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Columbian Tangles With Lexington

Tiffin Columbian, the co-champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division, plays at home against Lexington, the runner-up in Ohio Cardinal Conference, in a regional quarterfinal game in division three on Friday night.

The Tornadoes (8-2), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, have won their last three games, including beating Norwalk (41-20) last Friday. The Truckers like two other schools, Clyde and Sandusky, are also in the division three playoffs.

Coach Judd Lutz says they have been doing a lot of good things. “We feel like we are playing really good football here the last several weeks. We continue to do some really good things on offense and defense and the kicking game. We continue to improve on some small things. Getting healthy in some spots even, which is great at this point in the year. You always want to look at some small things and how you can make them better. That is a great attribute to this team right now,” said Lutz.

Columbian has also battled some adversity this year as they have played without starting QB Chase Frankhauser. He saw some limited action last week and Lutz says he will be on the field this week too. “We were able to get Chase back a little bit last week. We should have him in a similar fashion this week, getting him more and more time in there. He did really good last week. We expected it. He was like a coach off the field and part of all of the game plans,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He was able to do some stuff even through the injury. So, he wasn’t a bump on the log or anything like that. He did some really, really good things in his first action in a while.”

Lexington caught fire in the second half of the season and has produced five straight wins and six in their last seven. They beat Canton South (35-6) last week as Cade Stover ran for 239 yards.

Lutz says this a team that is peaking. “They come in winning five straight games, beating a couple of really good teams. Not many common opponents between the two of us. I think the only team that we have face that they have faced is Ashland and they gave us a very good game early this year, so we know how good of a team they were. They are playing really well here late, so they feel good about themselves as well in a similar fashion to us. We have to be ready to play really well on Friday,” he said.

When it comes to Stover, Lutz echoes the comments of other coaches, they have to know where he is at all times, containing him has been another story. “There is a reason he is a big time player. He sticks out on the film for sure and he sticks out I’m sure in person physically with his size and speed. So, we have to know where he is and account for him. Obviously, he is just one guy and there are 10 others we have to worry about as well. We have to account for more than just him they are a very good team around him. He is a very good player and we want to know where he is in order to have some success,” said Lutz.

Published 10/31/18

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Tiffin Columbian and Norwalk in Huge Game

Tiffin Columbian hosts Norwalk in a critical game for both sides in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

The schools are tied for second in the division a game behind Clyde. The winner would share the division title if Bellevue beats Clyde on Friday night.

Columbian beat Sandusky Perkins (33-14) last week in a Lake Division game.

Coach Judd Lutz says they were able to get things going after a slow start. “We battled through a little adversity. We gave up an early score right off the bat. They did a good job of executing on their first drive by going down and scoring. We responded really well with a touchdown of our own and then got into a little better rhythm defensively. Offensively, moved the ball pretty well in the first half, but couldn’t score much. We really go it going in the second half and played some really good football,” said Lutz.

Lutz says they drove the ball in the first half, but didn’t score. He says when you move it you have to cash in. “You want to have confidence and make positive plays and move the ball, but ultimately you want to score. Sometimes you want to be explosive and that comes with some play calling and some with execution and having really good players. We were doing a little bit of everything in the second half. We made some explosive plays and some longer plays, but also we moved the ball methodically a couple of times. So, it was good to be sort of all around on offense,” he said.

Tiffin Columbian (7-2,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is at Norwalk (7-2,3-1), #2 in our poll, on Friday night. Norwalk lost a tough one to Clyde last week, the Fliers beat them (32-31) in overtime, executing a two-point play for the win.

Norwalk is led running back Treyvon Raymore, an 1,800 yard rusher, and Lutz they have to know where he is at all times. “He is a heck of a player running behind a good offensive line highlighted by a couple of real good players up front. He is extremely physical and also really fast. They have some good athletes on the outside as well to keep you honest,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “You just can’t pack the box against them. He is definitely is a feature back and a kid they like to highlight and get the ball a bunch and he deserves it the way he runs it. He is definitely talented and we are going to have to be aware of where he is.”

Norwalk’s Kaden Livingston and Brandon Haraway are among the leading receivers in the “SBC.”

Norwalk’s defense has pitched three shutouts this year. Lutz says they are good all over the place on defense. “They have done a really good job this year. You look at the games they have played and the scores they have put up. Offensively, have been real explosive, but defensively they have played really well and kept people out of the end zone and created turnovers at key times and kept scores down from opposing offenses. Nothing is going to come easy. They have really good linebackers and some great athletes on the perimeter and also four d-linemen that really get after it. They are really, really stout and playing really well on defense,” said Lutz.

Published 10/22/18

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Columbian Has to Bear Down Against Perkins

Tiffin Columbian trails “SBC” Lake Division co-leaders Norwalk and Clyde by a game with two to play.

They play at Sandusky Perkins this week.

Norwalk and Clyde play each other Friday and the Tornadoes host Norwalk on week 10, so Columbian will be rooting for the Truckers on Friday.

Tiffin played very well in beating Bellevue (38-6) on Friday.

Coach Judd Lutz says they got down to business early against Bellevue and that was a key. “We played a really, really good team game and complemented each other in all three phases. You love to see that as a coaching staff. All of the players fed off of one another. We got and early turnover defensively, followed by a short field touchdown for the offense, the defense comes up with a great stop after a great kickoff coverage of special teams and on the ensuing punt we take that back for a touchdown. Early and often we fed off each other and that really continued on throughout the game. It was an overall great game and I am really happy with our efforts and preparation going into it,” said Lutz.

Friday will be the Tornadoes third straight road game and Lutz says you have to play well no matter where the game is going to be played. “It is just kind of with the rotation a year or two ago with the new conference and everything. I have some control over who we play and everything and little control over where. It just is what it is. We had a group of games at home early and obviously a group of games on the road here late, but our kids are responding really, really well and putting back to back really good games together is going to be real important,” he said.

Tiffin Columbian (6-2,2-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Perkins (2-6,1-2) on Friday night. It was a (38-13) loss to Norwalk for the Pirates last week.

Lutz says the Pirates record may not be as good as they would have liked, but they have some good players. “They are really capable of playing really, really well. I think some turnovers at key times have killed them and they have been their own worst enemy in that facet in some ways. They have some really good players in some good positions offensively and defensively. They can give you fits, so if you don’t take care of them it could be a really long night and they have proven that in how they have played some really good teams really tough,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, they have our complete respect and all of our attention this week. With Monday and Tuesday in the books it is off to a good start.”

Published 10/17/18

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Tiffin Columbian and Clyde in Important “SBC” Matchup

Tiffin Columbian has played about as well as anybody in North Central Ohio the last four weeks and they play a big one down the road at Clyde on Friday night in a Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game.

The Tornadoes won their fourth straight game when they belted Sandusky (37-7) in the Lake Division opener last week, breaking the Blue Streaks 19 game regular season win streak.

Coach Judd Lutz says were right on the game plan. “I think we executed at a high level. There were some things we though we could take advantage of and it definitely showed. We had a lot of guys with killer instincts, which is great to see. Now, you have to turn the page after a good win like that and build on it, have a good week of practice, and get back at it,” he said.

Columbian ran for 365 yards against Sandusky lead by Nick Jackson’s 114 yards and three TD’s. Lutz says they were able to own the line of scrimmage. “We did some really good things at the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively, really imposed some toughness and an edge and it showed. We didn’t attempt a pass in the second half. We had been a pretty balanced team all year and being able to make plays on the perimeter in the pass game and also in the run game, but we really didn’t need it. We challenged our kids a little in the second half with our quarterback going down. The kid who is in there is very capable of throwing it, but it is a good feeling when you don’t have to. So, really proud of our kids and how they played last week,” said Lutz.

Columbian lost quarterback Chase Frankhauser, the leading passer in the division, on the final drive of the first half with a (30-7) lead to a shoulder injury. However, Lutz says he has confidence in Nick Koerper. “Our starter Chase Frankhauser was having an outstanding year suffered a hurt shoulder and we are going to lose him for several weeks here. We may get him back at some point, only time will tell. So, in the meantime the backup Nick Koerper will step in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Nick is another great athlete, who is very capable of throwing it, but we couldn’t put him at a backup quarterback position and have him off the field, so he has been a slot receiver and a safety all year and has had a good year doing those two things, but now he is in the quarterback role. We are looking for him to make some big, big plays with his feet and arm.”

Tiffin Columbian (5-1,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, travels to Clyde (4-2,1-0) on Friday night. The Fliers scored 26 unanswered points in the second half and crushed Sandusky Perkins (33-12) last week.

Gunner Golden had 191 yards and 3 TD’s last week for Clyde and Lutz says the Fliers want to run it. “They are getting back to Clyde roots when I was back playing with hard nosed, tough, run the ball first kind of football. The same thing defensively taking pride in stopping the run and good athletes on the perimeter to stop the passing attack. So, they have some tough kids like always and great size up front in a couple of spots. Some really elite football players that they like to hang their hat on. We are going to be challenged. We haven’t beat these guys I think since 2012. They have been the class of the league in the “SBC” for a number of years. We have to get right back on the bandwagon,” said Lutz.

The Tiffin coach believes a big key is going to who controls that point of attack. “We have challenged the kids to impose our will offensively and defensively. We want to play in their backfield defensively and make sure they are not in ours. They have some guys, that is probably the strength of their team. We need to get back and play with some heart,” he said.

Published 10/03/18

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Explosive Plays and Turnovers Big For Tiffin

Tiffin Columbian has been very good this year, but they have a chance to come of age on Friday night when they host unbeaten Sandusky in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division opener for both schools.

Columbian (4-1,0-0) won its third straight game by hammering Vermilion (43-0) last week in a cross over game in the league.

Coach Judd Lutz says they are building in confidence. “We have different guys stepping up every week. Some guys that have really come along since the beginning of the season. We continue to try and grind out good days and improve. The fact that we are winning definitely builds some confidence, but also what we see in practice every day from a development standpoint gives some players some confidence,” he said.

Sandusky (5-0,0-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has a 19 game regular season win streak and is the defending division champ.

They are led by junior tailback Terion Stewart, who has 1,223 yards rushing and 20 TD’s. He averages 12.1 yards per carry.

Lutz says Stewart is a tremendous back. “You can’t really talk about them until you talk about some of their key players. I think their offense is spearheaded by their tailback. He is elite for sure in the way he runs the ball as far as power, speed and agility go. He has the ability to hit the homerun, but also grind out good yards when something is not there. They also do a lot of great stuff up front. I think their offensive line is underrated, fullbacks, tight ends, around him, as far as getting hats on hats,” said Lutz.

On the other side of the ball, Sandusky has been just as good. “Defensively, they playing outstanding. I think their starting defense has only given up seven points. They run to the ball really well, they are very opportunistic, they have a lot of takeaways on their defense. They run to ball really well. They have great team speed. They are pretty good on special teams. There is a reason they are 5-0 on the season and put up some big numbers against some teams so far,” he said.

If they are going to win on Friday, Lutz says they need to make some big plays and they can’t be turning the ball over. “I think some people have done some studies that I have seen about explosive plays and turnovers. If you can win the explosive plays battle, you give up less 20 yard plays than you get, you are explosive on offense or special teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Then also are plus one or even two on the turnover margin you have a really good chance of winning the game, almost 90 percent I think. So, you want to take care of it and be explosive when you have got it and also limit them. They have been really successful with both of those things this year by taking it away and also being explosive. It is going to be a good battle.”

Published 9/26/18

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Columbian Continues to Get Better

Tiffin Columbian continues to look like they have turned it around this season as they have now won three of their first four.

Last week, the Tornadoes beat Toledo Start (28-14) in a non-conference game.

Coach Judd Lutz says their defense was really outstanding. “I felt like we dominated defensively. We created a bunch of turnovers and tackles for loss. Their two scores came, one of a big play where we were right there for a tackle and missed it and he got lose and another one where we actually created a turnover on a fourth down, but they stripped us of the interception and created a short field for them and they scored. The score doesn’t depict how we played, but overall we will take the win and move on. We have to turn the page and move on to Vermilion,” he said.

When it comes to improvement, Lutz says it has happened in all aspects of the game. “We have made a tremendous amount of growth in most areas. I think we are playing really well defensively, tackling well in space, getting off blocks, our defensive line is creating some havoc for offensive lines, the linebacker corps and secondary are playing really well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Then offensively it is no different every game different guys have stepped up, quarterback play has been really well, Chase Frankhouser has done a great job of making plays with his feet and his arm, the running game and passing game are really complementing each other. It is a lot of small things that has stacked up some far.”

Tiffin Columbian (3-1) hosts Vermilion (2-2) on Friday night. It has been a tough last two weeks for the Sailors with injuries and they lost (38-7) to Perkins last Friday.

Lutz says hey are trying to find themselves again. “They are coming into this game off kind of tough game last week against Sandusky Perkins. They did some things that didn’t give themselves a chance to do real well. They turned the ball over and did some things they haven’t done the first three weeks. They lost a really good quarterback that was a great player for them, which you hate to see, so they are kind of finding themselves offensively. They have some tremendously good players, who are very capable of making some big plays. We are prepared offensively, defensively for a really good team and hope for a win,” he said.

With the injuries there is some mystery to what Vermilion might be like on offense. Lutz says they have to be ready for a lot of things. “They have an athletic kid out at wide receiver that they want to get the ball to for sure and when you put him at quarterback it tough to maybe throw the ball, so last week they featured a different kid at quarterback and didn’t get much of a chance with some of the stuff that happened to him. We are expecting a little bit maybe of both, but we will see. We expect a different team than we saw last week form them offensively. Defensively, they have some good players on that side of the ball. They do some different things with their defensive line changing from a three man front to a four man front and their blitzes and coverages behind it. We have to prepare for that. Overall, we are ready to go. We have had a good week of practice and we are anxious to go on Friday,” said Lutz.

Published 9/20/19

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Tiffin Columbian Making it Back

Tiffin Columbian picked up the biggest win for the program in quite a while last week against Ashland and now they head for Toledo on Friday night to play the Start Spartans.

They beat Ashland (31-28) last Friday and coach Judd Lutz says they made big plays at the right time. “We knew we had a good team. We knew Ashland had a good team. They were battle tested and had some success the last couple of weeks. We knew it would be a great test to see where we measured up exactly. We didn’t play great, but we made some great plays at key moments and did enough to win the game. So, against a good team you have to find a way to win and we did, so we are proud of that. We have a tremendous amount to work on going forward,” he said.

Lutz played at Columbian and is well aware of heir proud football tradition. He says the players and staff have worked hard to bring that back. “The tradition is here. I got to witness part of that tradition. I grew up around here and had a brother and a cousin play on some really successful teams and I grew up going to games. Obviously, I played myself here. Even when I was away for several years in college and coaching elsewhere I kept a close eye on it. There is absolutely a rich tradition. When I returned there were some things that deteriorated a little bit, and talent was one of those things, but the hard work and the work ethic was definitely still there. We had to instill a couple of things and a whole new coaching staff and sometimes that takes time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “We have been building this thing the right way. That started two years ago and didn’t reap the benefits right away. In year two we thought we would reap some of the hard work that we had sowed, but just ran into the injury bug at some key spots and had a tremendously tough schedule at the same time. It was just a perfect storm for things not to work out for us in the win-loss column, but we endured and had another great off season and still tried to improve some things. I think it was our best off season as a coaching staff and also in the weight room and speed development. Hopefully, we are reaping those benefits for this year. It is not really one thing you can point to as we try and improve in every facet. Great players from great families definitely helps. Having a coaching staff that works really hard at what they do also is really important. I definitely think we have that rolling, we just have to keep it rolling.”

Columbian visits Toledo Start (1-2) on Friday night. They got beat at the horn by Clyde (27-24) on week one, beat Swanton (23-7) on week two, and then got waxed by Findlay (30-0) last week.

Lutz says Start has some athleticism in the skilled positions. “They are coming a successful year last year. They were the Toledo City League champs and had some key players coming back, but lost some. They play some common opponents. They opened up with Clyde at Clyde and played them really tough. They beat a Swanton team in week two and played Findlay last week and kind of go beat up a little bit. They played Clyde, which was a wing-T pound it team, same thing kind of out of Swanton, and then Findlay is a little more of a spread style. Toledo Start they have some great players. They run to the ball really well on defense. They have a tremendous amount of speed as a defensive unit. Offensively, they have really good tailback. They have a quarterback that is very capable of running it and some wide receivers that are athletic as well. They have some big guys up front. In my opinion, they kind of struggle to block a little bit, but definitely if they get on you they stay on you a little bit. We expect to have our hands full, especially going to their place. We know they will be exciting trying to defend their own turf. We are going to have to play well,” said Lutz.

Published 9/10/18

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Tiffin Columbian has to Learn Something

Tiffin Columbian lost last week, but they must learn something from that loss as they continue on this season.

They host the Ashland Arrows out of the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Friday night.

Last week, they lost to talented Anthony Wayne (31-14) on week two.

Coach Judd Lutz says the third quarter killed them. “The energy and the effort was definitely there last Friday, but we just lacked some playmaking ability. They were really tough in the third quarter. We played tough in the first half and it was a 10-7 ballgame there. They came out and scored on their first possession, held us on our first possession, and scored on their second in the third quarter. We really had a hard time gaining momentum,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I was a little discouraged we got beat up up front by their offensive and defensive line in my opinion. We have been tweaking some things and making some improvements there and moving forward that hopefully will make a big difference the rest of the season starting this weekend.”

This is an important week for the Tornadoes, who went (0-10) last season, but won their first game this (35-3) over Elida. Lutz says they have to keep their heads up and move forward. “We have a mindset that there are no tests just opportunities to learn. Some people view every game as a test, but we also want to learn from them win or lose. It feels a whole lot better to win and learn from those than have to lose to endure that. The message this week coming out of week two it can help propel us and be a wakeup or it can stymie us a little bit and linger its ugly head here for a while. We are hoping we respond they right way and come out with great energy and great attitudes this Friday against Ashland,” said Lutz.

Ashland (2-0) has won two games right the end with defensive stops in beating Green (28-26) and Clyde (28-21) over the first two weeks.

Lutz says they do a lot of things on both sides of the ball. “They do some unique things defensively and offensively. On offense they are in a spread with five wide, but they do a really good job running the ball. Their quarterback is a really good athlete. They have a couple of slot guys that they will motion in and hand the ball off to run inside and out both. They are not one dimensional. They do keep you on your toes. They have some playmakers on the outside. Defensively, they have a group of athletic linebackers and even their d-line is tough and athletic for some big guys. They present a very unique challenge and both ends. This week preparation was really big to get a good look,” said Lutz.

Published 9/06/18

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Columbian Finds Some Success

Tiffin Columbian was winless last season, but they won their opener with ease last week and appear to be headed for a better season.

They climbed all over Elida (35-3) last Friday.

Coach Judd Lutz says they did a lot of good things on both sides of the football. “We had a great off season heading into week one and a great camp. I thought we were very prepared to make some plays, but you don’t really know until you get out there. I thought we did a good job of having great energy. I thought we executed at a pretty good level offensively and defensively and special teams to make some plays, but we definitely have a lot to clean up. We had a lot penalties that we need to improve on. We did a little bit of everything offensively. We threw the football and sustained some drives and we were explosive. Defensively, I thought we ran to the ball really, really well and I thought we tackled well and created some very meaningful turnovers. We have to get much better for week two,” said Lutz.

With their recent lack of success, Lutz says last week was a very important win for them. “When you have lacked some success like we have with wins and losses and getting off to a good start in the season. We knew we had a good team and we were just trying to figure our how good we can be. Finding a way to win early was very important that we did that. Now, we have to turn the page and find a way to do that week two,” he said.

Columbian travels to Anthony Wayne (1-0) for another non-conference game on Friday night. The Generals beat them (42-3) last year and Lutz says Anthony Wayne has been enjoying great success. “They are team that has experienced a tremendous amount of success over the last two years. Two years ago, they made it to the final four in division two and returned a lot of those guys last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They were really physical with good, hard runners. Their quarterback was really efficient. They had kind of an early exit from the playoffs. They lost a tough 14-7 game week one. They definitely lost some really good players, but they bring some back as well.”

Anthony Wayne opened with a (42-10) win over Toledo St. Francis last Friday and Lutz says again they are very good. “They are similar to last year. They want to run the football and pound it and then make some plays on the perimeter in the passing game with the explosive wide receivers they have. Defensively, they are really sound. They play a 4-3 defense and keep the ball in front of them and run to the ball really well and tackle well and get off blocks. They are not happy staying blocked anywhere. I’m telling our kids, our players, that you have to play well. They are a team that has had some success. We have had some immediate success and we expect to win and in order to do that we have to play well,” said Lutz.

Published 8/29/18

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Things Look Good at Tiffin

Tiffin Columbian would like to return to the ranks of the better big school football programs in North Central Ohio and hopefully hat starts this season.

Coach Judd Lutz, in his third season, says he has seen some things this month that has put a smile on his face. “We are excited to get the year going. We have seen a lot of growth from year one into year two and now going into year three. We return a lot of good players, which you always want to do obviously. So, we are really excited to get the year going,” said Lutz.

One thing that is going to help turn around the Columbian program is depth. Lutz says he thinks they are going to have more guys that can play. “I would say depth at all positions and offensive line play and explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball for sure are areas that I have been pleasantly surprised with entering this year,” he said.

Tiffin has not had a lot of success the last three seasons winning a combined six games. That being said, Lutz knows getting off to a good start this year against a tough non-conference schedule of Elida, Anthony Wayne,Ashland and Toledo Start is going to be important for them. “Absolutely you want to start the year on the positive end with some victories,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We know the importance of that because obviously the grind of conference and league play with some really tough teams is going to make things difficult, so you want to get to that first part of the year with some wins and get out of there healthy for sure in order to have a competitive conference season. So, getting off week one with a victory is really important.”

Published 8/16/18

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Ontario and Tiffin Columbian Battle in Scrimmage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/08/18

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Ontario Advances with Win over Columbian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 5/18/18

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Columbian Downs Norwalk Again

It seems that Tiffin Columbian has Norwalk’s number this season. The Tornadoes have been the Truckers in both of their meetings in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference this year.

They beat them (3-2) on Wednesday evening in Norwalk and they did it with three two out hits.

Coach Curt Mellott says they were really clutch at the plate. “We had some seniors really step up (Wednesday) night and have a really good game. Tony Szablewski got us on the board first with an RBI single for us in the fourth inning and also got an RBI single for us in the sixth. Then senior Tyson Price with a big blow in the top of the sixth inning with the winning hit, chasing in another run for us to make it 3-2,” said Mellott.

Plus, a good outing on the mound by two guys too that was able to hold down a pretty potent Norwalk lineup. Mellott says they were able to mix their pitches well. “Braden Brown was the pitcher in our first contest with them and we started him again (Wednesday) night and he went five strong innings. Donavan Magill came in to get the win in relief,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “All in all we were able to throw multiple pitches for strikes in different parts of the zone and really good defense, so really proud of their effort.”

Columbian is involved in a very interesting Lake Division race. Mellott says you always have to be at your best to win and that isn’t easy considering the weather we have been having. “I would love to not where long underwear for games. I really feel to win in this league you have to bring your “A” game each time with anybody. I mean anybody can win on any given night because it is such an even keel league. Just really proud of our efforts here lately,” he said.

Published 4/19/18

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Columbian Shuts Out Norwalk

Tiffin Columbian shutout Norwalk (5-0) on the opening day of play in the Lake Division on the Sandusky Bay Conference on Monday.

Coach Curt Mellott says they played well in defending their home field. “It was a big win for us (Monday) night and a great way to get out on a good note to start the new conference here in the “SBC” against a very good Norwalk team that is always well coached and prepared,” he said.

Mellott says that starter Braden Brown did a good job of mixing his pitches and not allowing the Truckers to get any kind of rhythm at the plate. “Senior Braden Brown threw a great ballgame. He kept guys off balance and mixed his pitches well. I just looked at the stats and we had 15 flyball outs and that is not typical in a high school game. He really did a nice job of placing his pitches and keeping them off balance all night. I was really proud of his efforts,” said Mellott.

Defense is often the forgotten element in high school baseball, but Mellott says they did a very good job of making the plays behind Brown on Monday. “We have a freshman right not playing leftfield in Griffin Bunting. He had seven putouts himself and made several catches on the run. Our infielders were dealing with the high sky and they had some really tough flyballs that they were catching,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “There were some groundball outs in there too, so just a quality team effort all the way around. Defensively great work behind Braden.”

Published 4/03/18

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Columbian Working Hard

Tiffin Columbian is winless over the first four games of the season, but they have certainly not given up on the year and believe they have a chance for success.

They played maybe their best game of the season last week in a (21-15) loss to Toledo Start.

Coach Judd Lutz says they did a lot of good things on both sides of the football. “We definitely felt like we played very well. I thought we played extremely well in the special teams. I thought our defense played outstanding despite giving up 21 points it was on three plays that were kind of busted and their speed got to the edge and went all of the way. If you take away those three plays I thought we played outstanding defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Offensively, we did some really good things it just didn’t finish in a lot of points. You hate to think you had a chance to win and lost, but at the same point I am proud of our guys. They played really hard and we had a chance to win, we just didn’t do it, so we have to get back to work.”

A lot of younger players have shown some things this year, but Lutz says this year is the most important thing right now. “I was part of a lot of successful seasons when I was playing here and they continued for quite some time when I departed. It has been a little down as of late, it has been a little bit of a draught, which all great programs, kind of go through. We are playing a lot of young kids due to injuries or just them being the best and the future is bright, but at the same point this senior class is a really good one as well and we want to send them away with some wins. They have put in some hard work and there are some great leaders. The future is bright, but at the same time we are trying to have some success right now that this team deserves,” said Lutz.

Columbian (0-4) plays at Vermilion (3-1) in an inter-divisional game in the Sandusky Bay Conference. The Sailors beat Perkins (35-12) last week.

Lutz says they has some very good athletes, but they expect to go into the game and be competitive. “Watching them on film they look really good. They have some playmakers around their quarterback. Their quarterback is a good player. Their running back is a good player and they have two outstanding weapons around them. A really good wide receiver, number 4, number 85 is a big tight end, a good target, and a good blocker in space. Offensively they give you fits and they have scored a lot of points in most games. They have a really good and active defense that has done really well this year too. They are a very sound team offensively and defensively. They are going to give us all we can handle going to their place. We expect to go and have some success and be right in the game, we’ll see,” said Lutz.

Published 9/19/17

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Columbian With Another Tough One

Tiffin Columbian begins the season with some tough opponents in non-conference play at that continues this week with a visit to Ashland to play the always good Arrows.

Last week, the Tornadoes were beaten by an excellent Anthony Wayne team (42-3) and coach Judd Lutz says they were never able to get things going on the offensive side of the ball. “They were a really good team. We knew that going in. I thought our kids competed really well early in the game, forced a turnover, played really well defensively. It was a little rough going offensively against them because they are really good, really sound. We gave up a couple of touchdowns late in the first half and lost most of the momentum against a really good team. I am proud of the way the kids competed, that’s for sure, Anthony Wayne is going to have a really good year. So, we have to take the next step and get ready for Ashland,” said Lutz.

During the preseason Lutz talked about the need for an improved running game. He says they look good in practice, but they have to take it to the game field. “It has not shown up yet in games, but in practice it has definitely progressed. We are still trying to break in a couple of guys. We are just coming back from some health things with the offensive line. That has delayed maybe the game a little bit. We are going to continue to try and evolve and get that run game going in order to have some success,” he said.

Ashland (1-1) lost in the late going to Clyde (22-19) last week to drop their first game of the season. They had beaten Green (31-28) in their opener.

Lutz says the Arrows have athletes on both sides of the football. He says they are a really complete team. “They are a really, really good team. They have some really good athletes on both sides of the ball. They are a spread throw it around team and they have a really good quarterback with some athletes around him, but they also have the ability to run it from the spread stuff they are really capable up front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively, they play kind of a funky defense, a 3-3 stack, which is difficult to prepare for in one week with how you are going to block things and find space on the perimeter because they play with a lot of athletes out there. So, it will definitely be a challenge, but our kids are up for it and we are anxious to get going.”

Published 9/04/17

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Tiffin Making Third Down a Priority

Tiffin Columbian showed some good signs last week on week one, but they couldn’t finish them off. They are going to have to do that this week.

They play powerful Anthony Wayne at home on Friday night.

Last week, they lost (42-20) to Elida. Coach Judd Lutz says they made some good plays, but they just weren’t consistent enough to get the win. “We had a rough go of it in the beginning. In the first quarter we definitely shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties to start drives and we couldn’t ever overcome those, but the defense kept us in the game in the first half. Then we got a late score to make it 14-7 at halftime. The second half we just weren’t able to get off the field defensively, especially on third down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “On offense we moved the ball well we just had trouble finishing it. The score looks a little worse than it was. It was an eight point game and we had the ball on their 14-yard line wkith about seven minutes to go and came up empty and they go down and score to make it a two score game. So, I am pleased with our effort and our attitude, but not with the result.”

Third down is often what separates the good teams from the not so good. Lutz says it is up them to get the yardage on offense and get the heck off the field on defense. “We call it money down. You get paid on third and fourth downs and we weren’t very good offensively or defensively. We had them on third and long a number of times and they made tremendous plays and we were unable to make the sound play. Offensively we put ourselves in rough situations and weren’t able to make plays. You don’t want to get into third and long situations, but at some point you have to make a play. Defensively it doesn’t matter what it is you have to get off the field,” he said.

Anthony Wayne demolished Toledo St. Francis (45-7) last week and the Generals are very good. Lutz says he wants his kids to play with confidence in this game. “They are a very, very good football team expecting to have a very good year. They were a final four team last year in the playoffs and return eight starters on the offensive side of the ball and six on defense. So, they are expecting to have a really, really great year and we are trying to make continuous improvements. I told the players we expect success. We expect to have successful plays, we expect to move the ball and stop them and hopefully do enough to win,” said Lutz.

Published 8/29/17

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Columbian Has to Run the Ball Better

Tiffin Columbian has had a couple of down years and they are hoping to get back on the right track on the gridiron here in 2017.

They play at Elida on Friday night in non-conference play.

Judd Lutz is in his second year leading the program and he feels they are a lot better prepared going into the season this year than they were a year ago. “We got some great senior leadership. Some kids that are really trying to turn the corner with the program. This being my second year running things they know the expectations, so the communication during the off season and during camp and two a days and everything was much more accelerated and we were able to get more done and more done quickly. I love the team returning and love the players and hopefully that momentum builds throughout the season and turns into some wins,” said Lutz.

If they are going to have success this week, or any other week for that matter, Lutz says they have to better at running the football and better tacklers too. “Looking at last year definitely we struggled to run the football pretty much in any facet. Doing that consistently against any team is definitely the focus and putting our guys in positions to be able to do that was definitely and off season focus and a constant battle through camp. I am eager to see how much improvement we have made in our run game and hopefully that will open up our pass game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively, we have gone back to the fundamentals, not that we steered away from them, but we honed in on those and tried to be a better tackling defense and a defense that was able to get off blocks and run to the football. Hopefully those are things that show up every week, but especially week one right away.”

Elida, west of Lima in Allen County, is a new opponent for the Tornadoes. Lutz says the Bulldogs are team that is going to be very aggressive on the offensive side of the ball. “They return a really good team. They were 6-4 last year. They return a really good quarterback and some a corps of receivers offensively and defensively a couple of really good players, D-linemen and a couple of linebackers. They are hungry. They are trying to turn the page on their program last year and build momentum from a good season. They are a wide open offense historically and they continue to do that through their scrimmages. We are expecting a five wide throw it around team that has the ability to run the ball as well. They have some really good size up front. We are going to have our hands full,” said Lutz.

Published 8/25/17

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Columbian Knocks off Bellevue


          Tiffin Columbian handed Bellevue its first Northern Ohio League loss (5-3) on Monday in what is going to be a very competitive league here in 2017.

          Columbian kept itself in the league race, a game behind Shelby, with the win and coach Curt Mellott says they showed some guts to come up with the win over the Redmen on Monday night.  “It was a very big win for us.  We battled some adversity and it was great to come out on top against a great program and a very well coached team,” he said.

          Not everything is going to go perfect in the game of baseball, that is just the way it is.  Mellott says the good teams are the ones that that find a way to get past the errors and the misplays and the bad breaks.  “That is always a strong test in baseball the adversity that you face, which seems to be almost every inning and when you can learn to overcome it you have a chance to be a good baseball team,” he said.

          Tiffin (3-3,2-1) plays at Sandusky (4-4,2-1) on Tuesday and Norwalk (5-3,1-2) on Thursday in league games.  Mellott says the way the “NOL” is you better be ready to play on every night.  “Willard is a very improved program.  Top to bottom there are no days off.  It is something that you kind of come to appreciate because you like that competition.  It is also something that is a great reminder to kids that they have to bring their “A” game each and every time,” said Mellott.

          Of course, these are the final months of the “NOL,” which has been together as a league since 1944 and Columbian has been part of it since 1953.

          Mellott says it is bittersweet, no doubt about it.  “I am going to be leaving this with very good memories.  I am a former “NOL” player myself, a ’92 graduate of Tiffin Columbian.  It has been just an absolute pleasure and privilege not only to play in the league, but to coach in the league.  So, this year is very special to us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “One of the goals we have set for ourselves is to the best we can in this last year in the “NOL.”  The “SBC” coming ahead of us in going to be an unbelievable league and a lot of great baseball teams and just a lot of great schools in general.”


Published 4/11/17

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Tough is the Word For Columbian


          Tiffin Columbian is finding it hard to win this fall because they haven’t been as consistent as they need to be.

          They host Perkins in a non-conference game in one that will become a league game when Columbian joins the Sandusky Bay Conference next season on Friday night.

          The Tornadoes got off to a better start last week, but eventually Northern Ohio League leader Sandusky began to wear them down and make some plays and beat Tiffin (42-6) in a league game.

          Columbian coach Judd Lutz says the Sandusky staff did a great job of adjusting to some of the things they were doing.  “We knew it would be tough to slow down their offense.  Their quarterback does a great job and their coach does a great job of making adjustments.  I thought our kids played really hard.  We struggled somewhat offensively and we didn’t execute the way we needed to.  They have a real good defense and they are just better than us,” he said.

          They have had trouble scoring against good teams this year.  Lutz says they haven’t been very consistent in their execution and they have really had problems running the ball.  “It is definitely a consistency thing at certain positions.  It comes down to a lot of times not being able to run the ball when needed. It is really tough to keep things going.  We are trying to be balanced and not a throw only offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The inability to run the ball is really tough on you.  Keeping our quarterback upright as well and keeping the pressure off him.  We need to have more consistent play at really all of the positions offensively in order to move the ball also do ourselves a favor in the field position game and help our defense out as well.”

          Tiffin Columbian (1-7) plays at home against Sandusky Perkins (4-4) on Friday night.  Perkins lost to Oak Harbor (14-6) last week.

          Lutz feels this is a typical Perkins team from the standpoint that they want to be physical and run the ball out of the wing-T formation.  He says they want to challenge you.  “They are going to challenge you with really good football players.  They are tough.  They have been running this offense for a long time.  They have players that run it really well and coaches that call it really well.  They are going to challenge you with their toughness and you better come ready to play for the entire game or you will get embarrassed quick.  We have stressed that throughout the week and will continue to do so until Friday,” he said.


Published 10/19/16

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Columbian Knows What They Face


          Tiffin Columbian was blanked last week at Shelby and this Friday night they host another very good team in Sandusky in Northern Ohio League play.

          They have up four scores in the first quarter last week at Shelby and eventually lost to the Whippets (48-0) on Friday.  Coach Judd Lutz says they didn’t play very well and there is no way around it.  “We didn’t play very well by our standards.  It definitely snowballed on us.  I thought we had good preparation, but that didn’t show up on Friday.  Then we got back to work on Monday wanting to improve ourselves to prepare for a really good Sandusky team and at the same time flush out what happened last week and move on,” said Lutz.

          Lutz says they have to find some way to respond better this week and his kids have shown the willingness to continue to improve.  “Adversity has reared its ugly head many times this year and the kids have responded well for the most part we just haven’t come out on the top end as far as wins and losses go.  We are proud of the way the team in preparing week in and week out and a lot of guys are getting quite a bit better, so I commend them for that,” he said.

          Sandusky (6-1,3-0) lost for the first time all year last week to Lorain (24-23) in a non-conference game.

          Lutz says the Blue Streaks have a lot of weapons they you have to try and contain.  “Offensively they have some great athletes on the perimeter and also at quarterback and running back.  They do a good job of getting to their playmakers, especially their quarterback, who is really good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “He reads his keys well and is extremely good on the underneath throws and also throws are really good deep ball.  They will stretch you vertically and horizontally with their speed.”

          Sandusky has been able to contain a lot of good offenses this year and Lutz says there are good reasons for that.  “Defensively they do a good job at covering you on the perimeter with their secondary players with their speed.  They are really good up front defensively and stop the run pretty well.  I give them all of the credit in the world.  We are trying to prepare our guys for a big upset,” he said.


Published 10/11/16

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Tiffin Poised to Win


          Tiffin Columbian is building for the future and their kids are getting better as this 2016 season unfolds.

          They will be tested this week as they make the trip to Shelby to face the Whippets.

          Last week, they were a play away from tying the game before falling to Norwalk (20-13) in Northern Ohio League play. 

          First year coach Judd Lutz says they are getting better in all areas of the game.  “We played well and gave ourselves a chance to win.  We were able to control the ball on offense for the most part we just weren’t able to make some big plays when we need to and score some touchdowns.  The defense is definitely improved and getting better by the day.  Pleased with the progress, but not with the outcome,” he said.

          He says what they need to do now is learn how to win and that isn’t easy for kids that haven’t had that much experience, especially in big games.  “Going into this season it was hard for me to realize, but the senior class has not made the playoffs in their career and that was hard for me to understand.  When I was here we made the playoffs and had a lot of success and wherever I was coaching we had a lot success.  They have to understand how to put yourself into opportunities for success.  You have to learn what to do and we have to get there,” said Lutz.

          Tiffin Columbian (1-5,0-3) is at Shelby to tangle with the Whippets (5-1,2-1) in an “NOL” game.  Shelby belted Willard (66-0) last week coming off their only loss of the season to league leader Sandusky (42-21) the week before.

          Lutz says the Whippets have players all over the field.  “They are really good and well coached team.  They have a lot of good players at a lot of positions.  They have skilled players that are really good.  Their quarterback, a couple wide receivers, and running back, and they have a tremendously good offensive and defensive line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have two defensive ends that are really athletic that play the end well and two guys on the inside that don’t allow you to run the ball inside.  We will have our hands full and we will give our best and try to score more than they do.”


Published 10/06/16

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Columbian Taking Baby Steps


          Tiffin Columbian is taking steps in the right direction.  They just aren’t leading to wins at this point.

          They lost (48-14) on the road to Northern Ohio League co-leader Bellevue last week, but coach Judd Lutz says they definitely saw some good things in the game against the talented Redmen.  “We saw a number of our kids making strides in some of the small things we worked on throughout last week and have been working on throughout this season.  So, that is always good to see.  Obviously there is a lot of room for improvement.  You want to see improvement from week to week from the beginning of the season to the end.  That is great to see, especially with the younger guys.  A lot of them are starting to step up and make a little bit of noise, and be heard, which is always good,” said Lutz.

          When younger players are coming up to the varsity level, Lutz says it is the speed of the game that takes them a little bit to get used to.  “The game is a step to a step and half faster at every level you go from freshmen to JV, from JV to varsity, varsity to college and so on.  The game is faster ands it takes a little time to adapt sometimes.  It is taking a little time with the guys and their first real action at different positions can make a difference.  We have seen some guys progress throughout the last couple of weeks,” he said.

          Norwalk (3-2,1-1) comes to Columbian (1-4,0-2) for an “NOL” game on Friday night.  The Truckers belted Ontario (40-14) last week.  Lutz says the Trucker defense is good, very good, at all three levels.  “They are very physical at the linebacker position, inside and outside linebacker.  They do some really good things with their defensive line to keep guys off of those linebackers and let them roam free in that 3-4 defense.  I am real impressed with their secondary.  Their corners and safeties can really cover some ground,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That is against some good wide receivers and good running backs the last couple of weeks.  They are very good at all three levels, defensive line, linebackers, and the secondary.  They tackle well.  They tackle in space.  They run to the ball very well.  They have held some very good offenses to very few points.”


Published 9/27/16

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More Consistency Needed For Columbian


          Tiffin Columbian travels to Bellevue to face the Redmen in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.

          It has been a difficult season so far for the Tornadoes, who are coming off a (40-14) setback to Ontario in their “NOL” opener last week.

          Judd Lutz is in his first year as the Columbian head coach and he believes the Tornadoes (1-3,0-1) need to become more consistent in their play, especially up front, if they are going to start winning games.  “In order to have some success on the field we have to play with a little more consistency up front, more consistently on the defensive side of the ball.  We have a lot moving parts and guys in new positions.  We have been slowly, but surly tweaking guys with techniques at their new positions.  They are getting better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have gotten better throughout the season.  It hasn’t shown necessarily on Friday night.  During the week we are getting better and hopefully it shows on Friday night.  We need more consistent play up front and that is the easiest way to dictate the run game and the pass game is to block guys on offense and stop guys on defense.  That is where we are looking for the biggest impact right away.”

          Being a good practice team and being good on game night can be a big difference and Lutz says they are stilling learning to make that transition.  “You try to give your team the best look in practice in what they are going to face on a Friday and put them in adverse situations that they are probably going to see on Friday and see how they react.  It is hard to do that sometimes unless you have able bodies on your scout team to do so.  We are looking to do that and trying improve this year and at the same time improving the program.  We are trying to have an immediate impact, but also doing a lot of things that are going to have a lasting impact on this program as well,” said Lutz.

          Bellevue (4-1,0-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Toledo Rogers (48-0) last week and the week before laid waste to a very good Clyde team (66-22) both in non-league action.

          Lutz says this is a normal Bellevue squad that is physical in the trenches, with good athletes and an aggressive defense.  “When you put the film on it shows that Bellevue is extremely physical up front offensively.  They have a good running quarterback and a physical running back beside him.  Defensively they have 11 guys that run to the football.  They put pressure on you to really have to throw the ball into tight windows.  They put a lot of guys in the box to stop the running game and deliver the ball on time in the passing game.  They are extremely well coached as always.  Nothing really changes over there they are going to do what they do,” he said.


Published 9/21/16

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Columbian Right There is "NOL" Race


          Tiffin Columbian beat Willard (9-5) Monday night to remain a game behind Bellevue in the Northern Ohio League race.

          Bellevue beat Sandusky (3-2) in eight innings on Monday to remain unbeaten in a the "NOL" this year.

          Chris MaGill started and went the distance in striking out 10 Flashes and got the win for the Tornadoes.  Tiffin banged out 10 hits and coach Curt Mellott says they hit the ball pretty consistently on Monday.  "It was a very good win (Monday) night.  We really pitched well, Chris MaGill had a nice outing on the mound.  We swung the bats exceptionally well.  For those in the listening audience that don't know Willard is a very, very scrappy team and Mike Hill has done a great job turning things round there over the last year," said Mellott.

          As it has gotten a little warmer, the Tornadoes has started to get a little better with the bat.  Mellott likes the way they are playing now.  "The offense has picked up a little bit here as of late.  We were kind of in a funk a weekend ago and we are starting to come out of it I do believe and starting to play some sound baseball all and all.  It looks like we are starting to turn the corner a little bit," he said.

          Tiffin (7-6,4-1) has three tough "NOL" games the rest of the week with Ontario (7-4,2-3) visiting on Tuesday, Bellevue (11-3,5-0) on Thursday and a trip to Shelby (11-3,5-1) set for Friday.  The Whippets beat Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leader Mansfield Madison (6-3) on Monday.

          Mellott knows they have to take those games one at a time.  "The old adage is one game at a time and that is how we are really taking things.  We have set a goal this year to be 1-0 after every game.  That is way to sort of keep us grounded," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Monday, "Dan Gorbett, a hall of famer, will bring in a very tough Ontario group (Tuesday) to Tiffin Columbian.  If all things turn out well with weather and etc. and then Bellevue coming in on Thursday and make the tough trip to Shelby on Friday.  It is that one at time attitude and approach we have to take.  At this point of year it is all hands on deck, all pitchers on deck.  Anything we can do to get a win we are going to try and do."


Published 4/26/16

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Columbian Figures in "NOL" Race


          Tiffin Columbian has some top of the line pitching and that is going to put the Tornadoes toward the top of the early season projections in the Northern Ohio League.

          Coach Curt Mellott says this could be a pretty good spring for the Tornadoes.  "We are looking pretty positively at this year.  We have a nice senior class, some depth at the junior level.  The guys at the three and four spots look like they can contribute.  I am pretty excited all and all with what the future has to hold for us," he said.

          Baseball is a short season with as many as 27 games crammed into it.  Mellott says that developing consistency is going to be key for them.  "I think the main thing is we want to develop consistency across the board.  From consistently stringing together good at bats to consistently throwing strikes in the zone to making sure we don't give extra outs when our pitchers are pitching well.  It is just that overall consistent play," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "At the high school level consistency on the defensive side is a big thing.  To let kids know it is a good thing to talk on the baseball field to keep that communication up so we can have a better understanding of where we are going with the baseball."

          If it is web gems or plays of the week, spectacular plays are all over the internet, however, for high school baseball, Mellott says that good teams are the ones that make the regular plays.  "We have focused with our guys that we want to make the routine plays routinely.  Somebody famous said that, I not sure who, but that is something we have tried to harp on with the kids.  Let's just make the routine plays, the spectacular plays will come and go, but at the end of the day is we are making the routine plays routinely we are typically going to have good games," he said.

          Columbian can be good this year, but Mellott says so can a number of other teams in the "NOL" too.  "I look for some of the traditional powerhouses to be traditional.  You have to love Wes Douglas at Norwalk and all that he brings to the table.  Andy Dennings has done a fabulous job at Bellevue.  The young kids that are now becoming older kids at Shelby they are an exciting team in many ways.  You can't forget about Sandusky and Ontario, obviously.  Dan Gorbett is a hall of famer and Sandusky has a nice core group of younger kids coming.  From top to bottom the league is pretty balanced top to bottom and Willard is getting better each and every day," said Mellott.


Published 3/23/16

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Columbian Shuts Out Shelby


          Tiffin Columbian through a road block in front of Shelby's design of a Northern Ohio League baseball title.

          The Tornadoes beat the Whippets (4-0) on Monday behind the outstanding pitching of righthander Christian Magill.  Columbian coach Curt Mellott says it was likely his pitcher's best ever effort on the mound.  "I think Christian Magill quite possibly had the performance of his career with 14 strikeouts and one hit.  We as coaches talked about that we thought this was the first complete game that we played as a varsity team this year.  It was an encouraging sign for us and we are proud of the effort (Monday) night," he said.

          The loss put Shelby (11-5,5-3) two games behind league leading Bellevue in the league standings meanwhile keeping themselves right in the thick of the race.

          Mellott also said they played some pretty good defense behind Magill as well and that was a key part of the performance by the Tornadoes.  "We did have one error on a ball that kind of took a weird hop, but it was scored definitely as an error.  We definitely did a good job on the defensive side and made a couple of tough plays up the middle.  Outfield play was outstanding.  Catching was outstanding.  It was a very well rounded game and offensively we attacked the baseball (Monday) night better than we have the last couple of games," he said.

          Tiffin (7-7,4-2) also beat Ontario last week and has shown the ability to be a very good baseball team.  Mellott says what has been missing is consistency and that is what they are working on.  "It is a consistency factor for us because I think we have shown glimpses of our capabilities.  We need to stay positive throughout the game and we talked to the kids on (Monday) about taking that one pitch at a time approach and making sure that we didn't get ahead of ourselves or dwell on the past either positively or negatively and stay even keel," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, "We have Shelby again (Tuesday) and then finish up Willard on Thursday and play a new game with Willard on Thursday.  So, technically four league games this week.  This is a big week for us in a lot of ways."


Published 4/28/15

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Big Win For Tornadoes


          Tiffin Columbian scored eight times in the second inning and they handed the defending "NOL" champion Ontario Warriors their second straight defeat this week as they downed Ontario (8-2) on Tuesday in Tiffin.

          Having lost their only league game of the season so far to Norwalk last week (7-0) coach Curt Mellott knew this as a big game for them.  "I was very happy with the results (Tuesday) night.  We put forth a good effort and rebounded after a tough first and second inning where we had a few lapses mentally and physically and over came that.  I was really proud of the boys," he said.

          Aaron Sostaric tossed a four hitter while striking out 10 for the Tornadoes.

          Mellott says they played Tuesday night with the right attitude.  "I think our kids came with an attitude of looseness.  It is nice to get back in the grove and play some baseball and building from the half game we played on Monday at Willard and then (Tuesday) with another league game I just think we got a little momentum in a good way," he said.

          Columbian was leading Willard (8-1) in the fourth inning when the rains came on Monday.

          Norwalk beat Willard (13-3) and Bellevue downed Sandusky (9-2) in other league games on Tuesday.  Mellott feels like the rest of the coaches in the league that this is going to be a very balanced league this year and it is going to be important to win home games.  "I think protecting the home field is critical.  I think the race will be tight.  There are definitely some quality teams from top to bottom.  Some young teams like Shelby are really stepping up.  Sandusky is stepping up," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Ontario, "Then there are the perennial powers with Bellevue and Norwalk and obviously all the good things coach Gorbett does at Ontario.  It is a quality league top to bottom.  Everyday is an important day."

          Columbian (3-2,1-1) plays Bellevue (7-1,2-0) on Thursday and Sandusky and Norwalk next week.

          Mellott says they need good efforts from their starting pitchers on a consistent basis to stick in this league race.  "Pitching is something that we have had many conversations about this week.  It was good we had our league game Wednesday postponed or we would have had four in a row.  We were concerned about "A" pitching depth and "B" when the starter goes out there making sure we get a quality start out of them so we can maintain depth going forward and be competitive each and every game," said Mellott.


Published 4/15/15

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Columbian Has to Believe


          Tiffin Columbian is one those teams that seems to be on the edge of getting a lot of wins and falling just short.

          They get two more chances this weekend against Willard in Northern Ohio league play and Port Clinton in a non conference game.

          Coach Bill Beaston says they have to make more of the shots they are working hard to get and they have to believe that what they are doing will end up in wins.  "There are two things we have to do, one physical, and one mental.  On the physical side I just think we have to convert a little better.  Over the course of the last month I think we have improved in a lot of areas.  We are starting to play a little better defense, but we haven't shot well.  I think if we start to convert some of these shots that we are earning it is going to build some confidence in the offensive side down the stretch," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Number two, I think these kids just have to believe in themselves a little bit more.  I think that because the season hasn't gone like they thought or the coaches thought that some doubt as crept in maybe on their own or some outside sources.  I just think they have to start believing in the work they put in and believing in the game plan.  If they can sort of will themselves to a win and if we can get a couple of those we can build some momentum going to the postseason."

          Playing well and not winning is one thing, but Beaston says to improve their confidence they have to get in the win column.  "We have changed some of the things we do in practice to increase the intensity and increase the work ethic and for the kids that is not always fun, so when you reap the benefits it makes all of that work worth wide.  I don't think the kids are totally disbelieving yet.  I think they still believe in the process and believe in themselves, but the most important thing is for them to get a win that validates the whole process," he said.

          Tiffin Columbian (6-11,0-8) plays at Willard (9-8,3-6) in an "NOL" game on Friday night.  Beaston says they must contain Carson Ebert and Conner Robinson.  "I think they have had some roster adversity.  I don't know what the situation is but I know they have a starter in the stats that hasn't played for a while.  That can kind of disrupt things a little bit.  When you have a senior leader like Carson Ebert you are always going to be in games and he has really stepped up his play over the last month.  He shoots the three ball at a high percentage and he is scoring about two points more a game than the last time we played them.  The Robinson kid has really stepped up his game as well.  He is a really nice athlete and he is scoring two points extra a game in the last month as well.  We are going to have our hands full with them, but they are definitely going to occupy the defensive game plan," said Beaston.


Published 2/12/15

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Columbian Gets Big Win


          Tiffin Columbian broke a four game losing streak with a win over Sandusky Perkins on Saturday night and they hope to be able to take that momentum into the final month of the season.

          Coach Bill Beaston says they had been playing well over the last couple of weeks even though they had not been wining games.  They lost a one point game to Clyde (44-43) and at the horn to Norwalk (47-45) last week.  He says they just couldn't get over that last hurdle.  "I think lost there in the lack of success we were having is we played better.  The things that plagued us through the year, free throw shooting, and things like that we have shown a lot of progress in," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Even last Thursday when we go to Norwalk we did a lot of those things better and just happened to lose on a last second shot.  That was kind of the ultimate misfortune.  The kids did a nice job of bouncing back on Saturday and played a really nice complete game to get a good road win."

          Tiffin beat Sandusky Perkins (51-43) on Saturday night.  Beaston hopes they can get some confidence from that win.  "That is why I think winning on Saturday against Perkins was so important.  Now the kids finally got to reap some success or rewards from all of their hard work.  Some of the losses that we had are kind of gut wrenching with late game heroics so to speak and that can be tough to bounce back from.  So, the fact that we got a win we are hoping with spring board us into several more coming down the stretch," he said.

          Columbian (6-9) is at Upper Sandusky (11-4) for a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Beaston says the Rams are a team that is pretty unselfish and can really shoot the ball.  "They are very mush guard oriented.  They don't have a lot of size per say, but their guards are very good.  They have four guys that do a pretty good job of getting to the rim.  They are a really good three point shooting team.  The stats I saw show them at 36 percent as a team, which is outstanding.  I think the thing that stands out most with them is they do a good job of sharing the basketball and creating for each other, they are very unselfish.  Those are the types of teams that can be hard to guard because it is difficult to defend that many guys," said Beaston.


Published 2/03/15

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Columbian Showing Some Good Signs


          It was one up and one down this past weekend for the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes, but according to their coach they can take away a lot of positives from the games.

          The Tornadoes dropped a Northern Ohio League game to league leader Ontario (70-50) on the road on Friday night.  The came back on Saturday and beat New Riegel (57-52) on Saturday.

          Coach Bill Beaston says they really handled the aggressive Ontario pressure pretty well and they showed they can put games away against New Riegel.  "The Ontario game was interesting.  If you look at the score you see we lost by 20, so it looks really lopsided, but there were some things that were really encouraging that game, specifically the amount of turnovers that we had.  It was the least amount of turnovers we had all year against a team like Ontario that presses the whole game and presses very well.  So, that was encouraging despite the loss," he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, "Then to come back the next night and beat a solid New Riegel team at home.  It had all of the makings to be a disaster.  It was our third game on the week and we missed two days of school as well.  I like the way our kids responded and just found a way to win."

          Columbian is now .500 for the season and Beaston says hopefully they are starting to learn what it takes to win games that are up for grabs.  "That is exactly what we talked about after the New Riegel game.  There were a lot of mistakes late that could have led to a loss, some silly turnovers, some missed free throws, some  poor decisions.  At the end of the day you just want to win games and find ways to win games and that's what we did.  Then we can go back and watch film later and try to correct some things so when the situation presents itself we don't make those same mistakes again," he said.

          Tiffin (5-5,0-4) is at Bellevue (3-8,0-4) on Friday night in a league game.  Somebody is going to get there first league win.  Beaston hopes that it is his kids.  "It is a big game for both of us, neither team has a win in the league, so both teams are going to be extra motivated to get that win,  Bellevue and Columbian games are always tightly contested regardless of records, so there is that playing into it as well.  We are looking forward to the challenge they have some nice guard play.  The Linder kid playing inside is a nice post player and somebody we are going to have to pay a lot of attention too.  We will have are hands full, but the kids are always excited to go and compete," said Beaston.


Published 1/12/15

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Columbian Must Handle Pressure


          Tiffin Columbian will play one of the most aggressive basketball teams in they area when they travel to Ontario to play the Warriors in a Northern Ohio league game on Friday night.

          Both team won games in non-league play on Tuesday night.  The Tornadoes rallied to beat Oak Harbor (52-49) while Ontario held on to beat Galion (58-50) and keep their good play in order.

          Columbian coach Bill Beaston says they are struggling right now a little bit on offense because they are turning the ball over too much.  "I think it is about offensive efficiency.  The last three or four games we have had 18 plus turnovers.  One of the stats we use for offense is points per possession and anything over 1.0 is good.  Our points per possession is still 0.9, which is close to where we want to be and that is giving the ball away as many times as we are," he told Swankonsports.com, "Those are empty possessions.  We are really focusing on where our possessions are coming from, why they are occurring, and trying to eliminate that.  When we don't turn it over we tend to score and we feel if we can score more we are going to be a little bit more competitive and have a chance to win more games."

          Beaston says their turnover woes have been about not making the best decisions.  "It hasn't been so much we are giving the ball away versus pressure so to speak.  We are making wrong reads on a play or we think something is there and it really not.  A poorly executed pass or maybe we don't improve an angle to make a sound pass.  Those are the kids of things that we are really looking at and we are working hard in practice to try and correct," he said.

          Columbian (4-4,0-3) plays at Ontario (9-1,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday night in "NOL" play.  Beaston says Ontario has great depth, which allows them to play fast.  "One through nine there is no drop off.  Every guy they trot out there through their rotation is very similar.  They are similar size and similar athletic, can shoot, can get to the rim.  When you have that kind of depth and start to get into your bench and not have much of a drop off it really creates the ability to play at the pace they play at and put the pressure on opposing teams to be able to play at that same pace," said Beaston.

          The Warriors want to play fast and Beaston says they have to slow them down a little bit.  "That is there M.O. They want to get out and run, they want to make the game fast.  They want to use their athletes, they want to press you, turn you over, create easy baskets.  I don't think the game needs to be slowed down to a snail's pace per say, but you definitely want to slow it down and run your stuff and try and get it in a pace that is not quite the track meet that they want to get into," he said.


Published 1/07/15

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Columbian has to Play to Their Strengths


          Tiffin Columbian is a team that features some good bigs and they have to make that their advantage as they play at Fremont Ross in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

          Columbian (2-1,0-1) does not play a Northern Ohio League game this week after a (43-38) loss to defending co-champion Norwalk last Friday. 

          Coach Bill Beaston is pleased with what he has seen so far, but he knows they have to continue to get better.  "I think the best way to put it is we are pleased, but not satisfied.  We are happy to be 2-1 it could easily be 1-2 or even 0-3.  We also look at Norwalk game that we lost and the things we could have done better that may have given us an opportunity to win.  Even in the win Saturday against Kenton there were some things that we didn't do well and we weren't really happy with.  So, being off this week as far as the league goes we can take two or three days to kind of focus on ourselves, focus on some conditioning and some skill work and some things like that to try and sure up those shortcomings and then get ready for Fremont and hopefully be the total package come this weekend," said Beaston.

          With two 6'6" guys in the paint, Beaston says they have seen a lot of defensive looks to try and keep the ball out of the hands of those players.  "We have seen a variety of things.  We have seen some zone.  We have seen man pressure, but digging down on the catch, and we have seen some pressure to just work our guards that much more and have our post guys not get it.  The best thing about our group is they are experienced.  I think we have seen it all.  I don't think there is anything we haven't seen, so it is a matter of recognizing what defenses are doing to us and then beating it appropriately," he said.

          Fremont Ross is an athletic team this year and Beaston says they can not let the Little Giants take over the tempo of this game.  "They are very athletic, more so than they have been in the past.  The past couple of years they were more like where we are at with a couple 6'5", 6'6" guys and wanted to pound it inside.  Now, they don't have a guy over 6'2" and they want to get out and run and play fast," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I coached at Fremont before I came over here and it is always an interesting dynamic to go over there and be able to see people I don't see very often and see coach Gedeon because we used to spend a lot of time together when I was coaching for him.  It is going to be a challenge.  We have to be able to get the game in our favor.  I don't think it can turn into a track meet or that is going to favor them.  We have to value they ball and take care of it and get the ball inside to our big guys and let them go to work."


Published 12/17/14

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Columbian faces very good Norwalk


          Tiffin Columbian begins Northern Ohio league play on Friday night by hosting defending division two state champion Norwalk at their place.

          In their first game last Saturday, they got off to good start and blasted their way past Fostoria (66-30) in non-conference play.

          Coach Bill Beaston was very pleased with the overall effort versus Fostoria.  "We played very well through he whole game really, but particularly in the first half I thought.  Our kids dictated the game from the get go.  We wanted to play fast and we wanted to play a little up tempo and put some pressure on Fostoria.  We were able to do that and force some turnovers and get some baskets and really kind of stretch things out from the beginning and then kind of play constantly the rest of the way," said Beaston.

          In reviewing the tape Beaston says they found some minor errors of which they reviewed with the players on Monday.  "The stuff that we found was all correctable.  There wasn't anything glaring.  Positionally speaking defensively and positionally speaking offensively just where guys are and where they are located and how they are rotating and stuff like that.  We had a good film session (Monday) night.  Now we are moving on to get ready for Norwalk," said Beaston.

          Norwalk (2-0) posted wins over Sandusky Perkins (45-37) and Mansfield Madison (44-43) over the weekend.  Beaston says they may not have the same talent level, but they execute very well on both ends of the court.  "Coach Gray does a great job with all of his teams in years past and this one is no different.  He does a very nice job managing the game both offensively and defensively dictating the game to his strengths.  The two games that we watched him play last weekend you can really see that.  They are very, very good defensively, especially man to man on the basketball and then denying the first pass," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Offensively they are very patient they take what the defense gives you.  They don't force a lot of shots.  They kind of wait and wait and look for that opening and as soon as the defense breaks down they take advantage of it.  We are going to have to be sound on both ends to ensure a victory on Saturday."

          The Truckers play very good on the ball and off the ball defense and Beaston says you have to handle the ball and make solid passes against them to have success.   "You have to be able to handle the ball and protect it in the passing lanes.  They do a great job of being on the line and up the line in passing lanes to get steals.  A lot of times they are not getting steals, but deflections to turn them into steals.  So, if we can take care of the basketball Friday that will definitely help our cause," he said.


Publisher 12/10/14

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Columbian Going to be Big


          Tiffin Columbian is going to have some height this season and they hope to be able to put it to good use as they compete in a pretty balanced Northern Ohio League.

          One thing that is different than normal is the fact that the Tornadoes could actually started basketball practice on time this year and coach Bill Beaston says that is a big plus.  "We are light years ahead of where we normally are.  The football team didn't make the playoffs, which is a first since the 2009-2010 basketball season.  We have been used to late starts and that didn't happen this year.  It has been kind of nice to be able to slow things down with our installs and really reteach and review after our installs, so that part has been a blessing," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We are healthy.  We had some guys that were banged up last year and we lost.  Those guys are back and appear to be healthy.  We have some work to do like everyone else does, but where we are compared to previous years we are a little farther ahead."

          In basketball having big guys is obviously an advantage and Beaston says they will have that this season.  "We bring some scoring back.  We bring a lot of size back as well.  One of the we lost last year with an "ACL" injury is 6'5".  He has recovered and he is back along with a first team all-league Derek Dryfuce, who is 6'6" as well, so the challenge is to keep guys involved and keep feeding the big guys at the same time and so far the guys are doing a real good job with that," he said.

          The other team is going to try and keep the ball out of those guys hands and Beaston says their job will be to be able to get the ball inside where they want it.  "I think with the dynamics of our league we are going to see a lot of different things.  I think we could see pressure at times, I think we could see zone at times, and I think we could see man at times.  That is why our focus during the preseason, especially with more time, is to be ready for everything.  As we start to see some things on film we are going to have a better idea what teams are going to try and do to us." he said.

          Fostoria will the Tornadoes first opponent on Saturday night and Beaston says they will be athletic.  He says they want the game to be at their pace.  "The little I have seen from them is they are small and athletic.  They don't have a great deal of size, but they are quick.  Their coach it is his first year with them.  Actually two years ago he was my JV coach, so we are a little bit familiar with some of his philosophies and some of the sets and some of those things.  The biggest thing with first games is everyone has jitters.  It seems like the start of those games is ran at about 180 MPH and the team that sort of slows down the quickest and gets things at a better pace is usually the team that is the most successful.  Hopefully with our experience and our length we will be the team to do that first," said Beaston.


Published 12/02/14

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Ashland Meets Tiffin Columbian in Crucial Match-up


          Ashland and Tiffin Columbian are two of the most consistent winners in northern Ohio and they face each other in big non-conference game at National Field in Tiffin on Friday night.

          The two schools are both 1-1 and share the #5 sport in our first Swankonsports.com football coach's poll in the large school division.

          Last week, Ashland scored with just over two minutes to play on a Grant Denbow run to upend Dover (16-14) in non-conference play.  Coach Scott Valentine says they did a great job of containing the wide open Dover offense.  "It was one of those games that I felt really good about we played well.  Our defensive staff put together a great game plan.  Our kids went out and held them to 14 points and we made plays on offense to help us win the game," he said.

          Valentine says they made some adjustments to match the concerns that Dover presented them and it worked out pretty well.  "The thing was we made a lot of changes.  We put some guys in some different positions for speed purposes because their quarterback was very quick and contain wise we needed to contain him.  Offensively I thought we made some big strides there too.  And special teams we didn't give up a lot of big plays.  I think in all three phases of the game we improved last week," said Valentine.

          Columbian lost the opening week of the season to Clyde (23-20) and then hammered Maumee (48-21) last week.  Tiffin has been the dominate power in the "NOL" over the last decade and Valentine says they are good again this year.  "I think they are a typical Tornado team.  They have big guys up front.  They have running backs that run hard.  Defensively they are very aggressive and come down hill and get you.  It's kind of like going back to week one we are going to have to be ready for a physical football game like we did against Wadsworth," he said.

          This is the first match-up in recent memory at least between the two schools and Valentine says it should be an exciting game for fans to watch.  "That's why when we talked to each other about scheduling the game we knew it would have some interest because of them being one of the top teams every year in their league and hopefully we want to be in the top of our league every year," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "In non-league games that's what it is all about trying to play someone good.  I think it is going to be a real good football game."


          And to the winner will come a lot of playoff points too and Valentine says that makes this game very important to both sides.  "We feel that if we can win that game they are going to win a lot of games in their league.  You never know once you get in your league and things happen," he said.


Published 9/11/14

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Columbian Beats Bellevue; Shares "NOL" Lead


          After tough one run losses to Bellevue and Sandusky last week, the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes have battled back to share the Northern Ohio League lead.

          They beat Ontario (7-5) last Friday and then shutout Bellevue (5-0) behind Aaron Sostaric on Monday and remain tied with Ontario for the league lead.

          Coach Curt Mellott says they know they have to keep winning in order to have a chance at the trophy.  "I think the kids battled hard (Monday).  We know the position we are in.  We are in a one and done situation in our league and every game is important.  With young guys it can be tough to get them to buy into that it is one game at a time." he told Swankonsports.com after the win over the Redmen, "It's a long season, but I think they have done a great job with it.  It really stared on Thursday with Lexington and even though we came out on the short end of the stick we played a lot better.  We are just proud of where we are at right now."

          They hit rock bottom in a (1-0) loss to Sandusky last Tuesday, but Mellott says they have started to hit the ball better and that is giving them a chance to win.  "Offensively we have really started to hit our stride and that picked up quite a bit against Lexington and even more so against Ontario our offense has really started to come alive.  We have progressed well.  We have had a couple of injuries bite us and the kids have stepped up and done a good job in those positions.  I thought (Monday) we had a nice balanced approach and got after it especially late in the game," said Mellott.

          Columbian has a relatively young roster and Mellott says they have shown a lot of mental toughness to get back in the race like they have.  "The power of the positive thought is just an amazing thing.  We really try to get our kids to buy into that.  In a game like baseball with so many failures it is easy to draw a negative from mistakes.  We try to refocus and reload with every pitch.  I think they realize they control their effort, their attitude, their hustle.  I think if they do those things I like our opportunity to do well in game situations," he said.

          Tiffin (12-9,8-2) plays at Willard (2-15,0-9) in an "NOL" game on Tuesday and they play the other co-leader Ontario (15-3,8-2) on Saturday.  They also play Celina in a division two sectional game on Thursday.  Mellott says this is a big week for them.  "We have kind of billed this with our kids as championship week.  Every game this week is for a championship in so many ways with our sectional finals on Thursday, a tough Willard team at Willard (Tuesday), obviously Ontario on Saturday.  We have a big strike out for cancer game (against Fremont St. Joseph) that we operate every year and that is a big game for us on Friday.  We call it championship week in so many ways for us.  We are really proud of our kids and we have come a long way this year," said Mellott.


Published 5/13/14

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Columbian Beats Shelby in Extra Innings


          Nate Hoyda gave up only three hits over eight innings and produced the game winner with a sacrifice fly in the ninth as the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes kept first place in the Northern Ohio League to themselves with a (2-1) win at Shelby on Thursday.

          It was the Tornadoes (9-5,5-0) third one run win in "NOL" play this spring and coach Curt Mellott says this year they have just been able to make the right plays at the right time.  "It is the third one-run win for us in the league.  It's tough when you are on the road, especially on the "NOL" there are a lot of good teams out there, a lot of good programs.  We are finding ways.  I'm not sure how we are always finding ways, but currently we are finding ways and we'll take it," said Mellott.

          Hoyda struck out 11 and then Aaron Sostaric finished up for Columbian and Mellott says both kids and their defense really did the job.  "Our pitching (Thursday) was fabulous.  Both Nate Hoyda, who went to 5-0.  He was unbelievable for eight innings and we went with our number two Aaron Sostaric to close it out.  We are definitely happy to come out of Shelby on top, that definitely could have turned and we are just proud of how our kids came through," he said.

          Tiffin holds a one game lead on Bellevue and Ontario in the league race and they play Shelby (11-6,3-3) again then play Bellevue (10-5,5-1) next Monday, followed by Sandusky on Tuesday and Ontario a week from Friday.

          With all of those games coming up Mellott, in his 14th year as the Columbian skipper, knows they have to have pitching depth if they are going to keep themselves on the top the league standings.  "If the weather holds what is your pitching depth going to be like?  We were talking on the way home (Thursday) about who is going to going to go the next couple of days for us because we lave league next Monday, Tuesday and Friday and our guys aren't going to be able to bounce back super quick," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Shelby on Thursday, "We have to make sure our next guys in our rotation are ready to go mentally and physically."


Published 5/02/14

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Tiffin Still in First Place


          Tiffin Columbian owns two one-run wins in Northern Ohio League play, including Tuesday night at Norwalk, and that has given the Tornadoes the lead in the league standings.

          On Tuesday night, Columbian broke a (5-5) tie with two runs in the top of the seventh inning and held on to beat Norwalk (7-6) in league action.  Coach Curt Mellott says they were able to loosen up a little bit late in the game and that was key.  "It was definitely a nail bitter all of the way down to the end.  The thing you are always going to say about a Wes Douglas coached Norwalk team is they are always going to compete like crazy and that is what his kids did," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "But, I give our kids credit they hung in there.  We had a couple of lapses in the end where we really just aimed the ball as we were pitching.  We were just too fine on things and didn't just play the game.  We loosened up a little bit and we scored a couple of runs in the top the seventh and held on for dear life literally to get the win.  Real proud of our effort."

          Norwalk had two runners in scoring position when Tiffin got the last out of the game.

          Columbian (6-4,4-0) also beat talented Defiance Tinora in a non-conference game on Saturday and Mellott says his team is starting to play with some confidence now.  "We are definitely building some confidence as we go, but it is also definitely and up hill battle as well.  Things have not come easily, but that also adds to our character and adds to our experience level as we move through and as we go back on these situations we realize we can get out of them and we can work on them and get better each and every time," he said.

          Mellott is realistic and says they really have the teams that have proven to be their stiffest competition for the "NOL" title left on their schedule.  "It's a very long season and it should be told that we have only seen three teams in the "NOL" having played Norwalk twice already in the young season.  We have the big boys still coming with a Bellevue and an Ontario and Shelby.  All of those teams compete really well, their records show it.  They have some experience back, so we are really going to have to play our "A" game as we improve our competition," said Mellott.

          The Tornadoes are scheduled to play Ontario for the first time on Friday and meet Shelby twice next week in league action.


Published 4/24/14

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Columbian in The Race


          Tiffin Columbian has answered the challenge and after wins last week over Willard and Norwalk the Tornadoes look like they will be a real factor in the Northern Ohio League race this year.

          Norwalk has won the last two "NOL" titles and Columbian beat them (8-2) last Friday.  Coach Curt Mellot says they really played well.  "We have put quite a few things together and I will be very honest it has not come easily.  There have been a lot of bumps in the road in terms of trying to figure things out offensively and defensively.  I thought against Norwalk we played out best game of the season.  We are starting to really swing the bats and we pitched the ball well that game.  We are starting to become a little more consistent in our approach in the way we want the kids to play the game," said Mellot.

          Offensively, the Tornadoes (3-3,2-0) have been able to execute and do the little things and Mellot says that has made difference for them.  "I like our opportunities.  I think when we are healthy and pitching well we have an opportunity to wins some games.  Compared to a couple years back our power isn't quite the same, but we play a different brand of baseball.  We like to bunt and run and do the little things that make the game unique.  If we have good pitching and defense we always have a shot," he said.

          Columbian shares the "NOL" lead with Shelby.  They were to play Ontario on Monday and that game was rained out and they are supposed to play Bellevue next and that game looks in jeopardy due snow expected on Tuesday.  It looks better that they might be able to play Sandusky on Thursday.  Mellot says the schedule and the weather has been a challenge.  "I go back to the very first week of the season and we had a really nice win against a great Perkins team and then had a week off because of the weather, so it is definitely hard, especially with high school kids.  I think it is something that we need to always stress that they be ready no matter what the situation," he said.

          There does not appear to be a dominate team in the "NOL" this year and the title is up for grabs and Mellot believes his club is part of that discussion.  "I think on any given day a team can beat another team.  It really depends on how you show up and play.  Looking at the scores it has been very reflective of first few weeks of the season." he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I think it will be interesting.  You can't take a day off, that's for sure from a mental standpoint.  Physically all of the teams are fairly evenly matched.  It will come down to the wire, bottom line."


Published 4/15/14

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Hitting the Concern for Tiffin Columbian


          Tiffin Columbian has spilt its first two baseball games this spring and they play their first Northern Ohio League game, weather permitting, on Tuesday when they travel to Shelby.

          After losing to Marion Harding (9-4) in their opener the Tornadoes responded with a (2-0) win over Sandusky Perkins.  Coach Curt Mellot says he was impressed with how his kids battled back.  "We don't return a lot of experience.  In the first game we came out a little nervous, a little unsure of ourselves and played fairly poorly in game one, but within 24 hours probably played one of the better games I have seen in my 14 years here at Tiffin Columbian and beat a very good Sandusky Perkins team 2-0 the next night.  So, barring the weather I am happy with were we are headed and were we are going and I do like how quickly we turned the corner and moved ahead," said Mellot.

          Against Perkins the Tornadoes got an outstanding pitching effort from a sophomore in Aaron Soctaric.  Mellot says he was a pitcher, not just a thrower.  "I was really proud of our pitching.  Aaron Sostaric battled out there, he is only a sophomore, he was throwing four, and at the end he was actually throwing five, pitches for strikes as he mixed in a slider there at the end.  He kept them off balance and they are a very good baseball team and one of the better coached baseball teams in our area.  It was a nice win and we can kind of use that as confidence and use that to move forward and reach our goals," he said.

          Mellot believes they will be able to pitch the ball and field it too.  He says their season might depend on how well they are able to settle in hitting the ball.  "We have to be more consistent in all areas of the game, especially on our offensive approach and make sure we utilize every opportunity to score," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The last several years we have really had some kids that could hit the baseball, I'm not saying this team is not, but just getting that experience at the plate and pushing runs across is going to be a big deal for us.  I think we are going to throw the ball fairly well.  We should catch the ball fairly well, but that consistency in the offensive game is going to be very important to us."

          After Shelby on Tuesday, Tiffin Columbian is at Port Clinton on Wednesday, hosts Willard on Thursday and Norwalk on Friday in Northern Ohio League games.


Published 4/8/14

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Tiffin Counting On Some Young Kids


          Tiffin Columbian will one of a number of teams in the fray for the Northern Ohio league baseball title this spring.

          Coach Curt Mellot says they don't have a great number of kids with varsity experience, but they do have some talent.  "I think this year we have seen a lot of positive signs.  We don't really return a lot in terms of varsity experience, but this is a dynamic group of seniors and the underclassmen really work well together.  I am really proud of our efforts so far.  We are taking a look at a lot of pitchers that have potential and a lot of young players that are really contributing in our scrimmages and early practices," he said.

          Mellot says it will be important for these younger players to get an understanding of varsity baseball pretty quickly because they play a tough schedule.  "We try to give these kids as much exposure as we can to upper level teams and talent in our immediate area and really try to prepare them.  We played a perennial regional team in Wapakoneta last Saturday.  We play the defending division two state champion Defiance Bulldogs and Sandusky Perkins and obviously the teams in our league with the likes of Norwalk, Ontario and Bellevue, just to mention a few, and Fremont Ross, just to challenge us.  It really prepares us for what we need to do in the this upcoming season and for a nice postseason run," said Mellot.

          There really isn't a clear cut favorite or the "NOL" title this year and Mellot thinks they can have a voice, but winning it will be tough.  "I think we have a great opportunity ahead of us where we can definitely challenge for a league title.  The last several years it has been top loaded with talent and I know some teams have graduated quite a bit.  Don't be fooled Bellevue still has a great team back, Norwalk is one the best coached teams in our area with Wes Douglas at the helm, and I can't say enough good things about Dan Gorbett and the job he does especially with the talent he has at Ontario.  I look at those teams as being top level teams," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday. "But, you also don't want to forget about a team like Shelby that had a fantastic junior varsity record and really a nice group of young kids coming up.  So, I think it will be really anyone's league.  It's going to matter how the pitching goes and how the chips are going to fall here at the end."

          The Tornadoes play Edison in a doubleheader on Saturday and they open league play against Norwalk on April 3, of course, weather permitting.


Published 3/26/14

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Columbian Plays Sandusky... Again


          Due to moving games around because of the weather this season, plus Tiffin Columbian's late start rue to the football playoffs it seems every week has been different and this week they play Sandusky twice to wrap up the regular season.

          On Tuesday night, the Tornadoes edged Sandusky (60-59) in overtime on Tuesday night in a game that was a little rough at times.  Columbian coach Bill Beaston says he expects both teams to play better Friday night at Tiffin.  "I think the one good thing that happened with the schedule is both of us had a non-league make up game (Wednesday) night, so it allowed us to get away from each other for a minute to focus on someone else, or just ourselves to be honest and then regroup and get ready for Friday.  I think that is going to help both teams in my opinion," he said.

          Sandusky lost to Lorain (60-40) on Wednesday and Tiffin beat New Riegel (46-40), both in non-conference play.  Beaston says they played hard, they just didn't make many shots.  "It was ugly is probably the best way to put it.  I thought our guys showed real good energy for coming back after an overtime road game and go on the road again.  We struggled a lot on the offensive end.  We had really good looks within our offense against their zone, we just didn't finish," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We did a great job of turning them over in our half court traps.  I thought the kids did an outstanding job with that, but we didn't convert when it comes to making layups and some were easy ones.  We have to convert and make people pay if we are going to turn them over."

          With a second game against Sandusky (3-18,2-9) on Friday, Beaston thinks both sides will be a little more loose and more points will be scored.  "I think Friday's game will be a little faster paced and I think we are going to be in more of a regular routine.  Neither one of us had school on Tuesday.  The decision wasn't even made until three o'clock that we were even going to play.  The early part of the game was flat and lacked a lot of energy.  I think the second half was a little better played with a lot more points scored and I expect that to be the case again Friday," said Beaston.

          One defense, Beaston says they are going to pick the Streaks up a little bit more in full court situations.  "The first game we played more zone and they were able to swing the ball around the perimeter and hit some threes.  We decided to get out of that at halftime and I think that was a good thing on our part.  For three quarters I thought we handled their pressure pretty well.  Late in the fourth quarter we had some struggles.  We made some adjustments in practice, so we can make some improvements in that area and I'm looking forward to see how that works out on Friday," said Beaston.


Published 2/21/14

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Columbian Challenges Unbeaten Ontario


          Tiffin Columbian has developed into a pretty decent basketball team, but they are going to need to play their best game of the season on Tuesday night if they are going to have a chance to upset unbeaten Ontario in Northern Ohio league action.

          Despite a loss to Bowling Green on Saturday, Columbian coach Bill Beaston feels his team is playing its best basketball right now.  "We are definitely rising as opposed to falling as far as our play is concerned.  This is a time to be peaking.  You want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year.  We dropped a game Saturday against Bowling Green, and people would see their record and think it was a bad loss, but I'll tell you what, and I know coaches talk, but you can't find a better three win team in the area, they are pretty solid," he said.

          When you are 19 games into the season and haven't lost a game you have a lot of talents.  Beaston says what is most impressive is the Warriors (19-0,10-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, is they don't have any weaknesses that you can take advantage of.  "I think they are the most compete team that we see on our schedule.  They have a solid point guard, they have shooters, they have other guys that can handle the ball, they have a post game, they rebound, they really don't have a weakness that you can try to attack or exploit.  That is the thing that is most impressive.  Norwalk, who is as good as they are, teams that have a big guys have had success against them.  I think that is thing that has most impressed me, just how complete they are," said Beaston.

          Ontario, who leads Norwalk by a game in the "NOL" standings, and will clinch no less than a share of league title with a win over Columbian (9-8,4-4), has had a lot of games, including last Friday against Shelby, where they score points in bunches.  Beaston says they can't allow that to happen on Tuesday night.  "They do a really nice job of turning defensive rebounds into points.  They get the basketball up the floor in a hurry," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They are also very sly about sliding in their press at various times when maybe you're not expecting it and are able to take a 4-0 run and turn it into am 8-0, 10-0 run.  We are going to talk about defensive transition, having guys bask protecting the basket, and we have to make sure we have guys in the right spot against the press.  We can't afford 18, 20, 24 turnovers or we won't have any chance of winning (Tuesday)."


Published 2/11/14

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Consistency the Issue for Tornadoes


          Tiffin Columbian put together a pretty good performance against Shelby last Friday and now they need to take that into this week and that is something that has been difficult for the Tornadoes this year.

          Last Friday, Columbian went to Shelby and stuffed the Whippets (54-41) as no Shelby players reached double figures in the game.  Coach Bill Beaston says his kids did an outstanding job on defense.  "I'm very happy with the win there at Shelby.  It's a difficult road trip.  It's always a difficult place to play, even though it's a new building.  Shelby is always really, really good at home.  It was all about defense.  Our kids really buckled down defensively and did a nice job on their guards and did a nice job on the Kehes kid on the inside.  It was a total team effort, guys one through nine played really, really well," said Beaston.

          The Tornadoes (7-7) travel to Kenton on Tuesday night to meet the Wildcats.  Beaston says they need to take the momentum gained in the Shelby game to this one.  "Like I said last week we are looking for some consistency both in our schedule and our play.  We have shown when we play games in a regular fashion we can do some things.  They understand the game (Tuesday) night against Kenton has a lot of importance when it comes to tournament seeding.  They were very focused (Monday).  We are excited to go there and battle and hopefully we can come out with a win," he said.

          Kenton, of the Western Buckeye League, is also a football power, and Beaston says they show that physicality.  "They are big on the interior.  They have two 6'5" kids that are really, really strong.  They are men is I guess the best way to put it.  They are just very physical on the inside.  They have a couple guards that can really shoot the ball, especially if their feet are set and they are open.  They are pretty balanced," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They are probably the one team in Ohio that has a worse schedule the rest of the way than us, as impossible as that may sound.  They are playing a lot of basketball in a very short period of time.  If we don't defend we are in for a dogfight.  Hopefully we do that and can put enough points on the board for a win."

          With still eight games on their schedule over the final three weeks of the regular season, Beaston says they have been forced to tweak things a little bit.  "Practice wise we have cut things down a little bit.  We have kind of picked a select number of drills that we do every day that we actually have practice just to keep them in a routine.  We haven't done a lot of game prep in practice.  We have kind of been focusing on ourselves and some of the basics that the opposing team wants to do.  The big thing I told our kids is it's the way they take care of their bodies after games and on weekends and things like that.  We have talked a lot about diet and what to drink and what not to drink even in pregame and what to avoid and normally we wouldn't have that conversation," said Beaston.


Published 2/04/14

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Columbian Wants to Get on a Streak


          It was one of their best efforts of the season Wednesday night and now Tiffin Columbian would like to build on that as they play Shelby in a Northern Ohio league on Friday night.

          It's been an inconsistent year for the Tornadoes, but Wednesday night was an up tick as they beat Upper Sandusky (64-50) in a non-league game.

          Coach Bill Beaston says it was a tough, physical game and they were able to execute in that environment.  "I was very pleased with our effort (Wednesday) night, especially being mentally ready to play after having another break due to the weather.  If was a real physical game and I thought our kids handled that really well.  We just handled things in stride and handled what Upper gave us.  We played a nice all around game.  It was a nice team win," said Beaston.

          All of the weather delays and cancellations and in their case inability to get in the gym has really hindered the Tornadoes and Beaston hopes February is a lot better than January in that regard.  "Our big thing is we just need some consistency.  Not in just in our play, but in our schedule and the ability to get in the gym and things like that.  It feels like every time we are starting to turn the corner and making progress we have an injury or we have a week off or whatever the case is.  We would welcome some consistency all of the way around.  I think that would help our cause," he said.

          Columbian (6-7,2-4) travels to Shelby (6-7,2-5) to face the Whippets on Friday night.  They beat them (55-50) before Christmas.  Beaston knows the Whippets will be a defensive challenge.  "They have really, really good guard play.  The guys are young, but they are very talented.  The Beil kid, and Hipp, and Snyder.  They not only shoot it really well, but they do a really nice job of getting the ball to the rim well.  Then Kerhes inside provides that balance," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "He is a beast inside.  He kills you on the boards.  He can take your bigs out on the perimeter.  He can shoot threes, so he is a difficult match-up.  We are going to have to defend.  If we defend we have a chance.  If we struggle on the defensive end it's going to be a struggle to get the win."


Published 1/31/14

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Tiffin Plays Unbeaten Norwalk


          It has been a series of challenges this year for the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes and Thursday night will certainly be another one as they host the unbeaten Norwalk Truckers.

          On Tuesday night, the Tornadoes (5-5,2-3) lost on a last second three pointer to the Oak Harbor Rockets (42-39) in non-conference play.  Coach Bill Beaston says they just didn't play with the kind of intensity that they need to be successful.  "I thought we came out of the gate pretty lethargic and kind of uninterested.  To be honest I'm not surprised.  We didn't have school (Tuesday) and we didn't have school again (Wednesday).  Our kids are very structured and very regimented and need that kind of structure.  The way the weather has gone this semester we have had anything but structure, so we are trying to work through that the best we can.  We were able to regroup at halftime and were able to turn an eight point deficit into a five point lead late in the fourth.  We just coughed it up," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We talked (Wednesday) that it was a tough loss and we need to learn from it.  Anytime you lose on a last second three the kids want to focus on the shot, but there were many plays before that helped create that situation.  If things would have gone differently that shot would have never come to fruition.  We have to look forward we know the best team in the state is coming into our place (Thursday) night and they aren't going to feel sorry for us, so we have to be ready to go."

          Norwalk (13-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, is coming to Tiffin.  The Truckers won the first meeting between the teams (73-43) on December 28.  Beaston says the Norwalk pressure is hard to beat.  "The thing I like about their pressure is it is a little more controlled.  A few years ago when coach Deibler was at Upper Sandusky and the things they wanted to do there were holes you could exploit and there were points to be scored where as Norwalk is a little more disciplined in their pressure.  They take away a lot of those holes and they rely a lot on ball side pressure as opposed to trapping and that could prove to be just as difficult because they are very sound athletically.  Their guards are very long on top of being very quick and they take away passing angles as well.  We worked on some things (Wednesday) in our walk through and hopefully they will help us to have some success," said Beaston.

          He says the Truckers just have a lot of players that really stretch you defensively, beginning with senior wing Jeff Thomas.  "It is the length and the speed combination that make him difficult to guard.  If you put someone smaller and quick on him then he is going to go down on the block and he is going to post them up.  He has a nice soft touch down there.  If you put someone a little bigger on him he is going to take them off the dribble and get to the rim.  I personally think the guy that really makes them go is Grant Hull because when you have a 50 percent three point shooter that you can park out there at the three point line now it makes it difficult to help off of him to keep Haraway and Thomas out of the paint.  It's a difficult match-up, but our guys are fighters and they are going to give us the best shot they can," said Beaston.


Published 1/23/14

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Tiffin Columbian Still a Work in Progress 

          Tiffin Columbian is one of those teams on the edge and could go either way as we head into the second half of the boys’ basketball season.

          They have been trying to juggle limited practice time and injuries and they stand at .500 for the season.

          On Monday night, Clyde downed the Tornadoes (56-41) in a non-conference game.  Tiffin coach Bill Beaston says it was the third quarter that did them in.  “We got shorthanded in the first half.  We had two or three guys in foul trouble.  I thought our guys did a really nice job battling back from a 10-point deficit and actually took a one-point lead into halftime.  For whatever reason the third quarter killed us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We probably left about 12 points out on the floor between missed layups, missed bank shots and missed free throws and on their end they converted.  When you give away those kinds of points and you give away easy baskets it is tough to overcome that.  If things had gone different in the third quarter I think it would have been tight in the fourth quarter and exciting.”

          Due to injuries the Tornadoes have sort to have to remake themselves in the middle of the season.  Beaston says that is still a work in progress.  “I think we are still figuring those things out.  (Monday) night we the first time we have been in real foul trouble since the injury occurred, so that was a bit of a feeling out process.  I was just proud of the guys on the floor because they just battled and were able to trim the lead.  Also the undoing is when you have kids set for so long you have to be mentally focused and mentally disciplined to stay in the game and I just don’t think they did that. I think they learned from it.  I think they will the next time.  I think that was a lot of the issue (Monday) night,” said Beaston.

          Columbian (5-5,2-3) will be at Sandusky (1-10,1-4) for a Friday night game in the Northern Ohio League.  Beaston says despite their record the Blue Streaks have kids that have natural talent and that makes them dangerous.  “They are a lot like we were last year.  It is kind of process when you are young and you have to learn how to win.  Hopefully they don’t figure that out for another week and we are able to get a win there Friday.  Their guard play is outstanding.  Those guys are really quick and can get to rim.  They can shoot the three and when you can do all of those things it makes them difficult to match up with.  I know our guys are up the task.  We have defended pretty well this year.  We are looking forward to going up there and battle and come home with a win,” he said.


Published 1/15/14

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Columbian on Launching Pad


          Tiffin Columbian still seems poised to take off, but they can’t quite get the engines to fire.

          After losing to Ontario (66-55) in Northern Ohio League play on Friday night, they railed to beat Marion Harding (54-44) in a Saturday night non-conference game.

          Coach Bill Beaston says they dug down pretty deep to get the win without one of their better players.  “We did bounce back on Saturday and had a nice win.  We battled from behind.  We struggled early.  We were shorthanded a post player and he did not play in that game either.  We went through a feeling out process I guess with our rotations, but once that went away I thought the guys that played, the eight guys, played really well together.  Then it was just a matter of working out those kinks when came to getting to where we wanted to get to.  Once that happened I was really pleased with the effort as we were able to battle back and get a nice win at home,” said Beaston.

          Tiffin (4-4,1-3) has been playing catch up all season with a long football season and Beaston says they really didn’t need the weather delays that his team, and the rest of the area, has been dealing with this week.  “That is why the weather this week has been so frustrating.  We feel we are hitting a stretch where there is going to be a whole lot of consistency with practice and games and not having multiple back to backs, which can be tough to deal with.  I will be interesting to see what happens.  The guys were able to come in here for about an hour for practice on (Thursday) and I know Bellevue is in the same boat we are,” he said.

          Columbian entertains Bellevue (2-6,1-2) on Friday night in “NOL” action and Beaston says with some kids returning the lineup the Redmen are in a similar position.  “They had a couple of kids that were starters, and big time players, that were not available at the beginning of the year.  I see those guys are back and playing in their last couple of games, so I don’t think it was much of a coincidence as to why they won their last two because both of those kids are pretty talented.  They are coming in with a lot of confidence I think.  They have a nice team.  They are very athletic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are doing a lot of dribble driving whether it is to create for themselves or kick out for threes for their teammates and they have a couple of big guys that can stretch the floor.  They are about 6’3”, 6’4” and shoot the three.  They can get to the rim.  They can post up.  I think it will be a matter of who can get into the rhythm the quickest that will have the biggest advantage.”


Published 1/10/14

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Columbian Can’t Wait to Play


          The boys’ basketball season is nearly three weeks old and the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes have played just one game, that coming on December 7 against Fostoria.

          They didn’t play at all last week, but coach Bill Beaston says they did a lot of things that he believes will strengthen the team.  “I think we are still in the process of doing that.  We spent the beginning of last week refining what we saw from the Fostoria game and things we needed to improve on and the back half of last week we installed a lot of new things.  So far this week we are doing a lot of review to make sure our knowledge base and our repetitions are were they need to be so we can make those reads and those executions in the game setting.  We will start getting ready for Shelby (Wednesday.)  It is not that ideal to have that kind of break, but we have handled well and I think we attacked it well too,” said Beaston.

          Columbian (1-0,0-0) plays host to Shelby (2-1,0-1) in a Northern Ohio league game on Friday night.  Beaston says the Whippets have a good combination of inside power and experience and outside shooting and youth.  “They are definitely a young roster, but they have fearless youth.  To watch those guys on film they do things that you normally don’t expect out of freshmen and sophomores.  They are fearless in what they shoot and when they shoot.  Since they tend not to be rattled they can get through the rough spots sometimes you can have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think more importantly for them is the consistency of their post player Kerhes.  He is a load, he is just a bull inside, he finishes well, he rebounds well and he has a motor that runs 100 miles per hour.  I think we you have that consistent of a presence that allows your youth to follow along in stride.”

          Shelby has had some games when they have looked good on offense, such as a (72-26) win over Wynford.  Beaston says they can stretch a defense.  “They shoot the ball well and with range too.  Sometimes guys are spot up shooters right on the line and I have seen on film where they making 22 and 23 footers, so you are going to have to extend your pressure a little bit.  I think the big thing is that you have to make sure their looks are contested.  If they are allowed to shoot wide open threes then they are going to shoot a great percentage.  I think if you can get hand in the face and rush their shooting a little bit more then maybe you can have some success in having them miss a few more shots than they normally would.  That’s only half the story, if you allow the Kerhes kid to dominate the boards it doesn’t matter how many shots they miss,” said Beaston.


Published 12/18/13

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Columbian Takes Another Break


          Sometimes when a high school teams plays a number of games over a short period team we call it an “NBA” like schedule.  Tiffin Columbian is the direct opposite here at the beginning of the season.  There are playing a national team soccer team like schedule, they play every once in a while.

          Although not by plan, the Tornadoes are going to play just one game over the first three and a half weeks of the season and that was this past Saturday night against Fostoria

          Coach Bill Beaston says they were to play Kenton this Saturday, but that game was moved due to a long football playoff run by the Wildcats.  He says they have to make the best of it.  “It is the way the cards are dealt and we can’t change that, so we just have to take what we have been given and do our best with it.  The two week gap until our next game isn’t ideal.  I think it is going to give us some time to really buckle down in practice and work on some things that we saw on film form (Saturday) night that we need to get better at.  I think we can find a positive in this,” he said.

          Columbian won the game against Fostoria with relative ease (63-40) and Beaston says they did a lot of good things.  “We got off to an excellent start.  We came out of the first quarter up 22-4 and I thought we finished the game really well also.  In the fourth quarter we outscored them by 12 or 14.  The middle quarters were a little sluggish,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “We took advantage of the lead we had and played a lot of guys and got some minutes for their first varsity experience and tried some different rotations and mixed some players and stuff like that.  There we definitely a lot of positives.  You always feel good about winning your first game, but we also know we have a lot of work to do too, the kids know that.”

          Tiffin has size and some athleticism this year and Beaston thinks they can still get a lot better and this is a good time of the year for them to work on some things, including their conditioning.  “The speed of the game compared to scrimmages is so much different.  You think you have your team in basketball shape, but until you play that first game you really don’t know where you are at.  We knew going in we weren’t in basketball shape, but I think we are about where we thought we were.  I know we will get better in the next two weeks.  That’s a lot of time where we can get the guys up and down the floor.  It’s just little things like getting your basketball legs on your free throws and on your layups and your threes.  Those things are going to come, so we are not going to fret about any of our percentages form Saturday night,” said Beaston.


Published 12/9/13

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Tiffin Columbian Ready to Get Started


          It’s not like they aren’t used to it, but Tiffin Columbian’s boys’ basketball program is taking a different approach to preparing for their season after a long and successful year in football.

          Coach Bill Beaston says they have been more patient this year in introducing the concepts that they want to employ on offense and defense this winter.  “One things are kids are doing a really good job of is taking everything we are throwing at them and working really hard and looking to improve.  I like the fact they are really paying attention to detail.  Sometimes when you start late like we are you have the tendency to throw things in too quickly just because you want to get so much stuff in.  We have kind of changed that mindset this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have really taken our time with things.  Our kids have done an awesome job with that.  The scrimmages have gone as well as you expect scrimmages to go.  There are some growing pains because we are doing some new things.  There are some things that we have done really well also.  Overall I am pleased and think we are ready to do it for real on Saturday.”

          Columbian opens the campaign on Saturday at home against Fostoria (0-1) in non-conference play.  Beaston says he has some height this year they want to take advantage of, but their guards are pretty good too.  “We are big.  I have three kids in our varsity rotation that are 6’4” or bigger.  There is no secret we want to get the ball inside.  I like our guard play too.  In our scrimmages they have shown the ability to get to the rim.  They have shown the ability to shoot from the perimeter.  I feel we can be a balanced team.  I think that bodes well for us.  I think the biggest identity for us is going to start at the defensive end.  We know we have to play really good defense if we want to win in our league.  The kids have really bought into that and I am really excited to get started,’ said Beaston.

          Fostoria lost (72-29) to a very good Findlay team last Saturday.  Beaston contends they really can’t take a lot from that game and translate it to their situation.  “Honestly we know very little about them.  We have been unable to figure out who they are scrimmaging.  They have only played one game so far and that was against Findlay, who is really, really good this year.  It was tough to take Fostoria’s performance there and put it into perspective.  We have taken this week and focused on just us as opposed to Fostoria.  We know what they are going to do as far as base offense and base defense, so we know what we need to be able to run, but we are not focusing a lot on their personnel or anything like that we are focusing on what we need to do to be successful,” he said.


Published 12/5/13

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Columbian Used to This


          Tiffin Columbian has one the most consistently successful football programs in North Central Ohio and as a result they almost always make the playoffs.

          That success also has an effect on the basketball program.  They are always starting from behind and this year it is worse than normal because the period of time between the football and basketball seasons in shorter.

          The Tornadoes football season just ended last Friday with a loss to unbeaten Toledo Central Catholic in the regional semi-finals and the basketball season is scheduled to start the night after Thanksgiving.   Basketball coach Bill Beaston the end of the last year is going to help this team be better.  “We bring back seven lettermen from last year’s team, which is good for our experience because those guys went through a lot of growing pains last year learning how to win and losing some really close games.  Those are things the young teams need to experience and we certainly went through all of them,” he said.

          However, he is little concerned about the late start.  Until this week he has only have five players to work with.  “Obviously we are off to a late start.  The last two weeks I have had two varsity players and three JV players in camp with 18 players playing football, so we have done a lot of skill work with those guys.  We are going to start sprinkling the football guys in through this week and get them started and hopefully get them ready to play in a couple of weeks,” he added.

          The season was scheduled to start next weekend against Clyde, but guess what?  The Fliers are still playing football, so most likely that first game is going to be December 6 against Northern Ohio League favorite Norwalk. 

          Beaston says starting late is always tough, but they know how to do it.  “It’s a challenge.  Those are practices that we never get back that the other schools did.  Some schools essentially get a two week head start.  They got to start the first day and for others they still haven’t started.  It’s just a matter of making sure you take your time, and get things in appropriately, and make sure and don’t rush the kids back too fast, allow them some rest and be kids, go home and enjoy some time at home before you get into the grind of basketball because basketball is such a long season,” said Beaston.

          By playing a lot of young guys last year, Beaston says they have been though a lot of experiences and that is good.  “We kind of sold our kids on that last year that last year was going to be a process and we were going to go through a lot of changes, a lot of improvement and a lot of growth and we were a team that kind of focused on the postseason tournament.  Unfortunately we only got to play one game.  We hoped to play a little more than that, but it didn’t work out to our advantage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We think these kids learned an awful lot last year.  Everything that possibly could be thrown at them was, whether it was overtime, or earning a close win in overtime or losing a close game in the fourth quarter, so we fell like guys know what is expected of them in a variety of situations.”


Published 11/19/13

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Columbian Has Some Building Blocks


          Tiffin Columbian shared the Northern Ohio League baseball title with Norwalk and Bellevue last year and this season they have the potential to be a pretty good team again.

          Coach Curt Mellot says they have some good kids back from last year, but admits they lost some talent too.  “We did graduate quite few boys last year off of our team, but we do return a solid nucleus to this ball club that hopefully can build on last year’s success,” he said.

          Mellot says they have players back at some key positions this spring and he believes that is a good place for the Tornadoes to start at the beginning of the year.  “Taking a look at our group of seniors and the group of boys that we have coming back on this year’s club I do believe we have some strength behind the plate with a returning starting catcher and a senior back up in that position as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We do return a couple of key guys with mound experience and I think that is going to help propel us along the way.  A corner outfield as well as a middle infielder back.  We have some definite pieces of the puzzle that are back with us again this year.”

          Team work is something that Mellot believes is going to be important to this team and he is going to work hard to develop that with this year’s club.  “Bottom line my biggest concern is being able to have overall experience and just having the ability to play together as a team.  Like most coaches I’m just hoping for some good weather coming up to just get these guys some game like experience as opposed to our gym or out on our football field.  We really need to see them play together and get some competition opportunities.  Those are the things that are really the unknowns at this time,” said Mellot.

          Taking a look at the “NOL” Mellot knows that Norwalk and Bellevue have some guys back with experience, but he isn’t saying his team can’t compete for another league title.  “Our goal every year at Tiffin Columbian is to compete for a league title.  We will never change that expectation.  I definitely believe that Bellevue and Norwalk return solid ball clubs with a lot of returning starters so I look for them to add the experience level, but everyone else in the league does a great job.  I know coach Moots at Sandusky is doing a great job there.  Willard is under some new leadership and I think coach Willoughby will be very sound with that program.  Shelby was up and coming at the end of year and they got a lot better.  So, I look for all teams in our league to do well,” said Mellot.



Perimeter Defense is the Key For Tornadoes


          It’s been a season of learning for the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes and now comes the time for the final exams as the postseason tournament begins of Wednesday night.

          Columbian (7-15) meets Clear Fork (12-10) in the division two sectional semi-finals at Bucyrus High School.

          They lost games last week two very good teams in Fremont Ross (51-43) and Norwalk (70-44) to close the regular season. 

          Coach Bill Beaston says they didn’t win those games, but they did do some nice things against strong competition.  “Looking at our last two games against Norwalk and Fremont Ross.  We played two teams that are very physical on the ball defensively, even away from the ball defensively.  They never give you a lot of easy shots.  They want to get after you in the full court.  Despite the fact that we lost both games I thought we competed very well.  We matched up physically against teams that are pretty imposing, so that part I was happy with,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We didn’t shoot the ball especially well, but I was happy with the shots hat we got.  Like a lot of times you have to take the positives with the negatives.  The ultimate measuring stick is did we win or did we lose we lost both contests, but there are definitely some good things that we can take from those contests.”

          Tiffin has some younger players this year and Beaston agrees they still have some maturing physically to do.  “I teach physical education and I get to see the transformation of kids from when they are freshmen to the time that they graduate and leave as seniors.  The same thing with your athletes also.  We have three sophomores that play a lot.  Physically they are going to look a whole lot different two years from now when they graduate than they do right now.  That part has really been a learning process.  I think those three have adapted.  I think the three juniors have adapted well too.  They were used to being top dog on the JV level and being a little more athletic then their competition and its kind of reversed a little bit this year.  A lot of people think it is just game experience, but there is a physical side to it too that you have to get used to,” said Beaston.

          Tiffin Columbian and Clear fork have never played before in basketball.  It was the Tornadoes that eliminated Clear Fork from the baseball postseason last spring.  Beaston has learned through scouting that Clear Fork has three outstanding guards that must be defended.  “They have three guards that can flat out score.  Ridge Winand, Keith Corbin, and Kaden Crastina can absolutely fill it up from three.  They can all get to the rim.  I tell people they aren’t just capable of going off for 20 plus on any night I think all three of them could go off on the same night for 20 plus.  That is how scary they are offensively.  We have our hands full a little bit on defense.  We are going to have to really bring it on the defensive end to have a chance.  I don’t think you can stop all three of them.  We are going to have to contain two of them to have a chance to have things in our favor,” said Beaston.

          As a total package Clear Fork is a different sort of challenge for them on defense than they have seen at anytime this season.  “You can compare them to guards from Willard or Norwalk because those teams have three guys that can score from the perimeter too.  The difference is those teams all have post players that they share the ball with.  Clear Fork is really more guard oriented.  Those three shoot a lot in their offense, they aren’t forced shots, it’s within what they want to do.  The baulk of their possessions come from those three.  We haven’t seen that.  I coached a team that was similar to that three years ago.  We had three solid scorers, so we have had that in our favor, but never in the opposition.  It’s going to be an interesting challenge and I think the kids are up to task for it,” said Beaston.  



Tiffin Columbian Getting There


          Tiffin Columbian is getting better as a basketball team, but right now it is not translating into as many wins they would want.

          Last week they got a win over non-conference rival Fostoria (75-56) on Tuesday, but lost tough games in overtime to Willard (63-58) and then Lexington (59-53) on Saturday.  Coach Bill Beaston like the progression he has seen.  He says they just need to make a few more plays at the right time.  “Last week was a great week.  We started off with a solid 20 point win at Fostoria.  We just had a great battle with Willard at their place.  It was just a great back and forth basketball game, forced them to an overtime.  We had some chances to win in regulation and it just didn’t happen.  The kids were really down, they were really disappointed that we didn’t win.  The thing I told them is guys we played a really great basketball game, we were just one play short.  Looking back there wasn’t one thing we would change or do differently,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Willard just made one more play than us.  We went back and played Lexington on Saturday at their place.  They are a very solid basketball team.  It was kind of the same things without the dramatics.  It was another close game and we were just a few possessions short.  I am pleased with where we are at, the kids are continuing to work, and continued to press for the section season.”

          Tiffin, the sixth seed, will play Clear Fork (10-9) in the division two tournament at Bucyrus.  Beaston says he looks forward to finding out more about the Colts.  “There are always surprises.  You think a team will go one way or another.  There is always a surprise that throws a wrench into things.  We are excited to play Clear Fork.  To my knowledge we have never played before.  I don’t know anything about them other than they are in a really, really competitive conference.  I’m excited to scout them and get to know their personnel,” he said.

          Columbian (6-13,1-7) plays at Sandusky (3-16,1-7) in Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  The Tornadoes won the first meeting (67-58) in early January.  It’s been a down year for the Streaks, but Beaston says they are still dangerous.   “They are very athletic.  Even with some of the changes, the transitions, they have gone through that hasn’t changed.  They still want to get the ball up the floor as soon as possible and get the ball into Jordan’s hands, who is really good scorer.  He lit us up for 29 the first game, so we are going to have to focus on him.  Moore is a nice inside player, who is very active on the boards, so we are going to have to do a number on him to have a chance.  It seems like anytime Tiffin and Sandusky get together it is a good battle, so we are looking forward to it,” said Beaston.

          Pressure defense is still Sandusky’s calling card, but Beaston believes they can handle it.  “They will press you a little bit man in the full court.  They don’t jump you a whole lot.  The big thing is I think they want to speed you up out of your comfort level.  I think with our guard play, especially Bryce (Longsway) we are in a situation where we can handle that.  We will put the ball in his hands and get guys in position to make plays and hopefully we execute on the back end,” he said.   



It is Still Consistency For Columbian


          Little bit by little bit Tiffin Columbian is improving its execution, but it is not showing up on the scoreboard as they have lost their last five in a row.

          Last week, they lost a Northern Ohio League game to Shelby (59-49) and lost to Midland Athletic League power New Riegel (42-28) on Saturday.

          Coach Bill Beaston says it’s just those eight, ten minutes of a game that seems to be costing them.  “The biggest thing is our consistency.  We just seem to struggle to put together four quarters of a game.  Earlier in the season it was two of three quarters that we wouldn’t play well and now we are at the point where we play well for three.  It’s just that extra quarter that is killing us.  If we could put together four quarters in a game we would be very completive every night and have a chance to win,” he said.

          Beaston really believes that the team might be trying too hard to win games.  “The kids really press.  They want to win so badly and they try so hard.  It is not an effort thing at all with these kids.  We might miss a couple of shots in a couple of possessions.  Maybe the other team scores.  Then the guys feel like somebody has to step up and make a play and they will do something out of the realm of the offense.  Then we get another miss.  Then it kind of snowballs for that quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Sometimes it’s the opening quarter, sometimes it’s the second, sometimes it’s the last quarter.  We just have to get to a point where the kids understand it’s the next play.  Misses are going to happen, turnovers are going to happen and once we stop pressing and start to relax and play a whole game I think it will happen for us.”

          Columbian (5-10,1-5) plays at home in an “NOL” game against Bellevue (8-7,1-5) on Thursday night.  They just played two weeks ago with the Redmen winning (64-62) in double overtime.  Beatson says Bellevue is blessed with a veteran unit.  “Playing as much football coming in as they did to have a senior group they probably didn’t have to spend a lot of time with their sets, their philosophies because their kids pretty much new it.  They are going to be a challenge.  It is interesting that we just played ten days ago.  That doesn’t normally happen.  The two teams are very familiar with each other.  It was a great game.  It was a great atmosphere.  Double overtime it was a shame somebody had to lose.  I know both teams are going to motivated to compete again and we looking forward to the challenge,” said Beaston.

          That Thursday night game is the only contest for the Tornadoes this week.  Beaston agrees that is would be nice to have an eight team in the “NOL” to have more balanced schedule.  “If we could get an eighth team that would be great.  We expand to seven next year with Ontario coming in.  The nice thing about next year is it will still be an eight team schedule in terms of league schedule.  Just every night somebody is going to have a bye.  Maybe have a Friday off or it’s an opportunity to schedule a non-league game on that night.  That will help some.  The ironic thing is the way the schedule worked out we don’t have a Saturday game either, so it’s a complete off weekend for us.  That can sometimes be a good thing, get some rest, kind of get away from the gym, rest the brain and the legs a little bit and come back on Monday refreshed,” he said.  



Columbian Wants to Slow Down Bellevue


          Tiffin Columbian is a developing team, but during the process there are going to be some ups and downs and right now the Tornadoes are on a two game losing streak.

          They lost to “NOL” leader Norwalk (63-34) last Saturday night.

          First of all Columbian coach Bill Beaston says the Truckers are really good.  “I told our kids before the game, and it held true during, and we talked again afterwards in the locker room.  Norwalk is so efficient.  Offensively they don’t make a lot of mistakes, they don’t turn the ball over a whole lot and they shoot a pretty good percentage.  Defensively they are very efficient also.  They don’t give up a lot of easy baskets, so if you are going to be successful against them you have to make shots when you get them and you can’t turn it over,” said Beaston.

          Tiffin got behind in the first quarter and they really didn’t get back into the game against the unbeaten Truckers.  “The first quarter was huge we didn’t do either.  We had three of four point blank looks that we missed in the first quarter.  We had a couple of turnovers that they converted to layups and we gave up a couple more offensive rebounds that they converted to points.  We go into the second quarter down 17-6 instead of maybe tied if you have all of those things go your way.  You can’t dig yourself a hole like that against a team like Norwalk because you’re not going to get back in the game,” said Beaston.

          Columbian (5-7,1-3) is at Bellevue (4-6,0-4) in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  Beaston cautions to not be confused with the record of the Redmen.  “I think dangerous is a very appropriate word.  I look at their roster, their stats, and watch them on film, and I see four or five guys that can all shoot it from the perimeter and shoot it pretty well.  On any given night they are capable of doing big things offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I do think early on they struggled a little bit with legs and things like that.  I don’t perceive that to be an issue.  They’ve had four days off this week, so they are going to have fresh legs for us anyway.  The thing for us is we are going to have to figure out how to defend and put the ball in the basket because that has been a struggle for us they last three nights.”

          To be successful the Tornadoes would rather the tempo be slow, but Beaston says they will have to execute against a variety of defenses from Bellevue.  “We wouldn’t mind slowing it down a little bit, being patient, and working for good shots.  The thing with Bellevue they mix defenses so often and so well.  They will be in one zone one trip down the floor and then they are in man and then they are in another zone.  It is really difficult to get into an offensive flow against them.  That is going to be difficult for us.  We think we have an advantage inside and would like to get the ball there and get some easy baskets.  That is when we are at our best, but we also know they are going to take that away and our guards are going to have to step up and make some shots for us,” said Beaston.  



Columbian is getting it


          Tiffin Columbian is finding a way to success on the basketball floor and hopes to get more in the second half of the season.

          Coach Bill Beaston says they have reduced their turnovers, got more rebounds and just matured a little bit during the Christmas break.  “Our growth and hard work is progressing in the right direction.  We dropped a game in the holiday tournament at Findlay, came back the next night and won the consolation game against Toledo Waite, and since then we beat Sandusky and Marion Harding in successive nights as well.  The kids are coming around,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We seem to be doing things a little bit better, we are cutting down on our turnovers, we are improving our rebounding.  I am really impressed with my two sophomores Derek Dryfuss and Cody Daniels, who are both post players for me, they are really coming into their own and asserting themselves as more of a scoring threat for us.”

          At the beginning of the season the Tornadoes had a lot of players seeing varsity action for the first time.  Now, Beaston says they understand what it takes.  “We have an eight man rotation and three of them are sophomores, so we know there will be nights when there are quarters or halves where we look like it’s our first night of varsity basketball, but we also know with our skill level that there will be nights when we look like a veteran laden team.  We kind have to work though those nights and find ways to win and the last three nights we have found ways to do that,” he said.

          On Tuesday night, the Tornadoes (4-5) host Oak Harbor (4-2) out of the Sandusky Bay Conference for a non-league game.  Beaston says the Rockets have started to turn their program around.  “They are much improved from the last couple of years.  Their coach is in his second year of making great strides with them.  They have three guards that are all three solid players.  They are very aggressive with the ball and shoot a lot of threes.  They are not huge inside.  We think we may have an advantage there.  They do play a 3-2 match-up they utilize to prevent the ball from getting inside.  We are going to have our hands full a little bit.  I am glad the game is at home.  I think that if we can handle their pressure and break their traps we could be in scoring situations.  The way we have been playing defense the last couple of games that will need to continue for us to be successful,” said Beaston.

          As far as handling zones is concerned, Beaston says they can do it, but not always.  “When we are aggressive with it we have handled it pretty well.  We are not a team that is normally going to shoot are way out of it, but we feel like with ball movement and some of our isolation stuff we can get the looks we want to get out of it.  Where we get in trouble is we get passive and we kind of hold the ball and wait for reads as opposed to attacking and creating out own situations.  That’s when we start to struggle,” said Beaston.      



Tiffin Must Find Shooting Touch


          If Tiffin Columbian is to become a competitive team in the “NOL” they need to shoot the ball better than they have been this season.

          The Tornadoes (1-3,0-1) are a pretty young team.  Coach Bill Beaston says they have to continue to learn how to work with each other to get better shots.  “We did not shoot real well last weekend.  Offensively it was a struggle, especially from the perimeter.  That is something that we are going to continue to work on.  It’s not so much that we can’t, it’s our shot selection that has to get better.  We have to get into more of a flow on offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “If you get multiple guys touching it instead of just one or two then I think we will start to shoot better.  Friday night we did a pretty good job of getting the ball inside against Shelby and that kind of went away on Saturday.  We need to make sure the big guys are more involved in the offense.”

          If they are going to be successful on offense Beaston says they have to be able to share the basketball.  “The thing with us is we don’t have s stud so to speak that is just going to go out and score 25 and create 10 assists on his own for other people. You know, we really rely on the team game and the team aspect, so if multiple guys are touching ball on offense then multiple guys are going to be in a rhythm and more in tune with what we are doing I think we will see our shooting percentage go up,” he said.

          Tiffin hosts Willard (4-2,2-0) in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  Beaston says the Flashes have a lot of guys that can shoot the ball.  “I have seen a little bit of film on them, so far we have focused mostly on ourselves and some things we need to work on first.  They still have the Adams, kid who is about 6’5”.  He likes to float around the perimeter.  He has a nice pull up.  He is very capable of going inside and be an on block type post player for them.  I definitely see a lot of four guard tendencies with him in the middle.  They are going to be a load.  They have three or four guys that can shoot on the perimeter.  They have a well balanced team this year,” said Beaston.

           The Columbian coach admits this is a pretty important game for the Tornadoes.  “Being a young team we definitely need to build off of positives.  If we could get a win going into Christmas break I think that would be huge for our confidence in our youth.  Kids also understand the big picture and we are going to go through some growing pains.  They want to win and they are trying their absolute best.  It’s a process and we know we are building something good here at Tiffin,” he said.       



Tiffin Anxious to Play


          Tiffin Columbian didn’t get to play a basketball game last week and they probably needed to.

          After losing to Clyde (58-54) and beating Port Clinton (54-36) on the opening weekend it was just practice for the Tornadoes last week.  Coach Bill Beaston likes the group of players he has this year they just need more game action. “First and foremost we are extremely young.  We have two seniors on the roster. When we opened on November 30th against Clyde we had six guys make an appearance for the first time in their careers in a varsity basketball game.  The week off was not good for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We need to play games and gain experience, so we are anxious to get back on the floor this week.  I really like my group.  They are a hard working, hard nosed group.  They are super competitive.  They hate lose and they bring that energy to games and practices.”

          Tiffin won the Northern Ohio League in football this year and played two playoff games.  Beaston says he has some of that talent on his team.  “We have about eight kids, counting varsity and JV, that spent some time on the football team and ran through the two weeks of playoffs they where in.  We had all of our freshmen in, we have decent varsity numbers and JV kids that don’t play.  We were able to do some skill work,” he said.  Beaston thinks it was a big plus for his kids and the whole school with what happened during football season.  “I think it is hugely important to a school when you can start a school year with a successful football team it just creates an atmosphere your building where students are excited to go support the football team.  The kids are excited to go and compete and that carries over into the winter too.  The kids are more excited to go to their winter sports.  That same experience carries over to the winter and so far that is exactly what we have seen this year,” he said.

          Columbian plays at Shelby (3-1,0-1) in their league opener.  Beaston says the Whippets have been tough nut to crack for them.  “One thing for sure is coach Schwemley is one the best coaches in our area and he gets a lot out of his kids regardless of talent level.  That is always a factor.  Then the other underling factor is people forget how good Rhode and Fenner where for that team last year.  They are both very good basketball players.  Both are good at knocking down outside shots and getting to the paint as well.  The tank is not empty and they have real good role players too fitting into their new system quite well.  I told our kids (Monday) that Shelby has been a house of horrors for our program over the years.  It’s going to take an outstanding effort for us to be successful Friday,” said Beaston.

          The Tiffin coach says Shelby has not been trying to push the ball all of the time like did they last couple of years.  “They aren’t quite as up and down as they used to be.  They last two years they were more interested in a track meet.  They really wanted to get up and down.  From what I have seen on film they really push when they can, but they are okay with setting up in a half court offense.  They run a little more Princeton stuff with back door and they are okay with that too.  They are taking what the defense gives them and what the situation gives them and making them the most from each possession,” said Beaston.



Columbian Needs to Eliminate Turnovers


          Is Avon Tiffin Columbian’s waterloo?  We find out on Friday night when Columbian plays Avon in the division two regional semi-finals at Fremont Harmon Stadium.

          It was Avon that eliminated Tiffin (35-21) in the regional final last year.

          Last week, it was the Tornadoes (11-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, that beat Mansfield Senior (28-16) in the regional quarterfinals.  They pilled up more than 250 yards rushing and coach Brian Colatruglio says they were able to keep the ball away from the explosive Tygers.  “It has been a big key for us all year.  A team as dangerous as Mansfield Senior on offense, with all of the weapons that they had we wanted to run the ball.  Especially in the first half we really control the clock.  We had two really lone, 10 plus play drives, and finished them off with touchdowns.  I think we only had three possessions the whole first half.  That kept it out of their hands.  The fact that we were scoring touchdowns too kept a little pressure on them when they did get it,” said Colatruglio.

          Mansfield Senior made it a two score game with less than five minutes to play, but Colatrugio they were up to the challenge.  “We had some key turnovers there in the fourth quarter.  Our defense bent a little bit and gave up some yards here and there.  They got some big stops in the red zone and turnovers when we needed them,” he said.

          Avon (10-1) is again a very good football team, their only loss coming to Avon Lake (42-28) in their opener.  Colatruglio says they are led by a fine running back.  “They are a great football team.  They are a perennial playoff team just like we are.  It’s two years in a row now that we have matched up with them.  This is a really solid, fundamental football team.  They do everything well.  There are no glaring weaknesses.  They have the best running back that we have probably seen all year in Ross Douglas,” said Colatruglio. 

          Your first thought is that Eagles are going to be very similar to what they were a season ago, but Colatruglio says that really isn’t true.  “They are a little bit more ground oriented this year.  Their best guy is a running back.  Last year they had a quarterback and two senior receivers that were excellent.  They probably threw it more last year than they are this year.  Defensively they are very similar to last year.  They are not huge they are just good fundamentally sound football team,” said Colatruglio.  And really they aren’t that similar to any team they have played so far, with the possible exception of Clyde.  “They are different because they have a lot of two back stuff.  We don’t see a ton of that.  Bellevue was a very good run football team.  Clyde was an “I” team with a really good tailback.  They are similar to some of the things they were trying to do offensively,” he said.

          With an unbeaten football team in town, and Calvert playing on Friday night too, there is a lot of excitement around Tiffin.  Colatruglio told his boys to soak it in.  “When your team is in the playoffs it generates not only excitement within your team, but excitement through your school building, excitement within your community.  It’s part of the deal.  Our kids are enjoying everything, just having a great time.  This is supposed to be fun and I think we are experienced to know how to deal with it,” Colatruglio said.

          As far as keys to a win, Colatruglio they have to limit turnovers and they convert on third down.  “I think when you get to this level with two evenly matched teams it is usually turnovers.  The team that protects for football has a great chance to win.  Last week we didn’t turn it over and Mansfield did.  Last year against Avon we had three and they had zero.  I think third downs are important.  The way we play offense anytime we convert a third down it’s more time off the clock, it’s more chances for our running backs to have the ball in their hands.  We have to keep our offense on the field and get our defense off the field on third down,” said Colatruglio.    



Columbian Not Done Winning


          It’s been a great season, so far, for the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes, but they have a lot more they want to accomplish.

          With a win over Norwalk (28-6) last week, the Tornados met three goals.  They are outright Northern Ohio League champions, earned a home playoff game and put together their first unbeaten season since 1987.  Coach Brain Colatruglio says they are happy with what they have done, but not satisfied.  “It has been a great start.  Those are the things that are important to us.  We had a great season last year, but not getting a part of that “NOL” title kind of leaves you a little bit empty, so to win our league for the second time in three years and getting a home playoff game.  On top of that the little extra of getting that perfect season, that 10-0, the second time in school history that we have done that, it’s been a lot of fun.  It’s been a great start, but that’s what it is, it’s a start.  We still have some things in front of us that we are looking to get done,” said Colatruglio.

          Columbian, #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, plays host to Mansfield Senior (8-2), #2 in the same poll, on Friday night in a first round game in division two.  Tiffin beat Mansfield (33-22) on the second week of the regular season and Colatruglio says yes they watched that tape.  “You are always interested to see how a team attacked you and what they tried to do.  Maybe what worked and what didn’t work for both sides.  I’m sure we are going to throw a few things at them that they haven’t seen and I’m sure they have some stuff for us that we haven’t seen.  The bottom line is personnel wise is you can look and see.  It is one thing to watch them play Madison in the mud or watch them play West Holmes or something like that.  We don’t know their personnel like we know ours, so to get a chance to see them against our team, I want to watch it,” said Colatruglio.

          When you play Mansfield Senior you are always going to face game breakers with great speed.  Colatruglio says they don’t see speed like this normally.  “They have overall the best team speed that we face year to year.  In the regular season it was the best.  I not just talking their skilled players, their receivers and db’s are really fast, but the quickness of their defensive linemen.  They have great speed up front.  It is something we don’t see week to week.  It’s a big adjustment,” he said.

          In the first meeting Jack Jacoby, the Columbian quarterback, had 178 yards rushing and running back Ryan Lynch added 154 yards on the ground.  Colatruglio says that is what they want to do, run the ball.  “That’s what we do.  We have hurt all ten teams we have played by the way we run the football.  That is what we are going to do.  I think we did a real good job of controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  We took the ball out of their hands offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They had a kickoff return, but as far as our defense and their offense we didn’t give them huge explosive plays.  Really that has been our formula all year to control the football with our offense, wear people down, and control the line of scrimmage of both sides of the ball.  It’s been pretty successful for us for 10 weeks and that’s going to be what we look to continue to do.”

          Over the second half of the season Tygers running back Keevon Taylor has had over 100 yards rushing in four of five games, highlighted by 211 yards against Lexington on week nine.  Colatruglio says Mansfield Senior is running it better than the first time they played them.  “They were playing a bunch of different guys at running back when we played them.  They were still trying to define which guy they were going to go to.  I think they have kind of settled in on a back now.  He is a big, physical type runner, which complements their speed at receiver and their passing game.  They are a little different animal than they were back then.  They have gotten better.  The quarterback has gotten better, his timing, where he wants to go with the ball.  They are a much improved team after 10 weeks and I hope that we are too,” said Colatruglio.



Columbian Has a lot on its Plate


          Tiffin Columbian has already had a great season, but they have a lot more they would like to accomplish beginning with a win this week at Norwalk against the Truckers.

          Last week, the Tornadoes (9-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, clinched at least a share of the Northern Ohio League title with a win (40-14) over the Sandusky Blue Streaks.  With that in hand, coach Brian Colatruglio says they have three things they would like to finish off with a win at Norwalk.  “It’s exciting.  I’m mean it’s a championship game.  We are playing week 10 with a chance to achieve a lot of our preseason goals.  To be able to chinch that “NOL” championship, secure a home playoff game and that added bonus of the opportunity to go 10-0.  All of those things are on our plate for this week.  It’s one of the bigger weeks in since I have been here in Columbian football.  We are pretty excited and have had a great week of preparation and now we will see if we can get some of those things done,” said Colatruglio.

          Columbian has been one of the most consistent football teams in North Central Ohio over the last two decades, but even the Tornadoes have found it difficult to complete a perfect regular season.  “We have done it once in our school’s history in 1987.  I know that team is looked at with a lot of respect around here and we have an opportunity to match that.  It’s a pretty exciting thing.  I know our team is taking that pretty serious,” said Colatruglio.

          Norwalk began this season with seven straight wins, but the Truckers have lost their last two “NOL” games to Bellevue (48-21) and inspired Willard (24-0) last week.  However, Colatruglio says they have as much talent, especially in the skilled positions, as anyone they have played this year.  “They are extremely talented, probably the most talented skilled players we have seen all year.  They have several receivers with Peacock, Finch and Johnson.  They are all extremely talented,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The running back Turner is explosive.  If he gets in the open field he is gone.  They have a trigger man that makes it happen.  Their quarterback is a three year starter.  His improvement from his sophomore year to now is huge.  They give you a lot to worry about, especially defensively.  They spread the field with some pretty good players and give you a lot to be concerned with.”

          With the athletes they have Norwalk is capable of scoring on big plays and they have done that for most of the season.  Colatruglio says they need to have great pursuit in order to contain the Truckers.  “You have to tackle in space.  Our secondary has to stay on top of things and we have to drop well underneath.  It’s a combination.  It’s team defense. We aren’t going to ask one player to take one player away.  We are going to play 11 man defense and everybody has to contribute and do their job.  We need to control the line of scrimmage.  I think they have a slight advantage in the skilled positions and I think we have a slight advantage up front and that is where we have to be able to win the game,” said Colatruglio.

          Norwalk quarterback Jake Fetheroff has been one of the more prolific passers in the area this season.  Colatruglio says they have to keep him off balance.  “We want to mix it up on them.  We want to show him some blitz looks and show him some zone and see if we can’t get some doubt in his head.  When he catches the ball and throws it on time he is pretty good.  We want to try and disrupt that a little bit whether if it is dropping eight or bringing six or seven.  We will change it up on him and see if we can’t put a little doubt in his mind,” he said.



Tiffin Columbian Still Improving



          Tiffin Columbian has been a sound football team from week one on and their coach believes they are still getting better as a team heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

          A win at home on Friday night against Sandusky will give the Tornadoes (8-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, at least a share of the Northern Ohio League title.  They lead Bellevue, Norwalk, and Sandusky by one.

          They got off to a good start and went on to hammer the Willard Flashes (46-8) last week to keep their record perfect.  Coach Brian Colatruglio says he loved their approach to the game.  “We showed some maturity.  We were a little sloppy against Toledo Start a couple of week ago and a little bit against Shelby.  I was pretty proud that we really came out and attacked Willard.  We were the aggressors from the beginning and we put the game away early in the third quarter.  I thought we have grown a little bit and learned from some past struggles and really took it to them,” said Colatruglio.

          The Tornadoes have looked good all year and Colatruglio thinks they are improving along the way.  He sites two areas in particular.  “We are developing some depth.  We are rotating more guys than we were early in the year.  Our young guys keep getting better.  I think our diversity on offense.  We were pretty dependant on Jacoby and Lynch early in the year and now we have some receivers making plays and our quarterback continues to make some improvements,” said Colatruglio.

          With some solid offensive numbers that is what people are going to look at first, but Colatruglio says the defense has been very good too, especially against the run.  “We have been terrific on defense all year.  Our first team group has not given up a lot of touchdowns on the season, especially against the run.  We are giving up less than 100 yards a game on the ground.  Our guys up front have done a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage against every team we have played this year,” he said.

          Sandusky (3-5,2-1) has not been as good as last year when they beat Columbian in the regular season and won the “NOL” title, but lost to them in the second round of the playoffs.  Colatruglio says they have been dealing with a lot of youth.  “They graduated 30 seniors and when you have a class like that the following year you are going to get young.  They are playing a bunch of sophomores.  It’s guys that are first time varsity players.  They have played a tough early season schedule.  They played Perkins and Ashland and some of those teams right out of the gate.  It forces those young guys to have to grow up pretty quick.  They have progressed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have won three of their last four.  They are scary they have speed.  They are not afraid to throw it deep.  It is something that we have struggled at times throughout this year. We have to be pretty sound at tackling and make sure they aren’t throwing the ball over our head.”

          Tiffin travels to Norwalk next week for a big game with the 7-1 Truckers, but Colatruglio thinks his team will have its focus where it is supposed be this week, on Sandusky.  “It’s our last home game that we are guaranteed and that’s always a special night for your seniors and something we are going to take pretty serious.  We still haven’t accomplished anything.  That’s what we keep talking about.  Our goals are all still in front of us.  That “NOL” championship, that possibility of a perfect regular season is a pretty special thing to do, and getting that home playoff game.  We have enough on the line that I think Sandusky is going to get our full attention,” said Colatruglio.        



Columbian Having Fun


          When you are winning you are having a lot of fun and that is certainly the case for the unbeaten Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes.

          They share the lead with Norwalk in the Northern Ohio League standings and they have played well in all phases of the game pretty much every week, and that is hard to do.

          Last week, on nasty field conditions they shut out the Shelby Whippets (19-0) in “NOL” play.  Coach Brian Colatruglio says their defense did everything they asked them to do in containing the Whippets.  “Our defense was outstanding from the start to the finish.  Posting a shutout is always a goal.  It was great to be able to get that zero up.  Our offense struggled a little bit.  The conditions were right for a defensive struggle a little bit.  It was a tough night to play offense, that’s for sure,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          Football starts in the heat of summer and the state title games are on the first week in December.  Colatruglio says you have to be ready for whatever conditions are present on a particular Friday night.  “Plus you play in every condition imaginable.  The first game it was 95 degrees and you are battling camps, and heat, and sun.  We play in the rain and mud and a nasty field last week.  Hopefully we are good enough where we get a chance to play when it’s pretty cold out too.  A lot goes into it.  You are not in a gym where everything is the same and you don’t stop playing when it rains.  It’s what makes football the greatest sport in the world, Colatruglio said.

          This week, the Willard Flashes (3-4,0-2) come to Columbian (7-0,2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division.  Willard runs the triple option offense, which has produced some big plays for them this year.  Colatruglio says Willard is doing some good things.  “They are in a system that fits what they have.  They don’t have huge offensive linemen, so they get it in the option and try to scheme some teams that way, I think it’s a good move by them.  It’s pretty similar to what Marion Harding does offensively.  We are fortunate to have played against it once this season already.  You have to be solid against all three phases of the option.  Hopefully, it is something our guys can handle,” said Colatruglio.  He says you have to play assignment football or the Flashes can make some big plays.  “When you watch Army, Navy and Air Force and those teams play they thrive on guys being out of position.  If you can get everybody accounted for and have everybody do their job then you have a chance to slow it down,” he said.

          Colatruglio says they look forward to playing each week, no matter who the opponent is, and that will be the case again this week.  “You only get 10 of them.  We talk to our seniors about you are only guaranteed 10 games, only five at home.  This our second to last home game, it’s senior parents night.  That’s a special night for our seniors.  We can’t afford to throw away any of those opportunities.  It’s a chance to go out in front of a good crowd and play football on Friday night and we are going to take advantage,” he said.          



Columbian Ready to Move Forward


          Tiffin Columbian is playing some outstanding football right now and they hope to be able to keep that going into a game with the Shelby Whippets on Friday night.

          Last Friday night, the Tornadoes met Bellevue in a contest between two 5-0 teams.  Columbian scored first and they were never behind in winning (35-21) in Tiffin.  Coach Brain Colatruglio says they just had that look in their eyes.  “You always wonder what is going to happen when you are challenged and how you kids are going to react.  I love our focus.  We came out of the tunnel and we were ready to play from the start.  I really like how physical our football team played against a team that was also physical.  We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  That is a real positive sign for us moving forward,” said Colatruglio.

          He says the players where not going crazy with intensity.  They just knew what they had to get done on the field in order to win the game.  “It was more of a focus and than an intensity.  There weren’t any rah-rah speeches or anything like that last week.  Our kids were ready to go.  When we can maintain that focus and intensity for an extended period of time we are pretty good,” he said.

          Columbian (6-0,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, plays at Skiles Field against the Shelby Whippets in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  Colatruglio says, yes, they are worried a little bit about a letdown., “Bellevue was a game that we had circled on our schedule.  With coaches and players it has been our focus for a long time.  You fear that natural let down.  It’s human nature.  You kind of get to that point.  That’s what we are fighting.  We told our kids that there are no trophies and championships for being 6-0.  A lot of teams go 6-0.  All of our goals and everything we want to do is in front of us.  We can’t take a step back.  That has been our push this week to make sure that we continue to improve and continue to move forward.  Even though we had a big win last week on Saturday morning that was over.  We needed to move on and get ready to play Shelby,” said Colatruglio.

          Shelby (1-5,0-1) has shown improvement from last year’s 0-10 season.  Colatruglio says the Whippets have some pretty good football players, just not enough of them.  “They are improving.  They have some really good football players.  They just don’t have a ton of them.  Their numbers are down.  Their depth is a little bit lacking.  One thing that stands out is they move the ball on everybody. Their offense is to run the ball on just about everybody they have played.  They get first downs and then they do something to kind of stub their toe a little bit.  They turn it over or they have a negative play and it kind of stalls drives out.  They have our attention and we are going to go on the road and play at a tough place to play.  Our guys are going to be ready,” said Colatruglio.

          The Tiffin coach says he thinks that Shelby is going to try and take the ball out of the hands of his offense.  “I would think that is going to be their plan.  They aren’t really good at throwing the ball.  They are going to try and run it at us and possess the ball.  You know, keep the ball out of our hands and see it they can’t hang around and make it a game in the second half and then anything could happen” he said.



It’s a Battle of Unbeatens


          Norwalk might have something to say about who wins the Northern Ohio League too, but the winner of Friday night’s Bellevue at Tiffin Columbian game is certainly going to be in the driver’s seat.

          Both teams are unbeaten on the season and really haven’t been challenged all year.  Colombian coach Brian Colatruglio says players and coaches alike live for games like this.  “It has been an exciting week.  This is why you do it.  This why the kids put in all of the work in the off season.  This why coaches put in so much time to get into a game like this.  Two great teams and two great communities.  They have an excellent coaching staff that we are going to be kind trading punches with.  It’s exciting and something our guys have been looking forward to for a long time,’ he said.

          Bellevue won last year’s game 20-6.

          Colatruglio says you can tell that it is Bellevue week and that this is a pretty big game just in the way the players are acting and their focus in practice.  “We are pretty up front with our kids.  When we are playing teams we think we should handle we are going to let them know that.  When we play a game like this our guys know this is the best team we have played all year and probably are going to play at least for a while,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Your focus is a little bit better throughout the week.  You have great preparation.  Our practice is just a little bit more crisp.  When you get in a game like this you expect your big time players to make plays.  We expect Jack Jacoby to have a heck of game, Ryan Lynch to get some tough yards, and Jordan Dye to make some plays in the passing game.  Our big time players are going to have to make plays to win.”

          Tiffin Columbian and Bellevue are both ranked in our Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division.  Columbian is #1 and Bellevue is #4.

          The Redmen are led by the play of quarterback Jalen Santoro and Colatruglio knows they are going to have to contain him because he is going to get the ball a lot.  “They are going to put the ball in his hands.  This is his third year starting against us.  I think he has already had 70 carries in two years.  I am sure he is going to get it 35 or 40 times again (Friday) night just like we are going to put it in Jack’s hands on our team.  I expect Santoro to play well and I except Jack Jacoby to play well.  Who’s offensive line steps up and controls the line of scrimmage and who’s defense can get a stop on third down is probably going to settle the game,” said Colatruglio.

          Tiffin is no stranger to big games and Colatruglio believes they will have the right mental approach.  “We are a pretty even keeled team.  We have been in big games before, whether it was early this year or playoff games last year, we have been in this environment before.  I don’t think our guys are going to be overwhelmed by the crowd or by a good football team coming in to play us.  We are pretty focused and we have a great group of guys that show up and do their job,” said Colatruglio.



Tiffin Columbian With One More Tune up


          Tiffin Columbian has put way most of the games they have played this year in the first half and then coasted to the win, but their coach says they have played hard no matter what the score.

          Columbian (4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, downed Marion Harding (39-27) last week.  Coach Brian Colatruglio says they established control early on both sides of the ball.  “We were really pleased.  I think we showed a lot of balance with our offense.  We jumped out early and got out to a lead and then we played petty solid defense.  They got a couple in the fourth quarter on us.  Overall I was happy with the way we played on both sides of the ball,” he said.

          With wins over Clyde (27-7), Mansfield Senior (33-22), and Fostoria (47-0) as well, Colatruglio is very impressed with the way his team has been focused this year.  “I am really proud of our guys.  There were a couple of times we had teams outmanned and our guys know that, but we have showed up every week.  We have really come out and taken life out of people early in the game.  We have been able to get a lot of guys some playing time and finish the job in the second half,” said Colatruglio.

          In their final non-conference game of the season, Tiffin is at Toledo Start (1-3) on Friday night.  Colatruglio says Start has a lot guys on their roster that can take it the distance.  “They are dangerous.  They have a lot of speed, especially at the skilled positions.  They have played a killer schedule.  They opened with Whitmer, Anthony Wayne and Sylvania Southview.  Those three were all division one playoff teams last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They finally played somebody with equal talent and they took it to Sandusky pretty good.  It’s a team that is scary.  They are coming off a win and have some confidence.  We are going on the road and playing on grass for the first time this year.  There are a lot of things that we need to make sure we take care of.”

          With the speed that Start has, similar to Mansfield Senior, Colatruglio says they have to be able to bring down the player that breaks containment and not allow the kids to make a five yard game into a touchdown.  “It’s going to be tackling in space and being gap sound.  Their skilled guys are looking for that big play.  If you aren’t where you are supposed to be they are going to take advantage,” he said.   



Tiffin Facing Option


          So far, Tiffin Columbian has had the answer for all three opponents they have played this year, but Friday night will be a different kind of challenge for the Tornados.

          In the three games they have played so far Columbian, #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, has outscored its opponents 107-29 and that has not been against the little sister’s of the poor.  They have beaten Clyde (27-7) and Mansfield Senior (33-22) and both are going to have good seasons.

          Last week, the Tornados belted Fostoria (47-0) and coach Brain Colatruglio says they did a lot of things right.  “We came out and started real fast.  When you are playing a team that is struggling that is the key.  You have to jump on them early and don’t let them get any confidence and hang around.  We did a great job of doing that,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We really got our passing game going.  Mike Rohrbach threw four touchdowns and Stewart Dye caught three and Donald Walker had the fourth.  It was good to come out and work on some things and jump on them early.”

          Columbian cold have an opportunity to get more players on the field last week, but Colatruglio says the weather got in the way.  “We were starting to, but we had to stop the game with about three minutes to go in the third quarter.  We had lightning and it wasn’t going to let up.  We actually only played two and a half quarters.  For most of the third quarter was our top backups, we got them some time.  Unfortunately we were going to get all of our guys lots of time and just weren’t able to do that,” he said.

          This week, Tiffin Columbian plays host to Marion Harding (1-2), a team that features the old style triple option offense.  “They are different than anyone we have seen.  They run a lot of option where we are going to have to be really assignment based.  Actually they play pretty solid defense.  Mansfield’s speed was just way too much for them.  That was a really bad match-up for them.  We need to continue to make some strides and keep that balance on offense and play real good assignment football on defense,” Colatruglio said.

          Mansfield Senior’s passing game destroyed Harding last week (45-21) as the Tygers had more than 400 yards passing.

          Colatruglio says against that style of offense you have to be very disciplined on defense if you are going to stop them.  “There are a lot teams running the option out of the shot gun, but the under center, the old school veer and mid-line options, you just don’t see a whole lot of it.  We saw last weekend Air Force giving Michigan fits with it.  When run properly it can be a real good offense,” he said.       



Tiffin Concentrating on Self


          Tiffin Columbian continues to build momentum as the Tornados again appear to be one of the better football teams in North Central Ohio.

          Tiffin (2-0) beat Mansfield Senior (33-22) last week in a game that really wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.  Mansfield Senior scored twice in the final two minutes against the Columbian JV defense.  Tornados coach Brian Colatruglio says he was happy with how they played on both sides of the ball.  “We were solid on both sides of the ball against a really good football team.  I was pleased with the way we ran the ball.  I think we really wore them down in the second half, especially in the third quarter when we really got our running game going.  Defensively, we bent a little, but we didn’t give up any big plays and we kept them out of the end zone,” he told Swankonsports.com.

          Against Mansfield Senior wildcat quarterback Jake Jacoby ran for 178 yards and running back Ryan Lynch had 154 yards and both scored twice.  Colatruglio says they have gotten excellent play in the trenches.  “We won the line of scrimmage both nights on both sides of the ball.  Our offensive and defensive lines have gotten the job done.  We got good pressure against Mansfield from our defensive front and we ran the ball pretty well,” he said.

          Columbian, #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll, plays host to old rival Fostoria (0-2) on Friday night.  The Redmen have struggled again this year with losses to Ottawa Glandorf (62-7) and Bowling Green (31-0) in their games so far.  “You know, they are struggling, but they have a new head coach trying to get his stuff in.  With them it’s going to be a little bit of time.  They are growing.  I know they are going to play hard.  It’s the last time of the Fostoria-Tiffin rivalry that has been going on for a long time, so both sides are going to be excited and ready to go on Friday night,” he said.

          Columbian will be an overwhelming favorite in the game, but Colatruglio says they have to be very focused on what they need to do.  “We have to take care of ourselves.  We are not where we want to be.  Even at 2-0 we have a lot of room for improvement.  We have to take care of ourselves and make sure we are taking our step from week to week and improving,” he said.  



Columbian Faces Tough Game With Mansfield Senior


          Tiffin Columbian has designs on the Northern Ohio League title, but they also have established the goal of making the playoffs.  A win Friday night at Mansfield Senior will help attain that second goal.

          Last week, the Tornados took down Clyde (27-7) in their first game of the season.  Coach Brian Colatruglio says they were able to start the game with a bang.  “We got off to a fast start.  We returned the opening kick for a touchdown and hit a couple of other big plays.  We had some guys playing for the first time on Friday night that made some plays for us.  Overall, it was a good victory.  We got a lot of things accomplished.  We came out healthy and got a big win against an always tough Clyde team,” said Colatruglio.

          Even with the good start the season, Colatruglio knows there are still some things they have to work on.  “We still have some inconsistency at this point.  We gave up some plays in the passing game.  We are a little inconsistent in our drops and things like that.  Our offensive line has to be more consistent in what they are doing.  We had some big plays, but there were also a couple of times we failed to sustain drives because of it,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (1-0) played excellent football in downing Galion (14-7) last week in their first game.  Colatruglio is very impressed with the Senior High defense he saw on tape.  “They are really fast on both sides of the ball.  Not just the skilled guys.  Defensively, their line is quick and they get off the ball.  Defensively they played a great game against Galion.  They really ran to the ball well and made everything really tough on them.  We have to contain their athletes when we are on defense and defensively we have to be physical and control the line of scrimmage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.  He says they have great athletes in the secondary, but they are a lot better up front then they were last year.  “We knew how good they were in the secondary.  What really stood out on tape was they controlled the line of scrimmage against Galion.  Galion has a good running back and a good running quarterback and they really struggled running the ball.  We knew Mansfield had athletes on the perimeter, but they are much improved up front,” said Colatruglio.

          Mansfield Senior is featuring more of the spread offense and the Tiffin coach says that exactly what they should be doing.  “They were very smart.  They had a stud tailback and he was the focal of their offense.  When he got hurt they went to their strength.  The one thing about Mansfield Senior they are always going to have speed, they are always going to have great athletes.  I think spreading the field and putting four receivers out there is smart move to get their best players on the field,” Colatruglio said.

          With both teams likely factors in their league races Colatruglio knows this game carries a lot of importance as far as the playoffs are concerned.  “It’s week two and we don’t try to think about that too much, but Mansfield is a good team and they are going to win some games, just like Clyde was a good team and is going to win some games.  Even though it is week two these are important games for down the road.  We have to be able to beat teams like this,” he said.



Playoff Implications for Tiffin and Clyde


          Two of the area’s traditional football powers meet on Friday night as Tiffin Columbian travels to Clyde to meet the Fliers in non-conference high school football.

          Last year, Tiffin finished 10-3 and Clyde was 9-3.  The Tornados won the opening week match-up 26-13.

          Columbian has some returning players to their lineup and coach Brian Colatruglio believes they have a good mix of talented underclassmen too.  “We are on course.  We have kind of mixed our guys in and got our new starters.  We have everything kind of ironed out where people need to be.  I think we are ready to play a game.  It has been a long camp and two a days.  I think the kids are anxious to get out there and play one for real,” he said.

          This is Colatruglio’s third season with Columbian after taking Hopewell-Loudon to the state finals a couple of times.  He believes this team has a good make up.  “We are a good physical, fundamental football team.  We have a good group of guys.  We want to block and tackle.  With all of the stuff that people do it still comes down to fundamental football and blocking and tackling.  The team that does those things is going to win week in and week out.  That is what we really focus on.  We want to be a good, sound, fundamental football team,” said Colatruglio.

          In his opinion Colatruglio believes this game is going to be decided up front.  “This will probably always be the case in football.  The game is won at the line of scrimmage.  We have a good group on both sides of the ball and we are going to lean on them,” he said.

          Clyde, like Columbian, lost some players to graduation, but Colatruglio says the Fliers have just reloaded.  “This is typical Clyde team.  They have tough scrappy kids.  Our kids and Clyde’s kids are very similar.  Neither one of us is pumping out division one talent every single year, but we have good hard nosed tough football players and Clyde does too.  It’s a great match-up between two small communities that are close together.  Football is important to both schools.  I think that both teams and both programs mirror each other,” said Colatruglio.

          Both teams made the playoffs last year, Tiffin in division two and Clyde in division three, and Colatruglio believes a win Friday night would be a good start in that direction.  “They are going ton win eight or nine football games they do every year.  We are going to win seven, eight, nine games because that’s just where we are at in our program as well.  Long term looking down the road this is a huge game for us because it’s one of the best teams that we are going to play and for them it is the same,” said Colatruglio.     



Columbian Trying to Bring Young Kids Along


          Tiffin Columbian is one of the early season favorites to win the Northern Ohio League again this year after finishing third last season.

          The Tornadoes did beat league champion Sandusky in the first round of the playoffs.  They finished with a 10-3 record for the year.

          This year coach Brian Colatruglio says he is happy with the progress the team is making during preseason workouts.  “It’s always a process when you first start two a days and try and build for that first game.  I think we are right on schedule.  We have improved as we have gone.  We are trying to fight through all of injuries and all of the things that come with camp as you progress through.  I think we are right on pace in getting ourselves ready for the first game,” he said.

          Colatruglio is in his third year as the coach at Columbian after a successful run at nearby Hopewell-Loudon.  He says the players this year clearly know what he and the coaching staff expect of them.  “We are in our third year now and the kids are picking things up quickly.  Just the tempo and the intensity in practice and I think everybody understands how we do things now,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Everything has gone so much smoother you know getting our plays installed and just the whole tempo of practice.  We don’t have to coach those things the way we had to the first couple of years.”

          Unlike Allen Iverson, Colatruglio understands the importance of practice and he makes sure the kids understand it too.  “We try to make practice really fast and make it difficult and put kids in tough situations and try to prepare them for all of those circumstances that are going to come up on Friday night,” he said.

          Columbian returns some their best players to the lineup, but Colatruglio knows they have to have other guys that play too in case of injury or just the need for rest by the starters.  “I am really concerned with depth.  We are really battling to get some of our younger guys to step in and be able to provide that depth.  Whether we rotate guys or have to get guys a break.  That is always a concern just catching the young guys up and getting them ready to play varsity football.  For sophomores it’s a big jump from playing freshmen football to trying to play varsity football,” he said.   



Columbian Belts Clear Fork


          Tiffin Columbian earned their second title in less than a week when they hammered Clear Fork in the division two sectional finals on Tuesday night at Clyde High School.

          Carter Mullins hit a two-run home run in the first inning and starting pitcher Daniel Wood gave up two runs over five innings as the Tornados (15-6) beat the Colts (9-2) to advance to the district tournament.  Columbian has lost to Pemberville Eastwood in the sectional final the last two years.

          Tiffin coach Curt Mellot says they got a bit hit in the first inning and got off to a running start against Clear Fork.  “I thought our kids played pretty well (Tuesday) night.  I think they have a very hard nosed team, a team that just plays the game the right way and really tries to do the little things right.  We got a chance to jump on them early and had a big two-run home run in the first inning.  Once we did that we got out of a little jam there in the top of the second inning.  We never really looked back after that,” he said.

          Yes, there are late rallies to win tournament games, but more times than not it is the team that gets off to a good start that wins the game.  Mellot says they got some early momentum against Clear Fork (12-10).  “It’s always big to get a lead early to kind of get the ball rolling so to speak.  I thought we did a really good job (Tuesday) of taking advantage with two outs with a base hit by Tyler Furer and out four hole hitter Carter Mullins really stayed back on the baseball and drove it to center field and gave us an early 2-0 advantage.  It set the tone early and when you can do that things usually turn out well for you,” said Mellot.

          The Tornados shared the Northern Ohio League title with Norwalk and Bellevue this year and they are a team loaded with seniors.  Mellot says he has three senior pitchers that he really relies on.  “Our top three pitchers all being seniors Nick Loura, Tyler Furer and obviously Daniel Wood have been outstanding for us.  We nearly had back to back no-hitters.  Daniel had a no-hitter at Norwalk and Nick had a no-hitter into the seventh against Shelby Saturday and Daniel came out (Tuesday) and did his thing again and pitched very, very well for us, but kind of tired,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We had a chance to bring Tyler in and he’s a kid that throws hard and throws a lot strikes.  He did a very good job for us and kind of closing the door in the sixth and seventh.”

          Over at Elida High School Tuesday night, favored Wapakoneta downed the home standing Bulldogs 2-0 to advanced to the districts as well to set up a meeting with Columbian.  Mellot says he knows quite a bit about Wapakoneta and coach Jason Brandt.  “The thing about Wapakoneta is I am good friends with their coach.  I actually played college baseball against him.  And every year for the last three years we have scrimmaged them to begin our season.  I have pretty god knowledge about them.  I know they play in the Western Buckeye League.  They are pretty much a junior laden team this year.  They were a senior laden team a couple of years ago.  They are talented.  Their number one pitcher and their number one hitter are very, very good.  We played them basically even in that opening scrimmage of the season.  It will be interesting to see how we have both progressed.  I am looking forward to that challenge against Jason,” said Mellot.



Tiffin Columbian an “NOL” Champ


          The Northern Ohio League is as tough and deep as any league its size north of Columbus this year with the likes of Norwalk, Bellevue, Sandusky and Tiffin Columbian.   It’s the Tornados that have a chance to win an outright title by beating Norwalk on Thursday.

          The Tornados (13-5,7-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll, got a piece of the championship with a win over Sandusky (11-1) on Tuesday night.  Coach Curt Mellot says this year’s team has been one that has believed in itself.  “I think this year more than any year in the past we have had a lot of leadership that has stepped up in key situations as well as experienced players that have been there.  I can’t say enough about our seniors and our juniors that have made major contributions they have made to our team.  I just feel like they have really taken this to a new level and I am really proud of those young men this year,” he said.

          Norwalk is the defending league champion, but Mellot says they have worked very hard this year to get something that eluded them a year ago.  “Experience is very key at this point and time.  Like I said we have eight seniors that have gotten us to this point.  They have been through the wars so to speak of competition and knowing our “NOL” foes very well.  I believe some of the trials and tribulations they have suffered along the way as sophomores with about a .500 season and the close calls we had last year really kind of catapulted us into the challenges of this season.  The “NOL” pound for pound is one of the toughest leagues in the area, the state for that matter, and we have really had to bring our “A” game every game to compete and to do well,” said Mellot.

          With four teams ranked in our poll and the statewide poll this year, the “NOL” has been a battle every night.  Plus you have to throw in Willard,, who beat Norwalk and took Columbian to the wall a couple of times.  Mellot says this makes title even more special.  “That’s one thing looking back five, six years ago and a little further when we had some good teams and records and great individuals and the “NOL” was not quite as balanced at that time.  This is has seemed to prepare us in a number of ways for all of the challenges we face in tough weekend doubleheaders and non-league games.  The fun part is each team is really putting pressure on each other to play their very best.  I see teams playing the full seven innings no matter what the situation is.  I am really proud to be part of that.  It has really been fun more than anything,” Mellot said.

          Columbian is at Norwalk (18-4,6-3), #2 in the Swankonsports.com poll,  on Thursday.  Mellott says he is confident in giving the ball to his number two starter in Daniel Wood, who has been a big part of the Tornados success this year.  “We threw our number one on Tuesday with Tyler Fuhrer, but the cool thing for us is we have three senior pitchers that have all been through the battle.  We will be throwing Daniel Wood on Thursday, who has been at the top of his game this year on the mound.  He has had a lot of key wins for us and some key close games for us that we have lost.  I have a lot of confidence with Dan going for us on Thursday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We still have a Nick Loura that due to an injury didn’t pitch much for us early in the year still available for us to close things out.  Tyler can still offer us a few innings on Thursday.  I feel good with that.  This is our opportunity to win a league title on our own and the kids would really love to do that.  That was their number one goal that they had at the beginning of the season.  We are looking forward to battling as hard as we can against an absolutely great Norwalk team.”



Shorthanded or not Tiffin Ready to Battle


          Tiffin Columbian and Willard go at for the third time this season in the division two sectional semi-finals at Bucyrus High School on Wednesday evening.

          They split their regular season games with each winning on the opponent’s home floor.  Tiffin winning at Willard (57-47) and the Flashes returning the favor (74-70) at Columbian.

          Last week, Tiffin (9-11) lost to unbeaten Norwalk (58-47) in the regular season finale for both.  Columbian coach Bill Beaston felt his kids showed a lot of heart. “I think our kids showed that when faced with some adversity they are a group that is going to come out swinging.  We played without our starting point guard and we played without our post off the bench, so we were pretty short handed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “For three quarters we played them basically toe to toe and it was the third quarter that cost us.  They played a very nice third quarter offensively and we struggled and that proved to be the difference in the game.  Hopefully, we are a little bit more healthy.  I know the kids are really getting ready for Willard and are excited for season number two to start.”

          They hope to get back the two players they are missing, but Beaston says they don’t know yet if that is going to be possible.  “We’ll know for sure by Wednesday when the trainer can look at them one last time and be able to make a determination on whether they can play or whether they can’t.  If they are that would be great, it certainly helps our team to be at full strength.  The nice thing is we have experience if we’re not, so it’s not like it’s the first time we have been on the floor without them,” he said.

          It is true in most early tournament games between league opponents that there isn’t going to be much of a secret when it comes to personnel or previous strategy.  Beaston reports in this case that is really true.  “I think the teams match-up very well.  Both coaching staffs know each other very well.  We talk quite a bit outside of the weeks that we play each other.  We trade film quite a bit and help each other out with opposing teams.  There is a lot of familiarity with each other, which makes it kind of neat because at that point it just becomes about who executes the best.  We know what they are going to do and they know what we are going to do.  Hopefully we out execute them and we are the team on the top at the end of the game,” Beaston said.

          As far as keys are concerned, Beaston says they have to get the Flashes out of the lane and keep them off of the offensive boards if they are going to be the team that advances down the tournament trail.  “The two things that hurt us in the two games we played them were offensive rebounding and keeping them out of the paint both in the half court and in the transition.  When they are able to get to the rim and make lay ups or get easy baskets inside the paint and get easy put backs in offensive rebounding situations that is when their offense has really excelled and they scored a lot of points.  Those are the two areas we focused on.  I really believe if we can execute in those two categories it’s going to give us a chance to win,” Beaston said.



Columbian Has to Slow Down Norwalk


          Tiffin Columbian is the last team with a chance to hand Norwalk a regular season loss this year.  The Truckers have won all 19 so far.

          Columbian (9-10,4-5) edged Sandusky (67-62) in a Northern Ohio League game last Friday and then lost in non-conference play (57-51) to Fremont Ross on Saturday night.  With the tournament beginning next week, Tornados coach Bill Beaston knows their execution has to be better than it has been lately.  “We certainly have some room for improvement.  It was really nice to get that win against Sandusky.  It had been a while since we had gotten one.  When you look at all of our loses, the games are very competitive, you know we are losing by five or six points,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It’s just a matter for finding out those little things we can do to get a couple of possessions in our favor and come out on top.  This is the time of year that you want to be peaking and playing your best basketball as you get ready for the tournament.”

          Beaston knows there is going to be packed house at Norwalk on Friday night.  He says that is what he likes to see and he hopes his players are ready for that too.  “It’s going to be a great environment.  I would imagine they are going to have a lot of people there ready to cut down the nets at home for winning an outright league title.  And hopeful they can get that 20 win season.  For us it’s going to be a great atmosphere.  We are looking forward to the challenge of going up there and see what we can do,” he said.

          Norwalk (19-0,9-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for larger schools, has a lot of strengths.  Beaston says they have great offensive balance and their depth is better than any team that he has seen this year.  “They are very unselfish.  They don’t seem to particularly care who gets the points or the articles in the paper or things like that.  They just do whatever it takes to win games and if that is option number one scoring, then that’s what happens.  It the first three options are taken away then option four or five step up and score.  So, I think that’s the biggest thing.  The other thing that is great about them is their depth.  They will play eight or nine guys.  They don’t seem to miss a beat when they go that deep.  When you can do that you have a numbers game on your side for sure,” said Beaston.

          If they are going to pull the upset, Beaston believes they are going to need to make Norwalk work for their scores in the half court and make sure they are able to defend the post.  “Number one we have to limit their transition opportunities.  When they make their runs in basketball games they do it wit their press, getting turnovers and getting lay ups.  If we can limit transition baskets that’s going to help.  We just have to make them work offensively.  We want to use our quickness a little bit and play a little physical.  To limit their easy baskets a little bit is going to be our biggest challenge.  They are great athletically.  They are really good at getting to the rim.  Fetherolf is a really good post player.  If he gets the ball inside it’s almost automatic he’s going to score,” said Beaston.       



Tiffin Looking for that Little Something Extra


          Tiffin Columbian’s season in many ways has been close, but not cigar, if that is an appropriate statement regarding high school aged athletes.

          Again last week Tiffin played two good basketball teams and almost beat them both.  Willard took a big first half lead and hung on to beat (74-70) Tiffin in a Northern Ohio League game.  On Saturday night, Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leader Lexington, bested the Tornados (56-44) in a non-conference game.

          Columbian coach Bill Beaston admits there were some off the court issues for them and he was very proud of how his players responded in the second half versus Willard.  “It was kind of a frustrating weekend.  In the Willard game we played the first half without a starter.  Another of our starter’s mother passed away the day before the game.  So, there were a lot of things on our minds other than basketball at that point,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We dug ourselves a little bit of a whole in the first half.  We were down 19 at one point.  Our kids did an outstanding job of battling back and making it a basketball game.  We had it at two late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie.  We just couldn’t come up with a big play to put us over the top.  I’m really proud of the kid’s effort on that night.  It would have been very easy to pack it in and quit and they didn’t do that.”

          Against Lexington, Beaston believes they executed their defensive game plan very well, but Lexington was just too good.  “Saturday we played a very, very good Lexington team and I thought our defensive game plan was strong.  We took away their two top scorers in Colin Michael and Raseed Brooks.  We did a pretty good job with their inside play as well.  Their guards just killed us.  Willeke and Webster just shot the ball really, really well on that night.  That is why they are as good as they are.  They are a very balanced team and they take what you give them and they take advantage of that,” said Beaston.

          The athletic skills are there for Tornados, but Beaston says they just haven’t been making the best decisions on the floor this year and that has cost them in a lot of close games.  “It still boils down to our decision making.  If you looked at both of those games things past weekend we had four to six minute stretches were we just didn’t make good decisions.  We didn’t take good shots.  We didn’t make the smart pass.  We tried to force a dribble drive that wasn’t there and that resulted in a turnover.  At the same time when the other team is scoring that is when they are putting together these eight, 10 and 12 point runs.  Then you look at things at the end of the night and things aren’t in your favor it’s easy to look at that one stretch that killed us.  If we can put together 32 minutes of solid basketball I think we are going to be in great shape,” said Beaston.

          Sandusky (8-10,2-6) will be at Tiffin for a league game on Friday night.  The Blue Steaks beat Tiffin Columbian (83-73) in overtime in their first meeting back on January 6.  Beaston cautions to not be fooled by the Sandusky record.  “They are several points away from maybe being a 13, 14 win team at this point.  We had an outstanding battle with them at their place.  They got a last second tip in to force overtime and then actually got us in overtime.  Our kids are aware of that and would like to get some revenge on the home floor.  This weekend is the last time our seniors are going to step on the floor, so they would like to get two wins before they are done playing in our own gym,” Beaston said.

          Tiffin also plays Fremont Ross (8-8) at home on Saturday night in a non-conference game.  Beaston hopes this is the weekend for a break out for his team.  “I still think our best game is out there.  Our kids will even tell you that.  They know their best game is still out there to be had.  They are hungry to go do it.  They want to go do it.  Now is the perfect time to start doing it.  You want to be peaking at the end of the season as you get ready for tournament play,” said Beaston.     



Columbian Excited to Play Shelby


          Tiffin Columbian can move into a share of second place in the Northern Ohio league with a win at Shelby on Saturday night.  They will need a better defensive effort than they got the first time the teams played in order to do that.

          Last week, the Tornados went on the road and beat Bellevue (58-52) in a league game.  Coach Bill Beaston knows road wins the “NOL” don’t come easy.  “I thought it was a great road win at Bellevue.  Anytime you can win on the road in our league it is something to hang you hat on.  Our league is tough as it is.  Every team plays better at home.  I was really happy with the kids’ effort on Friday, I thought they played outstanding,” he said.

          In a big game in Seneca County on Saturday night, New Riegel, of the Midland Athletic League, edged the Tornados (62-57) before a sellout crowd.  Beaston calls it a great game where the Blue Jackets made just a couple more shots.  “The game was at their place.  They are a very, very good basketball team.  I think people put too much stock in what division teams are.  If you have five guys that can play it doesn’t matter what division you are, you have five guys that can play.  New Riegel does.  It was a packed house.  It was an electric atmosphere.  It was a tournament type game.  They played really, really well.  They played hard, they played physical.  It came down to execution and they were able to execute a few more plays in the forth quarter than we were,” said Beaston.

          On Saturday night, Columbian (8-6,3-3) will be at Shelby to face the Whippets.  Shelby won at Tiffin (80-64) in the first round of league play.  Beaston says both teams like to get up and down the floor.  “They shot 71 percent from the floor the first time we played.  They were absolutely lights out on the offensive end.  Like always, Shelby was very solid in pressuring you defensively as well.  It’s an interesting game, it is definitely a fast paced game between the two teams, there are a lot of athletes on the floor.  You aren’t going to see much walking the ball up the floor when the two teams match-up,” Beaston said.

          To win this time around Beaston says they have to reduce their turnovers against the Shelby (10-4,4-2) pressure and make sure they do a better job of protecting the paint against the Whippets.  “We have to protect the ball offensively.  We can’t turn the ball over against their pressure.  Defensively we just have to lock down a little better.  We have to contest the perimeter and make sure jump shots aren’t wide open.  We have to do a good job of keeping them out of the paint.  They do a great job of penetrating and getting to the rim.  If they aren’t getting lay ups, they do a great job of drawing contact and getting to the foul line and getting points there,” he said.

          Last week, Norwalk did a great job in limiting the points of Shelby’s outstanding point guard Garrett Arnold.  Beaston says Arnold is a great player, but the Whippets are more than just him.  “He is an outstanding point guard.  He gets the ball to people that need to get the ball when they need to get it, plus he is a real good scorer.  He can go both ways depending on what they need.  The big thing with Shelby is they have two other kids that can score in Nelson and Fenner,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Those guys have had big games all year.  All three of them are in double digits.  If you have enough defenders to do some work on those three they have great role players.  Austin Rody is a good outside shooter, the Calver kid is real good outside shooter, and Jacoby Wilson can play as well.  The thing that makes Shelby so good is whatever area you are trying to allow them to have offensively they attack that.  You have to have great team defense to keep them in check.”



Tiffin Needs Momentum


          Tiffin Columbian is a talented ball club that was once 6-1 on the season, but they have hit a drought and the need to find some water in the form of a win.

          Last week, Columbian (7-5,2-3) lost to Northern Ohio league leader Norwalk (63-50) and lost a tough one at Clyde (72-66) in overtime.  Coach Bill Beaston was proud of the effort his kids put forth, but it just wasn’t enough to get over the top.  “Norwalk came in here Friday night and they are a load.  They are hard to match up with.  We played short handed without our point guard and with limited services from one of our guys off the bench.  I credit our kids, I thought we really battled and gutted it out.  We played really hard and gave Norwalk a good battle.  They are just a really good team and they made the plays down the stretch to win the game,” said Beaston.

          On Friday night, the Tornados travel to Bellevue (6-8,1-4) for an “NOL” game against the Redmen.  Tiffin edged the Redmen (61-57) in early December in the first league game for both.  Jalen Santoro is an outstanding point guard for the Redmen, but Beaston says he is not their only player.  “This league is tough.  There are no off nights.  Every night you go at it it’s a battle, especially when you go on the road.  Bellevue is a very difficult place to play.  They shoot very well at home,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday,   “They are guard oriented and it starts with Jalen Santoro, who is a great scorer and a great point guard for them.  His supporting cast can fill it up too.  Trevor Smith, Ryan Kerry, Charles Dendinger and Trent Stamm can all knock down the three as well.  We will have out hands full.  We know we are going to have to focus on the defensive end.”

          Bellevue is an old style gym that has seating behind the baskets and that can lead to depth perception problems for the visiting team.  Beaston says they just have to overcome that mental block.  “It’s a unique set up.  Not a lot of gyms you go to have bleachers behind the baskets.  The big thing that the kids have to think about is the rim is still 10 feet in the air.  The three point line is still 19 feet, nine inches away and the free throw line is still 15 feet away.  It’s just that repetition you do every day in the gym or the YMCA or wherever you are shooting it,” said Beaston.

          It’s not a matter of a team that is lacking in talent, but Beaston knows they need a win pretty badly and the sooner the better.  “We have dropped three in a row.  We have lost four of five.  With the exception of maybe Norwalk the other ones were games we had leads in or could have won.  So, that’s been a little bit frustrating.  The kids haven’t gotten down.  They have kept a positive attitude.  We are having great practices, so I feel the end is near.  Hopefully, the end is this Friday.  Our motto going forward is trying to find a way.  I really believe if there is a way we can find to get one we can get some positive momentum and maybe get a few in a row.   



Tiffin Must Shorten Norwalk Runs


          All of the rest of the teams in the Northern Ohio League are counting on the Tiffin Columbian Tornados this week.  It’s their turn to play the unbeaten Norwalk Truckers and an upset would bring them back to the rest of the league.

          It’s happened in other leagues such as Ashland’s upset of Lexington and Galion’s of Colonel Crawford.

          Last Thursday, Tiffin (7-3,2-2) lost a non-league game to Upper Sandusky (55-49) in a battle between former league foes.  Columbian coach Bill Beaston does not believe they played well at all against the Rams.  “We struggled on that night versus Upper basically in all facets of the game.  We struggled offensively, we struggled defensively.  We didn’t shoot well and for whatever reason we didn’t play characteristic of what our kids normally play.  Credit the Upper kids.  I thought they played well defensively and they executed offensively when they needed to get baskets, they go them.  It was just one of those nights when it was their night and not ours.  I think we have learned a few lessons from it and we are ready to move forward,” said Beaston.

          Tiffin gets the unbeaten Truckers (11-0,4-0) on their home floor.  Beaston believes Norwalk will not take anything for granted and will be ready to play.  “Anytime you are at the top of the league you are going to have the bull’s eye on your back.  There is no doubt that they have that within the Northern Ohio League.  Everyone is gunning for them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Shelby only sits one game back and I know they would like to see them lose before they get their chance again.  So would everyone else, so they could get closer in the race.  They are 11-0 because they are winning non-league games too.  They are ranked in the division one AP poll.  Anyone that gets a chance to play them it’s an opportunity to prove yourself against them.”

          Norwalk has very good height across the front line, plus they are very athletic.  Beaston says they will have to handle the ball well and limit the spurts the Truckers tend to get.  “They play pretty solid and are pretty disciplined.  They don’t make a lot of mistakes where you can get cheep baskets off of them.  The other thing that they do, and in my opinion, where they have extended the lead in a lot of their ball games is they get anywhere from two to five stretches in the game where they will turn you over three, four, five times in a row.  If they can do that they can extend their lead by two, four points every time they do that.  They also play solid defense.  It seems like a simple recipe, but it’s very affective and very difficult to game plan against,” said Beaston.

          One way to try and avoid such a run by Norwalk is refocus on each play and forget what just happened and move on.  Beaston says if you don’t, that’s when the Truckers get you.  “We have stressed that all year with our kids.  It’s going to be a major point of emphasis this week.  As good as Norwalk is they are probably going to have a run.  They may even have a second one.  You can’t allow that run to be extended to 10-0, 12-0 or 16-0, where it just snowballs on you.  You have to keep that run limited to a 6-0 run and then you have to answer that possession by possession.  That’s the difficult challenge against a team as good as Norwalk,” said Beaston.



Tiffin to Play Important Games


          Tiffin Columbian continues to be the best bigger school boys’ basketball team that nobody has heard of.  Columbian has won all of its games but two this year.

          Last Friday night they lost to Sandusky in overtime, but followed that up with a 49-41 win over Marion Harding on Saturday night.  Coach Bill Beaston says they gutted it out and did what they had to to beat the Presidents.  “It was not the prettiest of basketball games that’s for sure.   The track meet from the night before apparently took a toll on our conditioning a little bit.  We played tired.  We played a little flat, but a credit to our kids despite the poor shooting effort they just figured out a way to come out on top.  They got stops when they need to, we got free throws when we need to and we got big baskets when we needed to,” said Beaston.

          Tuesday night Columbian (7-2) travels to Oak Harbor (1-6) of the Sandusky Bay Conference to face the Rockets in non-conference play.  Beaston says the Rockets are better than they were a year ago.  “They have a new coach.  This is his first year there.  They are running a few new things that we aren’t familiar with.  A lot more four out and one in as opposed to being a little more set oriented,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They have a lot of guys back that played last year.  They are a veteran team.  I think their record is a little bit deceiving.  They only have one win, but their games have been more competitive than in years past.  Going to their place is a tough place to play so our kids are going to have to be mentally ready for this challenge.”

          It’s a Tuesday night non-conference game, but that doesn’t mean a win for the Tornados isn’t important, quite the opposite.  Beaston says they are building toward the tournament.  “We still have aspirations of trying to compete for the league or at least having a say in that, but also you are competing for a sectional seed as well.  It’s a lot easier to have options when you go into that Sunday for where you go in the tournament as opposed to having few options or just being placed somewhere.  You have to win non-league games with the few league games that we have to have a little bit more of a say, so these games are extremely important and our kids understand that,” said Beaston.  Plus, with only six teams now in the Northern Ohio league it makes both league and non-league games more important.  “It emphasizes our league schedule because each game is so important because there are fewer of those, but each non-league game that you play because there are more of them you are opening yourself up to more variety of schools to play.  My hope is that when the tournament time comes around it makes us a little more battle tested and prepared the play whoever it is we get to play,” he said.

          On Thursday night, the Tornados play a familiar team, even though it is now a non-conference game now in the Upper Sandusky Rams (6-3).  Beaston says the Rams are playing very patient basketball right now.  “There style of play is unique.  They had picked up the pace earlier in the season.  I think they had a kid who is injured and maybe another kid who is out for whatever reason.  I think they may have changed their style of play a little bit.  We played them three times last year and we played a couple times this summer, so both teams are very, very familiar with each other.  I think it’s going to be a real exciting, well played basketball game.  You know, there aren’t in our league anymore, but they are in our sectional so it as ramifications when we go to vote next month.”



Tiffin Needs Win at Willard


          As well as the Norwalk Truckers are playing this year it is unlikely that anyone can lose more than one or two Northern Ohio League games and have a chance to share the league title.  Everyone accept the Truckers has already lost one.

          Tiffin Columbian (5-1,1-1) plays at Willard (3-4,1-1) in an “NOL” game on Friday night.  The winner stays in the league race.  The loser, well?

          Last week, in a non-conference game Tiffin beat former “NOL” member Fostoria (58-41) in a game that Columbian coach Bill Beaston felt they played very well on defense.  “We struggled a little bit offensively.  We didn’t shoot very well on the night, really in either half.  Defensively we were pretty darn good, especially in the fourth quarter when we gave up six points.  In fourth quarter we were able to ice the game and extend the lead.  We were pleased with that.  We told the kids anytime you can struggle offensively and still find ways to win those are positives going forward,” said Beaston.

          Tiffin has a number of kids that put the ball in the hole this season, but they have not been as consistent as they perhaps need to be.  However, Beaston believes they can make defense the difference for the Tornados.  “The kids are starting to figure that out too.  We have some guys that really put in the time offensively and improved their skills there.  Now, we are trying to get them to improve their defensive skills and be able to match those offensive skills and be a more balanced team.  The kids realized last year if you can play good defense, you can win games and that is what we are trying to get to,” he said.

          Willard has probably played as a good a schedule as anyone around this year.  Their loses come to Lexington, Ontario, Bellevue and Ashland.  Beaston says they have all kinds of players.  “Well, they present a few problems because they are really tall and long.  The films that I have seen they put lineups out there to start that are 6-2 to  6-6 across the board.  We have a couple of point guards that are 5-8 and 5-6,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are working through some issues there.  They have to the two real big kids Adams and Burba I think are really solid players inside.  I think the Hahler kid is a pretty versatile player too.  They have a couple of kids that can shoot it from deep.  The Flugarty kid looks like a pretty good shooter and so does the Cok kid.”

          Willard has won more “NOL” titles than any other school and Beaston believes those banners have a way on intimidating opponents.  “Anytime you go to Willard it is a difficult place to play.  Some of the ghosts and demons seem to come out of the bleachers and cause havoc for the opposing team, so we are ready to go and excited for the challenge,” he said.

          Beaston says there is no question that this is a must win for them if they expect to win a conference title or really even compete for it.  “We are definitely at a point in our schedule it is going to make or break our league race.  You know, we have already dropped one game and I don’t think anyone can afford to drop two, so it’s a point where you can distance yourself from the rest of the pack and continue to chase Norwalk.  You can’t look that far ahead either.  You have to go game to game and take care of the business at hand.  If we show up and play defense like we are capable of hopefully that works out in our favor,” said Beaston.    



Tiffin Columbian Has to Play Defense


          Tiffin Columbian is moving into a crucial part of their season and if the Tornados are to be the kind of team they have the potential to be, they have to start playing better defense.

          Last week, they lost to Shelby (84-60) in a Northern Ohio League game and then rallied to beat Kenton in a non-conference match-up on Saturday.  Coach Bill Beaston says Shelby just shot lights out against them, but they put a better effort together on Saturday.  “Friday night was tuff against Shelby, the kids were disappointed.  The bottom line is Shelby played outstanding offense.  They shot 71 percent from the field for the game.  They played really, really well offensively.  They converted on their end.  You know, we had some breakdowns defensively to help with that.  Anytime a team shoots 71 percent it going to be tough to win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “But, like our kids do they came back the next night ready to battle.  It was a three game week last week.  It was tough to get them motivated, to get them interested.  Once the ball was up in the air, they were ready to go.  We executed very well against Kenton, we sort of got them in a track meet.  We were able to get a big halftime lead.  We were able to stay above water for the rest of the way.”

          Tiffin has some players that can put the ball in the basket and they have shown that this season.  Beaston says their biggest problems have come on the defensive end of the floor.  “No doubt that it has to be defense.  We have scored over 60 points in our four games.  I think in a high school basketball game that is adequate.  In a couple of our games we have given up more than 60 and that has to change if we want to be successful in the long term.  The nice thing is a team like us that went to the football playoffs the Christmas break is very important.  We have just one game this week and one game next week, so it’s an opportunity to get a lot of practice in.  It’s a chance to get a lot of drills and get better at those little things on defense,” said Beaston.

          They host Fostoria in a non-conference game on Friday night.  The Redmen are coming off a good win over a strong Tiffin Calvert team (66-59) on Tuesday night.  Beaston says Fostoria has some athletic kids that can get to the glass.  “They are long and athletic.  They aren’t 6-6, 6-7, but they aren’t short either.  They are between 6-0 and 6-4 with long wing stands.  They want to get out and run, they are leapers and jumpers.  They rebound really well.  Two guys that are a concern offensively.  Adonis Cousins, he’s a junior, he’s a post player by trade.  He is deceptively quick and can put the ball on the floor from the perimeter.  He can also shoot the three.  He’s averaging 14.7 a game.  Their leading scorer is Brandon Glenn.  He’s a point guard, he’s a shooting guard and their best outside shooting threat.  He is getting between two and four three pointers a game.  Those guys are a concern and we have to hold them down.  Every one of their other guys are capable of scoring as well.  They don’t do it game to game like the other two do, but it seems like every game they have four guys in double digits,” said Beaston.

          In order to win Friday night, Beaston believes they have to keep Fostoria out of the lane and not allow them to dominate the boards.  “We are going to have to buckle down defensively and keep those guys out on the perimeter as much as possible and make them into a jump shooting team.  We have to make sure the two main concerns are contested.  With Fostoria if you don’t rebound you can’t win,” said Beaston.        



Big Comeback Lifts Tiffin


          After Norwalk it seems there are a bunch a pretty good basketball teams in the Northern Ohio League that are pretty balanced, so being able to win close ones is going to be a pretty big deal.

          Tiffin Columbian erased a 13-point fourth quarter deficit and rallied to beat Bellevue at home 61-57 last week in the Tornados first game of the season.  Coach Bill Beaston says they never quit and were able to make some big plays in the end.  “To start it was everything we were kind of afraid of.  It was a typical first game and it took a while to get things figured out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “To credit Bellevue as we were going through our struggles they shot really well.  All things totaled a 13 point deficit at halftime, 13 point deficit at the end of the third quarter.  It was typical with our kids, we grinded it out and found a way to win.  We were able to erase that deficit and made a nice come from behind win.”

          With the win Columbian can continue to build momentum in the early part of the season.  Beaston says the players learned some important lessons that they can carry with them.   “It definitely created some energy going into this week.  “Anytime you get a win it creates positive energy.  The kids were really able to learn some things with our offense and defense.  Anytime a kid can understand that a game really isn’t over and the importance of playing to the buzzer no matter if you are winning or losing is a positive lesson for any young kid,” he said.

          There are also some teaching moments too.  Beaston says they have to run their motion offense a little bit better and not watch teammates when they have the ball, plus they have to play harder on defense and finish it off with a rebound.  “Our offensive movement has to get better.  We have a tendency to stand and watch and let one guy go one on one as opposed to creating some things away from the basketball.  The other thing that we have to do a little bit better job with is box outs and finishing out possessions defensively.  If we can get those two things corrected I think it will really help us going forward,” said Beaston.

          Tiffin will play at Port Clinton in a non-conference game with the Redskins of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Tuesday night.  Beaston looks for a good match-up that will test his kids.  “Very solid basketball team and very well coached.  They are very disciplined, coach Deals does a very good job there.  They have a few shooters.  I think they have three different guys that shoot the three pretty well.  They have a 6-6 center that plays pretty well inside, especially on the defensive end.  They have a couple of athletes they can rotate around on your guards and put some pressure on and create some havoc defensively.  We are going to have to go up there and play well to accomplish our goal.  It’s a tough place to play and it’s always a dogfight when you go up there,” he said.

          Tiffin plays host to the Shelby Whippets in a league game on Friday night.  Whippets are poised to have a good season too despite a 66-49 loss to league favorite Norwalk last week.  Beaston knows things start with Shelby’s senior point guard Garrett Arnold.  “He’s their point guard.  He’s a four year starter.  He’s an excellent scorer and he’s a super nice kid.  He does just about everything for them.  Conner Nelson is a very good player too.  Anytime you have two first team all-league caliber players to put on your roster that’s a pretty good start.  The Fenner kid looks like he has been a pretty consistent third scoring option for them.  We are going to have our hands full on Friday night for sure.  The good thing is the game is at home,” he said.



Tiffin Ready to Get Started


          Tiffin Columbian is one of the area schools that postponed some games on the first week of the season due to a long run in the football playoffs.

          They open on Friday night at home against Bellevue in Northern Ohio League action.  With an extra week coach Bill Beaston believes the Tornados are really to play at a high level.  “The players are very excited.  They refused to take days off between football and basketball.  I begged for them to take days off, but they wouldn’t do it.  If you were asking last week if we were ready I would have said no.  With they way our practices have went, we had a scrimmage on Monday.  I think they are ready to go,” he said.

          This season Columbian has an experienced team and one that has a variety of skills, according to Beaston.  “I think we can do a variety of things.  The nice thing is we bring back eight guys that lettered last year and nine guys that played.  Everything we are doing is a review.  They are picking things up pretty quickly.  I like our ability to mix defenses, which can be a plus with the different styles we see in our league and our schedule,” Beaston told Swankonsports.com, “I think offensively compared to last year when we were more set oriented, having to run certain sets to get shots for certain kids, I see more of an offense that works off each other.  We have four or five guys that can take different shots at different times.”

          With all of the practices the Tornados have been going through, and even the scrimmages, Beaston knows that playing in a game for real can be a different story.  “Pre game jitters are always an issue with every team in their first game.  It’s all a matter of how long it takes to get those guys to settle down and get into the flow of the game.  I hope with an experienced team it’s only a couple of minutes, but sometimes it’s longer.  When you are opening with a league team as opposed to a non-league team it magnifies it even more,” he said.

          Beaston says Bellevue is a team that always gives you fits with the way they run their offense and defense.  “Their offense revolves around Jalen Santoro, their point guard.  He is lightning fast.  He has a really nice pull up jumper.  He can shoot the three.  He is very feisty defensively.  They have some guys on the perimeter who can really shoot it.  They are usually very set oriented.  We really have to buckle down in the half court against their offense,” he said, “Probably the biggest thing with Bellevue is defensively they really mix their defenses.  They will throw a different defense at you every time down the floor.  We really have to be prepared to adjust on the fly.” 



Tiffin Columbian Can Afford No Mistakes


          Tiffin Columbian faces Avon in the division two regional finals of the high school football playoffs on Friday night at Harmon Stadium in Fremont.  The winner advances to the state semi-finals.

          Columbian (10-2) blasted East Cleveland Shaw 37-12 in a second round game last Friday night.  Tornados coach Brian Colatruglio says Shaw forced them to throw the ball a little bit and they were able to do that successfully.  “We executed very well.  They took away our run game, which we have been doing very well.  We had to go to our passing game a little bit.  Our quarterback and receivers really came through,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We made some big plays against a team that really thrived on big plays.  We kind of turned the table on them a little bit.  We were able to get enough stops and contain them.”  In Columbian’s two losses this season, to Bellevue and Sandusky, they turned the ball over nine times.  They had no turnovers against Shaw.  “We did a good job of not giving up the big plays.  We gave up two long touchdown passes, but there were other times when we didn’t give up the big play.  We kept making them snap the ball and we got some turnovers.  That’s the name of the game in playoff football.  They turned it over four times and we didn’t turn it over at all.  That’s usually going to be the difference when you get to this time of year,” said Colatruglio.

          Avon (11-1) was supposed to be the best team in the division a year ago, but lost a first round game to Sandusky.  They have played well in both of their playoff games so far this year beating Medina Highland (45-24) and Toledo Central Catholic (49-28) to advance.  Colatruglio says they don’t do any one thing extremely well, but they don’t do anything badly.  “They are good at everything.  There aren’t any weaknesses.  They run the ball well.  They have one of the best receivers I have seen at the high school level and a quarterback that can deliver the ball to him.  Defensively they are just sound.  They are a lot like us, maybe nothing spectacular, nothing that really stands out, but no weaknesses either,” he said.

          Like it has been all season, it is likely going to boil down to turnovers for the Tornados.  If they can hold them down, they have a chance to win the game.  “That’s the number one thing.  If you can take care of the ball and make some plays on third and fourth down like we did last week.  We are going to have a chance to be there at the end.  It’s going to be two teams that are disciplined and play hard nosed football,” said Colatruglio.



Tiffin Columbian Needs Stop Big Play


          Tiffin Columbian has been its own worse enemy this season, but that’s only happened twice and that’s why they have advanced to the regional semi finals of the division two football playoffs.

          They face East Cleveland Shaw on Friday night in Sandusky in second round action.

          Columbian (9-2) beat Northern Ohio League rival Sandusky 25-20 in a first round game last week gaining a measure of revenge after losing to Sandusky by a point in regular season action.  “It was two excellent football games between two excellent teams.  Fortunately this time we were able to eliminate the turnovers and that was the difference from the first game.  Last time we turned it over three times and gave them two scores.  This time we took care of the football and played physical.  We ran the ball and controlled the clock.  We did everything we wanted to do and barely hung on for a five point win.  It is a credit to them that we played as well as we did and it was still a struggle,” said Tiffin Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio.

          It is critical at this time to be playing your best football and Colatruglio thinks they have certainly found what they are good at and that is running the football.  “We have kind of fallen into our identity a little bit.  We are a physical run the ball team.  We struggled a little bit in the middle of the year just trying to figure out who we were and what we wanted to be,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I think we kind of have that figured out now.  Turnovers are the key for us.  In our two losses we had nine turnovers.  If we turn it over we are in trouble this week.  If we hold on to the ball and continue to be physical running the ball and keep the ball out of their dangerous playmakers hands we will have a chance.”

          East Cleveland Shaw (9-2) is a team that features a whole lot of speed and quickness and scores most of its touchdowns with big plays.  “They are fast, extremely fast.  Not just the guys with the ball in their hands, but also up front.  Their linemen are quick on both sides of the ball.  They have a real good quarterback.  A duel threat quarterback, which we have seen quite a few of lately.  He is more of a scrambler.  He is going to look to make plays with his feet.  We have to be in the right spots and not miss tackles.  They thrive on big plays and we have to eliminate them,” Colatruglio said.

          Tiffin has a fine defense and it has carried them at times this season.  Colatruglio believes they have to be very disciplined on that side of the football in order to contain the Shaw backs.  “That’s one thing I think we are pretty good at.  It’s about gap integrity.  On pass plays our defensive line has to stay in its gaps.  If they get out of their gaps and open up holes for them he’s going to be dangerous.  It’s team defense and everybody has to be in the right spot because they will find it if they’re not,” he said.



It’s a Chance For Redemption


          To a man Tiffin Columbian coaches and players thought they should have beaten Sandusky two weeks ago and they get the chance Friday night to prove their point.

          The Tornados (8-2) play at Sandusky (9-1) in the division two regional quarterfinals on Friday night in a re-match between Northern Ohio league powers.

          Sandusky won the first meeting 35-34 and went on to claim an out right “NOL” title.  Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio says they are really excited to be given the chance to get a sense of revenge.  “That’s what we have been talking about,” he told Swankonsports.com, “It’s a new lease on life.  We missed some opportunities during the regular season.  We are able to get that extra chance.  Now we have to be able to play with the urgency and realize this is our last chance because there are no do overs, we need to make it count.”

          Colatruglio says he did show the tape of the regular season game against the Streaks to the players not so they could chew them out for things that went wrong, but rather learn tendencies that will show themselves again this week. “I have never been in this situation before playing a team for a second time.  I think you have to look back and see how they attacked us and what they did to us.  What worked for them and what worked for us and what didn’t work.  We are not going to watch it and be critical, we are going to watch it and learn and see where we could have done things a little bit different.  Our kids left the field there felling like me missed an opportunity.  We both scored the same number of touchdowns.  You know if they beat us by 28 points we might start over,” he said.

          Like most football games turnovers are likely to be a big factor in this game, just like they were in the regular season contest.  “Their defense scored one and got them down to the two once.  In a big game turnovers are always going to be huge.  In seven of our ten games we did really well and we had 14 turnovers in three games.  Those kind of things can’t happen this week in order for us to move on,” said Colatruglio.

          Just because it is the same teams and the same players doesn’t mean this were will be a carbon copy of the first game, instead it will likely be much different.  Colatruglio knows they are going to have to be able to adjust in order to win the game.  “It’s a real chess match.  We have some things that we were real good at and so did they.  I’m sure they are going to make adjustments to take away the stuff we did well.  We will try to do the same.  Once you get into the game you will have to adjust again.  You have to see how they are attacking us and be able to adjust on the move.  We aren’t going to make drastic changes.  We believe in our system,” he said.



Tiffin Columbian Must Focus


          A Northern Ohio League title is no longer in the cards for the Tiffin Columbian Tornados after a tough one point loss to Sandusky last week, but there are still things to play for the Tornados.

          Sandusky, ranked #3 in the Swankonsports.com football power poll among big schools, had two interception returns for scores and they beat Tiffin 35-34 last week.  “It was a big game and it was a well played game by both sides.  We both battled our hearts out.  They came up a point a head of us,” Tiffin coach Brain Colatruglio told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had some opportunities and we didn’t capitalize.  We gave them a couple of things.  With two good teams, we made more mistakes than they did.  It was a tough loss for us.  We have to regroup and refocus on what’s in front of us.”

          Tiffin Columbian is a playoff team year in and year out and to make it this year they have to beat visiting Norwalk (7-2) and then have some teams in front of them lose.  “We still have a lot on the line.  We still have a playoff berth in front of us if we can take care of business and get a little help.  Norwalk is 7-2 and coming off a win last week.  We refocus and see what’s ahead of us.  We can’t control what happened last week and we have to make sure we take care of our business this week,” said Colatruglio.

          Norwalk is having its best season in more than 30 years and the Truckers are coming off a 49-7 destruction of the Willard Flashes last week.  Colatruglio says the Truckers have some athletes who are good football players.  “They are solid,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They have some nice big kids up front and they try and run the ball, which is something that can lead to a successful season.  They also have some nice athletes.  Their quarterback can throw the ball.  Crabtree, their running back, is a solid player,” he said.

          Columbian isn’t often in a position where they need help to gain a playoff berth, but this time some schools in front of them need to lose for the Tornados to play on week 11.  “Of the five teams in front of us we need two of them to lose.  We told the kids starting Monday that there is nothing we can do to control what’s happening in Findlay and Fremont and all of these other places.  The one thing we can control is to go out and beat Norwalk in our seniors last home game,” said Colatruglio.



Columbian Wants to Establish Things Early


          Tiffin Columbian did just what they needed to do last week and that’s get back on the beam after a loss to Bellevue on week six.  The Shelby Whippets kind of paid the price. 

          Columbian (6-1), and ranked #4 in the Swankonsports.com football power poll in the large school division, hammered the Whippets 62-19 to stay a game behind Bellevue and Sandusky in the Northern Ohio League race.  “It all started all throughout the week.  We had a great week of practice.  We came out with the right attitude and the right mentality to bounce back and we carried it right through the game on Friday night,” said Tiffin Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio.  He says the Tornados try to make every week the same no matter who they are playing or the supposed importance of the game.  “We prepare the same every week.  Games are won Monday through Thursday and that’s the way things are done.  When you put the work in Monday through Thursday then you have the fun stuff and the wins come on Friday night,” he said.

          Tiffin travels to Willard (1-6) for a league game on Friday night.  The Flashes were walloped by Bellevue 61-6 last week.  “They are kind of like Shelby last week.  They are struggling a little bit and playing a lot of young guys and trying to find their identity a little bit.  Just like last week we have to take care of our business and just come out and keep executing and worry about ourselves and keep getting better,” said Colatruglio.

          Three touchdowns in the first quarter last week erased any doubt early in the game and Colatruglio would like to have the same formula this week against the Crimson Flashes.  “When you are the favorite at 6-1 playing a team that is 1-6 that first quarter is real important.  You need to jump on them and not let them hang around and make things interesting in the second half.  We did a real good job of that last week by scoring 21 points in the first quarter.  We let Shelby know we were there and were taking things pretty serious,” he said. 



Tiffin Columbian Looking to Get Back on Track


          Tiffin Columbian had been a dominating team over the first half of the season, but they lost their Northern Ohio League opener to rival Bellevue last week.  With only five league games this year that means the Tornados can afford no more losses if they want a second straight league title.

          Bellevue, #2 in the large school division standings of the Swankonsports.com football power poll beat Columbian, now #4, 20-6 last week.  Tiffin coach Brain Colatruglio says they just gave the ball away too much to have a chance to win the game.  “The first five games of the season we turned the ball over seven times and we turned it over six times against Bellevue last Friday night.  You can’t turn the ball over against a good football team and give their offense that many chances.  Our defense played pretty solid keeping them to 20 points.  As many times as we gave them the ball on their side of the field it was actually a pretty good job by our defense,” he said. 

          Tiffin had a 14 game regular season winning streak going into the game, but Colatruglio says they are not hanging their heads this week.  “Our mental approach has been very good.  Obviously we weren’t real happy Saturday morning.  We came back on Monday with a real good attitude.  We practiced the same way this week as we did last week and we’ll practice the same way next week win or lose.  I think that consistency over the long run about the way will do things will help our kids either get over a big win or a big loss,” he said.

          Tiffin is at home for the Shelby Whippets (0-6) in a league game on Friday night at National Field.  Colatruglio expects Shelby to come in and give them a very solid effort on Friday night.  “They have a lot of new guys.  They had nine seniors that started both ways last year.  They were kind of expected to have a little bit of a rebuild here.  However, you never expect Shelby to be 0-6.  They still have some pretty good kids.  They are playing hard, obviously, but they aren’t getting the results that they want.  When you look at them you see kids flying to the football and trying to play physical,” said Colatruglio.

          Steve McCoy is in his first year as the Shelby coach and Colatruglio says they have made quite a few changes in their approach to the game.  “They are quite a bit different.  They are in the shotgun a lot and they are in four or fives wides.  They still want to run the ball, but it’s a lot different than what they did before,” said the Tiffin coach.

          Columbian will be a big favorite in the game and Colatruglio says they have to erase any doubt early in the game.  “It’s always important to get off to a good start.  You know if we get off to a good start and get a couple of scores early our guys will get some confidence going.  When you are playing a team that you probably should beat the more you let them hang around the scarier it gets in the second half,” he said.



Tiffin Travels to Bellevue For Huge “NOL” Game


          More times than not over the last 20 years the winner of the Tiffin Columbian versus Bellevue game has been the Northern Ohio League football champion and there is a good chance that will be the case again this year.

          Tiffin Columbian (5-0), and #1 in the Swankonsports.com football power poll for larger schools, plays at Bellevue (3-2) on Friday night in the league opener for both schools.  Columbian is coming off a 46-14 thumping of Toledo Start in its last game and coach Brian Colatruglio believes they have shown the kind of improvement he wants to see from his team.  “Not only being 5-0, but the progression that we have made.  We have consistently gotten better.  We have played well the last few weeks in all three phases of the game.  Our first time starters, some of the young kids we are playing, have matured nicely, and we are really starting to jell,” he said.

          Being 5-0, and second in their OHSAA computer region is nice, but Colatruglio knows the last half of the season is going to be the most exciting.  “This is the fun time of the year now.  We played a bunch of new teams and went places we have never been before.  Now we get to get back to those traditional rivalries.  It starts with Bellevue-Tiffin and that’s always been a huge game in the “NOL,” said Colatruglio.

          The Northern Ohio League is top heavy with good teams this year and Columbian and Bellevue are two of the three, along with Sandusky.  “They are 3-2, but they are two plays from being 5-0.  They had two really tough losses to two pretty good teams, so they are playing very good football.  It all starts with (quarterback Jalen) Santoro.  He’s tough kid.  He’s listed at 150 pounds, but he finds a way to fall forward and get the tough yards.  We have to be able to contain him and not give him much room to operate,” said Colatruglio.  At the beginning the season Tiffin was talking about this maybe being its best defense in a number of years and they are going to have to play well Friday.  “We play gap responsibility. That’s the way we play defense.  We know we need all 11 guys to fill the spots where they need to be.  If one guy is out of place he is going to find it.  We have to be disciplined.  We can’t do it two plays in a row and then forget on the third,” added Colatruglio.

          In games like this between excellent teams it is often special teams play that is a big factor.  “Our return game has been real good.  Our coverage teams have been pretty solid.  Our extra points have been a little bit of a struggle and we are continuing to work on that to get that consistency.  Usually in big games it’s special teams and turnovers that are the difference when you have two quality teams playing,” concluded Colatruglio.  



Columbian Faces Fast Toledo Start


          Tiffin Columbian, the number one team in the big school division of the Swankonsports.com power rankings, plays host to Toledo Start in a non-conference football game on Friday night.

          Columbian belted Marion Harding 33-10 last week for their fourth win in as many games this year.  “What I really liked about last week is we put an opponent away,” said Tiffin coach Brian Colatruglio, “We had the lead going into the second half and we kind of grew up a little bit.  We learned how to finish a game.  We had a seven minute drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter running the ball that put them away.  Early in the season we had Clyde and Mansfield Senior on the ropes and let them hang around.”  Colatruglio says to be a good team you have to have sort of a killer instinct.  “It’s an attitude, it’s a mind set,” he told Swankonsports.com, “You are not going to play 100 percent to your ability every week.  There are going to be weeks maybe when you are going to make mistakes.  To find ways to win when you aren’t playing your best separates the good teams, the 8-2 and 9-1 teams, for the 5-5 and 6-4 teams.”

          Start carries a 1-3 record into the game at Tiffin.  “They have played a killer schedule.  They are 1-3, but the teams they have played have a combined two losses.  They are battled tested.  They have nice skilled kids with good speed on offense and they are physical on defense.  It’s going to be a great match up for us and we are going to have to play well.  We are really going to have to play physical on the offensive line to keep our running game going,” said Colatruglio.  Start lost its opener to Toledo Whitmer (42-6), the second week to Whitehouse Anthony Wayne (24-19) and last week to (45-14) Sandusky, like Tiffin Columbian from the Northern Ohio League.  Their only win comes on week three over Sylvania Southview (28-22.)  Start has outstanding speed that leads to big plays and Colatruglio says that is gong to be a big factor in the game.  He says they have to eliminate that advantage.  “It’s about angles and keeping the ball in front of you and not giving up big plays.  Start’s scores have come on 50 plus yarders.  For us to be successful defensively we have to limit those big plays,” he said. 



Columbian Must Adapt


          Tiffin Columbian proved why they are number one in the Swankonsports.com power rankings in the big school division as they improved to 3-0 on the season with a 52-0 whipping of traditional rival Fostoria last week.

          Now, they are preparing for a non-conference match-up at Marion Harding against the improving Presidents. 

          Fostoria is not a very good football team as the Redmen have struggled over the last several years.  However, Columbian coach Brain Colatruglio thinks his team came out and took care of business against Fostoria last week.  “I thought our team was real mature and took care of what we needed to take care of,” Colatruglio told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Like I said before we are a work in progress.  We need to worry about ourselves and improve every week.”

          Marion Harding has been hard to predict to say the least.  Their results over the first three weeks of the season read this way.  A week one loss to Marysville (63-7), a second week defeat at the hands of Lima Senior (28-21) and then last week punished (41-6) Mansfield Senior, who had taken Tiffin to overtime the week before.  “It’s been three different teams from week one, two and three,” said Colatruglio, “They got it handed to them week one, week two they showed some improvement and kind collapsed in the fourth quarter and lost a close game and last week they put it all together.”

          Tiffin believes that the Presidents will try to run the ball as much as they can.  “They have a trio of running backs.  They like to use all three of them and rotate them around.  They aren’t huge up front, but they do a good job.  They show a lot of formations, a lot of unbalanced.  We have to be able to lineup to all of their formations,” said Colatruglio.  Marion ran 38 times for 228 yards last week against Mansfield Senior.

          This is the first meeting, at least in a number of years, for the Tornados and the Presidents, so Colatruglio knows they have to be ready to be surprised by what they see from Marion Harding.  “We are unfamiliar with them.  They could come out and do anything.  We have to be able to adjust, it’s similar to a playoff type situation.  Known of our kids have ever played there before,” he said.



Tiffin Faces Old Rival


          Tiffin Columbian made the plays when they had to last week in beating Mansfield Senior in overtime and now they play their first road game of the season at longtime rival Fostoria.

          Fostoria left the Northern Ohio League after last season in favor of the Suburban Lakes League, but Tiffin and the Redmen plan to play non-conference games into the future.

          It took overtime for Columbian to subdue Mansfield Senior last week 30-23 and Tornados coach Brian Colatrugulio told Swankonsports.com that they were fortunate to come away with a win.  “It was a great football game,” he said, “There were two good football teams battling it out.  We jumped out early and had the game under control, but I give Mansfield Senior credit because they hung with it.  They went to their back up quarterback and the kid made some really nice plays for them and got them back into the game.”  Chekiah Washington’s 82 run in the fourth quarter sent the game to overtime, but Tiffin won when Jonah Boyer caught a 20-yard TD pass from Ben Davis.  “We learned some great lessons.  We let them back in the game a little bit.  Our kids fought and it was hot.  We had some kids that really sucked it up.  Hopefully we can ride those lessons that we learned there for the rest of the year,” said Colatruglio.

          Fostoria (0-2) has struggled to gets wins over the last couple of years, but Colatruglio believes the Redmen have certainly shown they are going to be competitive.  “They are an improved football team.  Their blocking and tackling has improved immensely over last year.  I know their record doesn’t show it, but they have made some strides,” he said.  Columbian and Fostoria have been playing football for almost 100 years and Colatruglio knows the importance of this kind of game.  “It’s a great rivalry,” he said, “In the two communities, football is very important to both of them, so it’s a fun game.  I know they are going to get it turned around and there are going to be some wars.”

          Colatruglio thinks they have to concentrate on getting better as a football team on Friday night.  “We have to continue the balance on offense.  We did a much better job running the ball last week.  We were almost dead even run and pass and we have to continue that.  We have to eliminate turnovers.  We have to tackle better.  We are giving up too many big plays,” he said.    




Columbian Off to Solid Start


          Tiffin Columbian held Clyde scoreless for three quarters and went beat the Fliers 26-13 in their first game of the season and Friday night they host the improving Mansfield Senior Tygers at National Field.

          Some teams, even good ones, struggle out of the gate, but not the Tornados.  They expected to be good and they were ready to prove it.  Tiffin coach Brian Colatruglio says they really played very well against Clyde in all aspects of the game.  “I thought we were really sharp in all three phases of the game,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Our defense was dominate the first half.  We did a great job of converting first downs and keeping drives alive.  We were solid in the kicking game.”

          Tiffin might have one of the more experienced and talented defenses in this area and Colatruglio believes that defense will keep them in all of the games on their schedule.  “I think we are pretty solid up front against the run and we have some pretty good guys in the back end too.  If we continue to not give up big plays we will be a pretty good defense,” he said.  Columbian also has some athletic players on offense that can turn a simple play into a big one.  The coach believes they need to better in the fourth quarter of games though.  “We lost our mental focus a little bit when we went up 26-0 and we have to work on finishing games,” said Colatruglio.

          Mansfield Senior did finish well last week as the Tygers erased a 20-0 deficit and went on to beat Galion 34-20.  Terrell Dorsey ran for 266 yards on 37 carries in the game for Mansfield, more than reaching his high expectations.  Colatruglio understands they need do their level best to contain him.  “It all starts with Terrell Dorsey.  He is an absolute load.  He is one of the best players that we will have the opportunity to go against.  It’s going to be a real challenge to shut him down,” he said.  Colatruglio would like to force other players on the Mansfield Senior roster to beat them, but he admits that won’t be easy because the Tygers just turn around and give Dorsey the ball.  “When they hand it to him 37 times, or whatever they did.  They aren’t going to let you completely take him out of the game.  The thing is you can’t let him get a head of steam.  We have to do a good job at the point of attack.  We have to make him change direction or hesitate in the backfield,” said Colatruglio.

          Another key for the Tornados is to keep the ball out of the hands of the Mansfield Senior offense by making long drives and scoring points.  “When we are converting third downs, number one we are going to keep Dorsey off the field, but it’s also keeping our drives alive.  We have playmakers too and the more we snap the ball the more chances we have to make big plays,” said Colatruglio.




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