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Ontario and Tiffin Columbian Battle in Scrimmage

Ontario and Tiffin Columbian matched up in a scrimmage on Tuesday morning at Ontario, the first for both squads.

Both coaches thought they got some good things from the scrimmage.

Ontario coach Chris Miller, in his first year, says they were physical and he especially liked the way the defense performed. “I thought our kids came out and played physical. It is the first time of the year you see somebody in a different colored jersey. We figured they would be up a little bit. There was a whole lot of emotion (Tuesday.) We wanted to see that emotional difference between a practice and a scrimmage. I though we did some things offensively pretty well, but we have some work to do. We will go back and address the film,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “Probably what I am most pleased with was the play of our defense and the physicality we played with on that side of the ball. If we can continue that and kind of match that physicality on the offensive side of the ball, we are going be alright.”

Columbian coach Judd Lutz says they did some good things, but it is a performance they can improve on. “I told the players there is good and there is bad. It is never as good as you think probably initially and it is never as bad as you think initially. We have a lot of work to do. You would be concerned if you were really, really good or if you were really, really bad. We are somewhere in the middle right now,” he said.

It appeared that the Warriors got better as the scrimmage went on and Miller says he expects they can be a fourth quarter team this year. “Our kids are in really good shape. I think in a four quarter setting we are not going to get beat because we are not in shape. Our strength coach does a great job of preparing our kids. They came into camp in shape, which is something that typically that is the past I have had to whip kids into shape when they get there in July. Our kids came, the guys that have been around have been in shape, so we can pick up and focus on the game of football, which is really helpful,” said Miller.

Tiffin made some big plays in the pass game on Tuesday. Lutz says they had to do that in order to move the ball. “With what they did schematically on defense you have to make some plays on the perimeter because it is going to be tough sledding in the run game with the heavy blitz and the alignment that they do. So, there are good things to take away for sure. We will coach them up (Wednesday) and get better,” he said.

Published 8/08/18

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Ontario’s Streak Comes to End With Loss in Regional Final

Ontario’s streak of 25 consecutive victories came to an end with a loss (11-5) in eight innings to Wapakoneta in the division two regional final played on a scorching hot Sunday afternoon at Carter Park in Bowling Green.

The Warriors (25-4) scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game (5-5,) but Wapakoneta scored six times in the eighth inning, five of them coming on bases loaded walks.

Down (5-3) going to the bottom of the seventh, Ontario loaded the bases on two walks and an error. Griffin Shaver scored on a wild pitch and Luke Smith drove in Andrew Cacchio with a ground ball. However, the Warriors stranded the winning run at third.
“In this game here, we came in thinking we were going to win and it took extra innings to knock us off. I think the score doesn’t do justice to how tough the battle was. I think the element of some really close calls. I was a three hour ball game because some elements behind the plate of what is it? We just battled. They found a relief pitcher in that lefty that is an All-Ohioan that hasn’t pitched that much this year. He was pretty witched there until he gassed out and we were the benefactor of that. I am really proud that we made it tough on Wapakoneta,” said Ontario coach Jeff Fisher.

Ontario took a (2-0) lead on a two run single in the first inning by Noah Creed. Wapakoneta tied the game with two in top third inning. In the bottom of the third the Warriors took the lead (3-2) when Avery Fisher scored on Nolan Hatfield’s sacrifice fly. The Redskins tied it with a run in the fourth and took the lead with two in the fifth.

Ontario was outright champion of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference as well as sectional and district champion. Fisher says he is very proud of what they accomplished this season. “You look at the big picture of our season where you have 29 games. In the scope of those four losses there was one bad inning in each one of them. It is incredible to think about how well these boys played baseball and made it look easy and made it look a lot of fun,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Unfortunately, the bitterness of (Sunday) will sting, but I think the community, their parents, the school, and their coaching staff are really, really proud of their accomplishments.”

Published 5/27/18

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Ontario Rallies to Reach Elite Eight

With two runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning, Ontario rallied to beat Hebron Lakewood (2-1) and advance to the division two regional title game, which will be played Sunday at 1 PM at Carter Park in Bowling Green.

They face Wapakoneta.

It was originally scheduled for Friday evening, but the Ontario graduation in Friday night.

Trailing (1-0) entering the bottom of the sixth, Jake Gleason led off the inning with a triple off the left-centerfield fence. Lakewood coach Don Thorp chose to pitch to Ontario All-Ohio shortstop Avery Fisher and he lined a single to right scoring Gleason and tying the game. After Luke Smith sacrificed Fisher to second, Noah Creed doubled over the rightfielder’s head to give the Warriors the lead.

This uprising came off Lakewood lefty Christian Lothes, who entered the game (7-0) and retried had allowed only one hit since first inning.

Nolan Hatfield started the game for Ontario (25-3) and coach Jeff Fisher felt his effort, one run on four hits on the day, was crucial for them. “I really felt like we really did have a good week of practice. Nolan Hatfield hadn’t pitched for a week and half and didn’t pitch in the districts. We just felt after doing some scouting and getting some feedback that we have a guy that is a senior that is a horse. We got him in the bullpen and his stuff looked clean and looked good,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I let him know this morning he was on the bump and he wanted that announcement. Almost like last week with (Cacchio) we got a great outing from a guy that really didn’t expect it going into the week. That is where it started Nolan Hatfield effort (Thursday) was fantastic.”

Conner Vierstra’s RBI double in the second have the Lancers (22-7) a (1-0) lead and it stayed the way until the sixth. In the top of the fifth with runners at first and second and two out, Fisher came to the mound, but left Hatfield in the game and he struck out Jacob Maynard looking. “You don’t see these guys play and you just have to make decisions on how the game plays out. I thought it was a good matchup there with him and we move forward,” said Fisher.

Maynard has also struck out looking in his first two at bats and Fisher says her was comfortable with the match-up. “That is how it really evolved here. He had success against that hitter previously and it was a good match-up with a base open and he was a strike thrower,” he said.

Gleason came in and after walking the first batter in the sixth, retied the final six guys he faced, including cleanup hitter Tristian Warthman on a line out to second to end the game. Gleason also made two outstanding plays at third base, one leading to a double play in that crucial fifth inning.

His at bat to start the sixth was key too. Fisher says it got them going. “With Jake Gleason the first pitch he saw he fouled straight back. He was on time and fortunately he got one over the middle of the plate and plugged that gap. “Fish’s” hit backdoor was huge. I’m glad they pitched to him and we will go forward,” said Fisher.

Ontario has now won 25 games in a row and Fisher says they still had confidence late in the game. “It is still baseball. We could have panicked and our body language in the dugout let’s turn around and get out of here, but they like the challenge they compete,” he said.

Top ranked Wapakoneta (22-1) is next for the Warriors. They walloped Oberlin Firelands (12-0) in five innings in the first semifinal on Friday. Fisher says it will be a tremendous challenge facing the Redskins. “The word that comes to mind is loaded. They have college guys all over the grid. Number one ranked team in the state I think throughout the entire year. That is an athletic school in an athletic league. We are looking forward to the opportunity,” he said.

Published 5/25/18

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Ontario Ready for Another Test

Ontario locks horns with Hebron Lakewood in the division two regional semifinals at Carter Park in Bowling Green on Thursday evening.

They beat Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference rival Clear Fork (12-7) on Sunday night to advance. The Warriors (25-3) take a 24 game winning streak into Thursday.

Coach Jeff Fisher says they have had a chance to kind of collect their thoughts and get refocused for Lakewood. “One of the things that seems to kind of repeat itself due to the weather that we have had this spring is having some practice time. Fortunately, we can practice outside compared to our gym. So, it kind of has that football feel to it. We played a high intensity game on Sunday night, but we have had some time to kind of decompress and get our spikes into the ground for a couple of days here and prepare for the Lancers,” said Fisher.

Lakewood (22-6) handled Knox Morrow Athletic Conference co-champion Highland (7-2) in their district semi and then beat Columbus Bishop Watterson (2-0) in their district final.

Fisher says they have a strong number one starter, a solid lineup that is physical, and a coach with experience. “They are physical. They hit well. They have a 6’2” lefty that is 7-0 that can notch it in the mid 80’s plus. A real good feel for his changeup and curveball. They have guys in waiting that they have depended on to save it. They are a 20 plus winning team. They have a coach that is on the brink of 1,000 career wins in Don Thorp, who is a hall of fame baseball coach and a hall of fame basketball coach in Ohio that just competes like crazy. So, we have our work cut out for us,” he said.

Fisher describes Lakewood as an athletic team that hits the ball hard. He doesn’t expect a lot of small ball from the Lancers. “Talking with some local coaches here that know Lexington there are some comparisons there just from a physicality standpoint, they are athletic. They look good off the bus. They play hard. Another comparison I think from a year ago we played a Kenton team that got hot and knocked us out in our sectional here,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They were somewhat of a football school that transitioned to baseball really well and built some chemistry. Just played hard and got hot and knocked us out. They kind of have that look where you are looking at kids 1-9 that all put the ball in play hard and they are aggressive. Not necessarily are they a team that is small ball. It is a little different style that will see on (Thursday.)”

Published 5/24/18

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Ontario Outscores Conference Rival Clear Fork to win District

Ontario scored in every inning, but one, and they pounded Clear Fork (12-7) Sunday night at Heise Park in Galion to claim the division two district title.

They play Lakewood in the regional semifinals on Thursday at Carter Park in Bowling Green.

For the Warriors it is 24 wins in a row. “I think those situations present themselves when you put the ball in play. A year ago, with basically the same group we struck out way too much and just didn’t hit the ball hard enough. This year is just a different story they bought in to what we worked on in the off season. They play good baseball,” said Ontario baseball coach Jeff Fisher.

Clear Fork made eight errors and eight of Ontario’s 12 runs were unearned. Fisher says they were able to respond. “Uncharacteristically of Clear Fork there were some bumps there for them and like we have done all year we took advantage of them. We talk about when they score our job is to answer back. They scored first and just had all of the momentum. The crowd was into it. Jake (Gleason) was fighting it as far as his command. Avery’s hit just kind of tempered that a little bit. It gave us confidence that this is for the Warriors,” he said.

Clear Fork took a (2-0) lead in the top of first on an RBI single by A.J. Blubaugh, the second run scored on an Ontario throwing error. However, Ontario tied it up on a two-run home run by Avery Fisher.

In the bottom of the second, Clear Fork committed two errors and Ontario scored three times with only an infield hit to lead (5-2,) they never trailed again.

Clear Fork made it (5-4) in the top of the third on an RBI double by Dylan Jewell and RBI ground out by Gavin Bailey. Again, the Warriors responded with four in their half a two-run double by Noah Creed, an RBI ground out by Nolan Hatfield and three more Clear Fork errors and it was (9-4) Warriors after three.

Clear Fork coach Joe Staab says they made too many mistakes, but was proud of his kid’s effort. “We kicked the ball around too many times and gave them too many free extra bases, but the boys preformed very well, very proud of them,” he said.

The Colts made it (9-5) in the fourth with another RBI hit by Blubaugh, but there was no stopping the Warriors as they added another on an error and a sacrifice. Clear Fork got a little closer with single tallies in the fifth and sixth to make it (10-7,) but Ontario put it away with two more in the sixth, the Colts helped them with two more errors.

Ontario is an aggressive team and coach Fisher thinks they forced some of those Clear Fork miscues. “You would think that when you have a team that can run a little bit the pitchers are going to be a little loose in the strike zone. They are going to be apprehensive going forward. You are going to see more fastballs that is really where it is at,” he said.

Ontario put four different guys on the mound in starter Jake Gleason, Will Watkins, Luke Smith and Avery Fisher. “When you look at our box scores they have kind of been like that all year long. Jake Gleason is our horse, but he has saved four games also this year. We have developed a group of guys as a staff that they know that we pass the ball along and it’s their turn. When they do gas out or it isn’t their day somebody is going to pick them up. With Andrew Cacchio and Avery (Fisher) here really kind of getting into this postseason mode they have kind of given us some extra length there,” said Fisher.

Staab reiterates that there was no quit in his kids and they continued to battle. “They competed well the whole game. We couldn’t find a way to put ourselves in a position to win. We answered every inning, they just answer more,” he said.

Ontario plays Lakewood and the other side of the bracket has Wapakoneta and Oberlin Firelands. Fisher says their guys will need to respond to the pressure like they did Sunday night. “I really haven’t had a chance to evaluate the three teams that are there. You safely presume when you have the number one team in the state in Wapakoneta, who I hear has three guys throwing mid to upper 80’s. You have Firelands, who we scheduled this year, but it was too cold. They are representing the Cleveland area. Lakewood, our opponent, has a hall of fame coach, and he has been there and done that, state championships under his belt,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We haven’t been to a regional in a while, so we have to get our guys groomed to deal with the stage fright and deal with some of the adversity that comes. I think (Sunday) night and this environment. Nothing can compare you for what is to come at Carter Park. This platform was fantastic. Having Sunday night under the lights. We appreciate Galion’s hospitality. This is fantastic. You couldn’t ask for a better script. We are happy we are going forward.”

Published 5/21/18

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Ontario Advances with Win over Columbian

Ontario broke a scoreless tie with a two out, five run, rally in the fifth inning and went on to beat Tiffin Columbian (7-0) in the division two district semis on Thursday afternoon at Heidelberg College in Tiffin.

They will play “MOAC” rival Clear Fork for the district title on Saturday afternoon at Heidelberg.

With two outs in the fifth, Griffin Shaver got the Warriors started with a single up the middle and starting pitcher Andrew Cacchio followed with a single to left. Then perhaps the biggest hit of the day was delivered by Jake Gleason, who doubled into the leftfield corner, scoring two. Next, Avery Fisher came up with an RBI hit.

“Their starter came in and he started throwing strikes with a good two pitch mix. It just kind of took us a while to get going a little bit, but we have been scoring with two outs all season long. It has been kind of unique in a way. I don’t have the exact number of runs scored with two, but it is who we are, we don’t quit,” said Ontario baseball coach Jeff Fisher.

Tiffin Columbian stranded five runners over the first four innings and coach Curt Mellott says they just let things snowball on them in the fifth. “It was definitely the classic situation where you let a two out hit lead to many more things. Give them all the credit they are a very good baseball team. You don’t win 22 now 23 in a row without some of those things happening,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I am just proud of our kids and how they battled. We gave great effort throughout and the chips didn’t fall how we wanted them to, but a good effort out of our guys.”

Fisher says once they got a couple of big hits they were able to capture some momentum. “It is just like passing the baton. Every batter we feel can get on base. We are not going to hit it over the fence, but we will try and hit it to it and just kind of move a lot of unique ways. The one thing that has necessarily come out is our guys are athletic. They can run and they put a lot of pressure on guys. They were catching the ball early and then kind of got leaky to our advantage,” said Fisher.

Ontario (24-3), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, pushed across a couple of more runs in the seventh on an error and a ground ball.

Shaver got on base three times and Fisher says he has been a big plus to them this spring. “Griffin Shaver is a heck of a person. He is a superstar in the making here. Most people know him for his point guard exploits on Balogh court, but here on our court he has absolutely solidified a defense that struggled last year. It’s tough to score runs when the ball is not in play,” he said.

Cacchio went six innings for the Warriors allowing no runs on five hits. Fisher says it was a tremendous performance. “Andrew Cacchio didn’t know he would be starting (Thursday) until (Thursday) morning. We feel like we have a staff of pitchers that are on call at any moment and they believe they can help us win. If you asked me if Andrew Cacchio was our ace I would say no, but I would say he is among our guys that can help is win on the mound,” said Fisher.

Shortstop Avery Fisher had an outstanding day with the glove as he gobbled up everything hit his way, including going into the hole to field a ball hit by Donavan McGill in the first inning and throw Riley Sendelbach out at third and starting two double plays. “I think our guys have confidence in “Fish.” Keep the ball down and put it on the ground more often than not he is going to catch it. I think the biggest play in that sense was keeping them from scoring first. He made that play in the whole behind third and we cut down that run. Scoring first in high school baseball is huge and we did that,” said coach Fisher.

Published 5/18/18

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Ontario “MOAC” Champs

In its first year in a new league, the Ontario Warriors are Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference baseball champions.

They scored five times in the second inning and beat second place Clear Fork (6-2) on Monday evening.

Coach Jeff Fisher says it is gratifying to reach a goal you have set. “It feels great to see our kids achieve a goal that they set out in preseason to do and it was just one of those things that week by week you could kind of sense they were on the road for this championship season. To do it against a program that is elite in our area is an added bonus there. It really means something,” said Fisher.

After two walks by Clear Fork starter Gavin Bailey to start the bottom half of the first inning, Ontario’s (19-3,12-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll, Luke Smith delivered an RBI hit give the Warriors a (1-0) lead. Then the second inning the Colts had four errors and Smith punctuated that inning with another RBI hit and suddenly it was (6-0) Warriors.

Fisher says they have taken advantage of opportunities all year. “It has been our M.O. all year. I don’t think we have a home run all season, but we have a bunch of guys up and down the lineup that know how to battle and get on base and then create pressure. Hopefully that kind of philosophy continues throughout this week with bigger goals ahead,” he said.

Clear Fork had six errors on the day and Colts coach Joe Staab says you just can’t have mistakes like that against very good teams. “We had an inning there where we put some guys on for free, had some errors, threw the ball around a little bit and Ontario was able to capitalize on it,” said Staab.

The win went to starter Andrew Cacchio, making just his second start of the spring. Fisher feels he was tremendous, striking out four and walking two over four plus innings. “Specifically, our starter Andrew Cacchio had his first start of the year last Monday. He had three innings under his belt all together. When you look at the depth of our classes here collectively Andrew Cacchio has always been a pitcher. He had a preseason injury related to his lower back. It was tentative whether he was even going to play this year coming out of soccer. He worked like crazy to just be able to play baseball for us,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “To see him on the mound and be able to put that kind of pressure on his lower back is just absolutely fantastic. He is a warrior. In his second start of the year to do it in championship fashion. He gave us length and then we passed the ball to Will (Watkins), who has been doing what he does all season long and not just being a gap guy, but (Monday) night he closed.”

Clear Fork (12-6,9-3) had their chances to get back in the game. The loaded the bases in both the fifth and sixth innings, but Watkins got out of the jams both times. Staab says they couldn’t get the big hit. “Had the bases loaded back to back innings, the first time with nobody out and we weren’t able to execute. We had a ground ball to the pitcher, then we had a strikeout and then a popup. When you are not able to execute and take advantage of those situations then the momentum swings right back in Ontario’s favor,” he said.

Both teams play tournament games on Wednesday in division two, Ontario hosts Sandusky, while Clear Fork travels to Vermilion.

Published 5/08/18

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Ontario to Face a Challenge

Ontario leads the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference baseball standings by two games over Clear Fork and they have won their last 17 games in a row.

However, they likely face their toughest stretch since they were in South Carolina with Lexington on Friday and Shelby on Saturday in non-league games and a chance to win the “MOAC” with a win over Clear Fork on Monday.

Ontario (17-3,11-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, beat North Union (18-12) on Monday and Galion (9-2) on Tuesday and (10-7) on Wednesday.

Coach Jeff Fisher says they doing what’s needed. “We are finding ways to win. All of those games were hard fought. Parts of those games we faced adversity and overcame it. We are happy to come out with the three wins that’s for sure considering our standing in the league,” he said.

Fisher says they know what is in hand against Clear Fork (13-5,8-2) on Monday. Clear Fork has to make up a game rained out Thursday against Buckeye Valley and when that game will be played is unclear. Fisher says they have to have some focus. “Well, the magic number is one,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We have three league games left, including Clear Fork and we have Pleasant two games here coming up next weekend. Looking at the schedule for (Friday) it seems like we are facing the gauntlet here to kind of get us ready for this stretch drive. You know how sports are if you start to look ahead you can get tripped up. We are trying to stay the course and ignore all of the talk on the periphery and stay focused on playing the game the right way.”

If all these games are played, plus a tournament game against Sandusky on Wednesday at home, Fisher says there is going to be a need for pitching depth due to the pitch count rule. “I think the weather this year has helped everybody. I think we really haven’t had the compaction with everybody’s schedule and the way things lined up that we thought we would have. Coming into tournament week that is where everything comes into play and we are knocking on the door for that. So, coaches going into the non-conference games that we are playing this weekend we are going to have to work on development and see whether or not they can find some young kids that can throw strikes and play at the varsity level and outscore people. That whole pitch count piece is important from the early standpoint here and going forward. I don’t think we have been negatively impacted by it yet, but we are going to face here a number of games over a number of days if the weather cooperates if it doesn’t we will continue to space them out. There hasn’t been as big an impact over the first two years as there could have been,” said Fisher.

Published 5/04/18

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Ontario With Huge Win Over Clear Fork

Ontario grabbed a two game lead in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference with a (6-3) win at Clear Fork on Wednesday evening.

Clear Fork scored three times in the first inning to take a (3-1) lead, but they never crossed the plate again.

Ontario scored single tallies in the second and third and Noah Creed gave the Warriors a lead they would never relinquish with an RBI single in the fourth.

“All things considered Clear Fork is a storied program led by the Staab family. These kids have a lot experience tournament wise, state experience. When you go to their place you expect a tough deal. We expected to play at home when we woke up and it just and it just didn’t dry off. We hopped on a bus and headed down to the valley. All of the variables can work against you. I think we demonstrated (Wednesday) night strategies that have worked all year,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We haven’t had a starter go all seven and have a complete game. It has taken a collective effort. In a lot of these wins we have been beneficiaries of a comeback and (Wednesday) was similar. I am really proud of our guys. This is certainly a game that shows we feel like we are for real. Going into two weeks it seems like we are going to be playing everyday. With the tournament draw Sunday this was a big one for us,” said Ontario coach Jeff Fisher.

Ontario (12-3,7-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, has won 12 straight games and leads Clear Fork (9-4,5-2), #5 in our poll, by two games. Clear Fork coach Joe Staab was right two the point. “Ontario played very well (Wednesday) night and coach Fisher did a great job,” he said.

Will Watkins entered the game for Ontario in the second inning with his team down (3-2) and Fisher thought he effort on the mound we really key for the Warriors. “I think Will Watkins is the unsung hero for us in this winning streak here. He has been our gap guy. He has been our band aid. He is a strike thrower and he is going to keep hitters off balance. He trusts his defense behind him and he just finds a way to get outs. That was on display (Wednesday) night,” he said.

Jake Gleason had an RBI hit in the first and a two run single in the sixth for Ontario. Fisher says they got a lot of clutch hits. “We scored with two outs quite a bit and the one that comes to mind was Noah Creed there at the backend of that ballgame, but this team typically puts pressure on teams by putting the ball in play. Our strikeouts are down. We have some athleticism so we will try and to extend teams by bunting and running a little bit. When it comes to execution when we are in the box we are much more confident then we were a year ago, so that has been our formula,” said Fisher.

The rematch is May 7 at Ontario, but the Colts are going to need some help from someone if they are to get a share of the “MOAC” title.

Published 4/26/18

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Ontario Blasts River Valley

Ontario Hammered River Valley (11-1) in action in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Wednesday evening.

The Warriors (8-3,5-0) have won six in a row and combined with a Clear Fork (10-0) win over Galion they are now all alone in first place in the conference. Clear Fork, Galion and Marion Pleasant are all a game back.

Coach Jeff Fisher says they are playing winning baseball and doing a lot of good things. “We are doing the things that winning teams do. You look at last year when we were up and down and .500 for the most part, since then we are throwing a lot more strikes and offensively we are not striking out as much. You put those two factors together with a defense that has been pretty solid you are going to grind out wins,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “So, we are in a point right here where we have put ourselves in good position to get into the meat of our schedule once the weather breaks here and stand for something.”

Fisher says they have started to get in the box and have some really good at bats. “It seemed like early in the year when we were down in Myrtle we were hitting backwards. It wasn’t that we were striking out, but we were taking that first good fastball and swinging at the pitcher’s pitch late in the count and get ourselves in a bind. So, we have seemed to have reversed that a little bit where we are little bit more confident and our feet are grounded and we are putting together better at bats,” he said.

Ontario hosts River Valley (0-9,0-6) on Saturday in another league game. They play rival Clear Fork twice next week in “MOAC” games.

Fisher says he likes what they have done on the mound, but they are going to be tested next week. “We have two senior leaders in Jake Gleason and Nolan Hatfield that have been through the wars as sophomores, juniors, and now seniors and behind them we have developed a little bit of depth where we can extend games or maybe close it out. It is really too early to say this is an established staff, but we like where we are headed. We like the fact that we are throwing more strikes and getting more strikeouts. We will find out here soon just how far we are,” said Fisher.

Published 4/19/18

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Ontario Edges Buckeye Valley

Ontario continues to share the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference lead after holding on to beat Buckeye Valley (5-4) on the road in conference play on Tuesday evening.

Coach Jeff Fisher says it was an outstanding game and they are very happy to get the win. “Going down to Buckeye Valley for the first time we had our eyes wide open not knowing what to expect. We knew they were going to be well coached. We know they have a college guy that doubles up as their ace pitcher. In the summer time he is primarily a catcher. It was an old fashion pitcher’s duel between Jake Gleason and their guy. If you witnessed that ballgame you saw a really good baseball game,” said Fisher.

The Warriors broke a (1-1) tie with a four spot in the fifth inning and Fisher says they were able to get some clutch hits. “It is important to score first, but if you don’t you play for the big inning. Hopefully, when you go through the lineup one time you can make some adjustments and we did. We opened that inning with three base hits and it kind of opened up the door for us to come back,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We got two, two out base hits, which gave us some insurance. When you can do that, especially with guys that had been struggling to that point, and they find a way to put the ball in play and RBI hits that really helped our cause.”

Ontario (5-3,2-0) plays at home against Buckeye Valley (3-3,0-1) on Wednesday afternoon.

They beat North Union (8-7) last Thursday and Fisher says they have been able to get on a little streak here. “This is two one run ballgames in a row that we were fortunate to win. It is five in a row at this point. We won our last two in Myrtle. We have to continue that streak (Wednesday.) I told our kids it is just one ballgame, just like it is just one pitch and one inning. You have to take games as they come and create your opportunities. We are really happy with where we are at right now,” he said.

Published 4/11/18

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Ontario Finding Some Things

Ontario is supposed to play North Union in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference baseball games in Wednesday and Thursday, but we will have to see what the weather man has to say about that.

A game against the Wildcats set for Tuesday was washed away by hard rain and thunderstorms. There is a little snow predicted for Wednesday morning in North Central Ohio.

Ontario (3-3) beat Mansfield Senior (11-1) on Monday. Coach Jeff Fisher feels it was important for them to get the game in. “I think Mother Nature is winning here. We are fighting hard to establish some sort of routine that keeps our kids on the safe side and sharp. Playing (Monday) was huge. Everybody woke up to two to four inches of snow, but by the time five o’clock hit it was a normal spring day in Ohio. It melted and the field was in decent shape. We were fortunate to get that game in,” said Fisher.

Ontario spent last week in South Carolina playing five games. Fisher feels their hitting is starting to come around. “I think early on in our spring trip we struck out too much. More recently here we are putting up better at bats although not necessarily perfect, but we seem to be playing to our strengths. As long as we put the ball in play we give ourselves a chance. We scored in every inning (Monday) and that was good to see to establish some consistency,” he said.

Can Ontario be in the conference race? Well, Fisher would like to actually play a conference game before he sizes up the rest of the conference. “It is so early to tell. We haven’t even laid eyes on anybody. Until we actually play against a league opponent and things start to evolve that way then you can make some generalizations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “At this point I think coaches are kind of worrying about their own teams and trying to make sure they are ready to go. It still feels like the off season until we can get any kind of good weather and play games instead of practicing in the gym.”

Published 4/04/18

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Ontario Has Good Experience in South Carolina

Ontario played in the “Ripken Experience” high school baseball tournament in South Carolina this week and came away believing it was positive and they learned some things about themselves.

Coach Jeff Fisher says they didn’t know what to expect in a lot of ways, but they went 2-3 and found some great competition. “It was a really positive experience. Going into it there were a lot of unknowns being our first time. I apricate the insight we got from Doug Rickert at Madison and Mike Wolf at Hillsdale, who went there a year ago. So, that helped a lot as far logistically kind of getting things going there. You don’t know who you are going up against until you get down there. Four of the five teams we played against were twice our size at least population wise. So, it really had the feeling of playing up and challenged our kids,” said Fisher.

Fisher says playing against quality opponents brought the team together a little bit more and they clearly learned some things. “Looking at the big picture that was the best part that we competed against teams looking at a level playing field might have not been there. You look at an opportunity to go away from home for the first time maybe out of state or on the beach or a baseball tournament like this you find out a lot about yourselves. We felt like we built a little team comradery and at the same time found out a little about our baseball team going into league play here,” he said.

One thing that has to get better as they Warriors (2-3) start Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play next week against North Union (0-1,0-1) is Fisher says they have to get more quality at bats. “This whole week here we played five games in five days and it felt somewhat like an extension of the scrimmage season. So, to be fair to our group we had guys on pitch counts. We wanted to see guys play positions that we thought they would help us immediately or maybe down the road. It was a lot of experimentation while you are trying to win. We were trying to find out what works,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Despite having a lot of guys back you are trying to develop a chemistry that will develop that routine you have when you are in league play. We always want our guys to have great at bats every time up. I think our maturity there was tested. We kind of gave some at bats away, but ultimately when we got on base we put some pressure on teams. We just have to figure out how to get on first more often.”

Published 3/30/18

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Ontario With Talent Back

Ontario is moving into a new league in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, but they feel like this could be a good spring for them on the softball field.

Coach Chris Musille says they are going to have a lot of players back that have experience. “It has been tough to evaluate in the gym with the limited practice outside we have had. We did have our first scrimmage (Monday) night and we looked pretty decent for the most part I thought,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We have a few young girls that are going to crack into our lineup as freshmen. We did not lose anybody this year, so we should be pretty solid I think.”

Musille says when you have more experience you don’t have to do as much teaching. He says defense is going to be the key if they can field the ball they should be a pretty good team. “It is a big plus to have them come back. They have been part of our program, this is their fourth year and most of them have started for three years plus. I think if we put it together defensively I think we are going to be pretty good,” he said.

When it comes the “MOAC” Musille believes they can compete with the Clear Forks and the North Unions and the River Valleys of the world. “From what I hear this is a pretty solid softball league. We just came from the “NOL” which was a very good softball league as well, so it is not going to get any easier in the new league. As long as we do our fundamentals and play solid softball I think can compete with any of them,” said Musille.

Published 3/20/18

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Ontario is Experienced

Ontario is embarking on a new league, but they are going to do it with an experienced baseball team this spring.

Coach Jeff Fisher says they have a number of players that have played at the varsity level. He says they look forward to getting out on the field this weekend. “Because of the nature of our roster, a veteran team, we see as far as what we are teaching here not a lot of growing pains if you will. With it being my second year here at the helm the transition piece has been a lot easier than a year ago and I think the kids have responded to that. Everything is on track here. Of course, the limitations with the weather has prevented us from inter squading and even getting on our infield. If it has been warm enough we have been on our outfield and in our cages, but that has been few and far between,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are just making do like everybody else in trying to get our programming in and so we are ready to go this weekend where we are traveling south to Portsmouth. We are going to scrimmage Greenup County, Kentucky, across the river there, which is one of the top flight programs in the northern part of that state and then we will go up to Lucasville Valley there on Saturday and hopefully the weather cooperates.”

Pitching looks like it should be a strength both in terms of quality and quantity, according to Fisher. “On paper we have our two top guys coming back from a year ago that pitched the most innings in Nolan Hatfield and Jake Gleason. We have those guys sliding right up there to the top again. I think collectively we have a group that we feel like can help in one way, shape or form whether it is long or short or weekend starter kind of thing beyond those two, which is different than I have ever had before. I really feel that the depth here on the mound is going to help us, but those guys that are kind of waiting in the wings have had limited experience. So, it going to be important that we get out of the gate down south in Myrtle Beach and we will find out who we are, especially regrading quality of pitching,” said Fisher.

When it comes to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, this is Ontario’s first spring as part of the league, Fisher says there is a spirit of the unknown. “It will be tough. You how the football season evolved. In the basketball season you saw some great basketball and I think that is going to transition over into our season. The problem is from our standpoint other than maybe Clear Fork or Galion there are a lot of unknowns there. Perceptions be what they may. There is just not knowing coaching staffs and how they run things and you don’t know who is coming back. I guess in that fact we are excited with the new opportunity. On the other side they don’t know us that well either. The teams we will know on our schedule are our non-conference games here with Shelby and Lexington and Ashland. Our weekend trips if you will and our spring trip here to start the season. Our league is going to bring in a new challenge here because there is a lack of background knowledge on many of our opponents on our schedule, but I think our schedule is as competitive as it has ever been. We wouldn’t want it any other way to have a chance to go against teams that will challenge us,” said Fisher.

Published 3/15/18

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Ontario Faces once beaten Bellevue in Districts

Ontario has played Bellevue about as tough as anyone over the last couple of years.

They get their next chance on Thursday night in the girls’ division two district semifinal at Galion High School.

Ontario (15-8) beat Willard (43-41) last Saturday in the sectional final,

Coach Mitch Willeke says they were able to respond to everything Willard brought at them. “They are a good team. They are big and they use their height extremely well and our kids did a good job coming in prepared,” he told Swankonsports.com, “For every run Willard had, we had an answer. It got a little dicey toward the end, but our kids did a good job of responding.”

Tournament games tend to be close and competitive and Willeke says they have been pretty good at those games. “Our last couple of games have been pretty close toward the end. We told our kids after we beat Shelby it doesn’t have to be pretty we just have to survive and move on. We ended up making enough plays towards the end to come out on top,” he said.

‘ Bellevue beat Ontario (48-47) in last year’s district semifinals and Willeke says they have they been able to be competitive with them. “We played them pretty tough in the years when we were in the “NOL,” we just haven’t gotten over the hump yet. It is going to be extremely difficult. They are going to come in and play hard, but I believe our kids are going to be prepared,” he said.

Bellevue (22-1) is coached by Kory Santoro and his daughters Casey, a sophomore and district player of the year, and Cory, first team all district as a freshman, are the Lady Red’s best players.

However, Willeke says the Lady Red have good balance too. “They are both extremely good and they are also extremely well coached. We always say the game is not a lot of fun when you have to guard everybody and for them you have to guard everybody. We just have to make sure we pay attention to detail and do our jobs,” said Willeke.

Published 3/01/18

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Ontario Must Handle the Ball

Ontario faces Clyde in a sectional semi final game in division two on Wednesday night at Willard High School.

The Warriors (13-9,) the third place team in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, has won four of its last six, and Clyde (16-6) and runners-up in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference carries a six game winning streak into the game.

Ontario coach Joe Balogh says they have improved over the last three weeks. “We have gotten better. We really have gotten better the last two to three weeks sharing the basketball and moving the basketball and kind of understanding what makes us successful offensively. So, we are happy with that. We hope we can play well. We think we are a lot better team than we were a month ago. We hope we can continue to grow here by winning and continuing the get a chance to play,” he said.

A lot of Clyde’s points come off their pressure defense. Balogh says they will trap all over the place and they must be solid in their execution. “They do a good job of getting pressure on the basketball and looking to trap people. They will do it in different ways. They will do it in the full court, do it a little bit in the half court. What you have to do is be patient with the basketball from the standpoint when you get traps you can’t be in a hurry. You have to let your teammates help you and find open teammates and be willing to make the pass ahead because if you attack their pressure there are some chances you can shoot some layups and chances you can shot open jump shots. The key thing is you have to do a good job taking care of the basketball,” said Balogh.

If you can manage the traps there are opportunities to score against the Flyers. Balogh says you have to keep your eyes open and make good passes to get good shots. “The big thing is you have to value possession of the basketball. Teammates are going to get in the right position and you will have opportunities to pass out of those traps. It comes down to what the game of basketball really is, it’s a game of execution,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is a game of taking care of the basketball and getting the shots you want to get at the offensive end and then at the defensive end you are trying to take away your opponent’s best looks with zone or in half court defense or in Clyde’s case to try and pressure you into creating turnovers and then convert offensively. It is going to be a challenge for us, but anytime you start the tournament it is always a challenge. Hopefully, our kids are going to be really excited about that opportunity and hopefully we can play well.”

If you force Clyde to set up in the half court, Balogh says they have good perimeter shooting and they are going to have to get a hand in their face. “They shoot the three well. Almost anybody on their team is going to shoot the three. What we have to do is make sure we have identified who their best three point shooters are. It’s not like you are going to stop them from shooting threes, but we want to make sure they are shooting contested threes. We have to do a good job of being there on the catch with their best players with high hands. We need to do a good job of making their best three point shooters put it on the floor. So, the key thing is we have to do a good job of making them take contested shots. If we do that and rebound the basketball I think we are going to have a good night at the defensive end of the floor,” he said.

Published 2/28/18

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Ontario Spoils Clear Fork’s Title Hopes

Tuesday night’s game is what makes a rivalry or in this case intensifies one.

Ontario spoiled Clear Fork’s attempt to share the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title by downing the Colts (70-60) at Les Hauenstein Gym in the valley.

Marion Pleasant wins it outright.

Colts coach Steven Bechtel thought it was important to get a good start and Clear Fork did that building its biggest lead at (24-9) with 6:21 left in the second quarter on A.J. Blubaugh’s bank shot. They led by five at the half (32-27) and by six (53-47) after three quarters.

Ontario scored 43 points in the second half, one its biggest halves of the season. Coach Joe Balogh says they got better ball movement and they were able to get the ball in the post more. “Offensively one of the things that makes us successful is when we move the ball. Not so much in player movement, we need to move the ball from side to side to get the defense to move. We weren’t doing that, it was a lot of head down and dribble and attack. Any defense is going to be good when it is just sitting there and that is what it was. What kind of turned it for us a little bit was when we started using our post guys inside. Logan Jones was really huge. We made a run in the first half and then we forgot about him for a couple of minutes. The big emphasis at half was, one, we needed to move the ball. I wasn’t concerned so much with players moving, I was just concerned about moving the ball and making the defense move. We had to let Jones and some of the post guys get touches and we did a better job of that. The problem we had in the second half was we couldn’t get stops. We were scoring, they were scoring. Fortunately, we were able to ramp up our defense a little bit and strung together a couple of stops and with our scores were able to get an advantage. We were good down the stretch taking care of the basketball. That has been a problem for us since the first of the year in crucial games. We did a good job against Shelby on Saturday. We did a good job (Tuesday) night. We didn’t turn it over and we got to the foul line and converted free throws,” said Balogh.

With the lead the Warriors cashed in on 6-6 free throws in the final :30 of the game Griffin Shaver was 4-4, both one and ones.

Clear Fork held a six point lead going to the final quarter, but they could only score seven points. Colts coach Steven Bechtel says Ontario was able to capture the momentum and they were never able to get it back. “We didn’t start off that fourth quarter very well. I think I just looked at the possession chart. We gave up four offensive rebounds. They finished the game and we didn’t. So, that fourth quarter was big and the momentum really shifted and we could just never rebound from that,” he said.

Clear Fork went almost four minutes with only two points in the fourth quarter, going from leading by one to trailing by eight.

Ontario took the lead with 4:33 to play in the game on Chance Mott’s 3 pointer from the left corner and the Warriors never trailed again. Ontario led conference champion Marion Pleasant in the fourth quarter last week, but this time Balogh says they made the plays down the stretch. “You have to have kids that are willing to step up and make plays. We ran a couple of sets and we executed really well. Chance (Mott) hit a big three on a set that we ran that. We looked at the options and that was the option that was open. That execution is crucial at this time of year,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We told our kids as we started the second half that we could defend, that is kind of what we have hung our hat on all year is our defense. Giving up 32 points in a half is probably not going to do it. Our goal is always to get them under 55 and I thought we were better in the second half, especially getting matched in transition because we lost them a couple of times early in the game in transition and lost some guys on the perimeter. I thought we did a pretty good job with Barnett, although he is a really tough cover. He tried to take over and did for a little bit, but then we did a better job of getting help to him a lot earlier.”

Clear Fork’s Chance Barnett is the “MOAC’s” leading scorer at more than 18 points per game. He was held to 15 by the Warriors, six in the second half and two in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Bechtel says they knew Chance we going to get double teamed a lot. “Based on what happened last time we knew they were going to be a little bit different with him. He has been able to step up all year long for us. We did have other guys Brady (Tedrow) had a nice game (Tuesday) night and Brennen (South) stepped up. It just wasn’t enough they made more plays than we did,” he said.

Tredrow and South both had 12 for the Colts.

Balogh says they also wanted to know where South was at all times too and he thought they did a better job containing him down the stretch, he especially credits the play of guard Travion Harris. “Our emphasis was we wanted to make things difficult for Barnett because he killed us the first time we played them down the stretch. So, we were trying to double him. He split a couple of doubles and then we tried to make sure we didn’t leave South. I think early in the first half he threw it in the post, we went in the post off of him and he hit a three. Kind of going unrecognized a little bit if our pressure on the point guard. I thought Travion Harris again did a great job of just keeping constant pressure. If you were able to keep that constant pressure for 32 minutes in wears on them a little bit and I thought maybe it wore on South a little bit as the game got down the stretch,” said Balogh.

Senior Logan Jones led Ontario with 19, Logan Houle scored six of his 14 in the fourth and freshman Shaver added 14 as well for the Warriors.

Published 2/21/18

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Ontario Has to be Good in Big Moments

Ontario has the talent and they are becoming a better basketball team at the right time of the year.

They visit Clear Fork (17-4,12-1) #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Tuesday night to play the Colts. A Clear Fork win gives them a share of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title with Marion Pleasant. Ontario is going to finish third in the league.

Ontario led Pleasant in fourth quarter before losing (58-46) on Thursday and then beat Shelby (55-52) on Saturday in what coach Joe Balogh says was a big win for them. “The win on Saturday was big just from the standpoint that we were able to kind of complete the deal. We have talked over the last three weeks about how close we have been and then we have had three, four minute stretch where we don’t score and we turn if over. We did a good job in the fourth quarter against Shelby where we only turned it over once and really executed at both ends of the floor and that was the difference. We hope we can build on that success and try and carry it over here to tonight versus Clear Fork,” he said.

Clear Fork edged Ontario (12-8,9-4) 53-48 in overtime February 3. Balogh says Chance Barnett, the leading scorer in the league (18.3 ppg) is really good and he has been a big factor in big situations for the Colts this year. “Chance Barnett has had a tremendous season for them. He is probably they player of the year in our league. He has just been outstanding at crucial times in the games. When we made runs at them or took the lead against them here he was the guys that made plays for them. He has been that guy all year for them. They surround him with guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have the potential that they have offense at every position. It seems like they kind of depend on Barnett and South, but their role players are different guys that have stepped up at different times. That has really made them affective. We know it is going to be really a tough task. We will be down there when they have a chance to tie for the league, last home game of the year, senior night. It will be a tough atmosphere for us to play in.”

When it comes to the Colts and how they are going to win this time, Balogh says they have to guard Barnett much better and if they get the lead they have to able to put away like they did against Shelby. “We have to do a better job defending Barnett, that is one of the big keys. He made a lot of big crucial baskets. We are going to have to try and get the ball out of his hands, especially in the post when they need baskets. We lost some shooters in transition early in the game. The other part of it is like I mentioned earlier that we did against Shelby that we didn’t do against Clear Fork we have to execute when the game is on the line, that is going to be important, so we hope we are able to put ourselves in a position where we can win the game down the stretch and hopefully we can kind of turn the table and do it,” said Balogh.

Published 2/20/18

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Ontario Can be a Factor in “MOAC” Race

Ontario is not going to win the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title this year, but they can play a big part in who does.

They play the co-leaders Marion Pleasant and Clear Fork over the next week. They are at Marion Pleasant on Thursday and at Clear Fork next Tuesday.

The Warriors (11-7,9-3) beat Galion (79-45) in conference play on Friday and then downed Mansfield Christian (53-43) in a non-conference game play at “The Furnace” on Saturday night.

Coach Joe Balogh says they did what was needed. “We were happy with the weekend. We were able to score a lot on Friday and then play in a really tough environment against a team that had really two solid guards and be able to come out of there with a 10-point victory. We were happy with what happened,” he said.

Marion Pleasant (17-3,12-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat Ontario (53-48) on January 27 at the “O-Rena” or the “House that Joe Built” in the first game between the two.

Balogh says they have to cut down on their turnovers. “They are pretty efficient with what they do. They are not real fancy, but they are efficient. Offensively, they are pretty good decision makers with the basketball. They get guys shots that they want to get shots. They do a good job of getting them shots. We are going to have to make sure we take care of the basketball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think last lime we had 19 turnovers and they had seven, so when you have that 12 difference turnover margin that is huge. We only lost by five. So, we have to do a better job taking care of the basketball and making good decisions with it. We are going to have to do a really good job of defending also.”

Balogh believes wins against Pleasant and Clear Fork would be very important to them. “I think the thing that we have told our kids on paper we may not be able to win the league, but you are going to play the two best teams on the road in the league in the last two weeks. So, if you come out with victories there you feel like without that hiccup against Buckeye Valley that you would be a team that should have won that league. We are kind of approaching it that way and also approaching it that we kind what to continue to work to improve to ultimately be playing our best basketball as we approach tournament play,” said Balogh.

Ontario also plays at Shelby (12-7) in a non-conference game on Saturday night. Balogh says that is always a fun challenge. “Shelby has always been a rivalry game for us. We played them non-league for years and then played them in the “NOL” for the past four years. There is always going to be a good atmosphere. Our kids usually get excited about playing them and hopefully that will be the case on Saturday,” he said.

Published 2/14/18

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Ontario Must Handle the Ball Better

Ontario does a lot of good things as a basketball team, but one thing they haven’t done very well is handle the ball and that has to change.

The Warriors play at Galion in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night and they visit “The Furnace” to play Mansfield Christian in a non-league game on Saturday night.

They have lost their last two games. Clear Fork beat them (53-48) in overtime in an “MOAC” game last Saturday and Bellevue downed them (64-59) in non-conference play on Tuesday night.

Coach Joe Balogh says they have had a chance to win most every game they have lost, but they keep having too many turnovers. “We have had games tied or even had the lead late with three minutes to go in the game and then we haven’t been able to get the defensive stop that we needed to get or take care of the basketball and get a good look. As a coaching staff we just have to find a way to help our players get it done. It hasn’t been because of lack of effort or lack of preparation. It is just we have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball really throughout 32 minutes,” he told Swankonports.com on Thursday. “Sometimes it comes down to that last three minutes, but we have wasted some possessions in the first half that has not been necessarily due to our opponent’s defense, but our own doing. We are just trying to get our kids to understand the importance of making good decisions with the basketball. You have got to do that throughout 32 minutes. It can’t just be for 16 minutes or 24 minutes or 30 minutes, you have to do it for 32 minutes. That is the priority we have to put on it. We think if we can do that we can cut our turnovers down. That has been a thing we have struggled with all year. We can be really good, but we haven’t found that yet and hopefully we can find in the next three weeks.”

Ontario (9-7,8-3) plays at Galion (7-12,4-8) in league play on Friday night. They beat the Tigers (71-61) on January 6.

Balogh says the Tigers can catch fire on offense and you have to defend the three point line. “They really led the game throughout that they played Clear Fork at home, they ended up losing by seven, Marion Harding beat them by 10, but it was a close game. They beat Buckeye Central by three and really had Northmor on the ropes in a game. They are a team that really has some offensive firepower. I think they made 10 threes against us the first game when we played them here. You have to do a good job of defending the three and they have a guy in Alsip who can score at a high volume. You can’t let him just get going because when he gets going I think everybody else just plays that much better,” he said.

Mansfield Christian (12-7) hosts the Warriors on Saturday night.

Balogh says the Flames have great guard play and they always play good defense. “John (Kurtz) has always done a great job when he was at Crestview and now that he has been at Christian for a long time. Defensively they are not really complicated in what they do. They are just going to get up and guard you and be really fundamentally sound and make it difficult for you to reverse the basketball by getting in passing lanes. They do a good job taking care of the basketball. Their strength is their guard play. With McPeak and Kurtz they have two really good guards that could play anywhere in this area. When you have good guard play that kind of hides some other things for you because you have guys that take care of the basketball and don’t turn it over a lot. That means you are going to get shots every possession and that is what they have been able to do when they have had success,” said Balogh.

Published 2/09/18

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Clear Fork Upends Ontario in Overtime

Clear Fork scored the final five points of the game and beat Ontario (53-48) in overtime in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Saturday night at the O-Rena.

The win kept the Colts (15-3,11-0) a game in front of Marion Pleasant, who beat River Valley (73-66) on Saturday night, in the conference race. They play at Les Hauenstein Gym on Friday night. Ontario drops three games back.

It was a high pressure game as both teams played aggressive defense. Clear Fork had 20 turnovers and Ontario had 19.

Clear Fork coach Steve Bechtel says the Warriors play so well on defense it is had to execute against them, but they did okay considering the magnitude of the situation. “The full court pressure we did a pretty good job with it. We had trouble getting the ball inbounds occasionally and that is something that we are really going to have to make sure we do a better job the next time we see them,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Their defensive pressure just in the half court is really good. I mean they are solid. We had to work for every possession. I am proud of the guys with the way they persevered the tough times. We had a lead and blew the lead and had to battle back.

Jayden Jacobs tied the game (48-48) with a twisting layup off the left block with :44 seconds to go in overtime, but the Colts took it right down the floor and Chance Barnett scored the go ahead basket from the right baseline with :32 seconds left. “He had quite a few big shots (Saturday) night. We were fortunate that when we missed a couple of free throws down the stretch that it didn’t come back and bite us. Chance really stepped up big on the offensive end. He did a great job on Logan Jones as well,” said Bechtel.

Ryan South sealed the game by bagging three of four free three throws in the final 13 seconds.

Ontario took its first lead since it was (4-2) on Griffin Shaver’s driving layup (46-45) with 1:20 left in regulation. South tied the game by making one of the two free throws with 26 seconds left in regulation.

“We just didn’t get the one or two plays that we needed to win the game. Give Clear Fork a lot of credit that they hung in and were able to make the play and we didn’t. We are in a situation where you have to keep fighting,” said Ontario coach Joe Balogh.

Ontario mad just 35 percent of its field goal attempts. Offensive execution is something that has plagued the Warriors this year.

Clear Fork lead (26-17) at halftime. Barnett scored the first three field goals of the third quarter for the Colts, but Bechtel says it was not their plan coming out of halftime to try and get him the ball specifically. “We just wanted to move the basketball. We wanted to find the open guy and he just happened to be there in the second half. We were able to get it to Chance and they were able to get it to Logan trying the get the foul on the other big guy, that would have been a huge advantage. It was fortunate the ball ended up in Chance’s hands and he was able to score it,” said Bechtel.

Barnett led Clear Fork with 20 points, South had 12. Shaver had 13 for Ontario, Logan Jones added 11.

The loss drops Ontario (9-6,8-3) three games back in the league race with three games to play. “It will be difficult for us to get back in the league championship race, but I think we are a team that can help decide who is going to win it. That is kind of where we are,” said Balogh.

They play at Pleasant February 15 and at Clear Fork February 20.

Clear Fork and Ontario have played every year since the early 60’s and Bechtel knows anytime you beat Ontario it’s a big win. “It is huge just because it was Ontario. They have set the standard so high here in the area with Joe and all the success that he has had. We look forward to the challenge every time we play them. Hopefully, it is going to be a great rivalry,” he said.

Published 2/03/18

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Ontario Must Turn the Corner

Ontario fell out of a share of first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with losses last week to Buckeye Valley and Marion Pleasant and they need to get back on track.

They play at River Valley on Thursday and host “MOAC” leader Clear Fork on Saturday.

Buckeye Valley upset the Warriors (46-42) last Friday and Pleasant knocked them back into third place (53-48) on Saturday.

Coach Joe Balogh says they just had too many turnovers to win games. “We just turned the basketball over too much. We had 19 turnovers in both games. You are not going to beat good teams turning the ball over that many times. Saturday, we turned it over 19 and Pleasant turns it over only seven. That is a difference of 12 possessions there and we can’t afford to do that. The good thing is we were in both games right down to the wire. We made some critical mistakes. We didn’t make the plays we needed to make. Give credit to both Buckeye Valley and Pleasant because they made those plays,” said Balogh.

After Saturday, Balogh says he told him team he believes in them and that they very close to be a solid team. “I told our kids after the game on Saturday I don’t think we are very far away. But, in order to become a good team you have to be the team that makes those plays. You have to get those stops at the defensive end. You can’t have those mistakes so you are at least getting a shot at the offensive end. You can not just turn the basketball over. I think our team is really, really close, but you have to be able to make those plays. Hopefully, we can continue to be able to get better this week and be able to make those plays in close games down the stretch,” he said.

Balogh at Ontario for more than 30 years says they have to start doing to the things that good teams do. “We have to turn the corner, but our kids have had great attitudes. They came back and started this week if a good work ethic, which is what you have to do. The thing you can control everyday is you can control your effort and your energy and that’s been good. You can’t always control results, so what we have to do is we just have to try and get better results. We see a point when we look at film we point out mistakes so we can see them. You practice and you try and make sure you don’t make the same mistake. That is what we have to get better at, eliminating making some of the same mistakes that we have made in previous games and learn better from that. If we do that I think we are right there. In our wins we really haven’t blown anybody out, but it our losses, other than the Lexington game in the second half, we are a team that has really been in games until the very end. When you have a really good year you win tight games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When you kind of have an average year you win some of those and you lose some of them. We still have nine games to play over the schedule plus tournament. We are still in the race for the league title. We are going to have to take care of our business and maybe get a little bit of help. There are still a lot of games to be played in our league. A few weeks ago we talked about one of the lower teams coming up and biting one of the higher teams, unfortunately that came true for us. I think that can still happen. I don’t think you have seem in our league a lot of blow out wins by the top teams. We just have to get better and try make sure we take care of our business and see what happens.”

Ontario (8-5,7-2) plays at River Valley (3-10,2-7) on Thursday night in an “MOAC” game. Clear Fork beat the Vikings (66-47) last Friday.

In the first game, Ontario won (60-47) and Balogh says the Vikings have become a better and more dangerous team. “They have kind changed their style. When we played them in the first game prior to that in two games I think they had given up an average of 96 points because they were pressing and really trying to be up tempo. When we played them they kind of set in a 2-3 zone. I think we went into the fourth quarter up two and ended winning by 13. They have been much more efficient at both ends of the floor. Defensively, they have been a lot better. They play some 2-3 zone. They play some man to man, they show some 1-3-1. Offensively, they have done a better job of taking care of the basketball. When you allow them to get the ball reversed in the half court they have been patient enough that they get the shots they want to get. They are a dangerous basketball team. Going on the road to a place that we really aren’t familiar with because we haven’t played there it is going to be a difficult task, but we have to kind of right the ship and Thursday is our first chance and we going to see what we can do,” said Balogh.

This will be the first meeting this year between longtime rivals Clear Fork and Ontario. Balogh knows the Colts (13-3,9-0) and winners over Marion Harding (58-48) Tuesday night are in first place for a reason. “They have played really well. It was a tremendous win for them at Pleasant. They are a team now that I think is playing with a lot of confidence. When you go on the road at Pleasant and get a win like they did that builds your team. Saturday night is going to be a tremendous challenge for us. They have great balance offensively. We play really well together at the defensive end of the floor. Steve has them going and they are having a great year. We are hoping we can turn the tide and see what happens on Saturday,” he said.

Published 1/31/18

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Ontario With Another Two Steps in League Race

Ontario, a co-leader in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, plays host to two conference foes this weekend in Buckeye Valley on Friday and Marion Pleasant on Saturday.

They share first place in the league with longtime rival Clear Fork, who they will play twice in February.

They earned wins over Marion Harding (66-55) last Thursday and North Union (59-49) on Saturday.

Coach Joe Balogh thinks they are improving, but they must keep their noses to the grindstone. “I think we are improving, but with high school kids it is just kind of a week to week battle with them. You hope that you continue to grow so you can get better each week. We feel like we have practiced pretty well this week. We hope those good practices turn into us playing very well in our games on the weekend,” he said.

Ontario handled Buckeye Valley (57-46) in their first meeting. Balogh says the Barons are team that is going to play hard for 32 minutes and they have to match that intensity. “The thing with Buckeye Valley is now I think they are starting three sophomores, so they are really young. The thing that impresses you the most about them is how hard they play and compete. What has happened in several of the games is they have dug themselves a hole early in the game or with Clear Fork it was in the second half, but they just continue to fight. The wins have not shown that as much, but the thing is they are just going to be ready to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When I saw them play the first time when we scouted them early in the year the most impressive thing was just how hard they played. I think they were down 18 in the first quarter to Highland, but they fought their way back and actually took the lead and just weren’t able to finish plays. Hopefully, our kids don’t look by this at all. Every league game becomes important when it comes to being in the position we want to be in in the league and Friday night’s game is going to be a crucial game for us.”

Ontario (8-3,7-0) plays at home against Marion Pleasant (11-3,7-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Saturday night. The Spartans lost their first league game of the year to Clear Fork (66-61) on Tuesday night.

Balogh says the Spartans enter every game figuring the should win it and they play like it. “I think the thing with Pleasant when you go in their gym, it was the first time I had been in there in a long time, and you are just impressed with the number of banners of state championships in all of the sports. I think the thing that Pleasant has is they have that winning attitude. That has been on display when I have watched them on tape and when I have seen them in person and their kids just expect to win. For them coming off a crucial league loss Tuesday with Clear Fork sometimes that just refocuses you a little bit more and I think we are going to have to be a really focused basketball team on Saturday also because I think they are going to come in here with a chip on their shoulder and really ready to play,” said Balogh.

Published 1/26/18

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Ontario Wants to Take Advantage of Home Court

The Ontario Warriors play their home games on a court named after their current coach and they hope that court is going to be an advantage for them this week.

Ontario shares first place with Clear Fork and Marion Pleasant in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and they play at home on Thursday against Marion Harding and Saturday against North Union, two teams they beat in the first round in close games.

Coach Joe Balogh says home or not they have to come out ready to play. “We hope it is a plus. That is the thing we have tried to emphasize to our kids that by us being on the road early in the league and being able to win those games we put ourselves in position where we control our destiny as we approach the second half of the league. Although it is a little unusual because we have not played Clear Fork or Marion Pleasant in the first half because of the postponements. We have talked this week especially about just being ready to play. Part of the that is we have been off and we didn’t play at all last weekend. We said when people come into our place they have go to know that we are really going to come after them. That is a big emphasis as we go into Thursday’s game is we need to come out and really try and set the tempo and the only way you set tempo is by how you start out defensively and the energy and enthusiasm that you play with on the defensive end of the floor,” said Balogh.

Harding (3-7.1-4) lost it last game on January 6 (54-33) to River Valley.

Ontario (6-3,5-0) beat Marion Harding (37-34) in the league opener the first week of December. Balogh says they want the game to be faster, so they get more shots. “Even in the first game it was not a game where either team tried to slow the pace down. Part of it was both teams struggled making shots. We didn’t do a very good job of handling some of their pressure they showed us in the second half. We hope we are a lot better team as we approach this game. Harding surely they are going to be a better basketball team. They have won some big games here over the past three weeks. They kind of had a step back against River Valley. We would like the pace of the game to be a little faster from the standpoint that we would like to have some more offensive possessions. So, we are going to try and push that pace a little bit. I think you have to be able to push the pace a little bit with your defensive pressure and we hope to be able to do that,” he said.

The Warriors won at North Union (50-48) on December 14. Balogh says the Wildcats (6-5,2-4) have some talented guards that are hard to stop. “They are a dangerous team from the standpoint that their guard and play is really good. They have a couple of kids that can put the ball on the floor and beat you with penetration. I think that is one of the hardest things to try and defend. When you get beat on penetration and then you have to help and recover and they have a couple of kids that can shoot it really well from the perimeter and then they have good size inside. The one thing is they are not really deep,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We hurt them a little bit with pressure in the second half. They showed a 2-3 zone the first time we played them. We struggled a little bit with that. The struggle was not us not attacking it was more not being able to make shots and making good decisions with the basketball. Coming back to the same thing we hope we are a lot better team then when we played them the first time. We hope the home court is a little bit of an advantage for us too. I think anytime you play in a league and you have been in the league for a while or you are just in the league a league game has a different feel to it and a different preparation. So, we have to make sure we are ready to play. The hope is when we are playing North Union we are still in a position where we control our own destiny.”

Published 1/18/18

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Ontario in “MOAC” Race

Ontario stands in second place right now just a game behind River Valley in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference girls’ basketball standings.

They play Madison in a non-conference game on Wednesday night and then they host Buckeye Valley in a conference game on Friday night.

Their rematch with River Valley, who beat them by two (38-36) in December, is next week.

The Lady Warriors feature the leading scorer in the league in Shelby Nashail, who went over the 1,000 point plateau earlier this season.

Coach Mitch Willike feels their defense has been the biggest reason for their success. “The kids have played well and they are starting to click. Defensively we have seen huge leaps and bounds, and we are really pleased with that. Our big thing has been rebounding and we have had some kids step up and with that pretty well. Our perimeter defense is where we hang our hat for the most part. We have kids that are long and athletic and they have done a good job of creating havoc,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We always talk about deflections leading to steals and steals leading to transition points. The kids have really bought into that. We are happy with how we have played for the most part. We have been in every single game. I think now we are at tipping point and start to turn the page and finish out the year pretty strong.”

Ontario plays at Madison on Wednesday night. Willike hopes their pressure can force some turnovers and easy scoring chances. “We have seen them play a couple of times and they are athletic and they are quick. They like to attack the basket. They have two post players that work hard and rebound the basketball pretty well at both ends. So, we just have to do a good job of keeping those two in check. I think our pressure could affect them in some ways, but if they blow by our first wave we might be in trouble,” he said.

Ontario (8-5,6-2) plays at home against Buckeye Valley (9-5,5-3) on Friday night at the O-rena. The Lady Barons beat Ontario (53-42) in their first meeting on December 9.

Willike says the Lady Barons are big and that height hurt them the first time. He says again they have to turn to their pressure. “The first time we played them and we got midway through the third and we cut it to two and we just kind of hit a cold spell. The biggest thing with Buckeye Valley is their height. They’ve got five kids that are all over 5’11”. I mean they are big and they are tall. The other thing is their big kids can handle it. They have a couple of kids that can bring it up the floor. They bring a freshman off the bench who is pushing 6’1” or 6’2” and she hurt us the last time on the offensive glass. So, it is going to be how well do we rebound the basketball and how well do our guards pressure their guards,” said Willike.

Published 1/17/18

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Ontario and Pleasant With First Round Showdown

Two of the three unbeaten tri-leaders in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference square off on Friday as Ontario hosts Marion Pleasant at the O-rena, “The House that Joe Built.”

Ontario and Pleasant are tied with Clear Fork, who plays Marion Harding on Friday night.

The Warriors (6-3,5-0) had one of their better offensive performances on Saturday night as they downed Galion (71-61) in an “MOAC” game.

Coach Joe Balogh says they got their offense clicking better and were able to get some extra shots by dominating the boards. “The big thing we tried to do is be better offensively. We got above 70 I think for the first time this year, so that was good. Galion really looked to push the ball with us in our transition game and it was a good in the first half. We really dominated the glass, I think it was 48-22 on the glass. So, we were pleased. We were pleased with our ability to score. We got to the free throw line 30 times, which showed we were aggressive attacking the basket. So, it was a good win for us in the league and kept us in a situation that we continue to control what we do,” said Balogh.

Marion Pleasant (8-2,5-0) is coming off a (75-36) thrashing of Mt. Gilead on Tuesday and beat River Valley (67-47) last Thursday in a league game.

Balogh says they are smart basketball players who have great skill. “I think they are just solid. I guess sometimes when you use the word disciplined you thinking that they are slow and they slow things down, but they’re not. They will push the basketball, but they do a god job from the offensive standpoint of being really good decision makers with the basketball. They try and spread you out and use their athleticism and force you that you have to guard all five out on the floor,” said Balogh.

On defense, Balogh says Pleasant isn’t complicated, but they execute well at that end. “They are similar defensively that they are fairly simple. They are basically a man to man team and they will pick up and pressure you in the full court. They will be physical with you. I am impressed that they are a solid basketball team,” he said.

The one thing that sticks out as the overall when it comes to Pleasant for Balogh is the winning attitude that the players seem to have. “Not knowing a lot about Pleasant, but being around for this many years Pleasant has had success in a lot of their sports. Perennially they have been a great football team, I think they have had very good baseball teams. I think you will find that those athletes know how to win and when you know how to win it really doesn’t make any difference what sport you play there is always a little more competitive spirit that you have and that can really make a difference. I think that is kind of where they are at,” said Balogh.

Joe says you never win the league in the first half of the season, but he knows this is one they would like to have on Friday night, especially being at home. “It is important. You really want to try and protect your home court, but it is not like you are going to lose the league with this game. Whoever wins this game puts themselves in a pretty good position after the first round, but Pleasant nor us have played Clear Fork yet. It still puts you in a good position as you approach the second half of the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It puts you in position where you are not going to have to have a lot of help. You are just there where you need to be. That is not to say they you have won the league with this game there are still a lot of league games to play, but you put yourself in a lot better position. We would really like to protect our home court if we can.”

Published 1/11/18

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Ontario Needs Consistency at Both Ends

Ontario and Clear Fork, two of the three leaders in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, Marion Pleasant is the other, play on Thursday night at Les Hauenstein Gym at Clear Fork High School in a key early season matchup.

Ontario (5-3,4-0) has a three game losing streak in tow after losses to Highland (60-53) and Lexington (72-48) in non-conference play last weekend.

Coach Joe Balogh says they have to play with more consistency. “We just have to get more efficient offensively. We are going to just continue to work on that. Defensively we have been okay even though we gave up 72 points to Lexington we had to get out of our element a little bit. We got behind and Lex did a tremendous job of running offense. The big thing is you just have to come back and go to work. It hasn’t hurt us with our league record, which is why we play a team like Highland, a really good team, a team like Lexington, which is really good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “If we want to be a good team we have to learn how to beat those teams. You do that by being more consistent we have to be more consistent offensively. We have to be able to consistently score and at the defensive end we just have to make sure we are consistent with every defensive possession. We have a to make a priority that we get stops. The big emphasis that we have had defensively is we have to talk. We have to do a better job of talking to our teammates gaining each other’s trust at the defensive end.”

Clear Fork (5-3,4-0) lost to Madison (77-74) last Friday. At one time this year they had a five game winning streak.

Balogh says they have balance on offense and have been forcing some turnovers with their pressure defense. “They have great balance. They have a lot of different guys that can score. I know Barnett and South are their two key scorers, but they have other guys that can step out and shoot it. They are trying to play at a little bit faster pace than we have played in the past. They are able to create some turnovers with their defense making you play faster than you are used to. They have been very, very good, so the difficult thing for us is we have to get out and do a good job of contesting their three point shooters and then we have to make sure offensively that we take care of the basketball against their pressure, yet attack them. We think we can hurt them inside a little bit with our size, but we have to be able to get the basketball and put it in there,” said Balogh.

Ontario senior Logan Jones at 6’7” is going to have four to five inches on anybody Clear Fork puts on the floor. Balogh says they want to get it to him on the block, but they have to be efficient in other aspects of the offense too. “Not that we are afraid to play a fast paced game, but slow them down a little bit. We are going to have to make them defend those guys and if they don’t defend them we have confidence those guys can score. If they do double and stuff hopefully it will open it up for some other guys. That is kind of a key for us we want to play fast, but we also want to make sure we put the ball inside to our post guys,” he said.

Published 1/04/18

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Ontario Will be Tested on the Road

There aren’t any Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference games this weekend, but Ontario plays both on Friday and Saturday in non-conference play, both on the road, at Highland on Friday night and at Lexington on Saturday night.

Ontario (5-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, lost for the first time this season to Mansfield Senior (44-36) last Saturday.

Coach Joe Balogh says they have struggled offensively most of the season and one the big reasons is turnovers. “We have to do a better job of valuing possession of the basketball and getting shots offensively. When you turn it over you don’t even get a chance to get a shot and you don’t get a chance to get an offensive rebound. We just have to do a better job of being precise with the basketball and understanding the value of the ball when it is in our hands. We want to try and get scoring opportunities,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If you are able to take shots, even missed shots, you still have an opportunity to rebound, but when you throw the ball away it is either a turnover going the other way, which can lead to transition baskets or you are throwing it out of bounds. One of our other problems has been our turnovers have led to too many transition baskets by our opponents and that is something we are trying to work on.”

Highland (7-1,) the co-leader of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, plays host to the Warriors on Friday night. They beat Cardington (62-44) last Friday.

Balogh says they will need to score against a zone. “They are a very good basketball team. They return a lot of kids from a year ago. They play a matchup zone, kind of a 1-3-1 and get into a 2-3 and are really active in it. It is something a little bit different than maybe we have seen before. They have two really good scorers in Anglin and Phillips that are both 6’5”, 6’6” and athletic kids. I think they play with a lot of confidence and the other part is we have to go on the road and that is never easy. With our non league schedule we really try and challenge ourselves to play teams that are going to show something different and Highland does that. They have great tradition there, so it should be a good matchup for us on Friday,” said Balogh.

Lexington beat Ashland (64-49) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Thursday night and will carry a three game winning streak into the game on Saturday.

Balogh says they have an athletic post Cade Stover, but that’s not all, and they, like Ontario, are very good on defense. “Cade (Stover) is a really good player and is a tremendous athlete, but they have guys around him that if you concentrate too much on Cade that they other guys around him can make shots. The other thing Lexington does is they have defended really well. They guard people really well, they are physical, so it will be another big challenge for us going on the road on Saturday after traveling on Friday night. This gives us a good idea where our team is as we end the 2017 year and head into 2018. I think our kids are looking forward to both games,” he said.

Published 12/29/17

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Tygers Grind out Win over Ontario

It was hard to watch sometimes, no a lot of times, like a car wreck at Mid-Ohio, but it was a battle that both teams put all they had into and Mansfield Senior prevailed in beating Ontario (44-36) at the O-Rena late Saturday night.

It was the last game of six on the day. Mansfield St. Peter’s beat Galion (71-56) in the first game, followed in the afternoon by a Mansfield Christian (84-72) win over Clear Fork and a Shelby (65-58) win over Ashland.

Ontario led (15-11) at the break, but the Tygers took the lead on a Jornell Manns fade away bucket off an offensive rebound (21-20) with 2:34 left in the third quarter. They never trailed again, outscoring the Warriors (17-11) in the fourth quarter.

Coach Marquis Sykes said three things at halftime. “We simplified our game plan. It was as simple as getting defensive stops, getting rebounds, and pushing ball in transition. That was it. I told them those are our three keys for the second half. I thought at a pretty decent rate we got stops, we rebounded and we pushed the pace,” he said.

Ontario coach Joe Balogh says they had three defensive keys and they really didn’t get any of them done. “Our emphasis on defense was really three things. We had to make sure got back in defensive transition and not allow layups, two, in the half court we had to keep dribble penetration out of the lane, and three we had to keep them off the offensive glass, and I think that is the difference in the second half. They got a couple of transition baskets, they were able to beat us to the lane, not so much to finish plays, but they got offensive rebounds and put backs, which was really key,” said Balogh.

Neither team shot 40 percent for the game and there were a number of scrums for loose balls, even an official got ran into unintentionally. Sykes says there was a lot of contact. “This was definitely a grind out type of game. It was low scoring. The refs let us play. There was a lot of bumps and a lot of contact. Both teams probably though, hey, there was a bump there, but they let us play. It was a grind, get stops, get rebounds in traffic and when you get the ball on the other end you to finish it strong in traffic and I thought we did that,” he said.

Mansfield Senior guard B.J. Patrick scored seven of his game high 11 in the crucial fourth quarter, five of those points coming from the charity stripe. Logan Jones had 10 for Ontario.

Balogh says they had problems getting good shots and that was due to aggressive defense played by the Tygers for the most part. “Offensively we kind of struggled. I think you give credit to their pressure on the basketball. It was pretty good. I thought when we were able to get the ball reversed or stick it inside to our post guys we were pretty affective, but we just didn’t quite do that enough throughout the game,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They are a team that is kind of using a new system. They play really, really hard. I think the effort by both teams was really, really good. A lot of the offensive inefficiency was because of the defense. We hurt ourselves a lot. We probably turned the ball over five or six times on baseline out of bounds plays.”

Mansfield Senior is now (5-1) after the win over Ontario and an “OCC” win over Mt. Vernon (52-49) on Friday night. “I told the guys that nobody though we would be here at this point, especially after how we played in the first game. I told them I was proud of where we are at this point, but don’t get comfortable we have to continue to build. We have to continue to grow and get better every week,” said Sykes.

Published 12/24/17

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Ontario Gets to be at Home

Ontario has played three Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference games, but Wednesday night’s game with River Valley will be its first at home.

The Warriors last week beat North Union (50-48) and Buckeye Valley (57-46) in “MOAC” games.

Coach Joe Balogh says they have been improving as a basketball team, but they still have a lot of things to refine. “We feel like we have gotten better. We went on the road for three straight games in the league, probably the furthest places that we go and they are all new venues, we had never played in any of those places before. Two of the three games came down to we had to make a defensive stop on the last defensive possession to win the game or prevent the game from going into overtime and we were able to do that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We were a little more efficient when we went to Buckeye Valley Saturday and we are still working on that process and try and make sure we do a better job of taking care of the basketball to be able get shots rather than throwing it out of bounds or throwing it to the other team. So, we feel like we are making progress, but we still have a long way to go.”

Defending the other team has been a cornerstone of Ontario’s success and Balogh says they have done an outstanding job in the half court this year. “Our half court defense has been really good. We haven’t been a team that has forced a lot of turnovers, but I think we have done a really good job of defending our opponent’s actions and not allowing them to get the first look out of a set that they want to get and they have had to go to their second or third. We have also done a pretty good job of containing the other team’s best player or players. So, that is a good sign for us and something we are going to need to continue to do,” he said.

Ontario (4-0,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, hosts River Valley (0-4,0-3) on Wednesday night at the “O-Rena,” the “House that Joe Built” in a league game. The Vikings lost to Clear Fork (101-62) on Saturday.

Balogh says they are going to have to be good at transition defense. “They are a team that likes to push the ball in transition and one of the things we haven’t done well earlier, but even against Buckeye Valley. I think Buckeye Valley had seven transition baskets. So, that is a concern going into the game because they do a good job pushing the basketball down the floor. So, they want to play at a faster pace and that is different than the three teams we have played so far in the league. So, it will be interesting to see how we adjust to that. I don’t think we are fearful of playing at a fast pace. The thing will be if we play at faster pace than we have we are going to have to have a little more from the guys coming off the bench, which are starting to gain confidence, so that will be a good test for us,” said Balogh.

The Warriors play Mansfield Senior (3-1) on Saturday night. Balogh says they look forward to matchups with the Tygers, another of the top notch programs in North Central Ohio. “We have played them the last two years and it has been a game that has come down to the last play. The first year we win it on a buzzer beater and last year we win in triple overtime. So, I’m sure they are trothing at the mouth a little bit. It’s a game that our kids are excited about getting an opportunity to play. Anytime you are able to play a Senior High team there is going to be a little more excitement in the air. That will be the case of Saturday night,” he said.

Published 12/20/17

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Ontario on the Road for Two More “MOAC” Games

Ontario played its first ever game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last Friday in beating Marion Harding and now they play at North Union on Thursday and at Buckeye Valley on Saturday.

They beat the Presidents (37-34) in the conference opener.

Coach Joe Balogh says playing on the road is always tough and especially this year for them with a lot of new venues. “I think anytime you go on the road in the league and you are able to win it’s a good win. The difference for us with these games we have never played at Marion Harding, we have never played at North Union, and we have never played at Buckeye Valley. When you went on the road before sometimes you have had familiarity with the place you are playing at, but not with this. So, I think that makes it even a little more difficult,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I thought our kids played with a lot of focus at Marion Harding. We didn’t really play very well offensively, but our defense was really solid throughout and we especially solid down the stretch when we needed to get some stops and we were really happy with that.”

The Warriors (2-0,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has had its struggles on offense despite winning their first two. Balogh says they have to be better decision makers. “We are going to have to be better offensively. We are going to have to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball and valuing possession of the ball. That is not to say that we want to slow our pace down. Our decision making just has to be a lot better when we get trapped or even just some decisions we make in just throwing the ball away. I think sometimes kids don’t value possessions and we have to be a little bit more aware of that as we continue on here, especially when we go on the road. If you turn it over a couple of times in a row the crowd gets a lot more involved and just seems to kind of explode on you. That is one the things we really need to try and avoid,” he said.

North Union (1-2, 0-1) lost to Clear Fork (62-59) in its first game in league play last Friday.

Balogh says the Wildcats have a lot of players they can go to and they are likely to show a lot of zone. “We have seen them play once in person and we have seen them on tape several times. They have two guards in Conner Terrill and Riley Price that can really create stuff off the dribble and get to the lane and pitch to shooters. They have a really good shooter in Cody Neel and then they have two bigs in Harley Day and Mason Soviak that can give you problems down low. So, they have good balance of guard play and post play. The other thing is from what we have seen is we anticipate they are going to play a lot of 2-3 zone. We haven’t really seen a lot of zone in our scrimmages or a lot of zone in our first two games. It is going to be kind of interesting to see how we respond to that and handle that as we go over there,” said Balogh,

Buckeye Valley (2-2,1-0) topped River Valley (66-62) in the league opener last week. Balogh says the Barons are a team that likes to attack. “Buckeye Valley is going to be a little bit different because Buckeye Valley is just going to come out and get after you. They are very aggressive man to man team. I saw them play against Highland Saturday and they were down 20-4 after the first quarter and then eventually took the lead late in the fourth and then where able to hang on at the end and win it. They are going to come out and get after you maybe a little bit more than North Union would in their man to man and be physical. They have a great student section that I think has been like a finalist in this OHSAA contest that the Golden Megaphone the last couple of years. So, it is going to be loud. Those are the atmospheres that you love to play in, so hopefully our kids embrace that and we can play well on the road there too,” said Balogh.

Published 12/13/17

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Ontario Embarks in New League

Ontario has been a consistent winner in every league they have been in since Joe Balogh became its coach more than 30 years ago the old Mid Ohio Conference, the North Central Conference and the Northern Ohio League and Friday night they start play in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference at Marion Harding.

It is the first of three league games on the road to start the season for the Warriors.

They beat Norwalk (49-43) in a non conference game to open the season last Saturday afternoon.

Coach Balogh says he thought they played well, but they still have to get better. “We were pleased with how we played. I felt we were really good defensively. I felt we did a really nice job of taking away Norwalk’s stuff. They run a lot of different sets. Offensively we had 15 turnovers and we need to be able to cut that a little bit, but we put the ball inside, which is where it needed to be. Right now, that is kind of our comfort zone. You are always pleased to come out with a win in your first game, but we still have a lot of things to do to get better,” said Balogh.

Right now, Ontario’s advantage is in the post with Logan Jones and Jayden Jacobs, but Balogh says they have to improve their guard play too. “In the past our experience have been at the guard position. We just have to continue to work to develop the perimeter positions. What we hope with Jones’s play inside and Jayden Jacobs was pretty solid. That kind of balance early in the year is going to help us. Then if our perimeter guys continue to get better we think we can continue to grow to become a really good team,” he said.

Marion Harding (0-2) hosts the Warriors on Friday night. The Presidents lost (81-59) to Olentangy last Thursday and to Marysville (64-41) on Saturday.

Balogh says they must be focused. “They struggled a little bit in the two games they played last week against Olentangy, which is a good team that beat Madison, and then they lost to Marysville on Saturday. The thing I think our kids need to understand is anytime you go on the road in a league, and now we are in a new league, it is going to be more difficult,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You are not going to get the breaks maybe that you get at home. How are your kids going to travel for that first game? Our concern is how well prepared are we and how focused we will be because I think anytime you go on the road you are kind of in a deficit already.”

Harding won the red division of the league last year, there is only one division this year, and Balogh says they are going to be athletic. “They will push the basketball in transition. In addition, they have some athleticism. They have a couple of kids that can shoot the three, some balance. Where we think we can have an advantage is our play inside a little bit. We are going to have to take another step as we go on the road,” he said.

A win on Friday night would be pretty significant for the Warriors, according to Balogh. “Especially being on the road. We start the league with three games on the road. We are on the road at Marion Harding and the next week we are on the road at North Union and at Buckeye Valley. These games can make or break you. You can put yourself in a pretty good situation that is you win some tough games on the road you can kind of go from there,” he said.

Published 12/08/17

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Ontario Holds off Norwalk

Ontario post players Jayden Jacobs and Logan Jones combined for 23 points and Ontario held off Norwalk (49-43) in a non-conference boys’ basketball game played Saturday afternoon at the O-Rena in Ontario.

The Warriors outscored Norwalk (9-3) over the last 3:46 of the second quarter to take a (27-19) halftime lead and never trailed the rest of the game

They only have two players, Jones and Chance Mott, that played much at the varsity level last season, but coach Joe Balogh says those younger kids understood what they had to do on offense and defense. “I thought our kids did a great job. We tried to stress the importance of our scouting or film work and what we put on paper. The concern with the young kids and the new guys was with how they were going to embrace that. I thought they really embraced it,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I’m not sure if it was because of the scouting report or just his anticipation, but I thought a big play was in the third quarter when they ran a set for the first time in the game that we had on our scouter from last year and Tavian (Harris) shot the gap and stole it and laid it in. I thought that was a big, big, key play in the game. It kind of showed why we do the stuff that we do.”

Norwalk played without likely its best player in junior guard Brandon Haraway, suspended for the first three games of the season. Coach Steve Gray says without him their less experienced guys did the job pretty well. “A lot of that is just inexperience. When you are playing a freshman, a sophomore, a point guard that you are putting a lot of responsibility on for the first time. You know, I’m happy with the way we preformed. We competed. In the second half I thought our point guard play was outstanding. I think our pups are going to get a lot better. They showed a lot (Saturday.) I was pleased with their effort,” said Gray.

Balogh says the goal was to throw the ball inside and make the Truckers guard them there and they were able to do that. “The big emphasis we had offensively is we thought we had to play inside out. We had to put the ball in the hands of our post guys and kind of play off of them. I thought when they were able to make their run we got away from that. We started to put the ball on the floor and do too much with it. We kind of got back to putting it in Jones’s hands inside. Jalen Jacobs was really good inside. That is kind of a strength we have right now. It is kind of a calming factor that we are able to put the ball in the paint I think some good things happen for us,” said Balogh.

Ontario shot 46% for the game, equally in both the first and second halves. They held as much as a 13 point lead (34-21) with 5:05 to play in the third quarter after a basket by Mott, but Norwalk cut their deficit to (38-34) at the end of the third quarter.

It was (46-37) Warriors with 3:48 left after two free throws by Jacobs, but the Truckers cut into the lead again (46-43) with 1:03 left on a field goal by Eric Hull. “We are down three and a rebound goes off our hands. It would have given us a chance, we are down three with 40 seconds to go. We are one bucket away from making this very interesting. Joe’s kids played hard. That was a good game for us. I know more about our team right now than I did 24 hours ago,” said Gray.

Ontario held Norwalk to 42% from the field and (4-15) from behind the arch. Balogh feels they made them work hard to get shots. “We talked at the half that we needed to extend our pressure out a little bit further and make it a little bit more difficult for them to get into it. I thought we did a much better job of that. With our pressure instead of picking up at half court we kind of extended to the three quarter court and made them work a little bit harder and I thought that made it a little bit more difficult for them for them to get into the stuff they wanted to get into,” said Balogh.

Jacobs had 13 for the Warriors, Jones tallied nine.

Jacob Roth led Norwalk with 13 points. Hull added eight,

Published 12/02/17

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Ontario Wants Fast Tempo

Ontario is a new league this year, but they will start the season with a team in their old league in the Norwalk Truckers on Saturday night at home at the “O-rena”

Coach Joe Balogh has been pretty happy with the effort he has seen as the Warriors try to find some answers to fill the shoes they lost to graduation. “We are working hard and I think going in the right direction, but it seems like at this point we have a lot that we really have to do a lot better. We like our progress and coming out of the last scrimmage we thought we got better. We have a lot of new faces. A lot of young guys, so the hard part is that we lose the experience that we had a year ago, guys that had played key roles for us for three years, it is really hard to replace that. Our kids are working hard it is just as a coaching staff we have to make sure that we are patient in understanding that we are not in a sprint that it is a marathon here. We need to be patient and maybe whittle some things down and make it a little bit simpler. We have five more days to get ready. We will need to be ready by Saturday night,” said Balogh.

They are dealing with some injuries with one kid out for the season, but Balogh says that is all part of the game and you have to hope that your other kids step up to the challenge. “Cameron Todd was going to be a key player for us and he is out for the year because he broke his ankle and then Logan Jones, who is really our only returnee, him and Chance Mott. Logan started last year for us. He has dealt with some issues with his ankle a little bit and we are trying to make sure that is taken care of. He has kind of been in and out a little bit here the first few weeks. We are hoping we have him healthy for Saturday. Injuries are part of everything you do. Any sport, any team, you always have to deal with injuries or illness or whatever, that is just part of the process,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “You hope you have kids that have put in the time in the off season and have kind of prepared themselves and continue to do that as you practice and when an opportunity arises they can show you that I am ready to step into that role. You are going to face adversity somewhere during the year, so we are facing a little bit here at the beginning with the idea that we are not going to have Cameron and Logan has tweaked his ankle a little bit at times. Our kids are working hard and that is all you can ask and continue to try and listen and learn and we kind of go from there.”

I think you can call Ontario and Norwalk rivals and the coaches certainly know each other well. Balogh says they can’t allow Norwalk to just pound them with sets in the half court. “The thing they do so well is they run a variety of half court sets. If you allow them to move the ball side to side and get into the things they want to get into they are very, very affective putting the ball where they want to. Our defensive pressure whether it is in the full court or just being able to defend in the half court is going to be key in that you have to take away their first and second options and make them try and go to a to a third or fourth option in the sets that they run. With an inexperienced basketball team it is sometimes difficult to get kids to understand that. It is something we are going to have to do. We would like to try and speed the game up a little bit if we can to try and make it so it just doesn’t become a half court game. Coach Gray is very good when the game becomes a game of sets and he is kind of dictating the tempo of the game. Our defense is going to have to set a tone of the game and hopefully it is a little faster paced game than they would want to play,” said Balogh.

Published 11/28/17

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Ontario Building Things

Ontario is always it seems to be one the better boys’ basketball teams in the area and they will probably be the case again this year.

However, coach Joe Balogh says they really are going to be working with a of first time players at the varsity level. “Number one, we really like the effort our kids have given. We lost a lot from last year’s team, especially on the perimeter with Tre Jordan and Quan Jackson and Jackson Todd. Tre and Quan were three year lettermen, so it is going to be difficult to replace them. We have a really good player in Logan Jones coming back. He had a really good summer for us. He seems to be the guy we wanted him to be really the last couple of years. We thought last season he really played well down the stretch the last seven, eight games and he has kind of carried it into this year. He is our only true senior coming back that played a lot. The other guy that we have that had significant minutes at the varsity level is sophomore Chance Mott. We have some kids I think that are excited about the opportunity that is available to them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That’s what’s good to see is you have kids that have put in some time in the summer and the off season to try and prepare for the opportunity that they are going to get. We are still a work in progress and I think at this point of the season you are always a work in progress, but maybe more so than we have been the last couple of years. As a coaching staff we just have to show some patience and they are not going to know all that we expect them to know and maybe have to do a lot more reviewing than we have done the last couple of years.”

Balogh says the scrimmages they have put together this year are going to be important in finding out what they have. “We have to find our who can play at this level and that is what our scrimmages are kind of for. Early on we give everybody a chance and as we get to these final two or three scrimmages we try and figure our those final six, seven, eight guys that we think can really help us at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Of course, the Warriors are entering a new league in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference this year. Balogh says it is different and that is both good and bad. “It is going to be different from the standpoint that you are not going to have the familiarity with the teams in the league. The disadvantage is probably going to be more prep time for us, but that is not a problem. The advantage looking at it is they are not going to know a lot about us. There will be a learning curve there a little bit. The thing that I have always liked about the leagues we have been in is it is an eight team league and you play home and away. I really like the idea that you have to go on the road. If you beat a team at home, you are going to have to beat that team on the road. League play is different than non-league play. I think our non-league schedule is as competitive as any team in the area for a school our size. Our schedule is really going to test us. You look at our sectional, we have 14 teams in our sectional with Bellevue, Norwalk, Clyde, Mansfield Senior, Lexington, Shelby. Our sectional/district is going to be another tough test once we get to the end of the season,” said Balogh.

Published 11/17/17

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Lady Warriors with New Adventure

There is a lot of new this year for the Ontario Lady Warriors. There is a new head coach and a new league.

Last year’s JV coach Mitch Willeke has been moved up to the varsity head coach and, of course, Ontario is in a new league, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

Willeke says he likes the competitive nature of his girls. “We have been at it for a few weeks and I have liked what I have seen. Our kids give great effort. We have a lot of kids that play with high intensity and like to get after it and like to be competitive. Being a first year head coach I really like to see that early that way we make sure we keep that consistent throughout the entire year,” said Willeke.

There is always going to be a period of adjustment with a new coach, but Willeke says the girls already know him and that is a plus. “I was the “JV” coach last year and that helped that I got to know them. Now being the head coach you kind of have to bring a lot more intensity, a lot more enthusiasm. Now you have to set the tone for them and they have to try and match your enthusiasm every day in practice,” he said.

Ontario’s first game is November 29 at Ashland, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference. They open league play December 2 at Marion Harding.

There are going to be things to improve on in the preseason. Willeke says for them it is rebounding. “Early it has been rebounding. We are not the tallest team. We have quickness all around and we have some length, but we don’t have very much height,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, we have to make sure we are paying attention every day to rebounding and make sure we are focused on technique and things like that. Rebounding comes down to heart and we just have to make sure we have got everyone flying to the basketball so we can corral every loose ball we can.”

Published 11/14/17

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  BREAKING NEWS: Ontario football coach Chris Hawkins announced his resignation on Monday night. The Warriors were 2-8 this year. Hawkins was 6-14 over two years. He told Swankonsports.com, “I have stepped down as football coach for personal reasons. I think the time is right to step away and do it as soon as possible in the best interest of the program. I want to focus on teaching and I have wanted for the last several years to go back and finish my college graduate administrative classes, but could never do it while coaching. I am proud of the effort our kids put forth this year in spite of the unbelievable number of injuries we sustained.”  

Ontario Still Fighting Injuries

Ontario concludes its season Friday night by hosting once beaten Marion Pleasant in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play.

They will be looking for their first conference win after a (35-20) setback to Galion in “MOAC” action last week.

Coach Chris Hawkins says their injury ridded offense was improved, but their defense took some steps back. “Offensively it was the third or fourth game without our quarterback and I think we were more efficient. We put up three scores at were kind of driving there. So, it was definitely a step in the right direction. As happy as I was with our offense, but our defense really struggled in that game. That has kind of been our strength the last four weeks. We gave up 35 points against Clear Fork and actually I thought played pretty well. They didn’t pound it on us they just had a couple of big plays over the top and a couple of big runs by their phenomenal athlete. I thought we played with the exception of five or six plays pretty good defense against Clear Fork,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “To turn around and give up the same amount of points to Galion was disheartening. We just never have put a whole game together this year, well we haven’t had our full team since Lexington, but even in the beginning of the year when we had most of our guys, we would have a great offensive game and struggle defensively or we would have great defense and struggle on offense. We have had a hard time putting both sides of the ball along with special teams together.”

The injuries never seem to stop for the Warriors. Hawkins says you can add a few more to the list. “We have lost two more kids, two more starters. We have another kid out with a concussion that is a two way player and a defensive starter out with a possible torn “ACL.” I have never been part of this it has been a tough year, but we told our kids a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores are playing and hopefully that will pay dividends next year,” he said.

Ontario (2-7,0-6) plays host to Marion Pleasant (7-1,5-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday night in league play. Pleasant lost their first game of the season in an instant classic to Clear Fork (20-17) in overtime.

Hawkins says they know Pleasant wants to run, run, and run some more and they are good enough to do that. “Them and Clear Fork are elite teams of the league. That game could have either way. Pleasant was controlling and dominating the first half and Clear Fork came back. I thought if they played 10 times they would spilt it five and five. They don’t want to pass the ball. Make no bones about they are going to come out in double tight wing and wing-T and “I” and just play smash football with the exception of against Marion Harding where Pleasant came out and threw 15, 16 times. The other three games we watched the total passes they threw combined was seven. So, we know what they want to do, but I tell you what they are still hard to stop. All of the other teams know what they want to do too, and you can load the box, but they are still pretty good at coming off the ball,” said Hawkins.

Published 10/26/17

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More Tweaks For Ontario

With the injury problems they have suffered with this year, the Ontario Warriors are still working to find some answers, particularly on offense.

They are at home for Galion on Friday night in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action.

With no first downs they really couldn’t do much of anything on offense in a (35-0) loss to Clear Fork in conference play last week.

Coach Chris Hawkins says they were forced to run the ball a lot and that is tough to do against Clear Fork. “We were very one dimensional and when you are one dimensional against the strength of their defense, and they are good at all three levels, but the strength I think is their D-line and the linebackers coming down hill. When you have to be pretty much one dimensional that’s tough. If we have Cam (Todd) we would have thrown the ball 25, 30 times and I think we would have had success throwing the football. That’s water under the bridge. It was tough, but our kids played hard. Our defense, we gave up big plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They didn’t just pound, pound, pound we didn’t give up 10, 12, 14, 16 play drives. They hit us a couple of time over the top and had big runs. I am not into moral victories I have been in this business way to long, but I am always proud of good effort. Even though we came up short it wasn’t for lack of effort. When you are out maned, you are out maned.”

Ontario (2-6,0-5) plays host to Galion (4-4,1-4) in “MOAC” action. The Tigers are coming off a (68-26) loss to North Union. After a 4-1 start, the Tigers have lost their last three.

Hawkins says Galion, where he coached until the last two years, has been hurt by injuries too. “They had a nice start to the season. I know they thought they would struggle this year and they have had a very, very nice season. From what I have heard they have kind of had the injury bug also. We are preparing and we are adding a few more things. We are trying to use our strengths. At Clear Fork I don’t know that we necessarily used our strengths. We will kind of tweak some things offensively to try and get whatever strengths we have to highlight them and use them on both sides of the ball,” said Hawkins.

With the injuries and the inexperience, Hawkins says they have had to concentrate on what they need to execute, not Galion’s stuff. “What we are trying to do is prepare hard for them, but I am more concerned with the Ontario Warriors with the rash of injuries we have had we just have to have our young kids ready to play football regardless of who we play. We know what we have to do. We know what they run offensively and defensively. We have a good scouting report and we have a good game plan, but to be honest my greatest concern is the Ontario Warriors and getting our young pups ready to play football on Friday night,” he said.

Published 10/19/17

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Ontario Preparing For Tough D-2 Tournament

It has been a turnaround season for the Ontario Lady Warriors volleyball team this season and they are one of a bunch of pretty good teams in the division two district tournament, which begins this week.

They host Vermilion of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Wednesday at the “O-rena.”

What they have for sure is an outstanding coach in Jen Lauber, who last week earned win 600 against Clear Fork. She has done it over 27 years in which time she has won 25 sectional titles.

That’s pretty good, but Lauber is pretty modest. “The record for myself doesn’t matter as much too me. Wherever I was at and what stage of my career I would just rather have the win for the kids in the school. Whenever you coach for this many years they are going to add up. They just accumulate and you don’t think too much about it,” she said.

This is just her second year at Ontario and she says it took some time to put the program on sound footing and it was mostly mental. “I really had no idea how much of a job this was going to be. I just thought I will roll in and we will teach some skills and things will be okay and we will start winning, but I underestimated changing the culture, which has kind of been interesting for me,” she told Swankonsports.com, “It has been fun. They had lost so many times in the history of the program it was hard for them to see themselves as winners. We had to do some things upstairs in their heads to get them to see themselves as winners, so that has been a big difference.”

Things like chemistry and leadership are very important in sports and Lauber says at the high school level with girls it is paramount. “Especially with girls the chemistry has to be almost perfect and one little thing can throw everything off. You are a sports chemist, especially with girls,” she said.

Ontario (16-5) finished third in what was a very good upper half of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. Lauber says she knew there was talent. “We knew exactly what we had. We knew what we had last year after two or three open gyms. We had all of the tools needed, but it was really getting them to believe and be a team and play as a team. We thought if we could get everyone in the right spots and get them to buy into everything we were trying to tell them we would be okay. This is a great group,” said Lauber.

Despite being (16-5) Ontario is only the number 6 seed behind Lexington, Norwalk, Willard, Sandusky Perkins, and Shelby. Lauber says it is a very deep tournament. “I was just thinking back and being at Madison I have been in this D-2 tournament before a lot. I feel like this is probably the best year ever for division two sectional/district,” she said.

If Ontario wins Wednesday, they play at Perkins on Saturday afternoon.

Published 10/16/17

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Ontario Must Execute Against Very Good Clear Fork Defense

Ontario is trying to break in a new quarterback and they have to do it against an unbeaten team with a very good defense.

The Warriors visit rival Clear Fork for a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night.

After the loss of starting quarterback Cam Todd to a season ending injury the week before against North Union, River Valley shutout the Warriors (27-0) in league play last week.

Coach Chris Hawkins says now they just don’t have much experience at the position. “As talented as Cam (Todd) was you are still dealing with a young quarterback and he needed to get as many reps as possible. So, during practice and he was in there he was still getting 85, 90 percent of the snaps just because he needed to develop and learn. Nick came in and did a great job, but when you lose a quarterback the caliber of Cam it is tough to recover because you don’t have anybody like him backing him up. Nick did a nice job, but he is totally different. We didn’t overhaul the whole thing. He did put a little package in that we felt fit Nick Arnold’s strengths as opposed to Cam,” said Hawkins.

Ontario ran a lot of wildcat stuff last week.

Injuries have been a big problem for the Warriors (2-5,0-4) this year. Hawkins says they have a lot of kids playing that are pretty green. “It was a tough one because that is one fully healthy we could easily win that game, but when we have seven starters out, and six are out for the season, and six are two way starters. That is 13 or 14 positions that are no longer starting for us that were in week one, two, three and four. That is tough to cover, but to our kids credit I think they got a little shell shocked at first in the first half, but we challenged them at halftime against River Valley and to their credit they did come out and played hard. They are continuing to give great effort, continuing to play hard, and continuing to be positive, and what else can you ask?” said Hawkins.

The Ontario coach says they can learn a lesson from their opponent this week. “It is kind ironic because Clear Fork started out very well last year and they lost their quarterback and as we all know they went down the tubes and finished 3-7 after a 2-0 start, so they have been through what we have been through. Obviously, we are going to use this in the off season, look they are 7-0 this year and ranked in the state. We are going to kind of use that as motivation on how it can be done for next year,” he said.

Clear Fork (7-0,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, shares the “MOAC” lead with Marion Pleasant.

Hawkins says by adding Blake Dinsmore, the Colts have become very good. “Their staff has done a nice job and the move in kid, I think from Mansfield Madison, is a stud. When you have a move in like that to add to an already talented team that is going to take you to new heights and he has definitely done that. They don’t do a lot, but what they do they do well with a lot of misdirection,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Their offense is good don’t get me wrong, but I think as good as they are and as many athletes they have on offense, I still think the strength of the team is that defense. That defense is very, very good.”

Clear Fork shut out Galion (41-0) last week and Hawkins says their defense is very good from front to back. “It starts with the boys up front. Just ask Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Those boys are big and they are hard to push around. You are going to have a hard time driving them. I think it all starts with their front. They have bakers that are very active and tackle well in space and they have some nice players in the back end of the defense that not only can cover, but are good open field tacklers. A lot of times in high school you see guys in the back end of a defense that are great cover guys, but aren’t real good run support guys or vise versa. They have some secondary guys that can do both. I think they are well balanced,” said Hawkins.

Published 10/13/17

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For Ontario it’s No Luck at All

It has been a season ravaged by injuries and untimely turnovers for the Ontario Warriors this season and they hope they can turn it around this week as they play River Valley in an Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

Again last week, it was like it has been all season for the Warriors as they turned over a second half lead and lost (34-20) to Buckeye Valley in conference play.

Coach Chris Hawkins says a couple of big mistakes cost them in the game. “It was exactly the same. We didn’t start executing well early, but we scored to make it 13-7. Then we scored twice in a row. We came out in third quarter and scored in our first possession and then got a three and out and scored again. So, we dominate the third quarter and we are up 20-13 and unfortunately we gave up a kickoff return and that was disheartening. We bounced back from that and we are driving again inside the 30 yard line we cough the ball up and they go down and score. As depleted as we are and as snake bitten as we are we can recover from one of those, but it is tough for both,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is just like Marion Harding, you can recover from one scoop and score, but it is hard to recover from two. It is very, very similar. The thing is that was best football team we have played all year long and we were right there, we were up 20-13 into the third quarter and then the wheels just fell off.”

Hawkins has been in coaching for a quarter of a century and he says he can not remember a year like this one. “I have doing this a lot of years and this is uncharted waters. The first play of the game we lose our safety. We lose our starting quarterback Cam Todd, he is out for the season. Our safety is out for the season. We got a kid ejected. I know officials have a tough job. They actually did overturn it, but he got ejected on a completely horrible call, so we were without one of our best players. It has just been Murphy’s Law, what can go wrong, will go wrong, and when it rains it pours. The thing I am proud of is our kids have continued to give great effort and continued to work hard and even through all of this we could easily be 5-1 or 6-0,” said Hawkins.

River Valley (2-4,0-3) go smoked by Clear Fork (52-8) last week. Hawkins says it is kind of hard to figure out what they are going to try and do. “River Valley was a wing-T team and coach Green got away from it and went to spread and now he is kind back to the wing-T. From what I saw on film their quarterback went down also, so they could be using a back up quarterback as well. This year they have shown in the films a wing-T, so we are going to prepare for that, but depending on who they put at quarterback they could go back to their spread, so we are kind of preparing for both,” he said.

Hawkins says there is no question that this week they will be working mostly on executing their stuff better. “It’s homecoming for us, and I know I say this quite often, we always prepare hard for each opponent, but this week with all of the injuries we have to put a new guy behind center and right now our main focus is us. We just need to get our personnel and we need to have some of these young kids to step it up. Everybody says next man up. I think if we can heal some of our wounds, some are not going to heal by Friday night. If we can continue to play hard we have a very good chance of winning our homecoming game,” said Hawkins.

Published 10/03/17

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Ontario has to be a Fourth Quarter Team

In all three of the Ontario Warriors losses they have turned over the lead in the fourth quarter of the game and they are looking for answers to correct that problem.

Veteran head coach Chris Hawkins says they have literally been running out of gas. “I’ll tell you it has been back to back tough weeks. These are uncharted waters for me, so I told the kids I am not sure what to do, but I know what we are not going to do we are not going to give in, we are not going to quit, and we are going to keep on, keep on. It has been a weird season we feel we are four, five plays away from being undefeated. Usually when you are 2-3 that means you are struggling and you are losing games by two, three, four touchdowns. We have lost every single game in the fourth quarter. The kids are playing hard we just are just running out of gas. The injury bug as kind of gotten us, so we are playing back ups to back ups and putting kids on the field playing both ways and special teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Against Marion Harding we gave up like nine yards the first half and then gave up 150 in the second half because we are worn out. The same thing against North Union. They went down and scored the last two possessions they had. In three quarters they only scored on one big play. So, the effort is there and I am not sure what to do about keeping our kids fresh. It is hard when there are so many injuries. We challenged our kids we know you are playing hard, but there is a reserve tank. We are losing games in the fourth quarter and we have got to find a way to win games. Losing is tough, but when you get beat by a better team so be it, we are just running out of gas. A play here, a play there, we are 5-0.”

Ontario (2-3,0-2) plays at Buckeye Valley (3-2,1-1) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night. The Barons lost to Clear Fork (23-20) on a field goal at the horn last week.

Hawkins says this is a team that can do a lot of things on offense. “It is kind of a unique team. They have the league’s leading rusher (Trent Davies,) but they love to throw the ball. I remember watching them way back in a scrimmage against Lexington and they threw five out of every six times. What I think that does is it makes that back so dangerous is, one he is very good, but teams are so worried about the pass, they hit you with the run game. That is a two headed monster on offense. They have the league’s leading rusher and I think three of the five leading pass receivers. They can hit you in the mouth and run the ball and throw it over the top of you,” said Hawkins.

The 23 they allowed to Clear Fork is the most they have allowed this season and Hawkins says the Barons defense is going to be very stingy. “As good as their offense is I think their strength is their defense. Their line is good, their linebackers just fly to the football. You are not going to put up a lot of points against them, so what we are going to have to do defensively is limit them to two or three scores because it is going to be hard to score more than three times against that great defense,” he said.

Published 9/26/17

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Ontario Wants to Force North Union to Pass

Sometimes this year Ontario has been its own worst enemy and that has to stop if they are to become the football team they are capable of being.

Last week, they held a (17-7) halftime lead, but had two second half turnovers that led Marion Harding defensive scores and the Presidents won (21-17) in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference opener for both.

Coach Chris Hawkins says they gave great effort, but their execution was not up to where it needed to be. “Performance I use that loosely because anytime you lose it is not acceptable. We played hard. We did a lot of good things, but as far as execution and performance I don’t know about that. If we execute to simple catch the snaps we win that ballgame, so performance and execution I am disappointed about, but by golly not the effort. The effort was there and I told the kids we can continue to improve on things like punt snaps and continue to improve x’s and o’s and things like that. If it is an effort problem we have a problem. We need to still improve and get better and I think we have this week,” said Hawkins.

The talent seems to be there and Hawkins says they are a good football team and are really just a couple of mistakes from being an undefeated football team. “We are two plays away from being 4-0. We’ll take just one of those dropped snaps back and we win 17-14. We have the ball driving on the two-yard line against Highland right before half and didn’t score and get beat by six and we have the ball on the 30-yard line and we are driving and we drop the pass. We are literally right there to be 4-0. The most frustrating thing is to know you should or could be 4-0 and you are not,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I told the kids, and it falls on me too, to let losses like that go. Man alive, there is no rewind button. I wish sometimes games and life were played on a DVR and you could rewind and have some do overs, but there are none. The only thing you can do is learn from it and move on and just try and get this one.”

North Union (2-2,0-1) lost (45-13) to Clear Fork in their “MOAC” opener last week. Clear Fork outscored them 24-0 in the second half.

Hawkins says the Wildcats want to run the football and it is their job to make them have to throw it. “They make no bones about it. When we met them when I was at Galion like four, five years ago they were a wing-T team and played smash mouth football. A new coach came in, and was a college coach, so he kind of went to the spread, and they went to the playoffs, but it wasn’t the success they had been having, so they went back to their bread and butter that they did five, six years ago. They are running power football, wing-T football. If they get in trouble and they get behind they go to spread offense. Our goal is we want to stop what they want to do and that is run the football down your throat. If we can stop that like Clear Fork did and make them pass we really like our chances,” said Hawkins.

Published 9/22/17

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Ontario Ready to Start “MOAC”

This week marks the start of the important part of the season for the Ontario Warriors.

It’s the first week of play in the revamped Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. They play at Marion Harding against the Presidents.

After not playing well in a loss on week two to Highland (32-26) Ontario picked it up on week three and beat Cardington (51-14) last Friday.

Coach Chris Hawkins knows they are going to have to continue to play well. “Marion Harding is a good football team. They are four or five times bigger than us. They have a ton of kids out. They have good speed. They are very well coached. So, we are going to have to play well. I have said this from day one and I going to stick with it there is no one on our schedule we can’t beat as long as we play well. At the same time, there is no one that can’t beat us if we don’t play well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are a very good football team, but we have to continue to improve and get better. We feel comfortable that if we take care of the football and play like we are capable of playing we will have success and start league play with a “W,” but if we have the type of effort like we did against Highland we will start with a mark in the “L” column.”

Harding (2-1) beat Newark (28-27) in overtime last week.

Hawkins says the Presidents will be athletic. “They always have speed. They always athleticism. They have good numbers. He has numbers back up. They are scary. One year they are going the be 10-0 or 2-8 or 6-4 or whatever. They are a very scary team. They had a nice win against Mt. Vernon,” he said.

Hawkins says the first game of the league is always important. He says the league games are always what he emphasizes. “We don’t want to go into league play being 0-1. It doesn’t mean you can’t come back from that, but that definitely puts you behind the eight ball. I told the kids this is where the season starts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I know we have our two scrimmages, the jamboree game, the non-league games, the big game with Lexington, but to me those games are just previews because the real season starts this week. It’s all about league games and “MOAC” championships. Every year I have coached the number one goal is to be league champs.”

Published 9/14/17

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Self-Improvement for Warriors

Ontario plays its home opener against Cardington in non-league play on Friday night, but really it is like they are playing themselves and that is no lack of respect for the Pirates.

Highland beat the Warriors last week (32-26) and coach Chris Hawkins feels they were not mentally ready to go in any regard. “First I want to give credit to Highland for coming out and playing a good game, so kudos to them, but my job is to evaluate the Ontario Warriors and I was very, very disappointed with our team. It stated back Monday through Thursday. We had a horrible week of practice. I have said this before, when you play a big rivalry game week one I hate it. If win you think you have attained your goal and arrived and you let down and if you lose you think the season is over. We tried to guard against it. We tried reverse psychology. We pushed them hard, we didn’t act like it was Monday and Tuesday coming off a win. Ultimately it is my job to have them prepared and have them ready and we weren’t, but at the same time, as I told our guys, it is my job and I will accept full responsibility, but at the same time I can lead a horse to water, but I can’t not make him drink also plays a part. It was a tough lesson to learn, but taking nothing away from Highland, that is one we should have never, ever lost,” said Hawkins.

Practice this week for Ontario has great importance. Hawkins says it will predict how well they play against Cardington. “It has been up and down. Our first two weeks of two a days we had great weeks of practice and came out and looked very sharp in our scrimmages. We had a horrible week of practice the week of our preview against Hillsdale and came out very sluggish. Lexington week we took the practice field with a purpose, a purpose to get better and a purpose to win that game. We had a great week of practice and this past week had a horrible week of practice, in the weight room, on the football field, in the locker room and we end up with a loss,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I told the kids that if you don’t believe us as coaches just look at the recent past history. I think finally now the kids believe we are going to preform to a great degree how we practice Monday through Thursday. It is a very, very tough lesson to learn, but you know what I hate losing and that was a tough weekend, but at the same time if that lesson causes us to win a game or two in the “MOAC” because we learned a lesson then it will be well worth it.”

Cardington beat Worthington Christian (53-14) in their first game and lost to Galion (44-21) last week.

Hawkins says the Pirates have some offense, but again reiterates this week is more about them. “It was a good football game last year and they were 7-3 and just missed the playoffs. They were a very good offensive football team. We had a hard time stopping them. We scored a bunch of points, but we had a hard time stopping them. They did lose a great group of seniors, so they are kind of rebuilding, but at the same time this is one of those weeks that honestly I can say I don’t care who we are playing. I don’t care is we are playing Cardington, Lexington, or St. Ignatius, my greatest concern is about the Ontario Warriors. Of course, we are watching film and breaking it down, so we are doing what we normally do to get prepared for the opponent, but we are spending our time Monday through Thursday on the Ontario Warriors. We are going back to basics and are spending our time on fundamentals. We didn’t tackle very well on Friday. I am more concerned about the Ontario Warriors. We need to straighten things out in our locker room before we can have success against anybody. That is goal number one this week. We feel if we can do that we can be competitive with anybody,” said Hawkins.

Published 9/06/17

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Ontario Has to Keep Rolling

Ontario beat a big rival in Lexington last week, but now they sort of have to put that win in their back pocket and move forward.

The Warriors play at Highland in a non-conference game on Friday night.

They took a two touchdown lead last week at Lexington and were able to hang on for a (21-20) win. Ethan Pensante scored twice for the Warriors.

Coach Chris Hawkins says their execution kind of went south in the second half, but they kept playing hard and that’s what got them the win. “We didn’t execute the whole time, but we did play very well in the first half offensively as well as defensively. The second half we came out and misfired a few times. I don’t think we executed extremely well on some of our drives, but we continued to play hard. That is what the kids have learned. When bad things happened last year we just kind of dropped our head and things snowballed and got worse. So, even though we weren’t executing and didn’t play well at times and bad things happened we kept playing hard. The credit goes to our kids because even though we weren’t at our best they were still playing hard. That what we tell our kids when you are not at your best you never give up and good things can happen,” he said.

What concerns Hawkins the most about this week is they have to avoid a letdown after beating Lexington. “I said this before the game that is the danger of playing a big, huge rivalry game number one. It is great for the fans, but it could be a trap game. If you win all of the sudden, although it is not our number one goal, sometimes the kids think we got a win we have it made now and put it on cruise control and end up getting knocked off in a week two. If you happen to lose then my gosh we worked so hard and we didn’t get that goal. I told them that game is over, it told them all weekend long enjoy and have fun, but by golly when you come Monday I don’t want to hear a single thing about Lexington because it is all about Highland,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The most important game right now is Highland and the reason why it is the most important game is because it is the next one. We have to forget about what happened on Friday. After watching the film you can see we have a lot to work on, improve and iron out. Championship teams get better. The all say there is a marked improvement between week one and week two and hopefully the kids will work hard and take care of some of those weaknesses.”

Highland (0-1) lost a tough one to Bloom-Carroll (35-34) in overtime last Friday. Hawkins says they run a wing-T based offense that features a lot of fakes. “They are a good football team. We saw them against Pleasant and they didn’t look really good, but I think Pleasant is pretty good. They were up 21-0 against Bloom-Carroll who was a playoff team last year and they lost a heartbreaker in overtime. They have some big boys up front and they run that wing-T and they do some funky things in their formations that you are not used to seeing on a week in week out basis. It is kind of an offense you don’t see much anymore and that is a concern. It going to be a test because they are a good football team and it is going to be a good test mentally because it is a week after a big rivalry,” said Hawkins.

Again, Hawkins emphasizes this is more about them than Highland and it is not a lack of respect for the Scots. “Our kids need to understand there is one thing that can take away from the Lexington win and that is laying an egg the very next week, so we have to guard against that. I am very concerned about Highland, but to be honest with you I think it is more about the Ontario Warriors. We need to focus on Ontario and make sure we are getting better because if we don’t have our mindset and the proper attitude it doesn’t matter who we play. So, it is more about the Ontario Warriors,” he said.

Published 8/29/17

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Ontario Has to Contain Stover

Ontario plays at Lexington on the opening night of the season on Friday night in a rivalry that dates back half of a century.

Warriors coach Chris Hawkins says he thinks they are headed in the right direction. “You never have enough time. You never feel like you have everything in. I do like how we have progressed. We came out against Hillsdale and I thought we kind of took a step back, but we are going to use that as a positive. The first scrimmage was kind of easy and that second one kind of showed that we have some work to do. We have used that as motivation for a great week of practice and for the most part the kids did. You never feel completely comfortable or where you need to be, but I definitely like the way we have progressed,” he said.

Hawkins says it is going to be important for them to work on being mentally ready for this game against Lexington. “I told the kids Wednesday that after Wednesday we are pretty much physically done. There is nothing more we can do physically to get you prepared for Lexington. We worked in the off season, this summer, two a days, and then practice this week. We still have Thursday and we use that for our mental approach. The hay may be in the barn as far as physical preparation, but we still have 48 hours to get the mind right. So, that’s what Thursday’s practice is about to refine and get the mindset. Physically is think we are ready and where we need to be, but mentally we are not and we have 24 hours to make sure that is taken care of,” said Hawkins.

Football fans and players and coached like rivalry games, but Hawkins doesn’t necessarily like having one on week one of the season and he had his reasons. “I know it is a great rivalry and a good gate and there is going to be a great crowd and that is all gold, but I think there are some drawbacks. There is a reason Ohio State doesn’t open up with Oklahoma or Alabama normally they have a cupcake or two to work out the kinks. They do that for a reason. I not saying it is not good to have a big rivalry week, but it can be a detriment. If you happen to win that rivalry the kids may let up week two because they accomplished one of their major goals in beating their rival,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If you happen to lose it is like all my gosh all that work and we still lost. Win or lose it can be a trap game. We have talked about that all summer long. They were saying beat Lexington in June and July and I said no guys wait our goal is not to beat Lexington, our goal is to beat Lexington this week, I said our goal during the summer is to be “MOAC” champions. It’s a big rivalry game and of course you want to win it, but win or lose we still have nine games to play and we still have our main goal of winning the “MOAC” to accomplish.”

Lexington beat Ontario (24-6) last season. Hawkins says to turn the tables on the Minutemen they have to at least contain Cade Stover on both sides of the ball. “They lost a great senior class, but the cupboard is not bare when you have Stover, a four star division one athlete, and anytime you have an athlete like that and put him on the field you have a chance, especially when you put him in the two key positions they have him in at safety so they can keep him free and now they have him at quarterback where he will be handling the ball 45, 50 times a game. You know what they are going to give you. They have been in a 3-3 stack, so they are going to send people. That is what they have reped and they are going to be very good at it. Offensively, they give you some different looks with Stover back there with the controls he can pass, but at the same time they want to run. What we feel we need to do, it’s not that he can’t throw, but it is the lesser of two evils. He is not going to be a quarterback at the division one level, so what we try and do is take away his better strength and that is obviously run. We can not let him get on the perimeter and run wild. We need to keep him in the pocket and make him pass it,” said Hawkins.

Published 8/24/17

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Consistency Needs For Warriors

Ontario has the elements to by a pretty good football team this year, but they need to have more of the most evasive element for high school teams… consistency.

Ontario can make big plays on both sides of the ball, but they need to make more of them and less bad ones.

Coach Chris Hawkins says he wishes they had more time before next week’s opener with Lexington, but they are refining things and will have another chance in a scrimmage against Hillsdale on Friday. “We had a good summer and for the most part a good two a days, a good first few weeks of practice, but I was just out on the practice field (Thursday) and we thinking we haven’t covered that yet and we haven’t cover that yet. Thursday before games is usually a walk through, be we kind of also used it to go back and do some things that we haven’t worked on. Different personnel packages, different tempos, things like that we haven’t worked a lot on. There is never enough time,” said Hawkins.

On defense, the front line and linebackers look good and Hawkins says now they need get the backfield to the same level of play. “Defensively, my big concern was the back end of our defense, our secondary because at the beginning of the summer we did not look good, even at the middle of the summer. I’ll tell you what we have gotten better, but there are still some question marks. They have improved steadily and gotten better. I always thought our front seven was going to be pretty good,” he said.

Consistency is an issue on the offensive side. Hawkins they need good plays from their quarterback and improvement on the offensive line. “Offensively, I think our sophomore quarterback as good as he is he is still, just like any young quarterback, he will look like all league candidate for three or four series and then just like any young quarterback just kind of lose it and then hurt all ballclub. He has done that in seven on sevens, he has done that in a couple of scrimmages he will just look lights out and then have a series that really hurts the team. So, we need consistency at the quarterback position even though he is very good and will have a phenomenal career,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think we are pretty steady in the backfield and have receivers that can catch and make plays. Ou