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Shelby With Some Unknowns

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Shelby will return some familiar faces to the basketball floor this season, but the guys wearing the other uniforms are going to be somewhat unfamiliar to the Whippets.

They are in a new league, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

Coach Troy Schwemley says they are working right now to find out what they are good at. “We have five returning lettermen. We have guys that have played well together before. You are still trying to figure out personnel groupings and who plays well together. You always add some news faces to that mix. Every year you go into a plan of things you want to do. I think you are willing to make some adjustments around what your strengths are. Try to focus on the strengths, but also improve the weaknesses,” he said.

When it comes to the preseason, Schwemley says you have an overall plan of what you are trying to accomplish, but sometimes you have to be ready to adapt when it comes to the preseason too. “There are definitely things you are working on. You have to look at the bigger picture. You try and schedule opponents that are going to help prepare you for your games. Sometimes that is difficult when you are playing a lot of teams it makes scheduling scrimmages challenging. Depending on who is still playing football affects things. There are all kinds of factors that go into that. You are going into your scrimmages with kind of an agenda and depending on who you play sometimes helps those things or sometimes you realize there are things you need to work on and get better at,” said Schwemley.

When it comes to the “MOAC,” Schwemley admits there are going to be a lot of things to learn. “When you look at the teams in it, we are pretty familiar with Ontario. Clear Fork we have seen, whether it be scrimmages or postseason and things like that and Galion, but after that it gets a little bit interesting when you have teams like Rive Valley, Harding, Pleasant, Buckeye Valley, it is a new situation where there is not a lot of familiarity with some of those teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I know last year I went to Pleasant on a Thursday night to watch Ontario play, but other than that I don’t know a whole lot about Harding, Pleasant, Buckeye Valley. We did play River Valley non-league, so from that standpoint we are a little bit familiar, but there are going to be a lot of new faces and getting to know some tendencies. When you coach against certain teams long enough, I think coach Balogh and I probably have multiple pages of scouting reports on each other. Some of these teams we do not know a lot going in.”

Published 11/15/18

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Shelby Shooting for Title

Shelby was chosen as the coaches association’s division two champion this fall and now they get a chance to prove it on the course on Saturday when the state cross country meet is contested at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, in southern Licking County.

The OHSAA was forced to postpone the meet last was originally scheduled for last Saturday due to wet conditions, some would call flooding, at the track.

Shelby coach Chris Zuercher says it did force them to change their training methods a little bit. “We have been training hard and we really didn’t start to back off until last week a little bit, so once we heard the news Thursday afternoon we changed things up and went a little harder into the weekend. If we had to have a delay I glad we had it we these guys,” said Zuercher.

Shelby finished in the top 10 in last year’s state final and they won the division two regional on October 27 at Tiffin. Zuercher feels they are used to this kind of pressure. “They have the experience. They have raced in a lot of big pressure events and they have handled the stress really well. We hope to do well this weekend,” he said.

Caleb Brown finished second at Tiffin, just behind Kyle Johnston of Lexington, and teammate Sam Logan was three seconds behind Brown in third place. Blake Lucius ended up seventh at the regional level.

It is a sport of strategy and Zuecher lays out what they would like do on Saturday. “Our top two, Caleb Brown and Sam Logan, in that top four, five, which is great. Then our number three, Blake Lucius, if he could be ahead of Akron St. Vincent/ St. Mary and Woodridge’s two, things we look really good for us,” told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

Published 11/09/18

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Shelby Girls Getting After it

There is a lot of enthusiasm associated with the Shelby girls’ basketball program so far this season and practices have been pretty competitive so far for the Lady Whippets.

They had their first losing season in more than decade last winter, but they appear to be ready for a comeback this year.

Coach Natalie Lantz they have some hard workers, but they have fun too. “From day one they have come in and they are working hard and they are competitors and they are really pushing each other at practice. A lot of great hustle. A lot of smiles, they are working hard, but they are having fun. So, I am seeing some great chemistry right off the bat with these girls. Just really excited about the energy that I am seeing,” she said.

Lantz feels her squad has good chemistry and she says they are pushing each other to get better as players and a team. “We are a week and a half, almost two weeks in and the girls are working hard and we are doing a lot of skill development and just working on the chemistry and knowing where each other is on the court offensively and defensively and little by little you can see kids stepping up and pushing each other to become better and stronger and realizing the different assets of each kid and how they are going to help and contribute to the team,” said Lantz.

Shelby begins the season with a non-conference game at home on “Black Friday” night November 23 against the Madison Lady Rams.

After a year in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, the Lady Whippets are in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and their first league contest will be at Clear Fork on December 1.

Lantz says the new league is going to be a new experience. “Our job as coaches is in getting the girls prepared for a new league. There are only a few teams that we have played in the past as far as our conference goes. So, we are going to have our work cut out for us when it comes to scouting and scouting reports this year,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We will work hard and do the job on our end to have our girls prepared game by game. I know our girls are already to doing their best preparing our own game and what we want to accomplish game by game.”

Published 11/08/18

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Shelby Wants to End Season on Positive Note

The Shelby Whippets are not going to have the kind of football season they envisioned, but they can still salvage something from it.

If they beat Vermilion this week they will finish as a .500 ballclub.

They lost last week to Oak Harbor (35-0) and coach Erik Will says it was just a situation where they made too many mistakes. “The nice things is this week we get Tyshaundre Hall back. He was out this season just because of some grade issues dating back to last year, so it will be nice to get him back. He will be a welcomed addition to our offense. We actually did get a little going on the run early, we just weren’t able to sustain. Right now, the single biggest thing that is hurting us is we have really stupid penalties at times where you can’t do it. We will have a six yard run and then we have a hold, so we are looking at first and 20 or second and eight and kicks us back to second and 18. It puts you in a situation where you become very predictable. Those are very big things and we need to do a better job this week and see if we can get a win week 10,” said Will.

Shelby (4-5) plays at Vermilion (3-6) on Friday night in a non-conference game. The Sailors beat Edison last week (36-35) on a fake extra point late in the game. That win broke a six game losing streak.

Will says their defense has been suspect this season. “You watch them on film. The number 4 kid is a really good athlete. A matter of fact we call him their Uriah (Schwemley.) They play him a lot like we do Uriah. They move him all over and try anyway possible to get him the ball. The kid that is playing quarterback is not too bad, he is a younger guy, he is going to be good. It is tough to replace a kid that has been a starter for several years like the Heard kid was. He obviously made the go from an offensive standpoint. They have a couple of nice little athletes. If you look they are scoring points they are just getting beat because of that defensive side a little bit. They are capable. Their coaches are saying the exact same thing that we are saying to our kids this is a winnable game this week, so we have to be ready,” said Will.

Will says this will be an important game for them in terms of heading the postseason. “This is kind of like college and this is kind of like a bowl game. That is how we have to look at this. You are not playing in the playoffs for a state championship, but you are playing in a bowl game. You can still go into the off season on a high note. The best we can do is 5-5 and we will take that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Yeah, 5-5 and you are not going to be able to say you were winners, but you are also not saying you are losers. This is a huge game for us because we want to go into the off season on a positive note. Our theme this week is get back home, let’s get this win, get back home, get healed up, and attack this off season.”

Published 10/24/18

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Shelby Still Trying to run it

Shelby has done a good job throwing the football this season, but their lack of a running game has been costing them in a lot of cases.

They host Oak Harbor in a non-conference foot ball game coming up on Friday night.

The Whippets held a one-point lead at halftime last week (14-13,) but it was all Port Clinton in the second two quarters and the Redskins whipped them (36-14) last Friday.

Coach Erik Will says they just couldn’t get anything going in the second half. “They did a nice job executing in the second half. I really like the way our kids came out to play. Unfortunately, there is the second half we weren’t able to keep things even or even win the second half. They were just able to make more plays than we did. You have to give Beau (Carmon) and his staff and his kids a lot of credit they did a nice job. They are still trying to compete for that league title. We have to get back to the drawing board,” he said.

Will says they certainly going to try and resurrect that running game over the last two weeks of the season. “The disappointing this for us is, we have tried different personnel groupings and we have even tried different formations and different types of scheme things, are we have just not been able to get that run game going. When you have to throw the ball 25 to 30 times a game just because you can’t get any movement it really puts you behind the eight ball. I have broken it down this year and we have really only had two games where we have been able to run the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have four wins, but only two games where we were to actually run the football. In Ohio high school football, especially this time of year when that weather changes and it starts getting more damp and more precipitation and that grind of the season, you have to be to run the football. As a coaching staff that has been a head scratcher and disappointment. There has been no stone left unturned to try and get that run game going, but we have another week to try.”

Shelby (4-4) hosts Oak Harbor (7-1) on Friday night. The Rockets are coming off a (24-7) win at Edison in a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division game last week. They stand fifth in the division five playoff region.

Will says the Rockets are going to come to town with winning on their mind. “They are really good. Their running back and their quarterback are their two best combo guys we have seen this year. Their quarterback is a really good athlete. Their running back runs well. Their only loss is to an undefeated team (Genoa) in their own region. So, they are playing really, really well. Just off film they really pop off both sides of the ball. Their lines are very physical. They have home playoff aspirations. We are not contributing to a league title for them they have revenge on their mind. They want to come back and get us after last year. They are really in the same position we were last year,” he said.

Published 10/16/18

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Shelby Making Plays Again

Shelby broke a three game losing streak with a win over Edison last week and this Friday night they travel to Port Clinton to meet the Redskins.

All of the Whippets games this year are non-conference games. They have left the Sandusky Bay Conference, but they have not yet joined the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference in football, that comes next year.

Shelby beat Edison (33-7) last week and coach Erik Will says they began to play with confidence again. “Well, I think our kids were just playing with more confidence. We had a good week of practice. We didn’t turn the ball over. We were able to get out to an early lead. Defensively, our kids did a nice job with their option responsibilities. I thought that was good for our defense, it kind of got us healthy there as far as our responsivities. We were kind of able to make them throw the football. They threw for a decent amount, but a team like Edison wants to run the football, so if you can take that away it gives you a chance to win the football game. It was kind of nice for our kids to compete and on the end of the night be on the positive side of the scoreboard,” said Will.

Will says they have been concentrating more on the mental side of the game and that is giving the players more confidence. “That mental part is just as important as the physical. If the kids feel like they can make plays the physical part will follow. The kids came in an executed the game plan well. There wasn’t anything that they hadn’t seen on film, which was nice,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We were able to throw the ball well, still didn’t run the ball like we would like to. This year we have really had a hard time consistently running the football. We continue to make a conscious effort to do it. It looks like throwing has been the way of the Whippets this year.”

Shelby (4-3) plays at Port Clinton (4-3) on Friday night. The Redskins are coming off a (47-10) win over Vermilion in a Bay Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Will says they have some good athletes and they are aggressive on defense. “They are very well coached. They have some athletes. They have a little slot that is really, really fast. Their quarterback is a lefty with a strong arm. Offensive line is big and does a nice job. They give you multiple formations and different looks. Defensively, they are very aggressive. They kind of run a 4-3 or 4-2. They will go to a three man front. They are kind of like Huron, their secondary is very quick. They will let you catch some balls underneath, but they attack like sharks as soon as the ball is caught. I think they are one of the more athletic teams that we have played. It is absolutely going to be a challenge,” said Will.

With the athletes the Redskins have they have made some big plays. Will says they want to force them to drive the ball to score. “You have to play the percentages. In high school, if you can make a team go seven, eight, nine, ten plays the chances of them getting in the end zone goes down drastically, but if you are giving up those big hits that we were just eluding to you really put yourself behind the eight ball. It is also demoralizing. You play some decent defense then give up a long play on third. You are lined up right and you have a blown assignment it makes the whole operation look bad. When you do that it gives them confidence and it kills your confidence, so that is something we have to guard against,” said Will.

Published 10/11/18

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It’s a Confidence Issue for Shelby

Shelby is carrying a three game losing streak into their matchup with the Edison Chargers on Friday night at Skiles Field.

Shelby had won 18 regular season games in a row until Bellevue beat them (45-28) three weeks ago, followed by a (49-0) shutout by Norwalk, and a (42-7) loss last week at home to Huron.

Coach Erik Will says right now they are dealing with a confidence problem. “They played really well and got out to an early lead. We are playing a lot of young guys right now and like a lot of teams have been hit with the injury bug here a little bit. In our linebacking unit we have one starter there and a sophomore and a freshman playing. They are gaining valuable experience and reps, but it is just tough when they are going against a school the caliber of Huron. Huron obviously is playing really well this year and they were able to take advantage of that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Offensively, we have injuries over there, but we are just not executing well right now. It is one of those things were we just aren’t playing with confidence. When you don’t play with confidence, you don’t expect to make plays. Whereas the last three years our kids played with confidence where they expected to make plays. I think our kids are almost playing with the mentality of what is going to happen next instead of who is going to go out and make the play. We are just trying to tweak and alter than mindset.”

Injuries have also been a concern for the Whippets, but Will says they just have to have guys step up. “Huron is very, very good, Edison is solid. Edison has injuries too. They have a couple of key injuries on their line and in their secondary as well. The bottom line is guys have to make plays and coaches have to do a good job of putting people in position to make plays. That is that very tight dance that we do as coaches and players do as players. It is a results based business. They last three weeks we have played Bellevue, who is progressively getting better, Norwalk is one the better teams in the entire area, and Huron is going to be a playoff team. So, we played three really good teams that did what they were supposed to do. Unfortunately for us, especially the last two weeks, we haven’t competed at a very high level,” he said.

Shelby (3-3) plays host to Edison (3-2) in a non-conference game on Friday night. The Chargers lost last week to Port Clinton (28-14) in a Bay Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Edison runs that triple option, but Will says they can throw too and the Whippets need to understand that. “Just from a defensive standpoint we have to be very good on lining up correctly. Everybody has a responsibility and then you have to be disciplined. This what people don’t understand about the option they are going to hit you with the veer, hit you with the midline, hit you with the veer, hit you with the midline, and they are going to throw something over top. Your secondary can’t get sucked up or that’s when the big play is going to happen. Their quarterback and fullback are both really, really good and extremely athletic. Defensively, they blitz a lot. They are bringing a lot of guys at us. Or offensive line has to have a big week and then we have to play great responsibility football on Friday against Edison’s option,” said Will.

Published 10/05/18

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Shelby Has to Dig Deep

Shelby lost its second game in a row for the first time since the final two weeks of the 2015 season and they were belted by Norwalk.

The Truckers beat them (49-0) last Friday at Whitney Field in Norwalk.

Shelby coach Erik Will says they were not ready to play. “If you would have saw our practices last week you wouldn’t have been surprised by that score. You would have to go back to my first year at Shelby to find that. We just didn’t have any energy. Our leadership wasn’t very good. So, we have to practice better. I told our kids we are going to hit the reset button right now and we are going to have a great week of practice and let’s see what we can do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are still really young, but what I want to see is that competitive fire and the preparation. Every coach will tell you losing is never acceptable, but you can stomach it more when your kids are engaged and have a great week of practice and you feel they are 100 percent engaged in what is going on. I can’t honestly say that we were mentally and physically prepared for the game. Having said that Norwalk obviously had a lot to do with that as well. They are a good football team and they made a lot of plays and we made very few.”

On Friday night, the Whippets (3-2) host Huron in non-conference play. Shelby is not in a conference this year, so all of them will be non-league games.

Will says this is an important game for them. “This is a huge week, it’s homecoming, a lot alumni here, a lot of former players come back, we grill up for them, they come down to the locker room. It’s a big week, homecoming is very important, I don’t know how other schools treat it, but at Shelby it’s a big deal and we want to have a good showing. The way we look at it is we were 3-2 in our first set and it didn’t come out exactly like we wanted it too. We wont three in a row and lost the last two. We just have to get that taste of losing out of our mouth. Huron is very good, but they are a team I feel we can compete against. We just need a great week of practice. We have to stop the damn from breaking right now,” said Will.

Huron (4-1) is a winner of its last three, including (31-14) over Toledo Scott last week.

Will says they do a good job executing what they do. “It funny when you watch them you would think they throw the ball a lot, but they actually run the ball about 60 percent of the time. They are very efficient. They are not huge, but what they do they execute at a high level offensively. Defensively, they are very aggressive and very sound in what they do. They have the numbers, I think they have about 60 kids 10 through 12. They have 24, 25 seniors, so they have a lot of kids out there running around with a lot of experience. So, we will have to play a really good game, but I think we will be ready this week,” said Will.

The first quarter of this is game is going to be important to the Whippets, Will says they need to get off to a better start. “We have had two bad starts. I think it is a little bit of us and I think it is a little bit of the team we are playing. You have to give them credit too. It kind of goes back and forth. Last week, we had three or four different opportunities on third and longs to get our defense off the field and we didn’t do it. We are winning first and second down, but our third down efficiency right now defensively is not very good. We have to quit getting outscored 14-0, 14-7, 21-7, that has been the M.O. the last two weeks and that has to change if we are going to be successful this week,” he said.

Published 9/25/18

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Shelby Must Run it; Stop Big Play

Shelby’s 18 game regular season win streak was snapped last week by longtime rival Bellevue and they have another tough assignment this week as they play Norwalk.

Shelby had not lost since Sandusky beat them on September 23, 2016, so almost two calendar years until Bellevue beat them (45-28) last Friday in a game the Redmen led (33-7) at one time.

Despite it being Bellevue’s first win of the season, Shelby coach Erik Will says they knew Bellevue would be a tough challenge. “We played a really good football team. A really well coached football team. I know I said last week about the fact that record was deceiving and I think that that played out. From our end we are sorry to say that, but as a coaching staff we knew that Bellevue was a really, really good football team. For them to kind of get us behind the eight ball and for us specifically to not be able to run the football that hurts any high school team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Even in the NFL, I don’t care what level it is, everybody wants to run the football and if your can’t do that and become one dimensional it is really tough. Bellevue did a really good job of that. I was really proud of the resiliency of our kids. I can objectively look at this game and realize that Bellevue played a better football game. They won it in the trenches.”

Will says to get back on the winning track they have to run the ball and that starts up front. “Some of that might be a schematic thing, but most of it is just execution. We have guys that have been playing for two and three years. We just have to get better play, more consistent play. When you look at it it is not all five. It is normally one or two. That has kind of been a common theme all year. The difference is teams like Bellevue that are really aggressive and really well coached they find your deficiencies. So, we have to get back in practice this week and continue to work on it whether it is a personnel thing or a little tweak from our end. There is nothing that is off the table. There is no doubt that if we don’t run the ball against Norwalk we will have the same outcome,” said Will.

Shelby (3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is at Norwalk (3-1) in a non-conference game on Friday night. Like Bellevue, Shelby has been playing the Truckers for a lot of years.

Norwalk blanked a good Edison team last week (35-0) and Will says they Truckers are an athletic, big play, kind of team. “They are big and they are athletic. They have some youth. Their running back is special. The Haraway kid is really good. Their quarterback does a nice job. Their offensive line is big. They are just very, very well coached. They get to the football well from a defensive standpoint. They are a big play offense. You don’t see a lot of matriculation down the field. You see more of a big play. They have two or three kids that are big play type kids. If we give up the big play we will lose,” said Will.

On defense, Will says Norwalk likes to blitz and they will have to be ready for that. “They are just very sound. They play quarters and thirds behind it, but they are very schematically sound in the way they do it. They will move guys around pre snap. They put in just enough of those blitzes and stuff like that to keep you honest as well because you don’t know where they are coming from. Norwalk has always had good athletes, that is the thing about it. Norwalk is always one of those schools that has been a sleeping giant. Their personnel is really good as well and they are utilizing that,” said Will.

Published 9/18/18

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Shelby Clashes With Bellevue

Shelby travels to Bellevue to face the Redmen in a football game between two storied programs on Friday night.

The Whippets have won 18 straight regular season games dating back to the 2016 season.

They drummed Willard (63-0) last week.

Coach Erik Will says they have executed pretty well on offense, but they still need more consistency from their offensive line. “Even at Lexington I felt we did a pretty good job. We scored 27 points. As a coach you never satisfied, right? I feel the young guys have done a nice job. On our offensive line we are getting four or five guys to consistently execute at a high level. It is almost one of those things were there is a missed assignment almost every play out of one of the five. Any coach will tell you that is one of the hardest things to get those five guys all synchronized. To be able to put the points up that we have it is pretty good and we are happy with those numbers. We also know as we move forward the competition is going to continue to get tougher and tougher, so we are going to have to earn every one of those points,” said Will.

Bellevue is off to a slow (0-3) start to the season, but they are still a good team. They have losses to state power Canton Central Catholic (14-13) and unbeaten Clear Fork (40-12) and then last week lost in the final moments (31-27) to West Holmes.

Will feels this game will be a big challenge for them. “Bellevue is not playing possum with us. We are not falling for the 0-3 thing at all. When you look at the combined record teams they have played I think there is one loss. They played Clear Fork week two, Clear Fork might be the best team in Richland County right now. We know Bellevue really, really good and they are really young. We told our kids that we feel that if Bellevue would have played our schedule they would have been 3-0 as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to keep things in perspective this is still a really good Bellevue football team. So, as long as Ed Nasonti is coaching at Bellevue we understand the physicality and the type of team we are going to be playing against.”

Bellevue has played the fourth toughest schedule for a division four team in the state and Will expects nothing but a dogfight from them. “They do things very well. A matter of fact when you look at their film I think they should be 2-1 right now. I will say that as a coach that is scouting against them. They were right there in that Canton Central Catholic game. That is a possession either way. Clear Fork did a really nice job against them, but as I said Clear Fork is really, really good. Then last week they just didn’t make the plays in the fourth quarter to win that game. They were going into the fourth quarter with the lead. This is like our 76 th meeting with them. We are a rival to them just as much as they are to us. We understand that we are going to get their best shot. I really believe this is a 50/50 game, this is one of those toss ups, this is where the records truly do not matter,” said Will.

Published 9/13/18

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Shelby has to Take Advantage of Opportunities

Shelby hosts longtime rival Willard for the last time on the football field, at least for a while, on Friday night in a non-conference game.

Last week, the Whippets (2-0) beat Lexington (27-24) at Lex. Coach Erik Will says they needed to do a better job of taking advantage of opportunities. “Just managing the game a little bit better from the standpoint that we had a double digit lead. Taking advantage of opportunities. You hear that a lot about baseball, you miss a pitch and the next one they hit out of the yard, maybe you drop a foul ball and the very next play the guy hits a home run. That happened to us a couple of times. We had an interception opportunity and dropped it and they score the next play. We are not running out the clock appropriately. We run out of bounds and then we have kind of a fumbled snap or the exchange with the running back and the running back doesn’t fall on it, he tries to pick it up and Lexington falls on it and scores two plays later. Those are things that are all within our control. The message coming out of that game is guys we made this a lot closer than it should have been and it is because of our own undoing. Having said that Lexington deserves credit because they are taking advantage of the opportunities they have, which is what every coach wants,” said Will.

Shelby has not lost a regular season game in almost two full seasons. However, Will says they understand this team has a lot of improving to do. “Each and every week we have an opportunity against a new opponent with new looks. I think our kids are excited to get back on the field. A win is a win. We are 2-0 with a chance to go 3-0. We also understand that the game of football only happens once a week. I think our kids just want to go out there and run around the field and get that taste out of their mouth not finishing that game the way we wanted to. The season is a year long learning process,” he said.

Shelby has had its way with Willard over the last few seasons, but Will says the Flashes (1-1,) coming off a (38-35) win over Plymouth last week, are clearly a better football team. “They are much improved and I know every year people say that. The Parrott kid is a solid football player and they have a couple of nice little athletes around him. They are well coached, you can actually see that, I know that sounds like coach talk, but it’s not. They are like anybody else they have their strengths and they have their deficiencies and we are focusing on that. Right now, we are not good enough to look by anybody. If we look by somebody we can get beat,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There is no reason if you are Willard that you wouldn’t come over here motivated and understanding that if you played a really good game against a young Whippet team that you couldn’t walk out of the here with a “W.” We are doing everything we can to respect our opponent and make sure we are ready to go Friday.”

Will says Willard quarterback Cooper Parrott is a big playmaker. “He jumps right off the screen. He throws a nice ball. He is very elusive and you have to account for him. He is one of those guys that you have to game plan for from a spy standpoint. It is not what he does often times with the design of the play it is kind the what he does off of that where he kind of moves around. I look back to when we were first starting this program here and we had a young quarterback that was pretty elusive back there and wouldn’t go through his progression maybe the way we wanted him too, but when he would scramble around and makes plays and makes everyone around him better that is the sign of a true leader and the Parrott kid fits that,” said Will.

Published 9/06/18

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Shelby not Underestimating Lexington

Shelby has won its last 17 regular season games in a row and they will try an extend that streak when they play at Lexington on Friday night in a non conference game.

The Whippets destroyed Madison (48-8) in their first game last Thursday at home.

Coach Erik Will says they were able to get off to a good start with 21 points in the first quarter. “I was really happy with our kids we got off to a fast start. That was something we hadn’t seen in the three scrimmages. So, we were really happy about that. I thought our line as a collective group played pretty well, so I was happy about that. The ability is there, but we do have some youth, and because of that I was a little worried about how they would handle some different situational things and I thought they did well there. There are plenty of things to coach up from a technique standpoint there. Coming out of the half I want to be a little bit more crisp. All in all, I was very pleased with how our kids played. We understand that the competition is only going to get tougher from here, so we have to grow from week to week,” said Will.

The Shelby coach says they made enough mistakes that there have been some teaching points to address this week. “That is the best way to coach. After a win it is easier to coach hard that it is to coach hard after a loss. What I mean by that is kids are a little more emotionally and mentally vulnerable after a loss. You almost have to be careful what you say, be honest with them, but you have to be careful,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When they come in after a pretty dominate win, at least on the scoreboard, you can kind of give them a little bit more of a reality of where they are at. It was a great opportunity for us to coach them and I thought they have responded well and we are having a very good week of practice.”

Lexington (0-1) lost in its first game when Ontario scored twice in the last five minutes to win (14-7) last Friday. Shelby beat the Minutemen (41-7) a year ago.

Will says the Minutemen has some playmakers, especially Ohio State recruit Cade Stover. “The skill is definitely there. I know they weren’t happy with the results of the game on Friday, but that is a rivalry game. We knew going into that game that Lexington has athletes and we came away knowing they have athletes know. You know, 11 is tough, five is tough, 18 is tough. The quarterback is not bad when he gets time to through the ball. Obviously, Cade Stover speaks for himself. He is one of the best players in the state and he has to be accounted for on every play,” he said.

When it comes to Stover, Will says you have to try and disguise things so he doesn’t make the play in the backfield. “He is definitely a very important part of our scouting report with the kids this week. His affect on defense is almost like nothing I have ever seen in 18 years of coaching because the way they line him up it is hard to account for him in your blocking. So, you have to find ways to chip him, get is way, try to get him to see something and go the other way, mis direction things are big. Cade Stover is probably going to have 25 tackles, but we just want those tackles to be down the field six, seven, eight, nine yards. If we can do that we will be fine,” said Will.

Published 8/31/18

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Shelby Preparing the Best They Can for Madison

Shelby opens the football season with traditional non-conference rival Mansfield Madison on Thursday night at Skiles Field in Shelby.

Of course, most teams play on Friday, but Shelby coach Erik Will says a day early isn’t bad. “To start the year, it is not a huge difference. We have been scouting each other for a few weeks now. The way it works throughout the summer with those camp days you get 10 of those and then several weeks of early practice. You kind of go against general looks and general fronts, things you kind of expect to see and then when you get closer you start getting it really narrowed down to what you are going to see. After a scrimmage or two you have a general idea of what teams are going to do, at least what they are showing they are going to do. You can prepare for what you think they might throw at you, but you didn’t see,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If anything, I like it because it is a day early. I think the kids are ready to go. We are ready to start getting out there and getting after it and they count. Even though it is a day early it is not a real big difference. I think it is fun and I think the kids enjoy being the only show in Richland County to start the year.”

Shelby has won 19 of their last 20 regular season games and went deep into the playoffs the last two years. Will says expectations are always high at Shelby. “Shelby has won 656 football games and that puts us right around the top 15, 16 in the state of Ohio in total wins, so Shelby has been very successful in its 123 going on 124 years, so winning is very important around here. They give you the resources and the ability to do that. The kids are kind of ingrained at a young age through the stories. There are a lot of generational players that come through here. It is cool that the town buys in and the alumni are good about it. Our administration is fantastic in supporting that as well. The kids get to have fun and go out and play. At the end of day, it really is a kids game and they get to enjoy it and more importantly I think they enjoy who they get to do it with,” said Will.

Madison has been on the other side of it lately. The Rams have lost their last 16 games, including (48-10) to Shelby last season.

They have a new coach in Dave Stupka, however, Will thinks they are about as prepared as they can be for the Rams. “We have prepped the best we can. There are some wrinkles in there that we have kind of added that we think would put our kids in a tough situation. I think a lot of coaches will tell you week one that every team kind of has a new wrinkle or two every year, but you are hoping your kids are coached well enough and disciplined enough and trust enough their keys that even if they get something they haven’t seen they should still be well schooled enough to be prepared for some of the things that they not be expecting to see, but do. That is especially for us from a defensive standpoint. As long as we ready our keys we shouldn’t give up anything too big and make sure you live to see another play,” said Will.

Published 8/22/18

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Shelby Taking Steps

Shelby is coming off a couple of outstanding seasons on the gridiron and if they continue to improve they can be pretty good this year as well.

Coach Erik Will says they are making some execution mistakes, but he believes they will be able to get those worked out before next week. “I have come away just with the mindset that we are young. We have a lot of youth, but I like where we are at. I think we are probably right where we should be. We have things to correct. There are a lot of things that we are pleased with. We feel like our effort is pretty good. Our pad level is pretty good, which is something we a young group of guys up front you kind of expect to be a little sloppy, so we are happy with that. We think some of the reasons we are making mistakes we can clean some of that up when we actually start scouting and putting in preparation for the opponent. At this time of year teams really aren’t prepping for each other in the preseason. What you are evaluating is effort and enthusiasm, being coachable, ready and react to the ball and things like that. Very happy with where our kids are at right now,” said Will.

Will says they have some decisions to make on the offensive line and some improvement in the defensive backfield. However, he thinks it is mostly about the mental side of the game. “We have to seal up one little spot on the offensive line. We still have a little bit of a battle, so we will have to see how that shakes out. Then on our defense, our back four. Our two safeties and our two corners all four of them are new this year. They are very capable athletically, but mentally they have to improve. I think we will see those gains, but our secondary is athletic enough to be a pretty good group, but mentally they have to come a little bit faster than maybe what we have been getting,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think they will get there, we are confident that they will get there, but those are the growing pains that you have. It is always a little bit of a concern when you graduate the class that we just had where a lot of those kids played three and four years. They are kids you know physically can play many positions, but you are worried about that mental component and leadership component.”

They host Mansfield Madison in their opening game of the season next Thursday at Skiles Field. Will says they are already focused on that game. “As a matter of fact Monday we started really prepping for Madison offensively and defensively. Obviously, we will exchange the second scrimmage film this week, so we will kind of take a look at that to see what is going on, they are a new staff. We have to prepare for a little bit of the unknown because they probably have a few wrinkles that they are not going to show us. That is why we have to make sure we are disciplined. Everything we are doing right now is to get ready to beat Madison. We scrimmage Galion Thursday night and we want to do well in that scrimmage, but that is not our focus,” said Will.

Published 8/15/18

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Shelby Not Stepping Back

Shelby reached the state semifinals last year and the regional final the year before. They had an unbeaten regular season last year and a title in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

A lot of the kids responsible for making that happen have graduated, but there is talent remaining, a lot of it.

Coach Erik Will says he has been pleased by what he has seen. “We are really excited. There are a lot of, I don’t want to say new faces, just young faces. A lot of guys that got time early on in the season with some of the suspensions. Once we were able to get some of those seniors back last year they played a lot in second halves of football games. The JV team was pretty solid last year, the freshmen did well. It is good these guys are getting an opportunity. I feel like right now the competition level is really high. Our depth is not as plentiful as it once was, but that is okay. I think most coaches that you talk to will tell you that depth is always a concern. I guess as coaches it is our job to develop that. Things are going well, a good summer, good spring, all of those things,” he said.

Brady Armstrong is off to the University of Virginia, but back is junior McGwire Albert at quarterback. Will says he does a lot of things well. “McGwire (Albert) continues to get better. He is getting better practice by practice. He had a really nice sophomore campaign for us. He did a great job in those first three games of making plays. The quarterback is like a really good point guard on a basketball team. He is a facilitator, he is a tempo setter, a pace setter. He gets the ball to the athletes and let them make plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “McGwire did a really nice job with that last year, but the difference is this year we are kind of asking him to make a few more of those plays. Last year, he is throwing it to Carter Brooks, Brady Hill and Uriah (Schwemley) and kind of letting those guys g to work. This year we are going to ask him to make a few more of those plays with his feet and maybe throw the ball down the field a little bit more. McGwire is a very good high school quarterback and his maturity level has definitely grown this camp.”

Shelby is in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference this school year in everything, but football, so no league title for the Whippets. However, Will says they have goals. “We are kind of hanging out right now for a year. We are in purgatory for one year. We are in between the “SBC” and the “MOAC.” We are going to be there, but we have to wait a year until 2019. It is one of those things where it is outside of our control. The number one team goal we have is to win every week and then make the playoffs. We just want to see if we can get back to the playoffs and make a run at it,” he said.

Published 8/09/18

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Shelby Ready for Bellevue

Shelby dominated Mansfield Senior (16-0) in its first tournament game on Wednesday and now they play at arch rival Bellevue in the division two sectional final on Friday.

The Tygers had only won one game this year, but Shelby coach Jon Amicone says they didn’t take them lightly. “I loved the way our kids competed (Wednesday) night. Definitely there was more focus. It is a new season, obviously, everybody starts with an 0-0 record and I really apricate what our kids did with focus and winning the baseball game and I thought they played very well,” he said.

Bellevue (18-3), # 4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, shared the Bay Division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference title with Clyde this year. They beat Shelby in a pair of one run games this year, 3-2 and 4-3, both decided in the seventh inning.

Amicone says the schools have an outstanding rivalry. “We have a really nice rivalry. It’s a friendly rivalry between two schools. In both games we lost by one run late in the game and our kids really competed really well against Bellevue. I think when you play a rivalry game like that it really brings out the best in our players. I hope we do the same for them. It’s a really good baseball game each time the teams compete,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “It is always very competitive, it is always very tense. I think that is what makes the game fun. That is what high school sports is about, playing at a very high level. That is what you get when you get Shelby and Bellevue playing baseball against each other.”

Amicone says mistakes, or the lack of them, are going to be big in this game. He says they can’t get behind early. “There is very little margin for error, specifically in our district. If you are fortunate to move on in this district the margin for error gets less and less. At tournament time it is just very hard to play catch up with good teams you are playing against and the good pitching you are seeing. If you make those little mistakes, especially early in the game it is almost impossible to play catch up sand try and win consistently that way. The margin of error is very small and our kids know that. It is all about that focus from the first pitch to the last,” said Amicone.

Published 5/10/18

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Shelby Starting to Believe

Shelby pounded Norwalk (15-5) in five innings in a Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game on Monday evening and the Lady Whippets are starting to believe in themselves.

Coach Natalie Huggins says they have done a lot of good things the past couple of weeks. “We have played some really good ballgames recently. Even though they haven’t shown up in the win total we are competing night in and night out. It is always good to be playing your best ball in May when it is time for championships,” she said.

Shelby (5-13) had limited to experience at the beginning of the season, but Huggins says they have gained that as the season has gone on and they have made some important changes. “It has been quite a few things and maturity is definitely one of them. We are not necessarily a young team, but at the beginning of the season we were very inexperienced in that we had one kid that was playing the same position as she did on varsity last year. If I had any letter winners or returning starters they were playing in new positions. So, that is part of it,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We made some hard decisions to change our lineup a little bit. We have a couple of younger kids that joined us from JV a couple of weeks ago and have done an awesome job anchoring down our outfield, which them freed up our centerfielder, who in my eyes is an All-Ohioan at catcher, Brileigh Gates. We needed her in the outfield for the first half of the season and that freed her up to come behind the plate and she has absolutely owned it since she got there.”

Any coach will tell you that believing is a big part of success and Huggins says they are starting to feel that. “We are just jelling right now at the right time. Also, I think it is just believing we can do it. We were taking some lumps early in the season and it wasn’t fun to be getting beat horribly and now that we are starting to compete and be in games toward the end of games we are starting to believe we can do it too,” said Huggins.

Published 5/01/18

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Shelby Wins Fifth in a Row

Shelby has started to play some pretty good baseball as the Whippets won for the fifth straight time in an (8-1) win over Sandusky in Lake Division play in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Monday.

The Whippets (9-3,4-3) scored four times in the first inning against the Blue Streaks and coach Jon Amicone says that set the tone for the day. “We were fortunate enough to get off to a good start in the first inning. We put up four runs in the first and I thought the lefthander kind of settled in. He was able to pitch with the lead and he was throwing a couple of pitches for strikes. A nice three pitch mix for us and really kept their hitters off balance. Even with the weather I think he was able to battle through it and put up some good innings for us.” Said Amicone.

It started out as a nearly 70 degree afternoon on Monday and Amicone says that lets the pitchers have a little better command than what they have had on these bitterly cold days we have been having. “I think mentally you are just a lot more comfortable on the mound and you can get a lot more feel for the ball. We always teach our pitchers to dominate the top half of the baseball with their fingers. When the weather is nice it is easier to do that and you a little better command on all of your pitches,” he said.

Shelby pitchers have only surrendered two runs over the last five games, all wins for Shelby.

Although they remain three games behind Bellevue in the Lake Division race, the Redmen beat Perkins (4-1) on Monday, Amicone says all of these wins are big. “Baseball is different than any other sport. It is a game against yourself. If you go out there and make errors and walk people or you don’t get that big hit. You are going to lose those types of games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Winning is just too hard in baseball not to enjoy it or not to appreciate it when you do get a win. They are hard to come by at times. I thought our kids did a nice job of staying focused and played the game the right way.”

Published 4/24/18

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Shelby Still Looking

Shelby has played only seven baseball games and they have won just over half of them. The lack of time of the field concerns coach Jon Amicone.

He says it has been hard to stay focused, but he thinks they have done a pretty good job of that considering what they have faced. “We have played seven games so far and in a typical season we use the first seven games to iron our lineups and let competition settle on the field. Now, after our first seven games we are talking about getting ready for tournament time, which is right around the corner. It is really difficult to try and assess and try to determine how good your team is playing because once you kind of get into a grove Mother Nature kind of takes over and you are setting another five games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think our kids have done a relatively good job of staying focused with the inability to get outside on a regular basis. We have been in, we have been out. You are talking about teenage kids and trying to keep their focus that can be a challenge. I think our leaders have really stepped up and tried to keep guys focused and continue the process of being a good baseball team.”

Shelby is scheduled to play Mansfield Senior in a non-conference game on Wednesday. The weather is supposed to improve.

This spring the Whippets are pretty inexperienced and Amicone says the weather has made it difficult to determine who should be playing. “We have some young guys at key positions and we are trying to compete and I think competition breeds success in your program and our guys really haven’t had a chance to compete and show what they can do on the field on a regular basis. You want to give kids chances to compete and play at a high level and Mother Nature has kind of taken care of that. We use practice as an assessment tool. There is nothing like real life games. There are no questions on the field. When you play a game you can see everything. You can see who is going to rise to the occasion and who is going to fold under pressure. We can try play as many games as possible and try to get back in the league race and get ready for the tournament,” said Amicone.

Shelby (4-3,2-3) lost to Bellevue (3-2) and Norwalk (6-2) and beat Tiffin Columbian (8-0) in conference games last week. They play Sandusky Perkins on Thursday.

Amicone says they might have to run the table if they are going to win a third straight league title. “It is a very competitive division, no doubt about it. We lost a couple of tough games. We lost in the seventh to Bellevue and a tough game to a Norwalk team that is playing really well right now. I thought both games could have gone either way. Both of those teams played better than us for seven innings and that’s why they were able to win. We have to continue to work. We will play those teams again. Obviously, we want to play at a high level game in and game out to put ourselves in a good position. The cards have been dealt and we didn’t get it done first time through. It might be out of our hands for now. It’s all about continuing to get better and continuing to improve and try and make a nice tournament run,” said Amicone.

Published 4/18/18

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Shelby Hopes to Play Sandusky on Thursday

Shelby has only played once over the last week and that is going to lead to some things down the road.

The Whippets beat Marion Harding (6-1) on Saturday. Since then there has been a lot of rain and snow and wind and everything you can think of weather wise.

Coach Jon Amicone says it has really prevented them from making some decisions they need to make. “It is tough on our guys, tough on the coaches. You can’t even practice outside, you are indoors, you are in the cage. You do the things you can do inside, the detail oriented things. There is nothing like real game like reps. It is tough on everyone. We still have to stretch out some other pitchers. We still have competition for some important positions. Our guys are just kind of waiting their turn. Guys that are competing for the same position are just going to have to wait until we get to later on in the season and we can play more games and really identify not only lineups, but positions,” said Amicone.

Pitching depth might be more important this year than ever. Amicone says they are trying to develop some of that. “One of the things about the new pitch rules it is just going to be tough. A lot of teams, including ours, we just have to develop that pitching depth. Two weeks from now you will be playing your sixth game in five days. That is just the reality of the situation with doubleheaders on Saturdays. It’s a shame because the quality of baseball is just going to drop,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You are probably going to have kids that aren’t ready to pitch at the varsity level yet. That is kind of the cards all teams are dealt, not just us, it’s all teams. As coaches in North Central Ohio we do a nice job of trying to develop players and pitchers to compete at a high level. Because games are getting pushed back you have to get depth and kids have to grow up quickly.”

Shelby is scheduled to play at Sandusky in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Thursday. It would be the Whippets first league game.

Amicone says they have to be ready to play some small ball against the Blue Streaks. “Sandusky has some athletes. You are always concerned when you play Sandusky it doesn’t matter what their record is. They always come to the ballpark ready to play. They are going to put the pressure on you, they don’t strike out much. They are going to put the ball in play and when they are on the bases they are built around speed. They are going to go first to third. They are going to steal bases. They are very productive on the base paths. That is something that we really focused on in practice on (Wednesday.) Making sure we keep guys on bases, making sure we know bunt coverage and our steal coverages and try to be prepared the best we can for Sandusky,” said Amicone.

Published 4/05/18

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Shelby Edges Clear Fork

In a battle between traditional baseball powers, Shelby went to Clear Fork and beat the Colts (3-1) in a non-conference baseball game on Monday evening.

Of course, this will be a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game starting next spring.

Shelby coach Jon Amicone knows they came away with a big time win on the road against a team that has been in the division three state final four the last two years. “It was a big win for us. Anytime you are able to a get a win against a great program like Clear Fork that is always going to be a good win. Our kids did a nice job (Monday) in the opener doing the right things moving runners, being productive, throwing strikes and playing good defense behind them. This game was fun. Anytime you play Clear Fork there is just a different energy to a game, there is a different vibe. Being the first game for both teams I was pleasantly surprised by how competitive this game got and it was fun to be part of,” said Amicone.

Shelby’s top two pitchers from last year both graduated in Garrett Caudill and Brennan Armstrong. However, Amicone says senior Tanner Elliot was outstanding against the Colts. “Tanner Elliot, our senior, gave us five really, really strong innings. He is going to be the guy that we lean on a little bit this year. I know when you are holding Clear Fork to one run your pitcher is doing a really nice job because that doesn’t happen, they are such good hitters. They are talented and they are well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I was very pleased with Tanner, he had a nice three pitch mix. He felt really comfortable throwing the curveball and the changeup and the fastball at anytime in the count. When you throw three pitches at anytime in the count and that makes it really tough on hitters. He really carried the team for the first game.”

It was a day for pitching and defense, but Amicone says they did a very good job of the little things and getting into position to score the runs they needed to win the game. “We only had four hits, but we were able to move runners with bunts. We did a nice job with dirt ball reads, advancing bases reading balls in the dirt, I was pleased with our reads of balls in the dirt. You have to manufacture runs the best you can. Runs are hard to come by, especially against Clear Fork. Our guys did a nice job accepting that challenge and really doing the small things to scratch across runs because they were hard to come by,” he said.

Published 3/27/18

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Shelby Working in Some New Players

Shelby competed well in the last year of the Northern Ohio League and even though they are younger they won’t be quiet in their only year in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Second year coach Natalie Huggins says they have a lot to replace, but the players have done some things to put a smile on her face. “We are very young. We graduated six seniors last year, five that started, and we are trying very hard to fill those holes,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have done a very nice job of working hard and working together and having good comradery as far as being happy for our teammates as we would be for ourselves. So far, we have seen good things, we just haven’t been able to test those good things out as far as getting out on the field too much and getting any kind of competition in.”

The weather has been less than cooperative last couple weeks in terms of getting out on the field. However, Natalie says they were able to get out on the field and scrimmage her dad’s squad last Friday. “We did get to scrimmage Colonel Crawford on Friday. It was only 34 degrees, but the sun was shining. When we could stay in the sun we were good to go. So, we were able to get out against them and we liked a lot of what we saw. It is always a good time sharing the field with my dad,” she said.

What are the chances that Shelby and Colonel Crawford will ever play during the regular season? Natalie says pretty much zero. “I would love to and he would not love to and we obviously have different thoughts on that. We are respectful of each other’s thoughts and it will not be happening as long as he is coaching because he is very set on us not playing. We will scrimmage every year. We will combine our teams in fall ball and that kind of stuff, but that is a game we will just have to wish for,” said Huggins.

Published 3/20/18

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Shelby Takes on Number One Seed Vermilion

It is a very deep district tournament this year in division two and a good example is the sectional final match up Friday night at Willard High School between Shelby and Vermilion.

Vermilion is the top seed and has won 19 games and Shelby is the eighth seed, but they have won 14 games.

Shelby (14-8) has won six of its last eight against good competition, including a last second (52-51) win over Perkins on Friday, and coach Troy Schwemley feels they are playing well. “We have had a good schedule throughout the year with a lot of close games, some we found a way to win and some we didn’t. When you look at how we ended the season I thought we ended on some real positives and headed the right direction. We found a way to win our last game and hopefully we can build on that and find a way to win our game against Vermilion,” he said.

Vermilion (19-4), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Bellevue (65-53) on Tuesday in a first round game.

Schwemley says they have good depth and do a lot of things well. “They really are a very solid team. They play a lot of guys. They move really well. They have three guys that are their main scorers with Joby Pfeil, a first team all district player that is averaging 16.3. Mason Montgomery, averaging 16.7 and then and their point guard is averaging 8.1. Those three are consistently their leading scorers and they have other guys that contribute night in and night out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It seems like if you look at their games they always have one or two guys that find ways to contribute. Reece Miller was the guy that did that in their tournament game. He had around 10 points and they have a lot of guys that play hard not just offensively, but defensively and they pressure you and find ways to break you down.”

Pushing the pace of the game is something Sailors like to do and get some easy looks, but Schwemley says the execute well in the half court too. “They really move well. They are kind of like a five out motion like team, but they run some screens off it. It just seems like they are just solid all around. They make good decisions. That was evident in their last regular season game against Sandusky, a real close game, and down the stretch they made some big shots and found a way to win. When you are 19-4 you have found some ways to win and have played lots of different styles of teams. No matter who they have played they have matched up well against them,” said Schwemely.

Published 3/01/18

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Shelby Looking for Momentum

For the Shelby Whippets it is hard to hide the disappointment that this season could have been better, but also that there are games to play that provide a chance to prove how good they are capable of being.

The Whippets (13-8,7-4) plays at Sandusky Perkins (12-9,6-5) in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

Shelby beat Tiffin Columbian (64-35) in a division game on Friday night, but their chance to move into a share of first place was dashed when Sandusky beat Norwalk (50-39) in another division game to claim the title.

Coach Troy Schwemley says it’s really simple they lost too many games to give themselves a real chance to win the title. “We have talked about some things this week. There have been some good things that we have done this year, but I think we are kind of disappointed where we are at. We would liked to have had a shot at the league title. When it comes down to you are not really going to have much of a chance losing that many,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We kind of had a chance, but we didn’t control our own destiny and we needed help and didn’t do enough things against teams we needed to beat. That goal of winning the league title has fallen through. Saturday night against Ontario we didn’t take care of business. It was a chance to win a quality game against a good local opponent. There have been some good things but, there have been some disappointing things.”

Ontario beat the Whippets (55-52) on Saturday night.

Perkins has also been part of the Lake Division race as was everybody really with the exception of Tiffin. Schwemley says they want to build some momentum. “With the Perkins game it is about finishing the season, finishing the season strong and controlling what we can because the next step is tournament play. We have to focus on not just looking ahead at the tournament. We want to finish the season strong so we have some momentum going into the tournament,” he said.

In fact, Schwemley says the Whippets and Pirates have really had comparable seasons including a close game won by Shelby (54-53) on January 15 on a last second shot by Uriah Schwemley, son of the coach. “I would say they are kind of similar to us as far as they have had a good season. Maybe lost some games they could’ve, should’ve won. We beat them on a buzzer beater, they lost a game in overtime against Sandusky. Their season could be different in terms of this game could have been a game deciding the league. I think both of us are approaching this game the same as far as a chance to finish the season on a good note then move on to the next step. It is a very quality, good team that we are playing at their place,” said Schwemley.

Published 2/21/18

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Shelby Meets Willard for Third Time

Shelby plays Willard in the division two sectional semi finals at Monroeville High School on Tuesday night. It is their third meeting and second in just over a week.

The Lady Flashes (18-5), #4 in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, won last Monday (62-46) at Willard.

Lady Whippets (7-15) coach Natalie Lantz says there shouldn’t be any surprises. “We are old rivals. We have played each other twice now, including last week. We do know each other. You never know they might have some tricks up their sleeve. We have had a couple of games in between. We haven’t had a whole lot of time to spend on them, but hopefully we are prepared enough to put ourselves in the game and have a chance,” she said.

In regard to last week, Lantz says more than anything they have to be more consistent and everything they do. “Watching the game film back it was definitely not one of our best games. There are some things we did well and things we need to work on. We just weren’t consistent in the things we did well in executing our offense and boxing out and a lot of the little things I think can make a difference in a game like this. We talked about those things. Hopefully, we can step out and perform a little bit better consistently for four quarters (Tuesday) night,” said Lantz.

Willard also beat Shelby (52-47) on December 2, just a couple of weeks into the season.

Lantz says is very familiar with the Willard personnel and she says they have talent across the board beginning with point guard Madie Secor. “She is a nice quick guard. She has a great outside shot. She handles to the ball well. They have Cassie Crawford, who is very athletic. She can play guard and forward. You are Wiers that is extremely tall and gets up and down the floor. You have Feltner inside and Vipperman that can shoot,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have two off the bench with starting experience as well. They have a lot of depth, they have a lot of experience, which is something our girls don’t have. We lost basically 50 points a game from last year. I think we have come a long way this year. If we come out and play confident. We have seen Willard twice and I think that will help us going into (Tuesday) night’s game.”

Published 2/20/18

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Shelby Has to Take Care of Business

Shelby is one game back of Sandusky in the Lake Division standings in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

They are in a must win situation at Tiffin Columbian (3-16,0-10) on Friday night.

Norwalk, who is tied with Shelby for second, plays Sandusky this week.

Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says it doesn’t matter what happens in that game if they don’t beat Tiffin. “We have to take care of our game first. We certainly need some help, but it doesn’t matter if we don’t take care of Tiffin. They are a team that has played some close games lately. They are getting better. They are getting a little more healthy as the season went on. They have been missing some players do to injury that are playing now. They are a team that is trying to get things right at the end of the year and we are kind of in the same boat. Everybody is in that boat right now where you have a couple of games left before the tournament and you are trying to finish the season strong,” he said.

Shelby (12-7,6-4) beat Columbian (59-32) on January 6 and Schwemley says they were able to force a lot of turnovers. “When you think back to our first game we really turned them over pretty good. Our defense got some steals and really created some offense for us. In a game like that you have to be careful to not overlook what we did well in that game and that was really pressure the guards and turn them over and doing things like that are what helped to propel us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Going on the road we need to play with great intensity and not overlook them because of their record. They have Todd Simmons back, who is an important player for them. They have guys that can hit threes. Watching a recent game against Bellevue I think they hit three or four threes in a row. They have got guys that are capable scorers and they have a big guy inside with Smith. It is one of those things where we have to do what we do to get out to a good start and take care of business.”

The Whippets have won four of their last five and Schwemley says their execution of the elements of the game has been pretty good. “I think we have been doing a lot of little things well. Moving the ball better offensively, keeping the ball moving and being aggressive with that. It seems like when you are playing good defense and rebounding and when you are moving the ball on offense that is what we need to do to be successful. We have shown signs of that and we need to keep that going we have a double weekend again at Tiffin on Friday and then our last home game with Ontario on Saturday night and we want to finish strong and keep playing well,” said Schwemley.

Ontario (11-7) pays a visit to Shelby in Saturday night. Schwemley says that will be another pretty good test. “They are a team that has had some success. It is a little unique with them making the move into the “MOAC” because normally by now I have seen more the them whether it is on film or things like that. It is awkward not seeing Ontario is some our league games that I am scouting. Ontario-Shelby has been a great rivalry. They are kind of in a similar situation to what we are they are trying to keep themselves playing strong and finish the season well going into the tournament,” he said.

Published 2/15/18

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Madison Downs Whippets

Madison outscored Shelby (29-21) in the second half and pulled away to a (57-47) win in non-conference boys’ basketball game on Saturday night at Shelby High School.

Madison took an 11-point lead (44-33) with 1:16 to play in the third quarter as Kyle Jackson punctuated a six-point Ram run with a dunk. Shelby cut it to six twice in the fourth quarter, the last time at (49-43) with 5:41 to play in the game, but could get no closer.

There was a smile on the face of Madison coach Tim Mergel after the game. “It has taken some time, but the kids are starting to understand a little bit. I just see a lot more unity than I have seen in pervious parts of the season. This weekend was a good weekend, it was a fun weekend. The kids had fun and obviously when you win it is fun, but there was something different with the chemistry (Saturday) night. Our kids were a joy to watch,” said Mergel.

Madison shot 42 percent (19-40) for the game and Shelby coach Troy Schwemley his team did not do a very good job on defense. “Jackson’s are the easiest to remember because he finished them with a dunk. Our defensive rotation wasn’t real good. They shot the ball well from the perimeter. We still have to defend on our closeouts, breakdown, and then take away the drives. It seemed like either we didn’t close out hard or if they did drive we didn’t rotate like we needed to,” he said.

The Rams made 8-19 three point attempts, Shelby was just 4-19 on the night.

Mergel says they have guys that can stroke it, it has just been a matter of getting them the ball in the right spots and they were able to do that against Shelby. “We have some kids that can shoot it. Our struggle has been moving the basketball to those shooters and getting them in shooting spots and (Saturday) night we were able to that. (Friday) night we did it, we just didn’t shoot it at a very high percentage. When the ball moves good things happen and that was the case for us,” said Mergel.

Jackson led Madison with 16 points and three dunks, Mason Campbell added 15 and Shamir Brown 12. Brown made 4-7 three point attempts.

Madison (11-8) beat West Holmes (53-47) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Friday night. Mergel believes they took some leaps forward this weekend. “Every week I talk about we take little steps, this weekend we took pretty big steps defensively. We had guys that showed urgency defensively. We had guys that took up ownership of people they guarded and we were rewarded for it. We are past the little steps now, we have to start taking big steps and we did (Saturday) night,” he said.

Shelby (12-7) beat Norwalk (50-48) in a good Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night. The Whippets scored only four points in the last five minutes of the game versus Madison. Schwemley says they were tired, but that is no excuse for their performance on the floor. “When the officials come over to you and say you have two tired teams out there playing that is pretty good indication that they sense the energy level or lack of. I think the disappointing part is Madison played (Friday) night too and you want to see some fight, you want to see some toughness out of your kids,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “It is going to be a grind of a game when you play back to back. We play about seven guys and we have played a lot of games in a few weeks. No excuses I felt like we needed to be a little more tuff (Saturday) night. Our team energy wasn’t what it needed to be to be successful.”

Madison is one of two schools we cover in the division one district in the Northwest District and Mergel says with a lower seed they have to be ready for almost anything. “With 21 teams up there in our district you don’t know what you are going to get. You might get an up tempo team that likes to pressure you. You might get a big, tall team that likes to set in the half court. You have to be prepared for anything, which our conference does a good job with and our non conference schedule,” he said.

Uriah Schwemley had 16 for the Whippets, Brady Hill added 13.

Published 2/10/18

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Shelby With Opportunity Against Norwalk

Shelby stands a game behind “SBC” Lake Division co-leaders Norwalk and Sandusky and they host the Truckers on Friday night in a critical league game for both sides.

After losing four in a row, the Whippets have now won their last three, one of those being a (69-62) win over Bellevue last Saturday in a Lake Division game. They beat longtime rival Willard (76-58) in a rescheduled game on Monday.

Coach Troy Schwemley says he likes what he sees. “We have won three in a row. We had that little four game stretch where we lost four games, but we were battling in them and playing hard. I think we have done some good things lately and hopefully we can keep that going,” he said.

Shelby (11-6,5-4) plays at home against Norwalk (10-7,6-3) on Friday night. The Truckers own a seven game winning streak, including a (54-41) win over Bellevue in a league game last Thursday.

Schwemley believes Norwalk point game Brandon Haraway is the engine that makes the Truckers go. “He is a guy that just makes everybody better around him. He does a lot of things. He handles the ball. He distributes the ball. He has a good sense of the game knowing when he needs to score and who has the hot hand. He is one of those guys that just seems to make everybody better around him,” he said.

Shelby beat Norwalk (42-31) on January 4 and the Truckers have only lost once since then and that was two days later to Sandusky (71-60) in division play.

Schwemley says they played great defense that night and they have to do that again Friday and more. “They do a lot of good things. Brandon, obviously, can push the tempo and attack and create in free lancing sorts of things. Like all coach Gray coached teams they do a great job of executing when they need to run certain things or counter certain things. I think there are certain things he has been running for a long time and they do them really well. We need to do a good job defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The first time we played them we really defended well. It was a really low scoring game. We defended well and took care of the ball. In that game we got off to a nice start, which allowed us to kind of dictate the tempo and now playing into their hands. I think us getting off to a good start is important, but we have to play four quarters and 32 minutes.”

After Friday night, the Whippets have two division games left, Tiffin Columbian and Sandusky Perkins, and Schwemley says if they want a piece of the title they must win on Friday night. “We can’t afford to lose another game. We are game behind Norwalk and Sandusky. If we are able to beat Norwalk then everybody is chasing Sandusky. I think Norwalk turns around and plays Sandusky here in a week or two. From our standpoint we have got to take care of the Norwalk game. We can’t afford to lose another game, but there are enough games left that if we do our part and get a little help then we will have a shot at the end of the season,” he said.

Published 2/08/18

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Shelby has to Learn From Mistakes

Shelby lost two more games last week that they could have won, something that has been consistent with the Whippets over the last couple of weeks.

Shelby plays at Wynford in a non-conference game on Thursday night and at Bellevue in a Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division on Saturday night.

They lost to Clyde (68-57) in a Lake Division game last Friday and (45-41) to Lexington on Saturday.

Coach Troy Schwemley says last week sounds like a broken record and they have to press some new groves. “I watched the film and sometimes you need a break. I know that there are times when you make your own breaks and you have to make things happen, but then there are times that you need a break. There were times in both games where we take the lead in the fourth quarter and battle back from deficit and on the next possession the other teams hit those shots that are maybe a 50 percent and they miss it then we have a chance at a rebound and maybe get the possession. When I am stating those games and watching them it seems every time right now when another team has a shot we are just not catching any breaks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There are things we have to do better you just can’t set there and hope for other teams to make mistakes or things like that. We have to do some things better and take care of the ball and help ourselves out a little more. There have been sometimes when it seems we can’t catch a break.”

Shelby plays at Wynford (7-7) in a non-conference game on Thursday. The Royals had won four straight until a (65-46) loss to Colonel Crawford last Saturday. Schwemley says it is time to start winning. “It is two teams just trying to right the ship and find a way to win. We have lost four games in a row here where we battled and had the lead at some point in the fourth quarter and they are in the same situation just trying to find some success. We are a little above .500 and they are at .500. It is teams trying to play well at the right time of year. For us that is our approach right now respecting the talent they have. We know we are going to have to go over there and play hard and no one is just going to give us anything at this point, we have to take it and hopefully we can do that Thursday night,” he said.

Shelby (8-6,4-4) plays at Bellevue (7-6,3-4) on Saturday night in a Lake Division game. Bellevue beat Shelby (56-55) on December 29. Schwemley says that is the kind of game they have to start winning. “I look back at that game and that was kind of a game where I felt we let one get away. We had a six, seven point lead and some things all went wrong in the fourth quarter and those were mistakes that we made and they capitalized on it and made some shots down the stretch. We had some opportunities in that one. We made some mistakes that ended up biting us. Going there on Saturday night we realize we can’t fall back any more in the league. We know it is kind of an outside shot now. It has been a league where teams have been beating up on each other. The only thing we can control is how do we play. We have to go to Bellevue on Saturday night and fix some of those things we have talked about and learn how to win again. I think it is a game that we can do that, but we have to play for four quarters and the guys have to make plays down the stretch and learn from the mistakes that have cost us like in that Bellevue game,” said Schwemley.

Published 2/01/18

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Shelby to be Challenged by both Clyde and Lexington

After losses to two quality opponents last week, Shelby is looking at the same scenario this week with a league game at home against Clyde on Friday an a non conference game against “OCC” powerhouse Lexington on the road on Saturday.

Last week, they lost a tough one to Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division leader Sandusky (59-56) and to unbeaten Mansfield St. Peter’s (50-44) in a non-conference game on Saturday.

Coach Troy Schwemley says they had a chance to win both games.

He says they rallied to take the lead against the Blue Streaks. “The hard part is there are a lot of plays you look back at and you kind of question decisions you make as a coach, should we have called a time out? Should we have ran that? The had part as I reflect on the Sandusky game. We battled back and we took the lead. We were down at halftime by double digits. I think we have the ball with under a minute to go only down one, which is the exact same situation we were in on Monday, but we turned the ball over. It is one of those situations where what worked on Monday it didn’t work on Friday. I think the disappointing thing is you want an opportunity to at least get a shot. We turned it over and had to foul and end up losing by three,” said Schwemley.

He says against St. Peter’s it was much the same thing. “Then the same with St. Peter’s. That game was a game where I think we were down one at halftime and then we tied it late. I think we scored five unanswered points to tie it and Elijah Cobb gets it out of bounds and races down the floor and hits a little foater in the lane to take the lead back. It is one of those where we had the momentum and he steps up and makes the big play to take it right back from us. It was little plays like that where we didn’t quite make that one more play when we really needed to,” he said.

Clyde (7-5,3-4) beat Shelby (8-4,4-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, (64-54) in a Lake Division game on December 21. They beat Perkins (74-51) last Friday and lost to Norwalk (65-51) on Saturday.

Schwemley says the Fliers play a different kind of style than just about anyone else. “They pressure and they have multiple guys that can score. They really are very explosive. They have a lot of guys that can shoot the three. When you look at the matchups we kind of knew going in with Sandusky and St. Peter’s who the scorers were. Clyde is a totally different animal. They have multiple guys that can shoot the three, many guys that score points,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Derek Harris averaging 15.5 is their leading scorer, but Seth Holman is averaging 13.7 and Cameron Farrer is averaging 12.5 and it us not just those guys. They have other guys that contribute and shoot and score. It is kind of a different game plan. We have to really take care of the ball and make sure we are kind of guarding everybody, but still limit their main scorers.”

Lexington (10-4), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, is coming off a big win over talented Colonel Crawford (50-41) last Saturday.

Schwemley says you have to contain Cade Stover, who got 32 against Crawford, without leaving the other guys wide open. “There is no time for us to feel sorry for ourselves when you look at our matchups this week. We have Clyde at home. We really need to win that to keep a game behind Sandusky and then we have Lexington on Saturday. We are going to have to defend Stover, but it is not just him. They have other guys that can hurt you. They have other shooters that get hot and they really play good, physical team basketball. They are kind of another team that you really can’t focus on one guy, but Cade Stover draws a lot of attention, but they have other guys that can score. We are going to have to in that night defend and rebound and take care of the ball. Perimeter defense is something we didn’t do really well on Friday and Saturday. There were shots that were open looks, but we got a little careless sometimes and we are going to have to get high percentage shots on Saturday against Lexington,” said Schwemley.

Published 1/24/18

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Shelby Faces Rematch with Talented and Improved Sandusky

It is a log jam a top the standings in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with Shelby, Sandusky, and Perkins all in a share of first place with Bellevue, Clyde, and Norwalk just a game back.

Wow!!

Shelby plays at home against Sandusky on Friday night.

They beat Perkins (54-53) on Monday night when Uriah Schwemley scored at the horn.

Coach Troy Schwemley says their focus was great for a Monday night and they were able to make a big play at the end. “When you look at just the prior weekend too. We practiced Thursday getting ready for Perkins on Friday. We knew the weather was coming in and Friday’s game gets moved to Monday. Then our Willard game on Saturday gets cancelled. When you practice Thursday and you don’t do anything until Monday I was a little nervous going into the game as far as where we were at because we had had that long weekend. We talked before the game and said guys at the end of the night we are either going to be tied for first or we are going to be two games back and we can’t make any excuses about not having practice time we have to come our ready to play and I really felt we did. We came out and were ahead the whole game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had a couple of stretches where we extended the lead to 10 or 11, but Perkins kept battling and made some plays down the stretch and it kind of went back and forth there right until the last basket. We did a nice job of getting the ball to Uriah and he took to the paint and had a great finish at the buzzer to get us a win.”

Shelby (8-2,4-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Sandusky (68-63) when they played them December 15 at Sandusky. The Blue Streaks (8-4,5-2), #5 in our poll, lost only twice since that and not at all in the league. They beat Bellevue (66-52) on Tuesday.

Schwemley says they have really good guards that are the engine for the team. “Their guards Tosh Stavisky, Keith Williams, and Dillon Jones just make them go. Williams is averaging about 18, Stavisky is around 12 and Jones is around 14. Stavisky and Jones are sophomores. They are really aggressive and are nice shooters. Those three are their guys. They take threes, they will attack. I think they are most dangerous when they are attacking and either creating for themselves, each other, or for other players. Their other guys are role players. They take their roles. They get some garbage buckets. They are a team where their guards make them go. They have a lot of guys that come in and play hard. They have really figured themselves out. They are a different team than when we played the first time,” said Schwemley.

Then on Saturday night, the Whippets host Mansfield St. Peter’s (13-0), #1 in our small school poll. Schwemley says the Spartans are going to be another of what is a long line of contenders. “We are getting ready for Sandusky. Our focus is on Sandusky and when Friday night is over it will be move to St. Pete’s, who is undefeated and having a great season. We have had some battles the last couple of years and it has been a great rivalry. So, we are going to have to get ready for them Saturday morning. You go back to Monday and we had this great win Monday and it is get ready for the next team and we both tied for the lead and Saturday night we get St. Pete’s next. Then you look at next week and we have Clyde and Lexington on the schedule. Our focus has got to be one game at a time and put every once of energy into that one game and when that game is over move on to the next one and that is how it has got to be,” said Schwemley.

Published 1/18/18

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Shelby Can Land in First Place

Shelby can move into a share of first place in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with a win at home on Friday night over first place Sandusky Perkins.

The Whippets (7-2,3-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, got wins over Norwalk (42-31) last Thursday and Tiffin Columbian (59-32) on Saturday to keep right in the conference race.

Coach Troy Schwemley says Friday night is a big opportunity for them. “We were pleased how we finished the Christmas break beating Norwalk at their place, holding them to 31 points, and beating Tiffin Columbian, and with the way some of the other league games have went, I think maybe it is what we expected as far as the league was going to be very tough. We are in a situation where we play Perkins on Friday and they have one league loss and we’ve got two. We are in a situation where if we can knock them off it puts us back in a tie for first. We feel like we would like to have a couple of those games back, but we can’t control that, but we can control Friday night and how we play. We have chance to really put ourselves in a good position,” said Schwemley.

Perkins (6-4,4-1) has lost its last three to Brunswick (54-42) and Wadsworth (51-48) in a holiday tournament and Sandusky (60-59) in overtime in a league last week.

Schwemley says the Pirates are still very good and they have great balance. “They average three guys in double figures, Bennett McCune is averaging around 14 a game, Jacob Voight around 12 and then Helmut Wheeler around 11. They really have a nice blend. Wheeler plays more inside, he is a nice post player that works hard, he gets a lot of points in the paint, and those other two guys can really shoot the ball well. They really have nice balance with their personnel and the things they do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They play hard. All of their games have been close. They are 4-1 in the league and they have had a lot of close games. I hate to sound like a broken record, but we are going to have to play great defense, rebound and be efficient on offense. We are playing a very good basketball team.”

Shelby and Perkins have similar personnel and Schwemley says this is another game that is likely going to come down to the end, something both sides are used to this year. “With us we are a very similar type team. We have three guys averaging double figures with Uriah (Schwemley) leading us with 15, Hunter Hoffman is at 14, Brady Hill is around 12. We have other guys in Carter Brooks and Tanner Stevens that have also had double figure here and there. Nick Amstutz and Cameron Stein come off the bench and do a nice job for us. A lot of games are about matchups and I think this game is intriguing because we are very similar type teams. We both have some bigs, we both have some guards that can score. It is going to be a game where you look at it coming in it is a game that should be a pretty close game going down to the wire,” said Schwemley.

Published 1/10/18

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Shelby Must Work For Good Shots

Shelby faces a must win game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference as they travel to Norwalk on Thursday night.

The Whippets are already two games behind Sandusky Perkins in the division race and third loss drops them out of contention.

They really thought they should have beaten Bellevue last Friday, but instead lost (56-55) to Redmen in a division game. Coach Troy Schwemley says they can let that feeling linger, but they have to learn from it too. “You have to ready for the next game and put it behind us. You don’t really want to dwell on it, but there are things from it that you want to work on and get better at. There are things you want to address and teach the team if we do a couple of little things in that game that game could have turned out differently, but you have to move on to the next opponent,” he said.

Norwalk (3-5,2-1) hosts the Whippets (5-2,1-2) on the Thursday night. Shelby also plays Tiffin Columbian (1-6,0-3) at home on Saturday night.

Norwalk is a team that has played a lot of low scoring games and likes to control the tempo of the game. Schwenley says they want to pick their sports to run, but it is not something they want to do for 32 minutes. “We want our defense and rebounds to turn into easy offense, but we not a team that I would say can consistently run up and down with our depth and the number of guys that we play. We play about six, seven guys a game, so we have to be careful that we just don’t run carelessly,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We want our defense and rebounding to get us some run outs and things like that, but we also want to get high percentage shots on the offensive end. That is something we still want to do and are learning when to be patient and when to run and when to take quick shots.”

Execution is the key no matter where the Whippets have the ball. Schwemely says in the half court they have to move better without the ball and that will be critical against Norwalk. “They always do a great job of rotating on the ball and help side defense. No matter what personnel they have had they have always done a good job of that. We are going to have to move the ball and work together and work without the ball. I think that is something we are still working on is guys moving without the basketball. It is easy to want to score with the ball in your hands, but you have do things away from the ball that draw those defenders away to get the guys with the ball opportunities to get good looks,” said Schwemley.

Published 1/04/18

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Execution in the Open Floor for Shelby

Shelby plays at home for the first time as a member of the Sandusky Bay Conference when they host the Bellevue Redmen on Friday night in a Lake Division game.

After losing for the first time to Clyde (64-54) last Thursday in a Lake Division game, the Whippets beat Ashland (65-58) last Saturday in non-conference play.

Coach Troy Schwemley says they were able to get things going early in the game. “I was especially happy with how we started. We jumped out real quick and really played well in the first half. We lost to Clyde on Thursday and then you turn around and have a game on Saturday against Ashland, who as we talked to out kids don’t look at their record they are a very good team and they had played a lot of good opponents and just been on the short end. I was real happy with how we jumped out and we were up 14, 15 points at halftime,” he said.

Bellevue (3-2,1-1) is at Shelby (4-1,1-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday night. They lost at Ontario in the same holiday tournament Shelby was in, to Mansfield Madison (78-68) on Saturday.

Trey Ruhlman has 26 points against Madison and he is one of the best point guards in the district. Schwemley says a lot of things go through him, but he is not their only scorer. “He is averaging around 23 points a game. He really does a great job of handling the ball and getting shots off and they are typically high percentage shots. He really does a great job of creating for himself, but coach Rich does an excellent job of running certain actions and plays and things that get him or other guys open looks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The hard thing with them is if you have too much focus on one guy and they have guys that have varsity experience coming back with the Waskielis kid that is averaging around 13 a game and Marshall is around 11 and Vogel is around nine, so they have got four guys that are almost in double figures or above. Ruhlman makes them go, but they have other guys that can hurt you that you have to pay a lot of attention to.”

Bellevue like to force the tempo and Schwemley says they want to be able to take advantage of their opportunities to score on the fast break. “In that Madison game you saw a variety of presses and some zone action that they were doing. They pressure defensively and when you are being aggressive defensively you are a high risk, high reward type of thing. We are hoping we can take advantage of things and get some offensive looks and some high percentage shots offensively, but you have to take care of the ball and then defensively anytime good offense is good defense, by scoring and finishing that helps to protect us defensively. We have to do that because they have some guys that can get out and run and they can kind of play both ways. They can attack you in transition and they do a nice job in the half court running some sets and some things to get their shooters open,” said Schwemley.

Published 12/28/17

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Armstrong Says it’s Virginia

Shelby quarterback Brennan Armstrong made it official on Wednesday he is going to the University of Virginia to continue his football career and his education.

He says they Cavaliers made it feel like home. “I think it was best fit for me because of the family feel they have in the university. It comes natural. They don’t have to fake it. All of the guys have wives and kids. They understand what is like to be a family and they just bring that over to the football program,” said Armstrong.

He is the most decorated quarterback in Shelby’s history hold all or at least most of the career and single game passing records.

Armstrong, a duel threat quarterback, says he like what the Cavaliers are trying to get established. “The offensive style they are going to be running. They showed be the BYU film from a couple years ago where they coached. They run a lot of the read option things that they want to incorporate now in Virginia,” he said.

Armstrong also believes he has made the right choice when it comes to the books. “Just the academic side of it. If something happens to me in football, anything can happen one play at a time and I think the University of Virginia degree I am going to have will set me up for life and want to do,” he said.

Earlier this year, Armstrong has committed to Minnesota, but he says they made him a little uncomfortable. “They got a preferred walk on. I talked to the coaches just trying to figure out what they wanted to do with that. They were cool I happy with Minnesota and I was fine with that. Then at the time Virginia got a word and they started to contact me again,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I started talking to them a little bit. Long relations came back. So, I had some doubts, so I went back and really thought about it an made my decision with Virginia.”

When it comes to playing time, Armstrong was he has been made no promises, but he thinks he will get a chance to play. “They really haven’t talked about it much. They haven’t talked about redshirting. I think they just want me to go in there and earn everything I want to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Go in there and work as hard as I possibly can. Right now, it I kind of open they have some guys there. If I go in there are work hard I think I will be in good shape.”

Shelby football coach Erik Will says he new he had a special player early on in the process. “I would say for me when I watched him play for the first time in the eighth grade. I remember going down to Skiles Field ad he is 14 years old and I had heard about him. We had had him in camp and you can see it, but now you could see him with the pads on and watching him run the first thing I thought of was, I believe it was the first week they were playing, the first thing that came to my mind was, and I told our staff, if this was Kentucky he would be a five year starter because he was that good as an eighth grader. Not just because he was athletic because he was 6’1”, 185 pounds in the eighth grade, his body was mature and he was mature beyond his years,” said Will.
He says there is no question Brennan is a hard worker based on what he has seen and that is going to be a plus for him. “The thing I appreciate the most about him we had a talk coming into his freshman year that nothing will be given, everything will be earned. If you are as good as everybody says you are. If you are an elite athlete it is going to be the work ethic, that is the unseen thing that is going to catapult you to the type of athlete you can be. I can tell you this, he works as hard as anybody I have coached,” he said.

Published 12/21/17

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Shelby Handling Pressure

In two of their three games so far the Shelby Whippets have faced a lot of pressure and they have handled it pretty well, in fact, really well, and that is going to be important this week.

They play at Clyde in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Thursday.

They beat Sandusky, the defending division two district champion, (68-63) last week. They had broken Upper Sandusky’s 49-game regular season winning streak (68-59) the week before.

Coach Troy Schwemley says they have been able to handle the press without a bunch of turnovers. “As far as our start goes we are obviously off to a good start and I and really happy with the guys. We are jelling quickly. When you look at the teams we have played in Willard and Upper Sandusky and Sandusky and I think the things that kind of stood out to me against Upper Sandusky and Sandusky both is those teams are really pressure teams. They like to pressure you up and down the floor. We have dealt with the pressure pretty good and taken care of the ball. With a little concern with our conditioning I think our guys have done a nice job of handling the pressure and knowing the difference between being under control and attacking and taking opportunity when those opportunities arise,” said Schwemley.

Shelby (3-0,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports,com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, play at Clyde (2-2,0-2) on Thursday night. The Fliers lost to Norwalk (53-48) last week.

Schwemley says this is a third straight team that is going to try and attack them with defensive pressure. “I think when I mentioned as far as Upper Sandusky and Sandusky, Clyde is almost like round three of playing another team that just pressures and pressures. They have really kind of shifted their style a little bit. Coach Fretz has a lot of nice athletes up there that really pressure you. He plays a lot of guys. Last year, when we played there I was very impressed with how hard they played and they had a lot of young guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think almost everybody is back from last year’s team. They have three guys averaging double figures (Derek) Harrah, he is around 15 a game, and (Camaron) Farrar around 14 and (Seth) Hohman around 11. Those are guys that can score, but it is not just those three. They have kind shifted there style. They play a lot of guys and pressure you in traps.”

With some veteran ballhandlers led by senior point guard Brady Hill, Schwemley says they have handled pressure, but he says it is tough to do in somebody’s else’s gym. “I am glad we have played the teams we have to kind of prepare us. Anytime you go on the road against a team that is thriving on trying to turn you over you have to be ready to play and we are going to have to up there,” he said.

Published 12/20/17

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Shelby Meets Talented Sandusky

Shelby travels north to Sandusky to face the Blue Streaks in a key early season matchup in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

It will be the Whippets (2-0,0-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, first division game of the season.

The Whippets took down the Upper Sandusky Rams (68-59) last Saturday in a non-conference game, ending the Rams 49 game regular season winning streak.

Coach Troy Schwemley says they made some shots and they did some very good things on defense. “We talked about going into the game as far as just working on some things, but we weren’t going to be real complicated and I thought we did the things we were trying to do pretty good. We did a nice job of executing of what we trying to do offensively. We mixed in few different looks. Defensively I think we played half court man the whole time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Upper does such a good job of playing different personnel and they rotate a lot of guys and I thought our guys got matched up pretty good. They weren’t always on the guys we had them matched up on, but we found guys petty good. We were doing a good job communicating and guarding someone and we have a lot of guys that are interchangeable, so that worked out pretty good.”

Sandusky (1-1,0-1,) the preseason favorite in the division, lost to (77-60) to Bellevue last week. However, Schwemley says the Streaks and still very good. He says they do what they always do. “They are doing the stuff that was successful for them. They have some guys back that scored points for them last year and had success. I would start with Keith Williams. He is averaging around 20 points a game right now. They really just switched to some different personnel. They are trying to do the same things as far as attacking you off the dribble. They keep things pretty simple as well. They play half court man and are aggressive in the passing lanes and really do a good job of trying to get some run outs on you and scoring some points,” he said.

Schwemley says they have to keep Sandusky out of the lane and he says they want to keep the ball in their hands and score. “You listen to coaches talk and the hardest thing to guard is the ball, dribbling, guys attacking and that is what they do so well. They mix in some ball screens, but they are so aggressive attacking off the dribble and then that creates for others. If you over rotate on them they will make extra passes, so you have to help the helper and be sound defensively. The things they do well we want to go in and stop and that is that dribble penetration. What also stops them offensively is good offense. If you are efficient on offense and take care of the ball and get high percentage shots it protects your defense. A good offense in this game will help to protect our defense,” said Schwemley.

Published 12/13/17

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Shelby Draws the Line at 49

Shelby broke Upper Sandusky’s regular season winning streak that stretched over parts of four seasons at 49 in a row on Saturday night as the Whippets took down Upper (68-59) in a non-conference game played in Shelby.

It was the Rams first regular season loss since these same Whippets beat them (87-80) on February 17, 2015, a space of 1,027 days.

Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says while breaking the streak is something for people to talk about, for them it was about improving to 2-0 on the young season. “For us this weekend, I knew going in it was going to be a tough weekend. It has been a long time since Upper has lost a regular season game and they return a lot of guys who have been on those teams and they know how to win. It seemed like everybody did a nice job of making big plays when we really needed it. I didn’t realize how many it had been. For us it was just game two of the season, but a big win none the less,” he said.

Carter Brooks scored on a twisting layup with 7:31 remaining in the first quarter and the Whippets never trailed in the game. Uriah Schwemley converted a field goal and a three to make it (7-2) Whippets with 6:41 left in the quarter. The lead grew to 13 (19-6) with 2:34 left in the quarter after a “Shorty” Brooks scored.

Schwemley thought that quick start was critical. “We had a great start. We jumped out early. We were really doing a lot of good things. If memory serves me right about three, four minutes into the first quarter their pressure started to wear on us. We started turning it over, turning it over, turning it over. Going into the game I think that was my fear,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They play three subs, eight guys, and they play so hard. I didn’t know where our legs were at. I mean with a week and half. I was a little bit worried because I knew I wasn’t going to able to sub as much as I wanted to this early in the year, but we were able to weather the storm.”

Shelby has runs of 10 and five in that first quarter and Upper Sandusky coach Jeff Winslow says they didn’t answer those runs and that did them in. “They are a really good basketball team. We said they are a team that is going to go on runs because they are good. I think the problem was we didn’t match at all. We can’t have them coming down and moving the ball and hitting open shots and making it tough on us defensively, but we have to score a little bit more at this end and we didn’t do that. We didn’t move the ball as well and had a couple of forced shots. If we just keep in close there it is a different ballgame. We dug ourselves a whole and is difficult to get out,” said Winslow.

The Whippets shot 56 percent (28-50) from the field on the night and made six of their 13 three point attempts. Schwemley thought they were very good on defense holing the Rams to 42 percent from the field and seven of 19 threes. He says that is what kept them in the lead. “We need to control what we can and if we can defend and rebound. As the season goes you hope to improve on executing the offense and things like that and I thought those were the things we did well. They got it close and I think Uriah hit a big shot. I can remember Carter (Brooks) getting some extra passes and some finishes. It seemed like about the time they were starting to get it close we had a big play by somebody and it was all different kinds of guys. Uriah stands out me because of the three he hit, but it was different guys all night. It just seemed like different guys came up with a big play when we needed it,” said Schwemley.

Upper made it game as good teams will in the second half, forcing a number of turnovers with their aggressive press. They cut the Shelby lead to as little as three twice in the fourth quarter at (55-52) with 4:57 left on an Evan Young hoop and (61-58) on a Jevon Dible goal with 2:15 left.

Winslow says they were not able to convert enough of those turnovers into baskets to get over the hump. “We talked to the guys that you have to be selfish when you get into the paint. You have to be selfish when it is two on one or three on two and we have to finish, especially late. I mean it is a six, five, four point game and we miss a couple of layups and we just can’t afford to miss those. I thought me missed some opportunities at the line to get back in it because we had them in four trouble there in the second half. For us to beat good teams you can’t do that. You may be able to get away with it against some other teams. This Shelby team is very good and you can’t,” said Winslow.

Uriah Schwemley led Shelby with 24, while Hunter Hoffman added 18, including the exclamation mark with a dunk with 35 seconds left. Dible had 26 markers for the Rams and Young added 10.

Coach Schwemley says his son Uriah has worked on his game and has become more of a perimeter threat. “He has worked on that. He didn’t shoot the ball real well last year and he has put in a lot of time. Anytime you have a player and I don’t care who it is, when they put in a lot of time you are happy for him. Any of my players are like my kids. When they put in the time and you see the results it makes you feel good as far as hard work pays off. I think he made some big shots for us,” he said.

Published 12/09/17

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Shelby Ready to Get Started

Shelby was one of the best football teams in the state this fall and now the Whippets are ready to start the basketball season.

They host Willard on Friday and Upper Sandusky on Saturday.

Coach Troy Schwemley says sure they would like to have more time, but with what have been given he believes they are going to be ready as possible to play basketball. “Ready or not we are going to be playing. We are going to be a week and half practice in. From the standpoint are we doing everything we can in a week and half to be ready, yeah, the guys have been working hard. If you look at it from the perspective of the weeks of practice we haven’t had you can’t make up for the four, four and half weeks of practice that everybody else has had. We are going to focus on the things we can control and trying to do a few things really well and that is what we can control,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have been doing a lot of good things. We were able to scrimmage Norwalk St. Paul, who is in the same boat. I felt good that we had a scrimmage and he have been able to see our guys a little bit. We have had a week in a half to get ready and do those things as best we can.”

Willard (0-2) will be the first opponent. The Flashes lost to Upper (60-49) last Friday and Lexington (80-39) on Saturday. Schwemley believes coach Joe Bedingfield is going to have them prepared. “I was able to see them play Upper Sandusky, which was a nice game to scout since we play both of them this weekend. I think the first set that they ran is something that I remember they have run before. I kind of had to chuckle and think oh wow how many sets am I going to see this game? I thought the guys played hard to the game and did a lot of good things. Obviously, Hirschy does a great job at whatever level of coaching he is doing. Those two will work well together and get the most out of their kids,” said Schwemley.

When it comes to Upper Sandusky (2-0) who finished they weekend with a (67-35) win over Tiffin Columbian on Saturday. Schwemley says you know what to expect with the Rams. “They pressure and trap and they spread you out. Coach Winslow has them playing hard. A lot of familiar faces from guys last year and I think their JV team was very successful last year too. They lost some of the guys they had last year too, but replaced them with some guys that had success on the JV level or varsity level last year,” he said.

With Sandusky looming next week, Schwemley thought it was important to get the season under way. “Both of those teams have two games under their belt and that is one of the reasons we are playing at some point there have to be no excuses we have to be ready to play, so in no way do I want to sound like we are not going to be. Next week, we go to Sandusky and I would rather have two games under our belt going into our first league game than pushing these games back. We did the same thing last year and there and some sacrifices, but it is the right thing to do. We are fortunate that we are not playing any triple weeks, so I am pretty happy how our schedule lined up,” he said.

Schwemley’s son Uriah played football and he was a big fan of the success they had on the football field and he hopes that transfers to the court. “I was thrilled with the football season. I am sure everybody wanted to play one more game and I really proud of those guys and what they did. A lot of those guys are now playing basketball when you look at Brady and Carter and Uriah and Nick and Grant, Devon Brooks, and Ty Hall. Those are guys that know how to work hard and believe in each other and play together. Hopefully, the things they did on the football field will help us on the basketball court. Then we have some guys in Hunter Hoffman, Tanner Stevens and Cameron Stein that have been practicing and now are joining those guys,” said Schwemley.

Published 12/06/17

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Shelby has to Cut Down on Turnovers

Shelby needs to take some steps forward as they play Lexington in their second game of the season on Tuesday night.

They lost to Madison (51-48) on Saturday night and coach Natalie Lantz says most of the night they were their own worst enemy. “I think the girls came out a little flat. Defensively we weren’t quite where we needed to be. It seemed like we were a little slow. We did force quite a few turnovers, but we turned the ball over quite a bit and the turnovers that we had the majority weren’t forced turnovers. I can live with forced turnovers. We talked about that with the team (Monday.) We don’t want to have unforced turnovers because those are a lot of lost opportunities. When we do play good defense and we have a chance for a bucket we have to take advantage and capitalize on those opportunities. I think that was something we focused on more (Monday) at practice in preparing for Lex. We are a young team. We lost six seniors from last year and a lot of experience. Now, we do have some back with experience,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “One kid that started half of the season last year. The kids are trying to get the right feel. We changed up a lot of things this year. We had some good take aways from Madison. There were maybe some first game jitters. We made some adjustments (Monday) at practice and hopefully we will see a chance (Tuesday) night.”

She said they made a lot of mistakes on Saturday night and Lantz hopes those were because they were nervous on opening night with many of them playing significant roles for the first time. “A lot of ours were just silly. We would get the ball out top with nobody guarding us and almost pass the ball right to them. I can’t tell you the number of traveling calls. I thought we did a nice job for the most part handling the ball. We had a freshman run point guard for us Saturday night and I think she did a really nice job. There were some other situations where we just had some uncharacteristic turnovers that I don’t know if we should relate them to first game jitters and hope we can sweep that under the rug, learn from it, and move on. I think this is one of those teams we are very competitive. They want to win. They have a taste of winning from last season. We don’t have an easy game on our schedule this year. Our goal for every game is to be ahead or in it and to win it at the end of the game. It is going to take a lot of work to get that done. We can’t just rely on one or two players it is going to take a team to get that done. It is going to take a good defensive effort to get that done,” said Lantz.

Lexington will be playing their first game of the season on Tuesday night and Lantz says they have a lot of good pieces starting with their coaching staff. “Knowing that Connie (Doutt) is back with the program and Heidi (Roush) is there. They have two great coaches in lead roles right there for the varsity, but they also have a veteran cast back with Adams and Kocher and Kearns. Stover has a year under her belt now. So, they have a lot of experience back. If you compare them to our team they should have more confidence and be jelling more than our group does coming into the game. Our girls are prepared, and they know what they are going against (Tuesday.) They are going against and athletic group that has got some height inside. They have athletes, kids that can rebound, kids that can shoot. We are definitely going to have to be on our game and be playing our best ball to begin the game to at the end to have a chance to win it,” said Lantz.

Published 11/28/17

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Former Coach Says Shelby is a Football Town

Steve Hale was only the Shelby football coach two years, but he has great memories of the town and its football fans.

Hale, now the head coach at Olentangy Liberty, like Shelby, in a state semi final on Friday night, coached the Whippets in 1997 and 1998 going 17-5 over those two years, including 11-1 and an outright Northern Ohio League title in 1998.

He says the people of Shelby were just amazing. “Just the great experience of being up there. The town, the enthusiasm. All of the great people Kenny Albert and Tim Tarvin, the late Dave Jones, who hired me. When those guys hired me I was just 29 years old. As crazy as that sounds taking a chance on a 29 year old. Just the unbridled enthusiasm that they brought to the program every night throughout the offseason. Johnny Clayman in the barber shop. All of those great people, all of those great families. Just a wonderful place,” said Hale.

He says he know a lot more about coaching football 20 years later than he did then, but he had a lot of fun coaching in what is clearly a football town. “Those people love it. I was just excited we could bring them a decent product when we were up there. From Bill Varble and all of those legends embracing some of the stuff we were doing. It made it so much fun and great learning experience. I know so much more football now then I did then. I guess I just used enthusiasm and energy to try and bring it about. We had great players too. We had Toby Stepsis, Israel Martin, Jeremy Hall and obviously Erik Will contributing to that program. It was just a great, great time and a great memory,” he said.

Shelby plays Steubenville in a battle of unbeatens at the University of Akron in a division four state semifinal. Hale and Liberty play at Arlin Field in Mansfield against Mentor in a division one state semi on Friday.

Current Shelby coach Erik Will played for Hale in the late 90’s and then coached under him as well at West Liberty Salem. He says the thing he remembers most fondly of Will was his love for Shelby and the Whippets. “The thing that strikes me the most is Erik loved Shelby football and he loved his town. He was a good player. He was on a team with some talented guys. He wasn’t the greatest player, he was a good player, but the things that stuck out the most about him was how much he loved his teammates and how much he loved being part of that program and what that meant to him,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I had conversations with him about going back home when he applied for the job. We talked about some of those things. I encouraged him if that’s what he wanted to do to go and hit it full speed and he certainly did that. I remember the first day that I met him and I remember the time I spent with him as a player and a coach as well.”

When it comes to giving advice, Hale says they text a little. He says Will has done a great job. “We talk a little, you know, text messages, back and forth with situations and different things. Usually you don’t have to talk as much when things are going well. It is more when you are up against things that you tend to reach out. You talk about handling kids, treating kids the right way, putting kids in a situation where they can be successful. He has certainly done a great job with that over the last few years. This team he has know is poised to do something fantastic,” he said.

Hale says the Shelby community deserves a state title and he will be rooting for them.

Published 11/24/17

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Shelby a Chance For Payback

It what shapes up as an excellent match-up it is Shelby against Steubenville in the division four state semifinals on Friday night at the University of Akron.

It is a rematch from last year’s regional final, won by the Big Red (29-15) in Massillon.

Shelby (13-0) beat Bellevue (42-21) last Friday, meanwhile Steubenville (13-0) downed Perry (33-21) in their regional final.

Steubenville lost to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the last two state finals in division four (24-21) in 2016 and (31-28) in 2015.

This year the Big Red when you look at their scores has not been as dominate as Shelby, but they likely have played a better schedule, including three schools from out of state and one from Canada.

Shelby coach Erik Will says to no surprise Steubenville is best team they will have played this year. “It is probably not even close. They are really good. They are well coached, obviously. The great thing is it is their 2017 team against ours and we feel like we match up well. They are just very, very, very aggressive defensively. They are going to bring five or six guys every single play. You kind of have to guess where they are coming. Offensively they play a lot of power football. They are going to pound you, pound you, pound you and then they are going to throw that thing over the top. They play a heck of a schedule. We will have to play our best game to date,” he said.

When it comes to containing the Steubenville offense, Will says they have stop the run game first or it is not going to matter. “We are going to switch some things up. We are probably going to get an extra man in the box this week. If we don’t stop the run it is not going to mater. They are just going to grind us out. So, we are going to have to get off the field. The key down is first down we are going to have to get them in second and long. We need second and eight, we need second and nine. If we can do that I think that will be pretty good. I think we will survive there. The big thing is your secondary can’t hurt you from the standpoint you can’t fall asleep and give up the big play. It is one thing for a team to nickel and dime you down field. That is really hard to do and it is hard for teams to be patient and do that, but when you give up home runs that is just demoralizing,” said Will.

Steubenville blitzes a lot and they make the opponent pay with their athleticism, but Will says is you execute well you can make some big plays too. “It is high risk, high reward. We are going to take what they give us. We are not going to try and fit a square peg in a round hole. We feel like when they blitz the one thing we can do is having Brennan (Armstrong) and his ability to kind of improvise with his feet I think that is going to help us out a lot. We are not going to abandon the run. We are going to try and make a conscientious effort to have a running game. I’ll tell you there aren’t many teams that just lineup and run the ball on them because they are so darn physical. When they blitz they are bringing five, six guys and they are just attacking gaps, but when you guess right it is a big play,” he said.

The last time Shelby lost a game it was to Steubenville. Will says they are a little different than last year. He says the Whippets are not going to back down. “I don’t know that we encouraged them to watch last year’s film. They definitely do some things schematically the same, but they are a little bit different on offense. They graduated a couple of guys on the O-line, they graduated that really tall wide receiver they had last year. So, they do look a little bit different,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are trying to approach it from the mentality that everybody has been saying, man you have to play Steubenville, but we are looking at it as Steubenville has to play Shelby. We feel like we can be the best team they have played this year. We are looking at it from the standpoint of what we do, we do well. Of course, we are going to tweak some of the things we do to fit our opponent, but we feel like if our kids play the way they have played all year with the same effort and intensity we are going to be right there in the end.”

Published 11/21/17

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Former Teammates Proud of Will and the Whippets

Erik Will is coaching what might become the best football team in Shelby High School’s history and his former teammates are pretty proud of him.

Will played on the first Shelby team to win a playoff game in 1998 along with Tobin “Toby” Stepsis and Israel “Izzy” Martin.

The Whippets went unbeaten in the regular season in 1998 under coach Steve Hale, winning the Northern Ohio League, and beating Poland Seminary (21-14) in a regional semifinal.

Stepsis, whose father Ron, was head coach of the Whippets from 1985-1990, says he remembers, the 1998 team had very good chemistry. “How the team played for each other, being part of an outright Northern Ohio League championship, and being part of winning Shelby’s first ever playoff game,” he said.

Stepsis currently teaches in the Medina City Schools and coaches track and field for the Bees.

Right now, Shelby is on fire with enthusiasm about the Whippets, who play long time rival Bellevue, in a division four regional final at Community Stadium in Ashland on Friday night.

Martin remembers there being similar emotion in 1998. “I have a lot of great memories of the ’98 team. The things that stand out the most probably involve the community and the buzz that was building week after week. We’d broken through the previous season and had some success, but no one expected us to be anything special in ’98 except us. When the Bellevue game came around, I think we all knew that was our chance to prove we were for real, and after we went up there and shut them down you could feel the excitement around town. The tradition has always been so special, everyone has a dad, uncle or grandfather who had been part of it, and people had been waiting a little while to feel like we were on top again. The community did so much to celebrate and take care of us and it just felt great to make them proud,” said Martin.

Martin also stated out in coaching and now works in the Student Advocacy Center at the Ohio State University. He says even as a kid he was impressed with the hard work that the coaches put in. “I really have great memories of our team and our coaching staff. Even as high school kids we recognized how much work the coaches were putting into film study and game planning. They demanded a lot from us and everyone bought in. There were guys that didn’t get a ton of opportunities on the field, but truly everyone was 100% part of the team. The success we achieved was a direct result of the whole operation giving their all and it was really remarkable. I’ve never been part of something like that before or since. I’ve have never had more fun playing sports than I did during that season with that group of people,” said Martin.

Stepsis says he wasn’t sure Will would become a coach, but he knew whatever he did he was going to be a great leader. “I don’t know if any of us truly know what we are going to do in the future when we are young, but I always thought Erik could do anything that dealt with being in charge of a group of people. He could take control of a room and his positive attitude was contagious. He could always bring things into perspective and he could refocus us on what really matters. I always knew he would be an outstanding leader,” said Stepsis.

Martin says he and Erik have been friends since junior high and he also sees Will as a tremendous motivator that is always learning how to be a better coach. “Back then I was positive that the only thing I wanted to do was teach and coach. I had a huge appreciation for my teachers and coaches and I majored in education and I started coaching wrestling and track when I was still in college at Baldwin-Wallace. I remember talking to Erik a few times during that stretch and learning that he was coaching football at Beavercreek and then later he had joined Steve Hale’s staff at Liberty. Erik had been one of my best friends since junior high and he had always had the gift of gab. He can strike up a conversation with anyone about anything. At heart, I think he’s a jolly-guy, but he can get you fired up,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Once I knew he was getting into coaching. I knew he would be a good one. And when he came to Shelby, I got a hold of him right away and let him know how proud and excited I was. Watching him with the kids, I’m blown away. He’s doing what great coaches do, always learning, using the tricks he has picked up along the way. I have seen glimpses of coach Hale in him and being his natural, magnetic self.”

Martin admits there was one incident during the ’98 season when he wasn’t sure Will was as focused and he should have been and that coaching would not be in his future, but he would have been wrong. “I know Erik still periodically tells a story about me getting in his face for horsing around before practice before the Bellevue game in ’98. If you asked me that day whether he was a future head coach would have definitely said no and I would have been wrong, but thank goodness he’s doing it, because he is the right man for the job,” he said.

Published 11/17/17

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Shelby Expects a Better Bellevue

It was 46-0 the first time they played, but the Shelby Whippets expect a more vigorous game when they play Bellevue this week.

The Whippets (12-0) and the Redmen (9-3) meet Friday night at Community Stadium in Ashland in a division four regional final for the right to advance to the final four. It would be the first for the Whippets, the fourth for Bellevue, who also played a state semifinal in 1996, 2001 and 2012, winning in 2012, when they lost the state title game to Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary.

Shelby walloped St. Mary’s Memorial (47-7) last week, getting out to an early lead and taking the Roughriders out of what they wanted to do.

Coach Erik Will says their defense continues to perform at a very high level. “The kids played really well and executed at a high level. I think our defense put us in position where we had the opportunity to be really successful every week. It is one of those things with this group of kids that when they come out mentally focused, and they have done that for 12 straight weeks, we are a really good football team. Now that we have gotten this far we don’t expect anything but that from them. They have raised the expectations and they have created quite a culture,” he said.

With Brennan Armstrong, Carter Brooks, “Shorty” Brooks, and others, the Shelby offense gets the headlines, but Will continues to say their defense is the backbone of the team. “I would argue that is what allows us to be a potential regional or state champion caliber team is the fact that our defense plays so well and at such a high level. When you look around the state with everybody that is left people are scoring in the 30’s, they might even be scoring in the 40’s, but most of them are giving up between 15-20 points a game. With our starting defense only giving up 33 points in 12 games, that’s incredible. I have never been part of anything like this. I think that really allows us to be the team that we are,” said Will.

Bellevue has won all but one of their games since they lost to Shelby (46-0) on week four of the regular season. The two schools had been in the Northern Ohio League since 1944 until this season. The league, one of the oldest in Ohio, folded after last school year.

Will says this a very much improved Bellevue football team. “We are excited about it. Bellevue is a traditional league foe. They have what will be a hall of fame football coach. We respect Bellevue. We know they are going to look completely different than they did week four. Even offensively they are running different things. They are at a point where they have a very high level of confidence,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Their coaching staff is to be commended and their players are to be commended because after we beat them week four I think they were 2-2 and for them to be able to respond. They have gone 7-1 since we played them and they are playing really good football and have beaten a lot of quality teams on that run. They have our full attention and our respect.”

One big difference is the presence of slot back/quarterback Treston Francis, who is Bellevue’s leading scorer this year. Will says he is a difference maker and he is not the only one. “He is a really good football player. When he is in at quarterback he can run the football. He does a nice job. I think that their comfort level goes up. You have a couple kids in the backfield that can run the football and he is good enough throwing the football to keep you honest in the secondary. When they switch their quarterback (Riley Renwand) is a heck of a football player too. He throws the ball well and then McPeak is an elite wide receiver. He is an All-Ohio caliper wide receiver. People that think we are just going to roll the ball out and Shelby is going to win doesn’t know anything about competitive athletics. They don’t understand anything about the momentum that Bellevue is on. Bellevue is going to be a very, very, very tough out for anybody,” said Will.

Bellevue’s defense is clearly better too. They bottled up unbeaten Clear Fork (21-13) in a regional semifinal last week.

Will says there are a couple of reasons why that is the case. “I think when you look at them from week four two groups of people get credit for the growth of their team, the coaching staff and their senior leadership. Most teams would not even be in the situation they are they had to win of their last two games to get in and they went out and got after Clyde, which is a big time rival, and that gave them that second breath of life and they have maximized it. They have already righted one wrong in their eyes, which was that Clear Fork game. They are looking to do the exact same thing to us,” he said.

Published 11/15/17

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Unbeaten Shelby Faces Biggest Test

Shelby has been exactly what all of their opponents feared they would be this season… very, very good.

The Whippets (11-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays St. Mary’s Memorial Friday night at Marion Harding Stadium in the division four regional semifinals.

There has been a running clock in every one of their games this season and if the rules permitted there would have been a running clock in the first half of many of their games.

They advanced to the regional finals last year and return more than 95 percent of their offense and although their defense doesn’t get the same publicity they have only allowed 67 points all season, that about a touchdown per game. Many of those when the score has been out of control in the second half.

Last week, in their opening playoff game in division four they hammered Wauseon (50-13) in a game that was really pretty similar to their regular season games.

Coach Erik Will says their 21 points in the first quarter were key in the game. “We were able to get off to a fast start. Most teams want to do it, there is no secret behind it, we want to get on the board early, we want to get on the board fast, and we were able to do that. Defense sometimes has a hard time and if there is going to be a little bit of a lull it is going to be on the defensive side. It is hard to get the scout team to simulate what the other team does offensively. In division four when you have so many two way players it is better that you set the tempo and then you adjust on defense. Sometimes I think people think a sign of taking the ball is they don’t respect your defense, but it is really more it is nice to set the pace on the offensive end,” said Will.

Senior quarterback Brennan Armstrong is headed to the University of Minnesota on full scholarship. Will says he is simply one of the best players the school has ever produced. “He is commander and chief of our offense. He really has been for four years. You are talking about a young man who is approaching 11,000 all purpose yards. He is our school’s second all-time leading rusher with 3,400 or 3,500 yards rushing. He has right around 60 rushing touchdowns. He has thrown for nearly 7,000 yards. He has thrown I think 77 or 78 touchdown passes,’ he told Swankonports.com on Sunday evening, “He is basically the Larry Siegfried of our football program. If people from around the area know who Larry Siegfried is. He is very, very important to what we do. Quite frankly, we would not come close to being the team or be able to run the things that we do without him being under center.”

St. Mary’s Memorial (10-1) is the outright champion of the Western Buckeye League. Their only loss coming to Sidney (39-32) in the season opener. They beat Highland (48-8) last Friday.

Will says the Roughriders aren’t fancy, but they know they are good at and that is running ball. “They are really good. They throw the ball maybe three, four times a game on average. That is pretty much what you are getting. It is funny because people say they don’t throw the ball much, but there is a difference between can’t throw the ball and choosing not to throw the ball. St. Mary’s is just a team that chooses not to throw the ball because they are so good on the ground. The statistics that we have figured out they are averaging between 350 and 370 yards a game on the ground. There is no reason to get real creative offensively,” said Will.

Will says that Shelby defense is going to have to eliminate the Memorial long drives and get off the field. “It really does come down to our run defense against their offense. I think the thing that will help us is we have to get out early. We want to build a 7, 14 point lead early because their game plan is going to be very simple. They want to milk the clock and keep our offense off the field and then they want to score touchdowns and be efficient. When you play a team like St. Mary’s and they get up 14 or 21 points that is like us being up on you like 35,” he said.

On defense, the Roughriders are very fundamental. He says they don’t make mistakes. “They are very aggressive. They are very gap sound. Their coverages aren’t real sophisticated, but they are normally where they want to be and where they need to be. They will blitz. They are just very sound. Sometimes people want you to say something that is kind of outlandish and give you this big secret that they do. They are nothing really schematically complex in what they do. They have done it for years. Doug Fry is a hall of fame coach. He was at Bucyrus. He has been around forever and has had success wherever he has been. He is good at what he does,” he said.

Published 11/06/17

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Second Season Starts For Shelby

Shelby had a perfect regular season and won an undisputed Bay Division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference, but their season will be defined by what happens from here on out.

Their goal at the beginning of the year was to win a division four state championship. Their first test is Friday at home in a first round game against the visiting Wauseon Indians.

Coach Erik Will says this really starts the third phase of their season. “We have broken down our season into three categories. The non-conference, the conference, and then the playoffs. We have gotten two checks in the non-conference and the conference. I told the kids that they can now consider themselves one of the best teams in Shelby history, but if they want to be considered the best team in Shelby history this is what matters,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “These playoffs are going to be huge for us, but we can’t worry about weeks 12, 13, 14, we can’t look ahead in match ups and things like that, we have to take care of this Friday and this Friday only.”

Wauseon (8-2) has lost only twice by three (24-21) to Archbold and by one in overtime (28-27) to Swanton. They are coming off a (48-0) win over Delta last week. They have been in the playoffs seven times and this is their first appearance since 2015.

Will says they are athletic and they are very aggressive. “They are really aggressive. It is a wrestling school, they have a lot of nice wrestlers. We know we are going to get their best. Defensively they have some nice athletes. Basically if they have a 2 in the number they are really athletic and do a good job. They have a really nice, tall, wide receiver, that kind of reminds me of Carter Brooks a little bit. Their defensive line is very aggressive. It is kind like it is flipped, their defensive line looks to make tackles and their linebackers just kind of fill,” said Will.

When it comes to comparisons to some of the teams that Shelby has played, Will says there are examples. “Defensively, they are a mixture of this year’s and last year’s Lexington team. Offensively, they are kind of a mix between Bellevue and Edison,” he said.

One thing is for sure, Will says they have to have great focus on their keys. “When you look at their offense. Offensive lines do what offensive lines do. When they run counter they are pulling a guard, they pull a guard and tackle on some plays. It is all stuff we have seen before. The stuff that goes in back behind it, as far as the athletes, that may look a little be different, but if our guys are reading their keys the stuff in the backfield shouldn’t matter. We should be following the guys that take us to the ball. If we do that I think we will be fine,” says Will.

Shelby is a football town built on a tradition from the 40’s to the 80’s. This is the sixth time they have made the postseason and the second straight year. They lost to Steubenville in the regional finals last year.

Will says the feeling around the school is really electric. “The kids are excited. I think we have sold 700, 800 championship and playoff t-shirts. For us to be able to do something like that, they went out on a Friday and we had that many sold by Monday. That tells you about the excitement around here. Everybody is in to it. The student body is into it and there is just a lot of positive momentum coming around the city. It is a good time to be a Shelby football player,” he said.

Published 11/02/17

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Outright Title up to Shelby

Shelby has a chance to do something they have not done since 1998. Win an outright title in football. A win over visiting Vermilion on Friday night gives them the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title to themselves.

The Whippets, (9-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports,com football coaches poll in the large school division, has won every game they have played by at least 30 points.

They blasted Oak Harbor (59-10) last week and coach Erik Will says his team has responded to every challenge this year. “I was really happy with the way our kids responded. They opened up with an on sides kick, they actually recovered it, it hit our kid in the chest, and we weren’t able to recover it. We turned right around and ended up getting a sack and the quarterback fumbled it and we were able to get a scoop and score. I just like the way our kids handle adversity,” he said.

Their offense gets the press, but Will thinks the bedrock of the team is their defense. “I think the thing that makes us a really, really good team are the obvious things your offense, the Brennan (Armstrong,) the Carter (Brooks,) the Shorty (Brooks,) and those things, but the defense is really what is making us the team I think we can be going down the stretch in the playoffs. I think we have a championship defense. That is what is nice about this conference run that we have had is I heel that each week. We have been presented new challenges and I think our kids have done a nice job answering those,” said Will.

Vermilion (5-4,1-3) lost last week to second place Edison (35-14) in a Bay Division game. Will says the Sailors are a pretty good passing team. “A lot of teams we have played they run to open up the pass. Vermilion is the opposite. They want to throw the ball and get the ball out in space. The quarterback actually is a pretty good ball player and they have a really nice wide receiver, number 4, who is really skilled. So, we have to keep those guys in check,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Defensively they mix their three and four man fronts up. They are aggressive. They are tremendously better from the last few years. This coaching staff has done a really nice job of kind of putting their imprint in year one on the program. I know our first year we were 1-9 and kind of getting beat around. These guys are actually pretty confident. They are trending up and I think next year they can be really good.”

It may not matter what Vermilion has done in the past because Will says they often get a totally different look from opponents, but he says they have adapted well. “It is one of those things where each and every week we are going to get people’s best shot. From that Edison week with us kind of establishing ourselves as the team to beat we feel like people have been coming out swinging and we have had to answer that. We have passed on that. We talk to our kids about pass/fail and right now we are passing in most things we are doing. I think this league and our schedule has done a good job of preparing us for what we are going to see in the future from the standpoint that you are going to see a mix between run and pass and I think that is what we have gotten in this league,” said Will.

The Whippets already have no less than a share of the division title, but Will says they want it all. “One of my assistant coaches that has kind of been his thing the last few weeks we don’t want to share the title. We told the kids the eleventh commandment in this situation is thou shall be greedy, and our kids have really responded to that. There is no doubt our kids are honed in on this Friday. May assistants would agree that we have had one of the best inside run periods that we have had all year on (Tuesday) on a cold, blowing day where a lot of kids throughout the state may not want to be outside. There is a lot adversity, there are a lot of different things, that kind of take kid’s focus away from finishing up the season, so I was really, really proud of how our kids practiced,” said Will.

Published 10/26/17

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Shelby Looking For Title

Shelby has been an outstanding football team all season long and now they want to start reaping the rewards.

They earn no less than a share of the Bay Division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference with a win on Friday night at Oak Harbor.

Last week, the Whippets (8-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, destroyed Port Clinton (62-7) in a Bay Division game.

Coach Erik Will believes they just now starting to play their best football. “It is like anything else our offense line has been a work in progress and specifically over the last two, three weeks they have gotten so much better. It’s their attention to detail. You get better in practice, you get better watching film. Each and every week that group does that. Having some of those guys suspended we were able to hold the fort down with some of our younger guys, who did an excellent job, now we are starting to take off and starting to hit our stride,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t want to peak too early. With this team I don’t know what the ceiling is. I don’t know what it looks like, but I know we haven’t hit it yet. I feel like this group can continue to get better and I think they will get better.”

Goals are a big part of the Shelby program and this week is an easy one, according to Will. “Every week we give them a goal, a different objective. This one was easy because if they take care of this one we get no worse than a share. After this week will be nice, because if we fortunate enough to get the “W” the next part of it is we don’t want to share the title and we want to go undefeated. If memory serves me correct I think Shelby only has five or six undefeated seasons in 123 years. We hammer into our kids what kind of legacy do we want to leave behind with Shelby football and its rich tradition?” he said.

Oak Harbor (4-4,1-2) lost a tough one to second place Edison last week, falling (21-17) to the Chargers. They are a team that likes to run the football.

Will says they want to make them throw it. “They run a lot of wing-T principles and they are pretty good in what they do. They have good size on their offensive line. Their offensive tackles are good size. This offense requires you to be very, very disciplined on defense. Once again it is a very physical week because they are going to try and run right at us. Our goal is to stop the run this week and make them throw the football. We don’t think they are as comfortable throwing the ball. It is one thing to say and another to do it. For us offensively we want to establish the line of scrimmage and keep the run going and keep them off balance by being 50-50 as much as possible. I think if we do that we will be fine on Friday,” said Will.

Shelby’s goal is to win the state title in division four and Will says for that to happen they have to continue to get better. “We told our kids the eight previous wins don’t help you on Friday night. The bottom line is every single week is kind of a season within a season, I know that is a coaching cliché, but it’s really not. The only thing we can control is Friday night against Oak Harbor. We can’t control week 10, we can’t control week 13, and we are done with week one through eight. So, we have to go out and take advantage of the opportunity that is front of us. We only get 10 of them and they are special and we want to treat them as such,” he said.

Published 10/20/17

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Shelby Hosts Second Place Port Clinton

Shelby sits all alone at the top of the Bay Division standings in the Sandusky Bay Conference after a big win over Edison last week, but now here comes Port Clinton, who is just a game back.

Last week, the Whippets (7-0,2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, ended Edison’s five game winning streak (43-0) to remain undefeated on the year.

Again, they were able to strike quickly and coach Erik Will says they did a fantastic job bottling up a very good Edison offense. “Offensively we were able to get a score up right away. Our first drive Devon Brooks had a really nice play there for us and thought the offensive line did a great job of establishing themselves early. That was a point of emphasis for us. Defensively, the Stoll kid had right around 50 some yards rushing and he had I believe 30 some on the first drive. We were kind of able to get that figured out. The defense is playing as a group. When you get that entire group to play at a high level like the defense is doing from the front all of the way to the back it just gives you the opportunity to be successful,” said Will.

Shelby has jumped up to number two in its computer region in division four.

Port Clinton (4-3,1-1) broke a two game losing streak with a (36-22) win over Vermilion in a Bay Division game last week. They had lost to Edison (28-0) the week before.

Will says the Redskins are going to come to play and he is sure of that. “They are going to be well coached. I have spent some time with Beau Carmon. Beau is a great guy and a good coach. His staff has done a tremendous job at Port Clinton. We understand for them this a big championship game too. If they are able to get a win they are right back in for co-leaders in the league. Our moto around here is we don’t want to share,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have been talking to our kids that we know we are going to get Port Clinton’s best game and we have got to be prepared because they are coming down here to win, they are not coming down here just to field a team just to throw out so they can get their Friday night responsibilities taken care of.”

Carom has expressed that they are a running team, however, Will says they actually show pretty good balance. Although, they expect they are going to try and run so they can dominate the time of possession. “They have so many different passing concepts and then running they are not real sophisticated, they are not really elaborate, what they do they do well. I think they are getting the most out of each one of their kids. When you watch those kids play on film they are successful because they are so balanced. If they can have success on the ground that will be a benefit for them because that means their offense is on the field and our’s isn’t. Our job this week is to get three and outs and as many as possible,” he said.

Published 10/12/17

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It’s a Battle Shelby and Edison

Shelby and Edison are likely the two best teams in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference and they play on Friday night at Edison.

Shelby is unbeaten on the season and the Chargers have won their last five.

Last week, Shelby pounded a pretty good Huron team (41-0) in their Bay Division opener, limiting the Tigers to no first downs in the first half of the game.

Coach Erik Will says they were pretty good on both sides of the ball. “We were pleased with the outcome. In grading the film still our most complete game has been Bellevue. Having said that we still graded high and still played well. Anytime you can open up with a league opponent on the road that is the caliber of a Huron and the tradition of a Huron and win 41-0. We scored 41 points in the first half, we got out of there healthy most importantly, with a running clock that was good for our kids. Now, we are moving on to Edison and we have our hands full,” said Will.

Will admits there is a little added excitement attached to this game. “We told our kids this is why you sign up to play football are games like this. Each and every week we talk about championship football games and this is our second championship game, but this really is a big one. There is going to be a playoff atmosphere. They have the division five player of the year coming back with Stoll. He is a heck of a football player,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are really, really aggressive on defense. They are very well coached. There is a reason they have been to back to back state final fours. They are very, very good. We are trying to prepare our kids for one of the more physical games we are going to play this year.”

Edison has shown the ability to pass the ball this year, but they are a team that wants to run first and Will says they understand that is the case. “When you go into a game you kind of look at what a team does by formation. We are going to try and take away some of the things they do well or at least slow it down. We feel like if we turn them into a passing team that benefits us. We are going to try and be physical at the point of attack. The Stoll kid is really, really good. He has almost 1,000 yards and we are only going into week seven. I think this will probably be our biggest test to date,” said Will.

Shelby has a quarterback in Brennan Armstrong that is going to the University of Minnesota and a very good running game led by All-Ohio back “Shorty” Brooks. Will says that balance is one their big assets. “The thing that makes us difficult I would like to think as we self scout, is we are pretty darn balanced run and pass. We are very efficient in our pass game. Brennan is in the high 70’s completion percentage and throwing 170 to 200 yards a game and several touchdown passes. With him and “Shorty” in the backfield and still being able to run the ball that gives us a lot of balance. I think that is something we can use to benefit us,” he said.

Published 10/04/17

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Shelby Faces Big Test

In it’s first, and likely only, season in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference the Shelby Whippets are the heavy favorite to claim the football title. That process begins Friday night at Huron.

Norwalk scored on the first play from scrimmage last week, but the Truckers lead was short lived and the Whippets went on to romp over Norwalk (55-14) to remain unbeaten on the season.

Coach Erik Will says they were able to adapt to what they were seeing on the field. “I thought the kids did a nice job. We gave up a big play early, but we were able to get that fixed as soon as they came off the field. We were just a little aggressive on the backside. We haven’t been on the road in two weeks and we want to come out and establish the line of scrimmage and make sure those little steps and gap responsibility on defense is solidified. Norwalk did a great job running the football and that is something we really hadn’t seen this year,” said Will.

Shelby (5-0,0-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, number three in their division four computer region, travels to Huron (4-1,0-0) for a Bay Division game. Huron belted Margaretta (35-0) last week.
Will says the Tigers are really good, especially on defense. “They are good. They are well coached and schematically sound. They have three really good athletes on the offensive side. They have a really good defensive line. Their defense has only given up around 200 yards a game the last three games, they have only given up 13 total points, and they haven’t given up one play over 25 yards. So, something as to give (Friday,) he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Our offense has been pretty solid all year. We have kind had a lot of big plays, so that is going to be something to definitely watch. Huron is a very formidable team. Their only loss is to Sandusky and there is no shame in that.”

Shelby has been explosive the last couple of years in the first quarter of games. Will says that is going to be important on Friday night. “We talk to our kids all of the time, especially offensively, about getting out fast and making plays and establishing your brand of football. There is no doubt whether it is offensively or defensively a big play early really sets the tone for the game,” he said.

There are only five league games in the Bay Division and Will says it is going to be important to win all of them if you want the title. “I think we are going to get tested. In this Bay Division I don’t know if you can lose one and win it. I think you have to take care of business right out of the gate and we have one of the tougher teams. So, this is going to be a great test. If our kids want to win a league title they have to be on the plus side of the scoreboard,” he said.

Published 9/29/17

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Shelby Volleyball Has Solid Chemistry

Shelby is off to a good start to the volleyball season and the biggest reason is because of the chemistry the players have.

The Lady Whippets have an (11-4) record and they are second in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference (6-1) just a game by their traditional rivals of the Norwalk Lady Truckers, who they play for a second time next week.

Coach Brande Albert says they are a young team, but they are a team that believes in each other. “We came into the season with a lot of inexperienced players. I think three kids that have lettered before and four that have any experience what so ever on our court, but things are clicking for the kids. Even when we are not playing well we are still playing as a team, which hasn’t been the way it has been for the last couple of years. Our chemistry is really good even though our athleticism isn’t as strong as it had been in years past. It is just working for us right now,” said Albert.

How important is chemistry? Albert says it may be the most important because it means the teams has one goal. “I am not one of those people that has ever dealt with drama with anything very well, but especially with girls on my team. It isn’t a problem this year I have three great seniors and I have other kids on the floor who are leaders, not just in volleyball, but other sports. I think they just want to be successful and they don’t care who is successful on the floor at any point and time as long as they are all together and on the same page,” he said.

They play host to the Clyde Lady Fliers in a Lake Division game on Thursday night. They beat them 25-15, 25-22 and 25-17 this first time they played earlier this month.

Albert says to get better as a team they have to run their offense faster and receive serve more consistently. “Right now, we need to focus on running a faster offense and beating the block that we are up against. When we are creating a lot of one on one situations with the blockers on the other side of the net and I put my hitters up against a single block any point and time for them to beat,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our biggest factor is how we are playing at the beginning of the match is whether we can serve-receive or not. If we are on we are solid and our offense is quick, but if we are out of system because we can’t not serve receive the ball we are in trouble. It is really hard for us to pull it back once we are out of system too much.”

Published 9/28/17

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Shelby Back at Full Strength

Shelby has pretty much been the best football team in North Central Ohio this season and they haven’t even been at full strength until this week.

All-Ohio running back “Shorty” Brooks returns to the field after sitting out the first four due to a violation of the athletic rules.

Quarterback Brennan Armstrong returned last week and the Whippets went on to bury Bellevue (46-0) at Skiles Field.

Coach Erik Will says they got better up front. “Leading up to the Bellevue game to be quite honest with you we thought we were pretty good, but there are always things you can be better with and quite frankly we weren’t that happy up front after the Willard game and for us to establish the line of scrimmage like we did I thought our kids answered that, especially the offensive linemen. Then when you get Brennan back with that running piece that he can do it makes us a pretty versatile team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday. “A down Bellevue team is still 7-3, 6-4, it is still a solid ball club. I am sure Ed would tell you this isn’t going to be one of his vintage teams, bit it is still a well coached physical team and any time you can out physical and play the way we did against Bellevue we will take it. I thought our kids showed a lot of physicality and mental toughness.”

With all of the quality skilled players that they have Shelby’s offensive and defensive lines kind of get over shadowed. However, Will says that is where it all begins for them. “We don’t hide that. We talk to the kids all of the time if you want to be a conference champion, if you want to make a playoff run, it has got to start up front. There is a reason why teams with physical offensive and defensive line are successful. The next level then is if you can put the caliber of athletes behind the offensive line that we’ve got. If you want to be a special football team you have to be really good up front. Our offensive line, which is all new this year, everyone of those guys, and we have four new starters on the defensive line, I would grade those guys out as high as you can grade them. Offensively, I feel every single week the offensive line has gotten better,” said Will.

Shelby (4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, host Norwalk (2-2) in an inter-divisional game in the Sandusky Bay Conference. Norwalk is coming off a (38-20) win over Margaretta last Friday.

Will says the Truckers are going to go with their strength and run the ball. “When you watch the film their offense isn’t bad at all. They have two very physical running backs. Then they have a quarterback, he is not going to blow you away with unbelievable arm strength, but he is really accurate and knows where he wants to go. This a compliment to Norwalk, they know what want to do and they are going to try and do that. We know they are going to try and run the football and keep our offense off the field, which is smart by them. We are going see how that plays out on Friday. Defensively they run that stack, sometimes they break it and it kind of looks like a 3-4 with a cover 2 shell. The Norwalk team is actually a little better than the one they had last year,” he said.

Published 9/21/17

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Shelby Excited to Play Bellevue

Shelby and Bellevue are two of the more storied programs in North Central Ohio over the years and they meet on Friday night at Skiles Field in Shelby in what is a non-conference game for the first time since Roosevelt was President.

Bellevue is now in the Lake division of the Sandusky Bay Conference while Shelby is in the Bay division.

Shelby (3-0) is coming off a (56-6) win over Willard on Friday and coach Erik Will says they have been very good on both sides of the football so far in 2017. “I feel like our kids have competed well. I feel our effort has been phenomenal. Defensively, we are giving up around a touchdown a game after three games, which is pretty good. We are only giving up around 140 yards a game and on that side of the ball you are not going to do much better. Offensively, we have had a young backfield that has played well and they have been smart,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “McGwire (Albert) has understood that he has four phenomenal receivers and he is allowing those guys to make plays and he is hiding behind that offensive line. The offense has been averaging a little over 48 points a game. It has been a great three games. Now we get some of those guys back that we were kind of counting on. McGwire and Owen Fisher and those guys have held the fort down well and now it is time to kind of kick the season in.”

Shelby has won those games without the services of starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong, suspended for a violation of athletic rules, but the Minnesota recruit returns this week and Will says that is going to be a shot in the arm to already good team. “They have been practicing and reping things out well. I have heard people saw that McGwire has played so well what are you going to do? Here is the thing, we have the number one quarterback in the State of Ohio, the best quarterback in the history of our school. He is chomping to get back. I think what you are going to be able to see out of him is the thing about Brennan (Armstrong) is he has the ability to run the ball. His feet are deadly. Not only does he have a rocket for an arm and his accuracy is pretty darn good, but we like what he can do on the ground running the football. We like to think it is a shot of adrenaline. The thing is McGwire got to warm up against three teams that between them have two wins. Bellevue has two wins by themselves. Brennan doesn’t necessarily get that warm up game. He is going to be thrown in the fire here right away,” said Will.

Bellevue (2-1) beat West Holmes (34-26) last week and their only loss this season comes in overtime to unbeaten Clear Fork (20-14) and Will says they are a team that doesn’t beat itself. “It is what you expect they are ground and pound. They are going to let Bryce Ray run the football. Defensively they are schematically sound. Here is the thing about Bellevue, Bellevue doesn’t beat themselves. Ed Nasonti is one of the best in the business. For us to win the football game Friday night we can’t make mistakes and we have to play inspired football. We have to act like we deserve the hype and the rankings that we have been getting all year. This is going to be an old fashion, old school, “NOL” type, football game. I love it. I am excited to see this game and how it plays out,” said Will.

Shelby beat Bellevue (49-34) last year, but that was the first time the Whippets beat Bellevue since 2010. The teams have played every year in football since the Great Depression.

Will says these are the games you can’t wait to play. “This week our kids are ready to go. They are excited to get to practice and get better. To be quite honest, you have been playing some teams you don’t want to say you have to manufacture excitement because that is not the right way to say it. Coaches want to say that all games are equal, and I understand that, because a win is a win and a loss is a loss, but there are certain programs that you play that there is a little extra with the school, the community, the kids, and this is one of those weeks. Shelby and Bellevue is like peanut butter and jelly, it is like cool aid and sugar. It is the way things should be,” he said.

Published 9/11/17

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No Letup in Shelby

Shelby is clearly one of the better football teams in North Central Ohio again this season and one of the favorites to win the Bay Division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

They shellacked Lexington (41-7) last week when sophomore quarterback McGwire Albert threw six touchdown passes, five of the them to senior receiver Carter Brooks. They play at rival Willard in a non-conference game on Friday.

Coach Erik Will says they really did a good job on defense last week against the Minutemen. “We were able to get the passing game going. I want to give Lexington credit because their defense is really solid against the run. I would have liked to have established the line of scrimmage a little bit better and run the football with a little bit more success, but it is what it is and that’s why it is good to have a great receiving corps like we do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Defensively I felt that was a strong suit for us. We had only given up seven yards at the half and just a little over 100 for the game. You are going to have a shot to win every single week when your defense is only giving up a little over 100 yards. I thought it was a complete game, but I would like to be able to run the ball a little bit better.”

Shelby also beat Madison (48-10) on the first week and they are not even at full strength. Is Will concerned about possible over confidence? “I think as a coach I think you always want to guard against complacency or maybe an over inflated self-image. We are going to play some pretty good teams here down the stretch. We tell our kids all of the time the great teams continually get better. They don’t take weeks off. How do you get better? You get better in practice. We make sure there are no lapses is practice. Practice should have a sound to it. You should be able to see and hear movement and coaches coaching and kids playing hard. You know, all of those things and I think we are getting that. For us I would like to think that our leadership is to the point that the kids understand that each and every week we have got to get better because someone on our schedule is getting better,” said Will.

Willard got its first win of the season last week in downing Plymouth (32-16) in a non-conference game. They lost to Norwalk (40-6) in their opener.

Will says they are improved. “They are significantly better on offense. The quarterback we went against last year is not as good as the kid they have this year. They do have a couple of playmakers. Defensively, they are sound in what they are doing. There is no doubt that coach (Britton) Devier is doing a good job with what he is doing the people over there just need to be patient. The bottom line is when you draw things up right now we are pretty blessed with our x’s and o’s and the kids that are playing behind those x’s and o’s. He is developing a program right now and I think he doing a good job. This Plymouth team they beat isn’t a bad football team. They have shown offensive production. They have done a nice job offensively so far,” he said.

Published 9/07/17

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Shelby Figuring it Out

Shelby has been forced to do it with different personnel, but so far the Whippets have been able to do it pretty well.

They hammered Madison (48-10) last Thursday in their first game with a replacement at quarterback, who is a sophomore, and a replacement at running back, who is a freshman.

They host Lexington on Friday night. The home team has not won in this series in the last five tries.

McGwire Albert and Owen Fisher have stepped into those roles when Brennen Armstrong and Shorty Brooks were suspended.

Coach Erik Will says the young players have answered the call. “I have been asked that quite a bit, where you surprised and I think answer is maybe a little bit of both. Here is why I’m not surprised. The athletic potential of some of our sophomores and a couple of our freshmen is pretty good. The biggest transition is actually mentally and we have had an entire summer to get these guys mentally prepared to go. When you are talking about a JV or a freshman or even an eight grade playbook you have a few runs to the right, a few runs to the left, a couple of pass concepts and you are done. Well, when you get to varsity football and things become more complex can you handle it mentally? And what we saw, not that everything was executed perfectly because it wasn’t, but we saw them do things and mentally and they weren’t struggling to grasp what we were trying to get them to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you put the ball in the hands of kids that have natural athletic ability you are able to see them flourish. It is still a work in process. Quite frankly maybe they are still a little too young to be playing, but we don’t have the luxury of bringing them along slowly and they are doing a nice job.”

Even with Armstrong and Brooks out the Whippets have quite a bit of experience on the field and Will says that has been a plus. “I would say the strength of our team if everybody was healthy, people want to talk about Brennan and Shorty and rightfully so they are two solid football players, but when you put them behind that offensive line that’s playing well, but can still get better, that makes everything a little bit better. Even the guys on the perimeter are experienced when you talk about a Brady Hill, a Carter Brooks, a Uriah Schwemley, those kids have been playing football for a few years,” he said.

Lexington lost their opener to Ontario (21-20) and unlike Shelby they have some inexperience, but Will says they adapted pretty quickly last week. “It was a tale of two halves. They were figuring some things out, more offensively than defensively. They gave up a couple of big plays early on, and they were kind of playing from behind. Once they settled in I thought they kind of established what they want to do in the second half. Outside of a couple of special teams miscues they win the football game, which talks about the three phases of the game. Giving up that kick return for a touchdown and then missing and extra point that is the difference in the game. Those are things that Ontario is not going to apologize for because they played three phases of the game and they shouldn’t apologize, but if you are Lexington that is definitely something to build on. There is no doubt we are expecting Lexington’s best shot,” said Will.

Junior Cade Stover has been a difference maker for the Minutemen, especially on defense from his safety spot, but now he has been moved to quarterback then they have the ball. Will says he can’t let him get going. “What they have done is they have taken their best player and they have thrown him at quarterback. A lot of people would do that. You have got to get him before he gets going. I know that sounds like a coaching cliché, but the bottom line is when he builds up a head of stream he is more like a semi. He is not a real twitchy guy, but he is fast and he knows where he wants to go and when he gets there he is coming with 230 pounds, so you have to get him early. They do a nice job they have a quicker guy standing next to him and they are going to rely on that offensive line. Stover is obviously one of the best players in the country and he is the game plan,” said Will.

Published 9/01/17

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Shelby Ready to Roll on Thursday

Shelby should be one of the best football teams in North Central Ohio this season and we start to find out if that is going to be the case this week.

Their depth will be challenged as they will be missing four of their better players when they visit Mansfield Madison for a non-conference game on Thursday night on the turf at Ram Field and Starteck Stadium.

There was some success in their final tune up against Galion in their preview scrimmage last Friday and coach Erik Will thought their offensive line in particular got better. “Any coach you talk to will tell you that a little bit more time is okay, but I feel good where we are at. If felt like our biggest adjustment that I was happy with, our biggest advancement, was our offensive line. I really wanted to see those guys and how they would come out last Friday against Galion. I thought we were more consistent with five guys doing the same thing. It doesn’t mean we were perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought they were more consistent. That is all you can ask for when you are dealing with 16, 17, 18-year-old kids , that’s what you want, and I thought we were able to get that,” said Will.

All-Ohioans Brennan Armstrong and Shorty Brooks are among those that will sidelined against Madison and Will says that means the big guys up front need to grade out very well against the Rams. “Brennan (Armstrong) and Shorty (Brooks) are really good. They are All-Ohio kids for a reason. I told our team even Brennan and Shorty need an offensive line, the difference is with Brennan and Shorty with what they are able to do they are able to hide small deficiencies. Maybe a block was missed. Maybe something wasn’t exactly where it should have been. Maybe they improvised, they are just those kind of athletes that can do that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “McGwire Albert and Owen Fisher are good ballplayers, but we can no longer hide those deficiencies like we would be able to with Brennan and Shorty and that is fine because those two are just really good high school athletes. Brennan has a full scholarship to Minnesota and Devon is a scholarship athlete. So, it is not a knock on the two kids that are playing it is just a reality of that we have to make sure we are on point up front.”

Madison is coming off a (2-7) season and a (49-7) thrashing from the Whippets last season, but they have some talent, including Mason Campbell, an All-Ohio basketball player at Mansfield St. Peter’s.

Will says they expect the Rams to play with confidence. “They are like us they are a work in progress. Their kids play really hard. They are schematically sound and their kids believe they can beat us. That’s obvious by watching them play and that is all you can ask if you are (Madison coach) Jamie (Masi.) We want that exact same thing from our kids. Here is the thing it is week one and everybody is excited and hope is at an all time high for every program in the state. What you want to do is do those little things week one. There are going to be false starts and off sides and few turnovers here and there. You want to play a clean game, but that is not normally what you get on week one. So, those little mistakes will be huge, actually they could be huge mistakes, but those will be huge in determining the game,” said Will.

Published 8/22/17

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Shelby Being Aggressive

Shelby rolled out the 2017 version of the Whippets for the first time on Wednesday as they traveled to Crestview to face the Cougars and the Lucas Cubs in a scrimmage.

Coach Erik Will says he liked how aggressive his players were on Tuesday and the way they reacted to things they saw on the field. “We had a ton of reps. Crestview gave us a good look and so did Lucas. The big thing is all you want is your kids to be aggressive and read their keys because you aren’t going to scout each other so there are things they are going to do and things we are going to do that are going to be difficult for each other,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “What you want to see is you want to see kids being mentally tough and flying around to the football and playing to the whistle. Everything else is going to be game prep and things like that. That’s why I don’t get too worked up about some of those actual situational sorts of things because those are scouting report kinds of things. You want to see your kids flying around the field and executing their actual eye reads and stuff like that. I thought we did a pretty good job of that, but you have to watch the film.”

Crestview is a team that likes to feature the wing-T formation and the power running game. Will says they will see that in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference from teams like Oak Harbor. “To be honest it is kind of nice with Crestview running the wing-T stuff because we are going see that in our league. I don’t think we will see anything like Lucas does, but it is kind of cool because they get you out of your comfort zone. In the world where everybody is running spread it is kind of nice to see things that are old school football,” he said.

Shelby opens the season on Thursday, August 24, at Madison against the Rams. A team they beat (49-7) last year. However, they will play that game with highly prized quarterback Brennan Armstrong and leading rusher “Shorty” Brooks.

A plus for the Whippets, and everybody else this year, has been the weather, which has been cooler than normal. Will just hopes they don’t pay the price later this year. “I am just worrying about weeks two, three or four being really warm. That first game hasn’t been too bad, but then normally that second game is really, really hot. It is always like the opposite. Everybody across the state is practicing in the exact same weather. It’s not like anybody has an up on anybody. It is not like anybody is bringing in artificial heat to get ready,” said Will.

Published 8/10/17

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Shelby Will be Fine

Shelby is going to be without some of their best athletes for the first three weeks of the football season, but their coach is optimistic that they are going to be able to survive that and be okay.

Coach Erik Will said Thursday that he likes the effort he has seen from the kids and believes they are going to field a very good football team again this year. “Things are going well. We have got great kids and the weather has been unbelievable. The kids are working hard. Everybody across the state right now has this great optimism. We have been preaching to our kids there is a false reality and then there is a real reality of who teams really are. Normally through scrimmages or the first week or two you start figuring out who is going to do what, who is going to be competitive in their league. We feel like we should be pretty darn good. We don’t hide that. We had a great season last year and we feel like can have a pretty darn good season this year. We have a lot of young kids that are getting a lot of reps and they are doing a great job,” said Will.

Shelby finished second in the Northern Ohio League last year and was (11-2) overall on the season, losing in the regional finals to Steubenville. This year they are going to be part of the “Bay Division” of the expanded Sandusky Bay Conference with Huron, Edison, Port Clinton and Vermilion.

Will says with what they did last year they will carrying momentum into this season and he thinks have put the work in to be successful. “With Shelby football expectations are always going to be there. The nice thing is we have kids that have embraced that and more importantly kids that have worked for it. There are people that want to be good and there are people who don’t do the things they need to do to be good or to be successful and our kids have done that. I really feel from a program standpoint, from an off season standpoint that is a lot of what we need to be successful once we start throwing the football around,” he said.

The Whippets will play games against Mansfield Madison, Lexington and Willard without Minnesota recruit Brennan Armstrong and leading rusher “Shorty” Brooks and two others due to a violation of team rules in May. However, Will believes they are going to be able to work through those issues. “We have a sophomore quarterback that has done a great job and we have a really nice looking freshman that is doing a great job. Here is the thing we still have Uriah, we still have Brady, we still have Carter, we still have a lot of nice looking athletes, we still have our offensive and defensive lines back,” he told Swankonsports.com during a break in practice on Thursday, “So, we are going to be okay. The idea is we are just going to hold the fort down until those guys get back week four and do the best we can. There are no excuses the bottom line is the team we roll out against Madison that is going to have to be the team that represents Shelby High School and we have full faith that they will do that.”

Published 8/04/17

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Shelby Moves to Next Round

  

          Northern Ohio League champion Shelby, the top seed in the district, beat Port Clinton (11-1) in five innings to advance to a sectional title game against Clyde on Friday evening at Shelby.

          The Whippets (20-3), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, got on top early and coach Jon Amicome says after a little lull went ahead an put the game away.  “We did a nice job jumping on Port Clinton early.  We were able to go up 5-0 after the first inning, but Port Clinton battled back.  It was a 5-1 game going into the fourth and they showed a lot heart and a lot determination too and you tip your cap to those kids.  They weren’t intimidated by Shelby, nor should they have been,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They came ready to play and they kind of caught us sleepwalking through the first three innings.  Luckily our guys started refocusing.  Our kids did a nice job of kind of running the bases well and getting productive at bats and we were able to go from there.”

          Shelby has two pitchers in Hunter Hoffman and Garrett Caudill with a least six wins this year, they have one of the best closers in the area in junior Brennan Armstrong, and they also have Tanner Elliott with an ERA of less than 1.25.

          Amicone says that kind of depth on the mound is a real plus come tournament time.  “We are very fortunate this year to have a lot of guys that we trust that can throw a lot of quality innings for us.  That was key (Wednesday) night to be able to get that win and get that run in the fifth inning to use that rule to save our arms and save our pitchers, especially with the new pitch count and really get our rotation set for what we want to do against a really good Clyde team.  We have to come with all hands on deck because Clyde is an unbelievable team with a lot of athleticism and a lot of good pitching themselves,” he said.

          Shelby plays Clyde, a (1-0) winner of Huron on Wednesday, in a sectional final on Friday. 

          Amicone says the Fliers are a very good team that has a number quality left handed pitchers.  “The “SBC” is no joke for baseball.  It is an extremely competitive baseball conference and they are right in the thick of it right behind Vermilion.  George (Parks) does a great job with that team.  They have a lot of lefty pitchers.  I think they have three or four that they can throw out there.  It is going to be a challenge for us.  It should be a really good ball game.  That is what championships are and it is a sectional championship game.  There are no more free passes.  Anytime you win a game in this district you are going to get another tough game ahead of you.  We need to be ready to go,” said Amicone.

 

Published 5/11/17

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Shelby Wins Second Straight “NOL” Baseball Title

  

          No matter how talented you are it is hard to repeat, but that is what they Shelby Whippets have done.

          With a (3-2) win over the Bellevue Redmen on Tuesday, the Whippets laid claim to their second straight title.

          Coach Jon Amicone says it something that the kids really wanted and he is proud of them.  “Proud of the word and we kind of reiterated that to them after the game.  Going back to back is a very tough thing.  Winning a conference in any way is a very tough thing.  Our kids did a nice job of working hard and staying focused. We lost some guys, but the younger kids really stepped up.  They wanted to accomplish the goal and they worked towards it.  I am proud of their efforts.  I can’t say enough about the way they competed all year,” he said.

          Shelby took a (3-0) lead in the bottom half of the third inning on Tuesday and Amicone says the bottom of their lineup did an outstanding job of setting the table.  “The bottom of our lineup did a nice job, our eight and nine hitters.  They came up first and got back to back base hits and turned the lineup over to the top of the order and the top of the order did their job.  Davey Hipp and Brady Hill did a nice job at the bottom of the lineup to kind of get that inning rolling.  When you are getting that type of production at the bottom of the order you need to put up crooked numbers and the top of the order did their job to turn their base hits into runs,” said Amicone.

          With that 3-0 lead starter Garrett Caudill held the Redmen scoreless through the fifth inning and when he got into a little trouble in the sixth closer Brennan Armstrong was able to come in put out the fire.  Amicone says those two deserve a lot of credit.  “Garrett (Caudill) our starter did a nice job and then in the sixth inning they got to him.  They are great hitting team and they put some really nice at bats together.  They cut the lead to 3-1 with runners on second and third and one out, so we brought Brennan in.  It is tough to do,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Tuesday night, “We like to bring him in to start innings.  It was cold weather, but he came right in and gave up one run, but held the lead.  That is all we ask him to do.  He was able to strike out the side in the seventh.  I am very proud of both our pitchers efforts.  They threw strikes and gave our team a chance to win and that is what pitching is supposed to do.  I am proud of both them.”

          Shelby (19-3,10-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at home against Port Clinton in a first round game in the division two tournament next week.

          Amicone says they are going to have to continue to play outstanding baseball in order to win the district title, but they want to do some celebrating first.  “It is a tough district and when you get past round one and all of the sudden you are going to play a Bellevue or a Clyde or a Lexington, there is no getting around it.  I let our kids know that they need feel good about themselves.  They need to feel that sense of accomplishment for a few days.  This was a nice thing that they did.  We kind of made a deal with them after a couple of days we will backup and get refocused and hope to make a tournament run,” said Amicone.

 

Published 5/03/17

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Shelby Beats Galion; Ready for Bellevue

  

          Shelby beat Galion (7-2) Monday in a non-conference high school softball game and now they face a huge opportunity when they host Bellevue on Tuesday.

          First year coach Natalie Huggins says they put together a nice game against Galion.  “It was a huge win for us (Monday) night.  We were able to beat a quality opponent in Galion and that was very important for us not only heading into the tournament, but the end of our “NOL” season, which we have a big game (Tuesday) with Bellevue.  It was a very nice tune up for us,” she said.

          They play Mansfield Senior in their opening division two tournament game next week.

          Huggins says they are constantly talking about getting better and she says they have to be very good in all areas in order to beat a team like Bellevue.  “We talk a lot about there are three big aspects of softball one being offense, two being defense, and pitching having its own category.  We have been talking quite a bit about when we lose a game all three are not working together.  We usually have two of three, but that won’t win ball games.  So, (Monday) night I thought we did a really good job of bringing all three of those together.  That is something we are always striving to improve making sure our defense is perfect, making sure we get the key hits when we need them and also make sure our pitchers are rested, but also throwing hard and on top of their game,” said Huggins.

          Shelby (13-8,7-2) lost to Bellevue (17-2,9-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the large school division, on the road (7-4) back on April 11 and they are going to need this one if they are going to have a chance at the league title.

          Huggins says Bellevue has been the best and if you are going to win league titles you have to beat the best and that is their goal come Tuesday afternoon.  “If we want to be the best we have to beat the best.  For many, many years Bellevue has been the best and Bellevue continues to be the best.  They have no losses in the league and we are sitting two back with a very slim outside chance, which makes (Tuesday’s) game very important.  With that being said they have earned the right to be considered the best,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “The five straight “NOL” championships that they have going into this year speaks for itself.  (Tuesday) is a huge one, but we have also talked to our kids about that (Tuesday) is just another game.  We just need to play Shelby softball and if we play Shelby softball in all three aspects of softball as far as pitching, defense, and offense come together when they need to come together then we will be fine.”

 

Published 5/02/17

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Whippets Win Again; Shutout Ontario

  

          Shelby posted its 11th straight win on Tuesday when they beat Ontario (3-0) in Northern Ohio League play.

          The Whippets (16-3,9-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, remain unbeaten in “NOL” games and on the verge of defending their league title.  A win next week against Bellevue will give them no less than a share of the title.

          Coach Jon Amicone says he is proud of how focused his team has been this year.  “I think our kids have a good approach to the game.  They handle themselves really well.  They know how they want to go into a game.  They know what to expect.  They know what is expected of them.  They have done a really good job of coming to the game ready to play.  That is all you can ask as a coach.  They know when it is game time it is time to get focused and do the job,” he said.

          Again the Whippets got outstanding pitching from senior starter Garrett Caudill and closer Brennan Armstrong, headed to Minnesota to play college football. 

          Amicone says Caudill got them out of two big jams on Tuesday.  “We went with our senior leader and Garrett Caudill threw five shutout innings.  We were very fortunate.  They had the bases loaded twice with nobody out and got no runs.  He really buckled down and was able to throw his three pitches.  He is not going to overpower you with his fastball, but he has a lot of confidence in his change up and his curve ball and will through them at all times,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He makes it very uncountable batting.  He was able to keep them off balance and really did it when he needed it the most.  We booted the ball around a little bit and it was Garrett that bailed us out on the mound.  He got some strikeouts and ground balls to get us out of some innings.”

          Amicone says Armstrong, who has accepted the closer’s role with the team this year, was up to the challenge as well.  “We do not win the game (Tuesday) night without Garrett Caudill on the mound for the first five innings.  A lesser pitcher probably gives in a little bit and maybe doesn’t throw his off speed stuff.  Those were two key innings.  It was Garrett’s pitching that got us out of those key innings.  The last two innings we were able to throw Brennan (Armstrong.)  It really worked out for us that this was our only league game this week.  We were going to stretch Brennan a little more to a two inning save.  He did a great job and came in an struck out four batters in two innings and really pounded the strike zone and did his job as the closer,” said Amicone.

          Having a week off of league play in maybe not the best thing, but Amicone says they have things to work on.  “You want to play those league games when the team is feeling good and the beautiful sunny days that we have had this week you want to keep playing these league games.  Unfortunately that just wasn’t in the cards.  It is out of your control, so you those have to prepare and work on the small things and what you need to do to win.  We have Upper Thursday and a really good Lexington team on Friday that we are excited to play.  Then next week we will play Galion, so we have three games to sort of prepare us for that Bellevue game.  We don’t expect to let up,” said Amicone.

 

Published 4/26/17

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Lady Whippets Remain in Contact

  

          Shelby got a win they absolutely had to have on Thursday as they rallied to beat Tiffin Columbian (11-10) on a walk off single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

          The Lady Whippets remain two games behind league leading Bellevue in the league standings.

          Trailing the whole game, the Lady Whippets came up with the win on Rachel Ensman’s walk off single.

          Coach Natalie Huggins says it was an exciting win and they are kind of pumped up about it.  “We talked (Thursday) night about that is wasn’t an ugly win, it was an exciting win.  We always say there is no such thing as a bad win sometimes it is ugly,  (Thursday) night you can’t even say it was ugly it was just exciting.  It was back and forth.  It was not the game that when we woke up this morning that we anticipated having, but very proud of the battle that we got into and coming out triumphant,” said Huggins.

          Wins like this can be important to a softball teams.  Huggins says the way things played out can be an injection of confidence for the team.  “Our confidence has been improved in knowing that we were not ahead ever in this ball game until we won.  So, just understanding that we have that fight in us and that we were able to execute when needed.  I want to give a big shout out to Camryn Zehner,” she said after the win on Thursday night, “She tore her “ACL” this winter and her first game back was (Thursday.)  She has been rehabbing like crazy.  She led off the seventh with a walk and gave us the opportunity to get that base runner on when we were tied 10-10.  So, the fact that Camryn got in (Thursday) and we had that walk off it was a huge confidence booster.  It was just a very good feel good game.”

          Shelby (12-4,6-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the large school division, plays Mansfield Senior on Friday, weather permitting, and Madison in a doubleheader on Saturday.  They play Wayne County Athletic League power Hillsdale on Monday and return to “NOL” play against Ontario next Tuesday.

          Huggins says a plus for them has been the depth and versatility of their lineup.  “I think our offense is very potent and definitely one of our strengths.  We are big believers in hitting is contagious, but we are also big believers in one through nine can bunt the ball and one through nine can get us that clutch hit when we need it.  We don’t have any less confidence the further down the lineup we go.  I think that is a big part of our offense,” said Huggins.

 

Published 4/21/17

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Shelby Remains Unbeaten in “NOL”

  

          Shelby maintained its two game lead in the Northern Ohio League baseball standings with a (6-2) win over Tiffin Columbian on Thursday evening.

          Shelby remains unbeaten in the league and holds a two game lead over Bellevue.  The Redmen were to play Ontario on Thursday, but their game was called due to rain.

          Coach Jon Amicone says the Whippets seem to be in a good grove really for the first month of the season.  “I think our kids are playing extremely hard.  I think they know the goals that have been laid out in front of them.  As a coaching staff we are very pleased about where we are heading mentally and the way they are approaching the game right now with a lot of focus and a lot of determination,” he said.

          Shelby (12-3,8-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, has been very consistent this season.  Their only losses are in weekend doubleheaders to Vermilion and Ashland. 

          Amicone says they work on hard on the mental part of the game and he feels that has worked very well for them this season.  “That is something we are really trying to coach in our kids the mental aspect of the game.  Baseball is really a game against yourself.  You are the one that has to make the plays, you are the one that has to put the at bats together, you are the one that has to pitch,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “You are playing against someone else, but you are really playing against yourself.  We really try and instill that with our guys and be the best they can be in every pitch and every play.”

         Shelby hosts Mansfield Senior (1-11) in a non-conference game on Friday, weather permitting, play always good Edison in a doubleheader on Saturday, and Wayne County Athletic League leader Hillsdale on Monday.  They return to “NOL” play Tuesday at Ontario.

          Amicone says they need to understand they haven’t accomplished anything yet.  “We have got to reiterate that fact to our players probably everyday that no goal has been accomplished yet.  We don’t want to wait for a score and see who is beating this team or that team we just need to focus on ourselves to compete at a very high level as much as we can during “NOL” games.  The baseball saying over the years is it ain’t over until it’s over.  Our guys have done a good job to put ourselves in a nice position, but they have to continue to work and continue to strive,” said Amicone.

 

Published 4/21/17

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Shelby Gets Huge Win Over Bellevue

  

          Shelby and Bellevue are likely the two best teams in the Northern Ohio League this year and they met for the first time on the baseball diamond on Tuesday.

          Whippets’ starter Garrett Caudill fired a two-hitter and Shelby beat Bellevue (3-0) to remain all alone in first place in the league standings.  Bellevue is now two back.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says it was a huge win for his team on the road on Tuesday.  “Going on the road in the “NOL” it is always tough to win.  When you are going up against a team the caliper of Bellevue, a perennial baseball club around the state it was a big win for the program and a big win for the league standings.  These are games you have to win if you want to be on the top of the league at the end of the year.  I am very proud of our kid’s effort (Tuesday) night.  They didn’t back down from the challenge and they played a very solid baseball game,” said Amicone.

          Amicone gave the ball to his senior Garrett Caudill and he turned in a tremendous performance on Tuesday.  “We had our senior Garrett Caudill go and he pitched a complete game, a two hit shutout and that is what seniors do.  Seniors lead and Garrett has done that as a senior.  He has embraced that kind of ace role and he always wants the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Coming into the seventh inning, and we have Brennan (Armstrong) as our closer and he is special.  I kind of asked Garrett about it and he said I am finishing the game coach.  He told me I want the ball.  He is the caliper of kid you want with the ball in the seventh inning.  He did a great job of going 1-2-3 in the seventh and getting a complete game.”

          This season Caudill, who had two walks and two strikeouts on the day, has been a bulldog for the Whippets and Amicone says he was going to give him the chance to get the win.  “I was one of those games where he was throwing well.  He was locating three pitches.  He was keeping them off balance.  In the back of my head I’m thinking we have this lefty Armstrong, who is our guy, but at the end of the day you trust your kids and you coach them and when a kid looks you in the eye and says I want the ball I am going to give him every chance to do it.  He competed for us and the team owes him a thank you,” he said.

          Bellevue’s Cody Snyder, who threw a no hitter last week, had 11 strikeouts on the day.

          Shelby had eight hits on the day and none bigger and Brennan Armstrong’s RBI single in the fifth inning that gave Shelby the lead.  Amicone says his team also had some productive outs.  “It was a tie game going to the fifth.  Their pitcher Cody Snyder is an absolute stud and he got the first two guys out and turned it over to the top of our lineup.  Carter Brooks got a double and Brennan brought him in with a base hit.  Runs are at a premium when you go up against Cody Snyder and Bellevue.  We were fortunate to put some good at bats together.  We really did a nice job of having productive outs later on in the game and tack on two runs.  We got a nice sac fly for an insurance run in the sixth.  Our kids did a nice job top to bottom in the lineup of being productive,” said Amicone.

 

Published 4/12/17

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Shelby Beats Willard

  

          So far, Shelby has won seven of its first nine games for first year coach Natalie Huggins, but they know they still have to get better as the season goes on.

          They beat Willard (11-7) in a Northern Ohio League game on Monday night to remain a game behind league leading Bellevue.

          Huggins says she has a smile on her face, but is still looking forward.  “So far we have put ourselves in a good position to compete.  I have absolutely no complaints.  There is room to grow, but we are off to a very good start,” she said.

          Bellevue (8-2,3-0) beat Tiffin Columbian (13-7) on Monday.  The Lady Whippets (7-2,3-1) play at Bellevue on Tuesday.

          They lost their only “NOL” so far last week to Norwalk (5-4) and Huggins says it was important for them to right back on the beam.  “The Norwalk loss we definitely a heartbreaker.  We talked to the kids that it is okay to be upset about the game.  It is okay to let that one hurt a little bit, but we needed to get back in the saddle,” she told Swankonsports.com after the win over Willard, “We ended up dropping one to Ashland this weekend and learned a lot in that game, but then bounced right back and beat them in our second game of our doubleheader.  It was nice to get those games in with Ashland this past Saturday.  We had been rained out at the “MVD” last weekend, but ended up being able to pick up that doubleheader with them and that worked out well and get back in the saddle.”

          Natalie is the daughter of longtime Colonel Crawford coach Chuck Huggins and she understands what it takes to be a good softball team.  She says you have to learn something every time you take the field.  “If you have a loss that you didn’t learn from as a team and you didn’t learn from individually then that was a wasted night on the softball diamond.  So, every time we win, every time we lose, we want to be better softball players to prepare yourself for what we like to call championship month in May.  It is absolutely necessary to learn from a loss,” said Huggins.

 

Published 4/11/17

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Shelby Downs Tiffin; Ready for two more “NOL” Games

  

          Shelby got the first one as they begin defense of their Northern Ohio League title Monday with a (7-5) win at Tiffin Columbian in a game that was originally scheduled for last Friday.

          The Whippets (4-1,1-0) now have three straight league games, weather permitting, this week with Ontario on Tuesday and Norwalk on Wednesday.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says you kind of have to roll with the punches when it comes to the weather and the schedule.  “It is kind of the way the cookie crumbles.  We thought we had two league games last week and both of the them got postponed until this week and we have three league game right in a row.  It is tough, but that is the way it falls.  We don’t make excuses we have to come mentally ready to play everyday,” he said.

          Amicone says they faced a tough decision on Monday night on whether it not to use Brennan Armstrong, but he thought they made the right one.  “Winning in this league is at a premium, so every time you have a chance to win you have to take advantage of it.  We didn’t want to throw Brennan Armstrong (Monday) night, but we were up two runs in the seventh and Tiffin had 13 hits through six innings and we needed to get this win, so we threw Brennan out there for the save,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Monday, “Luckily he threw 13 pitches for us and we still have him for the next two games against Ontario and Norwalk.  Winning is too hard in this league to not go for it when you have the chance.  We felt pretty confident with Brennan to go out there are give us a one innings save.”

          Now with two more quality teams to play in Ontario and Norwalk, Amicone says they are going to need to be able have some of their other pitchers step up.  “We used two guys Monday night.  Jacob Holloway went four innings for us and did a nice job, but lost it a little bit at the end and Hunter Hoffman came in a sophomore and got the hold for us and we were able to turn it over to Brennan for the seventh.  The next two nights we are going to have to have guys step up because you have two quality teams that are coached extremely well with good players.  You have to win when you have the opportunity and that is what we did Monday and we will be ready to go (Tuesday,”) said Amicone.

          Ontario (1-1,0-1) has a new coach this season in Jeff Fisher and he has told us about the youth they are dealing with this season, but Amicone is certain he will have his guys ready to go.   “It is a great rivalry.  My first year out of college I was lucky to get the JV job there under Chris Smith.  My first year coaching was in Ontario and it is a great baseball town and “Fish” is a tremendous coach.  It might be his first year as head coach at Ontario, but that guy is one of the premier coaches not only in the area, but in the state.  I have a deep respect for Jeff Fisher and he will have that team ready youth or not.  We will have our work cut out for us and we better be ready to play,” said Amicone.

 

Published 4/04/17

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Shelby Downs Clyde

  

          Garrett Caudill went the distance striking our seven and allowing only five hits as the Shelby Whippets beat Clyde (2-1) in non-conference baseball game on Monday.

          The Whippets (2-1) beat Oberlin Firelands (5-1) and lost to Vermilion (3-0) on Saturday in their opening games, so they have gotten good pitching so far.

          Coach Jon Amicone says Caudill was in control of all of his pitches on Monday.  “We are very pleased with what we have been able to get from the top of our rotation.  Garrett Caudill, another senior, went (Monday) and he threw a very strong game for us.  It was probably the best game he has had in his whole career.  He is a senior and he needs to do those things as a senior.  He carried this team (Monday) night.  It was a site to see.  He was able to throw three pitches for strikes.  He works his change up really well and can throw any pitch in any count and he was really good,” said Amicone.

          Shelby took a (2-0) lead to seventh inning and Clyde was able to push a run across.  Amicone says Caudill’s ability to throw his breaking stuff for strikes was a key, but what he likes the most that he is a bulldog.  “He can throw that change up with late movement to it.  He is curveball had some really good life and tilt to it (Monday) night.  He carried the team on his back.  It was plain and simple we won because Garrett Caudill wouldn’t let us lose.  As a coach those are the games you just appreciate.  You really respect your seniors when they come to play like that,” he said.

          The Whippets return to action on Tuesday against Sandusky Perkins, another team that will be in their division of the Sandusky Bay Conference next season, weather permitting.

          Shelby is the defending Northern Ohio League champion and they play Norwalk on Thursday and Tiffin Columbian on Friday in league games.

          Amicone says in the “NOL” you must come ready to play and he knows repeating is not going to be easy.  “The “NOL” again this year is going to be tough and we start with two great teams in the “NOL.”  Norwalk won 20 games last year and brings back the majority of their lineup and the top of their rotation.  That’s what we have to put up with and that is just how the “NOL” goes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “There is just no game where you can relax.  You think you are going to win and it happens you lose.  That is the fun part of playing in a league like this.  You have to bring your “A” game every time.”

 

Published 3/28/17

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New Group of Shelby Baseball Players

  

          Shelby won the outright Northern Ohio League baseball title last spring and now it is almost time to start all over again with the season starting in a couple of weeks.

          The Whippets lost quite a bit to graduation last year, including an all-state pitcher, but coach Jon Amicone says they have some players that are emerging as leaders for them.  “We did lose a nice senior group led by Dillon Thornsberry, an All-Ohio pitcher.  There were about six guys in the line-up that knew there place.  It was a special class and a team last year that did some special things.  It was a special class, but we need to turn the page, we do have a nice group of seniors, four or five kids to lean on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Alex Pallo is going to be a three year starter here.  Cobb is another pitcher we lean on.  We are going to be really young and it is going to be hard to replace those great players in the senior class, but so far it has been working and they have been up to the challenge.”

          Competition is big in athletics no matter the level.  Amicone says they have a lot of kids that are trying to show the coaching staff what they have got.  “We have a lot of young kids hungry that want to put on the varsity uniform.  We are having really good competition in key areas for some infield and outfield spots.  I think competition breads success and our kids are really fighting and scratching for that starting spot.  They really want to be starters, that is obvious on the field and even in the gym, everything we are doing we are trying to compete.  The guy that competes the most is going to have that spot in the lineup,” he said.

          Of course, Shelby will also have the talents of Brennan Armstrong, who announced last month he intends to play football for the University of Minnesota in the Big Ten.  The junior is a talented baseball player too both as a pitcher and an everyday player.

          It has been an interesting last couple of weeks weather wise with temperatures in the 70’s in February and then snow in mid-March.  Amicome says they, like everybody else, are trying to work through it.  “It has been really odd.  We started practice in the last week of February outside and that is something I have never had in my six years of being a head coach and now last week and this week looks like we will be back inside the gym.  It is tough on all teams, coaches and players.  There are only so many times you can work on a bunt defense before you start to lose kid’s attention.  Our kids have done a nice job of keeping as focused as possible.  We have go to keep grinding everyone is in the same boat,” said Amicone.

 

Published 3/14/17

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Shelby and Norwalk Play for District Final Berth

  

          Shelby is back in the division two district tournament for the second straight year.  They lost in overtime in the district final last season to Bellevue.  This year they want that regional berth.

          They face Northern Ohio League rival Norwalk is a semi-final game at Willard High School on Thursday night.  Bellevue (19-4) plays Ontario (15-8) in the other.

          They reached this level with a (65-47) win over Sandusky Perkins on Saturday night. 

          Coach Natalie Lantz says they did a good job of finding the right combinations.  “I think we did a pretty good job.  We had a couple of meltdowns, but as soon as we switched up on “D” a little bit and picked up our intensity.  The score would fluctuate and we would go right back up.  Like I said Saturday, we really got off to a great start.  I really liked our defensive intensity.  We were focused and moving the ball offensively with great energy.  Those are all keys to success,” she said.

          Shelby (21-2), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, returns about everybody from last year’s district final team.  Lantz likes that experience.  “I think experience does help.  I don’t know if it is to calm nerves or anything like that, but I would like to think they are going to go into the game (Thursday) night with confidence.  I just tell them it is another game, it just has a title on it.  You still have to play your game.  You have to come in focused.  Every loose ball has got to be theirs.  Norwalk is going to come in to win as well.  They want to play on.  If we execute our game plan and hustle and scrap like we do get the defensive stops that we need and control their players we will come out on top.  I think the leadership that we have is good.  The communication starts from the top down.  We will get that done,” said Lantz.

          Norwalk (19-5) downed Northern 10 Athletic Conference champion Upper Sandusky (60-44) last Saturday.  They are paced by Jiselle Thomas, the district player of the year, who is approaching 2,000 points for her career.  She had 39 against Upper.

          Lantz says they can’t let her explode against them.  “She is a great player.  She is going to score, but we definitely want to control her,” she said.

          Shelby won both of the regular season meetings between the schools, winning (56-53) on January 3 and (64-60) on February 7.  You would expect it to be that close Thursday night. 

          Lantz says they are ready for whatever Norwalk throws at them.  “In the past against us they have switched up their defenses to try and change the pace of the game a little bit.  They have shown token man pressure in the full court.  They play man in the half court.  They have played a 1-3-1, they have done a 2-2-1, several different presses in the half court with and without traps.  It changes the dynamics of the game a little bit, so our girls have to be prepared to respond to that offensively, she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to take care of the ball, be patient when we need to be patient, execute when we need to execute, and be prepared to play up tempo when that time is right.  If we react quickly, if we respond quickly to those changes we will be just fine.  We know what they are capable of throwing at us, we have seen some different things they have thrown at other teams, and we have prepared for that as well.  There are some things that we haven’t seen that they could throw at us.  Hopefully our girls respond as they have practiced and we do a really good job.”

 

Published 3/02/17

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Shelby Taking a Ton of Momentum into the Tournament

  

          Shelby has won its last five and seven of its last eight heading into a first round tournament game in division two against Northern Ohio League rival Norwalk at Galion High School on Tuesday night.

          Whippets coach Troy Schwemley says they are playing some good basketball against solid competition.  “We finished the season strong.  We are playing good basketball and I think we have won five in a row.  Really I think the big thing about those games is it has been against some good competition.  When you look at our Perkins game, a tie ball game down the stretch and Brock Kerhes seals the ball and makes a layup, a really big play to put us up in the final minute.  Bellevue was a one point win.  We finished the season with a big win over Sandusky.  We won by 15, but that was a close game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We were down six in the third quarter.  We are playing good basketball now, but you also know it is now tournament time so you have to be playing good basketball.  We play Norwalk first game.  We have played them twice, but they are a different team now.  They have Haraway back.  We need to be playing our best basketball right now.”

         Brandon Haraway missed the first two and half months of the season after an injury in football, but Norwalk (7-15) has won three games and have been competitive in the other four.  Schwemely says he just makes everyone around him better.  “He is averaging about 10.2 a game and it is not to just his points, but his presence.  He handles the ball well and distributes it.  He is just the kind of guy that makes everybody better around him.  So, we have to defend him well, but at the same time make sure we are defending the other scorers.  George Friend is a nice shooter averaging around 16 points a game, a good streaky shooter. Jacob Roth is a good shooter too.  He has actually shot more threes and shoots at a high percentage.  Those guys can really stretch the defense.  Haraway can open things up for Friend and Roth,” he said.

          Shelby (14-8) won both of the regular season meetings this season.  Winning (63-43) on December 9 and (51-44) January 26. 

          However, Schwemley says you have to be ready for the unexpected.  “It is going to be a game when there are some interesting x’s and o’s to start with.  We have some things ready going in based on what we have seen and there is that unknown.  We have to control the things that we can control.  We have to play great defense, we have to defend, we have to rebound well, and we need to run the floor.  Typically when we are defending and rebounding that is creating offense for us.  At the start of the game that tempo is going to be really important.  Norwalk is going to want to slow down the tempo.  We want to play with what we call smart tempo.  We want to be aggressive, but also take high percentage shots and value the basketball, especially at the start because like I said I think tempo is going to be really important in this game,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/28/17

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Shelby Ready For Tournament Play

  

          Shelby did not accomplish its goal of winning an outright Northern Ohio League title, but now they feel more focused for a long tournament run.

          That challenge begins Saturday night when they play Sandusky Perkins in a second round game in division two at Monroeville High School.

          Bellevue downed the Lady Whippets (60-51) last Saturday to earn a share of the “NOL” title with Shelby.

          Coach Natalie Lantz says they are ready to go mentally again after what she describes as an uninspired effort last Saturday at Bellevue.  “Our heads are high.  We have definitely picked up the intensity and the focus.  Maybe Saturday was what we needed.  I don’t know if the girls put too much pressure on themselves or if they became flat out complacent, but Saturday was definitely not to our standard of play or hustle or rebounding or really defensive effort by any means.  We were still in the game, but I think they were doing what they needed to do to be in the game versus to come out and play hard to win the game and that is the difference,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I give Bellevue a lot of credit those girls played hard and they wanted to win.  They were hustling, they were diving after every loose ball and we weren’t.  When we saw a loose ball we would stand and watch rather than go it.  They deserved that win, we did not.  That said, we have totally regrouped and refocused and I think it will be a different story come tournament time.”

          Shelby (20-2,) the number one seed in the division two district, plays Perkins on Saturday night.  The Lady Pirates (14-9) advanced by beating Vermilion (35-32) on Wednesday night.

          Lantz says they will be facing a team that has a lot of quickness and will likely try to press quite a bit.  “They are small and quick, scrappy, and play hard nosed defense.  They played a lot of man from what we saw, but that doesn’t mean they won’t play zone.  It looks like they have a couple of different presses.  We will be ready for them,” said Lantz.

          She says they are going to need to attack the pressure and get some easy shots.  Lantz believes they have the right game plan in place to do just that.  “Seeing some of the different presses that they run we have situations to which we can break that and attack it and we will be ready to do so,” she said.

 

Published 2/24/17

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Can Shelby Get over the Top Against Sandusky?

  

          Shelby has probably played Northern Ohio League champion Sandusky as tough as any league school over the last couple of years.

          They held a seven point lead late in the fourth quarter this year before losing (67-60) in January at the “Big House.”  They lost (60-59) in a tournament game a year ago.

          They host Sandusky (18-3,11-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday night in Northern Ohio League play.

          Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says the Blue Streaks, winners of their last 13 games, are playing well, but so are his Whippets.  “Sandusky, boy, they haven’t lost in a long time, not since the new year.  I think back to the last time we played them at their place.  We were up seven with three minutes to go and played a good ballgame, just came up short.  We have put a couple of nice wins together and have played good basketball.  It is a game we were hoping would be for the league, but we also realize even though it is not there is still a lot to play for.  With tournament for us being Tuesday we want to have a good showing, end the season on a good note, and get ready for the tournament game,” he said.

          Sandusky is led by district player of the year Jayreese Williams and their other guards, but Schwemley says their other guys can hurt you too.  “We have had a lot of close games.  The thing with Sandusky is their guards really make them go.  It starts with Jayreese Williams, who is averaging around 23 a game.  Then Keith Williams and Cavon Croom are both averaging around 12 a game.  When we played at Sandusky I think those three scored 60 of their 67 points.  The thing is I thought we defended pretty good.  We made them make difficult shots and a couple of times they did,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think back to that game a big basket was made by Jamonte Alexander late in the game.  That is kind of how they work.  Jamonte and Brent Hansen are their other starters and they work hard.  They get some offensive rebound put backs.  They are not a team when you can just focus on those three guards because they have guys that step up in big moments for them.  We have played them well, but we are going to have to bring a big effort.  We like our chances and the match-ups that we think we can take advantage of.”

          Schwemley says they have been able to keep things close against Sandusky because they handle the ball well.  He says to beat them they are going to have to make the Streaks work for their points.  “We are pretty solid with our guard play.  We start five guys that played some point guard in their career.  All of our guys are pretty confident in their ball handling and move the ball well together.  Typically when we have played teams that pressure we have done a good job of taking advantage of that.  I know we have had a turnover here or there that has been costly.  Sandusky is like that.  They are going to constantly pressure you trying to break you down for 32 minutes and we have done a pretty good job of that.  We have to make sure we stay with that from start to finish because we can’t let them have that run or those couple easy baskets.  We are a petty good defensive team.  Our guys work together and they work pretty well together and they complement each other well.  It is one of those games where don’t let Sandusky get any easies, make them work for everything.  Offensively we have Davey Hipp leading us with 16 points a game, but they you have Brock and Hunter and Uriah, Brady and Matthew and we have a lot of guys that score 10-12 points and that is what we need to be successful,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/23/17

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Outright Title in Balance for Shelby

  

          Shelby has a chance to win its first outright Northern Ohio League girls’ basketball title since 2008.  They must beat arch rival Bellevue on the road Saturday afternoon to do it.

          They have shared the title with Bellevue twice in those last nine years and coach Natalie Lantz says they are not interested in doing that this time around.  “The girls have worked hard this season.  I think they have done a good job.  They have played so good the second half of the season.  They want to come out on top and by themselves,” she said.

          Shelby won the first meeting in January (46-45) on a turnaround 30 footer at the horn.  Was it good?  Well, that depends on who is telling the story.  The only ones that mattered were the game officials and they counted the goal.

          Bellevue (17-4,10-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has gotten more healthy and they have not lost a game since Shelby (20-1,11-0), #1 in our poll, beat them.  Lantz says they are very aggressive and they are very versatile on offense.  “They are a very aggressive defensive team and they have a lot of outside threats.  They have guards that are good at driving and penetrating the gaps and kicking out to others for shots.  They have a lot of inside, outside threats,” said Lantz.

          When you play games like this you must play well in all areas, but Lantz says it really starts with the way they defend.  “No matter if we are in man or zone, what we choose to play, we will have to really man up, whoever is on ball,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They need to step up and do their job and the others will have to be ready to rotate, not just the first person, but the second and third person so no one gets an uncontested shot off.  Then we have to be in good position to get the rebound and transition to the other end.  Communication will be key to make sure we get that done.”

 

Published 2/17/17

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Shelby Wants to Continue Good Play at Bellevue

  

          Shelby seems to be getting hot at the right time as the Whippets head for Bellevue on Friday night for a Northern Ohio League game.

          After a (48-44) win over Sandusky Perkins on Saturday night, the Whippets drilled Willard (70-45) in a league game on Tuesday night.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they got that marquee win on Saturday and were able to carry that momentum over to Tuesday night.  “For us it has been about finishing.  For us the big win was that Perkins win.  We have had some games like that throughout the season.  We were in games and it seems like we can’t get a break and can’t finish.  Some of those have been games we have had control over.  You have to make your own luck so to speak.  That Perkins win was a big win for us to beat a very good team.  We have been playing well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our guys have been unselfish and have been distributing the ball well.  (Tuesday) night we had four guys I believe in double figures.  Davey Hipp led us with 20.  He had his 1,000 career point in that game.  The important thing in that game was how he was scoring.  When we have guys scoring typically we have assists and that is good basketball.”

          Hipp is just the fourth Shelby player to score 1,000 points in his career.  Schwemley says he continues to strive to get better as a player and that makes them better as a team.  “You look at his progress throughout the years and improvement and even this year.  People hear the word improvement and they think of that as a negative thing and it’s not.  He has continued to improve with hard work.  I think the big thing with him this year is his efficiency has improved.  I think his shots have been down lately in terms of numbers of shots, but he is still scoring the same number of points.  That is him being efficient and us having good ball movement and be willing to make the extra pass no matter who it is and guys having confidence in each other,” said Schwemley.

          Shelby (12-8,7-3) plays at Bellevue (8-10,5-6) in an “NOL” game on Friday night.  The Whippets were (62-44) winners in the first match-up between the schools.

          Schwemley says they want to be able to carry this streak of good play into the weekend.  “At this time of year you want to be playing good basketball and we are going to be on the road.  They are going to play well at home.  They have shown that throughout the year that they can play good basketball.  Sometimes scores can be misleading.  When you look at the final score you don’t really know the whole story.  We have to go in there and give great effort.  When you look at it we only have two games left in the regular season and then the tournament is going to be here.  That first tournament game is the Tuesday of the following week.  Bellevue has shown they can play.  If we take care of our part we like our chances.  You want to be playing well at this time of the year,” he said.

 

Published 2/16/17

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Shelby Upends  Perkins

   

          Brock Kehres sole the ball at mid-court and scored on a twisting layup with 35 seconds left and Shelby hung on to beat Sandusky Perkins (48-44) in a non-conference basketball game on Saturday night.

          Shelby held a six point lead (44-38) after Davey Hipp’s layup with 4:27 remaining, but the Pirates would score three straight field goals, two on power moves by Jake Wagner and one a jumper by Bennett McCune to tie it at (44-44) with 1:48 left.  They had the ball likely looking to take the final shot.

          However, Kehres striped the ball away from the Pirates and layed it in for the lead.  After a time out Perkins got a three out of the left corner, but it was blocked by Hunter Hoffman.  Hipp then sealed it with two free throws with 10 seconds on the clock.

          Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says the Whippets (11-8) finally got that marquee win their have been looking for this season.  “I mean we have had so many games like this one where we just came up short.  The kids give great effort night in and night out.  (Saturday) night was that game and I am just so proud of them because a couple of things went against us there late,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We had a couple of times when we didn’t get finishes.  Brock got that steal and layup and it was like okay can we get rid of those skeletons in the closet.  I thought the next biggest play was Hunter Hoffman blocking that three from the corner because we are still just up two and Hunter came out of nowhere and at full extension blocked that shot, which got us the ball back.  Brock’s play put us up, but Hunter’s play kept us there and Davey was able to make two free throws.  Plays like that, those unseen plays, are the different between winning and losing.”

          Hipp led Shelby with 17.  Luke Zahniser had 14 for the Pirates.

          Perkins had as much as five point lead in the third quarter (25-20) after a Conner Roesch basket with 5:34 left in the quarter, but the Whippets outscored them 12-6 for the remainder of the quarter to take a (32-31) lead after three.

          Perkins coach Scott McVeigh says they didn’t get the ball inside to their big guys enough.  He says they really only had turnover in the fourth quarter, but it cost them.  “It is always a good game down here.  It is always competitive.  I think we showed a little tiredness coming off (Friday) night, but we are not going use excuses.  We took care of the ball in the second half.  Fourth quarter we took care of the ball.  The only turnover we had was late.  It’s a tie game and we’ve got the ball the worse thing we should have happened is overtime.  We played with it and turned it over and they got points off of it, probably the worse case scenario we could have happened.  We didn’t get the ball inside enough and when we did we didn’t finish.  That was huge, it wasn’t like we weren’t getting good looks inside we just didn’t finish and that was a big part of it,” said McVeigh.

          Like most of the season Shelby was undersized, but Schwemley says they did an affective job of defending and not allowing the Pirates to throw it inside time and time again.  “Hunter and Uriah (Gieseler) typically get other team’s 5’s and 4’s and they are outmatched and do a great job of working and positioning.  We talk about it has to take five guys.  Our guards pester their guards and pressure them because if you pressure the perimeter it helps the inside.  It is not just Hunter and Uriah doing that dirty work in the post.  I thought our guards were pests (Saturday) night and had some active hands when we needed it.  We rebounded well there were a couple of times down the stretch when again you are outsized that everybody has to make an effort boxing our rebounding.  Our defense to hold them to 44 points with their size they are a very good team,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/12/17

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Shelby Hosts Perkins Saturday

  

          Shelby does not have a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  They do play at home against Sandusky Perkins on Saturday.

          The Perkins game is their only game this week and coach Troy Schwemley admits that has an odd feel and they have had to adjust their practice schedule a little bit.  “This is our first time this year to my knowledge that we have had a really long week.  We gave them Monday off.  We have had a lot of doubles.  When you play 22 games there aren’t many times when you have two games a week let a lone just that one on Saturday.  So, it has been an interesting week of preparation.  Thursday’s practice as like a Wednesday practice because we still have two days before the game.  It is odd because we still have one and half practices with Friday and then Saturday morning.  It has been a little bit odd, but at this point in the season you want to keep guys fresh, get them rested, and keep their legs under them for that stretch run,” he said.

          Schwemley says especially at this time of year it is balance between working kids hard physically in practice and taking some time to review things on film.  “I think the hard part in the balance.  There is that balance of trying to make things competitive and teaching and just getting that feeling out of your kids.  Sometimes we need to push them and they don’t feel like it.  You are getting after them and getting after them to try and get them to that point.  You are also emotionally keeping them fresh.  It is hard this time of year we have played 18 games and we still have four left.  Kids can’t just day in and day out, as much us coaches want them too, bring it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think there is that balancing act of knowing when to give them time.  Sometimes the best thing to do is just teaching, sometimes kids don’t like that either, it is good for them in terms of preparation and getting them ready for the next opponent.  We play a really good Perkins team in a game I wish, we have to do our tournament seeds (Friday) morning, and I wish I had to this weekend to see how some of the games fall because it would affect how I vote.”

          Shelby (10-8) plays at home against Perkins (13-4) on Saturday night.  Schwemley says Pirates present some match-up issues for them.  “Match-up wise they are one the bigger teams we play.  They have two post players that can both post up.  They try to hurt you inside.  They have guards that can shoot.  They bring some match-ups that most teams don’t that we don’t see a lot of.  We might see one guy posting up, but not the high, low that they typically do.  They havr two very good post players, I think they are both 6’5” and very thick, strong guys.  It will be interesting to see how we match up with them,” he said.

 

Published 2/10/17

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Shelby and Upper Girls Battle on Thursday night

  

          The top two teams in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll among larger schools play on Thursday night as Northern Ohio League leader Shelby is at Northern 10 Athletic Conference leader Upper Sandusky.

          Upper is unbeaten (17-0) and Shelby (17-1) has lost just once, to Mansfield Senior, since the season began before Thanksgiving.

          Shelby coach Natalie Lantz says this may be a non-league game, but they are certainly pumped up to play the Lady Rams.  “We are excited about the game.  They got us last year at home.  They are a great team.  They have some very talented players, very athletic players and they have some good shooters.  We are ready for the match-up,” she said.

          The pace of the game will probably be quick as both teams like to get down the floor.  Lantz says they must get back and defend the width of the floor against the Lady Rams.  “They have very good outside shooters in Fogle and Carey.  We want to definitely be sure we are on our game.  It is not just the outside shot, but we have to get people back protecting the paint as well,” said Lantz.

          It is fair to say the Northern Ohio League is the deepest girls’ basketball conference in North Central Ohio this year with Shelby, Bellevue, Norwalk, Ontario, and to some degree Willard.

          Lantz feels they have been challenged by good competition and that helps them against a team as good as Upper Sandusky.  “I think this helps prepare us even better for tournament time.  Upper is ranked in the top 10 in the state.  They have a great ball club.  They have everybody back from last year.  I feel strong with who we have and I like our depth.  The Northern Ohio League is extremely strong this year and we have faced some great competition through the season with Mansfield Senior, Mt. Vernon, Bellevue, and Norwalk and Ontario, they have given us two good games,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I don’t think we played real well against them the first time.  We played a little better the second time, but we still had a little funk there in the third quarter, fourth quarter, but we came around when we needed to at the end of the ball game to get the “W.”  I think our girls have that experience in close ball games and are becoming more and more confident.  If we put in four solid quarters I know we can come up with a “W” against Upper.”

 

Published 2/02/17

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Shelby and Ontario Meet for Second Time

  

          Shelby plays host to Ontario in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night in a meeting between two teams in the upper division of the league standings.

          Shelby trails league leader Sandusky by two games, Ontario is three back.

          A big rally on Saturday night gave the Whippets a (60-52) win over Tiffin Columbian in a league game. 

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they really played well down the stretch of the game.  “We kind of hand our backs against the wall with about five minutes to go.  We had some guys just foul out, Uriah Gieseler and Mathew Hiatt just fouled out, a starter and our first guy off the bench, and I believe we were down six or seven at the time.  We were down 52 to something and from then on we didn’t give up another basket and made a nice run.  Davey Hipp and Brock Keres really finished for us strong got some solid play from Hunter Hoffman and Jacob Holloway down the stretch,” he said.

          Ontario won the first meeting between the teams (52-46) at Ontario in December.  Schwemely says it is a game that could have been theirs and they must win Friday.  “Our first game was a pretty close game.  A game where we had a lead at halftime (27-17) and just had a miserable third quarter.  It was a tie ballgame late in the game.  Logan Jones went down the middle and made a nice little floater for 40 second to go and that gave them the lead at that really seemed to be the difference in a back and forth game.  At the time that was a difference for us when you look at the “NOL,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That was our first league loss and if we were able to maintain that Sandusky game.  Right now we have two league losses, Ontario has three, and Sandusky has none.  For us we can’t afford to get any further back because it is going to be tough to catch Sandusky at this point.”

          Schwemley says this is a game that will be played between teams that are guard oriented.  He says the stats show that the teams are pretty similar in what they do.  “Jackson Todd is averaging about 14 points a game, Quan Jackson averages about 11 a game, and Trey Jordan averages about nine a game, so their three leading scorers are their guards.  Our three leading scorers are our guards in Davey Hipp, Brock Kehres and Brady Hill.  Both of us are similar in that they have Logan Jones averaging about eight, Chance Mott around six, and Owen Zeiter is getting some points here and there and is averaging about three.  For us the same, Hoffman starts for us and he is around nine a game and Uriah Gieseler is around six and a half a game.  So, both of us have some other guys that can hit double figures, can score some points, and make contributions, but night in and night out it is the guard play that leads both of us,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 1/31/17

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Shelby Must Move on

  

          If it were not for about three minutes last Friday night, the Shelby Whippets would be sitting in a share of first place in the Northern Ohio League, but instead they share second place with Ontario and Bellevue two games back.

          The Whippets held a seven point lead with a little over three minutes to play against league leader Sandusky, but let it get away and lost (67-60) to the Streaks.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they kind of have to collect their thoughts and move forward.  “We are three minutes away from being tied for first right.  We go up to Sandusky on Friday night and are up seven with three and half to go and up five with three and make some mistakes.  I made a play call mistake that I would love to take back.  There were just some things down the stretch that didn’t work out in our favor.  Some of them were our own fault and things we control and we need to do a better job, coaches and players, to make sure we don’t get a game like that taken away from us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to move forward we can’t sit there and live in the past.  We are two games back in the league and we didn’t take care of Sandusky, now we have to take care of what we can with Norwalk at our place.  That is what we can control.  It is about how we respond and how we play the next game.”

          Shelby (7-7,4-2) plays host to Norwalk (3-10,1-5) in a “NOL” game on Thursday night.  Schwemley says it is time they start playing a little better.  “When you look at them they have had their struggles too.  I know that things haven’t gone maybe like they are though going into this year.  No matter what your situation is you are kind of in that grind of the season right now in late January and we are staring the next round of league play.  At this time of year you kind of find what you are made of.  You don’t want to start talking about the end of the year yet, but you do what to start building towards peaking at the right time and finishing the season strong.  Norwalk has played some teams very close.  They have lost in overtime to Sandusky Perkins and Ashland, who are two very good teams, and taken some other teams close.  Tempo wise have kept themselves in the game,” said Schwemley.

          The Shelby coach says they have to make this their kind of game and make the Truckers adapt to them.  “You don’t know quite what Norwalk is going to do with trying to control the tempo.  What we can control is us pressuring the ball.  Smart pressure because you don’t want to give up easies and things like that, and being aggressive and efficient on offense,” he said.

 

Published 1/26/17

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Spartans Spurt Past Shelby

   

          St. Peter’s outscored Shelby (14-0) over a three and half minute stretch of the fourth quarter and the Spartans went on to down the Whippets (76-65) in a non-conference game Saturday night at the Franciscan Activities Center in Mansfield.

          The Spartans (13-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, led Shelby (60-54) with almost seven minutes left in the game when Shelby guard Brock Kehres was hurt on a play under the basket.

         St. Peter’s coach Joe Jakubick says that allowed them to catch their breath a little and refocus.  “We were up six and we felt we took a quick shot.  They got a run out and we fouled them.  That is when Kehres got hurt and there was a delay.  So, I was going to call timeout, but that sort of did it for me.  We just said we had to settle down and we have got to make plays.  Let’s just make smart decisions.  We were able to get a couple of quick buckets and it led to a real good run.  We locked down defensively.  They hit some shots, but I was really proud overall how we defended.  They can hit threes.  I am really proud of Elijah Cobb and the job he did on Davey Hipp,” said Jakubick.

          Mason Campbell and Jared Jakubick converted back to back fast break baskets to start the run and Tyson Kent scored six points during the run.  Campbell’s hoop with 2:20 left gave the Spartans a (74-56) advantage.

          Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says Saturday night’s game was kind of a microcosm of how their season has been this year.  “I just got done telling the guys it is were we are at this year.  In so many of our games against great teams, and St. Pete’s is a great team, they have a lot of talented individuals that play well together, so they work together, but in these big games against great teams we will do that,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We cut it to four and I thought we were starting to defend and valuing every possession and then we just completely break down.  It happens too often.  (Friday) night our game went from we are up five to zero just like that in a span of 10 seconds.  (Saturday) night we have the ball and we are down four and thought we were doing a good job of attacking and we lose our minds and I look up and it is 12 just like that.”

          Shelby (7-7) lead “NOL” leader Sandusky by seven with three minutes to play on Friday night and the Blue Streaks out scored them (16-2) down the stretch to win (67-60) and knock the Whippets two games back in the league standings.

          The Whippets are one of the better perimeter shooting teams in the area and Jakubick thought they did a good job of slowing that down a little.

“Our goal was, even though they got to the paint a little too much, let’s make them hit two point jumpers.  They are so talented and all of their guards are lightning quick.  This was a great game for us really preparing us defensively,” he said.

          Shelby finished with six threes on the night.

          St. Peter’s led (27-16) after the first quarter and that quick start was fueled by some great perimeter shooting, including four threes, two each for Jakubick and Campbell.  Coach Jakubick thought they would have a pretty good night shooting the ball.  “(Friday) night in particular Mason (Campbell) and Jared (Jakubick) didn’t have their best night and I could just see (Saturday) in shoot around that they were a little more focused.  You never know if shots are going to go in or not, but I felt they were going to be ready to compete.  Anytime you get back to back nights like they had, and we had, when you get in the second half it is a little harder to knock down perimeter shots,” said Jakubick,

          Jared Jakubick and Kent both finished with 20 points on the night, while Campbell had 19.  Brady Hill led Shelby with 17 makers.

 

Published 1/21/17

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Shelby Faces Tough Challenges

  

          Shelby is still looking for that marquee win that proves they are among the best boys’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio this year and they have two chances this weekend.

          They play at Sandusky in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night and visit to Mid-Buckeye Conference leader Mansfield St. Peter’s on Saturday.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they have played some outstanding basketball at times this year, but they still need that big win.  “When you look at who we have played even throughout the year I feel we have competed against everybody we have played even in some games we have lost to good teams we have been right there and just came up short.  When you look at last week we had a good win against River Valley on Tuesday night and a really good win against Bellevue on Friday night, winning by 18.  Going into that match-up Bellevue and us both had one loss.  We talked about that as far as giving ourselves a chance because we still had Sandusky left on our schedule while Bellevue had played everybody in the rotation except us.  With us winning that game we are going into this Sandusky game with one loss and Sandusky doesn’t have any.  If we take care of (Friday) night we can put ourselves in a share of the lead,” said Schwemley.

          The Whippets (7-5,4-1) play at Sandusky (10-3,5-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  It is a chance for the Whippets to move into a share of first place. 

          Schwemley says the Blue Streaks have some explosive scorers.  “It is a tall order.  We are going to have to go to Sandusky (Friday) night and play a very good team.  Jayreese Williams is averaging around 26 a game.  Then you have Keith Williams averaging around 12 and Croom averaging around 11.  You look at those three guys along they are averaging about 50 points a game between the three of them.  I really think that is our approach going in we have got to make sure we minimize their scoring.  It starts with Jayreese, but I think all three of them are in that equation because any night those three guys do the majority of the scoring.  On any given night the other two are very good scorers as well,” he said.

          On Saturday night it is a formidable task to as St. Peter’s (11-2), #1 in our small school pool, has been really very good all year.  Shelby beat them last year, but Schwemley says a repeat won’t be easy.  “It sounds simple, but we have a tough weekend.  To bounce back win or lose Friday night and going to St. Pete’s on Saturday.  We did play well against them last year.  If I remember correctly it was close at halftime and we were able to get a 10, 15 point lead in the third quarter and that seemed to propel us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We had a great third quarter and kind of put the game out of reach.  St. Peter’s is a very good team, with a lot of those guys back.  They made regionals last year.  They are a team with definite post season aspirations.  It is a great situation for us we have competed against some of best teams in the area, but just came up short.  Well, this weekend has two teams right there that we have the opportunity to prove that we are a pretty good team too.”

 

Published 1/20/17

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Shelby Has to Eliminate Dry Spells

  

          Shelby plays an important Northern Ohio League game at home against Bellevue in a battle of contenders on Friday night.

          The Whippets beat Willard (79-56) in a league game last Friday, lost to Lexington (48-44) on Saturday, and then beat River Valley (78-51) in another non-conference game on Tuesday.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they still are in search of that marquee win.  “We are happy when it comes to our effort on a nightly basis.  I am very happy with the guys.  We came up short in a couple of games and I felt like we played well enough maybe to win and we just hadn’t quite got over the hump.  I am happy with where we are at, but we need to find a way to win some big games,” he said.

          Shelby (6-5,3-1) is at home for Bellevue (5-4,4-1) in a league game on Friday night.  Bellevue railed to beat Tiffin Columbian (72-64) in overtime last week to remain in a share of second place.

          Schwemley says this is really a bigger game for then due to how the schedule falls.  “You look at them right now and they have one league loss against Sandusky where we have one league loss to Ontario.  The difference is they did beat Ontario.  They have played everybody except us and we still have to play Sandusky.  We really have to take care of business against Bellevue because in the first round rotation we have Sandusky while they are done after us.  Right now it is about keeping pace with Sandusky and to do that we have to beat Bellevue on Friday,” said Schwemley.

          Bellevue has some height and some shooters, according to Schwemley.  “I think it is a balance.  They have balance inside and out.  Inside wise with Owen Hartley, he is averaging like 14 a game and about seven rebounds, but he has nights when he can go off and get up in the 20’s in points and double digit rebounds.  The thing he does is he can step out on the perimeter as well.  He is not just an inside player.  He runs the floor well.  Their guard play as well.  They have Ruleman averaging in averaging 19 points a game.  They get contributions from multiple guys,” he said.

          In order to get the win on Friday night, Schwemley says they have to avoid those two, three, four minute periods where they don’t score.  “I think it has been defensively it starts on the inside with Hartley and not let him get easies and get to the free throw line and get to the perimeter.  Offensively for us we have had flashes where we would score well, but then some dreadful third quarters have been the thorn in our side,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “In our Lexington gave we got outscored 14-2 in the third quarter.  When you look at the Ontario game and we got outscored 22-6.  Those are both games where we ended up being tied or had the lead in the last couple of minutes of the game.  For us I think it is just minimizing those draughts where we play well, but when things go bad we have to minimize.  You are going to go through runs in games.  If we don’t get outscored like we did in those third quarters I like our chances on any night.”

 

Published 1/12/17

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Shelby Needs Win to Keep in “NOL” Race

  

          Shelby plays two of its traditional rivals this weekend as they travel to Willard for a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night and host Lexington in a non-conference battle of Saturday night.

          They are coming off a dominating victory over Galion (77-30) last Friday in non-conference play.  Coach Troy Schwemley believes he has seen some good improvement over the holidays.  “You definitely don’t want to get worse with the change in schedule and things like that.  We played Ontario on the Friday right at the beginning of break and the Galion on the Friday over break.  When you look at those two games in the Ontario game we had a great first half, a bad third quarter, and came up short.  We had some opportunities and we can look back and say well if we do a couple of things a little better we have a chance to win.  In the Galion game we played really well and only gave up five points in the first half and did stay disciplined through the game and that is the thing I was happy with most because sometimes in a game like that you can get carried away and maybe lack some focus.  So, I thought our kids even when the score got a little lopsided that we maintained our discipline.  I thought we got a lot better and did some good things over break,” said Schwemley.

          Shelby (4-4,2-1) goes to Willard (1-8,0-4) for an “NOL” game on Friday night.  Willard nearly won their first league game last week, losing to Norwalk (56-53,) and Schwemley knows the Flashes are starting to turn it around.  “You look at their Norwalk game and they lost by three and competed and played hard and it just shows you that they are getting after it and not giving up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When we look at them the thing that sticks out to me is it starts with Nick Cofer, he plays hard inside.  Anytime you have a guy that works hard inside you can put that as a focal point.  A guy that works hard inside and gets some points at the foul line and rebounds.  Guys like that can have a big impact on the game.  They have some other guards like Ethan Daub and Jared Sowers and Brice Bailey that have scored throughout some games.  When you look at them you respect the things that they do well and the things that we are going to have to do well to stop them.”

          Shelby and Willard have been rivals for 70 years or more and Schwemley reminded his kids that the Flashes are going to be fired up to play them like they always are.  “We talked about that in practice on Wednesday.  We are going to Willard.  I know sometimes that you look at the record and things like that and I talked about the importance of focusing on this game.  I think our guys will do a good job of understanding that we are going to get a great effort from Willard.  Historically it has been a great rivalry game and don’t treat it any different based on what our records are.  It reminded me of last year that we got down something like 19-5 to start the game.  We were able to battle back and win that game.  Our kids understand going to Willard on the road, it’s a Northern Ohio League game.  We have one loss in the league.  To get another game back to Sandusky, who is undefeated, if we want a chance in the league we have to maintain pace and take care of business on Friday night,” said Schwemley.

          Lexington (8-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, comes calling on Saturday night.  Schwemley says this is a very physical, defensive minded team.  “Look at their record right now they have one loss.  They are a very physical team.  I think the difference this year is they are a little bit more on a half court team.  When you look at their scores they are typically in the 40’s and 50’s and defensively they hold teams in the 40’s.  When you look across their games, game in and game out, that tends to be their formula for success.  They are going to score about 50 some points, they are going to hold their opponents to under 50 and that is how they win.  They are a very physical half court team that can limit their opponents and defend very well,” he said.

 

Published 1/06/17

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Shelby Faces Tough Test in Norwalk

  

          Shelby, the Northern Ohio League co-leader, travels to Norwalk Tuesday night to face the Lady Truckers, who trails the leaders by just a game.

          Shelby (9-1,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, picked up a couple of non-conference wins last week over Galion (79-43) last Tuesday and Lexington (51-29) last Saturday.

          Coach Natalie Lantz feels they are in pretty good shape coming out of the holiday period.  “We were able to get the girls a couple of days off during break, but we also stayed in game mode with Galion and Lexington to keep the girls in, like I said, game mode.  We have had some good practices.  We were able to workout some things.  Obviously there are still some things we can work on in a couple of facets of our game.  I am really pleased with our girl’s work ethic and play right now.  Norwalk is a great team led by Jiselle Thomas.  They are a very good program, so we are excited to face them,” said Lantz,

         Lantz says a lot of what the Lady Truckers (8-1,3-1), #4 in our poll, do goes through Thomas.  She says Norwalk overall is very athletic and aggressive.  “They are very athletic, they are quick, they are aggressive defensively.  Everything revolves around for the most part Jiselle.  She is a very good player going division one.  She seems to get the ball rolling for them.  We are not fooled, they have some other very good players that can do some things, but she sets the tone for them.  We have to be ready for them,” she said.

          What happens if Thomas gets in foul trouble or has to set for some reason or another?  Lantz says it certainly makes them more balanced.   “I think they are forced to play more team ball and they are totally capable of doing that.  The ball is in her hands a lot when she is on the floor.  She is capable of making big offensive plays and big defensive plays.  She sees the floor and take the majority of their shots.  They do have other good shooters and rebounders.  They just might not take as many shots as she does.  When she is out of the game then it is a more even game where other players are going to step up,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We have to be prepared for those situations.  When Jiselle is in the game we have to know where she is at all times.  When the ball is in her hands we need to control that and when she is not in the game we are going to “D” up.”

 

Published 1/03/17

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Shelby Must Finish

  

          Shelby has been putting itself in position to win games almost every time out now they just need to learn how to finish more of them.

          They lost to Ontario (52-46) in a Northern Ohio League game last Friday after leading by 10 points at the half on the road.

          Coach Troy Schwemly says they played some pretty good basketball on both end during the first half at Ontario.  “Our first half was very good.  We are up 10 at halftime 27-17.  Holding a team like Ontario to 17 points in the first half and we really weren’t trying to slow the game down it was just the way the game was played.  I thought offensively we were very efficient and our offense somewhat protected of defense by talking good shots and not turning the ball over.  It allowed us to really play both ends of the floor very well.  Offensively we were pretty efficient and defensively held a team to 17 points, that’s a great half,” he said.

          The first half shows what they can do ever on nights when they don’t shoot very well.  Schwemley says they certainly left some points on the floor over the last couple of games.  “We definitely know we are capable of playing.  You look at our last two games we have played two very good teams well, but unfortunately we came up short in Ashland and Ontario.  I think the disappointing thing in both games is we ended up shooting in the low 30’s percentage wise in both of those games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you lose by three points, the Ontario game end up being six points, but that score is a little misleading because I think it was even tied with a minute to go.  When you lose close games like that and you shoot so poorly you really feel like you left a couple of possessions on the floor.  If we could just shoot a little better we can find a way to beat those teams, but we couldn’t.  We realize we need come up with wins in games like that, not saying we could have won.”

          Shelby (3-4) plays at Galion (2-5) in a non-conference game on Friday night.  After losing five straight games Galion beat River Valley (65-50) in red division game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last Thursday.

          Schwemley says they want to get off to a good start in the game and then maintain that momentum.  “They have some young players.  They have a mix of players, they have some guys that are first time varsity players.  They have some guys that are young.  A team like that is going to go through some growing pains.  The River Valley game where the ended winning by 15 they played a really nice game and got some nice scoring from multiple guys and got a nice game from a freshman.  They are a team that if you let them have a little confidence and they are coming off a win they can start feeling pretty good about themselves.  You want to take care of it early and not let a team that has found a way to win hang around that can be dangerous,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/29/16

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Shelby Wants That Signature Win

  

          Shelby shares the Northern Ohio League lead, but they are still looking for that big win that sort of puts them in the elite class in North Central Ohio.

          They almost got that on Saturday, but fell to Ashland (59-56) in the “OCC/NOL” challenge.  Coach Troy Schwemley says the Whippets shot very poorly, but still almost got it done.  “I look back at Saturday’s game.  We had a nice win Thursday and has really nice win against Tiffin and had a chance Saturday to beat one of the best teams in the area.  I really felt like we did a lot of good things, but we still came up short.  For what we are looking for is take that next step and beat a good team and we had that opportunity on Saturday.  Saturday night we shot like 32 percent from the field, something awful.  You lose by three points to a very good team and shoot the way we did it kind of leads you to we were really close to having that win against a really good team and we just came up short.  To really feel good of where we are at we need a good win and Friday night would be kind of that opportunity going to Ontario and a chance to move to 3-0 in the league that would be next opportunity for us to do that,” said Schwemley.

          The Shelby coach says they had chances to make plays that could have proved to be the difference for them.  He says they have to learn from those and put together better efforts.  “When we got into the locker room Saturday it wasn’t upset for any reasons other than the disappointment of losing.  I felt like we did a lot of good things.  (Tuesday) we watched some plays from the game that we felt we could have made a little bit better decisions here or there.  When you lose a close game like that every play matters.  There were multiple plays throughout the game where we had some opportunities and the decisions that we made could have swayed the outcome into our favor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We need to learn from it and move on and then apply it to our next game.  To beat Ontario we are going to have to learn from those mistakes.  Ontario is kind of in the same situation that we are right now they are playing good basketball they just have come up short against good teams.  They are feeling they need to find a way to win those games.  I would say we are two teams that kind of feel the same way right now.”

          Shelby (3-3,2-0) plays at Ontario (2-4,0-2) in an “NOL” game on Friday night.  Ontario, who carries rare four game losing streak, lost last week to Bellevue (50-45) and Lexington (54-49) and Schwemley says the two teams are in similar situations.  “I had a conversation with someone that had seen a lot of games at the “OCC/NOL” challenge and they were commenting on how there just isn’t and easy game on your schedule.  I said that is what is great about our schedule and about the talent in the area is that every night you have to bring it.  There are no easy nights.  With Ontario their losses have been to very quality teams, so every night you have to be ready to play.  You can never feel too good about yourself or too bad about yourself because whatever you did the night before prepares you for the next game.  The battles we have make for excitement, but also it makes you have to be tough to get through the ups and downs,” he said.

 

Published 12/21/16

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Shelby Learning From Wins and Losses

 

 

          Shelby shares Northern Ohio League lead and they have lost only one game overall so far this year, that coming last week to Mansfield Senior, and they finding ways to get better.

          They won last Friday, beating Ontario (45-44) in a league game, when coach Natalie Lantz says the Lady Whippets were not at their best.  “We played a little bit flat.  We had an off shooting night, countless bunnies we missed.  We kind of weren’t on our mark rebounding.  We just didn’t seem quite with it.  It was the same thing for three quarters against Senior, but we came back the fourth quarter and we almost pulled that victory off on Tuesday night.  Friday night I was very pleased that we found a way to be composed and get the “W” there and that’s what counts,” she said.

          They had lost (60-57) to Mansfield Senior on Tuesday night in game when they were pretty bad for three quarters and the Lady Tygers were pretty good, but they didn’t give up and that was a good sign, according to Lantz.  “I think both of these games are good for the experiences because Tuesday night I thought we showed great character because we could have thrown in the towel.  We could have lost that game by 30 points,” she told Swankonsports.com, “Mansfield Senior I give them a lot of credit.  Erica Johnson had a great game and their other guards they were hitting.  We really got after it in the fourth quarter and we took control of the game.  I think we got in their heads a little bit.  We were causing turnovers, we got some steals and made some big plays.  We took control of the boards and it made a big difference.  If it comes down to it in the tournament and we get the opportunity it will be a plus because we know we can do it.”

          Shelby (6-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Plymouth in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Lantz believes they are going to be ready to give a better effort against the Lady Big Red.  “I give Ontario a lot of credit.  They did a lot of good things, including getting to the foul line.  It was not one our better games, but I think we will regroup and be ready for Tuesday night,” she said.

 

Published 12/20/16

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Shelby Doing Some Good Things

  

          Shelby in their first four games has done a lot of good things, but just not enough of them to win all four so far.

          They have split games on both weekends.

          They beat Norwalk (63-43) in their Northern Ohio League opener last weekend and coach Troy Schwemley felt it was a pretty consistent effort on both ends.  “Friday night I was really happy with how we started.  We really got off well in the first half.  I think we were up maybe 20 at halftime and held Norwalk to like 16 points.  Friday night we were really pleased with our effort.  We had multiple guys in double digits, balanced scoring, and did a lot of things well and rebounded much better.  Those were things we talked about throughout the week that we wanted to see improvement on, rebounding and ball movement and things like that.  Friday night definitely happy with what we did,” he said,

          Upper Sandusky outlasted them last Saturday (74-65) in a non-conference game.  Schwemley says they just could never get over the hurdle against a very good team.  “We got down big in the first half.  Every time I felt like we were weathering the storm, we knew that Upper could shoot the ball and really play with a lot of pressure and they did those things.  Every time we cut it to five or six they would make like one or two threes.  Dibble ended the game with seven threes and Adams had five.  So, two guys have 12 threes and we knew going in those guys could shoot and they did,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We got down I think 18 or 20 at the half, but cut it to four or five in the third quarter.  We went in and talked about some things and adjusted and came out and got to within four or five and boom back to back threes and we are down 11.  I felt it was a game where if we could get some defensive stands or gets some finishes would give ourselves a chance.  Upper is a good team, they pressure real well, they take you out of a lot of things you want to do and they have a lot guys that can score and shoot the ball and that is what they did.  We are disappointed in the outcome, but there were times I thought we were close to getting back in the game and we just didn’t do it.”

Shelby (2-2,1-0) plays at home Thursday night against Tiffin Columbian (3-1,0-0,) who lost its first game of the season to Fremont Ross (60-56) last Saturday.  They play unbeaten Ashland (2-0) in the NOL/OCC challenge Saturday at Ontario.

          Schwemley says Tiffin is team with a lot of confidence.  “They are playing well.  When you look at them I think they are playing with confidence right now.  I know we are early in the season, but when you get off to a good start you are playing with confidence.  They have some returners from last year.  I know the Durham kid is back and he is a very tough match-up.  Malone can open some things up for some other guys.  I thought last year they were very improved.  They were one of those teams that you could just see a difference in them from the first game to the second game.  The coach up there is in his second year and the guys are buying into what he is doing.  Anytime you have things like that going on you know you are in for a tough match-up.  We are going to have to do the things like we talked about last week like rebounding, limiting them to one shot, and pressuring them into some mistakes,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/13/16

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Shelby Needs to Continue to Get Better

  

          Shelby opens play in the Northern Ohio League on Friday night at Norwalk and follows it up with a game on the road at Upper Sandusky, the defending “N10” champs on Saturday night.

          Last week, the Whippets (1-1) lost to Madison (61-49) on Friday night and beat Wynford (59-36) on Saturday.

          Overall, coach Troy Schwemley was pleased with what he saw.  On Friday night, he says they were hut on the boards by Madison and that was likely the difference.  “I was talking to some of the players (Tuesday) and we have only been practicing together for two weeks.  To have two games in I feel good about the fact good about the fact that we played because going into this weekend now we are on the same playing field as far as Norwalk who has played two games and I feel like that helped prepare us for this weekend and that was the goal.  I was pretty pleased with our efforts.  Madison has a nice team and I believe we were up five, six points at the end of the first quarter and down one at halftime.  Really I felt like we did a lot of good things, but we need to rebound better and Madison hit some threes in the third quarter and had some second chance points that really were the difference in the game,” said Schwemley.

          He was proud of the effort his kids put together against Wynford last Saturday, but he knows they must continue to get better as a team.  “We bounced back the next night and anytime you have a double weekend you want see the kids bring the maximum effort.  I was a little concerned going into that game about how our legs would be and the disappointing loss the night before.  Overall I was pleased with the weekend and pleased with the effort of the boys.  As every coach knows you have to get better from the opening weekend to the next weekend,” he said.

          Norwalk lost two tough games last weekend to Sandusky Perkins (48-46) in overtime on Friday and Huron (70-67) on Saturday.  The Truckers are playing without point guard Brandon Haraway, who was injured during football season.  Schwemley says he knows the Truckers are going to make it tough on them.  “They had two games that very easily could have went the other way.  They battled in both games and just came up a little short.  Norwalk is always going to do a great job under coach Gray executing, looking for good shots and executing a variety of plays to get open shots and get the right guy shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I know George Friend had 30 some points in the one game and he can obviously score and they have some other guys that can contribute as well.  They are battling some injuries, but it is going to be the first league game and they are going to try and find a way to get a win after their opening weekend.  We are going to have to get better this week and be ready to battle up there on Friday night.”

          Upper Sandusky was (22-0) last season and beat Willard (69-50) and New Riegel (57-48) on Saturday.  They are currently without Wes Vent, last year’s leading scorer, due to a violation of team rules during the summer.

          Schwemley says they are still pretty darn good.  “Kind of situation on Saturday that is the same as Norwalk in that we are going to be going up against a team with some missing personnel.  You can’t take anything for granted.  I know Upper Sandusky had a very good JV team last year.  They have a lot of guys that return from their very successful varsity team from last year with some guys that are now taking that next step.  We can’t go into either of these games looking at who is not playing and definitely focus on who is playing and be ready to play with the pressure that both teams are going to give us.  Upper Sandusky is going to play hard and they are going to be physical.  They have a lot of different guys that can attack you.  We can’t underestimate either team,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/07/16

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Shelby Wants to do a Few Things Well

  

          Shelby is going to jump into the boys’ basketball season with games on Friday at Mansfield Madison and Saturday at home against the Wynford Royals.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they have made really good progress over the last week, but he is concerned that they have not had enough time as a full until to be ready to play in top form.  “For where we are at, eight, nine days of having everybody here, yes, we are making progress, but form the standpoint of our first game being Friday I hope we are ready.  We have to be and we are going over things to be ready.  I know coaches never feel ready for their first game no matter if they have had four weeks of practice or one week of practice.  I think even more so there is just that level of uncertainty,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There are a lot of things that I would like to have ready and done that we haven’t had enough time to prefect and to work on.  We are going to clean things up (Thursday) and we are going to be ready on Friday night.  As a coach there is always going into the first game, how are we going to react when the lights are on and the fans are there?  We have some veteran guys that have done this before and we are going to count on their leadership this Friday to help get some of our guys that haven’t been there ready to play.”

          The plan is to have a limited amount of things in offensively and defensively for this weekend, but do them really well, according to Schwemley.  “It is trying to do just a couple of things well and work on it over and over.  I would rather do one or two things well then five or six things and you don’t execute any of them.  I think it minimizes the number of things we can do.  It just means we try and do those things the best that we can and have them ready to go.  For some degree that is what has always been our approach.  Whatever we do, do it well and teach our kids to react to different situations.  The difference is we have had four or five scrimmages and we have had that different variation of teams and what they are trying to do.  We have only had two scrimmages to this point you haven’t had quite that ability to adjust to different teams.  We are going to do just a couple of things and do those well and be ready,” said Schwemley.

          When it comes to the Madison Rams, Schwemley says they play really hard and he knows they can’t allow Tyrell Ajian to explode against them like he has the capability to do.  “When you think about Madison they have always played extremely hard.  This year they are going to put guys on the floor that embrace their role.  Obviously you have Tyrell Ajian that can really score from about anywhere.  He is the kind of guy that just make everybody better around him.  He is definitely a force we are going to have to try and slow down and contain.  You can’t let him dominate the game and not just in scoring, but he will create for everyone.  We have to negate their effort with our effort because they have always played hard.  Seems like they play a lot of guys and just play two, three, four minutes and play with maximum effort over a short period of time.  When they do that they want to do that for 32 minutes.  They really embrace the maximum effort of 32 minutes of great intensity and defensive pressure,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/01/16

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Shelby Wants to Play Better Defense

  

          Shelby won its girls’ basketball opener, but they know there is still room to improve if they are going to realize their potential.

          The Lady Whippets belted Ashland (68-50) in non-conference play on Saturday night.  They play another Ohio Cardinal Conference foe in Clear Fork (0-1) at home on Tuesday night.

          Shelby put three players in double figures on Saturday night in Jackie Garrett with 19, Maddi Fidler with 17, and Sienna King with 13.  Coach Natalie Lantz says they passed the ball very well against the Lady Arrows and they were able to get some good shots.  “I was very pleased with our ball movement.  We had some great passes and aggressive play to get the ball into the post and we finished really well inside against Ashland.  With 18 assists that shows we were very unselfish.  I was very excited about that team play,” said Lantz.

          Defense was another story.  Lantz says they were spotty when it comes to defending and that has to get better, especially when they get into the Northern Ohio League part of the season.  “I was happy at times yes, but I know we can do a much job.  I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but we weren’t talking and communicating like we were in the preseason.  So, I know we can do a better job.  Hopefully, we will step up and do a better job.  We will make some adjustments in practice and see if we can carry that over into the game (Tuesday) night,” she said.

          Shelby plays rival Willard in their first “NOL” game of the year on Saturday.  The Lady Whippets and the Lady Flashers are among the league favorites in a very balanced “NOL.”

          Clear Fork lost its first game (55-42) to Fredericktown on Friday night in non-league play.  Lantz says the Lady Colts are trying to get used to a new system and she looks for a lot of improvement from Clear Fork.  “I look for them to bounce back and be a very good match-up.  They have a new coach (Chuck Schmitt) and the girls are adjusting and everything to that system.  So, you never know what they are going to throw at you,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I know those girls are going to be playing hard for them.  We have to take care of what we know how to do and that is work together and play hard as a team, continue unselfish ball offensively and work and communicate better defensively.”

          Clear Fork won two years ago at Shelby, but the Lady Whippets returned the favor last season.

 

Published 11/29/16

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Shelby in a Race to Start the Season

  

          After a football playoff run to the regional finals last weekend, the Shelby Whippets have a limited number of practice days with their full squad to get ready for their basketball season opener next Friday against Mansfield Madison.

          Veteran coach Troy Schwemley says he wishes they were still playing football, but now that it is officially basketball season at Shelby they have to get ready.  “Now we have everybody.  We are disappointed, we were thrilled with our football run.  We would love to still be playing football right now.  From our aspect now it is time to get ready for our basketball season right now.  We open against Madison next Friday, so right now our job is to get ready for that.  I don’t care if we have five practice days or 20 practice days we have to get ready for our first game and that is our goal right now,” he said.

          Coming off a (13-11) campaign a year ago, Schwemley says the Whippets this year will have a good mix of skills and age groups and that is a good thing when it comes to putting a good team together for this season.  “I like our mix of guys.  We have some seniors, some juniors, some sophomores, we have a nice variety of players.  We have guards that can break you down off the dribble and create and shoot.  We have some forward type players that can run the floor and get up and do a variety of things,” he told Swankonsports.com during a short break in practice on Wednesday, “Then we have some guys that can post up.  I like our blend and it is also a combination of classes where it kind of takes the strengths of everybody individually.  We have a variety of guys to use and we are looking forward to that.”

          Coaches almost never think they are ready to start the season, and with a limited about of practice days with the full squad that is probably multiplied for Schwemley, but he says they have no choice to be ready come next week.  “The obvious is, yes, we have a limited amount of practice days, but the other part of that is I am not going to use that as an excuse.  My concern is can we get ready in eight days, but we have no choice we have to.  We have spent the last couple of weeks trying to look at our personnel.  What’s best?  What can we simplify?  What can we teach so they guys can pick it up quickly and be ready to go.  From our coaching standpoint that is our job to do.  Now we have them in here and we are getting ready.  That is my concern, but we better be ready,” said Schwemley.

 

Published 11/24/16

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Shelby Does Not Have to be Over Their Heads

  

          Before the season started we thought Shelby would be pretty good and they haven’t disappointed, in fact, they seem to be playing their best football in the playoffs.

          They will need to continue that trend on Friday night when they meet tradition rich Steubenville in the division four regional finals at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

          Shelby (11-1) beat Philo (40-12) last week in what was their sixth straight win.  Coach Erik Will really believes playing well early in games has been key for them.  “Fast starts are very, very important to us.  I don’t think it is the be all, end all, but we do like a fast start.  When we can get up 14, 21 points at the end of the first quarter we can relax and settle in.  You can get a lead before teams get in at halftime and have time to make adjustments.  This Friday will be no different.  Having said that, obviously the stakes are raised for a regional final and a chance to go to the state final four.  We are not necessarily expecting anything different due to the fact that we would like to get off to a fast start,” he said.

          Shelby has reached the regional finals for just second time in school history, the other time being in 1998.

          Will says playing at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium is cool, being in a regional final is great, but this is just another football game.  “We told our kids don’t stand around and look just take the place in and get ready to play a high school football game at the highest level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The field is 100 yards.  How big the crowds are just adds to the story later in life, but that is not the story.  The story is going to be two teams competing for a state final four spot.  We just want our kids to be calm and to do what we have done all year.  It doesn’t matter if it is at Skiles or on the road somewhere in the “NOL” or non-conference.  Last week at Westerville North was an unfamiliar place, but we just treated it like a regular game and it came out in our favor.”

          Games like this are not new to Steubenville this is the 29th year they have been in the playoffs.  The program has 59 playoff wins to its credit, including a (26-8) win over Johnstown-Monroe last week.  They were state runners up just last season.

          Will says the Big Red is just what you would think they would be.  “Just how disciplined they are and how deep they are.  Essentially they have 80 kids that play football it is astounding.  As a head varsity football coach I have never seen anything like it even when I was in Columbus in division one.  Just the amount of kids they have playing and they all do different things.  So, their depth is very impressive.  Obviously they are well coached.  They have a hall of fame coach, one of the best in the history of the state.  We are prepared, we are doing what we do.  We are not changing a whole lot this week. Steubenville is probably the best top to bottom team that we have played this year.  I don’t think you could argue that,” said Will.

          As most good teams do, Steubenville (11-1) does a lot of different things well on offense and they very, very aggressive on defense.  “They are multiple on offense.  They are in a spread on one play and the next play they are under center and double tight.  You try to find tendencies out of each of them and be disciplined and be sound.  Defensively they bring people from everywhere with corner blitzes.  They leave a gap on the line to try and bate you to run there and they will fill it with two or three bakers.  They do a nice job.  They are essentially organized chaos, but it works really, really well for them.  It’s organized chaos, but they are really disciplined while doing it,” he said.

          To win, Will says they do not have to be the next coming of the 2014 Buckeyes, they just have to do their stuff very, very well.  “There are two things that we have to do.  Number one, we can’t turn the ball over.  If you turn the ball over against this team they are going to beat you bad and you have to tackle backs in open space.  If we do those two things I really think we will be fine.  Their front six or seven our offensive line has to match their aggressiveness we will be fine on the offensive side.  Defensively you have to be very disciplined.  You have to trust your eye reads and we have to make sure we are gap responsible.  We don ‘t have to be superhuman we just have to be ourselves, but we have to be ourselves at a very high level,” said Will.

 

Published 11/17/16

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How Good is Shelby?

 

          This year’s addition of the Shelby Whippets football team has been very good and what is scary is they seem to be getting better and feeding off what they have been doing every week.

          They have gotten off to very good starts and been able to put most of their opponents to bed before the band hits the field for their halftime show.  They have done it with running of Devon “Shorty” Brooks and passing and running of division one recruit quarterback Brennan Armstrong behind a very physical offensive line.  One of the key developments this season has been the emergence of Uriah Gieseler, 6’3” wide out.  Last week, in a (40-12) destruction of Philo in a second round playoff game it was the defense that made headlines, holding the Electrics without a first down in the first half of the game.

          I thought it would be fun to have a little Twitter poll to see what fans thought about where this team stacked up when it comes to the long and storied tradition of Shelby football, which dates back to the late 1800’s.  One of the drawbacks of the Twitter poll is it only gives you four choices when conducting such a poll.  I chose teams from 1967, 1969 and 1998 as other possible candidates for best of all time although I am well aware there are others that deserve recognition.  To little surprise, 75% of those responding chose this year’s team as the best team ever.

          Why is that?  Well, because for one thing there is a lot of excitement in Shelby about the football team that has won 11 of its 12 games.  There and banners and signs and the like and people are eating up all that is Shelby football.  Plus, I call it the “ESPN theory, if it just happened it must be the greatest, because, well it just happened.”  I know that is the History minor in me.  Secondly, most of the people voting in the poll were probably born after any of the other contenders in the poll were on the field.  To them the 60’s feels like some time in the distant past where people watched black and white TV’s, if they had any at all, wore the caps with the bill facing forward and probably came to school in a horse and buggy, so of course they are going to feel these teams couldn’t be as good.  That was another world.

          I am not going to say this year’s team can’t be the best of all time, but further examination tells us it probably isn’t quite yet.

          Let’s take the 1967 and 1969 teams for example.  Really the dark ages.  Both were unbeaten, something this year’s team can not claim, and both were Northern Ohio League champions, something this year’s Whippets did not accomplish.

          A week five loss to Sandusky (42-21) is what stands in the way.

          Okay, well then, those teams in the late 60’s were probably playing small schools like Crestline or Plymouth to boost their record.  Well, no that is not the case.  They played Mansfield Malabar (then a high school,) Ashland and Mansfield Madison, in non-conference play.  All Schools bigger than Shelby.  Plus in the regular “NOL” schedule, which included most of the same teams from today and frankly had more depth with Galion, Upper Sandusky and Bucyrus part of the mix.  A (6-6) tie with Ashland in 1969 was the only blemish for either.

          Of course, there were no playoffs in those days, so you can’t draw a comparison in that regard.

          In 1998, Shelby also won the “NOL” championship.  They beat Poland Seminary in a regional semi-final, there were only four teams from each region that made the playoffs in those days, and then lost in a regional final to Beloit West Branch.

          So, are this year’s Shelby Whippets good?  No, they are damn good, but they still have some things to accomplish.

 

Published 11/15/16

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Shelby Faces Outstanding Defense

  

          Shelby faces Philo in the division four regional semi finals of the high school football playoffs on Friday night at Westerville North High School in the northern Columbus suburbs.

          The Whippets (10-1), runners up in the Northern Ohio League, and #2 in our final Swankonsports.com coaches poll in the large school division, hammered Bloom-Carroll (56-13) in a first round game, scoring 35 points in the first half and 21 in the first quarter.

          Coach Erik Will says they are pumped up to play football.  “We were really ready to go last week.  I felt the preparation was good.  The coaches are doing a good job.  My assistants are doing a good job coming up with a game plan.  Anytime you can play game one and have a running clock in the second half, that’s pretty big.  I think the big thing is I think our kids are still extremely interested.  I know it sounds wired because we are in the playoffs.  We put the time in the weight room and all of that kind of stuff and this is what you play for.  I feel like our kids have an extra focus right now,” said Will.

          Philo destroyed the top seed in the region in unbeaten Heath (42-7) last week.  Will says the Electrics know how to play the game.  “They are really athletic.  Their defense has been one of the best around.  They are one of the best statically defenses in the state.  They have only given up right around seven points a game.  They fly around to the ball.  They execute at a high level.  Offensively, they are a spread, but they want to run the football.  They run the ball right round high 60’s, low 70’s percent, so we have got to make sure we are gap responsible on defense.  It is definitely going to be a challenge they are good football team,” he said.

          When it comes to that defense, Will says Philo has athletes that are disciplined and that make them hard to move the ball on consistently because they are going to make plays.  “Their linebackers are extremely aggressive.  Their four does an excellent job of letting those guys flow.  They have really good athletes in the back half.  They have a corner that is really athletic.  They have a really nice defensive end.  They have a linebacker that really kind of sticks out, being a really good football player.  They are just very well disciplined, well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I don’t know if they do anything necessarily special they are just very, very disciplined and they tackle in space.  There are a lot of times that we draw something up and it looks good, but then you have to go out and make plays and they do a good job of making those plays.”

          The Electrics (9-2) want to run the football first and foremost.  Will says they want to put them in positions where they are uncomfortable.  “Their quarterback is elusive.  They have got a wide receiver, that in my opinion, is one of the better athletes, we have seen this year.  He is extremely fast and shifty when you get him on the perimeter.  They only threw the ball six times last week, but they didn’t have too.  From the standpoint of our defense you want to make a team as one dimensional as possible and you want to make them one dimensional away from their strength.  When we played Bellevue week nine they were throwing in the fourth quarter and we felt that was a big plus for us.  I think it is going to be a similar situation.  I don’t know if they are as physical as Bellevue, but they are definitely athletic,” said Will.

          Shelby beat Bellevue (49-34) three weeks ago.  Will says Philo is kind of like Bellevue, but they kind of aren’t too.  “The difference is Bellevue runs sweeps a lot.  Their quarterback will run, their quarterback is very athletic and talented, but I think (Alec) Foos was one of the two, three best football players we have played against.  I think they do it by committee.  Their quarterback is very efficient, I don’t want to knock him.  He is definitely a good football player.  Their top running back had 700 yards rushing, their quarterback 300, 400 yards, their receiver that runs a lot of jet sweeps has 400 yards.  They present a difficult challenge because it is not really one guy.  You have to gap sound outside in,” he said.

 

Published 11/11/16

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Shelby Lands Home Playoff Game with Bloom Carroll

  

          Shelby, the runner-up in the Northern Ohio League, hosts the Bloom-Carroll Bulldogs in a first round playoff game in division four on Friday night at Skiles Field.

          It the first home playoff game in 122 years of Shelby football.  Overall, it the Whippets fifth time to qualify for the postseason and their first since 2010 when they were coached by current Wynford assistant coach Chris Solis.

          Shelby (9-1) takes a five game winning streak into the playoffs, having scored at least four times in the first quarter in four of those games.  They beat Loudonville (55-7) in a non-conference game last Friday.

          Coach Erik Will says a home playoff game was a goal for the team, but they are not satisfied with just reaching the postseason.  “We got things moving on Saturday morning.  When we as a staff met with out kids there was no kind of celebration because of the win they are ready to get to work and compete this coming Friday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “We told the kids it is a five week run and there are only 32 teams in this thing.  We feel like we have as good a shot as anybody to make a nice run.  We have the components.  We have the size on the line.  We have to skilled players.  Now we just have to put in together.  All of the little things are going to be the difference.”

          Will says being at home might be a little plus for them, but they are still going to have to play well to win.  “A nice thing that is does is it keeps you in your routine, which is really, really important.  Bloom Carroll has to be an hour and 45 minutes, two hour bus ride.  Even when you are playing on the road around here are farthest bus ride is 45 minutes to and hour.  Every little bit gives you that competitive edge and gives you a little bit of a mental edge.  The bottom line is when they get here the field is 100 yards and both teams are going to want to compete and will have to execute,” said Will.

          Bloom-Carroll (7-3) is making its fourth tournament appearance and their first since back to back trips in 2012 and 2013.  The Bulldogs have never won a playoff game.

          This season they have two wins over teams with a plus .500 record in Highland, the champions of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference blue division, and Liberty Union.

          Their losses come to unbeaten Bexley (56-35,) Amanda-Clearcreek (35-31) and Hamilton Township (63-14) and most of their games have been high scoring.

          Will says they do a lot of things schematically like the Whippets do, at least on offense.  “They have a nice tradition.  There coach has done a nice job.  I think he has been there three or four years like myself here at Shelby.  They are a spread offense, so they actually do a lot of the same concepts that we do offensively.  Defensively they are in a four many front and will change depending on what they see.  They are tough and hard nosed and fly around.  They have a lot of good football players.  There is no doubt that they play in a tough conference as well,” said Will.

          After watching them on film, Will says the Bulldogs remind him somewhat the Lexington, the Ohio Cardinal Conference co-champ.  “I would say if I would compare them to anybody up here I would say there are actually a lot like Lexington,” he said.

          Shelby beat Lexington (17-14) back on week two of the regular season a couple of months ago.

 

Published 10/31/16

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Shelby Wants to Finish Well

  

          Shelby wants some home cooking for the playoffs and they probably going to need to beat Loudonville at home in their final regular season game on Friday night to get it.

          It would be the first time in 122 years of Shelby football that the Whippets would host a playoff game at Skiles Field.

          The foundation for all of this was built last Friday when Shelby (8-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat a very good Bellevue team (49-34) to get their eighth win of the season and stand in second place in the Northern Ohio League, a game behind Sandusky.  They need a Norwalk upset of the Blue Streaks Friday to share than final “NOL” football title.

          Coach Erik Will was proud of the effort and the execution.  “It was a really quality win.  Bellevue has got a very good football team.  I think with what they have on the line this week they are looking to do pretty well and get themselves into the playoffs as well.  We could potentially have four of the seven “NOL” schools play in the playoffs and that is quite a testament to this league.  To be able to beat a quality opponent like Bellevue in the last “NOL” game on our field was very special,” he said.

          Loudonville (1-8) won their only game of the season so far beating Crestline (44-7) last week in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game.

          Will says the Redbirds are a team that has really played up when it comes to their schedule.  “When you look at the quality of opponents that they have played.  When you look at 1-8 you automatically think how bad are they?  When you pop on the film they actually do some things well offensively and they aren’t that bad defensively.  The biggest problem is the play a very difficult schedule,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You can tell they have been coached well and play hard for half or a little bit more.  It is usually some execution things as they go through the second half.  You know, it is a quality opponent and we have got to come out and play really well early because we want to show the respect to Loudonville that they deserve.”

          If they are to have the same kind of success they have had this year on Friday night, then they have to prepare mentally and physically the same way, according to Will.  “We have done nothing different this week than we have done the previous weeks as we have gone through the “NOL” schedule.  We did that for a couple of reasons because number one the party is not over and number two Loudonville deserves that kind of respect because their coaches are still coaching and their players are still playing and we have to continue to get better.  We told our kids we can not peak week nine.  We do not want to beat Bellevue and then shut it down.  If not that is not respecting the game and respecting the process like it needs to be,” said Will.

 

Published 10/28/16

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A Lot on the Line for Shelby and Bellevue

  

          Shelby and Bellevue share second place in the Northern Ohio League a game behind Sandusky and they play each other at Skiles Field in Shelby on Friday night.

          The winner would be the one that would benefit if Sandusky would lose this week to Ontario or next to Norwalk, plus would pretty much guarantee themselves a home playoff game.

          Shelby (7-1,4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, overwhelmed Ontario (49-7) last week in a league game, scoring 49 points in the first half.

          Coach Erik Will says again a big reason for their offensive explosion was the balance they have shown.  “We were able to come out and get a pretty fast start right out of the gate.  We were able to get up early.  We were able to run the football like we were able to do the last three or four weeks with Devon Brooks and that really helped out.  Brennan (Armstrong) has been really, really efficient in the pass game.  I think he has completed about 68 percent of his passes the last four games.  That allows us to play at a pretty high level.  Defensively we are doing a great job.  I think we are only giving up 166 yards a game the last three weeks.  That leads us to be a pretty formidable team,” said Will.

          Bellevue (6-2,3-1) hammered Willard (62-0) last week.  Will says they have weapons all over the field that they will be forced to try and contain.  “There are a lot of things that are good about Bellevue.  (Alec) Foos has been one of the best players in our league for three years now.  He is not only going to hurt you running the football, but he will hurt you throwing it too.  The McPeak kid is a solid wide receiver.  Obviously they have the Ray kid at running back.  He is tough.  You know Ed (Nasonti) continues to turn out great offensive lineman,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively, they are extremely aggressive with their five and six man fronts.  They make you make a decision quick and you better be sound and you better win at the point of attack or they are going to have their way with you.  It is a typical Ed Nasonti coached Bellevue team.  They are obviously one of the best teams in our league and in this area and this year is no different.”

          With a potent offense like Bellevue’s Will says you have to win on first down in order to limit the options of the Redmen.  “The big thing is actually first down.  A lot of coaches will talk about third down and getting off the field.  The big thing with Bellevue is you have to get them in second and long.  If they live in second and five and under it is going to be a real long night defensively.  We have to make sure we do our best job on first down to get them in second and long so we have a little more of a favorable situation.  You can kind of dictate what they are calling from their standpoint.  Offensively we have to do a great job ourselves on first down in order to have manageable situations on second and third down,” said Will.

          Right now, both stand fourth in different division four regions.  The first four get a first round home game.  Will admits that’s a pretty big deal.  “Obviously it is looking like both of us are going to be in the playoffs no matter what, but there is a lot to play for on both sides.  First of all you don’t know if Norwalk or somebody is going to trip Sandusky up.  Even if that doesn’t happen the other big thing out there is home playoff game.  We all know that playing a first round playoff game at home is really nice.  Around here that has never been done before.  I know there are a lot of people in Shelby that would like to have a home playoff game this year,” he said.

 

Published 10/18/16

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Shelby Girls’ Golf Team Makes the State

  

          The Shelby girls’ golf team has qualified for the state tournament this Friday and Saturday in Columbus.

‘        They will play at the Gray Course at The Ohio State University after the team of Alexis Jones, Claire Korbas, Emma Roberts, Lexi Uplinger, Julia Gutchall and Megan Owen won the district tournament last week.  They also won sectional and Northern Ohio League titles.

          Jones is the defending division to state individual champion.  She was also state runner-up in 2014 when she established the low round (68) for a girl at the state level.

          Coach Brad Ruminski, who is the head pro at Shelby Country Club, says the key to the Lady Whippets success as a team this season has been the improved depth they have enjoyed this summer and fall.  “I think the surprise is the number three and four girls have really picked up their game and have gotten a lot better as the season has progressed.  They have really been the difference.  The number one and two girls were always pretty strong,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Number one was always in the running.  Our two girl was always pretty solid and just thinks her way around the golf course really well.  We were always a little weak on the back end.  Lexi (Uplinger) and Emma (Roberts) have really stepped up their game.”

          With the top four scores counting excellent golf teams always have good depth.  Ruminski says you can’t rely on just one, two or three players.  “We saw some really good examples of that at districts.  The team that came in third place, Ottawa Hills, had their top three girls all in the 80s and their fourth was 133.  We used to have that situation where last year Lexi would have a couple of rounds in the 120s and she hasn’t been over 102 all year and usually in the low 90s.  We have really been able to improve in that arena,” said Ruminski.

          High school coaches, no matter what the sport talk, about battling adversity, and Ruminski says that is something this team has shown to be very good at doing.  “The girls that haven’t been playing as long have really learned to play the game.  They have learned to keep their head and keep trying and not give up under any conditions.  They know there are going to be a few wrecks around the corner and you are going to have adversity.  They have been good about over coming them and getting themselves back into the game,” said Ruminski.

          Golf is probably more a mental game than it is a physical one.  Ruminski says the Lady Whippets are a well rounded team.  “If you can be consistent at working at your game and improving all of the different segments of the game you can be pretty good.  There are a lot of different aspects of the game.  The deeper you go the harder it gets,” he said.

 

Published 10/13/16

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Shelby and Ontario Battle for Position in the “NOL”

  

          The loser of the game Friday night at Ontario between the Warriors and the Shelby Whippets likely falls out of the Northern Ohio League race here in 2016.

          Both trail Sandusky by a game with three weeks left in the season.

          Shelby has posed two straight shut outs over Willard (66-0) and last week over Tiffin Columbian (48-0) after their only loss to Sandusky (42-21) two weeks back.

          Coach Erik Will says they have been able to able to get off to good starts, they scored four times in the first quarter against Tiffin last Friday, the last two weeks.  “We talked about that (Sunday) as a staff.  We have to make sure we keep that going.  The longer we take to get going offensively and get stops defensively the more your opponent feels good about their game plan and what they are trying to get done.  If you can end the first quarter and it’s 14-0, 21-0, 28-7 something like that it is just great to get off to that start because then you have the ability to maybe force some changes in the game plan from what the other side is trying to do.  So, that is definitely something we want to do,” he said.

          Shelby (6-1,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has one the area’s best quarterbacks in Brennan Armstrong, but Will says they have to be able to run the ball.  “The game we lost to Sandusky we only 40, 50 yards rushing combined with Brennan (Armstrong) and Shorty (Brooks) both and we can’t win football games doing that.  So, we have to be balanced.  Last week we were 360, 370 yards rushing and 140, 150 passing and that’s what we have to do.  Anytime you can rush for more than 300 yards we fell we will be on the positive side of the scoreboard at the end of the night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Any coach you talk to would probably say the same thing other than maybe Ashland that throws the ball 40, 50 times a game.  For the most part we have to be able to run the ball, but also we want to be balanced.  We want to make sure want to keep teams honest by throwing the ball and we feel confident that we have the guy that can throw the ball 15 or 20 times a game.”

          Ontario had a big fourth quarter last week and they went on to beat Willard (35-8) last week.  Will says there will be some emotion on both sides this week.  “Here is the thing about Ontario it has kind of developed into a pretty big rivalry.  We know we are going to get their best shot.  We have to come out ready to go.  They are in the playoff hunt too.  They are 4-3 and they have three huge ones left.  If they can run it with us, Bellevue and Sandusky they are obviously going to be in the playoffs as well.  They are still playing for quite a bit on their side.  We need a great week of practice and we need a fast start because Chris (Hawkins) is doing a nice job over there.  So, it is extremely important this week,” he said.

          Hawkins is in first year at Ontario after stints at Wynford, Willard, and most recently Galion and has the Warriors off to a (4-3,2-1) start to the season.  Will says as they get used to a new system, the Warriors are starting to make plays.  “They are extremely athletic in the skilled spots.  Defensively they blitz and they change some things up in the secondary.  Their quarterback is a heck of an athlete and they are starting to play a freshman a little bit at quarterback to just give their opponent a little bit of a different look.  #2 at the slot in a heck of an athlete.  He looks like one of the top five athletes we have gone against this year.  Chris will eventually get done what he wants to get done over there.  Right now he is in transition trying to figure out what these kids do within what he feels comfortable doing offensively.  There is no doubt they are well coached.  They are over .500 heading into week eight.  He has done a great job with those guys so far,” said Will.

 

Published 10/10/16

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Shelby Focused on What They can do

  

          Shelby is going to need a little help in order to get a piece of the Northern Ohio League title, but they are focused on what they can control.

          The Whippets are fifth right now in their computer region. The top eight make the postseason and the first four host a game.

          After a loss to unbeaten Sandusky (42-21) two weeks ago, the Whippets bounced back to beat rival Willard (66-0) last week.  Coach Erik Will says they got things headed back in the right direction.  “The thing we talked about all week was against Norwalk and Sandusky we had slow starts and we really wanted to get off to a fast start and we wanted to get the running game going.  Willard is struggling a little bit, but you can still see schematically that the kids are where they need to be.  Even against Sandusky we got off to a slow start and were down 28-0 at the half, but we came out in the second half and started the move the ball and got some things done defensively.  They effort was there it was just a matter of getting things done from an execution standpoint.  We need to do that again this week against Tiffin,” said Will.

          With four games left, Will says have a chance to accomplish a lot.  “Each and every week is an opportunity to get better.  We are in position in the playoffs, we are 5-1, and we are fourth or fifth in our region.  If we continue to win we are going to be in.  One of the big goals that we have control of is continuing to get better each and every day and continue to attack our schedule.  We can do something that has never been done around here in 122 years of football we have never hosted a home playoff game.  That is a goal that is out there that I know the kids are pretty excited about and are pursuing.  There is always something out there and something to chase,” he said.

          Shelby (5-1,2-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, are at home for Tiffin Columbian (1-5,0-3) in a Northern Ohio League game.  Tiffin lost (20-13) to Norwalk last week in one their better games of the season.

          Will says the Tornadoes are better than their record.  “This is going to sound like a coach talking, but when you look at them on film you would think their record is better than it is.  Offensively, they have a nice looking quarterback, some nice wide receivers.  I think the significant difference with this Columbian team compared to those from the past they are really not hanging their hat on running the football behind a big offensive line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Defensively they do have some guys flying around, but as far as the side of the ball that is the side that they are probably struggling the most for them.  When you watch them you would never suspect they are 1-5.  They are struggling getting movement inside the 10 yard line, inside the red zone, and defensively they are having a hard time getting off the field on third down.”

          When it comes to their goals, Will says this is a must win for them.  “If we even want a shot at a league title there is not another loss on the schedule that can be had.  We are going to need some help somewhere along the line for Sandusky.  The bottom line is if it is not first place then we want second place.  Things that we can control that is what we are pursuing.  We don’t talk about the Sandusky game, that is in the rearview mirror.  We are playing Tiffin this week in front of a home crowd, it’s Homecoming.  We are going to have a lot of alumni back and it is important that we put on a good show for the people that will be back,” said Will

 

Published 10/05/16

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Shelby Has to be Ready For Willard

  

          Shelby lost for the first time this season last week to Sandusky and they must get back on track as they visit rival Willard for a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.

          The Blue Streaks took a (28-0) halftime lead at Skiles Field and Shelby coach Erik Will says Sandusky was just better than them last week.  “Give them credit Sandusky did a great job of just using their athleticism.  We had a nice goal line stop to start the game and we were unable to get out of that field position.  They scored a few plays later after we went three and out and punted.  They got off to a fast start.  We came out in the second half after being down 28-0 and we came out and scored 14 quick ones then kind of went back and forth.  We had the ball with six minutes to go trying to cut it to a touchdown and we threw and interception.  They made the plays.  Sandusky is to be commended their guys were well focused, their kids played hard, they had great team speed.  I’ll tell you what that is going to be a great game this week between Sandusky and Bellevue,” said Will.

          This is an important week for Whippets.  They can’t be pouting, Will says they have to be prepared to play football at Willard.  “I think for us we went back to the basics this week a little bit.  We have established the culture of who we are and we let our kids know that even though our number one goal of a league title is kind of put on hold right now because we actually need Bellevue to help us out, but goal number two is still there.  There are hundreds of teams around the state that would love to be 4-1 and third in their region.  We can’t worry about what happened last week.  All we can do is move on.  The sin is not getting knocked down it is not getting back up.  I think this week is a big character week for our kids,” he said.

          Shelby (4-1,1-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, makes the short trip to Willard (1-4,0-1) on Friday night.  The Flashes lost a non-league game (35-0) to Port Clinton last week.

          With a new coach this year in Britton Devier and Will says they are throwing the ball a lot more than they have in previous years and they have to be ready for that.  “They are a lot more spread and are throwing the ball like crazy.  The last three years we have played them they have been more of a wing-T option team.  This year they are throwing the ball 30, 40 times a game.  They are crisp in what they are doing form a scheme standpoint.  Their route combinations make sense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Just watching film there have been few dropped balls and executions things from their side, but what they are doing is sound.  They are being coached well and you can see that on film.  We have to go over there and play solid defense and make sure we can control the ball in space.  Offensively we have to control the line of scrimmage.”

 

Published 9/30/19

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Unbeatens Shelby and Sandusky Play on Friday

  

          Shelby and Sandusky meet on Friday night at Skiles Field in Shelby in one of the football games that will go a long way in determining the winner of the final Northern Ohio League title.

          Both are unbeaten on the season and were winners in their first league game last week.

          Shelby (4-0,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Norwalk at Whitney Field (29-15) with a couple of quick scores in the third quarter and solid defense. 

          Coach Erik Will says last week was a key win for them.  “It was good to get that first win.  It is better to be 1-0 than 0-1.  The only records that matter are those.  It is one of those things that if you are 0-1 you are trying to climb out of the basement right out of the gate and it is tough especially this Friday night with Sandusky.  They took care of Willard and we were able to get on the good side against Norwalk.  At the end of the day there is going to be another team with a league loss come Friday night,” he said.

          Sandusky (4-0,1-0), #5 in our poll, beat Willard (64-12) in their league opener.  They also have wins over Sandusky Perkins (31-13,) Huron (27-16) and Fremont Ross (40-8) this season.  In other words they have not been challenged.

          Will says the Streaks are very athletic.  “They have a lot of athletes and they have a lot of good second level athletes.  Believe it or not their offensive and defensive line are actually a little smaller then they have been over the last couple of years, but they are still physical and they are extremely quick an aggressive.  Offensively they have a tremendous quarterback.  Their quarterback is probably one of the most underrated guys in our league.  He is solid and they have a couple of nice receivers and a good tailback.  So, we will have be honed in on what we need to do on the defensive side,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “On defense, they will switch between three and four man fronts.  We want to establish the run game.  Devon Brooks has had two straight weeks of over 200 yards.  We feel pretty good that they kind of have to pick if they want to try and take Brennan or Shorty.”

          Shelby has one of the best signal callers in the area in Brennan Armstrong, who has a strong and accurate arm.  However, Will believes it will be very important for them to be able to run the ball on Friday against Sandusky.  “I really believe that we have to be able to run the football.  It is nice to be able to go three, four, five wide, whatever people do, including ourselves, and throw the football, that’s an important part of the game.  We look at our stat line at the end of the game and Devon Brooks had 30 carries for 225 yards.  We will take that every Friday night.  Brennan (Armstrong) had another 14, 15 rushes for 130 yards.  At the end of the night if we are over 300 yards rushing I’ll take that.  I will take 300 yards rushing over 300 yards passing any day of the week,” said Will.

          Sandusky has made a lot of big plays this season and Will says they have to stop that on Friday night.  He says they have to be good tacklers.  “We tackled really well the first three weeks and then Friday night we were not efficient tackling wise.  When we looked at the film we were actually getting guy to the football, but we weren’t wrapping up.  This Friday if we don’t wrap these guys up it is going to be six points instead of another five or six yards.  That will definitely be a point of emphasis this week in practice,” he said.

 

Published 9/19/16

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Shelby Focused on League Opener

  

          Shelby has a goal of winning the Northern Ohio League this year and it all starts Friday night at Norwalk against the Truckers.

          The Whippets (3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Clear Fork (41-18) last week in their final non-conference game.  The Whippets ran for 363 yards against Clear Fork and coach Erik Will felt they could run it on the Colts.  “We really felt like it was important to get the running game going.  The week before against Lexington we were only a block or two away.  With the ability to look back on film an make some corrections helps out.  We ran the ball fairly well early.  Clear Fork did a good job of mixing it up and bringing their five or six guys.  We basically got the board out and showed the guys what they were doing and the kids did a great job of making that in game adjustments to get the running game going.  Between Devon Brooks and Brennan Armstrong the offensive line can just stay calm and do their responsibilities we thought we could run the ball,” he said.

          Shelby beat Norwalk (64-21) last year, but Will thinks the Truckers are much better.  A lot of that based on a (9-7) win at Lexington last week.  “They are much improved.  Last year they were hurt with a lot of injuries when lot of these guys were sophomores and juniors that maybe didn’t have that many reps, but when the injuries happened they became the guy.  They are doing a nice job.  Their quarterback is a really nice looking athlete.  Their running back is solid.  Defensively they are aggressive.  Chris MacFarland is doing a nice job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He has his guys playing well.  They kind of won an ugly game, but you are going to have that from time to time.  Anytime you get a win you don’t have to apologize.  Norwalk did what they needed to do to get the “W” and you have to respect that about a team.”

          It was a very good defensive performance last week by Norwalk, no question.  Will thought the Truckers matched up pretty with Lexington’s personnel.  “Lexington likes to get wide on the perimeter and I think that matched up well with Norwalk.  Norwalk has some decent athletes on the edge and they matched up and were able to slow down Lexington.  They are in a true 3-5-3 and they break that a little bit with tight ends and things like that.  They are aggressive and gap sound.  On the defensive side if you aren’t gap sound you are going to struggle.  Norwalk did a nice job of understanding what they are trying to accomplish.  I think their defense suits their personnel really well,” he said.

          Will knows this game is important, just like the others, if they expect to win that Northern Ohio League title.  “If we want to win the league we can’t give this one away and Norwalk feels the same way.  We can not start off 0-1 knowing that we have Bellevue, Sandusky and Tiffin, schools like that coming down the pike.  It is extremely important to get off to a good start.  That’s why we have been preaching to our kids all week that this is a conference championship game one.  It’s funny, we have put a certain emphasis on Sandusky and Bellevue and rightfully so those are great programs, but at the end of the day it is like and layup versus a dunk it’s still worth two points.  A win is still a win whether it is Norwalk or Bellevue.  We know some of those games and a little easier to get than others, but Norwalk is quality opponent.  If our kids are even remotely looking ahead Norwalk will beat us.  So, we definitely have their attention,” said Will.

 

Published 9/14/16

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Shelby Focusing on Improvement

  

          Shelby will go for a clean sweep of its Ohio Cardinal Conference non-league opponents as they travel to Clear Fork to face the Colts on Friday night.

          Shelby beat Mansfield Madison (49-7) on week one and then edged Lexington (17-14) last week.

          Brennan Armstrong threw a pair of first half touchdowns after Lexington turnovers and the Whippets stopped the Minutemen twice inside their own 10 in the second half. 

          Coach Erik Will says it wasn’t a perfect win by any means, but they are going to take it.  “I told our guys Monday morning that don’t ever let anybody tell you what a game should look like.  It is one of those things where you spend your entire off season working your tail end off and we just wanted to remind our kids that they are doing everything we ask of them.  It is never going to be a perfect win.  There are things we definitely have to get better at.  We are 2-0 and playing a tough, hard playing, great coached Lexington team, we will take that win.  I really believe we are going to look back in four or five weeks and be very satisfied at coming out on the winning edge against Lexington,” said Will.

          Shelby (2-0) has some talented returners on offense and that has put them among everyone’s contenders in the Northern Ohio League.  Yet, early this season it has been their defense that has been turning heads.  Will says they have been well schooled and are executing well.  “The scouting reports are solid.  Our kids are executing well.  The big thing in high school football, really at any level, is getting your checks and getting lined up right is half the battle.  Our kids are doing that at a high level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Labor Day, “We are still very comfortable out of what we see out of certain formations and what teams are running.  Then you throw in some trick plays here and there.  The big thing in high school football is in order to play confident on the defensive side of the football have to be schematically sound.  You try to win the numbers games.  So, far we have been able to do that and we have to keep doing that.”

          Clear Fork (2-0) hung on to beat Ontario (21-14) last Friday after taking a three score lead in the first half.  Will says the Colts have an excellent quarterback in Thomas Staab and will be very aggressive on defense.  “They have probably one of the fastest kids, if that the fastest kid, in the (Thomas) Staab that we have seen, they have a decent running back, their line plays aggressive, they are not huge, but they are aggressive.  Dave (Carroll) does a nice job.  Those kids are always hard nosed.  They fly around.  Defensively they execute well, they tackle well.  Offensively they are going to try and establish the run game.  If we don’t get a week better we could be in trouble on Friday.  We are preparing for an aggressive, well coached Clear Fork team,” said Will.

 

Published 9/06/16

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Shelby as to be Tough

  

          Shelby and Lexington are among a handful of very good football teams in the North Central Ohio area this year and they meet on Friday night in non-conference play.

          The Whippets feel like they are contenders in the Northern Ohio League and Lexington the same in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          On the opening week, Shelby belted Madison (49-7) and coach Erik Will says they did some good things at the point of attack.  “We did what we wanted to do.  We felt like we were able to establish the line on both sides of the ball.  We thought our athletes played well in space.  There are some execution things that we kind of have to clean up a little bit.  I think that will be a work in progress, but the effort was there and the execution was fairly solid.  I was excited that we were able to get off to a running start,” he said.

          They were good last Thursday, but Will says they can be a lot better and they have told the players that.  “We are nowhere near our ceiling.  I think that’s what is good.  I thought we played well.  I thought we competed very well.  We were able to compete at that level, with that enthusiasm, just that love for the game.  It allowed our kids to continue to be coached from a technique standpoint and an execution standpoint.  I think the other teams are too.  Nobody is close to a finish product.  It is one of those things were we are really happy about being fundamental.  In our meeting on Friday we just told the kids from here on out it is straight Lexington,” said Will.

          Lexington downed Ontario (24-6) last week.  Will says Lexington knows they are good and they play like it.  “They are really good.  I feel like they are going to be one of our tougher opponents this year.  I think this is a measuring stick for both programs.  We are pretty good.  I think they are pretty good.  They are very well coached.  Their kids play with a swagger.  They want to play with effort and enthusiasm,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They fly to the football on defense.  Their front six have no pass responsibly.  They just fly around stopping the run.  They do what they do well.  They turned the corner last year.  I think they would like to compete for their league title and also make the playoffs.  You like to think there are some potential playoff implications with this game.”

          Both teams have some athletes that make big plays, but Will believes this game is going to won up front.  “We have to continue to progress.  Our offensive line has to build off of last week.  We have to make sure that we are stopping the run.  They run run-pass option stuff.  We have to make sure that we are honed in on our skills there and we disciplined on the back side.  For the offensive standpoint we just have to make sure that our line is aggressive and get the ball out in space.  I don’t think for either team it is going to be really sophisticated.  It is going to won up front.  It is going to won through execution,” said Will.

 

Published 9/02/16

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Shelby Must Contain Athletes

 

          Shelby and Madison help open they high school football season on Thursday night as the Whippets host the Rams at Skiles Field in Shelby in one the state’s feature games.

          The Whippets expect to contend for the Northern Ohio League title in the final year of that league.

          Coach Erik Will says they have to get rid of those first game jitters early on Thursday night.  “Sometimes the kids are overcharged and you want to calm them down.  You want to play the game with emotion, but it is the idea of controlled emotion.  We don’t want them too high or too low.  We tell our kids you may have had a very good play the play before, or dropped a pass or something like that, but you have to forget that and play the next play.  In week one you see a lot of false starts, off sides, holding, some of those sloppy plays, because you are going against your twos and threes in practice and in these live scrimmages you don’t get live looks for four quarters,” said Will.

          They do have some veterans back led by junior quarterback Brennan Armstrong.  Will says they have spent a lot of scrimmage action filling some holes and looking for backups.  “The nice thing for us this year we have a lot people coming back and if they can continue to get better they are going to be pretty good football players for us.  So, we needed to be able to figure out some positional things and be able to see some of those twos and threes and where can play, what can they play, how much can they play,” he said.

          Madison brings a very athletic group to the table this year, including the electric Tyrell Ajian.  Will says there are a lot of Rams they must contain.  “They have three or four kids from any point of the field can score, Tyrell Ajian being one of those, but it is not just him.  They have a good player at quarterback, some good running backs.  Our kids have some scary assignment oriented things,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We are going to have to trust our keys and be disciplined.  If you don’t do that for one play they are going to make you pay.  They have home run threats in those positions.  We have a couple of our side of the ball.  From a defensive standpoint they cause problems if you aren’t consistent.”
          If they are going to win a lot of games this year, beginning with Madison on Thursday night, they have to be a physical football team.  “We like where we are at with our guys, but we have to continue to get better over this shortened week.  Nobody has ever won a championship because they were the most finesse team.  Anytime someone gets a trophy or is presented a ring or given hardware it is because they are tough and hardnosed and they hit downhill.  People think when they see the spread it is all about the pass when actually it is the opposite.  When you run the spread you are trying to get people out of the box so you can run that football and if they load the box you try to get ball out to the perimeter so they have to defend your athletes.  To run the ball your offensive line has to be nasty and to stop the run your defensive line has to be nasty,” said Will.

          At that begins at linebacker for Shelby, where they are replacing three starters from a year ago.  “We have flour or five kids competing there at linebacker.  We have some athletic kids that I feel pretty comfortable with.  It is just getting them in game experience.  Friday night we played those guys a full half because they need as much live action as possible.  We have to get right back at it because those backers are so important in stopping the run game as well as the pass game,” said Will.

 

Published 8/22/16

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Shelby Cleaning up Some Things

 

          Shelby and Madison play in one of the highlighted games of the first week of the high school football season next Thursday at Skiles Field in Shelby.

          The Whippets already have the Rams in their sights.

          Coach Erik Will says they are doing some good things based on a test they got last week in a scrimmage.  “I felt that Saturday was very productive for us.  Anytime you get an opportunity to go against a Sandusky Perkins and an Olmstead Falls they prepare you very well for what you are going to see throughout the season from a toughness standpoint.  So, I like where we are at.  Our kids competed very well and we able to move the ball and get some stops, so it was productive,” said Will.

          On defense, you can’t be thinking, but reacting and Will says they are working with their kids when it comes to trusting what they are seeing on the field.  “Defensively we just have to trust our keys.  It is something we say a lot around here.  It is about staying where we need to be with our eyes on our specific reads and then trusting those reads.  We need to be a little more crisp on that,” he said.

          Shelby is replacing its linebacker corps from a year ago. 

          They should have an explosive offense led by junior quarterback Brennan Armstrong.  Will says they seem to be one block away from making a big play.  “Offensively it is one of those things where we are a block away from the big one.  Maybe a guy out on the perimeter, a wide receiver or a slot didn’t get the guy that he need to get to get a back into the end zone,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We had a 20 yard run, but it could have been a 40 yard run had we executed a little better on the perimeter.   Just things like that.  It is nothing that can’t be fixed, but things that need to be fixed.”

          Shelby plays Galion in their final scrimmage on Friday on the road.  However, Will says their practice sessions this week have been focused on what they need to do to beat Madison.  “We are full blown Madison here.  Our schedule is built around trying to get prepared for Madison.  It is not that kids don’t need to be prepared for the scrimmage.  We will kind of coach some of those things up, but our primary focus is getting ready for Madison,” he said.

 

Published 8/15/16

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Shelby Feels the Pressure; Likes it

 

          Shelby’s football program has been getting better of the last couple of years, but now it is time to start doing some more winning.

          That’s what the community expects and the Shelby has always been a football town dating back to World War II.

          During a break during Monday’s two a day practices, Whippets coach Erik Will says it was a day for fundamental things.  “Just a lot of technique things.  Before we get the pads on it’s just nice to go over some of things we have been hammering into their heads since summer 10 camps days.  It is just good to get out here and put your foot in the ground and go and compete.  Now it’s for real.  The intensity is good.  I think the mental focus is a must.  We have got a lineup right, we have got to communicate and do those things well before we put the pads on,” he said.

          With more experience back than in some previous years this kids have a grasp of what they are hearing from the coaches, but Will says coaches are always teaching.  “I think the biggest thing is the terminology.  There is no terminology barrier.  These guys have been with us since they were freshmen now, two, three years, whatever it may be.  We are still coaching technique a lot.  We talk about the athletic things that make a difference, the hands, hips and feet.  We have been coaching that quite a bit.  The other thing is the mental toughness and attitude.  As far the teaching component I don’t know if that is ever going to stop,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I would assume when they go to college it is probably a lot of the same.  You have to hammer that in because the first time you think you have things figured out you are going to have some kids slip.”

          Will says they understand the community’s enthusiasm for this fall and want the kids to embrace it.  “That is a good thing. We told our kids a couple of different things.  Number one this is Shelby football and there is always a level of expectation around here, but the nice thing is people think you are going to be decent and we are not going to shy away from that.  Having said that we haven’t played an opponent yet, we haven’t won a game.  We are talking production over hype and we have to go out and do it.  For the most part we feel our kids have responded.  They are very hungry,” said Will.

          Shelby returns one of the best quarterbacks in this part of the state.  Brennan Armstrong already has some division one offers going into his junior season and the Whippets have more playmakers.  Still, Will says there are some shoes to fill.  “Offensively we have to get a couple of wide receivers.  We graduated two good ones last year in Brandon Schneider and Trevor Young.  We are figuring that out, but we have some young guys we think are going to be good.  Defensively, linebackers, we have an athletic group, but they are an unproven group.  They don’t have a lot of reps.  We graduated three seniors that played a lot.  We had an all league linebacker in Dillon Schafer that has gone on to play college,” said Will.

 

Published 8/01/16

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Shelby Beats Willard and Wins "NOL"

 

          Shelby did something this spring that they haven't been able to do more than a decade, win the Northern Ohio League baseball title.

          They beat rival Willard (7-3) on Tuesday to claim that title outright.  It was their 20th win of the season.

          Coach Jon Amicone says they put in a lot of hard work this year and it paid off on Tuesday.  "Our kids really worked hard through the season.  During the first meeting of the season and I asked all of the seniors sitting there to stand up if they had won an "NOL" and none of them could do it.  After the game (Tuesday) I asked them the same question and they stood up and started cheering," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "So, I am extremely proud of their effort.  It was all because of the work ethic.  It is something we really fought for and really worked for and I couldn't be happier for them."

          Shelby certainly had some good players Dillon Thornsberry was first team all district and Brandon Schneider was second team, but Amicone says baseball is a team game.  "It is the ultimate team sport.  It something we really preach.  We preach team defense.  We play offense as a team.  It is not one person's ability to score runs, it's the lineup's ability to score runs.  We really preach the team atmosphere and the kids really bought into that.  Our kids are a tight knit group.  They are really good competitors, but they are also really good friends.  They have each others back and it was really a joy coaching them this year," he said.

          There were a lot of memories made this year and things accomplished, but Amicone is not afraid to admit he is going to miss his players.  "Memories are what high school sports are all about.  I think 10 years down the road our kids will talk about when they won the "NOL" and about big games and about beating Bellevue and playing that 10 inning game at Ontario at the beginning of the season.  I really hope these guys take these memories and make them life lessons when they are fathers and when they are husbands.  They are good kids.  It is kind of bittersweet, so happy that we won it, so happy for the kids, but in the back of my mind I will never get to coach them again.  That is part of coaching.  I am very proud of these kids," said Amicone.

 

Published 5/18/16

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Shelby Clinches Share of "NOL"

 

          Shelby has at least a piece of its first Northern Ohio League baseball title since 2007.

          They hammered Sandusky (11-1) on Monday evening and at the same time Norwalk beat Bellevue (6-4) in a league game.  Shelby can win an undisputed "NOL" title with a win over Willard on Tuesday.

          Coach Jon Amicone says it was a great feeling of accomplishment for the players and coaches and everyone associated with the team.  "It was a really good feeling on the bus when we found out that Norwalk has knocked off Bellevue.  There was a collective cheer on the bus.  The kids earned that.  They earned that feeling and sense of accomplishment," he told Swankonsports.com after the win Monday night, "It has been nine years since Shelby was "NOL" champion in baseball.  It was a great league this year, top to bottom.  For us to win it when it was that tough.  I am really proud of the kids and they should feel good about themselves."

          Shelby (19-6,11-1), #5 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, lost to league foe Norwalk (6-2) in the division two tournament last week.  Amicome says he was proud of how the kids responded and got the win on Monday night.  "Norwalk is a great team, they won their 12th game in a row.  They are hot team right now.  It was tough.  I can't set here and say we didn't feel the pain for a couple of days, coaches, parents, players, everyone a like.  To take that long trip to Sandusky and play well.  It was good to get that monkey off our backs and have fun playing baseball again," he said.

          Weather permitting, the Whippets will play Willard on Tuesday and Amicone says they want that title to themselves, no question.  "We had a talk with the kids about that.  To have a chance to win an outright "NOL" championship and win 20 games.  If you win 20 games you have had a really good season.  We are looking to be selfish.  We have earned it.  We don't want to share it with anybody.  We work extremely hard and our kids deserve a chance at that outright championship.  So, hopefully our kids come to the ballpark ready to play," said Amicone.

 

Published 5/17/16

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Shelby Beats Bellevue in Extra Innings; Shares "NOL" Lead

 

          Shelby outlasted Bellevue (7-3) in nine innings on Tuesday and moved into a share of the Northern Ohio League lead with the Redmen with two games to play.

          The Whippets host Willard on Saturday and travel to Sandusky on Monday.  Bellevue is at Tiffin Columbian on Friday and at home with Norwalk on Monday.

          Shelby (16-5,9-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, and #1 in our new Twitter fan poll this week, scored twice in the top of the eighth inning on RBI singles by Dillon Thornsberry and Brandon Schneider, but Bellevue came back to score two of their own in the bottom of the eighth.  However, Shelby took the lead again when they scored on a passed ball in top of the ninth and got three more, highlighted by a two run single by Alex Paulo.

`        It was a tremendous game, said Shelby coach Jon Amicone.  "It was a great game.  You had two teams really competing at a high level, tournament level.  It was one of those games when it was a shame that someone had to lose because both teams played extremely well.  We scored two runs in the top of the eighth and they come back with two.  We were fortunate enough to put four runs across in the ninth and then hold them.  Our kids really fought hard.  The two teams really did what they could to win," he said.

          Amicone says it took a lot of grit and determination to win a game like this, especially on the road.  "That was the thing as a coaching staff that we were really proud of was that fact that we were on the road against this Bellevue team that always wins.  We gave up two runs in the eighth, but we score four runs in the top of the ninth.  It was good to see our kids bow our backs a little bit.  Show some maturity, show some mental toughness," he said.

          Amicone says he knew Bellevue (17-5,9-1), #2 in our coaches poll, wasn't going to give up.  "Obviously going into the bottom half of the (eighth) we were flying high. Bellevue, the team that they are, first batter, base hit.  Bryce Ray, one of the premier players in North Central Ohio.  Thornsberry, our stud pitcher, throws a curve ball, probably an inch off the ground, a nice pitch, and this kid goes down an yanks it down the line and starts a rally for them," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Tuesday, "Coming off the field, going into the ninth, we really got into our kids, saying it's gut check time.  This is a championship game, how bad to you want to be champions?  I am so happy our kids responded the way we wanted them to."

          Thornsberry, a senior lefty, earned the win for the Whippets.  Sophomore Tanner Elliot got the save. 

          Two of the hotter teams in the area play for a division two sectional title on Thursday as the Whippets host Norwalk (17-6,) a winner of its last nine in a row.

          Shelby beat the Truckers (6-3 and 8-5) on April 18 and 19.  Amicone says Norwalk is an outstanding offensive team and they will have to be in top form to win.  "They are extremely talented.  They hit the ball really, really well.  We know that going in.  We played two really close games with them during the season.  Wes Douglas does a great job over there.  We know it is going to be a tough ball game for us.  We are fortunate enough we are at home.  We know we are going to have to bring our "A" game.  We bring in this team in that just hits, and hits, and hits.  It is going to be a heck of a game for us,' said Amicone.

 

Published 5/11/16

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Shelby Belts Ontario

 

          Shelby scored eight times in the first inning and went on to hammer Ontario (13-1) in five innings Thursday in a Northern Ohio League baseball game.

          They continue to trail Bellevue by just a game in the "NOL" race.

          The Whippets (13-5,7-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, rapped out 13 hits in five innings on Thursday.  Coach Jon Amicone says they are just hitting the ball where it is pitched.  "We have been able to put some good at bats together.  We have been in good hitter's counts.  I think the main thing is we are trying to take it to the middle of the field.  We aren't trying to do too much.  We are trying to play some good baseball where you are trying to move runners.  Fortunately right now we are squaring the ball up pretty well," said Amicone.

          Brandon Schneider, Darien Payne, Carter Brooks, Brennan Armstrong, Dillon Thornsberry and Alex Paulo all had at least two hits against Ontario.

          Amicone says they are going to the plate with a plan in mind.  "That is something we try to preach and harp on with our kids is to be a team player.  It is not a person that scores runs, but an entire lineup that scores runs.  We really try to preach that.  We have done a good job of having team at bats at the plate," he said.

          Mason Wells pitched all five innings, allowing a run, four hits, striking out six with no walks.  Amicone says Wells was up to the task in a must win game.  "Mason Wells has done really well for us.  He has really stepped up his game being a senior.  Coming into this year he had been a reliever type.  He has been pitching really good games for us.  You can't ask any more out of a season.  He has worked his tail off and pitched some good games for us," he said.

          Shelby plays at home against Tiffin Columbian on Friday in another big league game and then hosts Fostoria in a division two tournament game on Saturday.  With the games stacked up, Amicone says they needed players to step up.  "Wells did a great job and so did our offense.  We needed to step up in all phases of the game," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Ontario Thursday, "When you score eight runs in the first inning that is going to calm any pitcher down and allow him to throw strikes and pound the strike zone and pitch with a lead.  Mason did a good job pitching with the lead, no walks.  With an eight run cushion you need to throw strikes and he did a good job with that."

 

Published 5/06/16

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Shelby Blasts Upper; Readies for "NOL"

 

          Shelby hammered Upper Sandusky (16-3) in a non-conference baseball game on Wednesday and they face some critical Northern Ohio League games and the tournament over the next three days.

          Coach Jon Amicone says the Whippets have a god approach at the plate on Wednesday.  "It was nice to see the bats come out after several cancellations to begin the week and then the travel to Upper Sandusky, that's a 45 minute bus ride, I was very proud that the kids came out ready to play.  They hit the ball hard, got into some very good counts, and were extremely aggressive.  We got some good pitching from Cody Gabriel, so very pleased with our effort," he said.

          Thursday, the Whippets (12-5,6-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, play host to Ontario (8-7,3-5) in a "NOL" game and then will be at home for Tiffin Columbian (7-9,4-4) on Friday.

          Amicone agrees that trailing Bellevue by a game, and already having lost to the Redmen, these are must win games for the Whippets.  "These are absolutely must wins.  Ontario, you can go on and on about their record, but anytime you play Ontario you have to bring your "A" game.  Dan Gorbett is one of the best coaches in the area.  A great coaching staff, so we have to be ready to play.  In the "NOL," like we have talked before, every game you have to bring your "A" game or you are going to be in trouble.  We have to be focused and be ready to compete," said Amicone.

          Shelby is at home for Fostoria in a first round division two tournament game on Saturday, so that makes three very important games in a row for Shelby.  Amicone believes they have their pitching rotation set up the way they would like going in.  "There was a lot of talk among the coaches about what we are trying to go for to put our kids in the best position to win.  We are going to have to have some kids step up, but there is not a team in North Central Ohio that is not going through the same thing when it comes to the pitching staff.  I think we are pretty set with our rotation.  We have a lot of faith in our guys, but at the same time you have to back them up with good timely hitting and great defense to put yourself in position to win."

 

Published 5/05/16

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Shelby Gets Big Win

 

          Shelby got a much needed win on Thursday and the Whippets were able to keep themselves in the Northern Ohio League race here in early in the baseball season.

          After a tough loss to league leading Bellevue (4-0) on Tuesday, the Whippets rebounded to beat Sandusky (4-2) on Thursday.  Coach Jon Amicone was happy with how they responded.  "I think that is the most important thing after you lose a tough league game.  You can't pout about it.  You have to come back and try to win the next one and we were able to do that (Thursday) night.  If you kind of dwell on a loss then it leads to a second loss and a third.  So, I am very pleased with our game (Thursday.)  Our kids were prepared and did a good job getting back on the winning track," he said.

          Senior Mason Wells was called on to make a spot start against the Blue Streaks and Amicone says he was more than up to the task.  "We threw Mason Wells (Thursday.)  He was able to pitch a complete game for us and strikeout 11 guys and he pitched extremely well for us," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "He is a kid that really hasn't been on the mound for us a lot, mostly a reliever.  We had a sickness (Thursday) with our starter and Mason stepped right in as a senior.  He was incredible for us in a game that was a must win he really stepped up for the team and got it done."

          The Shelby coach says Wells showed great leadership on Thursday.  "I got the call (Thursday) about eight o'clock and we were scrambling and he stepped up.  He is going into Marine Corps and he is not scared of a challenge, obviously.  Mason has matured in his senior year.  He has become a man and I can't say how proud I am of him," he said.

          Shelby (3-3,2-1) plays a non-conference game against Mansfield Senior on Friday, Galion in a doubleheader on Saturday, then four "NOL" games next week with Norwalk on Monday and Tuesday, Tiffin Columbian on Thursday and Willard a week from Friday.

          Amicone says they must play consistent baseball day in and day out.  "Consistency, that is the word.  With Mansfield, the new coach is doing a really nice job over there.  We have a nice doubleheader Saturday against Galion, that is a quality program year in and year out.  The we are back into four league games next week.  The plate is full, but everybody is in the same boat.  You had about two weeks when no one could play and games get backed up, so you have to be ready to play and guys need to step up," said Amicone.

 

Published 4/15/16

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Shelby Outlasts Ontario

 

          In a game that was scoreless through nine innings, Shelby scored twice in the top of the 10th and Ontario scored once in their half and the Whippets held off the Warriors (2-1) in Northern Ohio League action on Tuesday afternoon at Ontario.

          Shelby's sophomore lefthander Brennan Armstrong went the first nine innings and struck our 17 Warriors.  Coach Jon Amicone says his effort gave the rest of the team confidence.  "It takes a special group of guys that just wants to battle.  It starts with our pitching staff.  Brennan Armstrong, he went nine innings for us, threw over 100 pitches, and stuck out 17 batters.  With him on the mound he was kind of in command of the strike zone all day.  He was able to locate his fastball and throw his curveball just enough to keep Ontario off balance, which is tough because they are a good hitting team," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "With him our kids had confidence the whole time, even though we weren't getting the big hit and were leaving runners on.  I think our kids always believed just because of the way Brennan carries himself."

          Armstrong, also an excellent football quarterback and basketball player, was able to have control of his curveball Tuesday and Amicone says that was key.  "I think because he is left handed and can throw the ball so hard people fall in love with that.  When he is able to spot his curveball like he was (Tuesday.)  He was able to put it in the dirt, put it high, put it anywhere he wants.  If he is able to locate that curveball he is very difficult to hit when you are going up against him.  We were fortunate that he was able to locate that second pitch for us," he said.

          Shelby's Nate Sayer had the biggest hit of the day.  His two-run single with nobody out in the 10th provided Shelby's only runs.  Amicone says they kept plugging away.  "Every time they came in from defense the coaches did a great job trying to rally the troops.  Just bow your neck it's alright.  You have to continue to grind out at bats.  You really have to tip your hats to Ontario.  They made three or four phenomenal plays in the outfield.  I know their third baseman made a nice play backhanding it down the line and throwing it from foul territory.  We were hitting the ball and they were making tremendous plays.  That is what you expect from an Ontario team coached by Dan Gorbett.  They are fundamentally sound," said Amicome.

          Shelby (2-2,1-0) plays Tiffin Columbian (2-0,1-0) on Friday and defending champion Bellevue (5-0,1-0) on Tuesday.  Amicone says the Northern Ohio League is going to be a bear this year.  "You have to keep grinding out.  Every "NOL" game is going to be tough.  You only get 12 of them and you have to win as many of the 12 as you can.  This was a huge game for us as we try to win the "NOL."  It is going to be tight and you better come prepared every night because it's tough.  I think it will come down to the very end in the "NOL," he said.

 

Published 4/06/16

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Shelby Working on Mental Toughness

 

          Shelby has the talent to be a very good baseball team this season, but right now they are not playing with the mental toughness that is required.

          Coach Jon Amicone says they certainly have some things they must sharpen if they care going to be a solid team.  "The kids are working extremely hard, but we still need to sure up some things.  We had a couple of scrimmages late last week and early this week and there are some glaring needs that we need to work on.  We need to sure those things up before this Saturday," he said.

          Shelby plays Vermillion in a non-conference doubleheader on Saturday.

          The Whippets can hit and they have some pitchers, but right now Amicone says they are giving away too many outs when they are running the bases.  "For us it is base running.  We are just making some mental lapses on the base paths.  You just can't give up outs.  When you are giving teams three outs by being mentally out of it on the base paths you are just giving them away.  You have to value your outs when you are on offense," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "This game is hard enough to win and score runs without you helping the other team. We spend a lot of time working on base running in practice.  What we have seen so far in scrimmages it is not up to the standard that we have set so far.  We need to work on our base running and value those outs more."

          Fundamentals are a key element in baseball and Amicone says they are working on those things in practice, so when the wins and losses count they are doing things right.  "We spend so much time on those little things because when we do the little things it makes the big things seem easy.  Little things like communication and not calling a fly ball and then it drops.  Now you pitcher is throwing more pitches per inning and now you have free base runners.  We have to continue to work on those little things.  We try to put pressure on the guys during practice to make them understand just how important those little details are when it comes to winning a baseball game," he said.

          Talent is not an issue for the Whippets.  They have plenty of it.  However, Amicone says right now they are not putting it to good use.  "We are very blessed to have a very nice senior class and a couple of juniors and sophomores that play for us we have the ability.  It's what is between our ears.  We have to continue to work on mental toughness.  That is something that we preach to be mentally tough and be relentless in going after your goals.  That is something that is lacking right now.  We kind of questioned our kid's attitude during the last scrimmage.  As coaches we weren't happy.  I am happy with the kids, but not the performance.  I think the kids understand that they aren't were they need to be either.  I think the staff and the players know we have a lot of work to do before the season starts on Saturday," said Amicone.

 

Published 3/24/16

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Shelby Has to Find a Little Bit

 

          Shelby has played Sandusky twice and they have lost twice, by seven and by four, in games they could have won, especially the last one, and they will get their chance to prove the can do it.

          The play the Blue Streaks a third time in the second round of the division two tournament on Friday night at Willard High School.

          Shelby (13-10) played one its best games of the season in beating Bellevue (84-65) at Willard and Tuesday night.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they were able to get off to a good start and that was a good thing.  "I was real pleased with our game on Tuesday.  There is some concern about playing them a third time, and we just played them a week ago.  I was curious about how different or how similar the game was going to be.  For us I thought it was important that we get off to a really good start.  After the first quarter we led 24-13 and form that standpoint when you are the team that has won twice I think it is important to set the tone early and play with confidence and we did that.  We hit six threes in the first quarter.  I was real pleased with the shots we were getting.  We were attacking the basket and we were taking good shots.  Those are all good things," he said.

          Sandusky has the division two district player of the year in Jayrese Williams, who averages 20 points a game, but Schwemley says they have other players too that must be guarded.  "To me that has kind of been the difference.  When we have played them you do focus a lot on Jayrese Williams, but it is kind of the other guys that can hurt you too.  In our first game a couple of other guys put some points up and in the last game the McCurdy kid, and (Davion) Fisher, those two had 14 each.  To me those guys were really aggressive," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "While we were doing a good job on Jayrese they were doing a good job of finding ways to score and attacking us.  We need to do a better job on Keith Williams, Cavon Croom and Fisher.  They are all averaging around eight points a game, but it seems like all of them are capable of getting double figures at any time and do a good job of getting the additional scoring when they need it."

          Shelby just played Sandusky (17-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, last Friday at Shelby and lost (65-61) to the Streaks.  Schwemley says they just have to make the plays at the end.  "Davey Hipp hit a three to put us up one with about two minutes to go.  Then at that point it is about a two, three possession game and if you get a couple of stops and be efficient on offense and get a couple of high percentage shots or get to the free throw line you really have a chance to control that.  The next possession Keith Williams came down an hit a three, and that gets back to different guys for them stepped up.  Keith is a sophomore I believe and he hit a big shot.  If we are able to get a stop there and get the ball back and have a one point lead with less than two minutes to go the momentum was starting to shift.  We have played with them both games.  They have been great games, but we just haven't been able to make the big plays down the stretch that we are going to need to make to beat a very good Sandusky team," said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/25/16

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It's Plans As Usual for Shelby Girls

 

          It is Shelby and Ontario for a third time this year, this time in the girls' division two district semi final Thursday night at Willard High School.

          Shelby won the first match-up (47-42) at Shelby on December 8 and then beat the Lady Warriors again(56-48,) this time with Emily Yeager in the lineup, on January 23 at Ontario.

          The Lady Whippets (18-6) beat Sandusky Perkins (68-55) last Saturday night at Bucyrus High School to advance.  Coach Natalie Lantz feels it was a good, solid overall game by her girls.  "As good as we preformed offensively I thought we did just s good a job defensively as well.  I think when we pick things up defensively our offensive just comes naturally.  We did a great job attacking the basket.  Our guards, both Kenna (Goth) and Jackie (Garrett).  Chelsea Barnd did a great job defensively.  We got the ball inside and we did a great job finishing.  It was a real, real nice team effort," she said.

          Ontario (14-9) rallied in the final minute to beat Norwalk (57-51,) it was the second time in a week they had beaten the Lady Truckers, and Lantz says they are a physical team with a lot of basketball skills too.  "They are a very young team.  They are very athletic team.  They are very aggressive and have some nice shooters.  They play hard and like I said the other night I think NaShail (Shelby) is a hard nosed player, she is a very physical player and I think she did a good job of keeping in that game.  They played hard and they played smart at the finish.  We are looking forward to a third go around on Thursday," said Lantz.

          You know the old cliché it is hard to beat a good team three times in a season and Ontario is that, a good team, but Lantz believes if they stick to their game plan they can do exactly that.  "As far as our game plan goes you have to watch for the guards.  You have to be ready for their outside shooters.  We have to make sure we are boxing out and taking away the boards," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "And execute offensively, both inside and out, we can't rely on just inside or outside.  It has to be an overall attack.  We are looking to go with our same game plan.  If we do so I believe we will come out on top again."

 

Published 2/24/16

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Shelby Must Play Hard

 

          Shelby is going to play Bellevue for the second time in a week.  This time in the first round of the division two tournament Tuesday night at Willard High School.

          They beat the Redmen (71-63) in a Northern Ohio League game last week.

          The almost beat "NOL" co-champ Sandusky last Friday before falling (65-61) to the Streaks.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they just couldn't quite get over that last hurdle.  "We got off to a slow start and we were down 19-9 after the first quarter, but we had a really good second quarter and I believe we had a six point lead at halftime.  Davey Hipp hit a three pointer to put us up one with under two minutes to go.  Unfortunately we needed that one more defensive stop.  I am pretty sure Sandusky got a three to put them up two, but at that point it is still a one possession game.  We didn't get that defensive stop, so now we need to get a score.  Unfortunately that has kind of been our season.  We have played a lot of good teams close and tough, but we just haven't found a way to win a game against a really good team," said Schwemley.

          Tuesday night, Schwemley says the Whippets (12-10) have to play hard and smart if they are going to advance in the tournament.  "We have played them twice and both games have been close games.  Games we have had double figure leads in the third and maybe the fourth quarter and they have kept fighting and kept the game close.  You go into the game knowing what you want to do, but you are also kind of curious if the other team us going to try do what they have been doing or are they going to try and make some adjustments," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The thing you have to be careful of is you can only control what you want to do.  You have to be prepared for everything and go in with your game plan and then that night they might be similar to the last two or they might change and they might show you some different looks.  You can control your effort and your decision making and your intensity level.  It's now tournament to time and to me our intensity level has to be there right from the start."

          Bellevue (8-14) is a young team and Schwemley says they are going to put everything they have into the game and he says they must match that intensity or exceed it.   "A lot of times you get that feeling right from the start about what kind of effort the kids are going to be giving and what kind of focus do they have.  It might be something in the first few minutes I might be quicker on using a time out if we are not quite playing at the level that I want to see us.  In the regular season you might let them play through it a little bit.  It is one of things where you don't want to come out and a lackadaisical approach you want to set the tone right away with the effort.  To me those first three minutes are going to be very important as far as are we playing with great intensity and great effort.  Are we running the floor and doing things from an aggressive standpoint that are necessary and make a big difference.  Tournament play is different.  Everybody knows if you lose you are done and you are going to get that great effort out of everybody that is playing this time of year no matter what their regular season records are.  It is going to be a different kind of effort that the teams give and we want to make sure we aren't giving any less effort that our opponents," said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/23/16

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Shelby Looking For Big Win

 

          Shelby plays a role in who wins the Northern Ohio League title this season and more importantly for them they can take the momentum of beating a very good team into the tournament next week.

          The Whippets beat Bellevue (71-63) in an "NOL" game on Tuesday night.  Coach Troy Schwemley says it was a pretty solid effort and they were able to keep Bellevue at an arm's length.  "(Tuesday) night I would say pretty much for the first three quarters we played well.  We were up 13 at the end of the third, but we had as much as a 16 point lead at one point in the third quarter.  I was pretty happy with our defensive effort and our shot selection.  It was one of those games when Bellevue did a nice job playing and fighting back.  I don't think they got any closer than maybe seven, but we were never really able to just put the game away, but it was always pretty comfortable," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They fouled us a couple of times and we made enough free throws down the stretch and kept it about a 10 point game.  At this point in the year you just want to find a way to win.  We had five guys have eight points or more.  Carter Brooks had seven rebounds to go along with 16 points, Brandon Schneider 15, Brady Hill 10, Brennan Armstrong, Davey Hipp, and Buck Hipp all had eight or nine.  It was a good balanced effort.  Good effort by the guys."

          Shelby (12-9,7-4) is at home for "NOL" co-leader Sandusky (16-3,10-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, for a league game on Friday night.  Schwemley says the Blue Steaks are good, but this is still a game they can win.  "They just do a very good job of breaking you down off the dribble and penetrate and create.  They play well together.  And they play well defensively.  They have multiple guys that play well defensively, so there isn't those one or two guys where you feel you have an advantage or a miss match on the perimeter or the post.  So, they do a lot of things well.  I feel like if we do what we need to do well we are capable of beating them.  At their place earlier in the year it was a two point game with three minutes to go.  In that game we felt like we had opportunities down the stretch, but things just didn't go like we wanted them to, but we feel confident that if we play like we are supposed to we are capable of beating them," said Schwemley.

          The Shelby coach still feels like they need to get a win over a really good team like Sandusky.  He thinks that can be a real good boost to for them.  "It all comes down to can we find a way to beat a good team?  We have had a lot of games when we played good teams close and haven't been able to find ways to win.  Sandusky is sharing the "NOL" lead right now with Ontario.  They know from their standpoint they have to win to at least guarantee themselves at least a share of the "NOL."  Ontario is playing Willard, so both teams have games where they can at least control if they get a share.  So, they have a lot to play for.  From our standpoint we don't have a lot to play for form a league wise perspective, but I fell like it is significant for us to have that big win going into the tournament the following week," he said.

 

Published 2/18/16

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Execution the Key For Shelby

 

          Shelby faces Lexington in their division two tournament opener on Wednesday night at Bucyrus High School.

          Tied going to the fourth quarter on Saturday, Shelby lost (55-44) to Bellevue in game that if they would have won would have given them a share of the Northern Ohio League title.

          Coach Natalie Lantz says it was about two minutes of the fourth quarter that cost them the game.  "I am very pleased, for the most part, with our performance on Saturday.  I think we played three very strong quarters.  We weren't hitting, but we executed our defensive plan.  The girls were talking, communicating. moving well.  They played with emotion, which was great.  In the fourth quarter we go up a couple and then we had a defensive lapse, about a two minute lapse, that really put the game out of our hands.  We let them go down and they hit three threes and that kind of put us in a scramble mode," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "That hurts us and we had to foul them with a couple of minute to go.  We just couldn't get it going offensively.  I was pleased in general in how we executed our defensive plan for the majority of the game. We were able to shut down Strayer.  She had two points going to the fourth quarter.  She did hit one three and then four free throws at the end when we in a fouling situation.  I thought we did a good job controlling her.  We controlled Vogel.  Turner had a nice game for them.  She did well attacking the basket.  When we are kind of on an off day ourselves it comes down to defense and we need to have 32 minutes of it, we just can't have it for 28 or 29 minutes, especially against a good team like Bellevue.  A team that can shoot well like Bellevue.  We are going to take that and live and learn from it.  In a situation like that come tournament time hopefully we will come out on top."

          Shelby (16-6) plays Lexington (2-20) in the first round.  It has been six weeks since the teams played a regular season game and Lantz believes Lady Lex has gotten a lot better.  "I would say in the second half of the season here when they have been pressed and they are ready.  I am sure the have been practicing up on that.  They are a young group.  They are an athletic group.  We are just going to have to execute our game plan and execute it well and if we do that we come out on top.  I am confident in our capabilities and I think our girls are there too, but we have to step out on the court and do it," she said.

          Shelby beat Lexington (57-39) on January 2, but Lantz says they can't let that enter into their mind Wednesday night.  "We have been practicing for Lexington.  We have to go out and like I said execute our game plan offensively and defensively.  If we do that we will come out on top," she said.

 

Published 2/17/16

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A Win Gives Shelby Part of "NOL" Title

 

          A win over Bellevue on Saturday gives the Shelby Lady Whippets a piece of the Northern Ohio League title.

          With a win over Ontario (44-38) on Tuesday, the Willard Lady Flashes already have their piece of the title.

          Shelby gave itself a chance with a (75-68) win at Norwalk on Saturday followed by a (56-47) win over Sandusky on Tuesday night.  Coach Natalie Lantz says her girls have really been improving their play.  "Every game is a big game.  I think we are starting to take destiny into our own hands a little bit.  I think we have done a better job coming together as a team as far as our communication and our rebounding.  Everybody is working to get a piece of that pie.  They have done a good job.  We are trusting in ourselves and trusting in each other.  And with that I think comes our communication and our defense and helps with the offense as well.  I am happy with the direction we have been heading in the last month," said Lantz.

          If Norwalk beats Ontario Saturday the Lady Truckers will also share the title with Willard and the winner of the Shelby-Bellevue game.

          Lantz says her girls are competitors and they look forward to the challenge that is Saturday.  "Our league is very competitive this year and it could go in a handful of different ways.  Obviously it is going to take our top performance to come out on top on Saturday.  Bellevue is a very good team.  They are a very fundamentally sound program from the bottom up.  You can't ever count them out.  They always come ready to play and our girls need to do the same," she said.

          Bellevue (14-5,8-3) hammered Shelby (16-5,8-3) in their first match-up (68-38) on January 8.  Lantz says they are going to have to do a lot of things better and she thinks they can do just that.  "This time I think we will do a better job pinching in on their drives a little bit and making sure that our close outs our better on their outside shooters.  They are have a couple of kids that drive to the basket and attack really well and they have some really good shooters as well.  We have to make sure we are talking and moving on the pass, not chasing," she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I think when we get confident and talk defensively that helps us offensively as well.  I think we have been doing a better job of looking for openings offensively as far as executing our plays and penetrating when they are in a zone or trapping.  We are working on staying composed.  I am very pleased with the direction we are heading.  There is no doubt that we need to play our "A" game on Saturday."

          The game Saturday also represents Shelby's Play 4Kay game to support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.  The team will be having a bake sale, silent auction on gift baskets, 50/50 raffles, selling t-shirts and sweatshirts and taking donations.  Cancer survivors, fighters, and those who lost their battle will be honored between the JV and varsity games on Saturday.

 

Published 2/12/16

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Shelby Working on Being Consistent

 

          Shelby is one of those teams around .500, but they just seem to be dangerous.

          The Whippets (10-9,5-4) play at Willard (6-13,2-8) their biggest rival, for a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.

          In one of their more complete games of the season on Saturday night, the Whippets dominated Clyde (63-30) in a non-conference game.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they played pretty well, especially on defense.  "We lost to Ontario the previous Saturday and to Upper by two, so we knew going into the game Saturday that we had battled both of those teams tough, but not good enough to win.  So, we need to come into the Clyde game and work hard and find a way to win.  We played pretty good and got out early and jumped on them pretty good.  That was one of the games where the score might have seemed lopsided.  Things went our way really quick.  We played really good basketball and we held them to only 13, 14 points in the first half.  You need one of those night when a lot of things go well and if you win, try to build on it and move on to the next game," said Schwemley.

          The first time they played on January 8, Shelby hung on to beat Willard (63-59) in game that was pretty intense at the end.  Schwemley says they would rather not have such a close game this time.  "We were ahead, I think double digits, in the first half, and Willard kept battling and kept playing hard, and battled back to where it became a one possession game, late in the game.  With Conner Robinson on the floor he can make shots from anywhere at anytime.  He has the ability to score and create for himself or others.  You don't want to be in a one possession type game with him on the floor.  They are team that you want to get up on and get some distance on just to kind of ware them down mentally.  They are a team that has played a lot of people tough and played a lot of close games.  They are looking for that signature win.  We know they are going to give a great effort on Friday night just with the rivalry with Shelby and Willard, so we need to be ready for their best effort," said Schwemley.

          Shelby has played Ontario and Sandusky and Upper Sandusky, all in the top 5 of our Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, to close games.  Schwemley says they just need more consistency in games.  "I think we just need consistency.  We have those moments where we just seem to lose focus offensively or defensively.  On offense being efficient and making hustle plays, maybe a shot goes up and a rebound needs to be put back and finding ways to, you are not going to make every shot, but if you get some offensive rebounds and make some hustle plays it seems to help you through those dry spells of shooting," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Defensively, defending, not taking plays off, boxing out, playing every possession with urgency and a sense of importance.  That's tournament basketball and you want to develop those good habits.  It's already a habit and not something you are trying to do come tournament time.  If you are doing those things then tournament basketball is a lot easier and if not it doesn't seem to come as natural."

 

Published 2/09/16

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Shelby Hosts Unbeaten Upper Sandusky

 

          Shelby is going to try and do something on Tuesday night that nobody has been able to do this year, beat the Upper Sandusky Rams.

          Upper Sandusky (16-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, is the leader of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Shelby coach Troy Schwemely says the Rams run the floor well, get good shots in the half court offense, and force a lot of turnovers.  "They do a lot of things very well.  They have multiple guys that can break you down and score.  They are real aggressive as far as attacking the rim.  They play together well, they screen well, and they can just make things happen.  Coach Winslow does a great job with them.  They just do a lot of, I don't know if you call it a true motion offense.  Their screening is not predicable.  They read and react to your movements and they do a good job with that.  Then defensively they pressure the ball real well and rebound.  They do all of their things well and that wins you basketball games and they have done that every game this year," said Schwemley.

          Upper is very up tempo, but Shelby (9-8) isn't afraid to run either.  So, Schwemley says that makes for an interesting match-up.  "That is what is interesting.  I think style wise we are similar in a lot of things that we do and they do.  I told our team that it will be interesting to see who controls the tempo.  We both want to run, but who is efficient and gets back on defense and limits the other team to low percentage shots.  Those are the things we need to do.  They run the floor very well and they pressure to control your offense.  They are very up tempo," he said.

          Schwemley says they want to run, but they have to know when to and they must be able to get back and defend the Rams too.  "I think the key is who is controlling the tempo.  I will go back to our game on Saturday and I felt like Ontario did a great job of controlling the tempo.  They really dictated the game.  They ran well, but when they needed to they worked the ball for high percentage shots.  When they ran their offense they got some easies.  I don't know if we were one step behind, but we were never the ones dictating the tempo," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They got the lead and pretty much controlled the game.  We were able to cut the lead and had some opportunities, but we were never able to capitalize.  We have to learn from that and dictate the tempo.  There are possessions when you have to play great defense and rebound.  We have to limit their runs and maximize our runs."

 

Published 2/02/16

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Ontario Runs Past Shelby; Holds "NOL" Lead

 

          Ontario shot 71 percent in the first half when they raced to a 13 point lead and they went on to beat Shelby (71-60) in a Northern Ohio League game at the "O-rena" on Saturday night.

          The Warriors made 20 of 28 shots in the first half in taking a (45-32) lead and coach Joe Balogh thought they did a good job of running the floor and getting to the basket.  "I thought we were really aggressive offensively.  We talked about we really needed to attack with our transition.  I thought Trey (Jordan) and Quan (Jackson) were really good attacking it off their dribble and then our other guys really ran the floor hard.  When we got some ball movement Jackson Todd and Griffin Niss were really good for us in the first half of taking open shots.  The first half was a big, big key," he said.

          Ontario took as much as an 11 point lead (19-8) in the first quarter on Quan Jackson's lay in with six seconds left in the quarter.  Their biggest lead of the half came at (39-25) on Jackson Todd's three from the left wing with 2:12 left in the half.

          Davey Hipp paced Shelby with 16 points, but Balogh thought they were tough points.  "We weren't as good defensively as we wanted to be because they did a good job of attacking the basket with their dribble.  Our emphasis was we didn't want them to get off and start making a bunch of threes and especially Hipp.  I think coming in he had 37 for the year and probably in the last five games he has had three fourths of those.  A big emphasis was we couldn't lose him," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "In the first half we lost him off a screen once and I think he hit one off the bounce once.  I don't think he hit one in the second half.  We had Quan on him, we had Griffin on him, we had Jackson on him, and I think those three guys through the season have done a good job when we said this is the guy we have to control.  Those guys each give a little bit of a different look and sometimes I think that can wear people out a little bit."

          Shelby cut the Ontario lead to six at (57-51) with 7:27 to play in the game, but could get no closer.  Coach Troy Schwemley says when they would get within range they couldn't make the big play.  "I felt there were a couple of those where we were quick.  There were times there I felt where we had battled back.  We were more aggressive in the second half and maybe the score was around eight points.  I seemed like every time we had the score where we wanted it we took a bad shot or we turned it over.  The hard part is yes we want to be aggressive and it's not to say we don't want to take a three point shot, but also don't be content when we can get to the paint and the free throw line.  I seemed like every time we had that moment of maybe getting back into the game we weren't able to get those back to back to back possessions.  We weren't consistent there," said Schwemely.

          Griffin Niss led three Ontario players in double figures with 17.  Corey Thomas added 13 and Trey Jordan 11.  Balogh says this is team that shares the ball well.  "They have been unselfish all year.  That is what is really fun about this team and over the last three or four years.  I don't think anyone comes in and looks at the scorebook or the stat sheet and says I didn't get mine, it's we got ours.  That's really good.  I can't really think of a game where we have had selfish plays.  That's a credit to these kids they understand that's how you become a good basketball team," he said.

          Ontario (14-3,8-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has won seven straight and shares the "NOL" lead with Sandusky.  "I think we had an adjustment period when Andrew (Rathburn) went out.  We are hoping we can get him back and get him back in the flow because I think there was a little bit of difference (Saturday) night.  Shelby did a lot more where they tried to post kids.  Logan (Jones) is pretty good, but you get Andrew in there at 6'4", 210, whatever he is, it gives us a little more physicality in there and he can help us from that standpoint," he said.

 

Published 1/30/16

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Whippets Feeling Good

 

          Over the last couple of weeks, the Shelby Whippets have started to play the kind of basketball that a lot of people thought they were capable of, including their coach.

          After downing Norwalk (52-44) in an "NOL" game on Friday, they beat talented Mansfield St. Peter's (65-47) on Saturday.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they played well in the second half.  "I was very impressed with St. Pete's.  They do a lot of good things.  They are tough to guard, they spread you out.  They run the floor extremely well. We got burned a couple of times in the first half when we might have scored or they got the defensive rebound and they ran the floor and scored.  They do a lot of things really good, that's why they have the record that they have.  I was mostly impressed with how we responded in the second half," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "At halftime we were up two and I thought like we had played a pretty good half and we were only up two.  They came out and jumped on us right away and went up four.  From that point on I don't think we gave up more than 10 points.  We played good defense and had good teamwork.  I think our offensive aggressiveness paid and we did a good job of playing 32 minutes of basketball."

          Tiffin Columbian (6-9,1-4) comes to Shelby on Thursday night for a Northern Ohio League game with two game winning streak in which they have not allowed 25 points in either.  Schwemley says they want this game to be played at their pace.  "They have had some low scoring games.  They thing that they have that makes you nervous going in is they have a big guy, Stone Simmons, that really plays well inside, really physical around the basket, and then (Ro) Durham, that is a nice athletic, power forward type player.  They run a little high, low action with them.  That seems to be their strength, the guards hit some shots here and there, but they really want to get the ball inside and score.  Their strength is inside, but our strength is pressing guards and we are going to have to make sure we protect our inside guys a little bit.  We want to get a game where we are controlling the tempo and making them play a little faster, so it is not as much of a grind," said Schwemley.

          On Saturday night, the Whippets (8-7,4-3) come to Ontario (12-3,6-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in large school division, for a league game.  Ontario won the first meeting (61-57).  Schwemley says it a chance for them to prove something.  "They do a lot of things well.  They play great defense pressuring you.  The guards do a great job of handling the basketball, distributing the ball, and making extra passes.  Coach Balogh always does an excellent job of getting them to execute and get the right guys the right shots at the right time.  We have to take care of Thursday, but we also know that going on the road on Saturday is a chance for us to have that quality win against a great opponent.  For us we have been playing better basketball and we are feeling good about ourselves and that will be a great test in a tournament atmosphere.  It's a team that at some point if you have any dreams of making any kind of tournament run you have to beat some of the best in the area and Ontario is one of those teams," said Schwemley.

 

Published 1/28/16

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Whippets Need to Find that Little Something

 

          Shelby has probably played more tight games than any school in North Central Ohio this winter and more than half way through the season they are still trying to find a ways to win.

          They did take a step in the right direction with a (70-65) win at Bellevue on Saturday night.  Coach Troy Schwemley says there was a lot of good things, but some of the same things they have been fighting with showed up too.  "We were happy with Saturday night.  We really played a very good first half we were up 14.  We really did a lot of things well and played good 16 minutes of basketball.  The disappointing part was we came out in the third quarter and it was a different team that came out of the locker room and got outscored 19-8.  The game got close, but we found a way to win.  I think that is good to find a way to win.  I would like to see us close out games better.  We have had opportunities in games like that where we have had leads and haven't been able to sustain that level of play, but we are happy with a league win on the road," said Schwemley.

          Shelby is a team that nearly everyone calls dangerous and Schwemley hopes they can start to build some momentum.  "That is something that we have talked about.  We don't want to start talking about the end of year, but we also want the guys to buy into where we are going and what we are doing and believing and staying the course and maybe start winning some games and feeling good about ourselves and get that confidence that helps you beat a really good team, whether it is still in the regular season or when it becomes tournament time.  There are things to play for.  It is going to be difficult from the league standpoint.  You always want to be playing your best basketball coach January of February," he said.

          Shelby (6-7,3-3) is at Norwalk (7-6,4-2) for a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  The Truckers won the first meeting (42-41) at Shelby.  Schwemley thinks this a game they can win and might lead them to a successful last month of the season.  "When we played Norwalk the first time the game could have gone either way.  Norwalk scored a basket with seven seconds to play to go up one.  I think we had a five point lead with two minutes to go.  We missed some free throws and offensively we had a chance to put that game away, but it comes down to a one possession game and that ended up being the difference.  When you compare seasons they have been very similar.  They are 7-6 and we are 6-7.  They have found a way to win some close games that maybe we haven't.  They have struggled a little bit lately.  Looking back that game seemed to be a pivotal game for us where we went on to lose games very similar to that," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Now we are back to that pivot point again can we find a way to win a game against a team we know we are capable of beating, but we also lost to in the first game.  Hopefully we can see some improvement and progress that will help us get the win."

 

Published 1/21/16

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Shelby Beats Clear Fork

 

          Shelby led (32-13) at halftime and went on to down the Clear Fork Lady Colts (50-27) in a non-conference girls basketball game played on Tuesday night at Les Hauenstein Gym.

          The Lady Whippets scored twice in the first minute on goals by Maddi Fidler in the post, but coach Natalie Lantz says they didn't stay consistent enough through out the game, especially the second half.  "I think we came out and attacked really well from the start.  We were very focused.  We were intense on defense.  We pounded the ball inside and the post players were scoring.  We were getting the fouls, which is what we needed to do and then we lost focus," she told Swankonsports.com after the game, "We show spurts of greatness and then we back down.  Then show spurts and we back down.  We have got to become more consistent on our play, more focused.  When we put it together this is a pretty good team, but it has got be for 32 minutes and not three minutes here and five minutes there."

          It was a reoccurring theme for the Lady Colts (3-13.)  They just can't make shots.  They made 10 of 40 (25%) against Shelby and are shooting (27%) for the season.  "We had some great looks in the first half and I was very, very excited by those.  There were five or six that went in and out.  I feel like if we made those we could have put a little pressure on them.  We have got to find a way to relax and put the ball in the basket because they are getting the shots, they just have to believe they are going in," said Clear Fork coach Heidi Roush.

          The Shelby (11-4) pressure hurt Clear Fork too resulting in 25 turnovers.  However, Lantz is still looking for more consistency there too.   "We were trying to make some adjustments.  We have been trying to switch things around and try to find the right combination and the right kids to rotate to the right spot.  I think we are starting to get there it is just every team runs the press breaker different.  We have to know that against a 2-2-1 they are going to try and break it middle.  One player has to be thinking and cutting that pass off.  We also forced some long passes out of bounds.  We told them its is not all about steals.  If you force a turnover that is an extra possession," said Lantz.

          Fidler lead Shelby with 13 points.  Paige Johnson had five, all from the line, to pace the Lady Colts. 

          Shelby lost to Willard (48-42) on Saturday and they trail Norwalk and Bellevue by two games in the Northern Ohio League race.  Lantz knows they are going to need some help to get a piece of the title.  "We put ourselves in a position where we need to win the rest of the games, but we also need some upsets from some other teams.  That is very doable, honestly, by several teams.  It is going to be an interesting round two.  We are hoping it comes out to our advantage towards the end," she said.

          Norwalk beat Willard (70-69) in overtime on Tuesday night.  Bellevue beat Sandusky (37-33) in league action.

 

Published 1/19/16

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A Must Win For the Whippets

 

          Shelby trails to Northern Ohio League leader Sandusky by two games and they play at Sandusky on Friday night in a league game.

          The Whippets (5-6,2-2) have lost a lot of close games this year, including (61-57) to Ontario and (42-41) to Norwalk in league play.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they need a quality win against a good team.  "We look at our season right now we are 5-6 and unfortunately our six losses have been in games that we look at it and say we could have won some of those, if not all of those games.  You also have to be realistic and say we could have lost all of those games.  You can play that could have, should have game all you want, but at some point we have to start winning some of those games to turn our season around," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Those losses have been against quality opponents.  To this point I can't say that we have really had that significant victory against one those better teams in the area.  That is not to take away from any of those wins or any of those opponents.  In our losses, like last week to Lexington, I know it is just one game, but we still lost that game.  At some point you have to find a way to win a game like that."

          Sandusky (7-2,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, leads the "NOL" standings by a game over Ontario and Norwalk.  Schwemley says this is game that can't afford to lose.  "We have an opportunity.  We are only two games back as far as leading the league goes.  We talked to the guys about this.  This is a must win game.  We can't afford to lose another league game and fall further behind.  That being said if we win that, we are just one game out of first place.  We really haven't had the season we were looking for.  We still have the possibility of correcting that on Friday night," he said.

          Sandusky is very athletic and Schwemley says they can do a lot of things on offense.  "They attack very well.  They have multiple guys that can create.  It starts with Williams, he is averaging over 20 points a game and he just does a lot as far as scoring.  He can create on his own, he can finish on his own, but he also makes everyone around him good.  He distributes the ball.  It is not that they don't have other players that can take you off the dribble, that can attack.  They do a great job of breaking you down individually," he said.

          The Blue Steaks live off their ability to score points in a hurry and build their lead through flurries.  Schwemley says they can't let that happen on Friday.  "They can hit that knock out punch at almost any time, so we have to be consistently getting back on defense and boxing out.  We can not let them go on any runs because they also play solid defense and limit your scores.  So, when we go to Sandusky we can't let them have those 8-0, 10-2 runs because I think that is just going to be too difficult to overcome.  When I think of our games last year both times we played them close.  We were in both games in the third quarter and then they had those runs.  I do feel confident that our guys can go up there and compete and we have a chance if we execute and play like we are suppose to.  We can't let their defense create their offense because they can bury you at any time," said Schwemley.

 

Published 1/14/16

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Mistakes at the Wrong Time Killing Shelby

 

          Shelby is under .500 for the season, but they are less than 20 points form being unbeaten.  Seems hard to believe, but it is true.

          Their (62-58) loss to Ashland last Saturday is a good example of their season.  They had the lead in the fourth quarter and let it get away.  Coach Troy Schwemley says it is like they find a way to lose.  "We did a lot of good things.  We were up 10 halftime and moving the ball and balanced scoring by multiple guys.  Unfortunately we just have these lulls were we have mental breakdowns or mistakes, whether they are mental or physical, a little of both, and seems like those mistakes are costing us.  We are 4-5 and we have lost those five games by like a total of 15 points all together.  It is one or two plays every game that we really need baskets at crunch time we are just not making.  A lot of that could be avoided if we would do things a little better when we have the lead.  In a lot of our losses we had the lead in the second half and we just haven't been able to close them out," said Schwemely.

          Shelby (4-5,1-2) plays at home Friday night against the rival Willard Flashes (1-7,0-4) in a Northern Ohio League game.  Schwemley says despite their record this is a team that can be pretty good.  "They lost their last game at Sandusky Perkins by one.  Perkins is 9-2 and that gives you and idea that they are capable of playing at that level against a team that is having a very good season going.  We lost to Perkins earlier in the season by seven.  In their last game they almost had a quality win against a good opponent," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I don't know what all is going on for coach Long, but for us I know going into the Ashland game I said this is the best 2-6 team we are going to play all year because I knew Ashland was a very good team with a lot of good athletes.  I felt for both of us it was an opportunity to have a quality win.  Now, we have to move on and now it is Willard.  We can't look at their record because they are capable of playing very good basketball.  Willard and Shelby is going to get the best effort out of both teams and we are going to have to be ready to play."

          He adds that Willard has some good players, most notably senior Conner Robinson, and they have to have more of a killer instinct if they are able to get the lead in this game.  "Willard has got a quality team.  Conner Robinson is averaging 19 points a game and they have other guys like the (Nick) Cofer kid and (Seth) Vipperman that have nights when they score points.  Conner is a guy that can make everyone around him better.  Going into a game like that you want to be ahead by a comfortable margin.  You don't want to be in the position where that one basket could be the difference. We are going to have to give a great effort," he said,

          Shelby and Willard have been playing basketball since World War II and Schwemley says this is a good rivalry.  "No matter who is coaching or how long it has been Shelby-Willard has been a great rivalry.  It has been a very good rivalry and a fun one.  I think games like this are great opportunities to have that quality win.  The fans, the students are going to be very supportive and it is going to be a great environment.  For that moment you have a chance to forget about the records.  For us that is what we have to focus on and I am sure for Willard it is going to be the same.  It is about this point and you are struggling it is about one game.  Don't get caught up looking at your season and whether you are disappointed about where you are at it is really about one night and giving your beat effort.  If we do that I think we do have a good chance," said Schwemley.

 

Published 1/07/16

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Arrows Rally to Beat Shelby

 

          Ashland made four of five of five free throws in the final 1:23, outscored Shelby 33-19 in the second half, and they beat the Whippets (62-58) in a non-conference game at Shelby High School on Saturday night.

          Trailing (39-29) at halftime, Ashland coach Jason Hess thought they forced Shelby to take tougher shots in the second half.  "We challenged the kids at halftime that they were going to win the game on the defensive end.  I told them the way Shelby plays and the way we want to play 10 points isn't a huge margin.  Two weeks ago against Canton Central Catholic that is a huger difference.  I said they are going to keep shooting and we are going to keep playing and give ourselves a chance to get back in the game.  The kids chipped away, we actually had it tied there in the third quarter, and they made a little bit of a run and got back in the lead, but we did have the lead cut in half by the end of the third," said Hess.

          Brady Hill scored with :01 second left in the quarter to give the Whippets a (53-49) lead after three quarters.

          Shelby coach troy Schwemley says they let Ashland back in the game, it was tied at 44 with 2:24 left in the third after Ashland's John Wolfe scored in the lane, and he says they didn't get to the line enough.  "I think the first three minutes we turned the ball over two or three possessions.  We really didn't execute defensively and get high percentage shots that we need to get.  They cut back into the lead, but I thought we recovered," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "I believe we were up at the end of the third quarter, so even though we had the slow start to the third we were up four.  When you shoot one free throw for the game and the other team shoots 17 you are at a disadvantage.  That's pretty simple."

         Logan Brewer led Ashland with 18, while Wolfe added 16.  Davey Hipp paced Shelby with 18.

          Hess says the pace of the game can make it difficult to get out on Shelby's shooters.  "It is tough because of how fast they play and you start getting tired.  When you start getting tired, your hands are on your knees and you don't close out.  I thought Grant Denbow did an outstanding job defensively in the second half.  Him being able to guard number 24 (Davy Hipp) might have been the difference in the game," he said.

          Hess added they were able to bring some guys off the bench to give their starters a rest.  "We have some nice depth.  The guys that come off the bench play hard.  They are still learning, but that is the nature of high school basketball.  You don't have eight guys with experience every year.  You have to get them experience as you go.  This was a great game, a great atmosphere to get experience and to learn from," he said.

          Ashland caught Shelby at 56 all with 2:46 to play on a pair of free throws by Griffin Gerwig and took the lead on Gerwig's basket 30 seconds later (58-56.)  Hipp tied the game at 58 with 1:55 remaining.

          Schwemley says he thought there were times when they had opportunities to get the foul line and were not given that chance.  However, also have to do a better job of being stronger.  "I thought there were times we needed to be a little stronger in the paint.  Some loose balls, some situations, that we could control, you can't control the officials call or what the other team does, but there are things we can control.  We have to play through those and overcome some of those obstacles and we just aren't to that point yet," said Schwemley.

          The Whippets (4-5) have been in this position before, a one point loss to Norwalk (42-41) and four point loss to Ontario (61-57) and a three point loss to Galion (64-61) are examples.  "You have just watched how we have lost five games in similar fashion.  Every game we have had leads or opportunities.  We need to make those big plays and need those big stops in those tight moments that we haven't figured out how to do and we need to figure that out," he said.

 

Published 1/02/16

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Shelby Has to Believe

 

          After a solid start to the season the Shelby Whippets are now sporting a three game losing streak.

         Coach Troy Schwemely says they have to start doing a lot of the little things better, that's true, but also they need to remember they are pretty good at some things too.  "I think for us right now it has just been us trying to regroup from a tough week we had last week.  We have dropped three in a row night now.  We are trying to figure out what we need to do better, but believe in the things we do well.  So, having a game on Wednesday will be good for us from the standpoint that we haven't played since last Tuesday with the Christmas schedule and things like that it is good to get a game in and that type of atmosphere and environment for our guys," he said.

          When you are on a little skid, Schwemley says it can be all doom and gloom, but they need to also remember the good things that they are doing and build on those.  "The hardest part, and we have talked about this before, is sometimes when you win you feel like you are doing everything right and when you lose you feel like you are doing everything wrong and both scenarios are wrong.  When you win it feels better, but there are still things you need to improve on.  When you lose you just kind of magnify the mistakes and there are a lot of things that we did well," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "When you look at our last three games, we lost to Ontario by three and we are ahead in that game for about three quarters.  On that Saturday against Perkins we jump out 11-2 and then we have a let down in that game.  Then at Galion we have a 12-point lead in the third and by five with four minutes to go and some things just didn't go well down the stretch and we lose.  Right now it seems like we are doing a lot of things wrong, but I think a lot of that is our perspective of the last three games, but we have also done things well.  We need to improve on our mistakes, but we also need to focus on the things we are doing well and believe in what we are doing.  Just fix some of those little things that are costing us ball games."

          On Wednesday, Shelby (3-4) travels up State Route 61 to Plymouth to meet the Big Red (1-6) in a non-conference game.  Schwemley says it is time to build some confidence again.  "They have some guys that can heat up from the three point line, from really anywhere, but they can shoot from fairly deep.  Watching them on film they are not right behind the line they have some range.  It is one of those where we have to defend.  We have to rebound and we have to execute offensively.  We have a game on Saturday it is very important for us to turn things around right now and preparing for the next game.  The focus is on the Plymouth game, but it would be nice to also get some momentum of some sort going right now and start to feel a little better about ourselves, so this game is very important," said Schwemley.

          Shelby hosts Ashland, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, on Saturday in another non-conference game.

 

Published 12/30/15

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Shelby and Norwalk Battle in Key "NOL" Game

 

 

          Northern Ohio League leader Shelby is at home for the Norwalk Lady Truckers in key game in the league on Wednesday.        

          Shelby has not played since last Tuesday when they downed Western Reserve of the Firelands Conference (61-46,) but coach Natalie Lantz says they have been working hard in practice to get ready for the match-up with the Lady Truckers.  "We have been working on being more composed and more focused, in practice too.  We do have a little lull between these two games, Western and Norwalk.  The girls have been practicing hard, practicing well, I feel like we have been making progress," said Lantz.

          Norwalk (7-2,2-1) trails Shelby (6-1,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com girls' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, by a game in the league standings and Lantz says they have a great deal of athleticism.  "They are very athletic team, they are quick, they put a lot of pressure on the ball and they run transition really well.  We are going to have to make sure we are on our "A" game, make sure we are communicating, rotating well defensively and making sure we are attacking and taking care of the ball offensively," she said.

          The press is going to be a big factor in this game because Norwalk will pressure all over the floor.  Lantz says when they break it they need to attack and score.  "Our girls are certainly capable of attacking.  We need to make good passes up the court, stay composed and take it to them on our end," he said.

          Jiselle Thomas is a very good scorer for Norwalk and Lantz says they have to know where she is at on the floor at all times.  "We want to control their ball handlers.  Jiselle Thomas especially is a very good guard.  She is able to knock down the three and she is very good at driving to the basket," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Just when you think you have her stopped she is going to keep doing it.  I think we are ready as far as we know what they are going to bring to the table, now we have to go out and perform."

 

Published 12/23/15

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Shelby Has to do a lot of Things well

 

          Shelby plays host to Ontario in a crucial match-up in the Northern Ohio League on Friday night.

          Both schools trail league leaders Sandusky and Norwalk by a game after the first couple of weeks.

          Shelby lost to Norwalk (42-41) two weeks ago, but came back to beat Tiffin Columbian (66-54) last Saturday night.  Coach Troy Schwemley thought their shot selection was a lot better.  "I was really happy with how we responded to the week before when lost to Norwalk.  In the Norwalk game we only scored 41 points and didn't shoot very well.  I gave Norwalk credit for their defense, but I also thought we had some open looks we have to make.  In the Tiffin game I thought we did a better job of getting some shots up and getting the ball inside and getting some higher percentage shots.  Just because you are open get closer to the basket, get to the free throw line, get into the paint more, you can increase your shooting percentage.  Once you step up and make those shots the three pointers come as well.  We had seven different guys make at least a three.  I am definitely happy with how we responded last Saturday," said Schwemley.

          Plus, the Whippets were more physical on defense and that gave them an advantage too.  Schwemley says they were just more aggressive than the week before.  "When you make a lay up it seems to be easier to make a perimeter shot.  It's the same with your offense and defense.  It seems like when you are playing good defense it helps you play good offense.  I thought we were more aggressive offensively and we were more physical defensively and that is part of being aggressive.  Tiffin has some nice big guys that play hard and score inside.  I thought we did a better job of being physical and boxing out.  Just that game within the game.  Just those little things whether it is setting screens or boxing out or working hard on defense that sometimes don't show up in the stats, but we did a better job on the little things that help win ball games," he said.

          Shelby (3-1,1-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays host to Ontario (4-1,1-1), #3 in the poll, in a big early season game in the league.

          Schwemley says Ontario has a similar approach to the last several years, but they are getting the ball inside more.  "They are very similar in terms of their style and their speed, but I think if you look right now Rathburn is their leading scorer.  They really do a good job of getting points in the paint.  They have other guys that can post up and score as well.  They are getting a lot of their points in the paint, which is what you want as a coach.  I think that is something they have done a really good job with.  They also have guards that can score.  That always makes you nervous because I know they have guards that can score and guards that can shoot, so it is not like we can only focus on stopping their inside game.  That is what makes Ontario such a good team.," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They are solid and coach Balogh does a great job with them.  They complement each other well.  They do a great job of executing what they are trying to do.  We are going to have to be hungry and do our things well.  We have to play good team defense, rotating, rebounding."

          Ontario tends to be a pretty good offensive rebounding team and Schwemley says the have to keep the Warriors off the glass.  "A lot of that is just positing and effort.  When shots go up we have to be in good defensive position to and be aggressive as far as going after the ball.  Sometimes a good shot is missed and you still have to get the rebound.  They are wanting to get that rebound, so we have to do a good job of defending the first shot and make sure we don't give up another shot.  That is where the teamwork comes in.  You might box out five or six times and not get a rebound, but your teammate does and that's what it takes.  We are going to have to do those little things for 32 minutes," said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/18/15

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Shelby Circling the Wagons

 

          After winning their first two games of the season, the Shelby Whippets lost their first Northern Ohio League game of year by a point to Norwalk last Friday.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says his Whippets have to figure out how to score more points.

          Jaycee Jordan scored with four seconds left and Norwalk beat the Whippets (42-41) last Friday.  Schwemley says it was a night when they just couldn't throw it in the ocean.  "My first thought is if you tell me we only gave up 41 points I would probably tell you that we won.  I thought defensively we did a pretty good job in terms of limiting our opponent to a low number of points.  It wasn't a game where it was one of those tempo things we got 49 shots.  We shot I believe 4-24 from the three point line and 16 of 49 total.  We lose by one point and we shot like 33 percent from the field.  If we make just one more basket that could have been a win.  Give credit to Norwalk for defending us well.  We have to make some shots," said Schwemley.

          It was clear the Whippets didn't make many shots against Norwalk, missed some open ones, but Schwemley says he was more concerned about the kind of shots they were taking.  "I think the disappointing part was I think we did get some good shots up.  Some of those shots you are going to have open looks and you not going to make them all and that was the case with some of them, but some of them were poor shots, poor shot selection.  We didn't get the free throw line a ton," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We were settling for a lot of perimeter shots rather than attacking the basket and drawing contact and getting to the free throw line.  From that standpoint we got good open looks we could have made, but we also weren't as aggressive as I would like to see us in terms of attacking the basket."

          Shelby (2-1,0-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Tiffin Columbian (1-2,0-0) in an "NOL" game on Saturday night.  Schwemley admits this is a game that is more about how well they execute and if they can improve their shot selection than what Tiffin is doing.  "I know they have some size, which is typical of a Tiffin team. I really haven't had a chance to see them too much this year with our schedule.  I know it is typical coach talk, but it is about us.  In the loss to Norwalk we felt we had opportunities to win that game and we were pretty disappointed, so we have to bounce back.  We have to be more aggressive defensively and we have to be more aggressive offensively.  To me it is really more about how we play and if we can dictate the tempo and how aggressive we play the game," said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/08/15

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Shelby Trying to Make it Through

 

          Shelby is off to a solid 2-0 start, but this has been a trying week for them program as they deal with some injuries. 

          On the opening weekend, the Whippets (2-0,0-0) produced non-conference wins over Madison (63-39) and Wynford (78-53) on Saturday night.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says he saw a lot of good things in both games, but some things that need to be better too.  "We did a lot of good things as far as first game.  We did some things well.  I liked our ball movement, our spacing.  There are always things you look back on and know you need to get better at and that is the key to improving throughout the season.  We came back the next night against Wynford, and kind of similar, we did a lot of nice things.  Still we need to shoot free throws better and we need to shoot better from the perimeter," he said.

          Shelby suffered an injury to freshman Uriah Gieseler, coach Schwemley's step son, and Troy has been dealing with a lot of things this week.  "It has been challenging.  I haven't been home since Saturday night.  My son broke his wrist in the game against Wynford and I have been down at Children's Hospital since then.  I am just trying to take care of things for him and my family.  My assistant coaches have been doing a lot of the coaching this week in getting the boys ready for Norwalk.  We definitely have to be ready, but it has been a struggle of a week from a personal standpoint.  With my son playing varsity and we are going to lose him and he was doing a nice job.  As a team, as a coach, as a family, there is a lot on our plate this week and we have to be able to get ready for Norwalk on Friday night," said Schwemley.

          Norwalk (1-0,0-0) is at Shelby on Friday night for the Northern Ohio League opener for both squads.  Norwalk coach Steve Gray does a lot of different things on offense and defense.  Schwemley says you have to be ready for the buffet.  "I guess you can say you know what you are going to get, but it is a variety of things.  I have been at Shelby for 10 years and Steve has been at Norwalk for a little longer and I have known Steve for a longtime and he has a stockpile of things he is capable of using it just a matter of what they have been working on throughout the week.  His kids are always well prepared and they are going to play hard.  They work well together.  They will probably have a few things that you have seen before, but it is just a matter of which one you have to focus on.  Every year it is a little different," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have some returners, but there are some new faces.  They are going to come out and have a game plan and try and execute theirs and we will try to do the same and try to do what we do and try and be successful with that."

 

Published 12/03/15

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Shelby With Solid Guards

 

          Shelby is a team that has the capability of making some noise in the Northern Ohio league this season.

          They have some players back with varsity experience and they have some of the best guards in the area.

          Coach Troy Schwemley, like most coaches, has some concerns about the shorter preseason and how it will affect them on Friday night when they host the Madison Rams in their traditional non-conference opener.  "There was no gap week between the end of football and the beginning of basketball.  Basketball officially started the same day regular season football ended.  Most of us I would say didn't start then because we have players that are playing football," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "For example, we didn't start with everybody until Thursday of the next week.  So, right there you miss potentially five practice days just waiting for everybody to get there.  When you miss those days.  Normally the girls open up on Thanksgiving.  Our girls will already have three games in by Thanksgiving when they normally open.  There are a lot of factors that go together to make you feel like you have to be ready to go when you really shouldn't be."

          A possible advantage for the Whippets is they have some players back, especially ball handlers, that have some varsity minutes under their belts.  That means Schwemley doesn't have to teach quite as much.  "When you do return players and you have guys that have played together that does help.  Every team is knew and there are always guys that you are trying to get to play together.  There are a couple of new faces and maybe you made some adjusting with some defensive things or something like that.  It does help to have some returners, but everybody is still trying to figure out what they do best and have a game plan going in.  For most of us it is making some minor adjustments here and there through the scrimmages and doing everything we can to get ready for that opener, but also for the rest of the season," said Schwemley.

          A year ago, Shelby instituted 32 minutes of pressure and making it an up tempo game.  Schwemley isn't going to reveal his strategy for this year, but says it will likely be similar.  "We do have what I would consider a lot of strong guards and we expect good guard play. So, we will stay similar to some of the things we did.  We did have six seniors graduate last season and those guys contributed some minutes and some playing time and they were valuable contributors to last year's team.  So, we do return guys, but we are still trying to determine what we do best and what's bets for us.  We are going to try and push the tempo a little bit and hopefully that is to our advantage," said Schwemley.

          Madison has one the best players, and most gifted athletes, in the area in junior guard Tyrell Aijan.  Schwemley says they can't allow him to take the game over.  "I think that kind of happened last year.  I was looking at the box score recently and I think he had like 22 against us last year and did a lot of scoring and not just that he had some assists and rebounds and had a really good game that night.  He is a difference maker.  Last year, we had a nice first quarter and then momentum swung a little bit and he did a lot of good things in that game.  He is a junior and is just getting more confident.  A lot of their success he had a big had in," he said.

 

Published 11/25/15

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Shelby Girls to Tip Off Season

 

          The Shelby Lady Whippets start the 2015-2016 season this weekend with home games against Plymouth on Friday and Ashland on Saturday, both in non-conference play.

          They play host to Mansfield Senior on November 24, so they are going to play three games before Thanksgiving.  Coach Natalie Lantz says they are going to find out what they are about.  "Hopefully we are finding we have the best of what I have seen in our scrimmages and practice.  The young girls are growing up and have really been stepping it up and doing a good job on defense especially, and offense. They are contributing a lot," she said.

          In a preseason poll Shelby was predicted to finish third in the Northern Ohio League, but Lantz says their goal is to take the trophy this year.  "We are holding ourselves to some pretty high expectations.  I know we were picked third in the league.  I would rather be picked third and now the girls know where they are seen.  They want to step up and they want to win and come out on top this year.  They are working hard in practice.  I have seen great chemistry between them.  They are very unselfish.  Sometimes too much to a point," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "There are definitely some things we need to work on.  With some injuries we have been coming off of and recovering from and trying to bounce back from either last season or over the summer.  The girls are working hard and we just want to remain injury free."

          When it comes to this weekend it can be difficult to learn a lot the teams you are playing based on preseason scrimmages or what they were like last year.  Lantz says it is more about yourself and going out and executing what you are good at doing.  "From the different scrimmages that we have had and the styles of the teams that we have played I think we have learned that we need to no matter what the situation we need to play our game.  Settle into our stuff no matter what depending on what defense we are running and offensive sets we are running.  We are always going to try and push the ball at the offensive end because we have got some speed.  We have a nice inside game.  We are holding ourselves accountable.  We want to step up.  A lot of it is going to be on us, working on our game, and staying composed," said Lantz.

 

Published 11/18/15

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Shelby has Potential to be Better

 

          Shelby may be a team on the move, a move up to be one of the contenders in the Northern Ohio League girls' basketball race.

          The "NOL" was basically a two team race last year with Bellevue and Willard, but there may be others involved this year, like Shelby and Norwalk.

          Coach Natalie Lantz says they have a good nucleus this year and she says they are working together well in the preseason.  "I think this year could be a good year for Shelby.  We have three seniors, six juniors and a freshman now on varsity and we are seeing a lot more leadership from those juniors and seniors.  The kids are at a point where they are playing as a unit.  They are talking a lot better on the floor offensively and defensively.  Right now, they want to win.  They want to be successful this year.  So, we are looking forward to a stronger season than in the past," she said.

          Lantz says they have talent and if they can work through some injuries they can become a solid team.  "They have been working really hard.  They have been fighting through some injuries.  As we are starting off the season I still have two players that are not 100 percent where they have been in the past, where they want to be.  I think they are still very talented players.  They are good kids, they are good leaders," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "As far as where they want to be, where they think they should be, they are still fighting through some things.  I am hoping we will keep building and keep them injury free.  Keep building and becoming stronger and stronger throughout the season."

          Chemistry is very important with any sports team, especially with girls at the high school level, and Lantz says this team is growing and showing that they will play hard for each other.  "What we have seen from scrimmage one to scrimmage two.  We only had six players on varsity because our cross country team did fantastic and made the regionals.  Volleyball, of course, ran over this year.  It was hard to get players there in time.  We saw huge improvement in going from six players to eight players in the second one on Saturday.  They moved the ball very well.  They were very unselfish on the floor almost to a fault.  They were doing a great job offensively and defensively.  I think some of them are getting used to getting into the flow of our offense.  Defensively we are liking what we are seeing.  Obviously there is still a lot to work on, but good steps forward," said Lantz.

          Shelby opens the season next weekend with a pair of home non-conference games against Plymouth and Ashland and then hosts Mansfield Senior on November 24.

 

Published 11/11/15

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Shelby Playing for Momentum

 

          Shelby is not going to win the Northern Ohio League title and they are not going to make the playoffs, but this can still be a good season.

          Coach Erik Will says no they didn't beat Bellevue last week, but a win this week against Loudonville, in non-league play, and they can still feel good going into the off season.  "We told the kids we were in position to win a league title last Saturday and it didn't happen.  Here is the great news, a lot people are saying how do you get kids to respond?  How do to get them to stay focused for week 10?  We are playing for a winning record, we can be 6-4.  We are kind of treating it, this might sound crazy, as a sort of a bowl game.  It is one last opportunity to compete as a group and send our seniors off with a win, a winning record, which hasn't been done for quite a few years," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "It is another opportunity for younger guys to get another week, another opportunity to get better.  You know if you win your last game that's a nice springboard into the off season, a positive way to close out the 2015 campaign.  So, there is still quite a bit to play for."

          Shelby has not had a winning season since 2010, when Chris Solis was still their coach, when they were (8-3) and lost to Clyde in the first round of the playoffs.

          Will says this year's seniors have been a special group because they have helped change of the culture.  "The first time I was here in 2013 we were 1-9.  If my memory serves me right that was the year before the running clock and there a couple of times we were on the wrong side of a couple of beat downs.  For that group to stay the course, the 12 or 13 seniors that we've got, they have done a nice job staying with our program.  They have worked hard, they have led by example, that's why we want to try so hard to get them out of here with a win on Friday," he said.

          With seven schools in the "NOL" there is always a school with a non-league game and on week 10 it is Shelby, who plays at Loudonville (4-5) on Friday night.  Will says the Redbirds aren't the team they were last year, but they can still put up a fight.  "They have some athletes, a new coach kind implementing his thing.  They are trying to be .500, they are 4-5, and if they get a win they are going to be feeling good, it's not a winning season, but it's not a losing season.  We are both trying to play for momentum going into the off season.  They have a couple of athletes, some size here and there, they are not a bad football team," he said.

 

Published 10/28/15

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Shelby in Position

 

          A win at first place Bellevue on Friday night would guarantee the Shelby Whippets no less than a share of the Northern Ohio League football title, something they haven't done since 2000.

          Devon Brooks had 19 carries for 291 yards in Shelby's (46-13) win over Ontario last week to keep the Whippets a game behind Bellevue.  Coach Erik Will says they may not be at the top of the food chain yet, but they are getting there.  "I don't know if we are necessarily the hunted yet.  I think we would like to move to being one of those teams.  We are still pretty hungry.  We are still trying to have a true team identity as far as reestablishing the Shelby tradition.  I think the kids are on the right path. they are playing hard, they are practicing right.  It's was a great opportunity for the kids to come out and play well.  I was happy for our offensive linemen and Devon Brooks.  I thought those two specific groups of people did well.  It was kind of nice for someone else to shine," said Will.

          Shelby (5-3,4-1) has an outstanding sophomore quarterback in Brennan Armstrong, but so does Bellevue in Alec Foos.  Will says he is a double threat.  "He has rushed for I believe over 1,100 yards and thrown for quite a bit.  He is one of those guys that is going to run the ball, but he is good enough throwing it if you fall asleep in the secondary.  You and have to be honed in on you responsibilities and more than that you have to get lined up right and be gap responsible on defense.  Their is no doubt he is a top flight athlete in our league," he said.

          Plus, the Redmen (6-2,4-0) can match Brooks with running back Bryce Ray.  Will says he is a physical player.  "That kid jumps off film right away.  If Foos is running and he is blocking or he, himself is running.  He is only a sophomore too, so we will be dealing with him for three years, including this Friday.  He is a heck of a football player.  You expect Bellevue to have kids like that.  That is the kids of program they have and the kind of tradition they have," he said.

          Bellevue has allowed just two scores over its last three league games and Will says he expects that Bellevue is going to try and make them throw the ball.  "They are big and physical.  They are going to load the box.  As a staff we feel they are going to load up and try to take away Brennan (Armstrong) and Shorty (Brooks) and we going to have to make some plays.  I don't know if we are going to be able to line up and just march the ball down the field with eight, nine, 10, 11 play drives.  We think there will be plays to be made, but we have to make them.  We have put a lot on our offensive line as far as protection and run blocking and our athletes making plays," said Will.

          It is the biggest game for the Whippets since probably 2007 and Will says he and the players are looking forward to the challenge.  "When I took this job over two years ago we said the first order of business was the restore order and as far as Shelby playing football at the highest level.  Even this season we have had some ups and downs.  We had a real nice win over Madison, then we had a little bit of a dip, got back on the winning path and then have a little bit of a dip, and now we are really climbing with three straight wins here," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We feel that Shelby is this area should be a main brand football operation.  Our kids have taken ownership of that and have really bought in to what we are selling.  The staff has put in a tremendous amount of hours to put us in position to be successful."

 

Published 10/21/15

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It's a Battle of Contenders; Shelby vs. Ontario

 

          Shelby and Ontario both have only won loss in Northern Ohio League play and trail league leader Bellevue by a game in the standings coming into their meeting in Shelby on Friday night.

          Both have Bellevue remaining on their schedules.  The winner Friday night stays in the race, while the loser does not.

          Shelby (4-3,3-1) produced perhaps its biggest win in half a decade when they hammered Tiffin Columbian (46-13) last week in "NOL" action, scoring 26 points in the first quarter.  Coach Erik Will says they were ready mentally.  "This kids really did a nice job and especially our mental approach to that game was just fantastic.  When you have a good week of practice, when you kids are understanding, when they are watching extra film, that stuff shows up.  It showed up Friday night.  Now, the nice thing is the kids can see that success, they can feel that success.  The sign of a mature team is to continue to do the things that you know are going to give you success," said Will.

          Winning is the name of the game and Will says the last week keeps them where they want to be and that is in contention.  "Winning is never a bad thing.  Our kids are getting better at this.  They know when they come in on Monday they are going to go over our scouting report and go over our focuses for the week for special teams all of the way down to both sides of the ball.  We told our kids wining on week seven allows us to continue to compete week eight for the league championship," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "That's what we want.  I told the guys that when we had a team meeting back in March and I said how many of you guys want to win an "NOL" championship and everybody in the room raises their hand, so how many of you still want to win championship and everybody's hand was up.  I said you have an opportunity this week to win an "NOL" championship.  We have to take care of our next opponent and that's our focus."

          Ontario (2-5,2-1) beat Willard last week (42-14) and Will says it is his opinion that the Warriors are moving in the right direction.  "They continue to get better.  They are running the ball well.  Their defense is playing a lot better.  They did what they needed to do last week as far as against Willard.  They had a nice performance and are coming off a win.  We have played them tough, but we haven't got win yet.  This is our Richland County league rival and our kids are definitely focused on the task at hand," he said.

          Not that they can't throw it, but Will says the Warriors are a team that wants to run.  "They want to run it first.  When you look at the down and distance stuff and all of the information they are probably a lot like us we are going to run the football, but they are run heavy on the early downs.  It is going to be important that we lineup correctly and get the right checks and fly to the football.  It has been a point of emphasis all year," he said.

 

Published 10/14/15

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Shelby Needs to be Able to Throw and Stop the Run

 

          Shelby needs a win to stay in the Northern Ohio League race and they will be in a very tough place to get one at National Field in Tiffin.

          They trail Bellevue by game in the "NOL" standings heading into this weekend.

          They rebounded from a tough loss to Sandusky (41-28) and beat struggling Willard (46-7) last week.  Coach Erik Will says they did what they needed to do.  "The kids played really well and came out and executed the game plan.  The offensive and defensive lines were physical.  We handled the responsibilities on defense well as far as the triple and a lot of the tings that Willard does.  It was nice to get in and get out with the win.  We got some good quality reps and the offense was able to get some things going again.  So, it was a very positive week," said Will.

          Tiffin Columbian (3-3,2-1) is also in that logjam in second place after beating Norwalk (27-12) last week.  Will says the Tornadoes are really good on defense.  "They are leading our league in defense.  We are second to them in overall team defense.  Columbian has been doing a nice job.  They are going to be in a four man front primarily depending on what we try to do on offense.  They are very well schooled and the most important thing is they line up and tackle people," he said.

          When lining up against that Tiffin defense Will says the Whippets (3-3,2-1) need to be able to throw football.  "We have to be able to win at the point of attack, so that is going to go on offensive line.  Than after that we can't turn the ball and have penalties.  I know we say a lot of these things all of the time, but they really are true.  I will say this we aren't necessarily going to grind it out, but there are going to be plays to be made specifically in the passing game.  If we do a good job in the passing game, the offensive line blocks, the quarterback throws good balls, the receivers catch the ball when we hit them in the hands I think we will be fine," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I think we can put some points up.  I don't think it is going to be a grind it out game.  Who knows?  You never know, that's why we play them.  Having said that we know we have to run the football, but with what they are doing defensively we might be throwing early."

          Last season, of course, these two played one of the more talked about games of the year with Tiffin Columbian winning (83-32) in one overtime.  Will says this year they have to be able to control the Tiffin ground attack.  "Last year we gave up 10 touchdowns and 500 yards to one player.  We have been drilling that in practice all week.  If our kids aren't motivated and fired up to play, especially after what happened last year I don't know if we will ever stop the run.  So far this year we have been consistent on defense and we need a good performance, especially stopping the run," he said.

 

Published 10/09/15

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Shelby Has to be able to Throw it

 

          Shelby has shown they can throw the ball at times this year and they are going to have to be able to do that this week to move the ball because teams are loading the box against them.

          Last week, Sandusky, who beat the Whippets (41-28,) crowded the line of scrimmage in the second half and the Whippets couldn't make the plays to make them get out of that defense.  Coach Erik Will says it was a lack of execution.  "Once the defense settled in the first quarter, first half, the defense played really well.  A few blown assignments on the first drive led to their first score.  It was pretty much a stalemate through most of the first half.  We actually had a negative one yard punt in minus territory, which led to their field goal.  In the second half they were lining up defensively, they were basically loading the box and just sending everybody.  It really came down to we were going to have to hit a few big plays.  We didn't make those plays," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We legitimately dropped four touchdown passes the second half.  So, it comes down to execution.  When team loads the box you have to be able to throw the ball.  If you don't take advantage of the opportunities that are there you end up with a loss.  Give Sandusky credit they made us one dimensional in the second half.  They said you aren't going to run the football and we were unable to complete a lot of those big plays."

          Shelby (2-3,1-1) plays at home against rival Willard (0-5,0-1) on Friday night.  The Flashes are struggling with a 22 game losing streak dating back to 2013.   They lost (53-7) to Port Clinton in non-league play last week.  Will says they give great effort, but it just isn't working for them.  "They are doing a lot of the option stuff they have been doing for the last few years.  Coach Matula is doing as well as he can do with what is going on.  When you watch Willard you can tell the kids are playing with a lot of effort.  With the scheme they are running they are trying to establish a downhill run game.  Defensively, they are trying to take away your run and make you throw the football.  They haven't been successful this year, but they are working hard," said Matula.

          Likely more upsets take place in rivalry games than at any other time.  Will says they have to be ready to go no matter what.  "There is no doubt they are better than they were at the beginning of the year and you can see that on film.  We have to come in ready to go and we have really put a lot of stress on our defensive side of the ball this week as far as our option responsibility," he said.

 

Published 10/01/15

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Shelby on the Edge

 

          Shelby has played some pretty good volleyball this season and if they can become more consistent this could end up being a dangerous team come tournament time in less than a month.

          Coach Brandie Albert, in her 14th year at the helm of the Lady Whippets (11-4,4-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com volleyball coaches poll in the large school division, says they have definitely shown glimpses of what they can do.  "We had a couple of big wins and we also lost a couple of games that we should have won.  We played well against Norwalk both times we have played them.  We won one game in the first round and the round we started (Thursday) night we played with them the first game straight through and then the next two games we were quite prepared.  If I can find a consistent lineup and a consistent team we are going to be just fine the second half.  Right now, we are dealing with some hitting errors and some injuries and trying to find what lineup works best.  We have the talent and it is just a matter of the kids putting it together and putting it on the floor for more than just two games in the match.  I seems like we play two games really well.  Hopefully, we can play at a consistently high level for the rest of the season,” said Albert.

          Norwalk (11-3,7-0), #4 in our poll, leads the Northern Ohio League standings again this year and they beat Shelby 25-21, 25-14, 25-13 last Thursday.  Albert says they just let them get too much of the momentum.  "(Thursday) night was a perfect example.  The Norwalk game.  Our goal was to never let them get more than one or two points ahead.  We wanted to stick with them and the first game could have gone either way.  In games two and three we started down 8-2 and even if you trade off from there every other serve or every point there is no way you can come back, especially against a great team.  You know never let a team score more than three points against you or you are in trouble.  It's going to take huge moments for you to get back into the game," she said.

          As far as the "NOL" is concerned, Albert says her opinion the league is a little down this year.  She says they don't have the stellar players that they have had in the past.  "Norwalk is not as strong as they have been.  They do not have the height that they have had.  They are fundamentally strong and they just know how to win.  They have always won and they just continue to win.  We have not always won and we can't get over that hump.  We just play with people and we don't know how to stomp on them when they are down.  Bellevue, and coach Karen Irons, they are always just so fundamentally sound.  They are lacking the huge hitters that they have had.  Tiffin Columbian is kind of a mystery to us if we would have played better we would have beaten them and would be sitting in second place.  They are our match coming up on Tuesday.  I'm hoping my kids will be able to get their stuff together and beat them at Tiffin," she told Swankonsports.com, "I don't want to say anything negative about Willard or Ontario or anybody else.  Our league is not as strong as it has been in the past.  You look at Lexington and the other leagues and they have big hitters.  In our league I have not seen the huge, phenomenal hitter like we had a couple years ago in Devon Murray, where Lexington has Mackenzie Weaver.  We don't have any of those in the "NOL" right now."

 

Published 9/28/15

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Shelby Wants to be a Factor

 

          After winning their first league game of the campaign last week over Norwalk in convincing fashion, the Shelby Whippets believe that maybe this is the year they return to being contenders in the Northern Ohio League.

          Sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong torched Norwalk last week running for five touchdowns and throwing another in a (62-21) destruction of the defending league champion Truckers.  However, Whippets coach Erik Will says the credit begins up front.  "We did a really nice job of execution up front and then the guys we asked to make plays made plays.  Of course, everything starts up front and when those guys play at a high level we have the ability to do some good things behind it.  Guys made catches as well.  Brennan's passing percentage is down a little this year, but he was 8 of 10 on Friday and they guys caught the ball.  It's just an execution things and it's start up front," he said.

          Shelby (2-2,1-0) has not had a winning season since 2010 and Will says they would like to get on a little streak here.  "It has been a while since we have won two in a row here.  I think it goes back to 2010 since Shelby has won two games in a row, 2010.  We are hoping to get that momentum going.  The kids confidence is good.  We can tell that the kids are engaged there is no doubt about that, but now we have to go out and play another tough team.  Sandusky is coming off a win as well they are 2-2, they are 1-0 in the league.  There is a lot of excitement going into this game," he said.

          Sandusky (2-2,1-0) dismantled Willard (56-7) last week and the Streaks can be a factor in the league race too.  Will says this is a Sandusky football team that is physical.  "Sandusky is a big, physical team.  Of course, they have athletes, but I think what you are going to get out of Sandusky is they are going to be physical.  They are going to punch you in the mouth.  This is going to be a manhood check this week.  We are going to have to line up and play physical football and if you don't do that Sandusky is going to expose you because they have the athletes on the perimeter to make plays.  I think if we line up and accept the challenge of being physical we will be right there," said Will.

          Based on what has been seen so far, maybe there isn't a dominate team this year in the "NOL" and Will predicts it is going to be a battle this fall.  "Bellevue and Tiffin are playing as well, so at the end of the night there are only going to be two undefeated teams in the league.  So, those two teams obviously will have a leg up.  With that in mind we feel like it has been an interesting year in the league and everything is up for grabs right now," he said.

 

Published 9/22/15

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Shelby Still Trying to Clear the last hurdle

 

          It's like Shelby can run a good race until they get to the finish line and then they can't get across it and get the win.

          That's certainly what happened last week when they lost a tough one to Clear Fork (20-13) on week three of the season.

          Coach Erik Will says they were on the doorstep of a win, but they just couldn't get it done for the second year in a row against the Colts.  "It is frustrating to see it on film.  It is kind of interesting to see it on film.  We wanted to get off to a fast start and we did that.  We led 13-0 and we kind of going in for a score to go up 20-0 towards the half and we had a fumble and they scooped and scored.  They took the momentum.  We did a good job of moving the ball between the 30 and the 30, we just couldn't quite punch it in.  You know I thought defensively we played really well, but at the end of the game Clear Fork put itself in position to make plays," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "When you are talking about dealing with high school athletes you have to give Clear Fork credit from the standpoint that their kids were in the game and they made the plays at the end of the game that it took to win the game.  We had an opportunity to try and tie the game, but we couldn't quite punch that in there at the end.  It is a tough part of the maceration process for our young men."

          Will really thinks that what is stopping the team from winning more football games is more mental than physical.  "As a coach things like this can be frustrating because you are looking to punch the right buttons to help be able to give our kids a physiological edge.  I mean we physically can win these games.  We have put in some much time in the off season that physically we are there.  We just have to mentally allow ourselves to win these games and to complete these games.  When we figure that out we are going to be a pretty good football team," he said.

          Shelby (1-2,0-0) plays host to the defending Northern Ohio League champion Norwalk Truckers (1-2,0-0) in the league opener for both squads on Friday night.

          Norwalk lost to Lexington (28-0) last week and Will says they are dealing with some injuries and that has been hurting their chances to win games.  "They are well coached.  They have some good size up front with their offensive and defensive lines.  Coach MacFarland will tell you that they are battling some injuries and there some guys not there that if they were there they might have been able to get on the plus side of some of those games.  Injuries are part of the game.  Norwalk looks good.  The problem becomes getting your next guy up ready to go.  Coaches talk about it all of the time, about next guy up, next guy up, but their is a bottom line about why one guy is playing and another guy is still developing and they have been kind of going through that a little bit.  If we don't bring it, if we aren't ready to go, they are the reining champions and until somebody takes it from them it is theirs," said Will.

          Shelby must get good play from its interior guys because Will says Norwalk is pretty good in the trenches.  "I really like their running back, 38, he is a nice player.  Their offensive line does a nice job.  Anytime you get and offensive and defensive line.  On defense they are taking on double teams to try and free their linebackers and their offensive line can to get to your linebackers to try and free some space for their running backs.  That's what makes them a good team and they have done that as well as anybody the last couple of years," he said.

 

Published 9/15/15

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Shelby is Hungry

 

          After taking a step back last week in a loss to the Lexington Minutemen and now the Shelby Whippets must get the bus headed back in the right direction as they host the Clear Fork Colts on Friday night.

          Coach Erik Will said last week on "Sports Saturday" that he was disappointed in their execution in a lot of areas of the team against Lexington, but he says there have been a different focus in practice this week.  "I feel our focus in practice has been fantastic this week.  We have talked to the kids about just taking ownership at each position.  We practice so hard and now we need to take that to the game and by doing that there is that extra investment and extra preparation were we realize that on Friday we are ready to go and our kids are just going to cut lose and go," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I think our kids are prepared.  (Friday) night we are going to sink or swim with the ability to get better from week two to week three.  People always say the biggest advance is between week one and week two.  We need to see that from week two to week three because we didn't get better from week one to week two."

          After four straight loosing seasons, the Whippet faithful believe this team has the talent to turn things around, especially after their win over Madison (20-6) on week one.  Will says they have even higher expectations for themselves.  "It a good thing, expectations are not a bad thing.  We know we have players.  Now, some of those players are younger, but that is no excuse.  We feel like it is all about the mental preparation and we are continuing to learn on the job with that to be more consistent.  Having said that, expectations are a good thing that means people expect you to be better, expecting a certain product.  No one has higher expectations than the coaching staff and the players.  We just want to play the game the way we know we can play it and that is with effort and enthusiasm," said Will.

          Clear Fork (1-1) beat Ontario (42-24) last Friday after loosing to Fredericktown (17-14) in their opener.  Will says the Colts have some young talent and he knows they will play hard.  "The (Thomas) Staab kid is really good.  I like him a lot, real good athlete.  Here is the thing, Dave (Carroll) does a nice job.  His kids are well coached and they play well at the point of attack.  You are never going to question their effort.  Clear Fork is always going to give great effort and that is a direct result of the coaching staff and I really believe that.  They have some kids, they have a nice group of young men.  They are like us they are trying to get that win," he said.

 

Published 9/11/15

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Shelby Takes a Step Back

 

          After a very good performance in a week one win against Madison, the Shelby Whippets seemed to a take a step back in a loss to the Lexington Minutemen last week.

          Lexington scored first, never trailed, and beat Shelby (34-20) in non conference play.  Shelby coach Erik Will thought the Minutemen were well prepared and aggressive and the were not very mentally sharp.  "The Lexington coaching staff should be commended their kids were hungrier than ours were.  Even watching film I was very impressed with them offensively and defensively.  We felt talent wise we are going to be there most of the year.  I felt like our preparation wasn't bad last week, I just felt like it could have been better.  I felt like the kids learned a valuable lesson this week.  As coaches we have to do a better job of finding those motivating targets and continue to get our kids prepared.  Everybody has a stake it what took place (Friday) night," he said.

          Sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong ran for more than 200 yards against Madison, but was bottled up much better by Lexington.  Will says they had a lot breakdowns on Friday night.  "They did a very nice job with Brennan running the football.  There were some plays there.  I felt as good as the offensive line played as a collective unit against Madison I felt they struggled (Friday) night.  Some of that was because of the that 3-3 stack.  The way they were able to move and blitz was tuff to pick up for a young line.  We have to do a better job of blocking on the perimeter.  For the most part the routes were pretty sloppy (Friday) night.  That was disappointing from my standpoint.  I didn't think our cuts were crisp.  It was more like we were rounding off and going up the sideline.  Those are all correctable things, but things we need to get better at.  We have to get these things fixed or its going to be rough," said Will.

          Playing defense was probably the best thing the Whippets did against Madison.  Will says that was not the case against Lex.  "The thing that was frustrating from that standpoint.  They was trading the tight end and taking a back to the other side and it was really just a simple adjustment.  We were just walking a safety down and sliding our line that way, but we failed to do that many times and that was frustrating because I have a senior captain and a junior captain on that side of the ball and I thought they would be able to handle that a little better," he told Swankonsports.com, "If we line up right and if we play fast and we know what we are doing we have proper angles.  (Friday) night, probably 50 percent of the game we were struggling with just that simple switch.  That is something we have to get better at.  As coaches we have to be able to drill into their head exactly what we want and how we want it, so that is also a reflection on us."

          Shelby plays host to Clear Fork (1-1) in non-conference play on Friday night.  The Colts evened their record with a (42-24) win at home over Ontario.  Will says they have to be mentally prepared for the option.  "When I was in high school that is what we ran here was triple option.  If there is a crack in your defensive foundation the option will find it.  We are going to get down to it and try and get it figured out with the dive, the quarterback and the pitch.  You have to be solid all of the way around.  It is still the same thing we have to get the right calls made, get lined up correctly, make the right checks and play the defense I know these guys can play," he said.

 

Published 9/07/15

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Shelby Wants to Force Lex to Throw

 

          Shelby and Lexington are two programs that appear on the rise after wins last week and they meet on Friday night at Shelby in non-conference play.

          Shelby stuffed Madison (20-6) last week and held explosive Tyrell Ajian to around 50 total yards.  Whippets coach Erik Will says the first thing they did right was to make the pre snap checks.  "We were really happy with the defensive effort.  We set goals very single week and one of the top goals was to get aligned correctly 100 percent of the time and we did not reach that goal, but we did reach over 90 percent, which the highest it has been since I have been here just as far as people making the right checks and getting lined up and making the proper coverage adjustments.  It is amazing when you get lined up right and put yourself in a position athletically to be successful how well you can do.  Our guys did that at a high level on Friday.  The second thing I thought we had to adjust was our bad tackling in the off season.  I thought we tackled at an extremely high level," said Will.

          Quarterback Brennan Armstrong ran for more than 200 yards against Madison and Will says the offensive line gave them the opportunity to run the ball.  "That is a group where we are starting two sophomores, two juniors and a senior.  The two sophomores played really well.  Madison has a physical defensive line and at few positions they are really quick and those guys I thought did a nice job of controlling the line of scrimmage.  That is something we haven't done at a high level since I have been here.  The group did a great job.  Anytime something great happens as far as the run for our running backs or our quarterbacks it is probably going to be directly correlated to the offensive line executing up front, so those guys deserve a great deal of credit," said Will.

          Lexington (1-0) also ran the ball well in their win over Ontario (26-19) as sophomore Hunter Biddle totaled more than 200 yards.  Will says they do a lot of good things.  "Lexington is much improved and that coaching staff should be commended.  They are running the ball well.  They have an identity.  They do a really nice job with the inside zone.  Their quarterback seems to be a really nice athlete and makes really good decisions with the ball.  The running back runs hard.  The offensive line seems to do a good job of the zone blocking.  We are going to have our hands full with that offense," he said.

          When facing the Lexington defense, Will says the Minutemen are going to be athletic.  "Defensively, they are a pretty athletic bunch, they aren't huge, but the swarm to the ball well and we have to execute.  We definitely looking forward to the game.  I don't know when the last time was that Shelby and Lexington were both 1-0 going into the game.  I think it was quite a few years back.  We are expecting a really nice atmosphere, nice weather.  I think the fans will be out to enjoy this one," he said.

          Will says he and the coaching staff believe Lexington wants to run the ball first and they want to make them throw it more.  "You want to give yourself a better chance defensively by trying to make the offensive team one dimensional.  We are going to put some guys up.  We are going to try and make them throw the football.  We aren't going to hide that, they know that, they know that's what teams and going to try and make them do.  We feel the strength of their team is running the football," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We think their quarterbacks best strength is running the football.  We are trying to put them in position where their quarterback has to throw the ball.  We feel like if their quarterback can throw the ball 15 to 20 times and beat us then maybe then they deserve that because we feel that is the pressure we need to put on them and try to make them do something that they don't necessarily want to do."

 

Published 9/03/15

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Shelby Faces Athletic Madison

 

          One of the more interesting match-ups in North Central Ohio on Friday night features the Shelby Whippets visiting Madison to take on the Rams in non-conference play.

          Much of the anticipation surrounds two athletes in the game, one on each side.  Brennan Armstrong of Shelby and Tyrell Asian of Madison are both being recruited by division one college programs.  However, many times in games like this it is other players that end up making the difference.

          Shelby coach Erik Will, in his third year with the Whippets. thinks they are better prepared for this season than the previous two.  "Since I have been here I think the thing that I am most pleased about is we actually made a progression from scrimmage one to scrimmage.  Last two years going to into the Madison game I didn't feel that was the case.  I really feel like we have made a progression from scrimmage one to scrimmage two.  We told the kids last Friday we made improvement, that's the positive thing.  We didn't feel as of last Friday we were ready to tackle Madison just yet.  The good news is we have this week of practice to get ourselves ready.  I thought we had a great film session on Saturday.  The kids are really doing a nice job.  Obviously, Friday we will see where we are at, but I do like where we are heading," said Will.

          Coming out of camp, Will believes they are physically ready to go and now it just being sure they understand what they need to do against Madison and react to what they see.  "We are physically ready.  We have done all of the weights, we have done all of the training, we have done all of the speed and explosion stuff.  The kids know what they are doing.  The kids have trained and prepared their bodies and now it is the mental part of the game, now it's the focus, now the ability to process information against a quality team.  You can get by some of the middle level teams on your schedule sometimes with just the athleticism of a player at a position and things like that," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "It's fortunate or unfortunate for us that Madison is one of the better teams on our schedule and we have to come out ready to go.  I don't know if we can come out midseason form, but we have to come out with a great level of focus and prepared very well."

          Regarding Asian, Will says Madison didn't exactly feature him during their scrimmages, but he expects that will change come Friday because the kid is a playmaker.  "They are definitely going to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.  In the three scrimmages we have seen him make a play or two, but the focus of the scrimmage was not to get him the ball.  We understand in a game situation he is going to be the focal point of their offense.  We are anticipating him getting a bunch of touches.  We would be crazy not to prep that way and I think they would be a little crazy not to get him the ball with the kind of attention he is getting from a college standpoint.  He can make moves.  He is a heck of an athlete.  He is probably the best athlete we will play all year, there is no doubt about that.  We feel he is going to a huge part of their offensive game plan and their defensive game plan.  Madison has other athletes too.  That's the thing about them they are going to have four or five kids that can put the ball in the end zone.  We have to be a consistent defense.  We have to line up right and we have to execute," said Will.

 

Published 8/25/15

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Trenches a Key for Shelby

 

          Shelby has some athletes they can put on the field that are going to be able to make some plays, but a real factor for the Whippets will be can they compete at the point of attack.

          They scrimmage Sandusky Perkins and Olmstead Falls on Friday night at Perkins.

          Coach Erick Will admits there have been some surprises over the first 10 days of camp, some good, some not so good.  "It is kind of interesting with as much time and you spend working during your 10 camp days you kind of expect to see certain things and some things kind of surprise you.  For example, on our offensive line I feel we are kind of rounding into shape a little bit.  I expected our skilled guys to be ahead of the game and that's kind of played out.  What we didn't see was some of the depth at some of our positions," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It is better in some areas than we thought and significantly worse in some areas.  We feel like was are having trouble putting together two good practices, which I'm sure is not uncommon across the state.  That is what we are preaching trying to get more consistent and a lot of that is because we have a lot of youth."

          Will says they will go against some different challenges on Friday and we wants to see what they do in the trenches.  "Perkins is a solid program and Olmstead Falls will be up there with us.  We will get to see a little bit of the triple option there.  Perkins is a solid program, state playoff team, they are going to compete for their conference title this year.  I hope that is a measuring stick for where you are at on that stage because they hit hard and I am excited to see how our kids respond to that.  I think athletically we can compete with anybody.  I want to see in the trenches, in between the tackles, how do we perform.  It will be a good evaluation tool watching the film on Saturday," he said.

          Football is a physical sport and sometimes you get hurt.  Will says players have to fight through those bumps and bruises.   "Everybody calls it sometime.  Ohio State calls it the grind.  There is no doubt it is tough.  I mean football is a tough sport.  It's tough mentally, it is tough physically.  You are going to get down.  You are going to get hit.  You are going to get right back up and go through some pains and bruises.  We have a couple of kids we are monitoring like everybody else.  You find out a lot about your team from the psychological side of it in seeing how kids can battle through being injured and hurt.  Our kids are doing a pretty good job with that,' said Will.

 

Published 8/13/15

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"Black Cyclone" Comes to Shelby

 

          The highly respected play about the life of Charles Follis, the first black football player in America, comes to Shelby for three performances this weekend.

          It will be staged at the Shelby High School Performing Arts Center Friday at 7:30 and again Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30.

          The play, written by Jim Stoner, chronicles the life Follis, who became a football star in Wooster, then played for the famous Shelby Blues, and eventually baseball in the Negro Leagues.

          Stoner, who came to Shelby in 1996 as Director of the Shelby Chamber of Commerce, very early discovered a picture of Follis and that was where the idea of writing the play began.  "When I was walking through the Shelby Museum of History in 1996 I came across an interesting photograph.  It was of a young black man seated with a bunch of white guys and the photo was vintage 1902."  And he wanted to know more.  "I looked a little closer and I see Charles is holding a championship football.  The curator of the museum said, Jim, that is the first black professional football player in America."

          Shelby, as we have said many times on this website, is a football town first and foremost and it is more than just the Whippets.  "I learned about the storied tradition in Shelby about football and how they were a member of the Ohio League and how all these teams used to slug it out from bragging rights back at the turn of the century," said Stoner.

          Follis, playing for Wooster, nearly led an upset of the talented Blues one Saturday.  The Blues won just 8-0 and Frank Schiffer, who owned the Shelby team, new what he had found on the opposite side of the ball and wanted to sign him to his own team.

          As Stoner relates, he knew that wasn't going to be easy due to the type of community Shelby was then.  "Frank Schiffer, who owned the Shelby Blues at the time, approached Charles, and said look Charles, I never want to play against you again, and he offered him a contract to move to Shelby.  What makes this even more unique is Shelby was known as a sundown town.  Many cities across Central Ohio still living in the shadow of the Civil War would take a stance where they didn't want many people of color in their communities.  Whether it was written on the books or not there was an attitude that they didn't want black people on the street after dark.  But, Frank Schiffer had enough foresight and I guess presence in community, maybe bullheadedness, that he was going to bring Charles Follis back to Shelby with him," he told Swankonsports.com.

          Follis would die at an early age in 1910, but while he was playing for Shelby he befriended a man that would become pretty important to sports history in this country, Branch Rickey. 

          Stoner says Rickey never forgot the relationship he had with Follis.  "Once Rickey has the financial well for all and the social status to advance the black cause on a national stage he decides to look for somebody like Charles Follis that was going to have to face racism not only on his own team, but against the opponents.  That was when Rickey decided to sign Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947."

          Rickey is the narrator of the play, which was originally staged at Malabar Farm in 2013.

 

Published 8/07/15

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Better Defense a Key for Whippets

 

          Shelby is a town that loves its football and is chomping at the bit for more success on the football field after four straight losing seasons on the gridiron.

          Shelby finished at (2-8) in 2014 and in sixth in the seven team Northern Ohio League.  Their wins over Lexington in non-conference play and rival Willard in a league game.

          With some young talent, coach Erik Will says they are ready to get some things accomplished in camp and get things headed in the right direction.  "We are like everybody else we have taken our 10 days and worked everybody out.  For the players, and the coaches too, it is just great to be able to get our there and not have any resections as far as being able to work with our guys.  We thought we kind of got things rolling last year, but we really think we can take things to another level this year.  Leadership has kind of been out focus and mental toughness and handling adversity.  That is something we have really preached this year," he said.

          Shelby played a lot of young kids last year on the football field and many of those same players helped the Whippets reach the district tournament in both basketball and baseball.  "Our sophomore and junior classes are both pretty good.  I know it's not just me that is excited about that, but coach Schwemley and coach Amicone and are excited about that as well.  There is no doubt that momentum from success in other sports, especially when you have as many two and three sport athletes as we have.  I think what it does is the comradely is good, the locker room is good.  One of the most powerful things that you see in sports is when a group of guys buy in and really enjoy playing next to each other," said Will.

          From then 1940's through the early 1970's Shelby had more success in football than any school in North Central Ohio and Will says the fan base is eager to return to those glory days.  "I can tell you this when you walk around town and you talk to people.  You can't walk 10 feet without someone wanting to talk about football.  There is definitely some excitement in the air.  There are people that are genuinely excited about Shelby football.  One thing that makes Shelby special is they care about all of the sports, but there is definitely a football flavor to it.  We don't hide from that, we know the tremendous responsibility we have being Shelby football players," he said.

          Sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong has already gotten some attention from some big time college programs, such as Ohio State.  Will says he has handled the spotlight very well.  "I think one of the biggest things for a coach is how the player handles individual success and where does that fit for that player with his teammates.  Brennan has handled it well.  If you were to talk to him, he doesn't want to talk about it at all.  He just wants to be a Shelby football player.  He just wants to hang out with his buddies.  He wants to be part of a group that puts Shelby football where it should be fighting for league championships.  That is his focus and it isn't fake.  His work ethic has been tremendous.  We told him with a this attention comes a lot of responsibility.  I couldn't be any more proud of him," said Will.

          Last year, the Whippets just gave up too many points, 349 in their 10 games.  Of course, 83 coning in the overtime classic with Tiffin Columbian.  They allowed 180 over the last three weeks.  Will says they have to get to the ball and they must tackle better, much better.  "Offensively we want to be a little more well rounded and be a little more efficient in our passing game.  The big fix we have to make is we have to tackle better.  We need to tweak our defense and we have to tackle better.  Early last season I thought we were okay and doing a better job for this first five games, swarming, and playing what we call our hungry hound defense.  I think as a head coach that is something we have to address.  We spent a tremendous amount of time this off season just working on tackling technique.  How do we get the best 11 kids on the field," said Will.

 

Published 8/03/15
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Bellevue Pounds Shelby for District Title

 

          Bryce Ray, Dylan DeWitt, Shane Miller, and Thomas Pressler all had two RBI and Bellevue hammered Northern Ohio League foe Shelby (10-3) in the division two district final at Mansfield Madison High School on Saturday afternoon.

          For Bellevue is was their first district title since 2001 and coach Andy Dennings says it is something they have been working for.  "You know this is something we have been waiting on for quite a while.  We felt we were good enough to get there and just didn't play well enough in a couple of situations.  Four or five years ago we really let one slip away.  This is what we have been building for.  It was time for us to take the next step.  These kids have been working really hard.  We have played well all year.  We have been very consistent.  I am very happy for them," said Dennings.

          Shelby's talented freshman Brennan Armstrong couldn't go to the mound due to a hip injury and coach Jon Amicone admits that set them back on Saturday.  "It hurt, Brennan was going to start.  He is one our top two pitchers.  He was going to start the game (Thursday) and he couldn't go and you have to go down in your rotation deeper than what you want to in a championship game.  All of the pitchers we put in there competed," he said.

          Every Bellevue starter reach base at least one and Dennings says they have a lot of depth in their lineup.  "It is the same only story, but I am happy it is the same old story.  We flipped it around to the top of the order numerous times.  Bryce (Ray) came through and had some big hits and Dylan (DeWitt) had some big hits.  I thought the big thing for us was to get going early and I think that kind of set the tone," he said.

          Bellevue took a (1-0) in the first on an RBI double by DeWitt and then put up a three spot in the second, highlighted by Ray's two-run double.

          Tristrn Snezek started for Bellevue and pitched well allowing only one hit over the first three innings, but then hit four batters in the fourth and was relieved by Colten Slaven to start the fifth.  Dennings says they have a lot of arms they can turn to.  "It has been there all year.  We struggled a little bit.  Colten (Slaven), when he came in he couldn't find the off speed , so we had to live and die and hope they couldn't hit the fastball and they did not.  We got a couple ground balls and I guess we got a little lucky," he told Swankonsports.com, "Then he found the curve a little bit, I think we was just a little excited about the moment.  Snezek was rolling along pretty good and then got himself in a little jam when he was plunking kids.  He got a little rattled and we decided to make a change."

          Bellevue pitching induced Shelby into 13 ground ball outs and a lot of those were gobbled up by DeWitt at the shortstop position.  "He's the best we have had there.  He is playing extremely well.  I think he is playing hest best baseball right now.  We are pretty comfortable when it is going right there.  We don't worry a whole lot," said Dennings.

          Shelby (16-10) ended the season playing pretty good baseball, beating Norwalk and Ontario is the tournament, both seeded higher than them, and Amicone was proud of his kid's effort.  "We fought extremely hard and as a coach that is all you can ask for.  We got down early and played catch up the whole game.  Bellevue is a phenomenal team.  When you make as many mistakes as we did (Saturday), you boot the ball around and you don't get that big hit with two out you are just not going to win," he said.

          Bellevue (23-4) will play Parma Heights Holy Name on Thursday at Carter Park in Bowling Green in the division two regional semis.

 

Published 5/24/15

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Thornsberry One-Hits Ontario in District Semis

 

          Junior lefthander Dillon Thornsberry limited Ontario to just one hit and the Shelby Whippets topped the Warriors (4-1) in the division two district semi finals on Thursday at Madison High School.

          Thornsberry didn't allow hit until a solid single by Tyler Weber in the sixth inning.  "We put him in there because we have complete trust in him.  He pitched extremely well in the sectional championship game too.  He is throwing the ball really well for the team.  In the biggest time of the year Dillon Thornsberry has stepped up.  He has been our star.  He has been our leader.  I am extremely proud of him.  He carried the whole team on his back," said Shelby coach Jon Amicone.

          Thornsberry says his curveball was the difference for him.  "The change up wasn't working as well I was hoping in would.  The curveball was working, so I just stuck with that," he said.

          Veteran Ontario coach Dan Gorbett says Thornberry wasn't overpowering, but he kept them off balance and they could never really get anything going.  "He was throwing strikes and they played great defense.  They made several outstanding plays.  Anytime we got something going their outfield made an outstanding play," said Gorbett.

          Amicome says his lefthander kind of sneaks up on you.  "He is kind of that democratic pitcher.  He gets ground balls and pop ups.  He is not going to wow you with his fastball or his curveball, but he keeps you off balance enough where he gets ground balls and fly balls and we played extremely well behind him," he said.

          Shelby took a (1-0) lead in the top of the first on an RBI double by Alex Paulo, who stepped in with 1-2 count after Brennan Armstrong couldn't go because of an injury.  Two Ontario errors, one when they tried to pick a runner off first, lead to another Whippet run an (2-0) lead after an inning and half.  "Ontario doesn't make errors.  It doesn't happen very often, so on the occasion that they do you have to score runs.  They are one of the best coached teams in the area.  I hold Dan Gorbett in the highest regard.  I consider him a friend and a mentor," said Amicone.

          It remained (2-0) until the bottom on the sixth when Ontario (21-5) scratched across a run on an RBI ground out by Mason Goodwin. 

          However, Shelby responded with two in their half of the seventh on another botched pick off by Ontario, an RBI ground out by Thornsberry and a run scoring double by Carter Brooks.  "With them getting one in the sixth, especially with the best pitcher in the area throwing for them.  To manufacture some runs was huge for us to get the momentum back.  It allowed Thornsberry to relax and just throw strikes  in the seventh inning," Amicone told Swankonsports.com after the game.

          Only one of Shelby's run were earned and Gorbett says the Warriors really didn't give themselves a chance to win.  "You are not gong to win a lot of baseball games with six errors and one hit, so that's the bottom line.  We didn't play well," he said.

          Shelby (16-9) will play Bellevue for a district title on Saturday afternoon at Madison.

 

Published 5/21/15

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Shelby Meets Ontario in District Semis

 

          Shelby faces Ontario in Thursday's division two district semi finals at Madison High School.  It's the third meeting between the Northern Ohio League powers.  Each won their home game in league play.

          Shelby won (7-6) and Ontario was victorious (4-2) earlier this year.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone predicts this game will be just as close.  "They were pretty close games both times, both decided late in the game, so it should be fun.  That is what high school baseball is all about, playing against top teams not only in the regular season, but now that tournament time comes.  It should be fun, we are looking forward to it," he said.

          As you get farther and farther down the tournament trail pitching becomes more important.  Amicone says both teams have some pretty good arms.  "That is why Ontario is 21-4.  Basically they have two studs that they can throw out there.  Homan and Goodwin, they both know how to pitch.  They are coached extremely well.  I would argue they have one the best coaches in the state in Dan Gorbett, a man I have the up most respect for and admire.  That's what makes Ontario so good.  they have two studs at the top of their rotation, they throw the ball well and hit the ball well," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I am very confident in our kids too.  Dillon Thornsberry, Brennan Armstrong, Garrett Caudill have pitched really well for us.  Pitching is important during the regular season, but it is put even more under the microscope during the playoffs.  If you get that pitcher that get you outs and a lot of ground balls you will be in good shape come tournament time."

          As far as who they might see start the game for Ontario, Amicone says it is kind of pick your poison.  "With Goodwin and Homan you have 1-A and 1-B, I don't think you could go wrong either way.  You have to prepare for both of them.  We are just preparing to play Ontario and put some good at bats together and try top move runners.  You can't go wrong with either one," he said.

          One this that has been a plus for the Whippets is they have gotten some production throughout the line up.  Amicone says they expect quality at bats from everybody.   "That is something we really preach and talk about.  It is not just one person's ability to score runs.  It's a lineup's ability to score runs.  We really stress it is one through nine.  If you are batting third or seventh or ninth it really doesn't matter.  If you are in the lineup you are expected to do a job and have a quality at bat and get people in scoring position and get that big hit with two outs.  I am very happy with our lineup from top to bottom," he said.

 

Published 5/20/15

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Shelby Advances to District

 

 

          Shelby broke open a close game by scoring five times in the fifth inning and went on to beat Norwalk (7-2) in a division two sectional final at Norwalk on Thursday.

          With game tied at two Shelby loaded the bases on hits by Brennan Armstrong, Dillon Thornsberry and Carter Brooks, Darien Payne gave Shelby the lead with a sacrifice fly to center.  Garrett Caudill, Nate Sayre, Mason Wells and Brandon Schneider all followed with RBI hits to give the Whippets a five run lead.

          Caudill, Sayre and Wells, the bottom third of the Shelby lineup, combined for five hits in the game.  "Our seven, eight, nine hitters did a great job of putting the ball in play.  When you put the ball in play in this game anything can happen.  We had a couple of bloop base hits over third, but it looks the same in the scorebook.  I was really proud of them.  We wanted to grind out at bats and put the pressure on them defensively and I thought we kind of stuck to the game plan and did a nice job of that," Shelby coach Jon Amicone.

          The Whippets hit some balls hard early in the game, but came up empty.  Amicone says they were able to stay patient against Norwalk starter Jobe Adkins.  "We keep telling the kids because we had some tough outs in the first couple of innings.  We hit the ball heard right at them.  As coaches we just tried to keep them up saying they are going to fall, they are going to fall.  Fortunately we were able to get some base hits at keys spots in the game," he said.

          Norwalk took a (1-0) lead in the first on a RBI single by Blake Obringer.  After Shelby tied it top of the third, Norwalk retook the lead (2-1) when Ben Neuberger scored on a Shelby error.

          Shelby starter Dillon Thorsberry went the distance striking out three.  Norwalk was able to get a runner on base in each of the last three innings, but Thornsberry was able to keep them off the scoreboard.  "Thornsberry was a star (Thursday) night.  He put the whole team on his back.  I am proud of him in the biggest game of the year he showed what type of player he is.  As a coach you can't be more proud of a kid like that," said Amicone.

          Shelby (14-9) will play another Northern Ohio League school in Ontario (21-4) in the district semi-finals next Thursday at Madison High School.  The two teams spilt during the regular season, each winning at home, the Whippets (7-6) on April 13 and the Warriors (4-2) on May 1.  Amicone says the "NOL" prepared them well for the postseason.   "The "NOL" is a phenomenal baseball league.  We grind it out.  Norwalk ground in out.  It prepares you for these tournament games.  That is why we try to play the schedule like it is, make it a tough non league to be ready for these moments," he said.

 

Published 5/15/15

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Shelby Rallies to beat Madison

 

          Nate Sayre's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh gave the Shelby Whippets a (5-4) win over Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Mansfield Madison on Monday in non-conference play at Shelby High School.

          Although it wasn't a league game, Shelby coach Jon Amicone knows what a win over the Rams means.  "Those are the type of teams that you need to play to get to their level.  With Madison I have all of the respect in the world for Doug Rickert and the program he has built.  They are a premier program in the area," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Monday, "I know this was a big win for us, but those are the people you want to be like.  We want people to think of Shelby like they think of Madison today.  It was a good win for the kids."

          Last week, the Whippets (12-8,5-5) lost four straight games, three in the league, twice to Tiffin Columbian (4-0 and 1-0) and one to Ontario (4-2) and another to Mt. Vernon (4-2) in non-conference play on Saturday.  Amicone says the win against Madison was really needed.  "It was a long week last week, there is no debating it.  We fell short by a total of eight runs and it was tough.  To come back on Monday and beat a quality opponent in a close one it just feels better to win.  The kids are happy to kind of get that monkey off your back and that little losing streak," he said.

          Shelby travels to Willard (0-14,0-10) on Tuesday.  Amicone says they need to find their grove again league play.  "We played some tough opponents.  Tiffin Columbian played phenomenal against us and then lose to a great Ontario team 4-2.  We have to get back on track.  We travel to Willard and we have to bring our "A" game.  In the "NOL" if you don't bring it you will pay for it.  We are focused on Willard now," he said.

          Shelby plays league co-leader Bellevue (15-4,8-2), a (14-0) winner over Sandusky on Monday, in "NOL" action on Thursday.

         They play league foe Norwalk (14-8) in a division two tournament game on the road next week.  Amicone says they have to improve if they expect to win.  "It worked out kind of like I thought.  I thought we would kind of be in the middle of pack and when I saw where teams were seeded in the bracket I got a good feeling that we were going to play Norwalk.  We are going to have to play extremely well.  Norwalk is a phenomenal team.  We are going to have to take care of business this week and just get better and see what happens next Thursday,'" said Amicone.

 

Published 5/05/15

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Shelby Rebounds to Get Big Win

 

          After a tough one run loss to the Bellevue on Wednesday night, the Shelby Whippets went to Norwalk and came up with a big win (4-2) over the Truckers in Northern Ohio League baseball on Thursday.

          Coach Jon Amicone said his players just did a tremendous job in getting win they had to have.  "We had a tough loss to Bellevue (Wednesday) night on the road.  We lost 2-1 in a game that I felt we kind of let slip away.  Hats off to the Redmen for closing it out at the end.  We turn around and get on the bus for another 40 minute drive.  I am extremely pleased and proud of my kids to come back (Thursday) after a tough loss and get a big win over road against a very, very good Norwalk team.  It kind of showed the kind of level that we are starting to get to and I am just very pleased with our kids effort," he said.

          They needed to very good performance on the mound on Thursday and Amicone says they got one from a kid who is kind of their stopper.  "Dillon Thornsberry, one of the guys we are going to lean on to get where we want to go, a junior lefty for us, went all seven.  He came off the mound after the sixth and I kind of had that talk with him.  Do you want to try it?  Do you want to go out?  There was no hesitation at all he wanted the ball," he told Swankonsports.com after the game on Thursday, "We wanted to give our player that we want to ride the opportunity.  He rose to the occasion in the seventh inning to give us a complete game win.  I am proud of Dillon.  It makes you feel more comfortable when there is no hesitation."

          Due to the weather both teams kind of knew, said Amicone, that there wasn't going to be an offensive explosion.  He said they did a solid job of small ball.  "Both teams knew that going in and there was a lot of small ball being played.  A lot of bunts and hits and runs to just get guys in scoring position.  It was just so cold and the ball didn't carry very well.  There were not a lot of hard hit balls.  You have to change your offensive philosophy.  Getting runners in scoring position and getting a big two out hit to get them in.  We bunted a few times.  Our guys did a goof job battling with the weather with our offense," he said.

          Right now Bellevue (12-2,6-0) leads Shelby (10-4,5-2) by two games in the "NOL" race. Amicone says they know somebody is going to have bring the Redmen back to the pack, but that won't be easy.  "It speaks volumes for the quality of the program.  They have that rolling right now.  They have phenomenal coaches.  You tip your cap to a team like that.  They play phenomenal defense, there are no errors, their pitchers pound the strike zone, and they get quality at bats.  You never know about baseball, that is the great thing about the sport.  You better come ready to play everyday.  We've got to keep winning to have a shot.  We have to take care of the Shelby Whippets first and see where the chips fall in the end," said Amicone.

          Shelby plays Bellevue again on May 7 in Shelby.  The Redmen must travel to defending league champion Ontario on Friday.

 

Published 4/24/15

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Shelby Wins Big One

 

          Nate Sayre's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Shelby Whippets a (7-6) win over the defending Northern Ohio League champion Ontario Warriors on Monday afternoon at Shelby High School.

          After losing to Sandusky (8-0) last week the Whippets beat Norwalk (10-6) last Friday and again were up to the challenge on Monday.  Coach Jon Amicone says Monday's was a win they almost had to have.  "It was a league game that we needed to win.  We dropped our first league game against Sandusky.  To stay in the race it was a must win.  It is tough when there are must win games so early in the season, but it was something we really needed to have happen," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "It was an exciting seventh inning.  We had a one-run lead going to the top half and of course they are going to fight and they pushed two across.  We went to the bottom half down one.  We were down to our last strike with no one on base and we were able to grind out that at bat to get a base hit.  We got four straight hits to push across a run.  I can't say enough about how proud I am of the kids.  We never gave up even being down to our last strike."

          Brandon Schneider drove in the tying run in the seventh and Amicone says they just played with a never say die attitude.  He says these are kids that are used to pressure situations.  "We were down to our six, seven, eight, nine hitters.  Our seventh hitter had a big, two-out RBI to tie it and our eight hitter ended it.  When you get production like that from the bottom of your line up you are going to be really successful.  They are tough minded kids that play other sports for the Shelby community and they have been under the spotlight other times in their sporting careers.  It is nice to have that kind of confidence.  It something we try to preach in baseball to just have that mental toughness.  It is just a game where if you aren't mentally tough you are not going to be successful.  To see the kids just keep grinding and to see the kids not giving up is all a coach can ask for at any level in any sport," said Amicone.

          Shelby (5-2,2-1) plays at Tiffin Columbian on Tuesday in league play.  The Tornadoes were leading Willard (8-1) in the fourth inning on Monday when the rains came.  They Whippets play host to the Flashes on Thursday.

          Amicone says winning those home games are very important if you are going to win an "NOL" title.  "You have to win at home, you have that advantage.  That just shows how big this game was and how important this game was for us.  We talked about it being a must win.  We just felt for us to have a chance at the end of the season we just had to win this one being at home and already dropping our first league game.  It's exciting and it kind of puts us back where we need to be.  We just want to continue to maintain the focus and the competitive nature and see where it takes us," he said.

 

Published 4/14/15

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Shelby Bounces Back and Edges Loudonville

 

          Shelby got right back on track and picked up its first win of the baseball season on Wednesday night when they edged Loudonville (4-3) in non-league play at home.

          Coach Jon Amicone says it is in those tight one run games, like Wednesday, that you learn to become a better baseball player.  "Those are the fun games to play at that is what separates baseball from some other games those close games that you play.  Every pitch you are on your toes and you are zoned in and that makes it fun.  It is a confidence builder as you learn to win those close games and hopefully we are headed in that direction," he said.

          Clyde took apart the Whippets (15-5) on Monday and Amicone was really proud of how they responded against Loudonville.  "It is always the goal to have a good season.  We were able to get our first win (Wednesday) night.  We bounced back after getting beat up by a pretty good Clyde team.  We kind of got humbled game one and to come back game two two days later and win a close one that really shows the character of the team that we have," he said.

          Shelby (1-1) plays at Sandusky (1-2) in their Northern Ohio League opener on Thursday, weather permitting.  The Blue Streaks run ruled Sandusky Perkins (11-1) on Wednesday and Amicone knows this is a good team they will be playing.  "When you think of Sandusky you just think of athletes from that school no matter what the sport is.  We are going to have to come ready to play and pitch well and continue to stress good defense and let the chips fall where they may," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, "In the "NOL" you better come ready to play whether it is Sandusky, Ontario or Bellevue, every day you better come to play if you expect to win."

 

Published 4/02/15

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Girls' Basketball Players to Showcase Talents

 

          Wednesday night, girls' basketball players of all ages will get an opportunity to show what they can do to fans and college coaches with Shelby Rotary NCO Girls' All-Star Basketball Classic at Shelby High School.

          Kyle Fenner of Colonel Crawford and Eric Mitchell of New London are the coaches in the senior game, which includes two ten player teams.

          Fenner has done this before, so she knows what to expect.  "This will be the second time coaching the all-star game.  I believe in 2000 I coached the all-star game over in Ashland, so this will be my second time," she said.

          She will coach team black, which will include: Anna Hintz of South Central, Deijah Swihart of Clear Fork, Gabby Stephens of Shelby, Shelby Stamm of Bellevue, Ellie Richmond of Wynford, Hannah Adams of Willard, Sydnie Carpenter of Ashland, Mekaila Grose of Mansfield Madison, Ta-Sharra Jeffries of Sandusky and Emily Wagner of Sandusky Perkins.

          A real key to this format is to get everyone into the game with a chance to showcase there skills.  "It's not really hard we will have ten kids and we will probably put them in groups of five and let them play for four or five minutes then we will substitute.  We will approach it that way and let them get up and down the floor and show their skills.  If it's a game at the end we will probably go with the five or six best kids that we feel can win the game for us," said Fenner.

          Some of the players might know where they are going to college, but some may not.  Fenner says this is their chance to impress.  "There are going to be a good portion of college coaches there that night.  They have done a great job of getting college coaches there.  It will a great chance for these kids to show their skills off to not only the area, but also some college coaches that will be there," she said.

          On team white will be Carly Santoro of Bellevue, Valesha Province of Tiffin Columbian, Shelby White of Ashland, Jeryn Reese of Mansfield Senior, Morgan Bailey of Clear Fork, Hunter Feltner of Willard, Alexis Smith of Mansfield Madison, Makayla Cook of Norwalk, Megan Flaherty of Bucyrus and Samantha Reer of Norwalk St. Paul.  The coach of the team will be Eric Mitchell of New London.

          There is also an underclassmen game on Wednesday night, a first due to a change in OHSAA rules and Clear Fork coach Heidi Roush is one the coaches in that game. 

          She was an MVP in an all-star game as a player, but this will be her first as a coach.  "It is my first time coaching anything like this.  There are some stipulations as to who can coach the younger kids.  You couldn't have one of your own players on the team.  I think that is how they kind of stumbled on me.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I think it will be a lot of fun," she told Swankonsports.com.

          Her team members are:  Renee Stimpert of Crestview, Abigail Fogle of Upper Sandusky, Sarah Ogden of Wynford, Gabbi Baldridge of Willard, Ashley Painley of Norwalk St. Paul, Shelby Kin of Carey, Maggie King of Willard, Jisselle Thomas of Norwalk, Paige Leitz of Monroeville and Leah Bouillon of New Riegel.

          She says she will judge playing time by performance during the game.  "With you know you have talented kids, they wouldn't be on the team other wise.  I think for the most part you just go with who is playing well.  Get everyone in there and let them show their skills," said Roush.

          There are only a couple of practices before them game and Roush says the players sort of have to get used to each other.  "There are some larger schools and I know those players and what they are capable of and there are some players that I haven't seen before and I only know their stat lines checking on then throughout the season in the paper.  I think it will be a little bit of a challenge for the kids knowing each other.  Some of them will have played against each other in summer league, some during the season and then there are kids they really don't know each other," said Roush.

          Playing for team black in the underclassmen game are Seina Adachi of Seneca East, Sydney Wentling of Carey, Kamryn Troike of Fostoria St. Wendelin, Payton Shays of New London, Kelci Simms of Bucyrus, Jenna Strayer of Bellevue, Sydney Holderman of Riverdale, Emily Yeager of Mansfield St. Peter's, Jackie Garrett of Shelby and Alexus Burkhart of Colonel Crawford.  They will be coached by Jon Dawson of Willard.

          Roush thinks it is pretty cool that underclassmen get to participate too.  "In this sport most of the time you are going to end with a loss and it can be so disheartening.  Now, these younger kids are going to get a chance to play again this season and pump them up and get them ready for next season," she said.

          There will be a halftime three point shooting contest among girls in district 6.  Some boys will be there for dunk contest as well.

          The underclassmen game starts at 6 PM, with the senior game at about 7:45.  Tickets for the game are $6 for adults, $3 for seniors, and free for 18 and under who donate a gently used or new children's book to the Shelby Rotary's "Big Red Book Shelf."

 

Published 3/23/15

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Shelby Has New Coach, Good Outlook

 

          On the football field and the basketball floor, the Shelby Whippets felt the influence of some younger kids and that should be the case on the baseball diamond too.

          Coach Jon Amicone says they are going to have at least two freshman that are going to start for the varsity and make a big impact on the field.  "Of course, everybody knows the name Brennan Armstrong, he was a our varsity quarterback, and will join the varsity ranks of Shelby as a very nice lefty pitcher as well as a talented outfielder.  The kid has just tremendous talent.  He is gifted and a hard worker, he just wants to be good," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "As well as Carter Brooks, he will be on the varsity, he played JV basketball, and we expect big things out of Carter.  He will be our starting shortstop as a freshman.  They are going to be thrown right into the fire, but I think they are used to it know being part of two varsity sports.  They are no longer Freshmen."

          It is his first year as the coach in Shelby, but Amicone knows the league well, and he understands that you are going to have to be ready every time out in this league.  "One of the reasons I decided to leave Wynford, and I love Wynford, and will always be a place in my heart for Wynford, was I am from Shelby and I know the parity in the "NOL."  In baseball it is a very, very quality league.  It is going be one of those seasons where if you don't bring your "A" game and if you don't field the ball well, hit the ball well, and pitch well you are going to be in trouble every time you play an "NOL" team.  Ontario, it starts with them, Dab Gorbett is one the top coaches in the state of Ohio.  It starts with them, but you better bring your "A" game every time you play an "NOL" team or you are going to be in trouble," said Amicone.

          There is a good deal of talent at Shelby, but Amicone says they must be playing better defense when the season starts and understand the little things that make up the game.  "We don't value the baseball really well defensively right now.  We are kind of throwing the ball away and missing cut off guys.  We have to understand when we lose that hidden base game that can not only cost you a game, but it can cost you a championship.  A simple thing like missing a cut and then that runner on first is on second base and now a base hit scores him.  We don't value the baseball right now and that is something we are really working on as far as coaches and players.  We are really working on that every time we go outside," he said.

          Weather permitting, Shelby will host Loudonville for a doubleheader on March 28.  They open Northern Ohio League play at Sandusky on April 2.

 

Published 3/20/15

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Shelby Has to out Hustle Ontario

 

          Shelby faces Ontario for a third time this season this time in the division two district semi finals on Wednesday night at Mansfield Senior's Pete Henry Gym.

          It was Ontario that won the first two (74-61) at the "O-rena" and (64-59) at Shelby.

          The Whippets (15-8) downed Norwalk (49-41) in their sectional final last Friday at Madison.  Cody Stine was their leading scorer with nine points and coach Troy Schwemley says they have enjoyed good balance all year.  "I don't know if I would say that was something we anticipated going in going into this year it is something that kind of happened.  It has been an enjoyable thing when it is different guys that step up every night, not even just one guy, but multiple guys.  Brandon Schneider has been our leading scorer and there have been nights when he has gotten into the 20's, but for the most part a normal night for us is three or four guys around double figures and then in the tournament game we didn't have anybody in double figures," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have gotten big nights out of Davey Hipp, Lucas Bihl, Brendan Armstrong, Cory Cox, Cody Stine.  It can be somebody different every night and that has kind been what has allowed us to be successful and it's made us difficult to defend at times because you never know who is going to come in and find a way to contribute."

          District player of the year Lenell Shelby has been the difference maker for Ontario (23-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, this year.  Schwemley says he is a kid that just seems to make big plays.  "Lenell Shelby is their leading scorer.  What I think he does so well is whether he is scoring or assisting he is somehow part of the play.  There are so many times when he just seems to get the lose ball or get the rebound.  Homan is another consistent scorer for them, but they have multiple guys that can get hot.  They are similar to us because if you look at the scoring averages nobody really stands out it is very similar.  You have to account for all of them, you can't let somebody get hot.  With Lenell they just sort of follow his lead.  It just seems like they have a knack for getting those lose balls in those turning moments in games and I think that is going to be a key for us," said Schwemley.

          In their first two meetings this season Schwemley says the Warriors have out hustled his kids and that can't happen on Wednesday night.  "I hope that rebounding isn't a factor because if its is typically been for the other team.  When you look at their heights and heights it has been their effort.  I think their seniors set the tone and their guys just follow that lead and that is just something we are going to have to negate.  When I think back to our first two games hustle plays seemed to be the difference makers.  When we would battle back and it would be a close ball game it seemed those lose balls would be theirs.  That is the reason they have had the great season they have had because in big moments and consistently through the game they play hard and get those 50-50 balls," said Schwemley.

 

Published 3/10/15

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Shelby Clashes With League Foe Norwalk

 

          Northern Ohio League rivals Shelby and Norwalk meet for a third time this time in the division two sectional finals on Friday night at Mansfield Madison Middle School.

          The two teams played twice during the regular season with the Whippets (14-8) winning both (60-57) in overtime at Norwalk and (68-34) at Shelby.

          Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says they were both important wins for them.  "The first game at their place I thought was probably one turning moments of the season.  We had beaten Clyde in overtime on Tuesday of that week and turned around and played at Norwalk and was able to win in overtime there.  I thought that week was kind of turning point for us in believing in what we were doing and the kids buying into it and having some success.  The game at our place was a six point game at halftime and things started to go well for us in the second half.  The score looks worse than it was.  I think we were up 19 with three, four minutes to go and a couple of shots in and the score looked worse than the game really was," said Schwemley.

          When it comes to Friday night, Schwemley says they have to take a fresh approach to the Truckers.  "Those games are meaningless, whether if they were close or not.  It is kind of nice that it was a while ago since we played them.  I think it is awkward when you play a team the week before and than turn around and play them again.  So, both of us have had a few more games since then.  Norwalk came out and beat Clear Fork the other night and did a lot of things really well.  Both of us know each other really well.  It is going to be a great match up on Friday night," he said.

          Norwalk's George Friend scored 35 points in the Truckers (70-58) win over Clear Fork in semi-final play on Tuesday night.  Schwemley says the Truckers have developed into a nice offensive team.  "George had an absolutely great game.  I would probably classify that as a career night.  Coming in he was averaging around 10 points a game.  They get consistent scoring from Turner and Jordan.  With their guards they have had different guys step up at different times.  For George to have seven threes and score 35 points to me that is just the beauty of tournament basketball.  (Tuesday) night was just his night and he hit his shots.  It was that catalysis that helped Norwalk find a way to win," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "At this time of year you just need guys to step up and it doesn't matter who it has been.  We are going to have to be ready to defend their guards.  They have showed moments of scoring and have matured.  We know we are going to have to defend the perimeter, but also the interior because Turner and Jordan are their two leading scorers and do some very good things."

 

Published 3/05/14

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Shelby Still Searching For Better Start

 

          If Shelby could just quick digging an early hole they could become a better basketball team and they are already a pretty good one.

          It happened again last Friday when they fell behind Willard (38-18) at the half and made a mad rush at end before losing (63-60) to their rivals.  Coach Troy Schwemley was proud of the effort he saw in the third and fourth quarter and they even left some points on the floor.  "Unfortunately we got off to a slow start.  Willard came out and played some really good basketball and made some shots.  It was one of those things where they did a nice job of taking away what we wanted and extended that lead and were up 20 at halftime.  I give our kids credit, like they have done all year, of battling back and we really gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game in the third and fourth quarter," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We missed some opportunities there in the third.  Our goal was to get it in single digits and give ourselves a chance.  We played hard, but we left some opportunities out there.  I am proud of the kids for battling back, but we have to figure out how to not dig ourselves such a big hole."

          Shelby (13-8,6-5) is the kind of team that can get back in game because they can score points in a hurry.  Schwemley says one reason is they have a number of guys that can make three pointers.  "It seems like when we do hit some shots things can start going well.  When you go back to that Willard game we did not hit our first three pointer until the fourth quarter.  We finally hit a three the first shot of the fourth quarter.  i know sometimes I wish we would do a better job of getting the ball inside and scoring, but that just seems to be the style we have developed.  When things are going well and we hit some shots we can be pretty explosive.  We just have to find a way of getting it stated a little earlier," he said.

          It's a trip to Bellevue (6-14,2-8) for the Whippets on Friday night.  Schwemley says the Redmen will play with emotion on their home floor and they are going to have to make sure they get some of those 50/50 balls too.  "It is going to be their last home game.  Anytime you go into a situation like that you know you are going to get the other team's best effort.  They are a team that has struggled record wise.  They have won five or six games, but I can remember playing them a couple of weeks ago and they have a lot o seniors on the team, they are athletic.  It is a situation where we are going to have to match their athleticism and effort and we are going to have to execute a little better and make some shots.  Make sure we make those hustle plays because those plays can be the difference in games like that.  At this time of year you want to be playing good basketball and hopefully we can end the regular season on a positive note," said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/26/15

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Shelby Meets Ontario in D2 Tournament

 

          A pair of Northern Ohio League teams face each other in the first round of the division two girls' basketball tournament on Tuesday night at Willard High School.

          Shelby (9-9) smoked Ontario (70-44) in their first meeting on December 27 and then just got past the Lady Warriors (45-39) on February 7 at Shelby.  coach Natalie Lantz says there are no secrets between the two.  "This will be the third time we play them this year, the second time in the last couple of weeks really.  We need to be prepared to step out and play our game," she said.

          Lantz says in reviewing the film was pretty disappointed the last time they played Ontario (5-13), especially on defense.  She says there has to be an upgrade.  "We did not talk and rotate well defensively.  I felt we could have rebounded a little better.  We have always had the philosophy that defense comes first and that initiates our offense.  We didn't do well in transition that game either and those are big keys for us.  I feel we have to come out and play much better defensively and work harder together as a team.  That is what is going to give us a win," said Lantz.

          Shelby has shown the ability to score points this season.  Lantz says that comes from their defense, which gives them more chances to score.  "I think we are playing a lot better team ball than we were.  We have had some kids really step up.  I think our post play is a lot stronger than it was early in the season and now we have developed more of an inside-out game and that is great.  We do have some outside shooters and kids that can take it to the hole as well. We need to continue to be aggressive and attack offensively, but again defense comes first," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday.  "If we don't give ourselves opportunities at the basket that is a whole different ball game.  We don't want to be limited offensively  and you limit yourselves by not playing good defense.  That is going to be the key, playing good defense and making sure we talk and rotate and make sure we box and get boards to start that offensive flow for us."

          The winner of the Shelby-Ontario match-up will meet Sandusky Perkins in the second round on Thursday again at Willard.   

 
 

Shelby Plays Host to Rival Willard

 

          Shelby has played some excellent basketball this season and the Whippets are both explosive on offense and aggressive on defense and that means they are never out of a game.

          Case in point was Tuesday night when they rallied to beat Upper Sandusky (87-80), one of the best teams in the Northern 10, in overtime in a non-conference game.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they made some adjustments and played really well in the second half against Upper.  "The game was really a tale of two halves because at halftime we are down 11 (37-26).  We were 1-12 from the three point line and really just struggling a little bit offensively.  Defensively, Upper did a great job of dealing with our pressure and moving the ball.  Not a lot was working for us.  At halftime, coach Hoffbauer made a couple of defensive adjustments that the kids did a great job with and really it seemed that just everything started to go," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We only had 26 points at halftime and we really battled back, moved the ball offensively and we made some shots and our defense did a better job.  Even in overtime, I think we scored 17 points in overtime.  We did a lot of good things down the stretch.  It was a really good win for us.  Coming off two losses I thought it was a much needed game, especially with three games left in the season.  I was really proud of the kids effort and how we battled back."

          Shelby has rallied in many games this year, Schwemley keeps hoping they get off to better starts in games, but he says it is the nature of this team to not give up.  "We have tried to not get down so much, but sometimes with the way we do play there are going to be runs, we are going to have runs, the other team is going to have runs.  The key is trying to minimize the opponents and maximize ours.  It seems when we get things going we do a lot of good things and put some points on the board.  There have been many games when we have been down double digits and fought back.  We might have come up short in a couple of those games, but like Tuesday night a lot times we have found a way to win," he said.

          Shelby hosts Willard in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  They beat the Flashes (63-57) on January 15 at Willard.  Schwemley looks for another close, physical game this time around.  "They are very similar when it comes to the guard play.  They will do some things to penetrate and attack the basket.  With their leading scorer (Carson Ebert) and the kind of shots he takes, very similar.  When you look at that first game there we were down, they jumped out on us early and we were able to battle back and take a one point lead in at halftime.  That was a game that was really competitive.  We were able to get some key baskets going down the stretch to pull away a little bit.  I wouldn't expect anything different.  It will be a physical Shelby-Willard game with both teams battling and trying to get some momentum going into the tournament,' said Schwemely.

 

Published 2/20/15

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Effort the Key for the Whippets

 

          Shelby plays its second straight outstanding opponent when they play "NOL" leader Ontario on Friday night. 

          Last Saturday, Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Ashland (15-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, beat Shelby (70-57) in a non-conference game. 

          Coach troy Schwemley says they just got behind by too much early in the game.  "We got off to a bad start and Ashland jumped on us early.  They are a great team and are first in the "OCC."  They jumped on us right away and were up on us 17 in the first half and then we battled back and actually took the lead in the third quarter and then they regrouped and ended up winning by 13.  Looking back at that game in the third quarter I think we outscored them over a stretch like 30-15 and that got us back in the game.  That has kind of been typical of us when we are playing really good opponents, when we played Ashland, when we played Ontario the first time, when we played Sandusky to get down right away then claw back into it, but it seemed we had dug too big of a hole to completely overcome.  Against Ontario on Friday we have got to get off to a good start," said Schwemley.

          With their ability to make three pointers and run the floor, the Whippets can produce runs of their own.  Schwemley says they just can't have those periods when they let the other team get on a streak.  "We are a team that also has spurtability, but you have to use a lot of energy to get back in the game, so it is tough when you have to make that back to back to back run.  We need more consistency so that when we have our spurt it is going in the opposite direction.  When we are battling form behind it takes a lot of energy to do that.  Their coach is going to call time out and get into them and their guys are going to react.  We have got to prevent that those big runs we are giving up to really great teams.  That seems to be what sticks out when I think of our games against really great opponents like Ashland or like when we are playing this week against Ontario," he said.

          Shelby (12-6,6-3), #5 in our poll, hosts Ontario (17-1,9-0), #2 in the poll, in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  A Warriors win means they clinch a share of the title.  Shelby says they have to play with the same kind of effort as Ontario always does.  "To me rebounding is about effort.  When I look at Ontario size wise and things like that they are doing it with great effort.  There are nights when you play teams that are just big, physical teams, like when we played Tiffin last Friday, I knew were going to lose the rebounding battle, but as long as we put forth the effort and try to get their bigs out of there you can live with that.  When I look at Ontario I don't think it is a situation where they are physically out sizing us.  I think it is a game when they are similar size and athletes that we are and it is who is going to win the effort war," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "When you talk about offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, hustle plays, that comes down to who wants it more.  Over the course of a game certain teams just tend to be relentless and we have at times this year.  I mean we are having a good year.  When I look at us that is the key to knocking off a good team and that is what it is going to take on Friday night.  We are going to have to out effort them for 32 minutes."

 

Published 2/11/15

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Lady Whippets Must Pick it up

 

          Shelby might have taken a step backward its performance on the floor last Saturday and they need to get back on track when they travel to Tiffin for a Northern Ohio League against Columbian on Tuesday night.

          Shelby (7-9,4-5) beat Ontario (53-49) on Saturday in league action, but coach Natalie Lantz was not happy with their execution, especially on defense.  "I don't think we played one our better games, especially defensively.  I don't know if the girls, and this could be the case, might have overlooked Ontario based on earlier this season having played them and won by a little bit more (70-44).  I don't think you can do that game by game you have to be prepared, especially that this point in the season," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "You have to expect that every team has improved and you need to go out and show what type of team you are game by game and you have to play your game.  That is what we have been preaching to the girls and you have to go out on the court and perform.  After the game I think they were disappointed in their performance as well."

          Lantz says against Ontario it wasn't the offense that was the problem.  She says they allowed Ontario to get too many open shots.  "We still scored, we started out with a 20 point performance in the first quarter and 15 more in the second quarter, but we were allowing them to score.  Not to take anything away from Ontario because I think Ontario can be a very, very good team.  They shot very well for the game, they hustled, they were very scrappy.  We need to step up defensively and do what we do best.  We had zero transition points for the game, which is very unlike us," he said.

          Tiffin Columbian (7-11,4-6) won at Shelby (52-37) on December 19 and Lantz says the Lady Tornadoes are a team that can do some things.  She says they have pretty good balance.  "I think Tiffin is a much more well rounded team this year.  They get good contributions form all of their players, which makes them a very solid team an a more difficult team to contend with and to beat and we have to be ready to step up and play good team ball ourselves.  We need to talk. move our feet on defense,  and be rotating on defense properly.  We definitely need to see a better performance (Tuesday) night than we did on Saturday because they are a good team.  They have improved juts like Ontario and all of these other teams have improved.  I think we have a very strong league this year and that is a good thing," said Lantz.

 

Published 2/19/15

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Shelby Doing What They do

 

          With their personnel Shelby knows what they have to do to win and they have been pretty good at executing their game plan.

          They are going to press and trap all over the floor and they are going to take a lot of three point shots and that has been successful for the Whippets.

          Last Saturday night, they blitzed the Norwalk Truckers in the second half went on to win easily (68-34) in the Northern Ohio League game.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they were able to get to the basket in the second half.  "We came out the first half and got things going for the most part.  It was interesting our first seven baskets were all three pointers.  I don't know that I am proud of that.  We were getting good looks and for the most part they were shots we want to take.  We did talk hey let's get to the rim, get to the rim.  We are up six at the end of the second quarter.  Then in the third and fourth quarter I think our pressure and ball movement we started getting to the rim.  The final score was probably a little worse then in was at times, but we really put together a strong defensive effort in the third and fourth quarters," said Schwemley.

          Shelby (11-5,5-3) travels to Tiffin Columbian (6-10,0-6) on Friday night for league game.  Columbian is a lot bigger than the Whippets and Schwemley says they don't want to play them a lot in the half court.  "It really starts with Dryfuss.  He is averaging 18 points a game and around seven, eight rebounds a game.  They have Cody Daniel that is around nine points a game.  Those two are nice players.  Daniels can go inside, outside.  He can hits some threes as well.  Durham has been starting for them, he did come of the bench earlier in the year, he is 6'4" and long.  Size wise they will definitely give us some mismatches.  They are definitely a team we have to pressure and turn them over because if they get the ball in the paint and they get offensive put backs and things like that they are a dangerous team," said Schwemley.

          Shelby faces a tough double weekend on the road, but Schwemley says the most important game for them is in the league game against Tiffin.  "We have to focus on Friday night first.  It is one of those games where if go in and play like we are supposed to we can be successful, but we have to have a great effort on Friday night," he said.

          The Whippets then travel to Ashland (13-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, for a non-conference game at Arrow Arena on Saturday night. Schwemley says it's a big challenge, but it could be a tremendous win.  "Ashland is maybe the best team in the area.  They have guys that have been playing a long time together, Isaac White, Vipperman, those guys have been playing forever it seems.  It will definitely be a nice test at this time of year.  You know, I don't know if I want to use the word test," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I feel like we have improved and have gotten ourselves to the point where we are up to the challenge, but we are going to have to play a great ball game Saturday night compete in that one.  I think our group has done that all year and this is another opportunity to show that.  We have a double weekend on the road with the tournament draw coming up in terms of finalizing seeds.  Wins this time of year can kind of set up tournament brackets that are more in your favor, so we have to be up for the challenge this weekend."

 

Published 2/06/15

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Shelby Making Progress

 

          Bellevue, Willard, and Clear Fork are three of the best girls' basketball teams in the area this year and Shelby has played all of them tough and that is a good sign.

          They weren't able to win any of those games, but coach Natalie Lantz says they are really coming together as a team and it shows.  "We really are playing pretty well.  We have started to click and we have really come together.  They are playing well as a unit on the floor no matter who comes off the bench they are really jelling on the floor with each other.  The defense has picked up and offensively have been attacking better and are able to convert from our defense and that makes a great impact," she said.

          One of the good signs for the Lady Whippets is they have shown the ability in recent weeks to score in a number of ways and Lantz says that makes them harder to guard.  "I think Mattie Fiddler inside I think she has been posting really strong and she has been rebounding really well for us and that helps open things up outside.  We have a couple of guards on perimeter then that are extremely quick and can drive or they can hit the outside shot, so I think whether you play us man to man or zone we are able to drive to the basket," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "If a guard does that and they collapse on them they can get the ball out we have kids that can hit the three pointer or if it is a 15 footer it works just as well.  The girls are moving the ball a lot better.  They are reading the defense a lot better I think we are able to convert a lot better than we were early on in the season."

          Shelby (5-9) is at home for Lexington (0-15) of the Ohio Cardinal Conference for a non-league battle on Tuesday night.  Lady Lex's record may not be very good, but Lantz knows they will play hard and that means they have to also.  "They are a team that is not going to give up.  They will play scrappy and I know they have some athletic kids.  I don't think at this point in the season you can overlook anybody even though they don't have the record or the wins.  They are thirsty for one.  We want to step up and if play our game we will come out on top, but you never want to look down and look at a team's record because then you are going to walk away hurting.  So, you want to respect who they are and what they could be capable of.  At the same time we need to be able to go out and play the game we are capable of playing every game.  It shouldn't matter if we are playing Bellevue or Willard or Clear Fork and only gear up for those type of games we need to gear up no matter who we are playing," said Lantz.

 

Published 2/03/15

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Shelby Has to Have Two League Wins

 

          Shelby is hanging in the Northern Ohio League race trailing Ontario by two games after the first round of play.  They face two "NOL" games this week, Sandusky on Thursday, and Norwalk on Saturday.

          Last week, they beat Bellevue (74-64) on Friday night in league play and Galion (59-54) in non-league action on Saturday.  In both cases coach Troy Schwemley says they did what they had to in the final minutes to pick up the wins.  "It was a good weekend for us.  I look at Galion and Bellevue as mirror images of each other.  Both are very talented teams, they have some players, they are athletic and both are very senior oriented.  I know by their records they are struggling, but both have played a lot of people close and just haven't been able to get over the hump.  Both games were close games in the fourth quarter and we made plays down the stretch.  From our standpoint I guess we are happy with that because that is what good teams do is find a way to win and we found ways to win both games.  We need to keep pace in the league and it is getting time for tournament draw, so we really need to pull out wins like that," said Schwemley.

          In their first test on Thursday night the Whippets (10-4,4-2) play at second place Sandusky (12-3,5-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division.  The Blue Streaks, a winner of seven in row, beat Shelby (62-51) in their first league game of the year.  Schwemley says they have a lot of players that can score the ball.  "What they do so well is they have multiple guys that can score, they have multiple guys that can handle the ball.  They are not a team where you can just focus on one guy, and tell them we have to stop this guy," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have guys that have played a lot of minutes, not just this year, but past years.  They are guys that are very experienced players and are confident with the ball.  So, what I think makes them most deadly is that you can't focus on just one guy.  You have to guard whoever has the ball.  It has to be good team defense, you can't rely on just one on one play we have to defend them as a team.  Whoever has the ball is dangerous and we have to treat them as a scorer."

        Norwalk (6-6,3-3) comes to Shelby on Saturday night.  The Whippets won in overtime (60-57) in the first meeting at Norwalk.  Schwemley says that was kind of a game that sent them in the right direction.  "It seems so long ago, but that first Norwalk game was kind of the turning point of our year.  When you look back on things we had beaten Clyde in overtime earlier that week and then turned around and beat Norwalk in overtime.  That kind of springboarded us and we found ways to win those close games.  We had some young guys coming in this year that we weren't sure about.  When you look at where we are right now, we have been able to win a lot of those close games.  With the league race and chasing Ontario we are two games back and we can't afford to get any further back the way they are playing.  So, we have to control what can control," said Schwemley.

 

Published 1/29/15

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Lady Colts Bounce Back to Beat Shelby

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Heidi Roush

 

          Montana Walker scored all five of her points over the last two minutes and Clear Fork outscored Shelby (10-0) over the last 1:57 of the game and rallied to beat the Lady Whippets (57-51) in a non-conference girls' basketball game at Shelby.

          Clear Fork took the lead (10-9) with 3:58 to play in the first quarter and held the lead until Kennadie Goth gave Shelby a (47-45) lead with 3:39 to play in the game.  Jackie Garrett and Gabby Stephens scored back to back field goals, both off steals, to give the Lady Whippets a (51-47) lead with 2:14 in the game, but after that is was all Clear Fork.

          Lady Colts coach Heidi Roush felt her kids reacted well to the pressure of being behind.  "Last year when we got on the ropes you could see the panicking, or the tightening up I guess.  (Tuesday) night when we fell behind instead of tightening up and not shooting well we had some kids really step up and hit some big shots and some big free throws to put it away, so that was huge," she said.

          Walker drained a three from the deep left corner to cut the lead to (51-50) with 1:57 left.  Roush says the junior came up big in the biggest moment.  "She had been kind of doubting her shooting and been sort of frustrated.  At one point I just tuned to her and said you have go to believe and then she stepped up and hit that three and that was awesome.  I think it got her confidence up and it got the team's confidence up.  The was a big one," said Roush.

          Deijah Swihart led Clear Fork with 19 points, Morgan Bailey added 12 and Erika Farst 10.  Garrett led Shelby 19 markers.

          Trailing by as many as 11 in the first half (33-32) after two free throws by Clear Fork's Mattie Van Orman, Shelby was the aggressor the second half.  Lady Whippets coach Natalie Lantz says defense and rebounding put them back in it.  "I think we did a little bit of a better job in the second half.  We got some stops.  We talked at halftime that we weren't rebounding well.  We were giving them too many second looks, and third looks, and fourth looks," she told Swankonsports.com after the game, "When it came down to crunch time we gave them a huge rebound and Swihart hit a three and right there is your game.  That put the pressure on us and we didn't convert.  We had a couple of quick turnovers and had to foul."

          After Clear Fork poked away an offensive rebound they found Swihart for a three that gave them the lead (53-51) with 1:24 left.  After a Shelby turnover, the Lady Colts were able to take some time off the clock and Swihart and Walker both hit both ends of one and ones in the final :32 to preserve the win.  "You count on your seniors to step up when you need them too and that's what they did.  (Swihart) got us going early with her speed and then in the second part of the game I thought the play when she saved it out of bounds gave us a little bit of momentum to get things going," said Roush.

          Swihart scored nine points in the first five minutes of the game, but Lantz thought they were able to frustrate her after that.  "I think we were able to pressure here and I think Jackie (Garrett) did a nice job of pressuring her, picked her, and I think got her head a little bit.  She is very athletic and a very good player and we respect that," she said.

          Van Orman led Clear Fork with 10 rebounds and Morgan Bailey chipped in with eight.  However, Shelby got some big rebounds in the second half.  Roush says they certainly have some things to work on.  "Mattie got into some foul trouble and I think that made her a little tentative because she didn't want to pick up that next one, but they rebound hard.  Games like this are good.  We need to go back and work on our man to man defense a little more and we need to work on our rebounding a little more," said Roush.

          The Lady Colts are still struggling to workout their rotations after season ending knee injury to Madilyne McDonald last week against Fredericktown.  The senior had shown vast improvement over last season shooting 39 percent for the year and scoring 4.0 PPG.

          Clear Fork (11-3,6-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com girls' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, a winner of 10 of their last 11, plays at Mansfield Madison (5-9,2-5) in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Thursday night.  The Lady Colts won the first match-up (49-39) in the valley in December.  "They gave us a little bit of a scare the last time we played them.  I think they are much improved.  Michaela Gross kind of erupted for a big game against us, so we need to do a better job of containing her for sure," said Roush.

 

Published 1/28/15

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Shelby Getting Used to each Other

 

          Shelby is an interesting mix of players from all four classes at the high school level and as they get more used to each other they continue to get better as a team.

          In their last Northern Ohio League game last Friday they made the plays in the end to upend rival Willard (63-57) to keep themselves in the league race.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they were able top make the clutch plays this time.  "We got off to a slow start.  I believe we were down 16-8 or 17-8, something like that in the first quarter, which is kind of odd for us because even in the games we have lost we have had a good first quarter.  We responded in the second quarter and had a great quarter and took the lead into halftime," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "The third quarter was back and forth.  The fourth quarter we made plays down the stretch, which I thought was good because if you go back to our Lexington game that down the stretch we had some plays we didn't make and the Willard game was kind of eerily similar to that.  Willard even cut it to two with under three minutes and then we made some plays and pulled away.  I was proud of our guys for responded and learning from that and making plays in the Willard game to get that victory."

          Lexington had beaten Shelby (68-66) in double overtime the previous Saturday.

          With these particular players not playing together before this year, Schwemley says they are continuing to understand each other and are playing better together.  "I think we have seen improvement not just in individual play, but in team chemistry.  When you look at our personnel, and I don't care how you spin it, when you have six senior, two or three juniors, a sophomore or two, and two freshmen mixed in, it is only 12 games this year when we have all played together.  The coaches and the players are still learning each other, but I think the good thing is we continue to get better.  We seem to be really getting that chemistry and that on the floor presence that they know where each other is going to be.  We do seem like we are improving, which is what any coach wants at this time of the year," he said.

          Shelby (8-4,3-2) is at home with Bellevue (4-8,1-4) for a league game with Friday.  Bellevue may be down toward the bottom of the league standings, but Schwemley says they can not take them lightly.  "I look at some of their games and some of their losses are against very good teams.  Even in a game like Ontario that game was close going into the fourth quarter and Ontario ended up pulling away.  It is a typical Northern Ohio League game where you can look at the record and just chalk it up as a victory because that doesn't happen.  They are going to come in and give great effort and they are going to play hard.  We have to be ready to play.  We have had a pretty consistent effort.  I have been proud of the guys for the most part as far as giving good effort and this game is not any different.  We are going to going to have to outwork and out play the opponent to get a victory," said Schwemley.

 

Published 1/21/15

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Pressure Again Key for Shelby

 

          Shelby plays at rival Willard in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night. 

          The Whippets are a team that has found a way to win and that is by pressing and pressuring all over the floor to make up for a lack of height.

          Last Saturday, they almost beat a Lexington team that has three players over 6'5" before losing (68-66) in double overtime. 

          Coach Troy Schwemley says it was certainly a game that they could have won and maybe should have won.  "We certainly had some opportunities to put that game away in the fourth quarter.  In the last two minutes I believe we were up six.  We had about four things go wrong, we had a charge, we missed the front end of a one and one, maybe a bad shot taken when your want to get lay ups or to the free throw line and we missed a layup.  If we do one of those four things right that game probably doesn't go into overtime," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Plus, we gave up two looks for Zahn and he made threes.  We have to know where he is at on the floor and the one to tie it they got the offensive rebound and kicked it back out.  There were a lot of opportunities and if we fix one or two of them we win the game.  Davey Hipp makes a shot to put us up one with 12 seconds left in the second overtime.  We have to move on that is how sports goes.  We played pretty well, but we have to fix some things and move on the next game."

          The Whippets (7-4,2-2) play at Willard (6-4,2-3) in a league game.  Schwemley says the Flashes have a bevy of guards that can do a lot of things.  "They have good guards that have played a lot of basketball with two three year lettermen, I think maybe Ebert has even started since he was a freshman.  They definitely have some guards that can play and streaky shooters.  It is at Willard and will be a typical Shelby-Willard game.  Both teams are going to get great effort in a great atmosphere and we will have to be ready to play," he said.

          Willard is a team that tends to run a of sets as part of their offense.  Schwemley says they want to use pressure to be able to take them out of what they want to do.  "If we can do what we are supposed to do in terms of our pressure then you don't have to defend every set.  It's our goal to take those away with pressure and trapping.  The danger there is we have to rotate so we aren't giving up open looks.  The hope is we take them out of their game, but we do it in an effective way so our defense is creating offense for us.  When we do that well we have been a pretty good team,' he said.

 

Published 1/14/15

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Shelby Really Getting Things Going

 

          After a victory at Norwalk (59-47) on Saturday the Shelby Lady Whippets have won their last three games and are starting to put some things together.

          Coach Natalie Lantz says they believe in each other and that is key.  "They are really starting to click and connect on the floor.  They are a great group of kids and they work really hard.  Their confidence is growing," she said.

          Shelby has been able to score by getting the ball down the floor, but now Lantz says they are staring to execute a little better in the half court too and that is making them more affective.  "I think we are moving a lot better offensively.  I think when one kid has the ball and they are attacking the basket we are starting to move more instead of standing and watching, which creates a better flow.  We are starting to attack the basket whether they are in zone or in man.  We have always been pretty good at the transition game.  When he had to play in the half court at the beginning of the season I think it slowed us up a little bit, so we have put more focus into that and I think the girls have responded really well," said Lantz.

          Shelby (4-5,2-3) plays ay home against Sandusky (3-6,2-3) in a Northern Ohio League game on Tuesday night.  Lantz says they Lady Blue Streaks can do some things to disrupt you.  "They are very athletic.  They rebound well and they are going to get up and down the court.  They are going to be in passing lanes.  We are going to have to take advantage of the assets we have, put a lot of pressure on the ball, and do the little things and come down and execute offensively," she said.

          Shelby plays at league leader Bellevue (10-1,6-0) on Saturday afternoon.  The Lady Red won (76-45) in the first meeting in December, but Lantz says are a lot better now she feels they can compete with Bellevue this time around.  "I would like to believe going into every game that we can compete.  The more these girls connect and compete on the floor our staff does believe we can compete with any team and I do believe we can be in the ball game with Bellevue and Willard.  It is going to take the "A" because Bellevue is extremely strong," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday. "They have shooters on the outside and they can score on the inside.  Santoro is a fantastic player and she is very, very difficult to stop.  She drives and if you stop her she is going to kick out and they have more than a handful that hit a three on you.  We are going to have to be on our game for them coming up on Saturday."

 

Published 1/13/15

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Shelby Has to Play Well This Week

 

          Shelby faces a pair of non-conference home games this weekend as they entertain Sandusky Perkins on Friday and Lexington on Saturday.

          After downing Wnyford (80-63) on Monday the Whippets have won six of their last seven games with their only loss during that period coming to Ontario (74-61) last Friday.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they are playing well, but they still need to become more consistent.  "In those wins we have played pretty good.  We still have some moments where I'd like to see us kind of minimize our mistakes a little more.  If you look back at our Wynford game we were up 19 after the end of the first quarter and we were only up four at halftime.  A lot of that was some mistakes we made, but I have to give Wynford a lot of credit in that game for battling back and they showed some toughness with what they did," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Then I was proud of how our guys responded and we ended up having a good third quarter.  I would like to see us minimize those quarters when it seems a lot of things go wrong, but for the  most part we are playing better basketball."

          Sandusky Perkins (2-6) had been the best team in the Sandusky Bay Conference the last few seasons, but they have been rebuilding a bit this year.  Still Schwemley says they can't be taken for granted.  "Their record can be a little bit misleading.  They just beat Oak Harbor for a good win.  They have played teams tough, their opening game they lost to Norwalk by eight points, lost to undefeated Huron by 11, so some of those losses are to really quality teams.  You always have to be careful not just looking at a record, but looking at how they are playing and what they are doing.  They are a team that is rebuilding, but gaining confidence and getting better as the year goes on," he said.

          Shelby (6-3) hosts Lexington (5-5) on Saturday night.  The Minutemen have tremendous height and Schwemley says they have to make them play their game.  "I think Lexington is one the reasons we do what we do because we can't match up with them because we can't not match up with a team with that size.  They can just pound the ball inside.  They also have good guard play.  Joey Zahn, I can still remember the tournament game he had he had last year against Ontario when he just took over.  We are definitely going to have to pressure them and keep the ball out of the paint to try and negate their size.  It should be an interesting match-up I know they are playing better lately they have had some success. They play a very difficult schedule so game in and game out they are getting better," said Schwemley.

          Shelby is playing well coming out of the holidays, but Schwemley knows this weekend will test them.  "It is going to be a tough weekend for us.  We have both games at home.  It's a new year and we are playing well, but you want to keep getting better and build on that.  We feel good, but this is a tough weekend for us," he said.

 

Published 1/09/15

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Shelby Plays Two Good Teams

 

          Shelby has put together a four game winning streak and this week the Whippets have a chance to move into a share of the Northern Ohio League lead.

          On Saturday, Shelby played perhaps its best game of the season as Brandon Schneider had 15 points as the Whippets buried Tiffin Columbian (65-48) in a league game.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they did a lot of things well, including perimeter shooting.  "We played a pretty good ball game.  We had some moments where we shot the ball pretty good, still had some times that we need to learn how to get a better shot, but all in all I think we ended up with 12 or 13 three pointers coming from multiple guys.  We had five or six guys that hit at least one.  We maybe took a few more than we would have liked to, but also when you look at Tiffin with a couple of 6'5", 6'6" guys I thought we did a pretty good job spreading them out.  I think the thing we did best was defensively.  Our defensive pressure really took its tool on them and really didn't allow them to get the ball inside as much.  We knew going in that that was what we would have to do well and we did a pretty good job of that," said Schwemley.

          Shelby (4-2,2-1) has shown some pretty good balance this year when it comes to scoring and Schwemley says that makes they a team that is unlikely to go through slumps.  "Brandon Schneider was our leading scorer against Tiffin and I think that was one his better shooting nights.  We knew that he was capable of it, but he had been struggling up until that game.  Trevor Young, who was subbing in off the bench, had 13, 14, and Davey Hipp had 11, 12, and he as also coming in off the bench.  Brennan Armstrong hit two right off the bat and he had nine points.  We just had multiple guys that were scoring," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I think Lucas Bihl coming in was our second leading scorer, but he only had one or two points.  We don't have a situation where we are dependant on one guy.  It is more we need multiple guys to play defense and rebound and those kind of things.  If you are having an off night it is okay if you work hard on those other two things."

          The Whippets host the Edison Chargers (5-1) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Schwemley says this is a team they don't really have that much knowledge on.  "We haven't played them very much.  This is first year that we have picked them up as a non-league game.  I'll be honest I don't know if this is a tem that we have seen in summer shoot outs, it is just a team that we haven't ran into.  They are 6'1" and 6'2" and below.  They are not a team that has great size. I think they are similar to us with a lot of guard type players.  A lot of different guys that can score and they play hard.  Right now, they are 5-1, so they are doing a lot of good things.  Both teams are playing pretty well and it will be a great non-league match-up," he said.

          Shelby plays at "NOL" leader Ontario (7-1,3-0) on Friday night, with a chance to move into a share of the lead with the Warriors.  Schwemley says this is one would be a great steal for them on the road.  "I know it is early in the early, but they are 7-1 I believe and they have had some quality wins.  They have beat a good Madison team, they have bat a good Lexington team.  They really played well against Willard and beat them handily and they beat Sandusky.  I know it is early, but they are a team that has put themselves in position to have a really good season.  Maybe a team in the end that could be winning the "NOL."  They are 3-0 in the league and we are 2-1 and it's a game we really need to keep in the hunt.  I know it's early, but they have been playing really good basketball.  You don't want to let a team like that get too far out of reach.  It's really good test to see where we are at because they are playing good basketball," said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/30/14

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Shelby Doing Things Well

 

          With overtime wins last week against Clyde and Norwalk, the Shelby Whippets have put together a three game winning streak and are starting to become a pretty good team.

          Last Saturday, the Whippets survived a late scare from the defending "NOL" co-champion Norwalk Truckers to win on the road (60-57) in overtime.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they were able to build a lead and then hang on. "We were up I think 11 at halftime, really had a great second quarter, forced some turnovers and got some easy baskets off of it.  We knew they would come out in the second half and really turn up the pressure, which they did.  Hopefully, we can learn from that.  They made a shot to put it in overtime and I am really proud of how we responded to get the win overtime," he said.

          He said when Norwalk made the tying shot their hearts sank a little, but Schwemley says they were able to respond, especially on the defensive end of the floor.  "When that happened I saw a couple of down faces on the bench and I think the coaching staff made a really good effort to say hey let's go and pick them up.  It was like a gut check.  We didn't outscore them by a bunch, 4-1 in overtime.  I looked latter and thought that was all the scoring there was in overtime?  We did what we needed to do and made some free throws when we needed to make them.  Holding them to just one point in overtime was a testament to guys defensively, rebounding and not giving up and easy baskets," said Schwemley.

          Shelby played a similar game early against Madison and lost it by not playing well in the second half.  Schwemley says they have matured.  "In just this last week we won in overtime at Clyde and at Norwalk in overtime on Saturday night.  Just this week close games that could have gone either way.  I think the important thing and what we talked about (Tuesday) at practice be happy and feel good about where we are at, but don't forget there are things that we need to get better at and focus on those things that we need to improve on and don't be happy where we are at," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It is early in the year and we want to keep getting better.  I am happy with how we have progressed since the beginning of the year.  I do feel that improvement has paid off just this past week."

          Shelby (3-2,1-1) plays host to Tiffin Columbian (2-3,0-1) in a Northern Ohio League game on Saturday night.  Schwemley says the Tornadoes are big and they are going to have to turn it in to their kind of game.  "They definitely bring some size back, especially with the two posts, both being in the 6'6", 6'5" range, they are nice players.  They are just a team that can hurt you by pounding it inside.  Offensively and defensively, where they can alter some shots.  We are definitely going to have to account for them.  We knew going in against most teams we were going to have a size disadvantage, but hopefully we can spread teams out and defend them up and down the court and use our quickness to our advantage.  With Tiffin that is what it is going to come down to.  We want to do what do and play an up tempo game, but not give up easy baskets.  Sometimes with pressure you end up giving up easy baskets," said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/24/14

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Shelby Developing Some New Things

 

          Shelby needed to find some more scoring and they may gotten it in a unique way.

          Davey Hipp, who started last year for the Whippets, came off the bench last weekend, but led the Whippets in scoring both nights with 14 against Sandusky and 14 more against Mansfield St. Peter's. 

          Shelby (1-2,0-1) lost their Northern Ohio league opener to Sandusky (62-51) and then beat St. Peter's (62-49) on Saturday night in non-league play.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they really could have won both games if they had done a few things better on Friday night.  "I think Tuesday night's game will give an even better indication of where we stand.  I was fairly happy with how we played against Sandusky on Friday.  We did a lot of good things.  We didn't shoot the ball particularly well.  If we cut down on some turnovers and some mental mistakes and make a couple of shots I felt we were right there with a chance to win that game.  We did win on Saturday against St. Pete's.  It was good to get a win, but really it's about getting some consistency and hitting some shots.  I really feel like Tuesday night's game is really important to see how we respond," said Schwemley.

          The Shelby coach says it wasn't anything that Hipp did wrong, but it something he wanted to try to see if they could come up with a better mix of players.  "We mixed the staring lineups up Friday and Saturday.  Davey Hipp, who was a starter for us last year, came off the bench, and was our leading scorer both nights.  We are trying to figure out which lineups play well together.  It wasn't anything that Davey was doing wrong we were just trying to find some of that chemistry and develop some roles and redefine some of those things even for guys that were returners from last year.  It's a new group of guys, a new mixture of guys, and we are trying to keep our options open and do what's best for this group we have," said Schwemley.

          Shelby plays at Clyde (0-0) on Tuesday night in a non-league game.  It is the Fliers first game of the season and the first game in the varsity coaching career of Lou Garcia.  Schwemley admits they don't really know anything about what the Fliers might do.  "We have pretty much nothing to go on.  They haven't played a game yet and with our schedule I didn't even bother to figure out who they were scrimmaging with.  It is really about figuring out what is best for us right now," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We will look up last year's film of varsity and JV and look for names of guys that played last year.  There is not a lot to go on, but that is okay.  You never know really what a team is going to do.  You might scout somebody and they do this and against you they shift it up anyway.  So, you have to prepare of everything anyway.  It is not such a bad thing to go into games like this, work on this things that you do well, and then adjust to whatever the other team is doing."

 

Published 12/16/14

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Shelby Looking For Consistent Chemistry

 

          Shelby played an odd game last Friday in that they played very well for the first one and half quarters, but could never find that rhythm again and lost to Mansfield Madison.

          They host Sandusky (1-1) in their Northern Ohio League opener this Friday.

          Last week, the Whippets took the early lead, but then missed 17 straight shots in losing to the Rams (58-44) in non-conference play.  Coach Troy Schwemley says he is still searching for what exactly went wrong for the Whippets.  "The start of the game started exactly the way we wanted it.  We came out and were playing good basketball and moving ball well and with that movement got good shots.  As the game went on I don't know if we wore down physically or mentally.  It seemed like we stopped moving and the teamwork and we weren't getting the good looks that we were getting for the first quarter and a half.  I think we might have had 26 points with four minutes to play in the second quarter and from that point on we score 18.  We played really well and then it just reversed over the last two and half quarters," said Schwemley.

          He says part of it might have been he didn't have the right mix of players in the game and they couldn't find the right combination.  "When I look back at some of the substitutions that I made there were some things that I could have done differently in trying keep that chemistry because something obviously changed.  I don't think Madison did anything different game plan wise.  They were doing such a good job of switching screens and we did a good job countering that, but as the game wore on it just seemed like we didn't get that chemistry that we had over the first quarter and a half.  We had some shots that if we make the momentum shifts a little bit.  I think there were a lot of shots from point blank range that if we made maybe would have shifted the momentum back.  We just didn't do it and hopefully we learn from it and get better for this weekend," said Schwemley.

          Sandusky (1-1) will be in Shelby for the "NOL" opener for both schools on Friday night.  Schwemley thinks the Blue Streaks are a team with really pretty good potential.  "They were a team last year that I thought played some very nice basketball and they have a lot of those guys coming back with a new coach coming in this year.  I thought they were a team that some potential to make some noise in the area and the league," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They kind of showed that the opening weekend with the win over Fremont Ross and Ashland is a very good team.  I think Sandusky is going to be a much improved team and we are going to have to play very well against them.  They have a lot of weapons.  They can hurt you off the dribble.  They have some guys that have shown at times they can shoot.  They are a team that if they come out and have confidence they can play very well."

 

Published 12/10/14

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Shelby Going to Press

 

          Shelby plays at Madison on Friday night in their traditional non-conference opener and both teams want to run the floor and press a lot... so look for a lot of points.

          Whippets coach Troy Schwemley brings most of his team back and he says they should be ready to execute their game plan.  "We have had four scrimmages and the foundation game with Clear Fork.  I really enjoyed that  because I think it does everything you could possibly do to simulate what a real game is going to feel like.  So, hopefully we are prepared and have gotten better through our scrimmages and are ready to go for Friday night," he said.

          It is a change in philosophy for the Whippets when it comes to their defense.  Schwemley says they are going to be more aggressive and attempt to attack the Rams, and everybody else they play.  "Last year we were more of a half court team and really didn't turn people over much.  I think when you play that way it allows you to protect the basket and you give up less layups.  The danger is sometimes you are not creating offense.  We were kind of a bend don't break mentality last year," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "So, we hare going to try and switch that up a little bit and pressure people a little more and have our defense create some offense.  The risk is you can give up some easy baskets.  We are hoping that pressure we benefit us more in the long run.  We are going to stick with that and see how that goes for a while."

          Madison, according to Schwemley, is going to try and do the same things as the Whippets.  He says it is going to boil down to who can execute their stuff better.  "They have some returners from this past year.  I have hear the same things about them that they are trying to pressure more and pick up defensively and create some offense with their defense.  Really I think it will be an interesting because both teams are kind of trying the same approach defensively and one of us is going to benefit from it be turning the opponent over and getting some layups and easies out of it.  Whichever team handles the pressure best and doesn't give up easy baskets is going to have such and advantage there.  They have some returning players at key positions like point guard.  It will be interesting to see how this game goes, it's always been such a great match-up for all of us, and a great way to start the year," said Schwemley.

 

Published 12/05/14

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Hard Nosed Defense the Key For the Whippets

 

          Shelby is coming off a rare down season for them when they won only eight games and they are going to have to play better defense if they are going to be more successful this year.

          The Whippets, charter members of the Northern Ohio League, do return most of their team from last year, with the exception of their leading scorer.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they do have some building blocks.  "We have six seniors returning and six returning lettermen, so we do return quite a few faces from last year that either played varsity or saw some varsity time.  Our leading scorer Tristan Kerhes, he did a lot for us last year.  He averaged about 17 points and 10 and half rebounds a game.  He was a  leader, the kids looked up to him and we are definitely going to miss his presence, but with that in mind we do return a lot of guys that have some varsity experience and they are going to have to play together," said Schwemley.

          Last season, the Whippets were able to bag some outside shots.  However, Schwemley says they can't rely on those.  "We hope we can hit some shots from the perimeter, but also spread people out so we can get to the rim.  You don't want to just live by shooting the threes.  You look at the Cavs and they break a record for shooting threes and turn around and loose to the Nuggets.  It is a balance between hitting the perimeter shots and not settling for shots.  When it comes down to it normally the percentages level off.  You need to make sure you get the high percentage shots and get to the rim and get to the free throw line," he said.

          Offense aside, Schwemley says if they are going to be a better team in 2014-15 they have to more aggressive on defense.  "It has got to be our defensive presence.  There were many times when we didn't turn people over last year.  Turnovers and defensive rebounds feed your offense.  They are getting some transition baskets and getting some steals and getting two on one and three on two fastbreaks.  I don't think our defense we really very aggressive.  We kind of played and almost waited for the other teams to shoot the ball and hopefully if they missed it we got the rebound.  From that standpoint we want to be the aggressor," he told swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Our defense needs to be more in your face and picking people up and creating some offense for us and getting some high quality shots.  The hardest thing to do is just play half court offense and play five on five, so hopefully our defense will do that for us."

 

Published 11/20/14

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Shelby Counting on its Defense

 

          Shelby is a year older and the Lady Whippets hope to be more of a factor in the Northern Ohio League this year.

          They were (12-12) last season and in the middle of the pack in the "NOL" too. 

          Coach Natalie Lantz says they are going to try and turn it up a few notches on defense this year.  "I expect us to be a bit more competitive this year although we are still looking young.  We only have two seniors and the rest we will fill out with sophomores and juniors.  They come at it hard everyday in practice.  They are learning, they are getting better everyday.  We are really taking a hardcore defensive approach.  As we have in the past we take one practice at a time, one game at a time, and we are looking to be more competitive day by day, game by game," said Lantz.

          The Lady Whippets return quite a few people that saw varsity action last year and Lantz says if they can have better communication they should be able to win more games.  "The kids have a lot more confidence this year taking the floor both offensively and defensively.  We will get more flow I think offensively.  We will see more leadership from them on the court and that makes a big difference.  We have five kids back with starting experience and that helps us out a lot.  They are playing well together and that builds in well with the new kids that we have on the varsity this year," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "When they communicate well offensively and defensively it helps everybody get in the flow on both sides of the court.  If we can continue to do that and continue, especially with our defense.  We don't have a whole lot of height this year, but with those kids stepping up with their leadership this year I think that will help us out a lot."

          Shelby has three more scrimmages this week before they open the season at Plymouth the day after Thanksgiving.  Lantz says the work they are putting in this month is going to be important to them this season.  "We have working pretty hard in practice.  We are allotted five scrimmages, so we try to set those up with teams we feel are going to push us to really see where we are at.  We have a tough schedule starting out just like we did last year.  We start with Plymouth and then we work right into Ashland, Mansfield Senior, Bellevue and Willard.  We start off running right away, so we want to make sure we are prepared and be competitive as we can be and put ourselves in position where when it comes down to the final minutes that we are in the ball game." said Lantz.

 

Published 11/19/14

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Shelby Wants to Hang Around

 

          Shelby certainly knows what it is like to play tough competition after that memorable game against Tiffin Columbian, and last week unbeaten Norwalk, now they get 9-0 Loudonville in a non-conference game.

          Norwalk is #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, Loudonville #1 in the small school division.

          The Truckers pounded Shelby (49-12) last week as Breck Turner ran for 281 yards and three touchdowns.  Shelby coach Erik Will says they actually had their chances.  "It was competitive early and we played well.  We got a few turnovers there in the first quarter, early second quarter.  We had an opportunity to kind of dig into their lead a little bit.  We tried a middle screen with Tanner Orr, one of our better athletes, and it was just kind of an execution thing, we didn't get the key defensive lineman in that series down, and he was able to bat the ball in the air, so kind of a potential big play our way was an interception that ended up being a touchdown.  So, that took us from 14 to 21 and that is what we went into half with," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We come out right after half and march right down the field, I believe 70 some yards, and Brennan (Armstrong) jumped in the end zone and it was called a fumble and we didn't get the play there.  Norwalk is a great team and they have one the best running backs I have seen in a long time.  There is no doubt they have a lot more football ahead of them.  That is what good teams do and right now we are continuing to work on those things."

          Shelby (2-7) plays host to the Loudonville Redbirds (9-0) in a non-conference game on Friday night.  Loudonville has a very productive offense and Will says it starts with one the area's best quarterbacks in Kolton Edmondson.  "It starts with their quarterback.  I will be honest with you he is the best quarterback we have seen all year.  He is a competitor, a great athlete, a good decision maker.  We talked a few weeks ago about the position of quarterback kind of overtaking the sport and if you have a dominate quarterback you are going to be able to compete and win virtually every week and they have the right guy taking snaps.  They have more than him.  They have a couple of wide receivers that are talented.  Their defense is extremely aggressive and they are well coached," said Will.

          This season the second half has been full of running clocks for the Redbirds.  Will says their goal is to hand around in the second half and see what happens.  "They really haven't had a competitive game all year.  We are trying to get it where in the fourth quarter they have to play football because there haven't been many this year when they have had to play in the fourth quarter," he said.

 

Published 10/30/14

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Shelby Plays in Incredible Game

 

          Shelby lost to Tiffin Columbian by a point last week, but the way the game played out is one for the ages. 

          Columbian won (83-82) in overtime as the contest became the second highest scoring game in state history and it was not a game that went seven overtimes.  Shelby tied the score with 1:06 left when they converted a two-point conversion. 

          It was (75-54) Tiffin with eight minutes left, but Shelby wouldn't give up and Brennan Armstrong threw a touchdown pass to Tanner Orr with just over a minute left. 

          Columbian running back Cliff Miller had 516 yards rushing and scored 10 TDs and the winning two point conversion. 

          Shelby coach Erik Will says it was an amazing game, but hey they have to played better defense.  "It was one of those games where it was who had the ball last.  Fortunately we were able to score and send it into overtime.  We scored in overtime and they scored and went for two, and he did cross the goal line there, it was a good call by that official.  It is one of those things that you don't understand the ramifications when you are in there.  The thing I was concerned about the most is my defense was beyond putrid," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "That is something we are working on right now because the running back from Tiffin is a nice back, but Breck Turner is on a completely different level.  So, if we want to keep this thing even close for a half we definitely have to make some improvements on the defensive side of the ball.  After the game I had people from all over the state that I know just in coaching texting me asking if that was a misprint.  It was quite the event."

          Shelby quarterback Brennan Armstrong, a freshman, had a pretty good game too and Will says the Whippets offense has really developed this year.  "My offensive line coach Scott Mercer has done an fantastic job getting those guys playing.  That is really where it starts, you have to be able to run the football.  What has happened in the course of the year is Brennan (Armstrong) has gone form a just being a pretty good athlete playing quarterback a little bit to where he is really understanding the complexities of our offense and what we are looking for.  He has just really gobbled things up.  His passes are more actuate and the offensive line is doing a good job of protecting him and guys are catching the ball.  I know earlier in the year our completion percentage was down a little bit because we weren't catching the ball.  As we have progressed down through the year I think Brennan's percentage is up to about 57 percent.  Definitely established a run game and just opening up the offense a little bit," said Will.

          Things don't get easier they get harder for the Shelby (2-6,1-4) defense as the Whippets travel to meet Northern Ohio League leader Norwalk (8-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division.  Will says enter one Breck Turner.  "He is beyond really good.  He is one of the best backs I have ever seen and I coached in the Dayton area for four years and the Columbus area for nine years, and he is as good as anybody I have seen.  He is an incredible young man as well, so I am happy for him and their coaching staff.  We are trying to devise any kind of game plan that can remotely slow him down because you are not going to shut a kid like that down.  If he touches the ball 20 times in a game he is going to have five or six big ones and that is what we are trying to avoid.  There is no doubt we are going to have to score some points.  I am hoping it is not 83-82.  I do believe we are going to have to be in the 40s or 50s to keep this game competitive," said Will.

 

Published 10/21/14

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Shelby Wants to Close Season Playing Well

 

          Shelby might have one of the most difficult remaining schedules in North Central Ohio as they play Tiffin Columbian, Norwalk, and Loudonville.  They have a combined record of 18-3 on the season.

          Last week, they led Ontario (20-6) with eight minutes left, but the Warriors scored twice on Aaron Baker touchdown runs and added a two point conversion to win (21-20) in Northern Ohio League play.  Whippets coach Erik Will says they are still teaching and the kids are still learning varsity football.  "We continue to talk to the kids about working hard and staying the course.  We thought we should have had won last week maybe we could have closed it out if not for the snap there.  We watched film on it and corrected it.  We have gotten a pretty good week of practice in so far gearing up for a really big and aggressive Tiffin team," he said.

          Tiffin Columbian (4-3,2-2) comes to Shelby on Friday night.  Their three losses are to Clyde (23-20), Norwalk (35-21) and Bellevue (42-29).  They aren't going to win the "NOL" this year, but Will says they are still very, very good.  "When you look at their offensive line they are probably averaging 6'2", 270 pounds a guy.  We told our kids that this is one the best Tiffin teams, if not the best team, we have seen, and I don't think I am lying when I say that.  They had some injuries in that Norwalk game when they were up 21-0.  I know they have some healthy bodies back now.  We have seen them on film the last few weeks and they definitely have that competitive edge.  They are trying to get in the playoffs.  They are sitting there with the eighth seed.  We are trying to be the spoiler.  As we prepare this week, that is what we are getting our guys geared up for," said Will.

          Shelby (2-5,1-3) is certainly the underdog, but Will says if they play to their potential this is a game they can win.  "I'll be honest this week at practice we have had a little bit more fun with them.  This week there has probably been a little bit less stress and less barking on the field.  We are still practicing there are still expectations.  You still have to line up and get to the ball and you still have to execute on offense.  I really believe as a coach that when we step out on the field and we execute and do the things that we can control we have a competitive chance to win this game," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "The way we are looking at it we could very easily be 4-3 going into this game and Tiffin is 4-3.  It's just a few bad plays here and there.  That play at Clear Fork, that play last week, and real close game with Sandusky.  If we get those we are looking at making a playoff run.  We try to keep the kids informed on that so we can compete.  We don't want to just throw these last three games away."

 

Published 1o/15/14

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Shelby Working Hard

 

          Shelby is a young football team and one that remains hungry to get better as we hit week seven of the high school football season.

          Last week, they beat rival Willard (19-6) to earn their second win of the season and their first in Northern Ohio League play.  Now, they head for Ontario to play the Warriors.

          Coach Erik Will says the Whippets are hanging in there and still very much want to be better as the season goes on.  "We have had a great week of practice.  The kids are still giving it every thing they've got in practice and that's a good sign.  Our seniors are working hard and the underclassmen are doing really well.  Just in our two deeps, offense and defense, we have got right around 15, mostly sophomores, but a couple of freshmen in there as well.  These young guys just continue to improve and want to get better and that's why the level of our practices has still been good.  We feel like we are getting better and moving in the right direction.  Every single week we are working the get better," said Will.

          Freshmen Brennan Armstrong has been Shelby's starter at quarterback all season long and his improvement has been closely tied to the Whippets improvement.  He threw three TD passes against Willard.  Will says he likes what he sees.  "He is third in the league in passing yardage, I believe he leads the league in yards per catch.  I think he is first or second in the league in rushing for quarterbacks.  Our production has been great out of him.  We still have to work on his decision making and leadership things.  I believe he is six and six when it comes to interceptions and touchdowns.  We want to clean some of that stuff up," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "He is just a pleasure to coach and is working hard.  The quarterback is an interesting position because it is a leadership position just by position.  He has done a great job.  I have a senior center , who is a captain, in Colton Harvey.  Those two guys have had a fantastic year.  It has been great to see Brennan's development."

          Shelby (2-4,1-2) makes the short trip to Ontario (3-3,1-1) for an "NOL" game on Friday night.  Will calls Ontario a pretty good football team.  "They are not a bad team at all.  Coach Kreger is doing a fantastic job.  They have had a game or two that could have gone either way.  His quarterback is playing very well.  He is a solid runner.  I believe they are getting one of their running backs back this week.  They have one of the best interior lineman in our league, number 55.  There is no doubt they have some people.  That Ontario game for us, kind of like Willard, is a local rivalry.  It is nice to be able to go over there and play those guys.  It's a nice game and there is no doubt they playing good football," said Will

 

Published 10/10/14

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Shelby Has to Start Winning

 

          Shelby plays a tough schedule, but they make no excuses and their coach says it is time to start winning when they play their closest rival in Willard this week.

          Last week, they fell behind (28-7) the half and ended losing to (41-14) to Bellevue in the Northern Ohio league play.  Whippets coach Erik Will says the Redmen were just more physical than them.  "We were very competitive against Madison going back to week one, got the win against Lexington, kind of let one slip through our fingers against Clear Fork, played very competitive football against Sandusky.  Last week, give coach Nasonti and Bellevue credit they were very, very physical at the point of attack.  I would probably say just with what they were able to do and how they were able to do it they were definitely the most compete team that we played this year.  That was a heck of a football team.  They only thing I was disappointed with as a coach was I didn't think we matched their physicality and I think that was difference in the game," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We didn't want to line up and run straight at them, but we weren't able to establish the line of scrimmage consistently on either side of the ball and if you can't do that you are going to struggle.  Definitely not the kind of showing we want to have here for homecoming, but we have another opportunity this week."

          On Friday night, the Whippets (1-4,0-2) travel to Willard (0-5,0-1) to play the Flashes in league action.  Will says despite their record the Flashes have some athletic players.  "Coach Matula is doing a good job there.  I really think he is running the best system possible for the group of guys that he has got.  This week we feel like we have to slow down the option and put them in third and long, put them in passing situations.  We feel like we can utilize some of our athletes. We like the way Brennan has been throwing the ball, even last week he threw the ball fairly well.  We feel this is a good opportunity for us to do some of the things we would actually like to do as a program and this could be a pretty good week for us," said Will.

          Willard features a lot of the triple option offense and Will says they have to be disciplined on defense and try and put them in passing situations.  "We spent the second half of Saturday and all of our Sunday meeting talking about how we were going to go about attacking the option.  It starts with the fullback, they have a really nice fullback, the Caudill kid is a really nice kid that runs straight downhill.  So, we have to get him under control and then go to the quarterback and the pitch and so forth.  It's assignment football, no doubt.  When you play a team like this it is really important to get them in those third and five, third and eights.  That is where you want to keep those teams that control the ball on the ground," said Will.

 

Published 9/30/14

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Shelby Still Trying to Get over the Hurdles

 

          After beating Lexington on week two the Shelby Whippets have lost games to Clear Fork on basically the last play of the game and to Sandusky in the fourth quarter last week.

          They host Bellevue (3-1,0-0) at Skiles Field on Friday night in Northern Ohio League action.

          It looks like the Whippets are improved from last year, but so far it hasn't shown up in their record.  Coach Erik Will says really they have been suffering from a lack of consistency.  "We have talked to the kids quite a bit in order to keep them mentally in it.  When you lose the way we did to Clear Fork and the way we lost this last week.  We have been turning the corner and we can't afford to take a step back, especially this week.  The good news is Shelby-Bellevue is a pretty good rivalry," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I think our kids are going to be up to the task this week.  We need a good week of practice here and we'll see what happens.  I think we are a competitive hard working football team.  We will eventually find that recipe to become more consistent in the win-loss column."

          Shelby (1-3,0-1) has some very good young players, but when you are jumping up levels in football it can be hard.  Will says they are still learning.  "Just like the defensive line we are just trying to sure up some technique things, pad level things, and play physical to the whistle.  The play has been a little sporadic, we don't question this kids effort, it's just the execution, we just need a little refinement.  We are learning in the secondary as well.   The offensive line has come a long way, but they still need to go a long way.  Being young and being good athletes, but there is still a learning curve that can be tricky," said Will.

          Bellevue has played some good football this year outside of a (42-6) loss to Clyde on week three.  They beat Toledo Waite (41-20) last Friday.  Will says they do a lot of things on offense beginning with the quarterback position.  "They have two almost completely different offenses.  They have a senior that is a pretty good sized kid that has a really good arm.  With him they look a little more traditional running and passing.  Then when they put the sophomore in, number 13, he is a run guy, and he looks a little bit like Santoro.  You can kind of see where they will be moving towards in the future," said Will.

          With all of that offense Will says it has been a long practice week, but he believes they have the kids prepared for what they will see from Bellevue.  "You have to prepare for two different looks, but their personnel packages help you out a lot with the kids in cutting the down the playbook in what they are likely to see when each one of those quarterbacks is out there, but knowing that and stopping it is two different things," he said.

 

Published 9/24/14

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Shelby has to Forget About Last Week

 

            Shelby lost last week in the most aggravating fashion, but they have to have shot memories and move on.

          Clear Fork scored with just over 30 seconds to play and beat the Whippets (20-19) on a long pass.  Coach Erik Will says their focus has to be how do we continue to get better.  "There is nothing I am going to be able to tell them that is going to make them feel good about that one.  There is not a smack on the back saying hey you guys are getting better.  We thought that was going to get a nice win against a nice opponent.  We thought we kind of let won get away from us there, but we told the kids now you have to get ready for Sandusky there can be no hangover because if we don't get at least better they are going to beat us.  They are hungry and looking for their first win of the season.  If you don't prepare right and have the right mindset, you can't let one loss or one heartbreaking loss to affect the next couple of weeks,' said Will.

          Shelby's freshman quarterback Brennan Armstrong had an outstanding game against Clear Fork in running for 196 yards and three scores in the game.

          Despite a (1-2) record the Whippets are entering Northern Ohio League play this week with Sandusky with a measure of confidence.  Will says they are team that has to be at their best every week.  "We felt Madison was a good football team and we competed well there.  We were able to get the win against Lexington and played well for the majority of the game against Clear Fork.  As we go into the conference the competition is going to continue to be good and week in and week out teams are going to be giving us their best shot and we are going to be giving them our best shot.  Right now everybody is 0-0 in the league.  That is what we are concentrating on right now to try and get that league season to 1-0," he said.

          Sandusky (0-3) will be at Skiles Field on Friday night.  The Blue Streaks have had their problems against good teams losing to Huron (30-8), Sandusky Perkins (31-0) and Fremont Ross (42-20) last week.  Will says the Streaks are getting better.  "Their quarterback is pretty good.  He has a nice arm.  He wasn't the fulltime quarterback the first two weeks and I don't know why that was but, he makes good decisions," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have a couple of running backs that are talented.  Their defensive line is very aggressive.  When you look at the teams they have started the year off with they have had Huron, Sandusky Perkins, Fremont Ross.  Those are three quality teams.  It's not like they are getting beat by teams that are struggling."

 

Published 9/17/14

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Shelby Headed in Right Direction

 

          Shelby got their first win of the season last week and just their fourth in the last four seasons when they downed Lexington (32-21).  Now they head for Clear Fork for a match-up with the Colts this week.

          Coach Erik Will said they had to score early if they got the chance, but that didn't necessarily happen, but they were able to score 20 second quarter points and take command.  Will says once they got some confidence things started to turn around.  "We got behind early 7-0 after a good first drive, but we couldn't get any points on the board.  We kind of went back and forth until we were able to get on the board there at the end of the first quarter.  We talked last week about getting off to a fast start and we felt we did that with no points to show for it.  We need to continue to work on that to get points when we are in the red zone," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Getting behind early I don't how our kids would have responded last year, but this year we were able to have the second quarter that we had where the kids came out and competed and played well.  I thought we played pretty well defensively that quarter and executed well on offense.  The third quarter was kind of up and down and then the fourth quarter we were able to hold on.  It was fortunate that we had that big second quarter, which helped us keep that touchdown lead throughout the game."

          Clear Fork walloped Ontario (42-18) on week two to also even its record of the year.  Will says the Colts have playmakers.  "They are a well coached football team.  Their quarterback is very good and they have a couple of nice pieces around him.  I am sure coach Carroll would tell you they have a nice group of senior leadership with some young talent.  They also have a pretty nice freshman they are excited about.  They have a really nice sophomore that plays the slot for them.  We are trying to do our best to put our kids in the best position defensively to try and just slow those guys down.  I don't necessarily think you are going to keep them totally contained," said Will.

          Will says that Clear Fork quarterback Kadin Chrastina is one of the best at his position in this area and can break big plays.  He says they have to maintain their defensive discipline.  "The Chrastina kid is a big time player.  He is one of the best players in the area, no doubt.   Last year he played really well against us.  The way they call things offensively they are sort of inviting you to be aggressive, so you have to be disciplined and maintain your areas and then find your guy because they throw a lot of screen passes as well, so we are going to be working on that this week," said Will.

          Shelby has a pretty good quarterback too in young freshman Brennan Armstrong.  Will says the key for them to be able to run the ball up the middle.  "Offensively we are just going to continue to try and run the football and establish the line of scrimmage.  We are going to continue to challenge our offensive line to man up and reestablish the line of scrimmage," he said.

          Clear Fork has allowed some yards on the ground this year, especially in their opener against Fredericktown.  Will says their goal is to find way to move the ball against the Colts with their type of personnel.  "Our interior line, our center and guards played pretty well against Lexington, but our tackles definitely need to get better.  If our kids can grade out high we feel like we can establish a little bit of a run game.  We feel confident that Brennan will be able to throw the ball and complete some things down the field.  If we catch the ball we feel good about the athletes we have in space.  It's just like anything else, it's an execution game.  It's a game plan situation.  My staff does a great job of putting together a game plan to execute," said Will.

 

Published 9/09/14

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Shelby Needs to Cash in

 

          Shelby was shutout when they played Mansfield Madison in their first game last Friday, but it is not as bad as it seems because the Whippets had some opportunities to score.

          They travel to Lexington (0-1) to face the Minutemen on Friday night in non-league play.

          Coach Erik Will, in his second year with the Whippets, says it was frustrating because they didn't take advantage of the opportunities they gave themselves.  "We did a lot of nice things early.  We recovered a fumble.  We had a 40 yard punt return to start the game.  We blocked a punt.  There were a lot of good things early we just couldn't capitalize and turn them into points.  It has kind of been our focus this week.  We had numerous opportunities inside our opponents 30 yard line and couldn't come away with any points," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "The danger is that wears on you when you don't take advantage of opportunities and let them slip buy it is going to cost you.  We gave up a few touchdowns late, but the fact still remains that we have to do a better job of attacking opportunities that were given to us."

          There haven't been a lot of wins for the Whippets over the last three years, three in fact, and because of that there are concerns about the players confidence.  Will says scoring early is going to be important for them.  "It is one of those things where we just have to put the ball in the end zone.  When you come out and get an opportunity and don't take advantage of it it definitely seeps into the mental psyche of our players.  Scoring early is going to be very big this week.  If there are opportunities to score early for us against Lexington we have to get it in the end zone and get off to fast start.  If we do that we will be fine and we feel really good about our chances this week, but we have to make sure we take care of opportunities," he said.

          Lexington has professed that want to be a team that runs the football, but in a (33-21) loss to Ontario last week they ran for less than 100 yards.  Will still thinks that's what they want tom do, but some circumstances got in their way last week.  "Coach Gerhardt is doing a really good job over there and just like anybody else they want to establish the run.  Also when you are playing from behind a little bit that sometimes can change some of the play calling and some of the philosophy that you are trying to establish for the game.  They are also dealing with some injuries.  I believe they starting running back is dinged up a little bit there and is still has a few more weeks out, so that will help when they get him back.  It is one of those things where they are trying to establish their identity and get things going.  We definitely respect them and what they are trying to do.  Trying to get that first win after Friday one of us is going to be happy," said Will.

 

Published 9/04/14

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Whippets Have to be More Disciplined

 

          The Shelby Whippets certainly have the ability to be more than a one win football team, but they have to prove that on field and that starts on Friday night when they host Mansfield Madison in the continuation of their long standing non-conference opening night series.

          Last week, the Whippets did not look very good in a scrimmage loss to the Galion Tigers and coach Erik Will says they have to learn from it.  "We didn't look very good.  I was pretty disappointed in our overall effort.  we told the players it didn't count.  It was a scrimmage and we needed to learn from it and we needed to continue to grow as a team.  Because we are so young I am fearful of the inconsistent play.  We have talent at many keep positions, but it is just unproven.  We are continuing to deal with just mental lapses which affect the physical," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The kids are giving us good effort.  It is not an effort issue it is just a concentration, focus issue play in and play out.  We have to get that resolved of we are just going to be up and down, but we are hoping this week we are going to be mentally engaged and compete for four quarters."

          When they play Madison on Friday night, Will says they need to do some good things early in the game.  "I would think that is very important to a young team.  I know last year we came out and had two really nice opening drives.  One was brought back with a penalty and the other was fumbled into the end zone going in to score.  If we do that again this year that is not going to be a good way to set the tone for the first game of the season.  We need to capitalize on opportunities.  Good teams make the most of their opportunities and that is something we are going to have to do early just for confidence," he said.

          Madison coach Sean Conway has also been somewhat critical of his team's execution this year so far.  Will says both sides have some things to prove.  "I talked to coach Conway off and on and I know coaches by nature are critical.  We look at film, we look at stats, we look at effort, we look at all of those things and sometimes things that the casual fan doesn't see are a cause of concern for us.  I think he would echo what I am saying, it will be interesting, because we need both of our teams to get off to a positive start.  they got us last year and it kind of got away in the fourth quarter from us.  I know this year both of us are looking to get started on a fast note, especially with week two opponents that we feel we can compete with," said Will.

          It is true Madison would rather not throw the ball very much and Will knows the Whippets have to stop the run.  "They are a run first team and to be honest with you in Ohio with the weather even when you go spread you have to be able to run the football.  That was a point of concern for us this year.  We did not rush the football last year well at all.  I know Madison does that fairly well.  They put a conscious effort on that and even by formation you know what you are going to get, but you need to try and stop it and then they will have some misdirection and things off of it," he said.

 

Published 8/26/14

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Shelby Getting Ready For Madison

 

          Shelby is hoping that they can have a better football season then they have over the last three, when they totaled only three wins, and the signs are pointing toward the fact that might be the case.

          This is last week before a real game week and coach Eric Will says they have been able to maintain some pretty good focus during practice.  "I thought we have done a pretty good job of trying to mix things up.  One thing we have been talking to our kids about is consistency in practice from the standpoint of making sure we don't get a lot of highs and lows.  Normally the first day that the students are in is one of your worst practices, but I thought we had a pretty good practice (Tuesday), I thought the kids were pretty good.  Normally a sign of a young, immature team , is too many ups and downs in practice.  I think we have been getting that solved here a little bit.  We try to watch the amount of hitting we do because we just aren't that deep.  Now we are getting into the time when we are going to be gearing up for actual games, so the kids are kind of getting into their game week routine now," said Will.

          Earlier this summer Will said a big goal would be to adopt the right attitude, a winning attitude.  He says they need to be able to take that into not just games, but practice too.  "With us kind of being an inexperienced team, I think we are a talented team, we are just really young, we have a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores.  I would say the mental make up of the team continues to progress.  The kids have always been coachable, they have always been respectful.  They take coaching well, but now what we are trying to get them to do is be at the point where they are attacking practice with a game like attitude and that's hard to do," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I have heard a lot of coaches, college, pro, whatever it may be, that is something we are all working with in trying to figure that out.  Understanding that each rep has to be valued because if you are doing something wrong you are training the body to so things that aren't going to give you the kind of success you need."

          Shelby opens their season at home on August 29 against Madison Rams of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Will says they have already been preparing for what they will see from Madison.  "We have already started.  I know Madison has already scouted us and we have scouted them.  We have a pretty good idea of what they are probably going to be trying to do, although they we change a little bit from year to year with personnel.  Coach Conway does a good job of doing what is best for his team with a few things that are a little bit different.  We have had a Madison period during our practice offensively and defensively.  We also want to make sure are kids are ready for our game time situation scrimmage on Friday because we want to come away from that not only competing, but having some success that we can carry into the Madison game.  We just want to make sure we put a unit out there that is prepared," said Will.

 

Published 8/21/14

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For Shelby it is About Believing

 

          The last three years have been a struggle for the Shelby Whippets, a proud program, on the football field, but things might be starting to turn around in the second year of coach Eric Will.

          The Whippets have won just three games in the last three years.  They finished 1-9 a year ago and 1-5 and in sixth place in the Northern Ohio League.

          Will says he has seen some good things this summer from the group hat will make up the 2014 team.  “We are looking pretty good here.  We have been with the kids most of the summer with summer workouts, the weight room, and the 10 camp days, so we’re are sort of buying our time until we can see if the preseason stuff has paid off.  The kids are working hard and the coaches are doing a good job.  We have a nice group of guys that are buying into what we are trying to sell.  We will see what we have against Madison,” he said.

          If the Whippets are to become a better team, and more competitive in the tough “NOL,” Will says they have to play better in the second half of games.  “One of things that we talked about last year as staff and to the kids was being competitive and being able to make those halftime adjustments and try to compete in the second half.  We went to halftime often times with the ability to make those adjustments, but we came out and didn’t necessarily finish games strong.  It was a lack of mental focus and really the mentality of knowing they can win a game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That is what we have really been attacking in the off season because we fell like we can physically compete now.  They kids are in great shape.  We fell our speed has gotten better with the off season workouts.  Our strength is pretty good.  Now we want the kids to know that mentally they can let it go and just play football.  If mentally they can play the game the way they do physically we think we can win a few games and be competitive for four quarters of football, not just a half.”

          Will says they have gotten solid leadership and they have a freshmen class that has a number of pretty fine athletes.  “We have two really good captains in Colton Harvey and Lucas “Bihl” that have done a nice job.  We have a great group of freshmen coming up.  The freshmen numbers are good with 24, 25 kids there.  That group of kids they are winners and that is even rubbing off on our upperclassmen. Our upperclassmen we are trying to get them into this winning mentality.  Bad things are going to happen, but you have to be able to will your way through and not give in to a bad play.  Don’t let one bad play become two, three or four,” he said.

          The freshmen class once won a Little League Baseball state title and had four junior high “NOL” titles.  Will now it’s about getting them ready for the complexity for the varsity game.  “They went undefeated in the seventh and eighth grade in football and basketball both.  A couple of those kids even finished third in the nation in baseball this summer.  Those kids are accustomed to winning and that is a good thing.  What we are trying to do is get to the mental side of it.  We know that athletically they can compete, but there is a difference between six foot and 170 pound freshman and a 6’1” 190 pound senior.  And along with that the play calling and the terminology, the reads on offense and defense, are a lot faster and more in depth and that is kind of learning curve with these guys.  For them it is really not an athletic barrier, it’s not a confidence thing, it’s going to be a mental barrier.  We have four or five of those young guys that are in our two deep right now,” said Will.

 

Published 8/06/14

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Shelby Gets Back on Track

 

          After two tough losses to Northern Ohio league co-leader Tiffin Columbian last week, the Shelby Whippets got back on track with a (3-0) win over Willard on Monday in league play.

          Coach C.J. Brickman says this one felt particularly good.  "Yeah we lost a couple of tough ones to Tiffin last week 4-1 and 2-1.  Our bats have cooled down a little bit.  We had a good shot to win those games.  Our pitching has been good and our defense has been good and it was good to get a win," he said.

          Brickman says the Whippets did what they had to do to get win on Monday.  "If you throw strikes and respect your defense your team is in it and that's what we did (Monday)," he said.

          Shelby was one of the hottest teams with the bat in what was a cold April, but lately Brickman says they are trying to do too much with the ball.  "I think part of our problem is we are back to trying to pull everything.  They had a kid (Monday) that threw a good curve ball and we were tying to pull it instead of keeping our weight back and driving it the other way," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "As long as our kids keep their weight back and drive it backside I think we will be okay.  Right now our bats are ice cold we have to pitch and play good defense."

          Shelby (12-7) plays at home on Saturday in division two sectional tournament game against Clear Fork (9-8), of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Brickman says that while Shelby has a better record and has the last at bats, but the Colts are really the favorite.  "We are at home, but I look at us as being underdogs to be honest.  Clear Fork has some good seniors and they play in that tough conference.  I know Rusty (Staab) will have them ready to go, even though we are the home team I think of us as the underdogs.  We will try and pump our kids up and we will see what happens," said Brickman.

 

Published 5/06/14

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Shelby Bounces Back

 

          Last week, Bellevue bombed Shelby and Monday Norwalk handed the Whippets a loss, but Tuesday afternoon they bounced back with a (13-0) win over the Sandusky Blue Streaks in league play.

          Right now, they trail Tiffin Columbian by two games in the Northern Ohio League race.

          Coach C.J. Brickman says they played well in all aspects of the game against Sandusky.  "We hit the ball well (Tuesday).  I think we had 14 hits.  My starting pitcher only walked one and we had zero errors, so we looked goof in all phases of the game," he said.

          Dillon Thornsberry and Nate Sayre both had three hits for Shelby in the win.

          Sometimes baseball is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get, especially at the high school level.  At the beginning of the season, Brickman was unsure what he was going to get at the plate, but the Whippets have torn the cover off the ball.  "It was something I thought would be our weakness.  We have three guys hitting over .400 and almost every other starter is hitting over .300.  I have never had this happen as a head coach and this is my eighth year, so you never know," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Sandusky.

          Shelby (10-5,2-2) also got a solid effort on the mound from Thornsberry.  He allowed only three hits, but Brickman says just as important he only walked one.  "I think he was just throwing strikes.  I think in the last three games he has started I think we walked three guys in the first inning each time, so this time he got up there and threw strikes and the defense made plays behind him," he said.

          The Whippets play Norwalk in a league game on Thursday.

          Shelby has been forced to cancel far fewer games this year than other teams in the league and we will see how much that helps them in the next couple of weeks.

 

Published 4/23/14

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Shelby Here to Battle

 

          Shelby pulled one of the biggest upsets of the young high school baseball season on Thursday when they beat Ontario (10-7) in a Northern Ohio League game at Ontario.

          Josh Lykins had four of the Whippets 13 hits against Ontario.  With game tied at five in the top of the fifth the Whippets scored five times to take a (10-5) lead.

          During the preseason Shelby coach C.J. Brickman said he wasn't sure they could compete in the league, but Thursday's win makes him a little more confident.  "I guess it does.  It was a good win.  I just don't know how good the rest of the teams in the "NOL" are yet, but it was a good win for us, especially going there and this wind out there, so yes we are happy," he said.

          It was windy on Thursday, with gusts between 40 and 50 MPH, and Brickman says that really affected the game, even the pitchers.  "Especially with your pitcher and at Ontario is the wind is blowing right in his face and he is a lefty.  It affects his curveball and the velocity of his fastball for both of our guys.  Weather in baseball is a huge factor," he said.

          Shelby has a lot of young players that are hitting the ball well and producing a lot of results.  So much so, they are surprising even their coach.  "My question mark going into the year more than anything else was our hitting.  I think right now we are averaging 12 hits a game.  We had 13 (Thursday) against Ontario," Brickman told Swankonsports.com after the win, "They had some good guys throwing.  Our kids aren't striking out.  They are putting it in play and they are hitting it hard.  It is a big shock to me that we are hitting the ball as well as we are."

          Shelby (4-3,1-0) plays at home against Sandusky (1-1,0-0) in an "NOL" game on Friday afternoon.  They host Ashland, of Ohio Cardinal Conference, in a Saturday doubleheader.

 

 

Published 4/11/14

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Shelby Scores 12 again

 

          After being shutout by a very good Clyde team on Monday, Shelby has produced back to back 12-2 wins over Mansfield Christian and Wynford the last two days.

          On Wednesday, Dillon Thornsberry was the star as he struck out five and got the win on the mound and added three hits, including a double in the win over Wynford.

          Coach C.J. Brickman says his young ball club is starting to believe in itself a little bit.  "After opening with a tough Clyde team we played Mansfield Christian and Wynford.  We scored 12 in both games and got our bats going and got some confidence for the young kids on this team, so yeah it was a couple of good wins," he said.

          Shelby scored six times in the third and another six in the fourth against Wynford on Wednesday.

          A key in any sport is the ability to make adjustments on the fly and even with their youth Brickman says they have been to do that here in the first week of the season.  "We have some talented young kids and they have been making some adjustments early on in the season, which is good, so as the season goes on it shouldn't be as tough for them," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, "It's been warm outside and with three games in a row I think the kids get the timing down a little quicker, so that helps too."

          Thornsberry only walked two Wynford batters and Brickman is a proponent of getting ahead in the count and allow your fielders to make plays behind you.  "Our pitchers have been throwing strikes and I threw one of my top guys (Wednesday) and he pitched well and only walked two.  When you throw strikes and use your defense you are going to be successful and that's what we have been doing the last two games," said Brickman.

          Shelby (2-1) is supposed to start their Northern Ohio league schedule at home against Sandusky (1-0) on Thursday if it doesn't rain too much.  Brickman thinks they have the kind of kids that can play competitive baseball in the "NOL" this spring.  "I think we can be competitive.  I'm just not sure about Norwalk, Bellevue and even Ontario, I still don't know how good they are yet.  Those programs are good every year. Absolutely we can compete, if we can win it, I don't know about that yet.  We definitely have some talent," he said.

          Shelby is to play a doubleheader against North Central Conference favorite Galion on Saturday.

 

Published 4/03/14

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Shelby Looking Good

 

          Shelby played well over the final weeks of last season and finished second in the Northern Ohio League, but this year they will be counting on a number of younger players.

          Coach C.J. Brickman says they have been getting a lot better because they have been playing some games despite the North Central Ohio weather.  "We actually did get two scrimmages in last week, last Tuesday and Thursday.  The first game was a little rough, it was cold out and it was our first experience, but on Thursday it was night and day," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The young guys were making plays, throwing strikes, and hitting the ball, so yes there was some growth and yes we still need to grow some more."

          It seems in the major leagues it can be feast or famine, but Brickman says he wants his pitchers to throw strikes and if the fielders need to make plays they need to do it.  "If you are walking everybody, you are giving them free base runners and your defense is falling asleep as well and getting frustrated behind you.  You don't want to throw it down the middle, but you want to get it in the strike zone.  That is why you have seven, eight guys behind you to play defense.  Our philosophy is use your defense," he said.

          Being outside last week was critical for the young Whippet hitters.  Brickman says their is nothing like facing live pitching.  "When you are in the gym with a pitching machine it's just different.  It's going to be a fastball and you know where it's going to be.  When you're live there are curve ball, there are change ups and the location is different.  The arm slots are different.  Facing live pitching is big and facing live pitching twice is big for us," said Brickman.

          Shelby plays at Loudonville in a doubleheader on Saturday.  They play their first "NOL" game at home against Sandusky on April 3, weather permitting.

 

Published 3/25/14

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Shelby Dealing with Youth

 

          Shelby was one of the best baseball teams in North Central Ohio in May of last year and they ended up second in the Northern Ohio League to Norwalk in 2013, this year they are going to be quite a bit younger.

          Coach C.J. Brickman says they have a lot of growing up to do, especially on the mound.  "Right now it is pretty early to tell.  I am pretty young.  We have a lot of sophomores that are going to have to step up for me.  I lost a pitcher named Justin Lewis who last year threw 60 innings and had nine wins.  It's tough to replace a pitcher like that.  I will know more in mid-April," said Brickman.

          With so many young kids at the varsity level, something the Shelby football and basketball programs also dealt with this year, Brickman says those players are going to have to adjust to a varsity game that is going to come at them a lot quicker.  "Varsity has been athletes.  The pitching is better.  There isn't errors made very often and the hitters are better.  The game is faster and the athletes are better and the pitching is better, so it's a big adjustment.  I have some athletic kids, so we will see how it goes," he said.

          Shelby opens the season on March 29 with a doubleheader on the road at Loudonville.  Their first "NOL" game is at home April 3 against the Sandusky Blue Streaks.

          With more winter weather this week it looks like more practice indoors, but Brickman says it will be important for this group to get outside as much as possible this late winter.  "It is going to be very important to get outside and get some time and experience on the actual field.  We can take ground balls in the gym all day, but you sure don't get the same look as you do on the field.  It's going to be important to get out there as soon as we can," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday.

 

Published 3/11/14

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Shelby Needs to be Almost Perfect

 

          Shelby plays the team that a lot of people say is the best division two team in Ohio in the Norwalk Truckers in the division two sectional final on Friday night at Bucyrus High School.

          Whippets coach Troy Schwemley says they clearly have to play their best game of the season to have a chance to be competitive with the Truckers.  "We have to play our best game to have a chance to win.  Norwalk is that good of a team.  There are nights when if you can just pretty good you can win, but against Norwalk we are going to have to play your best game.  We have done that at times and we feel that opportunity is there.  We talked about it Thursday we have got to go out and make it happen and play as good a basketball game as we can possibly play," he said.

          Norwalk (22-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, beat Shelby (8-14) twice during regular season play (79-48) at Shelby and (72-43) at Norwalk.  Schwemley says the Norwalk pressure leads to spurts for them and against them you have to make a good pass every time.  "I hope the things that we have worked on this week and having week to work on them will help us.  Their defense is so active.  No only do they make it difficult to score, but it also leads into their transition.  You look at their game on Tuesday night and they are up 20-0 or around that after the first quarter and I think they end up winning that game by 20.  They can get that knockout punch at anytime of the game," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "You look at the Tuesday night game with Galion and they did it in the first quarter.  When you go back to us playing them here at the half we are down 33-30 and they knocked us out in the third quarter.  They outscored us something like 25-3.  Their defense is constant.  Their pressure is constant.  They do such a good job of trapping, rotating and pressuring every pass has to be a good pass.  The next part of it is if you break the pressure you have to capitalize on it.  In our second game at Norwalk for example we moved the ball fairly well and got some good shots, but we missed them and it was like playing into their hands.  They do such a good job of making you pay for every mistake.  Not only do we have to take care of the ball, but we have to find ways to score, so we can get set up defensively."

          When they are on defense, Schwemley says they have to play good team defense and not take too many chances because Norwalk will burn you if you do.  "Typically we work on pressure defense.  I think most basketball teams work on that getting ball pressure.  The danger with them is they can break you down off the dribble so well that it really forces you into a tough decision.  If you pressure a Ben Haraway and he beats you he is going to finish or he is going to extra pass and pass to Grant Hull shooting the three or passing it to Jeff Thomas.  They do such a good job of when they beat one defender they make the extra pass or they can finish themselves.  It really puts you in a dilemma you have to play great team defense because one guy can not defend a Ben Haraway or a Jeff Thomas.  They do such a good job of breaking down, but they do a good of passing and finding other people.  We have to play great defense, but we have to try and limit their opportunities too.  We have shown clips to the guys, they do miss shots.  They are high school kids they will make turnovers if you play good sound defense and rebound and we are going to have to do that," said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/28/14

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Shelby Ready to Take On Clear Fork

 

          Shelby beat Galion in Tuesday's division two sectional semi-finals and now they have advanced to play Clear Fork for a sectional title on Saturday night at Mansfield Senior High School.

          On Tuesday, Shelby took a (16-7) lead after the first quarter and went on to beat Galion (54-35) in semi-final play.  Coach Natalie Lantz says they were able force some early turnovers and that game them the advantage.  "We came out and we didn't do too bad.  We were able to get off to a good start and we were able to score off some turnovers against them.  We had a young group starting against them due to several injuries.  Hopefully we can get those girls back in time for Saturday night, but you never know.  It was good experience the girls came out and played confident and aggressive and that is what we wanted," she said.

          The Lady Whippets (12-11) ran the floor successfully on Tuesday and Lantz says that is something they have learned to do as the season has unfolded.  "As the season has gone on, especially the younger players have learned how to handle the transition game a little better and have gained confidence as the season has gone on.  They have stepped up and they have jelled and have followed the leadership shown by Taylor Fulton, Gabby Stevens, and Jess Miller.  Jess is stepping up at the point guard role," she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Kenna Goth came off the bench for us and did a great job and played for Jess, who was out with a bad ankle injury and Maddie Fidler came off the bench and did a great job for us playing defense.  She is a very aggressive defensive player.  She has grown.  She is quicker and more deceptive than you think.  I was really pleased with how to girls played together moving up and down the floor."

          Clear Fork (12-9) comes out of the Ohio Cardinal Conference and will be looking for their second straight sectional title.  Lantz says the Lady Colts are good, but she is confident they can play with them.  "Clear Fork is a nice team.  They are athletic.  They are aggressive.  They are led by Swihart.  She does a good job and I have a lot of respect for her.  They are well coached and we are going to have to come out and play well on both ends of the floor.  We need to take care of the ball offensively and be there defensively making sure we have each other's backs on the help side and what not and take away the drives and contest the shots.  We need to do all of those little things that we do everyday in practice such as boxing out and holding our position, getting on the boards and trying to get out on break.  If we do those little things I think we can compete," said Lantz.

 

Published 2/21/14

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Shelby Still trying to put it Together

 

          Shelby has not only been inconsistent from game to game, but also within the same game and that has been driving coach Troy Schwemley a little crazy because he knows the team's potential.

          Last Friday night, they built a big lead and hung on to beat rival Willard (70-63) in overtime.  It is the second time they have beaten the Flashes in overtime this year.  Schwemley says he was a little nervous at the end.  "Inconsistency is probably a nice way to put it.  I can't quite figure out what makes us tick sometimes.  We came out against Willard and really played two and half really good quarters.  We were up 17 or 19 in that game and the next thing you know we were down four with two minutes left to go in the game, but we played well in those final two minutes, put it in overtime, and got a great win at Willard," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Really it was a great win for us, we had been struggling.  I was happy for the kids, we had been struggling, but we were starting to come around again."

          On Saturday, the Whippets lost to Kenton (63-51) and Schwemley says they just couldn't keep the momentum going from Friday night.  "We just never got it going Saturday night against Kenton.  We were really hoping to get on a roll.  We haven't won two games in a row all year, but to wasn't to be.  Now we have to get ready for our final regular season game and hopefully we can finish strong.  We have shown we are capable of that, but we will wait and see when Friday night gets here what team shows up for us," said Schwemley.

          Bellevue (4-17,2-9) makes he trip to Shelby (7-13,3-8) for a Northern Ohio league game on Friday night.  The Whippets won at Bellevue (67-62) on January 29.  Schwemley says they are similar teams.  "When you watch them they have shown they can play very good basketball, but at times they are similar to us, they can go through stretches where they have trouble scoring and defending, but a lot of that has to do with the opponent," he said.

          In that first game it was another example of Shelby building a big lead and then trying to hang on.  Schwemely says his kids have to be aggressive.  "For us going into that game we need to force them into a lot of turnovers and mistakes, and defend, and be aggressive offensively.  You can't just sit back and hope the other team self destructs because that is not going to be the case.  Both teams have had some ups and downs, but it still a matter of being the aggressor being the one that makes the other team make some mistakes then capitalize on those.  It is going to be important to get off to a good start an hopefully keep it going," said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/20/14

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Shelby Takes on Galion

 

          After winning their last two regular season games the Shelby Lady Whippets head into the girls' division two sectional basketball tournament at Mansfield Senior, where they will play Galion on Tuesday night.

            Shelby (11-11) beat Tiffin Columbian (49-44) and Sandusky (53-51) in their last two games in Northern Ohio League play and coach Natalie Lantz believes they are starting to peak at the right time.  "I think we have had a stronger second half of the season and it was definitely nice to get a couple of wins against Tiffin and Sandusky heading into the tournament on Tuesday against Galion.  So, we know what we need to do and have definitely come together as a team here the second half of the season and look forward to starting Tuesday night," she said.

          They started the season with very little experience, but Lantz says the Lady Whippets are now a more confident ball club and it is showing on the court.  "They have come to trust each other offensively and defensively.  They really work hard at both ends of the floor.  They get after it defensively.  Our younger players have become more experienced, more confident," she told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, "We are able to rely on our bench when we need to.  Our younger players coming off the bench have done a really good job for us and their is a lot of confidence in them.  Our senior leadership has been great and they have been huge as far as helping the younger players grow throughout the season."

          Shelby beat Galion (3-19) 64-41 on February 4, but Lantz is certainly not taking any wins for granted.  "I expect them to put up a fight.  I don't think any team can be over looked and we definitely need to come out strong and play four strong quarters.  They have a nice guard in Dorsey and we need to play good defense on her and keep her controlled and contained.  If we do that and attack offensively we can come out on top," she said.

          The winner advances to play Clear Fork (12-9), the second seed, on Saturday night for a sectional title.

 

Published 2/17/14

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Mistakes are Killing Shelby

 

          It may sound simple, but it really isn't, eliminating mistakes that is, and if Shelby can do that they have a chance to shock the world when they travel to Norwalk in Northern Ohio League play on Tuesday night.

          In fact, last week is a good example, the Whippets (6-11,2-7) led unbeaten Ontario (11-3) after the first quarter last week only to lose (76-52) to the Warriors.

          Coach Troy Schwemley says they just have too many periods during the game when they don't score.  "You couldn't ask for a better way to start that game.  We really did a good job defensively and we were pretty efficient offensively.  In the first quarter that was about as good a quarter as you could expect against a great team like Ontario.  I think we were up 11-3 and then when the second quarter hit I think we even extended the lead a little bit more, but left some opportunities out there.  We missed some free throws that could have extended that lead a little bit more because you know Ontario is going to come back and when they did it was a flurry and the next thing you know we were down seven at halftime.  We have shown we can play good basketball at times we just have to be able to minimize those runs teams go on and then we never recovered once that game got out of control Ontario really put it to us,' said Schwemley.

          The Whippets lost a heartbreaker on Saturday night in non-conference play when Clyde bagged a three pointer right at the end of the game to win it (43-41).  Schwemley says if they would have taken care of situations early in the game the final shot wouldn't have mattered.  "We had a one point lead with 20 seconds to go and we did a good job defensively of taking away their main threat, but unfortunately their point guard found their post for a three pointer with three seconds to go, so that game was one shot away from being a victory.  The disappointing thing about that game is our kids really need a victory for that motivation and confidence level," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "There were still things that we did when you look back at the game as a whole cost us.  We are up seven at the end of the second quarter and turn it over and foul from 75 feet with them shooting a three, so they get three free throws right before the half.  We also had the ball at the end of the third quarter and turned it over and gave up a layup, so that is a four, five point swing where we were really doing a good job controlling the tempo and playing a pretty good overall game, but seems like our mental mistakes just cost us and we have got to eliminate those."

          Shelby is at Norwalk (17-1,8-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, for a league game against the second place Truckers on Tuesday night.  Schwemley says the Truckers just eat up you mistakes.  "They make you pay for every turnover, every offensive rebound.  When you take care of the ball, when you execute, when you defend, good things can happen and that showed in our first game. We overcame about a 15 point deficit to be down (33-30) at halftime, but then everything went wrong in the second half.  We have shown we can play well at times against some very good teams, but to have a chance (Tuesday) night we can't have those mental breakdowns that Norwalk is going to pressure you into.  Their defense is just so go at pressuring and creating for their offense.  If you take that away it gives you chance because their will be openings.  If we learn from these mistakes and do a better job.  We just need to minimize, I think that's the thing.  I think when things go wrong they just come in bunches for us, so we need to minimize those mistakes.  You are going to give up a couple that is part of the game.  If we do that I think we can compete, or at least give ourselves a chance," said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/11/14

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Shelby Coming Together

 

          Shelby started the season with only one player with much varsity experience, but over the last three weeks they have started to play some pretty good basketball.

          Over the last 10 days, the Lady Whippets (9-10) have beat Ontario (69-33), Galion (64-41) and Upper Sandusky (65-46).  Their only loss in that period coming to Norwalk (64-51) on Saturday.

          Coach Natalie Lantz is impressed with the way this team has come together.  "I think our girls are coming along quite nice.  We went from the beginning of the season when we had a lot of young players and we were really trying to figure out where they fit and how they fit together to jell.  The last two weeks they have really come together and stepped up as a team," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "It has really been fun to watch, encourage, and help them to continue to develop their skills and teamwork.  They have always played hard for us, but now playing hard has been taken to a whole new level."

          Lantz says they are playing together as a team and that shows up on both ends of the court and scoring more points.  "That is part of them working as a team and finding each other in the open court and pushing the ball.  They are working together really well.  Defensively the intensity level has been up.  They have been focused in practice.  They want to win and they know they have to work together to get that.  They have been playing really strong.  We have been having some good second halves.  We had three wins in four games last week in a seven, eight day spurt there.  I have been really pleased with how they have been pulling together lately," said Lantz.

          Shelby plays its toughest opponent over the last little bit on Tuesday night as they travel to Mansfield Madison (9-11) of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Lantz says Madison tries to make the game Helter Skelter and they have to play their game and not Madison's.  "We preach that to our girls before every game and stay composed at all times.  I think that is one thing that was have done well as the season has gone on.  We have been able to cut back on the turnovers.  Madison is very quick, they are very aggressive.  They have some very athletic players that lead their team.  They are very talented and strong, aggressive players, and they have a very aggressive style.  So, it will be very important for our girls to come out and wok as a team and play together and I believe our kids can do that," said Lantz.

 

Published 2/11/14

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Shelby Searching for Answers

 

          Shelby has played very well in a lot of games this season, but the Whippets have rarely played well for a whole game, and that is why they are a sub .500 team so far this year.

          An example of this was last Saturday when they got behind early and could never quite catch up in losing (75-61) to the Arrows in non-conference play.  Coach Troy Schwemley says they are not a team that has the kind of explosiveness to get behind like that.  "We knew going in that Ashland had some good players and we talked about how their record wasn't a reflection of what kind of team they had.  The disappointing part was we just dug ourselves a big hole, and after that we played a pretty good game, but I believe we were down 11-1 to start the game and we were just never able to recover.  We got it as close as four of five points at times.  When you dig a hole like that it is just tough to recover and that is what we seem to do at some point in the game," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Sometimes it is at the beginning of the game, but you never know where it is going to happen.  We actually did some good things.  We got the ball inside and Tristan had a good night.  We had moments, but when we needed those big stops or that big defensive rebound, we couldn't get it."

          On Friday night, the Whippets (6-9,2-6) travel to Ontario (17-0,8-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, the Northern Ohio League leader.  The first time they played Shelby almost pulled the upset, but lost (63-56) and Schwemley says again it was a poor start.  "We played a pretty good game that game and I believe it as tied with three or four minutes to go.  Again as I look back at that game I believe we were down 11-0 to start that game, battled back, and at some point in the second quarter they had a run where they scored seven points in five seconds.  They got an offensive rebound put back, got fouled, missed it, got an offensive rebound, got fouled, made it, stole the inbound pass and scored.  It is that kind of runs that Ontario is capable of that you can't give up against them.  You look at that first game and I felt that in 29 of the 32 minutes we played pretty good basketball and maybe played well enough to win, but those three minuets cost us the game.  That is the kind of team Ontario has and they can make those runs at any time," said Schwemley.

          Shelby is involved in one the toughest division two sectionals in the state with Norwalk moving down from division one and Ontario up form division two to join the Whippets, Lexington, Galion, and Clear Fork.  Schwemley says it is just going to be a war.  "Both of those teams are very good teams.  They are two of the top teams in the area if not state.  They are looking at one-two seed and you look at a Lexington team that is probably going to be the three seed and that is a pretty good team there to have to play in the sectional finals, assuming Lexington would win their first game.  It is just a bear of a sectional.  Whoever you play, whether it is Ontario or Norwalk, you are not going to have an easy game to get out of the sectional.  We are looking to put ourselves in position to get to the sectional final and then we are going to have to play extremely well, but that is still a ways off and we would like to build a little bit of confidence before that time comes," said Schwemley.

 

Published 2/06/14

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Shelby Has a Chance to Keep Building

 

          Shelby got back on the winning trail with a win at Bellevue in Northern Ohio League play on Wednesday night and now they face a league game on Friday against Tiffin Columbian and a non-league clash with Ashland on Saturday, both at home.

          The Whippets built a big early lead and hung on to beat the Redmen (67-62) on Wednesday night.  Coach Troy Schwemley feels they did a good job of being aggressive against Bellevue.  "We scored 44 points in the first half and really did a nice job, of just not shooting the ball from the perimeter, but I thought we did a nice job of getting to the rim.  We had a lot of points in the paint.  In part that was due to our defense.  Our defense really did a good job of creating some offense," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We talked about that to the guys before the game that we need to do more defensively to create some offense.  In the second half, I'll be honest I backed off a little bit because we had a about a 10 point lead and I felt if we played, good half court defense and not give them easy baskets we would be able to come away with a win.  I got pretty close.  The game was actually tied, but we did a nice job of closing the game out and getting a big win."

          Just like against Bellevue, the Whippets (6-7,2-5) got off to a good start when they played at Tiffin, but they let that one get away (55-50) and Schwemley says they was a very disappointing loss.  "When we played them the first time we had a 10 point lead after three quarters and then just had a bad fourth quarter when we got outscored something like 14-2 and ended up losing by five.  That was a disappointing way to finish that game because we really did play pretty well for three quarters.  It's the second half of the season and we get to play them again and hopefully bounce back from that.  Two weeks ago we came off that big win against Willard and then lost to St. Pete and Sandusky.  For us to get a win Wednesday was a good way to bounce back and we are hoping we can do the same thing against Tiffin," said Schwemley.

          Columbian (6-7,2-4) will have a size advantage, but Schwemley says this is game they can win if they play well.  "They have some size coming in.  They give us some match-up trouble with their inside play, but if we play well together then we have a good chance," he said.

          Ashland (4-8) will be at Shelby on Saturday night and Schwemley says they are team that is a lot better than its record due to the tough schedule they play.  "Ashland is a team when you look at their record their record is very deceiving.  They play just such a tough schedule.  They do so many good things.  They took Mansfield Senior to the wire and lost by three.  We are going to have to be ready to play.  I don't know who they play on Friday night, but we have always had great match-ups with them.  Both teams play really hard.  It's a home-home weekend for us and hopefully we can have some success.  If the guys play hard in both games I think we can have some good results.  That's what all coaches want for you to play hard and do what you are supposed to do and sometimes don't worry about what the scoreboard says, but if we do those things we hope it will say what we want it to," said Schwemley.

 

Published 1/31/14

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