestview.  They are big and physical.  They are getting better each week.  They are playing hard and they are going to come right at you and smack you in the mouth,” he said.

          Crestview has not changed their approach to the game at all.  Livengood says they are still a run first team.  “They like to line up in the eye and pound the football.  They have a real nice quarterback also in Nick Wheeler, who’s got good speed and also throws the ball well.  They have some good balance and good talent out there.  I think each week they go out there they are maturing and getting better.  They are playing well on defense too.  It hasn’t been a situation where they are giving up a lot of points either.  They have kind had some hard luck with games,” said Livengood.

          St. Paul also stand fifth in division six, region 22, of the computer rankings and has a solid chance to make the postseason with wins over Crestview and arch rival Monroeville next week.  Livengood says it’s nice to have something to play for.  “With New London’s win over Western last week is created a three-way tie on top of the conference.  We are part of that mix.  We know that if we take care of our end of it and take care our business we have a chance to still win a Firelands Conference championship, which is always our first goal.  Secondly, we want to put ourselves in position to get in the playoffs and create a second season for ourselves.  Fortunately going into week nine we control our destiny.  Our total focus is going to be on Crestview this week and taking care of business like that and we will let the other things fall out like they do,” said Livengood.    

 

 
   

Norwalk St. Paul to Play Strong Plymouth Team

 

          Two of the three teams that stand in second place in the Firelands Conference play each other this week to see who stays in contact with Western Reserve as Norwalk St. Paul pays a visit to Plymouth.

          Last week, St. Paul (4-3,3-1) came up with one of their better performances of the season as they hammered New London (49-7) in a conference game.  Coach John Livengood says they responded like he hoped they would after a loss to Western Reserve the previous week.  “Our kids came out and played really well last week.  It’s good to bounce back from our game against Western Reserve where we didn’t play as well.  We kind of magnified things with turnovers.  It was good to clean that stuff up.  Our lines on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball played well.  We were able to run the ball well and play great defense.  When we can do those things we have a great chance of winning.  Our kids came out and played really well and we are happy about the progress we made,” said Livengood.

          As this season has gone a long Livengood has been pretty happy about the improvement he has seen from his football team.  “On both sides of the ball I think we have matured and gotten better.  We have a little bit more experience on the offensive side of the ball.  Things have happened for us a little quicker on offense.  We have some seniors returning on the offensive line and that helps out.  We have run the ball well.  We have been a little sporadic passing the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have had some injuries at quarterback and receiver.  That has made us a little bit hit and miss.  I think we are getting a little bit better in that area.  Defensively we are just real young.  I think each game out we get a little more experience and our kids are starting to understand things better.  Our hope is to get better each week we step on the football field.”

          Plymouth (4-3,3-1) has won its last three conference games over Mapleton (40-14), Monroeville (21-13) and South Central (17-0) to climb into the conference race.  Livengood says Plymouth coach Mark Genders is doing an excellent jog of building that program.  “The thing that stands out is their speed.  They have some good speed at their skilled positions.  I think coach Genders is just doing a great job down there.  Last year, they were a team that could play with anybody in the conference.  They finished .500, but they lost a tough overtime game to us and I think they lost an overtime game to Western and possibly one other overtime game.  They instead of being a 5-5 team they could have been an 8-2 team,” he said.

          Livengood adds this year the Big Red is doing a lot of different things on offense.  He says they have the capability of stretching a defense.  “Their kids are playing hard and he has them going in the right direction.  They are still a senior laden team with as many people as they graduated off of last year’s team when you look down the starting lineup, he has a lot of seniors in that starting lineup.  It seems like he is doing a great job building his program.  It’s a tough team to prepare, especially defensively.  They run a lot of different multiple sets they run wishbone, they still run some single wing, I think he has coach Lewis down there helping him, and the next down they could be in spread.  They have a nice package out of each formation.  It really forces you defensively to work on a lot of things,” said Livengood.

          When they have the ball, Livengood says they expect that Plymouth is going to try and crowd the line of scrimmage.  “A 4-3 defense is their base defense, but as time has gone on they have gotten a little bit more aggressive with what they are doing.  We kind of expect to see nine in the box.  That’s how they played Monroeville, that’s how they played South Central.  They will get nine guys right up there on the line of scrimmage and force your hand on some things.  They are playing aggressive, they fly to the football. They have some real nice players that love to hit and they do a real nice job with it,” said Livengood.        

 

 
   

Flyers Need a Win

 

          If they are to compete for a Firelands Conference title this season, and make the playoffs, Norwalk St. Paul must have a win Saturday night when they host New London.

          The Wildcats are the surprise co-leaders of the conference after wins over Plymouth (48-26 in overtime), Crestview (26-21) and Mapleton (48-21) last week.

          St. Paul (3-3,2-1), on the other hand, has handled by Western Reserve (32-0), the other co-leader, in a conference game.  Coach John Livengood says they were their own worst enemy on the field.  “With last week’s game I think we had some physical mismatches and Western was able to take advantage of things.  We just didn’t match up very well and they did a great job of executing and moving the football.  For us offensively, we turned the ball over six times.  When you turn the ball over six times, it’s tough to score points and tough to win a football game.  So, those are areas were we need to keep working and improving.  For the most part those were fundamental errors so they are correctable and it is something we are going to work on,” said Livengood.

          New London (4-2,3-0) has been able to put up a lot of points this year.  Livengood says they have a number of guys that can break long gainers.  “In fact they were very good offensively last year.  They have some playmakers.  Nick Thomas is there running back and he does a great job,” he told Swankonsports.com, “He has good speed and good size.  Clay Wilson also does a nice job running the ball for them.  Dane Held, who is a nice receiver, is really good in the open field.  Josh Dillard plays tight end, split end, and a little bit of quarterback.  When he goes in at quarterback they have a little bit of a wildcat look.  He is looking more to run than he is to throw.  He balances things out pretty well for them.  So, they have some playmakers out there offensively.  They have put up some points all year long.”

          Livengood says they have been working very hard this week as a coaching staff to find ways to put their kinds in positions where they have the advantage over the Wildcats.  “We have to play good defense.  One the things their coaches do a great job of is schemeing and putting their kids in position to be successful and they have done that every week.  We have to be able to match that scheme wise and put our kids in position to be successful to shut them down, number one, fly to the football, play good sound football and, obviously, control the live of scrimmage.  On the other side of the coin we have to make sure we are finishing off drives and hanging on to the football and put some points up,” said Livengood.

          Coaches don’t like to use the phrase “must win,” but Livengood says that is exactly what they are facing.  “We are coming out of this week with either a winning record or a losing record.  We are 3-3 right now and we want to make sure we are 4-3.  Our focus is on New London and our focus is on St. Paul and most importantly getting better.  Every time we step on the field we want to improve fundamentally,” he said.  

 

 
   

Flyers and Rough Riders Meet For Control

 

          It appears that Norwalk St. Paul and Western Reserve are the two best teams in the Firelands Conference this season and they play on Friday at Western.

          Last week, St. Paul (3-2,2-0) put their second straight sold performance together in beating South Central (31-6) in a conference game in Greenwich.  Coach John Livengood says they did just what they needed to do on defense.  “I was really happy with the way we played defensively.  We held them to negative yards rushing in the game and we gave up a little more than 100 yards passing and kept them under 30 to 40 percent completion percentage.  So, overall defensively we played pretty well.  We are continuing to improve in that area.  I like the way we are looking right now,” he said.

          Western Reserve also won in a tussle against Monroeville (21-14) to remain tied with St. Paul and New London for first place in the conference.  Livengood says the Rough Riders are huge on the offensive line and very quick on defense.  “The first thing that stands out with Western in their size up front.  They’ve got a pretty big offensive line.  The next thing that stands out is their quickness defensively.  They aren’t really big defensively, but they fly around and they have kids that can move.  They have good speed and good quickness.  Their skilled kids are good.  They are very good football team all the way around.  Their only loss is to the defending state champions in Norwayne,” said Livengood.

          The old school thought is against a quick team is to run right at them and not try to get to the outside.  Livengood says that’s exactly what they will try to do.  “Our philosophy is to always run right at people.  We like to run the football and we like to run right at you.  I don’t think we are going to chance to much from what we do.  We are trying to balance out offensively and trying to work on our passing game.  Defensively, we have played well against the run the last two weeks.  We have improved against the pass.  I’d like to see those continued improvements in all areas,” said Livengood.

          Western have been able to dominate the point of attack against most teams they play and Livengood says they are going to have to find some way to hold their own there.  “We have to compete up front.  They have a number of guys that have started for a couple of years.  When I look at their outside tackle Dillon Mullins, I think he is a three year starter at 6’2”, 300.  Their inside tackle is a two year starter in Raymond Workman is 6’3”, 310.  We don’t have anybody that can match up with that size.  We are going to have to use our quickness on defense and fly to football and be aggressive.  They are going to be a tough match-up for us,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They are going to be a tough match-up for everybody.  Even when they were playing Norwayne when those guys down blocked they were getting movement.  They are good offensive lineman in addition to being big guys.”

          The winner Friday night will do no less than share the conference lead, but Livengood knows there is a long way to go.  “Both of us are 2-0, but the conference season is young.  I think if you look at the scores anybody can beat anybody in the conference.  There is no real standout team.  Western beat Monroeville last week 21-14, that’s a close game.  Monroeville has played everybody tough and they have a 1-4 record.  Our defending conference champions in Crestview were 10-0 last year and New London was able to upset them and they only had a couple of wins last year.  So, I think there is a lot of balance in the league.  We are going to have to come out and play every week and every game is going to matter,” said Livengood.  

 

 
   

St. Paul Needs to Defend

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is on the best two teams in the Firelands Conference this year, but they still have some holes they must fill.

          Last Saturday night they outscored Mapleton (60-41) in their conference opener at home at Whitney Field.  Coach John Livengood says he couldn’t be happier with what they did on offense, but especially their pass defense was not very good.  “I thought we played pretty well on the offensive side of the ball.  We played petty well with our special teams as well.  Defensively there were some areas where we played well.  We didn’t play well in the secondary and Mapleton took advantage of it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They played very well offensively with their passing game.  They have a very good quarterback.  They have a number of good receivers and they were able to take advantage of that.  Early in the game we were up 34-7 in the second quarter and really felt like we had control of the game.  Give credit to Mapleton and how hard they fought and how well their coach had them prepared.  They kept fighting back and playing hard and made a game of it.”

          Livengood thought the Flyers defensive line played pretty well against Mapleton, but the defensive backfield has some issues that need to be addressed.  “I think it’s a combination of things.  I really felt like one of the areas that I was happy with is we were able to get pressure on the quarterback and force him to throw the ball quick.  We were playing with too much leverage.  We had some missed assignments in the secondary and I really thought that Mapleton did a good job of taking advantage of that,” he said.

          St. Paul plays at South Central (1-3,0-1) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Livengood says the Trojans feature a huge offensive line and that will be a challenge for them.  “They are very big.  They have good size up front as they always do.  They have good size in the backfield.  Their fullback is 210 pounds.  They have a 300 pound tackle, a 255 pound tackle, their center is 280, their one guard is 245.  They have real good size up front and the same thing defensively.  That poses a lot of problems pushing them around.  Our guys aren’t that big up front and we are going to have to rely on our quickness and speed,” said Livengood.

          Aaron Brokaw is in his first year as the head coach at South Central and Livengood, who has more than 20 years at St. Paul, says he believes that Brokaw has the Trojans headed in the right direction.  “Aaron is doing a great job.  You can tell he has a plan and he is sticking to that plan.  I think he is doing a lot of things right.  Their fundamentals are improving.  He is doing some things defensively where he has some aggressiveness and giving some different looks.  He is basically a 3-4 or 5-2 look and moving around backers and doing some slanting and doing some different things,” said Livengood.

 

 
   

A Win Important For St. Paul

 

          Norwalk St. Paul plays host to Mapleton on Saturday night in a game that might go a long way in determining if their will be a changing of the guard in the Firelands Conference.

          St. Paul (1-2), one of the elite in the conference, has not lost to Mapleton since the first George Bush was President.  The Flyers are coming off a loss to talented Huron (48-12), but Livengood thinks they did some good things even in the loss.  “Their quarterback Cody Thompson is probably one of the best athletes we will see all season long.  He is a great player.  He made some plays and did a lot with his feet.  He passed very well, but he also broke the pocket on some scrambles against us and was able to take it the distance.  We had a tough time handling their athleticism.  I thought physically we played pretty well with our match-ups.  We just had a tough time matching their speed and quickness,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Overall, we saw some positive things.  Probably the most positive things was our kids kept playing hard even though the score was a little bit out of reach for us late in the game.  Hopefully, we are going to be able to build off the things we did well and learn from our mistakes and get better each week.”

          Mapleton (2-1) hammered Rittman (41-21) last Friday a week after hanging on to beat Buckeye Central (36-32) on week two.  Livengood thinks Mapleton has already turned the corner.  “I think coach Frisbee is doing a great job down there.  They have really turned that program around.  They have gotten to the point where they are competing each week mo matter who they are playing against.  They gave us all we could handle last year when we played them.  They have a lot of younger guys playing again this year, but there is some talent there.  They have a three year starter back at quarterback.  They have a pretty quick running back in Travis Pckering.  They have a couple of returning starters on defense.  They are some pretty big physical guys.  They are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said Livengood.

          According to the veteran St. Paul coach the winner might be determined by who plays with more confidence and of course the line of scrimmage.  “It doesn’t matter what sport you are playing a lot of it is confidence.  Obviously you have to have ability in what you are doing, but a lot of it has do with self confidence and how you approach the game.  It’s obvious that Mapleton is developing that self confidence.  We want our kids to go out there and play confident, physical, fast and take care of business.  If we are able to do that and control the line of scrimmage and play physical I think we can take control of the game early on and that is the most important thing for us,” Livengood said.

          This being the first week of league play, Livengood says it very important to get a win and establish control.  “I mean our record is 1-2 right now and one thing we talked to our kids about is we are 0-0 in our conference.  We start the season listing our goals and our first goal is always to win the Firelands Conference, so we know that is in tact.  It’s important to get off to a good start in conference play and that is our goal and objective for this week,” said Livengood.   

 

 
   

Norwalk St. Paul Wants to Eat Clock

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has a big opportunity on Saturday night that could get them on the path to their first playoff berth since 2009, the year they won the state title.

          Last week, they suffered their first setback of the season when Tiffin Calvert beat them (34-20) in a game between small school powers.  Coach John Livengood says they were in the game the whole way.  “They have some real talented athletes.  Their skilled kids are really tough.  The have a nice quarterback and a nice receiver and running back.  They were able to hit some big plays against us early on in the first half and we found ourselves down by three scores.  Our kids battled back and we cut it to one score entering the fourth quarter at 28-20.  We were driving inside the 20 yard-line and failed to convert on a fourth down.  Calvert was able to run the game out and add a score on late in the fourth quarter.  Our kids battled back we just have to start stronger and do a better job tackling,” said Livengood.

          Huron (1-1) comes in with a loss to Elyria Catholic (30-27) and a victory last week over Parma Holy Name (38-21) on the second week.  Livengood says as always Huron is loaded with talented athletes, especially quarterback Cody Thompson.  “They have great athletes every year and this year is no exception.  They have a great program.  Coach Lagondo does a great job.  Year in and year out they are a playoff caliber team and a lot of times they go deep into the playoffs.  They have a great quarterback in Cody Thompson,” he told Swankonsports.com, “He is kind of a dual threat guy.  He has a great arm.  He played receiver for them last year.  He is a very accurate thrower.  He has good skilled receivers that do a great job.  They have good speed out there.  Probably the most dangerous thing with Cody is he is able to break the pocket and do some things with his feet.  If the play breaks downs he is able to make things happen.  Watching him on film that is probably the scariest part of the football team.”

          Yes it is the job of the defense to hold down the explosive Huron offense, but Livengood says the offense must do its part as well.  “That is one of the things we want to replicate.  Week one we were able to control the line of scrimmage.  We were able to rush for over 400 yards.  Not only are you controlling the time of possession, but we were able to convert those drives into scores.  Keeping the other offense off the field, that’s a big thing and that’s something we want to try and do again this week,” said Livengood.

          St. Paul always thinks about the playoffs.  Livengood knows a win over Huron will help them get there.  “We are playing up two divisions and we are playing a team like Huron.  We accept that challenge.  That is something we wanted on our schedule.  We want to play a playoff caliber team.  A bigger team for us.  We feel that prepares our team to play hard in the conference and also prepares us, hopefully, for a post season berth,” said Livengood.

 

 
   

St. Paul Ready for Good Calvert Team

 

          Norwalk St. Paul was impressive in a Saturday night win over Sandusky St. Mary’s and now they want to carry that over to this Saturday when they play Tiffin Calvert.

          The Flyers belted Sandusky St. Mary’s (34-12) last Saturday night and coach John Livengood says they did a lot of good things on offense.  “We felt pretty good about the way we played on offense.  We were able to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball well.  Our quarterback managed the game well.  He was pretty affective.  He was three for four and a touchdown.  We were able to play ball control for most of the night.  We have over 60 carries for over 400 yards.  Anytime you can do that you control the clock and keep your defense off the field and that’s a good situation for us,” said Livengood.

          On defense, the Flyers were able to slow down the Panthers for most of the night.  Outside of a couple of big plays, Livengood says they played pretty solid defense too.  “I thought our defense played pretty well.  With exception of one series were we gave one big play in the third quarter, a long run from about mid field on fourth and one.  We got misaligned and they were able to hit a big one on us.  They had a drive late in the fourth quarter, but other than that we played petty well.  We kept them under 100 yards rushing and 50 yards passing.  Overall I thought we did a real nice job on both sides of the ball and played solid special teams.  We managed the game affectively on both sides of the ball,” said Livengood.

          Calvert lost to a good McComb team last Friday (48-21,) but Livengood says don’t be fooled the Senecas are a pretty good team.  “We scouted that game on Friday night.  First of all McComb is a very, very good football team.  They throw a lot of things at you offensively.  They will spread you out and line up in a full house and do a lot of different things.  They were able to take advantage of some big plays against Calvert.  Things kind of snowballing on them, but Calvert’s a good football team,” he said.

          Livengood says they want to possess the ball on offense and Calvert has the ability to do that too.  “They’ve got a fullback in Daniel Clyde.  He was very affective against us last year just getting three or four yards a carry and they were able to control the clock against us last year.  They feature their quarterback, not so much throwing the ball. I mean they do throw down field, and they’ve got some good receivers.  Tyler Long, a sophomore quarterback, has excellent speed.  They kind of feature him running the ball.  They have a lot of quarterback run plays,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I always think offensively if you are able to run your quarterback you create a situation where it is 11 on 11.  Normally, if you are handing the ball off and your quarterback is just carrying out a fake it’s usually 10 on 11.  If you are able to utilize that you even things up and they have an excellent quarterback and we will have to work hard to contain him.”      

 

 
   

Flyers Ready to Meet Panthers

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has not won a Firelands Conference title or made it to the playoffs the last two seasons and that issomething that’s pretty rare for them.  They plan to change that this fall.

          The Flyers open the season on Saturday night in Sandusky against the St. Mary’s Panthers.

          Long time coach John Livengood says the kids are preparing hard this week in making sure they are ready to face a pretty good St. Mary’s team.  “We had a good first scrimmage.  Our second scrimmage wasn’t so good.  The thing that you learn from when things don’t go well is to learn what you need to get better at.  Our kids have worked hard and we have had a good week of practice so far.  I really see some improvements and some strides in our kids, so hopefully come Saturday night we will be ready to go,” he said.

          Last week, Edison, predicted to be one of the better teams in the “SBC” this year, exposed some weaknesses in the Flyers.  Livengood says they have identified those are working to improve.  “The biggest thing defensively is tackling.  We didn’t tackle very well.  Edison has a very good football team.  They have some great skilled athletes.  We didn’t break down and do fundamental tackling so we have got to improve in that area.  Offensive line execution in regards to how physical we are that’s another area that has to improve,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our secondary coverage has got to improve, so basically all phases of the game we need to get a lot better and we need to get better quick.  We are really hammering down at practice and the kids are responding and working hard.  We expect to have a good showing on Saturday night.”

          St. Paul has been on this area’s dominate football programs and Livengood says one reason is they are always looking at ways to get better, not matter what time of the season.  “That is something we hang our hat on as a program.  Week two we want to be better than we were week one and so on and so fourth throughout the season.  I really feel like you make your biggest jump between weeks one and two in terms of improvement.  Hopefully we have a good enough season that we can play in he postseason and we want make strides week by week in the postseason too.  That’s our goal to continue to improve and play the best football that we possibly can,” said Livengood.

          As far as St. Mary’s is concerned, Livengood says they have a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball.  “St. Mary’s runs the spread offense.  They have real nice athlete at quarterback and his twin brother is a wide out for them.  Their running back Brandon Green is a returning starter.  They have a junior kid that is a back up that played quite bit and got equal time to the first teamer in Dye.  They are in a one back set, but they rotate those guys,” he said.

          Livengood says the Panthers have some big guys that can move laterally on defense too.  “Defensively they run a 50 and do a lot of slanting and angling out of it.  They rotate their coverages.  They have a big defensive line.  They have a couple of kids that are 6’4”, 6’5” and 250 that move pretty well.  They are pretty well balanced.  We have our hands full with them because they have some really nice kids that can respond and move well when they do get that space,” said Livengood.

          He says they expect to win at the line of scrimmage on Saturday night and that’s going to be a big part of the game.  “We put a big emphasis on the offensive and defensive line.  If you can control the trenches you have a good opportunity to win.  That is a big point of emphasis in our program.  We expect our kids to be physical and get movement up front and play hard defense.  Hopefully the kids will respond this week.  It seems like they are and I hope that shows up on Saturday night.

 

 
   

St. Paul Ready to Compete

 

          Norwalk St. Paul opens the high school football season next week against Sandusky St. Mary’s and longtime coach John Livengood thinks this will be an excellent season for the Flyers.

          St. Paul had its first scrimmage last week and Livengood says that was key to determining what they need to do to improve as a football team.  “I think it’s one of those situations where everyday we are trying to make improvement and get through the grind of two a days.  This past weekend we were able to scrimmage up at Keystone.  That was nice because really we had gone two weeks of practice and you are banging on each other and hadn’t had a chance to see anything else.  After two weeks your kids are ready to do something, compete, and see where they are at.  It was a great experience to go up there and evaluate our kids.  We saw a lot of positive things and a lot of things we need to work on,” said Livengood.

          Practice is important, but Livengood says sometimes you can’t get a good reading on what players need to do before you play another team.  “You never play that perfect game.  Things are tough to see lots of times in practice.  We do film our team sessions, but when guys are blocking scout teamers it’s a lot different when they are out there blocking another varsity football player.  When you get out there against another varsity team it kind of exploits some things that you might not be doing well fundamentally whether its pursuit or your tackling form or sustaining blocks or missing assignments,” said Livengood.

          One thing Livengood knows that once they get to the regular season they need to hang on to the football better than they did against Keystone.  “We had three fumbles in our first scrimmage, so that is one area we really want to work on.  There are a lot good things happening, but a lot of things we need to get better at in all phases of the game in every position.  That’s what it is all about.  Scrimmages we want to use them as an evaluation tool. Obviously you want to be successful, you want to do well, and feel good coming out of it.  Probably the most important thing for me is if we can stay away from injuries,” he said.

          A Firelands Conference championship is always the first goal for the Flyers and Livengood thinks they have a good chance at accomplishing that this season.  “Even in the last two years where we didn’t win the conference we finished second both years.  We were right there with the top team.  We had an opportunity last year on week nine when we were playing Crestview, and we were wining until there were 30 seconds left in the game, we could have tied for the conference championship.  I felt like we had a competitive team even though we were 6-4 last year.  We feel this year we have a real nice group of kids.  We have a nice receiving corp.  We are a little inexperienced at quarterback,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Defensively we lost a lot of starters, so we have a lot of new faces in there, but there are some good athletes.  In our younger grades we really have some good kids coming up.  We are excited to get them on the field and see what they can do.”

          Livengood says they are not looking ahead at the conference schedule yet because they have three very good teams to play in non-conference play first.  “There are some really good teams in our conference with Western Reserve still returns quite a bit.  Crestview and Monroeville and Plymouth is on the rise.  That is down the road about a month yet.  We have a real tough scrimmage coming up here against Edison.  They return a lot of kids.  They are a big physical team and that will be a big test for us scrimmage wise.  Sandusky St. Mary’s has some really nice skilled athletes, Tiffin Calvert lost in the playoffs to Delphos St. John’s in the second round last year.  Our third game is with Huron and they return a bunch of starters.  They are as fast and physical a football team that we will see all year,” said Livengood.

 

 
   

St. Paul Getting Ready to Go

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has been one of the must consistently successful high school football programs in North Central Ohio and one of the reasons is they expect to be.

          The Flyers are coming off a 6-4 season and that is a down year for them.  Last year, they were plagued with injuries and that helped lead to a few more losses.  This summer veteran coach John Livengood says he has seen some good things.  “We used about five camp days in June and used a couple already here in July.  We are pretty excited about things.  The kids are doing a great job.  We have a real nice group of kids.  Our seniors have shown good leadership and we have some real nice talent coming up,” he said.

          Players were already on the field in June getting ready for a season that begins on the last week of August.  Livengood believes that starting early is a big plus.  “The state allows us 10 camps days and we utilize those to install our offense schemes in regards to our passing game.  We also have lineman attending our seven on seven days.  We work on our pass protections and start to install our run schemes and try and get a head start on that.  One of the things we tell the kids is when you get into the two a days and you are going through the grind with the heat and everything like that if you can get mentally on top of things a little early its going to make a big difference,” said Livengood.

          Another thing is that if you look at film from the mid 90’s you are going to see the Flyers running the same plays as they will this season.  Livengood says they don’t change much.  “Quite honestly we have pretty much been doing the same type of thing for the last 21 years.  Do we adjust to our personnel?  Yes.  We have run the spread since the early 90’s.  Our base offense is a double tight halfback set.  Defensively we have run a four-four.  We started off running a 50 front and went to four-four about ’93.  Obviously, we have some variation and kids with different skill levels,” he said.  The St. Paul coach, who led the Flyers to a state title in 2009, says they start them young learning the basics.  “Offensively we’ve got about five or six base plays and we run those at the fifth grade level, sixth grade level, junior high and freshman level.  In JV we start to expand on that a little bit.  Our basic offense and the basic plays that we run are the same from the fifth grade on.  It’s the same terminology, and the same thing defensively.  They run the varsity defense.  They don’t do any stunting or anything like that.  The kids grow up running our system,” said Livengood.

          St. Paul is a small division six school and Livengood says when they have big kids that’s a bonus, but they work on things they can improve on during the season and year around.  “One of the things that we talk to the kids a lot about is playing fast.  If you’re playing fast it’s because you are not thinking.  If you are thinking you are going to hesitate and you are going to make mistakes.  We want those kids to have our system down and have a good understanding of what our expectations are and go out there and let loose and play fast,” said Livengood.  He says they work on many drills in hopes of improving their speed and quickness.  “We have never been blessed with a lot of big kids and a lot of our success in based on having team speed.  We work very hard on that in the weight room and hard on it in the off season with our speed training,” he said.

          Livengood is not a proponent of the competitive balance proposal recently defeated in the State of Ohio.  He says it punishes success and that is wrong.  “There are people that are going to continue to bring it up.  I am not in favor up the balance proposal that they have now.  Everybody thinks that this is a thing against private schools.  Really when you look at the proposal there are some facets and parts of it that are a little bit biased towards private schools and punishing them a little more.  What it really does is punish the schools and the programs that are successful.  That’s where I’m really opposed to it.  If you build a program and you have kids buying into your system, coaches are working hard, kids are busting their tails to be successful and you are able to make the playoffs and make it to a regional or a state final game the way the proposal is written now the biggest punishment is going to come when you have success three or four years in a row,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I’m opposed to that.  It’s going to punish Wynford just as much or Mogadore or Coldwater.  Public schools that are successful year in and year out are going to be punished just as much.  I don’t see how punishing them, and that’s my terminology, is a good thing.  I don’t know if they want to create an equity in sports where everybody gets their turn at a championship.  I think if you have established a good program you shouldn’t be punished for that.”      

 

 
   

Flyers Face Another Tough Challenge

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has been a young team battling against a lot of experience this season in the Firelands Conference and the Flyers are still looking for that something extra that will allow them to turn the corner.

          Veteran coach Mike Smith says they have has some off the court problems this year, but he believes the players that want to be on the team are willing to put in the time.  “We surely hope so.  We hope we are gaining some momentum from the tournament.  Our kids have been working extremely hard.  We have some adversity.  We had a kid quit.  We had to dismiss a kid.  That has created a little bit of controversy, a little bit of adversity.  I think our kids have responded well.  Our kids practice hard every day.  They buy into our game plan.  They go out and execute the game plan to the best of their ability,” Smith told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We are still very young and I like our growth.  Obviously when you get a few wins that helps with the confidence.  We do have three tough finishing games here before the tournament.  We are challenging our kids to get maybe that signature win.  A big win against a team that maybe that is maybe not expected to sort of catapult us into the tournament on the 28th.”

          On Friday night, St. Paul (6-11,5-6) pays a visit to Crestview (10-7,8-4) in a conference game.  Crestview won the first meeting at St. Paul (60-47) and Smith says they are likely the most athletic team in the Firelands Conference top to bottom.  “They are very talented and it starts with Tyler George.  He is just a tremendous athlete, a great inside presence both offensively and defensively.  He does a lot of good things for them and he is a tough match-up.  Obviously the Hill kid I think has had a great year.  He has shot the ball very well and is very dangerous when he catches and has learned to go off the dribble.  I have always liked Ryan Adkins and the Durbin kid.  Those kids play the game hard, they are scrappy, they defend, can shoot it and they are quick.  I have always liked the Stimpert kid, he does a nice job, he has size and can shoot it a little bit,” said Smith.

          Crestview has a new coach this year in Brant Danals and Smith says he has done a fine job in first season with the Cougars.  “There first five are as good as it gets in our league.  He has been trying to develop a little bit of depth by playing some younger kids at times and also playing some of the other seniors on his roster.  I think the coach has done a decent job with them in his first year.  He is probably learning a little bit being his first year as a varsity coach over being a JV coach or an assistant coach.  He has got them to play defense.  Probably the one thing is they haven’t been as consistent as they need to be and that has hurt them a little bit, but they have been in every game.  I’m sure they will be ready for us.  I think it’s their last home game with 10 or 11 seniors on their roster.  It will be a special night for them and we are looking forward to the challenge,” Smith said.

          It would be an upset if St. Paul won the game and Smith says for them to do that they need to play great defense and contain Crestview star Tyler George and be patient on offense.  “We have to try and control Tyler George inside.  He just brings such a presence.  They have been putting him on the block a little bit more and that’s scary because he can hit the turnaround jumper.  We have to keep Jake Hill in check.  He shoots it well and when we are guarding him we have to make sure he isn’t getting clean looks.  The rest of the guys we have to just limit and make them try to beat us a little bit.  We don’t want to give up easy scores with them as well, we want to make it as hard as possible.  I think they are sound defensively and that starts with coach Danals and the  job he does.  They do get out and pressure the ball a little bit.  They have mixed up their defenses a little bit playing some 1-3-1 and 1-2-2.  Again, athletically they are as good as it gets.  Offensively we have to be patient and take good shots and maybe get some offensive rebounds and some transition hoops to counter their strong defense,” said Smith.   

 

 
   

Winning is the Answer For the Flyers

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is one a select number of teams in North Central Ohio that always seem to be on the verge of turning things around, but they can’t quite get there.

          They played two Firelands Conference games last week and had a chance to win both, but didn’t.  New London beat them (61-48) and then they lost to South Central (73-66) in overtime.

          Coach Mike Smith says they are doing some good things and keep getting better, but they are still looking for that little edge.  “We have to keep getting better in all areas.  We haven’t gotten over the hump.  I like what we are going.  We have had a little adversity here.  We played pretty well last Tuesday at New London and gave them all they wanted.  Obviously on Friday night we look South Central to overtime.  It took really a special performance from Austin Hintz to beat us.  He had 40.  I like where we are headed, but obviously we want to have some results.  Another big weekend here with a young team any success builds confidence and with confidence comes winning,” said Smith.

          This Friday night, St. Paul (4-9,4-5) plays at home against Plymouth (8-5,5-4) in a Firelands Conference game.  Smith says the Big Red has a nice blend of experience and talented young players.  “They do have some experience back with Benfer, who is one of the better players in the league.  Craig Miller does a nice job running the show.  Roberts has been steady for them.  Hicks has been solid.  You know, all of those kids are seniors.  The Beebe kid and the Edmiston kid are doing a nice job contributing at the varsity level as freshmen,” he said.

          Smith says Plymouth is team that is getting better this year and they have to show improvement if they are going to beat them.  “They had a big win Saturday versus St. Pete’s.  We will have our hands full on Friday and it could be rematch in the tournament as well.  Our kids are looking forward to it.  They are very positive.  We see some light at the end of the tunnel, but again we need some wins,” he says.

          In their first meeting on December 23, Plymouth won (61-55) with a big first half and 18 points from Ryan Benfer.  “They do try and press and do some things, so we are going to have to be able to handle their pressure.  We are not a team that is getting out and full court pressing we try to disrupt you defensively with our half court defenses and so on.  We have to control the inside.  In the first half of our first game we did a very poor job in the post defensively and we were down as much as 18 and came back to make that a one possession game down the stretch,” Smith told Swankonsports.com, “We made some adjustments, we fronted in the block and made it harder for their post players to catch the ball.  I thought we got out and ran a little bit.  We would surly like to run and get some easy hoops and also get to the offensive glass.  It should be a good basketball game between two teams that I think are fairly equal.”

          Smith says he has never questioned his player’s effort this and believes there will be good things this season for the Flyers.  “I can tell you this our kids have brought it every day as far as practice goes.  We have really done a nice job handling scouting reports.  They have been very positive and working extremely hard every time they take the floor.  I believe as my parents told me a long time ago if you keep working hard and you have a positive attitude success will follow you.  Even though we have only two seniors we aren’t playing for next year we are definitely playing for this year,” said Smith.

 

 
   

Flyers Must be Prepared

 

          Norwalk St. Paul will likely be hosting a fired up Western Reserve basketball team on Friday night and they have to be ready to match that intensity.

          St. Paul lost 66-46 to Tiffin Calvert, #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for smaller schools, on Saturday night.  The Flyers (3-7,3-3)) have some good players, but coach Mike Smith says they have to become better executers as a team if they are going to start winning games.  “We definitely talked to our kids about stepping up our game.  I mean we are 10 games into it right now and there are still some things that we need to work on.  We need to continue to improve in a lot of areas.  We also talked about the mental thing of stepping our game up and starting to put “W’s” in the win column.  Our kids have been working very hard.  I think we have grown and matured.  Now we have quite a few home games here and maybe we can get on a roll,” said Smith.

          The task will not be easy as the Rough Riders (7-4,6-1) lost to Crestview (55-45) on Saturday night in a conference game.  That loss moved them back into a share of first with the Cougars.  Smith says Western coach Chris Sheldon probably has been pretty edgy in practice this week.  “If I know coach Sheldon I think he is probably rattling the cage a little bit after their performance Saturday night.  Him and I share a lot of video and exchange a lot of information.  We are very close friends and I have seen a lot of their games,” Smith told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It was just one of those nights when they didn’t shoot it very well.  I did not see that game, so I don’t know what that scenario was.  They went 2-41 from the three point line.  If you are going to shoot like that it really makes it hard to win games.  Amazingly enough it ended up a 10 point game with that kind of shooting.  Obviously they did some good things on defense.  I think the thing that he was disappointed about is they settled for jump shots.”

          In their first meeting this season Western Reserve beat a young St. Paul team (55-42) in the conference opener for both on December 9.  Smith says to be successful this time they have play great defense and be able to limit penetration by the Western guards, including defending conference player of the year Nolan Todd.  “Whether you are playing man or zone you have to battle hard.  You have to get in gaps and get close outs.  You have to rebound the basketball and hold them to one shot.  When you take deep shots there tend to be a lot of long rebounds.  One of our goals this week is to keep the ball out of the lane and get to their shooters and contest shots.  I know he has been tying to get more balance inside with dribble penetration for lay ups or penetration and feeding the post,” said Smith.

          Western Reserve has lost its last to games, but one of those came to unbeaten Norwalk (71-63) and Smith says that is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.  “They have also lost to Norwalk.  They would have had to play an almost perfect game to win.  It sounds like they played good in stretches.  With Norwalk’s length and athleticism they gave up some baskets in transition,” he said.

          St. Paul plays Mapleton (2-8,0-6) in another conference game on Saturday night.         

 

 
   

Flyers Have to be Better in the Second Half

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has the players to stay with the teams they play, but only for a half or three quarters and then they run out of something.  They need to find that something to stay in the Firelands Conference race,

          The Flyers (3-6,3-3) travel to New London for a conference game on Friday night and then play host to the Midland Athletic League leading Tiffin Calvert Senecas (8-1) in a Saturday night non-conference game.

          Again last week they were able to play pretty well for the most of the time, but lost to Crestview (60-47) in a conference game and Sandusky St. Mary’s (63-45) in non-conference play.

          St. Paul coach Mike Smith says they just aren’t mature enough yet to make the big plays in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line.  “We need to finish better.  I think each time we get closer.  I don’t think the final scores of the games last week are indicative of how close the games were.  In our game with Crestview we were up at halftime and we down by one at St. Mary’s.  In both cases it was a five, six point game in the fourth quarter and we would either turn the ball over or give up a lay up and come down and take a quick shot.  All of the sudden that five, six point game becomes eight or nine.  Then you start pressing a little bit.  I just think we have to get a little more consistent,” Smith told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to be a little more disciplined down the stretch.  We have to find places to get scores and get stops when the game is on the line.  Right now, I think a lot of that has to do with youth and lack of experience going against a lot of teams that have a lot of experience.  Again this weekend, New London brings back almost everybody and Calvert does the same.  We are hoping we can get maybe a signature win that can kind of get our guys a lot of confidence and springboard us into the second half of the year.”

          New London (5-3,4-2) is another school trying to stay in the Firelands Conference race.  St. Paul doesn’t start any seniors, but New London has a number of players with experience.  “They bring back almost their whole team from last year.  Clay Hall does a nice job for them.  Dane Held is one of the better players in the league.  You have the Hopkins kid, who is one the most athletic kids in the league.  You know, he is 6-1, 6-2 and a good jumper.  Clayton Le Fleur has done a nice job and Cory Smith.  All of those kids played significant minutes last year.  They are mixing in some younger kids.  Some kids that don’t have a lot o experience with the Dillard kid and Shays.  It’s easy to do that when you have a lot of veterans.  They are very well coached, coach Howell does a nice job.  They play defense, they can score.  They have multiple options offensively.  They present a lot of problems and again it’s another road game,” said Smith.

          On Saturday night, Tiffin Calvert, #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll in the small school division, is in Norwalk.  Smith says they have players that have done it before.  He hopes the larger floor at St. Paul helps them.  “When you look at their roster, Matt Frank will be a four year starter for them.  Again a very experienced team, probably a team that won 16, 18 games last year and they bring back all five starters.  They have a little bit of depth and they are trying to build that.  They are 8-1 currently, with their only loss coming to Fostoria.  Probably the biggest thing is we get them on our floor.  They do have an advantage playing on their little floor.  Hopefully on our big floor we will be able to spread them out and handle their different types of pressure.  It definitely is a lot easier at our place than it is at their place.”

          Smith doesn’t believe that turnovers have been costing them very much this year.  He says they just have to learn how to make tough shots and get the big stop.  “We are averaging just over 12 turnovers a game, which is pretty good.  Last weekend we had eight and nine, so we are doing a pretty good job taking care of the ball, I just wish we would shoot a little better and again we need to come up with stops,” said Smith.     

 

 
   

St. Paul Ready to be Home

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is becoming a better team and they want to be factor in the Firelands Conference race and a win at home on Friday night against Crestview will help them prove that.

          The Flyers (3-4,3-2) beat Monroeville on Friday night (71-63) to keep themselves in position in the conference race.  Coach Mike Smith says they were able to get things going early and make some outside shots.  “I thought we really played a good first half.  Monroeville came out and really pressured us and we really took it to the rack in the first quarter, early in the game and then it really dropped off.  We were able to make 10 three pointers in the first half.  We were 10 for 22 for the game.  We were able to blow it open.  Monroeville started making a run a little bit and we got into some foul trouble.  It’s always good when you win on the road,” said Smith.

          Crestview (6-4,4-1) lost to Bucyrus (40-39) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Smith was in attendance for the game and thought that Bucyrus did a good job of taking Crestview out of things they wanted to do.  “They are very talented.  I had a chance to watch them versus Bucyrus on Tuesday.  I think when you look at Crestview you have to try and keep them out of the lane.  You have to make them take contested perimeter shots.  I thought Bucyrus did that.  You have to limit them to one shot and out and I thought they did a pretty good job with that,” said Smith.

          Crestview is a veteran team with a lot of experience and Smith says they have some athleticism across the board.  “Obviously Tyler George is a tremendous basketball player and athlete.  He gets to the offensive glass.  He gets to the rim.  Jake Hill has a very solid season for them.  He might be their leading scorer.  He is a kid that can go to the rack and also shoot the three,” Smith told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Michael Durbin has played very well for them as of late.  Ryan Adkins does a nice job of running the point.  The Stimpert kid has played really solid for them too.  They are trying to develop some more depth the other night they brought in another Durbin kid.  You would think they would run out of Durbins.  They are a powerful team and they are very good on defense.”

          Smith believes it is good for them to be at home again and he says they can not allow the Cougars to control the painted area of the floor on Friday night.  “We are going to have to play solid defense.  We are going to have to play team defense.  I think it really begins with limiting them to one shot and out.  It will be good to play only our second home game.  Our kids are excited about playing only our second game at home.  Our best performance of the year was at home and they are kind of licking their chops.  We realize how important it is with Crestview at 4-1 and us at 3-2.  If we want to be a player in the Firelands Conference we have to take care of business at home,” said Smith.

 

 
   

Flyers Need to Make Shots

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has been good enough to be competitive, but they are not good enough to win games against good teams, but that may change as the season progresses. 

          Last week, Plymouth downed St. Paul 61-55 in a Firelands Conference game and again the Flyers were right in it with a chance to win the game, but they just couldn’t make the big shot.  “I thought Plymouth established themselves inside and we didn’t do a very good job with their inside game.  We did switch our defense, but they really took it to us.  We challenged our guys at halftime.  They had it as much as 18 and it was 13 at halftime.  We came down and had it at one point with three minutes to go and one inside of two.  We couldn’t come up with the big score,” Norwalk St. Paul coach Mike Smith told Swankonsports.com, “They made some free throws down the stretch.  I liked the way our guys competed in the second half.  We made some adjustments.  We fronted in the post that made it little more difficult.  We gave up a lot of baseline drives in the first half.  We shot only 32 percent for the game.  They shot mid 40’s.  If we boost that up just a little bit I feel we have a good chance of beating them.”

          There is talent on the St. Paul (2-4,2-2) roster, but it is young talent in many cases and Smith says they just have to continue to mature.  “We just need to become more consistent in everything we do when we take the floor.  We have just two seniors.  We start two sophomores and three juniors.  Every time we hope we gain valuable experience and the next time we in that situation we don’t do those things,” he said.

          St. Paul plays at Monroeville (1-5,0-4) in a conference game on Friday night.  Smith says the Eagles are winless in the league, but they are a team that won’t give up.  “He plays 10 kids and he tries to find out who is playing well.  They are very young.  They do play hard.  They play hard at the defensive end.  They are physical.  They play a lot of man-to-man defense.  They will pressure quite a bit, especially if they are trailing.  For us we have to defend the screen and roll.  We have to make sure we do a good job rebounding the basketball.  In our Plymouth game we only gave up seven offensive rebounds, which is pretty good,” said Smith.

          Perimeter shooting the strength for the Flyers and Smith knows they have to be able to compete on the boards with teams they play.  “Against Monroeville we want to establish our inside presence, especially at the defensive end.  We just have to shoot the ball better.  I like our shot selection and that is something we have been talking about since day one.  We are shooting 31 percent from three.  We have to relax and shoot the basketball.  It will be a packed house at Monroeville.  Hopefully we can go out and play four quarters of basketball,” he said.

          Already trailing Western Reserve by two games in the conference standings, Smith and his players understand the importance of the game with the rival Eagles on Friday night.  “It is a huge game for us.  I really think you may win the league with three losses, probably more like two losses.  The thing is if we get through this stretch here and get another game under our belt I feel we can play with any team in the league.  We start shooting the ball better and get on a run.  At the end of the year eight of our last ten games are at home,” said Smith.     

 

 
   

Flyers Turn the Corner

 

          Norwalk St. Paul put together their two best performances of the season last weekend and got right back into the Firelands Conference race, just a game behind Western Reserve and New London.

          They Flyers play Plymouth, who has the same conference record, in a big conference game on Friday night.

          St. Paul (2-3) beat Mapleton (77-61) and South Central (68-55) in conference games.  Coach Mike Smith says his kids are coachable and they are growing in confidence too.  “I told our kids on Monday that there is something special going on right now.  I like the progress we have seen from the first scrimmage to our last game.  You know, you can see they are really listening.  They are responsive.  They are taking in everything.  It is great to see us get better.  It’s good to see us become more consistent.  We are really bringing it with a lot more intensity.  I am proud of were we are at.  Each day we want to get better and that is our goal.  I think everyday we take the floor in a practice or a game we have to improve,” said Smith.

          It is a new look on offense and defense for the Flyers with the dribble drive offense and more pressure on defense.  Smith says the execution was much better last weekend.  “Defensively we are a work in progress.  We are still learning as coaches what we can and can’t do in those situations.  I like our aggressive play.  They are understanding angles.  How important it is to do their job and if everybody does their job good things will happen,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Offensively, I think early on the pace of the game our shot selection wasn’t where it needed to be.  Last weekend, we were 12 of 28 from three.  Our team percentage right now is almost 33 percent from three.  I think a lot of that has to do with our shot selection.  We shot over 50 percent from the field in both games last weekend.  They are spacing out, they are attacking the rim and they are kicking and taking good shots.  Probably the next thing is we probably need more post touches.”

          The Flyers make the trip to Plymouth to play the Big Red (3-1) on Friday night in a conference game.  Smith says Plymouth has a lot of athletes this year and they are tough to defend.  “The Edmiton kid, the freshman, really brings a lot to the table.  He’s an offensive rebounder, he is long.  He is an influence on their defense, especially their pressure.  He really makes them go.  They have experience.  Ryan Benfer is a tough guard.  He is 6-4 and does a lot of things going to the basket.  Craig Miller, his leadership and his enthusiasm.  He plays quick and is an aggressive kid.  You throw in the Hicks kid, Picklesimer, the Roberts kid, who played a lot last year,” said Smith.

          On Friday night, Smith knows Plymouth will make his kids handle the ball and he wants them to be aggressive.  “They are definitely playing well.  Our concern is we have to be able to rebound the basketball.  We have to be able to handle their pressure with the different presses that they run at us.  We have to be able to attack them.  It should be an interesting match-up.  I love the way our guards are playing.  It will be a challenge for them to handle their pressure.  We have to try and neutralize their size,” said Smith.       

 

 
   

Norwalk St. Paul Needs Some Rewards

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has played well in spurts this season, but not well enough to get any wins.  Their coach believes the double weekend in the Firelands Conference this weekend maybe crucial for their season.

          Last week, St. Paul (0-3) lost 55-42 to conference favorite Western Reserve.  Flyers coach Mike Smith says they were in the game for most of the way, but they couldn’t put it together in the end.  “Two tough teams, two tough roads games.  We were in both of those.  I thought we played a great first half against Western.  We defended well.  We took care of the basketball.  I thought we played a pretty complete half.  We didn’t help ourselves in the second half we were four of 14 at the line for the game.  We left a lot on the table.  All of that stuff is correctable,” said Smith.

          In a non-conference game on Saturday night, the Flyers lost to 66-52 to Fremont St. Joseph out of the Midland Athletic League.  Smith says they just got behind by too much early in the game and could never get the lead against the Crimson Streaks.  “Saturday night was kind of the opposite.  We didn’t start out great in the first half.  We were actually down by 15 at one point and got it down to six in the fourth quarter and they were able to pull away at the end,” he said.

          With a change in style this year with the dribble drive motion offense and a more full court pressing defense, Smith likes what he sees in terms of progress at both ends.  “I like what are kids are doing, we just have to be consistent for four quarters.  We are just hoping our young kids, we start two sophomores and three juniors, stay positive.  I like our attitude.  Friday night is going to be huge for us if we want to be a player in the Firelands Conference race,” he said.

          In the first half of the double weekend in the conference, St. Paul travels to Mapleton (1-2) to meet the Mounties.  Smith says the Mounties have a couple of good players, but they are also struggling a little bit with inexperience.  “Well, the Hickey kid is real good player.  It’s nice to have a good guard.  They are pretty young, they don’t have a lot of experience.  The Cuffman kid is the other kids that brings back come experience.  He’s 6-6,” Smith told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They play some man and like to go with that 1-2-2 half court trap.  I think our shooters are going to kike to see a zone defense.  We haven’t seen that and we have some kids that can really shoot the basketball.  We have to take care of ourselves.  We need to pressure the ball and get in the lanes and do the things we need to do.  I think it’s a very winnable game if we play hard and play intense.  It would be nice to get that win and springboard us because our kids have been working extremely hard.”

          The Flyers play their first home game on Saturday night when they host the South Central Trojans (2-1) in a conference game.  Smith knows that a win or two will be critical for the mental state of his team.  “Our kids believe in what we are doing.  We are doing a lot of things different.  I like the aggressiveness and the job we are doing defensively.  Offensively we put in the dribble drive motion.  Our kids are a little anxious.  If we can get better shots and be a little more patient and I think that will come as well.  We do need some results this weekend.  It’s a big weekend for us and I know our kids are looking forward to playing,” said Smith.  

 

 
   

Another Tough One For Norwalk St. Paul

 

          Norwalk St. Paul lost to one of the best teams in the Sandusky Bay Conference last week and on Friday night they face the defending champion in the Firelands Conference in Western Reserve.

          Huron beat the Flyers 66-46 last Friday and St. Paul coach Mike Smith says they did some good things against an outstanding team.  “Well, number one I thought our kids played extremely hard.  They are very talented.  Huron brings back all five starters from last year.  They have eight letterman.  They have tremendous size.  I thought our kids battled hard.  After three it was a 16 point game.  We did a lot of good things.  Obviously, there are a lot of things we need to getter better at and correct, but for the opener and considering the competition we went against I was pretty pleased,” he said.

          St. Paul is going with a different approach on both offense and defense this season and there is going to be a little bit of a learning curve for the Flyers.  “I think we have to execute in every area.  We have to shoot the ball better.  We were really jittery in the first quarter, we had nine turnovers.  In the rest of the game we did a pretty good job.  Shot selection has to improve.  We want to get a little more inside touches for our bigs,” Smith told Swankonsports.com, “Defensively, we really changed what we are doing from a philosophy standpoint.  We want to be really aggressive.  I didn’t think we did nearly as well as we had as the scrimmage season progressed.  Offensively, we went to the dribble drive.  We did make six threes and we were pretty efficient there.”

          Western Reserve has been predicted to be the best team in the league again this season by most, but coach Chris Sheldon has been crying the blues.  “He is a big sandbagger,” Smith joked, “They are a different Western team though.  I have an awful lot of respect for him.  I think it’s the first time in 10 years where I never really saw them throw it into the post.  They are a lot different team than they have been over the last 10 years.  They’ve always had a lot of size and they have had good guard play.  They are extremely small and very quick.  They can all shoot it.  They hit 10 threes and they attempted 36 of them.  That was quite a contrast from what they had been doing.  For us to be a player in this league a win Friday night would really help us,” he added.

          The Rough Riders are a very good defensive team and Smith knows they have to have good floor balance in order to have a chance to win the game.  “We have to have balance.  I know they know what we do.  They are going to try and make kids they don’t feel can make shots, make shots.  We need to attack the offensive glass.  Because of their size we want to get some second chance efforts.  They have Nolan Todd and Kevin Boose, who is a tremendous shooter.  We have to be aware of him,” said Smith.  

 

 
   

A New Look For Norwalk St. Paul

 

          Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The Norwalk St. Paul basketball program has taken a new approach to what they are doing both when they have the ball and when the other guys have it too. 

          Veteran coach Mike Smith likes a lot of what he has seen from the Flyers in preseason play.  “So far our young men have really been working hard.  We have done some different things.  We have went to the dribble drive motion offense, so that is new and we are trying to figure that out a little bit.  We have gotten a little more aggressive defensively.  Our kids are doing a nice job and this week we are looking forward to getting on the floor and see how we respond in game action,” he said.

          A lot of high school teams are going with this offense, which features penetration by the guards and three point attempts by the wings.  However, Smith says the offense also gives the post players a chance to get their hands on the ball a lot.  “It has a lot of post touches in it.  I have spent a lot of time with Oakland University’s coaches.  I have been up there three of the last four years to watch their practices,” Smith told Swankonsports.com, “It is trying to get to the rim, but there are some things to establish and inside game.  We are trying to balance ourselves, we just don’t want to throw up the threes.  We like the system and our kids have adjusted pretty well.”

          Like a lot of coaches at this time of year, Smith would like to see more consistency from his players at both ends of the floor.  “We have to get consistent in everything that we do.  In watching our scrimmage film we showed them a lot of good stuff in our clips and edits.  At times when we don’t play as intense, especially the defense the way we want to play it, it doesn’t work.  But, boy when we start playing the way we want to play and get into people and get into passing lanes they can see how affective it is,” he said.

          St. Paul opens the season on Friday night against one of the best teams in the area among smaller schools in the Huron Tigers of the Sandusky Bay Conference.  “I have seen a couple of their scrimmages on film.  A lot of people that are coming back played last year.  They were a very good basketball team and also very young.  They are very athletic.  In the summer they won the Findlay team camp in the gold division.  I really feel like we know what they do and what we need to take away.  They are one of the better schools in this area talent wise.  If we play well, we can win,” said Smith.

 

 
   

It’s Win and Hope For St. Paul

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is used to making the state playoffs and there certainly have not been many years over the last 20 that they Flyers have missed qualifying two years in a row.  However, it looks like St. Paul is going to need some help to stop that from happening.

          After a loss to Crestview (28-24) last week, the Flyers fell two games behind the unbeaten Cougars in the Firelands Conference standings and to number 10 in their computer region.  Only the top eight qualify for postseason action.

          Mason Minnch scored with less than 30 seconds to play to give Crestview the win last week.  St. Paul coach John Livengood says they gave it all they had.  “It was a tough game.  It was a back and forth kind of game throughout.  I felt like our kids really competed well obviously playing a very good football team.  It came right down to the end there.  Crestview was able to put together a drive,” he said.

          Saturday night the Flyers host the arch rival Monroeville Eagles (2-7) at Whitney Field.  It has not been a very good year for the Eagles as they face just their second losing season in the last 20 years.  However, Livengood told Swankonsports.com that this was still going to be a tough game.  “I think first and foremost it’s a rivalry game.  The communities are only about five miles apart, just right down route 20.  A lot of kids are neighbors or relatives.  There is a lot of talking going back and forth.  For the most part you can throw out the records.”  Livengood has coached in a lot of these games and he doesn’t worry too much about this kids being too jacked up for the game.  “I don’t worry about that too much.  Our kids have played in a lot of big games over the years.  There is a little extra degree of intensity there.  The kids know they can’t get too high and they can’t get too low.  They know how to handle those situations,” he said.

          Monroeville lost 37-6 to New London in the Wildcats first win of the season last week, but Livengood still believes the Eagles have good players who are ready to compete.  “They have some young kids in there and they have had some injuries and some different issues that they have had to deal with.  They still have a lot of good football players and kids that play hard.  Ricky Heck is a sophomore for them at fullback and they like to give it to him quite a bit.  He is a big kid, 6-2, 210, and runs hard,” he said.

          The playoffs are almost expected for a team that won the division six state title in 2009, but they are going to need some help this time.  “A lot of my buddies that are playoff guiros tell me we still have a fairly decent shot.  What it comes down to is the Pandora-Gilboa versus Arcadia game.  They are evenly matched teams.  If Pandora is able to knockoff Arcadia that might help us slide in.  I’m not going to get caught up in that.  What we need to worry about is what happens on Saturday night against Monroeville.  I feel we have a good football team that’s had some bad luck this year.  I feel if we are able to get in the playoffs we might be able to make a run,” said Livengood.     

 

 
   

St. Paul Must Contain Crestview Run

 

          The final two weeks of the season are coming down to some crucial and exciting games in the Firelands Conference.  Western Reserve plays Plymouth this week and outright conference leader Crestview plays host the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers.

          Right now, Crestview leads St. Paul, Western Reserve, and Plymouth by a game in the conference standings. 

          St. Paul is coming off another thrilling victory, beating Plymouth 28-21 in overtime last Saturday night at Whitney Field in Norwalk.  St. Paul has been without a number of starters this fall because of the injury and coach John Livengood continues to be impressed with what he has seen from some pretty young kids.  “Our kids just keep fighting,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are growing up and maturing a little bit as we go along in the season.  We’ve had a lot of injuries and a lot of kids banged up throughout the year.  We had to have a lot of young kids step up and play varsity football, in some cases before they were physically ready to do that.  They fight for every inch and fight as hard as they can.  That was the case against Plymouth, a very good football team, with good size.”  Despite the injuries the Flyers (5-3) have been able to win close games, three of their four conference wins come be a combined 14 points.  Livengood thinks his young players come to varsity level prepared.  “It really comes down to experience and the fundamentals of knowing how to react correctly, recognize formations and line up correctly.  That is something that only comes through experience,” he said.

          Crestview (8-0), ranked #5 in the Swankonsports.com football power poll in the small school division, blasted Mapleton 42-0 last week as Mason Minnich rambled for 232 yards on 25 carries.  Livengood says the Cougars are not hard to diagnose, they have been doing the same things for years.  “They have been the same through coach Conway and even coach Solis.  They play great defense and have a very strong running game.  Nothing has changed this year.  They have two outstanding running backs and a good, fundamental offensive line that does a nice job of creating seams for them.  Their linebackers are always two of the tougher linebackers we are going to see.  They stop the run as well as anybody,” he said.

          Livengood has been coaching for more than 20 years he knows they aren’t going to be able to stop Minnich or Garrik Montgomery at the line of scrimmage every time and that means their linebackers and secondary have to be good, sound tacklers.  “These guys are going to get their yards.  What you want to do is minimize that and not allow explosive football plays.  You want to keep them contained.  You know they are going to get their carries.  With Plymouth last week, they got their carries, but we were able to limit them to three yards a carry.  If we can do that and limit Minnich and Montgomery that’s going to go a long way for us.  We have to swarm to the football.  We have to be aggressive and not miss tackles.  We have to be gap sound because once they get into the secondary they are tough to stop,” said Livengood.  

 

 
   

Is the Shoe on the Other Foot?

 

          There were many years when a Norwalk St. Paul win over Plymouth on football field was just accepted as a fact even before the game was played, but not this year.  This fall it’s the Big Red that is first place in the Firelands Conference, not the powerhouse Flyers.

          St. Paul certainly isn’t out of the race either, they trail Plymouth and Crestview by just game entering play this weekend.  The Flyers edged New London 34-33 last week to keep themselves in the race in a thrilling finish.  “I wish is wasn’t as thrilling to be honest,” St. Paul coach John Livengood told Swankonsports.com, “I was hoping for a nice boring win.  Our kids stepped up and played well.  New London has got to be one of the best 0-7 teams in the state.  They really have some talented players.”

          Plymouth (5-2) visits Whitney Field to play the Flyers on Saturday night.  Back in the summer Livengood told Swankonsports.com that he thought Plymouth would be much improved form their 2-8 record of a year ago and their 0-10 mark in 2009.  “Mark Genders, I have a lot of respect for him as a football coach.  He is doing a great job.  He is implementing a good system and he knew it was going to be tough when he started.  He stuck to his guns and he has some kids that have stuck with him.  He’s doing a nice job turning the program around.  He’s really changes the culture,” said Livengood.  He says the Plymouth players, many who played varsity football before they were ready out of necessity should be proud as well.  “They have some kids that really took some heat as youngsters.  When they were freshmen and sophomores and all of those kids were on the varsity field they took a lot of tough losses, but they gained a lot of valuable experience.  They stuck with it and they are a pretty good football team playing with a lot of confidence,” said Livengood.

          Plymouth is team that wants to run the football and run it until someone makes them throw.  Livengood says he respects that approach to the game.  “To be honest with you that’s my train of thought, so that’s my kind of football.  I like teams that try to establish the run first and work off of that.  They have the type of players that can do that.  They have a nice big offensive line.  They have three petty good running backs, two of which have some nice size and strength.  They have a nice quarterback that has been at least a three year starter in Craig Miller.  They love to power it right at you and they do a good job with it,” said Livengood.

          There are going to be other factors for sure, but Livengood believes this game will come down to who controls the trenches.  “It’s a coach’s cliché, but it’s about controlling the line of scrimmage.  It’s on both sides.  We have to be able to establish our run game and keep the chains moving.  Defensively, it’s the same thing.  We have to get three and outs,” said Livengood.

 

 
   

Flyers Still in the Race

 

          Norwalk St. Paul trails the tri-leaders in the Firelands Conference by a game after a loss to rival Western Reserve last week.  The Flyers (3-3) are just trying to get healthy and make a charge over the last month of the regular season.

          Western Reserve, the defending conference champions, scored twice in early in the game, and edged the Flyers last week 20-12.  St. Paul coach John Livengood says Western beat them with big plays.  “Western Reserve has a very good football team.  Unfortunately, we gave up two big plays in the first two plays of the game,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They scored on their first play of the game.  We got the ball back and fumbled and they scored on the second play.  So, right away we are down 14-0.  Our kids battled back and played hard and we cut it to 14-12.  We went for two and didn’t get it.  I was really proud of our kids effort, but we made some mistakes and we have to keep getting better.”

          They are one of the more consistent powers in small school football in this part of the state, but this year the Flyers are struggling with some injury problems and Livengood says they are just can’t get healthy.  “We continue to have a number of kids out, a number of starters out.  A lot of these guys are skilled guys and two way players.  Joe Hinkley, our quarterback and safety, he got his cast off Monday.  He is still going to be out for a little bit.  Our starting kicker, punter and defensive back is out of his walking boot now.  Those guys are on the mend now, if they are back on the field remains to be seen,” he said.

          St. Paul plays at New London (0-6) in a conference game on Friday night.  The Wildcats lost 26-21 to Mapleton last week and had unbeaten Crestview in a tussle at halftime two weeks ago.  “They have to be one of the most athletic teams in our conference.  Clayton Hall, their quarterback, is a very good athlete.  He had nearly 300 yards passing against us last year.  He has a nice arm and very good receivers out there.  They have good skilled kids there no question.  It seems like they have played everybody tough.  They gave Crestview a battle.  It was only 14-13 at the half,” said Livengood.

          The Flyers trail Western Reserve, Crestview and Plymouth by a game in the conference standings and Livengood knows they have to run the table over their last four games.  “Our mind set is we can only control what we are doing.  We can’t control what’s going on with other teams.  If we win out we put ourselves in position to compete for the conference title.  We also put ourselves in good position to make it to the playoffs,” he said.

 

 
   

Flyers Like These Kinds of Games

 

          Despite some injury concerns the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers share first place in the Firelands Conference this season and face a big challenge this week as they host defending conference champion Western Reserve on Saturday night at Whitney Field.

          After some struggles in weeks two through four the Flyers put together a pretty good effort last Saturday night when they beat South Central 41-14 in a conference game.  “”I thought it was really a solid game for us all the way around,” St. Paul coach John Livengood told Swankonsports.com, “We played well on both sides of the ball.  We showed pretty good balance offensively.  We ran for about 200 yards and passed for 200.  Our special teams play was good.  Defensively, our run defense was real good we held them to under 60 yards.  Our pass defense needs a little work.  They were able to score a couple times on the pass.  One positive is we were able to generate three defensive scores.”  Livengood believes it was St. Paul’s (3-2) best overall effort of the season.  “I think so when you consider every aspect of the game.  We’ve had games when we’ve played well defensively and not so well offensively and in other games where we played well offensively and not defensively.  It was probably our most complete game and hopefully that’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

          Western Reserve (3-2) has become a big rival for the Flyers, not to the same level as Monroeville, but the Rough Riders are still rivals just five miles down U.S. Route 20.  “Western Reserve had a great season last year, making the playoffs and winning the conference.  That’s something we strive for and that always makes it a big game,” said Livengood.

          The Rough Riders are not enjoying the same kind of success they had a year ago when they went 10-0 in the regular season, but Livengood says they have petty good talent.  “They are a very good football team.  It all starts with Blake Bucanhan.  He is a very good running back and they put the ball in hands quite a bit.  He’ll carry it 25 to 30 times a game.  He makes things happen.  He already has 1,000 yards in five games.  He’s a game breaker.  They have good size up front.  They have a 320 pound tackle.  They have real good size and that’s going to pose some match-up problems for us,” said Lievngood.

          It’s a game against a contender and Livengood knows that this is game that’s a must win for them.  “At this point of the season it’s nice to be playing a meaningful game.  Both teams are tied for first place in the conference along with some other schools.  We are both 2-0 in the conference and it’s a big game.  It’s one those games you have to have and we talked to our kids this week about that and I think they are excited to play,” said Livengood.

 

 
   

Taking it One Game at A Time

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is at .500 for the season, but they are unbeaten in Firelands Conference play and that’s what matters the most.

          St. Paul rallied in the fourth quarter to beat an improved Mapleton team 29-23 in their Firelands Conference opener last week.  Veteran coach John Livengood liked the way his team got down to business when it mattered the most.  “I thought our kids responded the right way when Mapleton was able to tie things up.  Mapleton has some nice speed in the backfield.  It was kind of a back and forth game all the way through.  They tied it up early in the fourth quarter and our kids responded.  We ended up driving 60 or 70 yards and took the lead and were able to hold on from there,” said St. Paul coach John Livengood.

          The Flyers play host to winless South Central (0-4) in a conference game on Saturday night.  South Central has given up some points this year as they have lost to Seneca East (45-13), Columbia (32-8), Crestline (27-8) and Western Reserve (50-24) in their first four games.  Despite the losses St. Paul coach Livengood thinks South Central has some good players.  “They are one the better 0-4 teams I have seen around,” he told Swankonssports.com on Monday, “They have played a tough schedule to this point and have played some very good opponents.  They have a big offensive and defensive line, real good size all of the way across.  They have a nice receiver in Hintz, he’s a 6’5” kid and he will go up and get the football.  They have a big bruising fullback.  They have nice size in their skilled positions.  There are a lot of 185, 195 pound kids where we match-up with 155, 165 pound kids.”

          St. Paul plays defending conference champion Western Reserve next week and Crestview and Monroeville the last two weeks of the season, but Livengood knows if they don’t win this week those games don’t matter as much.  “Right now we are in a situation as always no matter what our record is, we take it one game at a time.  After we lost to Huron on week three I told our kids it’s a new season and we want to be 1-0 after week four.  Now after week five we want to be 2-0 in the conference.  We just take it one game at time, hopefully some things start turning our way with health and stuff like that.  Hopefully we can put ourselves in position where at the end of the season we are playing for something,” said Livengood.

 

 
   

Norwalk St. Paul Hurting

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has shut out last week by Huron and the last time a St. Paul team didn’t score a point in a game?  Well, it’s been a long time, let’s just put it that way.

          St. Paul is missing a least four starters due to injury and they have been struggling to find the right combination on both sides of the ball.  Plus, St. Paul coach John Livengood says that Huron is an excellent team.  “As we played them I thought more and more like they remained me of our team back in 2009.  They really have a lot of speed and athleticism at every position,” he said.  Norwalk St. Paul went unbeaten and won the division six state championship in 2009.  Plus, Livengood told Swankonsports.com that there really didn’t give themselves a chance to be competitive in the game.  “Turnovers were the biggest thing,” he said, “We put the ball on the ground five times.  With some of the injuries and things we head to deal with we weren’t able to pass the ball.  We had some opportunities to move the ball.  We were driving and we put the ball on the ground.”

          St. Paul visits Mapleton to take on the Mounties in their first Firelands Conference game of the year on Friday night.  “We told our kids this weekend it’s the start of a new season,” said Livengood.  St. Paul destroyed Mapleton 62-7 a year ago, but at the same time the Flyers were being handled by Huron, Mapleton was shutting out the Rittman Indians of the Wayne County Athletic League 41-0.  “Mapleton is a much improved football team,” said Livengood, “They are very sound offensively and defensively.  They have real good size up front and a 220 pound fullback.  I think they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Bret Namie.  He has a strong arm.”

          Just like he has been saying over the last few weeks Livengood knows they have to get things going up front to get the league schedule started on the right foot.  “We have to control the line of scrimmage and we have to be able to hang onto the football.  If you put the ball on the ground, you are going to give the other team opportunities and not be able to finish drives,” said Livengood.    

 

 
 

 

Norwalk St. Paul Must be More Intense

 

          Norwalk St. Paul plays at Huron of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night in one of the better match-ups in North Central Ohio in high school football this weekend.

          St. Paul, 7-3 last season, which is a down year for them, is 1-1 so far this year after beating Sandusky St. Mary’s (23-7) on the opening weekend and losing (35-21) at Tiffin Calvert last Saturday night.  St. Paul coach John Livengood says they have a lot of things they have to improve on to be a good football team.  “We are kind of a work in progress,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We played well defensively against Sandusky St. Mary’s, but we blew a couple of scoring opportunities.  We put the ball on the ground three times inside their 15 yard-line and threw an interception.  Against Tiffin Calvert they were very good at the line of scrimmage and we couldn’t stop their run.”  Livengood says they have been out on the practice field working on things that are going to make the Flyers a better team.  “Ball security is an issue and we had 10 penalties that first week and we have been working hard on that.  We have to become physical up at the line of scrimmage and that’s something that we kind of hang our hat on year in and year out.  We didn’t do a real good job on that defensively.  Our kids have to play with passion and play with fire and get after it.  We have some talented kids we just have to play inspired football,” he said.

          Huron (2-0) is averaging over 40 points a game in wins over Vermillion (44-0) on week one and Parma Holy Name (45-42) last Saturday night.  Livengood knows what they are up against.  “They are a machine.  They are a typical Huron team.  They are big up front.  They have a great quarterback.  They are very aggressive and fly around on defense.  They have a great kicking game.  They won their game versus Holy Name when their kicker kicked a 53-yard field goal with like five seconds on the clock.  There really is no weakness to them,” he said.

          If St. Paul is to get the win they have to be able to compete with Huron in man to man situations.  “It’s always one of our must physical games we play.  Our kids seem to rise to the occasion and play physical.  It will be a good hard hitting game,” said Livengood.  

 

 
   

Norwalk St Paul Sports News can also be heard on the SwankonSports 24/7 Listen Line