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West Holmes Knights Boys' Basketball Schedule

(2-20,2-12)

 

 

 

12/2

West Holmes

57

@ Orrville

61

12/6

West Holmes

50

@ Wooster Triway

51

12/9

Wooster

87

@ West Holmes

50

12/13

West Holmes

54

@ Massillon Tuslaw

63

12/16

West Holmes

37

@ Mt. Vernon

58

12/23

Lexington

57

@ West Holmes

47

12/27

Garaway

67

@ West Holmes

48

12/30

Mans. Madison

43

@ West Holmes

31

1/3

West Holmes

48

@ Navarre Fairless

49

1/6

Ashland

66

@ West Holmes

54

1/10

Berlin Hiland

64

@ West Holmes

44

1/13

West Holmes

63

@ Clear Fork

68

1/17

West Holmes

64

@ Wooster

83

1/20

West Holmes

60

@ Mansfield Senior

53

1/24

West Holmes

52

@ Lexington

86

1/27

Mt. Vernon

47

@ West Holmes

37

1/31

West Holmes

64

@ Waynedale

71

2/3

West Holmes

46

@ Mansfield Madison

81

2/7

Mansfield Senior

45

@ West Holmes

31

2/10

West Holmes

60

@ Ashland

90

2/14

Norwayne

71

@ West Holmes

50

2/17

Clear Fork

58

@ West Holmes

64

 

 

     
   

Knights Ready for Another Big Test

  

          West Holmes had gone more than half of the regular season without a win and then last Friday night they went to Mansfield Senior and beat the Tygers (60-53) in “OCC” play.

          Coach Keith Troyer says his kids have continued to be engaged and have strived to get better each and every day in practice.  “It is one of those things you know it has been a rough season, but we have improved from day one and that is all we ask is for them to go out and compete for four quarters and keep getting better.  I thought that was a big step for us the other night to go to Mansfield Senior and beat them on their home court,” he said.

          On Tuesday night, West Holmes (1-13,1-7) is at Lexington (12-3,6-2),#4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game and the Knights are going to have to play even better than they did last Friday.

          Lexington beat West Holmes (57-47) the first time they played this year.  Troyer says they have to find about four more minutes, but he knows at Lexington wins are hard to come by.  “It is going to be a tough game to go to Lexington it is always a tough place to play.  We played them tough at home the first time around.  Played them tough for three and a half quarters and had some bad turnovers there close to the end and they capitalized on them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Hopefully we have learned from those mistakes and we are taking care of the ball a little bit more.  Hopefully, it will be a good game for us.”

          The Minutemen probably had their best offensive game of the season last Friday in a (73-36) win at Clear Fork in conference play.  However, Troyer talks about how good they are on defense.  “They are very solid defensively.  They like to come out and pick you up full court and in the half court they are just really solid.  They have good players at every position.  They don’t play a lot of kids, but the kids that they do play are fundamentally sound and then of course you have Stover inside to protect the paint really well,” he said.

 

Published 1/24/17

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West Holmes Challenges Unbeaten Wooster

  

          It is certainly a David versus Goliath match-up on Tuesday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference action when winless West Holmes travels north to face unbeaten Wooster.

          West Holmes lost another close one to Clear Fork (68-63) in “OCC” play last Friday.  Five of their losses are by less than five points.

          Coach Keith Troyer admits the game against “OCC” leader Wooster is one nobody is giving them a chance to win.  He says it is an opportunity for them to turn around their season.  “It is definitely a great opportunity for our kids.  We go in and we have had a lot of close games and haven’t been able to pull one of those out.  We go into Wooster and they are undefeated.  We know what to expect.  We know what kind of team they are.  It is a good opportunity for the kids to compete and try and get a win,” he said.

          West Holmes (0-12,0-6) lost (87-50) to Wooster when they played more than a month ago.  He says if you turn the ball over in bunches they get on a huge roll.  “They are a team that lives and dies on getting turnovers.  You just have to limit their spurts.  You are going to turn the ball over against them.  They are athletic and they track you all over the floor.  They are a team that can really go on a run really quick,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That happened to us the first time around when we played them.  We were right there and they went on like a 20-2 run and then it is not so fun from then on.”

          Wooster (11-0,6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays a little different game than most.  They are extremely up tempo and athletic.  Having already played them Troyer says they know what to expect.  “You know what to expect.  They are just every athletic.  They are long.  They just come at you for four quarters,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are relentless in defense.  We found out the first time around if you break their press you are going to get open shots, you are going to get layups, but it is a lot easier said than done because they are so athletic and they have a long bench.  So, they stay at it for four quarters and you have to be prepared to play four quarters.”

 

Published 1/17/17

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West Holmes Still Looking

  

          West Holmes keeps playing well in part of games, but not whole games and that is costing them against the schedule they play.

        They led talented Ashland by 16 in the first half last Friday night, but fell to the Arrows (66-54) in Ohio Cardinal Conference action to remain winless on the season.

          Coach Keith Troyer says they need to be able to get over that last hurdle and finish games.  “We have played some really good teams and we played them tough until the last quarter.  We were down a couple going into the fourth against Lexington and up on Ashland by 16 in the first half.  We have been in every game and in each we want to improve,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Our last game out against Ashland I thought we took a step in the right direction.  We came out and shot the ball a little better.  We need figure out a way to finish games.  The kids keep working hard and they are going to be rewarded with a win here eventually.’
          The Knights (0-10) host Berlin Hiland, their next door neighbor and traditional non-conference rival on Tuesday night at their place.  Troyer says again the Hawks are a very good team on both ends, like always.  “Hiland is always a solid team.  They get after it defensively.  They really come out and pressure you in the half court.  Then offensively they have some good scorers.  Turner Horn is probably one of the better players in their league.  They are just a tough fundamental team and they are just going to come out and get up and down the court,” he said.

          West Holmes plays at Clear Fork (3-5,1-4) in “OCC” play on Friday night.  The schools have been involved in competitive games the last couple of years.  Troyer says they have been having similar seasons too.  “The last couple of years we have had some good games with Clear Fork.  They are kind of in the same situation in they have a couple of wins this year.  They are one of those teams that have a lot of players back from last year.  They have had that varsity experience.  Coach Bechtel does a good job over there and we expect a good game Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 1/10/17

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West Holmes Hosts Unbeaten Lexington

  

          West Holmes has already played unbeaten Wooster in an “OCC” game and now they host undefeated Lexington in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          Coach Keith Troyer says it has been a tough schedule to start the year for them, but hopefully they like the home cooking.  “There are no easy games.  We have had some tough non-league games and we have played some tough league games.  Yeah, Lexington is a very good team coming in undefeated.  It is our second home game of the year and hopefully we feel a little more comfortable at home,” he said.

          For the Knights, who are coming off a (58-37) loss to Mt. Vernon in conference play last week, it has been a story of poor starts and not enough consistency.  Troyer says they have to play 32 minutes.  “Last week we talked about consistency and that is where we are at right now.  We are just looking to be more consistent.  In the game against Mt. Vernon we came out and you have to give Mt. Vernon credit they came out and hit shots early on.  I think they had seven threes in the first half and most of those were contested shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You just give a team credit for hitting those shots.  We played them even for the last three quarters.  Consistency is huge for us right now.  We have moments when we play really well.  So, we just have to be consistent for four quarters.”

          Lexington (6-0,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, comes to West Holmes (0-5,0-2) for a conference game on Friday night.  Troyer says the Minutemen have a lot of weapons.  “They are a solid team.  They are very well coached.  They have a good mixture of guards and then you look at (Cade) Stover inside.  They are just a complete team,” he said.

          Troyer adds the Minutemen don’t have to gamble a lot on defense they are just very solid.  “They are very solid on defense.  They don’t gamble a lot half court.  They just play good solid defense and get stops and that is what it is all about,” he said.

 

Published 12/22/16

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West Holmes Plays Tuslaw

  

          West Holmes takes to the road for the third time in four games as they play at Massillon Tulsaw in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          In their Ohio Cardinal Conference opener last Friday the Knights were drilled by unbeaten Wooster (87-50) in their only home game so far this year.

          Coach Keith Troyer says the Generals were not only running the floor, but making perimeter shots too.  “It was one of those games where we knew what the expect coming in.  To Wooster’s credit in the first quarter they were hitting some threes that were three, four feet behind the three point line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We kept pushing them out a little bit and they kept knocking them down.  We had a hard time getting the ball past half court a few times and when you turn the ball over against Wooster they make you pay.”

          Troyer says they did some good things against Wooster, but the Generals seemed to have all of the answers.  “The score was a little closer than what the score indicated.  Even though we lost I thought we did some good things and it was just a matter of them hitting some tough shots and you have to give them credit,” he said.

          Tuslaw is a big and physical team and Troyer says they are going to have play well to win.  “Tuslaw is one of those teams that we played them this summer in a shoot out.  They have a big kid inside about 6’5” and they have guards that can handle the ball.  They play hard.  They have a good program up there and it is another one on the road.  It is one of those games where we have to try and do what we do offensively and defensively and play really sound basketball,” said Troyer.

          In their other two games this year West Holmes (0-3) was just a few plays from winning.  Troyer says they just need to concentrate on becoming a better team every time out.  “The kids have been playing hard, but we need to get over that hump.  You take that Wooster game away and I made the comment after the game that is a big caliber team and you might see them down in the state tournament in D-one,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are just a very athletic team with a deep bench and they just keep coming at you.  You always want to go out and want to win.  Right now we just want to keep getting better each game out and keep playing hard and that is what they kids have been doing.”

 

Published 12/13/16

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West Holmes Preparing for Wooster

  

          West Holmes could be 2-0 right now, but instead they are 0-2 after losses in two close games so far and now they play one of the better teams in this part of the state.

          Orrville beat the Knights (71-64) in overtime on the first night of the season and then West Holmes lost another tough one, this time by one point (51-50) to Wooster Triway on Tuesday night.

          Coach Keith Troyer says it has been the first quarter that has killed them on both nights.  “We had two really close games.  Both of them were on the road to start the season going to Orrville and to Triway to play.  We dug ourselves a hole early and played well the last three quarters.  We just need to see if we can put four quarters together and get a win,” Troyer told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          Teams that show they have talent then the next goal is to do it more often or have more consistency.  Troyer says that is what they are working on right now.  “It is about consistency.  It is early in the season and we are playing some kids that haven’t had a lot of playing time, a lot of experience, but we do have four seniors that have been there before.  It is all about consistency.  You have to play four good quarters if you want to win,” he said.

          They host Wooster (2-0) on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.  The Generals have won both of their games so far with wins over Massillon (73-66) and Massillon Perry (96-53) to their credit.

         Troyer says the Generals are very athletic and they want you to get into a track meet with them, which is not a good idea.  “I think they are probably the best team in the league.  They are just so athletic and they have a very deep bench.  They can throw a number of guys at you.  They do a great job of speeding up the game and if you fall into that trap and get caught up in a running game then you are not going to win.  They are very athletic and very talented,” said Troyer.

 

Published 12/09/16

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West Holmes Going For Fifth Straight Regional Title

 

          This week West Holmes will attempt to earn its fifth straight division two regional title.

          They play Carrollton (2-15) in the regional semi-finals on Tuesday night at Zanesville High School.

          West Holmes beat Kettering Alter to win the state title (62-46) in 2014, they lost to Alter in the state semis (53-37) last year, and lost in the state finals to Hathaway Brown in 2013 (56-44) and in 2012 (53-41) to build a pretty impressive résumé.

          On Saturday night, Brittleigh Macauley scored 16 points and had seven rebounds as the Lady Knights (21-3) rallied for a seven point fourth quarter deficit to beat Minerva (39-36) in a district final game play in New Philadelphia.  Coach Lisa Patterson says they didn't get rattled.  "One of our words this year is trust.  The kids definitely trust each other and trust the system.  They trusted in the game plan, didn't panic, I didn't see any panic in their eyes," she told Swankonsports.com, "We just kept grinding away and got some stops and scored at the other end.  We did what we needed to do.  Both teams had some opportunities that they let slip through their hands.  Luckily we came out on top."

          With all of the pressure packed tournament games the Lady Knights have played over the years, Patterson says they react pretty well when games get intense.  "We specifically talked about the word pressure (Saturday) in our shoot around.  I gave them a little handout on what pressure really is.  If you are prepared and you have confidence that pretty much takes care of pressure.  I felt like we prepared our kids.  They were certainly were tough down the stretch against Minerva." said Patterson.

          This year West Holmes really doesn't have a superstar, but Patterson says they have a good group of kids that just want to play hard and compete.  "We had some unsung heroes step up in the fourth quarter on Saturday.  Karisa Striver, a senior that doesn't get a lot of notoriety, played extremely well for us in the fourth quarter.  Kylie Leppla, another unsung hero, came up with a steal late in the game.  That's what you need out of those kids," she said.

          West Holmes hammered Carrollton (54-24) in a regular season game on November 24.  So, Carrollton is really going to have to pick up their game to have a chance.  The winner plays either Columbus Eastmor or Chillicothe for a berth in the state on Friday.

 

Published 3/01/16

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Knights and Colts on Tuesday night

 

          West Holmes plays host to Clear Fork in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday night between teams that both may be at a cross roads.

          It hasn't been the best season for either West Holmes (1-10,0-5) or Clear Fork (3-6,1-4) this year and both are still searching for some consistency in their play.

          Knights coach Keith Troyer says they just can't seem to put a whole game together.  "One of the things is in looking at our season stats we are getting about 10, 12 less shots a game than our opponent and the shots that we do get we are not knocking them down.  It just seems like the nights that we rebound well we turn the ball over," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The nights we take care of the ball we miss foul shots.  Those are things I think we can get better at, but it is just a matter of going out and doing it."

          Troyer says he is pleased that the players are still coming to practice and giving it all they've got.  "To the kids credit we have won one game this year and they come to practice every night and they work hard.  We feel we are getting better, we are still young and hopefully we are going to get one here in the next couple of games and get over that hump," he said.

          After starting the season with four straight losses, Clear Fork has won three of its last five and Troyer says they are definitely improving.  "They are playing better than they did at the beginning of the year.  They beat Orrville last week.  Clear Fork is one of those teams that they are going to come out and get after it and play hard and that is going to keep them in a lot of games.  They are well coached and I know they are young, but they have been playing better as of late," said Troyer.

          Both teams have shown at times they can be pretty good.  However, they have not done it for very long, or at least not for whole games.  Troyer says consistency or the lack of it is going to tell the story on Tuesday night.  "That is where Clear Fork, and talking about our team, is kind of the same in that way talking about consistency.  There are times when we play really well and other times when we can't put the ball in the basket.  It is going to be one of those games on (Tuesday) night where the team that is going to come out and be consistent is going to win the game," said Troyer.

 

Published 1/12/16

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West Holmes Meets Orrville

 

          West Holmes hosts Orrville in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          Last week, they were buried by Wooster (71-51) in an "OCC" game and coach Keith Troyer says for the second week in a row they had way too many turnovers.  "They are a very athletic team and they have a deep bench too, which helps.  Their style of play this year is to come out and pressure you and try to cause turnovers and we didn't handle it very well," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We ended up with 30 turnovers, or 31 turnovers and that's the ball game right there.  If you don't take care of the ball you don't have a chance to win.  They are a very good team, an athletic team and they are going to win a lot of games this year."

          Troyer says the Generals athleticism hurt them.  He says they did not handle the contact very well.  "We are not making good decisions with the ball, not being strong with the ball.  With their style of play the officials are going to let them get away with bumping and reaching and things like that.  We just didn't handle it.  We weren't very strong with the ball and then compound that with some bad decisions.  You are going to have a lot of turnovers," he said.

          The Knights (1-3,0-2) host Orrville (1-3,0-2) on Friday night in "OCC" action.  Orrville lost by only three in Mansfield Senior (52-49) last Friday.  Troyer says this is a better match up for them than they have had the last two weeks.  "They always play Mansfield tough.  They have Luke Smith and the Conway kid and a couple of good role players.  They are a very athletic team themselves.  We match up better with them than we did Wooster or Mansfield Senior.  They are a very athletic team, well coached.  We are expecting a battle (Friday) night," he said.

 

Published 12/18/15

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West Holmes Has to Get Better at Handling Pressure

 

          West Holmes got swept away last week by Mansfield Senior and now they face another athletic team in the Wooster Generals on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          Last Friday, Mansfield Senior dominated them to the tune of (80-35) and coach Keith Troyer says they just let things get away in the final three quarters of the game.  "I thought we played pretty well the first quarter and about two minutes into the second quarter.  We did a nice job of early help on defense and keeping them out of the paint.  There is a lot to be learned from losses, especially when you get beat by 45 points.  One of the things you need to do in game like that, and every game out, is you need to get good looks every time down," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Mansfield really pressures the ball and over play and we didn't handle that very well.  Those are the things that you learn from.  When you have a young team you just need to get better and move on to the next game."

          Turnovers and shot selection where a problem for the Knights and Troyer says they have to get on the boards better too.  "The other thing that went along with the Mansfield game is rebounding.  When we let a team have four or five chances every time down they are going to score.  We didn't do a very good job of boxing out after the first quarter.  When they get second chance points you are going to get beat every night.  So, it is something to work on in practice and an emphasis for us moving on," he said.

          This week, the Knights (1-2,0-1) are at Wooster (1-1,1-0) to play the Generals, who hammered Orrville (81-43) in their first league game last Friday.

          Troyer says they are going to have to execute against a lot of the same things they did last week.  "They really try to get up and down the floor.  They are very similar to a Mansfield Senior.  They are athletic.  They are looking to get it out in transition.  They are going to come after you full court.  A new coach and a lot of excitement up there at Wooster.  We are looking forward to the challenge on Friday," he said.

 

Published 12/09/15

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West Holmes Small, but Quick

 

          West Holmes is not going to be very big this year, but they are going to have some quickness and that is what they are going to rely on.

          They beat Claymont (52-42) on Saturday night in their first game and coach Keith Troyer says they did what they had to do to win the game.  "It's the first game and kids are tired of beating up on each other in practice and the adrenalin is always flowing when you get out there for the first game.  Overall, I felt we did a good job.  There are a lot of little things that was have to clean up.  We don't have a lot of size this year.  We start three kids that are under six feet.  Playing on the road is always tough, so to get out of there with a win we are pleased with that," he said.

          In order to be a competitive team this year, Troyer say they are going to have to play sound defense and use their quickness to get some hoops.  "For us it is going to have to start on the defensive end.  We are not very big.  We don't have a lot of size, but we do have a lot of quickness.  Defensively, we just have to make it a full court game and get after it the full court," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "In the half court we might be playing a little bit more zone this year.  I think our overall quickness might give us some match-up problems with some teams that have some size.  That is going to be our strength this year."

          West Holmes (1-0) has its home opener on Tuesday night as they host Wooster Triway (0-1) in a non conference game.  Triway lost to Northwestern (82-52) on Saturday night, but Troyer says they have some kids that can do some things.  "It was a close game for almost a half.  They played them a triangle and two for a while.  I think the size that Northwestern has kind of got the best of them the second half.  They are always well coached.  They play extremely hard.  The Walker kid had close to 30 points the other night and is only a sophomore.  We know we really have our work cut out for us some (Tuesday) night ," he said.

 

Published 12/01/15

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West Holmes Doesn't Want to Finish Last

 

          The loser of the West Holmes versus Clear Fork game on Friday night will finish last in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season and the Knights don't want that to be them.

          On week nine, the Knights (1-8,0-6) led "OCC" co-leader Wooster (7-0) after the first quarter, but then, according to coach Kevin Maltarich, things started to unravel and they lost (49-14) to the Generals.  "We actually had an opportunity.  We got up there 7-0 in the first quarter.  We had a chance in the second quarter, we had a wide open receiver, we just over threw him, and then after that it started to be fumble, fumble, interception, fumble," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We turned the ball over like crazy, got a couple kids hurt, and it all went downhill from there."

          The Knights will be at Clear Fork (2-7,0-6) on Friday night in a  league clash.  Maltarich says 2015 for the Colts has been a lot like is has been for his team.  "They look kind of just like us.  They execute at times and at times they shoot themselves in the foot.  They have some young players in and out of there.  It is kind of like a mirror image of how our season has gone," he said.

          This is not going to be a season to remember for either school, but Maltarich says you don't want to finish last no matter what.  "It gives them something to play for and it gives us something to play for because second to last is better than last.  This game will determine that right there," he said.

 

Published 10/26/15

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West Holmes Has to be in it Mentally

 

          West Holmes has built a pretty good football tradition, they shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title last year, but this year they have struggled.

          They have lost seven straight games, including last week's (42-0) drubbing at the hands of the Lexington Minutemen.

          Coach Kevin Maltarich says they really weren't ready to play and it showed in their performance.  "We did a lot of bad things there in the second half.  One team came out and wanted ton win and one team came out and kind of went through the motions, unfortunately we were the ones that went through the motions," he said.

          With only two weeks left, Maltarich admits he is a little concerned about the mental state of his football team.  "Everybody talks about playing for pride, but we talk about playing and getting better each and every week and we haven't done that and that kind of concerns me," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "You have seniors now that are looking on to other sports and other kids that are looking on to other sports and it is hard to get those kids with a mindset of let's go out and play because they aren't dumb they know things haven't gone our way and they kind of want to hit that reset button and refresh and that isn't going to come until next year.  So, right now we are trying to get the most out of what we've got and try and teach these kids some things along the way here."

          West Holmes (1-7,0-5) is at conference co-leader Wooster (6-2,4-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, for a league game on Friday night.  Maltarich says a lot will depend on their approach to the game.  "Doug (Haas) has done a nice job.  Those kids are going to play hard.  They have some nice athletes.  It is one of those things where I think we could possibly go out and play a spoiler, but on the other hand they have the ability and the athletes to put one on us.  We have to make sure that we defend their formations and make sure we are tackling and make sure we are blocking," said Maltarich.

 

Published 10/23/15

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West Holmes Battling to Get Better

 

          Last season, West Holmes shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference football title with Wooster.  That's not going to happen this year, but they are still excited about playing football.

          Mansfield Senior drilled the Knights (34-0) in "OCC" play last week.  West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich says they were able to hang on to the ball, which was improvement, but they didn't block or tackle very well.  "The one thing that we talked about that we did get accomplished is we didn't turn the ball over and that's a good thing, but that's not how the game is won.  The game is won by blocking and tackling and those are two big things that we didn't do.  If you have a team like Mansfield Senior, if you don't block people you aren't going to move the ball and if you don't tackle those kids are going to take it to the house and that's exactly what happened," said Maltarich.

          West Holmes has lost its last six games and sometimes when that happens kids aren't really that excited about coming to football practice.  However, Maltarich says that is not the case at West Holmes.  "The kids are still excited to come to football practice and that is something that makes me happy because this thing could go south real quickly.  These kids have been used to winning around here and that's not happening," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "These kids they come here to work and they aren't worrying about the scoreboard and they aren't worrying about wins and losses.  We are going to continue to worry about getting better and that's what we have done."

          West Holmes (1-6,0-4) is at home for Lexington (5-2,2-2) in an "OCC" game on Friday night.  Lexington won their first five games, but have lost to the last two weeks to Madison (59-10) and Wooster (25-8) in conference games.

          Maltarich says the Minutemen play football the way it should be played.  "I'll tell you what they are doing a nice job.  They don't have any superstars, but what they do have is 11 kids on the field doing their job.  That's what it is about.  They play aggressive football with a lot of effort and that is going to win you a lot of games.  They have turned the culture around over there and those kids are winning right now and they have a lot of confidence and it shows they are doing the little things correctly," he said.

 

Published 10/14/15

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West Holmes Has to Win at Point of Attack

 

          West Holmes plays at Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference football game on Friday night and they have to find a way to contain the Tygers run game.

          They played in kind of an odd game last week against Orrville, in which the score was tied at 0-0 at halftime.  Then the Red Riders outscored Holmes in the second half to win the game (27-20) last Friday.

          West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich says their was a lot of momentum both ways.  "It was kind of like the tail of two halves.  It seemed like both offenses kind of sputtered around in the first half and in the second half both defenses started to sputter around.  It was one of those things, it was just kind of a wired game," he said.

          The Knights (1-5,0-3) have not won since the first week of the season.  Maltarich says he saw some glimpses of a positive direction, but not enough. "We saw some good things at times on defense and a lot of good things on offense, but at the same time those good things have been over shadowed by silly mistakes." he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "You know, turnovers really cost us, penalties at key times cost us and situations when we weren't sure what we were doing."

          Mansfield Senior (4-2,2-1) lost a tough one to Ashland (25-21) last week when the Arrows recovered a fumble for a score and kicked a late field to take the lead. 

          Just like everyone else has said, Maltarich says the Tygers two running backs Tyquan Vickers and Brian Benson are key to their attack.  "That duo is pretty talented.  They have the speed to take it to the outside and power to take it up the middle.  You have to come in with a defense that first can stop their run and force them to throw," he said.

          In order to have a chance at success against Mansfield Senior, Maltarich says you must shed blockers quickly.  "You have to control the line of scrimmage.  You have to reestablish it on their side of the ball.  You have to get off their lineman quick and get downhill and if you don't they are going to make you pay," he said.

 

Published 10/06/15

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West Holmes Spinning its Wheels

 

          Both West Holmes and Orrville are looking for their first Ohio Cardinal Conference wins as the play down in Holmes County on Friday night in league action.

          For a half, the Knights were able to keep it close with Ashland last week, but coach Kevin Maltarich says they made a big mistake and that really cost them.  "We are still trying to figure out how to play this game.  It is just the mental things that kind of hurt us.  We played pretty tough in the first half," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They got a couple by us in the first half, but we played pretty tough.  Then in the second half we came out and threw an interception for a touchdown right away and it kind of deflated us."

          That first drive in the second half is big when it comes to momentum and Maltarich says that really took the wind out of their sails.  "We were coming out of the locker room.  We were wanting to make something happen.  It was a close game in the first half.  We make one mistake and they capitalize on it and things went downhill from there," he said.

          Orrville (1-4,0-2) lost to Mansfield Senior last week (49-14) and they have had their struggles too.  Maltarich thinks the Riders certainly believe this is a game they can win.  "I think they are going to come in and think this is a winable game for them and they are expecting to win.  They are going to crowd the line of scrimmage and give us their best shot," he said.

          If they are going to have success on Friday night, Maltarich knows they are going to have to control the line of scrimmage because Orrville really wants to run the ball.  "A lot of time they are going to put two backs back in the backfield and hit us with the trap or the counter and maybe a toss here and there.  They want to run the football," he said.

 

Published 10/02/15

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Knights Just Have to Have Fun

 

          It doesn't look like West Holmes is having fun playing football right now.  Three game losing streaks tend to do that sometimes and they have to find a way to get that right kind of enthusiasm.

          Madison beat them (42-21) in their first "OCC" game last week.  Coach Kevin Maltarich says Madison made some plays and they were just better than them last week and they have to accept that.  "I'll tell you what Madison did a very nice job of executing against us.  They got that Tyrell Ajian kid our in space and he took advantage of some things.  Sometimes you have to take your hat off to the other team because they executed.  On our part, we are not where we need to be at all," he said.

          West Holmes (1-3,0-1) has not won since the first week of the season.  Maltarich says they are not as tough as they need to be and they must understand the game better.  "I think everything needs to be better.  I think our mindset as far as executing plays, physicalness, and how to play the game.  We aren't quite sure how to play this game just yet and we have to teach these kids how to do that," he said.

          Ashland (3-1,0-1) comes to West Holmes this week off a their first loss (21-7) of the season to Wooster last week.  Usually the Arrows are in a four or five wide situation, but Maltarich says they are trying to run the ball more this year.  "They are trying to run the ball a lot more than I have seen them in past.  They still want to throw the ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They are featuring that running game more.  They take one of those receivers and an motion him into the backfield or they just lineup with a true running back."

          The Knights have beaten Ashland in three of their last four meetings and Maltarich says if they are going to do it again they have to be more physical.  "We have to be physical and we have to enjoy playing this game.  We have to go out there and have some fun and play loose.  It seems like we have been walking on egg shells and we can't do that.  We have to be loose.  We can't turn the ball over and we have to be physical," he said.

 

Published 9/24/15

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Knights have to be Smarter

 

          West Holmes last year looked like a team that would finished in the bottom half of the Ohio Cardinal Conference based what they have done in their first three games and then they exploded and ended up sharing the conference title.

          They are hoping the same thing happens this year.

          Coshocton beat the Knights (14-0) last week and dropped them to (1-2) on the season, a game better than they were at this time in 2014.

          Coach Kevin Maltirich says it is kind of like "Groundhog Day" for them a little bit.  He says they have improved this year, but not enough.  "I would say in some parts it has and some parts it hasn't.  We are still not playing football the way we are capable of, the way I think we are capable of playing," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It actually reminds me a lot of us last year when we are stumbling around and doing some really, really fundamentally things wrong.  We were making a lot of stupid mistakes.  We are just waiting on something to bring it all together."

          West Holmes is at Mansfield Madison (1-2,0-0) to kick off "OCC" play on Friday night.  They beat the Rams (34-21) last year in what was the start of five straight "OCC" wins a year ago.

          Jamie Masi, a longtime Madison assistant is now their head coach.  However, Maltirich says not much has changed in terms of their approach on offense or defense.  "Jamie has been on that staff for the last five, six years, and he was at Mansfield Senior before that, so when I was at Madison I faced him when he was at Senior.  It appears they are going to do a lot of the same things.  We are going to look for basically what they have been doing the last five, six years," he said.

          The Rams do have Tyrell Ajian, as solid as athlete as their is in North Central Ohio.  Maltirich says Madison tries to get him the ball in a number of ways.  "They really look to get him the ball a lot.  They put him all over the field to get him the ball.  They will throw it to him, they will put him in motion and give it to him, they will line him up at quarterback.  When you have an athletic like that and is capable of putting a game on his back and driving it you get him the ball and they certainly do that," he said.

 

Published 9/17/15

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Holmes Has to Take it up a Notch

 

          Last week, West Holmes looked very, very good at times and they hung on to beat rival Wooster Triway in their first game of the season.  However, this week's challenge is going to be tougher.

          West Holmes scored the first two times they had it, but had to beat back a mad rust from Triway last week before winning (46-40) on their home field.

          They play at Woody Hayes Stadium against the New Philadelphia Quakers this Friday.

          Coach Kevin Maltrich says it far from perfect last week, but they will take it.  "We did a lot of things well and we did some things that we need to work on.  We knew with Triway coming in it was going to be a backyard brawl and that was exactly what it was.  A "W" is a "W" and we are happy to get away with that, but at the same time there are some things that we need to work on," he said.

          Garrett Ervin gained over 300 yards and scored three times for the Knights.  Maltrich says that run game was pretty good at times, as was the rest of the team, but they need to be more consistent.  "I think we made some plays where we absolutely had too.  There were a lot of times in that game that we completely dominated. We have to continue to get consistent with that.  Our running game got very explosive and our defense played very good at times, but we have to get more consistent with that," he said.

          New Philadelphia (0-1) lost a tough one in their first game to Canton Central Catholic (23-22) last Friday.  Maltrich says the Quakers are very good and they have to be much better this week.  "They are very, very well coached and are a pretty good football team.  Canton Central Catholic was a state finals team from last year.  They have some kids returning and they are very skilled.  New Philly played them right down to the wire and probably should have beat them," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "So, we are going to have our hands full.  We have to make sure we take our intensity level throughout the entire game and make sure we are playing at peak capacity that we are able to."

 

Published 9/01/15

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West Holmes Hungry to Get Going

 

          West Holmes won six of its last seven games last fall and ended up sharing the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with the Wooster Generals and they are eager to prove this year they can be pretty good too.

          They open the season on Friday night at home in non-conference play against rival Wooster Triway.

          Coach Kevin Maltrich, a West Holmes alum, says they hope they can take that momentum from last year and move forward.  "I am really happy with the progress that we made.  We have a lot of kids coming back from last year's team and that means those kids are year more physically mature and mentally more mature.  It's nice that we have a lot of kids coming back and you can do some more things with them.  We hit a big streak last year and we ended up winning some games and that kind of translates over.  The kids remember how we started last year and they remember how we ended and they want to pick up where we left off," said Maltrich.

          Maltrich, also successful at stints at Norwayne and Mansfield Madison, is not predicting what may happen this fall.  He says they just want to be competitive each week.  "I tell the kids that we are going win as many games as they want.  At West Holmes we take care of ourselves.  If we do the little things that matter the wins and losses will take care of themselves.  We try no to look ahead.  We take it one week at a time.  We look forward to each and every opponent.  We just want to be 1-0 at the end of the week," he said.

          Triway outscored West Holmes (65-27), but gone is quarterback Parker Carmichael.  However, Maltrich says they are still going to throw the ball a lot.  "Triway is going to throw the ball around the field.  They go five wides.  They lost a lot of seniors off last year's team that was a really talented team, but they have a few kids back that were around that graduating class from last year and they know how to win," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Those kids are going to come down here, it's a backyard rivalry, they are going to be competitive and they are going to be physical.  They would like nothing better than to beat us at our own stadium."

 

Published 8/25/15

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West Holmes Back in Columbus

 

          West Holmes is the defending division two state champion and they aren't going away quietly.

          They have qualified for the state final four for the fourth straight year and will play Kettering Alter, the team they beat for the state title in 2013, in the state semi-finals on Friday at the Value City Arena.

          Coach Lisa Patterson says her kids know how to work hard, outside of regular season practice too, and that has paid dividends for them.  "The three seniors that I have this is the first group in our area that has ever went to the state four years in a row.  That is pretty awesome for them.  I couldn't be happier for them.  The senior group is a group that doesn't get a whole lot of notoriety, but they have been in it every year.  They just know how to work hard and put the time in outside of practice to put themselves in this position," said Patterson.

          West Holmes (24-3) won another Ohio Cardinal Conference title, their only loss coming to Clear Fork, and Patterson says her team has accomplished more than anyone, outside their locker room, thought they could.  "We had some ups and downs this season.  When you come away from a state championship perfect season anytime you lose a couple of games everybody starts saying you are not having a very good year, but this crew has figured things out at the right time and fortunately we get to finish our season in Columbus, which most teams dream of doing so couldn't be happier for them," she said.

          Kettering Alter (28-0) finished as the Associated Press poll champs this year.  Patterson says they also have a lot of experience on the floor.  "Alter has also been there, we played them in the finals last year.  It is going to be a war, no doubt.  We have a very tall task and whether we have experience or not when you are playing a team of Kettering's talent it is going to be a very tall task to try an compete with them on Friday," she said.

          West Holmes beat Alter (62-45) in last year's final and to do it again Patterson says they are going to have to play their best game of the season.  "The biggest thing is they don't have a weakness.  They return pretty much everyone except one from last year's team.  They have two straight seasons of flawless seasons, with the exception of last year's final.  They do not have a weakness," she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They've got size at every position, they have kids that can shoot threes at every position, and kids that an post up at every position.  They certainly are a handful. even if we play flawless defense they are going to be a handful because of their size and strength at every position.  We are going to have to pretty much play flawless basketball and hope we can be in it when it gets towards the fourth quarter."

 

Published 3/19/15

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West Holmes Meets Ashland Again

 

          West Holmes has challenged Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Ashland as much as anybody over the last month and they get to try their hand again on Tuesday night at Arrow Arena.

          An Ashland win gives the Arrows, a winner of 16 straight games overall, the outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title.  They wrapped up no less than a share when they belted Wooster (65-47) last week.

          Last Friday was a game like many others this season for West Holmes, the defending "OCC" champ, it was one that just got away at the end.  Mansfield Madison made a couple of steals late and beat the Knights (43-39) in a league game.

          Knights coach Keith Troyer says they just didn't execute when the pressure was on at the end of the game.  "It was another one of those games when we had the lead late.  We had a couple of turnovers and they capitalized on our turnovers and they ended up winning the game.  They executed down the stretch and we didn't. That is kind of how our season has been going so far.  These are some games leading into the tournament that I think we can build off of," he said.

          A week and a half ago West Holmes (6-14,2-10) took Ashland (16-1,11-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, to the limit before losing (53-47) in a game where the Knights had a second half lead.

         Troyer says the Arrows just do some many things well.  "They are just a good team all around.  They have size inside and they move the ball so well.  The first time around here a couple of weeks ago I thought we did a very good job on Isaac (White) and he still ended up with 26.  He is just an extremely good player," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I thought we played about as well as we could and we had a chance ton win in the end.  We just didn't end up executing the last couple of trips down the floor."

          Ashland has a number of kids that can score the ball, but Troyer thinks they are very good on defense too.  "They are very good defensively.  They play what looks sometimes like a match-up zone, but it's not.  They do such a good job with their help side defense.  They like to trap half court.  They are more aggressive this year.  Coach Fralick does and excellent job.  We have a lot of respect for coach Fralick and his program," he said.

 

Published 2/17/15

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West Holmes With Another Tough Challenge

 

          West Holmes handed Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Ashland a real challenge last week before losing to the Arrows and they face another tough game Tuesday night when they take on Wooster.

          Ashland downed West Holmes (53-47) last Friday and Knights coach Keith Troyer says they had a good chance to make the game ever tighter.  "They are a very good team.  They are a solid team and we knew that going in.  I told the guys that you couldn't ask for anything more.  You wanted to stick around till the end and give yourself a chance to win and we had two chances to bring it within one with 30 seconds to go and we missed some contested layups," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "If those shots go down it might be a different ballgame.  The kids played hard.  You know, you want to win those games, but at the same time there are a lot of positives we can take from it."

          West Holmes (6-12,2-8) also nearly beat Mansfield Senior last month and fell just short.  Troyer says he kids keep coming to practice and working hard and that means good things are in the future.  "They compete each night and they are getting better.  It would be nice to win one of those games.  We have been right there in a lot of games and we just can't get over the hump.  I keep telling them we just need to keep plugging away and keep coming to practice and get better.  We are definitely playing better now than midway through the season.  These are the kind of games you want to play going into tournament time," says Troyer.

          West Holmes plays at Wooster (9-7,6-5) in an "OCC" game on Tuesday night.  The Generals won the first meeting last month (61-47) at Holmes.  Troyer says Wooster, a loser of its last three "OCC" games, has good personnel.  "They have had a little bit of trouble here as of late, but they are still a very good team, very solid team.  Daugherty is one of best post players in the league and then they have some guards to go with them.  They do a very good job of transitioning and pushing the ball up the floor.  They beat us at home this year and we are going to try and go up there and steal one on the road," he said.

 

Published 2/10/15

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Knights Play Hawks

 

          West Holmes plays host to next door neighbor and big rival Berlin Hiland in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          The Knights lost two Ohio Cardinal Conference last week games to Lexington (51-39) on Friday and Clear Fork (55-44) on Saturday night. 

          Coach Keith Troyer says they just couldn't get the ball in the basket and that cost them.  "Both games we had some obvious things happen.  We just didn't shoot the ball well.  That has kind of been our Achilles' Heel all year long.  It happened again against Clear Fork.  We were 5-26 from the three.  We just didn't shoot it well and Clear Fork played a nice game and we ended up getting beat.  It is one of those things were we have to hit some shots early to get us going," he said.

          Hiland is having another strong season and Troyer says the Hawks are balanced they are going to make them handle the ball in order to have success.  "It is the same Hiland team that we see every year.  They are very balanced in their scoring.  They get after it defensively.  They don't have a lot of size, but they do have a couple of kids that can hurt you inside.  They rebound the ball well at the offensive end," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "It is one of those games where you have to take care of the ball.  Last year when we played them at Hiland we were up 15 and they just came out and pressured us in the second half and we let one slip away last year at the buzzer.  You just have to be ready to play and they are a very solid team fundamentally and you just better be ready to play."

          Troyer, in his second year at West Holmes, is also a former coach at Berlin Hiland.  He says games against the Hawks are no different than any other school on their schedule.  "It is the same, it is just another game.  It is a good quality opponent that can get us ready for the tournament.  These are the games that you want to play as you get ready for the tournament trail.  Like I said, they are very fundamental, they don't make a lot of mistakes, and they shoot the ball well.  So, it is just another game were we have to come out and be ready to play and play with intensity for four quarters," he said.

 

Published 2/03/15

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West Holmes Facing Tough Week

 

          West Holmes has shown they can be a very good team, and certainly have improved as the season has gone on, but they will be challenged with three games to play this week.

          Last week, they took Mansfield Senior to the wire before loosing (52-48) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  Coach Keith Troyer says they learned a lot from that loss.  "We beat Orrville and Madison and we were getting better each game.  We went to Mansfield Senior and played well for 29 minutes.  At the end of the game there we threw the ball away and that led to points, but I thought we took some positive steps forward in that game.  There are a lot of good things to take from a game like that," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "You always like to win those games, but there are a lot of positives.  We played Wooster on Friday night and for whatever reason in the first half we didn't come ready to play, and dug ourselves a hole, played well in the fourth quarter, but it was a little too late."

          The Knights play at Waynedale (10-5), of the Wayne County Athletic League, in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Troyer says they expect pressure defense and a lot of threes to be put up by the Golden Bears.  "They don't have a lot of size.  They get after it defensively and coach Riebe has them playing really hard.  They want you to turn the ball over.  I am not exactly sure how many threes they are shooting a game, but its is 30 some per game and they are good shooters too.  We are definitely going to have to guard the perimeter (Tuesday) night," he said.

          West Holmes (6-7,2-5) is at Lexington (8-8,3-5) in an "OCC" game on Friday night and the challenge will be much different fort the Knights.  Troyer says they the Minutemen are big, but that is not to say they don't have good guard play.  "We have to get ready for two completely different teams.  Waynedale doesn't have anyone over 6'1" and then we go to Lex on Friday and they have two kids that are 6'7" or whatever and coming off the bench they have size.  On the other hand they have two really good guards too.  The first time around it was the guards that hurt us.  Keller had 18 or 20 points, something like that.  They are an overall good team.  We have a tough week here because we do end up with Clear Fork at home on Saturday night," said Troyer.

 

Published 1/27/15

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West Holmes Coming Around

 

          West Holmes has started to score more consistently and that has allowed them to climb over the .500 mark for the season and become a more competitive basketball team.

          They play at Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday night.

          In one of their better performances of the season to date they beat the Madison Rams (51-36) on Friday as 11 points from Levi Jones led a balanced scoring attack.  Coach Keith Troyer thought that balance was a major part of the outcome against Madison.  "We are playing a little bit more consistent with a little bit better balanced scoring, which I really like.  We had a good game the other night versus Madison.  I thought we played well.  They didn't have their best player, but they are still a very good team.  We stayed consistent offensively and defensively.  We just need to keep that consistency going throughout the rest of the year," said Troyer.

          The best part of the Knights team this year has been its defense.  Troyer says his players always get after it when they are on the defensive end of the floor.  "They play hard for four quarters and that is all we can ask from them.  This year we are holding teams to 45 or 46 points a game.  On the offensive end is where we have kind of struggled and been inconsistent.  But, defensively we play hard and get after it and it always keeps us in the game," he said.

          West Holmes (6-5,2-3) has won its last two "OCC" games.  They also beat Orrville (49-42) last week.  Mansfield Senior (6-5,3-2) has won five of its last six and its last three league games.

         Troyer says they Tygers are not hard to diagnose, but they are very difficult to execute against.  "With Mansfield Senior I think coach Mergel from Madison said it best.  They are very easy team to scout, but a very hard team to beat," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "A couple of things you have to do is limit their second chance points and take care of the ball and handle their pressure.  If you do those two things you have a shot of winning, but it is a lot harder than what it sounds."

 

Published 1/20/15

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West Holmes Needs to Clean it up

 

          West Holmes has some shooters and plays hard on defense, but right now they are turning the ball over too much to have success, at least consistently, in high school basketball.

          They lost to Canton Central Catholic (68-44) last Saturday after beating Warsaw River View (50-35) on Tuesday, both in non-conference action.  Their game Friday against Ashland in Ohio Cardinal Conference play was cancelled due to the weather.

          Coach Keith Troyer says it has been difficult to get into a rhythm over the last couple of weeks.  "It is tough because once you get into a routine, then you had the holidays, then you had some snow days.  Kids are geared for a routine and it's tough sometimes and sometimes it is just one of those things where the team that comes to play that night is the one that is going to win," he said.

          The Achilles Heel for the Knights has been the empty possessions they have had in games.  Troyer says they are shooting themselves in the foot.  "The biggest things for us is taking care of the ball.  We have had too many turnovers and that is why we have been losing games.  We had a game on Saturday night up at Canton Central Catholic.  We just had too many turnovers.  We are in the game for most of the first half.  The second half we came out and we just didn't take care of the ball and a six, eight point lead went to 20 real fast," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "When you don't take care of the ball and there are possessions when you don't even get a shot off you not going to win too many games.  That is one of our many issues right now we are working on."

          West Holmes (4-5,0-3) plays at home against Orrville (2-4,1-2) on Tuesday night in "OCC" action.  The Red Riders won the first meeting (53-50) on December 12.  Troyer says this a game they can win if they take care of the ball.  "We expect a good game from Orrville every time we play them.  They play hard every night out.  We thought we let one slip away earlier in the season.  So, hopefully we can correct some of the mistakes we made up there and have a good game on Tuesday," he said.

 

Published 1/13/15

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West Holmes Needs to Put Things Together

 

          It's already January of a new year and West Holmes is still kind of trying to find its identity as a boys' basketball team.

          They carry a three game losing streak into a non-conference game Tuesday at Warsaw River View.

          They had chance to win a game last week against Clear Fork losing (53-45) and coach Keith Troyer says they just haven't been executing very well when they have the ball in their hands.  "The last couple of games we have struggled a little bit.  We have had some key turnovers in key situations that cost us some games.  We are just not playing very consistent right now.  We had one good game over the holidays against Chippewa.  We lost to Lexington and Garaway the other night.  It's a matter of being more consistent offensively and hopefully we can get it turned around," he said.

          With All-Ohio guard Brady Arnold lost to graduation, Troyer says they have to find somebody that can get those big points in the clutch.  "We have some returning starters that played last year, but when you lose a Brady Arnold, kind of the leader of the team, someone that kind of take over when the rest of the team is struggling, we don't have that go to guy right now.  Hopefully by the end of the year we will have a couple of kids that take on that scoring role," said Troyer.

          Handling the ball have been a concern and Troyer says they are going to have to do that against River View.  "They have some pretty good guards.  They are quick and really get after it defensively.  So, we have to take care of the ball, and like I said, our Achilles' Heel here lately has been our turnovers.  We match up pretty well size wise, so hopefully we can get them on the boards and get some offensive rebounds.  It will be a good game for (Tuesday) night on the road," he said.

          When the Knights (3-4,0-3) return to Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Friday night at conference co-leader Ashland (7-1,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, Troyer says they are in for a real test.  "The road doesn't get much easier for us.  We go on the road Friday again at Ashland.  They are playing very well, they have everyone back, they are just a really good team.  They have one of the best, if not the best guard in the league in White.  That will definitely be a challenge for us Friday night," said Troyer.

 

Published 1/06/15

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West Holmes Doesn't Miss a Beat

 

          Even though their 33 game winning streak came to an end on Saturday night against rival Berlin Hiland, you can bet that West Holmes is going to have a very good season again.

          The Lady Hawks prevailed (53-40) in the non-conference match-up.

          West Holmes won the division two state title last season, but coach Lisa Patterson says they are not rebuilding at West Holmes, but reloading.  "We return two starters and four kids that played a lot of minutes for us last year and two other kids that saw limited minutes last year.  We have six kids back that some varsity experience," she told Swankonsports.com, "We have three seniors that were very instrumental in that state title.  Our kids compete, our kids play hard and they learn from the kids that moved on.  We are trying to make our on identity this year and go from there."

          The Lady Knights (4-1) are a team that relies getting scores off their defense.  Patterson says kids at West Holmes know they have to play defense to get into the lineup.  "We emphasize defense starting in the third grade.  We feel it is important to play defense, so you don't have to guess, you know it will always be there.  Offense can come and go, but defense can always be a staple," she says.

          West Holmes is also the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion and they have already beaten their biggest challenger this year in rival Orrville (46-35) last week.  Patterson says she knows it was a big win for them.  "A couple of years back we went back and forth with Orrville.  We have been lucky enough to get them over the last few years.  They are a traditionally rich program as well.  Mark Alberts does a good job over there at Orrville.  Anytime we play them it is going to be a good game.  They have athletes and it is going to be a battle, so we were fortunate enough to come out with a win," said Patterson.

          They play improving Lexington (0-6,0-1) on Thursday night.

          Patterson says they need to start the game playing better, so they don't have to play from behind.  "Probably the thing that we need to improve the most if getting off to a better start.  We have had very slow starts in our games and gotten behind early.  It has required some runs at the end of the first quarter to get back in the game.  If there is anything we need to improve on it is getting off to a better start," she said.

 

Published 12/15/14

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West Holmes Locks Horns With Triway

 

          West Holmes and Wooster Triway are not in the same league, but the districts boarder each other and they are pretty good rivals.  They play on Tuesday night at Triway in boys' basketball action.

          The Knights (1-0) thrashed Claymont (65-39) in their first game last Friday and coach Keith Troyer says they were able to get a lot of kids into the lineup.  "We got a lot of kids involved in the game.  Ten of the 11 kids that played scored.  So, it was a good game, a good opener for us.  I thought it was a team effort," he said.

          Despite the win, Troyer says they have to make a higher percentage of the outside shots they take if they are going to be competitive with the better teams on their schedule.  "We didn't do a very good job of shooting it from the field.  I don't know if it was out first game jitters or whatever.  We will need to do a better job of shooting from the outside, from the perimeter," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Defensively, I thought we played well.  We just had a couple breakdowns here and there.  The main thing is we played hard for four quarters and that's what we are looking for."

          Triway (0-1) lost to West Salem Northwestern (69-59) in their first game and Troyer says they are not real big, but they play with a lot of aggressiveness.  "Triway had a couple of kids from last year that didn't go out this year.  Size wise they are not too big.  I think maybe we will have an advantage there.  They are scrappy and coach Sanderson always does a great job with the program up there and they always play hard and it is always a good game when we play," said Troyer.

          Parker Carmichael, who was all-world in football, is on also a basketball player for the Titans and Troyer says he is really athletic.  "I watched a little film from when we played them last year and a couple of those kids are back.  Parker Carmichael had a great year in football.  Parker is just a good athlete and we will have to keep him under control to have a chance to win," he said.

 

Published 12/09/14

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West Holmes Will be Something Different

 

          You knew it had to happen sooner or later, and it couldn't have come soon enough for the rest of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, but Brady Arnold has graduated at West Holmes.

          Coach Keith Troyer says they have been working hard to put together a team that can wins some games this year.  "Well, so far, so good.  We are adding a lot of young kids into the mix.  We lost a good one in Brady Arnold from last year and a couple of other good seniors.  Early in the season there are a lot of things that we need to clean up as far as turnovers and things like that, but I think this is one those teams that will get better as the year goes on," he said.

          It seemed Arnold was able to get as many points as the Knights needed him to.  Troyer says this year they are going to have to have more balance on offense.  "This year it is very important that we have balanced scoring.  We do return four seniors that had quite a bit of experience last year.  We don't have that one guy that is going to score 25 a game, so everybody has to chip in and play more as a team this year and add in some of those younger kids that I think are going to develop throughout the year and give us some good minutes off the bench," said Troyer.
          How about tempo this year?  Well, Troyer says that is going to depend greatly on who is in the game for them.  "I think it is going to depend on who we have in the game.  We have a 6'5" sophomore and a 6'6'" junior that will get a lot of minutes this year.  When they are in the game I think we will slow it down a little more and go half court," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We can also put a line up out there are that can go up and down the court and do some pressing and try and get up and down the floor and try and speed things up a bit.  It is going to depend on personnel and who is in the game at certain time."

          They host Ulrichsville Claymont in their first game at home on Friday night in non-conference play.  Troyer says they expect to be challenged in the opener.  "They came up for an open gym this summer and we saw them a little bit there.  They lost a number of good seniors from last year.  They are going to be young, but scrappy and always well coached.  We expect a good game from them right off the bat here," he said.

 

Published 12/02/14

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A Win Gives West Holmes Part of "OCC" Title

 

          After West Holmes lost all three of its non-conference games nobody was giving them a second thought when it came to the Ohio Cardinal Conference, but the Knights won all of their conference games until last week.

          Wooster rallied to beat them (35-28) in an "OCC" and hand the Knights (5-4,5-1) there first "OCC" loss.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says they were outplayed by the Generals in the second half of the game.  "Hats off to Wooster they were a better football team than we were.  They made some mistakes early and we were able to capitalize on them.  We made some big plays and took the lead.  Credit their coaching staff and their kids they never gave up on their game plan.  They kept fighting and actually wore us down in the second half and took over the game and beat us," said Maltrich.

          A victim of their poor start West Holmes will not be a post season team, but Maltrich says they want at least a part of that league title.  He says they have been positive in practice.  "So far, so good.  We do have something to play for.  We are not going to the playoffs, but we can still play for a share of the "OCC" title.  After our first three weeks nobody in the world thought we would be in this position.  Our kids cane smell that.  It has been pretty upbeat so far because there is something on the line.  We have to go out and make sure we take care of business," he said.

          Clear Fork (4-5,2-4) will be at West Holmes on Friday night.  The Colts broke a three game losing streak with a (56-48) win over Orrville last week.  Maltrich says they have some electric offensive players.  "They have the Chrastina kid and the Findley kid.  Those are two of the most dynamic players I think in the "OCC."  Kadin may be the best player in the "OCC."  That kid can score from anywhere.  Then you have Silas Finley that can run to the outside and do some things," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "You can see how they score points because they put you in some formations and they make you defend those kids one on one.  Dave (Carroll) does a great job of spreading the field and those kids are able to capitalize."

          The Colts defense has been very suspect this season.  They have allowed every "OCC" team except winless Lexington to score at least six touchdowns against them.  Maltrich says they are just very young an inexperienced .  "They are really young on that side of the ball and you can really tell the kids will be good players eventually just right now they are a step slow and are confused with their reads.  I think the game might be going too fast.  It is one of things when you have young kids you are going to go through some of those growing pains.  They are still a very dangerous team.  I know they are going to be physical.  Just like a young team if they catch fire they are dangerous," said Maltrich.

 

Published 10/29/14

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West Holmes tries to Protect the Lead

 

          If West Holmes can win this week they are likely to be the outright Ohio Cardinal Conference football champion, but winning won't be easy as the Wooster Generals are also playing great football.

          West Holmes (5-3,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has won five straight games, all of their league games, and Wooster has won four in a row, so something has to give.

          West Holmes hammered Lexington (49-8) last week and they just seem to get better every time out.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says that is certainly their goal.  "That is what we strive for and that is what we practice for every week.  I have a lot of pride in these kids.  That is the attitude that we have.  They are starting to play with confidence right now, so we are getting better and better each week," he said.

          West Holmes has scored at least 45 points in each of their last three games, but the defense have allowed only 35 points total and most of those after the game had been decided.  Maltrich says the defense is really clicking.  "We tell the kids that defense wins championships.  Right now they are starting to get a hang of what is going on, they are starting to get feel for the game.  They are starting to play fast.  They are starting to tackle a lot better.  We still want to continue to get better on that side of the ball," he said.

          Wooster (5-3,4-1), #5 in our poll, is loaded with big play makers.  Maltrich says its starts with quarterback Cam Daugherty.  "They were kind of in the same boat as we were as they had some rough going at the start and then they caught fire and they are playing with a lot of confidence right now.  The most impressive thing about them is probably their team speed," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have game breakers all over the field.  They have a big line.  They have a three year starting quarterback that is about 6'5" and 230 pounds.  They just have a lot skill and great line."

         The Generals have had a lot of touchdowns this year of more than 30 yards due to their speed.  Maltrich says they have to first get to the ball carrier and when they arrive they have to get him to the ground.  "We have to make sure we are physical and disciplined and we are wrapping our arms because if we let one of those guys go it is six points," he said.

          As is the case lots of times in games between good teams Maltrich says it is going to boil down to who makes mistakes and who doesn't.  "We can't make mistakes.  We can't turn the ball over.  We have to be more physical than them and we have to establish the line of scrimmage," he said.

 

Published 10/23/14

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West Holmes Taking Business Like Approach

 

          So Far, West Holmes is four for four in Ohio Cardinal Conference games and that has put them in first place by themselves, a game in front of Wooster and Ashland.

          After losing all three non conference games, the Knights have really started to put things together.  Coach Kevin Maltrich thinks they are improving every time they hit the field.  "We really have gotten better every week and that is what we strive for.  I am really proud of these kids because we started 0-3 and all of the sudden we got things wrapped up and got things together.  They have taken a little pride in what they are doing and continue to get better," said Maltrich.

          Last week, they ran for 321 yards, 183 by senior Luke Ogi, and they belted Mansfield Senior (45-13) in league play.  What was even more impressive was holding the explosive Tyers offense to just two scores.  Maltrich says they understand what they are supposed to be doing on that side of the ball.  "Our kids are starting to play with confidence.  The thing I like is they are studding the game and they are starting to figure out how to read their keys and how to react.  When we can get lined up and read our keys affectively and get in good position the confidence takes over and good things happen," he said.

          West Holmes (4-3,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, takes its act to Lexington (0-7,0-4) to play the Minutemen.  Maltrich says Lexington plays a lot of young kids who have shown good potential.  "Being young kids they are going to make mistakes and they have a ton of sophomores out there, but I'll tell you what I think they are pretty well coached.  Form what I have seen on film they do the fundamentals pretty good.  They lead with their shoulder pads and they are in good position when they tackle," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "You can see that they getting off the ball, but they are just making some young mistakes.  With young kids if they catch fire at the right time they can be dangerous.  This isn't one that we are going to look past them or anything else.  They are going to be a good football team."

          Lexington is hungry for a win and Maltrich says they can not let them hang around.  "We have talked about playing West Holmes football and playing up to our capacity and do what we are able to do and not drop down anywhere.  If you leave teams like this in the game or give them confidence they can be dangerous.  So, we want to make sure we get off to a good start and make sure that we control that game," he said.

          West Holmes plays Wooster next week and Maltrich says they can not afford to be thinking about the Generals.  "I will tell you in our practice (Monday) our kids were really focused.  They weren't very excited and they weren't really low, they were just monotoned as usual.  It was a business day for us.  That makes me feel good as a coach because I don't think these kids are overlooking Lexington.  We can't afford to that.  We have to make sure we take care of ourselves and take care of business," he said.

 

Published 10/15/14

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West Holmes Preparing For Mansfield Senior

 

          West Holmes has come flying out of the gate in Ohio Cardinal Conference play and they have won all three of their "OCC" games and are all alone in first place.

          They hammered Orrville (53-13) last week as Luke Ogi rushed for 233 yards and three scores.  Coach Kevin Maltrich thinks they are getting better each week as a team.  "Getting better every week is what we are striving for.  They make me feel good as a coach.  I preach to them everyday to make themselves better each and every day.  When we get to week 10 we want to be playing our best football.  We have gotten better and better each week and hopefully we can continue on that track,' said Maltrich.

          Ogi has been a big difference for the Knights.  After being injured early in the season has pumped up their offense quite bit.  Plus, Maltrich thinks they have improved on defense too.  "We are starting to get kids in position to be really successful on defense.  We still aren't where we need to be.  I noticed last game that we really do have kids that have good form and good fundamentals and in the right position," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Now we have just got to be a little more aggressive and play a little faster and I think we can be a really good defensive team."

          West Holmes (3-3,3-0) will host Mansfield Senior (3-3,2-1) in league play on Friday night.  The Tygers, the defending "OCC" champion, lost their first conference game last week when Ashland beat them (30-25) at Arlin Field.  Maltrich says the Tygers have a players that can make big plays.  "They are very explosive and they have a number of kids that can take it to the house form anywhere on the field.  We have to make sure that we are playing very fundamental, very disciplined, and very physical football when we are on the defensive side," he said.

          Brian Benson and Tyquan Vickers have formed an excellent backfield tandem for the Tygers.  Maltrich says they have to contain those kids and reduce the number of big plays they can make.  "They have a couple of running backs that are really dynamic.  They have the Benson kid, they have Vickers, you throw in Wilder on the outside, and Mitch Nixon in there as well.  We are going to have our hands full.  I think it is going to come down to who establishes the line of scrimmage and who plays the most disciplined and is the most physical," said Maltrich.

 

Published 10/09/14

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West Holmes Feels Pretty Good

 

          Oh what a difference a couple of weeks can make.  After non-conference play West Holmes was (0-3) seemingly going nowhere fast, but they had everybody fooled.

          After two weeks of "OCC" play West Holmes shares first place with Mansfield Senior in conference play after wins over Mansfield Madison (34-21) and Ashland (34-28) last week.

          Coack Kevin Maltrich says his players didn't give up they just kept concentrating on getting better.  "I really like our team right now we are getting better each and every week.  We are a complete different team than we were three, four weeks ago," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We had some really good plays in that game.  Toward the end Ashland started making some plays and making a game of it.  Right now I am happy were we are at and hope we continue to get better."

          The Knights (2-3,2-0) are scoring more points, but Maltrich says the real difference has been on defense.  "We are playing a lot better defense.  We are attacking at the point of attack a lot better, we are tackling people.  We are just are doing the fundamentals of the game a lot better," he said.

          One huge factor has been the return of Luke Ogi from the injured list.  He ran for 187 yards and four scores last week against Ashland.  "We have Luke Ogi, he is probably about 90 percent healthy now.  We have a couple of down lineman that were a little banged up that are back now.  We are starting to get healthy and just at the right time too," he said.

          West Holmes plays at Orrville (2-3,1-1) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  Maltrich isn't fooled by the Red Riders record.  "I think the Red Riders are a lot better than what people think they are.  They are about one or two plays away from being 4-1 right now.  They have some good skill.  They have a good quarterback.  They have made some crucial mistakes at the wrong time in the game where they have lost it.  They are a dangerous team and they have my attention," said Maltrich.

          Orrville threw it 20 times last week and ran it 40, but Maltrich says they are a team that likes to spread you out and create mismatches.  "The are going a lot fives wides, sometimes they will give you a two back look, but they want to throw the ball around.  Keontae Owens is very talented and I like the Smith kid at quarterback.  I think he is a competitor.  If those two kids connect they are a dangerous team," said Maltrich.

          Against Orrville your defensive backs have always had to be able to cover man to man and Maltrich says they have to be good tacklers too.  "We have to cover those guys one on one.  They are going to make catches and we have to tackle in space.  We have to limit the yards after catch.  We just have to play good fundamental defense and hope to keep those guys out of the end zone," he said.

 

Published 9/30/14

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West Holmes Doing Some Things

 

          After losing all three of their non-conference games the West Holmes Knights came out and played much better on both sides of the ball in beating Mansfield Madison (34-21) last week.

          They got Luke Ogi back from injury and he was a difference maker for them, plus coach Kevin Maltrich says they were able to get some things done up front against a pretty good Madison defense.  "We were able to put some things together.  We were able to sustain some blocks a little bit better.  Luke was back for us and we had some holes up there.  We were really efficient in the passing game and overall it was a very nice offensive performance for us," he said.

          West Holmes (1-3,1-0) had give up over 130 points in their first three games, but Maltrich says they were able to contain the Rams except for some big plays.  "We gave a up three big plays.  They have some dynamic athletes.  We only gave up three long plays for a touchdown otherwise we held them in check pretty well," he said.

          The Knights travel to Ashland (2-2,1-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, to play the Arrows in another Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  Ashland has a young quarterback this year Grant Denbow, who ran one in for a TD and passed for another last week against Wooster.  Maltrich says the Arrows haven't been as explosive, but they are getting there.  "They haven't been as explosive as they have been in the past, but they are finding ways to win game here of late.  They are always competitive and every game comes down to the wire," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have a young quarterback and he is getting better and better each week.  We expect their best performance this week."

          Ashland runs a spread offense with typically five wide receivers in the game.  Maltrich says they have to be able to get those guys to the ground in one on one situations.  "They are going to put those five guys out wide and they are going to get those one on one match ups and it is going to come down to eliminating those yards after catch and making open field tackles.  If you miss one they are going to take it to the house.  That is going to have to be an emphasis for us that we can tackle in space," he said.

          The best part of Ashland's team this year has been its defense and Maltrich says a key for them is the be able to get a body on them and sustain the blocks.  "We have to make sure we sustain blocks and get good angles on those guys.  They are going to give us a 5-3 look like they have for the last four years.  They are going to do some stunts and things, so we are going to have to make sure that we know our blocking assignments and we can sustain them.  We have to be efficient with the pass as well so we can keep them loose," said Maltrich.

 

Published 9/24/14

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West Holmes Has to Learn How to Win

 

          Scoring points has not been a problem for the young West Holmes Knights this season, but stopping the other guys from scoring has been and that has to improve if they are to be a factor in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this year.

          They lost the opening night of the season to a very good Wooster Triway team (65-27), fell to New Philadelphia (19-9) and then were outscored (49-28) by Coshocton last week.

          Coach Kevin Maltrich says they have had some opportunities to win and have not been able to cash in this year.  "With this group we have a lot of new faces.  The last few years we found ways to win close games and right now it seems like we are finding ways to lose them.  We definitely had our opportunities the first three weeks," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We had a possibility of being 2-1 right now, but the ball didn't bounce our way and we are looking at 0-3 right now."

          Being able to put games away or strike when the opportunity is there can be elusive to some teams and Maltrick admits they are still searching.  "When you have a senior led team those guys figure things out.  They figure out that one play is the entire game and how to finish out and how to win those games, but when you are young sometimes it takes a while to find that.  We have improved each and every week since week one, but we have to figure out ways to find those wins," he said.

          West Holmes (0-3) plays at home against Mansfield Madison (2-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coach's poll in the large school division, on Friday night in "OCC" play.  Maltrich says they are a team that will hit you.  "They are probably going to be one of the more physical teams that we see this year.  Sean (Conway) is doing a great job over there.  They have a great line and they have some dynamic athletes so when they get in space they are home run hitters.  If we are not ready to hit they are going to hit us," he said.

          Madison's defense has been solid this year.  They shutout Shelby (34-0) on week one, beat Galion (37-3) week two before losing to (27-21) to Mt. Vernon last week.  Maltrich says the Rams are tough to handle in one on one situations.  "Sean is really good defensive coach and that comes down to how physical their team really is.  I am a big believer that it isn't the most talented team it is the most physical team that usually wins the game.  Those boys over at Madison are really physical this year an that just goes to show on the low numbers they have been putting up on defense," said Maltrich.

 

Published 9/18/14

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West Holmes Has to Learn to Tackle Better

 

          West Holmes was one of two Ohio Cardinal Conference teams to give up more than 60 points last Friday and the Knights have to become better tacklers if they are to start winning games.

          Wooster Triway's Parker Carmichael threw for nearly 500 yards and seven touchdowns in the Titans (65-27) win over West Holmes on week one.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says there a lot of things they have to improve if they are going to keep opponents out of the end zone.  "We have to do just about everything better.  We have to learn to tackle better.  We have to play better in space.  We have to understand what our roles are on defense.  There was a lot of miscommunication that we had out there and a lot of mistakes," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Triway has a pretty good team and if you make one mistake they are going to make you pay and they did that with us.  We have to make sure we simplify some things and we have make sure we sure up some tackling."

          Offensively, Maltrich says, they did a lot of very good things, but he says their defense really didn't give them a chance to win the game or even compete.  "I think we had a little over 400 yards of total offense.  We threw for a hundred and we ran for over 300.  Those are winable game stats right there.  We have to make sure we get that defense sured up so we so we don't get in shootouts and we can win games when we score four of five touchdowns," he said.

          New Philadelphia (0-1) will visit West Holmes to play the Knights this week.  The Quakers lost (31-13) to Canton Central Catholic last week.  Malttrich says they have a big offensive line and some players that can break big plays.  "The Quakers are going to be very well coached and very well disciplined.  They have a great big line and those guys get off the ball.  They have some young skill, but they are really talented.  They are going to put you in some formations that are going to hurt you.  If they get us in one on one match ups then we are going to have to make sure that we can play in space and that we can tackle," said Maltrich.

          The Knights had some youth on the field last week and Maltrich hopes those players have matured a little over the last week because their defense is going to be tested again.  "That is exactly what we are hoping.  We had a ton of kids out there that have never played under the Friday night lights and they got their first taste against a pretty nice football team.  Now hopefully the jitters are going to go away and the confidence will start to build and we can move forward," he said.

 

Published 9/04/14

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West Holmes Has to Physical Against Talented Triway

 

          West Holmes doesn't have a lot of returning talent, but they do have a lot of passion for the game and that can mean a lot.

          Coach Kevin Maltrich, a West Holmes grad himself, is pretty impressed with the attitude he has seen from his guys so far this year.  "I have really liked what I have seen.  I have really liked our attitude and I like the potential that this group has to go forward.  We still have to find our niche.  We still have to get some game experience.  We have a lot of new faces and it will be interesting to see how this all pans out for us," he said.

          West Holmes under Maltrich has always been a smash mouth kind of team and he says that's what they want to be this year.  "Hopefully we can hang our hat on being physical.  That is the number one thing we preach here at West Holmes it is not the most talented team, but the most physical team that wins the game.  We kind of hang our hat on being physical.  I know we have the size and athleticism to do that.  Now it is just a matter if we want to go out and do that each and every play," said Maltrich.

          The Knights begin the season on the road this year at non-conference and next door rival Wooster Triway.  Maltrich says they will be very, very good, maybe better than last year.  "The Titans are a nine win team from a year ago when they were a playoff victory team.  They have everybody back, I think they lose one starter, they have a couple of All-Ohio kids.  They have five receivers that are just dynamite.  They have a great defense," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They hang their hat on their quarterback Parker Carmichael and that kid can beat you anyway he can.  He is a competitor and he is an all around great athlete.  They are going to give us a handful because they are a dynamite team."

          It might be fair to say that Triway is the more athletic of the two teams, but Maltrich says they can be the more aggressive, hard hitting team and that's how they would win the game.  "We have to be physical.  We have to be disciplined and we have to be physical and make sure we are on our toes.  We have to keep giving Carmichael different looks.  We have to make sure we out hit those guys at the point of attack.  We have to keep the ball out of their hands because they can score from any place on the field," he said.

 

Published 8/29/14

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West Holmes Wants to be One Better

 

          West Holmes wants to take care of some unfinished business.

          The last two years the Lady Knights have advanced to the division two state title game only to lose to Hathaway Brown.  This time they are there to win the title.

          The Lady Knights (27-0) face Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary in the state semi-finals on Thursday afternoon at the Value City Arena on the campus of The Ohio State University.

          They have won the semi-final game the last two years beating Lima Bath (35-29) in 2012 and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne (69-44) last year, but lost Hathaway Brown (53-41) in 2012 and (56-44) in 2013.

          Coach Lisa Patterson says they are going to Columbus with a mission.  "There is no doubt they know what to expect.  The seniors have done it three straight times, the juniors don't know any better, the sophomores don't know any better.  It is what is expected and here we are again, hopefully with a different outcome," she said

          Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (25-2) is coached by former Mansfield Madison star Joe Jakubick and they beat Beloit West Branch (42-36) in their district final last Saturday.

          Patterson says this a different sort of player that they will be playing against on Thursday at Ohio State.  "Their interior presence is very good.  They have two very nice post players.  They go about 6'2" and 5'10".  They like to go inside to them a lot.  Anytime you have a private school like that kids choose to go there," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "A lot of them have gone there for the purpose of playing basketball, so you are playing some kids that are elite basketball players.  They look at it more as playing an individual sport and we are playing a team sport, that is kind of the difference between us."

          West Holmes has five players on the floor at anytime that can score, but Patterson says the key to this game will be how they play defense and if they can win the battle of the boards.  "I think we are going to have to play with a lot of confidence.  Our defense has held teams to 40 points or less, our opponents are averaging 30 points, if we can continue to do that, that's a huge key for us.  We feel if we can out rebound our opponents we will come out on top too.  Our defense and our rebounding we feel can dictate the outcome of the game," said Patterson.

          Kettering Alter (28-0) and Toledo Rogers (24-4) play in the other division two semi-final.

 

Published 3/12/14

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West Holmes Has a Chance For the Lead

 

          West Holmes is a good basketball team, no a pretty good one, and one that has overachieved this season.  They are now on the verge of doing the impossible. 

           A win on Friday night over Mansfield Senior would give the Knights (16-4,10-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, first place by themselves and no less than a share of the conference title.  It has looked like at times Mansfield Senior was a shoe in to take the trophy home.  However, Orrville gave the Knights the chance when they upset the Tygers (55-54) last Friday.

          This will be West Holmes third game this week as they already have wins over Warsaw River View (80-38) and Waynedale (69-54) in non-conference play.  Coach Keith Troyer says you don't often have back to back games during the week like this.  "This season has a had a lot of back to back games on Friday and Saturday.  We only had like four Tuesday night games and then we had a make up this Monday.  It has kind of been a weird year, but we just go out and play whenever they schedule the games.  We have another tough one coming up Friday night," said Troyer.

          The win Tuesday night over Waynedale was a quality win for the Knights as the Golden Bears had beaten the top two teams in the Wayne County Athletic League in Norwayne and Dalton.  Troyer says they played well.  "They have been playing really well here of late.  They beat Norwayne, who has won that league now and also beat Dalton, who came in second.  So, they have been playing really well and that means we had a good game with them (Tuesday) night," he said.

          To beat Mansfield Senior (13-3,10-2), #3 in the large school division of our poll, you have to execute well and not get caught up in their game.  Troyer knows this is a game that is going to make them better no matter what the scoreboard says.  "Going into the tournament you want to be playing quality opponents like a Mansfield Senior.  Win or lose these kinds of games help you come tournament time," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "The four losses that we have had I think have come to four quality opponents and in those four games we have learned something about our team.  Those are the kind of games that really help come the end of the season and going into the tournament."

          The first time they played Mansfield Senior broke open a tight game to win (67-41) going away.  Troyer says to get the win they have to really value the basketball.  "The first time we played them here at home I thought we played good the first half and we pretty much stuck to a game plan and in the second half it kind of got a way from us and they got some transition baskets.  This time we have to work really, really hard on the boards and take care of the ball and get quality shots every time down," he said.

 

Published 2/13/14

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Arnold Does it Again

 

          In his first three years on the varsity Brady Arnold was a pretty good player, no really good, but as he pushes toward the end of his senior year the West Holmes guard is really heating up.

          He scored 27 points in half a couple of weeks ago against Lexington and Tuesday night he got 40 in the game as the Knights held on to beat Wooster (73-60) in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          He is probably the favorite for "OCC" player of the year, although Clear Fork senior Ridge Winand might have something to say about that also.

          Tuesday night, coach Keith Troyer says his team was able to withstand the tremendous Wooster pressure a lot better than they had a couple of weeks ago when Generals beat them (62-60) at their place.  "Our game up at Wooster this year, a couple of weeks ago, we were up 15 going into the fourth and we didn't handle it very well when they brought pressure in the fourth, but (Tuesday) night I thought we did a better job every time they made a run we answered," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Brady had an outstanding game with 40 points and had seven assists to go along with those 40 points.  It was a pretty good game all around for us."

          Regarding Arnold's performance, Troyer says it didn't really seem like he had that many points because he is so unselfish.  "It was a quiet 40 because I didn't even realize he had 40 points until late in the fourth quarter.  He is just one of those special players that every coach likes to have on the team," he said.

          West Holmes (13-4,9-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, and a game behind Mansfield Senior in the "OCC" race, plays host to Mansfield Madison (4-12,1-9) in conference play on Friday night.  Troyer calls the young Rams dangerous.  "They are a very young team, but they are very athletic.  It is one of those teams that on any given night they could come out and play well and beat you if you are not ready to play.  We didn't come out of the gates playing well and they were up 15-4 and then we played pretty good for the last three quarters.  They are a team that is scary when they put it all together," said Troyer.

 

Published 2/06/14

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West Holmes Needs the Win

 

          West Holmes continues to trail Mansfield Senior by a game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings and they play the Tygers a second time in Mansfield next month.

          The assignment is to keep winning in order to keep things interesting in the conference race.

          Last Friday, Brady Arnold scored 27 of his 28 points in the second half as the Knights outscored Lexington (51-32) in the second half and went on to beat the Minutemen (66-53) in a conference game.

          Coach Keith Troyer says his team was more aggressive in the second half and it paid off.  "Lex slowed it down a little bit in the first half and we just came out flat.  We couldn't get a shot and Lexington was playing pretty good defense.  In the second half we needed to speed up the game a little bit and our press hurt them a little bit and we got some easy buckets," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We were a little more aggressive in the second half as far as attacking the basket and got to the foul line.  We were 31-37 at the line.  So, i was very pleased with the second half, but the first half not so good."

          Troyer adds the difference was they just weren't settling for jump shots.  "In the first half we just weren't getting to the line and that was our fault we just weren't aggressive enough in taking the ball to the hole.  In the second half we quit playing timid and we were a little more aggressive.  Fortunately we got to the line and I will take 31 out of 37 any night," he said.

          West Holmes (11-4,7-2) takes the trip to Ashland to meet the Arrows (4-8,2-5) on Friday.  Ashland took Mansfield Senior to the limit last week before falling (64-61) to the Tygers.  Troyer says they really starting to play pretty well right now.  "They are playing really well right now.  In their last couple of games, just looking at their scores, they have played really well.  They have three main guys that do the baulk of their scoring.  You always have to know where White is.  He is a very good three point shooter.  And they have some kids to go along with him.  It's going to be a good test for this week on the road," said Troyer.

          The Knights won the first meeting between the teams (58-55) on the first Saturday of the season and Troyer looks for a very similar game this time.  "They are very well coached and very disciplined.  It's a good match-up because neither one has the size advantage.  So, it's a good match up for both teams.  It is going to come down to who executes and plays the better defense," he said.

 

Published 1/29/14

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West Holmes Continues to Battle

 

          West Holmes remains in second place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, but they now trail Mansfield Senior by two games in the standings after a loss to Wooster last Friday.

          They host Lexington this Friday and travel to Clear Fork on Saturday night in conference games.

          Against Wooster the Knights just let one get away after holding a (56-41) lead going to the fourth quarter only to lose (62-60) to the Generals.  Coach Keith Troyer says the pressure got to them.  "Going into the fourth quarter we were up 15 and I thought we had played well for three quarters.  Wooster came out the fourth quarter and really picked up the press a little bit and we didn't handle it very good and threw the ball away and had some costly turnovers.  It ended up costing us," he said.

          Meanwhile on Saturday night, Holmes was able to pull away from Orrville in third quarter and hang on to beat the Red Riders (62-51) to maintain that second place standing.  Troyer says this time it was their defense that told the story.  "Saturday night was one of those back to back games and it was kind of a gut check for our kids.  Orville was coming off a tough double overtime loss Friday night.  It was one of those games where the first half went back and forth.  The third quarter I felt like we came out and picked up the intensity a little bit and held them to two points, which was the deciding quarter," he said.

          Teams, of course, are always looking to improve and Troyer thinks their post players are starting to be more consistent.  "Our post players I think we are getting some better play out of them and that's what we need if we are going to have any success in the tournament.  I felt Saturday night our post players played well," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We were out sized Friday night and we held their two post players to 10 points.  We have had some different kids step up and we have been looking for that consistency.  I see us getting better each game out and that's what we are looking for."

          In their first meeting this year West Holmes beat Lexington (53-50) in overtime as Brady Arnold scored 27 points for the Knights.  Troyer says the Lexington lineup can be a tough match-up for them due to their height.  "Lexington is one of those teams that has size and they have guards.  It is going to be a good challenge for us again.  We played a good game against them up at Lexington.  They are very well coached and they are very disciplined.  They have won some big games this year," said Troyer.

          West Holmes (10-4,6-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, is at Clear Fork on Saturday night.  They also won a close one with the Colts (63-61) in the first round.  Troyer says the Clear Fork back court is hard to guard.  "We match up with them a little better, but they have some really good guards and really good shooters.  They have been in a lot of games and they are a lot better than their record indicates," he said.

 

Published 1/21/14

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West Holmes Has to Battle Back

 

          West Holmes suffered their first Ohio Cardinal Conference set back of the season last week to Mansfield Senior and now they face the two Wayne County schools in the league back to back in Wooster and Orrville.

          The Knights (9-3,5-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, fell back into a share of the “OCC” lead with the Tygers when Mansfield Senior beat them (67-41) last Friday.  Coach Keith Troyer says a 9-0 nothing run by the Tygers to begin the second half put them behind the eight ball.  “I thought we played a good first half and were down five at halftime.  We knew we were going to be out matched size wise inside.  We came out the second half and got a couple of stops in the first couple of possessions and we turned the ball over, so we never even got a shot off,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Against a good team like Mansfield Senior you have to value every possession and take good shots.  They rushed us in the second half and it kind of got away from us.  They are a very good team.”

          With the way they play, Mansfield Senior kind of wears you down and Troyer says they didn’t help themselves either.  “It is full court pressure for four quarters.  They turn it up more so in the second half than the first half.  They try to speed things up and we played right into their hands.  We had some open shots, but they were quick shots.  They got some long rebounds and some kick outs and we didn’t get back on transition defense.  It went from five points to 10 points to 20 points really quick,” said Troyer.

          On Friday night, the Knights travel to Wooster to meet the Generals (4-9,3-4) in league play.  Troyer says despite their record the Generals have a lot of ability and have played well against very good teams.  “They have had a lot of close games.  They played Mansfield Senior really tough the other night.  Early on in the “Steve Smith Classic” holiday tournament they played Norwalk really tough.  They have a lot of athleticism on the team, a lot of size.  They are kind of up and down, but they are very scary team.  Plus, we are playing them at there place,” said Troyer.

          Wooster is 6’6” and 6’7” in the post and Troyer says that will be tough for them to deal with, especially as they get into the second half of the game.  “You expend a lot of energy trying to check those guys out and keep them off the glass.  It kind of wears on you and by the end of the game you are still struggling trying to check out and they get some easy hoops.  Size is definitely a factor in a game with them,” he said.

 

Published 1/15/14

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“OCC” Leader Faces Biggest Challenge

 

          West Holmes has won the tight games some far this season and that has lead them to sole possession of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball standings.

          They have beaten Lexington in overtime, Clear Fork by two, Ashland by three and Orrville by four.  That ability to win close games has given them a one game lead on Mansfield Senior and they host the Tygers on Friday night.

          Last week, the Knights railed from a (15-4) first quarter deficit and beat Madison (59-50) to move their “OCC” record to 5-0.  Coach Keith Troyer says his kids were able to retake the momentum in the game.  “I was glad to see they didn’t panic and clawed their way back in.  We only gave up six points to the second quarter.  Defensively we had some lapses in the first quarter, but overall the last three quarters I was pleased with the way we played,” he said.

          On Saturday night, the Knights (9-2,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Sugarcreek Garaway (54-34) in a non-conference game.  Troyer says it was one of their better overall efforts of the season.  “Garaway is a young team and they just came off a big win on Friday night.  We played them at Garway and it was back to back games for us again.  I thought that was the first game when we played four good quarters and came away with a tough win at Garaway,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (6-1,4-1) #3 in our large school poll, was the preseason pick to win the “OCC” and Troyer says the Tygers just have some players that rest of the league has problems dealing with.  “They have size and athleticism.  They just give a lot of teams, especially in our league, a lot of mismatches.  We just don’t match up very well with their size.  Not only do they have size, but they have quick guards to go along with it.  It is one of those games where you have to play your best or you are not just going to get beat you are going to get blown out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

          Lexington is the only team to beat Mansfield Senior so far (60-49) and Troyer says they did that by playing pretty much a perfect game and that is what they are going to have to do.  “It is one of those things where you have to pick your poison.  Lexington played a good game against them.  Not only did they shut down the inside, but they took care of the ball and made shots.  Not only do you have to stop them, but you have to handle pressure and you have to value each possession down the floor and get a good shot each time down,” he said.

 

Published 1/09/14

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West Holmes Tangles With Clear Fork

 

          Two of the tri-leaders in the Ohio Cardinal Conference meet on Friday night outside of Millersburg as West Holmes plays host to the Clear Fork Colts.

          The Knights (4-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the large school division, lost their first game of the season when rival and next door neighbor Berlin Hiland beat then (53-51) last Saturday.  That was on the heels of an overtime win over Lexington (53-50) the night before.  Coach Keith Troyer says they played some exciting basketball.  “It was a good game for us.  It was a tough weekend for us going to Lexington on Friday night and turning around and going to our rivals just a couple miles down the road in Hiland.  They are a really good team and it was a good test for us.  It was a really good game, we just came out on the short end of things,” said Troyer.

          When the game is on the line, Troyer says they need to be able to handle the ball without turning it over.  “One of the things we have struggled with is where teams come up and pressure us and we need to be better at taking care of the ball.  Rebounding, we are not a very big team and we have done a decent job of checking out and rebounding the ball.  Right now, we are just focusing on taking care of the ball and limiting our turnovers,” said Troyer.

          Clear Fork (2-1,1-0) will be at West Holmes for an “OCC” match-up on Friday.  Troyer is impressed by the play of Clear Fork guards Ridge Winand and Kadin Chrastina.  “They have a very good team.  They are very guard oriented with two very good guards.  It’s going to take a very good effort on our part to contain those two.  I think we match up pretty well with them.  They are 1-0 in the league and they are coming to our place for a very big game,” he said.

          Winand has twice broken his single game scoring record this season and Troyer says he is just able to get his shots.  “He is just a really good athlete.  You can tell when he is out there on the court.  He does a nice job of moving without the ball and using screens well.  He is just a very athletic kid and if you let him have any room he is going to knock them down.  He is just a very good, very nice player and then the other guard really complements him,” said Troyer.

          Clear Fork likes to push the tempo and Troyer says they must play good transition defense.  “We have to change up our defensive looks and try and slow them down and get back on defense.  They do like to push it up the floor.  In the open court they are a very dangerous team,” he said.

 

Published 12/18/13

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West Holmes Finding a Way

 

          West Holmes is not as big nor athletic as they were a year ago, but they are finding ways to win basketball games.  One key is they have the best point guard in the Ohio Cardinal Conference in Brady Arnold.

          They are unbeaten (2-0) in conference games this year and both have come down to the wire.  Last Friday, they hung on to beat Orrville (60-56) at their place. 

          Coach Keith Troyer says they gave up a big lead, but had the will to come up with the win over the Red Riders.  “I don’t know if I can handle all of these close games.  We had a 10 point lead to start the game and then let them back in and they took a lead in the second half and it was kind of back and forth,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It came down to making a couple more foul shots than they did.  It was a very good game, a very competitive game.  I give them a lot of credit they kind of turned the pressure up in the second half and we didn’t handle it very well.”

          It would make sense to have the ball in the hands of Arnold at the end of the game and the Knights were able to do that against Orrville and Troyer says he came through.  “That’s why it’s nice to have Brady Arnold.  He stepped up at the foul line and hit some huge foul shots for us and then Josh Neer had a really good game against Orrville also,” he said.

          The Knights (3-0,2-0), #4 in the first Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, plays at Lexington (2-2,0-1) in “OCC” action on Friday night.  Troyer says Lexington is going to be a tough assignment for them.  “They have most of their players back.  I’ve talked to a couple of coaches with it being my first year at West Holmes, so I’m not as familiar with a lot if the “OCC” teams.  I watched film from last year and they second game with Lexington went to overtime.  I know they get after it defensively and they have pretty balanced scoring.  We have to take care of the ball and make sure we limit them to one shot,” said Troyer.

          Lexington is known for their aggressiveness on defense and Troyer says they are going to have to be able to handle the ball without a bunch of turnovers.  “We have been a little inconsistent over the first three games as far as taking care of the ball.  Against Ashland I think we had nine turnovers and we had 20 in the second game, so it’s been kind of up and down in that category and that is something we need to work on.  When it comes to Friday night if we don’t take care of the ball it is going to be a long night for us,” he said.

 

Published 12/11/13

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West Holmes Plays Rival

 

          West Holmes survived a big comeback from Ashland to win their opening Ohio Cardinal Conference game last Saturday and now they are getting ready to host Wooster Triway in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Ashland missed a three pointer at the horn that would have tied the game on Saturday night and the Knights went on to win (58-55) to get their first conference win.

          Coach Keith Troyer says they were a little sloppy early, but they were able to put it away in the second half.  “It was a very good game.  It was the first game for both teams.  The first half was more ragged, which was expected for the first game with the first game jitters.  It was back and forth the whole game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We ended up hitting some big threes late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter and got a couple of stops and made a couple of more plays that Ashland did, but thy have a very nice team and are well coached.  We are just glad to get that first victory.”

          Yes, they won, but Troyer says they gave up too many easy scores and really didn’t shoot it well except for three pointers.  “We gave up a lot of layups and didn’t get back on defense.  We are going to have to press this year and get up and down the court, so we can’t continue to give up layups.  I think we only shot 27 percent from the two point range, so there were a lot of missed shots in close, which will come.  Defensively I thought we played hard, which is good, but we can’t give up layups,” he said.

          Holmes and Triway used to be in the old Mohican Area Conference and they have a rivalry that predates that league, which formed in the late 1980’s.  Troyer says they have some good players, many of whom had roles on last year’s team too.  “They have a new coach this year in B.J. Sanderson.  He was with the girls up there and he played for coach Montgomery.  They are a very rich basketball community and they always have a nice team.  I know they were down a little last year, but they were young and have everybody back.  They are very guard oriented with a 6’6” kid inside.  They play hard.  They are quick and they get up and down the floor too.  It’s their opening night.  They were supposed to play Northwestern and that one was moved.  We will be their opening game,’ said Troyer

 

Published 12/03/13

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West Holmes First Game is Against Ashland

 

          West Holmes has been among the best teams in the Ohio Cardinal Conference over the last couple of years and with a new coach and a number of new players it remains to be seen if they can archive the same level of success.

          It’s rare to begin the regular season with a conference game, but that is what is happening outside of Millersburg on Saturday night as the Knights host to the Ashland Arrows in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Keith Troyer takes over the program this year and he says there have been a lot good things going in the preseason.  He says what they need more than anything is just to play games that count.  “We have a lot of kids that don’t have a lot of varsity experience.  All they need is a lot of practice and they have been doing a lot better in our scrimmages here.  They continue to get better.  That’s what they need.  They need to get out there and get some experience,” he said.

          Brady Arnold is likely the preseason favorite for “Player of the Year” in the “OCC.”  Troyer says Arnold can do a lot of things and he is going to need to carry them a little early in the season.  “He has shown great leadership already in our practices and our scrimmages.  We are going to rely on him a lot.  We just need him to do what he has been doing the last couple of years,” he told Swankonspotrts.com on Tuesday, “He definitely has that ability to take over a game and he is a very unselfish player too.  We hope he can carry us early on and then hopefully we will find some kids to step up and help him out.”

          Ashland, on the other hand, brings a lot of experience back to their varsity unit.  Troyer says the Arrows have a lot of talent too.  “Ashland had a nice team last year.  They graduated a couple of players, but they have a lot kids back.  The White kid is a very good shooter and they have the big kid inside.  They are well coached.  I watched some game film from last year’s game.  They did a lot of nice things out on the floor.  They play good defense and play hard,” said Troyer.

 

Published 11/27/13

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West Holmes Trying to Figure Out What Goes With Arnold

 

          West Holmes might just have the best player in the Ohio Cardinal Conference in point guard Brady Arnold, now they need to find out what they can do to complement his abilities.

          Arnold’s junior season was hampered by injuries, but he was still able to lead the Knights to a 20-5 record and a second place finish in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Keith Troyer, who got the West Holmes job last spring after Jim Lindeman resigned to spend more time with his family, says they are using practice time to judge the abilities of the players.  “It’s the most exciting time of the year getting ready for basketball.  We had our football kids join us here about a week ago.  It is still early for us having lost so many kids from last year, lost a lot of height from last year.  We have one true starter from last year in Brady Arnold.  Right now everybody is fighting for starting positions.  It’s been good for the coach because it’s made for some good practices,” said Troyer.

          Arnold is the kind of player that can get you 30 points on a night and Troyer says there is no doubt they are going to lean a lot on him this winter.  “He is a good leader for us right now.  I’m new here at West Holmes and they are trying to adapt to my style of play.  With Brady you know what he is going to give you night in and night out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Right now he is being patient and all of the kids have been great.  They are learning a new system.  He is going to be that player when you need him to he can take over a game and it is just good to have him on our team.”

          If they are going to be able to compete in the “OCC” where they are going to be smaller than most of the teams they play, Troyer says they have to be able to compete on the boards and be able to play tough defense.  “(Monday) night we had our first scrimmage.  It was a good scrimmage for us.  We saw a lot of good things and a lot of things we need to work on.  Two of the things that we are really emphasizing here early on are defense and rebounding.  We are not going to have the most size in the league.  I think if we do a good job of fundamentally checking out and play good, fundamental defense we can compete night in and night out,” said Troyer.

 

Published 11/13/13

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Focus Important for West Holmes

 

          With a couple of wins to close the regular season the West Holmes Knights have a chance to make the playoffs again this year, but they have to do it one game at a time.

          They came up with a huge second half last week and turned a possible upset against Lexington into their sixth win of the season.  Brady Arnold returned two kick returns for scores in the second half.  West Holmes coach Kevin Maltrich says he can be an igniter.  “We have Brady Arnold back deep and he is a special player.  He has four kickoff returns for a touchdown this year.  When people kick it deep to him anything can happen,” he said.

          Lexington held a three point halftime lead on Holmes before the Knights rallied for a (55-33) win.  Maltrich says Lexington was a real challenge.  “They are a lot better than advertised.  They do some nice things on offense.  They have some nice physical kids in there that have some great speed and a running back that can pop it up in there.  Hats off to them they made some nice plays when they needed to and our kids kind of sleep walked through that first half.  They challenged us and got ahead of us,” he said.

          This week the Knights (6-2,3-2) play a team with a similar record to Lexington in the Wooster Generals (2-6,2-3) at Folis Field in Wooster.  Like most coaches Maltrich scratches his head in trying to compare the Generals talent to their record.  “I’ll tell you what they are no a 2-6 team.  They have dynamite all over the field.  They have athletes everywhere.  I’m not sure how they have only won two games this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have as good athletes as anybody.  When those guys get the ball in the open field anyone of those guys can hurt you.  I just think there is something, just a little piece, and as soon as they figure out that puzzle, they are going to be dynamic.”

          It really has happened only once this year, a (40-20) win over Lexington, but Maltrich says when Wooster puts it all together look out and he hopes it isn’t this week.  “When they get things clicking they are going to be a dangerous football team, but hopefully that doesn’t start this weekend,” he said.

          Right now, West Holmes is 10th in their computer region and with win this week and next week against Clear Fork they have a chance to reach the top eight and a playoff spot.  However, Maltrich says they can’t get too far ahead of themselves.  “That is something that we talk about each and every week and making sure that they are focused and they are concentrating on one game at a time.  The playoffs are starting to become a subject and we are trying to put that aside because if we don’t take of business this Friday there is no playoffs for us.  We have to make sure we are focused on what is important,” he said.

 

Published 10/23/13

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Knights Can’t Take Week Off

 

          West Holmes played unbeaten Mansfield Senior as tough as anybody last week, but they need to get back to wining as they host Lexington in “OCC” play on Friday night.

          It was still in question down to the final minutes of the game before Mansfield Senior downed West Holmes (23-17) last Friday.  Knights coach Kevin Maltrich was proud of the effort.  “Hats off to our kids for going in there and battling against Mansfield this year.  It was a great game between two great ball clubs and we just came out on the short end of the stick,” he said.

          Going into the game last week West Holmes (5-2,2-2) wanted to be physical and Maltrich feels they were that.  “We kind of hang our hat on being physical.  We knew our only shot to get those guys was going right at them and being as physical as we could.  That is kind our mainstay.  That’s what we ant to do and what people know West Holmes is.  We are not going to change too much.  At the end of the night we want to be the more physical team,” said Maltrich.

          Coming up on Friday night, West Holmes plays host to the Lexington Minutemen (1-6,0-4) in a league game outside of Millersburg.  Maltrich says don’t pay attention to Lexington’s record because he has seen their talent on film.  “They are a dangerous club.  When they are clicking they go right down the field and they score on anybody.  They can stop anybody that they want.  I think Dan (Studer) is doing a great job over there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “He has a system and they do just an outstanding job of getting their kids ready for the season and we always know playing Lexington they are going to be big and they are going to be strong and they are going to be quick kids.  They are very capable of beating any team in the league.”

          Lexington quarterback-safety Trent Richwine is on the mind of every team Lexington plays, and Maltrich says that includes the Knights.  “He is a very talented player, not only on offense, but on defense.  You have to know exactly where he is offensively and we have to know exactly where his is at defensively.  He can hurt you with his arm and he can hurt you with his feet,” he said.

          West Holmes still has a chance to make the playoffs and they know they have to be focused this week and so far Maltrich believes they have been.  “Our mindset has been very, very good this week.  We almost feel better about the loss and the way we played against Mansfield Senior then in win against Orrville.  I didn’t think we played real well against Orrville.  I thought we played real well against Mansfield Senior.  It is one of those things where we have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and we come out and play our best football,” said Maltrich.

 

Published 10/17/13

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West Holmes Has to be Smart

 

          Last season West Holmes, along with Mansfield Madison, shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with Mansfield Senior, if Holmes is to do that again they will likely need to beat need to beat the Tygers on Friday night, something no one has done yet this year.

          The Tygers lead West Holmes, Ashland and Clear Fork by a game.

          It was a nail biter last week for the Knights (5-1,2-1) as they held on to beat Orrville (28-23) with the Red Riders inside the West Holmes 20 as time ran out.  West Holmes coach Kevin Maltrich says a lot of things came into play in that game.  “Orrville wasn’t 4-1 by mistake.  They are a hard nosed football team.  It got to the point where we started to control that game then it started to fall apart for us.  We had a couple of kids get sick and a couple of kids go out with cramps and we had some young kids get in there.  They put some points in the board and made it a game,” he said.

          West Holmes has put up a lot points this year, more than 50 a couple of times, and when that happens the defense is sometimes forgotten.  Maltrich says they have played well and not so well.  “I think we have been up and down.  There are times when we play really, really well and sometimes we have some holes that can be exploited,” he told Swankonspots.com on Wednesday, “We are trying to make our strengths stronger and make up for some of those weaknesses.  Right now, we don’t have a lot of speed back there.  We have to make sure we play disciplined football on that side of the ball to make up for our lack of speed.”

          Mansfield Senior (6-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, has clearly been the best team of the more than 90 we cover this year.  Maltrich says they can just do a lot of things very well.  “They have versatility.  They can run the ball and throw the ball.  They can do everything at a very high level.  They are very, very fast.  They do a lot of good things.  You have to take your hat off to coach Bradley because he has those kids playing hard,” he said.

          In order to contain the Tygers, Maltrich says they need to get everybody to do there job and do it on every play.  “You have to make sure you mix things up on them, but the biggest thing is you have to be disciplined.  We have to make sure we read our keys and fly to the football and gang tackle those guys and swam them because if they get out in open space they are going to run right by us,” he said.

          He says they need to be able to take the ball right at Mansfield Senior and be physical with them.  “We are going to try and run right at them.  That is one thing that we know is we can’t out run those guys.  We are going to try and go right at them and be physical with them,” he said.

 

Published 10/10/13

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It’s Effort For West Holmes

 

After their first loss of season last week West Holmes football coach Kevin Maltrich wants to see more effort from his club when they host Orrville in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Friday.

          Ashland put up some big offensive numbers and they went on to beat the Knights (48-21) last week.  Maltrich says he didn’t see the effort he was counting on and had seen in previous weeks.  “We had a competitive first half.  They got two quick scores right before halftime that put them up two touchdowns.  We came back and made it a one touchdown game.  Then there was kind of snowball effect there.  The score doesn’t indicate really how the game went.  They wore us down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The harder we tried I think the worse it got for us.  We came away with some learning from it.  Hats off to Ashland they came out with a game plan and executed it.”

          He says the players have come back to work this week in practice.  He says they are hungry.  “I think it got us down to earth a little that maybe we aren’t invincible coming off our run from last year and early success this year.  I think the kids are hungry and anxious to get back on the field,” he said.

          The West Holmes (4-1,1-1) defense had not allowed more than two scores in a game over their last three.  Maltrich does not think it was schematic problem, but again one of effort.  “I don’t think it was x’s and o’s I think it was more effort.  There were a lot of times in that game that we didn’t show the effort that we had shown in the first four games.  It really showed and we talked about it.  We are going to get that corrected.  It think part of it was them wearing us down a little bit, but our effort was not were it needed to be,” said Maltrich.

          Orrville (4-1,1-1) also lost its first game last week when they were blasted by Mansfield Senior (45-0) in “OCC” play.  Maltrich complements the Red Riders for how hard they play.  “Orrville is going to come right at us.  They like to run the ball this year and they are going to be tough and physical.  I’ve talked about our effort, I am going to talk about theirs.  They have a bunch of kids on the field that will give 110% effort.  They are going to play 48 minute of football.  If we slack off they are going to beat us,” said Maltrich.

          Orrville’s success this year has been built on its defense and Maltrich agrees they have a good one.  “They have kids that are hitters.  They run around that field.  They play very good defense and they cause a lot of problems for the other team,” he said.

 

Published 10/3/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

 
   

West Holmes needs to Force the Issue

 

          West Holmes is unbeaten on the season, but the visiting Ashland Arrows are likely the best team they have played to date as well, so this is a crucial week for the Knights.

          Both squads are 1-0 in the Ohio Cardinal Conference so far this year.

          West Holmes (4-0,1-0) hammered Mansfield Madison (42-14) last week to open league play.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says they took advantage of some situations to get the win.  “We were facing a pretty good Madison team and they were well coached.  They are battling some injuries over there.  We were able to take advantage of some of those positions that have fresh players in there and we came away with a “W,” he said.

          With teams like Mansfield Senior and Orrville to play yet too, Maltrich knows they have to get better in some areas if they are going to beat the best teams on their schedule.  “I wasn’t overall that happy with our performance last week.  I know we won and we won by a few scores, but there were some things that individually we could have been better at and we didn’t from the previous week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I kind of got after them a little bit.  We kind of went back to the drawing board this week and there are certain positions that we have to make sure we are getting better at.”

          Ashland beat Wooster (38-17) in their “OCC” opener last week and Maltrich says they feature the same high octane offense that has carried the Arrows to more “OCC” football titles than any other school.  “They have a great coach in Scott Valentine.  They are a threat to score on any place on the field and anytime on the field.  We have to make sure we keep the receivers in front of us and we are breaking on the ball,” he said.

          On defense, after a rough start Ashland has limited their last two opponents to a couple of scores each.  Maltrich says they have some players on that side of the ball too.  “They have two kids that are division one players over there and they anchor that defense.  They have 11 kids that are flying around the field and they are playing good solid fundamental football.  We have to ready for those guys.  We have to beat them off the ball and play on their side of the line,” said Maltrich.

          To remain in a share of the conference lead Maltrich says they have to be the more physical football team and be the ones to dictate the action.  “We have to make sure that we hit them harder than they hit us.  We have to make sure we contain those guys.  We have to play on their side of the ball.  We have to limit our mistakes,” he said.

 

Published 9/25/13

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West Holmes Expects Best from Madison

 

          If you just compared scores it would look like West Holmes would be a significant favorite in their “OCC” opener on Friday night at Mansfield Madison, but their coach knows better than that.

          West Holmes (3-0) is averaging over 50 points a game this year so far in wins over Wooster Triway (54-35), Warsaw River View (59-0) and Coshocton (55-7).  Coach Kevin Maltrich likes the fact that they are getting better.  “I am happy we are moving along.  Last week was probably the best game that we have played.  We are starting to look better in all phases of the game.  Every coach likes to see that with his team taking on the mindset of getting better every day and every week.  We are climbing the latter and last week was our best game and hopefully this coming week will be our best game,” he said.

          Now the teams that West Holmes has beaten are a combined 1-8 this year.  Maltrich says they are focusing on their own game.  “The first thing that comes to mind is that it is just like Madison.  We lost more kids on both sides of the ball than anybody we play.  From where we were to where we are now I really like the way are kids are coming together and going whether it is a good team or a bad team we went out and did what we had to do.  I think that is the mindset of our kids focusing in on one play,” he said.

          Madison (1-2) turned it over four times last week against Mt. Vernon and they have lost their last two.  Maltrich looks for them to turn it around this week.  “They are going to be really good for us in that we are going to get their best game.  Sean (Conway) is a really good coach.  He is going to have his kids ready.  This is a new start for them this season.  They are starting “OCC” play.  He is going to have his kids fired up and playing their best ball on Friday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          If they are able to stay on their game plan Madison will throw less than 10 passes in a game.  However, Maltrich says they must be ready for play action.  “They are just like us they want to be run first and then be affective with the pass.  Those kinds of teams are dangerous.  Right now, we have been affective with the pass and they have been fairly affective.  We have to read our keys because if it is a pass we have to make sure we stop it,” said Maltrich.

          Madison has proven they can move the ball they have just been derailed by the turnover.  Maltrich says he knows the Madison coaching staff will get that fixed.  “Sean will take care of that because he is a great coach and they have competitive kids over there.  They are going to show up and we are expecting their best and that is what we are preparing for,” he said.

 

Published 9/18/13

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West Holmes Still Trying to Get Better

 

          West Holmes has scored more than 50 points in both of their games so far and last week they pitched a shutout, but still the Knights feel like they can get better.

          Last week, West Holmes blanked Warsaw River View (59-0) in a game that was over early.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says they were able to pass the ball efficiently.  “We are getting better.  We had to replace a lot of kids on both sides of the ball.  We have taken some baby steps forward.  Overall it was a good performance.  We were able to do some things through the air that we haven’t done in the past.  We threw for about 250 yards on the night.  Our defense played a little bit better.  We got the shutout and our special teams came along.  We got better in all aspects of the game and we have to make sure we continue to do that,” said Maltrich.

          Yes, they handed River View a shutout, but Maltrich believes the Knights can be better on defense.  “I still think we need to take a big step on defense.  We are doing a lot of the technical things wrong.  We are not getting to the backs like we should or covering receivers like we should.  It is better than it was at the beginning of the year.  It is something that is going to be a problem, especially against these spread teams.  We have to make sure we shore up that side of the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com.

          Coshocton (0-2) is at West Holmes on Friday night.  The Redskins have had some good teams over the years, but they have struggled this year losing to Cambridge (42-0) and Tusky Valley (21-8) over the first two weeks of the season.  Still, Maltrich believes they are physical at the point of attack.  “Coshocton has a good tradition.  They have been good in the past.  They are going to give us everything they have.  They are big physical kids.  They are very well coached.  They are doing a couple of things different this year offensively with the read option,” said Maltrich.

          They may be doing some different things, but Maltrich says to be successful against Coshocton you have to be able to beat them in the trenches.  “The line of scrimmage is going to be huge.  They have some big kids up there.  They always play well up front.  If we let them control the line of scrimmage they are going to do some good things against us.  We can’t allow that to happen.  We have to make sure we stand up to them and make sure we control that line of scrimmage,” he said.

 

Published 9/13/13

© Swankonsports.com 

 

 
   

West Holmes Younger, but Still Talented

 

          West Holmes shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference football title last season with Mansfield Senior and Mansfield Madison and they are looking forward to a nice year this year too.

          They are going to be a younger group, but coach Kevin Maltrich likes the progression he has seen this month.  “I have really liked what I have seen so far with the kids, especially the new ones that have been put in place.  We are going to be inexperienced in a lot of the positions.  These kids have been waiting their turn.  They have been working hard for two or three years now to get into a starting position.  Those kids that have stepped into those spots have taken command of those spots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are looking to do a good job and are improving every day, which we as coaches want.  Then the returning guys are doing a nice job leading.  Right now I am pleased with our off season, but we are ready to go after game one and see where we are at.”

          Maltrich says this year’s players are eager to make this year a good one too.  He says they don’t want to be to known for what happened last year or any other year.  “They kind want to put their own stamp on things.  They don’t want people to talk about what happened last year or the year before or maybe next year.  They want people to go out and talk about them,” he said.

          Maltrich is a graduate of West Holmes where he played for his father.  He says they aren’t going to change much in their approach to the game.  “We have our system in.  We believe in that system and the kids believe in that system.  We are a run first offense and we try and play physical defense.  This community and the kids have really bought into that style of football.  We aren’t going to change things much.  We may tweak things here and there depending on where on skill level is at certain positions, but you are still going to see the off tackle and the traps from West Holmes,” said Maltrich.

          Wooster Triway invades Millersburg for a non-conference game on Friday night.  Maltrich says the Titans have the kind of kids that can make big plays.  “Triway has most of their kids back from last year.  They have a dynamic quarterback in Parker Carmichael.  When he gets on he is pin point accurate.  He has a nice arm there and they have five skilled kids that can run crisp patterns and do some things.  They are going to give us all we can handle.  They always play physical defense against us because it’s a backyard rival.  We are going to have our hands full (Friday) night and we are going to have to ready to play,” he said.

 

 
   

West Holmes to Wins Away Form Second Straight State Tourney

 

          West Holmes lost in the state semi-finals last year and this spring they are now just two steps away from earning another berth to play in Columbus.

          They face Waverly (22-7) in the division two regional semi-finals on Thursday in Zanesville.

          Coach Kurt McDowell says there have been some ups and downs this season, but this is what they have been pointing to all year.  “This is what you work all season for to be able to enjoy weeks like this and games like this.  The kids are enjoying it and the coaches are enjoying it.  We are looking forward to it,” he said.

          The Knights (19-8) where the preseason choice to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference this spring, but injuries got in the way.  McDowell says they have been able to put things together at the right time.  “Obviously last year our number was (Gabe) Snyder.  He was the one that took us to the state tournament.  He has had elbow issues, so this year he has been limited on his pitching.  He has pitched 27 innings are so for us.  (Dillon) Baird has been our horse.  He is the one right now we are riding.  If was make it to Friday Snyder will be the one that gets the nod for a few innings there,” said McDowell.

          Waverly was ranked 16th in the final AP poll this year in division two.  McDowell says that have been able to learn that Waverly has a good, but not overpowering pitcher.  “We don’t know a whole lot.  They have a right handed pitcher that throws all of their big games.  He is not overpowering, but he has some good off speed stuff.  We are going to have to be patient at the plate.  We will try to hit the straight stuff and lay off the curve balls.  We told the kids we need to play our game and be disciplined at the plate and play solid defense behind Baird,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          Of course, this is not the first big game for the Knights and McDowell says they won’t overwhelmed by the pressure of playing in the regionals on Thursday.  “The top five in our order were all starters last year for us.  A couple of the other kids where on the team.  They were around everybody in the game situations.  I won’t say they expect to win, but they understand the situation and it’s not too big for them,” he said.  

 

 
   

West Holmes Coming Together

 

          It wouldn’t be fair to say that West Holmes is a healthy team by any imagination, but they are more so than they have been and they are starting make another run in the baseball tournament.

          They advanced all of the way to the division two state semi-finals last year and Tuesday night they claimed an (11-1) win over Cambridge in the district final.

          The Knights (19-7) were expected to compete for the Ohio Cardinal Conference title, but that didn’t materialize mostly due to injuries.  Coach Kurt McDowell says it has been a bit of a struggle.  “We had a bad start to the season.  Our number one from last year has to have “Tommy John” after we are done, so he is limited on innings.  He pitches a little bit here and there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Our number one now, Baird, tweaked his knee part way through the year, but he is back 100 percent.  Our number one catcher is still out.  We have had a few injuries to deal with.  We have bought into a team concept.”

          Holmes run ruled Cambridge and McDowell says it was thanks mostly to the top of their lineup.  “The top part of our order we have a lot of veterans back and they produced (Tuesday) night.  When we had opportunities we didn’t let them get away from them.  They did a great job for us,” he said.

          Tournament experience has been a plus for the Knights.  McDowell says they have played in a lot of big games.  “Our top five guys were all through it last year.  They know what is expected of them.  It’s not like we didn’t have this as a goal.  Pretty much the seniors are taking control right now.  They are leading us.  Gabe Snyder, Keaton Leppla, Veyden Wood, Dillon Baird up there pitching, Levi Jones.  They are producing and that’s what we expect of them,” said McDowell.

          West Holmes will play either Gallipolis Gallia Academy or Waverly in the regionals next Thursday in Zanesville.  Those two schools play a district final on Wednesday at Ohio University.  McDowell says the competition they face to in the “OCC” will prepare them well.  “I know last year on our run we didn’t see any pitching and better than what we had seen in the “OCC.”  There may have been one or two there towards the end when we got to Columbus that were equal, but there wasn’t anybody better.  We tell the kids that all of the time if we can compete in the “OCC” we are going to be a tested team come tournament time,” he said.   

 

 
   

West Holmes is “OCC” Favorite

 

          West Holmes finished second in the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball standings last season and advanced to the state semi-finals in division two.  They are expected to have a fine season again this spring, if spring, in fact, ever gets here.

          They have the core of their team returning to the diamond, but coach Kurt McDowell says they have some sports to fill and they do have some injury concerns on the pitching mound.  “We are very hopeful.  We lost a catcher, a centerfielder, a leftfielder, and a “DH” to graduation.  Our pitching is back.  Right now we have Snyder, who carried us pretty much through the tournament because Baird was hurt, now he is hurt.  Baird is 100 percent,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are kind of playing Snyder by ear to see how things go here.  Hopefully, we have a good nucleus back and we can do something again this year.”

          Most of the rest of the coaches in the Ohio Cardinal Conference have identified West Holmes as the league favorite based on their returning talent.  McDowell says they know they are under a little bit of pressure.  “Anytime you have a good tournament run like that and the core of your players back everybody wants to be the team to step up and knock you off and play their best game when they play you.  We have to be mentally prepared as well as physically every time we step on the field this year,” he said.

          McDowell is confident is his group, but he understands they have to find the right combination in their pitching rotation because the “OCC” is tough.  “Right now our biggest concern would be the second pitcher in our rotation with Snyder being down.  We have Levi Jones, a sophomore that played third last year, and Scott Troyer, an infielder-outfielder, battling for that two spot till we see how Snyder ends up.  So that is probably our biggest concern at the moment,” said McDowell.  

 

 
   

Two More Wins the Goal For West Holmes

 

          There are likely a lot of teams that gather around the summer before the basketball season and say they want to win the state title.  And then they roll their eyes.  West Holmes really meant it and now they are just two steps away.

          The Lady Knights (27-1), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, and outright Ohio Cardinal Conference champion, meets Dayton Chaminade-Julienne (19-9) in the division two state semi-finals at the Value City Arena on Thursday night.

          Holmes has a glorious basketball tradition, which includes more than 600 wins, six state tournament appearances and state championships in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

          This group of players lost to Hathaway Brown (53-41), who plays in the other semi-final against Clyde, in last year’s state title game.

          Over the last several seasons West Holmes has played in a lot of big games and coach Lisa Patterson hopes that is a plus for them on Thursday.  “We hard hoping it’s a huge factor.  Time will tell certainly as the game goes along.  My kids are pretty driven.  They had a taste of it last year.  They liked that feeling of being down there.  Our goal all season long has been to bring home a state championship, so hopefully we can reach that goal this year,” she said.

          Chaminade-Julienne beat Dayton Carroll (47-45) in overtime in their regional final.  Patterson says they are a very aggressive team on defense that will try to force you into mistakes.  “They like to get up in your face and pressure you and try to force you to turn the ball over and score easy baskets early in the game.  Our composure will have to definitely be at a high level.  I think the team that can make the fewer mistakes and play consistently for 32 minutes will come out on top,” she said.

          They play a tremendous schedule, which included two games against division three state qualifier Orrville in the “OCC,” defending division three state champion Columbus Afercentric and division four qualifier Berlin Hiland, the only team to beat the Lady Knights.  Patterson says they have played teams with the same approach as Chaminade-Julienne.   “They are kind of similar to Afrecentric in that you are going to get up in your grill and try to turn your over.  They have a little more size in the guard position then Afrecentric did, but they don’t have the post player in Marli Hill that Afrecentric had.  There whole goal is to pressure you and turn you over. So that reminds me most of an Afrecentric type team,” said Patterson.  One thing, according to Patterson, that the Lady Knights have been good at this year is leaving the last play behind and not clustering turnovers, even against very good teams.  “The thing that our team has done a tremendous job with all year is not hanging our heads for even a spit second when that turnover does occur.  The majority of my kids are on to the next play immediately.  We have talked about that and maintaining that level of focus,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “If you give up a split second because you are worried about your last turnover it’s going to multiply and you are going to have another one.  The kids have done a great job of moving on to the next play after they have those turnovers, which are going to happen.”

          When you qualify for the state tournament, no matter what the sport, there will be a lot of hoopla in the school district.  Patterson says they enjoy that and look forward to it.  “It’s difficult because you are dealing with the media all week long.  The support of our community here in Holmes County is just phenomenal.  There are lots of things going on.  We went around to the various elementary schools because our fan base is just amazing and we just want to make sure we give everyone the opportunity to wish us well on the way out of town because we know a lot of them will be following us to Columbus.  It’s kind of our way to say thank you back to the community,” said Patterson.

 

 
   

West Holmes Has a Score to Settle

 

          It seems like New Philadelphia has had the number of the West Holmes Knights and the Knights would like to break that cycle.

          The Quakers beat Holmes in the tournament last year (61-59) and beat then on a last second shot (59-58) in December.

          They meet again in the division two district final on Wednesday night at Zanesville High School.

          West Holmes (20-4) advanced to this game with another nail biter by beating Dover (64-62) last Friday night.  Coach Jim Lindeman says they were able to make something of a broken play.  “The game came down to the final possession.  We drew up a play and to Dover’s credit they disrupted it with a little poke away.  We were able to retain possession. We got the ball and drove it into the heart of the defense and just made a great pass to Ryan underneath and he put it in with four tenths left to win the game.  It was just a heady play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It’s about basketball players making plays and stepping up to do so.  I’m really proud of the kid’s efforts, but, we told them the time for reflection and enjoyment is at the end of this tournament run.  We have to have our eyes set now on New Philadelphia.”

          Coaches can take their clipboards and draw up plays, but Lindeman says sometimes you just have players that are creative with the ball.  “I would like to say that is exactly the way we drew it up, but nobody would have believed it, but you give our guys credit for making those plays.  As coach there are times when plays are going to break down and sets aren’t going to run the way you want to.  You try and instill in your guys the confidence to make those plays and allow their abilities and the things they have worked at to take over at that point.  This was a case and point where those guys did that.  I think they have showed that in the course of year and the success they have enjoyed,” said Lindeman.

          New Philadelphia (15-7) a team that is a lot like West Holmes and that is probably why they play close games.  Lindeman says the Quakers are a team that knows how to win.  “They play with a lot of confidence.  They are junior laden.  They have four juniors in the starting lineup and a sophomore.  They beat us by two last year in the tournament.  They return most everybody.  The lost a few players, but they are still really tough.  Marco Columbo is their leading scorer.  He’s a 6’4” wing that can shoot it, drive, and he is a good athlete.  The have a 6’6” post Steven Boose that averages around 16 points and eight rebounds.  He’s a solid post, nice strong, physical player.  Those two are their main horses, but they have guys that play hard around them.  They generally only go one, maybe two deep off the bench.  The seven guys that they run out there know how to play the game and coach Spurgeon does a nice job in trying to instill in them how to be winners,” said Lindeman.

          Lideman says New Phily has sort of had their number and he hopes that changes on Wednesday night.  “Even more motivation was this winter when we played them in a holiday tournament in December and they beat us at the buzzer at their place.  We lost on a shot at the buzzer.  We were up one and a kid made a fall away jumper from 18 feet.  They kind of took one from us, but you give them credit they made the play.  Hopefully the tide is turned.  If we play well that should happen,” he said.  

 

 
   

West Holmes Preparing For the Postseason

 

          West Holmes has faced injuries and off the court tragedy this season and came away playing pretty well and the Knights seem poised to make a long postseason run.

          They played Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Mansfield Senior as well as anybody has this season in losing (80-76) at Pete Henry Gym last Friday night.  Coach Jim Lindeman is proud of the way they played and believes they have learned from the loss too.  “I was really happy with the effort and energy we played with.  There are a lot of positives that we can draw from that game.  It is definitely something we can build on.  I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t disappointed that we lost, so are the guys.  We went into that game fully expecting to compete and be in a position to win.  We were in that position and weren’t able to get it done.  Give Senior High credit.  They came out and played great that night.  They had some role players step up and make plays for them.  It was a good basketball game, it was the kind of game that you anticipate playing against them.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a “W,” but there are some things we can use going forward that will benefit us as we get ready for the tournament,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes has already won 16 games this year and Lindeman feels it has been a good year and has a real chance to become better.  “As a coach you always want to win them all and as a player too, but you have got to be realistic as well.  I am pretty happy with what we have done.  There are a couple games out there that will eat at me forever just because they are the kind of games that we could have had,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There have been a lot of different things the team has had to deal with during the season, but for the most part they have passed all of those tests for the most part pretty well.  Again it is something we can rely one and lean on as we get ready for hopefully a long tournament run.  There are things out there that we can do better and that us what we are trying to tighten up.”

          Mansfield Madison (2-16,0-12) comes to West Holmes on Friday night fresh off their second win of the season against Lodi Cloverfeaf (53-51) on Saturday night.  Lindeman thinks the Rams are staring to play some good basketball.  “I am really happy for coach Mergel and those guys because they have just been fighting and scratching and clawing and been in a lot of games and I was glad they were able to get a good “W.”  We were in that stage ourselves a couple of years ago and it can get tough, especially when you are working real hard.  They are playing a lot better.  I will say I wish they wouldn’t have gotten that momentum right before they come in to play us, but they are playing really well.  I think he has then heading in the right direction.  Next year I think they are going to be very formidable just with all of the experience they are getting now.  We have to be ready to go because they are going to come in playing extremely hard.  Any game in the “OCC” is going to be a tough one and Friday night is no different,” said Lindeman.

          The Knights (16-4,8-4) complete the regular season with a visit to Clear Fork (9-10,5-7) for an “OCC” game on Saturday night.  Lindeman says Clear Fork has three excellent scorers.  “They are scary with three guys that are capable of getting 20 points and not many teams can boast that.  When we played them they had about 60 points between them because Winand had about 30, Chrastina has about 18, and Corbin had about 10 or 12.  We have to make sure we contain them because if we let them get going it could be a long night.  I think Winand is playing as well as anyone in the conference.  Him and Willeke have just been lighting teams up.  It’s a good test for us because when you get into the tournament as you go farther and farther teams are going to have those terrific players.  Going to their place it is a tough environment to play in,” said Lindeman.       

 

 
   

West Holmes Trying to Put Things Back Together

 

          An overtime loss to Lexington last week ended at least the dreams of an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title for West Holmes and they are going to need some things to fall their way for them to share it with the Tygers.

          That begins with a win at Mansfield Senior (14-3,11-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll, on Friday night.

          Coach Jim Lindeman believes they are paying well, but it is still a situation where they are nursing some injuries.  He says Gabe Snyder, one of their talented post players, will not see action on Friday night.  “We are definitely making strides in the right direction as far as we are playing on the floor.  We are trying to put everything together here.  It has been kind of hit and miss with people getting hurt.  In all honesty we are not going to have Gabe Snyder on Friday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “His foot has just been bothering him to a point where Monday against Hiland it was just tough for him to do the things that he is good at, so we are trying to get him healthy and rested up the best we can for the tournament here in a couple of weeks.  Gabe is a big part of what we do, but that doesn’t change our expectations of what we are trying to accomplish this weekend.”

          With Snyder out of the lineup, Lindeman says they are going to try and do the same things, just with different people.  “I don’t think x’s and o’s necessarily.  It definitely changes personnel and rotations.  We are going to start Donnie Dowling on Friday.  He is a kind of twin tower feature with Brock, they are both 6’6”.  Senior has the real good size with Benson and Jones, so we are hoping that Donny can get in their battle like we know he is capable of.  So, I don’t think we change fundamentally the way we do things we just have a player in Gabe that is capable of doing a lot of good things in what we do.  You don’t want to change the wheel too much just hopefully put in a piece to keep it going,” said Lindeman.

          Although they lost their last “OCC” game to Lexington (64-57) in overtime, they did beat talented Berlin Hiland (68-61) on Monday.  Lindeman says it was a solid performance by his kids.  “That is a big “W” anytime Hiland and West Holmes play it’s the Holmes County championship.  There are only two teams in the county and that’s what you are playing for.  They are definitely a different team from last year with some of the players they had, but they are 15-4 and still have that tradition of being a very good basketball team.  It was a good win for us.  We showed some good poise down the stretch and were able to have some different guys make plays to get a “W” against a well coached and good basketball team,: he said.

          In the first meeting with the Tygers this year Mansfield Senior won (81-49) going away.  Lindeman says they must limit their turnovers, contain Keon Johnson and rebound the ball if they are going to win this time..  “It was a 10, 12 point game with two and half minutes left.  What we need to do is handle the ball a little bit better.  In the first quarter I think we had 12 turnovers.  The rest of the game we had 21.  That really set us back.  Once we were able to take care of the ball and settle down into a rhythm and get some buckets.  That was a game where we didn’t have Brady (Arnold).  I thought our offense did a pretty good job despite not having him in there to just generate shots.  Defensively you have to stop Keon in transition.  He is such a fantastic player in the open floor and makes so many plays.  You have to find him and keep him in front of you and limit his ability to get to the rim or get other guys open with his penetration.  Then you have to rebound.  I think those are the three biggest keys when you are playing Senior,” said Lindeman.  

 

 
   

There is Still Fight in West Holmes

 

          West Holmes and Lexington battle Friday night to stay in contention with Mansfield Senior in the Ohio Cardinal Conference race.  West Holmes trails by two games, Lexington by three.

          Last week, in the mist of tragedy, West Holmes downed Wooster (57-50) in a conference game.  Coach Jim Lindeman was very pleased with effort and the result.  “It was a good “W” for us.  It has been a tough stretch and that game was right in the middle of some things surrounding our program and just our community.  Our guys just went out and showed a lot of heart and we able gut out a good win against a very athletic Wooster team that had been playing pretty well the second half of the year.  We were happy to go up to a tough place to play like Wooster and get a win,” he said.

          Last Wednesday, West Holmes senior Donnie Dowling was at the wheel of a car involved in an accent that killed is 12-year-old step brother Lane Clabough.  Dowling played in the game against Wooster.  Lindeman says he couldn’t be prouder of the way his players have reacted.  “It is one of those things that goes way beyond basketball.  It is just one of those hard life lessons that people have to learn to deal with at times.  It has definitely been a trying time and kind mentally tough for the guys.  Their concerns and feelings are with the family and their teammate with this situation,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It has just been something to see how the guys stepped up as young men and really showed a lot of maturity as far as how they have helped their teammate.  I couldn’t be more proud of them.  It shows a lot about their character.  From a basketball standpoint I am really proud of this team, but the young men that we have and what they are going to go on and do I couldn’t be more proud.”

          West Holmes (12-4,8-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll, plays at Lexington (11-5,6-3), #4 in the poll, on Friday night in a big league game.  Lindeman says Lexington understands what they have to do to win.  “Coach Hamilton has done a great job stepping in this year and kind of keeping things going status quo for Lex.  They are extremely disciplined.  I think that is what makes them as tough as they are.  They have a bunch of guys that work really hard.  It all circulates around a really good player like Mason Willeke, who is just having a fantastic year.  The last six, seven games he has really been playing at an exceptional level.  It is no easy task going over there.  They are playing to get themselves back in the hunt and catch us in the conference and also seedings and that kind of stuff.  This is a good match-up and we are excited to play them,” said Lindeman.

          Willeke has shown the ability to make some tough, clutch shots for the Minutemen.  Lindeman would rather it not come down to any heroics.  “They have got a guy that can make a shot.  Willeke is as clutch a player as you are going to find in the conference.  I think we have a few guys that are capable as well, but when the ball is in their hands it could come down to a guys making a terrific shot and Willeke is capable of that.  It is important that we go out and set the tone and do a lot of the things that make us successful so it doesn’t come down to that type of play because he has shown he is capable of making that shot and I believe they have other guys they believe can do it as well,” said Lindeman.

 

 
   

West Holmes Fighting

 

          West Holmes is like the racer tucked in the catbird seat as they pursue Mansfield Senior in the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball race.

          They trail the Tygers are by a game and will play Senior High again on February 8.

          The Knights (11-3,7-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Clear Fork (72-63) in a conference game last Friday.  Coach Jim Lindeman says after a good start they had to hang on for all they were worth late in the game.  “It was a good game for us.  We got out to a pretty good lead in the first half and did a lot of good things defensively.  Then in the second half Ridge Winand played great and made a lot of tough shots.  The kind of shots you just tip your hat off to.  There are definitely some things we can do better on him the second time around, but he kind of brought his team back into the game.  It became a good game down the stretch and fortunately we made enough plays to pull it out,’ said Lindeman.

          West Holmes really hasn’t had this kind of basketball season, at least the boys’, in many years.  Lindeman says they are enjoying it.  “This is what you coach for.  This is what you play for.  I am really happy with the guys.  Their effort continues to get better.  Our focus and our discipline has grown and it’s something that just makes these games a lot of fun.  These are the games you remember when you are a senior.  Fortunately they get to remember it as a race for a conference championship.  We are chasing Mansfield Senior and everyday is a championship game for us.  We expect to have a shot against Senior for the championship in a couple of games here,” he said.

          Ashland (8-5,4-4) plays at Holmes on Tuesday night in an “OCC” game.  The Arrows are a young team, but Lindeman knows they can’t be overlooked.  “They are great team on the offensive end.  They are capable of having big nights.  I think they are going to get more consistent as time goes on.  At this time they are playing a lot of young guys.  He has four sophomores as part of his main rotation.  You are going to have those ups and downs.  That is something we went through a couple of years ago when most of our guys were sophomores and freshmen.  They are very dangerous,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday. “They beat some good teams this year.  They have been in almost every game they have played.  They played us tough when we went to their place.  We know we have a ballgame on our hands.  We have to be ready for the things that they do and hopefully have a good outcome.”

          Ashland is not like most teams, when they run a fast break they will look to spot up behind the three point line.  Lindeman says they must be aware of this.  “That is an adjustment we have to make because we really preach about getting back and guarding the rim and not giving up layups.  Sometimes, especially against Ashland, we will sprint back and we will be sitting in the key where we want to be most of the time against these teams that run their break, but they are quick to shoot a three if the guy is open.  We really have to find guys out on the perimeter.  They try to stretch you out, space you out and let some of those good guards penetrate and kick it to their shooters.  There are definitely some different things you have to be ready for when you go against Ashland because they do shoot the ball so well.  It’s a good test for us because you come across teams like this in the tournament.  This is one of those unique teams you have to be able to handle,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes has played its last four games with at least limited service from their best player in point guard Brady Arnold.  Lindeman sys his status for the Ashland game will be a game time decision.  “He is getting better.  It is one those things he has gotten in the last two games.  Last Tuesday against Orrville he was looking pretty good and he tweaked it, so we sat him.  Everybody said as far as the decision on Friday it is worth giving him a go and we did that against Clear Fork.  He just didn’t quite have the maneuverability that we like to see in him.  It’s a tough situation because it is his first ankle injury, so he is trying to figure out what he can and can not do on it.  It is a day by day thing.  Regardless if he is on the floor or not at this point our guys are confident we can go out and compete and get the job done without him.  When he is ready and back and healthy I think it’s only going to make us a stronger team.  His health is number one making sure he is fully confident to give it a go for all four quarters.  That’s just kind of the approach we are taking as we move forward here,’ said Lindeman.   

 

 
   

West Holmes Faces Big game Against Hot Clear Fork

 

          West Holmes is in a race to capture the Ohio Cardinal Conference title and Friday night they face a suddenly hot Clear Fork basketball team in a crucial game outside of the Millersburg.

          West Holmes (10-3,6-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Orrville (54-42) in a conference game on Tuesday night.  However, coach Jim Lindeman says their outstanding point guard Brady Arnold injured his ankle again during the game.  “It is always a tough place to go into and get a “W.”  They are always going to play hard.  It is a great high school basketball environment.  It was no different on (Tuesday) night.  Overall I was really proud of how we played.  Brady tweaked his ankle about halfway through the second quarter and didn’t play from that point on.  We had a four point lead when he went out and it ended up getting out to 16, 17 points before Orrville made a little run at the end.  I thought our guys handed another tough situation pretty well considering the atmosphere and the fact that Orrville is playing better,” said Lindeman.

          Against Orrville, Lindeman says they got some big performances from their post players.  “We got a lot out of Brock last night from a little different perspective.  He had 19 points, but he had five threes.  He is one the guys that does have the ability to step out and he was feeling good (Tuesday) night and got some clean looks at the hoop and he was able to knock them down, so that was huge.  Gabe Snyder had 20 rebounds, 16 of them coming in the second half.  He was an absolutely monster on the boards.  Those two were huge parts of what we did.  I thought everybody else on the floor contributed and helped us win,” he said.

          Clear Fork (7-5,3-3) also produced a big win on Tuesday beating Ontario, #1 in the small school division of our poll, 55-49 in a non-conference game, behind 31 points from junior guard Ridge Winand.  Lindeman knows the Colts are playing well.  “We are definitely catching them at a time where they are starting to find their legs and starting to play really well.  They beat Ashland last Friday, a good team, and Ontario, who is a really nice team as well.  They have a lot of confidence right now, so when they come to our place it’s going to be a really big game.  They are all really big games for us right now.  The championship is on the line every time we play being a game behind Mansfield Senior and trying to keep up with them.  It’s a huge game for us and a huge game for them as they want to keep the momentum they have,” said Lindeman.

          Clear Fork’s guards are talented and Lindeman says they are going to have to play defense away from the basket.  “They have changed over the last few years with the way they like to play.  They are guard oriented.  They have three really good guards in Winand, Corbin and Chasstina.  All of them have the ability to go out and get 20 points at any time.  They do the bulk of their scoring.  They score about 80 percent of their points.  It’s going to be huge for us slowing them down and making their looks tough and make them earn every thing they get. Winand is one of the best pure scorers in the league.  He is averaging close to 20 points a game.  He is definitely going to be feeling good after the game he had against Ontario,” said Lindeman.    

 

 
   

West Holmes Dealing With Injuries

 

          Right now West Holmes is playing without two players, including their point guard, but their coach is not going to use that as an excuse for a loss to Mansfield Senior last week.

          All-conference guard Brady Arnold did not play in a (81-49) loss to Mansfield Senior, #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll, last week.  The loss dropped the Knights from a share of first place in the “OCC.”  West Holmes coach Jim Lindeman says the loss was not totally because they were without Arnold.  “Brady has been out since last Monday.  He is fighting an ankle injury.  He is doing pretty well now and we are looking at sometime this week at firing him back up.  He missed out on both games last week, including the Mansfield Senior game.  I will be honest with you the score does not indicate how that game went.  I was really proud of how our guys battled.  It was a three point game with about two minutes left in the third quarter and about a 10 point game halfway through the fourth quarter.  We are looking forward to playing Mansfield Senior again here in about a month,” said Lindeman.

          It’s tough to play without your point guard and leading scorer against a team like Mansfield that features a lot of pressure defense.  Lindeman says their ball handling was pretty good, except in a couple of spots.  “Brent Hayes stepped in and ran the point for us.  He did a really nice job overall for us we just had a horrible first quarter with 13 turnovers.  We had two in the second quarter and three or four in the third and then the last two minutes or so there were quite a few turnovers when the game was already in the books,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I thought for the majority of the game our guys stepped up and tried to fill those roles.  Mansfield Senior does work really hard and does quite a few things.  It was an adjustment for us and I think in the long run it made us better.  On Saturday night we took on Garaway and were able to get a “W” without Brady.  That was a nice win for us going forward.”

          They play a non-conference game at Warsaw River View on Tuesday night.  Lindeman says River View is a scrappy team that features some younger players.  “They have a lot of new guys in place.  They graduated quite a few guys from last year’s team.  It is a team that is under a new coaching staff.  It is his second year down there.  They are trying to put things together.  When you go play River View they have a bunch of hard nosed kids.  We expect them to battle.  We are still fighting the injury bug.  Brady is out.  Gabe Snyder we shutting down for a week.  He has been battling a foot injury.  We have a couple key components out for a couple of games here this week.  It is something as a team we have to rally around and hopefully step up and take care of business,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes (7-3,4-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com poll, plays at Mansfield Madison (1-8,0-5) on Friday night.  Lindeman says they need to get back on the beam in the league.  “Every conference game is huge.  There is always the respect level that you want to earn from the opposing team.  The thing about Madison is they are in a transition stage.  They play so hard.  Coach Mergel does a really nice job of getting them to play real hard.  This is definitely a team that if you aren’t ready to handle the intensity that that they play with they will get you.  It’s a huge game for us from a conference race standpoint.  It’s a good challenge for us and we are hoping to go in there and do a good job,” said Lindeman.   

 

 
   

West Holmes Knows Arrows Will Make it Difficult

 

          If you count halves West Holmes leads Mansfield Senior and Ashland by a half game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings, if not then all three are tied with no losses.

          West Holmes (4-0,3-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, plays at Arrow Arena on Friday against Ashland, #4 in the poll, in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          Knights coach Jim Lindeman says they have done a lot of good things at the beginning of the season.  “We have gotten off to the right start.  There are definitely things we can improve on, but overall our energy and intensity in games is where it needs to be.  If we continue to sharpen up some areas that we are working on I am hopeful that we just continue to get better.  That’s what the season is for that you are ultimately building for the tournament.  We have a couple of games this week that are going to help us do that,” said Lindeman.

          Ashland (5-1,2-0) graduated a lot of talent from last year’s team, but they have remade themselves into a pretty good basketball team again this year. Lindeman says the Arrows are fundamental and they play hard.  “Coach Fralich has done a good job and they are young.  They play a lot of sophomores.  He has a system in place that the kids have bought into.  They have held teams down.  They don’t do anything very fancy, but they play very solid and they to keep everything in front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They don’t have very good size either.  They work real hard as a team and they play real good team defense.  It’s going to be a challenge for us.  It is going to be the most fundamentally sound defense that we have faced, maybe not the most athletic, but sometimes that can be even tougher when a team does it really well.”

          The tempo of the game is going to be a factor again this year, but Lindeman says this year they are going to be the aggressor.  “Last year they played as hectic a pace as we played against.  They would sub five in and sub five out and press the whole game.  They would get the ball down the floor and anytime they got a decent look they were letting it fly.  They have changed some things this year due to their personnel.  They are a little younger, they don’t go as deep.  With that coach Fralich has done a good job of adjusting with the group he has.  We went to get them into an up tempo game.  The most they have scored in a game this year is 54 points.  We are hoping to push the tempo and see if we can’t use our depth to our advantage,” said Lindeman.

          With two posts that are around 6’6” West Holmes will have a huge size advantage in this one and Lidemen says they will look to take advantage of if.  “That has been stress point for us this week in practice.  They don’t possess a ton of great size, but with that help defense you have to be aware of where everybody is at and make good decisions.  We do have to look inside first no matter how good our perimeter players are the high percentage shot that you can get two feet from the bucket is something we would like to see us shoot a bunch of on Friday.  It is a plan of emphasis with anybody we play, but when you have a size advantage that is something you really want to push hard on,” said Lindeman.

          On Saturday, West Holmes plays in the WQKT/Steve Smith Classic at the Collage of Wooster.  They meet Olentangy Liberty (3-0) coached by former Willard coach Greg Nossaman.  Lindeman says it will be a great test for his team.  “This is a state respect game on Saturday.  Olentangy Liberty is one of the best teams in the state as far as programs go.  Last year, I think they ended up in the top in the state at the end of the year in division one.  They ended up losing to Pickerington Central, who won the state title in division one by two points.  Their JV and Freshmen were both undefeated, although they don’t have everybody back they have reloaded and coach Nossaman has a great program down there, so it’s a big challenge for us.  It’s going to be a fun atmosphere.  It’s one of those games that hopefully prepares us for games in the future,” said Lideman.   

 

 
   

Knights Want to Get Better

 

          West Holmes is off to a good start, but they know they have to get better in the half court if they are to contend in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          The Knights (2-0) opened the season a week late due to an extended run in the football playoffs.  They beat Orrville (64-32) and Lexington (62-52) in a pair of conference games.  Coach Jim Lindeman says they need to be pleased with the results, but put those wins behind them.  “We are excited about starting out the year like we did.  We have to continue to move forward.  We are on to the next game.  It’s a backyard rivalry with Triway.  Every year it’s always a battle.  Although it was a good weekend it’s time to move on and get ready for the Titans,” he said.

          In both wins Lidemen feels they played pretty well on defense and were able to get some easy points on the fast break.  “I thought we did a good job on the defensive end in our half court defense.  We made both teams at times uncomfortable running their offense and generated some turnovers out of it,” he told Sankonsports.com on Monday, “I thought we did a good job at times pushing the ball and allowing our transition to get us some easy baskets.  Those two things really helped us in the course of the weekend because we struggled a little in the half court offensively as we are continuing to jell after a shortened preseason.”

          Eventually someone on their schedule is going to force them to operate in the half court and they haven’t done that well so far.  Lindeman says improvement there is a goal.  “I think that is the last thing that comes for most teams executing in the half court.  There is a lot more detail that goes into the offense that you are running and different options that you can do.  It’s just a matter of continuing to practice it during practice and putting it into effect during games.  Defensively it is a few sound principals and playing hard.  Those are things that you can pick up pretty quickly coming out of the gate.  Hopefully our defense and transition game can tie us over until we start clicking,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes, #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division released on Monday night, visits Wooster Triway (1-1) for a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Lindeman says the Titans have developed some players.  “They are much improved from last year.  They were really young last year.  They are still pretty young starting a couple of sophomores at guard, but they are both quick, athletic guards, Parker Carmichael and Zach Miller.  They brought in Kyle Kern, who is a 6’5” post that didn’t play last year along with Zach Kinney, so they have some good size and good guards.  They are always going to play real hard,” said Lindeman.

          Although West Holmes and Triway are not in the same league this is just not some non-conference game.  “It’s a game that guys get up for for sure.  In terms of proximity it’s actually the closest high school.  Hiland I believe is a little farther away than Triway.  If not they are real darn close.  It is people you interact with on a weekly basis.  You will come across Titans and Titans will come across Knights.  It’s fun and a game that guys really enjoy playing year in and year out.  Hopefully it is a good one for us on Tuesday,” said Lindeman.    

 

 
   

West Holmes Ready to Go

 

          West Holmes has been rated as one of the favorites to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title.

          They shared it in football and because of their success on the gridiron their basketball opener has been pushed back a week to this Friday night when they host Orrville in “OCC” play at then play Lexington on Saturday night.

          Coach Jim Lindeman says he thinks all of the success the Knights had in football will be a plus this winter.  “The bottom line is the kids experienced winning at a level that is pretty impressive and it’s something we are hoping to carry over into basketball season.  Ten of my top 12 were on the football team.  That mentality has been building and reared its head during football season is great to carry over into basketball.  Obviously, you don’t have as much time to prepare.  We did push games back a week, which gave us a little more time.  We are not reinventing the wheel.  A lot of these guys understand what we have to do going forward,” said Lindeman.

          With just about everybody back from a year ago Lindeman says the Knights have a tremendous upside.  “Last year we were right on the cusp of being that kind of upper echelon team.  You know, up there with the Lexington’s and the Senior’s last year.  We weren’t able to pull out a couple of close games against them to sort of vault ourselves into that conversation.  So, this year we feel we have a lot to prove.  Definitely a lot of good things last year, but we are hopeful to expand on that and have an even better year this year,” he said.

          Brady Arnold, a junior, is one the best guards in the area, but Lindeman says they are much more than just Brady.  “One of the strengths of our team is our size.  We have two guys that are 6’6”, another guy 6’5” and two guys at 6’4”.  We have quite a bit of height and it really helps us defensively.  We can get out and be real long and athletic and do some different things,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We also have a couple of guys that have the ability to knock down shots and that’s great when we can stretch the floor and kind of open up stuff inside for our big guys.  They sort of play hand in hand with each other.  It’s a matter of finding good balance and being consistent throughout the season.”

          Orrville lost its first game of the season to Shelby (57-56) in non-conference play last Saturday.  Lindeman says the Red Riders are more about guard play this season.  “One can’t ever sleep on Orrville.  Those kids will consistently play hard.  They are kind of in a transition phase from some of the size they have had here the last three, four years with Devon Winters, Max Waussen, and Drew Brenner.  A lot of great size.  They are more of a perimeter team this year.  Watching them last week against Shelby they shot the three pretty well.  They are a team that is always going to play hard.  If we don’t come out prepared we are going to get beat, so we have to be ready to go Friday night,” he said.

          Lexington has some different personnel too, but Lindeman says the Minutemen are nearly always good, plus he has great respect for coach Scott Hamilton.  “I was always impressed with coach Hamilton and how their JV teams played.  They were disciplined and ran great offense.  I think that will carry right over to the varsity.  He has a lot of his guys that he coached last year at JV since they graduated five or six seniors last year.  They have a few guys to build around with Mason Willkee and Zach Temple is a nice player.  That is a team that doesn’t necessarily rebuild they sort of reload.  They are a little younger, but they do have talented players,” said Lindeman. 

 

 
   

For West Holmes it’s a Battle in the Trenches

 

          West Holmes just wants to go in and do what they have proven to be good at Saturday night when they play the Steubenville Big Red at New Philadelphia Quaker Stadium in the division three regional semi-finals.

          Last week, the Knights (10-1), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, belted Indian Creek (35-7) in a first round game.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says their defense kept them in the game.  “We played well in the second half.  The first half we didn’t play very well, but our kids came out and played a heck of a lot better in the second half.  Our defense played really well and that is something we want to continue to do is get better on that side of the ball.  The thing is the last six weeks our defense has been a play here and there from shutting out five of our last six opponents.  We are really pleased on that side of the ball and we are just looking to continue to get better,” said Maltrich. 

          Sports are more than just being better physically.  There is a mental side too and Maltrich says his kids are pretty good at that.  “We came in at halftime and made a couple of adjustments.  We have some good kids that can really think and understand the game, so it is easy to make those adjustments and the kids make those corrections.  We did that last week and took over the game,” he said.

          Steubenville (9-2) smacked Maysville (28-0) in their opening playoff game.  Maltrich says his kids will have to be able to diagnose what is coming at them.  “They are pretty good football team.  They have a great tradition.  They have a great team again this year.  They are big.  They are physical.  They are fast.  They have really good athletes.  We have to make sure we match up to their formations because they like to run a couple of different plays out of about 50 different formations.  We have to make sure we recognize formations and get after those guys,” said Maltrich.

          The West Holmes coach says they have seen this kind of attack before.  “They remind us a lot of Madison.  They are big and physical up front and they have a physical defense.  They want to come right at you.  If I would compare it would be to Madison.  They are very similar,” he said.  West Holmes beat Mansfield Madison (31-28) in double overtime this season.

          The game many times is determined by play at the point of attack and this maybe one of them.  However, Maltrich says they also have to be able to control the speed of the game.  “We have to make sure that we are ready for them up front.  We have to control the line of scrimmage just like in every other game.  One of the big things is the speed of the game.  We have to make sure that we adjust to their speed or play above their speed.  The same thing with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are going to try and adjust to our speed and what we do.  When you get to this level of competition the speed of the game picks up faster and faster and we have to make sure we are mentally ready for that.”

          West Holmes is a wing-T team.  They have been that since Maltrich became their coach.  That was their approach when his father was the coach.  He says they aren’t going to change now.  “You have to do what you have done to get you where you are at.  It’s not about changing things or coming up with this great scheme or that great scheme.  It’s about playing within yourself and making sure you do what’s successful.  The best thing you can do is to have a kid go out there and play without thinking.  It should be a reaction by now.  We want to make sure we keep it simple for the kids and stay within ourselves and go out and execute,” said Maltrich.

          It’s been a while since West Holmes has been in this position.  Maltrich says they have to keep focused.  “We talk about that everyday. Fellows when this is all said and done we will take time to pat ourselves on the back, but right now football doesn’t wait.  We can’t get lost here or get lost there and focus on this and focus on that because come Saturday night there is a football game to be played.  The team that is most prepared and most ready is the team that is going to win.  We have to make sure we stay focused and do what do to be successful,” said Maltrich.   

 

 
   

West Holmes Ready For the Playoffs

 

          So far, West Holmes is right on track.  They have earned a conference title and now it’s on to the next step.

          The Knights (9-1) finished the season sharing the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with Mansfield Senior and Mansfield Madison.  All three schools finished the conference schedule with 6-1 records.  West Holmes lost to Mansfield Senior (40-29), Madison lost to West Holmes (31-28 in double overtime) and Mansfield Senior’s lone conference loss came last week (34-0) to Madison. 

          West Holmes, #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, comes into the playoffs on a three game winning streak.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says they are hitting on all cylinders.  “We are starting to play pretty good football and you have to at this time of year.  The one that that really sticks out in my mind is that we are about one or two plays away from shutting out four of our last five opponents.  On that defensive side of the ball I am really happy with where we are going.  Offensively we have been able to put up 400 or 500 yards a game and points.  So, right now I am pleased with where we are at and these kids are going to continue to get better,” said Maltrich.

          West Holmes has been building to this point for the past three seasons, but Maltrich says they are not satisfied as a football team.  “My kids are not satisfied.  We talk about it every day.  This season will be over when they want it to be.  If we do some things and continue to get better and keep things in check and in mind we could have a good run here, but if we overlook somebody or don’t come to play our season will be over before it starts,” said Maltrich.

          West Holmes qualified for the state semi-finals in baseball last spring as well.  Maltrich says the communities that make up the district are very excited that the team will be at home on Saturday night.  “This community is really excited.  It has been 13 years since we have had a home playoff game in 1999.  This community right now is ecstatic and looking forward to Saturday night,” he said.

          The Redskins only loss this season comes to St. Clairsville (48-6), but three times they have scores more than 50 points this fall.  Maltrich says they have a lot of firepower.  “They are going to play power football, but they are going to spread the field.  They are going to go sometimes three, four or five wide receivers.  But, they are going to try and pound the ball up in there.  They have a real good quarterback.  He is really fast.  He is a very accurate thrower.  He is kind of their best athlete,” he told Swankonsports.com, “He is their all purpose guy.  He is going to go back and punt.  He is going to kick off for them.  He is going to kick extra points and looks to make plays.  So, we are going to have to make sure we contain him.  They come out of the Buckeye Eight and they have done their job.  We are going to expect a real good game out of them.”

          Have the Knights seen this kind of attack before?  Kind of.  In fact, Maltrich says just last week.  “I think they are pretty similar to Clear Fork.  They try to spread you out and pound you inside.  I think Clear Fork’s line might be a little bit better, but Indian Creek’s skill is a little bit better.  We are going to have our work cut out for us.  The one good thing in the “OCC” has prepared us to see good athletes down the line here.  We are going to take care of ourselves,” says Maltrich.   

 

 
   

West Holmes Knows Wooster Can Play

 

          With two weeks to go in the regular season the West Holmes Knights have become big fans of Lexington and Mansfield Madison, the two schools left on the Mansfield Senior schedule.

          They need one of those teams to beat the Tygers to have a chance to share the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.  The Knights are also in solid position for the playoffs as they stand second in division three, region 11. 

          West Holmes beat a good Lexington team (21-7) last week to maintain their league position.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says they played strong defense and they were able to keep the ball away from the Lexington offense.  “Our defense played real well and we have to tip our hat to our offense because we really limited their offensive plays through the night.  It was kind of game that we made some mistakes, but we did what we had to do.  We controlled the tempo and we controlled the game,” said Maltrich.  Lexington has been able to pound a lot of their opponents with their running game, but Maltrich says they were able to do a good job at the point of attack.  “We knew we had to control Hunt.  He is an outstanding back and it was going to be up to our front four and they did a tremendous job of keeping him under wraps the whole night,” he said.

          Wooster (2-6,1-4) will be at West Holmes (7-1,4-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, for an “OCC: game on Friday night.  The Generals record may not be that good, but they do have some quality athletes.  Maltrich says they are a dangerous team.  “They are not your typical 2-6 football team.  They are kind of sleeping giant waiting to erupt.  They have kind shot themselves in the foot, but they have been in every single game.  We hope they don’t play the perfect game against us.  They are deadly as anybody.  They’ve got speed all over the place.  They have big strong kids.  Once they get things to together they are going to be a very, very dangerous team,” said Maltrich.

          Wooster has been able to break off some big gainers in the running and the passing game this year.  Maltrich says they have to be solid and read their keys.  “We have to make sure that we are reading our keys and we are focused on watching their receivers and playing the football.  Making sure we keep them in front of us is a start.  We just have to make sure we are playing good, solid fundamental defense and react when we know what is happening,” he said.

          There is still a good chance for a piece of the conference title and a playoff berth for the Knights.  Maltrich says they have to take care of their part.  “We have a lot of stake here in front of us.  We could possibly host a playoff game if we win out.  If somebody upsets Senior we could get a share of the title.  Our kids are focused and excited.  Now it’s time for us to go out and play like champions, play like our record, and play like we are state ranked.  We are waiting for that to happen and we want to go out and do that,” said Maltrich.  

 

 
   

Co-Leaders in the “OCC” to lock Horns

 

          Two teams that have never won an Ohio Cardinal Conference football title share the lead with a month to go in the season.  West Holmes and Mansfield Senior both have 3-0 conference records going into their game at Holmes on Friday night.

          The Knights (6-0,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, kept their record unblemished with a (41-0) win over Orrville last week in conference play.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says there defense just keeps getting better and better.  “Each and every week we are getting more confidence in our defense.  Our kids are really starting to learn how to play the game.  We just strive to get better each and every week.  This past week I think we took a step up,” he said.

          At the beginning of the season there was some talk about West Holmes winning the league.  And now Mailtrich says the kids are really starting to believe in themselves and understanding what they have to do to win.  “I think our confidence is better.  We are really starting to believe in the things we can do.  From time to time, game to game, play to play.  The other thing is our kids are really starting to understand the game.  They understand the concept of what their job is and how hard they have to go each and every play.  Right now those are the two things that really stick out.  Our kids are really putting it together right now and I like where we are headed,” said Maltrich.

          Mansfield Senior is one the most improved teams in the area this fall and Maltrich says a lot of it is because of improved discipline.  “The first things that stands out is how disciplined they are.  Chioke has done an outstanding job over there.  He has those kids believing in what they are doing and they have bought into the system.  They have always been really athletic, but they are really disciplined.  Those kids are flying around and really know what’s going on.  Hats off to them and their coaching staff because they have those kids going, they really do,” said Maltrich.

          The Tygers (5-1,3-0) have a lot of home run hitters and Maltrich says they can’t get beat with the big one.  “You really have to make sure you are concentrating across the board.  You can’t give up yards after catch.  They are going to complete passes.  Their quarterback is a great kid and they have Keon in there, who is a tremendous athlete and receiver that came out this year.  Those kids are going to spread you out and complete passes.  You have to react to those balls and you have to stay on your feet and make plays,” said Maltrich.

          The winner takes first place to themselves in the conference and Maltrich says this is the biggest game they have played in a long time.  “This is to put you in the driver’s seat in the “OCC.”  There are a lot of computer points available here.  You have two good football teams ready to go out it.  It doesn’t get much bigger than this,” said Maltrich.  

 

 
   

West Holmes Has to Say Focused

 

          West Holmes is coming off two big wins in games that could have gone either way and they must keep their focus as they head for Orrville where the Red Riders have lost their last four.

          Last week, the Knights, #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, outlasted Ashland, #3 in the poll, 41-36 in Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  West Holmes coach Kevin Maltrich says they had to play a full four quarters.  “Our kids played pretty well there for 48 minutes and made some big plays when they needed to and controlled the line of scrimmage and where able to get out of Ashland there with a win,” he said.  Maltrich says any win against Ashland must be treasured.  “They are excellent at every aspect of the game offense, defense, and special teams.  You have to make sure you are focused and playing as hard as you can for 48 minutes to beat an Ashland team.  We were able to go over there and play well and get a victory,” said Maltrich.

          Orrville (1-4,0-2) has lost its last four games.  However, Maltrich says it’s important to remember that the Red Riders have been playing good teams along the way.  “They have athletes and they want to get you in one on one situations.  In nine times out of ten in one on one situations they can hurt you.  We are expecting their best game.  I think they are going to be hitting on all cylinders.  You know, it’s going to be a coming out for them.  We expect nothing but the best.  You can’t look at their record either.  Their four losses come to teams that are all 4-1.  So, they haven’t been playing a weak schedule.  We have to go over there and we have to ready for those guys,” said Maltrich.

          Having beaten Mansfield Madison (31-28 in double overtime) and Ashland (41-36) in their last two games Maltrich is a little concerned about his players focus considering Orrville’s record.  “That has kind of crossed the back of my mind.  We have had two tough games against Madison and Ashland.  The kids were up for those and they knew they were going to be big games.  Here you come into Orrville and you hope they keep that mental focus.  With young kids it’s hard to keep them up, and be intense, and have that right frame of mind week after week after week.  We are doing our best to stay up, stay intense, but it comes down to those kids and how we go out and play Friday night,” said Maltrich.

 

 
   

West Holmes and Ashland Lock Horns

 

          West Holmes and Ashland, two of the best teams in the Ohio Cardinal Conference meet on Friday night at Community Stadium in Ashland.  The winner will be in the driver’s seat in the “OCC” race.

          The Arrows won the conference title last year, but West Holmes was the only team to beat Ashland in an “OCC” game last season (35-31) by scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

          On the opening week of the “OCC” season West Holmes kicked a field goal in the second overtime period and they outlasted Mansfield Madison (31-28) in double overtime.  West Holmes coach Kevin Maltrich described it as a great football game.  “You are talking about a great game with two great teams going at it.  Madison is an extremely good football team.  They have a great offensive line.  Kale Huss is a great player and he can explode the ball right up through there.  He made some nice runs against us.  When it came down to it our boys made plays when they had to and that was a just a great, great football game,” Maltrich told Swankonsports.com.

          It was a long game with a number momentum swings and Maltrich is proud of his team’s mental focus.  “I was really proud of our kids for mentally hanging into that game.  We had to make three big stops.  We threw and interception late and held them in regulation and got to big holds in overtime.  It was a great team effort.  It was two great teams going at it and we made a play when we had too,” he said.

          Anytime you average over 40 points a game like West Holmes the offense is going to get a lot of attention.  Maltrich, however, is impressed with how the defense has been playing.  “I am starting to get a lot of confidence in our defense every week that we play.  You know, 14 of Madison’s 28 points came on kickoff returns.  There were some missed tackles by our younger guys.  Our defense only gave up 14 points.  We are getting better each week and we are going to get tested each week so we are going to have to continue to gate better,” said Maltrich.

          West Holmes (4-0,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com coach’s poll in the large school division, visits Ashland (3-1,1-0), #3 in the pool, on Friday night.  Maltrich says Ashland executes very, very well.  “They just keep coming at you.  They have good tradition and a good program.  They have won four of the last six titles.  They run their five wide receiver set.  They don’t have the greatest athletes in the world, but they are so good at what they do.  They are very, very sharp and they are disciplined, they work hard and they run hard.  They have another good quarterback back there.  They have receivers that will hurt you and get open.  We have to be ready to play because they are an outstanding football team,” said Maltrich.

          In a game between two outstanding teams, Maltrich says it’s going to be about defense and turnovers.  “We have to stop them is what we have to do.  We have to be affective at the line of scrimmage and not have any turnovers,” he said.

 

 
   

West Holmes a Little Better

 

          West Holmes has a chance to be one of the better football teams in the area this season, but their coach says they are not there yet.

          Kevin Maltrich does say they were better in a (55-12) win over Warsaw River View on week two.  “Yeah we are getting there.  We played a little bit better.  We still have a long way to go and some things we have to correct, but I thought our effort was a lot better.  We took care of our mental mistakes.  We were able to do a lot of things and put the game away before the half,” he said.

          Maltrich says they have good talent, but they have to become better football players if they are going to beat the good teams on their schedule.  “We still have to finish.  We need to finish our blocks.  We need to finish our tackles.  I think our defensive back play isn’t quite where we need it to be yet.  We still have a lot of things to work on,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We took a big step in the right direction this week and the kids realized what happened and where we need to go.  The good thing is the kids are satisfied yet.  They know they have things to work on.  That has been our approach this week is to get better and finish what we start.”

          On Friday night, the Knights (2-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, travel to Coshocton (1-1) to meet the Redskins.  Maltrich says Coshocton is a good old fashion football team.  “We are going to have our hands full.  Those guys know how to play down there.  Those kids get after it for 48 minutes and they are going to give us everything they’ve got.  They are competitors and its fun to watch them play on film because those kids are relentless.  This is a game were we have to put 48 minutes together and if not we are going to come away with a loss,” said Maltrich.

          Last season, Coshocton beat West Holmes 35-14.  At the time West Holmes was 2-0, just as they are this year.  Maltrich says there are lot of similarities to Friday night’s game.  “We were 2-0 going into there and we were beating Coshocton at the half.  They came out in the second half and just completely dominated us.  They put 48 minutes together and we put about 24 minutes together.  If we do the same things we are going to come away with a loss.  We have talked about playing for 48 minutes and correcting mistakes.  We know we are going to get their best game.  We have to be on all cylinders because we are going to get 48 minutes of good football from them,” said Maltrich.

 

 
   

West Holmes Needs to Refocus

 

          West Holmes might have looked impressive on the scoreboard, but their coach knows if they are going to attain the goals they want to this season they must play a lot better.

          They beat Wooster Triway (41-22) in their first game and they made some big plays in the process.  However, coach Kevin Maltrich says they also made a lot of errors that they can’t afford to make down the road.  “I think we had too many mental mistakes.  There were a lot of times we didn’t capitalize and had penalties and turnovers and just stupid petty little mistakes that stopped us from putting more points in the board,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “That is going to come back to haunt us here in the coming weeks.  We have to make sure we take care of ourselves and get rid of those mental mistakes and play better football.”

          Many people rated West Holmes as the favorite to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference title this year considering they have most of their talent back from a year ago.  Maltrich says they need to show that potential on the field.  “Going into the fourth quarter it’s a tight game.  It shouldn’t have been that way.  We shot ourselves in the foot.  Like I said one of these times it’s going to catch us.  We have to be ready to play and cut out those mistakes,” he said.

          This week in practice Maltrich says the focus of his players has been a little better and that is a step in the right direction.  “They have been a lot more focused and paying a little bit more attention to detail rather than just assuming that we are going to do this or do that.  Hopefully that works and we get back on track,” he said.

          On Friday night, the Knights host Warsaw River View (1-0) in their week two game.  West Holmes beat them 41-7 last year.  Maltrich says River View is much improved this year.  “River View is a big team and they are going to pound the ball right at us.  They have three or four just huge linemen.  They are going to try and run right at us or around us.  They have a new coach and they have simplified the offense over there.  They do a few things, but they do them well.  They are coming off a big week one victory over West Muskingum.  They are ready to play football over there,” said Maltrich.

          Maltrich believes this game will be won at the point of attack and they must compete up front.   “We preach and preach about getting off the ball in practices.  Every coach says the game in won in the trenches and it is.  We have to get off the ball and we have to sustain our blocks.  It has to be won right up front with the big boys,” he said.  

 

 
   

West Holmes Ready to put Reputation on the Line

 

          West Holmes has been predicted to be the best team in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season, but that is only the talk.  They must start living up to that reputation on Friday.

          They travel up the road a little bit to play Wooster Triway in a non-conference game.

          Coach Kevin Maltrich says he likes what he sees from his players in terms of attitude.  “I really like the mental aspect that we have and the way that we practice.  We have done nice job preparing so the hay in the barn and we are ready to go play,” he said.

          Maltrich says he and the staff have been straight forward with their kids about the potential they have and how they have to take that to the field for every play.  “One thing I have told the kids is they have earned the right to be talked amongst the top the league.  From where they started two years ago as sophomores to the steps they took last year and with everybody back this year they deserve to be recognized as one of the favorites in the league, but that doesn’t mean anything,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We have to go out and prove things on the field.  The “OCC” is a meat grinder week in and week out and the team that comes prepared on Friday night is the team that is going to win.  We can’t loose sight of that.  Nobody is going to roll over for us.  We haven’t won anything yet.  We have to go out and prove ourselves.”

          West Holmes beat Triway 20-7 a year ago in what we a tough season for the Titans overall.  Maltrich knows they will be better this season.  “They have a lot of talent in the skilled positions.  They have everybody back from last year.  They caught fire there toward the end of the year.  They have a little bit of momentum going into the season.  They have some kids they have to replace up front.  Their skilled kids are deadly and if we let them loose they are a threat to take it to the house.  We have to running on all cylinders,” said Maltrich.

          West Holmes would likely be the favorite if there were a line on this game, but as a West Holmes alum Maltrich knows that Triway will come to play in this one.  “It is a backyard rivalry for us.  They want to beat us and we want to beat them to have bragging rights for the year.  Whether we are favored or they are favored it is always going to come down to a hard hitting close game.  They want to give us their best and we want to give them our best.  We have to be ready.  We can’t look at what the stats say on paper or what’s coming back or who’s coming back because it’s going to be a tough game from start to finish,” he said.

 

 
   

West Holmes is the Favorite

 

          West Holmes has a lot of players back and they have been rated as the best in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season.

          The Knights were 5-5 last season, but they were the only team in the conference to beat Ashland.  Coach Kevin Maltrich says they haven’t earned anything yet.  “We have a lot of three years starters.  We knew that this potentially was going to be a good one for us, but that’s all hearsay and we have to win games on the field,” he said.

          However, Maltrich admits that things couldn’t have been better really in the first part of the preseason.  He says the players have an attitude of believing they will be successful.  “It’s been phenomenal.  It’s been a different attitude around here.  The kids are confident.  This summer they have worked harder than they ever have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have a scrimmage coming up (Friday) and that will give us a better test of where we are at and things we need to improve on.  The main thing is we have to make sure we stay grounded and continue to get better each and every day.  We can’t look at that outside media stuff.  Right now, I am very happy with the work ethic.”

          West Holmes showed the ability to score a lot of points in 2011 and Maltrich says they certainly have the potential to light up the scoreboard this season as well.  “We have most of our skill back, in fact we have all of our skilled players back except for one and we have another young man that can step in there.  We could be a very explosive team it juts comes down to our line.  We have to make sure we stay focused and go out and execute,” said Maltrich.

          A lot of what West Holmes does this year may depend on how well they play on defense.  Maltrich says they feature some experience on that side of the ball too.  “At this point we are happy with our defense.  We have 10 returning starters.  We are looking for some big things from our defense because defense wins championships.  We have a put a lot of expectations on our defense.  We have really been getting after those guys,” he said.

          Maltrich says they can not rely on their athletic skill because there are a lot teams that have that kind of skill.  He says they have to understand what they need to do to win.  “I just think our focus and the fine details of everything else like making sure we are taking guys on with the right shoulder and making the right step and make sure we are covering up the football.  It’s also finishing blocks, finishing your tackles and finishing your runs,” he said.

West Holmes may be rated as the favorite by the media, but Maltrich knows that just like 2011 the “OCC” likely will be very balanced from top to bottom and it will take consistency to win the title.  “You are going to have to be ready to play every single Friday.  There are no weeks off.  They (the media) picked one team first and one team last and that means nothing in this league.  Everyone has athletes and is capable of beating anybody else,” said Maltrich.    

 

 
   

Pitching the Story

 

          Pitching is likely to tell the story when West Holmes meets Wapakoneta in the division two state semi-finals on Thursday morning at Hunting Park in Columbus, the home of the AAA Columbus Clippers.

          The Knights (23-6) has lived on the left arms of junior Gabe Snyder and sophomore Dillion Baird, who just returned from shoulder problems to get the win in the Knights regional final (3-1) over Richmond Edison last Friday.  However, Wapakoneta has a pretty good combination too in junior lefthander Johnny Crawford (9-0, 0.37 ERA) and sophomore Chace Culver (5-3, 1.99). 

          West Holmes coach Kurt McDowell says they have not bent over backwards to get information on Wapakoneta, but they know the Redskins (24-5) are very good.  “We haven’t learned a whole lot.  Obviously they beat Defiance.  They had played them twice during the regular season and I believe had close games with them then.  Their starting pitcher has a 0.30 ERA.  As far as I know he is a lefthander, tall guy.  We are going to have our hands full,” he said.

          McDowell expects that Crawford will take the ball for Wapakoneta on Thursday.  He is good, but McDowell believes he is not any better than the pitchers they have already seen this year in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  “We saw Schaly at Ashland.  We saw McGee, who is going to Ohio State, for Wooster, he is a lanky, tall lefthander.  It took some time to make adjustments to him.  At least with McGee we were able to get to him in the later innings.  Schaly we never did.  We have seen some of the best lefthanders in the state.  It’s not like we are going in uncharted waters.  We have seen good lefthanders this year,” said McDowell.

          Just because this is the state semi-final, McDowell says they are not going to change their approach to the game.  He says they are going with same game plan that has given them 23 wins this year.  “We have a saying around here.  One of the assistant coaches told the kids, you know, dance with who brung ya.  We are going to do the same things we have done all year to get to this point.  We aren’t going to change our approach to accommodate the other team.  We hope they have to make adjustments for us,” McDowell said.

          Huntington Park is going to be bigger than where either team has played this year.  McDowell says the Knights have to understand it is the same game no matter where it is played.  “With the new bats we are not playing as deep as we did in years past.  They park will be a bit of an aye for the kids, a moment of adjustment.  Hopefully we can make that right away before the first pitch, not get caught up in all of our surroundings.  Like we have been telling the kids it is still 60 feet, six inches to home and 90 feet to the bases.  Just go out and play baseball,” McDowell said.

          Some high school fields can be less than spectacular, but McDowell says Huntington Park’s surface should help their defense.  “We are playing on a state of the art facility.  All we have to do is keep our head on the ball and we don’t have to worry about those bad hops.  Just play baseball and good things should happen,” he said.  

 

 
   

West Holmes Pitches Their Way to Regional

 

          West Holmes has allowed a total of three runs in three tournament games so far this season and that pitching has led the Knights to the division two regional semi-finals on Thursday against Washington Court House Miami Trace in Zanesville.

          After a second place finish in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this year Gabe Snyder has led the Knights to district wins over Warsaw River View and Cambridge.  Coach Kurt McDowell says due to injury they have had to lean a little more on Snyder.  “Gabe Snyder and Dillon Baird are our two main guys.  They are both lefthanders.  They have both thrown very well this year.  Dillon got hurt against Clear Fork and hasn’t pitched since.  Gabe has been the guy for us in tournaments so far,” he said.

          West Holmes in not a team that relies solely on it’s pitching.  They can hit to, lead by second basemen Vayden Wood and centerfielder Joey Gonzalez.  “Vayden Wood is our number two hitter.  He is a very aggressive hitter.  He is one of those 110 MPH guys all of the time.  He has had some really big games for us this year.  The guy right behind him Joey Gonzalez has been our leading hitter batting average wise this year.  He is hitting around .500.  Those two really make us go,” said McDowell.  And the West Holmes coach says they have pretty good depth in their lineup too.  “It’s nice to have one through nine where you don’t have to worry about flipping the order over for the next inning.  To get something started, we can do it with seven, eight and nine if we have to.  We feel confident with everyone in the order,” he said.

          There are three “OCC” teams in the regional.  Ashland in division one and Orrville in division three are the others.  McDowell is confident they have been tested.  “We have told the kids no matter what we see in tournaments we won’t see better pitching than we saw in the “OCC” and quality lineups too.  The competition in the “OCC” has really helped us in the tournament,” he said.

          Miami Trace has started to play well at the right time with upset wins over New Lexington, Waverly and Gallia Academy.  McDowell thinks they are similar.  “They are a lot like us.  They are pretty solid one through nine.  You kind of expect that when you get this far along on the tournament trail.  They are fairly solid defensively.  They have played a fairly tough schedule from what we have been able to tell.  As long as we move the ball around we have a chance to win we feel,” said McDowell.

          When good teams meet it’s often the small things that make the biggest difference.  McDowell knows they will have to be able to field the ball.  “You always want to keep the game to 21 outs.  Anytime you have an error you are just giving them another opportunity to produce.  As long as we can minimize those mistakes and stay positive when one does happen we feel pretty good about ourselves,” he said.    

 

 
   

Two “OCC” Games This Weekend For Knights

 

          West Holmes has made considerable progress over the last couple of seasons and they can make a statement by finishing over .500 with a couple of wins in Ohio Cardinal Conference games on Friday and Saturday.

          Knights coach Jim Lindeman likes the progress his team has made and he believes they are in position to make the next step in games against Mansfield Madison and Clear Fork.  “I think overall the second half of year as been pretty successful for us.  We started our 4-6 and we have been 5-3 since the halfway point.  All three of those losses were tough games were we had our opportunities, we just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.  I’m excited where we are at, but the bottom line is we have to continue to get better.  We have a big double weekend to close out the year and earn some respect in the “OCC,” said Lindeman.

          In their first of two games, the Knights travel to Madison (9-8,6-6) to face a Rams team they beat in their first game (66-58) this season.  Lindeman believes Madison has two very good players and some kids to go with them.  “The two consistent players out of the group have been Shaq Brooks and Jaquan Thompson.  I know a lot of their roles players have been nicked up and they have had a couple of eligibility issues.  The constant has been those two,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Those are two great players to have out there.  They are very explosive.  You know, Shaq Brooks has been on a roll lately, scoring 30 points in three or four games here.  He is a really great player and Thompson is a great complement.  The bottom line is whoever is out on the floor for the Rams is going to play hard or coach Rickert won’t have them out there.  They are a team that plays as hard as anybody we play form start to finish.”

          In the past, Madison featured a lot of pressure and wanted to create almost a havoc pace, but that hasn’t been the case as much this year.  Lindeman says Madison is one of the better three point shooting teams they have faced this year.  “They love to shoot the three.  I believe Thompson leads the conference in three pointers made.  Alek Lampert has had some big games when he has hit four of five threes himself.  Shaq Brooks is capable of knocking down some.  Some of those role guys too are capable shooters.  It’s a big thing we stress, we have to get a hand in their face.  I don’t want to stay they live and die by that, but it is a big part of their success because they don’t have a ton of size to go to inside,” he said.

          On Saturday night, West Holmes (9-9,6-6) plays host to the Clear Fork Colts.  A team they just played and defeated (60-41) on February 6.  Lindeman says the Colts are dangerous because they have some players that can score.  “They are a young team that has a couple of players that in the future are going to be a handful even right now are tough.  Winand is a sophomore and averages 16 or 17 a game for them.  He had 17 against us when we went over to their place.  He is a very capable scorer.  The thing with coach Bechtel they are very disciplined.  They run good offense,” he said. 

 

 
   

West Holmes Has to Limit Transition

 

          As most expected West Holmes has turned into a pretty good basketball team this season, but they really don’t have that signature win against a conference opponent.  They get another chance on Friday night.

          The Knights (9-6,6-5) will be at Mansfield Senior to take on the Tygers in a very important Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          West Holmes has won three of  its last four conference games.  Their only loss during that period came to conference co-leader Lexington (64-55) last Friday.  They beat Clear Fork (60-41) on Monday night in a game that was rescheduled from earlier in the season.  Coach Jim Lindeman feels they played with a determined attitude and that was the difference against the Colts.  “It was a good game for us from an intensity standpoint.  I thought that we weren’t as sharp offensively as I like to see us.  We missed some shots that I thought we should make.  Overall I thought our guys brought a good intensity and played hard on “D” and made things difficult for Clear Fork.  They run good offense and they were able to get some shots off of it, but we were able to adjust and make some plays.  There were some positives form that game, but definitely some things we need to work on going forward,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes really hurt Clear Fork on the offensive glass Monday night.  Lindeman says that is something they have to do every night.  “That is something for us that is important because most of the time we do have a size advantage.  The way you can take advantage of that is to crash the offensive boards.  We were able to get some buckets that way.  That helped with not making some of the shots and jumpers that we might normally knock down and gave us some extra points along the way,” he said.

          The first time West Holmes played Mansfield Senior the game went to overtime with the Tygers escaping from Millersburg (73-64) with a win. Point guards Keon Johnson of Mansfield Senior and Brady Arnold of West Holmes both had 26 points.  Lindeman knows they have to do a better job controlling Johnson.  “The number one thing you have to do is stop Keon Johnson.  He is as good at pushing the ball as anyone I have seen in the conference since I have been here.  He is real dangerous and we have to make sure that we stop him form penetrating.  Also make sure our bigs sprint back because what Keon does really well is he is really good at finding the open guy running up the floor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to stop them in transition and force them to play some half court offense.  They execute well, but we are better off with them playing that then shooting lay ups.  Then we have to rebound.  I thought we did a good job rebounding the ball the first time.  The thing was the offensive rebounds we did give up led directly to baskets for them.  It wasn’t a lot of offensive rebounds, but almost every time it killed us.  We have to limit those kinds of mistakes to make sure we have a chance.”

          If the Knights are able to break the Mansfield Senior pressure Lindeman says they have to be able to convert their scoring opportunities.  “If you can get around them it forces them to have to help and that does open up opportunities to make some plays and get lay ups, but you have to handle that pressure, getting around it, and then be aggressive against it.  When you do score you can’t relax for that split second and feel good about yourself because they are going to get it right out of the net and inbound it and get it down the floor in a heartbeat.  In practice we are focusing on getting back in transition, make or miss, and making them set down in the half court because that is where the best chance to beat them lies.”

 

 
   

West Holmes With a Chance

 

          West Holmes has won its last four games, three of them in league play, and they are as dangerous as any team in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, if not the area right now.

          Brady Arnold scored all 21 of his points in the second half Tuesday night as the Knights downed the Mansfield Madison Rams (66-58) in “OCC” action.  West Holmes coach Jim Lindeman calls it one their biggest wins of the season.  “It definitely was a big win for us.  Madison is a team that plays as hard as any team that we play.  They play really intense.  They play physical.  We were able to overcome some things early. Obviously Brady not scoring in the first half was something I was concerned about.  The guys were able to keep things a float and then Brady had a big second half with 21 points.  Along with some other guys stepping up and making plays we were able to get the job done.  It was a big win for us against a very good team,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes (8-5,5-4) has a lot of talent and at the beginning the season they were sometimes snatching a loss from the jaws of victory.  However, Lindeman says they are leaning how to win.  “Ashland on Saturday night was a four point game.  The Madison game was back and forth and ended up being an eight point game, but the score was a lot closer than that, we were just able to make some free throws down the stretch,” he told Swankonsports.com, “This has been something that we have stressed about being mentally tough and focused during these close games and pulling out some “W’s.”  The guys have worked hard at it and been able to get the wins.”

          West Holmes plays host to second place Lexington (11-3,6-3) on Friday night.  The teams match-up pretty well in terms of their size.  Lindeman says the Minutemen know what they are good at and they execute very well in the half court.  “You are looking at two teams with very good size.  Lexington is as fundamentally sound as any team we play.  They execute really well in the half court in the offensive and defensive end and that is something we’re working hard to get ourselves too.  It’s going to be a close game I think.  It’s two teams that usually keep teams down defensively.  It’s going to be a battle and we are excited.  Lex still has a chance to catch Senior and we have a chance to play spoiler here for the rest of the season,” he said.

          In first meeting between the two teams on December 30, Lexington won (48-43) in a close game.  Lindeman feels they had their chances that night, but didn’t convert on some easy chances to score.  “The biggest thing that hurt us over there was we weren’t able to convert some of our lay ups.  I thought we did a great job on the glass the first time we played them, which kept us in the ballgame, kept it close, it ended up being a five point ballgame.  If we can continue to do that the second time around and make a couple more shots we will be in much better shape,” said Lindeman.

 

 
   

West Holmes Still Learning How to Win

 

          West Holmes is a developing basketball team, but one that is still a work in progress.

          They showed their potential on Tuesday night when they hammered West Salem Northwestern (74-44) of the Wayne County Athletic League in a non-conference game.  Coach Jim Lindeman says it was a good win over a solid program.  “Northwestern year in and year out is traditionally a great team.  That’s where I went to high school and started out my career coaching under Mark Alberts Jr. who is still the coach there.  Every year they are really tough and to go over there to their place on their home floor and get a big win like that was definitely a positive for us,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes (5-5,2-4) is making some strides in becoming a good team.  Lindeman says they just need to learn how to close the door.  “You look at the numbers and you look at the film and we are doing everything pretty solid.  We score on offense.  We average 60 points a game.  We are getting a lot of stops on defense, which is kind of what we hang our hat on.  From a numbers standpoint we look pretty good.  The part were we are struggling is how to close games and win close games.  All of them have been close that we have lost.  We have to figure out how to win those,” said Lindeman.

          Wooster (4-6,3-3) visits Millersburg for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game versus the Knights on Friday night.  It was one of those close losses for the Knights in the first meeting when Wooster (55-51) got past them.  Lindeman says they have to use their pressure to force the Generals into some ball handling mistakes.  “They are definitely a Jeckle and Hyde kind of team.  They have the capability to come out and play really well.  They have a couple of guys that are really explosive scorers.  James Preston is a guy that can really fill it up quick.  Luke McGee is another guy that can score, so they are a team if they get going they are tough to guard,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The big thing we have to do is really pressure them.  The area that they struggle and usually what ends up being their Achilles Heel in their losses is turnovers.  That is something we really have got to stress this Friday is to pressure them and make them make some tough decisions with the basketball.”

          On Saturday night, the Knights complete the “OCC” double weekend with a game versus the Ashland Arrows (6-5,4-4), a team that can be hot and cold.  With their five man substitution plan and their reliance on the outside shot Lindeman says they are always dangerous.  “It is by far the most unique team we play as far as style of play and just a lot of things that they do, like how they substitute.  They really push the ball as hard as anybody we play.  They look to shoot absolutely every open three that they get.  It is something you have to defend and slow them down.  The teams that have had success against them are the ones that are able to slow them down.  If you let them get out and run and get their feet set for shots they can beat anybody.  They proved that by beating Lexington and a very good Shelby team as well,” said Lindeman.   

 

 
   

West Holmes Needs Consistent Defense

 

          West Holmes is certainly better than they were last season, but they still need to take some more steps to be consistent winners, especially in a conference like the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Tuesday night, they surrendered a big fourth quarter lead and lost at home to Orrville (66-64) in “OCC” play.  Coach Jim Lindeman says the Knights just didn’t slam the door shut when they had the chance.  “You give Orrville credit they battled.  Orrville has been a team that has been in almost every game they played.  They really only had two games when they didn’t have a chance in the fourth quarter to win it.  We knew we were going against the best 1-8 team in the state as far as the athleticism that they have and the players that they’ve got.  We had our chances, we had them down nine with four minutes left and weren’t able to close and seal the deal,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes has been able to close the gap between themselves and a lot of the teams they play, but Lideman says they need to find ways to win when the game is on the line.  “We do and we don’t.  I think it’s a killer instinct.  It’ part of becoming a winning program.  We took steps in the right direction last year and were able to string together some wins and have a decent season, but we also took our lumps and got blown out three, four, five times.  This year we are not in the position where we are ever going to get blown out, I really believe that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Part of that is you have to find ways to win the games that you are in.  We have been able to do that a couple of times, but five out of our six losses have been by four points or less, which means we have had our opportunities in close games.  We are just learning how to do it.  It’s a killer instinct.  Eventually I think you draw on some of the tradition and the example left behind by the players in front of you.  Right now, we are trying to set that precedence for the future and that is where we are at.”

          West Holmes (4-6,2-4) is at Clear Fork for an “OCC” game on Friday night.  Lindeman says the Colts also count on a lot of younger players.  “They are very interesting team.  They do have some seniors in place, but there best player is a sophomore in Ridge Winand and Keith Corbin is a junior.  They have some young guys that they really rely on to do some stuff for them.  That has to come with a young team.  Last year, we were in the same boat.  With only one senior, we are still learning how to win.  They have been up and down a little bit, but they have beaten some pretty good teams.  They are a talented group and coach Bechtel always has his teams prepared.  Anytime you go over there it’s a tough environment to play in,” said Lindeman.

          After winning two of their first three league games, West Holmes has lost its last three.  Lindeman wants to push the pace against Clear Fork (5-4,2-4) and says they have to be able to get the big stop.  “I think one thing that we have started to get better at.  We kind held back in this area against Mansfield Senior because of the way they play.  We have to continue to push the ball in transition and get easy baskets.  We are pretty good in the half court running offense, but the bottom line is if you can beat a team down the floor and get some easy buckets it makes it a little easier on you as a team.  We have to be real solid on defense.  For three quarters we did a great job defensively against Orrville.  We held them to 38 points through three quarters and they went off for 27 in the fourth quarter.  That can’t happen, that’s the difference between winning and losing.  We have to have a consistent defensive effort for three quarters as well,” said Lindeman.

 

 
   

West Holmes Wants to Run on There Terms

 

          West Holmes is one the most improved basketball teams in the area this season and they are a threat to win on any night they play.

          Friday night, they host the Mansfield Madison Rams in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game between schools fighting to be contenders in the conference this season.

          Last Friday, Mansfield Senior got past the Knights (73-64, in overtime) in an outstanding game.  West Holmes coach Jim Lindeman believes they played a pretty good basketball game, but the Tygers just made too many plays.  “I thought our kids did a great job of battling.  Senior is a great team year in and year out.  I always look at them as a measuring stick in the “OCC.”  We had every opportunity to win.  Every game we stepped on the floor this year we expected to win.  Give Senior credit, they were able to capitalize on some mistakes we made.  We did a pretty good job of handling the ball, but the steals they did get turned into baskets real quick.  Even the few missed box outs that we had they were able to put those in for easy buckets.  When we were able to sit down and play half court “D” I was really happy with what we did, but they capitalized on the mistakes we made.  We didn’t make a lot of mistakes, but a great team like that is going to make it hurt.  Foul shooting was another area.  So, there were a lot of controllable things,” said Lindeman.

          West Holmes (4-4,2-3) has a very good point guard in sophomore Brady Arnold, but Lindeman believes the true nature of his team is its physical play.  “That is really our calling card.  We have Brady who is extremely quick and fast and plays that kind of style.  We are physical team.  Where we really hang our hat on is being tough with that other team and be tougher that other team physically and mentally,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I thought generally speaking through eight games we have been physically tough.  We are a team that is growing in that physical toughness part.  The bigs that we have in Snyder, Polley, Near and Dolon.  They have continued to work hard and I’m happy with our progress.  We just have to find a couple of little things to improve on to get ourselves in the win column.”

          Madison (4-4,3-2) brings a three game winning streak to Millersburg on Friday night.  Lindeman says this is the Madison team that people were talking about when they predicted the Rams to win the “OCC” this season.  “The way they are playing now is what we expected from them out of the gate.  They do have a lot back.  Coach Rickert gets them to play extremely hard.  I think they have one of the better players returning in the conference in Shaq Brooks, Jaquan Thompson is another kid that is a real good shooter.  They have a lot of talented players and they play as hard as anyone in the conference.  The way they are playing now is kind what we expected from the get go.  I think we are going to get the Madison team that everyone expected to see,” said Lindemen.

          Everyone thinks West Holmes is strictly half court kind of team, but with Arnold at the control that is not the case.  However, Lindeman says that they need to pick their spots against Madison.  “We have a saying as far as how we run the break.  We want to run on teams, we don’t want to run with them.  We want to find the opportunities when we can to get out on the break ourselves and get easy baskets whether it’s on a defensive rebound, on a quick outlet or even when we get a turnovers, we obviously and get down the floor and get quick bucket,” he said, “We don’t want to turn it into a track meet because that takes us away from our strengths.  Our strengths lie in the half court.  Madison is a great example of that.  They do want to get out and run.  They are very comfortable playing in the 60’s and 70’s, that’s not to say I think we can’t compete and win in those scores, but I think we are going to better suited when the score is in the 50’s.”     

 

 
   

West Holmes Looking to Finish on a High Note

 

          West Holmes is the only league school to beat Ashland this year and they have made great strides during the 2011 high school football season.  After likely their worst performance of the season last week against Wooster, they are looking to end the season on an up note against Clear Fork.

          Wooster blasted the Knights 35-14 last Friday and coach Kevin Maltarich says it just seemed like whatever they did was wrong.  “We had a hard time doing anything,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We couldn’t get our feet under us.  Their skilled players ran right by us.  We just had one of those nights.  We probably had our worst night of the year.  Things were not going our way.  We are looking to bounce back.”

          The final regular season game is at Clear Fork for the Knights.  The Colts, last year’s “OCC” champs, have had their problems too, losing their last four conference games, including 20-13 to Orrville last week.  “Clear Fork is a lot like us.  They don’t have the top skilled athletes, but they are very disciplined and play very hard.  They have a lot of pride in their football program over there.  They are going to come out and try and smack us around.  They are trying to throw the ball around a lot more than they have in the past.  They are going to give us a game,” said Maltarich.

          Maltarich says they have had to do a lot of adjusting on the spot during games this year because other teams have done a lot of things they were not expecting.  “All year we have been preparing for a team to throw the ball and they come out running it on us or we prepare for the run and they come out passing on us.  It looks like these guys have went strictly to the pass.  Who knows they might change this up with this weather and try and to come right at us.  From about week three on they have went no back and look to throw the ball 40 or 50 times a game,” he said.

          With losses the last two weeks to Lexington and Wooster the Knights are not in position to make the playoffs this year, but they want to build the foundation for next year.  “We have a lot of juniors that are coming back next year.  We want to let people know that we are going to be back next year and we are going to be better.  We are going to go out and play our game.  I think we’ve surprised some people this year with the wins that we’ve had,” said Maltarich.

 

 
   

West Holmes Needs to Stop Big Play

 

          West Holmes trails Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Ashland by a game in the standings with two games to play.  They need wins over Wooster this week and Clear Fork next to bring home the conference’s top prize.

          Last week, the Knights lost a tough one when Lexington scored in the fourth quarter and beat them 20-19.  West Holmes had a chance to rescue the win, but missed a field goal.  “We came down and tried a field goal and missed it.  I told the kids it didn’t come down to that play.  There are so many things that we could have done better.  We could have blocked a little better.  We could have tackled a lot better.  One play in a game like that is not the difference in the outcome.  We made a lot of mistakes last week, but we have to give credit to Lexington.  They came prepared and played a great physical defense,” said West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich.

          Wooster (3-5) has some of the best athletes in the “OCC” but they have not been able to put four quarters of football together this season.  However, Maltarich believes they remain very dangerous.  “They have speed all over the field.  Their line’s real big.  They are probably one of the most athletic teams in the conference.  They are still as deadly as ever.  When they get some of those kids the ball, they know what to do with it,” Maltarich told Swankonsports.com, “They have three or four game breakers on their offense.  Their defense isn’t quite as good as their offense, but they are still solid when they play hard.  They can give us a lot of problems because we have to match-up with their speed.  This wet field might help us out.  They are looking at knocking some people off, so we have to make sure we are ready to go.”

          The West Holmes coach says the same thing everybody else has said this season.  They have to stop Wooster from making the big play.  “You want to make them earn everything they get.  That’s not just Wooster, but that’s everybody.  We don’t have a lot of the skill that the other teams have in this conference.  We have to make that up by being tough and disciplined.  We try to make people earn things against us by not giving them big passes or long runs.  We don’t have the speed to match-up with people, so we have to make them earn everything they get,” said Maltarich.

 

 
   

West Holmes Expects Lexington’s Best

 

          West Holmes has never won an Ohio Cardinal Conference football title, but they have the chance to do it this season if they stick to their game pan the last three weeks.

          With a 3-1 record they share first place in the conference with Mansfield Madison and Ashland.  The Knights are coming off a 45-39 win over Mansfield Senior last week in a game that featured over 800 yards of total offense.  “We came out prepared to stop the run against those guys.  We saw a lot of sweep and counter stuff out of them and it looked like they were going to run the ball like 30 or 40 times.  They kind of ditched the run on us and went strictly pass.  It tuned out to be a shootout and when came down to it we got one more stop than they did,” West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich told Swankonsports.com on Monday.  Mansfield Senior quarterback Jelentory Reese established a new Tyger record for passing yards with 388, but Mansfield Senior was credited with minus 20 yards rushing on 14 carries.

          West Holmes (5-2) stuck with the same game plan they have been using all season and that’s running the football.  The Knights had 48 carries for 408 yards against Mansfield Senior.  Layne Perone had 184 yards and Joey Gonzalez added 126.  “We were able to run the football and find some creases and we were affective with the pass.  That was kind of our game plan.  We want to pound the ball at you and get in there with all three of our backs.  When we are affective with the pass, we can score some points,” said Maltarich.  Gabe Snyder threw six passes and completed four for 68 yards against Mansfield.

          Lexington (3-4) broke a four game losing streak with a 42-37 win over the Wooster Generals last week.  Dion Bellamy rushed for 176 yards and Colin Michael passed for 217 for the Minutemen.  “They have skill all over the place.  They have five division one kids.  They have the Michael kid that can throw the ball all over the field.  They have fast kids that go and catch it.  It’s going to be one of those things were we have to be alert and make sure we are covering all of our bases.  They can score on any given play and they have athletes on defense.  We need to play our best football,” said Maltarich.

          So far things have worked pretty well for the Knights this season and they aren’t going to differ much from what they have been doing this week against Lexington.  “We are going to stay with our guns.  They know what we like to do and we have to be sure we know what they are going to do.  We have to find some openings against them.  Maybe find a couple of weaknesses they have and exploit them.  We are expecting a great game from Lexington.  When you have athletes like they do they can be world beaters if you give them time,” Maltarich said. 

 

 
   

West Holmes Must Control Pace of the Game

 

          West Holmes is already putting together an excellent football season and they have a chance for more over the final month of the regular season.

          Right, now they are in a rare five way tie for first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  West Holmes, Clear Fork, Ashland, Orrville, and Mansfield Madison all have 2-1 records heading into conference play this week.

          West Holmes (4-2) is coming off its first conference loss of the season last week when Orrville rallied to beat them 28-21.  “It was a back and forth contest.  There were two good teams playing each other.  Just little mistakes by each team.  We made one more than they did,” said West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich.

          On Friday night, West Holmes visits Mansfield Senior to tangle with the Tygers.  “They have athletes all over the field.  They are still in the hunt along with everybody else.  We have to make sure we are sound.  I expect their best game.  I know we are going to get their best effort,” Maltarich told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.  Although tempo is usually a term associated with basketball, it can apply to football as well.  Maltarich says they just want to play as fast as the Tygers.  “They want to get out there and be quick and we are more of a ball control offense.  I think it’s going to come down to who wins the line of scrimmage.  If we are able to get things going on offense and defense I think we will be okay.  It’s the same thing for them, if they win the line of scrimmage, they will be able to get things going,” he said.

          With so many teams in the running in the “OCC” Maltarich says the team that is prepared and comes to play every week mentally is going to come away with that title.  “It’s the team that comes out every Friday night mentally ready to play and gets after it.  Right now, it’s anybody’s ball game.  You have six or seven teams still in it.  They are going to try to take care of themselves week in and week out.  It’s going to be exciting coming down the stretch,” said Maltarich.

 

 
   

West Holmes Continues to Surprise

 

          Last season, West Holmes finished at 1-9 for the year and this fall they are one of the most improved teams in the entire area as the Knights are now 4-1 and in a share of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with defending champion Clear Fork.

          The Knights, now ranked third in the Swankonsports.com poll among large schools, scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to rally and beat Ashland 35-31 last week.  “It was against a great opponent and one that West Holmes had never beaten in the history of the school.  It was kind of dramatic the way it happened.  You know, the community is buzzing right now and the kids are high.  It’s our job as coaches to bring them down to earth,” said West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich.  West Holmes completed a 20-yard TD pass with seven second left in the game to get the win. 

          West Holmes is at home for preseason “OCC” favorite Orrville on Friday night.  The Red Riders were upset last week 21-14 by Mansfield Senior.  Maltarich doesn’t know if a good thing to play Orrville after a loss or not.  “I’m not real sure,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We are just trying to take care of ourselves.  I think in this league, and especially this year, the team that comes ready to play on Friday and is focused is the team that is going to win.  The one thing we have to do is make sure West Holmes is ready to play.  We want to make sure nobody sneaks up on us.  We want to make sure we are at our very best and give our kids a chance to win.”

          Maltarich knows that Orrville has a tremendous skill level on offense and defense.  “Orrville is good from top to bottom.  They have explosive receivers on the outside.  They have the Monheim kid in the middle.  He can run it up the middle or take it around the end.  Their line gets off the line good.  Their defense is probably the best in the league.  They are so solid on both sides of the ball and on special teams.  If you make a slip up they are going to hurt you with one of their athletes,” he said.

          The West Holmes coach believes that both teams are going to be jacked up for this game.  “These are the ones you get in the business for.  They have a lot of pride in their community and our community has a lot of excitement right now.  High school football doesn’t get any better than this.  We are going to get their best game and hopefully they get ours,” said Maltarich.

 

 
   

West Holmes Expecting Big Test

 

          West Holmes has played some outstanding football in winning three of their first four games, but they get their biggest test of the season on Friday night when they host the Ashland Arrows in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          In their first conference game the Knights scored five times in the first half and went on to blast Mansfield Madison 48-21, running for more than 400 yards in the process.  “We did a lot of things.  They were jamming the box at the beginning of the game.  We were able to throw the ball and loosen them up.  Our offensive line took over the ball game and we were able to do pretty much anything we wanted.  The thing I’m proud about is the execution.  The week before we came off a pretty disturbing loss against Coshocton where we didn’t play very well.  We talked about going out an executing,” said West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich.

          Ashland (1-3) played its best game of the season in a 56-28 route of a pretty good Wooster team last week.  The accounted for 514 total yards against the Generals.  “They can do about anything they want.  It was almost 50-50 rushing passing for them last week.  They are explosive all over the field.  Ashland is still the measuring stick for the league.  They are kind of a level above everybody right now.  This is going to be a good contest for us.  We need to compete and see exactly where we are and where we need to be,” added Maltarich.

          West Holmes has had games when they have thrown less than five passes and Friday night they want to own the clock.  “You can play defense by playing offense,” Maltarich told Swankonsports.com, “That’s one thing we want.  We want long sustained drives where we take control of the game and play at our pace.  We want to control the line of scrimmage.  You can play great defense by controlling the ball.”  Ashland is not a team you want to fall behind because if they get a head of you they keep scoring.  “They are quick strike offense.  One thing that we have to make sure is that we are ready for their fastest kids.  We don’t want to not get used to their speed and have them fly right by us and be up 21-0 and we have to play catch up the rest of the night,” said Maltarich.

 

 
   

It Will be a Running Game

 

          West Holmes travels to Mansfield Madison for their Ohio Cardinal Conference opener on Friday night and it should be a battle of ground attacks.

          The Knights have been a team that has relied on its running game as they have yet to throw ten passes in any game this year.  West Holmes carries a 2-1 record for the year beating Wooster Triway (20-7) and Warsaw River View (41-7) and losing last week (35-14) to the Coshocton Redskins.  Madison, on the other hand, is unbeaten on the season with victories over Shelby (21-7) on week one, Newark (27-17) in second week action and Mt. Vernon (31-7) last week.

          West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich, the coach at Madison for one year in 2009, thinks they lost their focus last week in the second half against Coshocton.  “Our kids came out and played two different games,” he told Swankonsports.com, “It’s a learning process we have to play with confidence.  We came out in the first half and completely dominated them on both sides of the ball.  They had 30 total yards.  Then we come out in the second half and totally fell asleep.  They took advantage with the speed they have and took it to the house.” 

          Maltarich believes his team has already forgotten the hurt of the loss to Coshocton and is concentrating on getting ready to play Madison.  “Tuesday was probably the most physical and best practice that I have had since I have been at West Holmes.  I am glad these kids responded.  They saw how bad they looked on film and these kids are eager to get back on the field and prove to everyone what we are capable of doing,” he said.

          Like West Holmes, it isn’t hard to diagnose what Madison is going to try and do with the football.  They are going to run into someone stops them.  “Madison is going to buckle it up and come right at us.  They have a couple of different formations they will throw at us.  They like to do a lot of the same things out of different formations.  They will run Lampet and they like to get Cody Thompson the ball and run right at you.  We have to make sure we match up with their formations.  We have to match their physicality,” said Maltarich.

          Many football games, especially at the high school level, are won at the point of attack and this one is going to be no different according to Maltarich.  “They like the same style of football we do.  It’s those guys in the trenches that are going to win or lose the game.  We’ve got to play on their side of the ball and of course they are talking about playing on our side of the ball.  The line that plays on the opposing side is going to win this football game,” he said.   

 

 
   

West Holmes Continuing to Build

 

          West Holmes is a team ready to have success after a couple of down seasons and right now they are 2-0 heading into week three and you can’t be better than that.

          They took apart Warsaw River View 41-7 last week and coach Kevin Maltarich believes his players are starting to believe they can have success.  “We were a young group last year and we are still kind of young this year.  You know, we are looking to get some confidence and see what these kids can do,” he said.  He thinks they have been pretty sound on both sides of the ball.  “One big thing is the play of our defense,” Maltarich told Swankonsports.com, “We have really stopped the other teams and our offense got on track last week.  That’s what we are looking for, to get better each week.”

          West Holmes is a team that runs the wing-t and they are going to run the football until someone stops them from doing it.  River View wasn’t able to last week, so the Knights kept running.  “We had close to 400 yards rushing and we really controlled the line of scrimmage,” said Maltarich.

          West Holmes is at Coshocton this week and the Redskins are clearly the best team they have faced this year.  “They are a senior dominated team.  They have 16 lettermen returning off an 8-3 season a year ago.  Those seniors know how to win and they are confident.  They have an explosive group of skilled kids that know what to do when they get the ball.  We will have our hands full, those kids know how to win,” said Maltarich.

          To improve to 3-0 on the year, Maltarich says the Knights can’t hurt themselves and they have to be the best team at the point of attack.  “In order to beat Coshocton the number one thing we have to do is we can’t turn the ball over.  We have to get control of the line of scrimmage.  We can’t do those little mental mistake things that hurt you,” he said.

 

 
   

West Holmes Making Strides

 

          West Holmes was not a very good football team a year ago, but what a difference 10 months has made.  The Knights bottled up Wooster Triway in their opener, playing well on both sides of the ball.

          The Knights stuffed Triway 20-7 and West Holmes coach Kevin Maltarich was really impressed by what they were able to do in defending the Triway spread offense.  “We have a lot of areas that we do need to improve, one thing that really stands out was our defensive play,” Maltarich told Swankonsports.com, “We had kids flying all over the field.  Our defensive backs won the game for us.  They had a lot of deflected passes. We shut down their spread attack.  We played a very solid defensive game and we hope to build on that.”  The Knights were also able to run the ball successfully and take some time off the clock at the same time.  “We averaged somewhere between five and six yards a carry.  We had a long touchdown run.  We were able to control the line of scrimmage,” added Maltarich.

          West Holmes plays at Warsaw River View on Friday night.  River View was West Holmes’ only victim last year as the Knights beat River View 28-7.  This year River View is better as they beat West Muskingum in their first game last week.  “River View has everyone back from last year,” said Maltarich, “They are going to line it up and pound the ball at you.  They had two backs go over 100 yards last week, one going for about 170.  They have three or four kids that can carry the ball.  We have to make sure we find the ball and stay on our feet.”

          Because they haven’t won very many games the last few years Maltarich still believes that confidence can be an issue for the Knights.  “I think confidence is a big thing for us.  We only won one game last year.  We had a lot of sophomores last year and we are still young with a lot of juniors on the field, we have eight on defense and seven on offense.  I think we went into the Triway game sort of unsure of ourselves and played a pretty good game.  If we play well and get a win versus River View it will be another boost in confidence,” said Maltarich.

 

 
 

 

West Holmes Ready to Have Better Season

 

          West Holmes struggled last season in Kevin Maltrich’s first year as the head football coach at his alma matter.  The Knights were just 1-9 and were winless in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Their only win last year came on week two against Warsaw River View.

          With a lot players back that played roles last year things are looking up at West Holmes, however, Maltrich says they need to get into that win column pretty quickly.  “The one thing we lack is confidence,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We haven’t had a lot of success the last few years.”  The coach has seen some bright spots during preseason workouts and scrimmages.  “We are getting better each and every day.  We are night and day compared to where we were last year.  Now we are just looking for a little bit of confidence.  We have to take care of ourselves and take it one step at a time,” said Maltrich.

          West Holmes has some skill in the backfield and Maltrich wants to be balanced in their attack, but more than anything he wants to compete with the rest of the Ohio Cardinal Conference at the line of scrimmage.  “No matter what we do I want to be physical.  We are going to look to run the ball and look to control the line of scrimmage.  I’ll tell ya our passing game has come a long way, we have been very efficient.  We want to be more balanced this year,” said Maltrich.  Lack of speed will be a concern for the Knights when matched up with “OCC” foes.  “I wish were a little bit faster.  You can’t replace speed.  I wish we were just a little more disciplined too, but we are lot better than we were last year,” added the coach.

          West Holmes opens up at home against Wooster Triway on Friday night.  The Titans drilled Holmes 48-6 a year ago.  Maltrich knows the Titans want to make it a track meet.  “They are going to spread you out,” he said, “They have a nice athlete at quarterback.  They want to throw the ball and also get him out and on the loose and let him take over the game.  On defense they are going to bring six or seven guys every play.”  The two schools are neighboring districts and really don’t like each other that much, but Maltrich thinks this a good way to start the season.  “It kind of sets the tone, it’s a rivalry game.  Each team wants to kick start their season,” he said.

 

 

 
   

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