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Three in Seventh Gives St. Paul District Win over Plymouth

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Published 5/18/17

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Plymouth Gets Past Colonel Crawford

  

          Plymouth used a four spot in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally past Colonel Crawford (5-3) in a division four sectional final game at Plymouth on Thursday.

          The Big Red scored an unearned run on a Crawford throwing error in the fourth and the Eagles really hadn’t done much at all offensively, just three hits, all singles, off of Plymouth starter Austin Nester, but they reached him for three runs in the top of the sixth.  Kaden Schell led off the inning with a triple and scored on a single by Jake Johnson.  Gavin Feichtner followed with a double to put runners on second and third.  Blake Treisch followed with a sacrifice fly to center to give the Eagles the lead.  It became (3-1) Crawford on an RBI single by Noah Toman.

          However, the Big Red (18-5), #5 in the Swankonsports.com coaches poll in the small school division, got busy in their half of the sixth.  After Colonel Crawford pitcher Ethan Studer issued back to back one out walks Anthony Montgomery singled in a run to make it (3-2) and coach Joe Swartzmiller removed him in favor of Toman.  Nester’s sacrifice fly to center tied the game and Mitchell Chaffins and Seth Bailey followed with RBI hits.

          Plymouth coach Jason Higgins says he got a little nervous, but his players responded.   “I told the boys you know you have something special when you can pull out a win like that.  You can tell my voice is a little different because I about lost it with the excitement.  They are a good team.  Joe (Swartzmiller) does a nice job with them.  They were ready to play, that was a big scare.  You know you are special when you can come back like that, just never do it to me again,” said Higgins.

          Swartzmiller says he felt he had no choice but to make the pitching change in the sixth.  “We come in and take a two run lead as a pitcher you have to know there are no walks, there are no free bases, they have to earn it.  My pitcher came in and walked two batters and I said that’s it.  I had to go with somebody else,” he said.

          Jake Johnson started the game and went the first four plus one batter in the fifth.  He did have some command issues walking two and hitting three batters.  He was replaced by Studer in the fifth.

          Higgins says they had to adjust to different styles of the Crawford pitchers.  “We are some quality at bats.  We started to figure out their pitchers.  They kept switching pitchers on us.  The first guy we got into him a little bit and then they brought in the next guy and the next guy.  Sometimes it is tough with the different arm angle.  The guys for some reason like that last guy they brought in and we were excited about that,” he said.

          Nester went the distance for the Big Red, who will play Firelands Conference leader Norwalk St. Paul, a (10-0) winner over Buckeye Central, in next Wednesday’s district semi-final at Galion High School.  He allowed seven hits, four in the fifth inning, walked none and struck out nine, including Schell to end the game.

          Higgins says it was just a normal game for him in a lot of ways.  “Nester pitched great.  He has been doing that all year.  Pitching to contact he is not going to overpower you.  He is going to throw strikes.  He is not going to give free bases,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game on the field, “There are a couple of things defensively we could have done a little better.  He gave us a great effort.  Our scouting report was great.  A couple guys surprised us with a couple of the swings they had. But for the most part we had our guys where they weren’t having to move too much to make the play.”

 

 

Published 5/12/17

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Plymouth Belts New London

  

          It has been a very good season for the Plymouth Big Red and Tuesday night might have been their most impressive win of the season as they knocked off New London (6-0) and kicked the Wildcats out of first place in the Firelands Conference.

          Norwalk St. Paul took over sole possession of the lead with an (11-6) win at home against Mapleton.

          Plymouth coach Jason Higgins says he really liked the way they battled back after losing to New London (7-2) on Monday night.  “We always talk about how are you going to respond to a little bit of adversity?  We faced (Ryan) Lane the other night.  He is a heck of a pitcher and he is around the zone.  He challenges you at times, but then he will throw some off speed to throw you off.  It is hard to get much off of him when you really don’t see anybody else all season close to his capabilities,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “It was good that we rebounded (Tuesday) and played a really, really clean game.  We shut them out and I don’t really know how many times that has happened in the history of these two schools playing and we are really happy and it is good motivation going into the tournament.”

          The Big Red (17-5) will play host to Colonel Crawford (13-8) in a sectional final game in division four on Thursday.

          Higgins says due to their success they have had to reassess their goals for this season.  “We set some goals.  We started off we wanted to get 15 wins and a sectional title.  We have surpassed the 15 wins and now we have set the goal at 20 wins.  We are still wanting to get that sectional title and we are going to have to play one game at a time, but whatever the outcome is I know my guys and going to come and play.  We are excited to see what is going to happen at the end of this week and hopefully the coming weeks,” he said.

          Plymouth beat Colonel Crawford (13-10) in non-conference play on March 28, but they was six weeks ago and Higgins knows that both teams are better now than they were then and this is a whole new ball game.  “What is really scary at times is we played a really close game with them early in the year.  We have improved and I am sure they have improved.  We know that they are going to be ready to play.  It was a 13-10 win early in the year and we are not the same two teams, so we are going to have to come to play,” said Higgins.

 

Published 5/10/17

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Plymouth Rips Seneca East

  

          Plymouth has proven this season they are a force to be reckoned with on the baseball diamond.

          On Thursday, they hammered Northern 10 Athletic Conference leader Seneca East (19-9) in six innings in non-conference play.

          Coach Jason Higgins says they played some good baseball, especially on offense, and they may have caught Seneca East on a bad day.  “The biggest thing is I want stay Seneca East that is a great program, a great team.  We played really well (Thursday) night.  They probably didn’t play their best game.  If we played them 10 times I don’t know how many times we win, but luckily (Thursday) night for us we came out on top.  We swung the bat well, we had some timely hits, and we ran the bases well.  We took advantage of some mistakes they were making that I am sure they usually don’t do and we came out on top,” said Higgins.

          There probably weren’t many people talking about the Big Red (13-4) at the beginning of the baseball season, but they have been pretty consistently good over the first month.  Higgins says they have been telling their kids how good they can be.  “We tell our kids that the potential is there.  They had some struggles last year in baseball, they had some struggles in their other spots, but we feel like we play good baseball.  When we play a clean game we feel like we can play with about anybody,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It is a mentality thing.  If you can get through the kids heads and tell them you guys can play ball and you guys are capable of beating some really good teams things kind of work out.  We are really excited about the guys and how hard they are working this season.”

          The tournament draw is on Sunday throughout the state.  Higgins hopes they can get a pretty good seed and he hopes the coaches take into consideration what they did on Thursday night too.  “At this point we are kind of thinking St. Paul and New London probably will get the seeds over the top of us.  Ridgemont has a similar record.  Unfortunately on our bio that we submit this win over Seneca East will not be there.  I watch the scores every night and I know what teams are doing and hopefully other coaches are looking at those scores and seeing that we can play with the big boys,” he said.

 

Published 4/28/17

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Plymouth Fights Back

  

          After being blown out by rival Crestview on Monday, Plymouth fought back and edged the Cougars (1-0) in Firelands Conference action on Tuesday.

          The win keeps them on the edge of the conference race, three games behind New London and Norwalk St. Paul.

          Coach Jason Higgins says they had to show some guts and some more heart than they did on Monday and they were able to do that.  “Monday night was probably one of the worst games we have played all year.  I told the guys we have another game with Crestview and you are going to come back and I am going to look your in the eyes and you are going to be a group of guys that are going to lay down and take it again or man up and play a good baseball game the next day,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Tuesday, “Luckily for us we showed a little heart, we showed a little desire, and we showed a little passion.  We played a really fine game.”

          Higgins says they were able to field the ball better on Tuesday and they got a good performance on the mound from senior pitcher Austin Nester.  “There wasn’t a tone of earned runs on Monday.  I think we gave up between three and five earned runs.  Austin Nester, my senior pitcher, really did a great job.  I think he gave up six hits, had a decent number of K’s.  He got ahead of guys.  He was above 66 percent strikes, which is about the number you want to be at.  Keep your pitch count down and pitch to contact and try to get guys out,” said Higgins.

          Plymouth (8-4,3-3) plays at Western Reserve (7-5,3-2) on Thursday in more Firelands Conference action.  Higgins says they need to keep winning if they are going to reach some of their goals.  “We have two huge games with Western Reserve on Thursday and Friday. We are there on Thursday and back at home on Friday.  They are key games.  Every one of them is a key game.  You have to get that record up so you can sell yourselves when you are getting seeded in the tournament.  You never know what is going to happen in the conference.  You always want to be competing,” he said.

 

Published 4/19/17

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Plymouth Gets Back on track; Belts Willard

  

          After back to back tough losses to Norwalk St. Paul, Plymouth got back to winning as they pounded Willard (11-1) in five innings in a non conference game on Wednesday.

          Coach Jason Higgins admits those losses to St. Paul (5-3 on Monday and 6-5 on Tuesday) were thought to take and it was nice to get that win on Wednesday.  “As a spectator those games were probably pretty exciting against St. Paul, but as a coach those close games they sting right afterwards and they sting the next day.  It was nice we took care of business (Wednesday) night against Willard,” he said.
          Baseball can be an everyday event in Ohio if the weather cooperates and Higgins says he told the players on Tuesday night that another chance to win was right around the corner.  “It told the kids after the St. Paul series one of the nice things about baseball is most of the time you playing the next day or the next couple of days,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “It is all about how you respond to it.  Early in the season it is especially important to respond positively because it can be a long road if you start getting poor attitudes and losing confidence.”

          Plymouth (6-2,2-2) gets back to play in the Firelands Conference on Monday and Tuesday against the rival Crestview Cougars.  Higgins says those games against Crestview, they kind of mean more.  “The kids know the other kids by name and they have been competing against them their whole lives.  Emotions play a part of it.  There is a lot of competition.  Anybody in conference they don’t want to lose to.  Sometimes that Crestview game seems a little more important.  They have been playing some good baseball.  I think it is going to be a really, really fun series for us,” said Higgins.

 

Published 4/13/17

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Plymouth Sweeps Mapleton

  

          Plymouth started out Firelands Conference play with a sweep of its two game series with the Mapleton Mounties this week.

          They won (9-1) at Mapleton on Monday and (9-5) at Plymouth on Tuesday.

          Coach Jason Higgins is pleased and added they might have gotten Mapleton at the right time of the season.  “We are really excited to be 2-0 in our conference so far.  It was fortunate for us that Mapleton, who has some experience and can hit the ball a little bit, didn’t get a scrimmage or a game in before they played us.  They are going to beat some teams.  They are going to surprise some people in the league.  They are going to compete.  Lucky for us we got them early in the year,” he said.

          The Big Red (4-0,2-0) has scored at least nine runs in each of the four games this year and Higgins says they continue to take a good approach to the plate and that is a plus.  “There are some things we still need to work on with our approach, but we are lucky to get into this grove a little early and hopefully it sticks around.  We have three home runs on the season so far and I think that is more than we had last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “So, we are hitting for a little bit of power.  Like I said last week we are really preaching hitting gap to gap and the guys are responding pretty well right now.”

          There were cloudy skies and 40 MPH wind gusts to deal with on Tuesday, but Higgins says they wanted to do all they can to get on the field because they have some momentum right now.  “I went down this morning and our field had a bunch of water on it.  We got the water off and the wind helped dry it out a little bit.  We knew we needed to play (Tuesday) regardless of what the elements were because we have been playing well.  We have to get these guys to continue to get better everyday because we are going to run into days where we are going to have to play in weather like this.  I would rather get that out of the way early in the season so they are used to it,” said Higgins.

 

Published 4/05/17

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Plymouth Hitting the Ball Hard

  

          Plymouth has won both its games so far and they have hit the ball well both times.

          They beat Mansfield Christian (21-0) in five innings on Thursday.  Monday they outscored Colonel Crawford (13-10) in their first game of the season.

          Coach Jason Higgins says they have worked hard this preseason in developing a solid approach to hitting.  “I will give a shout out to my assistant coach Jack Bault.  He does a great job with our hitters and gets them prepared.  We have taken a little bit of a different approach and really talked about the mental side of being in good counts and what kind of hacks you should be taking in those counts and trying to drive the ball gap to gap,” said Higgins.

          When you work yourself into good counts like 2-1, 3-1, or 3-0 Higgins says you have to be selective in what pitches to take and which ones to try and drive somewhere.  “We tell the kids in good counts if they throw a good pitch that is on the corner that you are not going to be able to drive somewhere it is a good pitch to take.  When we are in good counts we are looking for balls we can drive into the gap and try and knock somebody over with it,” he said.

          Plymouth (2-0) plays Bucyrus in a doubleheader on Saturday, weather permitting.

          They begin Firelands Conference play next Monday and Tuesday against the Mapleton Mounties.

          Higgins says there are number of good teams in the Firelands Conference this season and he feels like they are going to be in the mix this spring.  “I think we will compete with about everybody in the conference.  New London has some good pitching and that is going to keep them in games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night after the win over Christian, “They are the team to beat right now because of their past success.  I think St. Paul is doing well right now.  Mapleton is always a team that swings it pretty well.  Crestview has a lot of numbers and you don’t know what is coming up from year to year.  Western Reserve is off to a really good start.  It is going to take a little time to see what is going to happen with the conference.  I think it is going to be really competitive this year.”

 

Published 3/31/17

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Plymouth Wants to Get Better

  

          Plymouth hosts traditional rival Crestview in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night in their final game of the season.

          They lost (20-12) to Mapleton in a conference game last week.  Coach Mark Genders says it was a game where again they played hard they just couldn’t get enough things done to win.  “The kids played hard.  We dug a hole in the first part of the game.  We put them in good position and they capitalized and scored early.  It was a tight ball game, 14-12, with a couple minutes left in the game.  They made one more play and scored on a long run.  We did drive back down the field and get in their territory, but we didn’t get it done.  We ran the ball pretty well.  We ran for over 200 yards and 400 yards the week before, but we can’t get over that bump.  We are proud of our kids.  We are sitting here 2-7, but kids keep fighting and that was the case Friday night,” said Genders.

          Crestview (6-3,4-2) after losing back to back to unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul and unbeaten Monroeville throttled New London (52-7) in their conference game last week.

          Genders says the Cougars have great speed and their offense is designed to confuse you.  “They have team speed, they are quick.  We don’t really have anybody in this conference with that kind of speed as a whole.  They try to get you to do a lot of things defensively to stop their formation shifts.  They only run a certain amount of plays, but they do it from so many different formations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Untimely you have to stay focused on what you do.  We have to play hard because if you don’t tackle well they will burn you.  There are so many things that they come at you with and they do it with a lot of speed.  To say you have to do the little things well and be disciplined is an under statement.”

          With this being the final game for the Big Red (2-7,0-6) Genders says this is the jumping off spot for next season.  He says they want to go into the off season with a good taste in their mouth.  “We have really tried to be focused on that the last few weeks.  We are playing some younger kids.  We are trying to get them used to the lights on Friday night.  They have done a really nice job of improving each week.  Our focus right now is on getting better.  We want to continue that on Friday night.  More importantly we want to play hard for four quarters.  I think once you get that established that you are going to play solid football for four quarters, especially when you are a young team with young kids who ultimately are going to get stronger and quicker that intangible will be taken out of it and hopefully success follows,” said Genders.

 

Published 10/25/16

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Pass Defense a Concern For Plymouth

  

          Plymouth gave up too many yards passing last week and they have to clean that up as they play pass happy Mapleton this week in Firelands Conference action.

          The Big Red (2-6,0-5) lost a shootout to New London (45-43) last week in conference play.

          Coach Mark Genders says they did some good things, especially running the ball.  He adds the way it ended made it really hard to take.  “A lot of kids played.  I think we had four of five kids get hurt over there.  They have some pretty good athletes over there.  They made some big plays.  Our guys stepped up are tried to do what they do.  We had 400 yards on the ground.  It is kind of hard to swallow when you rush for 400 yards.  To their credit they had 350 yards in the air trying to do what they want to do.  Both teams went after each other and we both scored 40.  I tip my hat to my team they kept scrapping all night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They had the ball with 4:30 left and were driving the ball and our kids got the stop that we needed about the 30.  We drove the ball down to 15, 16 yard line and attempted a 32 yard field goal.  It might have been 12 inches, if that, wide left.  It would have been good from 50, but just a little wide left.  I am really proud of the guys and sometimes it comes down to one play.  There were quite few plays made on the field that night and they just made one more play than us.”

          What impressed Genders last week was the fight that was in his ball club all night.  “We have up too many big plays, but I was proud of effort and basically that’s what is comes down to.  When you fight for four quarters that makes a coach proud.  Sometimes you are on the “W” side and sometimes you’re not.  It was hard for the kids to swallow and that is the way it should feel.  We have had a couple of good days of practice and that’s what we need for the rest of the week as we try to compete against a really good Mapleton team,” he said.

          Mapleton lost (48-14) to unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul Saturday night, but they took unbeaten Monroeville to a five point game (33-28) and lost by one (14-13) to Crestview. 

          Genders says their pass game is really outstanding and that means they have to be better in that area.  “Their sophomore quarterback Logan Pharmer, he is a special talent, he really is.  They are a well coached team and we know that.  They have taken the best teams in the conference to the edge.  Coach Mahaney puts them in position every week to compete.  They create a ton of challenges for us.  Watching them on film as much as we gave up in the air last week we have to be better.  We are trying to full court press that this week in practice to try and slow them down as much as we can.  They are really, really talented in that aspect of the game,” he said.

 

Published 10/19/16
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Plymouth Dealing With Youth

  

          Plymouth started the season without much depth and they have less now here on the eighth week of the high school football season.

          They are being forced to play some young kids, but they are getting better.

          Last week, they lost at Western Reserve (35-13) in a Firelands Conference game.

          Coach Mark Genders says they made mistakes on some key plays.  “We just couldn’t put it all together.  We had the ball going in to tie the game and to Western’s credit they stopped us on a fourth and one.  It seemed after that into the fourth quarter we were pretty dejected.  We didn’t answer back after that and it got a little out of hand, so something to work on all week.  We need to keep plugging away,” he said.

          Due to some injures the Big Red (2-5,0-4) is playing some kids really before they are ready and right now that is showing a little bit.  “We are nicked up like everybody else.  We are really thin numbers wise.  We started two freshmen and a sophomore on our offensive line.  Those kids fought hard and they did what you think a freshman would do, a blown assignment here and stepping the wrong way here like freshmen will do.  In a big game like that it can set you back.  That lack of execution can cost you a football game.  Even on that fourth down and one that was one of the places it happened,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are going to get better.  That is the one thing about playing with young kids they are going to get better week to week.  Hopefully by next season those Friday night lights won’t be an issue with them.”

          Plymouth is home for New London (2-5,1-3) on Friday night in a conference game.  The Wildcats lost to Monroeville (46-13) last week.  Their only conference win comes against Western (48-28) two weeks ago.

          Genders says the Wildcats have one of the best players in the conference when he is healthy.  “Let’s first start out with Jacob Molnar.  He is one of the top athletes in this conference.  He is explosive.  They have scored some points.  They can do some damage.  I know he was nicked up last week, but I’m sure he will be back this week.  Everybody is dealing with that this time of year.  We have to be ready to go.  We have a tall task in front of us.  We are trying to get that first win in the conference and it is going to take a four quarter effort to get there.  We are going to do our best,” said Genders.

 

Published 10/14/16

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Plymouth Looking For Success at Western

  

          Plymouth travels to Western Reserve on Friday night for a Firelands Conference game between two schools looking for their first league wins of the season.

          The Big Red lost to conference co-leader Norwalk St. Paul (42-0) last Friday night, two of their conference losses have come to unbeaten teams, Monroeville beat them (35-21) in their first conference game.

          Head coach Mark Genders says St. Paul is a very good team and they knew what they were getting into.  “They are everything we thought they were.  They are very disciplined and very strong in all areas.  Like I said they are relentless and they come at you every single play of every down.  They are a quality group,” he said.

          A good thing to come out of the game with St. Paul was the Big Red (2-4,0-3) had to turn to some younger players up front and they played pretty well against the Flyers.  “I had a couple of players out even before the game due to a loss in the family and stuff like that and they were fount line guys and I had to put in some of my young kids, a couple of them we are looking forward to for the future,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They really showed up and did a fantastic job against one of the better fronts in the area if not the state of Ohio.  What we thought was coming is.  Those kids stepped up and played really hard.”

          Western Reserve (0-6,0-3) has not had the kind of season that the Rough Rider fans are used too.  They are coming off a (48-28) loss to New London last week in Firelands Conference action and have had some concerns on defense all year long.

          However, Genders explains they have played a very tough schedule and they must be respected.  “There schedule has been a real meat grinder.  Edison, Black River, St. Paul, they have played some of the best small school teams in the state, even in your poll.  So, we are not blind to that.  Watching their last three games they have been banged up just like everybody else and in key positions.  They have the ability to do some damage.  They moved the ball well against St. Paul, scored early and that was a tight game.  They don’t have the numbers that they usually do, but they have enough athletes and good fronts.  I really believe this should be a whale of a game and whoever executes the most is going to win,” said Genders.

 

Published 10/04/16

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Plymouth Must Limit Mistakes

  

          Plymouth has to be at its very best on Friday night as the Big Red hosts unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

          Last week, the Big Red (2-3,0-2) lost a tough one to South Central (33-27) in overtime in conference play.  The Big Red kicked a 45-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.  However, coach Mark Genders says basically they made too many mistakes.  “It was a whale of a game, but ultimately we made way too many mistakes, especially in the first half.  We couldn’t get it going.  It was first and 20, first and 15, something like that, but we kept fighting.  Both teams were making big plays.  We had a big field goal to tie it.  South Central made one more play than we did and they deserved the win,” he said.

          Plymouth threw an interception in the end zone on their overtime possession and then Aaron Lamerauex scored on a touchdown run for the Trojans.  Genders says you can’t put yourself behind the eight ball.  “When you get to week five you expect the execution and the mental mistakes not to be there.  We just made too many of them.  When you do that most of the time you aren’t going to win.  When you have over 80 yards in penalties, a couple bad snaps here and there.  To put yourself back in a hole like that it is hard to get out.  My kids almost pulled it off.  One mistake too many can cost you a game and I think it did,” said Genders.

          Norwalk St. Paul (5-0,2-0), #2 in Swankonsports.com football coaches in the small school division, hammered New London (56-0) on Saturday night in a conference game.

          Genders says against them you have to be ready to play every play of the game or you are going to lose and lose by a lot.  “I have watched three game films and every play, every squad, every special teams, every single one of those kids are going hard.  Every single player, every single one,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “You just don’t see a kid take a play off here or there, full bore coming at you.  He has built himself a championship style football program.  They never relinquish that pressure on you.  If you don’t match it, or try to, or anything, the game is going to be out of hand.  If you feel sorry for yourself as a player it is going to be a long night.”

 

Published 9/27/16

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Plymouth Must be Ready Emotionally

  

          Plymouth takes on South Central in Greenwich on Friday night in Firelands Conference action and they have to come ready to play.

          Coach Mark Genders says that wasn’t necessarily the case last week against Monroeville.

          The Eagles won (35-21) and Genders says they were not playing as hard as they could have been.  “I don’t know how you can say it because they were unbeaten and you were opening the Firelands Conference, but we took a lot of emotion into that Willard game and we didn’t come out with that fire.  We marched down early and put a score in, but after that we weren’t ourselves for some reason and we are trying to find it and fix it.  I think that sums it up.  We have gotten back to work this week and tried to fix that inconsistency,” said Genders.

          So, far it has been a different story of the Big Red (2-2,0-1) in practice this week and Genders says that is a step in the right direction.  “It has been pretty good.  The kids have been working an hopefully they will respond this week and get that bad feeling out of their guts and play the kind game and style that we want to.  It is another rival game with South Central, so it is going to be physical and we are going to have our hands full,” he said.

          South Central (1-3,0-1) was handled last week by Crestview (49-7) in their first conference game.  They have also lost to unbeaten Seneca East (54-20) this year. 

          Genders says they have played a tough schedule and the Trojans deserve to be respected.  “Look at the schedule they have played.  They had Seneca East, who is unbeaten, Crestview, who is Crestview, they had Rittman beat, and lost to them really late in the game, and they beat a Crestline team that is improved.  They have a team that has some athletes.  We are not fooled by any of it.  They are a good football team.  They have some really nice athletes.  They throw the ball well.  They are always well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You add in the rival factor.  We are going to have to come emotionally ready to play and if we don’t we are going to get beat.  That is what it comes down to.  We like to be physical.  They are a physical team, but they like to throw the ball around.  We are going to have to do what we do and do it well.”

 

Published 9/23/16

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Plymouth Faces Tough Opening Conference Game

  

          Plymouth hosts unbeaten Monroeville in the Firelands Conference opener for both on Friday night.

          Both teams played well last week and look like they are taking some momentum into the game on Friday.

          The Big Red (2-1) went up 61 and across 224 last week and beat Willard (37-20) in non-conference action last week. 

          Coach Mark Genders says they went out and executed their game plan pretty well last week.  “We got on the field and did what we needed to do.  Both schools like their sports and we just went over there and bowed our backs and got some opportunities and were able to take advantage of them.  Defensively we played pretty sound.  Offensively we were able to do what we wanted to do against them, try to run the football, and take care of business,” he said.

          When the Big Red has had success this season they have been able to run the ball very well.  Genders says their goal is to make teams defend the width of the field.  “Like I said at the beginning of the season it is one of those things that you are trying to find your identity.  We have run the ball in some different ways than we have been accustomed to.  We are really trying to get that inside, outside kind of game.  You can’t just keep doing it one way.  We did a better job of that last week and hopefully we just keep stepping forward,” he said.

          Monroeville (3-0) stopped Margaretta (28-16) last week and they have played some pretty good football this year after making the playoffs last year.  Genders says they run the ball well and they play with a lot of confidence.  “They play a lot of upper classmen.  They are really well coached with coach Stacher and that group.  They really have built upon that run they had last year.  They have high expectations over there.  They are obviously one of the top teams in the conference,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have the best running back in the conference back in the (Blake) Anderson kid.  They are getting some great play.  They are just well balanced.  They are sound defensively.  You can’t make mistakes against them.  You are going to have to match their intensity.  We have a couple of things we are going to try and do this week.”

          Both schools want to run the football first and Genders believes first and second down and who controls the line of scrimmage are going to be big.  “That’s what people want to do with us too.  They are going to try and impose their style and set up the play action just like we are.  If they hurt you on early downs it could be a long night.  With our offense if you give us third and short we are going to be pretty affective.  I think those early downs, first and second and going to be crucial as far as keeping drives alive and momentum.  That is obviously one of the keys for us.  We want to slow them down early and make them do some things they are uncomfortable doing,” said Genders.

 

Published 9/13/16

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Plymouth and Willard in a Rivalry Game

  

          Plymouth and Willard just a hop, skip and a jump from each other will play at Flashes Field in Willard in a non-conference game on Friday night.

          After beating Buckeye Central (39-19) in their first game, Plymouth lost last week (28-14) to Riverdale.

          However, coach Mark Genders has liked their approach to practice this week in preparation for Willard.  “The kids came out on Saturday morning and it started there with film break down.  They really respect what we are trying to do and what we are trying to accomplish.  They took ownership of the things we didn’t do as a team.  When we came back Monday the kids were focused and put the work in to get back on track.  Just finishing up (Wednesday) night’s practice and it has been a good week so far.  I think the kids are chomping at the bit to get back out there show they can play four quarters of strong football,” said Genders.

          Willard (1-1) has a new coach in Britton Deiver and Genders says there are a lot of good things going on this year at Willard.  “You can see an excitement in the air over there.  They have some great numbers and some pretty solid athletes and some series size up front.  There are a lot of challenges in front of us.  They are coming off a tough loss too.  They have a small quarterback that can throw the football, some good athletes around him, and he is protected by some massive individuals.  To say we have our hands full would be an understatement,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “What really sticks out though, to be honest with you, is defensively.  They are much improved.  They are solid on defense.  We are going to have to play solid football and do our jobs in order to move the ball on them.  It is their opening night over there and we are anticipating a backyard brawl.”

          Willard beat Margaretta (31-24) in their opener, but lost last week to Edison (41-14) on week two.

          This is the second year that these two have played.  Plymouth won (20-7) last year.  Genders says they are looking forward to extending the rivalry.  “It’s a new rivalry, it’s only the second time we have played them.  For years people have been talking about playing them.  It’s pretty fortunate for the communities to play each other.  It’s an exciting thing.  A lot of these guys work together and the parents do.  I think it’s a healthy rivalry.  They are a classy group over there.  We have set our schedule and we hope to keep it going.  It’s a lot of fun.  We can’t wait for Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 9/08/16

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Plymouth Following the Script

  

          Right now, the Plymouth Big Red are understanding what they need to do to win football games.

          They outscored Buckeye Central (26-0) in the third quarter last Friday and blasted the Bucks (39-19) in their first game of the season.  They host the Riverdale Falcons in game two on Friday night.

          Trailing (13-7) at the break last week, coach Mark Genders said they go back to what they do well.  “We kind of lost our composure in that first half.  There were a lot of mistakes and typical week one stuff.  Tip your hat off to Buckeye Central as well.  They came out and were physical and did some nice things.  At halftime we just said keep your composure, you are an experienced group.  Let’s get back to doing what we do.  We were able to get the job done,” said Genders.

          Plymouth is focused on running the ball this year and Genders thought they did a good jog of that in the first game.  “Typical we are a running offense and we were able to do a little bit of that in the spread and the full house.  We were able to mix it up and put our athletes in some pretty good spots to make some plays.  To their credit they got the job done and then some,” he said.

          The Falcons are a new opponent on the Plymouth schedule for 2016.  They were for many years part of the old North Central Conference, but they are now part of the Blanchard Valley Conference.

          Riverdale beat Waynesfield Goshen (23-6) in their opening game last Friday and Genders says they have a game breaker in quarterback Tristin Davis.  “They are good.  They have pretty much their whole team back from last year.  They are pretty much all upper classmen.  They have a senior quarterback that is 6’2”, 6’3” and he is as fast as anybody I’ve got.  If we don’t contain him we are going to be in trouble,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “He has a pretty decent arm, but he is better on his feet.  When he is scrambling he is a big time threat.  We are going to have to contain him and do our job.  We have to keep composed and set the tempo with our style of play in order to beat them.”

          On defense you want to be aggressive and get to the quarterback, but Genders says with Davis if he gets into the open field that is when he is at his most dangerous.  “You really have to be lane disciplined and have 11 hats to the ball.  When this guys gets out of the pocket he makes plays.  We have to have guys coming from all directions and get him down.  If we have that we can prevent the home run and we give ourselves a chance,” he said.

 

Published 8/30/16

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Plymouth Ready to Find Out

  

          Every Friday night, or Thursday this year, or even Saturday, it is an exam on the football field and the Plymouth Big Red are ready to take that first test on Friday night at Buckeye Central.

          After making the playoffs in 2014, the Big Red had a down year last season and is working to get back on the right track.

          Coach Mark Genders says he thinks the player’s attitude, which was sometimes lacking a year ago, has been solid in the weeks heading into the opener on Friday.  “The process is going well.  The kids are working hard.  They are really excited about finally getting to open up and play somebody else and get this season underway,” he said.

          Genders believes the leadership he has seen from the unit this year has been really good and that is going to help establish some things, especially with a lack of depth on the roster.  “I think our experience has really shown itself this week.  It has helped us progress in practice pretty well.  With low numbers, in the low 30’s, that is after being in the upper 30’s and 40’s the last two years.  I would say that would be the biggest negative to the season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          Buckeye has a new head coach this season in Rob Detterman, who was an assistant the past couple of seasons at Tiffin Calvert, a very strong small school program. 

          Genders expects the Bucks to be physical and try and run the ball when they meet on Friday.  “Coach Detterman is a good friend of mine and he is a heck of a coach.  He has been at New London and Tiffin Calvert and has been with some really good and intense football coaches.  They are going to be physical, they are going to play hard, and they are going to play smart.  We are anticipating that,” said Genders.

 

Published 8/25/16

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Plymouth Showing Progress

 

          Plymouth is making the right kind of steps forward as they prepare for the beginning of the high school football season.

          They play Buckeye Central in their non-conference opener next Friday.

          Coach Mark Genders says thy have seen a lot of good things beginning with the attitude that the kids have brought to the football field this month.  “A lot of it has to do with the style of leadership that we have seen so far from the kids.  We had our first scrimmage on Monday and did some really nice things.  We narrowed down a lot of those things that we needed to fix,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That is a testament to the experience that I have coming back.  Hopefully, Friday night we will show up and execute what we are trying to do and we will be as ready as we can for week one.”

          Like most smaller schools in Ohio, Plymouth does not have a huge varsity football squad in terms of numbers.  Genders says they need be little careful, but still must make sure they are ready for next week.  “We don’t have big numbers.  We have low 30’s.  It is not like we can go out and just bang heads all day.  We are already limited in numbers, so you don’t want to anybody too banged up.  The scrimmages are vital as they are that final evaluation of the kids.  It’s the true dress rehearsal before that first game.  You have to get the team ready and that is what we are trying to do,” said Genders.

          It has been a long, hot training camp for all of the schools around North Central Ohio.  Genders says his kids are ready to get things going next week.  “Even (Wednesday) in practice they are a little feisty right now, so they want to really get after it a little bit.  Anytime you get to put the helmet on and go against another club.  They are so excited for this last scrimmage.  You like to see that passion for the game.  Hopefully, they will go out and do their best and we will go from there,” he said.

 

 

Published 8/18/16

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Plymouth Counting on Leadership

 

          Plymouth made postseason playoffs two years, but last year wasn’t so good for the Big Red.  This year it will be a positive attitude that gets the Big Red back on the right track.

          Coach Mark Genders told Swankonsports.com during a break during Thursday’s practice session that he feels the players have gotten themselves in pretty good physical shape to compete on the football field.  “Nothing much has changed as far as we are concerned.  These kids have really committed hard this off season.  My assistants have pushed them hard during lifting sessions.  We seem to be in decent shape.  We have a lot of experience back.  We don’t have a big team, our numbers are low, low 30’s, but a lot kids with experience coming back.  That has played a big part as far as the progression of our practices and preparation,” he said.

          However, the real key for the Big Red in 2016 is going to be leadership and the right attitude and Genders feels like he is getting that this year already.  “I have said it since the beginning.  I tell the kids every year and last years probably the most evident of my tenure here we just had a lack of leadership, of team leadership, and it carried throughout the whole season until the end when we actually got some young guys that are on this team this year step up into some leadership roles and things started to form around them,” he told Swankonsports.com, “That is all we have preached all preseason.  We have to have leadership and it is showing, it’s showing early.  That is a positive thing for us.  I knew that was going to be the big make or break for this team.”

          Leaders are players that take things by the horns and Genders says he sees that in the locker room and on the field with this bunch of guys that want be Big Red football players.  "Great leaders are like right now, those kids are in the fieldhouse, great leaders are showing up right now.  There is always that kid or two that maybe isn’t getting that playing time and is saying, hey, the coach is doing that or somebody is doing this and the leaders are going to step up and say, hey, the coach is doing what is best for the Big Red.  They grasp that before I even see it.  When that starts happening, great things start happening, because we are all in it together,” said Genders.

 

Published 8/05/16

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Horne No Hits Anderson

 

          Plymouth's Addison Horne fired a no hitter in Thursday's regional semi-final as the Lady Big Red beat Lisbon David Anderson (1-0) to advance to the regional final Saturday against Hillsdale.

          Horne has 15 strikeouts and coach Tracy Arnold told Swankonsports.com that she was in a zone.  "Addy had a beautiful performance (Thursday) night.  Probably one of the best pitching performances I have seen her throw in the last three years.  She was solid, composed, and her ball was moving well.  She just delivered the ball well over the plate and they struggled to find it," said Arnold.

          The coach says she knew from before the start of the game that this was going to be a special performance by Horne.  "I knew as soon as Addy started warming up that she was in a zone.  She was very confident, very composed, very focused.  She was just dialed in.  Everything she threw (Thursday) was strong.  It was a great opportunity for her to get there and pitch that well, but she did it.  To do it this moment, in this game, is very big.  They did a get a few bats on the ball, but our defense was right behind her and it all worked out well for us (Thursday) evening," said Horne.

          Plymouth scored the only run of the game in the second inning when Katie Bush led off the inning with a single, pinch runner Leslie Mack was sacrificed to second, advanced to third on a double by Haven Keene and scored by Horne's single.  "The disappointing thing for us is we had nine hits.  We didn't string them together.  We did have a few more opportunities to score, but we weren't really smart on our base running (Thursday.)  One was all we needed and the defense and pitching came together and it was enough to hold them off," said Arnold.

          Plymouth, the Firelands Conference champion, will play Hillsdale, the Wayne County Athletic League champion, on Saturday at Kent State University in the regional final.

          Arnold says the Lady Falcons are the compete package and they are going to have to be very solid in order to win.  "We are looking at a much different team than we faced (Thursday.)  We know we are looking at a pitcher that throws with a lot more speed.  We knew that she throws a lot of rise balls," she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "We also know they have some power hitters and they are very quick on the bases.  They can go to the short game if they have to, so we need to be prepared in all facets for Saturday's game."

 

Published 5/27/16

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Plymouth Gets Past New London

 

          Plymouth scored twice in the first inning and made it hold up as the Lady Big Red edged New London (2-1) in the division four district semi-finals Tuesday evening at Shelby High School.

          They will meet Lucas (17-5) for the district title on Friday night at Shelby.

          Leadoff hitter Mallory Miller scored on a wild pitch and Janet Arnold added a sacrifice fly in that first inning for Plymouth (19-4) and coach Tracy Arnold says fortunately that is all they needed.  "We came out in the first inning and got two runs right off the bat and once we did that we didn't fair too well against the pitcher.  Addy (Horne) pitched decent (Tuesday) night," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "She didn't pitch her game.  She even shared with me that she was struggling a little bit and I kind of chuckled because in her thoughts it wasn't her game.  However, our defense fell in behind her and we were able to get the key outs at the key times and that's what carried us through the game."

          Outstanding pitcher Addy Horne did strike out 11 New London batters, but she did give up nine hits.  Arnold says Horne and the rest of team were able to get the outs when they needed them.  "Good pitchers get themselves through it.  This is one of those teams I thought from the very beginning was a very special team.  They just find a way to get it done.  We have talked a lot during the season about winning as a family and we have to finish it, we have to find a way to get it done.  This team, so far, has done very well at finding a way to get it done.  The defense stuck with her in those moments, had her back, and it worked out for us," said Arnold.

          Lucas belted Mohawk (13-6) on Tuesday and Arnold says they know what they have to do and mostly that is stick to their own game plan for Friday.  "I don't know a whole lot about Lucas, we do know some.  One of our key things this year is to focus on playing our game.  We want to focus on what we do best, play our game, and play some defense.  I know they are quick and have some good hitters.  So, we are going to try and get ourselves in tune and roll right at them," she said.

 

Published 5/18/19

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Plymouth Hammers Western; Stays Unbeaten in Firelands

 

          Plymouth hit three home runs and had 15 hits in a (16-0) destruction of Western Reserve in a Firelands Conference softball game on Thursday.

          That keeps the Lady Big Red unbeaten and in first place in the conference this spring.

          Plymouth has developed into a strong program over the last two or three years and first year coach Tracy Arnold says they have met high expectations so far this year.  "They have done a great job living up to expectations.  We have some returners that have continued to carry on where they left off last year and we have had a fresh crop of freshmen that have stepped into play this year.  We have three freshmen on the varsity team this year that are really playing beyond their freshmen year.  They are doing a great job right now," she said.

          Rony Thornsberry had four hits off of the Lady Rough Riders on Thursday and teammates Haven Keene and Katie Bushey added three a piece.  Keene, Bushey and Callie Jones had the homers for the Lady Big Red.

          Plymouth (12-2,7-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the small school division, has counted on some freshmen this year.  Arnold says her older players have shown solid leadership toward those kids.  "All three of these young ladies have played travel ball, which has given them some background definitely.  However, the senior leadership, the older girls, we have some juniors on the team as well, they have led by example, they have welcomed these girls with open arms, they have let them know this is a team, that it is not all on their shoulders, that they are going to work together," she told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday, "When one person falls, someone else picks them up.  They have done an excellent job and I can't say enough about the team ethic and that has been the case from day one.  We have talked about team, team everything.  These girls have really jelled, they work together well, they don't seem to get rattled too easily."

          Addyson Horne, an all-district pitcher, was strong again Thursday against Western Reserve.  Allowing no hits and striking out six her three innings.  Mallory Miller finished up the five inning no hitter with two perfect innings of her own.

          Arnold says that Horne is the real deal.  "Addie has been strong for the last three years.  She brings a great pitch.  She is consistent.  She definitely leads by example.  She realizes we have a strong back for her.  These girls have been great at scooping it up.  They have their nose to the ball.  They have picked up everything that we have thrown their way so far.  They haven't gotten rattled when something has gotten through.  Addie has thrown several shutouts and she has done and exceptional job," said Arnold.

          Plymouth plays Western again on Friday.  Then plays a two game conference series with South Central next Monday and Tuesday.

 

Published 4/22/16

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Plymouth Wins Conference Opener

 

          Plymouth scored seven times in the first two innings and they hung on to beat Mapleton (8-6) in their Firelands Conference opener on Tuesday.

          Coach Jason Higgins says they were able to execute what they needed to do on offense early in the game to grab the lead.  "After the second or third it was 7-0 or 8-0, something like that.  We really put a lot of pressure on them early and executed our offense and when that happens good things happen," he said.

          However, Higgins says they have to remain focused throughout the game and they really didn't do that on Tuesday and they were fortunate to win the game.  "We had a great start, but...  I told the kids after the game you are young team and I understand that.  We have to establish that you need to put a team away.  We kind of coasted after we took the lead.  We are a young team and we got relaxed and we got complacent," he told  Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "A really, really good team, not that Mapleton didn't fight back and play really hard.  A really, really good team is going to come back and they are going to sting you.  They are going to chip away and they are going to come out with a victory is those close games."

          If the weather cooperates, Plymouth has a lot of baseball to play the rest of the week and Higgins says even if they don't they have to keep their heads in the game.  "We have Mapleton (Wednesday) and then St. Peter's on Thursday, we get Friday off, and then we have a doubleheader with Black River on Saturday.  I told the guys the other day with the bad weather we are in the gym.  You really have to keep your focus when you are outside and then back inside.  I said there are days you are going to be tired because we are playing everyday.  I told them how important it was the remain focused throughout the season and don't let Mother Nature get you off your game," said Higgins.

 

Published 4/06/16

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Plymouth Will be Young

 

          Plymouth is going to have some baseball talent this year, but they are going to have a lot of guys that are going to be playing varsity baseball for the first time too.

          Coach Jason Higgins says he likes the work ethic that has seen, but he realizes many of his kids are making a big jump in terms of competition.  "So far we have been working really hard.  We have a young team.  We only have one senior and a couple of very good juniors that are going to contribute a lot to the program.  The rest of them are sophomores and juniors, but we have been working hard.  It has been really fortunate with the weather this year.  Some years you really don't even get out of the gym until your first game.  This year we have been on the field a lot.  It is just a whole other energy when you can get that workout on the field," said Higgins.

          When you get to the varsity level the game come so much faster and there isn't time to think.  Higgins says these younger guys are going to be facing a lot better competition.  "I tell them this isn't pony league anymore.  The game is going to go 10 to 20 times faster than you have ever played unless you have played some really. really competitive travel ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "It's just the speed of the game and you are going up against better athletes.  We joke a lot about these being 14, 15 year-old kids going up against 18-year-olds that have beards.  It is kind of an eye opener for a lot of these guys.  It is the first time they see these guys from other teams that can throw the ball pretty hard and they have been swinging the bats well."

          Plymouth opens the season on Saturday with a doubleheader at Mohawk in non-conference play.  They play Mapleton in their first Firelands Conference games on April 4 and 5.  Higgins says playing in a real game is different and it is an experience that players just have to go through.  "We preach to the kids all of the time that you have to go out and play.  If you aren't working in the off season you are two steps behind the other guy.  There are guys that are great in the cage.  There are guys that when you line them up and hit fungos at them, they catch every ball..  When there is pressure on during the game there is really no experience like that," he said.

 

Published 3/22/16

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Plymouth Wants to Rebound and run the Floor

 

          Plymouth is the defending champion in the Firelands Conference and they began their defense with a win in their first conference game under a new head coach.

          After trailing by eight after the first quarter, the Big Red rallied to beat Mapleton (70-58) last Friday.  Coach Derrick Shelenberger says it was a night for slow starts and quick finishes, especially in the fourth quarter.  "I think we started out really slow and it seemed to be that trend all night in all four quarters.  In the first two or three minutes of each quarter we got off to a pretty slow start, but I believe the last four minutes of each quarter we almost doubled our point output in each quarter," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "In the fourth quarter I believe we scored 26 points.  It wasn't all by the three ball ort anything like that.  Our kids just put their heads down and went for the basket.  They were relentless going to the rim and made their free throws when they counted."

          Every coach is looking for improvement.  Shelenberger says they must rebound the ball better on both ends.  "I think our effort in boxing out and crashing the offensive glass, just rebounding in general can be a whole lot better than what we have seen so far.  Boxing out is just not three kids getting a body on somebody, all five have to box out.  Three or four kids have to crash the offensive glass as well and so far we aren't doing that.  Hopefully we can get better in practice and show that on Friday and Saturday," he said.

          It's two home games in the Firelands Conference this weekend for the Big Red.  They host Norwalk St. Paul (0-2,0-1) on Friday and Crestview (2-2,0-1) on Saturday.

          When it comes to the Flyers, Shelenberger says they have to keep them out of the lane.  "You can never overlook a team coached by "Smitty."  He has been around a while and especially with me being a rookie head coach that is really something I have got to watch out for.  That is a guy that can our coach you in a hurry.  Their team is really good at getting to the basket.  They spread you our and attack.  They put a lot of ball handlers on the court.  We just have to be able to help on the penetration, box out, and run the floor,' said Shelenberger.

 

Published 12/10/15

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Plymouth Has to Play Assignment Football

 

          Plymouth wraps up its football season this week by playing rival Crestview on the road.

          After five straight losses in conference play, the Big Red (2-7,1-5) outlasted Mapleton (29-20) in their final home game of the season.  Coach Mark Genders says it was a big win, especially for his seniors.  "Our seniors have been really working hard trying to keep it all together and continue the focus.  They really wanted to make some memories on senior night and they certainly did," he said.

          Crestview (2-7,1-5) has lost two Firelands Conference games in overtime and two others by less than a score, including last week when New London beat them (34-28) in conference play.  Genders says the Cougars are loaded with potential.  "They are young and their future is very bright. Coach Major has done a great job of installing what he wants to do.  On film they do a lot of good things.  They have the two sophomores in the backfield, the quarter and the fullback.  In running the option they have gotten so much better.  They are a scary team, not only now, but in the future," he said.

          Crestview's first year coach Dan Mager has installed the option offense and Genders says if they aren't on assignment it means big plays for the Cougars, which has happened too much for them this season.  "They run a lot of midline and jet option stuff.  If you don't play assignment football they do a great job of breaking you down and giving you a lot of formations.  If you aren't sound they are going to hurt you," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We have been dealing with that for the last two weeks now with Western Reserve jumping into the "wildcat" with us and New London the same and the beat goes on.  Hopefully our guys really understand now if you don't play assignment football you will get beat for by plays.  Ultimately we are not that kind of team where you just fire up the offense and score 21 points in a quarter.  We have to make sure we don't give any freebees out and they have to earn everything they get."

 

Published 10/27/15

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Plymouth Faces Mapleton

 

          Plymouth hosts Mapleton in a Firelands Conference football game on Friday night and both schools are still searching some consistency.

          In their game last week, Plymouth trailed New London (12-9) at the half, but the Wildcats had a big second half and beat Plymouth (48-15) in a conference game.

          Coach Mark Genders says they were not assignment sound.  "We made a couple mistakes early and gave them the ball on the five and they scored off of that.  Other than that we played some sound football.  We came out emotionally ready to play that second half.  We were excited to play the game and unfortunately we had some mental mistakes, it was not just one person, but guys just stopped doing their job," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Anytime you deal with a wildcat scenario it is kind of like playing the option you have to be disciplined.  We worked hard on that during the week of practice and we went out an executed it in the first half and really stopped it and limited their yards in the first half.  In the second half guys started doing other guys jobs and to New London's credit they took advantage of that and when we do that it is going to hurt us really bad and they beat us."

          He adds it has not been a lack of effort this year, it has been poor execution at times.  "We have a lot of upper classmen, but we have a lot of guys that are playing for the first time or starting for the first time on varsity this year.  It just seems like we haven't been able to get out of our own way all year.  We drill the game the best we can and these kids haven't quit on me at all.  We are still trying to get better each week.  Hopefully we will be able to put it all together this week," he said.

          Plymouth (1-7,0-5) hosts Mapleton (3-5,2-3) this week.  They were both playoff teams a year ago and have young rosters this year.  The Mounties were hammered (56-13) by first place St. Paul last week, but Genders is impressed by how much they have improved as the season has gone on.  "They started the season with a lot of inexperience on their team, but to Coach Mahaney's credit they are playing a lot of young men on that team and they are getting the job done.  Obviously like us with a lot of inexperience they have had a lot of ups and downs.  Their staff, especially offensively, they do such a great job of attacking the things you trying to do to defend them.  They do a great job of taking what you give them.  They are getting better each week.  It should be a real good football game on our last home game of the year," said Genders.

 

Published 10/21/15

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Plymouth Finding Leaders

 

          It has not been the year Plymouth was hoping for so far, but they are still trying to get better as we hit the final stretch of the high school football season.

          They were handled last week by Western Reserve (43-14) in a Firelands Conference game.  Coach Mark Genders says Western ran a different offense and they weren't ready for it.  "They played a pretty solid game.  They came out in the "wildcat," which they hadn't run all season long.  To their credit, caught us off guard and did some good things with it.  They played pretty much mistake free football and they really took it to us.  It's no excuse, but my kids came out flat and didn't play with a lot of emotion an that's a bad recipe and Western really took advantage of that and they beat us bad," said Genders.

          You find leaders not when things are going great, but when they aren't and Genders says they have had some kids step up this week.  "This is a good group of kids and we are still learning a lot and we are new in a lot of areas.  We have had some leadership show up this week in practice.  It has been a good week," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Last week was a disappointment, but we are trying to bury it and get back to Big Red football, which is just playing extremely hard no matter what.  Our seniors took the bull by the horn.  It was a tough situation, it wasn't easy on these boys, but they have answered pretty well."

          Plymouth (1-6,0-4) is at New London (2-5,1-3) on Friday night for a conference game.  The Wildcats are coming off a (21-12) loss to conference co-leader Monroeville.  Genders says their record might not indicate it, but his is a pretty good football team they are playing this week.  "They have skill and they have speed.  They are a good football team, there is no question about it.  They didn't get the bounces they needed in the season, just like us.  They have made too many mistakes, just like we have, but they are starting to find themselves and played a solid game last week.  They beat Western a couple of weeks ago.  They are led by their junior quarterback and he is a heck of an athlete.  It's going to be a war," he said.

 

Published 10/16/15

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Plymouth Got Better Last Week

 

          Plymouth was shut out last Saturday by one of the best small school programs in the state and they feel like they improved their execution as a football team.

          Norwalk St. Paul downed the Big Red (34-0) in a Firelands Conference game.  Plymouth coach Mark Genders says it seemed every time they made a mistake, St. Paul was able to capitalize on it.  "They are a good football team, especially defensively.  We took a lot of way from that game.  We made a couple of mistakes.  Physically our guys matched things toe to toe.  We held them to a couple of three and outs and we had the ball in the second quarter with the game tied 0-0.  We did what we have done a lot this season," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We tuned the ball over on our own 30.  Being one of the top programs in the state St. Paul is going to take advantage of that and two plays later they were up 6-0.  Every time we made a mistake they made us pay.  In the second half, they had a great punt return and we lost two turnovers and they scored both times.   Anytime that happens, especially against great teams, it's going to hurt."

          Genders feels his kids played with emotion, something they weren't doing at the beginning of the season, and they were physical and that was a step in the right direction.  "We had some great things going early on. Drove the ball 60 yards with the opening drive and got down into their red zone.  Other than that their defense really stepped up and we couldn't get things going.  We thought we got better in a lot of things that we did.  The kids played with a lot of emotion and played physical and that's all you can ask," he said.

          On Friday night, Plymouth (1-5,0-3) is at home for Western Reserve (1-5,1-2) in a Firelands Conference game.

          Genders says the Rough Riders have some physical size and feels like they are going to try and pound it on them.  "Saying they are big is an understatement.  They have some really nice size up front.  They still have their "Rider" formation and they run a lot of trap, dive and belly.  They have some playmakers.  Their fullback is a really big boy.  Their slot kid is probably going to end up being one of the fastest kids on the field.  You have to treat them like they are running the option because they can hurt you in all three aspects.  if you don't play disciplined they hurt you," said Genders.

 

Published 10/08/15

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Plymouth Can't Make Mistakes

 

          Plymouth has lost its first two Firelands Conference games and four of five overall and they play their toughest game of the season on Saturday night at Norwalk St. Paul.

          Last week, South Central scored on a pass play in the final seconds to beat Plymouth (27-23) in a conference game and coach Mark Genders says it was a game they kind of let get away.  "We are having a tough time getting out of our way a little bit.  We played really hard last week.  We improved a heck of a lot.  Unfortunately we made too many mistakes.  We put ourselves in good position to win the football game and we just couldn't get it done.  We had the football with three minutes left in the game and we couldn't get that done.  South Central got the stop and got the ball back.  They made the plays they needed to at the end and I take my hat off to them," he said.

          On defense, the Big Red (1-4,0-2) is dealing with some injuries and Genders says last week they just gave up some big plays at bad times.  "We are pretty banged up right now, so I'm actually really proud of the things we are doing defensively.  We held the Conway kid to 46 yards rushing and he is a great athlete and a big, big, kid.  He caught a nice swing pass and took it 64 yards and broke a couple of tackles to do it.  That's what good athletes do.  We did what we set out to do, but we gave up that big home run play to him.  Their other quarterback snapped off a long one against us at a real crucial time.  We were up by two scores and they answered back right away.  The big plays have bit us all season.  Costly turnovers.  Unfortunately we had an inadvertent whistle when we scored a touchdown and they came back and that cost us a four point swing, which you never like to see.  Like I said we had a chance to win and didn't get it done," said Genders.

          Norwalk St. Paul (4-1,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, hammered New London (56-8) last week.  Genders says they have a lethal combination of athleticism and mental discipline.  "They are so athletic.  Nickoli, Smith, and the rest.  They are seasoned veteran seniors.  Coach Livengood and his staff they just do a fantastic job.  That is really why they are one the best teams in the state.  If you make a mistake against those guys or you take a play off they absolutely make you pay.  I mean not just physically, but mentally.  If you put 10 in the box they are going to hurt you with the pass.  They just do a great job of putting their kids in position.  More often than not their kids are in the right places.  They may not win every battle, but they are in the right places doing what they think they need to do.  The highlight if I would have to sum up their team is discipline," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The discipline they have at each position.  That goes with special teams and all the way through.  I'll tell you right now it is what we strive to get to here.  He's had that program running for a long time.  There is an expectation there.  You have to match them discipline wise, as well as physically, just to give yourself a chance."

 

Published 9/29/15

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Plymouth Hurting Themselves

 

          It may be an old cliché, but it's a true one, the team that wins the turnover battle wins the football game.  Unfortunately for Plymouth they have been losing that battle.

          Four turnovers last week helped lead to a (28-20) loss to the Monroeville Eagles and coach Mark Genders says it has been something that has been killing them all year.  "The turnover bug is just costing this football team right now.  The kids play pretty darn hard.  We had four turnovers and it was just devastating.  All of the way from the first play of the game, which they got a turnover and took it down to the one and scored.  We are down seven and only had the ball for 30 seconds.  The bug has bitten us and we are going to do all we can to break this thing.  Hopefully, this week we can shed this thing and play the way we want to," said Genders.

          Ohio State, the number one college football team in the country may be able to do it, but Genders says most football teams can't turnover the ball over like they have and win.  "You look at any level, with the exception of the Buckeyes.  When you turn the ball over like we do, four times a game.  We have had 14 turnovers in four games, which is unacceptable.  Any time you do that you are not going to win.  We have had a tough schedule these first four weeks.  When we didn't turn the ball over we took care of business and the other three weeks when we didn't, it showed," he said.

          Plymouth (1-3,0-1) is at home for South Central (1-3,0-1) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  The Trojans (1-3,0-1) beat Crestview (31-30) in double overtime for their first win last week.  Genders calls them physical.  "As they have been the last couple of years they are just extremely well coached.  There is no question about South Central being a physical football game because it always is.  It is an old school rivalry with us being so close to each other," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have some really nice players.  The quarterback throws the ball well.  The Conway kid is just an animal.  He is a big, big kid.  We are going to have to tackle well and be physical to be able to compete with them.  That is what we are emphasizing this week, as well as not turning the ball over.  Hopefully, that will put us in position to win.  We are counting on that, so we will see what happens."

 

Published 9/24/15

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Plymouth Knows What it Has to do

 

          For Plymouth they had to learn what it had to do to win football games and they seem to be headed in the right direction after a win over Willard last week.

          It was the first meeting between the Big Red and the Flashes, of the Northern Ohio League, or at least the first win many years, and Plymouth earned its first win of the season (20-7) over Willard.

          Plymouth coach Mark Genders says hey are learning what they need to do win games considering what kind of skills they have on the team.  "First and foremost we took care of the football pretty well and by doing so we were able to play our style of football.  We aren't going to blow anybody out we just want to control the ball and control pace of the football game.  Our goal is to try and wear teams down and that's what we did Friday night," he said.

          Last season, Plymouth was a team that was going to score points in bunches.  This year, Genders says, they want to eat some clock and sore enough to win.  "It has been such a tough transition this year.  We were such a high octane team last year.  To be honest it has been a little tougher than I thought it would be from that style to pound it out football.  The kids are finally starting to pick up on that identity and understand what we are try to do and it shows.  We still made a lot of mistakes last Friday, but all in all we did what we need to and we really showed our identity so to say," said Genders.

          It is the opening night for action in the Firelands Conference on Friday night and Plymouth (1-2,0-0) is at Monroeville (2-1,0-0) to tangle with the Eagles at Marsh Field.

          Monroeville having its best season since the retirement of coach Steve Ringholtz, beating Margaretta last week (14-8) in non-league play.  Genders says the is good team that plays disciplined football.  "Well their numbers are starting to come back up and they are disciplined in the things that they do.  Coach Staker is doing a fantastic job revitalizing that program.  You can see it from play to play.  Their kids are where they need to be more times that not on every play," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "That is what people have come to know in the past from Monroeville football.  A disciplined football team that is hard nosed.  You don't necessarily see one player stand out, but just a  good football team.  They are getting better each week.  They beat a good Margaretta football team and did so facing their style."

          Neither team is going to flashy and Genders says the winner will be the one that doesn't hurt itself.  "The game might last about an hour because we both want to do similar things.  It's going to come down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes that is going to win the football game.  It's going to be a good physical football game and one that is going to fun to watch," he said.

 

Published 9/15/15

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Effort there, Plymouth Looking for Better Execution

 

          Plymouth has taken a step toward being a good football team and now they need to take another one.

          Despite a (40-21) loss to Sandusky St. Mary's last Saturday, coach Mark Genders believes they game a much more solid effort than they did in a week one loss (30-6) to Buckeye Central.  "Absolutely, our kids grabbed on to that 0-0 score all of the time.  Our kids played extremely hard last week.  I was proud of their efforts physically.  We obviously made a lot of mental mistakes.  When you turn the ball over five times in the first half you aren't going to beat anybody," he said.

          They have to keep playing hard and now Genders says his team needs to execute on both sides of the ball better because those mistakes are killing then right now.  "I'll tell you what there is a big value to playing two quality opponents like we have on week one and two.  Every year your team has to find an identity.  In playing two really good teams like we have you find things that you are good at and stuff that maybe we need to shelf for a while.  Going forward we felt like we got better last week," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Even though we made a lot of mistakes in turning the ball over, which is unacceptable, but those are things that are because of the lack of experience and sometimes lack of focus.  We feel that if we can get those things straightened out and start focusing on the things we are good at hopefully we will continue to get better this week."

          If it's not the first time, it is the first time in a long time, that Willard (0-2) and Plymouth have played on the football field.  That will happen on Friday night at Plymouth's new field, south of town.

          Willard has lost their first two against Margaretta (44-12) and Hillsdale (43-0) and the Flashes are in the mist of a 19 game losing streak.  However, Genders says they Flashes have good players and they are used to good competition.  "They play a lot of bigger schools and their competition week in and week out is pretty good.  I mean Margaretta and Hillsdale are both 2-0, even in their non-conference.  I think they are experiencing some of the same things that we are and that is we both can't get out of our own way.  I saw them play and they have a couple of really nice athletes and they are just a few plays away of putting it together themselves.  If we both do that this week this should be a heck of a game," said Genders.

 

Published 9/10/15

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Plymouth Must Play Four Quarters

 

          Plymouth has always prided itself on playing 48 minutes of football, but that didn't necessarily happen last week and must happen this week if they are going to have a chance to beat Sandusky St. Mary's.

          Buckeye Central drilled the Big Red (30-6) last Friday and coach Mark Genders says they kind of lost their focus.  "The one thing that we have hung our hat on since I have been here is we don't watch the scoreboard.  That has been our motto since day one when the program started.  Last week, we did a little bit of that and we lost our composure and with that our effort in the fourth quarter wasn't what we have traditionally had and then the missed tackles happened and the lack of discipline and missed assignments," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We never watch the scoreboard and play each play like it's the hardest play you have.  Up until that point that is all they had shown in camp.  The kids have worked really hard this week to make sure we turn that around.  That pretty much sums up our first week.  If you do that and make mistakes against a team like Buckeye Central, as good as they are, they will make you pay, and they made us pay.  It kind of got away from us."

          They will be at St. Mary's (0-1) on Saturday night in a non-league game.  The Panthers lost (56-21) to highly regarded Norwalk St. Paul last Saturday.  However, Genders says that score doesn't tell the whole story.   "St. Mary's is a very solid football team.  They have a numbers thing going on over there, but watching that game against St. Paul they were toe to toe with them.  Other than a couple of play action passes by St. Paul they could have had a lead on them at halftime.  I have a lot of respect for that program and the things that they do.  We are going to have to play a flawless game to be in that football game.  We have our hands full, especially up there," he said.

          One thing they have to avoid this week, according to Genders, is allowing St. Mary's the big play.  "You try not to give up the home run.  Any time you have to run a number of plays something can happen.  When you give up that home run and put yourself in a hole it can really be devastating, especially with our style this year.  We are want have a lot of long drive, eat clock, and put it in and put pressure teams that want to score fast.  With that being said it is crucial not to give up home runs.  We are not like last year.  We can't just go out and put 28 points up in a quarter and a half.  It's crucial that we don't blow assignments.  They have some great football players.  We are going to have to play some really good football to make sure we are in this football game," said Genders.

 

Published 9/03/15

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Plymouth Opens New Field Against Buckeye

 

          Plymouth moves from Mary Fate Park to a new football field at the site of the high school south of town when they host Buckeye Central in a non-conference game on Friday night.

          Coach Mark Genders says they want to take ownership of the new place.  "Anytime you get an exciting thing like this we are trying to start a new tradition because it's a new field and the first one in basically forever.  A lot of people have put a lot of hard work into this thing," he said.

          This will be a much less experienced team than the one that qualified for the playoffs last year, but Genders says he expects the same kind of effort from the kids he puts on the field.  "The one thing that I expect that we get is great effort and that we can control, so I expect that from the football team," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Yes, we have a few new faces out there, but the effort is going to have to be at a high level, especially playing against the caliber of team like Buckeye Central, who brings in 16 seniors in a small school setting.  We are going to have to be extremely disciplined and play extremely hard."

         Right along with that, Genders says they want to be a physical team that will hit the other guys.  "I think our identity is, and this has kind of come along from week to week, we want to be a tough physical team.  The kids are really buying into that fact.  They want to make sure that every team we play knows we played them.  I think that is kind of the statement that they have applied to themselves.  It is starting to show itself in practice and hopefully it will show on week one against Buckeye," he said.

          After many years of playing each other, the Big Red and the Bucks did not meet last season.  This year, Buckeye Central replaces Lucas as the opener on the Plymouth schedule.

          Three sport star Grant Loy is the Buckeye quarterback and Genders says he a big, strong kid, who is great leader for the Bucks.  "What a physical specimen.  He is a big boy, 6'4", probably 210 or 215 pounds.  You can just tell with that group, watching them like we have, they have a lot of guys that play like they are older.  He is good at what he likes to do.  Anytime you have that you have to be focused on what you are doing.  They are going to get theirs and he is going to keep his team composed and we are going to have to do the same thing and play extremely hard to compete," said Genders.

 

Published 8/27/15

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Plymouth Expecting Another Big Year

 

          Plymouth made the state football playoffs for the first time last year and this year the players would like another chance after losing to Lucas in the first round.

          They play Mohawk in their final scrimmage on Friday night and so far coach Mark Genders says he likes the way things have been going.  "I think things are progressing pretty well.  I fell like we are strong where we thought we would be strong and we are developing pretty well in the areas where we were facing situations where kids are fighting for positions.  So, everything is starting to unfold like it should," he said.

          The Big Red is faced with replacing a three year starter at quarterback in Hunter Bailey, lost to graduation.  Genders says they really have not settled on one player as the starter.  "I am going to call it a half full answer.  We haven't decided yet and I don't know if we will.  We feel these two kids are sharing the reps in practice and yeah you would like to have one guy getting most of them, but they are both doing so well there is no written rule that we have to have one.  We are getting more confident in both of them.  They both can do multiple things and they can both play other positions.  As time goes by we are feeling more confident that we have two guys that can do some good things," said Genders.

          Bailey was not the only player lost to graduation as the Big Red must replace a number of starters.  However, Genders says they still have high expectations for this coming season.  "I am not going to lie we have expectations here.  The minute I start questioning my expectations here I wouldn't be fair to myself.  We are here to do the best we can and our goals are always going to be a league championship and get to the state playoffs.  They got a taste of that playoff atmosphere and that has motivated us all year.  We feel we are going to compete in every game we play this year," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Our conference is so balanced.  Our league has maybe the state favorites in St. Paul, who has an unbelievable senior class.  They are definitely the top team in our conference and maybe in the State of Ohio, but after that it is going to be a dogfight in this conference.  It should be one of the more competitive years we have had here in a while."

          Plymouth will be at home against Buckeye Central, in non-conference play, in their first regular season game on August 28.

 

Published 8/21/15

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Plymouth Wants to pick up Where They Left Off

 

          Plymouth did some things on the football field last fall that they had never done before, most notably hosting a home playoff game for the first time.

          Coach Mark Genders says they want to take that momentum and build on it even through they lost a significant amount of their playmakers in quarterback Hunter Bailey, running back Chance Butcher and wide receiver Tyrell Edmisdon. 

          He says they have put in a lot of effort already this summer.  "Our kids have worked extremely hard.  Last season has really put some nice expectations up on the board for them.  The kids have worked hard and really want to get back to that experience.  The amount work they have been putting in and the time they have been putting in is awesome.  To be honest with you our expectations are going to be very high.  Their goals are to compete for a league championship and make it to the state playoffs," said Genders.

          Plymouth (8-3,5-2) finished third in the Firelands Conference last year behind division seven state runner-up Norwalk St. Paul and Mapleton.  They lost in the first round of the playoffs to Lucas (37-34) at likely the last game played at Mary Fate Park.  The Big Red is expected to christen a new football field this year.

          Genders says they have some players returning, but they are mostly guys that will need to accept new roles.  "We have six returning on both sides of the ball and that's not a bad number, but anytime you replace three record setters at three different positions in the school's history that baton needs to be passed.  A lot of those kids that are filling in have gotten time they just had to wait it out because our senior group was such a solid core.  We have a lot of seniors and juniors that got sparse time and now are looking to get theirs," he said.

          Like a lot teams, no matter what the level, Genders says they are trying to figure out who their quarterback is going to be.  "Anytime you replace a quarterback that you have had for three years that is such an important area on the football team.  We have a nice competition among three kids right now going for that spot.  I would say that is my number one thing, making sure we can identify that kid as fast as we can and make sure all three of them grow and feel comfortable in that spot because you have to have that," said Genders.

          The Big Red will host Buckeye Central in their first game on August 28.

 

Published 8/04/15

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Plymouth in First Regional Ever

 

          It has been a school year of firsts for Plymouth High School.  Their first ever football playoff appearance last November and now their first ever regional appearance in girls' softball.

          Plymouth (17-11) faces Cuyahoga Heights (26-3) in the division four regional semi finals on Wednesday at 5 PM at Kent State University.

          The team had a tremendous week last week beating traditional softball power Colonel Crawford (7-5) and last year's district champion Seneca East (11-0) in district play.

          Coach Troy Keene says they are excited about what the team has already done, but he has told his team to keep their focus.  "We have been preaching that all week long in practice.  You never want to be satisfied and I told the team this you have done something that has never been done in school history before, but don't be satisfied in what you have accomplished now try to keep going.  Hopefully, we come out and play well (Wednesday,) said Keene.

          Keene is no stranger to regional competition.  He coached a Plymouth boys' basketball team that won the Firelands Conference title and lost in the regional semis in March.

          He says his young softball team is playing well in all aspects of the game and that is what you have to do if you expect to be successful at this level.  "The last three weeks we have really put all three phases of the game together with pitching, defense and hitting.  Hitting is contagious, so hopefully we can jump off to a fast start in the bottom of the first (Wednesday) night and get a couple of runs on the board and capitalize.  Hopefully we get all three phases of the game (Wednesday) too," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          There are a lot of young players that make up part of the Plymouth squad.  Keene says their improvement has been a large part of their tournament success.  "We were really counting on a lot of young players and we just needed to get them seasoned and get them to believe in themselves, play with some confidence, and cut down on their mistakes.  The last two weeks our young kids have really stepped up with our veterans.  Everybody is believing in each other right now," he said.

          Plymouth has used a strong offensive attack here in the post season and Keene they will have the opportunity Wednesday to score some runs too.  "(Cuyahoga Heights) has five, four year lettermen coming back.  Their batting order is probably the best we are going to see all season.  They are pretty stout defensively.  Their pitcher is just about average, so hopefully we can jump on her early and get a couple of runs across.  If Addyson Horne is hitting her spots pitching wise maybe we can stay in the game and put a scare into somebody," said Keene.

 

Published 5/27/15

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Plymouth Downs Colonel Crawford

 

          Plymouth broke a tie game with two runs in the sixth and beat Colonel Crawford (7-5) in a division four district semi finals on Tuesday at Shelby High School.

          Crawford is likely the must tradition rich small school softball program in North Central Ohio, but Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they have been able to beat them more than once.  "We have been pretty successful with them the last three times that we have played them.  That is really the only reason that I chose to go to their side of the bracket in the tournament is we have had some success here recently.  (Tuesday) my girls came out and fought hard and made the plays and we came out on top," said Keene.

          He thought it was a game that was well played by both sides and he says they were able to get some clutch hits.  "We go some key hits (Tuesday) with two outs and scored a couple of runs.  They also came up with some big hits with two outs.  Both teams made some good defensive plays.  It was a very well played ball game," he said.

          It seems in softball everything happens quickly, the bunts, the steals, the good plays and the bad plays on defense.  Keene says to be successful you have to execute.  "This is a totally different game than baseball.  Everything is compact.  All plays have go to be made quicker.  You have to think quicker.  A lot of bunting comes into this game.  It's just executing on defense and getting outs.  That's what we preach, get outs!    If you execute on offense and can put them together most of the time you are going come out on top," Keene told Swankonsports.com after the win over Colonel Crawford on Tuesday.

          Plymouth (16-10) will play the winner of game Wednesday between Seneca East and Lucas for the district title on Friday, again at Shelby.

          Keene also told Swankonsports.com that he has turned in his letter of resignation as both boys' basketball and girls' softball coach at Plymouth, effective at the end of the softball season.  He says he just needs a rest.

 

Published 5/20/15

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Plymouth Holds on to beat South Central

 

          Plymouth won their first meeting this year with rival South Central on the baseball diamond, dodging the rain drops for a (7-6) win over the Trojans in Firelands Conference play.

          Despite the win, first year coach Jason Higgins, was not very impressed with what he saw from his players on Monday.  "We didn't play our best game (Monday) night.  We got five in the first and things we looking good.  In stealing a line from one the coaches from Norwalk we can be like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team where I feel like we can compete with anybody and then other times it can get scary out there," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "Luckily we hung in there and a couple of guys stepped up and made plays when we needed too and we pulled out the close victory."

          Consistency has been a major issue for the Big Red (12-7,5-5) this year.  Higgins says he is never sure what team he is going to get.  "We need to figure it out.  Like I said, we can play with anybody.  We can play with a Seneca East.  If it comes down to it I think we can play with a Tiffin Calvert.  If we aren't focused if we don't play our game we can lose to about anybody.  I don't want to see that happen because we have worked to hard for that," he said.

         Plymouth plays at South Central (6-11,2-7) in another Firelands Conference game on Tuesday.

          They will play either Lucas or Mohawk in their division four tournament opener on May 13.  Higgins says actually the tournament draw went quite well for the, now all they have to do is play up to their potential.  "I think the draw went in our benefit.  We have this Saturday off and unless we pick up a few make up games.  We are going to take a look at the Lucas and Mohawk game and kind of do a little scouting and see what we need to do to be most successful going into that contest the following Wednesday," he said.

 

Published 5/05/15

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Plymouth Has to Keep Winning

 

          Plymouth stayed on the heels of league leading Mapleton with a (9-2) win over Western Reserve Tuesday night in Firelands Conference softball action.

          They spit their two games with Mapleton earlier this season, both one run decisions, so they are going to need some help from somebody else in the league.  That did not happen on Tuesday as the Lady Mounties beat South Central (8-1) in their conference game.

          Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they need to run the table if they are going to get that conference championship.  "We talked about this being a must win before the game.  Every game from here on out is important to us because we are a game back of Mapleton in the race.  We have got to continue to win each and every time out and hope for some help.  (Tuesday) night we came out and played well," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "The last couple of weeks we have been dealing with some injuries.  We are down five starters from previous years.  Right now some of the younger girls are stepping up for us.  They are getting better.  We are getting better as a team and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling."

          Injuries are part of the game and Keene says they have had some kids that have filled in play pretty well.  "I have got four or five girls that have come up from the JV team and are starting to contribute.  This past weekend we went over to the MVD tourney and played Madison, Shelby and Northwestern and lost all three, but we lost two of those games in the seventh inning.  The young kids are getting better and playing that kind of competition can only help us going forward," he said.

          Keene has worked at strengthening the Plymouth schedule since he ahs taken over.  In addition to the "MVD" tournament they played Clear Fork and Colonel Crawford earlier this year.  He says that competition is only going to make you better.   "I told the girls after this weekend, especially after loosing those two games in the seventh inning, that we came over and competed and didn't embarrass ourselves and played some pretty good competition and I was proud of them.  I told them don't rest on your laurels because we have to continue to get better and they came out (Tuesday) and played well.  I think we are headed in the right direction," said Keene.

          Plymouth (13-7,6-2) plays Seneca East, of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, on Thursday, and Crestview (11-6,3-4), a team that beat them last week (4-1) on Friday.

 

Published 4/29/15

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Plymouth Outscores St. Paul

 

          Plymouth bounced back on Tuesday to blast Norwalk St. Paul (11-6) and avenge a loss at St. Paul by the same score on Monday.

          The Big Red (9-6,2-4) scored five times in the first inning on Tuesday and never looked back.  Tyson Beebe, Seth Bailey and Hunter Bailey all had two hits for Plymouth.  Hunter Bailey also scored three times and had two RBI on the windy day.

          Coach Jason Higgins says they persevered.  "The last two days has really been about battling in the wind.  We have had some unbelievable wind the last couple of days.  It was blowing out on both fields.  St. Paul's field has a short porch all around and there were eight total home runs in that game.  We hosted (Tuesday) and we played pretty good baseball and came out with the win," said Higgins.

          With win gusts in excess of 40 MPH it made it difficult to play baseball to say the least.  Higgins says they were prepared.  "We told our guys, know the wind.  Know what it is going to do, anticipate it.  It is not going away from pitch to pitch or anything like that.  We told them to go make the routine plays," he said.

          Tyler Taylor went the distance for Plymouth to get the win, striking out five and walking four.  Grant Dilger gave up seven in runs in just an inning of work for St. Paul and he took the loss.  Dilger had three hits and four RBI at the plate for the Flyers.

          Plymouth plays rival Crestview (3-11,2-3) in Firelands Conference action on Thursday and Friday.

          Trailing conference leader New London by four games in the conference standings, Higgins says this is a game they absolutely had to have to terms of competing for the conference title.  "It is tough when right off the bat you have to play New London, who is probably the favorite in the conference.  They have real good pitching and they have some nice hitters on that team.  When they are first team that you play in the conference and you don't come out with at least a split you are trying to dig yourself out," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Unfortunately we spilt with Mapleton, who swung the bat well.  We got the spilt against St. Paul.  It was a must win for us."

 

Published 4/22/15

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Plymouth Downs St. Paul

 

          Addyson Horne threw a two-hitter and Plymouth handled Norwalk St. Paul (7-1) in a Firelands Conference girls' softball game on Monday evening in Norwalk.

          St. Paul stands near the bottom of the conference standings and Keene says one of the keys for them was to remain focused on the task at hand and they were able to do that.  "We knew going in that they have struggled with this program here the last couple of years, but it is a program that is getting better.  Just from last season to this season they have really improved.  I told the girls they really had to get focused (Monday) night and get off to a good start," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "We came out of the gate and scored three runs.  My pitcher was very dominate (Monday) night and had 15 strikeouts.  She gave up two hits.  They only had one runner that made it to second base.  The defense played pretty well for us.  It was an all around good game for us."

          It was rainy on Monday, a number of games were cancelled due to wet field conditions, and cold too.  Keene says he expects his players to have the mental discipline to handle those things.  "We couldn't play on our field (Monday), so we had to switch sites about two o'clock and that kind of threw the girls off a little bit.  I try to tell my girls that I don't want to hear any whining about the weather because both teams are playing in it and that is just something I don't want hear and we came out focused.  The wind was terrible (Monday) night.  It was straight in the batter's face.  We put it out of our mind and took care of business," said Keene.

          Plymouth (11-3,4-1) is scheduled to host St. Paul on Tuesday in the second game of the series.  The play Crestview (6-5,1-3) in conference games on Thursday and Friday.

          It is supposed to be windy the rest of the week too.  Keene says they handled that pretty well on Monday.  "It was blowing hard enough that is was blowing some of the throws around.  Anything that got into the air was a challenge.  We really worked on that in the pre game and that really helped (Monday) night with a couple of fly balls.  It couldn't be any more prouder of the kids," he said.

 

Published 4/21/15

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Plymouth Wins Two Out of Three

 

          Plymouth maintained a share of first place in the Firelands Conference girls' softball standings by winning two of the three games they played against contenders this week.

          They spilt their games with Mapleton loosing (4-3) and winning (5-4) and then Thursday night they downed New London in another close one (7-5) in a make up game.

          Coach Troy Keene says they stepped up their game this week when they have had to.  "It has been three close ball games for us this week.  The two against Mapleton earlier in the week were both walk off wins.  Mapleton beats us with a single in the seventh inning with the bases loaded in the first game.  We came back with a two run single in the bottom of the seventh to win the second game.  (Thursday) night we came out and played New London and it was just a great game.  In the sixth inning they pulled to within in 4-3.  We came back in the seventh to score three runs and put it away," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over New London, "My kids have really played well this week.  We are getting timely hitting, pretty good defense and good pitching.  When you get all three of those you are going to have some success.  Hopefully it continues for us."

          Certainly the players were excited by the results of the games this week, but Keene says you always have to be looking ahead.  "Once the game is over you just have to continue to strive to get better.  Right now I think we are headed in that direction because we are cutting down on some of our mistakes and the timely hitting has showed up this week.  We are always going to get pretty good pitching and pretty good defense and when that timely hitting shows up we have a chance to be a pretty good softball team," he said.

          Timely hitting is what every coach wants and Keene says he wants his players to have a good judgment of the strike zone.  "We have talked a lot about how you should approach each at bat and how you handle yourself.  I have a couple of girls that will take a bad swing and just get down on themselves and they don't handle themselves really well.  We are really trying to work on that.  I saw some improvement on that (Thursday) night.  You just have to put the ball in play.  In the early part of the season we just weren't putting the ball in play and not having good at bats.  The last week we are starting to have good at bats and swinging at the right pitches and moving runners when we are supposed to.  When things like that happen we can be pretty good," said Keene.

          Plymouth plays a non-conference game against Mansfield Christian on Friday, plays Buckeye Central in a doubleheader on Saturday, and Norwalk St. Paul in conference games next Monday and Tuesday.

 

Published 4/17/15

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Plymouth Knows its Strength

 

          Plymouth is a girls' softball team that relies in good pitching and some power bats and they are among a number of teams that have a chance at winning the Firelands Conference title this year.

          Coach Troy Keene says they have worked hard this year to improve their defense.  "We got out in the parking lot about the second week in March and really stayed outside for two whole weeks and really worked on our defense and worked on our fly balls.  We have put in a lot of time there.  When we were in the gym last week we were working on our base running because you really need to work on that stuff too," said Keene.

          There are a bunch of softball teams that rely on bunting and stealing bases, but Keene says that is really not what they are all about.  "We are not a really great team playing small ball.  I compare out team to the old Baltimore Orioles of Earl Weaver, we are going to set back and wait for the three run homer because I just don't have the athletes to play small ball," he told Swankonsports.com, "The sad part is you need the athletes to defend the small ball.  We are putting our time in an working really hard on it.

          They beat New London (7-6) last Monday in their only conference game so far this season.  Keene says it is a pretty balanced league and it is going to be a battle for the title.  "The Firelands Conference is just a bear.  You have good pitching from Monroeville and Mapleton, New London and Crestview.  There are five quality teams that are going to be fighting for the championship.  On any given night one of those teams can step up and bite you.  We have to be prepared each and every night," he said.

          Keene, of course, is also the boys' basketball coach at Plymouth and they have been very successful under his direction, with two straight conference titles and a regional berth this year.  Keene says his style with the girls is no different.  "It is definitely different from basketball, but I coach these girls the same exact way I coach the boys and I really think the girls appreciate that.  I just demand the effort out of them and I have found out that is all the girls really want and I think that is where we get our success from," he said.

          Plymouth (5-2,1-0) spilt a non-conference doubleheader with Black River on Saturday, winning 9-2 and losing 3-1. 

          They play Mapleton in conference games on Monday and Tuesday, weather permitting and have a rescheduled game with New London on Thursday.

 

Published 4/13/15

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Plymouth Evens Record

 

          After losing their opener, the Plymouth Big Red battled back to beat Wynford (5-2) on Tuesday afternoon in non-conference play to even their record for the season.

          They got a good effort on the mound from starter Tyler Taylor and a young man, Jarrett Miller, making his first varsity appearance, earned the save for the Big Red.

          First year coach Jason Higgins says the guys they gave the baseball to did this job.  "Our guys come out there and compete and if we give up two runs or less we are pretty sure we are going to be in the ball game.  It was  a great performance (Tuesday) night by Tyler Taylor.  Freshman Jarrett Miller came in and under a little bit pressure had a save opportunity and he shut the door," he said.

          Taylor went five innings plus for the Big Red walking two, striking out four and allowing only two hits.

          Plymouth lost (11-0) to Galion on Monday and Higgins says the effort on Tuesday was just what they need to get back on track.  He says they think this can be a very good baseball season for the Big Red.  "We gave up six or seven unearned runs against Galion, a very good team though and I am not going to take anything away from them, but you are do not get put in a good position to win a ball game under those circumstances.  The guys bounced back," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Wynford,   "They have high expectations for the season and I was really happy with defensive what I saw (Tuesday) night.  We still have a lot to work on offensively and that is going to be kind of our focus preparing for Crestline on Friday and Colonel Crawford on Saturday."

          The Big Red only had three hits on Tuesday, one each from Seth Bailey, Austin Nester and Nathan Wetlin.

          Plymouth doesn't start Firelands Conference play until next Monday and Tuesday against New London.  However, Higgins says they have some things to work on before they get there.

          He said he was very pleased with the way they played on defense Tuesday, especially after the less than spectacular effort against Galion the night before.  "Our outfield play (Tuesday) night was just absolutely phenomenal.  Obviously our pitchers did pretty well.  We were really excited about how we turned things around defensively," he said.

          Plymouth (1-1) plays at Crestline (0-1) in a non-conference game on Friday.  They host Colonel Crawford (1-0) for a doubleheader at their place on Saturday.

 

Published 4/01/15

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Plymouth Has New Head Coach; A lot of the Same Players

 

          Plymouth had a down season last year last year on the baseball field, but they won the Firelands Conference three years ago and pushed New London hard two years back.

          This spring they return a lot of talent and have a new head coach.

          Jason Higgins has been promoted to the top spot with the Big Red baseball program.  "I was hired at Plymouth with a little help from Andrew McFarland, the previous coach At Plymouth.  I coached under him for three years.  He got the athletic director's position at Plymouth, so I kind of stepped in to fill the spot," he said.

          There should be little adjustment because Higgins says the players know him and know what he expects.  "These seniors were freshmen when I first started coaching.  Their time in high school has also been my coaching experience at Plymouth.  So, they know the expectations.  They know we are going to work hard to build a successful program," he said.

          Plymouth has won the last two conference titles in basketball, played in the regionals in hoops just last week, and make the state playoffs in football last fall.  Higgins says these kids know what it takes to be winners.  "We are returning seven seniors this year that are all, some contributed more than others, but I believe most of them lettered.  We definitely have high expectations this year.  We have a lot of talent," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "A lot of them played basketball, so they know what success is and also they had a pretty successful football season this year.  We feel strongly about these upperclassmen ability to perform.

          Plymouth will open the season on Saturday, weather permitting, by hosting Galion in a doubleheader.  Their first Firelands Conference games are set for April 6 and 7 against defending champion New London.

 

Published 3/24/15

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Plymouth's Dream Season Comes to an End

 

        Plymouth's 23 games winning streak came to and end on Tuesday night when they lost (76-68) in double overtime to Wayne Trace in the division four regional semi-finals at Bowling Green State University.

          Wayne Trace sophomore guard Ethan Linder, the son of the coach, had 44 points and 11 rebounds for the Raiders.  He made 17-28 shots from the field, 2-5 three pointers and 8-13 free throws.  His teammates combined to make 14-50 field goals for just 34 percent.

          "It was tough for either team to lose a game like that.  Each team had a chance to win it.  They got the 50-50 balls rolling their way there in the double overtime," said Plymouth coach Troy Keene.

          Plymouth's Tyrell Edmiston, the division four district player of the year, was not permitted to enter the game at the beginning of the second overtime because he had blood on his shorts.  "It's huge.  That gets them up two points and gets them rolling.  That's a huge play and the OHSAA needs to look at that.  They told me once he left the floor to change his pants he had to leave the game," said Keene.

          Edmiston almost had a triple double as he finished with 14 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists.

          He also was forced to set for four minutes of the third quarter with four fouls.  Plymouth led by three when he left (34-31) and trailed by five when he returned (43-38) to the game.

          Plymouth misses him on offense, but more on defense and on the boards.  Wayne Trace repeatedly took the ball to the basket and secured a number of offensive rebounds in his absence.  "He has gotten into foul trouble two times in the last two years, last Tuesday and this Tuesday.  He is the smartest kid playing in foul trouble.  He went three minutes in the third, the whole fourth and two overtimes without picking up his fifth.  I didn't even think of pulling him when he picked up his third.  Just like last Tuesday night, bam, cheep foul.  I didn't waste much time getting him back in the ball game either.  I wasn't going to go down nine or 10 and have to fight back," said Keene.

          This reporter was sitting in a nest of high school coaches, none of which thought the third, fourth or fifth foul (with just seconds remaining when the game was decided) was a foul on Edmiston.  I my mind the decisions made by officials Joseph Allen, Justin Firks and Ben Kramer had a negative affect on the game.

          Tyson Beebe paced Plymouth in the scoring column with 28 points.  Tyler Taylor added 23.

          Still, Plymouth was able to battle back, scoring the last six points of regulation to tie the game (56-56) after four quarters.  They actually took a (60-56) lead in the first overtime on Edmiston's dunk, but couldn't finish it out.

          Austin Nester made one of two free throws with eight seconds left in the first overtime to give Plymouth a (61-59) lead, but Ethan Linder bagged a layup with one second left to tie the game and send it to a second overtime.

          Plymouth was 15-28 from the foul line on the night and Keene says that likely cost them the game.  "We talked every practice about free throws.  Free throw shooting wins basketball games.  Every practice it comes up.  You normally don't see where it affects the game, but (Tuesday) night it really affected the game.  I thought that decided the outcome, us missing free throws," he said.

          Keene admitted that in a time out before the game tying layup at the end of the first overtime there was some discussion about fouling whoever had the ball and making them earn it at the foul line.  "Yes, the thought was said in the huddle," he said.

          Linder had missed the front end of a one and one with 1:46 left in the first overtime.

 

Published 3/18/15

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Plymouth Wants to Keep Winning

 

          After losing in the district tournament the last three years, Plymouth finally broke through and beat Buckeye Central for the division four district title last week.

          The Big Red (25-1) plays Wayne Trace (23-1) in the regional semi-finals at Bowling Green State University on Tuesday night.

          Having just a couple of days to prepare isn't too bad because Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they have momentum on their side after a very good effort on Friday night.  "When you come off an effort like Friday night you just want to get back in the gym and get after the next opponent, so we don't mind the short work week.  We gave the kids Saturday off and got back to work Sunday evening and Monday.  There is not a whole lot more that you can put in at this time of year.  You can tweak a couple of things and that is all we are trying to get done right now.  Hopefully, our kids are ready for Tuesday," said Keene.

          They have put together a scouting report with Wayne Trace's strengths and weaknesses, but Keene says the main thing is they want to continue to sharpen what they do on the floor.  "We are showing my team a couple of things that Wayne Trace does, but right now we are just worried about us.  We will come in and take care of us and try to get better.  Right now, that is the only thing we are worried about right now.  We game planned a little bit Monday.  We don't want to give the kids a whole lot.  We just want to get on the floor and play the next team up," he said.

          Last year, Wayne Trace beat Buckeye Central (80-51) in the regional semi-finals and they did it by beating the Bucks down the floor.  Keene says they can't let that happen to them Tuesday night.  "That is one our keys, defensive transition.  We need to rotate back just like we have all season.  Hopefully we can slow them down out of their transition and make them work for every point that they score.  They really don't want to spend a whole lot of time on the defensive end defending people.  I think that is where we have the advantage," he said.

          Keene strongly believes the Big Red is more physical this year than they were a year ago.  He hopes that helps them on Tuesday night.  "My kids worked really hard in the weight room and I think we play a physical type of game.  We are going to get up in you in the half court.  I think that is going to slow down Wayne Trace and bother them a little bit," he said.

          Plymouth qualified for the regional tournament in 2008, 2009, and 2010 and Brooke Turson was the best player on those Big Red teams.  Keene says he had some advise for this year's team.  "I talked to Brooke Turson this weekend and that is one thing that he mentioned.  He said Troy when we were in the regionals the first couple of years we were just satisfied to be there and he said don't be satisfied.  We have talked a little bit about it still being a disappointing season if we can't make it out of regionals this year because we have a shot because we play pretty good defense and defense wins championships.  We are definitely not going to be satisfied," said Keene.

 

Published 3/17/15

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Plymouth Ready for Regionals

 

          Plymouth faces Wayne Trace in the division four regional semi-finals on Tuesday night at Bowling Green State University.

          After losing the previous three years in the district tournament at Willard High School, the Big Red (24-1) belted Buckeye Central (62-37) last Friday night to claim that elusive district title.

          Coach Troy Keene says that was a goal they thought about every day this year.  "I had my four year starters back and my other two, two year starters back.  We just made it a goal that anything less than a regional berth was going to be a wasted season and we wouldn't have been happy about it.  It was our fourth trip to the districts with this group.  We brought home the silver two years ago and got knocked off in the district semis last year," he told Swankonsports.com, "It really feels good to bring home the gold this time.  The kids have really worked hard not only basketball wise, but getting into the weight room and just getting stronger and I thought that was a key (Friday) night."

          District player of the year Tyrell Edmiston had 24 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots against Buckeye.  Keene says he is just hard to contain.  "He is such a phenomenal athlete that you can't guard him with just one guy and a lot of times you can't guard him with two.  His passing ability is so good that if you double or triple him he will burn you by finding the open guy," he said.

          Tyson Beebe, also a four year starter, had 19 points, including four three pointers, against Buckeye Central.

          Plymouth has been playing mostly man to man defense this year, but they played some zone in the second quarter Friday night and Keene thought that took the Bucks out of their rhythm.  "We haven't run a lot of 2-3 zone this year.  Looking at tape we were only trying to guard two guys anyway.  To just give my guys a rest without taking them out of the ball game, letting them take a breath a little bit, I thought it was good to get in that zone and I really think it messed with Buckeye.  It got us a seven or eight put run there that really finished off the ball game early," he said.

          Wayne Trace (23-1) beat Edgerton (60-53) to win their district title.  Their only loss this season comes to division two Napoleon (44-41) and they were champions of the Green Meadows Conference this season. 

          Wayne Trace beat Buckeye Central (80-51), ironically, in the regionals last year at BGSU.

          The Raiders are led by the Linder brothers, Corbin, a senior, and Ethan, a sophomore, who are sons of Wayne Trace coach Jim Linder.  Keene says they can really play.  "It starts with the two sons of the coach.  One of them is the point guard, who is just a fantastic player.  I was really impressed with him last year as a freshman.  He plays with a lot of confidence and can beat you off the dribble and knocks down the three.  His brother is a shooting guard, who can really shoot it with anybody.  He doesn't need a lot of space.  He's probably shooting about 45 percent this year.  Defensively they are going to press us a little bit and probably get into a 1-3-1 zone.  Luckily for us New London runs that, so we have been able to play against that this year.  I am feeling really confident going into Tuesday," said Keene.

          The Plymouth coach knows that Wayne Trace is really good, but he is happy Edmiston plays for him.  "We just have to come out an execute at both ends of the floor and good things will happen for us.  All I asked for is execution and give me 32 minutes intensity and energy and good things will happen.  Along with that I would rather have Tyrell on my team rather than playing against me because he is pretty much in beast mode right now.  So, we are going to ride him," he said.

 

Published 3/16/15

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Plymouth With Another Chance

 

          For this year's senior class at Plymouth this is their fourth straight appearance in the division four district tournament and their final chance to get to the regional.

          They play Buckeye Central in the district final at Willard High School on Friday night.

          Last year, they lost to Sandusky St. Mary's (64-52) in the semi-finals, two years ago Colonel Crawford beat them (49-48) in the finals and three years ago the Eagles beat the Big Red (43-38) in the semi-finals. 

          On Tuesday night, Plymouth edged Mansfield St. Peter's (48-41) in the semi-finals.  Coach Troy Keene says they played well enough, but it must be a better effort Friday night.  "I thought in the first half we played pretty well.  In the second half, once we came out of the locker room, like I said the other night, we just went plumb dumb at times, but we gutted one out.  The thing is just survive and advance an that's what we did on Tuesday night, but we are going to have to play a lot better on Friday," he said.

          Plymouth beat Buckeye Central (47-44) on the first night of the regular season December 5.  Keene says that feels like a long time ago.  "We played them in game one, but you can't tell anything from that game because that has been a whole season ago.  They were looking to replace some kids, so you can just throw that game out.  From about February on Buckeye has been playing really well.  Phil (Loy) does an excellent job with that team over there.  They have Austin Wurm and Grant Loy, two excellent ball players.  The you throw in (Scott) Heydinger, who is a great ball defender.  They are petty tough team and we are going to have our hands full," said Keene.

          Buckeye Central (17-8) drilled Sandusky St. Mary's (70-54) in their semi-final game.  Keene says they have two of the better players in the area in Austin Wurm and Grant Loy, the son of the coach.  "You have to make them work hard to get their shots.  With Wurm, if he even touches it on his side of half court he is in range and he can take you off the dribble or he can beat you from 20 feet because he has such a great jump shot.  Then you have Loy, who can post you up or take you out beyond the three.  He is such a difficult match-up.  We are really going to have to go after those two and try and limit their touches," said Keene.

          With Plymouth's district player of the year Tyrell Edmiston, both teams are physical.  Keene says there won't be a lot of finesse on Friday night by either side.  "They play physical and we play physical.  We both can get out in transition and go and both can set up in the half court.  The teams are similar.  We are both built around defense and rebounding and that's what winning programs do.  Buckeye Central does a great job of that and we do a great job of defending and rebounding.  So, it will be a physical, well played ball game," Keene told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          This is probably the biggest game against each other in a while, but Keene says they are familiar with the Bucks and he says both communities will be ready for this game.  "It is two programs that have been really successful over the last 20 years and it has turned into a great rivalry.  We respect them and I am pretty sure that Phil respects us.  It's a good rivalry between two pretty good programs.  It should be one of those games that comes down to the last possession," he said.

          Keys to winning?  Keene says it's ball handling and rebounding.  "You have to win the rebounding battle.  If you can rebound you can win championships.  The team that has the less turnovers and rebounds the basketball is going to win Friday night," he said.

 

Published 3/13/15

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Big Red Survives Scare From St. Peter's

 

          Plymouth survived a scare from Mansfield St. Peter's in semi-final play Tuesday night and advances to play Buckeye Central in Friday night's division four district final at Willard High School.

          The Big Red downed St. Peter's (48-41), it was their 22nd win in a row.

          District player of the year Tyrell Edmiston scored 10 of Plymouth first 16 points and had 16 points at halftime.  However, with almost 6:00 left in the third quarter and his team leading by seven (31-24) Edmiston picked up his fourth foul and returned to the bench for the remainder of the period.  The Big Red would score only four points the rest of the stanza and clung to a one point (35-34) lead.  "We didn't play real well, but I think we played well enough to keep the game in check where I could bring him into the ball game at the beginning of the fourth," said Plymouth coach Troy Keene.

          Edmiston, who finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks was able top play the rest of the game without fouling out.  Keene said he had no worries about putting Tyrell back in the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  "Tyrell is a pretty smart basketball player.  That is why I was pretty amazed that he picked up his third and fourth really quick to start the third because that is just not the Tyrell that I know.  I don't think we had the focused Tyrell (Tuesday) night, but we had the Tyrell that will get the job done," said Keene.

          Plymouth beat the Spartans (52-35) on January 13, but coach Joe Jakubick said after the game he knew it would closer this time.  "We have come a long way since then.  I knew we were going to compete," he said.

          Point guard hunter Hunter Bailey connected on two three pointers in the game's first three minutes, but the Big Red made only two more the rest of the way and none in the second half.  Keene says their perimeter shooting was a little inconsistent and their shot selection wasn't always good.  "That is us we are a little streaky.  In the first half we are up 13 and we come down and take three bad shots in a row.  To me if we are up 13 we need to work it for a great shot and get up 15.  We come down with one pass and chucked it up three times.  We addressed that at halftime and we will be much better coming out Friday," he told Swankonsports.com after the win.

          Freshman Mason Campbell paced St. Peter's scorers with 13 makers, while Jared Jakubick, the son the coach and also a freshman added 10. 

          Keene thought they let the Spartans get to the rim too often.  "That is all we wanted to do all night is take contested shots.  Our game plan all night was to keep them out of the lane and make them shoot contested jump shots and we didn't do a good job of that in the second half and we will be better come Friday," he said.

          Two Edmiston field goals gave Plymouth a five point lead (39-34) with 6:35 left in the game, but the Spartans were able to cut the lead to two (43-41) with 1:11 to play on Tyson Kent's steal and score, but they could get no closer as Plymouth cashed in on five of eight free throws in the final minute.

           "That is all it is whether you win by one or 40 it is just survive and advance and that's what we did.  We were plumb dumb all night, but I'll take it and we are coming back Friday," said Keene.

 

Published 3/10/15

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Plymouth Ready For Anything

 

          Plymouth has been able to take its game to yet another level in the post season tournament, both of their games have been effectively over at halftime, and they need to take another step when they meet Mansfield St. Peter's in the division four district semi-finals at Willard High School in Tuesday night.

          The Big Red (23-1), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, built a 25 point halftime lead and blasted Seneca East (86-41) on Friday night in the sectional finals.  Coach Troy Keene says they need to continue to move forward.  "Coming out of the gate there we were a tad bit sluggish in the first minute of two, but once the nerves calmed down a little bit we played really well.  Right now our defense is really carrying us and getting our offense going.  We are talking as a team of taking the next step.  You have to raise your level of play after each and every game.  We raised our level on Tuesday night and we raised it another level on Friday night.  The kids are really buying in and getting after it.  It's a fun time right now," said Keene.

         Plymouth can run the floor, they can score in the half court and they can press you.  However, Keene says their success is predicated on their ability to defend in the half court.  "We are playing the kind of half court defense we need to right now.  We are doing about anything we want to do in the half court.  The kids are really prepared and buying into it and playing exceptional right now," he said.

          Since Plymouth beat them (52-35) on January 13, St. Peter's has won 10 of their 13 games.  Keene says the Spartans are an excellent team on both ends.  "They have really played well over the last month and that is a testament to their coach.  He has them believing in their system right now.  They are really playing well and getting after it on the defensive end and really getting out in transition and going.  It is going to be a handful," he said.

          At the end of their second meeting with rival Mansfield Christian in which they secured and outright Mid-Buckeye Conference title, St. Peter's (16-8) really spread the floor well.  Keene says they will be ready for that.  "We have seen them three or four times try to spread it out and go to that four corners stuff.  We have been preparing for that for the last month because we figured some team would try and do that.  Even if you get Tyrell away from the basket he is still the best athlete on the court.  He can come out and guard on the perimeter and really give teams fits," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Seneca East tried to do that early Friday night and Monroeville tried that and Tyrell came out and defended well.  We are looking to trap out of it.  Once you get trapped by Tyrell that is a big obstacle to overcome."

          Keene knows they need to get off to a fast start in order to take the Spartans out of that spread, but he says really that is not what St. Pete's is best at.  "We talk every game about getting off to a fast start.  One thing I think St. Pete's has done well over the last month is get out in transition and go.  That is when they have really been effective.  Sometimes if you take your strength away and try to get into a game you don't play that can backfire on you.  I truly believe that our team is built to get up and down the floor or get into a half court game, so we can play both of those," he said.

 

Published 3/10/15

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Plymouth Ready For Special Post Season

 

          Plymouth has the kind of talented, veteran line up that can go a long way in the post season tournament.  They have been thinking about it for a long time, probably since a loss to Sandusky St. Mary's in the district semis last season.

          On Tuesday night they led Monroeville (50-22) at the half and went on to belt the Eagles (86-55) and coach Troy Keene says he knew they were going to play well from the opening tip.  "It was a great first half for us.  I was a little worried, like I said last week, about playing a team back to back, let alone playing a team for the third time.  I have a lot of veteran leaders and when those lights came on for the sectional opener and you could just see in the locker room that they were ready to play," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They really came out focused and determined and executed at both ends of the floor and just played the game the way it should be played.  We just came out and dominated the first half.  We got out in transition and made shots.  For the game I think we were 34 of 54, which is just shooting it great.  We came out and got the job done."

          Plymouth has lost in the districts the last three years and Keene says that isn't going to be good enough this time.  "I don't like to say it, but we have been building for the tournament all season.  I honestly believe my kids got a little bored during the regular season.  I am not trying to knock anybody there, but they have just been building for the month of March and these kids are really ready to go.  I told them in the locker room (Tuesday) night anything other than a regional berth is a wasted season.  I honestly believe that my team is ready to go and they proved Tuesday night that they were ready to play.  If we keep getting better from (Tuesday) night, I keep telling them we need to take it to another level, and if we do take it to another level we have a chance to be pretty good," said Keene.

          The Big Red (22-1), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays Seneca East (4-18) in the division four sectional final on Friday night at Ashland University.  Keene says he expects the Tigers to try and zone them and they will have to execute against it.  "Seneca East is going to come out an run a couple of different zones, a match-up zone and a 1-3-1 zone.  They are going to try and push it a little bit and we are going to have to get out and defend the three point shot on them.  If we can do that and get out in transition I like our chances on Friday," he said.

 

Published 3/05/15

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Plymouth Edges Tuslaw; Prepares for Monroeville

 

          Plymouth scored in the last minute and then got a big stop to outlast Massillon Tuslaw and extend their winning streak to 18 straight with a (40-38) triumph over the Mustangs on Thursday night in non-conference play at Plymouth.

          Tuslaw (14-7) was a late addition to the Plymouth schedule when Lucas could not find a spot to reschedule a game that was cancelled due to weather.

          Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they knew Tuslaw would provide the kind of challenge they were looking for heading into the tournament next week.  "That is exactly why we picked them up.  We wanted to get a good test before the tournament started next week.  Tuslaw came into our place and they go 6'11", 6'7", 6'5" and they bring 6'7" and 6'5" kids off the bench.  We knew they were a good team, a good defensive team, and real physical.  That is the kind of team that you are going to face in the tournament.  It lived up to its billing," said Keene.

          Plymouth (20-1,13-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, travels to Monroeville (4-15,4-9) for a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  They then turn right around an play the Eagles in the first round of the division four tournament on Tuesday night at Norwalk High School.  That is not a scenario that Keene enjoys preparing for.  "I am not looking forward to it.  You never want to play a team for a third time during the season.  That just kind scares us a little bit, especially playing them twice over a span of four nights.  We are going to come out (Friday) night and get after it and work on a couple of new wrinkles that we are preparing for the tournament.  Hopefully we can finish off a good regular season with 21 wins," said Keene.

          With the re-match right around the corner, Keene says they are not going to hold anything back on purpose on Friday night.   He says they still have a lot to play for.  "We are going to throw everything at them that we have to and hope that something sticks.  With a chance at 21 wins (Friday) night it shouldn't be a problem getting my kids up to play.  There is a chance to go through the Firelands Conference with an undefeated record," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night after the win over Tuslaw, "That has happened only six or seven times in the history of the conference.  When we get back to practice on Saturday we will work on a few things we don't do right on Friday night and prepare to play them again Tuesday."

 

Published 2/27/15

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Conference Title on the Line for Plymouth

 

          Plymouth can claim a second straight undisputed Firelands Conference title with a win Friday night at second place South Central.

          The Big Red leads the Trojans by just a game, which means a loss by Plymouth would create a share of first place between the two.

          Coach Troy Keene says they have been looking forward to this game for a while.  "During the regular season with will get on a stretch of four of five games at a time of not great competition, but that is not the case this week.  South Central on Friday night it's a rivalry game.  We are about eight miles apart.  Both of the communities know each other.  It's going to be a battle.  I honestly think it is going to come down to the last possession and who makes the least amount of mistakes.  It should be a good ballgame," he said.

          The Big Red (18-1,12-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, smoked South Central (77-58) in January, the Trojans only loss in conference play this year.  Keene says they tend to not play as well the second time they face a team, but he predicts that won't happen this time.  "That is part of what we do over the last four years.  We will beat somebody pretty good the first time around and kind of overlook them the second time around and it is always a closer ballgame.  I don't think I have to worry about that on Friday night because this is a championship game for us," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "If we win, we win the Firelands Conference, so I don't think it is going to take my kids a whole lot to get up.  We have been preaching all week that that is not the kind of game we are going to have on Friday night, especially over there because South Central is a different team at home."

          South Central (16-3,11-1), #3 in our poll, belted Mapleton (71-44) last Friday and that is an example of what they can do on offense.  Keene says the Trojans can score in a lot of ways.  "They have eight or nine kids that can shoot it really well and they have eight or nine kids that can put it on the floor and go to the hoop.  It is probably one of the better offensive teams that we will see this year.  We are going to come out with a couple of new wrinkles and see how it works and hopefully it works out for the best," he said.

          Plymouth has also been to the last three district tournaments and Keene thinks that experience can be a big factor in a game like this.  "We don't want to share anything with anybody.  We want to win this thing outright for the second year in a row.  When the lights go on my team really tends to show up.  That is what they have done for the last three or four years.  When the bright lights come on my team tends to play pretty well.  That is one of the advantages I think we have Friday night is we have been in 10 or 12 of these big games.  South Central's team hasn't been in a lot of big games.  Big game experience that is a big thing when you are playing these kinds of games," said Keene.

 

Published 2/19/15

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Plymouth Faces Western in Big "FC" Game

 

          With just three conference games to play the Plymouth Big Red leads South Central by a game in the Firelands Conference standings.

          They play the Trojans for a second time this season next week in Greenwich, but first they host the Western Reserve Rough Riders in a conference game on Friday night.

          Down with three minutes to play last Friday night at Crestview, the Big Red rallied to beat the Cougars (59-51) to keep their record unblemished in conference play.  Coach Troy Keene says his kids were able to make the plays when the pressure was on.  "My kids came out and gave a great effort.  We were short handed and we knew that going in, but my kids really responded.  Crestview came out and gave us some great competition.  I really thought that was the effort we were going to get out of Crestview all season," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "If they continue to play like that for the rest of the season and into the tournament, they may win a game or two.  My kids responded when they had to and didn't panic.  They made the plays coming down the stretch and that is what a veteran team does and we pulled one out."

          Plymouth also rallied to beat Edison (60-57) in their previous game.  Keene says they are a very good team and they can't wait around and just expect to be able to win games in the end.  "That is one thing that I keeping talking to my team about making plays not waiting around.  Sometimes I get the sense that they are bored at times, but when need to turn it on they just flip a switch and start playing the game.  What I am trying to teach them is hey you can't wait until late in the game to turn the switch on.  It is getting close to tournament time and we need to be playing out best ball from the opening tip.  Hopefully, we can learn from those two games and start coming out and giving 32 minutes of great effort," said Keene.

          Western Reserve (5-11,3-7) is at Plymouth (17-1,11-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, for a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Plymouth won (70-33) in the first meeting, but Keene doesn't expect that big of a spread this time.  "Western has really improved since the first time that was saw them.  They are really starting to shoot the ball really well, so we are going to have to get out and defend their shooters.  We have to push it up and down the floor and put some pressure on," he said.

 

Published 2/12/15

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Plymouth Must be Ready Each Time

 

          Plymouth is an excellent team, and nobody argues about that, and they are continuing to win games, some by wide margins, when they aren't at full strength or playing in top form.

          Last weekend, they demolished Norwalk St. Paul (72-46) on Friday night in Firelands Conference play when senior post Tyrell Edmistion had a near triple double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.  On Saturday night, Tyson Beebe drilled a three pointer at the buzzer to beat Edison (60-57) in non-league play. 

          Coach Troy Keene says he likes the focus they have shown in the face of some adversity.  "We seriously are just taking one at a time.  We played St. Paul last Friday.  We played okay and ended up burying them in the second half.  Came back on Saturday against a good Edison team, gave a way a 15 point lead in the first half, gave away a 17-point lead in the second half," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have really fought the injury bug with Hunter Bailey and Tyson Beebe.  We ended up getting a 40-footer at the buzzer to win that game on Saturday.  It is one buzzer beater coming our way this season."

          Colonel Crawford handed Plymouth its only loss at the horn back in December.

          Keene admits they didn't play their best against Edison, but they still found a way to win.  "We gutted one out.  We made our fair share of mistakes in the second half.  We also had some bench players really step up for us with Logan Myers and Austin Nester.  We gutted one out and found a way to win," he said.

          Plymouth (16-1,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, make the shot trip to Crestview (3-13,3-6) for a conference game on Friday night.  Keene knows the Cougars would like nothing better than to beat them.  "We are at Crestview and that is a backyard rivalry.  You throw out the records come Friday night because it is just one of those games that each team is going to give its best effort and the team that plays the best and turns it over the least is going to win Friday night.  We are taking them one game at a time," said Keene.

          Crestview has won two of its last three conference games (69-46) over Monroeville and (60-50) over Mapleton last Friday.  Plymouth beat them (73-49) the first time they played, but Keene calls them dangerous.  "They've got the talent.  They are definitely better than their record indicates.  We need to show up and play well because on any given night Crestview can play well and knock you off.  They have a lot of returning talent from last season.  We hope we are not the team we put it together against," he said.

 

Published 2/04/15

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Plymouth Fighting Some Injuries

 

          Plymouth is a last second shot from being unbeaten on the season and they have gone through the Firelands Conference with very little problem so far, but their may be a chick in the amour.

          Right now, they are dealing with injuries and we will have to see how that affects them as they play Norwalk St. Paul in a conference game on Friday night.  They also play Edison on Saturday and Lucas on Monday in non-conference games.

          Last Saturday, with an injury early in the game against Mapleton the Big Red struggled to get started, but coach Troy Keene says they got things in gear in the second quarter and put the game away (72-58) to remain unbeaten in the conference.  "We got off to a sluggish start right at the beginning, but we picked things up in the second quarter and separated ourselves from them.  We played pretty good defense," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We lost our point guard about two minutes into the game, but Tyson Beebe really stepped up and played great point guard for us.  Austin Metzger came off the bench and gave us some great minutes.  We took care of business and came home with a win."

          This week the Big Red has been dealing with some injuries to guards Hunter Bailey and Tyson Beebe, but Keene says both kids were be ready to go come game time on Friday night.  "Hunter's back has been bothering him for the last two weeks, so this is the first week that he has been able to practice for a full week.  The problem is Tyson Beebe came in and sprained is ankle on Tuesday.  So, we have been down two starters in practice.  I think both of them are going to be about 90 percent come Friday.  Both are going to play on Friday, so we will be okay," he said.

          Norwalk St. Paul (2-11,2-7) will be at Plymouth (14-1,9-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, in Firelands Conference action on Friday night.  Keene says the Flyers record might not be very good, but they have some good players that just haven't put it all together yet.  "They play great defense.  You just don't want to be playing St. Paul on a night when they put it all together and start knocking down some shots.  That is really the only thing that is hurting them right now is the ability to put the ball in the hoop.  We just don't want to be the team when things finally click and they start making shots.  We are looking forward to it.  We just beat them 10 days ago, so it is a pretty quick turnaround for both teams.  I am sure both teams are going to be ready to play," said Keene.

 

Published 1/30/15

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Plymouth Buying in on Defense

 

          Plymouth is a very good basketball team that is getting better, especially on defense.

          They blitzed Monroeville (74-42) in a Firelands Conference game last Friday.  They are all alone in first place in the conference standings.  Coach Troy Keene says he likes where they are at on defense, but he thinks they still need to get better on offense.  "We are not completely where we want to be.  Defensively we are probably closer, but offensively we still have a ways to go.  We need a little more consistency at the offensive end and execute a little better.  Defensively we are getting really close to where we want to be.  That is he side of the ball where you win championships, so we are headed down the right path," said Keene.

          Over the last couple seasons the Big Red has lived off their press, especially the diamond press, but this year they are playing a lot more man to man defense in the half court.  Keene says they have to be able to defend in the half court if they are going to be able to beat the good teams they play.  "In the past we have been a pressing team and trapping in the half court.  This year we are getting after you with a lot of man to man.  We are really starting to communicate and knock down cutters.  Those are things that make a championship defense.  We are putting a lot of work in at that end and it seems like it is paying off," he said.

          On Thursday night, Plymouth (11-1,6-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at home against New London (7-6,4-3) in a conference game.  The Big Red won the first time they played this year (59-33) in early December, but Keene says the Wildcats are a much better team now than they were then.  "They really are better than the first time we played them.  They have won four out of six or something like that.  They are a totally different team than the one we played in game four," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We are expecting them to come out and play a 3-2 zone like they have been playing recently.  That is what they seem to be getting better at.  This is a different team than we played in December and we better be ready to play (Thursday) night."

 

Published 1/22/15

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Plymouth Continuing Good Play

 

          After blasting South Central last Friday to take sole possession of first place in the Firelands Conference, the Plymouth Big Red put together two more nice wins against Mansfield Christian last Saturday and Mansfield St. Peter's on Tuesday night, both in non-conference play.

          Coach Troy Keene says they played very well on the defensive end in those wins over the Flames (58-53) and the Spartans (52-35), but they need some work on offense.  "We gave great effort at the defensive end of the floor in both of those games.  (Tuesday) night against St. Pete's holding them to just nine points in the first half.  That's a testament to our kids.  We came out with intensity and got after it for 16 minutes," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It was a great effort for us at the defensive end (Tuesday) night along with Saturday, but we are struggling a little bit at the offensive end with consistency.  We are working through it and hopefully good things happen for us."

          Tyson Bebee scored 30 points in the win over St. Peter's and Tyrell Edmiston added 14, but Keene says they need to get some consistent production from the other players.  "We are just looking for some consistent scorers from our three and four spots.  We shot it about 40 percent from the three point line last year and this year we are down to about 32 percent, so we just need to take better shots and make some shots.  Hopefully, this week we can work on that and get things going in the right direction," he said.

          Plymouth (10-1,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the small school division, plays at home against Monroeville (1-7,1-4) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  The Eagles are now coached by Jeremiah Diebler and they started the season with games plan of pressing for 32 minutes and shooting a bunch of threes.  However, Keene says they have gotten a way from that a little bit.  "That is what they want to do, but sometimes you have to have the horses to do that.  They have some good ball players up there, but not a lot of depth, so you can only do so much with that when you don't have any depth.  They are a nice scrappy little team with a never die attitude.  Hopefully we will get rolling early Friday night and finish them off early," he said.

 

Published 1/15/15

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Plymouth Wants to Defend Their Turf

 

          Plymouth is the defending Firelands Conference champion and they are unbeaten in the league so far, but so is South Central, and they host the Trojans in a key conference game on Friday night.

          Last Saturday, Plymouth drilled Western Reserve (70-33) in a conference game.  Coach Troy Keene says they played well, as the score indicates, but not that well.  "We played pretty well on the offensive end, but not as well as I think we can play.  We battled on the defensive end and worked on a couple of things.  hopefully we are getting better, but are going to find out on Friday night if we are or not," he said.

          Over the last couple of years the Big Red (7-1,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, has been known for its pressure defense, especially their diamond press, but Keene says they haven't used it that must this year and there is a reason.  "We haven't yet.  We are really working on our half court man defense right now.  To win championships you have to play sound man to man defense, so that is what we are really working.  We are throwing in some three quarter court stuff, but we aren't running a lot of it because I think we need to our man to man defense," said Keene.

          South Central (8-2,5-0) has a lot of talent back and they have been playing up to their potential and Keene says the Trojans can be very explosive.  "They are coming in on an eight game winning streak and they really remind me of ourselves with the way that they play.  They get after you with some full court defense," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They return a lot of lettermen, just like we do.  They have seven or eight guys that are going to come out and shoot the lights out of it.  They are a very well coached team.  It is going to be a challenge for us on Friday night."

          It looks like South Central is going to be the Big Red's biggest challenger in the conference this year and Keene says they have to sort of show them who is boss on Friday night.  "I keep reminding my team that it is time to make a statement.  This is a rivalry.  The two communities know each other.  There is going to be a big crowd and it is just going to be a fun game to be a part of.  I keep telling my kids that it is time to make a statement on Friday night if we want to retain our championship.  Hopefully, our kids come out and respond," said Keene.

 

Published 1/09/15

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Plymouth Blasts Cougars

 

          Plymouth outscored Crestview (15-3) in first 6:20 of the game and (15-4) over the final four minutes on the first half on the way to a (73-49) destruction of the Cougars in a Firelands Conference Saturday night in Plymouth.

          Six different Plymouth players scored in the first six minutes of the contest as the Big Red took command.

          Then after Crestview (1-6,1-2) cut the lead (23-17) with 5:17 left in the first half, the Big Red got hot from the outside as Dodge Collins made two three pointers and Austin Nester another over a 40 second stretch and Plymouth took a (38-21) advantage at the half.

          Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they were able to make Crestview defend the whole floor.  "I thought the first half we brought our intensity and played with some energy at the defensive end.  I thought we struggled at times offensively.  Our game plan we to pound it inside.  Their big men picked up some fouls early in the second quarter, which made them have to start collapsing in and that is when my shooters steeped up and really put the game out of hand in about a two minute stretch," said Keene.

          Tyson Beebe led the Big Red with 23 points on the night and Tyrell Edmiston had 13 of his 19 in the second half before fouling out.  Keene says they wanted to force the Cougars to guard the post.  "Tyrell is a load down on the block.  He knows how many fouls the opponents posts have got.  We were just pounding it inside to try and get them out of the game.  He succeeded there in the fourth, but unfortunately he fouled out a little bit later in the fourth, but by that time the game was decided," he said.

          Both Sawyer Radcliffe and Jobe Gray fouled out for the Cougars.

          Radcliffe was Crestview's leading scorer with nine points.

          Collins finished with nine and Metzger with seven and along with Beebe they make Plymouth a tough to handle because they can score on both from the inside and the outside, according to Keene.  "Dodge Collins and Austin Nester are two pretty good shooters for us and when they are hitting shots you have to pick your poison if you want to go out and defend the three or go inside and defend Tyrell.  When they are on we are pretty good ball club at that point," he said.

          Plymouth (6-1,3-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the small school division, shares first place in the conference with South Central (2-0) and Norwalk St. Paul (1-0) so far.

          However, Keene knows the team can get a lot better if they would play as well for the whole game as they do in spurts.  "I have been looking for consistency out of this group for four years.  Some of the veterans were talking about it there on the bench.  They got an opportunity to see it for themselves during the third quarter.  Hopefully that opens up their eyes and good things will happen from here going forward," said Keene.

 

Published 12/27/14

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Intensity the Key for Plymouth

 

          Plymouth has as much talent and experience as any small school team in North Central Ohio and sometimes they prove that, but sometimes they don't.

          The Big Red has looked really good in some games, sometimes for parts of games, and other teams they have sort of played down to their competition.

          An example of the later was (65-53) win over Mapleton, who was winless at the time, last Friday in Firelands Conference action.

          Coach Troy Keene says they are going to try and use this Christmas break when students are not in school to work on their consistency on both ends of the floor.  "Christmas break can go one of two ways they can come in and go through the motions during practice and not get any better or they can come in and work hard.  Hopefully my team comes in and puts in the effort.  We have some alumni coming in to beat on them a little bit.  So, hopefully they work hard and get better and hopefully the season keeps going in the right direction," said Keene.

          Keene says for them it is really about playing with intensity, which is something we also heard from football coach Mark Genders during the fall this year.  "When my team shows up and plays with intensity and energy we play really well, but sometimes we don't show up and give that intensity and energy.  Sometimes we overlook a team here or there and don't play that well.  Right now, we are trying to work out the bugs and hopefully we can get it figured out sooner rather than later," Keene told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

          Plymouth (5-1,2-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, entertains Crestview (1-4,1-0) in a Firelands Conference game on Saturday night.  The Cougars beat New London (56-48) in their first conference game last Friday night.  Keene says this is a rivalry game and Crestview will come to play and that means they have to do the same.  "Besides us they probably have the most talent in the league and they just haven't jelled yet.  We don't want to be the team that they jell against.  This is a rivalry game for us.  It is always a good game.  We are going to have to come out and put some pressure on them, get after them, and get out on transition on offense and hopefully things work out for us," said Keene.

 

Published 12/24/14

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Plymouth Finding its Mojo

 

          When you are as good as Plymouth is you don't mind playing bigger schools.

          Tyrell Edmiston scored 35 points and Plymouth blew out division two Bellevue (85-64) on Monday night in an non-conference game.  Coach Troy Keene says its was the Big Red's best game of the season.  "My kids really came out and played well at both ends of the floor.  Offensively we came out and shot over 60 percent, about 65 percent, for the whole game.  We really did play a pretty good game on the defensive end too," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I know we gave up 64 points.  We were up 30 and we just kind of lost our energy at that point.  Overall it was our best effort.  Tyrell Edmiston comes out and gets 35 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks.  He played just an incredible game.  We shot it well from the outside and well from the inside and overall we played a pretty good ball game."

          Last week, Plymouth lost a tough one-point game (44-43) to Colonel Crawford and Keene says that opened their eyes a little bit.  "I believe we learned more from that loss than we would have from a win.  It would have been nice to get a win there, but we are using it as a learning tool and I think its going to help us," he said.

          Mapleton (0-3,0-0) plays at Plymouth (4-1,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday night in Firelands Conference play.  Keene says they know who they have to stop.  "It comes down to the Barone brothers.  One is the point guard and one is the shooting guard.  If they play well then Mapleton plays well.  Those are the two kids that we really need to concentrate on Friday night.  If we get after it defensively and win the battle of the boards we can be successful," he said.

 

Published 12/18/14

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Plymouth Has to Learn From it

 

          There are a lot of goals for the Plymouth Big Red this season.  If one of them was to have a perfect regular season that will not happen after Colonel Crawford beat them by a point on Tuesday night in non-conference play.

          Derek Burkhart connected on his only shot of the game with .4 seconds left to give the Eagles a (44-43) win at Plymouth.

          Plymouth coach Troy Keene says Crawford just played great defense and they got a big fourth quarter effort from point guard Dylan Gulley.  "We have to take our hats off to Colonel Crawford because they came out and played with intensity and energy for 32 minutes.  Coach Sheldon had a great game plan.  Their point guard the Gulley kid really stepped up in the fourth quarter for them and knocked down three threes in the fourth quarter alone," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "He was the one that carried them to victory on (Tuesday) night.  Defensively we gave great effort and held the Entenmann kid to six points.  You have to give all of the credit to Tyler Taylor and Austin Metzger because they did a phenomenal job of guarding him."

          Keene stresses that Colonel Crawford played great defense, but they didn't make the best decisions with the ball either.  "With Crawford's defensive game plan we kind of struggled with it.  We didn't shoot the ball really well form the outside.  I didn't think we got enough post touches to Tyrell (Tuesday) night.  Those are just things that we need to learn from.  We are going to get better from this loss and we are going to learn and hopefully that will carry us through for the rest of the season," he said.

          Plymouth (2-1) lost their only Firelands Conference last year at New London and that is where they are headed Friday night for the conference opener.  Keene thinks they will be ready emotionally for the game, no doubt.  "We lost a 15 point lead with 1:40 to go last year and got beat.  New London made some big shots against us in that game.  We are looking forward to the game Friday night because these seniors have never won on that floor.  After last year and never winning on that floor I don't think I should have to say much to get them up for Friday night," said Keene.

          If they are going to have more success on offense on Friday night Keene says they have to solve the New London zone and play good perimeter defense.  "They are more than likely going to come out and run some kind of zone at us.  Tommy is known for a 1-3-1 zone sometimes.  We are going to have to get out and guard the perimeter and rebound the basketball and hopefully take care of business Friday night," he said.

 

Published 12/11/14

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Plymouth Off to Good Start

 

          Plymouth is supposed to be one of the best teams around here this season and so far they have lived up to the billing.

          The Big Red (2-0) won both of their games on the opening weekend in beating a solid Buckeye Central (47-44) and hammering division two Galion (70-44) on Saturday night.

          Coach Troy Keene told Swankonsports.com after the win over Buckeye Central that it was a great win for the Big Red.  "I could be any more prouder of my kids with the effort that they gave on (Friday) night.  This is a great opening game for each school, we butt right up next to each other.  It's a nice old fashion rivalry," he said.

          Tyson Beebe and Tyrell Edmiston are both 1,000 point career scorers for Plymouth.  Beebe had 19 points against Buckeye and Edmiston added 15.

          Plymouth won the Firelands Conference title last season and finished with a loss in the district tournament.  Keene says this is a team that can do great things.  "I have three kids that are going to be four year starters for me.  I have my whole starting five back from last year, really my top seven back.  They have been through wars and it showed (Friday) night.  Hopefully we can continue this and keep getting better and better each game out," he said.

          It will be another big challenge for the Big Red on Tuesday night as they host Colonel Crawford (2-0), who also won both of their games last weekend over Northmor (74-35) and Mansfield Christian (54-38) on Saturday night.  Keene says they put games like Crawford on the schedule so they can get better as a team.  "We are putting the bigger and better teams on our schedule because we want to play the tough schedule to get better.  The very first meeting of the season this year I drew a diagram on the chalkboard and I said this is what we have on our back.  Game in and game out we are going to be a lot of teams super bowl.  We discussed it and we want to live up to the challenge this year," said Keene.

          With the headlines the Big Red have been generating already this year across the area they are going to be circled on everyone's schedule this season.  Keene says they have to ready to play well every night.  "My wife told me (Friday) night that she didn't know if she was going to have any fingernails left.  Those are the games that you want to be part of.  The tight ones are the fun ones.  The blow outs are no fun to be part of.  We toughened up our schedule this year and we are going to have some nail biters night in and night out," said Keene.

 

Published 12/08/14

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Plymouth Locks Horns With Buckeye

 

          They pressure is kind of on the Plymouth Big Red boys' basketball team because they had a great year last year and the have about everybody back.  They know this is there year to go big, no not big, go huge.

          Things started a little slow during the preseason, but coach Troy Keene says they have been able to get things going here as the opener at home with Buckeye Central on Friday approaches.  "We started showing up on Monday, which is good.  It is not quite to the level of intensity that I want, but we have had a couple of good practices this week.  I think they are really focused on the game on Friday," he said.

          Plymouth has two 1,000 point career scorers in Tyrell Edmiston and Tyson Beebe and this is a team that can score.  Keene says though that how good they end up being is going to be decided by their defense.  "I am always telling my kids that our defense is what jumpstarts our offense.  Honestly, the last three years it has, but this year we have been struggling with it.  We are starting to get better with it.  With this group sometimes it just takes some time to iron out the wrinkles.  Give us a couple of weeks and we will be fine at the defensive end," said Keene.

          Buckeye Central beat Plymouth in the opener last year and the district tournament two years ago and this has developed into quite a small school rivalry.  Keene says he knows that Buckeye will be here to play on Friday night.  "They are going to be one of the better teams on our schedule.  Any time they you have the Loy kid and the Wurm kid.  They are just great scorers," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Then they have the best defensive player that we will see in the Heydinger kid.  Buckeye Central's M.O. is to get after it on defense.  That is what they do well and they rebound well."

          As far as their defense is concerned Keene says you have to go out and get a hand in the face the Grant Loy and Austin Wurm or they will burn you time and time again.  "We are going to throw about five or six looks at them and whatever sticks on the wall is what we will go with.  Those are two kids that you have to be there on the catch, get you hands up, and close out well.  If you don't they are just going to start burying shots on you and it is going to be a long night," he said.

 

Published 12/05/14

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Plymouth Has to Get With it

 

          Plymouth, the defending champion, is everyone's pick to win the Firelands Conference boy's basketball title this winter, but so far they aren't playing like it.

          Coach Troy Keene has been pretty upset with the effort he has seen from his veteran players, but he did see some good signs in a scrimmage on Wednesday.  "This has not been a good two weeks for us.  We are just struggling to get into the grove right now.  I have my top seven players back from last year and right now it just seems like we've got hangover from last season.  Sometimes I just think the kids think they don't have to come in and give good effort every single night in practice and scrimmages," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, "I just walked in from the Sandusky scrimmage and (Wednesday) was the best effort we have had so far.  So, I hope my kids have realized they have to bring the effort and maybe (Wednesday) was the start of something good for us and will get us going and springboard us into next week."

          Plymouth is scheduled to open the season on December 5 at home against Buckeye Central, who should be very good too.  They play division two Galion the next night.

          The Big Red, of course, qualified for the football playoffs for the first time ever this year and many basketball players were also on that team.  However, Keene says that is no excuse for their lack of intensity.  "We gave them off Monday, brought them in Tuesday for a walk through, Wednesday wasn't real hard, we didn't go hard until Thursday leading into our first scrimmage that Saturday.  We are two weeks in now and I am not going to allow them to make any excuses.  They know it is time to go.  (Wednesday) was the first day that it looked like we had our legs underneath us and hopefully that is a good thing," he said.

          Plymouth only lost one conference game last season and Keene says he has told his players that this year everyone will be out to get them, so they better be ready.  "That is what we started our season off with in our team meeting.  We told everybody that we have a bull's eye on our back.  We are going to be everyone's super bowl.  We are just working on attitude, commitment and class and we have to bring those three things not only in basketball, but every day in life and hopefully things start to click for us," said Keene.

 

Published 11/27/14

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Being Physical a Key For Plymouth

 

          There will be a landmark event on Saturday night in Plymouth as the Big Red plays host to the Lucas Cubs in the school's first ever playoff game.

          It has been a special week in the Plymouth and Shiloh communities with a number of special events, including a speech (Wednesday) night from former world class track star Butch Reynolds.  "It's a buzz around here that's for sure, especially with it being a first time for this with shirts being bought, kid's meal, and guest speakers, and all kinds of stuff the community is really rallying around us right now," said coach Mark Genders.

          Being able to play with emotion and play physically have been key components in Plymouth's success this season and Genders says they have to have that on Saturday night.  "When my kids come emotionally ready to play my kids play a physical brand of football, especially this week we are going to have to do that.  The kids know what they have to do and that is one of the main things we have to do every week.  I definitely think we are going to come out and do that," said Genders.

          Plymouth has one of the most explosive offenses in the area, but lately they have been playing pretty good defense too.  They have allowed only six points over the last two weeks.  Genders says they have found what is working.  "We are doing a pretty good job right now defensively.  We have really hit our stride after making some adjustments and changes in personnel.  We really feel like we have found a niche.  Our defense is peaking at the right time," he said.

          This is a re-match between Plymouth and Lucas as the Big Red downed the Cubs (40-22) on the opening week of the season.  Lucas turned it over six times and Plymouth turned a lot of those into points. 

          The Cubs feature the double wing, double tight offense, but Genders says they have started to do some different things too.  "Since we have played them they have introduced a lot of different formations.  It puts you in different scenarios and makes you defend different things.  Ultimately they want to run the football and follow those big lineman that they've got.  They are an extremely physical football club," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They way they block up front and the way their boys run the football it is a challenge for everybody.  We have to try and contain that the best that we can and make the big plays when we have to make them."

          With Lucas being a primarily a running team Plymouth would like to score a few early, but Genders says that would not force Lucas into throwing it more.  "In think any coach would like to say they would like to get out to a couple score lead, that's for sure.  They can still move the ball running with 20, 30 yard hits.  If you set back in a prevent they will score in three plays.  We would like to create a few turnovers like we did the first game.  We scored off four turnovers on week one and that was the football game.  So, we have to be opportunistic if we can get the football out we need to pounce on it.  We better make sure we don't give up home runs in the running attack because they do hit them," said Genders.

 

Published 11/07/14

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Plymouth Still Trying to Get Better

 

          Plymouth has already accomplished a lot of things that a Plymouth football team never has before, but they are still striving to get better.

          With a (34-6) destruction of New London last week, the Big Red (7-2,4-2) clinched a home playoff game.  Before this year the Big Red had never even played in a playoff game.  "We are still trying to get better as a team each week and with each performance I think we are doing that and it's nice see," said Coach Mark Genders.

          They host rival Crestview (2-7,1-5) this week in a Firelands Conference game, their final regular season game before the playoffs.  Genders says they know that Crestview will play their best game against them.  "We try not to look at what their record is because they are Crestview.  They are playing a lot of young kids and when you play some young kids you are going to make some basic mistakes.  What we see is them getting better.  They have showed some signs of playing extremely well," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We have to anticipate them playing well, this is Crestview, and this is a rivalry game.  We know we are going to get Crestview's best shot and they know they are going to get ours.  We have to play to the best our ability and that means securing the football, play with emotion, and do their job."

          Crestview football has always been about running the ball, but this year they have been throwing it a lot more and Genders says they have to be ready for that too.  "They have some nice receivers, they have some nice weapons.  The quarterback throws the ball well and when he gets out of pocket he is pretty dangerous.  They have been mixing up a lot more than I have seen in past and we have to prepare for that.  Ultimately they want to give their big back the ball, so we have to be ready," he said.

          There is a lot of excitement around the Plymouth about the football team and their should be.  Genders wants his team to experience as much of that as they can, but at the same time remember to keep their noses to the grindstone when it comes practice time.  "With last week's win Plymouth will be hosting its first playoff game ever no matter what happens this week.  It's exciting and I told the kids not avoid it because it doesn't happen that often, so enjoy it.  But, it also comes down to getting your job done each week and getting better.  It is one of those things enjoy, but understand what it takes to maintain.  Come to work everyday and work hard," said Genders.

 

Published 10/28/14

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Plymouth Not Satisfied

 

          Plymouth has qualified for the playoffs for the first time ever, but their coach hopes they are not done growing as a team.

          With a (47-34) win at Western Reserve last week the Big Red has secured its first ever playoff berth in division seven.  Coach Mark Genders says this thing is all new to them.  "I don't know if it has sunk in yet, but there is a buzz going around here.  It is exciting to know there is something in front of us.  It's a new era because, of course, we have never done it.  It hasn't changed what we are trying to accomplish each week.  We still have two tough games left.  We need to get another win and move forward.  A lot of things can still happen for us like getting a home playoff game," said Genders.

          The Big Red (6-2,3-2) still has New London and Crestview to play in regular season games before they can start to think about the playoffs.  Genders says they still need to keep improving.  "If you aren't getting better then that's it.  We have to get back to the grind and work on the little things here and there and dealing with injuries and things like that.  You have to keep sharpening things up.  When it comes to this time in the season, that has to be your whole focus in getting better each week.  We have to push them and they want to put themselves in position to represent Plymouth the right way," he said.

          Plymouth hosts New London (3-5,3-2) this week.  The Wildcats have a new coach in Brad Pickens and he just got the job about halfway through the summer.  Genders says the Wildcats are starting to play some better football.  "In the preseason New London was chosen as one of the top teams in our conference.  The change in coaches caused a big distraction over there.  With their staff getting there so late it is like week three of four for them," he said.

          New London has won its last two in beating Western Reserve (36-18) and Monroeville (36-0) and Genders says they kind of owe them one, or two, if you will.  "Our two senior classes have had epic battles the last two years.  Over the last two years they have beaten us by a total of three points.  It has gone down to the last play each time.  Last year we missed a field goal to win and the year before they won on the last drive.  This is going to be a battle, these are they same kids.  They have made improvements.  They look really solid.  Defensively they have gotten so much better," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They are really starting to come together as a group.  We are going to have to play physical and play very, very emotionally.  They play a physical brand of football over there and they always have.  I expect a whale of a game.  They have two game left, they are 3-5, we are headed to the playoffs, they have a lot to play for.  We are excited about it, it should be a great game."

 

Published 10/21/14

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Plymouth Has to Get Back at it

 

          Plymouth had not beaten Norwalk St. Paul since 1994 and that still remains the case after a loss last week at Mary Fate Park, now they must get back on the beam.

          The Big Red (5-2,2-2) scored the first time they had the ball on a TD pass from Hunter Bailey to Tyrell Edmiston to take a (7-0) lead, but St. Paul would score the next four times and went on to win (48-19) in Firelands Conference action.

          Coach Mark Genders says they played very hard, they just made a few mistakes, and you can't afford those against St. Paul.  "My kids were ready to play.  We marched right down the field on them and punched it in.  We just couldn't get that stop against them they have a great offense.  The kids were playing hard and we put them in some third and fourth down situations, but we just couldn't get them off the field.  We had a few injuries during the game in key spots that they did a nice job of finding and taking full advantage of, " he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We made a few mistakes and turnovers and you can't do that against a great team, they will make you pay.  They are a great football team they did just that, they made us pay.  I am proud of our effort, it is just one of those things, the better team won."

          Genders says there has been no hangover from the loss to St. Paul.  He says the kids are eager to get back on the field.  "We bounced back the next day.  We reviewed and talked about the things that we need to improve on, like we do every week.  With a win or a loss, we don't try to harp on it too long.  Like most coaches we have a 24 hour rule and then it is back to work.  They kids know they still have a ton in front of them with a potential winning season and a playoff berth, the whole nine yards.  We have to come and play because many of our goals stand in front of us.  I think the kids and pretty excited already.  We are just trying to get iced up and healthy early this week in preparation for a solid Western Reserve team," said Genders.

          Plymouth still stands third in its computer region and they are in good position to make the playoffs for the first time ever, but they have to win their last three and that starts on Friday night at Western Reserve (1-6,1-3) in a Firelands Conference game.  This has not been a good year for Western, but Genders says they still have some athletes.  "They have shown some signs of brilliance and of unassuredness.  We are hoping to highlight the things we do and get better at the things we do.  When we play with emotion we are a better football team.  We have to against Western because they have enough athletes out there that can hurt you.  They have gigantic linemen and when they are going like they were against Black River and some other teams they are tough to stop.  We have to play four quarters.  The tough thing coming off a big, emotional game like St. Paul it is going to be on my seniors to make sure we flip a switch and keep the train moving forward," said Genders.

 

Published 10/15/14

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Plymouth with Opportunity

 

          So far, this has been a great season for Plymouth, they have only lost one game, and are in contention for a Firelands Conference football title. 

          They have only won one Firelands Conference title in the history of the school and that came 31 years ago in the fall of 1983.

          Right now, they trail Norwalk St. Paul and Mapleton by a game in the standings and they play St. Paul in a huge game for them on Friday night.

          They kept themselves in contention with a (25-0) win over South Central last week.  Coach Mark Genders says their defense stepped up when they had to.  "The conditions were really rough out there like they were for everybody.  Our defense showed up and we got a nice shutout.  On a night when our offense wasn't quite clicking like it usually does the defense stepped up and limited them to a couple hundred yards and we took care of business," he said.

          St. Paul (5-1,3-0) has outscored its conference opponents 155-15 and there has been a running clock in the second half of five of their six games this year.  Genders says the Flyers never stop coming after you.  "They are just so disciplined.  All coaches try to get their kids to play hard every play and play every play like it is their last.  Coach Livengood and his staff their kids are 100 percent bought into that.  Each one of their kids does that every single play.  If you take one play off they make you pay, they make you pay hard.  They are 100 percent disciplined every play for them," he said.

          The Flyers pounded New London (51-8) last week and they scored four times in the first quarter.  Genders says they can not afford to get behind by double figures on Friday night.  "That is a great team, they are a great football team.  Great teams when you go three and out or you make a mistake they make you pay and that is exactly what they do.  The same thing happened to us last year.  They pounced on us.  We gave them an opening and they took it.  That is a credit to them and what they have done and their tradition and what is expected of their players each week," he said.

          Plymouth is third in its computer region, St. Paul is first in that region, and a win Friday night, barring a collapse down the stretch, would likely give them their first ever playoff berth.  Genders says they are looking forward to the opportunity.  "We are really proud of where the program is right now.  We are excited to be playing a game that means a lot.  There are a lot of implications to a winning season, to a conference championship, to the state playoffs.  It is week seven and it is something we are proud of and we look forward to the challenge.  We want to give our fans something they can be proud about on the field," he said.

 

Published 10/09/14

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Plymouth takes Act to Rival South Central

 

          Plymouth in a share of third place in the Firelands Conference, just a game behind the co-leaders Norwalk St. Paul and Mapleton, and in third in their computer region, will play at rival South Central in a conference game on Friday night.

          They bounced back from a loss to Mapleton (41-28) to hammer Monroeville (58-27) last week in conference action.  Coach Mark Genders says they got off to a good start and got the monkey off their backs.  "We got of to a great start in that game, well I wouldn't say great, but we scored on our first couple of series and defensively we forced them to go three and out.  We went at the them and took care of business fast," he said.

          South Central, or Greenwich, is just down the road and around the corner a little bit from Plymouth and Genders knows there is a spirit of rivalry there from both sides.  "South Central they are a little bit of a rival for Plymouth.  It has always been that way.  There is a lot of respect between the two programs and a lot of intensity between the two programs.  It is going to be a challenge they are extremely well coached and we are pretty excited about it," he said.

          The Trojans (2-3,1-1) are coming off a winless season and have not had a year in the last 20 in which they have won more than six in a season.  Yet this season they have surprised may with wins over Seneca East (39-24) on week one and especially Crestview (27-20) last week.

          Plymouth (4-1,1-1) is the favorite, but Genders has a tremendous amount of respect for the Trojans.  "Coach Hinkle, coach Cook, and their staff, you just watch them on film, they may not have a lot of numbers, but you only need a 11 to play.  He obviously has them understanding that you can have 60 guys on the sideline, but 11 of them can play at a time.  His experience and his background, an coach Cook's background, they are really sound fundamentally and it really shows on film," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They get everything they can out of those kids and they play extremely hard for them.  I'm telling you underestimating them is dangerous and you can ask a couple of teams.  You can't look at the size of the team.  They are truly a hard nosed football team.  They may be one of the best coached teams we have seen."

 

Published 10/03/14

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Plymouth Has to Come Ready Emotionally

 

          Plymouth got its butt kick last week by Mapleton, pure and simple, and now they have to get things back together as they play Monroeville in a conference game this week.

          Mapleton blasted the Big Red (41-28) in the Firelands Conference opener for both schools last Friday.  Coach Mark Genders says they just were not ready to play football.  "I am not going to give an excuses for the way we played.  I mean we got out coached, we got out played.  We did not come emotionally read to play for whatever reason.  Call it a hangover from the week before.  None the less we aren't giving ourselves any excuses.  Mapleton is a good football team and if you don't come ready to play they make you look like they did," he said.

          Preparation for this week began on Saturday and Genders believes the kids know what they have to do.  "One of things we did Saturday morning with the technology we have our kids grade themselves out and stuff like that.  We take that process of them being accountable to themselves, unlike the old days were we watch it together and the coaches kind of break it down for them.  You see a lot of discussed faces in their performance.  You don't have to say much more after that.  We lost a week as far as getting better.  We look at it as we have a game too this week in practice as far as preparation physically as far as running the plays, but more importantly mentally.  We didn't do that last week and we are trying to focus on that this week and the first two days have been pretty solid," said Genders.

          Monroeville (0-4,0-1) is coming off a (33-6) loss to Western Reserve in their first Firelands Conference game.  Genders says this is not a team to be underestimated at all.  "You watch them on film and those kids come off the ball hard.  I think they are pretty solid up front.  The running backs they run hard.  They have just shot themselves in the foot a little bit.  They have played a really nice schedule, let's not make any mistake there.  They opened up in the league with Western and played Margaretta.  They have played some really solid competition.  They have gotten off the ball as quickly as anybody we have seen," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "When you start a new program you try to get your feet underneath you and it looks like even in last week's loss they are starting to do that.  If we don't come mentally prepared we will get knocked off.  The kids know that they have watched them on film.  There is no record watching these kids play hard for coach Stacher and they are not to be taken lightly."

         Plymouth (3-1,0-1) is ranked second in its computer region and they still have a lot to play for.  Genders says it is up to them.  "You have to come to play each play like you are going to work.  It's a fun sport and all of that, but you have go out there and do your job and do it to the best of your ability.  If we get all 11 guys to do that most times we are going to be on the right side of the scoreboard.  I told them against Harrison Central I wasn't much focused on the score, I was focused on my players and how they were performing.  Even if we would have lost I was just so proud of that team and how they fought and played and came ready to go.  I told my guys that is all I am looking for.  Coming together and being responsible play to play that's what makes great teams.  I am really leaning on my seniors this week to get us back on track," said Genders.

 

Published 9/25/14

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Plymouth Ready to Give it All Against Mapleton

 

          Plymouth has been thinking about this game at Mapleton for about a year now and the Big Red plans to put everything on the line.

          The two teams play Friday night and the winner becomes the top challenger to the thrown occupied by Norwalk St. Paul in the Firelands Conference.

          Last week, the Big Red got a field goal at the horn from foreign exchange student Gabriel Suarez to beat Harrison Central (35-34) to remain unbeaten on the season.  Coach Mark Genders says it was a great game for them.  "It was pretty memorable especially with the situation around Gabriel.  The team just kept fighting back.  It seemed like we were down the whole game.  We just kept fighting and scarping and the defense got them off the field with three and half minutes to play.  We came out and used a couple of time outs and set of the game winner.  I think is was the first time it has happened since I was here I think the whole team was confident in Gabriel with what he had shown in practice.  It is just pretty exciting having him around.  It was fortunate that he got approved by the OHSAA in time and it made the difference," said Genders.

          The Plymouth coach said they played last Saturday with a never say die attitude.  "It seemed like a group of guys, offense or defense, that was making a big play, strapping it up and making a big play, a tackle here or there, a fourth down pass.  It showed the character of my kids, they are a bunch of good boys.  They work hard and they deserve all of the praise.  We like to think that we work so hard that we are going to get a couple of bounces here and there," he said.

          Mapleton (1-2) got its first win of the season last week over Rittman (34-0) after losing to Chippewa (39-0) and Sandy Valley (20-0) the first two weeks.  Genders bypasses the Mounties record and calls them an excellent team.  "They had a similar start last year.  Everything has to do with the schedule and the two teams they have played are having great success and are bigger schools than Mapleton.  I know they have been trying to find themselves up front and I think they have done that and it showed Friday night.  They are an extremely talented team.  They have the offensive player of the year in the Firelands Conference coming back, the receiver of the year a couple of years ago in Colon Black and then the quarterback.  They are very dangerous team.  They are to be taken as a contender," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "That is the way we are looking at it.  We understand how big this game is.  We feel like we want to challenge St. Paul.  I know coach Mahaney's goals include a conference championship too.  This is a big step, especially for our first conference game of the year."

          Mapleton rocked Plymouth (47-19) last season and Genders says that was because they weren't ready to play.  He says that won't happen on Friday.  "They put one down on us.  My kids walked down that hill state ranked and thought they could just show up a win, Mapleton should just hand us a win, and they put one down on us.  That is not going to happen again at least on our side.  We are going to take care of the emotional side and the physicality.  It is one of those things where you learn from experience and the lessons that we learned form last year.  We felt that after that game last year it propelled us to having to come ready each week.  That is not going to be a lesson learned twice.  We are going to prepare to give Mapleton all we can.  We understand the challenge of going over to their place," said Genders.

 

Published 9/18/14

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Plymouth Ready For Big Challenge

 

         Plymouth is off to a terrific start to the season with wins over Lucas and Sandusky St. Mary's.  Their next opportunity is a visit to Cadiz for a Saturday night meeting with Harrison Central.

          In a game that was finished Saturday morning last week, the Big Red outscored Sandusky St. Mary's (46-39) and coach Mark Genders says again they were clicking on offense.  "We took care of the ball and that is two weeks in a row knock on wood.  Once again we had over 40 points and 450 yards of offense.  We seem to be clicking pretty good," he said.

          However, special teams was another story.  Genders says they gave up too many big plays.  "Our special teams, I won't sugar coat it, were terrible, and out defense was put in a pretty tough situation.  They returned a punt for a touchdown and I would say most of their touchdowns they started inside our 50 yard-line.  The special teams put us in a very precarious situation.  It was not all the defense's fault, but we do need to tighten things down just the same.  St. Mary's has some great playmakers and they made some great plays as well, so we were just fortunate enough to make a few more than they did," said Genders.

          This is the first ever meeting between Plymouth and Harrison Central.  Genders says they are a bigger school and have talent to go with it.  "This is going to be one of the bigger teams that we have ever played.  They are bigger than Western Reserve, they are the biggest school in our conference, division five.  They have some nice athletes.  They have some decent numbers and I think that is going to be the big challenge for us, dealing with their numbers and things like that," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have a couple of real nice skilled players and a quick quarterback that does a nice job running it.  To say it is a challenge is an understatement, but we are confident group right now.  We just feel like we need to play well on special teams and win that battle and we need to continue to force turnovers and not have any ourselves and we think we have a chance to be right there at the end."

          Plymouth (2-0) is a senior laden team with talent and Genders says they have to head to southeastern Ohio Saturday night and do the things they do well.  "We have to play our game.  We are who we are.  We know what are limitations are.  We know what are strengths are and we want to try and impose that on them.  We need to take advantage of what we feel our advantages are.  Where we feel like we are weak we have to play even more sound.  As coaches I think we have a great plan put together for them.  It all comes down to executing and hopefully we do that," said Genders.

 

Published 9/10/14

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Plymouth Defense Will be Tested

 

          Plymouth has an explosive offense, but their defense will likely be the key if they are to challenge for the Firelands Conference title and earn the school's first ever playoff berth.

          Last week, the Big Red forced four Lucas turnovers in route to a (40-22) win over the Cubs.

          This week, coach Mark Genders says they have concentrated on getting better as a team.  "It has been a pretty good week of practice.  We did some good things against Lucas, but we made a lot of mental mistakes, penalties and stuff like that.  I think we drove home that form week one to week two getting better thing, which traditionally is the biggest improvement of the year and I felt we put a good step forward in doing that," he said.

          Plymouth has the kind of skill that can lead to a lot of points, but Genders says they have to play good defense to be the team they want to be this year.  "That is our focus this year we know we need to force some turnovers.  We feel like if we can force a lot turnovers on the other team that puts a lot of pressure on them, especially with the offense we feel like we have.  We are trying to win the turnover battle and if we do we feel like we have a chance," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We did that last week and it ended up being the difference.  We are a bend not break defense and each week we try to focus on doing our job better and better.  We graded out the group somewhere around the 81, 82 percentile.  We know we have to get up in the 90's to be the defense that we want to be."

          Friday night, the Big Red plays host to Sandusky St. Mary's (0-1) in a non-conference game.  the Panthers lost to Firelands Conference favorite Norwalk St. Paul (54-13) last Saturday.  Genders says the Panthers personnel is similar to theirs.  "They are new to us because we haven't played them.  They are new to our schedule.  We went and scouted them on Saturday and have seen them on film.  It looks like we are looking the mirror really.  They have some really athletic kids.  A solid quarterback, he is a heck of a football player.  They don't have a ton of depth, but the guys they use are solid.  They have some upperclassmen like we do, so we feel like it is going to be an interesting match up.  It is going to come down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes.  We are excited by the challenge," said Genders.

 

Published 9/05/14

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Plymouth Has to be Physical

 

          Plymouth and Lucas are both teams that can be pretty good or just sort of average and the winner of Friday night's non-conference game at Lucas will have a leg up when it comes to that good season.

          The Big Red won (21-7) last year at their place.

          Coach Mark Genders knows they have to be ready for a tough game with the Cubs.  "We better be.  It all comes together on Friday night.  We didn't play real well in the last scrimmage, but I think it was a nice little gut check for my team and they are chomping at the bit to get it going," he said.

          With some outside factors entering into the mix Genders hopes their experience will be a big benefit for them this week.  "I think everybody, especially week one, is pretty charged up.  Hopefully that experience kicks in when they have to keep themselves maintained, especially on a night when we are supposed to get 88 degree weather.  You strap that in with adrenaline you are looking at dehydrating pretty fast. We are going to lean on that senior leadership to keep us calm and focused on what we have to do," said Genders.

          Lucas is a team that wants to be physical at the point of attack and run the football and then run it some more.  Genders says they know what to expect from the Cubs.  "They have looked fantastic the last two scrimmages they have played.  They are returning nine on offense and seven or eight on defense.  They are an experienced group like we are.  They are as physical as it gets and their style is hard to prepare for because it is hard to mimic what they do," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Scott (Spitler) is a great coach and they are well drilled in the fundamentals.  The biggest thing with Lucas is you have to match their physicality.  That is a big thing for us.  We have to match them toe to toe as far as their physical play.  Hopefully it will work out for us."

          Lucas has an offensive formation, double tight, double wing, that you are not going to see anywhere else in this part of Ohio.  Genders says that makes the Cubs very hard to prepare for.  "They are only three teams in the state that do it.  Thurgood Marshall, them, and Edgewood down in the Cincinnati, Dayton area.  It is playing football in a phone both and they love it and do a great job of it.  It is one of those things where it is two completely different styles, them and us.  I truly believe whoever holds on to that football and make the fewest mistakes is going to have the edge.  If you give them a free pass or a fumble or two they are going to pound the clock and if they punch it in they are going to put you a real tough situation.  We have to take care of the fundamentals of this game and take care of the football and limit the mistakes," Genders said.

 

Published 8/27/14

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Defense the Key For Plymouth

 

          Plymouth has shown the ability to score points, but if they are going to be a good football team this year they have to be better on defense than they were a year ago.

          And the coaching staff knows that.

          They open the season next Friday at Lucas against the Cubs.

          Coach Mark Genders says they are kind of kicking at the stall to get started.  "They have practiced all summer and it was good to last week get to hit a person in another colored jersey that's for sure.  We scrimmage Friday night and we will try to fine tune some things.  The kids know that is our last dress rehearsal before the first big game.  We want to be a lot better than we were last week when it comes to penalties.  We want to play solid ball and propel ourselves into next week.  I think everybody is ready for week one, coaches, players, everybody.  It is hard to keep that excitement down because it's so close," said Genders.

          Plymouth has some good experience this year, more than the last two, and Genders says that's a big plus during practice sessions.  "Its nice because you feel like you have a lot of coaches out there with you.  We have been working really hard with our young guys because our experience allows us to do that.  We just don't run our first team guys off to the sidelines they are jumping in with the scout team and we are all watching positions and making sure kids are doing things right.  The young guys are really paying the benefits from it," he said.

          Plymouth last year showed they could light up the score board, but so were the other guys.  Genders says they have to be a lot better on defense this year.  "We are trying to make sure our identity shifts over to the defensive side.  We scored a lot of points last year and we were still on the short side of a win and a loss.  Since then we have really tried to focus on defense.  Put it in their heads that we may bend a little but we are not going to break.  We want to really bow our backs and take to heart what we are doing.  We still have to play," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "You can talk about it all you want, but when it comes down to it when you get those third and shorts and fourth and shorts you have to get those.  Everybody calls us an offensive football team, and yes we are, but as a football team as a whole we are trying to get that defensive identity."

 

Published 8/22/14

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Plymouth Looking Good So Far

 

          Plymouth will feature a more veteran lineup than they have had for the last couple of years and they are feeling pretty comfortable half way through preseason camp.

          Coach Mark Genders says they have a number of kids that are pretty familiar with the offense and defense he has been running at Plymouth and that makes him feel pretty good.  “We have a pretty experienced group.  For a small school we have 18, 19 upperclassmen and it’s showing itself.  We pride ourselves really in having two years of everybody learning what they are supposed to do.  The transition has been really smooth from the off season and we have been able to spend a lot of time with the younger kids teaching them the system,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It’s like we have a bunch of coaches out there helping us with the older guys helping the younger guys.  That has been a big plus for us.  We have stayed pretty healthy.  We are just chomping at the bit to go lineup against somebody with a different colored jersey on.”

          Plymouth will play host to Northmor in a scrimmage on Friday night and Genders says they want to get after it.  “We have really put a lot of focus on competing in practice and the kids have done a great job getting after it.  After a certain point you want to see different jerseys and get this thing going,” he said.

          With two weeks left until that first game of the regular season against Lucas, Genders says they have to focus everyday in practice at getting better as individuals and as a team.  “We have to look for consistent play.  After the two scrimmages we will evaluate those kids that are really close and make sure we have the right crew.  The big focus is trying to get better everyday.  During these summer days to keep competing and keeping that focus is not an easy task, especially when you have long two a days and stuff things like that.  We have to get better every day and in doing so there is going to be bigger responsibly for the kids and more expectations on them.  We are going to try to figure out the next two weeks and hopefully after that last scrimmage you are at the point where you can look forward and put the uniform on and let it lay where it lays,” said Genders

 

Published 8/15/14

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Things will be Different at Plymouth

 

          The game of football is intense no matter what the level and that intensity is important, but Plymouth coach Mark Genders says he wants his kids to remember to have fun too and it’s important for the coaches to remind them, and themselves, of that fact.

           Being a small school the Big Red has to share their athletes.  It’s not hard to figure out that the best athletes in football are likely to be the best athletes in the other sports too.  Genders says when putting together their off season schedule they have to keep that in mind.  “At Plymouth we have a lot of three sport athletes.  We try to find their balance to make sure they get the reps in during other seasons is a challenge.  It is really nice to see the way they develop physically and the confidence they have instilled in themselves and the work they have put in.  The confidence those kids have shown is pretty special,” he said.

          Last year, Plymouth won their Firelands Conference in basketball and many of those players are part of the Big Red football roster too.  Genders believes that those players are going to take that winning attitude they have developed onto the football field too.  “Any time you deal with expectations and you have a lot of success it is contagious.  It’s a momentum thing.  Our kids have a lot of confidence and we fell like we can compete.  The whole basketball team, with the exception of one or two kids, play football for me now.  Tyson Beebe is coming back to football.  Those kids that have a lot of success realize the value of football to them too,” he told Swankonsports.com, “The way programs in Plymouth are going right now it’s a good thing.  The basketball coach (Troy Keene) and I get along really well.  Their success breeds expectations and it carries over in every sport we have.  Anytime you have that kind of environment and it’s done the right way I don’t see how it can hurt you.”

          Plymouth is coming off a year in which they went 5-5 for the third straight year and a number of those losses have been heartbreaking ones.  Genders says they are concentrating on creating a better environment for kids.  “As coaches we set down at the end of the season and evaluate the program and ourselves.  One of things that we are really focused on is making sure the kids are really enjoying themselves and pushing forward a really positive environment.  Not just Plymouth, but everywhere else, the home environment might not be great.  We want this experience to be one where the kids look back on and feel good.  Sometimes as coaches we get caught up in things that may not be important in the big picture and we need reel ourselves back in as well and focus on the kid.  We are making a lot of changes this year on how we do things away from the traditional things.  We are really excited about this off season any what we accomplished and are really excited about what is in front of us,” said Genders.

 

Published 8/05/14

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Plymouth Pitcher Tosses No Hitter

 

          With a number of new players, and lots of rain and postponements, and many games close together and then long periods with no games it has been a bumpy ride at times for the Plymouth Lady Big Red softball team this year, but things are coming together.

          Monday night, sophomore pitcher Addyson Horne tossed a no-hitter in Plymouth's (16-0) win over South Central in Firelands Conference play.

          Coach Troy Keene says Addyson was really on top of her game.  "That is Addyson's first this year.  I think she had two of them last year, but that was her first one this year.  She really pitched well (Monday) night.  She ended up with 10 strikeouts and two walks," he said.

          Keene says Monday night's performance is no surprise because Horne has great control of the pitches that she throws.  "Addyson does a really good job of hitting her spots.  Very seldom will she throw the ball right down the middle of the plate.  She has excellent command of her pitches and she really hits her spots and that makes her a tough pitcher.  She is only a sophomore, so she is only going to get better," said Keene.

          Plymouth (12-8,5-4) plays South Central again on Tuesday and then Crestview on Wednesday and Western Reserve on Friday, all in conference games.  Keene says they are playing their best right now.  "We start four sophomores and three freshmen.  We have seven new kids in seven positions when we started the season.  It took some time for the girls to jell a little bit and get comfortable in their new positions," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, "We went through a five game losing streak there early in the season and since that time the girls have really gotten confidence in themselves and they have gotten more confidence in their teammates.  They are just loving the game right now and it is fun to be part of.  The girls are really enjoying being around each other and we are beginning to be a family.  Right now, they are playing their best softball of the season."

 

 

Published 5/06/14

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Plymouth Gets First Conference Win

 

          The last two years had been good ones the Plymouth Big Red baseball team.  In 2012 they won the Firelands Conference and last year they finished second behind New London.

          This year has been a different story.

          Thursday night they won there first conference game beating Crestview (7-5) and hopefully that leads to more success in the second half of the season.

          Coach Andrew McFarland says winning, well, it feels good.  "It was a great win.  It felt like it had been forever since the last time we got to feel like what it felt like to win a game.  It is definitely a big rivalry between Plymouth and Crestview that goes way back, so that is an added bonus.  (Thursday) we kind of came together and pitched the ball well, played some defense, and play some small ball, stole some bases and just played a good team game," he said.

          Big hits have been few and far between for the Big Red this year.  McFarland says they just have had to find different ways to get some offense.  "Even when we were getting guys in scoring position it seemed like we struggled this year whether it be taking a called third strike or hitting the ball right at somebody.  We just haven't had things go our way, so we are trying to find whatever it takes to get those runs in," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "So, (Thursday) we really tried to put the pressure on them.  We asked a couple of guys to make sacrifice bunts that ended up being perfect bunts down the third base line for a base hit and that is something that we have really practiced the last week or so.  Even when we are sacrificing and have the possibility of making an out we want to make it as perfect as we can."

          Defense is something that has to get better too and Thursday night McFarland says they proved they could do it.  "We probably average three or four errors a game and as a program, as a team, that is probably twice as many as where we want to be.  We would like to have two at most and that is the goal that we have set for ourselves for the rest of the games.  (Thursday) we had one.  We had a couple of tough plays that we didn't quite make and a couple of bounces that were tough, but all and all we only had one legitimate error.  We were able to throw a guy out stealing a base and those have been few and far between.  It was really a positive step in the right direction.  I think we have the ability now to put things together week in and week out," said McFarland.

          Plymouth (3-10,1-6) plays at Crestview (6-8,3-4) in the re-match on Friday afternoon, weather permitting.

 

Published 4/25/14

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Plymouth Trying to Find It

 

          Plymouth has only won a couple of games so far this year and their coach says they have to start believing more in themselves.

          Mapleton downed the Big Red (10-7) in a Firelands Conference game on Monday night and the Big Red is 0-3 in conference games so far this year.

          Coach Andrew McFarland says they are young and so far they have not found the keys to executing at the varsity level.  "It's probably been more difficult than I expected.  We lost some key kids last year.  Going into this year I knew we didn't have our number one pitcher over the last couple of years in Zach Butler, our three hole hitter in Brett Roberts, and our solid third basemen in Dustin Chamberlain and I knew we had some young guys and some holes to fill, but also knew we were going to be really athletic and the guys that were back with the program should know our goals and expectations.  But, the first couple of weeks we haven't pitched great, we haven't made the plays the field, and our approach at the plate has been rough too," said McFarland.

          Things aren't going to get any easier for the Big Red as if the weather permits they travel to Fredericktown (7-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach's poll in the small school division, on Wednesday afternoon.  McFarland says playing good teams will only make them better.  "I know they have had some good success recently and are off to a good start, but I look forward to it.  To get better you are going to have to play the better teams.  When things are going tough anyhow and you look at a team like Fredericktown, you think boy I hope we can get through the whole game, but I think we have the ability to do that and to play with anybody," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Our guys are going to have to start believing in that and have to play that way too, it doesn't just happen by accident, you have play smart, good baseball or any team can beat you.  Baseball is game where anyone can beat anyone on a given night."

          Plymouth (2-6,0-3) will play Mapleton again on Thursday.  Coach McFarland knows if they can start executing better they can turn things around.  "I told our guys that the baseball season is short compared to other sports.  You only have six weeks and you don't have a lot of time to correct the problems and you have to try and figure it out quick and battle through it.  It doesn't take much to get going, it's been a tough start, but I also feel like having played the game and coached a few years now it doesn't take much time to turn things around as long as you are fighting and trying to get over it," he said.

 

Published 4/16/14

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Plymouth in the Mix

 

          With some athletes with the winning the attitude the Plymouth Big Red figures to be in the hunt for the Firelands Conference baseball title this spring.

          Coach Andrew McFarland says the pitchers have started to round into shape and that makes him feel a lot better with the season beginning this weekend.  "When I talked to you a couple of weeks ago that was my big concern the pitching staff and their ability to throw strikes.  We really spent a lot of time with them in practice to try and iron out their mechanics and hopefully they start throw more strikes.  Over the last week or so on the mound I have definitely noticed an improvement.  We haven't been out on the field yet, but we have put some betters in a box just so they can get used to seeing somebody standing in there.  Hopefully that will help them focus a little more too," he said.

          Even with the bad weather that has forced them inside for the most part this March, McFarland says his hitters are coming around too.  "I have been pretty happy for the most part with us in the cage.  Again we haven't been outside much which starts to drain on everybody and takes the fun our of it for everybody.  It's like here we go again it's in the cage and in the gym, but the positive of that is it does gives up time to focus on some mechanical things and do some drills that we don't necessarily do when we are outside.  Sometimes you feel like you have flat lined, but as the season has gotten near I can see guys locking it in," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I think we are going to be able to score some runs this year with our athleticism and our speed.  Hopefully everything will fall into place with our pitching and defense with some of these guys that really haven't had a lot of varsity time stepping up and replacing those that we lost after last year."

          McFarland predicts that defending champion New London will again be the favorite for the Firelands Conference title this year, but he says a lot schools will be in the race.  "I think we can definitely be towards the top.  I hope as a program we can feel like that every year that we feel we can be in the top half and then push the top three and push the top spot.  Being from the area, I graduated from Madison High School, I kind of know some of these teams around here.  New London has always been the cream of the crop.  I think they are going to be the team to beat once again.  Crestview has a solid program too.  Western Reserve has great athletes and they have a new coach this year, so it will be interesting to see what they accomplish.  St. Paul can be tough and has some good athletes.  Mapleton can have some good players from time to time.  I think it is a very competitive league.  I look forward to being there in the end and having a chance to win it," said McFarland.

          Plymouth opens the season at home Saturday with two against the Crestline Bulldogs.  They played New London in their first two Firelands Conference games April 7 and 8.

 

Published 3/27/14

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Plymouth Needs to Find Pitching

 

          Plymouth finished second in the Firelands Conference last year behind New London after winning it two years ago and they have some talent this year, but they have to replace some key players too.

          Coach Andrew McFarland says the team certainly has potential, but their younger players have to step up.  "I think we will be a solid team.  We lost some guys that have been around for a couple of years and really contributed to the program and got us headed in the right direction.  The loss of Zach Butler, Bret Roberts, and Dustin Campbell will have some tough shoes to fill, but I think we have some guys that are athletic and I think we will be a good team," he said.

          A key for Plymouth will be their pitchers rounding into shape, many of which were members of the basketball team that advanced to the district tournament, and McFarland says they are still a little behind.  "We definitely have to be better at throwing strikes.  The little that we have thrown off the mound the pitchers have been a little erratic.  We just have to get up there and put in some time and hopefully we will be able to get it straightened out," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Most of our basketball players are our pitchers, so they missed the first week's practice and they are still behind.  That would be my biggest concern heading into the season would just be the ability to throw strikes and compete on the mound."

          With the bad weather, something that baseball teams in North Central Ohio are used to in the early spring, McFarland says that tend to put hitters a little behind because they find it hard to get their timing.  "I would say that it probably puts hitters farther behind unless they have the ability to have a cage that you can throw live to hitters.  I would say that is probably the toughest thing.  Although looking it looks like it is going to be a cold spring as well.  That can be tough too throwing in a gym where it is 70 degrees and then throwing outside where it is 35 and windy," he said.

          Plymouth beings the season on March 29 when they entertain the Crestline Bulldogs for two.

 

Published 3/19/14

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Plymouth Must Control Harris

 

          This is the third straight year that Plymouth has qualified for the division four district tournament at Willard.  The last two years they have lost tough games and failed to advance to the regional.  They hope it is different this time.

          The won a sectional title last Friday when they stuffed a pretty good Mansfield Christian team (58-35) at Ontario High School.  Coach Troy Keene says they were ready to play.  "It was as pretty good sectional with St. Pete's, Christian, Buckeye and us.  There were four teams in there with winning records.  We knew we were going to have to come in and play well.  We preached that to the kids all week.  They showed up on Friday night and played a pretty good game.  I was proud of them," said Keene.

          Tyson Beebe led a balanced attack against Mansfield Christian with 15 points and Tyrell Edmiston added 12 points and eight rebounds.

          Tuesday night, the Big Red (21-2), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the small school division, plays Sandusky St. Mary's (16-8) in the district semi-finals.  Plymouth beat the Panthers (67-47) in the sectionals last year.  Keene says there is no question they are a very good.  "It all starts with Denarius Harris and Melvin Jackson, they are probably their two best ball players.  They have been in that program for quite a while.  They play in a pretty tough conference up there with Perkins and Huron.  They have been tested and it will take everything we have got to beat them on Friday night," he said.

          Harris is a 6'4" point guard that is athletic and Keene says he is tough to guard because he plays anywhere.  "He is their point guard and he is also their best post player.  From what I have seen he is their best outside shooter.  He is just a do it all type of kid.  He is a great ballplayer and we just have all the respect in the world for him.  We are going to do some special things against him and hopefully that work our for us," said Keene.

 

Published 3/04/14

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Plymouth Battles Back; Faces Mansfield Christian Next

 

          At halftime it looked like the impossible might happen and then reality set in and Plymouth belted Lucas (68-35) in the division four sectional semi-finals on Tuesday night at Ontario High School.

          Next for the Big Red (21-2) will be Mansfield Christian (13-8) in the sectional final on Friday night at the "O-rena."

          After leading (21-10) after the first quarter on Tuesday night, Lucas (2-21) outscored the Big Red 15-9 on the second quarter to make it just a five point (30-25) Plymouth lead at the half.  Plymouth coach Troy Keene says he would like to forget that second quarter.  "We came out and started well in the first quarter.  I think we went up 21-10, but that second quarter was ugly.  We lost our focus and our intensity in the second quarter.  It was both at the offensive end and the defensive end.  It was just an ugly eight minutes of basketball," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We came out after halftime and played pretty well.  We held Lucas to five points the whole second half going to the two minute mark of the fourth quarter and that's when I went to my bench.  I was very encouraged by what happened in the second half.  Hopefully we can take that second half and build on it for Friday night."

          Plymouth buried Lucas (35-10) in the second half.  Hunter Bailey paced the Big Red scorers with 20 markers.

          The Big Red beat Mansfield Christian (66-44) back on January 11.  Keene, however, expects the Flames to be a lot better on defense on Friday night.  "When I think of a John Kurtz basketball team the first thing that pops into your mind is they are a great defensive basketball team.  They are going to come out and pressure the ball and get up in the passing lane.  It just makes it difficult on the offense.  All of John's programs have been built on defense.  I respect John and his program.  He is going to have his kids ready to go on Friday night.  We are going to have to come out and be focused and be ready to play come Friday," said Keene.

          Mansfield Christian lost its last two games of the regular season to Mansfield St. Peter's (62-48) and Kidon Central Christian (56-36).  Keene knows the outright Mid Buckeye Conference champs are going to be a challenge for them.  "They have four kids that can absolutely stroke it from the three point line and that really scares me.  I know they haven't been shooting it well hear lately, but that is the one thing that they always hurt us with.  So, we are going to go out and defend it and make them beat us off the dribble and hopefully things will work out for us," he said.

 

Published 2/27/14

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Plymouth Finishes the Regular Season Against Monroeville

 

          Plymouth has already won an outright Firelands Conference title and the tournament doesn't start to next week, but Friday night they play host to Monroeville in their final Firelands Conference game of the season.

          Coach Troy Keene says he is a little concerned that the Big Red won't be as focused as they should be on Friday night.  "We are a little concerned as a coaching staff.  Right now, we are just trying to keep them up beat, so we have thrown the goal out there of trying to win 20 games in a season.  That's a pretty good season.  Hopefully we come out on Friday night and do well.  Monroeville is really one of the teams that has come on strong here at the end of the season and they are going to come in ready to play.  Hopefully we are focused and come out ready to play," said Kenne.

          Plymouth (19-2,12-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the small school division, is the second seed in next week's division four sectional tournament at Ontario High School.  Keene says they need to keep playing well.  "You just want to continue to do what you have done all season, but at this time of year you really want to be playing your best ball.  One thing that I have noticed with my team this year is our focus doesn't last for 32 minutes," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Sometimes it feels like we get bored, so we have to keep fighting through that and try to get better.  We are throwing all kinds of scenarios at them to keep their mind going and hopefully that works and takes us right in to the tournament."

          Monroeville (6-13,4-9) shoots a lot of three pointers and Glen Clark is one of the leading scorers in the Firelands Conference.  Keene says they have to play good perimeter defense.  "I am going to guess they are averaging 30 three point attempts in a game.  That's what we did the first time against them we got out and put some pressure on them.  We want them to put the ball on the floor, but we have to get out and contest the three.  For the most part during the season we have done a pretty good job of that," he said.

 

Published 2/21/14

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Plymouth Wants ton be Selfish

 

          Plymouth already has a share of the Firelands Conference title, but they don't want anyone else to have part of it they want it all to themselves this year.

          A win on Friday night at rival South Central will give them just that.

          Plymouth coach Troy Keene says that have been a topic of conversation with the team this week.  "I talked to the kids about that at practice (Monday) night that we want to be selfish and win it by ourselves and win an outright championship and the kids are excited and ready to go on Friday night," he said.

          Plymouth leads New London by a game two games in the standings.

          Frankly, the Big Red (17-2,11-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the small school division, has dominated the conference this year with their only loss coming (52-51) to second place New London when it looked like they had the game put away.  Keene says they have had pretty good focus.  "We preach that you have to show up and give intensity every night and for the most part through the conference we have done that," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have beaten everybody in the conference so far by double figures except for one and that was the New London debacle where we were up 15 with 2:49 to go and got beat.  If you take a way that game we have played pretty well.  The kids are starting to buy in that you can't overlook people and they have to bring the effort and intensity every game."

          South Central (5-13,3-9) has been dealing with some internal issues this year with some of their best players being suspended for four games.  Keene says he expects that South Central will be inspired to deny them their goal.  "With everything that is going on over there right now it is a scary team because they have the talent to come out and compete night in and night out.  We just don't want them to push the right button on Friday night and knocking us off in a rival game.  My kids will be ready to go.  We lost over there last year and South Central played really well.  I am bringing that up every day this week, so my kids will be well prepared and come out and give good effort,' said Keene.

          Plymouth earned the second seed in the division four sectional tournament at Ontario High School and will play Lucas in a first round game.  Keene says they will deal with that when they get to it.   "Our next goal is to finish with 20 wins on the season and start getting ready for the tournament," he said.

 

Published 2/12/14

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Plymouth on the Verge

 

          With a win at home on Friday night over Western Reserve, the Plymouth Big Red will lock up a share of the Firelands Conference boys' basketball title.

          They lead the Rough Riders two games with three to play.

          It has already been a special week for the Plymouth program.  On Tuesday night during a (74-55) victory over Seneca East juniors Tyrell Edmiston and Tyson Beebe scored their 1,000 point in varsity basketball competition.  Coach Troy Keene says they did it on back to back plays, which seems to be pretty rare.  "It is a great accomplishment for both of those kids and it is a great accomplishment for our program.  Tyrell got his 1,000 point on a dunk and Tyson Beebe followed him up on the very next possession with a three.  They got them in back to back possessions," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We have people looking into it to see if it has ever been done in Ohio before.  Right now, it looks like it hasn't.  We have found it happened out in New Jersey with a girls' team.  It is a pretty big accomplishment.  It has been a great week for the kids."

          Carrying an 16-2 overall record the Big Red is now #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the small school division.  Keene says his team has played some pretty consistent basketball.  "We talk on a daily basis about taking it one game at a time and just bringing effort and intensity to every game.  For the most part we have done that.  we have had some lapses in a couple of games.  The kids are having fun and are living up to the challenge.  I tell them on a daily basis it is about having fun because that is why you play basketball and they are having fun with it right now," he said.

          Plymouth beat Western Reserve (8-8,7-3) (67-55) back on December 27.  An overtime loss to Mapleton (46-43) last Friday dropped the Rough Riders two games back.  Keene says he expects that Western is going to give them all they can handle.  "Like all of the Chris Sheldon's teams they come out and they play hard.  I don't look at that as a bad loss because Mapleton is a pretty good ball club.  The talent is there, they just haven't won a lot of games.  Chris will have his team ready to go on Friday night.  They are going to try and climb back into this conference race.  If we win we clinch a share of the title.  Games like this are why you play the game," said Keene.

          Friday night, presents and opportunity for the Big Red to accomplish the first of their many goals.  "Our goal as a team is to win as many championships as we can.  You can only win five championships.  This is our first shot at winning one this year and hopefully the kids will come out and take advantage of it," he said.

 

Published 2/07/14

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Plymouth Working Hard

 

          Plymouth continues to lead the Firelands Conference standings by a game over Western Reserve and they play the Rough Riders next Friday.

          This Friday night the Big Red (13-2,9-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the small school division, plays host to Crestview (5-7,4-3) in a Firelands Conference game.

          Last week, the Big Red stuffed Norwalk St. Paul (58-40) to keep their momentum going.  Coach Troy Keene says it was defense that was the word of the night.  "Especially at the defensive end because that is really what we have been working on over the last couple of weeks.  To hold St. Paul to 22 points through three quarters that is a pretty good effort and I was proud of my kids.  Right now they are really starting to buy in at the defensive end and that is really what we are improving right now.  Hopefully we keep working at it and improving.  Hopefully good things are in store because championships are won at the defensive end of the floor," said Keene.

          Crestview lost Thursday night at Kidron Central Christian (62-36) in non-conference play.  That was just their second game in three weeks and Keene says that makes the Cougars even harder to get a reading on.  "They are a hard team to figure out to begin with.  Before these last three weeks we were really seeing a lot of improvement out of them.  They are a scary team because they have all five starters back from last year and right now they are starting to gain some experience there," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Up until three weeks ago they were really starting to get better.  I don't know what these three weeks are going to do to them.  It's going to take a great effort on our part come Friday night, but my kids will be ready because a win Friday night sets up a championship game against Western Reserve next Friday."

          Again Friday night, Keene says its going to be their defense that puts them in position to win.  "Championships are won at the defensive end and we have been putting a lot of time in at that end of the floor, so hopefully some good things can happen for us," he said.

          Plymouth plays Bellevue on Monday and Seneca East on Tuesday in non-conference home games.  Keene says there will likely be two celebrations as both Tyrell Edmiston and Tyson Beebe look like they will pass the 1,000 point barrier.  "Something that is going to happen early next week for us is we are going to have two kids go over 1,000 points in one game.  That is kind of unheard of.  They are both within 40 points of going over 1,000, just one point separates them.  This a big week for the Plymouth Big Red program,' said Keene.

 

Published 1/31/14

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Plymouth Ready to Defend Position

 

          Plymouth now holds just a one game lead in the Firelands Conference standings over both Western Reserve and New London after being upset by the Wildcats last Friday.

          New London made a three point basket with just over a second to play to complete an improbable comeback (52-51) win over Plymouth.  Coach Troy Keene says they know the race is on now.  "You have really got be focused.  The best thing we probably have going for us right now is we are done with the double weekends.  We are just starting to concentrate of the league games right now.  We need good efforts each night out.  Hopefully, Friday night against St. Paul we can come out and put together a pretty good effort," he said.

          After the loss to New London, Plymouth responded to with a (68-44) thumping of Mapleton on Saturday night.  Keene says he knew his kids would respond.  "We came in early on Saturday and did some film study.  After Friday night, after being up 15 points with 2:49 to go and getting beat my kids heads where just hung Friday night on the bus, so I didn't want to go in there screaming and everything," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We just went in there and game planned and watched the film and just tried to get better.  We corrected some things and went out Saturday night and really got after it.  I really didn't have to say a lot to my team they were ready to go on Saturday night.  Hopefully, Friday night was a wake up call and that carries over into Friday night for us."

          This Friday, Plymouth (12-2,8-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the small school division, plays at Norwalk St. Paul (5-6,4-4) in conference play.  They beat the Flyers (64-53) on December 30 at their place.  Keene wants to use some pressure defense to take the Flyers out of their rhythm.  "St. Paul is a little streaky team.  They got started late because of the football season.  You can just see them getting better and better.  It starts with their two bigs Smiley and Harwood and they have the good shooting guard in Slauterbeck.  If those three are playing well it makes the other two on the court that much better.  Hopefully we can shut down those three a little bit and take control the game early and keep some pressure on them force some turnovers and make some things happen for us," said Keene.

 

Published 11/22/14

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Plymouth Must Keep Focus

 

          It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Plymouth Big Red have clearly been the best boys’ basketball team in the Firelands Conference this year.

          Over the first half of the conference schedule they have beaten every league team by at least double figures.  They have now won 11 in a row and lead the standings by two games over New London and Western Reserve.  They play the Wildcats for a second time on Friday night.  They beat them the first time (76-39) in the conference opener for both.

          Plymouth (11-1,7-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, outlasted Mansfield St. Peter’s (72-67) on Tuesday night in a non-conference game. 

          Coach Troy Keene says it was not a good effort by the Big Red.  “I really wasn’t happy with our effort on Tuesday night.  It seemed we would jump up 10 or 15 points and then lose our focus and go into a lull and just play mediocre basketball.  I preached all day (Wednesday) at practice that we are just not going to survive if we don’t start playing with some passion and giving a little more effort at the defensive end and that includes giving up offensive rebounds.  I think St. Pete’s had 15 or 16 offensive rebounds against us and we are just not going to survive a lot of basketball games that way.  We have to come with a little more passion and a little more effort if we are going to continue to improve,” said Keene.

          New London has struggled on offense this season.  They lost (46-31) to Oberlin Firelands in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  However, Keene says they always play good defense.  “That is what New London’s program is all about.  Tommy (Howell) has built that team up with multiple defenses and they play hard at the defensive end.  This group is finally starting to buy into that and they are really improving at the offensive end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday. “They have struggled a little bit, but they are a young team with only one returning starter from last year.  In the first game we came out and beat them pretty good, but we are going to New London on Friday night and that is always a tough place to play and we are going to have to be ready to play.”

          Mapleton (1-9,1-5) comes to Plymouth on Saturday night for a conference game in what could be a tough game because Keene says the Mounties are better than their record.  “We have talked about that all season about having an “X” on your back.  We like that because hopefully that makes us play better.  Mapleton, they have only won one game and I can’t figure our why.  They have five very solid starters and they are a team to be reckoned with.  They are going to win some ballgames and they are going to surprise some people in the second half.  We are going to have to be prepared on Saturday if we are going to come out with a win,” he said.

 

Published 1/17/14

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Plymouth With Eight in a Row

 

          Plymouth hasn’t lost since the first week of the regular season and they stand alone a top the Firelands Conference boys’ basketball standings.

          Last Friday night was another conference win for the Big Red as they took a (25-6) lead after the first quarter and went on to pound South Central (68-43) to remain perfect in the Firelands.

          Coach Troy Keene says that quick start allowed them to relax a little bit.  “It was a great win for us.  Anytime that you can beat a backyard rival, which we are with South Central, it’s a great win.  I thought we came out and got off to a fast start Friday night.  We made seven out of our first eight shots and that really got us rolling in the first quarter and we jump out to a 19 point lead by the time the quarter is over,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Those are the kind of starts that you can sit back and relax a little more.  I thought we lost our intensity in the second quarter.  Then we came out of halftime and regained our focus there and then the bench came in and played a great fourth quarter for us.  Anytime you can keep winning and build confidence we will take them.”

          Plymouth (8-1,6-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, and ranked in the first statewide poll in division four, has played really good defense in spots, but Keene says it isn’t consistent yet.  “They have given it to me in about 80 percent of the quarters we have played.  We still have to learn to play with intensity for 32 complete minutes and not 24 minutes or 16 minutes.  We are getting better at that end of the floor.  Most of the time you really aren’t playing great defense until February rolls around anyway and we are still on pace for that.  They kids are improving and things are happening for us right now,” said Keene.

          The Big Red is at Monroeville (2-7,0-5) for a conference game on Friday night.  Keene says they better not take the Eagles too lightly or it could cost them.  “Monroeville is a very young team.  As soon as we get back into the gym this week we will put the game plan in.  They are a young and upcoming team.  They are going to come out and shoot a lot of threes.  That is scary because if they are making them it is going to be a pretty good ballgame.  Hopefully we can come out and defend the three well again and hopefully things will fall our way,” he said.

          Plymouth plays Mid-Buckeye Conference leader Mansfield Christian (6-3) in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

 

Published 1/08/14

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Perimeter Defense a Key For Plymouth

 

          Plymouth is right where they want to be all along in first place in the Firelands Conference, but there is more than a half a season to play and they meet the second place team on Friday night.

          Last Friday through this Monday the Big Red (7-1,5-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, beat Western Reserve (67-55), Colonel Crawford (65-58) and Norwalk St. Paul (64-55).  Coach Troy Keene was pretty pleased with what he got from his players.  “We are very upbeat about it.  Friday night and Saturday night we came out and had two great games.  Saturday night we probably played one of our better games.  On Monday we just didn’t play with any intensity and we weren’t focused.  I think that had a lot to do with the two opponents we played last weekend.  For the three games we are just tickled pink and hopefully we can keep it going,” said Keene.

          Plymouth has put together a seven game winning streak, but Keene knows they have to keep pushing.  “I am never satisfied and the kids are always getting on me about that.  Even when we play good I am always nit picking things and finding things we can get better at.  I am constantly grilling kids.  We are just trying to get better for each and every day at practice and that is all that I can ask of my kids right now,” he said.

          South Central (5-3,3-1) will be at Plymouth on Friday night.  Keene says the young Trojans will be a challenge in what is a big rivalry game for them.  “The Trojans are a very young team.  He plays about 11 kids and it’s a back yard rivalry for us.  Our communities kind of intertwine.  Everybody knows everybody.  He has a lot of talent on that team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The one big thing that really sticks out is the number of threes they come down and put up.  They are going to come down and shoot 25 or 30 threes against us.  We have to come out and defend the three, so hopefully we can come out and do that and put a little pressure on them.  It is going to be a test for us (Friday) night.”

 

 

Published 1/03/014

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It’s the Sheldon Holidays For Plymouth

 

          Plymouth faces a tough back to back this weekend, but if they are successful they will have the Firelands Conference lead to themselves and will have beaten what many think is the best small school team around North Central Ohio.

          They travel to Western Reserve, coached by Chris Sheldon, and who shares the Firelands Conference lead with the Big Red, and then Saturday hosts unbeaten Colonel Crawford, coached by David Sheldon, in a non-conference game on Saturday.  Plus, they play Norwalk St. Paul in a make up game in the conference on Monday.

          Coach Troy Keene says he isn’t concerned by the NBA like schedule, but he is concerned by who they are playing.  “Three games in four days really doesn’t bother me, but what has me shivering is I have to play both Sheldon boys this weekend going to Western where they are undefeated in the conference in a tough match-up up there and then coming home Saturday and having to face Colonel Crawford.  That is what has me shivering having to play both Sheldon boys this weekend.  We have been calling it the Sheldon holidays for Plymouth,” he said.

          Right now, Plymouth (4-1,3-0), #5 in the Swankononsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, and Western Reserve, the defending champion, (4-3,3-0), share the lead in the Firelands Conference.  Keene says they are going to have to find the keys to the Rough Riders zone.  “Chris (Sheldon) is getting a couple of kids back healthy now.  His how team has revolved around the Good kid, which is a guard, and Hankins, which is a post.  They are two pretty good athletes.  He is running a 1-1-3 match-up.  It is the first time I have ever seen him running zones.  That is a little bit of a change for him.  That is a tough place for us to play Friday night.  We have practiced well all week and I think we are ready to go,” said Keene.

          Chris Sheldon said earlier this week that they are going back to more of their traditional man to man defense.

          The North Central Conference co-leader Colonel Crawford (7-0), #1 in our small school poll, pays a visit to the Plymouth on Saturday night.  Crawford beat the Big Red the last two years in the district tournament.  “You really have to try and shut them down as a team.  For them it is just the next man up.  That is a testament to Dave and his program over there.  It’s going to be a challenge because they have the Klingenberger kid, who has always given us fits over the last couple of years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have Conner McCreary, one of the best guards in the area.  Overall they are very athletic.  They are going to be ready to play and hopefully we are going to be ready top play.”

 

Published 12/27/13

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Plymouth Good, but Not Satisfied

 

          Plymouth has won all of their games but one and they share the Firelands Conference lead with Western Reserve, but they know they can be so much better.

          Last week, Tyrell Edmiston scored 25 points and the Big Red punished Mapleton (60-41) to improve to 2-0 in conference play.  However, they only shot 38% and coach Troy Keene says they didn’t always take the best shot.  “There are some things that we need to fix this week.  We didn’t shoot the ball really well.  I thought our shot selection wasn’t the best. Which leads to lost possessions, but we went back to the drawing board with it last night and that is something we are really working on this week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “But, anytime you can go on the road and win a conference game we’ll take it.  It wasn’t our best performance, but we are just going to get back to work this week and work on some things we need to work on and hopefully we can go into Crestview on Friday and play pretty well.”

          After reflecting for a couple of days, Keene admits maybe he was too hard on the players, but he just knows they can play a lot cleaner.  “The boys kind of laughed at me Friday night after the game because I went off in the locker room for about 10 minutes.  One of the kids stood up and said coach we won by 20.  I was probably over analyzing things right after the game, but now that I have gone back and looked at it there are some things we can fix and they are things that we can’t allow to happen later on down the road, so hopefully the kids learn from it and we get better,” said Keene.

          Plymouth (3-1,2-0), #4 on the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, travels to Crestview (1-3,1-1) for a Firelands Conference game.  Keene says the Cougars have some good players, but they haven’t put everything together yet.  “They have everybody coming back this year.  It starts with the Durbin kid at the point and the Orewiler and Lutz kids can really shoot it.  Their two bigs Hissong and Radcliffe, those are two pretty good bigs.  They just haven’t put everything together yet.  I hoping that it’s not Friday night, but the talent is there and they are pretty good ball club,” he said.

          Keene says Crestview has some height and they want to make those guys run the floor.  “The Hissong kid goes about 6’6” and Radcliffe goes about 6’4”.  The Radcliffe kid can also take it outside and knock down the three.  It is going to be a tough match-up for us.  We are going to press them a little bit and try to get out and go and get into the tempo that we want to play and try to speed them up.  When you speed them up they tend to turn it over a little bit, so we want them to play at our tempo,” said Keene.

 

Published 12/18/13

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Plymouth using Pressure

 

          Plymouth has a good combination of varsity experience and athletic talent and that is why many believe they are the best team in the Firelands Conference.

          They did nothing to disprove that last week when they drilled New London (76-39) in their conference opener.  Coach Troy Keene says their pressure defense was able to force a young New London team into some mistakes.  “Our game plan all night was to put pressure on their guards and not let the guards go off early on us and gain some confidence with them being a young team.  So, we came out and stuck with the game plan.  The press really worked well for that night.  We shot a lot of layups, but we also played pretty good defense in the half court.  We made good decisions with the basketball and our shot selection was good.  If we can improve on that performance on Friday, if we can improve a little bit each and every time out we have a chance to be pretty good.”

          Their pressure resulted in a lot of layups for the Big Red, who shot 58%, but they also made five threes on the night and Keene says they have become a pretty good outside shooting team.  “We have also been letting the kids take a few more three point shots this year.  As of right now we are averaging nine threes a game, which is a new arsenal in our system.  The kids are making good decisions when it comes to shot selection and I hope it just continues,” he said.

          Plymouth (2-1,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the small school division, plays at Mapleton (0-2,0-0) on Friday night in conference play.  Keene believes Mapleton will be a real challenge for his ball club.  “Mapleton has back four kids from last year.  The Galbraith kid moved away last year and moved back this year, which really gives them five returning lettermen.  They are going to be one of the most improved teams in our league this year.  They play hard and they just get after it.  We have our hands full and we just have to come out and pressure them and hopefully get some turnovers and get our offense going,” he said.

          On Saturday night, Plymouth is at home for Norwalk St. Paul (0-0,0-0) in a conference game.  The Flyers open the season the night before against South Central.  Keene says they will probably need to adjust quite bit.  “We don’t have any scouting reports for Saturday night.  We just have to go on what Mike Smith has ran in his time at St. Paul.  We know he has a 6’5” kid back in Bob Harwood.  They have a pretty good shooter in Sauerbeck and they have another post that played quite a bit in Smiley.  After that we don’t know a whole lot about them.  We are just working on us being better.  We are going to come out and have to adjust as the game goes on,” he said.

 

Published 12/13/13

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Plymouth Has Something to Prove

 

          Losing to Buckeye Central is not an embarrassment because the Bucks are good team, but Plymouth coach Troy Keene says the effort his kids gave and their mental preparedness was an embarrassment.

          He says he won’t let it happen again.

          Keene says they were not ready to play in the season opener against Buckeye and the Bucks took it to them (63-49) last Friday.  “Buckeye really came out and played the game hard, which we knew they were going to do.  They came out and played pretty good basketball and my team just didn’t show up on Friday night, for whatever reason, I don’t know.  My kids just weren’t ready to play on Friday night.  We have really been stressing this week about being mentally and physically ready to play the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Hopefully this Friday night we can come out and be prepared and ready to play.  Saturday night we came out and were ready to go.  I think a lot of that had to do with Friday night because we were so upset.  We have gone back to boot camp this week.  We are getting after it, so hopefully Friday night we can come out with a little better outcome.”

          However, on Saturday night the execution was a lot better against Lucas in a (97-50) win over the Cubs.  Keene says it was a good thing they were able to get right back on the floor.  “Friday night left an awfully bad taste in my mouth.  I really told the captains after Friday night’s game that we have to be prepared no matter who the opponent is and come out ready to play.  Playing again on Saturday night was probably the best thing for us.  We came out and got after it and did a lot of good things.  There are still some things that we need to work on, but we are going in the right direction,” he said.

          Plymouth (1-1) hosts New London (0-1) in the Firelands Conference opener for both teams on Friday night.  Even though the Wildcats are with starting point guard Josh Hamilton, Keene knows they will play hard and be a challenge.  “Tom is such a great coach up there and they have a great program.  New London is going to be prepared come Friday night.  I don’t care if Tom looses all five starters he is going to have his team prepared and ready to play.  Friday night is going to be a challenge for us.  They are going to be one of the big dogs on the block, them and Western.  We are kind of excited to get after it on Friday night.  I will guarantee you we won’t have a performance like we did last Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 12/5/13

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Better Defense For Plymouth

 

          This could be a special season for the Plymouth Big Red.  With four starters back form a district final team, the Big Red is the preseason favorite to win the Firelands Conference.

          Coach Troy Keene says if they are going to accomplish their goals they have to start playing better defense.  “I would like to see us play a little better defensively right now.  We are not a great defensive team.  We don’t have a lot of toughness at that end of the floor.  Offensively I really like where we are at.  Playing right after Thanksgiving this is the first time we have done this since I have been a coach,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I am not real thrilled about that part.  I am giving my kids Thanksgiving off, but we are going to come back on Friday morning and just go through a little walk through for Buckeye.  Hopefully the kids don’t eat too much and they are ready to go for Friday.”

          Most of the players that are going to see significant playing time for the Big Red are still underclassmen, but Keene says they have already seen a lot of varsity minutes.  “I have three kids that have really played a lot of minutes their first two years in Hunter Bailey, Tyrell Edmiston and Tyson Beebe.  I have really been leaning on them to become better leaders and hopefully they can get us through any difficulties in a game.  Hopefully, they can teach the younger kids on how to prepare and work to get better day in a day out,” he said.

          Plymouth opens the season at Buckeye Central on Friday night.  The Big Red beat the Bucks in the division four district semi-final last year.  Keene looks for a super game Friday night.   “It is one of the better opening nights in the area between us and Buckeye.  We really respect Buckeye Central and Phil Loy.  Phil runs a great program over there.  They have three kids in Adam Wurm, Cade Kaple and Storm Wurm that are pretty good.  They play hard and they are a great rebounding team without a lot of height.  They really play the game like I like it.  They are really physically tough and along with that they are mentally tough.  It is going to be a great match-up for us,” said Keene.

 

 

Published 11/28/13

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Plymouth the Favorite… Well?

 

          Plymouth has advanced to the division four district tournament the last two years with a relatively young team, can they break through this year and win the Firelands Conference title?

          Well, that’s what a lot of people are saying with the return of all district selection Tyrell Edmiston and most of the starting lineup for the Big Red. 

          Coach Troy Keene though says they don’t pay attention to what others are saying about them, but he admits they believe themselves this can be a very good season for the Big Red.  “We don’t really pay much attention to the outside predictors.  Amongst ourselves our expectations are awfully high.  We are still a young ball club, but we have been a young ball club for three years, so it is time for us to get over the hump.  We are really looking forward to the season stating,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We will be starting four juniors and a sophomore, with another sophomore and a freshmen coming off the bench.  Expectations are high and I am pushing the kids a lot more in the preseason, but we are really looking forward for the season to start.  We are looking to have some fun.”

          Keene, a disciple of former coach Brad Turson, says defense has always been the corner stone of the Plymouth program.  However, he says they have not been executing their defense during the preseason.  “Our program is built on playing defense and that is something we really aren’t doing well in the preseason.  I just keep preaching and harping a lot to the kids that we need to get better, we need to get better.  Hopefully it finally kicks in.  We need to get a whole lot better at the defensive end.  I am not so worried about the offensive end.  Championships on won on the defensive end and we aren’t playing real well there right now.  We are working at it and hopefully as the season goes on we can improve,’ said Keene.

          Plymouth opens the season with games at Buckeye Central and Lucas next Friday and Saturday.  There first Firelands Conference game is December 6 at home against New London.  Keene talks not about the Big red, but other schools when it comes to the conference title.  “That is where it always starts at with Chris Sheldon’s program up there at Western Reserve.  My feeling is you have to pick them until somebody knocks them off.  After that I think you have New London and St. Paul right there.  New London lost quite a bit, but they also have quite bit coming back.  St. Paul is always tough, Mike Smith runs a great program.  After that you are probably looking at Crestview, Mapleton, South Central are real close together.  From top to bottom it should be a pretty tough league.  It starts at the top with Western Reserve,” said Keene.

 

Published 11/20/13

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Plymouth Faces Crestview

 

          Although they are just on the outside looking in they pretty much have their noses pressed against the window.

          Plymouth is ninth in their computer region, the top eight make the playoffs, with just one regular season game to play.  If they make it, it will be the first Plymouth team ever to qualify.

          They could have been higher in the rankings if a field goal attempt with two seconds left last week had just been a little more true.  New London hung on to beat the Big Red (27-26) as Plymouth missed a field goal that would have won them the game.  Coach Mark Genders admits it was a very tough loss.  “It was one of those ones where honestly you don’t want either team to lose because both teams played hard.  To miss by six inches wide left that’s tough, but the kids played hard and we are proud of them.  They put themselves in position to have a chance to win and it didn’t go, it didn’t work out, other than that, you know, they played great,” said Genders.

          The week before against Western Reserve, Genders didn’t feel his team gave all they had in terms of effort, he says that was not the case last week.  “It wasn’t even close, the kids played hard.  They played four quarters of football.  That’s all you can ask and they did that,” he said.

          Plymouth (5-4,2-4) will visit rival Crestview (4-5,3-3) in need of a win to have a chance to make the playoffs.  Genders says this is a typical Crestview team they will be facing.  “They are big and they are physical from their running backs all the way up front.  They like to pound it down your throat and eat clock.  When they do that and they don’t turn the ball over they are as good as anybody.  Their schedule is indicative of their toughness with who they played early on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “With some of the physical teams in our conference with St. Paul and the Mounties they were ahead in the fourth quarter against both and beat one of them.  It is one of those match-ups that is going to be a tough one for us.”

          These are two different kinds of teams, Crestview is power and Plymouth is more finesse.  Genders says we will see who wins out come Friday night.  “If you look at it on paper their strength is pounding the ball and we have at times had trouble stopping the run.  Some of their tough points might be defending the pass and that is one of our strengths.  It should be an interesting match-up,” said Genders

 

Published 10/29/13

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Plymouth Needs to Play Harder

 

          For the second tome this year coach Mark Genders felt his team just didn’t play hard enough and with enough desire to deserve a chance to win.

          Last week, Western Reserve downed Plymouth (50-41) in a Firelands Conference game.  Genders says they effort just wasn’t there from his kids.  “Honestly I wouldn’t call it a shootout because we just didn’t execute very well as far as our all around football effort.  I have said since week one if we don’t come emotionally ready and come to play we are not going to have a whole lot of success.  We scored some points I would like to say on just athleticism alone,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “As far as playing an emotional football game for some reason my guys didn’t show up last week.  It was very disappointing.  We don’t get caught looking at scoreboard, we just look at effort and emotion from my team.  That is one of our main goals and we didn’t accomplish that last week.  We are off to a good start this week.”

          He says so far this week the players have come into practice ready go.  He says they had a little discussion on Saturday.  “We had a little heart to heart on Saturday.  Sometimes when you want to take that next step up as far as success it can be a scary path.  I want to make sure those boys understand they have earned everything they get.  It started last summer in the weight room and hopefully they will respond and we will get back to playing Plymouth football,” he said.

          On Friday night, Plymouth (5-3,2-3) is at New London (4-4,2-3) to battle the Wildcats, who beat Monroeville (27-13) on week seven.  Genders thinks New London showed a lot of character last week.  “When we watch New London they are just a solid football team.  I don’t consider them flashy in any area other than being a real good football team.  They showed that last week.  They had a couple of key injuries early on.  When your quarterback goes out after the first play and when they lose and one of your best defenders and you still go on the road and win that shows you are a good football team.  They are physical when they need to be.  They have a lot of athleticism.  Thomas is running the ball about as good as he has.  We have our hands full with these guys.  Every year it is a great football game and I anticipate another great one this week,” said Genders.

          New London wants to be a power run team and Genders feels that is what they are going to see come Friday night and they have to be ready to respond to it.  “They want to run the football.  His offensive line has looked better each of the last couple of weeks.  They have some big boys over there.  He made some moves up front, moving a couple kids closer together.  They are running behind a couple of big horses and that has proved effective for him.  He is getting a great running attack from both backs.  They are going to be rough.  We have had a tough time stopping the running game at times.  If we don’t come emotionally ready we will have a tough time again this week.  I am anticipating my guys answering the bell.  It should be a physical football game,” said Genders.

 

Published 10/23/13

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Plymouth Needs to Bounce Back

 

          There is no way around it, Plymouth got waxed last week by Norwalk St. Paul, they know it, and now they must move on.

          The Big Red (5-2,2-2) scored first last Saturday night, but coach Mark Genders says they had too many turnovers and other mistakes and that resulted in a blow out (68-20) by a very good St. Paul team.  “St. Paul is a well coached very, very, very good football team.  Anytime you play a team of that caliber you certainly can’t make the mistakes that we made.  We came out in the game and scored first, got a stop and got the ball back, and then the turnovers began.  We had four huge turnovers in the first half and everyone one of them led to a touchdown.  That kind of broke the back of our team.  If you do that against a team like St. Paul they know how to put you down and that is exactly what they did and our hats are off to them.  My kids didn’t quit.  We just made too many mistakes,” said Genders.

          Although a Firelands Conference championship likely isn’t in the offering, Genders says they have other things they can accomplish, like a playoff berth, if they remain focused.  “They are a good group of kids and I am anticipating the team to bounce back strong.  We need to get back to it (Monday) and be focused on what we have in front of us.  We have a lot more goals posted on our board that we can attain.  The most important one is to keep coming to work everyday and giving me their best effort.  They know that and we are going to keep working with that this week,” he said.

          Plymouth plays host to Western Reserve (4-3,3-1) on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.  Western is throwing the ball mush more, but Genders says they have not abandoned everything that has made them successful over the years.  “They are throwing a lot more.  They still run the unbalanced even with their news sets with the double gun look.  They still go back home to the unbalanced stuff when they are in short yardage and sometimes in the red zone.  It’s a nice switch up for them.  Most certainly they are throwing a bunch more.  They have really found that their quarterback is an excellent runner and a serious threat,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are putting packages together for him to use his talents.  We have seen that week to week evolve.  He is a big time playmaker.  On offense they are led by the Good kid at the receiver spot.  We call him Wes Welker over here.  He is an excellent route runner and he is somebody we have to pay attention to.”

          Genders says the Rough Riders are also very athletic on defense and can get to the ball.  “They are real big first off.  They are big kids up front.  They have nice team speed in their second level.  They have some talented quick kids that play at the linebacker spots.  If you don’t block those guys they are going to make plays and that is what we have to do,” he said.

 

Published 10/15/13

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Plymouth Faces Conference Co-Leader

 

          Plymouth is kind of like “Jack and the Beanstock.”  They have been climbing up latter of the Firelands Conference ands now Saturday night they get to face the giant that lives at the top in Norwalk St. Paul.

          The Big Red (5-1,2-1) kept themselves in the Firelands Conference race by getting off to a good start and beating South Central (49-20) last week.  Coach Mark Genders thought they played hard throughout the game.  “We came out focused and took care of business early.  We played hard throughout the game.  When our JV came in they played extremely hard as well.  Overall as a team it was a good effort,” he said.

          Successful football teams are ones that are multi-dimensional and, according to Genders, the Big Red certainly fits that bill.  “When you watch our stat line every week often times you will see a different kid stand out.  Austin Durbin may run for 180 yards one week, Chance Butcher could run for 100, or Tyrell could catch three touchdown passes in a game or something like that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We like to feel like we have a lot of options.  My coaches do a nice job of taking what is given to them, so if we keep doing that kind of stuff we will continue to have good luck on offense.”

          Norwalk St. Paul (5-1,3-0) plays host to the Big Red on Saturday night at Whitney Field.  Genders says St. Paul has outstanding personnel and great leadership.  “They bring back a lot of experience and you can see that on the football field.  That’s not uncommon with a St. Paul football team.  Their kids just be what they have to be, each one, they do their job extremely well.  They are extremely physical.  If you are even going to play with these guys you have to be as physical as they are and match that.  They are led by one of the best coaches in the state.  We are going to have to play our best to compete with them,” said Genders.

          St. Paul is not the biggest football team in the conference, but they might be the overall fastest.  Genders says that makes them difficult to handle on offense or defense.  “They are just a solid, solid football team.  They pursue and they get down the line of scrimmage and they are very, very quick.  They have a quarterback with experience.  He has a pretty compete football team, so it is another new, unique and different football team for us,” said Livengood.

 

Published 10/10/13

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Mental Toughness the Key for Plymouth

 

          Never mind the x’s and o’s the big difference for the Plymouth Big Red last week as opposed to the week before was playing with emotion and mental discipline.

          What resulted was a big win over traditional power Monroeville (16-0) in Firelands Conference action.  Coach Mark Genders says unlike the week before when they were smoked by Mapleton (47-19) in their first conference game, they were ready to play.  “Last week I noted that it was all about playing with emotion and coming ready to play and that is really our calling card.  When my kids were not only ready and prepared and emotionally ready we are a pretty tough team.  Friday night we really did our job and played hard and played with emotion.  We really learned some lessons and they really answered after that loss.  We sure our proud of our boys,” said Genders.

          Plymouth allowed only 155 total yards to Monroeville and Genders says it was their best defensive effort of the season so far.  “Our performance against Lucas was good.  Anytime you face that offense at Lucas, especially game one, it is no easy task.  I would say overall it was our most complete game,” he said.

          Friday night, the Big Red (4-1,1-1) is at home for South Central (0-5,0-2)  in conference action.  Genders says the Trojans may be winless, but they have some good players.  “First and foremost when you watch South Central with the way they are aligned and the things they are doing, coach (Aaron) Brokaw does really nice job with the fundamentals of the game.  They have had some tough times,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, “Hopefully his kids are staying behind him and with the program he is trying to establish there with the things he learned at Lexington and what they have done in the past.  If they do that their future is wide open.  They have some great kids, some big 300 pounders, a couple of real nice young backs.  They are a very physical team.”

          When looking at the match-ups on the field, Genders knows that South Central is much bigger at some positions.  “I tell my kids all of the time it’s all about match-ups.  When you look at us we are not the biggest guys in the world.  It’s a decent match-up for him and his team.  Our kids once again are going to have to come emotionally and mentally prepared,” he said.

          With Norwalk St. Paul beating Western Reserve (49-7) on Saturday, it looks like the Flyers aren’t going to lose many.  Genders knows each week is going to be important.  “It’s one week at a time and every conference game is a huge conference game, especially when your goal is to win a conference championship and it is for us.  It’s homecoming and we have some distractions there.  I really feel, especially up front that our kids understand that mental toughness is our number responsibility.  I anticipate a good week of practice and a good, hard fought game on Friday,” said Genders.

 

Published 9/30/13

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Plymouth Has to Refocus

 

          Plymouth was riding high last week with a state ranking and a three game winning streak in hand and Mapleton busted that balloon by thumping the Big Red.

          Coach Mark Genders says he hopes the 47-19 loss to the Mounties taught his players an important lesson about being prepared for each and every game.  “First and foremost I tip my hat to coach Mahaney over there and the Mapleton Mounties.  They came with the eye of the Tiger.  They were focused and played a good brad of football.  That is first and foremost.  When it came to our guys they got juiced a little bit with the state poll they thought they could roll down the hill and turn around and walk away with a win.  They learned a valuable lesson on Friday night and Mapleton gave it to them.  It caused us to refocus and realize every game has to be played and polls do nothing for you and they mean nothing.  Hopefully we took this as a great lesson and move forward and get our momentum back,” said Genders.

          Mapleton running back Travis Pickering had 381 yards rushing in the win over Plymouth,  Genders says it really wasn’t x’s and o’s thing as much as it was mental focus when it came to stopping the Mapleton run game.  “We have to play with emotion.  We had guys that just didn’t play with any emotion at all.  It was the mental part of the game between the ears.  We had guys not doing their job and not coming mentally prepared to do what is asked of them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you don’t play with emotion good football teams will make you look like that and that was happened last Friday night.  In order to fix that we have to get refocused from play to play and work on the things that we didn’t do very well that night and that was a lot of things mostly between the ears.  We feel we have had a good week and hopefully we are more focused this week.”

          Plymouth (3-1,0-1) travels to Monroeville (0-4,0-1) on Friday night.  The Eagles lost a tough one to Western Reserve (25-20) when the Rough Riders scored a late TD.  Genders says the Eagles talent level is better than it seems.  “Don’t look at their record.  They are the best 0-4 team up here, at least among small schools.  Anytime you go on the road at Western Reserve and they lost on pretty much the last play of the football game.  They are not a bad football team.  They have played a pretty tough schedule with Edison and Seneca East.  They have been banged up and they are just starting to jell,” he said.

          Genders says they are going to have to be ready to defend the pass when they take the field at Marsh Field on Friday night.  “They throw the ball a lot more than they have in the past, but they are still Monroeville.  Anytime you go over there they have a great sense of pride in their program and it’s going to be a challenge all of the way for us and we know that,” he said.

 

Published 9/27/13

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Plymouth Plays Host to Mapleton

 

          Plymouth is state ranked for the first time in a long time after starting the season with three wins in as many games and now Friday night they host improved Mapleton in their Firelands Conference opener.

          Last week, the Big Red downed Buckeye Central (27-21) in their final non-conference game of the season.  Coach Mark Genders says they did what they need to do.  “We took care of the things we needed to.  We took care of season one, so to say and we are 3-0.  We are carrying a little momentum.  It seems we are practicing better each day.  So, yeah we are where we want to be,” he said.

          Can Plymouth compete for a conference title?  Can they make the playoffs for the first time?  Only time will tell.  Genders wants to make sure they are focused on the Mapleton Mounties and that is it.  “We want to focus on beating Mapleton.  There are some goals on our goal board that we would like to attain, but the moment we start looking farther than what is in front of us is the moment you get in trouble, so.  We have a lot of respect for the Mapleton program and what they are doing this season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a highly skilled backfield, probably two of the best skilled kids in the conference with the Black and Pickering kids.  Our focus has to be on them on Friday.  Then we go week to week and then in a few weeks we will start to talk about the lofty goals we have at the bottom of our list.”

          Mapleton (2-1) is over .500 after their non-conference games for the first time since the Cleveland Indians were playing in old Municipal Stadium.  Genders says they have some playmakers.  “They are coming off a 41-6 win.  If that doesn’t get you positive nothing much will.  The last couple of seasons their offense has been pretty high potent.  It hasn’t changed at all this year.  All they have been is getting a little older at a few key spots.  They seem to be pretty well coached.  They are going to be a real good challenge for us.  Our focus is on them and making sure we are playing at the highest level we can,” said Genders.

          Robert Hahaney is in his first year at Mapleton and Genders believes he has done an outstanding job with a programs that has struggled in more years that not over the last 25.  “Bobby it is his first year and he has done a really nice job with those kids.  They have seemed to have bought into what he wants to do and the guys are doing their job.  That’s a complement to them and what he is trying to start up over there.  They are a good football team.  It will be one heck of a game Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 9/20/13

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Plymouth Facing Tough Defense

 

          Plymouth put up more than 50 points last week in a destruction of the Crestline Bulldogs, but they know they are unlikely to score that many this week.

          They travel to Buckeye Central (1-1) to meet the Bucks in the last non-conference game of the season for both.

          Chance Butcher ran for 119 yards and two scores and Hunter Bailey completed six of 10 throws for 166 yards and three his connections went for scores in a (53-21) win over Crestline.  Coach Mark Genders says they did the job.  “We played some good football last week and did what we needed to do.  We knew coming in they were kind of young.  We were ready to go and played well,” he said.

          Last week, Buckeye Central shut out Cardington (26-0) and Genders says the Bucks have a tough, physical defense.  “I have seen them against Cardington and New London.  They made a couple of mistakes against New London.  They were up 6-0 in that game.  That could have been a win for them.  They just made more mistakes than they will down the road.  Against Cardington they looked sharp,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are really tough defensively.  If you don’t hold your blocks against these guys and let them flow and fly to the ball you could be in trouble.  One of our big emphasis this week is to really concentrate on the basics and tackle well and block.”

          Genders says Buckeye Central just likes to hit people and make their presence felt on the field.  “They are just aggressive and they tackle pretty well.  They work pretty good as a unit.  One of their goals is to be extremely physical and that was really apparent last week,” he said.

          Plymouth beat Buckeye Central (13-6) last year and Genders says since he has been at Plymouth this game has been won and lost at the point of attack and this year should be no different.  “If you don’t match them emotionally and physically who are in for a long night.  Our games throughout the past years have always been about the up front play on the offensive and defensive lines.  If we don’t play with a high intensity level and do our job it could be a long night for us,” said Genders.

 

Published 9/12/13

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Plymouth Expecting a Better Crestline

 

          Plymouth earned a week one win and will be looking to make it two when they host Crestline this week.

          The Big Red scored twice in the first quarter and went on to beat Lucas (21-7) last week.  Coach Mark Genders says they did what they needed too and he was especially happy with how they reacted to adversity last week.  “The kids are pretty resilient.  They showed real good signs of moving forward as a group in dealing with the adversity of Lucas recovering an on sides kick.  The defense shut it down.  They have shown great signs of improvement and coming together after week one,” he said.

          This week in practice Genders says they have been making sure their execution gets better by concentrating on even the smallest things.  “We just have to make sure we clean up a lot of the little things by making sure we are tackling better and blocking longer and knowing where we need to be on every play.  We need to treat every play like it’s the last one.  If you don’t do that then you are going to have a case of one or two guys not doing their job.  Our philosophy is one play at a time,” said Genders.

          On the other hand, Crestline was whipped by Northmor (42-6) and their coach Lee Hurst was told to leave the game after two unsportsmanlike calls.  However, Genders says they can do some things.  “It was a rough start for them, but that game was really tight going into the fourth quarter.  They are big and they are extremely physical,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are kind of used to that physicality playing Lucas week one every year.  We are expecting them to come over here and be extremely tough and be very physical with us.  We have to execute and we have to match the emotion.”

          Genders says they can not afford to be too aggressive on offense because if they are Crestline will burn them, especially their quarterback.  “Their quarterback is a young kid and very quick.  They show a lot of shotgun looks with him.  They have some big lineman and we are anticipating a lot of the “I” look.  He really does a nice job of putting his quarterback in good position to hurt you.  He is quick.  We have to maintain our lanes, break down, and just stay focused on doing our job,” said Genders. 

 

Published 9/6/13

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Plymouth Focused on Lucas

 

          With a number of players returning this has a chance to be the best year in many for the Plymouth Big Red, but their coach is careful about not looking too far ahead.

          They host the Lucas Cubs on week one of the season on Friday night.

          Coach Mark Genders says they are hard at work this week.  “We are still just trying to work on the discipline and everything and putting the last pieces together.  We are going to be competing in a few spots all of the way through Friday.  That is a good problem.  We would like to think we have a lot of things covered and we can just work on the game plan and continue to work hard,” said Genders.

          Lucas is not a spread team, they aren’t wing-t, they really aren’t two back.  Genders says they run an offense that almost nobody else runs.  “Once again, they have the most unique style in the area.  The only other school that runs it that I know of is down in Dayton, Thurgood Marshall.  They run that pulling “T” toss.  We expect they won’t run an abundance of plays, but the ones they have, they do them real well.  It’s a hard nosed Coach Spitler type team,” he said.

          With that kind of offense to defend, Genders says they have already been working on stopping it before this week.  “We have been talking about it for the last three weeks.  We have actually went into our scrimmages preparing for them as far as technique.  They send sometimes eight guys to the point of attack, so if you come unglued and not do what you’re taught immediately they take advantage of it.  The discipline you have to have and the patience you have to have is almost college like and if you don’t they hurt you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

          Lucas wants to control the ball.  They would be happy with running 60 to 70 plays.  Genders says they can’t let that happen.  “Let’s say it this way.  He is probably smiling for ear to ear if he has a 35 play drive.  That means he is three yards and three yards and pop one here and there.  They are built to keep you off the field.  We like to spread out and come after you now.  We have to protect the football and it is important for us to take advantage of the opportunities we do have.  We have to execute,” said Genders.

          Yes, this can be a good season for the Big Red, but Genders does not even want to think about that yet.  “They are all important.  We are not worried the whole season, we are worried about Lucas.  That is all we have been worried about since December.  We will worry about Crestline when it’s Crestline week.  We have to go day to day and get better.  If our best is good enough to win that week then we are going to win.  Not to shortchange the expectations that we have that’s just goal setting.  If the kids want to win then they have to mesh together and continue to get better,” said Genders.   

 

 
   

Plymouth Believes it Can Compete

 

          The Plymouth Big Red has come a long way the last couple of years and they just need to come a little farther to win a conference title and earn the school’s first ever playoff berth.

          Coach Mark Genders says they have some kids that are working very hard to attain those goals.  “The team is working real hard.  This is one of the more fun teams that I have had.  It’s a good group of kids.  It’s fun to coach every night.  Now too many head cases at all.  It’s just a bunch of good kids trying to get better.  Anytime you have that as a whole it’s a lot more fun,” he said.

          With losses to gradation the Big Red this year will be moving some kids that have been used to positions.  Genders says it is the job of himself and the staff to make sure things fit together right.  “We have had some kids moving around in positions that they have had.  We have a fullback types that have moved to the offensive front.  Surprisingly it has been a great transition for a lot of them.  Our biggest challenge is to make sure we have all of our pieces in the right place as a staff.  We are pretty set in a lot of key areas.  We have a lot of returning kids.  We need to find all of those missing pieces just like everybody else.  I think that’s our biggest challenge because we are getting the effort and we are getting the dedication like we have all off season.  If we do that and stay healthy,” said Genders.

          Plymouth has some kids changing their position in terms of category of position and Genders says they have embraced it.  “We kind of anticipated through the whole off season when you put things on the board.  I told them that life is crazy sometimes.  We have a had a couple of kids that have worked so hard in the weight room that they have put themselves in position that we can move them to guards and things like that.  We have all of our skilled kids back from last year.  We are trying to formulate an unselfish environment here,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That is not something that is overlooked by us.  Everybody has to do some things that are unselfish and do things for this team.  Fortunately these kids are seniors for me and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and make a big change for the team.  I was really worried about it, but the kids have embraced it and are doing it for the Big Red.”

          Genders feels its time they challenge Norwalk St. Paul and Western Reserve for the Firelands Conference title.  “It is going to come down to the trenches for us.  We feel we have as much skill in the backfield as anybody does possibly in the area.  We have a couple of returning offensive lineman back.  If these kids transition like I think they are going too and we can stay healthy we have some high expectations.  When you are playing small school football and you have between 35 and 40 kids you have to stay healthy.  That’s what it all comes down too really.  As hard as they are working we have total faith in these kids.  We are going to let them play week to week and practice to practice and hopefully we can compete for a championship,” said Genders.  

 

 

 
   

Plymouth and Seneca East Play in Tournament

 

          Plymouth has been enjoying another good baseball season this year and they have a chance to finish as high as second in the Firelands Conference standings.

          New London has already claimed the title.

          The Big Red (20-5) faces Midland Athletic League co-leader Seneca East (19-3), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, in the division four sectional final Wednesday at Plymouth in a battle between two very good teams.

          On Saturday, Plymouth crushed Monroeville (12-7) in their tournament opener.  Coach Andrew McFarland says they finally got their offense going again.  “Over the last couple of weeks our bats have slowed down a little bit.  We were really swinging it well early on, really up to just a couple of weeks ago we averaging about 10 runs and then we hit a wall.  That is easy to do.  We were having some bad approaches at the plate and really not playing our game.  It was nice to come back Saturday and start swinging the bats and having a better approach every time we step up to the plate.  We carried that over and had another good day swinging the bats against South Central.  Hopefully we can carry that over another day when we face a very good pitcher from Seneca East,” said McFarland.

          McFarland explains what it means in the Plymouth playbook to have a good approach at the plate.  “The other day I was getting frustrated and finally I asked my team, do you understand what I am saying when we tell you to have a good approach at the plate?  Our approach is we want to take away the fastball.  We want to go up and look for a fastball that we can hit.  We really encourage them to be selfish at the plate and don’t swing at anything unless they can drive it until they get two strikes, to lay off breaking pitches or off speed pitches early in the count.  We would go up and take good fastballs for strikes or we would swing at a first pitch breaking ball.  We were kind of getting away from our game of making the pitcher throw something other than a fastball for a strikes,” said McFarland.

          Coming into this game on Wednesday, Seneca East has thrown four consecutive shutouts.  McFarland knows what they are up against.  “I would assume we will see Mason McWilliams (Wednesday).  He is a very tough talented lefty.  We saw him last year in a regular season game.  I have kind of talked to some people about him.  I have seen some film on him that is out there.  He is going to be very good.  They have depth behind him.  We have a great pitcher too in Zach Butler that I think can compete with anybody when he is on his game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It should be a very interesting game.  I assume the team that wins (Wednesday) will not put up a lot of runs.  I think it will be a battle to see who can scratch a couple across, who can get the bunts down, who can be about the little things.”

          It should be a tight contest and McFarland thinks an early run could be crucial.  “We are going to be the away team playing in our own stadium.  I said to my assistant coach (Tuesday) that I love to go in there in the first inning and get one or a couple of runs across.  I know McWilliams is going to be tough and it would be huge to come out and scratch one across to really set the tone for the rest of the game,” he said.    

 

 
   

Plymouth Wants to Keep the Pressure on

 

          After two one-run losses to Firelands Conference leader New London last week, the Plymouth Big Red have responded with three conference wins and hold a five game winning streak.

          They beat Norwalk St. Paul on Tuesday (4-1) to push their conference record to 5-2 on the year.

          Coach Andrew McFarland says they have adopted the right approach after the New London series.  “We know at this point there is no room for error.  It’s going to be tough because New London has such a good team.  Hopefully somebody might be able to trip them up, but I just don’t know.  Glen is going to go out with style this year I guess.  I was definitely happy with the way we came back.  We played them in a couple of tough games and you can go one of two ways.  You can look at it negatively.  We played a great team and had a chance to beat them.  We could look at it as a bad thing and the season is over or we can look at as an opportunity to learn and grow.  We have come back and won every game since,” said McFarland.

          In four of the games in the this five game streak, the Big Red (12-3,5-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, has scored more runs, including 25 against Mansfield Christian on Saturday.  McFarland says they have been using a good approach, most of the time.  “Usually when you see 25 runs in a game it is a lot of errors and walks and throwing the ball around, but we has 22 hits in that game as well.  We have swung it pretty well.  We are hitting about .400 as a team right at the moment.  That has probably been our biggest strength,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have been really hitting the ball hard.  We didn’t have quite as good a game (Tuesday).  The kids from St. Paul threw a really nice game against us.  He kept us off balance.  We were still able to get seven hits and four runs, so it’s not like it was terrible and that was probably our worse effort this year.”

          In the win against St. Paul on Tuesday, McFarland says they got a super effort on the mound when then needed it.  “Senior Dustin Campbell gave us a great start on the mound.  We really were scuffling early on.  You have games like that.  Hats off to the pitcher.  He threw a good game.  We also didn’t have a good approach at the plate. But he was keeping us in there by throwing all seven.  We have been telling the guys all year if you can throw strikes and not give up walks and play good defense it’s easy to keep them under five runs.  When you start walking guys, that’s when you run into problems,” said McFarland.

          In a meeting of good teams, Plymouth plays at Seneca East (10-2), #4 in our poll, on Thursday.  McFarland says this will be a good test for them.  “It will be a good challenge.  You have to play good teams to really get better.  You try to get better every game no matter who you are playing.  When your competition is high you are going to raise your level too naturally.  I look forward to playing them.  They are in our sectional this year along with a tough Sandusky St. Mary’s team.  It will be interesting to get a good gauge of where we are at.  If we have a chance to make a good run in the tournament that’s not too far off,” he said.

 

 
   

Plymouth Loses Tough One

 

          Last year Plymouth won a number of close games and they won the Firelands Conference baseball title along with it.  This season, at least at the beginning, it seems to be going in the other direction.

          Wednesday night they lost their second one run decision to New London (6-5) this week in a battle between two of the contenders for the title. 

          Monday night, New London won at Plymouth (4-3) in the first meeting.  Plymouth (7-3,2-2) coach Andrew McFarland says in that game they made too many mistakes.  “Game one there were definitely things that we could look at in the scorebook that were frustrating.  Two of the four runs we gave up in the first game were earned.  If we run a play a little bit smarter and communicate a little bit we had a chance to shut them out on Monday night,” he said.

          In the second game, McFarland says New London (11-1,4-0) got a big hit and they couldn’t get any timely hits.  “(Tuesday) night we got delayed in the bottom half of the first inning.  New London has the bases loaded with two out.  (Wednesday) night their first batter hits a grand slam to make the game 5-1.  After that played a great baseball game, probably one of our best of the year,” he told Swankononsports.com Wednesday night, “We played good defense and threw strikes and chipped away, but we just couldn’t get that big hit.  We had a chance to tie and take the lead in both the sixth and seventh and could get the big hit.”

          In these two games series among contenders McFarland says you want to win at least one.  McFarland says they pretty much have to run the table now.  “We all want to have a sweep, of course, but deep down everybody knew we had to get at least one.  Now, we are going to need a little help and probably need to win out.  I don’t know if we can afford to slip up and expect New London to lose three games because they are a well coached team.  They are very sound fundamentally, have good arms and swing the bats.  They are a tough ball club,” said McFarland.

          A good thing is they have get right back on the beam on Thursday in conference play against Mapleton.  McFarland says they must regain their focus.  “The first thing I said during our post game meeting was these are disappointing losses because I know that they put a lot into them, but at the same time we can’t hang our heads because there is work to be done.  (Thursday) we are right back at it as we go over to Mapleton.  We can’t have nay slip ups.  It’s a long season though,” he said.

 

 
   

Plymouth is Where They Want to Be

 

          Plymouth won the Firelands Conference baseball title a year ago and right now they are in share of first place in the conference standings after two games.

          The Big Red, New London and Crestview all have 2-0 conference records after action on Monday and Tuesday.

          Plymouth (6-1.2-0) blasted Monroeville in back-to-back conference games this week by scores of 18-1 and 17-7.  Coach Andrew McFarland says those first two conference games were important to them.  “We have a combination of a good group coming back, but also some guys that need to gain some confidence too.  Wins are going to help with that.  I still think that is one thing we can improve on that as a group believing that we are a pretty good team and that we have the ability to do some good things this year,” said McFarland.

          When it comes to the Firelands Conference, McFarland knows the pressure is on them.  “As far as the conference goes.  You have to win every game in the conference or things are going to be tough in the end.  We just try to go game by game and a 2-0 start is important in the conference,” he says.

          Plymouth has been able to score runs in bunches early in the season and McFarland says he knew they at least had that potential.  “I felt like coming into the season that we probably swung the bats in the cages as good as we ever have just as far as squaring the ball up and driving the baseball.  Game one against Wynford we struggled.  We didn’t get any scrimmages in and I could tell and it was a 25 degree wind chill that day and that didn’t help either.  Since then for the most part everybody in the lineup has kind of taken their turn.  We have a couple of guys off to good starts, hitting .500 or above.  That doesn’t hurt at all,” said McFarland.

          Plymouth has its number one starter back from last year in Zach Butler.  Right now, McFarland says they are trying to find some guys to go around him.  “Our pitching hasn’t been bad.  Zach Butler, who is our number one, is throwing the ball really well.  The biggest thing is we need somebody to step up and be our number two starter.  We had an injury in our rotation and hopefully he will be coming back in the next week of so, which will help.  We just have to throw strikes.  Early on we were just walking too many guys.  If we pound the strike zone and play defense like we are capable the pitching will be fine,” said McFarland.

          New London (9-1,2-0) is right around the corner for the Big Red next week and McFarland knows that title race is going to dogfight.  “We told our guys even before the season started, especially after winning the conference last year we are going to have that target on our backs.  Everybody is going to want to dethrone us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “New London is going to be really tough.  We play them next Monday, so that will be a great game.  I think Western has the ability to beat some teams.  Mapleton come sneak up on some guys.  Crestview has a good program there.  You can’t forget about St. Paul either.  We have to get four starters that we can get out there.  I think we will hit the ball, at least I hope so.” 

 

 
   

Plymouth Can Hit the Ball

 

          Plymouth won the Firelands Conference title by winning a number of one run games last year.  They did the little things.  This season they might be able to have more room for error.

          They didn’t play last Saturday or Monday, so the Big Red opens the season on Tuesday at Wynford in non-conference play.

          Coach Andrew McFarland says they are ready to prove what they are made of.  “We are really excited.  We are glad the weather has taken a turn for the better.  I can’t wait to get out (Tuesday) and see what we have.  That’s a big question mark.  I think everybody wonders what’s going to happen the first day out and the first week or two.  We are excited to get the season started,” he said.

          Plymouth is going to hit the field, weather permitting on Tuesday, by not facing anyone but themselves this spring.  McFarland says they have had no scrimmages so far.  “We had a couple of scrimmages scheduled for earlier in the week when it was still about 30 degrees and snowing.  We didn’t end up making those up mainly because late in the week then you are only a couple of days away from starting.  Much like the other teams we have a game Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a doubleheader Saturday, so I wanted to have as many arms ready as we could.  Instead of scrimmaging we just got out Thursday and Saturday and had an inter squad for a good couple of hours.  We had all of our pitchers throwing to all of our hitters.  It good for our pitchers to have someone standing in the box against them,” said McFarland.

          Starting pitching, and depth, is important in high school baseball.  McFarland says they have a lot of guys that can take the mound.  “I think that it should be a plus.  We only lose one pitcher from last year that really threw many innings in Craig Miller.  Some younger guys, some sophomores, I think are ready to step up and pitch a little bit.  We have our one, two and probably four back from last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We had an injury to Brad Aldridge, who was going to be our starting catcher.  He was going to be our fourth starter this year.  We will lose him for a while, which hurts our depth there.  I think we have seven or eight guys we can march out to the mound, which I have some faith in.”

          However, it is the hitting that might carry the day for the Big Red.  McFarland says this is the best hitting team he has had in his three years at Plymouth.  “That is probably the thing that I am most happy with than any year I have been here.  The way we have swung the bats in just the couple of days that we have been outside.  We have really driven the ball much better.  We are more likely to stay behind it.  We are willing to go the other way rather than trying to pull everything.  I think if we do that we can be a dangerous team because we are going to be athletic, more so than the last couple of years on the base paths.  We will have some speed and definitely have some guys that can swing the bats well.  To be honest I think that is our biggest strength right now,” said McFarland. 

 

 
   

Plymouth Trying to Overcome Injuries

 

          Just as the Plymouth Big Red was to begin defense of their Firelands Conference baseball title they suffered a key injury and how they respond to that might go a long way in determining how good they could be this spring.

          Like everybody else Plymouth has been dealing with the weather and it does have coach Andrew McFarland a little concerned.  “The biggest thing right now is the weather.  The biggest concern for me right now is we really haven’t been outside much.  We have been on our field just one day and other than that out in the parking lot a couple of times.  That has been tough and it has worn on us mentally.  I think everybody else in the area in pretty much in the same boat,” he said.

          Catcher Bret Aldridge has suffered an injury that may cost him the season.  McFarland says they are now looking for someone that can catch and someone that can step in to that starting rotation.  “As far as the team goes we are just coming in every day and working hard and getting better.  One concern is we have lost our projected starting catcher for the majority of the season, possibly pitching too.  He was going to be our fourth starter.  That’s tough as we are looking for somebody that can step up and be the guy behind the plate and that fourth starter,” he said.

          With the way the weather has not been cooperating so far, McFarland says they have to be ready to hit the field in top form.  “We have been warning the guys just because of way the weather was that this could be one of those springs were we are only going to be in the gym and the first time we step on the field it could be a game.  We have tried to put pressure on them to make sure they are staying focused every single day,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It does get draining, even on the coaching staff, being in the gym.  We need to find a way to compete with ourselves whether it be in the batting cage or getting up on the mound and just make it game speed.  We need to make it as real as possible so if it is day one when we step on the field that we are ready to go.”

          McFarland knows the catcher is a key position and they must find someone that can fill the role.  “We lost a great catch this year in Jay Dove graduating, so there were already big shoes to fill.  Bret Aldridge was slated to be our starting catcher.  He is a senior, but he hasn’t caught much the last several years.  He has been a middle infielder, but he caught a little bit in the summer.  He just looked really comfortable behind the plate.  We were all set and I was confident he could be that guy and then he goes down.  So, now the competition is between a sophomore and a junior, neither of which has any varsity experience.  They are just kind of behind.  We have tried to spend as much time as possible with them with receiving especially giving our pitcher a good target and making sure they are a vocal leader and all of those things that catchers have to do,” said McFarland.

 

 
   

Plymouth Ready to Defend

 

          Last year, the Plymouth Big Red may have surprised some people in winning the Firelands Conference baseball title.  They won’t surprise anyone this year, the others will be waiting.

          Plymouth was 18-7 a year ago in all games.  Coach Andrew McFarland says that was a big step from the year before and they know the rest of the league will have them circled on their schedules.  “We have talked about that as a team in just the short time we’ve had together about last year probably sneaking up on some people.  Two years ago our record was 8-13.  We were respectable.  You could tell we were getting better.  Then last year going 18-7 overall and wining the Firelands Conference now everybody knows they are going to have to play pretty well because we can play well too.  We are going to have the target on our backs and we aren’t going to surprise anybody,” he said.

          For Plymouth to win a second straight conference title and have a better postseason they have to have quality pitching.  McFarland says they have that.  “Well we have some guys back from last year that have been part of the program for a few. I would say probably our biggest strength would be or starting pitching.  We lost only one major inning eater from last year and that’s Craig Miller, who threw about 30 innings,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have Zach Butler, who was the conference player of the year.  He will be our number one.  He is a left handed pitcher.  He’s pretty tough.  He’s a competitor.  Brett Roberts, a right hander, is coming back too.  He can get guys to swing and miss.  We have a couple of nice arms to round out the rotation and I think come out of the bullpen too.”

          Plymouth has to replace some solid seniors from a year ago and McFarland those players ability to step up will be a huge part of what this spring will be about for them. “It is going to be interesting because we do have several seniors coming back, but we also lost four seniors from last year that were major parts of our lineup and our team.  The biggest concern is just having people step up and fill their shoes.  Most of them are probably going to be sophomores that are doing it, maybe a junior or two.  Guys that don’t have a lot of varsity experience under their belts are going to have to play much bigger roles and that will be throughout our lineup,” said McFarland.  

 

 
   

Plymouth Has to Get Stops

 

          Plymouth remains one of the hottest teams in North Central Ohio, especially with losses Thursday night by Norwalk, Ontario and Liberty-Benton, and they take an eight game winning streak into the division four district final on Friday night.

          The Big Red (14-11) meets Colonel Crawford (19-5) at Willard High School.

          With an outstanding defensive effort on Tuesday night, Plymouth beat Buckeye Central (43-37) in semi-final action.  Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they did something they almost never do, play zone.  “Right from the start we did something we just don’t do in Plymouth and that’s play a zone.  I really think it shocked Buckeye there for a while.  We have played only three or four possessions of zone all season.  They looked a little shell shocked with it.  We got off to a slow start Tuesday night offensively.  We picked it up in the second quarter and got on a little roll there.  We held Buckeye Central to 10 points in the first half.  That is just a phenomenal effort for my kids to hold a team to 10 points in a half let alone in the district semi-final game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “In the second half we battled back and forth and my kids gutted one out.  Once we lost Tyrell with five minutes to go with a six point lead we could have buckled and folded up tent and went home.  I had a couple of my seniors step up in Bret Roberts and Jerimiah Carger.  They knocked down some big free throws.  I am just happy with the effort my kids gave.”

          Plymouth is a team that features a lot of pressure defense.  In fact, they have lived on it most of the season, but they didn’t use any of the press against Buckeye.  Kenne says he thought Buckeye would hurt them.  “Going in I thought it was a match-up problem on both sides of the ball.  We were just worried about their quick athletic ability.  We just didn’t think we could be successful in the press that night.  We only pressed for one possession.  That’s our game, but we preached for three or four days there that we just need to come out and contain there dribble penetration.  I thought the best way to do that was to get into the zone.  The kids bought into it.  They showed that they can play a fast paced game or a slow down game,” said Keene.

          Colonel Crawford is the defending district champion and they beat Norwalk St. Paul (70-65) in semi-final play.  Keene says the Eagles have a lot of talent, but it starts with point guard Conner McCreary.  “The thing that stands out the most is their coach.  David Sheldon does a phenomenal job.  It all starts with their point guard Conner McCreary.  The kid is just a great all-around athlete.  He can just shoot it like he proved Tuesday night against St. Paul when he came out and hit seven threes.  When he is shooting it like that they are tough to beat.  They have a wing man in the Adams kid that can stroke it or take you inside and post you up.  They throw in the Klingenberger kid, who is probably the best athlete on the court,” said Kenne.

          Colonel Crawford beat Plymouth (55-48) during a regular season game in late December.  Keene says for them to win this time they must defend the perimeter and force the turnovers.  “Come Friday night we have our hands full we have to get out and defend the three and hopefully put some pressure on the in full and half court and hopefully we can turn them over for some easy baskets,” he said.

 

 
   

Plymouth Looking to Continue Streak

 

          A goal for any high school basketball team is to be playing its best basketball as the regular season ends and the tournament begins and Plymouth has been successful in doing just that.

          The Big Red (13-11) has one its last seven games and coach Troy Keene says they have found the confidence they were missing in the middle part of the season.  “We played awfully well during the sectional.  We are on a seven game win streak right now and kids are truly believing in one another.  They just have confidence in each other.  They are just playing the game the way it supposed to be played right now and they are having fun.  Friday night wasn’t one of our greatest efforts of the season, but we gutted one out.  We survived and advanced and that is the name of the game right now,” said Keene.

          Plymouth faces Buckeye Central (15-8) in the division four district semi-finals on Tuesday night at Willard High School.  Although their play has been streaky this year, Keene says their approach has remained consistent.  “We haven’t changed really anything from our first game through our 24th game.  My young kids are just growing up right now.  They are really collecting a lot of confidence in themselves right now on the basketball court.  They are fun group of kids to be around.  We are just looking forward to the challenge (Tuesday) night,” he said.

          Buckeye defeated Plymouth (51-39) on the first night of the season more than three months ago.  Buckeye had graduated a number of players, but Keene says he knew this was going to be a good team.  “We always open up the season in game one and they came out and took it to us in the very first game of the year.  They are a young club.  There were a lot of people in town questioning me about Buckeye Central and how did I get beat by them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I kept telling them that Buckeye is a pretty good ball club and they are going to prove a lot of people wrong this year.  Their success has relied on them playing together and playing hard.  Once you get those two things going for you.  Nobody cares who does the shooting and nobody cares who does the scoring for them.  Once you get a team playing like that it’s a tough match-up for you.”

          Being able to keep the Bucks out of the lane is going to be a real key for the Big Red.  Keene says they want to make Buckeye beat them from the perimeter.  “I think it’s a tough match-up for both teams.  They are very athletic and quick.  We are going to have to slow that down a little bit.  We are going to have to slow down Wurm and Kaple because those are the two that really makes them run.  We are just going to have to control the lane and limit their dribble penetration and turn them into jump shooters.  Hopefully we can do that and be successful,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Rolling into Tournament

 

          Plymouth might not have the greatest record, but they are one of the scariest teams in North Central Ohio headed into the tournament.

          The Big Red (11-11) takes a five game winning streak into a division four sectional semi-final match up with Sandusky St. Mary’s (13-9) on Tuesday night at Norwalk High School.

          Plymouth hammered South Central (70-40) in their final Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Coach Troy Keene is really happy with what he is seeing.  “I am really proud of the kids right now.  They are finally learning to play the game smartly.  Right now, we are really playing some good team defense and we are really sharing the basketball.  Our shot selection has been exceptionally good.  We were a combined 31-45 on Friday night and that’s just a great percentage.  The kids are working really hard right now.  I couldn’t be any more prouder of them.  We are really looking forward to Tuesday.  We have won five games in a row.  I honestly believe we are headed in the right direction now,” said Keene.

          They get a lot of easy hoops because they force turnovers with their press.  Keene says they also been able to make teams play faster than they want to.  “That is one of the staples of our defense.  We really look to get a lot of offense off of it.  We are not only looking for turnovers.  We are looking to speed you up down at your offensive end.  When you are coming down and making only one of two passes and really shooting the ball quick, that’s what we want you to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, “Once we get in transition it leads to some easy baskets for us and that’s what we have been successful with right now.  We have changed around some here in the last five of six games.  We have tweaked it and added some things to it.  It’s giving some teams some fits right now.”

          Plymouth advanced to the district semi-finals last season before losing to Colonel Crawford.  Keene says they have some tournament experience.  “We’ve got two starters back from last year and three other kids that got some experience in the district.  They are really looking forward to this tournament run.  They are playing with confidence right now.  They are just excited to get the second season under way.  Hopefully we can put together a good deep run,”

          Sandusky St. Mary’s is the top seed in the division four sectional at Norwalk.  Keene says the Panthers are loaded with talent.  “We are going up against a Lyle Falknor coached team.  The guy has 400 wins.  His teams are always prepared.  St. Mary’s is going to come at us with an all district kid in Denarius Harris, a 6’5” point guard.  He’s just a great athlete.  He really runs the show for them up there.  You throw the Willkee kid in the middle.  He is 6’6” and is just a load.  We have to do a good job of keeping him off the boards.  Then you throw in the Meyers kid that is probably one of the best shooters we have seen all season.  We have our hands full, but I really like our chances with the way we are playing right now.  We hare just going to go to Norwalk Tuesday night and have some fun,” said Keene.       

 

 
 

Confidence Bubbling For Plymouth

 

          Plymouth has had a crazy season of ups and downs this year, but they are certainly on an up note now. 

          They upset first place Western Reserve (54-44) in a Firelands Conference game last Friday, knocking the Rough Riders back into a share of the top spot with New London. 

          Coach Troy Keene says it was a big win for them.  “When you go into Western Reserve, who is in first place, and you get chance to knock off a Sheldon coached team it’s a great feeling.  We are excited about the win, but we are also a little disappointed because we only put together three quarters again.  We can’t put four quarters together, but we are still excited by the win.  We are looking forward to big things ahead,” he said.

          Plymouth outscored Western 17-4 in the fourth quarter to get the win.  Keene says he could just see his kids beginning to believe they could win the game.  “Western didn’t score until the :56 mark of the fourth quarter.  It was just a great defensive effort by my kids.  I couldn’t be prouder of them.  You could just see the confidence building after halftime.  It started in the third quarter.  In the fourth quarter I could just look into my kids eyes they knew they were going to win the game.  That’s the kind of confidence we are looking for right now.  We are just having fun again, which is just a very important part of the game,” said Keene.

          Sophomore Tyson Beebe scored 25 points in the win last week.  Keene says he has taken his game to another level.  “He is really playing with a lot of confidence right now.  Early on I thought he was forcing some shots, but right now he is letting the game come to him.  We are really playing inside to outside.  He is really cutting hard to the hoop right now and he is making shots from behind the arc.  He is a tough guard right now and he is a tough kid also.  He is playing with a lot of confidence,” he said.

          Plymouth (10-11,7-6) will be at home for rival South Central (8-13,4-8) in Firelands Conference action on Friday night.  “South Central is a rivalry game of ours.  They beat us the first time around.  He has some good up and coming talent.  He is awful young this year and he is playing a lot of kids.  Those kids are really starting to gain some confidence right now.  They are a tough guard for us.  It starts with the 6’8” senior in Seidel and it goes to the six-foot point guard in the Yost kid,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “He is a tough guard for us.  He took us inside and posted us up the last game.  They controlled the tempo on us the first game.  We are hoping to reverse that and take it at them.  It’s my seniors last home game and they are really looking forward to it.”    

 

 

 
   

Plymouth Has a Chance to be Spoiler

 

          Plymouth is the best friend the New London Wildcats can have at this point in the season.  If they can upset Western Reserve on Friday night it gives New London a chance to share the Firelands Conference title.

          The Big Red (9-11,6-6) has rallied to win its last three games going into the game with first place Western Reserve on Friday night.  The Big Red hammered rival Crestview (74-42) last week in one of their better efforts of the season.  Coach Troy Keene likes what he is seeing.  “We are coming off that down period there in the middle of the season where we got a little selfish and lost some confidence.  We are gaining confidence with each game now.  You can just see it in the kid’s eyes.  They are really staring to believe in themselves and to believe in each other,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That is the sign of a good team right there to start believing in each other and I am starting to see a little bit of that.  We are coming out and really getting after it.  We are sticking to the game plan and my kids are really playing well right now and hopefully we can carry that into Friday night.”

          Keene believes there two keys to their recent success, better shot selection and the effectiveness of their press.  “The one thing that we have really preached the last two or three weeks is when we shoot the three point shot less than 10 times we win.  Once we go over shooting it 10 times we lose.  That’s from not taking great shots and forcing up some shots.  We have really been working on our shot selection.  What also helps is our press.  Our press has really been getting after people right now and we are getting a lot of layups and that lead to easy scores.  Right now not shooting the three and the press is leading to us shooting the ball extremely well.  We have shot over 50 percent the last three games,” said Keene.

          Western Reserve (15-4,11-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, beat Plymouth (53-48) on January 4.  Keene says a better inside presence has made the Rough Riders even more difficult to defend.  “They are very well coached.  They are going to come in prepared.  The one thing that you really have to watch against Western is their three point shooting.  Every kid on the floor can shoot it.  They have the big kid Hankins that is playing extremely well for them in the post right now and that is making it an even more difficult challenge for us.  We have to get out and defend the three and hopefully put a little pressure on them and turn them over bit and control the offensive boards and hopefully that leads to good things for us,” said Keene.

          Being a spoiler is something that Keene has really tried to drill into his kids head this week.  “I have been trying to tell our kids all week that I’m not one that wants to watch a team cut down the nets come Friday night.  It’s senior night for them and they have a chance to cut down the nets, so hopefully their minds are somewhere else come Friday.  I doubt if it will be.  We are up for the challenge and we are looking forward to it.  This is a game that can springboard us right into the tournament,” said Keene.   

 

 
   

Plymouth Back Together

 

          After some injuries and other things the Plymouth Big Red now have a full roster, have won their last two games of the season and hope to make some damage in the postseason again this year.

          They advanced to the district semi-finals last season before losing in a close game to Colonel Crawford.

          Second leading scorer and leading rebounder Tyrell Edmiston returned to the lineup last week after a suspension and the Big Red lost to Norwalk St. Paul (57-54) in a conference game, but beat Crestline (64-49) last Saturday and Seneca East (71-68) in overtime on Tuesday.  Coach Troy Keene says they are starting to get comfortable.  “We are still working to get on track.  We have a freshman first off the bench now and a sophomore, so we are still going through a little bit of growing pains.  My young kids are really starting to play good ball right now and they are really starting to get comfortable with themselves right now.  These last three games we are just looking to build and just gunning for the tournament.  Hopefully we can make a deep run come tournament time,” said Keene.

          Plymouth (8-10,5-6) has only one senior in Jerimiah Crager and they must rely on some kids that Keene admits maybe aren’t really ready for varsity competition.  “Sometimes they think they are ready to compete at that level and the fact of the matter is for some kids just aren’t ready to play varsity ball yet,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have kind of had to force that on a couple of kids.  Just the strength of the game and the quickness of the game it takes the kids quite a while to adjust to, but they are starting to adjust a little better now.  We are now at full strength due to some suspensions and some other injuries and on going things.  We are really excited about moving forward.”

          The Big Red plays at Crestview (6-10,4-7) on Friday night.  Their first meeting marked one of Plymouth’s best efforts of the season when they won by 33 (74-41) in late December.  The Cougars lost to Mansfield St. Peter’s (67-60) on Tuesday night.  Keene says while Crestview has been inconsistent this season, but they have some talented kids they can put on the floor.  “He is playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores too.  Just like we talked about there is an adjustment period there.  They are a scary team because if they are knocking down the three they are a tough team to beat.  We are going to have to go out and guard that.  We are going to have to pressure them and force some turnovers on Friday night,” said Keene. 

 

 
   

Plymouth Trying to Find it

 

          Plymouth has lost five of its last six games and they have had trouble scoring even in beating Monroeville last Friday and they need to find that shooting touch again in order to fill their potential.

          They have failed to score 55 points in any of those games and coach Troy Keene says the Big Red isn’t getting good shots and they aren’t making very many.  “We are just not shooting a high percentage right now.  A lot of that has to due that we are forcing shots and we just not taking very good shots at this time, like we were earlier in the season.  You take that with being in a shooting slump also it has really caused us some problems,” he told Swankonpsorts.com on Wednesday, “We have been working on some different stuff to get out of it this week.  Hopefully, we can figure it out before Friday and come out and put forth a good effort.  This is a big weekend for us with it being three road games. We definitely have to shoot the ball better this weekend.”

          They also play at Mansfield St. Peter’s (9-5) on Saturday and Bellevue (7-6) on Monday.

          With quality scouting the teams Plymouth has been playing have been able to shut down their signature moves and they have to find a way around that.  “There are a lot of good coaches in the area.  They know how to defend kids and where they are comfortable at.  We have had some coaches come out and force us into our uncomfortable zone.  With us being so young we just haven’t adapted to that yet.  I am tired of using that younger excuse too.  It is still a learning process for my team.  We are trying to work hard and work through it right now.  Hopefully we are on the right track,” he said.

          Plymouth (6-7,5-4) travels to Mapleton (2-12,0-9) for a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Keene says the Mounties are better than their record and they better be ready to play.  “They lost some kids to graduation last year.  J.R. (Keener) has come in and done a fabulous job with them.  It may not show in the win-loss column, but as a coach I know that he is doing things right and trying to get the program on stable footing right now.  I think his is doing a great job with it.  If you overlook Mapleton a little bit going into their gym they could jump up and bite you.  If Hickey gets hot, he is a tough guard for us, if they get on a little bit of a roll you never know what is going to happen over there.  We have to mentally and physically prepared to go in there and stay focused for 32 minutes,: said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth at a Crossroads

 

          Plymouth would seem to have the talent to be a very competitive team, but going into this weekend they are carrying a four game losing streak and clinging to any hope of a Firelands Conference title.

          Last week, the Big Red lost a conference game to South Central (56-50) on Friday and a non-conference game to Mansfield Christian (48-37) on Saturday.  They didn’t score the ball well at all.  Coach Troy Keene says they need to find themselves again.  “We are disappointed in our play this past weekend.  We came in on a two game losing streak against two pretty good teams, which we played well in.  These games this past weekend we just came out and laid an egg,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “This week we are just getting back to fundamentals.  We are just getting back to going hard in practice.  It is just like week one of the basketball season.  We are back to just pretending that it is training camp again.  We are going hard for two, two and half hours this week and hopefully this weekend we can turn things around and get back on the winning track.”

          Plymouth had a lot of problems putting the ball in the basket.  Keene says they had too many turnovers resulting in fewer shots and then they couldn’t make very many of those.  “Our shot selection was the biggest thing.  We also turned it over double digit times in both games, which was uncharacteristic for us.  We were averaging only five turnovers a game coming into last weekend.  We turned it over 15 and 17 times and that’s one of our biggest concerns.  In terms of shot selection I thought some of our kids got a little selfish. We are working on correcting that and hopefully can get back to playing Big Red basketball,” he said.

          Plymouth (5-6,4-3) plays two conference games this weekend.  They begin in Monroeville (2-9,1-6) on Friday night.  The Big Red won the first meeting (62-48), but Keene expects them to much better this time.  “The first time that we played them they were missing their all-league selection in the Heck kid.  He is a great individual and a great player.  They just haven’t been able to put it together yet.  They have some nice young talent on that team.  We are just hoping that we aren’t the team they put it together against.  They are going to come out and play hard and just play with that never say die attitude.  Sometimes that is difficult to play against, but we are going to be prepared for them and hopefully we can come out with a win,” said Keene.

          New London (9-2,5-2) is at Plymouth on Saturday night in what is going to be a huge game for both.  The Wildcats beat Plymouth at their place (43-33) in December.  Keene knows New London will be a tough match-up.  “We are just taking it one day at a time.  New London won the conference last year.  They are a pretty good team and it all starts with the Held kid.  He is just a great athlete and a great basketball player.  Their point guard Smith can fill it up at any time.  The sophomore Hamilton has really been coming on lately.  They are a handful, especially on Saturday night, because Saturday games you don’t get to prepare for as much as Friday games.  That is a very huge game for us.  We will be ready to play and hopefully change our season around,” said Keene.    

 

 
   

Plymouth Can’t Fall Back

 

          Last season Crestview beat Western Reserve twice, but Plymouth can’t count on that happening again this season.

          Currently, Plymouth trails Western by two games in the Firelands Conference race and they must keep winning.  Their assignment this week is a game at South Central.

          Western plays Crestview (5-5,3-3) on Friday night.

          Last week, Western Reserve beat the Big Red (53-49) in what was a pretty good conference game.  Coach Troy Keene says they just couldn’t score enough in the fourth quarter.  “We came out and ran our game plan.  Overall, we played fairly well on Friday night.  We had a six point lead early in the fourth.  Right now we are just struggling to finish possessions in the fourth quarter.  That’s what we are really concentrating on this week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I loved the kid’s effort this past weekend.  It goes down as a loss, but, more importantly is goes down as a learning experience.  We are looking to bounce back this coming Friday.”

          This weekend marks the halfway point in the conference race and Keene knows they must keep up with Western by beating South Central.  “We just like to play a fast pace.  We like getting out and pressing teams.  Just creating offense with our defense that’s when we are at our best.  Hopefully, this weekend we can keep that trend up and get back on the winning track and make a run here.  We know our backs are against the wall.  We are not going to give up in the conference race.  We will give it everything we’ve got and keep playing hard,” he said.

          South Central (2-8,1-5) has been dealing with a lot of youth this season.  However, Keene says the Trojans have a lot of guys that can play.  “Their offense starts with their sophomore point guard Dallas Yost.  He is improving each and every game.  You can just see his confidence building.  They have the 6’7” kid, the Seidel kid.  He is a force to be reckoned with inside.  The have a decent shooting guard in Dotson and when he is on he is one of the better three point shooters in the league.  After that he is playing a lot of kids and trying to get a lot of experience.  They are going to come out and get after us,” said Keene.

          The two communities don’t lie far from each other and Keene says that brings some extra intensity to the game.  “This is a backyard rivalry for us.  They are just five or six miles down the road.  There should be a nice crowd in there for Friday night,” he said.

 

 
   

Plymouth Can Move into Share of First Place

 

          Plymouth might be one of the teams that can compete with Western Reserve this season in the Firelands Conference.  We will find out on Friday night.

          Last week, the Big Red destroyed rival Crestview (74-41) to remain in a share of second place with New London a game behind Western.  Coach Troy Keene says their pressure defense was the difference.  “We just wanted to come out and pressure the ball and we did it successfully.  We were able to get some easy baskets and put it away early.  I was very proud of my kid’s efforts there,” he said.

          On Saturday night, Colonel Crawford pulled away late to beat Plymouth (55-48) in non-conference play.  Keene says the Eagles made the key plays late.  “We just didn’t come out of the gates really quickly and they jumped out to a big lead.  My kids battled really hard and came back from a 16 point deficit in the second quarter and tied it up with a minute to go.  We just didn’t finish possessions in the fourth quarter,” said Keene.

          Plymouth (5-3,4-1) hosts Western Reserve (8-1,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, on Friday night.  Keene says Western is better in the post this year.  “Last year, they really depended on the three point shot.  This year they are really making a concentrated effort to pound it into the post a little bit, which gets their three point shooters off.  We are really going to have to defend them in the post and at the same time we have to get out and guard the three,” said Keene

          Still, Western has a bevy of outside shooters.  Keene says you must guard all of them.  “They have got the Mounz kid, who has really come on a lot for them this year.  He can shoot the three and he can take you inside and post you up.  They have the Boose kid, who is probably the best pure shooter in the league.  If you give him any kind of room he is just going to knock down the three,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They have the Good kid back that can set behind the line and stroke it.  They have Willie Roth, who can dribble penetrate.  We have our hands full, but we are working on some things this week and it should be an enjoyable game.”

          One of the keys to the game, according to Keene, is the ability of his kids hit open shots, especially when they aren’t guarded.  “What he has done in the past is come down and doubled our post play.  We have to do a better job of guarding the backside wings.  We have to knock down shots.  Chris is known for not guarding everyone on the floor.  He is going to pick a kid out and say if you can make it you’ll beat us and if you can’t you won’t.  Hopefully, this year we have some shooters on the team and we can knock down that shot and give them a run for their money,” said Keene.  

 

 
   

Plymouth Doing it With Pressure

 

          Plymouth proved why they have the talent to be a Firelands Conference contender last week and now they face perhaps their biggest challenge of the season this week.

          The Big Red (4-2,3-1) belted Norwalk St. Paul (61-41) last Friday night behind 26 points from sophomore Tyson Beebe.  Coach Troy Keene says they were able to force the Flyers into a number of turnovers.  “Our goal coming out of the locker room on Friday night was to come out and get after them early and force them into turnovers.  We came out and pressed them from the opening tip and really gave them a lot of problems.  It is probably the best we have seen the press run in the last couple of years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We forced 10 turnovers in the first period.  We came out and played great defensively.  We got a great contribution off the bench from Levi Myers on Friday night, which was a bit of a surprise, but the kid has come along great.  He is really working hard and putting his time in.  Tyson Bebee came out and went for 26 and Jeremiah Kregger had 17.  We just put in a great effort at both ends of the floor.”

          Sophomore Tyrell Edmiston has only six points last week and left with an ankle injury.  However, Keene says he will play this weekend.  “He’ll be fine.  He came to practice on Monday and everything was fine, so he’ll be fine,” he said.

          They host Crestview (4-3,3-1) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  The Cougars have won four of their last five after a rough start.  Keene says they have some athleticism and some shooting ability.  “They are kind of like us.  They are a young team.  It takes a while to jell together.  I’m starting three sophomores this year.  I think he is starting three and a freshman.  With me starting two freshman last year, there just isn’t very much seasoning there yet.  They are going to come out and shoot the ball extremely well.  They are long and lengthy.  We are going to have to keep them off the boards to be successful,” said Keene.

          In what may be their toughest challenge of the season this year, Plymouth travels to Colonel Crawford (6-1) for a non-conference match-up on Saturday night.  Keene knows the Eagles have talent all over the floor.  “They are a real nice ball club.  It starts with the McCreary kid at the point guard, just an exceptional athlete and a great basketball player.  I’ve got all the respect in the world for him.  Then you throw the Adams kid out there that can post you up or take you out and shoot a three.  Jury and Klingenberger from the inside.  I went and watched them Saturday night and Klingenberger really impressed me with his athletic ability.  It is going to be a test for us,” said Keene.

          Last season, Crawford beat Plymouth in the district finals and Keene wants a win to set up this March.  “This will go a long way for the tournament seeds for us.  You hate to start talking about that this early.  This is a win we need to get.  Sad part is I have a Sheldon on a Saturday night followed by another Sheldon next Friday with Western.  I’ll have to get on my “AD” about scheduling the Sheldon’s back to back,” he said.        

 

 
 

Plymouth Must Defend Paint

 

          Plymouth lost a tough one last week to New London and now the Big Red needs a win at Norwalk St. Paul to keep themselves in the Firelands Conference race.

          Last week Plymouth split the double weekend as they lost at New London (43-33) and they smoked Mapleton (72-53) on Saturday night.

          Coach Troy Keene says they played well in almost every aspect of the game against New London expect they couldn’t get the ball in the basket.  “Both teams Friday night came out and played very hard.  Both teams played real physical, but New London came out and shot it a little better than we did.  We just weren’t very successful putting the ball in the hoop on Friday night.  Take away that and I really like the effort from my team.  We got contributions from Tyson Beebe, Tyrell Edmiston and Jeremiah Kregger.  We only put three players in the scoring column,” he told Swankonsports.com, “You are not going to beat too many teams when you only put three people in the scoring column.  We really got after it at the defensive end.  Anytime you hold a team to 43 points with firepower like New London you expect to win.  New London came out and played even better defense than we did.  They really held us in check.  We bounced back on Saturday night and I was proud of that.”

          St. Paul won both there games last weekend in conference play with wins over Mapleton (57-26) and South Central (62-45) to make their overall record 4-1 for the year.  Keene says they have a balanced team.  “They are a very athletic team.  They have three pretty good guards.  One of them is an all league selection from last year Sal Sortino and they have two great posts.  Their 6’5” post is just great athlete and fundamentally sound for a real nice player.  They have the Griffin kid inside.  He is 6’4” and very athletic and he plays the game the way you love to see kids play.  He just goes hard to boards and that is one our main concerns keeping them off the offensive boards.  It is going to take a total team effort to do that.  They are going to come out and press us a little bit.  We have to keep their dribble drive offense in check and we have to handle their pressure.  They can come at us with the full court press or a half court press and a great man to man defense.  We have our hands full come Friday night,” said Keene.

          Plymouth knows that defending that lane, no matter who has the ball, is going to be key for them.  “If you can keep them out of the lane that is 50 percent of the battle.  We have been working all week on ways to do that and hopefully we can limit that.  But, with St. Paul they come at you with those two posts also, so you can’t try to defend the lane just with those guards.  You also have to defend the lane with the post players,” he said.    

 

 
   

Plymouth Kids Playing Well

 

          Plymouth is a basketball team that has a real chance to compete for the Firelands Conference title and they are doing it with a lot of young kids.

          Last Friday, they beat the Monroeville Eagles (62-48) in their first conference game of the season.  Coach Troy Keene says they did it starting five sophomores.  “We came in with a lot of kids with sickness and some other things that they missed practice for during the week.  We started five sophomores.  With the three sophomores that normally start for me I told them before the game that they needed to come up big,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Tyson Beebe scored 24 and pulled down eight rebounds.  Tyrell Edmiston went for 15 points and 19 rebounds and Hunter Bailey really stepped up and went for 14 points and nine assists.  I got what I needed from those three.  Then my two other sophomores that stepped in for my seniors they really stepped up and got some varsity experience and really started to get better.  Hopefully going forward you know it is really going to make us better and our bench that much deeper.”

          Edmiston and Beebe were starters for the Big Red last year as freshmen.  Keene says Edmiston is real force on both ends of the floor for them.  “He really controls the lane at both ends of the floor.  On top of those 19 rebounds he ended up with seven blocked shots.  He is a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the floor,” he said.

          In a key early season match up in the conference Plymouth (2-1,1-0) is at New London (3-0,1-0), the defending conference champions, on Friday night.  Keene says New London will try to make this as much of an up tempo game as they can with presses and quick passes.  He says they want to pound it down inside and force the Wildcats make some decisions.  “They are really going to send five guards at us.  Unfortunately for them a couple of them have to go in and play the post.  Tom (Howell) is a great coach up there and runs a great program, so he has to figure out where to double from in the post when they are in man.  I look for them to double down if they are in a zone also.  They like to get out and run.  They play a fast paced game, which we like to play too.  This is our first real challenge coming up in the Firelands Conference.  This is a big weekend for us and hopefully it can springboard us forward,” said Keene.

          Plymouth plays Mapleton on Saturday night.

 

 
   

Defense the Key For Plymouth’s Improvement

 

          Plymouth split their first two games and if the Big Red is to get better they have to start playing better defense.

          The Big Red is a younger team and they have to understand that defense is something they have to take to heart.  Buckeye Central downed the Big Red in their opener (51-39) and Plymouth coach Troy Keene says the Bucks where able to control the tempo of the game.  “You have to give Phil Loy and his boys a lot of credit.  They came out and stuck to their game plan.  They had eight or nine kids that came out and played the game hard and they played as a team, which makes for a great team for Buckeye Central.  They played extremely well and got after us and took us out of our game plan.  They got the lead early and we just couldn’t bounce back from that,” said Keene.

          They were able to rebound on Saturday night and beat the Lucas Cubs (69-34) to even their record.  Keene says there is still a lot to work on.  “We played fairly well, but we are still making young mistakes, but we are going to work on that this week and hopefully we can get better for Monroeville,” he said.

          Speaking of working on things, Keene says he has identified a couple of things that his team needs to improve, including being more mentally tough on the court.  “The two biggest things I saw last weekend, and I have told the kids, we are soft on the defensive end and we don’t have any mental toughness,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We graduated a lot of heart last year and we are still looking for that one kid to step up on the defensive end and to play the way I expect.  Right now, no one stepped up there.  We are going to work at it again this week and see what we can come up with.”

          Plymouth plays host to Monroeville (0-2) in their Firelands Conference lid lifter on Friday night.  The Eagles lost to Mansfield Christian (67-30) on Friday and Seneca East (66-52) on the opening weekend, however, Keene believes Monroeville will be a lot better this week.  “The first thing is the Heck kid didn’t play for them in either game and he is an all-conference player.  We are going to be seeing a different player.  They really like to slow the ball down and get into their offense and run a couple of sets.  We are going to try and speed them up and get them into the pace that we want them in,” said Keene.

          Monroeville does have some height and Keene says they are going to have to do a better job of rebounding the basketball.  “That was one of the things that hurt us Friday night.  We got out rebounded by 14 rebounds.  That is just a willingness to do it.  That is something we have to work on this week.  Somebody needs to step up in that category and grab the bull by the horns,” he said.

 

 
   

Plymouth Young, but Talented

 

          The Plymouth Big Red are expected to among a group of teams chasing the Western Reserve Rough Riders in the Firelands Conference this season and they are going to do with a number of underclassmen including Tyrell Edmiston and Tyson Beebe.

          Edmiston averaged 16 point and 12 rebounds last year, while Beebe got Plymouth 11 a game as a freshman.

          Coach Troy Keene says he was been mostly pleased with what he has seen from his young group during the preseason.  “For the most part I have been pleased.  We are awfully young.  We are starting three sophomores.  We have a couple of freshmen that are going to get some time,” he said.

          Right now what has Keene most concerned is the way his team has been playing on defense and that has to improve for the Big Red to win games.  “We are really struggling at the defensive end right now, but we are working on it in practice.  Offensively I think we are okay.  For the most part the preseason has been a good learning experience for everybody.  I think we’re ready,” said Keene.

          Plymouth has some young players and especially Edmiston and Beebe has played a lot of varsity basketball, but still Keene says they are a young basketball team that is still learning.  “All three of the sophomores got a lot of time for me last year.  Two of them started for me all year.  They got some experience last year, but they are still young and they are still learning the game.  We are going to go through a little bit of growing pain, but we will be okay,” he told Swankonsports.com on the eve of the season opener on Thursday.

          Plymouth plays host to Buckeye Central and Lucas in back to back non-conference games this weekend.  Keene says he is more worried about their execution than he is what they may see from the opponent this weekend.  “They are both going to be young.  I haven’t had a chance to get any tape on them.  The opening weekend the way we do it at Plymouth we are really just worried about ourselves.  We are just working on certain things.  We will adjust this weekend and go from there,” he said.   

 

 
   

 

Plymouth Wants to End the Season on a Good Note

 

          This was a football season where the Plymouth Big Red was competitive, but in many cases unable to take the final step and get a win. 

          An inexperienced group at the beginning of the season, Plymouth lost to New London in overtime (48-46) and led Norwalk St. Paul in the first half before falling (30-14) a couple of weeks ago,

          Western Reserve, the Firelands Conference co-leader with Norwalk St. Paul, handled the Big Red (29-6) last week in a conference game.  Coach Mark Genders says mistakes on offense cost them a chance to be competitive in the game.  “Like coach Stoll said they played a great first half of football, probably the best they have all year.  We got off to a real slow start.  That’s an understatement with the bad snap safety, the long punt return and we couldn’t get back and recover from it.  We played an outstanding game defensively.  We gave them a short field with a couple of turnovers,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They scored one late on us.  Other than that our defense gave up a couple of hundred yards against a pretty explosive offense.  You have to tip your hat to Western they had a pretty good defensive game plan.  We didn’t get the things done we needed to.  Against good teams you aren’t going to do too much.”

          Plymouth (4-5,3-3) plays host to the rival Crestview Cougars (2-7,1-5) in a conference game on Friday night.  Crestview won the conference last year, but graduated a great number of players, just like Plymouth.  Grenders thinks the teams are similar in their make up.  “I wouldn’t say they were young, just inexperienced.  They are a lot like us.  They start a ton of juniors.  Our senior classes were really loaded for both of us last year.  That’s hard to replace, the leadership.  Inexperience is something that takes time to build on.  They have gotten a ton better since week one.  Coach Coffman does a good job with those kids.  They believe in their system.  All you can do is get better each week and they most certainly have,” said Genders.

          Last season on their way to an unbeaten regular season Crestview beat Plymouth (28-24) by scoring late in the game.  Genders says they want to beat Crestview for a number of reasons.  “Crestview is a rival for us.  We haven’t beaten them in 16 or 17 years, so I’m not sure the way they feel about that.  Over here we consider them a rival.  They big thing also is to end the season on a high note.  If we can come off the season with a win it really carries it well into the off season.  That is something we are really focused on.  We want to leave with a good taste in our mouths, especially after last week.  We know we have a big task in front of us.  If we play our game we will be there right to the end,” said Genders.   

 

 
   

Plymouth Must be More Sound

 

          Plymouth has the makings a good football team, but the Big Red is not a team that can make mistakes and get away with it.

          An example was last week when they lost to Norwalk St. Paul (30-14) in a conference game..  A win would have given them a share of the Firelands Conference lead.

          Coach Marks Genders says they had too many errors in critical situations.  “It was pretty disappointed actually to have a 14-7 lead.  We made some simple mental mistakes, we really did.  Bottom line, we had some blown coverages.  We had multiple of them.  Really hadn’t done that in four weeks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It popped its ugly head on Friday night.  St. Paul took full advantage of it and hurt us bad.  Honestly it ended up being the deciding factor in three touchdowns.  I talked about it going into the game.  You can’t make stupid mistakes and beat good teams and that’s what happened on Friday night.”

          Friday night the Big Red (4-4,3-2) takes on another one of the Firelands Conference best as they travel to Western Reserve.  The Rough Riders (6-2,4-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the small school division, lost their first conference game of the season last week in an upset (7-6) to New London.  Genders says the Rough Riders are a very good team.  “They are the most seasoned team in coming back in the conference.  They were the odds on preseason favorite.  They have had a heck of a season really.  Watching them on tape from last Friday night, they moved the ball pretty well.  They didn’t get it done in certain situations and they ended up losing a heartbreaker.  As a season as a whole they have played great football.  They are big, they are physical, and they are fast and athletic.  Coach Stull does a nice job with that group.  We know we are going to have to deal with their best shot, especially coming off a tough loss,” said Genders.

          With Western being so physical, what about more of a spread attack?  Genders says they have to use everything they have.  “We have to use all of our weapons.  It’s going to be hard matching up with them physically though we are pretty decent size ourselves.  We do have some quickness as they do.  We have to play our game.  Western Reserve is a football team.  Just like I told the boys last week, St Paul is a football team.  Nothing has changed this week.  We have to come out prepared and ready to play physically and emotionally.  If you don’t do that, you aren’t going to win these football games.  When you do you give yourself a chance to do so,” said Genders.  

 

 
   

Plymouth Gets Test

 

          Two teams that share second place in the Firelands Conference standings play on Friday night as Plymouth plays host to Norwalk St. Paul.

          The Big Red (4-3,3-1) shut out backyard rival South Central (17-0) last week in what was their best defensive showing of the season, according to coach Mark Genders.  “We have been waiting on our defense to keep getting better each week and they did.  Having those two stops inside the red zone were pretty special and really gave us a lot of momentum moving forward,” he said.

          Plymouth’s offense continues to improve.  They have twice scored more than 40 in conference games this season.  Genders says they are probably as balanced as they have been in his tenure.  “We are one of the leaders in the area as far as points scored.  I give a lot of credit to South Central last week.  They did a nice job of taking away a few things that we do.  When you couple that with a mud bowl football field it’s not really conducive to a lot of points.  They moved the ball, got the first downs and did some things when we really needed it.  They are getting the job done each week.  We only hope to continue that,” said Genders.

          Last season, Plymouth’s first with a .500 record since the late 90’s, featured a power running attack.  Genders says this year they have made some changes to take advantage of what they feel are pretty good athletes.  “We have revamped the offense quite a bit actually.  We still run a lot of option stuff, but we are trying to adapt what we do around our kids.  We feel we have a lot of quick running backs and good wide receivers.  We want to put five of them on the field and spread you out a little bit.  If you take one away we will go to another.  You can see that in our stats each week.  It seems like every week we have a different guy with a big night,” he told Swnakonsports.com on Sunday, “That’s a testament to Tom Lewis, my offensive coordinator, he does a great job of taking what the defense is giving them and exploits the weaknesses when he does that.  Last year it was more of a ground and pound and come right at you with those big backs I had and the massive offensive line.  When it’s time to pass we feel we have a couple of weapons on the perimeter for sure, with Tyrell Edmidson and Jeremiah Kreger each with double digit catches and nine touchdowns between them.   That is a little bit different for the Big Red.  We are actually dangerous on the perimeter.  I think that’s why we are scoring so many points.”

          St. Paula battled back from a loss to conference leader Western Reserve (32-0) two weeks ago to hand New London their first conference loss (49-7) on Saturday night.  Genders believes this a good team that is part of a great program.  “They took a tough loss a couple of weeks ago to Western.  That will happen to anybody when you have five turnovers.  It’s a testament to John’s program Saturday night.  They answered the bell.  They played angry and it showed.  He is such a class act with what he does.  It is so consistent.  He is playing a lot of young kids this year and you can see them mature from week to week.  They are just so disciplined and they just do what they do.  If you are going to beat a team like that you have to play as disciplined as they do and match them physically,” said Genders.

          It’s not like St. Paul can’t pass, but Genders says to contain the Flyers offense they have to slow down their run game.  “They are definitely a run first team.  They didn’t have one of the better backs in the area early in the season.  Griffin was pretty impressive Saturday night, let’s just say that.  With the Smith kid countering that they are really starting to find their kitsch offensively too.  Like us on defense, we think we have finally settled in some key positions.  The match-up is a pretty good one.  It might take an hour and a half to finish the way we play.  It sets up as a great match-up,” said Genders.

 

 
   

Plymouth Must Execute

 

          Plymouth’s offense has scored at least 40 points in three of their five games this year, but Friday night they face the best defense they have seen this year in the Monroeville Eagles in Firelands Conference action.

          Last week, The Big Red (2-2,1-1) gave a up a cheep one early, but they went on to pound the Mapleton Mounties (40-14) in a conference game.  Coach Mark Genders says one the defense settled in they played pretty well.  “We are pretty pleased.  It didn’t start out too great as far as defensively.  They scored a long touchdown run out of their unbalanced look.  We prepared for it.  The kids just didn’t align right, but was one of just a couple of mistakes we made.  After that we aligned ourselves correctly and we got the job done all night long.  It was pretty exciting,” he said.

          Plymouth had two backs go over 100 yards in the game against Mapleton and Genders says they have done an excellent job this year of adjusting to what they face on a particular Friday night.  “It’s the third time this year we have scored in the 40’s.  We finally got a win with it.  Coach Lewis, my offensive coordinator, and my assistant coaches on the offensive side, they do a great job coming up with game plans every week and tendency breaking and things like that.  We knew going into this season that we had five guys at any given time that could hurt you.  If you look at our stat sheets week in and week out you are going to see a different guys each week.  They do a great job of taking what the defense gives us,” said Genders.

          Monroeville (1-4,1-1) will be at Plymouth on Friday night.  The Eagles gave one of the conference favorites in Western Reserve a real battle before losing (21-14) last week.  Genders says Monroeville is a much better team than their record even indicates.  “Don’t be clouded with what their record is. They have played a lot of the heavyweights in this conference all ready.  Their non-conference schedule is no joke either.  When you have Edison and Seneca East on your schedule and already playing Western and Crestview.  They are back to playing that Monroeville tough style football.  They have speed and they have good solid numbers in the program.  The Heck kid will hurt you in the backfield.  They have a couple real tall receivers that could do some damage on the perimeter.” He told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are complete a team in this conference as anybody.  They are a product of that schedule.  They have been in every football game and have had chances in every game.  They are going to create some big, big challenges for us.”

          With the defense that Monroeville has been playing this year, Genders knows they are up against a real challenge on Friday night.  “We are scoring a lot of points and things.  We aren’t even close to the surface we can be offensively as far as having a blown blocking assignment, something like that, here and there.  We know we are going to have to block who we are supposes to block.  We have to not shoot our selves in the foot like any other team, but especially with a defense like theirs.  If you make a mistake they make you pay.  They have been doing that for years.  We know the task at hand.  We are going to have to play our brand of football and we are going to have to be mistake free.  If we do that we give ourselves a chance if nothing else,” said Genders.          

 

 
   

Plymouth Needs Full Game

 

          Plymouth is still trying to find out how to win football games this year and it will not be without growing pains.

          They had a win in their grasp last week only to lose (48-42) to New London in overtime.  Plymouth coach Mark Genders says it was the Wildcats that made the big plays when they had too.  “We certainly had a chance to win.  We gave up a couple of big plays.  It goes from me thinking we are going to have a two touchdown lead and then an interception return to house of 90 some yards on a tipped ball by one of my kids.  Then not getting in on fourth and goal.  We didn’t make those plays and to New London’s credit they did,” he said.

          Plymouth also lost a tight one to Lucas (49-42) on the first week of the season.  Genders says they have to play a complete game and be the team that makes the big plays late in the game.  “We have to learn to get better at finishing things and taking each play as serious as we can.  It seems like every game we are in it’s one big play or this or that.  The kids have to learn that every play has got value.  It comes down to one play lots of times and it has for us a couple times this year already,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The sooner we start figuring that out and play four quarters of every play football the better off we are going to be.  Hopefully we learned from that.  It’s no fun losing in overtime, that’s a gut wrenching thing.  I think it got their attention this week if nothing else.”

          Mapleton (2-2,0-1) lost their conference opener too, but they scored six times against Norwalk St. Paul in losing 60-41.  Genders says the Mounties don’t have many players, but the ones they do have are very good.  “I said it in the preseason they are a well coached team.  Ray has done a great job especially with the numbers.  The bottom line is you can only put 11 kids on the field at once.  He has 11 guys that can play some football.  He has a solid offensive line.  He has the best quarterback in our conference.  He has a talented running back and a great receiver corp.  He has a complete football team.  I have seen them three times of film and they have some incredible talent in some areas.  We have our hands full.  It’s going to be another Firelands Conference war the way I see it,” said Genders.

          They really haven’t been able to do it this year, but Genders says they need to eat some clock when they have the ball so they can keep it out of the hands of the Mounties.  “Their timing routes and all of that they can hurt you at any time as you saw against St. Paul.  They put 40 points up on their ones.  It wasn’t scores late in the game.  They can score and they can score fast.  Keeping them off the football field is a big thing.  We have to create some opportunities with turnovers and things like that in order to beat these guys,” he said.

 

 
   

          Emotion the Key For Plymouth

 

          Plymouth is not going to overwhelm you with talent on the football field this year, but they have enough to win a lot of football games if they play hard.

          Intensity was the difference last week for the Big Red in their win over Buckeye Central (13-7) in non-conference play.  Coach Mark Genders says they played a full 48 minutes and that was key.  “It was a good win for us.  We have been trying to find some identity as a team.  We finally put it together and played the kind of football we thought we should be playing from day one.  In football sometimes things come around when they do.  Last week they did.  The kids worked hard.  We really got down to the basics blocking, tackling, and playing with a little bit of emotion.  Hopefully we will carry that over to this week,” said Genders.

          This week, the Big Red (1-2) hosts New London (1-2) in the Firelands Conference opener for both schools.  New London lost last week (33-13) to talented Colonel Crawford.  Genders says the Wildcats really played pretty well in the second half of the game.  “They dug themselves a little bit of a hole last week and if you do that against a team with the caliber of Colonel Crawford it could happen to any of us.  Once they came out of their early funk they played pretty solid,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Justin is doing a great job with that team.  Watching them on film they have gotten so much better discipline wise.  They have some really good athletes on their team.  You can tell he is close to turning that program around.  It should be a heck of a game.”

          To win on Friday, Genders feels like it is the same formula as last week.  He says they have to play very hard and they must be good at executing the fundamental elements of the game.  “We have to tackle, we have to block, and we have to play with emotion.  If we do those three things we are going to put ourselves in position to compete.  If we are on the upside in the amount of mistakes between the two teams then we will be on the good side,” he said.  

 

 
   

Plymouth Looking For Better Effort

 

          It’s wasn’t the loss that disappointed coach Mark Genders, but the lack of effort that he saw from his Big Red on football field last week against Seneca East.

          The Tigers beat Plymouth (40-21) last week and coach Genders was very unhappy with what he saw.  “We played with no emotion and not a lot of enthusiasm as a whole team.  It was pretty disappointing as far as that’s concerned.  We left that game scratching our heads, our guys didn’t show up.  It was like nothing I had seen since I have been here.  It’s been a big topic this week as far as coming mentally prepared and focused on what you have to do and play the game fun and with enthusiasm.  We didn’t have any of that last week,” said Genders.

          In practice this week Genders says his kids have started to get their heads back in the game.  “On Saturday the kids sat down and graded themselves out.  They were very apologetic because they didn’t even bring what they needed to compete.  The kids know as much as digressed on Friday.  We have to make up for it two fold this week.  We came out pretty focused (Monday.)  We have our home opener this week.  We need to right the ship,” he said.

          This week Buckeye Central (1-1), the defending state runner-up in division six, comes to Plymouth for a non-conference game.  The Bucks were upset last week by Mapleton (36-32), but Genders says in his opinion they are still pretty good.  “I know he is going through the same issues.  He is looking for that senior leadership and that focus that you have to have to be able to compete.  Buckeye Central, you know, what a run they had last year.  All of those young kids that he has had an extra five weeks they had to get better in all that practice time they had,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Coach Ratliff does a great job with those kids.  They know there expectations are to bring everything they have every game.  If both teams play the right way we should have a pretty serious, competitive game.”

          Genders expects it to be a pretty good game when Buckeye comes to town on Friday night.  “They have a young quarterback that continues in the games we have watched over the last couple of weeks has shown vast improvement.  As a group they have a lot of young skilled guys.  They have some incredible older guys, especially their running back.  Their offensive line has always been incredible and I don’t think that is much different here.  They are going to a hand full to deal with,” he said.      

 

 
   

Plymouth Wants to Continue to Grow

 

          After having a senior laden team a year ago, the Plymouth Big Red are a much younger team this fall.  Coach Mark Genders believes they grew up a lot in a loss to Lucas last week.

          Lucas outgunned the Big Red 48-42 in one of the biggest offensive shootouts in the area on week one.  Genders says they had a chance to fold in the game and they didn’t.  “There were a lot of things that we were questioning about our team going into that game considering how poorly we executed in that final scrimmage.  The theme the whole off season was if this senior group could come together and keep this team together in adverse times.  You know, last Friday we go down 13-0.  That was a big sign if this team was going one way or the other,” he told Swanonsports.com on Monday, “To their credit we took the lead and then lost it again on a kickoff return.  They showed us they are coming together.  Offensively we were strong.  Defensively, we didn’t tackle real well and made some mistakes, but a lot of that had to do with how good those backs were.  It came down to one play really.  That kickoff return ended up being the difference in the game.”

          Alex Sauder returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown to give Lucas a 21-14 lead at halftime.

          This week, Plymouth travels to Seneca East (1-0) for a non-conference game on Friday night.  The Tigers shutout South Central (20-0) in their first game, stopping the Trojans twice inside their own 10.  Genders says Seneca East have some veterans who understand how to run the spread offense.  “They have a lot of depth.  They have a big team.  They wear you down.  They are a well coached football team.  They were 7-3 last year.  They have a lot of older kids there.  They are a well balanced too.  They are fast.  If you make mistakes and don’t do your job they are going to hurt you.  They can hurt you deep and hit you really hard.  The styles we are dealing with between Lucas and they are completely different,” said Genders.

          Seneca East has been a spread team for the last several years, but Genders says they are not a team that typically throws the ball 50 times in a game.  “They spread you out, but they are still a run oriented football team.  They like to get their athletes out in the open field.  You have to be a disciplined football player and be well versed in the basics.  Open field tackling is no easy task.  We’ll see how we fare against this style,” he said.

          Genders thinks they might match up better with Seneca East than they did Lucas.  “I think we are pretty similar to Seneca East actually.  We have some decent team speed.  We are spreading it out a little bit this season.  We will see how it goes,” he said.

 

 
   

Mistakes Will be the Key

 

          Plymouth and Lucas meet in a key early season non-conference game at Lucas on Friday night.  Both schools are flying under the radar screen and the winner has a chance to prove they can be a pretty good football team.

          Big Red coach Mark Genders says his team has been working hard this week to shore up some mistakes they were making in their final scrimmage last week.  “We are pretty healthy.  We didn’t play real well last Friday in our preview scrimmage.  We pushed the kids pretty hard this week to get them refocused.  We are looking forward to the challenge against Lucas.  We know we have our hands full.  It should be a pretty exciting game,” he said.

          Like many other coaches Genders is talking about consistency and he is counting on his seniors to take the horse by the reins.  “We just have to get focused play in and play out.  A lot of that comes in the leadership of our seniors.  They have taken it to hart.  They have finally starting to sink in what their roles are as a group.  It’s their team and they are going to take us to the top or the bottom, one way of the other.  After Friday they refocused us.  They came into practice and we started to get down to business.  We are going to take it one play at a time and hopefully it will show itself on Friday night,” said Genders.

          Last year, Plymouth beat Lucas 21-18.

          The Cubs return two 1,000 yard rushers in Nick Swineheart and Levi Harris.  Genders says they have to stop that run game without getting burned on a long pass.  “Coach Spiter has them believing in what they are doing and that is a big part of it.  They get three or four yards and they just wear you down and take out the clock.  They wait for the right opportunity to hit you with some play action.  Those two backs, they are impressive,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We are going to have our hands full.  We are going to have to execute tackles and stay focused on our drops.  The moment you don’t do that they hurt you.  We can’t shoot ourselves and we know that.  They are a well disciplined team.  They don’t shoot themselves in the foot too often.  We have to capitalize on any opportunities we get.  We can’t allow them any.”   

 

 
   

Plymouth Not Stepping Back

 

          Last season Plymouth finished 5-5 last season, losing two games in over time and by four points to unbeaten Crestview in the regular season finale.  It was their best season since 1998.

          Coach Mark Genders says he has been happy with the effort he has seen from the squad so far this summer.  “The kids are working hard.  We have a lot of competition for spots at pretty much every spot, especially our skilled spots.  We have a little bit of depth.  The competition creates a great work ethic and that is what we have been getting.  Things are starting to narrow down a little bit.  We will find out on (Friday) in our first scrimmage,” said Genders.

          They will scrimmage on Friday and Genders says they are ready to find out how good they are and what they need to do.  “They have been battling each other for the extended time we have had already in pads.  They are definitely ready to see some other faces.  They are curious and want to gage were they are at and the things they need to improve on and get ready for week one,” he said.

          A year ago Plymouth was a power football team that concentrated on running the football between the tackles.  Genders says this year they are going to be more wide open in their offensive approach.  “We try to stay as set as we can year in and year out.  I am definitely a coach whose offense is predicated by personnel.  I mean we can come out in the wishbone.  We can also come out in gun.  Not much changes other than the formations.  We put that in anticipation of being a small school,” he told Swankonsports.com, “It’s worked out pretty well for us.  We may be a little more of a finesse team this year.  Last year we had a couple of 200 pound backs, so we could just ram it down your throat every play.  We feel like we have some good kids that can move and are quick.  We may spread it out a little more.  We will see how the rest of camp goes and see where that takes us.”

          They were as competitive last season as they have been in more than a decade and Genders says this year he has the same expectations.  “We are replacing eight starters on both sides.  Don’t get me wrong, we have 15, 16 seniors and they have been chomping at the bit the last couple of years to get their time.  I believe when good programs are going right they are going to be senior dominated.  Ours showed that last year.  Those kids have enough experience.  We are finally in a situation where we are just reloading, so our expectations are high and they know that,” said Genders.   

 

 
   

Plymouth Wins Firelands

 

          Plymouth this spring won its first Firelands Conference baseball title since 1992 and put it away with a sweep of South Central in their final series of the season.

          At the beginning of the season those in the know where not talking about Plymouth, rather it was New London or defending champion Crestview or even Western Reserve.  Coach Andrew McFarland admits that it seemed something a little bit out of reach.  “I think they were probably talking about New London and Crestview.  And deservingly so with the history that they have.  It did come as a surprise, even to myself.  Being my second year and finishing 8-14 last year,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Our goal was to maybe finish around that .500 mark, maybe a little bit better and finishing in the top three or four in the conference.  You know, take baby steps and get closer to the goal of winning the Firelands Conference.  It came a little premature, but definitely enjoyable.”

          McFarland says after sweeping Monroeville and Norwalk St. Paul and splitting with New London they began to believe that a conference title is something they could earn.  “After the first couple of weeks of league play, splitting with New London and having a couple of sweeps it came to be realistic that we would be here in the end.  Not just me, but the kids started to believe they could win the league.  It was just a great team effort.  It was awesome to see them come together as a group and reach that goal,” he said.

          Plymouth won a lot of close games this year and that success is what gave them the title.  McFarland says they got some good pitching and made some big plays at the right time.  “We improved tremendously on the mound.  We got some good starts, a couple of guys to step up and solidify the top of our pitching rotation in Zach Butler and Brent Roberts.  We were able to win a lot of close games.  At one point we were 7-1 in one run games and then ended up winning a couple more down the stretch.  We did some things right at the right time.  We had different guys step up at times and help us win games,” McFarland said.

          It’s been an amazing year for Plymouth in which they were a couple of overtime losses from being right there in the football race and contended well in basketball too.  McFarland says it was great to see the seniors finally rewarded.   “For them to be able to go out on top of the Firelands Conference and do something that hadn’t been done by Plymouth for 20 years.  Even going back to the football team, all four of our seniors played football.  If you go back to their season, they were probably one of two plays away from maybe winning the Firelands Conference in football.  A great rebound year in basketball.  It just translated into baseball.  It says a lot about the four guys that I have in baseball not only their improvement and development on the baseball field, but off the field as well.  They are just four quality young men that will be difficult to replace next year,” McFarland said.  

 

 
   

Plymouth Needs Two

 

Over the last couple decades most of Plymouth’s athletic success has come on the hardwood and not on the gridiron or the baseball diamond, but coach Andrew McFarland and his baseball team aim to change that this spring and win the first Firelands Conference title for the Big Red since 1992.

          They split a two game series with Western Reserve this week, winning on Monday 4-3 and losing Wednesday 14-7.  The Big Red (14-6, 10-2) now holds a one game lead on streaking New London (17-7,9-3) in the conference standings.  Plymouth plays South Central next week, while New London tests the water against Norwalk St. Paul.  Plymouth has got to this position by playing very well in clutch situations at the end of games.  “I just looked last week before we had our tournament draw and that one run win puts us at 7-1 in one run games this year and that is pretty impressive,” said McFarland.

          If they beat the Trojans once Plymouth can do no worse than share the title.  If they sweep them it’s an outright title.  McFarland says they know what they have to do.  “We definitely know what the assignment is and I am just trying to keep on my guys that you can’t worry about what anyone else does.  If we do our job then we will reach our goal that we have had all year and that’s to win the Firelands Conference,” said McFarland.

          Plymouth has been in the thick of the conference race in football and basketball this year, but they have come up just short.  McFarland says it would be great if they could earn the baseball trophy, especially for their hard working seniors.  “In my three years with the program this will be the first time we do have anything to play for, which will make it exciting and enjoyable for the kids.  It’s an opportunity for them to do something that no one has done in 20 years at Plymouth and that’s win the Firelands Conference.  Really for all of these guys, especially the seniors, it’s an opportunity for them to win their first conference championship in any sport.  It will be very special to end on a high note for those guys,” said McFarland.

          Mixed in with these important Firelands Conference games will be a division four tournament match-up with conference rival Norwalk St. Paul (6-14) on Saturday at Plymouth.  McFarland says they have a lot of big baseball games to play and he likes it that way.  “It’s not going to be an easy road.  Western has a good baseball team and they really do have a lot of talent and they just put together a really good game against us the other night.  We didn’t take them lightly.  We need to get healthy.  We have some guys not 100 percent, whether it is being sick or a couple of small injuries to some of our top players,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Hopefully we will be able to get healthy heading into this weekend and get a win Saturday against St. Paul and then go and win two games against South Central and lock up the Firelands Conference and win it out right.”

 

 
   

Plymouth Wins Another Close One

 

          Plymouth expanded its Firelands Conference lead with a 2-1 win over rival Crestview on Tuesday.  They now lead the conference baseball standings by two games over both New London and South Central.

          Second year coach Andrew McFarland doesn’t think the Big Red (12-5,8-1) played particularly well in the win over Crestview, but at this point it’s just about winning games.  “We will take anything at this point of the year.  It was one of those games when neither of the teams really hit the ball well.  The small things, the little things, that we talked about last week, was the difference in the game,” he said.

          Plymouth has now won four conference games by one run this season.  McFarland says that has given his players great confidence in what they can do as a team.  “I think winning some of these tightly contested games has given the kids some confidence coming from a program that hasn’t won a ton of baseball games the last few years.  When you start to get the close ones that makes them truly believe we can win every single game,” McFarland told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night.

          One of the strengths of Plymouth this year has been their focus in games.  McFarland says he has been preaching a simple approach to the game and it has to continue.  “That has been our thing this year, especially recently is to have the one game at a time mentality.  You can’t take anything for granted.  Another big one is three outs per inning and 21 outs per game.  If you do the right things for that amount of time you get “W’s” one at a time,” he said.

          Crestview (7-10,5-4) is back at Plymouth for the re-match on Wednesday afternoon.  McFarland feels the Big Red needs to play better because he knows that the Cougars will.  “They are right back at our place (Wednesday).  It’s going to be a nice day.  We’ll have one of our top pitchers on the mound.  They will have one of their top pitchers.  We’ll be in for a real battle.  I’m sure they aren’t going to just roll over.  They aren’t happy.  Our guys know that we need to play better at the same time, so it should be a good game,” said McFarland.

 

 
   

Plymouth leads the Firelands

 

          Plymouth was not the name many people were saying when it came to which school would become Firelands Conference baseball champion this season, but don’t tell the Big Red that.

          Right now, they show the way in the conference standings at 7-1, by game over South Central and two over preseason choice New London and defending champion Crestview.  Coach Andrew McFarland says his kids have been meeting his expectations.  “I have been really happy with the way our guys have come out and played this year.  It is my second year with the program.  They are starting to get used to what I expect and what I do and they are performing,” he said.

          Plymouth has been hitting the ball very well as a team and that has led to some pretty good run totals this year.  “Looking at our stats today one thing that has really impressed me. We have eight guys that are hitting over .300 right now and a couple of guys hitting .400.  So when one guy hasn’t gotten a hit or has had an off day somebody else has stepped up and preformed at the plate.  We have gotten some good pitching from a couple of guys and that’s huge,” said McFarland.

          He says they have been able to get some good pitching, but McFarland says they must continue to improve defensively and not let in those extra runs.  “I think just like every team this year with the new BB-core bats you just have to be good at the little things.  You have to make every defensive play.  You can’t allow teams to have that extra base or extra opportunity in an inning because that one or two runs that it leads to could be huge because you are just not going to have the big innings like you have had in the past,” McFarland said.

          With the new bats McFarland says fundamentals, always important, are even more so when it comes to getting wins.  “The small ball is a big aspect, just not allowing those extra outs.  I have preached to our guys all year there are 21 outs.  You can’t ever let up until you have three outs in an inning and 21 outs in game because one small thing here and there can lead to a couple of runs and that can cost you the ball game,” he said.

          Seneca East, of the Midland Athletic League, beat Plymouth (10-2) in a non-conference game on Thursday, but the Big Red (11-5,7-1) will be back at on Monday against Crestview (7-9,5-3) in a conference game.  McFarland likes getting back on the field.  “That is the uniqueness of high school baseball compared to the other sports.  You get four, five, six games in a week and no matter win or loss the next day, or two days later, you are going to be back on the field.  Especially I think that’s big if you do lose because you don’t have too long to think about it,” he said.

          With six games left in conference play for the Big Red, two each against Crestview, Western Reserve and South Central, McFarland says they have a rare opportunity.  “We are at 7-1 right now in the conference and the guys are feeling good about it.  Plymouth hasn’t been in the position to compete for the Firelands in a long time.  In fact I just looked it up the other day and I think the last conference championship was 1992, so we are setting on 20 years,’ said McFarland.

          He says the players understand the task at hand.  “There are still six games left.  Two of those games, next Monday and Tuesday, are against Crestview, which has a great program.  They are going to play tough and pitch it well and hit a well.  A tough Western team we have left.  South Central is surprising a few teams as well.  So, it’s definitely wide open.  There are a bunch of teams still in it and I think we will be in it to the end,” McFarland said.     

 

 
   

Plymouth Returns to District Tournament

 

          After a one year absence the Plymouth Big Red are back in the district tournament, this time in division four.

          They face Colonel Crawford (17-4) in the district semi-finals on Tuesday night at Willard High School. 

          The Big Red (15-6) ended the regular season by winning 10 of their last 12 games.  After falling behind by 10 points at halftime in their sectional final last Friday, they rallied to beat Norwalk St. Paul (56-55) to advance to the district.  Coach Troy Keene says were nervous at first, but they got more aggressive in the second of half of the game.  “Well, going in we knew we were going to get St. Paul’s best effort.  Our whole starting line up has only been in one sectional game.  We start two freshmen and they had never played before.  We not only had to deal with St. Paul, but we had to deal with our own jitters,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “St. Paul came out and had an excellent game plan.  We were down 40-30 at the half.  We had not given up 40 points in a half yet this season.  We picked up the tempo in the third quarter.  I think we started on a 17-2 run to start the third.  They battled back to within a point after the third.  In the fourth quarter it was just one possession at a time.”

          A third game in the season against a league opponent is never easy, especially when you have won the first two, but Keene says they did what they needed to do to win.  “They had the last shot of the game and we played some pretty good defense.  My players batted very hard in the second half.  That is the kind of effort we are going to need for four quarters against Crawford (Tuesday) night.  I was pleased with the outcome with that being our first tournament game.  You know like (former Plymouth head coach) Brad Turson tells me it is just survive and advance and that’s what we did,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford, the silver division champion of the North Central Conference, blasted Mansfield Christian (55-21) in their sectional final at Ontario High School.  Keene knows that this is one the best teams they have played all year, one that shoots the ball well and rebounds well.  “Crawford is a great team, you know, all of the way around and it starts with their coach Dave Sheldon.  We have a lot of respect for them.  They are quick and they run a little bit the of the dribble drive in some of their sets.  They are a three point shooting team.  They may be one of the best offensive rebounding teams that we will play this year.  That is something we have to control.  We have to keep them off the boards and try to slow down their transition game,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Having a Good Time

 

          Plymouth has played some outstanding basketball over the second half of the season and its coach thinks it’s because they are enjoying the game more.

          Last week, Western Reserve snapped Plymouth’s seven game winning streak by beating them in a Firelands Conference game (55-45) on Friday.  After an intense first have, the Rough Riders were able to make some perimeter shots in the second half.  Big Red coach Troy Keene says they just couldn’t keep up with them.  “The game was played well on both sides.  Both teams played fantastic defense in the first half.  We battled to a 13-11 halftime score, which with two teams that like to get out and run.  It just turned into a bloody brawl in the first half,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, “Western Reserve came out in the second half and knocked down some shots.  We just couldn’t keep up with them.  We lost our composure a little bit in the fourth quarter.  We need to get back to practice this week and work on some things.”

          Keene says that while his players have been putting in a lot of effort in practice they have paid special attention to making sure that the players are having fun with the game.  “These kids have worked really hard these last four to five weeks.  They are really playing as a team.  We are having fun right now.  When you are having fun that just leads to playing loose and easy,” he said.

          Plymouth is tied for third place in the conference standings and Keene believes they have reacted better to pressure in the second half of the season than they were earlier.  “I think the first half of the season we were really wanting to contend for the Firelands Conference.  I think the pressure got to some of the players.  We just sat down and decided to have fun for the rest of the season.  Ever since we sat down and talked about that we have been pretty successful,” said Keene.

          Plymouth (13-6,8-5) travels to South Central (10-9,6-7) for a conference game in the regular season finale for both on Friday night.  The Big Red just beat February 11 (64-49) in a game that was a makeup from a postponement earlier in the season.  Keene says the Trojans have some offensive weapons.   “For South Central they have two all district ball players in Austin Hintz and Jerrod Hawkins.  Those are the two that you really have to concentrate on.  They have three or four other kids that can shoot the ball really well.  They play good team defense and they play hard.  This is a backyard rivalry game for us.  We are going to be ready to play,” said Keene. 

 

 
   

Plymouth Playing Excellent Ball

 

          When it comes to peaking at the end the season there are few teams in North Central Ohio that have done a better job with that than the Plymouth Big Red.

          After wins over Crestview (51-49) and South Central (64-49) in Firelands Conference play over the weekend, the Big Red (13-5,8-4) has put together seven straight wins.  Plymouth coach Troy Keene says defense and depth have been big factors for them lately.  “The kids are really buying in and starting to play some real team defense.  We just weren’t doing that early on in the season,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We are getting key contributions from probably about eight players deep for us off our bench.  That’s what really won it for us on Friday night.  We were in foul trouble all night.  My bench was prepared and ready to go.  They came on and did an outstanding job.”

          Plymouth has lost some tight games this season, but they won one against Crestview.  Keene says they have been working on some things.  “We practice for game situations all of the time.  That finally paid off for us.  We still need to improve at the free throw line.  We are still improving form game to game.  We are on a seven game win streak and that is about all you can expect at this time of year,” he said.

          Two games back with two to play in the conference, the Big Red isn’t going to come away with a title this season, but they can determine who does, that’s for sure.  They play at conference co-leader Western Reserve (12-5,10-2) on Friday night.  Keene says they need to contain what can be an explosive Western offensive attack.  “First and foremost they are very well coached.  I have a lot of respect for Chris Sheldon.  They come out with that wide open three point attack.  They are going to shoot 30 to 40 threes a game.  We just have to get out and defend every shot and try to take away their dibble penetration,” said Keene.

          The Rough Riders won the first meeting (62-55) between the two teams on January 6.  For a different result this time, Keene knows they are going to have to keep the Western guards out of the lane.  “They have four great guards and have Nolan Todd at the point guard, the returning player of the year in the conference.  It all starts with him.  Then you have Good, Rall and Boose that can put it on the floor and beat you off the dribble at any time and they are really tough guard,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Becoming a Solid Basketball Team

 

          Plymouth has won its last five basketball games and the Big Red are one of those teams that nobody wants to play right now.

          With wins last weekend over Norwalk St. Paul (62-42) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday and Crestline (72-46) in non-conference play on Saturday they are truly coming into their own.  Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they have good chemistry and solid execution.  “We are really happy the way we are playing right now.  We are really starting to play good team defense, which we weren’t playing earlier in the year.  The team as a whole is really coming together right now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are really starting to watch each other’s backs.  They have been really fun to be around for the last couple of weeks.  I am hoping we can carry this over for the next three of four weeks.”

          Plymouth (10-5,6-4) has a chance to be a spoiler down the stretch in conference play.  They host Crestview (10-6,8-3) on Friday night.  The Cougars are in second place in the conference standings a game behind Western Reserve and New London.  “This is a backyard rivalry for us.  Crestview is very good.  They are probably the most athletic team in the conference.  When they are shooting the ball well they are really a tough guard for us.  It is always fun playing Crestview.  These next couple of weeks when we get to be a spoiler that should be fun for us also,” said Keene.

          Crestview is lead by one of the best players in the conference in 6-4 senior Tyler George.  Keene has a great deal of respect for George and how he plays the game.  “Tyler George is probably my favorite player in the conference.  I have watched him now for the last three years.  He does everything that the coach asked him too and he is a true team player.  He is a great kid on the court and off the court.  Tyler George’s strengths are offensive rebounding and playing defense,” he said.

          It’s a double weekend in the conference for the Big Red as they meet South Central (8-7,5-5) on Saturday night in the first game between the two teams this year.  South Central lost Monroeville (67-61) and Western Reserve (65-46), but Keene expect the Trojans are going to be back to full strength for this weekend.  “I know that South Central is coming off a tough weekend last weekend.  A lot of that was due to the illness going through their team.  Hopefully they are at full strength for us.  That is another backyard rivalry for us.  It is always a highly contested ballgame,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Pushing Toward Tournament

 

          There will not be a Firelands Conference championship for the Plymouth Big Red this season, but they are the kind of team that could find tournament success.

          With wins over Mapleton (53-44) and Mansfield St. Peter’s (77-65) the Big Red stands 8-5 for the season and would stand a chance to be one of the top seeds in their division four sectional.

          Coach Troy Keene believes they are getting solid play again from two freshmen on the varsity in Tyrell Edimston and Tyson Beebe.  He says when those kids play well, so does the rest of the team.  “We are starting to round into a little better shape.  We are really starting to play well.  Last weekend, our two freshmen went off for 30 points a piece in our two games this weekend, which really isn’t a surprise to me.  When I get production like that from my two freshmen we are pretty good,” Keene told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          On Friday night, Plymouth travels to Norwalk St. Paul (4-9,4-5) for a Firelands Conference game against the Flyers.  In there first meeting this season Plymouth took a big halftime lead and hung on to win (61-55) the game.  Keene says the Flyers have the players that are capable of producing big numbers on any night.  “Perimeter shooting is one of their biggest strengths, their three point shooting.  Their record doesn’t indicate how good of a team that they are.  You just look at them on film.  They can shoot it, they dribble penetrate very well, they go hard to offensive boards and they play great defense.  It’s a very scary match-up for us,” said Keene.

          Due to illness, Plymouth might be playing a little short handed when they meet the Flyers on Friday night.  “This week we have had six or seven kids out with the flu all week, so I’m not really excited to go up to St. Paul on Friday night,” said Keene.

          The draw for seeds at the individual sectional tournaments in the Northwest District of Ohio will be on February 12 and Keene says if they continue to play well they should have a chance to be chosen for a one or two seed.  “We kind of have an NBA schedule coming up starting Friday night.  We have a double weekend, then we play Tuesday and come back with a double weekend.  We are going to have only two games after the draw.  By the time we get to the draw we should know what kind of team we’ve got,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Still Must Have Consistency

 

          Plymouth is basically a .500 ball club that still has great potential.  The problem has been they haven’t been able to put it together for 32 minutes and that has cost them some wins.

          An example was last Saturday night when the got behind New London and had to come storming back only to come up six points short.  The Wildcats hung on for the win (52-46) and they the team that remains in the Firelands conference race.  “We didn’t play real well for three quarters.  We were off in all facets of the game.  In the fourth quarter we showed up.  The kids dug deep and I was pretty proud of their performance in the fourth quarter.  We cut a pretty big deficit down to four at one point.  I was proud of their effort in the fourth.  Like I have stated in the past we have got to put four quarters together just to be successful,” said Plymouth coach Troy Keene.

          Two of Plymouth’s better players are freshmen in Tyrell Edmiston and Tyson Beebe.  They play a lot more games at the varsity level than junior high and sometimes freshmen run into a wall.  “I think freshmen hit it, but I also think upperclassmen hit it at some point.  The upperclassmen just know how to battle through it a little better than freshmen.  Our freshmen are starting to battle through it and we are stating to see signs of improvement,” said Keene.

          Plymouth (6-5,4-4) returns to Firelands Conference action on Friday night they travel to Mapleton (2-10,0-8) to face the Mounties.  The Big Red won the first meeting (58-35), but Keene told Swankonsports.com that Mapleton is better than they were in December.  “Mapleton is one of those teams that lost quite a bit from last year’s team, so there were awfully young coming into the season.  They didn’t start out real well, but if you watch them you see that they are getting better.  They are a team that is going to come at you hard.  They are going to hit the boards very aggressively and it’s tough to beat them at their place.”

          It’s non-conference play for the Big Red on Saturday night as they host Mansfield St. Peter’s (5-8) at their place.  Keene thinks the Spartans are dangerous because they can score the ball.  “They are one of those teams that if they are shooting the ball well they can beat anybody in the area.  It’s a very tough match-up for us just because they are a scrappy group with a no quit attitude.  Pat Durham has them playing well.  If they are shooting it on any given night they can beat anybody,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Needs Wins

 

          Plymouth trails Firelands Conference co-leaders Crestview and Western Reserve by two games going into a double weekend of conference play.  Wins are a must for the Big Red.

          Plymouth’s game last week with South Central was postponed, but they did play a non-conference game on Saturday night against Mansfield Christian and beat the Flames (46-45) by a point.  Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they were fortunate to win.  “Mansfield Christian is one of those teams that is really improving each day.  John Kurtz has got them playing well.  I went over and watched them on Friday night and thought they had played their best game against St. Pete’s.  Then they turned around and gave us just as good an effort.  You have to give those kids credit because they are going to battle you.  That has to be one of the teams to watch out for in the tournament.  I wouldn’t want to play them in the tournament because they are getting better,” said Keene.

          Plymouth (5-4,3-3) is at home for Monroeville (1-8,0-6) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Keene says they can’t take a win over Monroeville for granted.  “Well, it’s been a struggle with Monroeville.  They had some problems this past summer and it kind of affected their program early.  Now they have 10 guys that just want to play basketball.  They are just starting to put it all together,” he told Swankonsports.com, “One of their strengths I believe is their offensive rebounding. We are going to try our best to keep them off the boards.  You don’t want to be the team they are playing when they put it all together.  We are working at it and hopefully we can go out and have a good showing on Friday night.”  On December 9, Plymouth beat Monroeville 66-50 in the first conference game for both squads this year.

          In their first meeting this year New London (5-3,4-2) beat (65-64) Plymouth in overtime.  The teams play again on Saturday night at New London.  Keene says they can’t afford another loss to the Wildcats.  “With New London we match up well across the board.  He knows what we are going to do and we know what they are going to do.  It’s going to come down to the team that wants it most.  The team that gets beat Saturday night will pretty much be out of the conference race.  It’s a big game for us to just stay in the race.  We’ll be prepared and ready to go on Saturday night,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Needs to Play Hard For Four Quarters

 

          Plymouth is talented this year, but they don’t have the kind of talent that will allow them to take any time off during a game.  Unfortunately that has been happening too much this year.

          In the first half on Tuesday night against Buckeye Central the Big Red just didn’t execute very well and got themselves behind by more than 20 points.  Coach Troy Keene says they made a mad dash in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough.  “Going in I thought we were two very evenly matched teams.  We just didn’t match their intensity in the first half.  They really came out and kicked us in the first half.  We weren’t ready to play,” Keene told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “After a long lengthy halftime we finally found our focus and came out and played with intensity in the second half.  We were down 22 in the first half and battled back within one.  I was tickled pink with the kids because they never did quit.  The second half of Tuesday night’s game is the effort I’m looking for night in and night out.  Hopefully this weekend we can put it together for four quarters.”  Buckeye Central won the game 61-54.

          Keene says the Big Red (4-4,3-3) has to come out ready to play four quarters if they expect to compete with the best teams they play, and there are a lot of those in the Firelands Conference.  “We have hard working kids.  We just don’t have a true go to guy that we can count on night in and night out.  We have to play with a focus and intensity for four quarters and get after it every game.  This year it seems like we can only put four quarters together, sometimes three, but never four.  Hopefully we can get it to kick in this weekend,” said Keene.

          It’s another Firelands Conference game for the Big Red on Friday night as they host the South Central Trojans (5-4,3-3) in the final game of the first round of league play.  Keene says the Trojans are better than that record indicates.  “South Central is one of those teams where you can’t look at their record.  They play a pretty tough schedule.  They are whole lot better than their record indicates.  Not only did they take Western to overtime and beat New London, but they also took Crestview to overtime,” he said.  The loser probably falls out of contention in the conference race.

          Plymouth plans to focus its defense on two major players for the Trojans and Keene says both have the ability to put some points on the board.  “Our two major concerns with South Central are the Hawkins kid and Austin Hintz.  Both can shoot it from the outside.  Both can post you up.  That’s pretty strong for a one-two combination.  They get after you on the defensive end.  They are a scary team.  This is one over rivalries.  It’s a backyard brawl.  It should be a pretty good game come Friday,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Can’t Fall Three Back

 

          After a ten-point loss to rival Crestview last Friday, Plymouth plays a big Firelands Conference game when they host the first place Western Reserve Rough Riders this week.

          Crestview got 21 points from Tyler George and they beat Plymouth last week (58-48) to move into second place in the standings, a game behind Western.  “We got beat by a pretty good Crestview team on Friday night.  They executed on both ends of the floor pretty well.  We lost our focus and our intensity and didn’t play very well.  We need to have focus and play with intensity for us to be successful.  We didn’t play very well in all fazes of the game.  I give Crestview credit for that.  We sat down in our film session on Sunday evening and there were a lot of learning points off of that film.  Hopefully, we can learn from it and get better for Friday night,” said Plymouth coach Troy Keene.

          Western Reserve (6-2,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll among smaller schools, brings its act to Plymouth on Friday night.  Western is led by All-Ohio point guard Nolan Todd and they have a line-up that really doesn’t have any post players.  “They are going to come at us with five guards, which isn’t what you normally see.  They have the player of the year coming back in point guard Nolan Todd.  He can beat you off the dribble or step back and nail the three.  They are running a lot of the dribble drive,” Keene told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have three or four guards that can shoot it really well.  That is going to be our biggest problem come Friday night.  Western is always a well coached team.  It’s going to be Western’s perimeter play against our post play.  That’s what the game is going to boil down to.  It’s a must win for us.”

          Western has a lot of shooters, but it is Todd that is the key to the Rough Riders attack.  He had 20 points in their win over Mapleton (84-31) last week.  Keene knows they have to keep him out of the lane.  “That is one of the biggest things we are working on this week is taking away dribble penetration.  If they are going to beat us they are going to have to knock down the three.  Todd is definitely the engine that makes that makes them run.  That’s why he was the player of the year last year,” he said.

          Plymouth (4-2,3-2) is among five pretty good teams in the Firelands Conference this season, but Keene does not want to fall three games behind the Rough Riders.  “I have been saying it all season long in the Firelands Conference you better come to play each and every night.  From top to bottom it’s a very balanced league.  We definitely don’t want to fall three games back before the first half of the season ends,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Freshmen a Factor

 

          Two of the best freshmen in North Central Ohio play at Plymouth and they have helped to make the Big Red a contender this year in the Firelands Conference.

          Tyrell Edmiston, a transfer this year, and Tyson Beebe, each average more than 10 points a game for the Big Red.  Edmmiston had 17 to lead Plymouth scorers in a 61-55 win over Norwalk St. Paul in a conference game last Friday.

          Plymouth took a big early lead and led 39-26 at halftime last week.  Coach Troy Keene says they didn’t play that well in the second half, but they did enough to win the game.  “St. Paul is getting better for each and every week and we just came out and happened to play one of our best halves of basketball in the first half.  We jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half and sort of coasted until halftime,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Unfortunately we kind of lost our focus and intensity coming out of the locker room at halftime.  St. Paul fought and played hard and never quit and made a game of it.  They pulled the game within one early in the fourth and we knocked down some free throws later on in the game and ended up pulling it out.”

          Edmiston and Beebe have given the Big Red some inside scoring punch this season.  Keene says they continue to improve.  “My two freshmen Tyrell Edmiston and Tyson Beebe, they have really stepped up.  Combined they are averaging close to 25 points a game for us.  They are getting better each and every week and it’s really helping my returning ballplayers,” he said.  In this day and age more and more freshmen are getting a chance to see time in the varsity lineup.  Keene says Edmiston and Beebe proved in practices and scrimmages before the season that they were ready.  “The way that I look at it they have to earn their time.  The more I saw of them the more impressed I was and I just couldn’t keep them off the court.  They have played their way into the starting rotation,” said Keene.

          Plymouth (4-1,3-1) plays at traditional rival Crestview (5-3,3-1) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Both trail Western Reserve by a game in the conference standings.  The Cougars beat Mansfield St. Peter’s (50-41) on Tuesday night in a non-conference game.  They downed Mapleton (49-26) in their last Conference game on Friday night.  Their only conference loss came two weeks ago to New London (66-40).  They have seven players that played quite a pit at the varsity level last season.  Keene says they are particularly concerned with athletic post player Tyler George.  “In that New London game it was a four point game in the fourth quarter and New London hit eight straight thee pointers in the fourth quarter to make it look lopsided.  They are very athletic and I think they have one of the best players in the league in Tyler George.  He’s a load.  He can just jump out of the gym.  We have to keep them off the boards to be successful,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Most Own Boards

 

          It was one up and one down for Plymouth last week in boys’ basketball competition in the Firelands Conference and it was nearly a clean sweep for the Big Red.

          They lost in overtime to New London (65-64) on Friday night and then came back to down Mapleton (58-35) on Saturday night.  Right now, they trail Western Reserve and New London, who play each other on Friday night, by a game in the conference standings.  With a couple of more plays near the end Plymouth coach Troy Keene says they could have beaten New London too.  “Well, going back to Friday’s game, both teams came out and really played well.  They just made a couple of plays at the end.  They just capitalized on a couple of mistakes.  That’s how they won the ball game on Friday night.  We bounced back on Saturday night and I was proud of the kids.  We came out with a big win on Saturday night,” said Keene.

          Norwalk St. Paul, a winner of two games last week in conference play, will be at Plymouth for a game on Friday night.  St. Paul beat Mapleton (77-61) and South Central (68-55) in conference play last week.  Keene says the Flyers are a totally different team than they were last year.  “St. Paul is always a well coached team.  Mike Smith has been there for, I think this is his 23rd year.  He has gone to the dribble drive offense.  It’s a little more of a transition ball game on offense.  On defense he is really trying to get up in you by creating a lot of ball pressure.  They haven’t done a lot of that in the past.  He is small and he is quick,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

          Keene believes they need to win the battle of the boards, and probably by a lot, and they have to play solid perimeter defense against St. Paul’s collection of outside shooters.  “We are going to have to control the glass on both ends.  We are going to have to limit them to one shot.  We are going to have to get out and defend the three.  We are just going to have to put together a whole game Friday night to have a chance to win,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Faces Big Challenge

 

          Plymouth is among a group of teams with a chance to win the Firelands Conference boys’ basketball title this year.  They looked very good in their opening conference game, now what they need is consistency.

          The big Red shot 68 percent from the field in beating Monroeville (66-50) in their first conference game last Friday night.  Coach Troy Keene says they were able to get the ball inside and score.  “Team wise that was probably one of our better efforts in the last couple of years.  I had two freshmen that played extremely well in Tyrell Emdiston and Tyson Beebe.  They combined for 34 points and 26 rebounds.  My seniors really stepped up and really played the game the way that it’s supposed to be played.  We controlled the boards and got out in transition and I was really proud of them,” he said.

          Plymouth was 0-9 in three point attempts against Monroeville, but it didn’t matter much as they outscored the Eagles 18-7 in the third quarter to put the game away. 

          It’s a double weekend in the Firelands Conference this week and the Big Red plays host to New London on Friday night and to Mapleton on Saturday night.  Keene says his players are starting to fee like they have a chance to make some noise in the conference race.  “You can just see it in practice.  You could tell all week that the kids were just gaining momentum and confidence.  Hopefully, we can continue that right into Friday with New London,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday.

          New London is also among the group on contenders in the conference, at least at the beginning of the season.  Keene says the Wildcats have some experience and he expects them to make them execute against pressure in order to get quality shots.  “They are bringing back four of their top five players from last year.  They have six returning lettermen.  They are not really tall.  Their tallest player is probably 6-1, but they are very quick and they play very aggressive.  They tend to press.  They run a little 1-3-1 zone and probably a 2-3.  We are going to have our hands full,” said Keene.

 

 
   

Plymouth Still Has a Long Way to Go

 

          Plymouth looked pretty good to the casual observer in a win over Lucas last Saturday, but their coach says they have a lot of ways to get better.

          They beat the Cubs 78-52, but coach Troy Keene says the Big Red didn’t execute as well as he would have liked.  “From the outside looking in it probably looks pretty convincing, but as a coach I really didn’t think we played that well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have quite a bit to work on.  One of the things that I was most proud of was how hard we played in the game.  We forced 36 turnovers and that was a positive.”

          Defense and shot selection are two big things Plymouth is working on this week in practice in getting ready for their conference opener on Friday night.  “A couple of things that we are working on this week is our half court defense.  I didn’t think we put enough ball pressure on the ball.  We are also working on our transition game and finishing at the rim rather than pulling up for a five or 10 footer,” said Keene.

          Plymouth tips off Firelands Conference action on Friday night at Monroeville (1-1) against the Eagles, a winner over Mansfield Christian (45-41) and a loser to Seneca East (62-47) on the opening week of the season.  “We have scouted them a couple of times.  The one thing that sticks out about Monroeville is how hard they play the game.  They are a very physical team.  They are a young team.  They come out and play hard.  They have three returning letterman back, two posts and one real good point guard,” said Keene.   

 

 
   

Plymouth Faces Another Big Challenge

 

          What the old line?  If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.  Well, that certainly fits the Plymouth Big Red to a tee.  They are two snaps away from being a 7-2 football team heading into a showdown for a conference title, but instead they are 5-4 and looking to play spoiler.

          Last week, the Big Red lost their second straight overtime game as they were upended 27-20 by Western Reserve in a Firelands Conference game.  Coach Mark Genders knows they played well enough to have won the game.  “Oh most certainly,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We didn’t play real well in the first half.  We went in and made some adjustments.  We came out and played a great second half of football and put ourselves in position to win the game.  We scored with seven seconds left.  We just couldn’t convert the PAT and it was a tough one.”  It maybe something coaches say all of the time, but it the last two weeks really emphasizes the fact that it often comes down to the little things.  “Coaches around country preach about how important special teams are, no just play by play.  Every play on the football field is important, especially when you play a quality opponent.  Sometimes it just comes down to a game of inches.  We lost two football games in two weeks on two plays, a dropped pass and a missed extra point,” said Genders.

          This week the Big Red plays at Crestview against the unbeaten Cougars, who already have a share of the conference title after their win (28-24) over Norwalk St. Paul last week.  Genders says that Mason Minnich and Garrik Montgomery are two of the best running backs in this part of the state.  “What’s no good about them?  They are a solid team.  They are extremely well coached.  They play a tough style of football.  They aren’t the biggest team in the world, but those guys just play at a hundred miles per hour.  Their two backs are as good as any two backs in this half of the state.  You have to play disciplined ball to have any chance against them.  We have our hands full, that’s for sure,” he said.

          Genders knows that in this game first down if going to be a big down because both sides don’t want to be put in a position where they have to throw.  “I feel like we are the same way.  If you put us in second and long situations it really changes the play calling and things like that.  You put these guys in second and four and you don’t know what’s going to happen.  That puts a lot of stress on a defense,” he said.

 

 
   

Plymouth in Must Win Situation

 

          It’s been the best year for Plymouth football since at least the Clinton administration if not the time before the first Gulf War, but to make the playoffs for the first time ever and win a Firelands Conference title the Big Red still has a lot to accomplish and it won’t be easy.

          They host defending conference champion Western Reserve this week and play at unbeaten Crestview next.  Right now, the Cougars lead Plymouth, Western and Norwalk St. Paul by a game.

          Last Saturday night, St. Paul got past the Big Red 28-21 in overtime.  Plymouth coach Mark Genders told Swankonsports.com that he was very happy with the effort his kids gave last week.  “The kids played a pretty fine game.  We couldn’t ask much more than to put four quarters of solid, hard hitting football together.  To St. Paul’s credit they made one more play than we did.  When two good teams play each other like that it’s a game of inches.  We tip our cap to them.  We are looking forward to this week.”

          Genders knows and understands the importance of a win this week.  He says this is a must win for the Big Red.  “It is a must win.  That’s the way we are looking at it.  Our kids know that we are pretty much in control of everything in front of us.  If we can win these next couple of games we are going to be conference champions and it looks like we will be in the state playoffs.  Those are two big goals for the team.  We just have to go out and take care of business one game at a time,” he said.

          Western running back Blake Buchannon put up more than 300 yards on St. Paul a couple of weeks ago and Genders knows he is the real deal.  “Buchannon is a heck of a runner, but they have a cast of players.  That’s a good football team.  I have seen them on film and have personally watched them against New London.  They are big up front, physical and strong.  Coach Stoll does a great job of hitting you inside and out.  They force you to play really, really disciplined defense to even try and contain them.  If you get a guy out of position here or there because of their speed they can put up a home run,” said Genders.

          The beginning of this game is crucial for Plymouth.  They can’t afford to get behind by a couple scores to the Rough Riders.  “I don’t know if you are going to shutdown the backs that they have, they are so well balanced.  We really are going to try and focus one play at a time.  At any time those guys can snap off for 60, 70 yards.  We are a grind and pound, ball possession kind of team and if we give up easy scores its tough to recover from that,” said Genders.

 

 
   

Plymouth Has Something to Prove

 

          Plymouth shares the Firelands Conference lead with Crestview, but they are probably the underdog when they visit Norwalk St. Paul for a battle with the Flyers on Saturday night at Whitney Field.

          St. Paul has been one of the upper echelon teams in the Firelands, in fact, the entire area over the last 15 to 20 years, Plymouth has not been.  Saturday night is chance to prove they belong in the conversation.

          Plymouth (5-2) railed to beat upset minded South Central (0-7) 20-13 last Friday night to keep their conference record perfect.  Big Red coach Mark Genders knows the Trojans took then to the wall.  “Oh, absolutely, they put it all together really, which I was kind of afraid they would do.  They had been shooting themselves in the foot all year.  They pretty much played mistake free against us.  My kids didn’t come out with the emotion they need either.  We are trying to focus on four quarters of football and we didn’t do that, but we found a way to get it done,” said Plymouth coach Mark Genders.  Quarterback Craig Miller’s five-yard run in the final minutes gave the Big Red the win after they trailed 13-7 at halftime.  “A lot of times it revolves around what kind of leadership you get from your senior class.  The answered the bell for the second half,” Genders told Swankonsports.com, “They rallied the team back together and nobody panicked.  We made the necessary drive with a few seconds left in the game.  We feel like we learned a hard lesson and still got away with the win.”

          St. Paul (4-3) again was able to pull out a win despite persistent injury problems.  They beat winless New London 34-33.  They had beaten Mapleton 29-23 earlier in conference play.  Genders isn’t surprised that St. Paul wins games.  “They are a very good football team,” he said, “You watch them each week on film and they just find a way to get things done.  That is just a testament to their program.  They are tough kids and you are never going to question the effort they bring to the table.  They are the bench mark for the teams that have been finishing in the bottom half of the league.  We are all trying to reach where they are.  John (Livengood) is an incredible coach.  We have to match their intensity.  If not it’s going to be a long night for us,” he said.

          It’s been many years since Plymouth has beaten St. Paul in football, but Genders says they have to make believers out of those who doubt his team.  “Last year, when we played them at home that was a big stepping stone for us because even though we lost we put up 300 yards against them.  I think my kids realize that we are getting faster and stronger.  We are senior, junior heavy and we feel like we belong.  Our kids feel like we have something to prove,” he said.     

 

 
   

Plymouth Ready to Win

 

          Plymouth is in rare position for its football team… in first place in the Firelands Conference standings.  Their coach says their hard work is beginning to pay off.

          Plymouth (4-2) shares the lead in the conference with Crestview and Western Reserve after a 27-7 win at Monroeville last week.  It was the first time the Big Red has beaten the Eagles since 1998.  “We put together a pretty solid effort from top to bottom last week.  We made some quick adjustments.  We took care of business.  We played hard and physical and our style of football,” said Plymouth coach Mark Genders. 

          They again concentrated on running the football totaling 279 yards rushing against Monroeville, but they also did the job on defense and Genders told Swankonsports.com that the defense has continued to get better this year.  “We have improved each week defensively.  To go over to Monroeville and hold them to 135 yards of total offense is no easy task to do.  That’s a testament to the hard work my coaches and players are putting in,” he said.

          South Central (0-6) comes to Plymouth for a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  The Trojans were hammered 68-0 by Crestview last week, but Genders says they have some players, including receiver Eric Hintz.  “The Hintz boy can play, he is a big key to that team of theirs.  They have showed they can move the football on anybody.  They run that option attack.  They possess things on offense that you have to show responsibility to stop.  They are shooting themselves in the foot a little bit.  Those kids at South Central are going to keep fighting.  Plymouth and South Central is a rivalry and I expect a real physical game,” he said.

          There have not been very many times in the last decade or better where Plymouth has been the favorite in a football game like they are this week.  Genders says that takes a different attitude.  “That is something we have been preaching all week.  We try to keep these kids focused one week at a time.  We try to concentrate on what we are doing and bringing our best effort to the table.  If the numbers are there and if you have an upper class heavy team, most of the time you are going to come out on the right side of the scoreboard.  We’ve had some success and the kids aren’t overly shocked because we have put so much work into it,” said Genders.

 

 
   

Plymouth Looking to Extend Streak

 

          Plymouth likely has its best football team since 1998 and they will try to make it three Firelands Conference wins in row for the first time since that year as they travel Monroeville to face Eagles.

          Last week, Plymouth beat the Mapleton Mounties 28-13 to move their overall record to 3-2.  They share first place in the conference with defending champion Western Reserve, Norwalk St. Paul and Crestview.  “Our kids played four quarters of football.  We did everything we needed to do to win the game.  We were extremely physical,” said Plymouth coach Mark Genders.  Plymouth rushed the ball 42 times for 237 yards in the game and had no turnovers.

          Monroeville has been one of the more consistent football programs in North Central Ohio, but this year the Eagles are young and have lost their last four games in a row.  They have only scored once in conference play, losing to Crestview (30-7) and last week (14-0) to Western Reserve.  However, Genders has not lost his respect for Monroeville.  “They are a pretty young team,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Their circumstances are they have played a tough schedule, I mean they have played some heavyweights.  They are not to be taken lightly.  They have a program that is where we are trying to get to.  They are well coached and they have numbers and a lot of pride.  They are in a position where they have to win.  I’m anticipating one heck of a game.”

          Genders says the formula to a win for the Big Red remains pretty simple.  “Again we have to play four quarters of football.  We can’t shoot ourselves at all, especially on the road up there.  They play so well up there.  We have got to match their intensity and do the things that we are doing well.  We have to limit our mistakes and capitalize on the ones they make,” he said.

 

 
   

Plymouth Can’t be Pushed Around

 

          Plymouth has a chance to put together a two-game winning streak and that hasn’t happened very often over the last decade, but they will have to play well to do it.

          They host Mapleton, another Firelands Conference team on the rise, in a conference game on Friday night.

          The Big Red is coming off a 20-6 win over New London last week in game where the run oriented Big Red had to throw the ball a little more.  “They did some nice things to us defensively in stopping some of our running sets and forced us to put the ball up a little bit more in the air.  We anticipated that and worked hard on our passing game and came out and executed well,” Plymouth coach Mark Genders told Swankonsports.com.  Plymouth quarterback Craig Miller was eight for 13 for 76 yards and a touchdown in the game.

          Mapleton took Firelands Conference powerhouse Norwalk St. Paul to the wall last week before losing 29-23.  They had hammered Rittman 41-0 the week before.  “Last year I made the comment that they had one of the best offensive lines we had seen.  Now the Liebolt kid is a senior and they are pretty deadly.  Anytime you put 200 some yards on a John Livengood coached football team there is something to be said there.  The one thing I have noticed about them this season is you can tell they are playing with some confidence.  They are sound in everything they do and with that comes a solid team,” added Genders.

          Plymouth and Mapleton have both failed to get out of the bottom half of the Firelands Conference standings for more than a decade and the winner of this game might have the chance to do it this year.  Genders says it’s going to take a consistent effort.  “We have to continue to play sound football and stay focused on doing the job.  On defense last week we bent a lot, but we adjusted.  I don’t think you can win in this league without playing four quarters of football.  I like to think over the last two games my kids have matured quite a bit,” said Genders.

          Plymouth beat Mapleton 39-14 a year ago for their most convincing win with Genders as their coach.

 

 
   

Plymouth Knows a Win is Huge

 

          Plymouth plays at New London in the Firelands Conference opener for both schools on Friday night.

          The Big Red is 1-2 on the year after an opening night win over Lucas (21-18) and losses to Seneca East (34-7) on week two and Buckeye Central (41-12) on week three.  Last week, they were able to stop the Buckeye running game, but got beat on some big passes by the Bucks.  New London carries an 0-3 record with losses to (28-7) Buckeye Central, to (39-21) Oberlin Firelands and last week (28-25) to Colonel Crawford.

          “They may be 0-3, but I have all three films on them.  Nobody has played Buckeye Central better than they have.  Their defense is vastly improved from last year.  In the Firelands game they kind of shot themselves in the foot like we have.  Against Colonel Crawford they have the ball going in for the win,” Plymouth coach Mark Genders told Swankonsports.com.  “They are a play or two away and I feel like we are the same way,” added the Plymouth coach.

          Last season, Plymouth beat New London 42-40 in Genders first win as the Plymouth head coach, but he thinks that both teams at least have the potential to be a lot better than they were last year, “”I think both teams are a lot different this year.  Both teams are a lot more mature this year.  We have both moved the ball quite a bit and shot ourselves in the foot.  I think the team that does limit the mistakes is most likely going to be the winning team,” he said.

          Genders said he has not brought up the game from last year and he doesn’t plan to as his team gets ready for the Wildcats.  “I think both teams are at a different level and expectations are higher and with an older team they should be.  New London expects to beat us and we expect to beat them.  When these two things collide, you have yourself a heck of a football game,” he said.

          If Plymouth expects to have a chance to finish in the top half of the Firelands Conference this is a game they must win.  “I told our players this week it’s the first week of Firelands Conference play and all of their goals are still in front of them.  This is the biggest game of their lives.  That’s the way I see it,” concluded Genders.

 

 
   

It’s A Gut Check For Plymouth

 

          Everyone around the area believes that Plymouth will be a much better football team this fall than they have been in a while, but do the players believe that?

          After an opening night win over Lucas (21-18) the Big Red was blasted last week by Seneca East (34-7) and now it’s time to pull themselves up by their boot straps so to speak.  “We had a couple of choices either hanging our heads or coming back and having a good week,” coach Mark Genders told Swankonsports.com, “We’ve challenged the kids this week to start performing up to their capabilities.  The kids have really responded well.”

          Plymouth will be at Buckeye Central on Friday night to take on the Bucks.  Genders is not only impressed with the quality of athlete Buckeye Central has, but also the kind of leadership they are getting on the field.  “They hold each other accountable you can see that out on the field.  They are playing with a high level of confidence.  Erwin is just a fantastic quarterback,” he said.  Genders thinks Buckeye plays well as a unit and that’s why they have had success under Jason Ratliff.  “They really believe in everything they have going this year.  They have a lot of great seniors.  I would say they are led by the Collins boy on the offensive and defensive lines.  He’s as good as I’ve seen since I have been here.  We have our work cut out for us,” Genders said.

          Having said all these great things about the Buckeye Central football team, Genders believes it is up to Plymouth to make this a good football game or not.  He says they have to believe in themselves.  “We have got to play with some heart.  We have to play four quarters.  I could talk about holding onto the football and things like that, but if we don’t play with emotion and reach down in our chest and pull it out, I don’t have to look anywhere else.  The first thing we have to deal with is us,” he added.

 

 
 

 

Plymouth Wants This Season to be Different

 

          Plymouth hopes this season can be a turn around year with the football program, which has struggled in the bottom half of the Firelands Conference for more than a decade.

          They did come up with a 21-18 win over Lucas last week and they made some mistakes, but coach Mark Genders says the key was they were able to respond to those turnovers and missed assignments.  “The best thing was we were dealt a little adversity and we answered the bell.  In years past that would have happened,” Genders told Swankonsports.com.  Plymouth was just 2-18 over the last two years under Genders.  “Anytime you invest so much time into something it’s harder to just let things slide and not put everything you have into it.  We made crucial mistakes with a couple turnovers inside the five yard line, a fourth down stop inside the 10 and a couple of blown pass coverages.  I mean five plays almost cost us a win.  To their credit, they bounced back,” he said.

          With those two critical fumbles in the game, ball security is again an issue for the Big Red and Genders says that is something they are going to continue to work on everyday.  “Something we have had a big emphasis on like most teams is holding onto the ball.  We work on that everyday and we are continuing to work on drills to hold onto the football.  When everyone is doing their job nobody needs to do anything extra.  We have been stressing don’t try to do anyone else’s work,” said Genders.

          Plymouth plays host the Seneca East Tigers of the Midland Athletic League on Friday night in non-conference play.  Seneca East drilled South Central 45-14 in their first game of the year and Genders says they are very athletic and very good on offense.  “They have some real nice speed and athletic kids on their team.  Their offense is pretty high octane and they like to spread you out.  They run a certain amount of plays from different formations.  What they do run, they run well,” he said.      

 

 

 
   

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