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Campbell to Play For Rams

Mason Campbell will play his senior season on the basketball floor for the Madison Rams.

That is after spending the last three years with Mansfield St. Peter’s. The last two seasons ending with losses in the division four regional tournament.

Campbell was honorable mention All-Ohio last year in division four.

He is playing football this fall for Madison after not playing since junior high.

Sources close to the situation tell Swankonsports.com that Campbell has enjoyed playing with friends he grew up with and wanted to continue doing that this winter.

He went to school at Madison through the eighth grade.

 
     
 

Shelby Looking For Title

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Erik Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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St. Paul Meets Improved Western Reserve

Click here to listen to an interview with coach John Livengood

Norwalk St. Paul clinches no less than a share of the Firelands Conference football title with a win on Friday night against the visiting Western Reserve Roughriders.

After a somewhat less than normal performance against Mapleton the week before the unbeaten Flyers blasted South Central (56-0) last Saturday.

Coach John Livengood says they gave good effort last week. “I think our kids came out focused when we played last Saturday night against South Central. That was right from the start. We were able to take the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. We come out on defense and we were able to create a turnover on the third or fourth play on defense and gave us a short field and we jump out early 14-0 and just kind of rolled from there. I think the kids were focused and ready to go and they executed well,” said Livengood.

Turnovers are big in football and Livengood says if you can get those you they really turn the momentum. “There are different controllable and uncontrollable factors in a game and if you can create some turnovers with good defensive plays and just doing things soundly. That can be a big momentum shifter and you can really take advantage of that,” he said.

St. Paul (8-0,5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, hosts Western Reserve (4-4,3-2) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night. Western beat Monroeville (44-21) last week, scoring 37 straight points in the middle quarters.

Livengood says the Roughriders have size and their fullback is a playmaker. “We scouted that game live last Friday night and I’ll tell you I was very impressed with them. They have great size on the offensive and defensive lines. Their skilled kids are quick and fast. They have a big bruising fullback in Gavin Braden. He runs the ball tough and hard and he has good speed once he is opened up in the open field. They have a lot of weapons and they are playing really well right now,” said Livengood.

The Flyers play traditional rival Monroeville next week and Livengood says they have developed a good rivalry with Western too. “To begin with the proximity of the schools. Five to our east is Western Reserve and five miles to our west is Monroeville. We are all three schools right here on Route 20. A lot of the kids are neighbors and know each other well. They are cousins and that sort of thing. I think that adds to the rivalry. I also think the success of the programs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think Western Reserve has had a lot of success. It wasn’t that long ago that they were in the playoffs for two, three years in a row and were contending for Firelands Conference championships. When you have two teams battling it out you are going to have a rivalry and we definitely have one with Western Reserve.”

Published 10/20/17

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Highland With a Chance at a Share

Click here to listen to an interview witch coach Chad Carpenter

Highland has had a tremendous season so far with their only loss coming by a point in overtime in the season opener, and a clean slate in their conference, and they can claim a share of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference with a win over East Knox on Friday night.

Right now, the Scots lead East Knox and Danville by one in the conference standings. The Bulldogs lost their first game of the season last week to (32-28) to Fredericktown.

Meanwhile, Highland (7-1,5-0) destroyed Cardington (62-10) in a conference game.

Coach Chad Carpenter says they really did control the game. “We seemed to be clicking on all cylinders last week. Our kids came out and played right from the very kickoff. I thought we controlled the tempo of the game really well. We did a lot of things really well last week,” he said.

East Knox (7-1,4-1) is young, but they are athletic. Carpenter says the Bulldogs can do a lot of things on offense and defense. “They are very athletic. They have a lot of weapons on offense. They move the ball around a lot. They are about 50-50 run pass. They put you in some really tough positions,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively, they give you a lot of different types of looks. Their kids play really aggressive. We have to make sure we take care of business this week.”

Carpenter says they want to go into this game on Friday night and do the things they are good at doing. “Our offense is very simple anyway. Basically, it is whatever they are going to offer us we are going to try and take it. We want to try and control the tempo of the game and the clock and try and use that to our advantage this week,” said Carpenter.

This is a championship game for the Scots and Carpenter says they that is what they have been pounding into their kids during practice this week. “That is what we have been preaching to our kids all week that this is a huge game for us. We have a lot riding on this one. I think our kids are focused and hopefully our kids will play well on (Friday,)” he said.

Published 10/20/17

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Yellow Jackets Face Athletic Mansfield Senior

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mike Kerr

Mt. Vernon hopes to build on a solid performance last week as they host Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

A week ago, the Yellow Jackets (3-5,2-2) scored 48 points in the first half and went on to pound Madison (62-20) in an “OCC” game.

Coach Mike Kerr says they made some adjustments to their offensive game plan the week before against Wooster and it really paid some dividends against Madison last Friday. “We had switch some things up and had showed some flashes the week before against Wooster. I think we cleaned a lot of that up against Madison on Friday night. The kids really bought in and executed really well on Friday,” he said.

Sometimes it can be difficult to make changes late in the season no matter how minor or how needed, but Kerr says his kids understand and bought into to those changes. “It takes that buy in from the kids. I think it was a needed change. We were doing some good things on offense before, but there was the need to tweak it a little bit. We have added a couple of wrinkles to it. The kids really got excited about it and bought into it. I think it has been a great thing for the program down the stretch,” he said.

Mansfield Senior (6-2,3-1) is a game behind “OCC” leader Ashland and must have a win to have chance to share of the “OCC” title. They put themselves in that position with a come from behind (28-21) win at Wooster last week.

Kerr says the Tygers are athletic, but they are much more than that too. He says they are well coached. “They are just athletic from top to bottom. They can really run and get after you. You look at their number of explosive plays, plays that go for over 60, 70 yards, it is just amazing. Defensively they fly all around. It is tough to get anything on them because they are so fast getting to the ball. I think sometimes what gets overlooked is how well coached they are,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They block really well up front. They tackle very well in the back. They do all of those little things. A lot of times you just see the athleticism and get amazed by that, but not only are they athletic they are really well coached too.”

Published 10/20/17

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The Assignment is Clear For Northmor

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Scott Armrose

Northmor has never made the playoffs and they have a really good chance this year, but they have to keep winning if they are going to do it.

Right now, they stand sixth in their division six computer region. The top eight make it.

They outscored Mt. Gilead (54-26) last week and coach Scott Armrose says the nice thing was they were able to spread things around more than they have in some other weeks. “The great thing about our offensive performance Friday night was we completed all kinds of passes and we spread the ball around,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It wasn’t just “Meechie” carrying us on his back. “Meechie” only had 10 carries, so we did a lot of things well Friday night other than running “Meechie.” We got a lot of other people involved in the offense and it is fun when we do that.”

Armrose they certainly have other players other than quarterback Demetrious Johnson that can do some things and make some big plays. “We have have Conan Becker, who has run the ball really hard all season long and Conan is a very good running back, he has close to 600 yards rushing. He is doing a great job. We have Wyatt Reeder and Coner Becker and Kyle Kegley and Chris Bood, who can all go up and catch the ball. They are good receivers. So, we have other weapons that we can use and given the opportunity we will use them,” said Armrose.

Northmor (6-2,3-2) plays at home Friday night against the Centerburg Trojans (2-6,1-4,) who lost to Danville (41-0) last week “KMAC” game.

Armrose says Centerburg plays pretty good defense. He says he would like to get some scores early. “Centerburg has had very tough defensive shows this year. They have been in a lot of games, late in the game where their defense has kept them in it. They have struggled offensively to keep thing going. We look for a battle Friday night. We look for Centerburg to plat tough defense against us. We need our defense to come up big to limit their points,” said Armrose.

The Northmor coach says a win is a must or next week against won’t mean anything. “We absolutely have to take care of business this Friday night. Centerburg is the only team on our mind right now. We are focused solely on this game and we know it’s a big one and we have to come out and take care of business,” he said.

Published 10/20/17

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Rivals Mohawk and Carey Scrap in Big “N10” Game

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Brent Konkle

Longtime adversaries Mohawk and Carey play an important week nine game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference on Friday.

Carey trails conference leader Wynford by a game. Mohawk is two back and both are trying to make the playoffs. Carey is fourth in its division six region and Mohawk in ninth in its division seven region. Remember the top eight in each region make the postseason.

Mohawk throttled Bucyrus (42-14) in an “N10” game last Friday, breaking a two game losing streak and both were tough losses to Seneca East (24-21) in the final minute two weeks ago and Wynford (7-0) the week before.

Coach Brent Konkle says it was nice to get back on the winning track. “Coming off of a win last week got us on the right track. I think we are as healthy as we have been in a long time, so I am looking forward to a good game on both sides. Hopefully, both sides bring their “A” game because I think it is going to be a great game to watch,” said Konkle.

Carey (7-1,4-1) played last Saturday and beat West Middlesex, Pennsylvania (28-18) in a non-conference game.

Konkle says this is not your father’s Carey. “They have really evolved offensively. They are no longer in the wishbone. They are very athletic. The quarterback is very athletic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a couple of athletic receivers. Up front they are always physical and tough. It is a typical Mohawk-Carey match-up as far as physicality.”

Mohawk (6-2,4-2) and Carey and both in Wyandot County and about 15 miles from each other. They are longtime rivals, both having been members of the Midland Athletic League. Konkle says they play like it. “Being that rivalry, it is always that physical game. I think they have some better athletes on the perimeter than they have had in the past, so there might be a little bit more of a passing game on their part. We have evolved a little bit that way, but it is going to come down to hitting it up the gut and making tackles in space,” said Konkle.

There will be intensity in this game, but Konkle they have to execute well too. “I think we have great leadership. Your juniors right now are pretty much seniors in my mind. We have a lot of juniors that played last year as sophomores. I think we are senior oriented right now and hopefully it pays off for us at the end,” he said.

Published 10/20/17

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Monroeville Looking Forward

Monroeville needs to stop the slide. They have lost two a row and they need to find the right gear again when they host Plymouth in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

They lost to Western Reserve (44-21) last week and coach Scott Stacher isn’t going to sugar coat it. He says they did play well in any phase of the game. “That is a tough one to shake off. We didn’t play a really good game. We came out really well. You know Western came back on us and we didn’t have another answer to it. We tried, but it just wasn’t our night. We didn’t play good, sound, fundamental football in anything we did. You can’t look in the rearview mirror and focus is on the next game which is Plymouth,” said Stacher.

Plymouth (4-4,3-2) won its last two, including a (35-28) win over Mapleton last week.

They are now running the double tight, double wing offense made famous in North Central Ohio by Lucas. Stacher says he has some familiarity with what the Big Red is doing. “It is unique. I have seen it. I coached at Plymouth maybe 10 years ago and they were in the old single wing. It is little like the single wing, but it is more the double wing flexbone look that, well exactly, what Lucas is running,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They played Lucas and said I guess if we can’t beat them we will join them. They are running the offense very well. It is very different, it is a challenge for sure. Coach Genders has the right thing going there that’s for sure offensively.”

One thing about the double wing is it can be difficult to find the ball carrier until it is too late. Stacher says they would like to keep the ball out that offense’s hands as much as they can. “That line of scrimmage is all important both offensively and defensively. They get that bulldozer effect or the train going forward it is tough to get to the back because they have him surrounded like a scrum and they are pushing from the back. It reeks havoc. An old coach told me once that the best defense is two first downs. We are going to have to keep it for more than two first downs. We have to keep the ball away from them and score on every possession we get,” said Genders.

Published 10/20/17

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Colts Must be Physical

Clear Fork and Marion Pleasant match undefeated records Friday night in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference championship game.

The winner gets no less than a share of the conference title.

Oh yeah, both teams are also first in their computer regions.

The Colts (8-0,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, overwhelmed Ontario (35-0) last week limiting the Warriors to negative total yards and no first downs.

Coach Dave Carroll says their defense was focused and executed at a high level. “Our defense played really well. I know Ontario is hobbled with a lot of injuries and have been struggling the last few weeks offensively. I feel for them because we have been there before. Their coach is doing a good job with what he has got to work with at the point and time of the season, but our defense played great. They didn’t expect and easy win and take it easy out there playing. That is the sign of a mature group of kids and a great group of young men. I think all coaches try and pound in their player’s heads that is doesn’t matter who you are playing it is how you play. You have to play at the same high level every week if you want to have a really good year and they did that,” said Carroll.

Pleasant (7-0,5-0), #4 in our small school division, beat rival River Valley (27-14) last Friday. They want to feature a power running game with a number of guys carrying the ball and they have done that very well.

Carroll says their offensive line has been the key to their success on offense this year. “I think it starts were with their offensive line. They are one of the better ones, if not the best I have seen all year. It is pretty cool to watch because they are not big. Their biggest kid is 245. The rest of them are 200, 210, they just come off the ball low and quick and they hit you. They have the quick backs that hit the hole right behind them really fast. They pound it. It is old school football. It is what guys in my era grew up on. In today’s world, and I am as guilty as anybody so I’m not making fun, with all this basketball on grass that we all do spreading it out, it is kind of fun to see this style of football where they line up and run it down your throat,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “So, our defense has got their work cut out for them. We are a good run defense. It is going to be a great match-up with our great run defense against their great ruin offense. They choose not to pass it much, but when they do they have completed, this doesn’t count last week’s stats, 18 passes and six of them were for touchdowns. So, a pretty efficient passing game.”

It is likely going to come down to blocking and tackling and ball security like it normally does when very good teams play. Carroll says neither team is going to back down physically. “That might be the most fun thing to watch as a fan because we are physical and they are physical. I don’t think either side is going to back down from that aspect. Our kids have been physical all year. Yes, Clear Fork does have that reputation, but there have been years where we didn’t play physical football, but this isn’t one of them. Our kids they mix it up and they come off the football hard and we like to hit, tackle and block and all of those good things just like their kids do,” said Carroll.

Published 10/19/17

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Dalton With a Chance

Dalton will wrap up no less than a share of the Wayne County Athletic League title with a win Friday night at home against Hillsdale.

Right now, they lead Norwayne by one. Hillsdale is two games back.

Last week, the Bulldogs downed Smithville (33-22) to remain unbeaten on the season.

Coach Broc Dial says they were able to do enough to get the win. “We made enough plays to get the win, which was good to see. There are some things we need to correct fundamentally. We are working during the course of this week to get them corrected,” said Dial.

When it comes to improvement, Dial says there are a couple of things they have been concentrating on this week in practice. “Our defensive backfield needs to play the ball in the air a little bit better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Up front we need to play with a little bit better technique on the offensive line. Those are the two major areas that stood out on film.”

Dalton (8-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays at home against Hilldale (6-2,3-2) on Friday night. The Falcons are coming off a (28-27) win over Chippewa last week and have featured an explosive offense.

Dial says the Falcons have athletic players and a lot of them, especially at the skilled positions. “They are one of the more skillful teams, if not the most skillful team we have seen this year. They have some really fast players. We have to make sure we take great pursuit angles and get a lot of guys to the football to tackle,” said Dial.

He says a big part of this game on Friday will be stopping Hillsdale from getting a big play, something they are very good at doing. “I think a big part of it is making sure we get lined up and read our keys and pursue the football. We have to get them down on the ground and make them snap it again,” he said.

Published 10/19/17

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Crestview Needs Win

Crestview has a lot to play for with two weeks left in the regular season.

They are a game behind Firelands Conference leaders Norwalk St. Paul and they are just a spot out of the division six playoffs.

They travel to South Central (3-5,1-4) on Friday night to meet the Trojans in Firelands Conference play.

The Cougars (5-3,4-1) blasted New London (54-0) in a conference game last week.

Coach Dan Mager says they were focused and were able to put the game away early. “We had a lot of stuff going on that night. We had a thing honoring our veterans and that took maybe a little focus away from the game. I just wanted to make sure we started off fast. I think we scored pretty early and never quite looked back and stayed focused the entire game. Hats off to New London they are in a tough situation. I talked to their coach and talked to their kids. They hung in there and the played to the last whistle and their coach is proud of them,” said Mager.

South Central lost to St. Paul (56-0) last Saturday, but they were able to move the ball, especially through the pass game. Mager says they have to be warry of that. “They spread it out and are pretty innovative on offense. They make it difficult by spreading defenses out. They had some success against St. Paul throwing the ball around a little bit and I am sure they are going to come out and do that to us too,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It will be a challenge to our defense to keep them down. On some nights they have scored a lot of points and our defense has played pretty well. I would hope we could slow them down Friday night.”

The Cougars having been playing solid defense this season and Mager says they want to take the Trojans out of what they are best at doing. “A couple of weeks ago we played Monroeville and they had a lot of success running the ball on certain plays and our defensive coaching staff schemed really well to take that away. When want to take what South Central does well and force them to do things they may not do as well. That should be our game plan going into Friday night and hopefully we can execute that,” he said.

Published 10/19/17

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Danville Riding Momentum

Danville is on a four game winning streak and has already clinched a playoff spot in division seven.

They are going to need some help to earn a share of the Knox Morrow County Athletic Conference title. They need East Knox to beat Highland this week and then they need to beat the Bulldogs next week.

They beat Centerburg (41-0) last week and coach Ed Honabarger says they are on a little roll of momentum. “I think we have improved week by week. We had one hiccup with Highland. Highland is a really good football team, but since then we have regrouped and gotten better. We are very efficient on offense and our defense has been playing lights out,” said Honabarger.

When it comes to defense, Honabarger says they are getting good pursuit and their defensive backfield is playing at a top level. “We have been really good at getting people to the point of attack right now. Our secondary has played really well. We haven’t been giving up cheap passes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have been breaking on the ball pretty good. You earn what you get against us passing. The only score we have given up was on a kick return the last three weeks. Whatever we are doing we have to keep doing.”

Danville (7-1,4-1) is at Mt. Gilead (0-8,0-5) on Friday night in a “KMAC” game. The Indians have struggled this season, especially on defense, they lost to Northmor (54-26) last week.

Honabarger says the Indians have the capacity to score points and they can’t take the night off. “They put the ball in the air quite a bit. They can score points. You can’t sleep on them. Defensively they have struggled. They have given up about 50 points a game. They have been in some shootouts this year. When you can throw the ball you have a punchers chance to win. We need to be careful and play sound defense,” he said.

Published 10/19/17

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Rivals Lexington and Madison Meet

It hasn’t been the kind of season that either Lexington or Madison were hoping for, but there will be some fire in their bellies when they meet Friday night at Ram Field in Ohio Cardinal Conference action,

These are longtime rivals and pride is on the line.

Ashland throttled Lexington (40-0) last week in an “OCC” game.

The Minutemen got behind early and when that happens against Ashland it is tough to come back. Plus, Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt says they have had their share of injuries. “Ashland is a good team. They are a good team year in and year out. Coach Valentine does a fantastic job over there. We were banged up and down to a sophomore quarterback and a sophomore trading in and out at running back. So, we were banged up skill wise and that put us at more of a disadvantage. It was a tough night, but the kids fought,” he said.

Cade Stover, a top college prospect, has been out the last two weeks, reports say with a shoulder injury. Gerhardt says quarterback is a difficult position to learn quickly. “It is a difficult position to play, even in high school. The football talking gurus talk about of that being the toughest position in all of sports and I would have to agree with that. In high school we have gotten more and more complex in our offenses even at this level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Without the reps and the time it is tough for a kid to come in and have a lot of success if he hasn’t been with that team and creating a relationship and understanding where the reads are and understanding where to go. He has to orchestrate everything at that position.”

Lexington (1-7,0-5) is at Madison (0-8,0-5) on Friday night. The Rams lost (62-20) to Mt. Vernon last week. Their problems have been mostly on defense.

Gerhardt says he expects both teams to play hard in this one. “It is always a big rivalry what Madison and Lexington play. They are better than their record. You always know that Madison is going to come out swinging and come out tough and aggressive. They have some playmakers. They have some kids that have been there and some kids that have stepped up. Coach Masi will have them ready to go. It is going to be a challenge. You can throw the records out the window, good or bad, because this is always a great rival game,” said Gerhardt.

Published 10/19/17

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More Tweaks For Ontario

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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Colonel Crawford plays Rival Buckeye Central

Colonel Crawford and Buckeye Central get together for a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night in North Robinson.

‘ Neither team is going to be hoisting a trophy signifying a championship this year, but they can say they beat one of their biggest rivals.

For the Eagles (3-5,1-4) it has been a number of close losses this year, including last week. Lucas beat them (28-21) in a non-conference game.

Coach Ryan Teglovic says it was a big play in the special teams that proved to be the difference last Friday. “It was kind of a familiar script. You feel for your coaches and players they put a lot of work in and come up there and come up short again. In first half I didn’t feel like we came out great, not terrible. The second half we played hard put ourselves in position to win. It was a tie game at 21 all and then the very next kickoff we gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and that was it. It was something we never recovered from,” said Teglovic.

Special teams are important part of football at any level. It might not have cost Ohio State in a big win over Maryland a couple of weeks back, but Teglovic says it most games those mistakes cost you big time. “You have to make plays in every aspect of the game. When you are playing a team that you are that much better than, like Ohio State was, that is a different story. It won’t show up as much. When you have a couple of evenly matched teams, playing another good football team, every play is important whether it is offense, defense, or special teams,” he said.

Buckeye Central (0-8,0-5) played one its best games of the season in a (28-12) loss to Upper Sandusky last week. It was a game where they had the lead for a lot of the time.

Teglovic says the Bucks are still giving it all they have and they have some good players too. “They have always played us well. They played hard last week. They go up on Upper Sandusky and score on the first possession of the game and take their next drive down and they fumble at the one-yard line. They should be up 14-0 right off the bat. They are 0-8 and they are still out there giving great effort. I really like a couple of their kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Max Loy is not just a good quarterback, but just impressed with his toughness. His team hasn’t won any football games, but he is out there every week giving great effort. I respect that. I like the (Avery) Baldosser kid. He looks like he has a little speed. They have a nice receiver in the Ackerman kid on the edge. They have some weapons. They don’t have a lot of numbers and that hurts them a little bit.”

Published 10/19/17

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Norwalk Has to be on Game

Norwalk has to be at their best when they play at Clyde in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night like they were two weeks against Sandusky.

They did not play well last week in losing (20-7) to Perkins. It was the Pirates first win of the season.

Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland says they got beat at the line of scrimmage. “We didn’t come out and play as well as we like to. We had a pretty positive week the week before and things went well during the week. We had some different things happen and we didn’t get the rhythm we have been getting into, offensively especially. I thought the defense played outstanding. We gave up too many trick plays. We just didn’t do well up front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Their front four and linebackers controlled the line of scrimmage. If we don’t get our running game going that kind of puts us in a different situation. Sometimes sports is about match ups and week to week doesn’t always hold true. That is kind what we saw last week. Their defensive line kind of controlled our offense.”

Clyde (7-1,2-1) lost for the first time last week to Sandusky (42-28) and now trail the Blue Streaks by one. They must have this win, but MacFarland says Clyde always plays hard. He says they might match-up better this week. “Clyde’s tradition to play hard every week anyhow. Sometimes losses do affect you more than one week. I would say they are going to come out and be refocused to try and get back on gear and hope Sandusky stumbles a little along the line the last two weeks and maybe get a co-championship. Our kids are ready for that. We are excited about being on the road. Spread teams sometimes are a little different for us than the wing-T with Perkins. I expect our kids to come out and play well,” he said.

MacFarland says the Fliers are very good on both sides of the ball and they are going to be very physical. “They are very physical on defense. They get after it. Offensively they spread you in all different ways. They are going to throw deep, they are going to throw out in the flats, they are going to run the ball well. They are pretty versatile. You can tell they kind of rest on their tradition and they are going to play as much of a clean game as they can. We have scrimmaged them the last couple of years when we hadn’t been in the same conference. They are always very physical and we have go out there and make sure we match that,” he said.

Published 10/19/17

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First Place on the Line in the “MOAC”

Marion Pleasant hosts Clear Fork, both an unbeaten, in what is a huge game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Friday night.

To the winner goes no less than a share of the “MOAC” football title.

Both are first in their computer region, Pleasant in division five and Clear Fork is division four. The Colts have already clinched their berth, Pleasant likely will on Friday night.

The Spartans (7-0,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat arch rival River Valley (27-14) last week to remain in that share of first place.

Coach Aaron Cook says it was what they expected. “That game is always intense and always emotional on both sides. I thought both teams came out ready to play and both teams played with that emotion and it was a great rival game like it always is,” he said.

Clear Fork head coach Dave Carroll and his assistant and brother Mike Carroll both coached at Pleasant and Cook says the coaching staff is a key reason the Colts are unbeaten. “Clear Fork first and foremost is very well coached. I am very familiar with coach Carroll. I have been around him for a long time. He does a great job. They are well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are big, physical, and fast. They are pretty much everything you would want in a football team. It is definitely our toughest challenge to date and it should be a great football game on Friday night.”

Playmakers seem to be all over the place on the Clear Fork offense led by quarterbacks Blake Dinsmore and Jared Schaefer. They are able to get the ball to some athletic skilled players. Cook says they have to be sound one on one tacklers. “That is the way coach Carroll has built is team and he has the athletes to do it. That is where football is played anymore it is in space and that is the name of the game. Our kids are going to have to do a really, really good job of tackling in space. That is hard to do, harder to do than you think and easier said than done. That’s our goal and we will see what happens,” he said.

On defense, the Colts allowed negative 35 yards of total offense and no first downs last week in a (35-0) win over Ontario and it has been the defense that has been very consistent for Clear Fork this year. Cook says that is no surprise. “They are well coached. Mike Carroll does a great job on that side of the ball. Mike and I coached together for 15 years and I know how good of a job he does. He is phenomenal. It is a typical Mike Carroll defense. They are big, tough, physical and very sound. You are hard pressed to beat them at anything. That’s why they are good. There is really nothing to exploit. You just have to try and execute to the best of your ability and hope that your kids do that and play hard,” said Cook.

Published 10/18/17

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Wynford Can do it Again

Wynford has won every Northern 10 Athletic Conference football title and they can get a piece of a fourth in a row with a win at home over Upper Sandusky on Friday night.

Last week, they turned in a tremendous performance against Seneca East. Both teams entered the game unbeaten in conference action and Wynford was without their starting quarterback in Wyatt Smith, who had broken his leg the week before against Lima Central Catholic. Yet, Wynford won (31-13) to take first place to themselves.

Coach Gabe Helbert says they turned their performance up a notch. “I thought our kids had a great desire to play at a high level on Friday night in a championship style game. We wanted to put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny and we were able to do that. I was very happy with our kid’s effort. The kids stepped up for Wyatt (Smith) when he went down and that was very important,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I thought that Blake Sparks probably didn’t get enough credit for the amount of football he played Friday night with Robby Miller being dinged up a little bit as well. I was just happy with the total team effort and those guys where asked to step up definitely did that.”

The Royals (6-2,5-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, has never lost an “N10” game and has enjoyed success in the playoffs. Helbert says you have to be at your very best. “I thought our attitude was great and I thought our focus was great throughout the week of practice. All of those things you want to do in championship type games. We are going to have to do the same thing this week. For our football program this is a championship game. We have an opportunity if we are fortunate enough to beat Upper Sandusky we can claim at least a share of our league, which is our number one goal. It is rising up to that challenge. When you have an opportunity to play for championships you want to try and play at your best and give that other team your best effort. I was really happy and I thought we did that on Friday night,” said Helbert.

Upper Sandusky (3-5,2-3) beat Buckeye Central (28-12) last week and Helbert says they have some players that has big play potential. “They are very dangerous. They are a team that has played some very good teams in our league tough. They played Mohawk tough for a half. They played Carey very tough. They have won two games in a row. The Vent kid is good, he is a talented athlete. He is a very skilled athlete and another sophomore McMillian, very good football players. Those guys have abilities to make plays. They are both good on defense has well. They do some things that are very good. You look at them and think they are a dangerous team sitting here on week nine because they have skilled athletes and the ability to make plays,” he said.

Published 10/18/17

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Ashland One Step Away

A win over West Holmes on Friday night will give the Ashland Arrows no less than a share of their seventh Ohio Cardinal Conference football title, the most of any school in the league.

They put themselves in that position with a (40-0) destruction of the Lexington Minutemen last week, scoring more than 30 in the first half of the game.

Head coach Scott Valentine says they could have had some more scores had it not been for their one mistakes. “We had three touchdowns called back, which came on penalties on us. Those are some things you don’t like to have happen. We looked at some of it and what we might have to change a little bit. Overall, we executed on offense and on defense we were able to get good stops and that enabled us to have good field position,” said Valentine.

Across the area there seem to be a lot of touchdowns called back this year on penalty, it’s like there was a big play look for a reason. Valentine says they tell their kids their focus has to be on the next play, not on officials. “I think this is one of those years. I know the officials are given things to look for. A lot of times in their intensity in looking for things is on a big play because something possibly could happen. They have a tough job. When they make a call, we tell our kids we don’t control calls. It is about us them coming back the next play and moving on,” he said.

Ashland (7-1,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays at home at Community Stadium against the West Holmes Knights (3-5,2-2,) who beat Warsaw River View (49-0) in a non-conference game last week. They have scored at least seven touchdowns in three of their last four games.

West Holmes has a new coach in Zach Gardner and Valentine says they have really started to throw the ball a lot from a spread formation. “They are doing a lot of different things. A new coach has come in and does some nice things and they have improved throughout the year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have gotten wins here in the last three weeks, so they have some guys that can make some plays. They are far from the offensive type team they have been in past years.”

Ashland can score too and Valentine says they are going to have to score their share Friday night too. “When you have an explosive team you have to be able to put some points on the board too, so that is something we are going to have to do,” he said.

Published 10/18/17

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A Win is a Must For Clyde

After a loss last week to Sandusky, Clyde stands a game behind the Blue Streaks and Bellevue and must have a win this week against the Norwalk Truckers to have a chance at earning a piece of the Lake Division title.

The Fliers are still in the middle of the race because Sandusky plays Bellevue this week and then Clyde plays Bellevue next.

Sandusky won (42-28) last week and Clyde coach Ryan Carter says there were a couple of plays on both sides the ball that they just didn’t make. “After watching it and breaking it down and looking at it it came down to a couple of plays for us. We made a couple of critical errors on offense at bad times and a couple of critical errors on defense when we needed some stops,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “So, you have to tip your hat to them. They have a good football team, they have some very good players. We were not at all disappointed with our effort. We just need to execute a little bit better.”

Clyde still stands fourth in its division three computer region and has clinched a playoff spot, but they would like to host a game. Carter says they must beat the Truckers. “We know we have to take care of what we can take care of. The only thing we can take of is ourselves. This week we play Norwalk and they have been a very tough out for people. Their record doesn’t show it. They have led a lot of games at half and they have played very well, so we know we have our work cut out for us,” he said.

Norwalk (2-6,0-3) lost to Perkins (20-7) last week. That was the Pirates first win of the season, yet the week before took Sandusky to the end before losing (17-14) on a late field goal the week before. So, it is difficult to figure what the Truckers will do.

Carter says they are expecting the Truckers best effort and execution come Friday night. “They have been very affective running the ball. We know we are going to get their best shot. I not sure their play against Perkins is indictive of their overall body of work. Again, we are going to get their best shot. We are more worried about ourselves and taking care of ourselves,” he said.

Published 10/18/17

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Hillsdale Challenges Unbeaten Dalton

Hillsdale is at Dalton to face the unbeaten and Wayne County Athletic League leading Bulldogs on Friday night.

They trail Dalton by two games with two to play in the league standings, but this game may be more important when it comes to the playoffs. The Falcons (6-2,3-2) are currently seventh in their division six computer region. They must finish in the top eight. Dalton leads theirs in division seven and a win would mean a boatload of points.

Last week, Hillsdale survived (28-27) in beating Chippewa in a league game.

Coach Tom Williams says the defense saved their bacon. “We definitely hung on for dear life. We didn’t have the ball very much in the second half. It was tied 14-14 at halftime. In the second half we only got one first down. We had a couple of big plays. We threw a touchdown pass and we returned a punt for a touchdown for our two touchdowns. Our defense hung in there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They had the ball on the march a little and we had a couple of tackles for loss and a couple of big plays defensively and were able to get an interception and get out of there.”

Williams says Dalton is a very consistent team. He says they just don’t make many mistakes. “That would be a good way to explain what Dalton is. They are very consistent. Week in and week out you know exactly what you are going to get, which is good line play, their backs take care of the ball, they run hard. Defensively, they are very sound. They know their gap assignment. They are not real fancy. They do their jobs very, very well,” he said.

Dalton (8-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Smithville (33-22) last week. They lead Norwayne by a game in the league standings.

Williams says the Bulldogs want to pound it at you while they are going to need some chunk plays in order to be successful. “Dalton would definitely like this to be an old fashion football game. For us, we are going to need some big plays. That’s just not our style to be able to march it in five yards at a pop down the field. This year our thing has been some bigger plays and we are going to need some of those big plays if we are going to have success against these guys,” said Williams.

In this game Dalton is the favorite and Williams says they kind of like it that way. “For us you look forward to a game like this. It is also fun for us to be the underdog. Normally we are kind of usually even or we are kind of favorite in a lot of games here lately. To have a game where we are expected to be the underdog is kind of a neat thing for our kids and it is something we are kind of excited about,” he said.

Published 10/18/17

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Plymouth and Monroeville Match Running Games

Two football teams that appear headed in different directions match up in Firelands Conference play on Friday night as Plymouth travels to Monroeville.

The Big Red (4-4,3-2) has won its last two, meanwhile Monroeville (5-3,3-2) has lost two in a row.

Plymouth scored in the final minute of the game to beat Mapleton (35-28) in a conference game last week.

Coach Mark Genders says it was a fantastic finish. “It was exciting, back and forth. Just when we thought we had it they came down they answered against us. With a couple minutes left we were able to score and hold them out in the last series and got a great win for us,” he said.

Genders says as the season comes to and end his kids are still really excited about playing football. “Getting a couple in a row and getting a little bit of momentum going the kids are pretty excited about it with the way we are coming together and getting better each week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Anytime you can face adversity and answer back and get a victory out of it it does a lot of your club. Practice was great (Monday.) The intensity is up and the kids have that desire to keep it rolling.”

Monroeville allowed 37 straight points in the second and third quarters last week and lost (44-21) to Western Reserve last week. That is after losing to Crestview (26-6) the week before.

Genders believes the Eagles bring a lot to the table. “Monroeville is a solid club. It wasn’t like they got beat by not a great club. They beat us. This conference like I said at the beginning of the year is very strong and it is very balanced with the exception of St. Paul sitting on top and the senior loaded Crestview team. All in all each week you have to come ready to play and if you don’t you are going to get beat there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it,” he said.

Plymouth runs the double wing, double tight offense and Monroeville like to run the ball too having run for 500 yards in a game at least twice this season. Genders says it will be a tough contest at Marsh Field. “They ultimately want to run the ball first and they do a real nice job of it. They have a big back in the Horner kid and Leroux kid and then the speed of Ruffing. They are solid. They are a young team like we are. They are the next youngest team besides us in the conference. Coach Stacher has really brought back that tradition over at Monroeville. We know they expect to win each week. I believe it is their senior night. We are going to have to get better and play our best to challenge them,” said Genders.

Published 10/18/17

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Mapleton Has to Finish

Mapleton has been in position to win the last two weeks and has not been able to put it away. They hope to stop that trend this week.

They host New London in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

The Mounties led unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul in the second half two weeks ago before losing (31-20) and Plymouth scored in the final minute to beat them (35-28) last week.

Coach Robert Mahaney says that is a tough way to lose. “It is a tough pill to swallow. You put yourself in positions to win, but you don’t execute down the stretch to win the games. It is tough for me as a coach to watch the kids be so close and not be able to pull it out. It is tough on the kids too. You put in all of the hard work and not be able to execute down the stretch it is definitely a tough pill to swallow,” he said.

Offense has been sometimes spectacular this year, but the defense has been less effective. Mahaney says they are still working on it. “On defense we have been trying to get better each week. Our offense has kept us in games and has won us some games. Last week, obviously, we had an idea what Plymouth was going to do, but the offense they run is really hard to simulate in practice, especially with your “JV” guys and it took us a while to get used to it. They kind of pounded us and wore us down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We had some opportunities and didn’t execute. We drove the ball down the field and got it to the 10 and we just couldn’t punch it in and send it to overtime. Our kids fought hard, but we just have to keep getting better. Hopefully, this week against New London we can play a good defensive game.”

Mapleton (3-5,1-4) plays at home against New London (1-7,0-5) on Friday night in what is a rivalry game for the bordering districts. The Wildcats were blanked (54-0) by Crestview last week.

Mahaney knows they have to be ready. “It is a rivalry game. Their kids talk about it, our kids talk about it and it is something that can change the whole season for one team or the other. We have to expect we are going to get their best shot. There are only two games left and I am sure they want to win a conference game. We are definitely a game they circle every year. We have to show up and play. It is senior night for us, so I am hoping we are going to play for our seniors and hopefully it will be a good game for the Mounties,” said Mahaney.

Published 10/18/17

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Bellevue Plays Sandusky For Lake Division Lead

Bellevue hosts Sandusky are both unbeaten in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division and they play each other on Friday night at Bellevue with first place on the line.

Bellevue (6-2,3-0) won its fifth game in six tries last week in beating longtime rival Tiffin Columbian (24-10) in Lake Division game.

Head coach Ed Nasonti says they didn’t always cash in on offense, but he thought they played a very good overall game. “Our defense has been coming along. We have instituted a new defense and I think we have gotten better every week. Our kids are learning and they are kind of growing with it. We had our backs up against the wall several different times and our kids hung in there and came out swinging and kept them out of the end zone. Offensively, all though we scored only 24 points, we had 430 yards of offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I felt like we did a real good job offensively, we just didn’t finish a couple of drives and stalled out a couple of times. Some of the time it was self inflicted. We had a few penalties that was can’t have against really good football teams when you get down in the red zone. We are still learning going into week nine and the kids are still growing.”

Nasonti says he knew they had a very difficult schedule to play, but they are right where he was hoping they would be with two weeks to play in the regular season. “I am just happy we are going into week nine with a whole lot on the table. It is one of those things where I looked at our schedule and we knew coming in we were going to have a very tough schedule. I looked at that schedule in August and I thought you know what I would like to get to week nine having something to play for and we are here and we have done what we’ve had to do to get there and right now it is it time to just put our best foot forward and let the chips fall where they may,” said Nasonti.

Sandusky (8-0,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, comes to Bellevue off an impressive (42-28) win over previously unbeaten Clyde last week.

Nasonti says the Blue Streaks are loaded with talent and experience. “They have athletes all over the field. You have a division one quarterback. You have to defend him everywhere, plus he is the free safety. They are a nice ballclub. They have a lot of kids back off last year’s team. They are senior laden and they have a good year going for them,” he said.

The veteran Bellevue coach says these are the game you love to play in and they are looking forward to the challenge. “That is what you are in it for. Each team slugging it out and putting its best foot forward. You talk about Sandusky they came into the league (Northern Ohio League) in 2011. They had been in multiple different leagues and the “NOL” voted them in. They have had some good teams and they have had some teams that haven’t done so well. I am glad that when you are looking at 2017 both of us are undefeated going into week nine and it is exciting for the Bellevue community having the Sandusky Blue Streaks coming in here with something on the line. Years ago, it was probably absurd to think that Bellevue would line up against Sandusky. They were in the Buckeye Conference and they are still a bigger school than we are,” said Nasonti.

Published 10/17/17

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Lucas with Long Trip

Lucas continues to play outstanding football, which we shouldn’t be surprised about, because this is the fourth straight year they have been doing it.

They are second in their division seven computer region and on the verge of making playoffs for the fourth straight season.

They beat Colonel Crawford (28-21) last week and coach Scott Spitler says it was a quality win against a good program. “Anytime you play a program the quality if Colonel Crawford at their place and get a victory that is big. It was a great effort by our guys. They played a pretty complete game in all three phases and we were able to get out of there with a victory,” he said.

The Lucas defense made some big stops and forced some key turnovers last week and Spitler says his young defense just continues to get better as they mature. “We had to replace a loss to graduation three defensive linemen and two inside linebackers that we lost to graduation. So, those guys and that inexperience is now starting to mature a little bit and we just keep getting better week to week defensively. We need to because we are playing some pretty good football teams down the stretch here with Colonel Crawford last Friday and then with River coming up this Saturday. They are a very good football program as well,” said Spitler.

Lucas is at River (4-4) for a game that starts Saturday afternoon. Spitler says this a team that does a lot of good things and they do them on both sides of the ball. “They are pretty multiple offensively and led by an All-Ohio quarterback in Lucas Hillsbee. He is just as adept at running the ball as he is throwing the ball. He is going to be a handful for us. Just going down there in a new atmosphere and the drive and things and you worry about it being at a different time of the day on a Saturday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “There are a lot of things out there for a trap for the team, so we have to be focused and have a great week of preparation. Defensively they get after you. They bring it from just about everywhere blitzing wise and stunt wise and they are big in the trenches on both sides of the ball. They are led by a young man who is very large and very active on the defensive line at about 6’2” and 305 pounds.”

It has not been a great year for River so far, but Spitler says they understand winning and they need this one on Saturday very badly. “We are going to have our hands full. They know success. They were 9-1 last year and were in the playoffs and they have quite a few of those guys back. They need this win against us to make the playoffs this year. So, we are probably going to get their best shot on their home field,” he said.

Published 10/17/17

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Lexington the Top Seed

Lexington, the Ohio Cardinal Conference runner-up, is the top seed in what is a pretty deep division two district volleyball, tournament.

They play Clear Fork, of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, in a first round match at home of Wednesday. The Lady Colts are the number 10 seed.
They finished (19-3) and second behind division one Ashland in the “OCC” this fall. Coach Jennifer Moore says they have formed a good unit. “They have worked hard all season and come together and we have great senior leadership, so it just kind of filtered into that and we have played well,” she said.

Moore adds they have been very good at handing the ball on offense this year and that has given them the advantage on a lot of teams. “I would say that our offense is still pretty strong. Our defense is coming along, but we gave some really big hitters and great block, so that really helps too,” she said.

Hitters get the publicity in volleyball, but Moore says the real key for them this year has been their setters, led by senior Oliva Kearns. “We do have some quick stuff that we do run, but we also have some big right side and middle hitters. We can move the ball around and our setter is really fantastic at looking across the net and see where the block is and strategically setting the right players at the right time. While the quick set is very affective having a great setter that can read the court before she sets is an advantage,” said Moore.

Lexington the top seed, followed by Norwalk, Willard and Sandusky Perkins. Shelby and Ontario are numbers five and six.

Moore says there is a lot of depth this year. “It is a very competitive district. As a first seed I think we will be okay getting to the districts, but then we are going to have to work very hard to be in the finals and then and hopefully beyond. It has always been a strong district and it hasn’t changed,” she told Swankonsports.com this weekend, “Norwalk is down a little bit, but their coach does a nice job and running her system and they will be competitive for sure. We played them earlier this season in an invitational and we went three with them. We beat them a set, but they got us in the end, so they are definitely somebody we have to prepare for.”

Published 10/17/17

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Calvert and Margaretta for the Marbles

Tiffin Calvert and Margaretta played for the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division title last year and it looks like that is going to be the case against Saturday night when the Senecas host the Polar Bears at their place.

Last year it was Calvert winning (40-32) and we hope this year it is another good game.

Calvert (5-3,3-0) has won its last four games, including (45-6) at the expense of Sandusky St. Mary’s in a River Division game last Saturday.

Coach Todd Fox says they had good focus. “We felt like we wanted to go in and play at our level and improve what we do on the field. Our kids can do that and we just want to get better each and every day,” he said.

Margaretta (4-4,3-0) beat Fremont St. Joe (22-12) last week. Fox says the Bears have a lot of weapons. “Offensively they bring a lot of weapons. Mainly, last year’s “SBC River” offensive player of the year in their running back Logan Graffin, but then they have a couple of weapons at receiver and their quarterback does a nice job distributing the ball too. So, defensively we really have our hands full this week,” said Fox.

Fox says they know Saturday night is going to be a big game and they will be ready for it. “We look at it as championship game. The winner has at least a share of the league title and the loser will be setting one game behind. We look at it as a championship game and we are going to play it at a championship level. We are getting prepared for that,” he said.

Calvert is not the biggest team this year, but they do have really good speed. Fox says they have to be able to put that speed to good use and be able to make some big plays. “We have to play with our speed. We think we are blessed with some overall team speed. They gave the size advantage and we may have the overall team speed advantage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have to really make sure we are playing with speed, we have it, and we have to make sure we are playing with that speed. It is going to come down to, and it’s a cliché, who makes the least amount of mistakes.”

Published 10/17/17

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Seneca East Still Confident

Seneca East lost last week to Wynford in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference showdown and now they are going to need to some help to get a piece of the title.

However, they remain a solid third in their division six computer region.

They trailed last week by only four in the fourth quarter before losing (31-13) to the Royals. They trail Wynford by one with two to play.

Coach Ed Phillips says they had the momentum in the fourth quarter and then made a couple of critical mistakes that cost them. “There was about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter and we scored to make it 17-13. Then we forced them to punt. When we forced them to punt, three and out, I thought we are going to win this thing. Unfortunately, we fumbled the punt return and then we fumbled the next kick return too. It kind of got away from us really quick there. We were certainly in position to win that football game. We are not into moral victories at Seneca East any more, but we did some really good things against a Wynford team that we have never done in the past. As a coach you look at that as moving forward,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I said we have to turn the page. We lost a game. What we want most is still in front of us. The kids came out (Monday) and really showed me that they believe that and understand that. They had a great night. We are looking forward to Bucyrus this week and getting this thing back on a roll.”

Phillips believes the Tigers (6-1,4-1) have a lot of build on from last week. He says they did a of good things. “Before we even got off the bus on Friday night. On the ride home, my assistant and I were talking about some things we did really well for a lot of that game our defense was just outstanding and really played Wynford well. We held them under 200 yards rushing and under 300 yards total offense and did a lot of really good things. So, we were excited about that. We moved the ball pretty well. We were at the point where we were really starting to roll and it got away from us and that is high school football. Instead of feeling bad about it I talked to the guys on the bus about things I was excited about from that game and looking towards the future. I told them (Monday) the Buckeyes lost to Oklahoma earlier in the year and I don’t think anybody is too worried about that loss right now. They have launched themselves forward and going after greater things,” said Phillips.

Bucyrus (1-7,1-5) hosts Seneca East in an “N10” game on Friday night. The Redmen lost to Mohawk (42-14) last week in a conference game.

Phillips says the Redmen have kids that break some big ones. “They have playmakers. They have a couple of receivers that will start for anybody. They will make plays. They are the top two receivers in the league. Their quarterback does a really nice job also. They play a couple of guys at quarterback. They definitely have some weapons. They have improved as they have gone along. Their schedule is a nightmare. I think that is one thing I look at man they need to change that. They are still playing a division four like schedule to begin the year and that is just not what they are anymore. They aren’t in the “NOL” anymore. Galion is one of the teams they played early and Galion year in and year out is a big school for a team like them to handle. They have gotten better and they are a very dangerous team and can throw the heck out of the football,” said Phillips.

Published 10/17/17

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South Central Has to Eliminate Mistakes


South Central is facing tough back to back weeks with Firelands Conference leader Norwalk St. Paul last week and second place Crestview this week.

They can’t shoot themselves in the foot like they did last week.

St. Paul buried them (56-0) last week and coach Corey Fickiesen says they made some good plays, but they made a lot of bad plays too. “They came out and showed a little bit of a different defense than we had seen the last couple of weeks, but offensively we moved the ball here and there. We were able to throw the ball, we weren’t able to run the ball at all. I felt like we moved the ball through the air decently. We just turned the ball over way too many times,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Special teams they returned the opening kickoff and then we fumbled the next possession. With a very, very good team like that and you give them opportunities like we did and you aren’t going to be very successful. We have to get some things cleaned up heading into this week.”

Crestview (5-3,4-1) has won five of its last six games. Their only loss during that span came three weeks ago to St. Paul (38-7) and they beat New London (54-0) last week.

Fickiesen says this is another team you can’t afford to make mistakes against or it is going to be a loss. “Realistically any game in the Firelands Conference you have to play well if you want to win. It is a very good conference and Crestview is a very good football team. We have to get some things cleaned up in all three phases of the game so we can give ourselves a chance to win towards the end of the game,” he said.

Crestview features some misdirection, or a lot of it, in their offense and Fickiesen says you much keep your eyes where they are supposed to be in order to contain the Cougars. “They have a ton of guys that do a lot of different things and that is a benefit when you have 80 plus players. They have a lot of different guys that do a lot of different things, so we have to be responsible. We have to watch our keys. We have to know where each guy is and play sound, fundamental football,” he said.

Published 10/17/17

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Freddies Upset Unbeaten East Knox; Ready for Cardington

Fredericktown scored 25 straight points last Friday and handed East Knox their first loss of the season in what was their best effort of the year.

They play at Cardington in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

Fredericktown coach William Hartley says last week was a game they had been pointing to for a year. “That is a game we had marked on our calendars from last year. They beat us at the same time last year and kind of derailed our season. It was something we weren’t ever able to recover from. We suffered a couple of injuries in that game as well. So, the kids were really fired up. It was one of those games where we could think back on in January in the weight room and during two a days that we were going to be ready to play East Knox. It was not a hard game to get up for. It’s a county rival, so it is one of those games when you can throw the records out the window and that was definitely the case on Friday,” said Hartley.

Hartley says it was their defense that put them in position to win the game on Friday night by making some big plays. “We played well enough on offense to stay in the game and the defense had just a great night. They have a really nice sophomore quarterback and they are very balanced on offense. We were able to get pressure on the quarterback and we were really sound in our coverage. We took them out of their rhythm a little bit and then we were able to force a lot turnovers. We had five turnovers on the night. We had two interceptions, one that was returned inside the 10-yard line and then we had a pick six as well. So, the defense really stepped up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “At one point in the game we were down 28-7. Then the first interception we had we returned it back to the 10-yard line and punched it in and that really swung the momentum back to us and we were able to maintain the momentum for the rest of the night. Those big plays on defense really kept us in the game and gave us that needed momentum when it looked like we were going to be down.”

Cardington (2-6,1-4) got rocked (62-10) by conference leader Highland last week. They have up more than 500 yards of total offense.

Hartley says the Pirates have had some injury problems, but they expect them to be healthy this week. “They are a team right now that is just struggling with a lot of injuries. When they are healthy they have one of the best running backs in the area and he has been out the last two weeks. We are assuming he is going to play against us and when he is healthy and has the ball in his hands he is very explosive. They have a nice wide receiver. Their quarterback is a tough kid that runs the football and passes it well. They are really big. Their offensive and defensive fronts have big kids. They have just struggled a little bit by injuries. We are just going to assume those key kids that have been hurt the last couple of weeks are going to be ready to play against us,” he said.

Published 10/16/17

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Wooster Still in it

A loss last week to Mansfield Senior dropped the Wooster Generals from a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead, but they can still win at least a piece of that title with a win against Ashland on week 10.

This week they play at Canton Central Catholic in a non-conference game.

Mansfield Senior scored 22 consecutive points last week and beat Wooster (28-21) breaking the Generals four game winning streak.

Coach Doug Haas says they Tygers did a great job of converting and they made too many mistakes. “It is one of those things when you look at the stats they are relatively equal and some of the aspects of it. They were able to convert big third down plays that kept drives going. We had two turnovers that were in the red zone when we were probably going into score realistically. I know in one them towards the end of the first half we would have gone up 21-6 and received the ball in the third. That one hurt. What we had in momentum going in at halftime we kind of lost and we were never able to recapture any type of that energy or momentum and that is so, so important in high school football,” said Haas.

Wooster (4-4.4-1) trails Ashland by a game and will play the Arrows next week. Haas says they still have a lot in front of them. “That is what I told the kids post game. We obviously want to get this against a really good Canton Central Catholic team, but for us the opportunity to go win and still lay claim to an “OCC” championship is readily available for us. We need to use this week to sort of springboard into Ashland prep. We want to take care of business this week. We need to rid that loss, but really stay focused and not lose any type of hope in regards to an “OCC” crown,” he said.

Wooster travels to Canton Central Catholic (2-6) on Friday night. Their wins are over St. Thomas Aquinas and Akron Ellet, but Haas reminds that the defending state champs in division five play a big time schedule. “They are struggling a little bit. They lost their quarterback in a preseason scrimmage. If you are a high school football you have heard of them just from the standpoint that they have played in Columbus the last three years in week 15 for the state championship game and they are the current reining division five state champions. It is going to be a tall task. They have played a juggernaut of a schedule,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “They had Massillon Jackson last week. They had Cincinnati Winton Woods the week before. They have played Massillon Perry. They play up, so they are battle tested, that’s for sure. Stark County football is prideful. They are going to bring their “A” game playing at home. It is going to be a tremendous challenge. We will be excited to go there and try and make some hay, bit it is going to be a stiff test and one we will be prepared for as will they.”

Published 10/16/17

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Ontario Preparing For Tough D-2 Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/16/17

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Unbeatens Clyde and Sandusky Lock Horns

Two of the three leaders in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference meet on Friday night as Clyde travels to Sandusky.

Both have won some tight games this year, but they have been able to beat everyone they have played so far.

Clyde (7-0,2-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, hammered Tiffin Columbian (42-0) last week.

Considering what was ahead for them, coach Ryan Carter says they showed very good focus against the winless Tornadoes. “I was pleased with our focus and just the way we came out and went about our business last week at Tiffin. I thought it was a game that you could get caught looking ahead and not come out and play your best. This group of kids is very determined and very focused and they want to try and improve every game. I think we have made small improvements since two a days and it is due in large part to our group of kids that come in everyday with a good work ethic and focus. They are enjoying the process,” said Carter.

Sandusky (7-0,2-0), #2 in our poll, got a field goal at the horn last week to avoid an upset at the hands of Norwalk (17-14) in league play. They have not lost a regular season game since 2015.

Carter says they are loaded with good players. “There are a lot of things good about them. When you turn on the film they have athleticism and speed all over the field. They are good in many different spots. Obviously, highlighted by their quarterback. He is not the only thing you have to concern yourself with when you play them. They have a very, very good running back. A number of wide receivers that are game changers,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are very fast on defense, very aggressive. They just really do things well over there. They are new to our league, but obviously not new to our area. They are just doing very good things. Coach Franklin does a nice job. They do things the right way. He really has the culture turned over there. We have our work cut out for us going on the road and trying to be as competitive as we can be.”

Sandusky also rallied to beat Fremont Ross (16-15) in the final moments last month. Carter says the Streaks are good in the clutch. “They are very good and when you have players like that that step up and do things at crunch time that makes you a good team and obviously have good leadership and good young men. We have seen all that stuff and know the task at hand going in. Our kids are looking forward to Friday night,” he said.

With a game like this Carter says they know what they are up against, but they are more than excited to play this game. “You don’t have to tell our kids anything this week. They will go out there and be ready to play. If you are playing in meaningful games in October. You are into week eight and you are playing games that matter for league and playoffs and stuff like that you know you have had a successful season and are doing something right, so our kids are excited for the task at hand. We know it is going to be a hard task to go over there and be competitive, but we are going to give it everything we’ve got,” said Carter.

Published 10/13/17

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Ontario Must Execute Against Very Good Clear Fork Defense

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

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

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

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

Ontario ran a lot of wildcat stuff last week.

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/13/17

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Lexington Has to Play Much Better

Lexington has not played the kind of football their fans are used to the last couple of weeks and that has to change this week as they host Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leader Ashland.

The Minutemen were overwhelmed (55-21) by West Holmes in a “OCC” game last week.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says honestly they just didn’t execute the way they need to and he takes the blame. “We didn’t play well at all. We didn’t come out and play Minuteman football. We were not focused and ready to go and whenever that happens ultimately that is on the head coach’s shoulders. I need to find a better way of getting kids ready and focused for the contest on Friday night,” he said.

Ashland (6-1,3-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat a good Mansfield Senior team (46-20) in league play, pulling away in the second half.

Gerhardt says he has great respect for the Ashland program. “I have the highest respect for coach Valentine. He has been there for a while and he has put together a formidable program. You know what you are going to get from Ashland, but it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to be ready to play them. He has kids that play hard, physical football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They do spread you out and go with empty sets, but they will run the ball just as much as they throw the ball. They play good defense. There is a reason why year in and year out he is challenging for the conference title and looking to go play in week 11 in the playoffs. We certainly have our hands full this Friday.”

Ashland beat Lexington (24-21) on the final week of the regular season last year to get a piece of the conference title.

With the Ashland offense they want to get you in one on one situations and Gerhardt says you have to play fundamental team and individual defense to slow them down. “When you have a spread offense one of the things you have to be able to do well is open field tackle. That is one of the more difficult things to do defensively and Ashland kids take advantage of that. They get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quick. They quarterback they have is a great scrambler and has shown he can run just as well as he can throw the ball. So, we have to be ready to play, ready to play sound, physical defense, of which we have not the last couple of weeks. We have been struggling with some key injuries on our team and some young kids have to step up, but that is part of the game too. Ashland is coming to town and we are going to ready for them and hope to give them everything they want and come out with the big upset,” said Gerhardt.

Published 10/13/17

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Northmor Not Thinking of Playoffs… Yet

Northmor is a school that has never made the high school football playoffs, but they have a chance to do it this year.

They in the number five spot in their division six region after seven weeks of play. They need to finish in the top eight at the end of week 10.

They play at winless Mt. Gilead this week in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game.

Last week, they kind of dropped out of contention in the league when they lost (32-28) to unbeaten East Knox. They now trail the Bulldogs and Highland by two games with three to play.

Coach Scott Armrose says the Bulldogs just had one more play than they did last week. He says it was a heck of a game. “East Knox is a good football team and they played one heck of a game. We scored and they scored and we scored and they scored and it was back and forth. They just made one more play than we did,” he said.

When it comes to the postseason, Armrose says they can’t be watching the computer standings, they have to keep their focus on Mt. Gilead. “It has never happened in our school’s history and we know that opportunity is there. We are going to need help and we are going to have to take care of business. What it comes down to this week is beating Mt. Gilead and we know that is what it is all about,” said Armrose.

The Golden Knights (5-2,2-2) are at Mt. Gilead (0-7,0-4) this week. The Indians played really their best game of the season, at least in league play, when they lost at Centerburg (35-24) last week in a league game.

Armrose says injuries have killed Mt. Gilead this year, but when they have all of their players they can do some things. “Mt. Gilead has struggled this season as far as getting wins. They have battled a lot of injuries and their numbers are down just a little bit and the have had a hard time keeping their team on the field,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When they are healthy and have everybody full force they can be a dangerous football team. They have a good receiver in Mollohan, number 16. He is a big kid and a good looking athlete on both sides of the ball and he is dangerous. Mt. Gilead has a quarterback that can throw well too.”

Published 10/13/17

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Calvert Finding Itself

Tiffin Calvert has won its last three games and both of their River Division games and they are heading into the final third of the season with some momentum.

They share first place in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division with Margaretta. The Senecas have beaten Fremont St. Joe (62-21) and Kansas Lakota (34-28) in their division games.

Coach Todd Fox says after some injury concerns at quarterback position early they have started to get healthy. “It has stabilized itself. We went through in game two we lost our first quarterback in the first quarter. Game three we lost our second quarterback on the second play, so we played game four with our third teamer. The good news is they all got reps and they all got better and now all, but number two are healthy. So, that is great position to be in at this point in the season,” said Fox.

Fox says that adversity they went through earlier in the season has made them a tougher team. “I think that adversity that we went through at the beginning of the year helped us settle in a little bit and realize there is a lot of work to do and they guys have been working really hard and each week we have done a lot better,” he said.

Calvert (4-3,2-0) has moved into the number six spot in their division seven computer region.

Fox says their first goal is to win that River Division like they did last year. “We want to win the conference championship. We are excited to be in the same conference for a couple of years in a row. That is a different excitement and we are excited about that. There are still three weeks left and we have to be ready each week,” said Fox.

Calvert hosts Sandusky St. Mary’s (1-6,0-2) on Saturday night in a River Division game. The Panthers are coming off (30-0) loss to Margaretta last week.

Fox says this is a St. Mary’s team that has talent and has played a very good schedule. “St. Mary’s their lines are very big. They have an outside linebacker, defensive end that is 6’5”, 230. He is a great athlete, great wrestler. Up front they are just big boys. We kind of bring in a different element. We are all about 195 pounds or 200 and try and be fast, but it is hard to do against those boys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The other things about St. Mary’s is their record isn’t great, but when you look at who they have played. We can kind of relate to that. We lost to St. Paul and they lost to St. Paul. They lost to a good Crestview team. We just have to be ready to go.”

Published 10/13/17

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Mapleton Has to be Efficient

Mapleton is at Plymouth for a Firelands Conference action on Friday night in game featuring teams that have vastly different offensive styles.

Mapleton can score quickly with an offense featuring quarterback Logan Pharmer. Plymouth with their double tight, double wing offense would mind taking eight, ten minutes to score.

Last week, Mapleton (3-4,1-3) led conference leader and unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul in third quarter before losing (31-20) to the Flyers.

Coach Robert Mahaney says they are can take a lot of positives from the loss to the Flyers. “There are not real moral victories, but sometimes there are. It is a funny thing. It is something we can look at as a team and a coaching staff can point to. When we are playing to our best we are playing with the top teams in the state. St. Paul is ranked third in the state for a reason. John (Livengood) does a really good job. When we played our absolute best and everyone was doing their job, everybody was doing their assignment, we were playing with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We had a chance to go up 10 and it would have been a huge momentum swing, but we didn’t convert on fourth down and then they got the ball back and scored. They are able to go to the fourth quarter and just pound it at us. I think there are a lot of really good takeaways.”

Plymouth (3-4,2-2) blasted New London (55-0) last week with their running style offense. When they are able to control the line of scrimmage they are tough to stop.

Mahaney says you have to be physical on defense, but you have to be disciplined too. “They are going to try and run the ball. They have big backs, they have big linemen, big tight ends. They are going to try and pound right it at you. They kind of create that rugby scrum and try and move the pile forward. They do a lot of double handoffs and it is going to take some discipline as well. If we can play with some energy and desire to defeat blocks and play low I like our chances, but we have to be able to do that first,” said Mahaney.

A lot of times against Plymouth you don’t get much time of possession, so Mahaney says you have to take advantage when you do have the ball. “The other thing is they like to eat up clock, so we have to make sure when we have the ball that we are very efficient. We can’t afford any mistakes on offense,” he said.

Published 10/13/17

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Clear Fork Must be Prepared for a lot

Clear Fork shares first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with Marion Pleasant and they play the Spartans next week.

However, this week they play host to likely their biggest rival now that they are in a new league, the Ontario Warriors.

Clear Fork (7-0,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, pounded Galion (41-0) last week.

Coach Dave Carroll was impressed with the way they were improved in pass defense. “Our defense once again did a great job. Up front those guys just continue to get better. It is hard to run on them. What I liked best is we didn’t give up too many passes. I’m not sure what the stats were, but I know Jake Lowe had a heck of a game in the secondary. He knocked down pass after pass. We have been challenging our secondary because we have had some teams that have gotten a little bit of passing on us and a few big plays here and there. We have challenged them if we want to be really good we have to put that to an end. They did a much better job of that on Friday night,” he said.

Ontario (2-5,0-4) has been bitten by the injury bug, including their quarterback, and that has hurt them. They lost (27-0) to River Valley last week.

Carroll says the Warriors still have some kids on offense that can make big plays. “First of all, I feel bad for Cam Todd. I believe he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league and he is only a sophomore. He is just a smooth passer with great footwork and a tremendous runner as well. They have quite a few capable skilled guys. Number 11 (Ethan Pensante) is a heck of a receiver. 36 (Nick Arnold), 8 (Nolan Hatfield), 22 (Tavion Harris), they have some kids that can carry the football. Obviously, the passing game is a little less without Cam in there, he is such an exceptional thrower. They have had two weeks to work on this. Last week, was probably pretty stressful on the coaches and the kids trying to get a new quarterback,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They used two kids in the game and I have been there before and that is a tough situation. They have another week to figure this out, so we have to be ready for everything and anything. (Arnold) he can run that football. He was their main running back. He is going back and forth from fullback when they are under center to quarterback when they are in the shotgun. He is a load. He is a strong kid, you can tell he has been in the weight room. He is an excellent runner.”

Carroll, who is also the Colts offensive coordinator, says Ontario is quick and aggressive on defense. “A big concern of mine and I have been challenging the offensive line, the entire offense, all week, is their defense is extremely quick and they put a tremendous amount of pressure on you. They blitz a lot. They are going to bring five, six, sometimes seven guys and they are making a lot of plays in the backfield. We have to do a good job of picking up blitzes and protect our quarterback and try and find some opening up there for our backs to get through,” he said.

With Ontario having not won a conference game, Carroll says they might try just about anything, so they have to be ready. “This is the third week in a row. River Valley had dropped some games, Galion had lost some games, and they don’t have anything to lose. They are in all likelihood out of the “MOAC” championship race, but if they can pick us off. We have to be ready everything and anything with reverses, trick plays, halfback passes, come out in all different sets, who knows what. They have nothing to lose, so why not? If we are the caliber that we expire to be we will adapt to it and do a good job,” said Carroll.

Published 10/12/17

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Wynford and Seneca East Battle For “N10” Lead

Wynford plays host to Seneca East on Friday night and to the winner goes first place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

It is similar to week eight last year other than last season both teams were undefeated and this year Wynford has two losses, both in non-conference play.

One of those losses came last week (28-16) to Lima Central Catholic.

Coach Gabe Helbert says they have tried to take some positives from that loss. “You kind of learn lessons whether you win or lose. It wasn’t what we wanted Saturday night and there are obviously some teaching moments there. The only excuse I can make is that it is tough because it is a Saturday night game and those teachable moments are tough to come by because you don’t have the Saturday morning film session and things like that. There were some things that were addressed and the coaching staff does a nice job trying to correct mistakes that were made or build on the positives that we were able to do and things like that,” said Helbert.

Seneca East (6-0,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, scored with less than a minute to play last week to beat Mohawk (24-21) in an “N10” game. Helbert says the Tigers are very talented and obviously cool under pressure. “They should be confident. They were very successful last year, had an excellent football team, and the year before I think they were a playoff team as well. They know how to win and they have proven that. I think last week their backs were against the wall a little bit and they found a way at the end. They were calm and patient. I was fortunate to go to that game because we played on Saturday night. They just made plays at the end and plays to win. They definitely know how to win. They are well coached. They have the confidence to win and sometimes that is the major part of the battle when you are dealing with high school kids,” said Helbert.

Form a talent standpoint Seneca East is as good as they have seen all season, according to Helbert. “They are very talented. They are as talented a team in our league or that we have played this year. There are several guys that jump out on film. I am really impressed with the sophomore quarterback. A guy that replaced an excellent quarterback in the Martin kid from last year. He has stepped right in and done a great job. I am very impressed with his skill set. There are tremendous skilled kids around him as well,” he said.

Last season, Wynford won the showdown (35-12,) but Helbert thinks that will have little effect on the outcome on Friday night. “I don’t know that it is really a factor. I think both sides feel they have the ability to beat one another. I think it is a thing where it is a championship like game. It is week eight of the season and you have two teams that are vying for a league championship. Last year, we felt was played well enough to win and they probably felt that they didn’t, the result kind of speaks for itself. It is a different game this year with different kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think the excitement for the game is very similar. The stakes and what is on the line is very similar. Year in and year it is different kids. Hopefully, you are prepared and willing to step up to the challenge that Seneca East is definitely going to give us.”

When it comes to the difference between winning and losing, Helbert says they have to avoid turnovers and they have to be the one that wins at the point of attack. “In big games like this I always think of two things first and foremost. Number one is just protecting the football. We can’t give their dangerous offense extra opportunities. We can’t give them extra possessions by turning the ball over. I guess the other thing is something we always talk about is the line of scrimmage. Trying to control the line of scrimmage and trying to do our part in that standpoint, both offensively and defensively. The line of scrimmage is such an important thing to teams in our area, teams in our league, teams in general, and you set out every week to try and maintain the line of scrimmage and hopefully you are willing to do so,” said Helbert.

Published 10/12/17

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Shelby Hosts Second Place Port Clinton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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Ashland Needs to Keep Going

Ashland got a huge win last week over Mansfield Senior to remain in a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with Wooster, but they can’t be satisfied and have to understand there is a lot more to play for.

After holding just a five point third quarter lead Ashland exploded down the stretch to beat Mansfield Senior (46-20) and coach Scott Valentine says both sides of the ball where able to step up. “There in the second half we were able to take advantage of some opportunities we got and then defensively we were able to contain them and get stops when we needed them,” he said.

The Arrows have won six of their seven games this year and it seems they have gotten better every game. Valentine says they make that an emphasis in their program. “I feel each week our kids have come in and really concentrated on some things our kids need to get better at and we still have things to get better at, so this week has been no different,” he said.

Ashland (6-1,3-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Lexington (1-6,1-2) in an “OCC” game. Lexington lost (55-21) to West Holmes last Friday.

Valentine says it is difficult to tell what the Minutemen are going to do on offense, so they have to be ready for about anything from a game plan standpoint. “There is no doubt they have some guys that can make some plays. So, that is the thing your focus has got to be on what they are going to do and how they are going to do it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The question is Stover didn’t play last week, so we don’t know if they are going to do the same stuff or he is back and how he is going to do it. That is the thing defensively that we are trying to make sure we are ready for.”

For many years this was the last game of the regular season for both schools. In fact, Ashland beat Lexington last year on week ten to share the conference title with the Minutemen. Valentine says there is a sense of rivalry here. “I know the league has changed or rotated or whatever, but that has been the last game for a long time is has been built into a rivalry like game and something I know both teams look forward to that game. We want to make sure we are ready,” said Valentine.

For Ashland a win is a must. They play Wooster on week ten, but Valentine says they can’t be looking ahead. “We told our kids that hopefully we aren’t satisfied with the just the win over Senior because there is a lot left for us to do and we have to be ready to do that,” he said.

Published 10/12/17

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Monroeville With a lot to Play For

With three weeks left in the regular season everything is still on the table for the Monroeville Eagles.

They play Western Reserve in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

The Eagles (5-2,3-1) fell out of a share of the conference lead with a (26-6) loss to the Crestview Cougars last week. Both of those schools now trail Norwalk St. Paul by a game.

Coach Scott Stacher says against a very good Crestview defense they couldn’t get anything established. “We just couldn’t get anything going. We dropped a long pass there that would have been a touchdown early in the game, but it didn’t materialize. We shot ourselves a couple of times on some penalties. Credit them, they played good defense. That is their bread and butter this year. All of their returning lettermen were on defense and we knew that going in. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” said Stacher.

Monroeville is currently tenth in its division seven computer region. The top eight qualify for the postseason. Stacher says everything is still in front of them. “That is what we told the kids. The season is broken up to like three parts. The first part everybody is excited, nobody has played a game, there is no record, and you are excited about playing. The middle of the season you are in a grind and trying to get somewhere. Now, you are either playing for pride or you have some stuff on the plate,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We could still achieve a playoff spot, which we all want, and a crack week 10 at the conference championship. Everything is right there we just need to play much better, take care of the fundamentals and the little things, and see what happens Friday against Western.”

Western Reserve (3-4,2-2) lost a tough one to South Central last week. Their final drive stalled at the one-yard line as time expired.

Stacher knows what to except from the Roughriders. “He has them play Stoll ball. They are running the football hard. 44 (Gavin Braden) runs very hard, he is a very good running back and they do some other things well too. It is a typical Firelands game with three yards and a cloud of dust, it might be mud this week. I think the key to victory is who makes fewest mistakes and jumps out on top and continues to play hard will win the game,” he said.

Published 10/12/17

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The Trenches are Key for Highland

Highland is in a share of first place with East Knox in the new Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

They play at East Knox next week, but that is next week.

On Friday night, they are home for next door neighbor Cardington in a league game.

The Scots (6-1,4-0) beat arch rival Fredericktown (36-25) last week in a game that was closer than probably a lot thought it would, but coach Chad Carpenter says he knew it would be a battle. “It is one of those things that I said earlier that when you play teams that are in close proximity you can throw the records out and both teams are going to play hard. I think that is what happened Friday. Our kids were able to hang on there. Our offense was rolling pretty well and we were able to keep that going through the rest of the game,” said Carpenter.

Cardington (2-5,1-3) lost last week (41-6) to a very good Danville team. That is really one of the few times this year they haven’t scored a bunch of points in a game.

Carpenter says they can run the football very well with some talent in the backfield and a big, strong offensive line. “They have a good mixture of run and pass. They have a really good running back that runs extremely hard. The guys up front are big and strong and create nice holes for them. I think it is one of those things where we have to neutralize them up front a little bit and try and control that line of scrimmage the best we can and contain them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think our boys are able to do that. It is one those things where again we throw the records out. Whoever shows up Friday and makes the least amount of mistakes will probably win.”

Cardington is going to bring some fire to the game, but Carpenter says they are the ones that have to be more intense from the first whistle of the game. “I hope that we raise that bar and they have to match us. That is my goal. That is something we talk to our kids about in almost every single practice. It’s intensity and energy and effort and trying to get better every time we can,” he said.

Published 10/12/17

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Madison Getting Closer

As we head for week eight of the season, the Madison Rams are still in search of their first win of the season.

Columbus St. Charles beat them (45-21) in a non-conference game last week.

Coach Jamie Masi says they did some good things, particularly on offense, but they just couldn’t close out the game. “We did make some pretty good strides on the offensive side of the ball and I think we are continuing the develop there. I am really proud of those guys, their work ethic and all of the things they are doing. Defensively, it is a four point ballgame in the fourth quarter against St. Charles this past week. I know the final score was ugly, but our guys played a really good three almost four quarters of football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We just can’t finish very well. We had some injuries. We had a couple of players leave the game unexpectedly. We had one guy get ejected. So, at the very end it kind of fell apart on us and they were able to capitalize. We just have to continue to get better there.”

Madison (0-7,0-3) plays at Mt. Vernon (2-5,1-2) this week in a conference game. The Yellow Jackets lost last week to Wooster (45-21) in “OCC” play.

Masi says they have been pretty competitive this year. He says their defense is really good. “They have been very competitive all year. There isn’t a team that I think they didn’t play well against at some time throughout the game. We have a couple films on them and had a chance to look at them a couple of other times. They are very competitive. I think their defensive line is maybe one of the better defensive lines we have seen all year. They are really explosive, they are fast. I think their linebackers are all over the place and make some adjustments here and there with what they are doing,” said Masi.

On offense, Masi says the Yellow Jackets don’t do a lot of things, but Masi says they do them pretty well. “On the offensive side they are running four or five basic plays and they have gotten pretty good at them. They are a team that can make plays anytime they want they just aren’t as consistent as they need to be. They are very similar to us,” he said.

Published 10/12/17

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Wooster Must Limit Mistakes

Wooster hosts Mansfield Senior in a battle between two of the heavyweights in the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Friday night.

The Generals share the lead in the “OCC” with Ashland, Mansfield Senior trails by a game after losing (46-20) to Ashland last week,

Wooster (4-3,4-0) won its fourth straight game (45-21) over Mt. Vernon in league play.

Coach Doug Haas says they are becoming a more experienced team every week and it is showing. “The game experience that we have gained over the first half of a season is starting to come to fruition a little bit. We have always felt like we were talented, but we lacked a little bit of that experience. You can’t practice that you have to go play games. The kids are just kind starting to slow down so to speak and playing very, very well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are certainly a lot of things we can clean up and need to clean up in order to be successful against Senior. We are certainly playing with some good confidence, but we also know we have some good confidence, that’s for sure.”

Haas says his players have had to learn on the go in some cases, but they have done a good job. “Those are the growing pains that actually come with playing the game and to understand the pace of the game, the speed of the game and all of those types of things are certainly critical just in regards to figuring it all out. For those first three games it was a little bit of a rough patch from that aspect, but certainly proud of our kids as they have continued to prepare and get better as the weeks have gone along,” he said.

Mansfield Senior (5-2,2-1) was within five points of Ashland in third quarter last week, but then has some turnover problems. Jornell Manns is a Minnesota recruit and has been electric this year. Haas says he is outstanding, but he is not the only guy they have to be concerned with. “They have a tremendous group of skilled players and Jornell Manns is certainly one of them and someone we will have to be cognizant of where he is at. I think what you see is guys getting better on their team as well. It is not just a one man show, but he is a pretty special player. We need to have an understanding of where he is at. It is one of those things where if you sell out for him there are other guys that can hurt you,” said Haas.

The Wooster coach says they have to avoid turnovers. “You stick to that old cliché that we certainly can’t turn the ball over and we have improved on that the last few weeks. If we turn the ball over it is going to be a long night. I really truly think the special teams phase is going to be a huge difference in this in regards to field position and making sure we win that field position battle and make them drive the length of the field and create some big plays on our end of it. Turnovers and special teams are always the things that seem to come back in big games. I think that going to ring true against Senior,” he said.

Published 10/11/17

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Bellevue Good, Wants to Get Better

Bellevue is in a three way tie for the lead in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with Sandusky and Clyde and they play those two schools on weeks nine and ten.

They play at winless Tiffin Columbian on Friday night in a Lake Division game.

Veteran coach Ed Nasonti says it has been a very good year and one where they have battled some adversity and have gotten better as the season has progressed. “I think our kids are playing hard. It has been a really challenging schedule. We have had some battles. We have been on the road a lot. We have only four home games this year. We have had six on the road and we have made some pretty good sized trips. I think our kids are battle tested. There is part of me that says, hey, that’s a good thing our kids have been through some tough times. We have also been beaten up and we have been injured. We have had kids playing hurt. We have had out, so it has been a very interesting year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It has been very challenging. This week going into week eight we still think we are improving and we don’t feel we have played our best game yet. Every day we go out to practice we tell our kids we get better or we get worse we don’t stay the same. Our kids have been working hard at practice and we feel we have some good things ahead of us.”

Bellevue (5-2,2-0) has lost only twice to unbeaten teams in Shelby (46-0) and Clear Fork (20-14) in overtime.

Their defense has been very good this season and has gotten better. In their loss to Clear Fork they were down a player. Nasonti says they have been good tacklers for the most part. “We had one our best defensive players out that game. We were able to get some other guys in the game and try get some depth. We have played good defense and we have really spent a lot of time on that. It comes down to tackling and blocking when you talk about being a good football team. No matter what it still comes down to those two things. When we have struggled on defense it has been because we haven’t tackled well, so we have emphasized that with our kids. Our kids are still improving, they are progressing and they have had good attitudes. We have stayed the course here. You are going into your last three games here and you have everything to play for whether you are talking about a conference championship or a playoff spot. The incentives are there for us,” said Nasonti.

Tiffin Columbian (0-7,0-2) lost (42-0) to unbeaten Clyde last week.

Nasonti says they are not about to overlook Columbian, a longtime rival. “They are young in some spots and so are we, but their quarterback is a three year veteran and they rely on him to do a lot of things for him. He is good throwing the ball. They like to run him. We are going to have to do a good job with them. When you play a team that is 0-7 coming in they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. For us it is important that we understand that. We are going to get everybody’s best shot and for us to expect the best out of our opponent every Friday night and it would be a huge mistake for us to not think like that. That being said, we focus on our team doing the best things we can do in terms of preparation on offense, defense, and special teams. Our kids understand what we are trying to get done here. We are coaching hard and we need to continue to improve and not take anything for granted just because Tiffin hasn’t won a ballgame,’ said Nasonti.

Published 10/11/17

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Port Clinton Faces Talented Shelby

Port Clinton faces a very tough challenge this week as they travel to Shelby to meet the Whippets, the leaders in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

The Whippets are unbeaten on the season and have beaten each opponent by at least 30 points and that includes some good ones like Bellevue and Edison.

Port Clinton (4-3,1-1) broke a two game losing streak with a (36-22) win over Vermilion in conference play last week.

Coach Beau Carmon says it was a win that made they feel a lot better. “I thought it was important for our kids. We dropped the two previous games and we needed some confidence. We were able to get some things going offensively. I think the first drive set the tone for us. Our game is running the football and we did that pretty affectively. We had over 400 yards of offense and put up some points, which is something we haven’t done in a few weeks. Defensively, I think we need to close games out a little bit better. We really haven’t shown that all year. It is getting down to crunch time at the end of year and we have to be able to put together a full game. It was a nice time to get a quality victory over a good football team. It only gets tougher from here on out. We have to get better during practice,” said Carmon.

Their performance last week was due a lot to confidence and the play of the offensive line, according to Carmon. “I think our running backs ran with a little more confidence. I think we matched up a little better with Vermilion than the previous weeks. We are able to assert dominance. In my belief we have a solid offensive line. Our guys take pride in their blocking. Offensive linemen don’t get a lot of credit doing anything else. You see them when they screw up and you don’t hear anything else about them. The challenge was on them to establish a run game on a pretty muddy field. It was difficult for our running backs and receivers to cut. We knew we had to run the football going into the game and the challenge was on the guys. I think they stepped up to the challenge much more than they did previous weeks. We had to had the game on their shoulders and they did it,” said Carmon.

Shelby (7-0,2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, demolished Edison (43-0) last week in a Bay Division game. Carmon says they are the real deal. He says their goal should be a state title. “They are completely talented everywhere. I think Erik Will has done a phenomenal job there. I was with Erik over and the North-South game and we had some great conversations about what they do over at Shelby. I think a lot of their success is because of how they handle their off season work. There is no doubt they have talent too, a lot speed. I think it is a team that is going to make a lot of noise in the playoffs. Talent wise they have the ability to go to the state championship game and I think that is their goal,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Seeing them on film, it certainly should be, they have that kind of talent. I don’t see a whole lot of weakness. I think they are a great football team. I think they are a team that is on a mission and you can see it one film. It is great to see a team like Shelby from a town like that, a blue collar town, and a public institution to put together a team with that kind of quality. We certainly have our hands full this Friday.”

When it comes to the Redskins, Carmon says their goal is to become better at their stuff. “We are kind of looking at ourselves and saying what can we do to get better this week to make sure we are finishing the season strong instead of what can we do to stop or slow down Shelby. We are really looking at ourselves in the mirror this week and say what can we improve on here at the end of the year,” he said.

Published 10/11/17

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Lady Colts Have Battled Adversity

This has been a season like no other for the Clear Fork Lady Colts soccer team and one that include a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference co-title with a win on Wednesday at Marion Harding.

A win gives them a share of the title with Ontario and Buckeye Valley.

The Lady Colts (12-3,4-1) have lost only once in their league and that came to Ontario (3-2) a couple of weeks ago. They beat Buckeye Valley (2-0) in September.

Coach Brittany Bechtel says they have risen to the challenge. “In the “MOAC” there were some good quality teams that we went up against, obviously Ontario and then Buckeye Valley was a trying game for us, it was a very good game. It was different in than the “OCC” where there is a little more challenging teams overall. There is nothing short in the “MOAC” when it comes to how talented some of those teams are. So, we get a little bit of everything,” she said.

That challenge has been made tougher by all of the injuries they have suffered this year. Bechtel says right now they are without five of their planned 11 starters. “I have definitely seen more injuries this year than I have ever seen. In the summer we lost our keeper, Bri Warner. She did play in our first game and then had an “MRI” done where she found out she tore all three ligaments. She had been a starter for three years. We lost a defender that had been starting for four years. She had surgery, she did something to her labrum. We lost our starting center mid for the past three years Mackenzie Thorne, we lost her in the summer as well. We lost Macey Wade, our starting center-midfielder in summer and then we lost her again to an ankle,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We lost Ally Went, a starting forward for the past four years. She has been in and out several times and she is back out with a knee injury. We have five starting varsity players that have put at least three years on our field out right now. To be 12-3 it is not a bad year. We knew coming in we were going to have a lot of depth coming in and that has been paying off. We are getting to the point now where we have to stay healthy and it would be nice to get those other two back before tournament time, I’m just not sure there is enough time.”

Clear Fork plays at Lexington, a team that beat them (3-2) in August, in sectional final match on October 21.

Bechtel says it would be nice to get a little more healthy by then. She says it has kind of been Murphy’s Law for the Lady Colts. “They have kept their heads up and they have focused on one game at a time. People had to step up into starting positions. It seems like whether it is practice or a game it feels like we are losing somebody at some point. It is not a matter of if there is another injury, but who’s is next. Those are just the ones that are really out with end of the season injuries. That doesn’t count ankle sprains and things. We have had a lot of back injuries this year. I have had my starting sweeper out several games. I had our other starting striker out. We have dealt with the death of the father of a player. Our team has been through a lot of adversity this year and adversity shows character. This team to be fighting at the top like they are and dealing with things the way they are they are dealing with a lot of life lessons as well. I’m proud of how resilient they are. They have been really strong and I hope that really feeds into their strength when they really need it,” said Bechtel.

Published 10/11/17

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Unbeaten Pleasant Plays Rival River Valley

Marion Pleasant is unbeaten and shares first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with Clear Fork with three weeks left in the regular season.

They play the Colts next week, but this week is a very important opponent on their schedule in their biggest rival in the River Valley Vikings.

A big second half led to an easy win over Buckeye Valley last week. They beat the Barons (42-17) in “MOAC” play.

Coach Aaron Cook says the players did what they asked them to do. “Our kids really listened to us and adjusted very well in the second half and came out and played really, really hard. We were able to beat a really good “BV” team. We were really happy with that and the way we executed and created turnovers in the second half,” he said.

The Spartans (6-0,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, got two interceptions for scores in the fourth quarter last week. Cook says those are big plays. “Our kids really did a good job of creating those. Our defensive front did a great job of getting to the quarterback and pressuring him all night. Obviously, when that happens balls tend to get thrown up in the air a little bit and our kids did a great job of breaking on it and making the best of it,” he said.

River Valley (3-4,1-3) played well last week in a (27-0) win over injury plagued Ontario. It breaks a three game losing streak for the Vikings.

Cook says River Valley always plays well against them. “This is our big rival. This is our big county rival. We have played River Valley for a very, very long time. There aren’t any finer coaches out there than Doug Green. He does a tremendous job with that program,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are a very good football team. I have seen this game go both ways, crazy ways, and every way, so we will be ready to play and I am sure they will be and it will be a great high school football game.”

Cook, a former player at Pleasant, understands this rivalry and knows they are going to have to come out with some intensity. “Energy and intensity those are the biggest things with these rival games because you know what you are going to get on the other side. That’s how you lose them if you don’t match them that becomes a problem. Getting ready to play on both sides is the way you have to do it,” he said.

Published 10/11/17

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Flyers Need to Tune Things up

Norwalk St. Paul is still unbeaten on the season, but the Flyers know they to execute a lot better than they did last week if they expect to accomplish the goals they have set.

The Flyers are five time defending Firelands Conference champions and they stand all alone in first place in the conference, leading Monroeville and Crestview by a game.

However, it was not a good performance last week, according to head coach John Livengood. They beat Mapleton (31-20,) but Livengood says they didn’t play well in a lot of areas. “It was one of those games where Mapleton played very well. You have to give a lot of credit to them and how well they played. They have an All-Ohio quarterback that played like one. They did a great job defensively. For us we have to look in the mirror and say, how well did we play? We didn’t do a lot of things well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “There are a lot of areas from improvement and a lot of areas that we need to work hard at. Everything is a teaching moment. When you have teaching moments like that, you take advantage of them and that is what we are doing this week. It allowed us to show our kids some areas where we need to get better and that is what we are going to do.”

Sometimes teaching moments come at good times and this might be one of them. Livengood says they didn’t play well, but they were able to go the win. “We are glad we came out of that with a victory, but we have a long way to go and a lot of things to work on, so we will be working hard on that this week,” he said.

St. Paul (7-0,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, hosts South Central (3-4,1-3) on Saturday night in conference play. The Trojans broke a three game losing streak with their first league win (27-24) last week over Western Reserve.

Livengood says the Trojans do a lot of the same things offensively that Mapleton was successful in doing last week. “There are a lot of similarities between their offense and Mapleton’s offense, with what we are trying to do out of the spread. Even Legg is doing a great job for them at quarterback. They have a nice, big running back in Tycen Cooper. They run some wildcat stuff where they will put Lamoreaux back at quarterback and Copper at the quarterback as well in those Wildcat looks. You look at their game against Western Reserve this past week and they are playing very, very well. It looks like they are playing with a lot of emotion. They have a lot of great skilled kids out there. I think they are really believing in what is going on there. They are well coached and playing good football right now,” said Livengood.

Published 10/11/17

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Dalton Meets Smithville

Dalton leads Nowayne and Northwestern by a game in the Wayne County Athletic League standings with three weeks left in the regular season.

They play at Smithville in a league game on Friday night.

Last week, they hammered winless Waynedale (40-14) in a league game.

Coach Broc Dial says they had good focus. “As coaches we were pleased with last week. Our kids were focused. They came out and played well. They executed and did a lot of good things, which was really good to see,” he said.

Smithville won their first five games before losing to Norwayne (31-6) two weeks ago and Chippewa (24-21) last week.

Dial says the Smithies do a lot of things on offense that you have to prepare for on defense. “They are a typical Smithville team. They play really hard and they hit. We have to match their intensity this week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are still running a little bit of the wing-T, but they are also lining up in a spread formation a little bit too to get the ball on the edges. Defensively, they are playing a 50 front trying to force you to throw the ball by loading the box to stop the run.”

Dial says it will be important for them to make good pre snap reads so they can get in the right position on defense. “A lot of their formations kind of tip you a little bit with what they are going to try and do, so we have to make sure we recognize their formations and get lined up make sure we know the things they are going to do out of those formations that will allow us to be successful on defense,” he said.

Published 10/11/17

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Seneca East Must Tackle

For the second straight year what amounts to the Northern 10 Athletic Conference championship game might be between Seneca East and Wynford. They meet Friday night at Wynford.

Both are unbeaten in “N10” play so far this year.

Wynford won last year (35-12) to claim the outright title. The Royals have never lost a conference game in the “N10.”

The Tigers (6-0,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, got in this position with a thrilling (24-21) win over Mohawk last Friday. Quarterback Mason Foos connected with D.J. Ruffing for a score with 45 seconds left.

Coach Ed Phillips says they had the confidence to believe they could win the sew saw like game. “When they got the ball back around two minutes I went to our kids and said, hey, with our time outs we can get this ball back with more than a minute left and that is plenty of time to win the game and our kids know that and our kids believe that. When you feel that way about yourself and your teammates you can do special things and that’s what they did,” said Phillips.

Wynford (5-2,4-0) lost (28-16) to Lima Central Catholic on Saturday night in non-conference play. That broke a five game winning streak.

Phillips says again they are solid on offense with quarterback Wyatt Smith at the controls. “They were pretty balanced a year ago too. They might have run it a little more last year, but when they had to throw it they were really good at it and they are this year also. They are really good this year, running or throwing the ball and that is a credit to them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They lost a really good exceptional quarterback from last year that was great in the run and the pass game. They put a new guy in there and they just keep going. That’s what good programs do. They certainly have done that so far this year.”

Wynford bet Mohawk (7-0) two weeks ago and they are outstanding on defense. Phillips says both teams are physical and really get after it. “They are really good. They have tough, physical kids over there, just like we do here. I think that is what is going to make Friday night a special game. There are two tough, physical teams that are hungry and want get after it and that is going to make it a very exciting night,” he said.

Seneca East still must play Carey, who trails the leaders by a game, but the winner Friday night puts itself in very good position in the league. Phillips says they have to win the point of attack and be very good tacklers. “We have to play well up front because against them if you don’t control the line of scrimmage you are in trouble. On both sides of the ball we have to do that. We have to tackle very well. They have a lot of playmakers like we do and tackling them in space is going to be a big key for us,” he said.

Published 10/10/17

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Lucas Looking for Battle with Colonel Crawford

Lucas is at Colonel Crawford for a high school football game between good teams playing good football right now in non-conference play on Friday night.

Lucas (6-1) is in second in their division seven computer region and they in position to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Last week, they blasted Crestline (53-8) and coach Scott Spitler says their defense continues to mature and get better. “We had a lot of guys to replace due to graduation on defense. We are just constantly getting better week in and week out and it is starting to show now as we are getting deeper in the season. These younger guys on the defensive side of the ball are maturing and their experience is showing in their performances on Friday night. So, we like where we are headed and it starts with their tremendous worth ethic in preparation each week,” he said.

Colonel Crawford (3-4) has played as good a schedule for a small school in this area. Spitler says the Eagles are clearly battle tested. “If you just look at their record you are being silly as an observer because their schedule has been front end loaded with some quality programs like Seneca East, Mohawk, Carey, and Wynford, who at the time where either 4-1, 5-0 when they played Colonel Crawford and they were battles. I believe they lost one game in overtime and another game came right down to the end of the game before it was decided. They are battle tested,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are traditionally a quality program. They are well coached. They are led by two quality seniors in the backfield with Hayden Bute at quarterback and Trevor Shawber at running back. Those two are just tremendous athletes. Just the size and athleticism they have up front makes them hard to handle. Defensively, their linebackers just get after it.”

Spitler says the Eagles are a team that wants to run it, but they can pass it too. He says they just have a lot of athletes. “They do enough in the passing game to keep you honest and not allow you to load the box. They have game breakers at all of the skilled positions. The Shawber kid can break it at any second. The quarterback is an equally dangerous runner as he is a passer. The speed that they have outside in the wide receiver position just jumps off the screen when you are watching film of them. Defensively, they are extremely aggressive and get after you. They have a defensive tackle that is about 370 pounds and I tell you what he is pretty immoveable object. So, we have got our hands full. We feel like we are a good football team too and these are the type of games you want in high school football. Two quality teams, two quality programs, that are well coached. We have talked to our kids about believing in themselves and going out there and having fun and letting it all hang out and see where it ends at the end of the night,” said Spitler.

Published 10/10/17

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Crestview Knows What it Has to do

Crestview is on the edge of the division five playoffs and they have to win their last three if they are going to make it to week 11.

The Cougars are ninth in their region. The top eight make it to the postseason.

They won a huge game last week in beating Monroeville (26-6) and knocking the Eagles from a share of the Firelands Conference lead.

Coach Dan Mager says they played very well on defense and he was happy with the execution. “In the first quarter both teams were kind of feeling each other out. We tried to take some things away from them that they like to do and I think they did the same thing to us. Finally, I think our boys just kind of out executed them a little bit. We got a couple of breaks and turnovers went our way and pretty much controlled the game. We were pretty happy,” said Mager.

He says when you are able to get some turnovers, especially against solid teams, you must take advantage of them. “Especially against good ballclubs when they give you a turnover that is precious. You have to make sure you make good on it and try and get something out of it. You look at the turnover ratio with a lot of interest and there is a reason why. If you don’t turn the ball over, great, and the other team turns the ball and you get the ball and score that is usually a good thing for you,” he said.

Crestview (4-3,3-1) is at home for New London (1-6,0-4) in a conference game this week and they finish the regular season with South Central and Plymouth in conference games.

Mager says they know they have to win all of those. “Once we lost our second game and we kind of dug ourselves a hole I told our boys every game is a championship game. We stumbled there against St. Paul, but we came back big against a really good team last week. We have to win these last three and if we do that that is all we can control,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We can’t control who else loses and who else wins. We can control our destiny a little bit as far as winning those three games and let the computer points kind of play their way out.”

It has been a tough season in a lot of ways for New London, but Mager says they are going to approach this game with the right attitude. “We are not going to overlook them. I give their coach a lot of credit for taking that situation. I kind of feel for the boys for hanging in there and fighting every week. It is hard to do that sometimes when some of the games they have played in have been kind of lopsided. When I watch them on film I really like their quarterback. Their kids still play hard and their coaches and them are giving it all they’ve got. I really respect that out of those guys. We are not going to look past them at all. We are going to do our thing and see how it plays out,” said Mager.

Published 10/10/17

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Mt. Vernon Building on Positives

Mt. Vernon plays host to Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference football game on Friday night.

It’s the eighth week of the season and really this is a game that is all about pride.

Mt. Vernon (2-5,1-2) lost to Wooster in an “OCC” game (45-21) last week.

Coach Mike Kerr says they played well at times and they have some positive things to build on. “I thought the game was a lot closer than the score indicated. We gave some up a little early and got behind and then we battled back. We had a chance to really cut into the lead and couldn’t score. They broke off a 99-yard quarterback sneak that really iced the game. Honestly, there was a lot coming out of there that we did well that we can build on,” he said.

He says they did a lot of good things last week and they hope to be able to continue to grow as a team. “Obviously after every film there are things you want to fix. Things that you didn’t do well and things you have to get better at, but if you look at it and really dissect it there are a lot positives that we have to build on with the kids and say hey look we are still right there we just have to do these few things a little bit better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I thought offensively we moved the ball really well. We had over 400 yards of offense. There are some things there we can really build on.”

Madison (0-7,0-3) lost last week (45-21) to Columbus St. Charles in a non-conference game. They have suffered through a lot of problems, especially on defense this year.

They have played Mason Campbell at quarterback the last two weeks and Kerr says that has made a difference for them. “They have put him back there to kind of run the ball and they are doing a nice job with that. They have had some bad luck here and there, but if you look they have been up on a lot teams. They were up on Ashland early. They are up early and just not able to finish. I kind of feel they are similar to us in that we have had some leads and are not able to finish. I think they are better than their record indicates. The change at quarterback has done great things for them. They are trending in the right direction,” said Kerr.

Published 10/10/17

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Norwalk Getting Solid Effort

Norwalk almost got one last week against a very good Sandusky team and it is because they continue to give very good effort.

The Blue Streaks needed a field goal at the horn to be the Truckers (17-14) in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Coach Chris MacFarland says they played an excellent game gave themselves a real chance at the upset. “The kids played outstanding. Defensively, we did a nice job limiting what they did. I think they got us on a quarterback sneak, believe it or not, and they caught us on a pass later in the game. Offensively, we went out an attacked them a little bit running off tackle and outside. The offensive line hats off to them for the way they stood up. We had a chance down inside the five with about four minutes of so to go and got called for a fumble and they went down and scored on a field goal. The kids really played hard and gave us all we asked,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That has how it has been all year. The week before with Bellevue. They have just been willing to give all we asked and give 100 percent effort.”

MacFarland says he had been very pleased with the effort he has gotten from the players all year long and that puts a smile on his face. “If they go through the motions and don’t really care it doesn’t matter how good their technique and everything is. Our kids come each day to practice. It is a long grinding season. That comes from our coaching staff that pushes and the leadership of our senior class. You know what they come out and they prepare and you know that they are paying attention. They go out and execute the defensive calls. There are a lot of different formations now with the offenses that they see and styles that they see. Our kids are honing in on that and they are going out and playing with just a lot of desire and we love it when they do that for us,” said MacFarland.

Norwalk (2-5,0-2) plays at Sandusky Perkins (0-6,0-2) on Friday night. Perkins lost to Bellevue (28-6) last week and has have trouble putting things together consistently on either side of the ball.

MacFarland says he is not fooled by the Perkins record because he has seen them on tape. “They are not their record I know that. They are 0-7 and that, but you watch them on film they move the ball very well. They have that thing where your season isn’t going well and there is a turnover here, a fumble on a great drive. I think they hand a 20 play drive the other night with a turnover in it. We are going to have to play very well. You are going to somebody else’s place and they are going to be excited about getting a chance to play again. We are going to have to match the level of intensity early. Defensively, they are going to come after us. It should be an exciting high school football game,” he said.

Published 10/10/17

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Plymouth Wants the Ball

Plymouth hosts Mapleton in a contrast in styles in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

The Big Red wants to run the ball and take time off the clock, while Mapleton wants to use their pass game to score quick.

Last week, Plymouth scored at will in dominating New London (55-0) in a conference game. Seth Bailey, a 1,000 rusher for the Big Red, scored three times.

Coach Mark Genders says he clearly saw improvement from the team. “We were pretty pleased with the overall performance of the guys. We improved in some areas that we didn’t do very well in the previous weeks special teams wise. Our focus was on getting us better. We felt like we took a step in getting better in all three phases,” he said.

Plymouth (3-4,2-2) broke a two game losing streak with the win and Genders says they want to keep getting better. “That is ultimately the goal. It is like everything else you do. You fine tune and get a little bit better each day. That is ultimately the goal is to be the best you can be, hopefully sooner than later. Every week you have to keep grinding to get better and hopefully we will do that this week,” he said.

Mapleton (3-4,1-3) led conference leader Norwalk St. Paul in the third quarter before losing (31-20) last Friday. They have shown some good things this year.

In fact, Genders says despite what their record shows this is a really good team. “I think I said this at the beginning of the year as far as predictions and as far as top teams in this conference Mapleton is certainly up there. The dealt with some injuries early on. I think they are pretty close to be healthy going into last week. I know coach Mahaney feels like they let one get by. An incomplete pass that may have been caught that could be a completely different outcome. They played fantastic.” He told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Every time you go up against a team that is as well coached as they are with all of the talent they have with a state mentioned quarterback they are dangerous. We are going to have to play our finest just to play with these guys and that’s the truth. We are excited about the challenge and we know we have our hands full. We are going to have to play better and be better.”

It is a contrast in styles and Genders says they have to keep Mapleton quarterback Logan Pharmer and his offense on the sidelines. “We have to keep that offense off the field. We have to take every possession like it is literally gold. We have to treat each play like it is gold. If we do that hopefully it puts us in a position to have a chance and maybe win the turnover battle and we will see what happens,” he said.

Published 10/10/17

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Hillsdale With Must Win Games

Hillsdale, now two games back in the Wayne County Athletic League, with three games to play is going to need some help to win a piece of the league title, but they can help themselves in terms of the playoffs.

They are tenth in their division six region going into this week. They will need to finish in the top eight to qualify for the post season and that will likely require three more wins.

The Falcons (5-2,2-2) lost a tough one (28-21) to Norwayne last week in league play.

It was one of those games where both teams played well and you hate to see somebody have to lose and coach Tom Williams says unfortunately last week it was them. “Our guys played extremely hard in that game. I thought both teams played pretty well. Sometimes you play those close games and one of the teams is going to end up on the wrong end. For us last week that’s what happened,” he said.

They host Chippewa (3-4,2-2) this week in league play. Williams says it is pretty much a must win game for the Falcons. “We need to bounce back this week against Chippewa. They are a solid team. They have some good linemen and backs that run hard and all that kind of good stuff,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We just need to find way to get a “W” this week and it will come down to the last two weeks with Dalton and Smithville, some teams that we have had some battles with over the years. We are hoping that is exciting for us.”

Chippewa beat Smithville (24-21) last week in another good game in the competitive “WCAL” and Williams says they Chips have played really well in parts of their games this year. “I’ll tell you what when you watch them on film they are able to do some things offensively and defensively really well at times. They are probably looking for that consistency that probably most of us coaches are,” he said.

Published 10/10/17

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Hope Run Comes to Dayspring

Dayspring, the Richland County Home, has always been not just a place for people to continue to live their lives with support, but also part of the community as a whole.

That tradition continues on Saturday with the first annual “Hope Run” 5K run/walk that will be contested completely on the grounds of Dayspring. The money raised by the event is for the “Friends of Dayspring” campaign fund. Dayspring will be seeking a renewal of its levy in May of 2018. The .8mil levy accounts for about 70% of Dayspring’s operating budget and without its passage will cause the closure of the home.

“We have such beautiful grounds here we enjoy showing them off,” said Dayspring Executive Director Michelle Swank, “The idea of having a 5K was from our Assistant Director/Operations Manager Janelle Shartiger. She has some friends that had an interest in running a 5K race here, so we put our heads together and decided to give it a try.”
The race will start at 9 AM Saturday morning, with registration starting at 7:30a. Those that pre-registered were guaranteed a Hope Run shirt and those that register the day of the race will receive a shirt until they run out. Trophies will be given to the best overall time for male and female. Medals will be awarded for first and second place in age groups under 18, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, and over 50. The registration fee is $35.00.

The race will be run over a hilly and scenic terrain that will traverse a good deal of the Dayspring property on State Route 545, north of Mansfield. “We have hope to keep the course in good shape and have offered it to local high schools as a possible training facility,” said Swank.

However, Swank stresses that if you would like to come out and enter the event and just walk the 5K course, or any part of it, that is your option. “A number of people have told me they just plan to walk as much as they can which is fine. Others are eager for a chance at a trophy. People just want to support us and our residents and I am grateful for that,” said Swank

Residents at Dayspring will also be involved in handing out trophies to the winners, offering water, and cheering on the participants.

If you have any questions about the event call Janelle at 419-564-1227.

 
     
 

Eagles Must Control Point of Attack

Colonel Crawford is now on a two game winning streak and Friday night they host Lucas in a non-conference football game in North Robinson.

To have any chance to make the playoffs, the Eagles (3-4) must have a win. They are currently 19th in their division six region. You need to finish in the top eight to make the postseason. Lucas (6-1) is second in their division region and would carry some points.

Saturday night, the Eagles beat Cardinal Stritch (49-15) in a non-conference game. Coach Ryan Teglovic says they played some sound football. “We played pretty well. We were up 42-3 at the half and that included their kid hitting a 55-yard field goal, that was pretty impressive. That was pretty cool to see for them. I thought we played really well the first half. We had an opportunity to get a lot of young kids in the second half. It was nice to get two wins in a row,” he said.

Winning means confidence and Teglovic hopes his kids are starting to believe a little more because they have been playing pretty good football for the last month. “I hope our kids are getting a little confidence. I felt about week four we started improving and playing good football. The Wynford week we got a little better, against Seneca East we got better and I feel like that is continuing to happen every week. Obviously, we will get a very good test this week with Lucas,” he said.

Lucas beat Crestline (53-8) last week and have won their last four games. They run the double wing, double tight, which only the Cubs and Plymouth run in this area. Teglovic says they are tough to prepare for. “It makes preparation difficult because you don’t see it. Not only do you not see it, but it is difficult for your scout team to replicate. It causes some interesting things. Our scout team has done a great job all year preparing us. It is going to be a tough week for them. A very important week for them to help us out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “They are a very solid football team again this year. Lucas has done a good job over there. They have been in the playoffs the last several years and they are 6-1 right now, so it will be a great challenge.”

Now, Colonel Crawford beat Lucas (47-20) last year, so they know what the formula is going to be Friday night. Teglovic says the Cubs want to run it, that is their strength, but they can throw it too. “They eat up the clock and they shorten the game and keep your offense off the field. They have always done a very good job of that. The last two weeks they have played a different kid at quarterback. They moved (Jeb) Grover back to running back and have shown the ability to throw it a little bit more. They threw quite a bit last week against Crestline. We will see what they are going to do. A couple of years ago when they made a playoff run they had a really good ability to both throw and run. Certainly, their preference is to run the ball,” said Teglovic.

Published 10/09/17

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South Central Challenges Conference Leaders

South Central produced a tremendous win last Friday night and that has injected some confidence back into the team.

However, they face a tough one on Saturday night when they travel to Norwalk to meet unbeaten St. Paul.

Last week, the Trojans (3-4,1-3) rallied to beat Western Reserve (27-24) in a conference games, stopping the Rough Riders at the goal line to get the win.

Coach Corey Fickiesen says the win was electrifying. “It was quite the game. It was homecoming for us, so it was a big night and big week leading up to it. We kind of started out slow. They got on the board early. We had some special teams breakdowns here and there. I think their biggest lead was 17-7, but then we started to get things rolling in the second half with our offense and our defense was stepping up making big plays. So, we kind of put it all together there and we pulled it our right at the end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “We got a goal line stand at the one-yard line as time expired. It was great for our kids to experience that and such a big win against a good team, but more a good program overall at Western. Coach Stoll does a great job over there year in and year out, so for us to be able to beat them was big for us.”

Fickiesen says it was a good lesson for the kids that you have to play through adversity many times if you are going to win games. “We had some adversity there throughout the game with special teams breakdowns. We punted it off the back of one of our own players and it bounced into the end zone and they got a touchdown. Just some little things like that that were big errors for us and we were able to battle back and kept fighting. With the young men we are continuing to teach and you have to be able to battle through adversity, not just in football, but in life. They were able to do that, so we are pretty proud of them,” he said.

St. Paul (7-0,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, moved into first place by themselves in the Firelands with a (31-20) win at Mapleton. It was the first time this season the Flyers have allowed more than one score in a game.

Fickiesen says the Flyers are really good, but that is the case every year. They have to try and play like this is any other game. “It is St. Paul and they are five time in a row league champion. It is a big challenge and every year you play them it’s a big challenge, but we just have stay in the right mindset about it. We have to have that mindset of we are going to go play another football game and we are going to play as hard as we possibly can with is much effort for each other and we will see where we end up. That is how we are going to attack this week. It doesn’t matter who we are playing we have to have the same effort each week. We have to give everything we have for each other and we will see how it ends up,” said Fickiesen.

Published 10/09/17

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Big One for Monroeville and Crestview

Monroeville visits Crestview for a very important game in the Firelands Conference on Friday night.

The Eagles are tied with Norwalk St. Paul for first place in the conference with Crestview a game back after a (38-7) loss to St. Paul last Friday.

Monroeville, on the other hand, drilled New London (55-13) in a conference game at their place.

Coach Scott Stacher says they are playing well, but they aren’t satisfied. “We are playing some pretty good football, but we have a lot of work to do yet. Some mistakes, some little things we need to clean up. I think that will be the tale of this game Friday night who plays the most fundamentally sound football, makes the fewest mistakes. Whoever plays that kind of game will win,” he said.

After the loss to St. Paul, Stacher believes Crestview is going to be inspired to play Friday night. “I think they are going to be ready to roll, ready to play. Coach Mager has done a great job and their coaching staff. When you get 88 kids out to play football that is a big deal. We are playing them on the road and they play good football. They play very sound and do things very well. So, we are going to have to play a much better game to go in there and beat them on their home field,” said Stacher.

With the Crestview option offense, Stacher says you have to be disciplined on defense, plus they want to use that running game to play a little keep away with the Cougars. “Discipline in the name of the game. You have to be gap sound. They do a lot of shifting, a lot of motion. We have to disciplined on offense to and try and keep the ball away from them. It has always been a close game the last few years. I don’t see any difference this Friday. It is always a great game and it should be a good Friday night football game,” he said.

This is an elimination game in the Firelands Conference. If Crestview loses their title hopes are over. Stacher says these are the kinds of games you want to be part of. “What both teams have worked for all year is to get into games like this. We told our kids this week that it is a big game and this is what you have worked for since January 1, the lifting, the camps, the summer, two a days, and all of that, is to put yourself in this position,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Both teams still have a chance to win the league. It is what you live for, it is what you coach for, and as athlete it is what you play for. So, bring it on.”

Published 10/06/17

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Northmor Must have Win

Northmor trails co-leaders Highland and East Knox by a game in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference and they almost surely need a win when then host the Bulldogs on Friday night.

Falling two games back with three to play would be pretty tough to recover from when it comes to winning the conference title.

Last week, after losing to Danville the week before, the Golden Knights (5-1,2-1) demolished Cardington (32-7) in a league game.

Coach Scott Armrose says they were able to adapt as they game went on. “We got off to a slow start again, but we adjusted well as the game went on and the kids really played hard and we were able to pull away in the second half,” he said.

He added it was good to get the monkey off their backs. “It feels really good to get that awful taste of losing out of your mouth. It sticks around with you for the whole week and it feels go to get that out of your mouth,” he said.

East Knox (6-0,3-0) whipped Centerburg (34-0) in a league test last week. Armrose says this is an outstanding football team they will be facing. “It is a very good football team. You don’t get to be 6-0 unless you are a real good football team. On both sides of the ball offensively and defensively they have done some real good things. They are a very good football team,” said Armrose.

East Knox is a football team that is blessed with a lot of speed. Armrose says they use that well on both sides of the ball with their passing game and their blitz package on defense. “East Knox is a spread, pass football team. They have a quarterback that is as good as we have seen all season. They use the whole field. He has a great arm. He throws it well underneath, he throws it well deep. They have a couple of kids that run the ball really hard. They are not real big up front, but they have really good overall team speed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively, they are a 3-3 stack or a 3-5 football team. They blitz an awful lot. We have not seen this much blitzing to this point in the season. It is something we have had to work on this week. It is going to be a battle Friday night.”

Published 10/06/17

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Lucas Needs to Take Care of Winner’s Ratio

Lucas and Crestline play football Friday night and it is a win the Cubs need in order reach their goal of making the post season playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

The Cubs won for fifth time in six outings last week when they beat Coshocton (46-21,) another school bigger than them.

It was another good start for the Cubs and coach Scott Spitler says that was because of their work ethic last week in practice. “I was really pleased with how the boys came out and played an it was indictive of the work and the focus that they had throughout the week and it showed immediately from the kickoff,” he said.

Crestline (3-3) is coming off a setback Saturday night to Miller (47-13) in a non-conference game. Their wins this year come over Grove City Christian (7-0,) Buckeye Central (33-18) and Ridgedale (35-0) two week ago.

Spitler says the Bulldogs are big in the trenches, which is going to make things tough for them. “I think coach (Kevin) Sipes does a nice job over there. They have limited numbers, but the kids play extremely hard and you can tell that they are well coached. They pretty much throw everything, but the kitchen sink at you with a lot of formations and a lot of movement. They try to Davon Triplett, the big wide receiver/tight end target in mismatches,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively getting aligned properly is going to be key. No matter what year it is it seems Crestline seems to be built big up front. They have some really big linemen. We are going to have to be able to control the line of scrimmage on offense to have success.”

With Crestline doing a lot of different stuff out of different formations, Spitler says it will be important for them to know where they are supposed to be before the plays starts. “They do so much if you get one person out of alignment it is going to leave you venerable and that usually ends up in big plays for the other team. We have spent a lot of time on formation recognition and alignment in making sure that we have half the battle taken care of by being aligned properly,” he said.

Although it seems like it should be this is not the Mid-Buckeye Conference championship game, however, with Lucas in second in its computer region playoffs are again on the horizon. “With only two teams that play football in our conference they don’t actually recognize it as a championship game, but of course if you are the only two teams in the league that playoff football I am sure bragging rights would be a good thing to have as well. For us it is the next step to where we want to be at the end of the season. So, we have been pretty demanding this week of our kids and they have responded and we have to make sure we take care of the winner’s ratio on Friday night and take care of the football, win the turnover battle, time of possession, and be the lest penalized team,” said Spitler.

Published 10/06/17

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Wooster Knows What it Has to Do

Wooster finds itself in a three way tie for the lead in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with a month to play in the regular season.

They along with Mansfield Senior and Ashland, who play each other Friday, are unbeaten in league games.

They host the Mt. Vernon Yellow Jackets on Friday night at Folis Field.

Last week, the Generals (3-3,3-0) hammered West Holmes (55-20) in an “OCC” game. Coach Doug Haas says they have continued to get better. “We have done some good things to put ourselves in position to win three in a row after a tough non-conference slate. Number one, it made us battle tested in that regard and number two our inexperience now is less and less. We have a little bit more experience, a little bit more confidence, and we are doing the things you need to do in order to win football games,” said Haas.

Trey Mathis, who has been one of the better running backs in the area over the last couple of seasons, is out for the season with a broken foot. Haas says they have been getting the football into the hands of a lot of kids. “I think you can say there is probably a little bit more or a lot more depending on how you look at it. We have just distributed it a lot more other guys. I think we had six or seven guys touch the football on Friday night against West Holmes. So, we try and spread it around a little bit more to pick up the slack from a running back that was a staple for the past few years,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (2-4,1-2) lost last week (31-0) to Hilliard Darby in a non-conference game. Up until that time, they have been playing well on defense. Haas says they present some challenges. “They have given up 18 points a game, which makes it a challenge. They are an aggressive defense in the sense that that defensive line is always moving. They are typically brining a linebacker from some place. They kind of create some pressure from that aspect of it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is not a high risk pressure group, but somebody’s coming, so it is a four man rush, you just don’t know where they are coming from. We have to be aware and make sure we are gap sound in that aspect of it. Getting hats on hats and when there is a chance to make an explosive play we have to make it.”

When you are in the conference race, Haas says you know what you have to do. “I have heard NFL coaches say you have to play well in the month of December. You hear all of college coaches say you have to play well in the month of November. From a high school standpoint October is a critical month in terms of wanting to play some of your best football and never has that rung more true than this week versus Mt. Vernon,” he said.

Published 10/06/17

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Wynford to be Tested by LCC

Wynford plays on the road at Lima Central Catholic in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

Both teams are 5-1 on the season and both teams are in second place in their division six computer regions. Wynford in region 22 and the Thunderbirds in region 24.

Last week, Wynford (5-1,3-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Mohawk (7-0) to remain in a share of first place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

They had five turnovers, but coach Gabe Helbert says they found a way to win the game. “That is the best way to describe it, we found a way to win. We were fortunate to win that game. There was a lot of head knocking, or hitting, going on. It was a physical game on both sides. With the way we were able to finish and I thought our kids showed resiliency and tried to find a way to win,” he said.

The Royals have never lost an “N10” game and they have had a lot of playoff success. Helbert says that big game experience likely helped them last week. “I think the kids believed in each other, believed in the system, and believed they could get the job done when it needed to be done. It definitely helps in that regard. You have to try and maintain that edge and maintain that level of consistency where you can be put in championship style games so your kids can develop that attitude and ability to finish,” said Helbert.

Lima Central Catholic (5-1) is coming off a (27-20) win last week over Woodlan, Indiana. Their only loss comes to Delphos St. John’s (34-10) on week two of the season.

Helbert says they have much more experience this year and they have some excellent talent. “Last year they were young an experienced some injuries. This year they are much older and more experienced. They return 10 started defensively. They have changed their offensive scheme from a more air raid style to being more wing-T based with jet motion and ball deception. They get the ball to their athletes very quickly. It is definitely a very dangerous team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Setting at 5-1 they are going to be very good. The experience they are able to return and the fact that they can adjust to a new system shows they are very well coached. It will be a major challenge for our kids on Saturday night.”

Published 10/06/17

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Focus the Key for Dalton

Dalton holds a one game lead in the Wayne County Athletic League standings over Norwayne, Smithville and Hillsdale.

They play at winless Waynedale in a league game on Friday night.

Last week, the Bulldogs (6-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, got off to a good start and beat Chippewa (38-14) on Friday night.

Coach Broc Dial says they were able to take advantage of some things. “I thought we did a good job early of taking advantage of some mistakes that Chippewa made and I thought our kids did a really good job of playing hard and playing fundamental football,” he said.

It has been a struggle for the Golden Bears (0-6,0-3) this season. They lost to Northwestern (20-6) last week.

Dial says they are still putting things together. “They have a new coach this year. I think the kids are still trying to learn the system a little bit. They have a few good players. We need to come out and play and continue to do things the right way,” said Dial.

With Smithville, Hillsdale and Northwestern still left to play a game against a winless team could be a focus issue. However, Dial says that has not been a problem this year for the Bulldogs. “I think one of the things our coaches do a really good job each week is taking it one week at a time. Again, we are going to try and do that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “One of our things we focus on is trying to play to the best of our abilities each Friday night. That is what we are going to focus on Friday night.”

Published 10/06/17

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Seneca East and Mohawk Play Big One in “N10”

When there is so much balance at the top of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference there seems to be a good game every week. This week Seneca East hosts Mohawk on Friday night.

The Tigers share first with Wynford, while Mohawk and Carey trail by one.

Last week, the Tigers scored 28 points in the first quarter and went on to blank Upper Sandusky (41-0) in league play.

Coach Ed Phillips says it was kind of unexpected they would get off to a start like that. “That was a lot of fun. Our kids just kind of kept things rolling from the week before. It was as good a quarter of football as a team can play I think. Upper Sandusky had been starting games fast and playing very well and was a team I was very worried about,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I kind of expected a four quarter game with them. For our kids to come out and play that well and just put them away so quickly made it a lot of fun. It was just an awesome thing to see.”

Seneca East had railed the week before to beat Colonel Crawford (34-28) in overtime and Phillips says they just feel real good right now. “Momentum is a huge thing in the game of football and within the season and we just want to keep it rolling. You just kind of ride the wave of momentum and try and get it as big as possible and that is our goal right now. Our goal day in and day out in practice is to do what we have to do to make that happen. Our kids (Wednesday) night our kids were outstanding in practice and that’s what we need right now,” said Phillips.

Mohawk lost their first game of the year last week, (7-0) to Wynford. Phillips says the Warriors have good players all over. “They are a very balanced team, a physical team, and play really solid defense. They are very good offensively this year in both the run and the pass game. So, they present a big challenge for us and one we are really excited about for Friday night,” he said.

Phillips says he knows Mohawk will come out with first in their eyes. Plus, he says the adventure for these two the last three years has been pretty similar. “I think they are a team with a lot of pride. It is exciting to see this because three years ago we were at this point in the season and neither had a win, so it is a great thing to see. That is what makes high school football so awesome they are 5-1 and we are 5-0 and just three years ago we were both at the bottom if the heap. It is great for both programs and something that makes you really excited to get out there on Friday night and get after it again,” said Phillips.

Published 10/05/17

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Flyers Preach Discipline

Norwalk St. Paul is a great program that wins big games and one reason is they have talent, but another is they have great discipline.

It what many expected would be a closer game, the Flyers last week buried Crestview (38-7) in a Firelands Conference game. They now share the conference lead with rival Monroeville.

Veteran coach John Livengood, at helm at St. Paul for 28 years, says it was a solid win over a talented team. “First of all, Crestview is a great football team and a very well coached football team and we were happy to get out of there with a win. Our kids came out and played well and controlling the line of scrimmage is a big part of that. With their option game and their jet game and the things they do offensively it was very important that we play disciplined football and stick to our assignments and for the most part our kids did a real good job of containing a real good offense,” he said.

St. Paul (6-0,3-0), #2 in Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, has won the last five conference titles. Livengood says the team discipline is a huge part of their success. “They are good kids and they practice hard. They work really hard on the game plan. Our coaches put them in good position to be successful. It does take a lot of discipline. You have the dive, the quarterback and the pitch man. You have to watch out for the counter. You have to stay home and it is awful enticing if you are the man that has the quarterback and you have the dive running right underneath you not to jump on that dive or you have a counter action and you have to stay home. Our kids did a real good job with that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Offensively our backs ran hard, the line controlled the line of scrimmage, and we were very efficient throwing the ball. The quarterback did a nice job and we were able to hit a couple of pass plays. Moved the ball pretty well and played pretty good special teams too. That is a tough place to play against a very good football team.”

St. Paul plays at Mapleton (3-3,1-2) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night. The Mounties are coming off a (40-14) win over South Central last Friday.

Mapleton features quarterback Logan Pharmer, an all-state selection last year.

Livengood says Mapleton does a lot of things that are difficult to defense. “One of the first things I think you have to look at is Rob is an outstanding football coach and he does a great job running the spread offense. They have a great quarterback, great skilled kids, and they are able to put up a lot of points in a hurry. If you let down in any one area they are going to strike quickly. It poses a different type of challenge. Last week, it was the option, the jet, and watching out for some different things pass wise. This week it is wide open and they will run out of that spread too. They do a lot of different looks with no back. It is the same type of thing. We have to be disciplined, but it is a different type of discipline,” Livengood said.

Published 10/05/17

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Highland Has Chemistry

Highland has been a surprise to some this season, but the Scots share first place with East Knox in the new Knox Morrow Athletic Conference after three weeks on conference play.

They play at rival Fredericktown on Friday night.

The hammered Mt. Gilead (42-0) last week and they have only allowed two scores in conference games this year.

Coach Chad Carpenter says they have solid chemistry and he thinks that is a big factor in their success. “I think our kids are just playing really well together. We have a good mixture of skilled athletes and linemen. They are a very talented group that works real hard and are fun to coach. It is a special season,” he said.

They are just a whisker from being unbeaten on the season. They lost by one (35-34) in overtime to Bloom-Carroll on the opening week of the season in non-conference play.

Carpenter says with five wins in a row they have been building confidence every time they hit the field. “We brought in a lot of new kids this year and getting them to work together and understanding what we wanted. Confidence is huge for us. I don’t know how good we thought we were at the beginning of the year and to be honest I still don’t know how good we think we are now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I just know we are playing well together and the kids are having a lot of fun. We just try to get better each time we step on the field.”

Highland (5-1,3-0) is at Fredericktown this week. The Freddies have struggled against good teams. They lost to Danville (42-7) last week in a conference game.

However, Carpenter says this is a typical Fredericktown team in a lot ways. Plus, this is a rivalry game and he knows the Freddies will be fired up to play them. “They have a really nice running game. They are a physical football team. I think going in we are going to have to control the line of scrimmage. Try to put them in tough positions to defend us. One thing is our kids are close to their kids. This one of the game where you throw out the records. You can count on a pretty good game,” said Carpenter.

Published 10/05/17

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Fredericktown Faces Rival Highland

Fredericktown lost to a very good Danville team last week and things don’t get any easier this week as host arch rival Highland in a Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference game.

Things got away quickly in a (42-7) loss to Danville last week.

Coach William Hartley says many times it seemed like they were only inches from making the play, but it didn’t happen. “Football is such a game of inches. One or two defensive plays in the first half that if we had made, and we were just so close to batting balls down or making an interception on a ball, it would have been such a different half and it would have been so much closer. It would have been a competitive game, but none of those inches fell our way. We had a turnover as well, which compounded problems. A good team like Danville, they are going to capitalize on your mistakes or when you don’t make plays and they were able to do that and they really got rolling early,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “With the first three possessions they scored. We gave them a short field on the turnover and they scored a touchdown. Before you know it you are down and you are in a situation where with the running clock in the second half you aren’t in position to make a game out of it.”

Fredericktown (2-4,1-2) plays at home against Highland (5-1,3-0) on Friday night. The Scots share first place in the league with East Knox. Highland beat Mt. Gilead (42-0) last week.

Traditionally the Scots are a big, physical team and Hartley says that is the case again this year for sure. “They are big, physical kids and they are very disciplined. They have been running the same system both offensively and defensively for many years and they are very disciplined in what they do. Their offensive line has big strong kids and they really get good movement up front. They have a good group of running backs. They distribute the ball pretty evenly, so it is hard to concentrate on just one guy. If we stop this guy there are two or three others are just as important and just as hard to stop as that one guys is. The other thing is they are very methodical in what they do on offense and they go on a lot of long drives. They will hit you with the play action pass and a lot times you fall asleep in the backend of your defense they are going to get a cheap one on you,” said Hartley.

The Fredericktown coach says the Highland defense isn’t too bad either. “They are really playing good defense. They have only given up 14 points in the league schedule so far. So, they are really, really playing good defense and it is very hard and challenging for any team to get anything going against them offensively,” he said.

Published 10/05/17

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Plymouth Must be a Total Team

Plymouth pretty much won on offense and defense last week, but they lost the game to Western Reserve because of mistakes in the kicking game.

They have to fix that.

Western beat them (28-17) last week in a Firelands Conference game.

Coach Mark Genders says a kick return and not covering an on sides kick cost them the game. “As you know football is a three phase game and Western Reserve won the special teams side of it, thus they won the football game, that’s really the way we look at it,” he said.

Genders says they work on special teams in practice. Probably more this week than usual. “We put as much time as we can into it. It is probably my fault. Any time you have missed lanes and things like that on special teams sometimes that can be coaching as well, not only me, but my staff. We are all going to be accountable for those special teams mistakes. The kids are going to have to make the plays, but ultimately we all have to do better together,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It is not like there is some new emphasis on it, but making sure we haven’t spent a little more time on it this week and making sure we understand it. Every special teams play is like running an offensive or defensive play, so we have taken some time this week to make sure we get back to that focus.”

Plymouth (2-4,1-2) is at New London (1-5,0-3) in conference game this week. New London, going through a change in head coaches in the middle of the season, lost to Monroeville (55-13) last week.

However, Genders says he expects the Wildcats to come out with a lot of energy like they always do when they play. “It is very rare that you will see a mid-season transition, but you have one. They have a good coach that is filling in there. He is respected and really admired well in New London. He is going to make sure those kids are doing the right thing. In that kind of transition people don’t have a lot of expectations, but I guarantee he has a lot of expectations on those kids. We call it the wounded dog effect. Anytime you have a quarterback/running back like Dane Matthews you always give yourself a chance. Year in and year out our game always seems like a high scoring battle, they are always good games, and we don’t expect anything less,” said Genders.

Published 10/05/17

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Mt. Vernon Tries to Get Back on Track

Mt. Vernon was shutout last week in non-conference play and they need to get the win Friday night at Wooster to stay in the Ohio Cardinal Conference race.

The Yellow Jackets (2-4,1-1) trail tri-leaders Ashland, Mansfield Senior and Wooster by a game.

Last week, they were beaten by Hilliard Darby (31-0) and coach Mike Kerr says some early execution mistakes led to their downfall. “We were disappointed how things turned out at Darby. We got the ball and drove it right down the field. We had a mistake on a field goal and another mistake on a punt, we allowed a punt return for a touchdown. Again, these little mistakes, especially early on, and then it just piled on from there. It is hopefully a learning experience, something we can all learn from and get better from,” said Kerr.

Wooster (3-3,3-0) lost their three non-league games to start the season, but are unbeaten in the league after a (50-22) win over West Holmes last week.

Kerr says they have definitely turned their season around. “I think most people outside of it were surprised when they went 0-3, I was, and then they have kind of turned it around. That is another great coaching staff. Those kids respond to that. They have done a really good job. We have watched film on them. They really get after it and are aggressive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “On both sides of the ball they have some really good athletes. So, it was just a matter of time before they turned it around. They definitely have the ball rolling right now.”

Wooster has lost running back Trey Mathis for the season to injury. However, Kerr says they have rebuilt there are offense and can do some scary things with the ball in their hands. “I think maybe early on they were trying to figure that out and what their identity was going to be a little bit. They have figured that out. Their quarterback is solid, he is really good. He extends plays and keeps plays alive. I think they have kind of put the ball in his hands a little bit more than they probably would have if everybody was healthy. Again, they are finding their identity and getting more confidence every week, especially on offense,” said Kerr.

Published 10/05/17

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It’s a Battle Shelby and Edison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/04/17

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Ashland Tangles with Mansfield Senior

Two of the leaders in the Ohio Cardinal Conference lock horns on Friday night at Arlin Field in Mansfield for the right to stay on top in the conference standings.

Wooster, who plays Mt. Vernon, also has a piece of the lead.

Ashland (5-1,2-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the big school division, beat Madison (56-13) last week. They were behind (13-7,) but then scored the next seven times they had the ball. Coach Scott Valentine says they were able to answer. “I felt we were able to get the ball moving. The turnovers you don’t like to see, but they were early. So, we had to come back and we answered some of the scores they had with our offense. Defensively, we got some stops there as we got into the second quarter,” he said.

Mansfield Senior (5-1,2-0) pounded Lexington (54-17) last week. The Tygers are led by University of Minnesota recruit Jornell Manns, who has scored at least twice in all of their games this year.

Valentine says it is not just Manns, the Tygers have a lot of guys that are home run hitters. “They have guys that are playmakers and will make plays. Those are games when you know you are not going to completely shut them down. You have to try and limit as many big plays as possible. Part of that is trying to make sure that you do things right offensively to help yourself out too and give them short fields and things like that,” he said.

The Tygers tend to be a team that will blitz a lot and try and be aggressive and make plays. Valentine says they have to take advantage of that. “We talked to our kids that last year we had some big plays because of some of the things they do give you and opportunity if you beat a guy one on one and get open you are going to make a big play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We are looking to try and take advantage of those opportunities we get on Friday night.”

Mansfield Senior beat Ashland in a shootout (45-42) last season and Ashland won at Arlin Field two years also (25-21) and those are the kinds of games these two tend to play. Valentine predicts Friday night will be no different. “There is a high level of competitiveness against each other. Over the years it has been back and forth and things like that. They are always hard hitting and physical games. I don’t anticipate anything less,” he said.

Published 10/04/17

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Mohawk Getting Ready for Talented Seneca East

After a tough loss to Wynford last week, a win at unbeaten Seneca East is critical for the Mohawk Warriors on Friday night.

Mohawk and Carey trail Wynford and Seneca East by a game in the tough and balanced Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

In a tough, grind it out, defensive battle last week, Wynford outlasted Mohawk (7-0) to hand the Warriors their first loss of the season.

Coach Brent Konkle says it was a great game. They just made too many mistakes on offense. “I thought our kids showed up to play. We were well prepared. We forced a very good Wynford team into five turnovers and had a goal line stand in there as well. I thought our defense played tremendous. Offensively we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. Give Wynford a lot of credit they played well on defense. They play hard, so it was a good game. A great high school football game,” said Konkle.

Mentally it may be a tough week for the Warriors they have to sort of forget last week while at the same time learn from it and become better at executing their stuff. Konkle says they must do both. “We watch film like normal on Saturday morning and get over it. I might have watched a little more film this weekend, both old and new. You have to get over it, but you have to fix mistakes and there are mistakes we made. I think we are correcting them now. I am very positive about that,” he said.

Mohawk (5-1,3-1) plays at Seneca East (5-0,3-0) on Friday night. The Tigers blanked Upper Sandusky (41-0) last week, scoring 28 points in the first quarter of the game.

Konkle says they are playing a team that is very talented. He says they are going to show the Tigers some different things. “They are leading the league in both offense and defense, so they do things well on both sides of the ball. They are a very talented team and I said this after the game and no due respect to anybody,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Wynford is the best team we have played and Seneca East is going to be the most talented team we play. Hopefully, we can go out and read our keys and be sound and throw in a couple of wrinkles and get out of there with a win. It is a tough place to play.”

Published 10/04/17

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Crestview Has to Battle Back

Crestview had circled last week’s game with Norwalk St. Paul on their schedule and things didn’t go well for the Cougars as they were drilled by the five time defending conference champions and now they must pick up the pieces.

The Flyers won (38-7) and Crestview coach Dan Mager says the thing was St. Paul was just better than them. “They are just at another level right now. Last year, with us only losing by a point I started to analyzing that a little bit and they were a little bit young up front and they are not young anymore and they just took care business on both sides of the ball,” he said.

Mager says they have to turn it around quickly because Friday night they host Monroeville, another good team. “I know what our guys are capable of doing. We start out 0-2 against two good teams and we went on a three game run and scored a lot points and didn’t give up a lot. You kind of get brought back to the earth again when you play St. Paul,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is kind of one of those deals where we haven’t talked much about that game and move forward because our goal is win out and slip in the playoffs.”

Crestview (3-3,2-1) hosts Monroeville (5-1,3-0) in a Firelands Conference game. The Eagles share first place with St. Paul and they are coming off a (55-13) win over New London last week.

Mager says it is clear the Eagles are improving. “They are a team that is obviously getting better every week. They started out a little shaky and gave up a lot of points. They played St. Mary’s in a tough game and we handled St. Mary’s pretty well. Then they go in and scored 60 some points against Mapleton, which was concerning. They have taken care of what they have needed to the last couple of weeks, so they are have been getting better every week. It is definitely going to be a challenge for us,” said Mager.

Monroeville has twice went over 500 yards rushing in league games and the running game is their bread and butter. Mager says it is a must for them to compete up front, something that did not happen last week. “We have challenged our guys up front Chris Loughman and Lane Fry and out defensive ends that they have to control it up front. Last week, we got beat at the point of attack by St. Paul’s linemen and that just can’t happen. I know it sounds like a cliché to win in the trenches, but that’s we have to do. So, we have to do a good job up front and if we do that I think we will be okay,” he said.

Published 10/04/17

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Danville Hosts Cardington

Danville trails Highland and East Knox by a game in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference football standings and they play at home against Cardington on Friday night league play.

They lost to Highland (26-0) in the league opener, but responded with wins over Northmor (41-34) and Fredericktown (42-7) last week.

Coach Ed Honabarger says they were ready to go from the kickoff against Fredericktown. “We had a good performance offensively and defensively. Things go rolling for us early and get the momentum and put the game out of reach quick,” he said.

Especially with wide open offense like Danville features momentum can be a big factor and Honabarger says they were able to create that last week. “Momentum is a big thing in high school athletics and the good thing I think we created it on our own. We were able to score right off the bat in the first three series and sort of took Fredericktown out of their game plan,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

Cardington (2-4,1-2) lost (32-7) to Northmor last week in conference play. They have scored some points at times, including a (50-41) loss to unbeaten East Knox two weeks ago.

Honabarger says the Pirates have some players that make big gainers. “They have some nice skilled kids. They have got a 1,000 yard running back, a tough quarterback, and a good receiver. They mix it up pretty well. It is definitely a challenge. You can’t sleep on them, that’s for sure,” said Honabarger.

Published 10/04/17

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Madison With New Look

Madison has a new look at quarterback and there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the Rams.

They have lost their last 11 games.

Last week, they got off to a very good start against an outstanding Ashland team and had a first half lead led by the exploits of new quarterback Mason Campbell, a basketball star at cross town Mansfield St. Peter’s.

Coach Jamie Masi is excited about the new energy his team has and says they clearly played well early in the game last week. “We started a new quarterback Friday night with Mason Campbell. He ran the ball for over 100 yards in the first half alone. At one point it was 14-13, they had scored to go up right before the half and we felt really good about where we were and the way we were playing. Then they threw one up with no time remaining right before the half and got a touchdown and got some momentum. We had a great start to the game and we hope we can build on that,” said Masi.

Campbell can play football at Madison without sitting out because St. Peter’s does not offer football and Madison is his home district.

Masi says he is a real asset to them. “He is just a physical, hardnosed kid. He has got to be 6’3”, 6’4” and 215 pounds. He worked his tail off the entire off season he was in there at 6 AM as soon as the basketball season was over last year and never missed a day in the weight room. He is a really physical kid and is very capable of running our offense. We were playing a couple of other quarterbacks, both of the other quarterbacks quit. We played Mason and he took advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

Madison (0-6) plays host to Columbus St. Charles (0-6) in a non-conference game on Friday night. The Cardinals have struggled too, loosing last week to Columbus DeSales (31-0.) Two of their other losses have come in a shutout and two others come by one point.

Masi says they have a very good coach and run the option offense. “I think they are an extremely good, well coached football team. Bob Jacoby is a guy that is kind of a legend down in the Columbus area. I think he has coached in eight final fours, he has coached in four state championship games and he has won two. This is first year at St. Charles, but he is running the same style of offense the mid line veer. If you watch teams like Army or Navy they are mid line veer football teams. You have got to be very well disciplined on defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have a quarterback that does a nice job of running it and they have some powerful running backs. So, we will have our hands full with them they are a pretty big school. We are missing a team in our league right now, so we have to go out and get a team or take a bye and this is who we picked. We are excited to play them at our place Friday. It is homecoming and Friday night hopefully will be a special night.”

Published 10/04/17

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For Ontario it’s No Luck at All

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/03/17

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Lexington has to Execute Better

Lexington’s defense had been its cornerstone over the first half of the season, but they weren’t very good last week in a loss to rival Mansfield Senior.

In fact, coach Taylor Gerhardt says they didn’t execute very well anywhere on the field in the (54-17) loss to the Tygers. “We weren’t expecting them to score that many points. We didn’t play well in any of the three phases of the game. When you don’t do that and you are not disciplined in executing you are going to pay and pay a lot against a team that is as talented as Mansfield Senior,” he said.

There are four more games for the Minutemen (1-5,0-3) beginning this week with West Holmes and Gerhardt says he told his players what a great opportunity they had. “I just talked with the boys (Monday) every morning you wake up and open your eyes and take a breath you have been given a gift and the gift we have been given is we have another week of life and another week of football. So, we need to understand what that gift is and take advantage of it. Put your work boots on, lace them up, and it is time to go back to work,” said Gerhardt.

West Holmes (1-5,1-2) lost (55-20) to Wooster last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

There is a new direction at West Holmes and the Knights are throwing the ball much more than they have in the past. What hasn’t changed, according to Gerhardt, is the talent of the West Holmes offensive line. “They have thrown the ball quite a bit. They want to spread you out offensively and try to move the ball a little bit. One thing that is still very consistent at West Holmes is they have a solid, well coached, disciplined offensive line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Once those boys get on you they don’t seem to leave their blocks. So, we have to be good with our hands defensively. We have to read our keys and get to the ball and be excellent about getting off those tough blocks that the West Holmes offensive line gives you.”

Published 10/03/17

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Galion Must Contain Clear Fork’s Skilled Guys

Galion is an improved football team from a year ago, but they are still in a position where they have to play clean games if they are going to beat good teams and that didn’t happen last week.

They have another tough task this week as they host unbeaten Clear Fork in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

Last week, Marion Harding used a big second half to blow out Galion (44-21) in conference play.

Coach Matt Dick says they made too many mistakes. “I think momentum got the best of us. Early on I thought we looked okay, but we just couldn’t get any momentum going and we shot ourselves in the foot offensively with some bad snaps and some penalties and some turnovers. We really just didn’t play a good game. We have to look in the mirror as coaches and players and find a way to come out and play a better game this Friday night,” he said.

Dick says lots of times they are putting themselves behind the sticks and they is hard for them to come back from. “We are just not good enough to play a team the caliber of Marion Harding, or anybody in our conference, and make the type of mistakes we were making. We kept putting ourselves in third and 10 instead of third and five or four, something that is manageable. As a team we just have to find ways to cut down on mistakes and play clean football and we have a chance to win in the fourth quarter,” he said.

Clear Fork (6-0,3-0) hammered River Valley (52-8) last week in league action. Galion had beaten the Vikings (42-35) the week before.

Dick says the Colts have playmakers on offense and they crowd the line on defense making it difficult for you to do anything. “On offense they have a bunch of fast guys. They spread the field, they do a good job of distributing it. Both of their quarterbacks can run the ball, number 7 (Blake Dinsmore) is super slippery. Defensively, they are still playing their 5-2 and putting a lot of pressure on you in the box,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They really stack the box and basically play man to man everywhere else. That makes it tough to throw because there is not enough time and it is tough to run because there are a lot of guys in the box, so it puts you in a predicament and makes you have to account for all of those guys.”

Dick says you have to be good decision makers on offense because the Colts are going to put pressure on you. “Their outside linebackers are some their skilled guys on offense, so it’s not like they a big, huge guy out there. He can drop into coverage or he can blitz the quarterback and in one second he can be there. So, it is definitely a challenge,” he said.

Published 10/03/17

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Crawford Plays Stritch on Saturday

Colonel Crawford broke a four game losing streak with a win last week against Bucyrus and now they want to continue to move forward.

They play at Oregon Cardinal Stritch in a non-conference football game on Saturday night.

They blasted Bucyrus (55-13) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game last Friday night, scoring more than 40 in the first half.

Coach Ryan Teglovic says they continued to fight through those four losses to Carey, Mohawk, Wynford, and Seneca East. “We played very well. I am very thankful for our guys, particularly our seniors, hanging with things through some tough times. Obviously, they have been tested and have continued to resilient and persevere. They have bounced back and I was very happy to see that from them last week,” he said.

The Eagles (2-4,1-4) had a chance to win at least three of those games and Teglovic says when you get close and don’t win it can be very tough. “There is a lot of a thought process with a play here and a play there. What could we have done here and what could we have done there and sometimes that is tough to clear and to be able to move on to the next week. Those are difficult things. I really felt like with Wynford and Seneca East in particular we played very well. Obviously, some break downs, but you always have those, but I thought overall we played well. I feel like we are continuing to get better every week and we just hope to continue that,” said Teglovic.

Cardinal Stritch (1-5) lost to Edon (69-22) last week and the Cardinals have allowed to more than 35 points five times this season. Their only win comes (48-38) over Danbury Lakeside.

Teglovic says they have some guys on offense that can make some plays. “We have to go there for one and it is about a two hour drive. They replace Ridgedale on our schedule. We were fortunate enough to get a game after that happened late last year. Watching film, they have two guys that really catch my eye and they are both receivers. The one is a little more of a slot and will go into the backfield as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “He has got exceptional speed. He really caught my eye when I watched him scrimmage against Mohawk this summer and on film he looks just as good. They have another receiver outside that is extremely talented. It looks like they can get those guys the ball. They have some good skilled kids that we will have to keep an eye on.”

Published 10/03/17

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Norwalk Faces Athletic Sandusky

Norwalk is in a tough stretch of their schedule with Shelby and Bellevue back to back and now the unbeaten Sandusky Blue Streaks come to town for a Lake division gave in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

After a halftime lead last week, Norwalk lost to arch rival Bellevue (40-28) in a Lake Division game last week.

Truckers coach Chris MacFarland says they made some mistakes in the second half of the game at “BAF” and they just couldn’t recover. “I thought we really came out and played well. We really did a great job during the week getting ready. We are 21-14 at halftime. We just kind of came out and our youth kind of showed up. They put together four drives on us and we were only able to put together one,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We had another chance at the end and dropped a pass in the end zone. We played well, we are learning a lot about ourselves, kids are giving us everything they have, I am very proud of that. We just have to learn how to win some of these big games against some of these good teams.”

Sandusky (6-0,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, blasted Tiffin Columbian (56-8) last week. The Streaks really have been challenged only once this season and that was on week three when they rallied to beat Fremont Ross (16-15) in a non-conference game.

MacFarland says they have athletes and they let those kids do what they are good at doing. “They are athletic. They do a good job over there. They have had a good run of athletes. The quarterback is tremendous. He is surrounded with a lot talent offensively. Defensively, they are very basic, but they are very solid. They don’t do a lot of crazy things they just let their athletes be athletes and get a lot of pressure. When you have that kind of athlete and they are playing sound football they are very difficult to play,” he said.

What is easy to say, but hard to do is limit Sandusky’s big plays. MacFarland says that is their goal and on offense they have to be able to do some damage too. “It kind of goes back to when we played Shelby. You want to make them grind out drives. If you give them big plays it puts you behind quick and you have to do things you aren’t used to. We have to win the turnover battle and get some stops on them. Offensively we are going to have to match. It’s a big challenge, but the kids are excited about it. It is a grinding schedule, but they like the challenge of playing good teams. I think they are going to come out and respond really well. We are back home, so hopefully our kids will give great effort and we will come out and play good football,” said MacFarland.

Published 10/03/17

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Mapleton Has to be Really Good

Mapleton played its best game of the season last week and they are going to have to be better than that when they host unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul in Firelands Conference play on Friday night.

The Mounties (3-3,1-2) handled South Central last week (40-14) in a conference game and coach Robert Mahaney says it was their best performance of the season overall. “We probably played our most complete game of the season. Offensively we played really well. We were able to move the ball and score 40 points and kind of eat a lot of clock in the second half. Defensively, we let them have two big plays. You take away those two big plays and we play really, really well and limited them offensively. We were able to take advantage of some turnovers. I think overall it was our best game of the year,” said Mahaney.

When that comes in the middle of the season like this, Mahaney says that is really gratifying. “All of the little things we have been talking about, all of the details, on week six it kind of clicked and you hope that can really help you finish off the season strong,” he said.

Norwalk St. Paul (6-0,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, played its best game of the season last week too in beating Crestview (38-7) in a conference game.

Mahaney says the Flyers do a lot of things well. “John (Livengood) historically, traditionally, has done a really good job over there and this might be one the best teams he has had. They only allowed seven points in a game all year, no one has scored more than that. Offensively, they really do a good job. They do a good job of throwing the ball this year along with the traditional running game that they have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Last week, they played really well against a tough Crestview team, which kind of really cemented where they are at in the conference. I am hoping our kids will come out and compete this Friday with them because we are going to need 100 percent from all of our kids.”

It is one the things you hope to do, but almost nobody does. Mahaney says they want to make it a contest in the second half. “That is what you hope. You have to make them compete and get them uncomfortable and make it a ballgame late. We have been in some tighter games maybe than they have and maybe that can be an advantage for us. It is going to be a lot of work to get to where we need to be. Playing a solid first half and make it ballgame in the second half is the first step,” he said.

Published 10/03/17

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Clyde Faces Dangerous Tiffin Columbian

Clyde is unbeaten through six games of the high school football season and they would be considered a significant favorite as they travel to Tiffin Columbian for a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

Last week, in a similar circumstance, they belted rival Sandusky Perkins (30-7) in a game that was affectively over by halftime.

Coach Ryan Carter says they played with a lot of energy on both sides of the ball. “I was very pleased how we came out and executed early on. We got off to an outstanding start on defense and basically pitched a shutout giving up a late touchdown in the fourth quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We got off to a great start offensively. It was 30-0 at halftime. So, I was very pleased with how we came out and the focus that we had, the energy we had. To get victory in your first league game like that we will take it.”

Clyde (6-0,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Tiffin Columbian (0-6,0-1) on Friday night. The Tornadoes lost their first game as a member of the “SBC” last week (56-8) to the Sandusky Blue Streaks, also unbeaten on the season.

Carter says the Tornadoes are still kind of trying to find themselves. “It the same thing we see from Tiffin Columbian every year their kids play extremely hard. I think coach Lutz does a great job. They are still finding their way with a new coach and trying to learn from his system and trying to get everything down. They have had a couple of injuries, they have moved some guys around. We know going on the road over there at Tiffin they would like nothing better than to beat us and make their season,” said Carter.

Columbian coach Judd Lutz has said they want to try and establish the run. Carter says they try and do that early, but that is difficult to do when you are behind in games. “At least watching them on film they want to run the ball, but some of issues they have had with that is when you get down in games it is hard to just continually run the football. So, I think they have tried to really establish that early on in games. They want that to be their identity,” he said.

Published 10/03/17

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Clear Fork Expects a lot from Galion

Clear Fork is six for six this season, but they know things are going to get tougher over the last month of the regular season and that starts this week with Galion.

Last Friday, they rocked River Valley (52-8) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

Clear Fork (6-0,3-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays two kids at quarterback and last week Blake Dinsmore ran for two scores and Jared Schaefer ran for one and threw another. Coach Dave Carroll says they have a lot of weapons, ones you notice and some you don’t. “I think we had six different kids score. It is always nice when you get different kids get in the end zone because that is what they get recognition for. Even though they should get recognition for the block that got the kid into the end zone or protecting the quarterback that allowed him to throw the pass,” he said.

Carroll adds they also got big plays from their defense and their special teams units. “I’ll tell you the big thing that happened that allowed us to get such a big lead is we had interceptions, we had punt returns. Our defense and our special teams really set us up nicely several times, so we didn’t have to go real far, not to take anything away from the offense,” he said.

Clear Fork had three scores called back against Buckeye Valley in a (23-20) win, but he says they don’t have as many mistakes last week. “I thought we made some improvements. We were much cleaner as far as the penalties go. I joked with the officials before the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “I said we have some kids that run around, especially this number 7 (Dinsmore,) and I am telling you this because I don’t want you to blow the whistle. There are sometimes I am watching him and I say he is done and the next thing you know he is on the other side of the field. He had one those Friday night on a punt return. It was incredible and, of course, we had a hold or a clip. It was hard for the kids because he is running all over and it is a 10, 12 second play for them not to hold or hit a guy in the back.”

He adds that they were able to finish some plays that maybe they weren’t doing at least consistently early in the year. “The offensive line I thought made some improvement. We were cleaner catching the football. We didn’t throw it a whole lot once you got up to a certain point, we kind of shut that down. We got some nice pass plays completed that we were happy with,” said Carroll.

Clear Fork is at Galion (4-2,2-1) on Friday night. The Tigers were belted by Marion Harding (44-21) in an “MOAC” game last Friday. They had beaten River Valley (42-35) the week before.

Carroll says the Tigers have some big play makers in their offensive backfield. “I think you have to start with Harrison Ivy, the quarterback, he is quite an athlete. He is fast and he runs the ball very, very well and he can throw the ball. Then they have a tailback, he is one of the leading rushers, both of those two kids have quite few yards. Number 17 (Takota Chrisman,) their slot receiver is one of the leading receivers in the “MOAC.” So, they have some skilled kids that are pretty dangerous. When you look that their scores they have put some points on the board. 42 two weeks ago against River Valley and early on in the season they scored a bunch of points. They can be dangerous offensively,” said Carroll.

Clear Fork is in first place in its computer region in division four. Carroll says the understand they are going to get every team’s best effort. “That was kind of speech I gave them last Thursday. I told them we are going to get every opponent’s best coaching job, best game plan, and we are going to get their kids best performance. Is that a little bit of pressure? Yeah, I guess it is, but it sure beats the alternative of the last few years when it was here comes Clear Fork and we are going to get these guys. It is a great pressure to have. If you have the bull’s eye on your back you must be doing something right,” he said.

Published 10/02/17

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Hillsdale Must Rise to Physical Challenge

Hillsdale likely faces its most difficult test of the season this Friday as they travel to Norwayne to take on the Bobcats, the defending Wayne County Athletic League champs.

Both teams trail Dalton by a game in the league standings.

The Falcons (5-1,2-1) responded to their only loss of the season on week five to Northwestern (22-20) to hammer Rittman (48-14) last week.

Coach Tom Williams says they executed very well on both sides of the ball last Friday. “We were able to execute offensively really well. We threw the ball around and our receivers made some plays in space, but usually to have that happen the line has to play well and the line did a really good job of protecting Trey last week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Defensively we got a lot of three and outs in that game and that is something we have really been trying stress, you know, getting off the field. We were having a little bit of trouble with that for a few games. It was nice to see us get some three and outs and get the offense back out on the field quickly.”

Quarterback Trey Williams, the son of the coach, accounted for six scores against Rittman. Coach Williams agrees that things are different coaching Trey and his younger son Ty. “It is different because usually if we disagree about something on the field that is something we are going to end up talking about once we get home, where as the other players don’t have to hear about it again and again. He is handling it pretty well and my younger one seems to be handling it okay. I think there is a little added pressure there when your dad is the head coach. Some of the people that get upset at me maybe they are also taking it out on the boys as well a little bit,” said coach Williams.

Norwayne (5-1,2-1) also lost week five to Dalton (27-21,) but came back last week to thrash previously unbeaten Smithville (31-6) in league play.

Williams says the Bobcats are physical and they have kids that make big plays. “They are big and physical. They have a lot of strong kids that play really hard, so they are able to run the football and stop the run. Their quarterback has made some plays running and he has made some really nice passes. They have some receivers that can make some big plays as well. They put a lot of pressure on you. I think they are one of the best lines we have seen to this point,” he said.

In order to have success Friday night, Williams says they have to be physical and not back down from the Bobcats. “Last year, they were a pretty senior laden team, so it was like you didn’t know what to expect. Their guys have worked really hard in the off season, you can tell, and they have gotten prepared and gotten ready to play. They are going to put some pressure on us and we need to make sure we are up to that challenge and that we don’t back down and we show up and get after them just like they are going to get after us,” said Williams.

Published 10/02/17

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Shelby Faces Big Test

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/29/17

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Mohawk Knows it Will be a Battle

In what might be one of biggest games in the “N10” this year and clearly the biggest game for the Mohawk Warriors in some time will be on Friday night when Mohawk hosts Wynford.

Those two schools share of the conference lead with Seneca East.

The Warriors beat Upper Sandusky (31-8) in an “N10” game last Friday, scoring 20 points in the second half.

Coach Brent Konkle says his kids kept their noses to the grindstone. “We got off to a slow start. We had three turnovers the first quarter, but I think our defense rallied up. I don’t think you see a 2-0 or 4-0 score very often in football, let alone an 11-0 score at the half. Give our kids credit they were just battling the whole time. If we made mistakes we always rallied up in support on both offense and defense. I was proud of that,” said Konkle.

Wynford (4-1,3-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, lost (49-0) in their opener to Liberty-Benton, but they have won four in a row.

Konkle says if they expect to win the conference title a win on Friday night is a must. “I wasn’t one of those people saying Wynford wasn’t any good I can tell you that because I know the tradition they have there. They are the best team in the “N10” right now. They are still undefeated and they have not lost an “N10” game in the league’s existence, so right now they are the team on top,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “My take on that is you have to beat the best to be the best. We are looking forward to the game (Friday) night. I hope both teams come with their “A” game. It is going to be an exciting game to watch and an exciting game for our kids to play.”

Mohawk (5-0,3-0), also #3 in our poll, is as good this year as they have been in a while, especially on defense. However, Konkle knows that defending the Royals is going to be a real challenge. “They mix things up and the quarterback Wyatt Smith is really talented. They have 10 and 11 in the backfield and a good offensive line. Tradition is strong over there and they are used to winning. Those kids have been winning since they were freshmen. They just do a great job of mixing it up and getting after you. It should be an exciting game,” he said.

Published 9/29/17

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Ashland Wants Big Plays

The nature of their team, and the way they play, makes Ashland a big play team on both sides of the ball and they have to make those if they are going to win games.

They have been doing that and that has led the Arrows (4-1,1-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, to a share of first place in Ohio Cardinal Conference.

They trailed Mt. Vernon (21-20) last week with about 8:00 to play in the game, but coach Scott Valentine says they were able to rise to occasion and win (35-21) in an “OCC” game. “I was really proud of the way the kids responded. We had some opportunities that we didn’t get. Credit Mt. Vernon that they kept battling. When we got down our kids responded on offense and defense,” he said.

Ashland runs the five wide offense and they bring a lot of people on defense. Valentine says it is about making those big plays. “We also talk about when you get opportunities to make by plays you have to be able to make them. We have been fortunate that our guys have been able to take that and make some big plays,” he said.

Ashland has also been motioning some skilled players into the backfield to run the ball and quarterback Keagan Armitage has been taking off a little more too. Valentine says it depends on what the defense is giving them. “Sometimes you get into certain games depending on what they are doing to you defensively you have to maybe run it a little bit more and then the pass comes a little bit later,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Just like you take the short passes over the long ones early and things like that. I think that has led to us running the ball a little bit more.”

Madison (0-5,0-2) lost (56-20) to West Holmes last week in “OCC” action and the Rams have just had trouble putting things together, but Valentine says their players are still putting in the effort on the field. “The thing I told our kids all along is every game is important. Madison’s kids are working hard and they are trying to do everything they can. Unfortunately they haven’t won a game. Coach Masi and their staff work hard with their kids. We have to step out there and be ready to play a four quarter game in order to get the job done,” said Valentine.

Even though they have not won a game this year, Valentine says the Rams have shown they can make big plays. “When you watch video on the plays some of their kids have made. They have had the opportunity to make some plays and they have. From a defensive standpoint we have to make sure we don’t give them big plays and give them opportunities. Plus, we have to make plays offensively,” he said.

Published 9/29/17

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Dalton Has Great Character

Dalton through the first half of the football season has proven to be one of the better teams in North Central Ohio.

The Bulldogs (5-0,2-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, ended Norwayne’s 17 game Wayne County Athletic League winning streak with a come from behind (27-21) win in Creston last Friday.

Coach Broc Dial says they have a good team because of where they come from. “We have quite a few seniors and all of them are great kids, great young men. They are doing a great job leading right now. The other part of that is we just live in a great community and a great school system, so we have a lot of the values and the intangibles in our football program and I think a lot of it stems from the families and the communities that we are a part of,” said Dial.

Dalton held an early (14-0) lead, but fell behind (21-20) in the third quarter. Dial says they were able to respond. “It was a real gutsy win by our players. They went out and played really hard. There was kind of a momentum shift there in the third quarter and they did a great job of continuing the play hard and just play football the right way and we were fortunate the get the win last week up there,” he said.

Dalton shares first place with Smithville in the tough and balanced “WCAL” and it was a great win last week, but Dial says they have to keep looking ahead and not be satisfied. “We as coaches kind of have the 24 hour rule. You can enjoy the win for 24 hours and then move on to the next opponent. This is another big for us this week with Chippewa. They haven’t quite shown it on the scoreboard yet, but they are another good football team and we have to make sure we come out and play football again (Friday) night,” said Dial.

Chippewa (2-3,1-1) blasted Waynedale (42-0) last week and Dial says that is the kind of performance of the Chips are capable of producing. “They run the gun-wing-T. They spread you out some with what they do and they bring you in the box some. They do a really good job offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively, they have been in multiple fronts, 40 fronts, 30 fronts, in the game film we have. So, they are very multiple on defense. They are very sound in their special teams.”

Published 9/29/17

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Galion Wants to Dominate Fourth Quarter

Galion trails the “MOAC” co-leaders by game entering a road game at Marion Harding in league play on Friday night.

Last week, the Tigers rallied to beat River Valley (42-35) in winning their first conference game of the season.

Coach Matt Dick says they gave consistent effort. “We just kept fighting and kept believing and found a way to pull one out,” he said.

Dick says he wants his team to be a fourth quarter football team and they have worked hard to become such. “That is why you lift all of those weights and run all of those sprints so people will make those big crucial plays in the fourth quarter and our kids are starting to make those plays,” he said.

Marion Harding (3-2,1-1) led conference co-leader Marion Pleasant for most of the way last week before losing (21-14) to the Spartans. They beat Ontario (21-17) in their conference opener the week before.

Dick says they are big and explosive and especially good on defense. “They have a big running back and some inside linebackers. They play really solid defense. Harding always has explosive athletes and sometimes they get them rolling and sometimes they don’t. I think this year is no different. They can be really explosive of both sides of the ball, especially on defense,” said Dick.

Friday night, Dick says they have to do a better job than they have the last couple of weeks if they are going to win this week. “We have to play better defense than we did the last couple of weeks. We are starting to move some kids around to get them in better positions to make plays. Hopefully, we have a good game plan this week to give our kids a chance to make some big plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is going to be the same as it is every week in the “MOAC” you have to win in the fourth quarter. I expect it to be a close ballgame and if we can keep in close then hopefully we can find a way to win in the fourth.”

Published 9/29/17

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First Down Important For Plymouth

Plymouth is still finding out some things about their new offense and how to make it more affective.

Last Saturday night against unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul the Big Red made some mistakes and coach Mark Genders says against the Flyers that is a no, no. “We played a pretty hard football game the kids never quit and played extremely hard. Making a few mistakes here and there. You find yourself behind the eight ball and they take full advantage of it. Sometimes, especially when you are a young team, and you go up against an experienced team like them anytime you do make a mistake, jump off sides or miss a block, they make you pay,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are not good at playing first or second and long and third and long scenarios. Ultimately you have to tip your cap to them they played a fantastic game. They really hurt us in the air actually. That has kind of been our theme this week to get better against the pass.”

St. Paul blasted Plymouth (42-0) in a Firelands Conference game. On Friday night, the Big Red (2-3,1-1) hosts Western Reserve (2-3,1-1) in conference play. The Rough Riders buried New London (49-0) last Friday.

When it comes to the double wing, double tight offense, Genders says first down, and getting some yards, is really important for them. “That is the case for any team, but for us establishing that first down and getting a few yards on that first play is pretty critical because then we can open some things up when we do run our play action stuff and create some opportunities there as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We use all four of our downs in most scenarios. We are not asking the kids to get a lot, but they understand what we have to get and when we don’t do that it puts us behind the eight ball.”

Western Reserve likes to be a power football team and Genders says they are pretty good at it too. “I got to personally see them on Friday night because we played on Saturday. They played a pretty complete game. They have some nice players and great athletes. They have some nice experience with some upperclassmen playing. Their tailback is big and he is smooth. With an experienced quarterback anything can happen. They look pretty darn good, so we are going to have to play our best just to compete with these guys,” he said.

Published 9/29/17

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Clear Fork Kids Driven to Win

Clear Fork has won all five games they have played this season, sometimes in dramatic fashion, like last week, and their coach says his kids have the right attitude and that has been key.

They share first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with Marion Pleasant after two weeks of conference play. They travel to River Valley to face the Vikings on Friday night.

Last week, Clear Fork stopped Buckeye Valley on fourth down, converted two fourth downs on their final drive, and Sloan Bowman provided the winning margin with a field goal at the horn and they beat the Barons (23-20) in league play.

Coach Dave Carroll says his kids never gave up. “I was really proud of our guys. They were frustrated, just like we were as a coaching staff, with some of the mistakes we made. We had some touchdowns called back and weren’t moving the ball quite as consistently as we would have liked to due to Buckeye Valley, they are good and big and strong and a very disciplined defense. Our kids just kept fighting and overcame penalty after penalty. That last drive was like a 60, 70 yard drive, but it took us almost 200 yards to get there with all of the flags. Our kids just refused to lose and did a great job and I am really proud of them,” said Carroll.

Clear Fork trailed most the game. They had three scores called back on penalties. Carroll says they had to come together in the end and make some big plays. “I think our kids, and I had the same feeling, it is a feeling inside of you during the course of the game, that we should be on top. We are outplaying them most of the time, but the scoreboard is not showing it, so the only thing that was what was left to do was to make sure the scoreboard showed that and our kids did it. It is one of those things that is hard to explain to people, it is very hard to coach, it is just that competitive, refuse to lose attitude. Some teams have it, some teams don’t. Some teams have that attitude, but don’t have that ability to overcome certain things, so far this team has had both,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I said the other night it is way more rewarding, not necessarily fun, to win a game like that where you are behind, you are down, and you have to fight and scratch to get the win, than to beat somebody 30-0. We told the kids that after Saturday we are forgetting about that and it was time to move on, but that is going to be a memory that you will have until the day you die. That was just sweet, the whole thing, the way it was done, the student body pouring onto the field.”

Clear Fork (5-0,2-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, first in their division four computer region, plays at River Valley (2-3,0-2) on Friday night. The Vikings lost to Galion (42-35) in a conference game last Friday.

Carroll says River Valley has some home run hitters on offense. “They have some good skilled kids. Their quarterback is like 6’1” and 195 and he will run the ball as well as scramble on the pass plays if you give him the opportunity. They have two running backs, the Spears kid and number 38. Spears is a big kid, 210 pounds, number 38 is smaller, but he is very quick, and runs hard. They have a couple of wideouts that are tall and run really good routes and have good hands. Skill wise they have a bevy of kids that do a really good job. Each week we tell our kids, like last week the leading rusher in the league and the kids rose up to it, they have to rise up again. Now it is more of a multi dimensional offense we will be facing,” he said.

Published 9/28/17

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Crestview With an Opportunity

Crestview has made it clear they want to win the Firelands Conference title this year and they know if that is going to happen they have to beat Norwalk St. Paul on Friday night.

Last week, the Cougars (3-2,2-0) won for the third straight week in beating Mapleton (41-16) in conference play.

Coach Dan Mager says they continue to play well on both sides of the ball. “I think the last three games from the offensive end we have scored a lot of points. Our defense has to remained good, stout. We are on a little bit of a roll and we hope it continues on Friday night,” he said.

Norwalk St. Paul (5-0,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, had their way with Plymouth (42-0) last Saturday night.

Mager says St. Paul just does the same things they always do and they do them very well. “I think it is their tradition with Coach Livengood and his staff. They do the same stuff and they do it perfect, they execute, they have discipline. They have been running the same offense and stuff for a long time. Of course, they have great athletes. You put that all together and you end up with a pretty good team,” said Mager.

St. Paul’s defense has not been scored on in conference play, they beat New London (63-0) two weeks ago. Mager says when you get the chance to score on them you must take advantage. “Last year, they beat us 14-13 up there. It was one of those games when neither team made a lot of mistakes and it was a close game. I think if we can keep our mistakes limited I think we can be in this game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are so good offensively they don’t allow you to possess the ball much on offense. When you get a chance on offense you have to make sure you take that opportunity and hopefully score.”

Losing by point last year (14-13) at Whitney Field, the Cougars are home this year. How much of a difference will that make? “I don’t know if home field advantage is anything like college or professional ball. I would totally like to be playing here in front of our crowd. We are expecting a big crowd Friday night. We have our fireworks show. We have been on the road from three straight weeks and we are excited to be home,” said Mager.

Published 9/28/17

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Lexington Needs to be Aggressive

Lexington plays what stands as maybe its biggest rival now when they play host the Mansfield Senior Tygers on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

They lost to Wooster (21-7) in “OCC” action last week.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they still lacking in consistency on the offensive side of the ball. “We have been playing pretty good defense. Our defense is on the field too long. It all comes down to consistency. We have been struggling with injuries up front. If there is any position where you need the consistency of the same guys and in the same position it is the offensive line. So, we have been struggling a little bit with that. As I tell the boys the team across the field? They don’t care and neither does the game of football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to find a way to get consistent. We have flashes of what we know we can do and we point that out and show the kids. For us it is just a matter of time until we get comfortable playing together and we get consistent on offense. I am pretty happy defensively with how we have played.”

Mansfield Senior (4-1,1-0) beat Maple Heights (35-29) in a non-conference game last week. They beat West Holmes (41-27) in their only conference game so far.

The Tygers always have great athletes and Gerhardt says the Tygers coaching staff have made them into an aggressive team. “Mansfield has always had the reputation of having speed and athleticism and that goes without saying. What coach Bradley has brought over there is some consistent aggression of how they play the game. You can’t for a play let up and take a play off because they will hurt you and make you pay for that. Coach Bradley has them playing very fast and aggressive. They have a big time talent over there in number 11 (Jornell Manns) and we have to contain him, but he is not the only one that can hurt you. We have to be disciplined. We have to have our own aggression. We have to get consistent on offense and if we do those things we will have a shot of competing against those guys,” said Gerhardt.

When in comes to the rivalry, Gerhardt certainly feels it. “They are seven miles down the road and our kids see their kids all of time. The communities are constantly mixing together. It’s a rivalry. It is one that we enjoy. I have always said if you can’t get yourself up to play Mansfield Senior High you need to check your pulse. It is a fun game to play in. It is always a little more revved up and we look forward to it every single year,” he said.

Published 9/28/17

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Monroeville Can Pass Too

Monroeville has developed a reputation as a powerhouse running team, and that is well deserved, but they know they have to be able to throw the ball too in order to be consistently successful.

They host New London in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

Last week, the Eagles (4-1,2-0) demolished South Central (45-7) in a conference game amassing more than 500 yards on the ground for the second straight week. Coach Scott Stacher says they were able to throw it some too. “We couldn’t have come out any better in scoring in our first two or three possessions. We did run the football affectively and we also passed the football. I think we were 10 or 11 of 14, so for us that is pretty darn good and we will take that every night passing with that efficiency and 170 yards passing,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We did what we needed to do. We played really well defensively and limited them to minimal yards. I think it was another learning experience for us. Each week we are going to have to get better playing in the Firelands.”

Although the Eagles want to count on their run game, Stacher says they have to be able to pass too or the opponent is going to make it more difficult for them to run the ball. “We need to be more efficient in the passing game to keep our running game opened up. If we can’t we are going to get 11 guys packed in the box and it is going to be hard to run. We do have to have some sort of balance that’s for sure,” he said.

It has been a week of turmoil at New London (1-5,0-2) resulting in the mid-season resignation of head coach Brad Pickens. The Wildcats have lost back to back games in the conference in which they have not scored. Norwalk St. Paul beat them (63-0) in their first conference game and Western Reserve hammered them (49-0) last week. The New London administration has had no comment about the situation other than to say Pickens remains as a member of the teaching staff. Girls’ basketball coach Eric Mitchell is the interim coach.

Stacher says it will be important for them to maintain their focus in the game with New London. “They have not played well. I think they are a young team. They have some new kids that are playing football and some kids that didn’t go out. In high school football every year that dynamic changes and you never know what’s going to happen at the beginning of the year let alone mid season. They are trying to find their identity. We just have to maintain what we are doing because after this week we have four really tough games going down the stretch,” said Stacher.

Published 9/28/17

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Shelby Volleyball Has Solid Chemistry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/28/17

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Fredericktown Needs to be Physical

Fredericktown put together its best game of the season last week and they will need to play even better this week if they are going to beat Danville in Knox-Morrow County Athletic Conference action.

The Freddies routed Mt. Gilead (57-8) last week.

Coach William Hartley said they played a solid, overall game last week. “We had had a disappointing outing over at Northmor and had a pretty sour taste in our mouth. To go over to Mt. Gilead and preform like we did. We came out fast and ready to play. We were hitting on all cylinders. The offense really played well. I think we had three scores in the first quarter. On defense we played well also and got a turnover early as well. That helped us and built the momentum. Throughout the game it was a really positive game. In all phases we played really good football. We got a lot guys in the game in the second half. If was a positive win coming off a really disappointing loss over at Northmor,” said Hartley.

Danville (4-1,1-1) beat Northmor (41-34) last week in a conference game.

As usual, Danville is athletic and electric in their offense, but Harley says this year the Blue Devils are big too. “They do a really good job of getting their skilled guys the ball in space. They have some nice receivers on the edge. They have a really good screen package that they execute. This year I think the biggest difference for them is they are big. They are always tough, hardnosed kids over at Danville and this year they have pretty good size as well. They are running a little more between the tackles,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The second half against Northmor they were really doing a lot of downhill running with the football. They are incorporating a lot of wing-T concepts into their shotgun attack and they are getting a lot of hats to the point of attack and really running behind a big, experienced offensive line. They always play tough defense. It is hard to get things going on offense. It is a typical Danville team they are just a little bit bigger and more physical than they normally are so it is going to be a big test for us.”

Hartley says they have to be physical and the point of attack and not let Danville push them around. “That is what we have been preaching all week is we are going to have to have great defensive effort and continue to grow on the offensive side of the ball and take another step forward from last week and build on that success that we had. Defensively, we are going to have to match their physicality. At times defensively we played really good, solid defense and I have been telling the boys all week it is going to take that type of effort all night to compete and get ourselves in position to win the football game,” he said.

Published 9/28/17

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Mapleton Still Working on Defense

Mapleton is at home for South Central in a Firelands Conference football game on Friday night.

Both teams are (2-3) on the season, winning on weeks two and three, and then losing both of their conference games so far.

Mapleton lost last week to Crestview (41-16) and they have now allowed more than 40 points in both of their conference games.

Coach Robert Mahaney says they have to have better focus. “I thought we did some good things here and there, but honestly we have to get more stops on defense. Our offense was moving the ball, but it stalled out a couple of times. We had a lot of missed plays, we didn’t execute very well. We had Ashland County Fair and we had a lot of kids out of practice and stuff and maybe our focus wasn’t where it needed to be, especially when we are playing a team as good as Crestview. I think we can use that as a learning experience and help us to get ready for South Central this week,” said Mahaney.

A big key in this game on Friday night might be who gets off to a better start and gains some confidence. “We are coming off two tough losses and so are they. I think whoever comes out and gets the ball rolling their way and gets up early will help their kids out. But, football is a game of momentum, so you have to play all of the way until the end. Hopefully, we can come out and do that and take the punches and roll with them and play four quarters, 48 minutes, and every play,” he said.

South Central lost to Monroeville (45-7) in their conference game last week.

Mahaney says he thinks the Trojans have a pretty good lineup and knows they are going to have to play well to win. “Corey (Fickiesen) is doing a very good job. He was there as offensive coordinator for a few years. He puts the kids in a good position. I think he will have some success over there for sure. They are a good team. They have had some injury problems recently. They lost their running back and had some kids back last week. Overall, they are a really good team. They are tough kids over there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are going to come to play hard and they are going to be tough. We have to really do a good job, especially on defense this week. Just defeating blocks and tackling the ball carrier. We have to get a lot better at that this week.”

Published 9/28/17

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St. Paul Squares off With Speedy Crestview

Norwalk St. Paul is the team that sits on the top of the totem pole in the Firelands Conference and if you are going to win the title it goes through the Flyers.

Their frist big challenge comes Friday night as they travel to Crestview, who has made notice their only goal this is year is to win the conference title.

St. Paul (5-0,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, belted Plymouth and their double wing, double tight offense (42-0) last Saturday at Whitney Field.

Coach John Livengood says the players did an outstanding job of executing the game plan given to them. “Our kids came out and played hard and we knew we had a big challenge. Plymouth’s offense had piled up about 50 or 60 points the week before against South Central. All of their backs ran good, but I know (Seth) Bailey had over 300 yards, so we knew going against a team with that kind of size, their running backs are big, their halfbacks go 210, their fullback is 195, we had a tall task ahead of us. The kids did a great job executing the game plan and getting the shutout,” said Livengood.

Crestview (3-2,2-0) has won three straight, including a (41-3) win over Western Reserve and a (41-16) win over Mapleton in conference play the last two weeks.

Livengood says Crestview has big play makers. “The biggest thing I would say about them is speed. Offense, defense, their special teams, you see their kids have a ton of speed. They have great athletes that can get out in space and make things happen. They have good size and experience up front. They are well coached and they are playing really well right now, so we know we have a big challenge ahead of us,” he said.

St. Paul wins despite not having great size. Livengood says they don’t have great speed either, but the Flyers are very good executers. “I wouldn’t say we have flat out speed against anybody. Our kids work hard and they execute well. We have some quickness and stuff,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Probably speed along the line of scrimmage is an area hopefully have because we certainly don’t have size up front. So, we have to make sure we do things right and be smart and play hard football and get after it.”

Last season, St. Paul beat Crestview (14-13) at home. The Cougars bring about everyone back from that team and circled this game on their schedule. Livengood says they kind of circle every game. “We feel every game is a big game for us. It is a Firelands Conference championship game. Crestview has asperations that are the same as ours. We actually feel like any team we play has the same type of asperations. So, we are going to go out and play our game and try and take care of business,” he said.

Published 9/27/17

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Seneca East Wants to Ride the Wave

Seneca East rallied from two touchdowns down in the second half to beat Colonel Crawford in overtime last week and they want to take that momentum into this week’s game at home against Upper Sandusky.

Brock Martin scored in overtime to give the Tigers a (34-28) win over Colonel Crawford. The Tigers had scored in the final minute of regulation to tie the score.

Coach Ed Phillips says it was a very exciting win for them. “It was awesome and I saw a fan post it was the greatest game they had ever seen live and I would have to think that anybody that was there would have a hard time arguing. We were never ahead in the game until we won. We were down 13-0, 21-7 then 28-21. That takes a lot of focus and a lot of energy to continue to fight back. In the process of coming back we had some things go wrong and we kind of stayed the course and overcame it and that’s when things come together,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think sometimes you need a little adversity and you need to get through it together. I told the kids after the game what was special was in that second half there was one common goal, and they only cared about one thing, and that was getting a win for the Seneca East Tiger football team. That’s why we did it because we had one common goal and we were fighting for it and they got it.”

Seneca East (4-0,2-0) is at home for Upper Sandusky (1-4,0-2) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night. The Rams lost (31-8) to Mohawk, another of conference co-leaders last week.

Phillips says the Rams, the biggest school in the league, have some kids that can play the game and make big plays. “They have some guys. I say they have some dudes. They have some skilled guys with a lot of speed mixed in with some explosiveness. They have a quarterback that kind of scrambles around and does his best Michael Vick impersonation and I mean that is a good way. They have got really good size up front. On defense, they come at you and attack. So, they are a formidable opponent. I have told many people here in the last couple of weeks now that we are kind into the heat of it and you are kind of getting familiar with what everybody in the league has to offer I think this is the best league I ever been in from top to bottom. There are so many good football teams and so many good football players. It is just awesome to be part of it,” said Phillips.

Phillips wants to take that momentum the second half last week produced and use it to their advantage against Upper Sandusky. “I think in high school football you have to ride the wave. We came back and had a lot of success in that second half and put one together for Seneca East football and there is nothing wrong with riding that wave as long as your focus is on the next team. High school football is a game of momentum and that game last week is certainly an example of it. We had nothing in the first half. The second half we just kept building and building. I believe you need to move your focus from the game last week to the game this week with Upper Sandusky, but also when you have that wave of momentum you get on it and you go,” said Phillips.

Published 9/27/17

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Clyde Starts League Play With Rival

Clyde, one of the preseason favorites to win the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, begins play in the division Friday night by hosting one its biggest rivals in the Perkins Pirates.

They completed their non-conference schedule with a (49-3) destruction of Port Clinton last Friday night.

They scored 21 points in the first quarter and never looked back. Coach Ryan Carter says they came out and were focused from the start. “I was happy with our kids. I thought we came out focused and determined and really got off to a good start. We were able to move the ball offensively and when you are able to do that against a team like Port Clinton and get ahead you force them to do some things out of character. So, I was pleased with our effort last week and our kids came out, like I said, focused,” he said.

They have played very well this year with wins over Ashland (22-19) and Anthony Wayne (30-28) to their credit. However, Carter says for them the big games start this week. “That was our focus this weekend in talking to our kids. Putting the first half of the schedule behind us and really trying to focus one week at a time. We have Perkins, their record doesn’t indicate it, but they are still a solid program, and their kids do things the right way. When you turn on the film you see kids that can still play football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is not like they are depleted. They have kids out there that get after it. They have just had a little bit of the turnover bug and they have had some things go badly for them. It is our first league game in the new division. Perkins always plays us very good not matter what either team’s schedule is. So, we have our work cut out for us to try and get ready for them this week.”

Clyde (5-0,0-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, host Perkins (0-5,0-0) on Friday. The Pirates were blanked by Oak Harbor (37-0) last week and have 20 turnovers in five games.

Carter says they have the talent to move the ball and stop you from moving it. “That is what you see. They move the football, they stop people, they do things very, very well, they just have some things go poorly for them in some of their games. They will have a fumble or a turnover or an interception or a penalty at the wrong time. It is not like their kids aren’t playing or their get aren’t getting after it. They are doing things the right way they are just having a little bit of bad luck right now. Our kids know that, we are prepared for that, and we are prepping like we are going to get a normal Perkins effort out of them,” said Carter.

Published 9/27/17

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Colonel Crawford is Better

Colonel Crawford is a program that is used to winning games, but they have not done so since week one of the season and are winless in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

Their next chance comes on Friday at Bucyrus against the Redmen.

Last week, the Eagles lost (34-28) in overtime to the Seneca East Tigers in conference play. It was a game they led (13-0) at halftime and (21-7) in the third quarter. The Tigers scored in the final minute to tie the game.

Despite the loss, coach Ryan Teglovic believes their execution was the best it has been all season. “I thought it was another week of improvement. It is difficult sometimes to say that in a loss, but I really have felt like the last two weeks in particular that we are getting better. We played two pretty good football teams. I liked our effort. I liked our execution too for the most part. We still have breakdowns, but these are high school kids and you are going to have a few of those. Overall, I was pretty pleased with the effort, obviously, not pleased with the outcome, but I really do believe guys are getting better and that has been our goal all year. I think as long as we can continue to do that we are going to be pleased with the outcome,” said Teglovic.

Teglovic runs the Crawford defense and he says the kids are doing what they ask them to do, but you have to give credit to the opponent too. “If you look at the last two weeks and I know it doesn’t look like it we have actually played some decent football. We go in every week saying to ourselves, especially when we are playing a good team, we are going to try and make this team beat us lefthanded. We are going to try and make them beat us with things we don’t normally do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Last week against Seneca East we said we are going to try and take away inside zone versus Brock Martin and also we are going to try and take away the vertical passing game. For the most part we were able to do those things and then they hit us with some other things. The quarterback had some nice rushes and just a variety of other things. They ran the counter a little better than they had. You tip your hat to them sometimes too because they have some pretty good athletes. I think when we haven’t played well defensively it has been more alignment problems than anything else and that’s what we need to continue to get better with.”

Colonel Crawford (1-4,0-4) plays at Bucyrus (1-4,1-2) on Friday night. The Redmen won its first game last week by beating Buckeye Central (36-34) on Kyle Hamm’s field goal with :01 left.

Teglovic says the Redmen have gotten a shot of confidence. “Certainly, in the fashion that they won it. You get a last second field goal that is an exciting thing for your kids and your program. They have some good athletes over there. They have very good athletes at the receiver position. The quarterback is young, but definitely has some talent. So, it is going to be a tough task for us,” he said.

Published 9/27/17

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Mt. Vernon Faces Triple Option

Mt. Vernon is making steps toward becoming a good football team and that was evident even in a loss to the Ashland Arrows last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

They play Hilliard Darby in non-conference play on Friday night. They used to be in the same division of the Ohio Capital Conference.

Mt. Vernon held a fourth quarter lead last week and coach Mike Kerr saw a lot of good things from his players. “I think there was a lot of good. We were up with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. We got down early and our kids never quit. We clawed back and got it to 21-20 and really had some momentum. Like we have talked about before one or two plays can really swing a game. We thought we had made that play and then they converted a big third and 30 on us and the momentum swings again and we weren’t able to recover from that. It was a great game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Ashland, obviously, is a great football team, and we were right there. Just a few plays here and there and we win that football game and those are the things we have go to fix.”

Mt. Vernon has started to become a more consistent team on offense. Kerr says they have tweaked some things. “I think the offense has evolved. We have got some pieces and we starting to use them a little differently and I think the kids have responded. We have kind gone away from some of the stuff we started with, we are still basically the same, but we have put a little more responsibility on the quarterback to read and make adjustments at the line and things like that. I think that has really given him some freedom. I think the kids are playing a little freer on offense. I am really excited about the direction the offense is going and hopefully it continues for the next five weeks,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (2-3) travels to Darby (2-3) on Friday. They lost (21-0) to Dublin Jerome last week.

Kerr says you know what you are getting with the Panthers. “I watched film in them and they are the same Darby that you see each and every year. They are that triple option on offense. Their offensive line comes flying low and hard. They are well taught on offense. They know how to read it and what to do. Defensively the same thing. They are in that four man front like they have been in for years. They know exactly where they are supposed to be at all times. They are just a well coached football team. The kids play hard for those guys. I could watch this year’s film, last year’s film or the year before and you see the same team doing the same stuff. It is really a credit to what those guys do over there,” said Kerr.

Published 9/27/17

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Norwalk Excited to Play Bellevue

Norwalk begins play in a new league, the Sandusky Bay Conference, with a game Friday at one of their most traditional rivals, the Bellevue Redmen.

The Truckers scored on the first play from scrimmage on an 80-yard run by Trevon Raymore, but after that it was all Shelby and the Whippets blitzed Norwalk (55-14) in an inter-divisional game in the “SBC” last week.

Coach Chris MacFarland says they did some good things against Shelby, especially early in the game they just couldn’t finish everything off. “We came out and played pretty well. We actually had two really good drives after that touchdown run, but ended them with penalties and turnovers and you can’t do that with a good team. We knew we were going to have to play perfect to match them. Once you get them out in front of you it is kind of hard to catch back up. We learned a lot of things about ourselves and we did improve in areas. We were able to run the ball sometimes very successfully. There are some positives that we took from it. It was a better first half than people probably think. We did a nice job moving it we just didn’t capitalize and finish,” said MacFarland.

Norwalk (2-3,0-0) plays at Bellevue (3-2,0-0,) who beat Toledo Start (50-9) last week. The Redmen also lost to Shelby (46-0) and to unbeaten Clear Fork (20-14) in overtime.

MacFarland says Bellevue is a solid program every year. “They are traditionally very strong there. Their coaching staff has been solid. The kids believe in their system. They have done a nice job there for many, many years. Going over to their place is going to be a challenge for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The kids are excited about it. We are finally into league play. It took a long time to get to this point. It is kind of ironic that we are going into the “SBC” playing and “NOL” team, somebody we have played for 75 years or more. We are excited about it and looking forward to the opportunity to get over there.”

With the reconfigured league, MacFarland says there is really no question now that Bellevue is the one that is circled on their schedule. “They are our biggest rival. It has been a lot of years in all sports with good competition. We are really close in proximity. It is going to be a nice way to start the “SBC” and I know the kids are excited about getting into league play and try make that run. It is going to be nice to have that on our goal board and really try to obtain that and Bellevue is first one on it,” he said.

Published 9/27/17

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Ontario has to be a Fourth Quarter Team

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/26/17

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Pass Defense a Key for Northmor

Northmor lost for the first time last week and now they have to find a way to fix some things as they get ready for Cardington in another Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference game.

Danville edged the Golden Knights (41-34) last week.

Coach Scott Armrose says they just go too far behind in the game in the first half. “We just couldn’t overcome the mistakes that we made in the first half. We were down 20 at halftime. We got an early score and then we fell down 20 again and to our boy’s credit they never gave up and they fought the whole game. We were able to make it a football game. We had a chance to score or win it at the end and we just ran out of time,” he said.

Danville knocked down a couple of passes in the end zone.

It was a loss, not a win, for Northmor, but Armrose says he found a lot of positive things about his team in that loss. “We want to forget the week before and improve every week anyway, so win or loss that is the way we approach the next week. It doesn’t matter we are going to learn from the mistakes we made. We are going to learn from the experience,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We hadn’t trailed in a football game all season and I wasn’t sure how the boys were going to respond. I can count on these boys there is no quit in them and I know that now.”

Northmor (4-1,1-1) plays at Cardington (2-3,1-1) in a conference game on Friday night. The Pirates lost (51-40) to East Knox in a conference game last Friday night.

Armrose says they have a lot of athleticism. “They have a ton of speed on both sides of the football. They are a big play team. The fullback and the quarterback have tremendous speed. It is going to be quite a challenge to say the least,” he said.

Defense has a been a cornerstone for Northmor all year, now Armrose says they must find a way to defend better in the open field. He says playing good defense is the key. “We have done that all year, really we have. With Danville is was the first week with a team that is really going to spread the field and throw the ball over you. We were used to taking on Lucas and Fredericktown and Crestview. Those teams run right at you. It was a learning experience for us. Cardington is going to be just as much a challenge as Danville was as far as running the spread offense,” said Armrose.

Published 9/26/17

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Wooster Holds Part of “OCC” Lead

Wooster shares the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with Mansfield Senior and Ashland and that at least a little bit of a surprise after they lost all three of their non-conference games.

The Generals (2-3,2-0) play at West Holmes this week.

They stuffed Lexington (21-7) last week.

Coach Doug Haas says he liked how physical they were last week against the Minutemen. “We were certainly pleased with the win. It was a physical, physical game I thought. We were certainly sore getting up Saturday morning, but that is the kind of sore you are willing to deal with from that standpoint. No rest for the weary from that aspect of it we had to turn around and start preparations for an underrated West Holmes team. They have improved every week and we are certainly going to have our hands full. It was a good day one in regards to practice in getting things introduced and what not and continue to progress as the week goes on,” said Haas.

Wooster lost to Orrville, Wadsworth and Dover in non-conference games, but Haas says that really prepared them for play in the conference. “It is one of those things where we felt like we were battle tested. Came up short, obviously, a few times in the non-conference portion of the schedule. We knew it was going to be a challenge and the teams we were going to be playing were going to be good, but at the same time we felt prepared to go into “OCC” play. We are excited about where we are, but we can’t really rest or look back in that aspect of it,” he said.

West Holmes (1-4,1-1) beat Madison (56-20) last week in winning their first game of the season.

Haas says the Knights are a lot different than they have traditionally been, but he thinks they are going to be well prepared for what they will see. “They are lining up in the shotgun and really doing a very good job. Coach Gardner has done a good job and you can tell that they are really well coached on both sides of the ball, really in all three phases. I am impressed from that aspect of it. Certainly, it is a stark contrast to what we are used to with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is nothing we haven’t seen. It is a version of us with the shotgun spread. So, we practiced against it all preseason and throughout the summer time and seen quite a bit of it in the regular season as well. They have some very capable playmakers both from a running back standpoint as well as a wide receiver standpoint. We have to make sure we play some of our best football on the defensive side.”

Published 9/26/17

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Perkins Must be Physical

Clyde is likely the biggest rival for Sandusky Perkins on the football field and the Pirates hope that helps them toward their best performance of the season and they will need it.

They play at unbeaten Clyde it the first Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game of the season for both on Friday night.

Last week, the Pirates (0-5) were humbled by Oak Harbor (37-0) in an inter-divisional game in the “SBC.”

Coach Jason Ziegler says the Rockets were more physical. “It went the exact way we didn’t want it to go. It is unfortunate because they beat us up front. I haven’t seen our team do that is a long a long while. We just got physically handled last Friday up front. We are playing a lot of young kids. We have some injuries. That is no excuse we still have to have kids that need to go out there and take it to them and we didn’t do that. So, we showed the film and we talked about it and that is going to change this week. We are playing a team that is always physical and big up front,” he said.

Clyde (5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, and number two in the computer region, belted Port Clinton (49-3) last week.

Ziegler says this a typical Clyde team and that means they are really good. “Clyde is solid all around. Coach Carter does a great job. Their kids have bought in for years. They have 11 kids that are always going to run to the football. They will punch you, they will knock you around up front and they will also chuck it deep. They are one of the most solid teams we will see. They are one of the more solid programs in the State of Ohio year in and year out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are going to come after you. It is always fun playing them because you know you are in it for four quarters. Their kids aren’t going to give up they are going to fight. We have been there for years. It is not working that way right now, but this is our first league game. Everybody in the league is 0-0. We have the opportunity here to start something and get something going.”

It is the rivalry factor that makes this more of a game than it looks like on paper. Ziegler says they have to play with both emotion and execution. “That is what we are hoping. There is a history there. We have played each other during the regular season and in the playoffs. They are always tough, hardnosed, drag out games. Hopefully this week is different. We are hoping to come out on top. We are going to have to play sound football and physical football in order to beat these guys and our kids know that. We have had the turnover problems. That happened last week with another four turnovers. We have 20 turnovers in five games and that equates to an 0-5 team. We keep stressing hold on to the darn ball, run to the football on defense, and good things will happen. At some point the kids have to buy in and I think this is going to be the week,” said Ziegler.

Published 9/26/17

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Bucyrus Feeling Better

Bucyrus earned its first win of the season last week and now they feel reenergized as the play Colonel Crawford in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

After giving up a score with less than minute to play, the Redmen drove down the field and beat Buckeye Central (36-34) on a Kyle Hamm field goal with :01 second left in the game. “It was reminiscent of last year’s game with Buckeye Central. We were up quite a few points in the first half. Then they kind of chipped away at it. Fortunately for us this year we were kind of able to keep our composure and went down the field and ended the game with a winning field goal,” said Bucyrus coach Aaron Eckert.

Bucyrus went the first three weeks of the season without scoring a point against Galion, Wynford and Marion Pleasant then lost to then unbeaten Carey (48-13) on week four. Eckert says they feel good, but know they have to get better. “Our kids are pretty upbeat about the whole situation. I think they understand too that we didn’t play a perfect football game either. We had opportunities that we squandered. Getting back after (Monday) was a good thing,” he said.

Colonel Crawford (1-4,0-4) has lost its last four, but all to good teams too, and in close games. They have lost conference games to Carey (27-14,) Mohawk (34-20,) Wynford (44-36) and last week to Seneca East (34-28) in overtime.

Eckert says with a few breaks it could be a totally different season for the Eagles. “You can look at their record and say they aren’t a very good football team you would be dead wrong. That record could easily be flipped. They could be 4-1. They have played with everybody they have played,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “There have been points in all of those games when they have been up or had control of the game in some facet or another. To say they are a bad football team is totally wrong. They have some nice offensive weapons, they are a pretty good defense over there, so they are a good football team.”

Not that they can’t throw it, but Eckert thinks that running out of the wing-t the Eagles want to try and play power football. “They have one of the best backs in the league in the Shawber kid, who is a powerful runner. He seems to always fall forward, find a hole and run through it and they have a big offensive line they like to run behind. Haden Bute has improved in the off season. He looks better on film than he did last year. They have a lot of nice pieces over there,” he said.

Published 9/26/17

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Hillsdale Faces Rittman

With a loss last week, the Hillsdale Falcons have fallen a game behind the co-leaders in the tough and balanced Wayne County Athletic League.

They host Rittman this week in a conference game.

Last week, they lost at Northwestern (22-20) in game where coach Tom Williams thinks they just made a few too many mistakes. “I thought Northwestern kids played extremely hard as I knew they would. They played well. Both teams had some mistakes, but it seemed like ours cost us a little bit more maybe than theirs did,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We put the ball on the ground a little bit, which we hadn’t done the first four games and it came back to bite us a little bit. We just didn’t finish off some of our drives as well as we would have liked.”

Turnovers have not really been a problem overall for the Falcons and Williams says they have to get back to where they were before last week against Northwestern. “You have to really limit your turnovers, which we have. We have had only six turnovers on the season at this point. So, if you are only averaging one turnover a game, a little over, that’s pretty good. It just happened a few of them where all in one game and that came back to bite us,” he said.

Hillsdale (4-1,1-1) plays host to Rittman (2-3,0-2) this week. Williams expects the Indians to try and run the ball against them. “They are the same kind of thing they have a lot of tough kids. They are playing a lot of guys both ways, they don’t have a ton of depth. They have been able to run the ball with a little bit of success in the air. Defensively they are just pretty aggressive, so we will have to do a good job staying on blocks,” said Williams.

Published 9/26/17

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Defense Must improve for South Central

South Central has given up over 100 points the last two weeks and they have to a better job of limiting the other guys if they are going to get back on the winning track.

They play at Mapleton on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.

Monroeville piled up more than 500 yards rushing last week in hammering the Trojans (45-7) in a conference game.

South Central coach Corey Fickiesen says they got handled at the point of attack by the Eagles. “They are a lot bigger than us up front and it definitely showed. They pushed us around. We didn’t attack quite like we talked about all week and that’s credit to them they are a good football team with some really good kids up front and good running backs and obviously some good coaches over there. We just didn’t do what we needed to get done and now we have moved on and now we are getting ready for Mapleton,” he said.

South Central (2-3,0-2) plays at Mapleton (2-3,0-2) on Friday night in a league game. Mapleton lost to Crestview (41-16) in a conference game.

Until last week, the Mounties had scored at least 21 points in every game and more than 40 three times.

Fickiesen says they have good balance on offense. “They have they have the Pharmer kid back, who is obviously pretty good. It is his third year starting. Their offense is built around him. He runs the football well. They give you a lot of problems. They can run the football, they can throw it. They line up in some different formations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They make you guard people. They try to take what you are giving them. So, there are a lot of different things we have been tossing around. Hopefully we will be ready Friday night.”

Defense, and who can execute better, likely will determine the winner on Friday night, according to Fickiesen. “That is usually the case if you are able to play well on defense. The last couple of games our defense has struggled a little bit here and there, but our offense hasn’t helped them out with field position and what not. Defense, that is what we are going to be focused on this week. Making sure that we know what they like to do tendency wise and where they like to do it. Keeping an eye on the Pharmer kid, keeping an eye on #3, and just knowing where they are at at all times,” said Fickiesen.

Published 9/26/17

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Co-Leaders Square off in the “N10”

Wynford, Mohawk and Seneca East are the tri-leaders in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference and two of them meet on Friday night as the Royals travel to Mohawk to meet the Warriors.

The Royals (4-1,3-0) remained unbeaten in the “N10” when they handed Carey their first loss of the season (37-20) last Friday night.

That’s four wins in a row for the Royals and coach Gabe Helbert says it was another good all around performance. “I was really happy with our kids and their effort and execution. I thought our coaches did a really nice job putting together a game plan and allowed our kids to be successful. I was very happy overall, but certainly room for growth and improvement. We will try and identify those things and continue to move forward, but really happy with what our kids did Friday night,” he said.

During the winning streak the Royals have clearly gotten better. Helbert says they have been more consistent and more focused in what they are trying to do. “I think we are a little more consistent. I would say that is something we are better at, but that is something we are still trying to promote and push heavy in practice and throughout the week of preparation. I think we have a better understanding of what our job is person to person throughout the entire scheme both offensively and defensively and special teams, but once again it is still a process and there is a long way to go to be a good football team and we are still working to try and get there,” said Helbert.

Mohawk (5-0,3-0) beat Upper Sandusky (31-8) in a conference game last week. They led at one time (4-0) after a couple of safeties and then they turned the offense on.

Helbert says they talented and they are very experienced. “They are very coached you can see that on film. They are very diverse. They do a good job of moving the ball around and get the ball to different athletes. They do an excellent job from a defensive standpoint of playing their defense. They are very fundamentally sound. I think it helps when you return seven or eight starters defensively that played tons of varsity football last year and those kids are talented. They have some very, very good juniors and seniors,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “They have several two and three year starters. They are good, they are talented and they are well coached usually when you have those things you are pretty darn good football team.”

Parker Brown is one the better athletes in the “N10,” plus Helbert says the Warriors are good in the trenches. “Parker Brown, I have been hearing that name for a long time. Brown has been there for three years as a stalwart for them both offensively and defensively. He is a very impressive safety. They are very good up front on both sides of the ball. They are very aggressive, they are physical, but they are very quick too. Again, when you put those things together and you have very good coaching on top of it makes for a very tough team. Our kids are going to have their work cut out for them on Friday night,” said Helbert.

Published 9/25/17

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Lucas Must be Disciplined

Every week is a different sort of challenge on the high school football field and for Lucas this week it is to be disciplined in defending Coshocton’s wing-T offense.

Last week, the Cubs (4-1) had to go to Columbus and play division three Columbus Centennial and they were successful in winning (51-28) in the non-conference game.

The Stars had really good speed, but Lucas coach Scott Spitler says they were the ones that established how the game was going to be played early. “Anytime you go on the road and you playing up like we were you worry about your kids coming out strong at the beginning and I thought our kids did that right from the get go and set the tone for the game. We were able to establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball early and take care of business. I am really proud of how the kids responded to a long road trip and getting the job done,” he said.

Coshocton (1-4) won for the first time this season in beating New Lexington (21-14) on Friday night. The Redskins look like they are getting better.

Spiter says his is a program that expects to win game. “They are a very storied program. I think they have been in the playoffs something like 16 times. They were a final four team last year in division five. I think every coach they have had in the history of their program runs the wing-T. They are very precise and efficient in their execution. They want to play physical football and run the football and keep the ball out of your hands. In different aspects of what they do it is kind of like looking at ourselves,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “I liken their program to with what we faced with West Jefferson last year. They are a very storied program that expects success. They are going to play big boy football so to speak. The kids have to have a great week of preparation and be ready to play physical football on Friday night.”

The wing-T is a deceptive kind of offense with a lot of fakes in the back field. Spitler says they can’t fall for those. “Defensively, especially at the linebacker position we have to have great eye discipline this week and read our keys. The keys don’t involve that backfield. If we go peaking in the backfield they are going to have a good night running the football because we aren’t doing our job. We like to tell our linebackers the guards are like your mom they don’t lie to you. The backs are like your girlfriend they lie to you all of the time,” said Spitler.

Published 9/25/17

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Wynford Hosts Athletic Carey

Wynford and Carey are among four teams to be unbeaten in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play and they play each other as the Royals host the Blue Devils on Friday night.

Seneca East and Mohawk are the others.

Wynford likely played its best game of the season last week when they scored twice in the fourth quarter to beat Colonel Crawford (44-36) in an “N10” game.

Royals coach Gabe Helbert says both teams played well and gave it all they had. “It was a game we needed to win to pursue our goal to win our conference. Colonel Crawford is going to play us tough all of the time. They have a tremendous amount of pride in their program. They have good kids too. They played very hard and once again it was a great high school football game and exciting to be part of,” he said.

Speaking of winning the “N10,” Wynford is the only school to have claimed that trophy.

Since losing on the opening week, the Royals (3-1,2-0) have won three in a row and Helbert believes they are showing improvement, which is always their goal, and something they have to continue to do. “I thought it was our best game against good competition. We hope we are getting better, there is certainly a lot to be said for that. It is just a matter that we need to continue to work extremely hard to be consistent in our effort and our approach. Just how we attack each day and how we attack each week. It is one of those things where we have a long way to go,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are kind of thin from the onset at a small school, so you have to make sure your young guys are getting better and your older guys continue to improve. We can’t get complacent in the league we play in because if we do there are certainly a lot of challenges out there.”

Carey (4-0,3-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Bucyrus (48-13) last week to remain unbeaten in the league.

Helbert says the Blue Devils have athletes all of the field on both sides of the ball. “They are very athletic. They have kids that run to the ball extremely well. They are athletic on the offensive and defensive lines, which makes them very good up front. The back end of their offense and defense, their skilled players, are very talented. Their skilled players are very experienced. Their quarterback is a three year starter and has also played in their secondary. Number 24 (Cody Luzader) is a very impressive football player and both sides of the ball. There are several guys around him. They have a very nice group of athletes that they use in a lot of ways. That is probably the main reason they are off to such a good start,” said Helbert.

Published 9/22/17

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St. Paul Plays is a Big, Strong Plymouth team

Norwalk St. Paul always seems to find a way and this week they are challenged with defending the Plymouth Big Red and their now offense.

Plymouth is now running the double wing, double tight offense made famous in this area by Lucas.

St. Paul (4-0,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, blasted New London (63-0) in a Firelands Conference game last week.

Coach John Livengood says they came out and did the job right from the start of the game. “Our kids came out and played well. We had good execution in all three phases of the game. It started off with a kickoff return by Joey Catalono. Our defense played well. They got the offense back on the field. We were able to get some big plays early on and get a comfortable lead early in the game,” said Livengood.

They led (56-0) at the half and Livengood says that allowed them to get some of their younger kids into the game for some quality experience. “We have been fortunate. I think we have had we have had two, maybe three of our games, where we have played most of the kids on our roster. Our JV’s went in at halftime, in fact we started subbing a little bit in the second quarter. We were able to get all of the kids in and at least two quarters of action in a varsity game, so that is great experience to be able to get out and play under the lights,” he said.

Plymouth (2-2,1-0) buried South Central (56-29) in their conference opener. Livengood thinks the new offense fits the Big Red, and their personnel, very well. “To be honest I really like seeing them in that. It is an old school offense. It reminds me of Lucas and a lot of things we do as well. It is a good hardnosed running game, old fashion football. They do a great job with it and it fits their personnel,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a great, great running back is Seth Bailey. He ran for 300 yards last week against South Central. He is a big 210 pound back. Their fullback Marcus Adams is a big fullback for them and does a great job. Cade Collins their other running back is 210 pounds. They have three big backs. They have a big offensive line. It really suits their talent well and they do a great job running that offense.”

When you face a team like Plymouth they are going to be patient and try and eat the clock. Livengood says it’s important they control first down on defense. “We anticipate it is going to be so important for us to win first down. We can’t be put in a situation where we are second and five. They are very comfortable in that situation. We have got to win first down. We can’t give up three or four yards on first down. They are very content at running three or four yards a pop. The other side of that is they have been able to hit some big plays against teams just by running that offense. Their backs run hard, they break tackles. They are a lot bigger than most of your skilled guys. All three of their backs are bigger than anyone of are starters defensively. So, we have to wrap up, play good line of scrimmage football and make sure we don’t let them get big yards against us,” said Livengood.

Published 9/22/17

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Ontario Wants to Force North Union to Pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/22/17

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Wooster Needs Improvement in Execution

Wooster won their first game of the season last week, but they still need to get a lot better in their execution.

They play host to Lexington on Friday night in a league game.

Wooster (1-3,1-0) beat Madison (45-26) last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

Coach Doug Haas says there were still a lot of mistakes, but they were able to make some big plays really for the first time this year. “It was some sloppy play probably really by both sides. There were 23 penalties between the two teams. It took a whole lot of time that’s for sure. We were still minus two in the turnover category, but we were able to manage to make enough big plays and kind of hang on so to speak for the win. I am certainly proud of the kids for the effort they displayed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We continue to get beat up a little bit and that aspect of it. There was a challenge and the kids really responded to that adversity of being able to make plays when need be at put themselves in a position to be successful.”

There are still a lot of things to clean up for the Generals, but Haas says it is nice to be able to do it after getting a win. “The nice part is to get up on Saturday morning and watch a win and learn from a win. You would much rather try and do that. We have had a good week in and are really proud of how they have come out. It certainly has been a hot week and that has been a challenge as well. We have put our best foot forward it terms of trying to prepare as well as we can for a really quality Lexington team,” he said.

Lexington (1-3,0-1) lost in its first “OCC” game last week (15-13) to Mt. Vernon. They were stopped on a two point conversion with less than two minutes to play.

Cade Stover is one of the best defensive players in the area and now is the Lexington quarterback. Haas says he is the centerpiece. “I don’t think it is a shock to anybody it starts and ends with Cade Stover in regards to what they do both of the offensive side and the defensive side of the ball. They are starting to really develop some other players around him. Moore is an exceptional player on both sides of the ball as well. They are continuing to grow and evolve and get better and what not. We need to continue to do the same. Do the little things that you are supposed to do to win games to win football games. Take care of the football, don’t miss tackles, execute schematically, those types of things are what we need to do better in order to be successful,” said Haas.

On defense, Haas says you have to watch where Stover is at all times and the Minutemen know how to use him. “He plays hard all of the time. He is a very sure tackler. He runs very well. His stats in terms of height and weight bod well with what he can do. There is a reason people are very, very high on him in the recruiting professions. You have to account for him. At the same time, they do such a good job, how do you account for him? We have to make sure we know where his is at. He is kind of that floater and he roams and his just so instinctive in terms of where the ball is going. We get a chance to put a hat on him we have to put a hat on him,” said Haas.

Published 9/22/17

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Port Clinton Must be Better

Port Clinton has won its last three football games, but they are going to get their biggest test, at least since game one, when the visit Clyde to face the Fliers on Friday night.

It’s an inter-divisional game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

The Redskins beat Fremont St. Joe (42-7) last week. Coach Beau Carmon says they continue to get better. “We are a young team, so we are going to continue to see growth. We played better the last three weeks since we got routed by Sandusky on week one. We need to continue to do that when we are playing a team like Clyde because if we don’t do that we won’t have a chance in that game,” he said.

Clyde (4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is coming off a (48-8) win over Toledo Bowsher. They have also beaten Ashland (22-19) and Anthony Wayne (30-27) this year.

Carmon says Clyde is just a solid program. “Coach Carter is a great coach and they have a great staff over there, but above everything it is just the tradition and the program they have had there for a long time. The kids appear the value off season workouts. They are always one of the biggest, if not the biggest and strongest team in the “SBC.” They are physical and they take care of the football and they have a lot of very good football players,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is a team and a program that we kind of want to look at and say we would like to be that someday and be able to compete with them when we play against them and the other good teams in the “SBC,” so it is going to be a really good test for us.”

In order to be in this game on Friday night, Carmon says they have to be as physical as Clyde. “It starts up on the line and we have been pretty good up front on the offensive line. We are pretty healthy. We have been physical up front and we have been able to run the football and we need to continue to do that and be balanced as well. Our quarterback has really come a long way. He hasn’t had any reps at quarterback until this year. Our kids are starting the believe in themselves. They are playing a physical brand of football and we need to continue to do that,” he said.

Last season, Port Clinton beat Clyde (27-21) in one of their biggest wins in the last quarter of a century. However, Carmon doesn’t help them much on Friday night. “Maybe for them it is, but it isn’t for us. I don’t think what happened last year is any is anything that is going to help us at all. A lot of the guys that were on that football team are gone, some of the guys are back that are on that team, so there were out there and they know what it took to beat Clyde. It’s a new year, it’s a new season. We are both different football teams. I am sure they are saying we not going to let Port Clinton come in here and beat us at Clyde, that is certainly the way I would look at it if the game was in Port Clinton. It was a great win for us last year, but that was last year’s seniors, it’s two new football teams and it should be a good football game,” said Carmon.

Published 9/22/17

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Pleasant Faces Physical Marion Harding

Marion Pleasant again is one of the best football teams in North Central Ohio and that should come as no surprise since they have as much tradition on the gridiron as anyone.

They are at home for Marion Harding this week in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

In their conference opener, they buried Galion (45-21) in a game that really wasn’t that close.

Coach Aaron Cook was pleased with the performance. “I was really happy with our kids. I didn’t see that coming at all. Our kids just executed the game plan. Looking at the scoreboard going in a halftime and it’s 45-7 I never dreamt that we would be able to do that against a good Galion team. Our kids came out and played really, really well, so credit to them,” he said.

Pleasant has been pounding opponents with a ground game featuring a number of backs. Cook says that has always been the foundation of their program. “That’s what we do. That has always been my philosophy, it was our philosophy when I was an assistant at Pleasant, when I played at Pleasant. That is what we know and what we have always done. It is just something we try and do. We do try and be balanced. We have that ability, we just have had some success this year running the ball,” said Cook.

Pleasant (3-0,1-0) plays at Marion Harding (3-1,1-0) beat Ontario (21-17) last week. They scored two touchdowns in the second half on fumble returns.

Cook says they are a very athletic team again this year that is very physical. “Anytime you play Harding you are going to see a bunch of athletes. They are no different this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are big up front, they are physical and they present challenges athletically. It is a good football team and for us it is a step up playing a bigger school. That is obviously a challenge and makes it fun.”

Harding has some big kids, but Cook says they have to match their physicality if they want to win the game. “That is one thing we have always preached to our kids. We tell our kids all of the time too we are pretty physical too. We are going to go out and try and play a good football game and execute the game plan and see where the chips fall,” he said.

Published 9/22/17

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Monroeville Wants to Quick Start

Monroeville looks like a football team that is going to be really competitive again this season.

Last week, they established a school record for points in beating Mapleton (66-41) in a Firelands Conference game, running for nearly 600 yards in the process.

Coach Scott Stacher says they really turned it on in the second half. “We played a whale of a second half. It was a contrast of a passing game versus a ground game. We broke out a couple of long runs. I think we had eight or nine plays over 20 yards, we had a couple over 70 yards. We had a kid rush for 397 yards. I think as a team we rushed for 594 or something like that. The kids did a great job the second half running the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Credit to Mapleton, the Pharmer kid is a really good quarterback. We just got a couple more possessions. We got a pick six which helped. I think we intercepted him three times. All in all, we started slow, but ended really good in the second half.”

The Monroeville (3-1,1-0) is at South Central (2-2,0-1) in a conference game on Friday night. The Trojans lost to Plymouth (56-29) last week, when they allowed more than 500 yards on the ground to the Big Red.

Stacher says the Trojans have some athletes and they are playing with a lot of spirit. “They have some weapons. They have a lot more kids out this year with a new, young coach. Enthusiasm is running high. We are on their turf and that will be a challenge is itself. It is going to be a tough Firelands Conference game and we just need to come out and not start slow and play our brand of football,” he said.

For them Stacher says they need to get off to a better start than they have been this year. He says it might be very important. “That could be key. If we could jump out 7-0 and maybe get a turnover here and there and jump out maybe a couple of scores and just keep that going. Last year, I think we scored in eight of our first 10 games, first possession. We just need to go out and do the same thing on Friday night,” said Stacher.

Published 9/22/17

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Clear Fork Faces Big, Tough Buckeye Valley

Clear Fork hosts physical Buckeye Valley in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night at the Colt Corral.

It has been an excellent season for the Colts so far as they are unbeaten and ranked first in their division four computer region after four weeks.

Last week, they outscored North Union 24-0 in the second half and earned a (45-13) win on the road in the conference opener.

Coach Dave Carroll says they had to make some adjustments to what North Union was doing. “The first quarter was really good we jumped up 21-0. Then the second quarter got a little sloppy on both sides of the ball. We let them have some pass plays. We had a couple of mistakes there that would have hopefully slowed their passing game down a little bit. There were things we hadn’t seen out of them before, but they are still things that are built into our defensive scheme that if they do this, here is what we do. A valuable lesson learned for all of us. You have to try and rep things you haven’t seen on film just in case,” said Carroll.

After halftime, Carroll says they were able to come out and do some things. “In the second half we came out on fire offensively and rattled off three touchdowns and then early in the fourth we ended up kicking a field goal. We kind of took care of business. We just have to try and not have that bad quarter,” he said.

This year some teams have come out and done some things they hadn’t shown previously. Carroll says he believe Buckeye Valley is going to be true to what they have been doing though. “Against Jonathan Alder we knew they had a prolific quarterback and some really talented receivers. They threw the ball a lot anyway. When we stopped their run it was all pass and we kind of expected that. That is what we were hoping to be able to do. Last week, we weren’t really sure because North Union was a wing-T team and showed hardly any passing whatsoever, so it is kind of hard to prepare for those what ifs when teams start doing that. We are going to be in that same boat again somewhere. Buckeye Valley throws the ball quite a bit. They are kind of like Jonathan Alder they are pretty spit between run and pass. They are going to run number 5, Trent Davies, the kid that is the leading rusher in the league, a million times, then they are going to throw it to their slots and wide outs. Will they come up with some different things? I know by brother, the D-coordinator, is trying to prepare our kids for anything and everything. We have all of their films,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The more film work you can view and study the more idea who can kind of get on what they could do off of what they already do. I don’t know if Buckeye Valley is the kind of team that would go wholesale change, implement a new offense in a week. I think they do what they do and they are doing it very well. Their back has 750 yards in four games, so I don’t think they are going to do a whole bunch different. We first have to prove that we can slow down that running back. He is very good, probably the best back we have seen so far.”

It looks like a good match-up between Clear Fork (4-0,1-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, and Buckeye Valley (3-1,1-0) and a (28-13) winner over River Valley last week.

Buckeye Valley has not allowed more than three scores in a game and Carroll says the Barons are a big, physical defense. “They are big. They have a 290 pound nose guard and the rest of their linemen are nice size. I think three out of their four linebackers are over 200 pounds. They have nice size up there. If we were going to line up and play and in the box game, running dives and stuff up the gut I would be a little concerned. I would have been concerned trying to do that to North Union, because they were big as well. Our game is we are going to spread you out and try and get our fast guys in space and run the perimeter and get the quarterback up in inside if we think we can and things like that. They are big and strong. Hopefully, our speed will help us out and we can out run them a little bit,” said Carroll.

Published 9/21/17

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Shelby Back at Full Strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/21/17

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Danville Gets Another Tough One

Over last half decade Danville rarely loses a football game, but they did last week and now they face an unbeaten team this week.

Danville lost their first game in the new Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference last Friday when Highland beat them (26-0) in a game where the Blue Devils just couldn’t get anything going. They had been members of the Mid-Buckeye Conference.

Coach Ed Honabarger says the Scots were more physical than them. “It was a defensive struggle for most of the game. They got two late scores in the last four minutes of the game. Defensively we didn’t do horrible. We bent, but didn’t break until the very end where they had good field position and scored twice late on us,” he told Swankoonsports.com on Wednesday, “We just couldn’t get our offense going. Highland is real big, physical team. They are going to win a lot of football games this year. They were better than us on Friday night.”

Honabarger says they are working on ways to get better, but they aren’t going to get bigger overnight. “There are always a lot of ways to fix things once you see the film. Now, you can’t fix superior size or strength, but you can see the little things that you did wrong and try and improve those,” he said.

Danville (3-1,0-1) hosts Northmor (4-0,1-0) in a Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference game on Friday night. The Golden Knights blasted Fredericktown (43-8) to open conference play. They had been just as impressive the first three weeks of the season.

Northmor is led by quarterback Demetrious Johnson, who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field and has done it all year. Honabarger says you can’t let him hit the home run. “He is a special player. Very dynamic and breaks big plays all of the time and that is obviously a concern. With him being the quarterback the ball is going through him every play. We really have to make sure we limit big plays. Somebody like that they are going to get their yards. I don’t know what he is averaging, but if he is averaging 300 yards if we could hold him to 175 we are probably giving ourselves a chance to win the football game,” said Honabarger.

When facing Northmor, Honabarger says you can’t give up the edge or all fail to fill gaps. “You can’t give up the edge. The thing is he can get you up the middle. He doesn’t need much of a seem to get going. Some of their other backs have decent speed too. Speed is a big concern. We need make sure we take good pursuit angles and get a lot of people to the ball. Like I said you want to limit big plays,” he said.

Published 9/21/17

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Plymouth Faces Defending Champs

Plymouth showed the potential its offense had last week and now they receive their biggest test of the season Saturday night as they travel to Norwalk to face the St. Paul Flyers.

Seth Bailey scored six touchdowns last week as the Big Red and their new double tight, double wing offense hammered South Central (56-29) in a Firelands Conference game.

Coach Mark Genders says they were able to win at the point of attack, which is something they have to do. “We controlled the line of scrimmage and that’s what we need to do to have success offensively. We were able to do that and wear them down a little bit. So, we had a good night running the football,” he said.

On Defense, Genders says they were not as sound and not as good as they need to be. “Well, South Central had some pretty good weapons and they made some plays. They fought for four quarters. They presented some challenges for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are a really quick football team. A blown assignment here or there. We weren’t as good defensively as we were even the previous week. We need to take some steps to get the defense off the field.”

Norwalk St. Paul (4-0,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, hosts Plymouth (2-2,1-0) in a conference game on Saturday night.

Genders says the Flyers are more balanced on offense than they were a year ago. “They are very experienced especially on the line. Their quarterback is a senior and he can throw the ball, which is a big improvement for them as far as what they can and can not do with the play action stuff. He can throw the ball as good as anyone in our league. Like I said they are experienced. Their discipline is just continuous year in and year out and it is no different this year,” said Genders.

St. Paul beat New London (63-0) in a conference game last week and the Flyers have only allowed only two touchdowns all year long. Genders says they are very fast to the ball. “They are so fast. At times, it looks like there are 15 of them on the football field. They are one of the fastest football teams we have seen. You are going to have to stay on blocks and execute if not they make you pay,” he said.

Published 9/21/17

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Lucas Faces Speedy Centennial

Lucas make a trip to the Capital City this week as they take on the Centennial Stars of the Columbus City League.

After suffering their only loss of the season so far to Northmor (26-8) on week three, the Cubs rebounded to crush Troy Christian (50-12) last Friday.

Coach Scott Spitler says they played well because they practiced well in preparing for the game. “I think that is the result of the week of preparation they put in. We talked about you have to earn the right to gain victory. Our kids definitely did that last week in practice with the way they prepared day in and day out and it showed on Friday night with their performance,” he said.

Centennial (1-3) is four divisions larger than the Cubs, but Spitler says it is one of the few choices they had in terms of an opponent. “They are on our schedule because of what we talked about once before we are basically an independent football wise. After week three a lot of teams are in their league schedules. It was a situation where we had to find somebody to play or take an off week. They are D-3, a nice sized school out of Columbus,” said Spitler.

The Stars lost to Northland (62-13) in a league game last week. Their only win came on week three with an almost unbelievable score of (86-6) over Fairfield Christian Academy.

Spitler says Centennial has athletes. “The thing that jumps off the film is their length and speed offensively and defensively they have a really solid linebacker,” he said.

Everyone who plays Lucas says their double tight, double wing offense is tough to simulate. Spitler says that is the case for them this week with Centennial. “The tough part of it too is you have to be able to simulate in practice and that is difficult for us to do. We have some tremendous athletes that perform well in what we do with our schemes and stuff, but to try and simulate exactly what they do and the speed that they do it is very tough. Our scout teams are working very hard this week to get us prepared and hopefully it pays off,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I really like the mindset that our kids have this week and how they have come to work each and every day. I think with this little Indian summer that we are having here with the heat and the work you are putting in this week is going to determine how well you are able to perform Friday night. It looks like it is going to be one of the hottest days of the week.”

Published 9/21/17

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Mohawk off to Good Start

Mohawk shares first in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference with Wynford, Seneca East and Carey and the Warriors are unbeaten overall this season.

They play at Upper Sandusky (1-3,0-1) in a conference game this week.

Coach Brent Konkle says he thinks the key to their success this season has been their play in the trenches. “Offensively and defensively we have a lot of experience back on the offensive line and defensive line. My philosophy, and a lot of people’s philosophy, is things start up front. I think we are doing a tremendous job game planning and understanding our game plan every week. I am proud of our kids up front,” he said.

The Warriors, like most teams, has suffered some injuries this season, but Konkle says no matter who is on the field his teammates have confidence in him. “Just like other teams we have went through some injuries and we have had some young guys step in, but the confidence of the team everybody has faith that everybody is stepping and doing the job. We have great senior and junior leadership and the confidence right now is really carrying over,” he said.

Wynford has won every “N10” football title, but this year it appears to be more balanced and Konkle says there are a lot of good teams. “We have played Crawford and Buckeye, we have only played two league games. Crawford is, I think, pretty good. Right now, they are going through their meat grinder with Wynford and Seneca East and they have played Carey. I think it is a very balanced league. I think Seneca East is good, I think Carey is good. Not to mention Wynford last because they are always the first one on the list,” said Konkle.

He thinks that good competition they have seem, and will see, is going to make them a better football team. “I think we started out with a good non-league game with Margaretta and got good confidence there. Upper is going to come in and battle. They have played some of the tough teams, they have played Carey. You have to be prepared week to week,” he said.

Upper Sandusky was throttled by Edison (42-0) in a non-league game last week. The Rams lost their only league game to Carey (31-16) a couple weeks back. However, Konkle says they have some guys that can make plays and they are going to be aggressive. “They have run the ball well. One kid had 300 some yards one week. I think their quarterback, the Vent kid, is pretty good, he is one the better athletes we have seen this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They score some points, they are willing to take some risks, they chuck it deep. They have a good running game. Defensively, they bring the house at times. They are really aggressive on defense. If we block them we could have some big plays, but they could have big plays.”

Published 9/21/17

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Line of Scrimmage Big For Perkins

The Perkins Pirates made some steps forward last week, but they have to mare a few more they hit the road for Oak Harbor on Friday night.

It was a loss last week to Vermilion (35-12,) but coach Jason Ziegler says he saw some good things that maybe he hadn’t seen previously. “It’s hard to say losing and you are heading in the right direction, but I feel like we did. We corrected a lot of our mistakes from the previous two weeks. Just the ball exchange and getting the ball to the quarterback. That got fixed. I think our offense we moved the ball. We had over 300 yards rushing and close to 100 yards passing. The biggest thing we need to correct from last week is we were inside the five three times and only came away with three points,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “That’s a big deal and that is something we need to correct. We you get that close to the end zone, when you get inside the ten, you have to come away with six, so our kids understand that. That is what kind of caused our downfall against Vermilion.”

No matter the level of football you have to score when you get down close. Ziegler says that was part of their discussion on Saturday morning. “We kind of talked to our players about how you march it all of the way down there and get inside the five at the point in time it is man on man, it’s who wants it more is those types of situations. That is why I love this game so much it is situations like that where we are going to see who the better man is. Unfortunately, on Friday night their kids stepped up a little bit more. I do give our kids credit it was a great practice week and so far this week it has been a great practice week and our kids are still fighting. They understand they are still playing for something. We haven’t started our league play. I tell our kids this is actually our last preseason game. After this week, we start playing in the Lake Division, which is the last five game,” said Ziegler.

Oak Harbor (2-2) beat Tiffin Calvert (10-0) last Saturday to get to the .500 mark.

Ziegler says the Rockets are a pretty good team that is physical in the trenches. He says they have to win the point of attack. “They are coached very well. Their offensive and defensive lines are probably the best we have seen. They are big, they are strong and this game is going to be a battle up front. If we can control the line of scrimmage we are going to have an opportunity to win. If we get pushed back and pushed around in the trenches we might as well just cash it in. I think our kids are understanding that challenge and not taking it lightly. They are coming in saying we are going to win up front and we are going to stop their best player,” said Ziegler.

Published 9/21/17

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Colonel Crawford Getting Closer

If there has been a tougher schedule for a small school football team this season so far I haven’t seen it and it continues this week as Colonel Crawford hosts unbeaten Seneca East in Northern 10 Athletic Conference action.

This year the combined record of the Eagles (1-3,0-3) first four opponents is 11-5 and four of those losses are by Mt. Gilead. The only other belongs to Wynford.

The Royals beat Crawford (44-36) last week with a surge in the fourth quarter that gave Wynford the win.

Coach Ryan Teglovic says it was likely the best game they have played all year. “I was very proud of the way the kids played. They played extremely hard. I thought it was probably our best effort of the year overall. We went into the fourth quarter with the lead. There was a momentum swing in the fourth quarter. There was a fourth and three that we got called back. We executed it and it got called back. From there on I felt like momentum kind of swung and got us and Wynford prevailed in the fourth quarter,” he said.

Coaches are not into moral victories, however, Teglovic likes the progression he is seeing and he couldn’t be more proud of the effort he is getting from the kids. “I thought we were much, much closer this last week. I feel like we are playing good football, better football every week. I think that if we can continue to do that and keep the guys focused then obviously there will be some wins in front of us. So, I have been pleased with our guys, I have been pleased with their efforts, pleased with how they have been able to bounce back through this. It is life and they are going to have a lot more adversity than three losses. They have handled it very well, consistently moved forward, and that is all I can ask from them,” said Teglovic.

Seneca East (3-0,1-0) hammered Sandusky St. Mary’s (33-6) in a non-conference game last Saturday.

Teglovic says the Tigers are good again this season and they have a team with a lot of athletes on the roster. “They are extremely athletic, probably the most athletic team in the league. They have lots of athletes on the edge, lots of guys that have played for the last couple of years with good experience. Obviously, Brock Martin is one the best football players in our league, so we will have our hands full trying to stop him. The Swartzmiller kid is a phenomenal athlete. The quarterback, even though he is young, he does a lot of nice things as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The same kids are on the defensive side of the ball too. They bring just a tremendous amount of athleticism and speed really in all areas of the field. It is a very good team.”

Published 9/20/19

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Mt. Vernon Challenges Ashland

Mt. Vernon is a pretty good football team that not many people are talking about. They will start if they win this week.

They play host to Ashland in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

Last week, they stopped a Lexington two point conversion with just over a minute to play and beat the Minutemen (15-13) in a league game.

Coach Mike Kerr says their defense really did an excellent job. “Our kids really played well and played hard with great effort and really maintained focus through the game. When it came down to it our defense made a couple of huge plays and helped us though that game. We are really happy right now,” he said.

The Yellow Jackets (2-2,1-0) are really pretty close to being unbeaten having lost to Marion Harding at the horn (14-10) and to Buckeye Valley (17-9) on week three.

Kerr says they need to keep getting better. “I told our kids we are three or four plays from being 4-0. It is all about learning and learning from our mistakes and not making the same mistakes again. It is a few plays here or there that go one way or the other and that is really what has separated us in all these games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Luckily on Friday night we were able to make those plays where against Buckeye Valley or Marion Harding we didn’t make those plays. That is part of growing up. I am really proud of our kids and proud of where we are. I think we will just continue to get better and clean those things up.”

Ashland (3-1,0-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Uniontown Lake (21-7) last week. Their only loss comes to unbeaten Clyde (22-19) on week two,

Kerr says they are very good. “They are pretty impressive as they normally are. They are always well coached. You know they know what they are doing. They have some pretty special athletes. A 6’6’”, 6’5” throwing the ball up and they are running the ball a little bit more this year and that defense is really getting after it. We are really impressed with them on film, they look really good,” he said.

Ashland runs the empty backfield, five wide offense, and Kerr says they try to get you in one on one situations and if that happens they have to make the plays. “That is what’s tough about their system and a lot of the systems these days is they try and get you into those one on one match-ups. I think our kids are pretty confident in those. We have worked on that since day one. We know that is the direction that football is going and you have to be able to make those plays. Those are the defining plays of the game lots of times. If our kid makes that tackle we might win. If their kid makes our guy miss they probably win. It’s a tough battle, but our kids are excited about the challenge. We are looking forward to it. We have a lot of confidence going in, but also understanding it is a big task ahead of us,” said Kerr.

Published 9/20/17

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Norwalk Faces Talented Shelby

Norwalk broke a two-game losing streak with a win last week over Margaretta, but their challenge is going to be much tougher when they travel to Shelby to face the Whippets.

Last week, the Truckers beat Margaretta (38-20) and coach Chris MacFarland says he was most proud that is players were able to react to the challenges they faced. “I am really pleased with the way our kids responded from the week before. We had two tough losses in a row and really went back to some basics. The kids did a great job of preparation during the week and went out and executed. I was also proud of how the kids of the way they handled themselves during the game. We made a lot of adjustments and a lot of changes of things. It is good when your kids go out there and execute what you are doing on the sidelines. We are pleased with where we are and we are looking forward to another great week of practice getting ready for Shelby,” said MacFaland.

Norwalk (2-2) is at Shelby (4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, for an inter-divisional game in the Sandusky Bay Conference. The result of the game will not an affect the conference standings for either.

After getting quarterback Brennan Armstrong back last week in a (46-0) win over Bellevue, the Whippets get running back “Shorty” Brooks this week. MacFarland says it’s a tall order. “They did a nice job the first three weeks. The backup quarterback did a great job. Armstrong was back in last week and they get their running back back this week. So, they will be back at full strength for us. That is good for us we like to play everybody at their best. I want to give credit to offensive line, which has played very solid no matter what athlete they put back there at running back, receiver, quarterback, they have done a nice job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Defensively we have a tall order to go in and really try and disrupt some things and maybe get some confusion on the offensive line, so we can try and get to the quarterback or slow them down a little bit. Offensively we are going to have to go out and try and match them. They have a lot weapons that can score. We are going to have to control the football and make sure we get our opportunities to get in the end zone also. It should be a great match-up and we are excited about getting to play them.”

MacFarland says they are going to have to play a little keep away from the explosive Shelby offense. “When look at offense like that they are going to get their stats and their yards and some of those things. Hopefully, we keep them out of the end zone and not give up big plays. Offensively we have to do our job and really control the game and make sure all of our possessions count. If we can do that and get ourselves in some kind of shootout or a balanced back and forth type of game you never know what will happen with high school kids and how they respond to pressure. We are looking forward to maybe giving our best effort and getting after it. I think special teams will be big this week also,” he said.

Published 9/20/17

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Northmor Continues to Roll

Northmor has been one of the feel good stories of the 2017 football season so far. A program that has had a lot more losing seasons than winning ones over the last 30 years, is unbeaten on the season.

They destroyed Fredericktown (43-8) last Friday on the opening night of play in the new Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference.

First year head coach Scott Armrose says it was an important win for them. “To start conference play in the first year in a new conference we felt like our football team was headed in the right direction and we wanted to make a statement and play a good game to get a good start in league play,” he said.

He adds they have scored some points, but they have been very good on defense too. “The last two weeks we have given up touchdowns late against some of our backups. We are playing very, very good defense right now,” he said.

Armrose knows who to credit when it comes to the defense that the Golden Knights have been playing this year. “Coach Morgan is our defensive coordinator. I talked to coach Morgan here in the early spring and my sales pitch was, hey, this is your defense, you call the shots, you make the plans and I going to give you the freedom to do what you want. He has done that and it is probably the best decision I think I have ever made,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He is insane when it comes to breaking down film. He puts in the hours and when I say hours I am not speaking figuratively, I mean he puts in the hours. He puts together a good plan, but it is not a crazy plan, it’s plan our kids can execute, and a plan our kids buy into. That is why we have been so successful defensively.”

Northmor (4-0,1-0) travels to Danville (3-1,0-1) to take on a traditional power in the Blue Devils. Danville lost their first game as part of the new league (26-0) at Highland last week in their first loss of the year.

Armrose says the Blue Devils are going to be a much different challenge for them than they have been seeing this season. “Danville is a different kind of challenge. The last few weeks we have played Lucas and Crestview and Fredericktown, teams that want to pound the ball. Danville is going to spread the field and throw the ball around. So, it is definitely a different challenge. They have five receivers and then two tight ends and three receivers. They use every bit of the field and do it very well. They have a really good quarterback in Skyler Durbin that can really throw the ball around. Then they can spread you out and he can run the ball. So, it is quite a challenge for us this week ,” said Armrose.

Published 9/20/17

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Madison is Close

Madison likely put together their best game of the season last week and now they need to take a couple more steps and get a win on Friday night against visiting West Holmes in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

After not scoring any more than 10 through their first three games of the season, Madison lost (45-26) at Wooster in “OCC” action last week.

Coach Jamie Masi says it was a step in the right direction for them, especially on offense. “I thought our play on the offensive side of the ball was much improved. I thought our quarterback play was better. I saw some guys go out and make some great plays. I thought we did a pretty good job of not turning the ball over. We got some foolish penalties that hurt us. Offensively we made some pretty big strides and we are continuing to get better on defense too,” said Masi.

Madison has not won since week three of the 2016 season. They have lost their last 10. Masi feels they are just this close to a win and are capable of getting it this week. “We have a real good opportunity. West Holmes is coming to our place and they are having some struggles as well. They definitely still have some ability. They have some guys that are definitely capable of making some big plays. That concerns us. Every week we feel like we are getting better and we have a good opportunity to win an “OCC” game this week,” he said.

West Holmes (0-4,0-1) lost at Mansfield Senior (41-27) in an “OCC” game last week. They have a new coach this year in Zach Gardner and Masi says their approach on offense has turned 180 degrees. “Well they are so much different than they have been in the past. For years they were that unbalanced two to three backs heavy, heavy run. This year it is quite a bit different. They are a spread offense and they are throwing the ball all over the place,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They still run trap and counter very well, so we have to do a good job stopping the run, but they are doing a really good job of throwing the ball and getting it to different guys.”

On defense, Masi says they are going to try and force the Rams to throw the ball more than they want to and take them out of what they would rather do. “Defensively they stack a lot of bodies in there to stop your run and force you to throw the ball a little more than we want to. So, if we can’t get our run game going as good as we hope we are going to be forced to throw the ball. I think that is what they want you to do. Coaching wise they do a nice job. It will be a challenge for us,” said Masi.

Published9/20/17

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South Central Must Stop Run

South Central is dealing with some injuries in the skilled positions and they have to find a way to stop the run as they host Monroeville on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.

They allowed Seth Bailey to score six touchdowns as Plymouth used the double wing, double tight offense to roll over the Trojans (56-29) in a conference game last week.

Coach Corey Fickiesen says they just weren’t very good at stopping the run at all. “It is something that you don’t get to see very often and in practice it is so hard to simulate it because it is something you kids never see. Defensively so many of your rules go out the window. We just didn’t come to play like we needed to and they were able to run the football. So, that is something we have been working on getting fixed this week,” he said.

South Central (2-2,0-1) likely will be without the services of running back/linebacker Marcus McCormick again this week. Fickiesen says they have some injuries, but that means other kids have to step up. “We do have some guys out, but at a small school during football season everyone has some guys hurt. You just have to have other kids step up and you have to keep playing. You can’t sit back and whine and complain about it or you are going to continue to get beat. Other guys just have to step up and work a little bit harder and fill some new roles. So that is what we are doing this week,” said Fickiesen.

Monroeville ran for more than 500 yards, Tche Leroux accounting for 397 on his own, as the Eagles (3-1,1-0) belted Mapleton (66-41) in a conference game. They established a new school record for points in a game in the win.

Fickiesen says they know Monroeville is going to try and run the ball on them and they have to find a way to get off blocks. “Last week we weren’t really able to stop the run really well and now we come back and play Monroeville and the one kid had almost 400 yards by himself against Mapleton. Again, we have to get those things fixed and get them fixed now so that we are ready for Monroeville. They are a great team with some big kids up front, a big, bruising, running back that also has some speed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have some other kids that are quick. Obviously, their coaches have done a great job over the last couple of years of turning it back around over there and getting some things going. We are just getting ourselves focused and ready. The main emphasis is stopping the run.”

Published 9/20/17

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Hillsdale Takes on Northwestern

Hillsdale is one of four teams in the Wayne County Athletic League with unbeaten records through four weeks of the season. They play at Northwestern on Friday night in a league game.

Norwayne, Dalton, and Smithville are the other unbeatens.

Hillsdale (4-0,1-0) beat Waynedale (39-16) in the league opener last week.

Coach Tom Williams says they were able to make some big plays at the right times. “We played pretty well, we just had some breakdowns in the first half that just kept the game a little closer than it should have been. We let them convert a couple of fourth downs and a couple of third and longs that got us in a little bit of trouble. We played a little bit better in the second half and we were able to kind of pull away. Trace Stiltner had a big game for us with three touchdowns and he scored in three different ways, which is pretty cool,” he said.

Coaches talk about consistent execution, but many times high school football games are won by the team that can make the big plays. Williams says they have been able to do that. “We had a couple of crazy plays in that game. Trace had an 82-yard punt return. We go out and get a three and out stop at the beginning of the second half and they punt it to us and he runs in back 82 yards. In many ways that ended the game, so it was a big play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “For him we had a little swing pass, he catches it, their guy has a chance to knock it down and he doesn’t and he is gone, 40 yards for a touchdown. That change of hey you are able to knock a pass down to hey we caught it and it is gone for a touchdown, what a big change in momentum.”

Northwestern (1-3,0-1) lost at Smithville (27-14) last week in their conference opener. They have also lost tough ones to Black River (21-13) and Columbia (26-21) in non-conference play. Their win comes over Loudonville (42-7) in their opener.

Williams says the Huskies are better than that record probably indicates at first glance. “They are a good football team. They have some tough kids and they used to winning games over there, so we will have our hands full. They just have a tough group of kids over there and we will have our hands full. They have one touchdown games against a couple really good football teams,” he said.

Published 9/20/17

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Ashland Facing Stingy Mt. Vernon

Ashland opens up play in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, they are defending co-champs, with a visit to Mt. Vernon to play the Yellow Jackets.

Mt. Vernon beat the other defending co-champ Lexington (15-13) in their “OCC” opener last week.

Ashland (3-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Uniontown Lake (21-7) in a non-conference game.

Coach Scott Valentine says they did some good things on both sides of the ball. “Going in we knew they were a good program, so we knew it was going to be a battle all four quarters. I really felt our defense did a good job containing their running back. We did a great job coming down hill and tackling him. We didn’t let them score on offensive touchdown,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Unfortunately, we gave up a special teams one. Defensively we had a great game. Offensively we made some big plays and Keagan ran the ball well for us. It was one of those things where we had to take what they gave us. They had eight guys covering the pass, so he is going to have to run it, and that’s what he did.”

Valentine believes this team is improving week by week. “Over the first four weeks. I think each week we have gotten better, but what we tell our guys is we definitely haven’t played our best game. We still have things we have to get better at doing, so we are going to go back to work this week,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (2-2) also has a (31-0) win over Newark to its credit. Valentine says they are pretty solid. “They have done a nice job. They held Lex down last week. Some of the other opponents they have played against they have done a nice job against them. We are going to have to look and see how we can try and to impact them and try and make some plays,” says Valentine.

Valentine says the Yellow Jackets are going to bring a lot of players from a lot of angles to try and get pressure on quarterback Keagan Armitage. “They run a 3-3 stack most of the time. Sometimes they get in a four man front. They are going to bring pressure from different directions. So, you are just going to have to be ready to pick up the pressures they bring,” he said.

Published 9/19/17

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Crestview Must Contain Mapleton

Crestview won their first Firelands Conference game last week and they are looking to go 2-0 in the conference with a win at Mapleton on Friday night.

They buried Western Reserve (41-3) last week and coach Dan Mager says they played well in all elements of the game. “As a coach that’s what you want. You want your offense and your defense and the special teams to all do their job and we had a pretty complete game. They drove down on their first drive and we held them to a field goal. We kind of took care of business in all three phases,” he said.

Mager believes they have shown improvement as a team, especially on the offense side of the ball. “It has taken the offense a little longer to get going. Those first two games we lost were close games and both of those teams are undefeated, so they are definitely good teams. After we lost to Hillsdale we just had to get focused and reset ourselves and hopefully we keep it going,” he said.

Mapleton (2-2,0-1) was involved in one of the widest games of week four when they lost to Monroeville (66-41) in a Firelands Conference game. It was an all-time record for points for the Eagles.

Mager says the Mounties have some weapons on offense that they are concerned with. “We are very concerned about that. We have some film on them against Hillsdale. They have some really good running backs and receivers and of course they have (quarterback Logan) Pharmer, a three year starter. Coach Mahaney over there does a good job offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It was a big surprise on the Monroeville deal, I just never dreamed they would give up 60 points. I haven’t looked at the films super close to look at the whole dynamic of that game. We are really concerned about their offense.”

Crestview has scored more than 40 points their last two games and Mager says they have to put their weapons to good use too and become more balanced with the ball. “Offensively we have a lot of weapons. The last couple of weeks we threw the ball seven to 10 times for well over 100 yards passing and a good percentage. Early the season we really didn’t establish much and we are really looking to do that. We have Garett Dudley and Cameron Shifflet out at our receiver postions. We are a pretty good running team. Hopefully we balance things out a little bit, which gives defenses a little more concern,” said Mager.

Published 9/19/17

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Galion Refocusing

Galion lost for the first time last week and now they are trying to refocus and get down to business as they play River Valley in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

Pleasant scored three times in the first quarter and went on to blast the Tigers (45-21) in the conference opener last week.

Coach Matt Dick says it’s simple, they got outplayed. “I think Pleasant is a great program and they have great tradition there and I think those kids played hard and played fast and we still have some learning to do adjust to as talented team as them. I just think their schemes, their coaching, their team, all around, they just outplayed us. From a coaching standpoint, players standpoint, hustle standpoint, hitting standpoint,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It was a good night for them. The good news is there is a lot of good film for us to watch. It is one or two things here or there on plays. If we can clean up those one or two things we are going to be able to play better defense and play better offense.”

After their first loss, Dick says it is important at all levels for them to understand the things that are going to make them a better football team. “Being 3-0 sometimes they don’t pay attention as much as they should to the little details and as a coach maybe you don’t pay as much attention, but when you lose that first one, and you hate losing as much as we hate losing, we are going to come and we are going to have the best week of practice and we are going to work hard and we are going to push to take that next step. I think River Valley is a great team to challenge ourselves, just like any other “MOAC” team, they will be a tough opponent,” said Dick.

River Valley (2-2,0-1) lost their “MOAC” opener (28-13) at Buckeye Valley last week.

Dick says the Vikings want to be a power football team and on defense they are adept at stopping the run too. “They play smash mouth football. They play solid defense. Every team in the “MOAC” has their different pluses and minuses. I think River Valley’s two running backs are as good as any two in the conference. Tackling those guys on a repeated basis is a challenge. Defensively, they have good inside linebackers, a big defensive line that is going to be hard to move,” he said.

Published 9/19/17

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Clyde Getting Ready For Inspired Port Clinton

Clyde has become one of the more consistent football programs in this area and Port Clinton is getting there and they meet in an inter-divisional game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

This game will not count in the league standings.

Clyde buried Toledo Bowsher (48-8) in a non-conference game last Friday night.

Coach Ryan Carter says they got out to a good start in the game, but they still have plenty of the things to work on this week. “We got off to a good start and about halfway through the second quarter it was 28-0. We had some areas I though halfway through that second quarter and into the third that we were a little deficient at. We turned the ball over a little bit too much. We spent three out of our first four weeks in Toledo. So, to go up there and get win and get out of there and now we are home for a little bit we were definitely going to take that. It was 28-0 and then they scored in the third quarter to make it 28-8, so it was a little closer than what the final outcome was. I was proud of our kids going on the road and getting a win,” said Carter.

Clyde (4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays host to Port Clinton (3-1) coming off a (42-7) win over Fremont St. Joe last week.

Carter says the Redskins are solid and beyond everything else they have the attitude that they are going to be successful when they take the field and that is the mark of a good team. “Coach Carmon has done a great job with that program and getting their kids to really buy in. They graduated a bunch of their really good skilled athletes from last year. They had a couple of kids that went on to play college football. They still have very good players, but the biggest thing when you watch them is their kids believe they are going to win each and every time they take the field now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, it is important for us to have a good week of practice and get a little health, and we have to be ready to go because their kids will definitely come in here expecting to win and with them beating us last year also they will definitely have confidence against us. We have our work cut out for us, but we are happy to be home and happy to have the opportunity to play again Friday night.”

Port Clinton beat Clyde (27-21) last year when both were in the same division of the “SBC” before expansion.

Carter knows Port Clinton is going to come with fire in their eyes. “Coach Carmon has changed that culture and they believe they are going to win, so we definitely have our work cut out for us,” he said.

Published 9/19/17

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Seneca East Tangles with Colonel Crawford

Seneca East plays its toughest game of the season so far when the Tigers take the bus to North Robinson to take on the Colonel Crawford Eagles in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

`They hammered Sandusky St. Mary’s (33-6) in a non-conference game last Saturday night.

Coach Ed Phillips says they did a lot of good things on Saturday night, but he highlights the special teams play in particular. “It was a pretty well rounded game for us, especially defensively and special teams we played outstanding. Sometimes you don’t talk about special teams, but our kickoff and punt units were exceptional in that game. Bo Smith’s punting did a great job of really switching the field position for us. He had a couple of punts over 60 yards in the first half and it helped to get us rolling,” said Phillips.

The punt can be a big play in terms of momentum, good or bad, and Phillips says for them in was clearly a positive. “It can be devastating, but it was the opposite for us. We had some penalties on a couple of drives in the first half that stalled us a little bit. When he boomed the one that went over their head and then we were able to pin them with our defense. We just kind of rolled from there,” he said.

Colonel Crawford (1-3,0-3) is off to a slow start to the season after a third straight loss to Wynford (44-36) last week. They have also lost to Carey (27-13) and Mohawk (34-20) in conference games.

However, Phillips is not fooled. He says they know the Eagles are a darn good football team. “I told the guys (Monday) they are the best 1-3 team you will ever see. They have had a tough opening schedule and some bounces not go there way, but they are absolutely a quality football team that you better be ready for,” he said.

Colonel Crawford has the ability to throw the ball, but Phillips says when you get down to it, the Eagles want to be a power football team. “They are kind of an old school team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are really big and physical and they like to run the football. Their quarterback is doing a good job this year and he has some nice skill out at receiver. They are certainly not one dimensional. They can run the ball and throw the ball. I think if coach Teglovic had his druthers he likes to run the football.”

Published 9/19/17

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Fredericktown Has to Establish Run

Fredericktown has not been able to do much offensively this year and they trying to make some changes to enable that to happen.

Last week, they were beaten pretty handily by undefeated Northmor (43-8) in Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference game.

Coach William Hartley says they didn’t execute well on offense or defense. “We knew trying to stop Demetrious Johnson was going to be a big challenge and he proved to be everything he was on tape. His speed really hurt us on the edge and then when we tried to commit more guys to the edge he hurt us up the middle as well. He was also able to compete some passes against us, which he had not been consistently able to do in previous games. He was just a handful all night and as I said last week they have enough guys that were able to complement his skills. They have a tough offense to defend. They are playing really outstanding defense right now. I think if you look overall at the game our inability to get anything going offensively really put us in a bind and obviously the results show that,” said Hartley.

Hartley says depth has been a problem on the offensive and defensive lines for the Freddies. He says they are trying to find some solutions. “We are trying different things and different personnel groupings and different sets. One of the biggest things we looked at this weekend is we had such promise on the offensive line and still we are in the first half of the season and time to reach that potential. With our lack of the depth we are asking a lot of those big guys to go both ways and it is just really, really hard for them to do that and preform at the level we need them too,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, we are looking to just maximize the amount of kids we have and the reps that we give them and try get some of those bigger guys off of both sides of the ball. Hopefully, that can help us generate some offense. We have to be able to get our running game going. Our offense is based on run and power, so we have to be able to get those things going in order to get the rest of the offense going. We have been really inconsistent and struggle at times and that was very evident during the Northmor game.”

Fredericktown (1-3,0-1) is at Mt. Gilead (0-4,0-1) on Friday night in a league game. East Knox beat the Indians (41-0) last week.

Hartley says the Indians have athletes that will be difficult to contain. They have shown that this year. “They are also searching for an identity themselves. They have some really nice athletes. Mason Mollohan is a big 6’5” tight end. I think he has some colleges looking him for both football and basketball. They have a really nice quarterback. He is very athletic and throws a nice ball and keeps a lot of plays alive with his movement in the pocket. They have been throwing the ball a lot, but you don’t know if that is what they want to do or because they have been trailing in games. We have to be ready to have a strong defensive performance against them. We have to be able to get pressure on the passer and be sound in coverage and hopefully get some turnover as well,” said Hartley.

Published 9/19/17

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Columbian Working Hard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/19/17

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Lexington Working on Teamwork

Lexington got stopped at the goal line in attempt to tie the game last Friday and they are still trying to work better as a unit on offense.

Cade Stover scored with about a minute and half left Friday night, but Mt. Vernon stopped the Minutemen on a two point conversion and beat Lexington (15-13) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they didn’t execute the way they can when they have the ball. “Anytime you don’t come out on top it is tough. We didn’t play offensively the way we know we can play. So, when that happens it shouldn’t a surprise when you don’t come out victorious and unfortunately that is what happened for us,” he said.

Lexington scored more than 40 in a (48-35) win over Orrville on week three, but in their other three games they have struggled to score much at all. Gerhardt says they are still trying to work together as a unit better than they have been so far. “I have talked this season that our biggest challenge was learning how to play together and offensively that is a very tough task because defensively you react, you certainly have responsibilities and checks and understand what you job is, but offensively you have to work in concert with 10 other guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “It is actually a lot tougher than anybody actually understands until they have done it. These kids haven’t been together very long and we are struggling a little bit with that. We have struggled a little bit with injuries up front. So, we haven’t had a lot of consistency with the same players in positions and it has shown. Saying all of that Mt. Vernon has a heck of a defense. They play defense over at Mt. Vernon. No matter is we have struggles or not Mt. Vernon was able to do things against us that whether we were clicking or not was going to give us troubles.”

Lexington (1-3,0-1) plays at Wooster (1-3,1-0) in an “OCC” game on Friday night. The Generals won their first game of the year in outscoring Madison (45-26) last week.

They have not shown the kind of explosiveness they have in the past few years, and running back Trev Mathis is out for the year with a broken foot. However, Gerhardt says they still have some kids that can make plays. “Wooster has some talent. They always have talent. They have kids that can hurt you on any play. They have started slow before and then rolled. So, this is a football team that is full of very good football players as always. They have staff over there that puts their kids in positions to be successful. This league that we play in you can’t sleep at all because there are a lot of hardnosed players and tremendous coaches all around the league and Wooster is no different. They have kids that can play ball and if you are not ready to go it is going to be a long night for you,” said Gerhardt.

Published 9/18/17

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Defense Has to be Better for Mapleton

Usually when you score more than 40 points you are going to win the football game, but that was not the case for the Mapleton Mounties last Friday.

They lost their Firelands Conference opener (66-41) to Monroeville, allowing more than 500 yards rushing and the Eagles broke their school record of points in a game,

Coach Robert Mahaney says they must get off blocks better, something they didn’t do very well last week. “Our biggest struggle was defeating blocks. They were really good up front and they kind of controlled the line of scrimmage and we really struggled to get off blocks and get to the football and then when we had opportunities we didn’t tackle well enough,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Definitely defense is going to be a big focus for us going into this week and in general for the rest of the season. I think when it comes down to it we have to play with a little more heart and decide I am not going to let myself get blocked and I am going to go make a play.”

Offense has not been a problem for the Mounties this season. They have scored at least 40 in their last two games, the previous two being wins over Wellington (49-19) and Rittman (47-21) in non conference play.

Mahaney says turnovers have hurt them, including last Friday. “We have a pretty explosive offense. Like we have talked about in the past we have been able to run and throw the ball this year. We have had some issues with turnovers and that is something we have to sure up. We did a better job of getting to the end zone last week. If we score 41 points we should be in place to win a ball game. We had some turnovers that hurt of defense and we have to do a better job protecting our defense,” he said.

Mapleton (2-2,0-1) is at home for Crestview (2-2,1-0,) a (41-3) winner last Friday against Western Reserve in their conference opener.

Crestview has more than 80 players on its team and Mahaney says they do a good job of both sides of the ball. “Crestview is a really good football team. They have a ton of kids on the team. They have big senior class that has a lot of experience that has played for coach Mager now for three years in a row, so he has them going on offense running their stuff and Jay Oswalt is a really good runner, their quarterback. Defensively they do a really good job of defeating blocks and getting to the football,” said Mahaney.

Focus is going to a huge goal this week because Mahaney says there is going to be a big opportunity not to be. “It is also fair week for both of us with Ashland County Fair. So, a lot of kids are going to be in and out of practice and showing their animal. It is going to be a lot mentally to be able to stay focused and get things done this week,” he said.

Published 9/18/17

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Colts Must Stop Run Against North Union

Clear Fork, unbeaten in non-conference games this year, will travel to North Union to open up play in a new league, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, against the Wildcats on Friday night.

Last week, the Colts (3-0,0-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat a former “MOAC” member in Jonathan Alder (28-14) to start the year with three straight wins.

Coach Dave Carroll says they did a good job in reducing turnovers, but they still must do a better job catching the ball. “The number one emphasis was no turnovers. After two fumbles and an interception in the Bellevue game we came back last week and didn’t have any turnovers at all. So, that is a big start, a big step. Another emphasis is we have to catch football when it is thrown to us. We had some opportunities, but we dropped some again. We thought we really could have got out in front of those guys. A couple times we had some pass plays that were thrown really well by our quarterbacks and the receivers weren’t able to bring them in. That has been a big point of emphasis the last two weeks and again this week we have got to make those catches. You are skilled guys, bring them in, get the yards, let’s go,” said Carroll.

Defense has been very good for Clear Fork this year. They have not allowed more than two scores in any game. Carroll says they have been solid at every level. “Up front we have some bigger kids up there this year and that is a huge difference. They are stronger kids. They get good push and they are doing a good job of reading their keys and getting off blocks and getting to the ball. Doing a good job of playing with their eyes and finding the football. Of course, that helps out your linebackers and Jacob Bailey and Jay Swainhart are doing a really good job. Our outside backers Bobby Costello and Trevon Trammell are doing a really good job as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Our secondary was challenged for the second week in a row with a really good quarterback and a really good receiver. They got some passing yards on us. I have always believed in high school football if you can do a good job of consistently stopping the run and force teams to throw most of the time you have the upper hand and you are probably going to win and that was definitely the case. They went to passing every play, every other play, and that obviously puts stress on your secondary, but they handled it.”

North Union (2-1,0-0) lost the first week to Swanton (13-7,) but the Wildcats have responded with wins over Triad (54-14) and Grandview Heights (35-14) to come in with some momentum,

Carroll says they are big. “They have not given up very many points. They play really good defense. They are big on both sides of the ball. I was shocked when I put the film in for the first time last weekend. Both defensive ends are 6’4”, one weights 260 and the other one in 210. The nose guard was an All-Ohio player last year. I don’t know which side of the ball, he plays both ways, he is 285 pounds. They have nice looking kids across the board,” he said.

Clear Fork has been outstanding this year and stopping the run. Carroll says that is what they expect North Union to do. “One thing we have been pretty good at is stopping the run and they want to run the football. They don’t want to throw very much at all. Last week, I think they only attempted it five times. Now, that is a little misleading because the last couple of weeks they were killing the teams they were playing, so they didn’t really have to throw. Even in week one when it was a close ball game. They don’t want to throw the ball. They are a wing-T team and want to ram it down your throat. They will run it outside with a lot of misdirection, fake here, fake there, and give it to another guy, which we have been pretty good at. Hopefully our kids will need to read their keys against these guys with all of the misdirection and faking if your eyes are in the wrong spot you are going to get fooled and here comes a guy the opposite direction. They will run, run, run, run, run and bam then they throw it and are db’s have to read their keys and not fall asleep with all of the run,” said Carroll.

He says the Colt offense has to be very good at handling the multiple looks that North Union is going to give them on defense. “The thing I am must impressed with them other than their size is their defense. They only have three kids that play both ways. With a smaller school, a little smaller than us, only three kids play both ways. They play good defense. They give you multiple looks, multiple fronts, multiple coverages. The linemen have to be on their game as far as communicating with one another and adjusting their blocking scheme, their blocking rules, and following their rules based on what front they give you and be able to pick up blitzes and so forth. Hopefully our speed can get lose. We have a lot speed and if they can open up some holes we are usually okay there,” added Carroll.

Published 9/15/17

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Colonel Crawford Needs Better Start

The last two weeks the Colonel Crawford Eagles have won the fourth quarter against very good teams Carey and Mohawk, but it has been too late both times resulting in two conference losses.

That must change this week when they hit the road to play rival Wynford.

The Eagles (1-2,0-2) have lost to Carey (27-14) and Mohawk (34-20) and Eagles coach Ryan Teglovic says those losses have been due at least in part to their poor start. “It has been the case in both games that we started very slow and we played well in the second half in particularly even better in the fourth quarter. We need to find a way to get started early. We have to find a way defensively to get off the field on third down. There are several things that we can do a little bit better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have played good teams early on, but we know we need to focus on us and continue to get better. We have had a pretty good week of practice so far. So, hopefully we will make another step this week.”

Third down is the key down in football and Teglovic says they haven’t been very good on that down. “It is not just strategically important I think it is psychologically important too that can get those stops and get our offense on the field. It is important in a lot of ways and we have to be a lot better,” he said.

Wynford (2-1,1-0) lost its first game to Liberty-Benton (49-0,) but have turned it around with wins over Bucyrus (48-0) and Allen East (33-0) the last two weeks.

Teglovic knows this is a solid Wynford team they will be facing. “It is a good Wynford team and Wynford program. We know that. Game one was not indicative of who they are. They played a really good Liberty-Benton team week one and then continued to get better the last two weeks. They were young up front and their guys are starting to jell and play a lot better. Anytime you play Wynford it is going to be a team that is well coached. They know their scheme and they are going to do it very well. They have an unbelievable tradition. We expect them to play very well,” said Teglovic.

The line of scrimmage if going to be big in this game, Teglovic knows this, but he says the team that makes the most big plays will be in pretty good shape. “I think the offensive and defensive lines will play a big part in this game. I also think big plays too; which team can generate those big plays. That takes a little pressure off of you if you can get some big hitters. I would say those two things and then obviously turnovers and all of those normal cliché items that you have to take care of to win a game,” said Teglovic.

Published 9/15/17

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Crestview’s Plan Starts This Week

Crestview football coach Dan Mager has said all season that the Cougars goal was to win the Firelands Conference championship and that process starts this week.

They play at Western Reserve on Friday night in their first conference game of the season.

Last Saturday, the Cougars won their first game of the year beating Sandusky St. Mary’s (42-0) in a non-conference game.

Coach Dan Mager says they played well in all three phases. “It was one of those nights where we kind of got it really going defensively, offensively, special teams and ended up having a pretty good night,” he said.

The coach says it was all about execution. “They played Monroeville really tough the week before. We thought we would have our hands full more than we did. We came out and played well. I told our guys if we execute and do what we do best we will have a pretty good result,” he said.

Crestview beat Western Reserve (40-0) last year, but Mager says the Rough Riders (1-2) have shown signs of being a good team this year. “We handled them last year. They played Edison which is a great program and a great team and they were tied through three quarters. I am expecting them to come out and play well Friday night,” said Mager.

Western Reserve’s lone win this year coming in week two (29-28) over Margaretta.

Mager has been unwavering in his statement that earning the Firelands Conference title, which would be their first since 2011, is their number one, if not only goal this season. “We lost a game against Northmor and Hillsdale and I still told them after the game in both of those games I said hey we can still go out and get our goal and our goal is to win the conference championship,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, ”It starts one game at a time. We have Western this week and then we turn around and have Mapleton and we still have St. Paul and Monroeville. The next four weeks are going to be big weeks for us.”

Published 9/15/17

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Wooster Trying to Find it

Wooster hosts Madison on Friday night in an Ohio Cardinal Conference football game between two teams searching for their first wins of the season.

After losing (47-0) to Wadsworth on week two, the Generals took a third quarter lead before losing (28-23) to Dover last Friday.

Coach Doug Haas thought it was a step in the right direction. “Without a doubt, I thought we took steps in the right direction in regards to just execution on both sides of the ball. There were a couple of lapses here and there from a turnover standpoint giving up a couple of big plays. Our kids competed for the full 48 minutes and played extremely hard, so I’m very proud of them from that standpoint. Certainly, nobody wants to create moral victories what so ever, but with a young football team that we have it was good for us to see some progress and some improvement,” said Haas.

Trey Mathis was one of the better running backs in the area last year, but has played little this season. Haas says unfortunately Mathis will not play against Madison or the rest of the season. “He has been injured. He had an “MCL” injury during on scrimmage so he did not play in week one. He was not 100 percent going into week two and then really showed some signs of improvement last Friday against Dover, but unfortunately broke his foot. So, it is one of those things where we have kind of been dealing with the injury bug and hopefully it is over with by now. It was unfortunate for Trey with career that he had to end it kind of on a damper with injuries is very disappointing for him,” he said.

Madison lost (52-0) to Toledo St. Francis last week and have been outscored 153-17 this season.

Still, Haas says the Rams are not void of talent. He says the have talent and present some match-up problems for them. “Knowing coach Masi number one those kids are going to be very well coached. They are going to be fundamental, they are going to be sound, they are going to be aggressive when they need to be aggressive. Those kids are going to play hard and do the right things. It is going to come down to who can execute the best, who can protect the football, the whole blocking and tackling piece, it is going to boil down to who can do that better for the 48 minute span,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Watching those kids they are long at the wide receiver position that presents some challenges for us. There are not a lot drills than can coach our 5’10” db’s to grow up and be 6’5” in a week. There are going to be some challenges from that standpoint. I know our kids are excited to be at home. Our kids are excited to start conference play. So, I know our kids are going to play really, really hard.”

Published 9/15/17

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Monroeville Has to Clean Things up

Outside of Norwalk St. Paul, Monroeville has been the best team in the Firelands Conference over the last two seasons. More than half of their losses over the last two years are to the Flyers.

The good news is they do not play them this week, but they do host a pretty good Mapleton football team.

Last week, the Eagles (2-1) did not play well in the second half and lost to Maragretta (35-12) in non-conference play.

Coach Scott Stacher says they just made too many mistakes to have a chance to win. “Yeah it got away from us. There were too many turnovers. We just didn’t play very well as a team, but credit Maragretta they played a very good game. They had a kid come back from suspension that was a pretty good athlete and we just didn’t contain him very well. They played a very good game. They could easily be 3-0 right now and they are a very good team. We just shot ourselves in the foot too many times to beat a very good team,” said Stacher.

The Eagles have some talent, but they have not been consistent in their execution and Stacher says that has to change this week. “We have a couple of injuries not making any excuses. It is execution. It is getting back to what we do. It is the little things like sustaining blocks is a big one for us and tackling, we did a poor job tackling. Those are fixable and we have to do a better job this week against Mapleton,” he said.

Mapleton (2-1) won their second straight game last week (47-21) over Rittman in non-conference action.

Stacher says they have a lot of kids they have to contain, especially quarterback Logan Pharmer. “The Mounties are a very good football team. They have a quarterback that has been back for them for three years now. Phramer is very good. He can throw the ball around as good as any quarterback we will see in the area and he has some good skill and players around him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a good running back and some linemen that are back. So, Mapleton is a really good team. We have to improve on our execution and sustaining blocks. We have to tackle very well and we have to limit their big plays, that’s for darn sure.”

Published 9/15/17

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Danville Kicks off Play in New League

Danville has been one of the dominate small school football programs in this area for the last decade and they begin play in the new Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference on Friday night at Highland.

The Blue Devils (3-0) railed from three scores down to beat Sugarcreek Garaway (23-20) last week. Coach Ed Honbarger says they never thought they were out of the game. “Our kids had great effort. We dug ourselves a hole, but we didn’t give in. It was too scary for this old guy, but the best thing is we showed great effort and like I said we didn’t give in,” he said.

With the success they have had he says they kids remain confident even when they are behind in a game. “When you have had success in the program they have seen a lot, they have been through a lot and so they don’t get nervous if they go down maybe by a touchdown or two or in this case three. Then again you are dealing with 15, 16, 17-year-old kids and you don’t know what’s going through their heads or what they are thinking at times,” said Honabarger.

Highland (2-1) beat River Valley (28-14) last week and their only loss comes to Bloom-Carroll (35-34) in overtime on week one.

Honbarger says this is a power run team they will be facing. “Highland runs a wing-T. They are very big and physical. They have a nice combination of speed and power with their three backs. They are going to try and pound it on us and control the clock and play their style of game,” he said.

This is the first year for the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference, which is basically the old Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference blue minus Marion Elgin and plus Danville, who was in the Mid-Buckeye Conference.

Honabarger thinks this will be a pretty league for football. “I think it should be a pretty good football league. We have been scrimmaging Highland for about 20 years, so we are familiar with them. We are not that familiar with Mt. Gilead or Cardington or Northmor. As far location it’s idle with the two counties boardering up on each other,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “There are some natural rivalries. Fredericktown has been the same league with some of these schools in the past. So, I think at least football wise it will be a highly competitive conference.”

Published 9/15/17

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Ontario Ready to Start “MOAC”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/14/17

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Arrows With Another Good One

Ashland plays one more non-conference game on Friday night at Uniontown Lake before beginning Ohio Cardinal Conference play next week.

After spotting Tiffin Columbian a (10-0) lead, Ashland (2-1) rallied to upend the Tornadoes (42-24) last week.

Coach Scott Valentine says they tell their kids the game lasts 48 minutes and you have to play the whole time whether you are ahead or behind. “We always tell our guys that it is a four quarter game. You can have some bad things happen early or the other team just makes some plays early, but you have to keep battling and I thought our kids did that,” he said.

There are seven schools in the “OCC” now and that means every week a league school will not have a conference game. Valentine likes the fact their number came up first. “When I saw the schedule come out and that is where we were because a lot of times in those other weeks it is tough to find a game or you are playing somebody that is really good like St. Ed’s or St. Ignatius or somebody that is looking for a game those weeks. I felt really fortunate that we had that first week,” said Valentine.

Lake (1-2) lost last week to Copley (21-20) is a new opponent for the Arrows. Valentine says the Blue Streaks have a good program. “They have always been a good program. They have a great tailback that is a downhill runner. If you don’t tackle him he is going to make some big runs on you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Defensively, they have always played pretty good. They keep you in front of them and then come downhill. The linebackers run to the ball. So, it is going to be a challenge for us.”

Ashland plays as good a schedule for a big school in this area with Clyde and Green and so on. Valentine says that’s by design. “There is no doubt we are looking for people that are going to make us better and give us the challenge we need to keep getting better. Our kids know going in that they are a good football team, but we have seen some good football teams up to this point and we have to go out and play a good four quarter football game,” said Valentine.

Published 9/14/17

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Northmor Wants to Control Point of Attack

Northmor has been fantastic over the first three weeks of the season and opens play in the new Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference by hosting the Fredericktown Freddies on Friday night.

They beat the Lucas Cubs and their football in a phone booth approach last week (26-8) in non-conference play.

Coach Scott Armrose says they were able to contain the run happy Cubs. “We were very pleased with the results and with how hard our boys played. They continue to play with a tremendous amount of heart and enthusiasm. We played very well in the third quarter and at the end of the game. That is when our boys really seem to strive and take control,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It really has a lot to do with our defensive coordinator Dave Morgan. Three weeks in a row he has just come up with fantastic plans. They are not these crazy plans they are just plans that are boys buy into that we can learn in a week and they can execute. So, I’m very pleased with the result.”

Defensively, Armrose says they are going to be pretty consistent in their approach and just try and tweak things in little bit depending on who they are playing. “We have a system that we believe in. We run a 4-3 defense and we adjust that system slightly each week, but what the boys do each week is what they do. We believe in our system. We know it works. We can stop any offense with that system. We just have make sure we can adjust our base defense to their offense, so our boys can do the things that they can do,” he said.

Fredericktown (1-2) won its first game of the season last week in beating Utica (34-21) in non-conference play.

Armrose says the Freddies are going to try and make it hard to run the football, which is what they want to do. “They try and do some things that really make you work. The pack the box full of people. They play eight in the box and sometimes more. We are not hiding the fact that we like to run the football and that is what we are going to try and do, so that will be quite a challenge. They are big and physical up front on both sides of the ball. Offensively and defensively their lines are very good and they are going to make us work no doubt about it,” said Armrose.

In a game like this, Armrose says they know the point of attack is going to be key. “We are going to have to control the line of scrimmage. We are going to have to do the same things we have done the first three weeks. It all comes down to controlling the line of scrimmage and the Freddies aren’t going to make that easy. They have got a lot of upperclassmen playing, big kids that are strong and physical. We need to control the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball. Our defense has to play with what we like to call controlled rage, like they did last week,” said Armrose.

Published 9/14/17

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Seneca East Getting Some Young Kids Experience

Seneca East didn’t seem to suffer much from a week off and they punished Buckeye Central last week. They play at Sandusky St. Mary’s on Saturday night in a non league game.

The Tigers handled Buckeye (63-0) last week in play in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

Coach Ed Phillips says they played well in all three areas of the game last Friday. “We played really well in all phases. I really thought about our kickoff team. Our special teams played really well. Both our kickers and our kick coverage. The kickers did a very good job with their placement. That is kind of a microcosm of the whole game. We played a lot of people on special teams. We played a lot of people on both offense and defense. Something I was really proud of is when we put the younger guys in they continue to execute at a high level and that is something we talked about during the game and at halftime and they went out and did a great job of it,” said Phillips.

The Seneca East coach says they try to prepare their kids to play at a high energy level the whole game. “In a game like that that is something that we really concentrated on. I tell the kids a lot of times you can smile when the game is over because sometimes you get a little happy with yourself in a game like that and you can start to get sloppy. They did a really good job of waiting until the game was over to be happy about it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “While the clock was still ticking being focused and intensive and executing. That is really a goal of our right now is to eliminate mistakes because we still are making mistakes, even last Friday, that we shouldn’t and we need to eliminate those as we move along each week.”

The Tigers (2-0) play at Sandusky St. Mary’s (0-3) on Saturday night. The Panthers are coming off a (42-0) loss to Crestview last week.

St. Mary’s best effort came in week two when they lost (26-19) to Monroeville. Phillips says they cause some match-up problems for them. “They have had an up and down season. They did play a very good Monroeville team that probably will be toward the top of the Firelands I think, and they played really tough and had them down 19-6 and then Monroeville came back and made some plays to win the game. St. Mary’s is very capable on offense and defense and they present a lot of problems and challenges with big kids on both sides of the ball that create some match up issues. We just need to do a really good job of blocking and tackling their big guys and not let them make plays in space,” said Phillips.

Published 9/14/17

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South Central Getting Ready For Plymouth

South Central, a winner of two in a row, opens up Firelands Conference play on Friday night at Plymouth against the rival Big Red.

The Trojans (2-1) gave up a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, but dominated the first half in route to (44-9) win over Crestline last week. That was after a (42-0) win over Danbury Lakeside on week two.

Coach Corey Fickiesen says they have been able to get their offense in high gear. “The last two weeks our offense has kind of stepped up and played a lot better. We kind of challenged ourselves after week one that we had to get our offense rolling if we wanted to get this whole thing rolling and we have been able to do that. We have a big task Friday night to keep it going,” said Fickiesen.

After two good performances back to back, Fickiesen says his kids are growing in confidence. “When you start having success kids start believing and start buying in and practice starts going smoother and they are playing harder and that kind of leads to more momentum and we are trying to continue that as long as possible,” he said.

Plymouth (1-2) lost to Black River (38-3) last week.

The Big Red is now running the double wing, double tight offense that concentrates on running the football. Fickiesen says they are hard to prepare for because what they do is unique. “We have seen some teams that run the wing-T, the triple option, and those different things that you prepare for, but this is completely different than anything that you prepare or play against. We have really been doing a lot of film with our kids just so they get a feel of what it is going to be like with the old rugby scrum in there. You just have to try and find the guy with the football and get him down,” said Fickiesen.

Fickiesen says they have done some extra film work in order to make sure they are prepared for what they are going to see from the Big Red. “The nice thing is a couple of years ago we scrimmaged Lucas. My first two years here (as an assistant) we scrimmaged Lucas and obviously they are the ones in the area that have ran it and ran it successfully, so we kind of went back and we saw a little bit of that and now we are seeing what Plymouth does,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You can’t fall asleep because those backs are going to hide in there and they are going to break out and bust it. They are going to run it 55 times in a row and then the one time they pass it they are hoping for a big one. So, everyone has to be locked in all of the time and focused and our kids have been doing that this week and hopefully we can do that the next couple of days.”

Published 9/14/17

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Mt. Vernon Must Contain Stover

Mt. Vernon plays its first game as an official football playing school in the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Friday night as they host the Lexington Minutemen, the defending league co-champ.

The Yellow Jackets (1-2) lost last week to Buckeye Valley (17-9) and coach Mike Kerr says it was a game they could have easily won with a little better execution. “We had a few chances in that game. If we executed a couple of different ways, a couple of different plays here and there, we probably win that football game. We try and tell our kids we are only a few plays away from being 3-0, but that is why those little things are important,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to execute every play. The defense played outstanding. At halftime, we had given up three points, so in six quarters we had given up six points. Then they kind of got out on us a little bit in the second half by running the football. I thought we had done a nice job, but they were able to kind of handle that a little bit.”

Kerr believes they are just about ready to turn the corner and become a good football team. “I think we are a good football team and our kids are just learning how to win. They are learning that every play is important and every practice is important. It takes those things to beat a good football team. I think we are going to be. I believe in these kids. I think they are great group of kids and we have some great leadership. They are just learning to win and once we understand it takes that sustained effort we are going to be a good football team,” said Kerr.

Lexington (1-2) won its first last week with a (48-35) win over Orrville in non-conference play. They had lost to Ontario (21-20) on week one and Shelby (41-7) on week two.

Kerr says Cade Stover is a big time athlete and the Minutemen have some strength on the offensive and defensive lines. “Those kids are so well coached and know where they are supposed to be on both sides of the ball. Obviously, the Stover kid is a heck of an athlete and he is kind of the one guy that we see that jumps out. They have some other kids, especially their offensive and defensive lines, we are impressed with them. It is going to be the team that makes the least mistakes is probably going to be the team that wins on Friday night,” said Kerr.

When it comes to defensing Stover, Kerr says you have to keep in front of you and don’t lose containment. “We have been focused on that in practice all week that this kid is a heck of an athlete. He is still learning to play quarterback, so he doesn’t always see the reads in the passing game, but he is always a threat, so we can’t take a play off or lose coverage. Even when he does make plays back there and if teams lose coverage he will throw it 30, 40 yards. We have to be real disciplined and we have to keep him in front of us all night. He is a heck of an athlete and a big, strong kid. We have been focused on knowing where he is at all times and never giving up on a play because we know he won’t give up on a play,” said Kerr.

Published 9/14/17

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Perkins Looking to Rebound

Perkins got routed last week and they have to get a lot better if they are going to start winning games.

Their next chance is Friday night at home against Vermilion. Perkins is in the Lake division of the Sandusky Bay Conference and Vermilion is in the Bay division.

Last week, Genoa drilled the Pirates (52-14) in a non-conference game.

Coach Jason Ziegler says they didn’t play well at all and they are working to improve. “We have got to be better. I sit here and say it can’t get any worse, but I know better than to say that. We definitely have to be better than last week. It was a combination of penalties and just not doing key assignments. It was one of those things where we had to sit back down and watch film and get together as a team and refocus on where we are at and just talk about getting better every play and every day,” he said.

Adversity is something all teams must deal with. Ziegler says their reaction to last week must be positive. “That is why this game is so great it teaches life lessons. We talk to our football players all of the time about the game of football is like life you are going to get punched, you are going to get hit and things are going to happen that you don’t expect or foresee. What you do after that, those reactions is what is going to make you a better person and a better man. I think our kids understand that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I still say this is a great team. I love these guys they are hard workers and it is a pleasure to coach them and I think they are capable of taking this day by day and understand what we are talking about.”

Vermilion (1-2) lost for the first time last week (21-14) to a very good Firelands team.

Ziegler says they the Sailors do a lot of good things. He is impressed by kids on both sides of the ball. “They are a good football team. They have a new coach and he is doing a great job. They lost last week to Firelands, who is a very good football team and they were right there. Firelands beat Edison, who is one of the better teams in the area. So, to me they are a very good football team and we are going to have to play sound football to beat them. Their quarterback is very good. They have a nice running back. Defensively, their linebackers are pretty darn good. Their safeties are ballhawkers. They are going to come up and stop the run. We are going to have to execute. That is going to be keep coming off the ball, executing, and doing our jobs,” said Ziegler.

Published 9/14/17

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Lucas Schedule Getting Tougher

Lucas has won 25 football games over the last three seasons while at the same time the number of football playing schools in the Mid-Buckeye Conference has been getting fewer. The result is games against very good teams that far away from Lucas.

A good example would be Troy Christian’s, from the Dayton area, visit to Lucas on Friday night.

Last week, the Cubs (2-1) lost their first game of the season (26-8) to the Northmor.

Coach Scott Spitler says they have learned from that loss. “I think the coaches and players did a nice job Saturday morning evaluating what we did and didn’t do well on Friday night and where we need to improve. We have attacked that this week already. We had a great practice on Monday and followed that up with even better practice (Tuesday) and I challenged the kids to take another step farther (Wednesday.) So, I like where we are headed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “The nice thing about the leadership that we have in our seniors and our captains is they understand that we didn’t play to our expectation last Friday night. It is not going to be any higher than what the expectation level is in our group. We did the best way we know how to overcome is to roll our sleeves up and go back to work.”

The Lucas coach says they must battle adversity and win. “Great things can’t come from easy circumstances. In order for a team to get stronger or a person to get stronger they have to be able to overcome adversity and hard times. So, we have been faced with an adverse situation with our first loss Friday night and we need to work hard and become stronger from it,” he said.

Troy Christian (2-1) beat Dayton Northridge (36-15) last week.

Spitler says the Eagles bring a lot of things to the table. “They are a very talented team. There were 9-1 and a playoff team last year. They have several seniors back. Some present some match-up problems on offense. They have a 6’9” 275 pound tight end that also starts on defensive side of the ball. They have some height and length at wide receiver and they have a big, bruising fullback. We have our hands full,” he said.

When you have the success that Lucas has had Spitler says it can be difficult to get teams to play you. “We have got our program to a situation to where the teams that are on our schedule are quality football teams that are competing to be in the playoffs year in and year out. Being an independent and not really having a football league, being us and Crestline, we have become kind of independent. Teams now that want to play us are good football teams. The teams that don’t feel they match-up well with us aren’t wanting to play us. If you look at our schedule we play up a lot of weeks and we play very good football teams,” said Spitler.

Published 9/13/17

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Clyde With Different Challenge

Clyde is coming off a tremendous comeback win over Anthony Wayne last week, but they have to sort of file that and forget it as they get ready for Toledo Bowsher this week.

Seth Hoffman kicked a 35 yard field goal with 10 seconds left last Friday to beat Anthony Wayne (30-27) in game that they once trailed by three scores.

Coach Ryan Carter says their experience in close game helped them when the pressure was on. “We had played a couple of fourth quarter games when we got into that one. We talked on the bus ride home about how we tried to draw from the fact that we had played some four quarter games and they had not. So, we were fortunate to get out of there with a win. That is a very good football team and I don’t envision them losing very many more football games this year, they are very well coached and sound in every aspect of the game. We were able to put enough together late to kick a field goal. We were fortunate to have a field goal kicker that can knock it in from 35 yards out. We got out of there with a win. We will obviously take it, but we put it in perspective where it is it’s week three, that’s all, we are on to week four now and we have Toledo Bowsher and they present their own problems for us,” said Carter.

Clyde (3-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Toledo Bowsher (0-3) on Friday night in a non-conference game.

Carter thinks they are showing improvement as a football team every week and that’s what it he likes the most. “We have really focused on the fact that of making sure that we try to improve each day and each week and get better. I think we have did that. You don’t know. You watch games and you watch yourself on film and you hope that you get better each week. I think we have grown in all aspects of the game. I think special teams have really grown since that two a days period. I think our line play has been solid up front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We came into the year looking for a solidified quarterback position and we are still mixing Conner (Long) in there, but Trevor (Burtch) has really stepped forward and is playing that position very well right now for a kid that didn’t play last year and came back out his senior year and being able to contribute has probably been our most growth so far.”

Bowsher has given up at least 40 points in all three of its games so far this year, but Carter says they are going to be very athletic and very fast. “They are very athletic. They have a couple of kids that will definitely being playing on Saturdays next year. They haven’t won a game yet, but they have athletes all over the field and they presents us with issues as far as how fast they are. On week one we went against a Toledo Start team that had a lot of speed and brought a lot of pressure at you and we had all kinds of problems with than that. I am anticipating the same kind of game plan out of Bowsher. So, we are trying to prepare for that this week to get our kids focused on week four. We have a couple of kids banged up, so we are going to try and get healthy. They are very fast and that is what sticks out on film with them,” said Carter.

Published 9/13/17

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Galion With Toughest Test

Galion has won all three of their games so far this year, but they are going to receive their stiffest test of the season at Marion Pleasant in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference opener for both schools on Friday.

Last week, the Tigers downed Portsmouth (23-0) in the second shutout this season for the Galion defense.

Coach Matt Dick says they have built their defense around stopping the run first and foremost. “We have really put an emphasis on stopping the run as a coaching staff we looked at different defenses and how we could tweak our defense to stop the run. How you do that is by putting more guys in the box and getting more lineman on the field. I think we have done a good job of that this year. Also, I think the weight room. We are a lot bigger and stronger than we were last year and I think that helps,” he said.

Offensively, the Tigers have been up and down. Dick says they need more consistent execution on that side of the ball. “Harrison Ivy is a running quarterback and he has definitely ran the ball well. Takota Chrisman when he gets the ball out at receiver when has gotten the ball has done a great job. Tanner Chrisman at running back has ran the ball well. We are still not clicking on all gears,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think week one the offense struggled, week two we were almost near perfect with the “O” and “D” and then week three we struggled again. Some of that is due to the other team’s defense and some of that is due to us shooting ourselves in the foot. We are missing a pass by an inch or two. If we could clean up some of those inches and those little mistakes our offense would look way more explosive.”

Pleasant (2-0) has handled both of its opponents pretty easily so far in beating Fredericktown (39-14) and Bucyrus (51-0) on weeks two and three. They didn’t play week one.

Dick says they are fast and they are physical too. “They are just fast everywhere, their “O” line, their “D” line, their db’s, their linebackers, their running backs, everybody is fast. They are really technically sound with their offense and defense. It is not like they do anything special. The way they do it is what makes it special. Sometimes on offense they say they are running right here and it doesn’t matter because they execute and they hit and they are fast. They do a really good job over there,” said Dick.

According to Dick being physical on Friday night is going to be the key to their success. “I think if you watch Pleasant’s film they have stolen the momentum and they have always been the bigger, faster team. On Friday night, we have to match how physical they are. If we can match up to them physically and stop the run on defense, on offense get the run going a little bit I think it will be a great game. If we don’t match their physicality it is going to be the same old Pleasant team,” he said.

Published 9/13/17

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Madison Keeping the Faith

Madison and Wooster, two schools in search of their first wins of the season, face each other on Friday night at Folis Field in Wooster in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

Toledo St. Francis beat Madison (52-0) in a non-conference game last week.

It has now been more than a year since the Rams have won a game and coach Jamie Masi says they have to keep their noses to the grindstone. “We just have to keep plugging away. I think our kids do a great job of having some faith and hanging in there. I think we have to look at this like this is a brand new season for us with conference play and an opportunity to win a championship. That is still all out there, so our kids are working toward that goal,” he said.

Wooster lead in the third quarter, but fell to Dover (28-23) last week.

Masi says the Generals are still fundamentally pretty solid in what they do on the field. “I think they are a lot like us. They are playing some really good competition and unfortunately they are coming up short. They have some very capable players. They have some kids that do a great job of running the ball defensively. They are very sound in everything they do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They don’t give you many opportunities when you think we can outman them here or outman them there. For us it is going to be can we block at the line of scrimmage and protect the quarterback when we need to and hopefully can do those things. They are definitely a pretty good football team despite whatever their record is.”

When it comes to Friday night Masi says it is a game about execution. He says if they do things right they can win the game. “If you play say mistake free and penalty free and don’t make the critical turnovers that can kill you. If you go out and execute you have a great opportunity to win the game,” he said.

Published 9/13/17

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Port Clinton Trying to Make it Three in a Row

After losing to Sandusky on week one and learning some things, the Port Clinton Redskins have won two straight and are looking to make it three when they host Fremont St. Joe on Friday night.

Port Clinton is in the Bay division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, or the middle division, St. Joe is in the River division, or smallest of the three.

The Redskins bested the Norwalk Truckers (27-20,) of the Lake division, the division with the biggest schools, last Friday night,

Coach Beau Carmon says they stepped up when they had to in the game. “We were able to get off on a good lead on them and we played good on defense in end to come away with the victory. I think Norwalk is a solid football team. Anytime you play a school in the bigger division and come away from their place with a victory we feel very fortunate. I think defensively we played very well in the second half and we were able to get the “W,” so we were happy about it,” he said.

After getting smoked (41-7) by Sandusky, a team Carmon admits is better than them, the Redskins have been able to continue to improve. “We weren’t really sure what kind of team we had after Sandusky. I think there is no doubt what Sandusky brings to the table and how good they were. They were better than us. They are a better football team than we are. I know a lot of coaches will play games like that and not admit it, but I will, they are a better football team then we were. We had a good showing them against Rossford and then we took an even better step and played much better against a solid Norwalk team. We have certainly taken steps in the right direction and I think as we continue to do that we will be successful,” said Carmon.

St. Joe (1-2) beat Cardinal Stritch (50-18) then they have been shut down by Norwalk St. Paul (42-7) on week two and Gibsonburg (33-2) last week.

Carmon says they have to be ready to play. “They have got players. They have players and they have a nice quarterback. You need to look at it from their perspective because I know I have. They are probably looking at it like they have nothing to lose and everything to gain coming in to play us. I think immediately that shoots up a red flag, so we need to expect the unexpected. They have guys that can make us look foolish. They certainly can put points on the scoreboard, they have that capability,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We need to do what we do best and play great defense and be able to run the ball. Hopefully meet our goals. Each week, no matter who we play, we want to play to the best of our ability whether we are playing Fremont St. Joe or Sandusky or Clyde or whoever it is we are playing, we want to look back and say we played to best of our ability and we will feel pretty good about it.”

Published 9/13/17

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Buckeye Central Looking for Paycheck

Buckeye Central is putting in the work during the week, but they aren’t getting paid for it on Friday night and they would like that to change.

The Bucks are (0-3) after a loss to Seneca East (63-0) in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play last week. They host Crestline (1-2) in a non-conference game on Friday night.

Coach Rob Detterman says they need to get better at the point of attack. “We have not seen a lot of growth on the line of scrimmage yet and that’s the big thing where we need to see it. We have really been focused there the last couple of weeks trying to get those kids up to speed and playing a little harder, playing to the whistle. We have had a couple of really tough opponents here the last couple of weeks that were difficult for us to match-up with,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We had a game in there too with Plymouth that we thought we didn’t play very well in it. If we can start growing a little bit this week we think things can turn around for us here the next couple of weeks.”

Detterman says they have been working very hard in practice and they just have to turn it into something on Friday nights. “We have had a lot of adversity over the last year and a half, two years. It is time for us to get that paycheck, that’s what I told the kids. We are out there working everyday and they are definitely putting their best effort into it, but we just need to go out and get paid. We need to go out on the field on Friday night and collect our checks, so that’s what we are trying to do,” he said.

Crestline is coming off a (44-9) loss at the hands of South Central last Friday. Their win comes in week two (7-0) over Grove City Christian.

Detterman says they have some guys on their offense that are going to be hard to contain. “They are a spread team that do a lot of different things formation wise. Not really different than us, not a lot different that Seneca East formation wise from some of the stuff we saw. They have a really good receiver in Devon Triplet. We struggled with him last year. He is a guy we have to account for. He’s a big tall kid that catches the ball really well. He is deceptively fast. Their running back and quarterback are good too. They are big up front. I don’t know if they are super athletic, but they have a lot of size, so we are going to have to match that too,” said Detterman.

Published 9/13/17

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Hillsdale Concerned with Getting Better

Hillsdale has played three pretty good football games this year, but they might not have reached their potential yet.

Last week, they beat Loudonville (27-10) to improve to (3-0) on the season. They play at Waynedale (0-3) in the Wayne County League opener for both schools on Friday night.

Coach Tom Williams is most happy with the effort they have been getting from the players. “I am really happy with our guys. They are playing extremely hard. They are giving us everything they have each and every Friday night. They have been prepared for each game. The kids have shown up focused and ready to go. We are excited that that is what they are giving us. On the same token we have seen a lot of things we can do a little better. If we can find a way to keep getting better week after week we think we have a good opportunity to have a pretty good season,” said Williams.

Yes, unbeaten teams still have to get better. Williams wants better fundamental execution, especially on the offensive side of the ball. “For us we are still stressing the fundamentals. We still have some guys that are still stepping with the right foot or doing their assignment exactly how it’s been taught, so we are still working on some of those things. For us we missed some opportunities last week offensively that could have been some big plays. We are just not clicking perfect there. We are still trying to find some ways to get better on the offensive side of things,” he said.

Waynedale lost (41-14) to Wooster Triway last week. They were (1-9) last year and Williams says they are clearly improved. “Waynedale has more kids out this year and a new head coach. They are trying to build some excitement down there. They have some veteran kids that have played some football, a few on the line, a couple backs that are that are a couple of the better athletes in the league. We will have our hands full against those guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Traditionally we haven’t had a whole lot of success against Waynedale, so this is a game that we are focusing on and trying to make sure that at the end of the week we are still in first place.”

Williams adds the always want to play like they are the underdog in the game, rather if they are or not. “For our kids we just feel like we have the opportunity to be a pretty good football team and they just want to go out and prove that to people each and every week. So, as long as they keep that chip on their shoulder then I think we have a chance to do something pretty cool,” he said.

Published 9/13/17

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Mapleton Featuring Balanced on Offense

Mapleton is a team that has become more balanced this season and that is making them a lot tougher to stop.

They open Firelands Conference action this week with a trip to Monroeville.

They beat Rittman (47-21) last week for their second straight win. Running back Garrett Hartley pounded Rittman for more than 275 yards and five scores in the game.

Coach Robert Mahaney says they have been able to put together some good momentum. “We have put in a lot of hard work and it has paid off these last two weeks. I feel pretty good where we are at as a team right now. Being able to throw the ball affectively. Our running back had a big game last week running for 282 yards and five touchdowns. That momentum you build with your back, you build with your offensive line. You feel pretty confident going into league play. We know Monroeville is going to be a tough test for us this week,” said Mahaney.

Mapleton also has an excellent quarterback in Logan Pharmer, who was an All-Ohio performer last year. Mahaney says that gives them a lot of options. “A lot of teams know we return a second team All-Ohio quarterback and a lot of teams are thinking we are going to pass and that leaves a lot of running lanes for us. Our running back has done a real good job finding the seams and our offensive line has done a real good protecting. When teams all of the sudden try and bring it in we are going to try and pass on them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We don’t have the same playmakers we had out there last year, but definitely good kids. When they have the ball in their hands they are going to make some plays. Being able to do both things is really helping us now on offense.”

Monroeville (2-1) lost its first game of the season last week to Margaretta (35-12) on week three. They have been conference runners up the last two years and Mahaney says they are still a good team. “They are a really good football team. Their coach over there has done a really good job. The program was down for a little bit and he has done a really good job rebuilding it to the tradition that they have there. They are tough physical kids and some really big kids up front. A really good, shifty back and another physical back. They like to run the football, which is traditionally what Monroeville has done. They stick to that and they do a really nice job running it. Defensively they fly around to the football. Last year they were 10-2 only losing twice to St. Paul. They did slip up last week, but they are a good team with experience and know how to compete. So, I think it is going to be a really good test for us this week,” said Mahaney.

Published 9/13/17

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Wynford Tangles with Colonel Crawford

Wynford and Colonel Crawford has become a traditional battle in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference football wars and it renews on Friday night at Wynford.

The Royals have had much the upper hand in the rivalry though. Colonel Crawford’s only win over the Royals in the last 10 years came (20-14) in 2013. However, Wynford has won 103 games over that time, so they have not lost many games to anyone.

After a setback (49-0) to Liberty-Benton in their opener this year, Wynford has turned the tables and shutout back to back opponents in Bucyrus (48-0) in conference play and Allen East (33-0) last week.

Coach Gabe Helbert says there has been some improvement, but they need a lot more growth. “We are still trying to do our best to get them in gear. It has been nice to have success the last two Friday nights, but once again we still have a long way to go to be considered to be a good football team and we have a lot of work to do to continue to get better. Definitely happy with the results on Friday. Watching film and things like that there are many areas where we still have to improve,” he said.

Helbert says one thing that sticks in his mind is the passing game needs to get better. “As an offensive coach and I coach our quarterbacks we have to be more efficient in the pass game at this point with that aspect of our game right now. We will continue to work to get better at it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Sometimes the throws are there with the accuracy and we don’t make the catch and vise versa. It is just a matter of continuing to get reps to get better. To pinpoint one thing I would say that, but in all aspects we need to continue to get in better shape and do a better job of doing our assignments and doing what our job is.”

Colonel Crawford won its first game (46-7) over Mt. Gilead, but have lost back to back conference games to Carey (27-14) and Mohawk (34-20) last week. However, Helbert says they are still a good team. “They are a very good football team. I feel they have one of the best players in our league back on the defensive side of the ball in the (Trevor) Shawber kid, who is their mic linebacker. He is a very good football player, also a very good runner. Their quarterback returns, who has a big arm and can make plays with his feet as well. The thing about them is they played two very good league teams early on. I think a lot of coaches in our league felt this year our league would be extremely balanced. I think there are several good teams that can compete for a championship. Crawford is in that category for sure,” said Helbert.

Both teams are wing-T based in their offensive formation and do some similar things on defense. Helbert says the line of scrimmage is going to be key in this game. “We are two very similar teams. They do a lot of the same things we do and we do a lot of the same things that they do. When that happens you have to be sound in your fundamentals. You have to beat them to the point of attack, you have to be good along the line of scrimmage, you have to protect the football. It is exciting to play against Colonel Crawford at home because it is a rivalry game, it is kind of like Bucyrus it is a trophy game. When there is something to play for that you can receive after the game it’s important. Once again it is a huge step in our goal to win the league. It’s the next step us. All of those factors make it a big game for us on Friday night,” said Helbert.

Published 9/12/17

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Lexington Starts “OCC” Play With Mt. Vernon

Lexington got a piece of the Ohio Cardinal Conference football title last season, sharing it with Ashland, and play their first game in defense of that title on Friday night at Mt. Vernon.

Quarterback Cade Stover, a junior in his first year at the position, scored on five touchdown runs last week as the Minutemen outscored Orrville (48-35) to claim their first win of the season.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they really found a rhythm when they had the ball for this first time this year. “We finally clicked offensively like I had been expecting to,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It took them a while for us to find our footing and then Friday night, especially in the second half, the boys really started trusting in themselves and in each other and thinks started clicking and we were able to get some explosive plays.”

Coaches tend to use the word trust a lot. Gerhardt explains what they mean as it relates to football. “We preach all of the time to do your job. You do your job and you trust that man next to you is going to do his job and when that happens you can get all 11 moving parts headed in the same direction and that’s when good things happen,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (1-2,) in its first year in the “OCC” in football, has played some improved football this season. They lost at the horn to Marion Harding (14-10) on week one, buried Newark (31-0) on week two, and lost a tough one (17-9) to Buckeye Valley last week.

Gerhardt says the Yellow Jackets are physical. “They are a good football team. They could very easily be 3-0 right now. They have a tough defense. They look physical on film. So, we will have our work cut out for us on Friday,” Gerhardt said.

Mt. Vernon has allowed no more than three scores in any game this year. Gerhardt says their defense has all you want in terms of personnel on that side of the ball. “They are aggressive, they get off blocks very well and they run to the ball. When you have those three things clicking for you on defense you can be a really tough team to move the ball on,” he said.

Published 9/12/17

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St. Paul Opens Defense of “FC” Title

Norwalk St. Paul has won the last five Firelands Conference football titles and they begin defense of that title on Friday night with a visit to New London to take on the Wildcats.

The Flyers would be rated by most as the favorite to claim the title again this fall.

They ran their record to (3-0) this year with a (23-7) win at Tiffin Calvert last Friday.

Coach John Livengood felt it was a good overall effort by the team. “I am really happy with both sides of the ball. From an offensive perspective Calvert has a great defense and we put together some good drives. We got inside of the five yard line three times and rather than go for it on fourth and goal situations we have confidence in a great kicker in Joey Catalano. When you are playing a playoff type game points are precious and Joey was able to nail those field goals for us. The good part about that is that is a scoring drive. We were able to open up the game with a nice 15 play drive and come out with three points in a game against Calvert you have to be pretty happy with that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We were able to do that on the first two drives, and obviously we would rather have touchdowns, but we have to get points on the board. The kids played well defensively, played well all night, gave up a score in the fourth quarter on a missed assignment coverage and a great catch by the Calvert receiver. Overall, our special teams played well, our defense played well, and our offense played well.”

Not that the other games aren’t important because they are, but the conference games are a little more. Livengood says they put extra emphasis on them. “Our first goal every year is to win the Firelands Conference. We have had a tough non-conference schedule with some good opponents. We feel good about how we have played and the improvement we are making and we have to continue to strive to improve. We start out 0-0 in the Firelands Conference, so we have to make sure we take care of business and take it one step at a time. We know we have some real tough opponents coming up and it starts with New London. They have a good offensive line with big size up front on both sides of the ball to be honest. A lot of 250, 260, 270 type kids. Good speed in the backfield for them. They have got Dane Matthews at quarterback. He is a returning starter, a shifty kid, he is a good athlete and he makes things happen if the pass plays break down he is a threat to run. They pose a lot of problems defensively. They run that eight man front and a lot of returning starters on that side of the ball. So, we have our work cut out for us this week,” said Livengood.

New London (1-2,0-0) won their first game last week when they downed Wellington (34-8) in a non-conference game.

Livengood says the Wildcats have a lot of size and some athleticism, beginning with Matthews and his ability to escape. “He has a good arm and he does a nice job of getting the ball to his receivers, but at the same time if things are covered up or the protection breaks down a little bit he turns what you think is a sack into a 10, 15 yard or go the distance type play. We have to make sure we keep our eyes on him and contain him keep him in the pocket, and get pressure to him,” hew said.

New London likely will crowd the box like most teams do. Livengood says they have to continue to execute in order to win that all important point of attack. “We averaged a little over four against Calvert. I think everybody kind of expects we are going to go out and rush from 300 yards every game and we were not quite 200 yards, but I was pretty pleased with how we ran the ball last week against a very tough defensive front with Calvert. It is the same thing this week you have to take what you can get. Our kids fought hard up front and our backs ran hard and that’s what we expect it is going to be the same type of thing this week. We have to control the line of scrimmage and our backs have to run hard. We want to be in situations where we pass when we want to we can’t let the defense dictate when we are passing and when we are not. We want to pass on our terms. You need to be able to control the line of scrimmage first to be able to do that,” said Livengood.

Published 9/12/17

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Fredericktown Faces Talented Northmor

In the first game in new Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference traditional power Fredericktown travels to vastly improved Northmor on Friday night to take on the unbeaten Golden Knights.

Fredericktown (1-2,0-0) got their first win of the season when they outscored Utica (20-7) in the second half and beat the Redskins (34-21) last Friday night.

Coach William Hartley says that was a win they needed pretty badly. “We definitely got the monkey off our back. When you lose some tough games early you just don’t know if you are going to smell victory again. I think there was quite a bit of doubt with the kids after the first two weeks and definitely during the second half of the game we were able to silence that doubt and get back to what we do well and play with confidence and execute. It all came together in the second half against Utica and we were able to come out of there with a win,” he said.

Northmor (3-0,0-0) beat Lucas (26-8) last week after wins over Crestview (21-14) and Worthington Christian (40-14) the first two weeks.

Hartley says the Golden Knights have playmakers, led by senior quarterback Demetrious Johnson, who has scored at least twice in all three games this year. “Demetrious Johnson is just a tremendous athlete. In every game they have played he has been the fastest kid of the field. They do a good job of getting him the football and giving some different looks and getting him the ball in space. The other thing with them is you just can’t focus on him they have some other guys that really complement him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are playing pretty decent defense. They were able to shut down a pretty potent Lucas offense on Friday. So, they are playing good, all around football and they are buying into the new coach’s message. It seems like they are playing with a great deal of confidence right now.”

Former Colonel Crawford assistant coach Scott Armrose has taken over the Northmor program this year and Hartley says you can see his impact, especially on offense. “On defense they are pretty similar. They are traditionally an even front and that is what we are going to see from them. Offensively it is a different package. Demetrious has been in the system for four years and he has been a running back and this year they switched him to quarterback definitely presents challenges for opposing defenses. They are simple, there is nothing confusing, there are not a lot of tricky formations or anything like that. They are just executing really well. They are playing to their strength and that is getting their shifty backs the ball in space,” said Hartley.

Published 9/12/17

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Shelby Excited to Play Bellevue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/11/17

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Truckers Need Consistent Effort

Norwalk has lost their last two games and they need to find some consistency if they are going to get back on the winning track when host Margaretta in an inter-divisional game among Sandusky Bay Conference teams.

Norwalk is in the Lake division and Margaretta is in the River division.

Last week, the Truckers spotted Port Clinton a (20-0) lead before rallying, but falling short in losing (27-21) on week three.

Coach Chris MacFarland says they have been giving good effort, but they are having some execution issues. “The kids I thought played hard. We didn’t come out clicking on offense at all. We missed some good opportunities. The different mis-reads, some dropped balls, penalties, things like that that you kind of shoot yourself in the foot with. Defensively, the plan we good, the kids where there and we missed some tackles. We hit the running back behind the line every time with first contact, we just couldn’t control him. They both ran very hard. I did like to see the attitude of the kids stay strong,” he told Swankonsports.com, “At halftime, the kids did a great job of taking the adjustments offensively. We came back out and had a great drive down the field. I think two out or three drives in the second half we scored. It was good to see our offense get out of that funk. Defensively we didn’t have the same kind of look that we did against Edison with our intensity. That is some of what we have been talking to the kids about. Just trying to stay consistent, that is really hurting us right now.”

Consistent intensity has been a problem area and MacFarland says their less experienced kids have to understand that varsity football is different. “Varsity football is very intense. It is very physical. There is a lot of mental drain along with the physical aspect. We have some young guys. We are playing five or six sophomores and some juniors that are maybe first-time varsity guys. We have a lot of two way players and sometimes that tiredness sets in and a player takes a play or two off. We are working on it and the kids are doing a great job. They are giving it everything they have there is no question about that. They are willing to listen and they are going hard in practices. We just haven’t found that consistent button yet to get through a whole four quarters,” said MacFarland.

Margaretta (1-2) had a big effort in the second half last week and beat Monroeville (35-12) to earn their first win of the season.

MacFarland says they know they will have to play well. “They have a good running back and their kids play hard. We have to find that rhythm early. We noticed that even in our scrimmages. We kind of came out in a couple of those flat and had to turn it on. Against quality football team you just can’t do it. We are going to need to come out and get our execution down and make sure that our game plan is set and try to find another way to get our kids mentally ready to execute at a high level. That is our challenge this week,” he said.

Published 9/11/17

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Lexington Getting Ready for Balanced Orrville

Lexington plays host to former “OCC” rival Orrville in a non-conference football game on Friday night looking for its first win of the season.

The Minutemen lost to Ontario (21-20) in week one and then they were hammered by Shelby (41-7) last Friday.

Lex coach Taylor Gerhardt says Shelby is just really good. “Shelby is a really good football team. Not only do they have talent over there, but coach Will has them going in the right direction. They are a well disciplined well coached football team. We came up on the short end. We couldn’t get our offense going at all and they have a superb defense. We made too many mistakes against the caliber of a team like that and didn’t have a good night,” he said.

In his opinion, Gerhardt says the biggest thing they need to do is believe they are going to be successful. “We have to believe in ourselves. I have said this since last spring and this summer this team has the talent to compete. We have the pieces it is just the matter of clicking and playing together in all three phases of the football game and we have not yet,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Once we are able to believe in ourselves as players, believe in our coaching, believe in the schemes, and believe in each other, once that clicks I am excited about what we can do.”

Orrville (1-1) beat arch rival Wooster (20-16) in their opener and then lost (27-20) to Norwayne last Friday.

Gerhardt expects another tough game. “I expect a hardnosed, talented football team. Orrville has great history of football and when you have that kind of tradition you now the competition you are going to get. They have talent on that team. The staff over there does a tremendous job. So, we have our hands full with the Red Riders,” he said.

Orrville has opened its offense up a little, they were very run based the last several years, and Gerhardt says they are very balanced this year between the run and the pass. “The scary thing about Orrville is they really are a truly balanced team. They are 50-50 on the run and pass. They are comfortable going with what they need too to be successful. So, defensively we have to be ready for that and to prepare equally for the run and the pass is not common. They do a tremendous job of having that truly balanced offensive attack,” said Gerhardt.

Published 9/08/17

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Lucas Charged With Containing Northmor

In one of the better match-ups in the North Central Ohio on Friday night the Lucas Cubs host the Northmor Golden Knights.

Both teams has played good football this year.

Lucas (2-0) belted Centerburg (37-7) last week in a game where they executed well on both sides of the ball.

Coach Scott Spitler says they had good focus last week. “I thought there was some improvement from week one to week two. I really liked the kid’s effort and focus during the week and it showed on Friday night against Centerburg. Now we have a new task this week,” he said.

Northmor (2-0) owns wins over Crestview (21-14) and Worthington Christian (40-14) last week. They have a new coach in Scott Armrose.

Spitler says he has done an outstanding job bringing confidence to the Golden Knights this year. “I think you can see the impact he has on the program just with the enthusiasm and the belief in what they are doing. He comes from a pretty solid program over at Colonel Crawford where he was an assistant for several years and you see a lot of imprint that he brought with him in the program at Northmor. It is similar to what they did at Colonel Crawford,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The kids are believing in it and they have some tremendous athletes. It is going to be a very tall task. They always play us tough whether it is home or away and we are expecting nothing different this Friday.”

Northmor has a special athlete is Demetrious Johnson, who plays anywhere on the field and on both sides of the ball. Spitler says you just hope to contain a kid like that and the Golden Knight have other weapons too. “He is a tremendous athlete. He has been since he started for them as freshman. They move him around in so many different spots. They put him at the quarterback position making him even more dangerous. It is not about whether you can stop him. You not going to stop a kid as talented as he is. What you have to try and do is limit the big plays that he has and try and make them line back up and run another play instead of giving up the home run ball. You just can’t focus on him. He has a talented mate in the backfield in the Becker boy. What they do scheme wise is very tough on you. They are playing pretty solid defense. This a very motivated and well coached Northmor team and we are going to have our hands full,” said Spitler.

Published 9/08/17

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Fredericktown Trying to Find it

Fredericktown has found the going tough against two pretty good teams out of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and they need a win pretty badly Friday night at Utica.

It was close for about a half last week, but Marion Pleasant pulled away for (39-14) win over the Freddies.

Coach William Hartley says they need to be more consistent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. “In the first half, we definitely made progress offensively from week one to week two. We had success moving the football and were able to put some drives together. It was a really close game until right at end of the half, it was a six-point game, 13-7. We had a bad snap deep in our end that gave them the ball on the one yard line with 38 seconds left in the half and they were able to punch it in there. From that point forward it just deflated our momentum and they went on to dominate the second half and we weren’t able to get that first win. We showed some signs offensively we just have to get more consistent,” said Hartley.

There are eight games left to be played and Hartley believes they are going to end of being a pretty good football team. He thinks this week will be important. “Our theme this week is we have one mission and that is going down to Utica and getting that first win. I told the boys Friday after the Pleasant game that deep down inside my gut tells me this is a good football team. We had come up against two really experienced and tough hardnosed teams week one and week two and came up short. We have a lot to play for,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I just really feel that we are getting really close to turning that corner. I think that if we can dig down deep, making sure that we are executing consistently on offense, continuing the play with the energy we have been on defense, we have been pretty physical on defense. We played good on the special teams on Friday, after the problems against Clear Fork, so continue to be sound there, we are going to be okay down the road here.”

Utica (0-2) has lost to Centerburg (19-14) and East Knox (33-19) in their two games this year.

Hartley thinks these are two pretty similar teams at this point in the season. “You have two teams that are kind of searching for an identity. Utica comes in 0-2. They have lost two real tough games that they have been leading late and let it slip away. They didn’t win a game last year. They have a second year coach. It seems like they are really trying to turn that corner. They have a lot of kids back from last year’s group, starting with their quarterback, who has been a four year starter. He is probably one of the better passers of the football that we will see. They have a nice receiver corps. They are big up front on both the offensive and defensive lines. It is their home opener, so we know they are going to be real hungry for a win,” said Hartley.

Published 9/08/17

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Crestline the Focus for South Central

South Central played some excellent football last week and they need to continue that as they play at Crestline in a non-conference game on Friday night.

The Trojans (1-1) throttled Danbury-Lakeside (42-0) last Friday.

Coach Corey Fickiesen says they played aggressively on both sides of the football. “We played pretty well against a pretty good team. Watching film on Danbury I was a little scared. They were coming off a big year last year and they were coming off a big win the week before, but I thought our kids came out with the right mindset. We preached all week just attack and go at them early and that’s what we did. We played well both sides of the ball,” he said.

Crestline lost to Monroeville, also of the Firelands Conference, (47-18) in their first game. They beat Grove City Christian (7-0) last Friday.

Fichiesen says the Bulldogs are going to present a challenge to them, no question. “They have some very athletic kids. Their running back is a very good player. They have a couple of receivers. The (Devon) Triplet kid can really hurt you are any time in the game. So, we have been very conscious all week in making sure we know where guys are at, what they like to do, tendencies. Week two they looked pretty good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They played good defense. It is definitely going to be a battle. They came here last year and we got off early on them and they came back and probably should have beat us to be honest, but we pulled it out. We are expecting to come out and have a battle (Friday) night.”

Firelands Conference play starts next week as the Trojans travel to Plymouth, but Fickiesen says they can not be thinking ahead or they are going to get caught in a trap this week. “Our focus is going to be on the task at hand this week and that is what we have been preaching. You can’t look ahead or you are going to get beat if you do that, especially a team like Crestline can sneak up on you. We have to go to their place, so our focus has been Crestline. I don’t care about the past. I don’t care about what we have in the future. We have to make sure we take care of this week. Once we do that we will move on to the next one,” said Fickiesen.

Published 9/08/17

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Port Clinton Counting on O-Line

Port Clinton battled back to even its record last week and now they face a second Lake Division team as they travel to Norwalk to meet the Truckers on Friday night.

The Redskins (1-1) beat Rossford (28-7) last week.

Coach Beau Carmon says they needed that and they really saw what they needed to from the players. “We weren’t sure what kind of team we had after the Sandusky game and we needed to show something in all three phases of the game. We felt we did a pretty good job of doing that. We had a pretty good offensive day. I would have liked to score a few more points. We left some points off the board. Regardless we had 400 yards of offense and scored 28 points and that’s pretty good football. Defensively, we tackled much, much better and only gave up seven points. We were solid in special teams. It was a much better effort than we had the previous Friday, so we are happy about it,” said Carmon.

Port Clinton has been in the playoffs the last two years and to be a good football team this year Carmon says it depends on their play in the trenches. “I think our offensive line has jelled and gotten a lot better. They understand they can be pretty good when they want to play football and the same with our defensive line. We expect to control the line of scrimmage. I think going forward here against Norwalk and any other team we play our strength has to be starting at the line of scrimmage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are not a team that likes to throw the ball down the field on a consistent basis, so the run game is really, really important for us offensively. Defensively, it has to start with stopping the run. We were able to do that Friday night and we met a lot of our goals. As coaches we felt a lot better and our players felt better about it as well.”

Norwalk (1-1) lost to Edison (13-3) last week in another inter-divisional game. They had beaten Willard (40-6) the first week of the season.

After losing to Sandusky (41-7) in their first game, Carmon says they want to prove some things. “They are a good football team, there is no doubt. They have size, they have great running backs, they have a quarterback that can really throw the ball. Their defense hasn’t given up many points. I don’t think there is any arguing how good Edison is this year and they went toe to toe with Edison. We have to play pretty darn good football to stay in the game with them. We are looking forward to the challenge. We play three games against the Lake Division. Our challenge for the guys is can we play with some of the bigger teams? We play three and this is our second one and we need to take advantage of it,” said Carmon.

Published 9/08/17

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Trenches a Key for Bucks

Buckeye Central plays on the road against Seneca East in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

The Bucks have lost their first two against Plymouth (34-14) and last week to Mohawk (45-14) in a conference game.

Coach Rob Detterman says a landslide led to 32 points by Mohawk in the first quarter and they couldn’t get back in it. “We started out with a bad snap on the first play. It kind of broke a play that looked like it might have been there and got us going in the right direction. We had a dropped pass on third down and we had to punt it away and they ran right down the field. We turned the ball over a couple times in a row and the next thing you know it is 32-0 and we are out of the game. Give credit to Mohawk they are a very good team this year. Their offensive line and defensive line really controlled the line of scrimmage all night. That is an area that we are going to have to improve going forward,” said Detterman.

Right now, the Bucks aren’t getting things done in the trenches and that has to rectified and right away if they are going to start winning. “We have three guys back from last year that started for us and we had higher expectations for our line than what we have been getting so far. We need to do the little things that we are coached to do. This week we really went back to the fundamentals. We always focus on those, but we really harped on it this week, get out get our hands on the offensive line when we fire out on the defensive side. Trying to initiate contact instead of accepting it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is the same thing from the offensive side. We have to initiate contact we can’t set back and wait on the other team to be quicker off the ball than we are. A lot of it is just in our aggressiveness and we have to be more aggressive up front.”

The legacy of Buckeye offensive lineman Bryce Lutz will be honored before the game. He was killed in an auto accident this summer. He attended Seneca East through the third grade.

Seneca East (1-0) did not play week two. They beat South Central (35-14) in their opener.

Detterman says the Tigers have a lot of talent all over the field. “There is no doubt about it their skilled kids are very good. Their line looks pretty good too. I don’t know if their line is quite up to where Mohawk’s was, but it’s pretty close. Their skilled talent might be as good as there is in the league. Brock Martin is probably one of the best players, if not the best player, in the league. He is a guy we are going to have to focus on all night long and know where he is because he has the ability to break a long one from anywhere on the field,” he said.

Published 9/08/17

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It’s About Consistency For Norwalk

Norwalk is like a lot of teams in North Central Ohio they can make good plays, but they don’t make enough of them.

Consistency is the issue and something that needs to be solved.

They lost last week (13-3) to Edison and play host to another school out of the Bay Division on Friday in the Port Clinton Redskins.

Coach Chris MacFarland says they were not able to put together any drives when they had the ball. “We played hard. The kids did a nice job. It was a very physical high school football game, but we had about that six minute span of turnovers and penalties. When you play a quality football team you can not afford to have those kinds of mistakes. They capitalized on it and we weren’t able to come back from that. We did a great job in the first half of sticking in there and kicked a field goal to go to halftime,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Then we came out and made too many mistakes. It is something we can correct and that is the positive of it. The kids gave us all of the effort we needed. We just have go back and eliminate some over our self-inflicted mistakes and hopefully we get better this week.”

You probably are never going to get mistake free football, but MacFarland believes the teams has the fewest miscues is going to end of winning the game more times than not. “You have to play consistent for four quarters. To have two or three turnovers. We had a great interception, but with a penalty involved gave Edison a chance to extend their series. If you break down and do those things and put your team in jeopardy we just don’t have enough athletes and stuff like that to make up for those things. We just have to play solid football. That is one thing we preach every week is the team with the least mistakes and the least turnovers wins football games,” he said.

Port Clinton (1-1) beat Rossford (28-7) last week after a (41-7) loss to Sandusky on week one.

MacFarland says they good at the point of attack. “I think they are an excellent team. He does a very good job of making sure the foundation of what he has been doing the last three or four years is there. They had a lot turnover as far as starters, but their fundamentals and their schemes and still very solid. Up front they do a really good job of coming off the ball on both sides. The running back so far in two games is very impressive. They are moving the football on offense and defensively they are very sound and just make sure they don’t give up big plays,’ said MacFarland.

Published 9/08/17

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No Letup in Shelby

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/07/17

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Northmor Getting Ready For Lucas

Two teams off to a good start this season meet on Friday night in non-conference play as Northmor is at Lucas.

The Golden Knights (2-0) beat Worthington Christian (40-14) last week.

Coach Scott Armrose says they got off to a slow start, but he says they found some things in the second half. “We got off to a slow start. We were having trouble moving them up front. We knew they were big and it was going to be a challenge, but we also felt like if we played a physical football game eventually we would be able to overpower them. It was 14-7 at halftime and we got the ball to start the second half. We talked about getting a fast start and getting going and we ended up scoring four touchdowns in the third quarter. So, we were very pleased with that. We just need to become more consistent overall, especially up front with our young offensive line,” said Armrose.

Armrose says at halftime they just talked about things and different ways to go about it. “We reaffirmed the things we talked about before the game and the things we needed take care of getting on these guys and playing physical football. We made a few adjustments. The adjustments we make we are not drawing up new plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are saying their defensive end is not where we said he would be that’s okay here is how we are going to block him now. With a young offensive line we find ourselves doing a lot of those things right now, but we are learning and getting better every week.”

Lucas (2-0) is coming off a (37-7) belting of Centerburg last week.

They, of course, run the rugby style double tight, double wing offense, and Armrose says that offense is hard to get ready for. “We had an interesting practice (Wednesday) night. It was our first day of school here at Northmor. The first day of school is always a challenge. It was raining as we started our defensive practice and then we had our scout team trying to simulate the Lucas offense. To be friendly it was just a mess. It is very difficult to do,” he said.

Plymouth has adopted the same style and Lucas has seen that in a scrimmage and Armrose thinks that is a plus. “We know exactly what we need to do to slow the Lucas offense down, but knowing it and explaining to the kids that do it are two different things. We have worked hard on it this week. Fortunately we did scrimmage Plymouth early in the season, which gave us some experience and that is going to help us tremendously as well,” he said.

Published 9/07/17

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Big One for Colonel Crawford

Colonel Crawford lost their “N10” opener last week to Carey and now they host Mohawk in an almost must win situation on Friday night in league play.

Carey beat the Eagles (27-14) last week after scoring the first 20 points of the game.

Coach Ryan Teglovic says this week in practice so far things have went pretty well. “Monday is a lot of walk through, a lot of mental stuff. We brought them in on Labor Day in the morning, so it was a little bit out of the routine, but I thought it was pretty good focus on that day. Tuesday is a longer practice and I felt like it was one of the better Tuesday practices that we have had. Hopefully, that means we are back on the beam a little bit and trying to improve those things we need to improve,” he said.

Mohawk (2-0) won their first league game last week (45-14) over Buckeye Central. Teglovic says the Warriors are good all over the field. “Mohawk is a good football team. They have a lot of returners back. Offensive and defensive side of the ball they have the most returners back in the league. They are still a junior dominated team. Last year, they were a sophomore dominated team. They have a lot of nice players. I am very impressed with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think they have a couple of the best defenders I have seen on film. They have some potential to play well offensively too. They have a quarterback back from last year that I thought had a good year as a sophomore. They have Parker Brown, who is an exceptional running back with a lot of experience as well and I think they are pretty physical up front.”

With Parker Brown, one of the better runners in the area, Teglovic says Mohawk wants to get him the ball a lot. “I think they want run first. They are going to spread you out a little bit with their formations, but in the end I think they would like to give him the football and get behind their offensive line, which is extremely huge. I feel like they are physical and have some experience up there. I feel like they do a pretty good job. We will have our work cut out for us on both sides of the ball,” he said.

With a pretty tough and balanced league this year, Teglovic says this is really a pretty big game for them. “It is early on. This is what you have got when you start league play week two and you have some pretty good football teams in your league that you play right off the bat. There is no margin for error. If you have any aspirations for the post season, that’s a very long way off and we don’t talk guys about it a whole heck of a lot, you have to play your way in. I’m sure that’s in the back of people’s mind. We know what’s at stake. Hopefully, our guys can go out there and focus, be loose, but be focused and play well,” said Teglovic.

Published 9/07/17

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St. Paul Locks Horns With Calvert

Two of the better small school football powers square off Friday night as Norwalk St. Paul travels to Tiffin to take on the Calvert Senecas.

Last week, St. Paul (2-0) took out Fremont St. Joe (42-7) and coach John Livengood says they did the job on both sides of the ball. “I was pretty happy with how our kids played overall. We have plenty of areas to continue to improve in, but it was a real solid effort against a real good football team. That is team that scored 50 points week one and they have some excellent athletes out there. We did a good job of containing their offense and limited what they were able to do. We had a pretty balanced game offensively. I think we were able to rush for over 300 and throw for over 100. So, overall pretty good effort,” he said.

The St. Paul defense has only permitted one score this year. Livengood says they have a lot of experience and talent on that side the ball. “We return a lot of starters with game experience on defense and we have a lot of quick athletes over there. They are doing a great job and I have mention as well our defensive staff, they do a great job preparing our kids and putting together a great game plan. The kids do a great job executing those game plans. When you are able to put that all together you have a good chance for success. They started off the season strong, played well in both of our scrimmages, and our first two games, so hopefully that trend continues,” said Livengood.

Calvert beat Hopewell Loudon (21-12) in their first game, but they lost to Pandora Gilboa (20-6) last week.

Livengood says the Senecas are a consistent power for a reason. “Todd Fox is one of the best coaches around. He always has his teams prepared and well coached and this is a very talented Calvert team. I know they return a large number of starters from last year’s team. They have been in the playoffs I think six straight years. So, it is a great football program and it’s a tall task,” he said.

Livengood says this is a different kind of Calvert team in many ways and on both sides of the field. “They run a lot of spread offense and pound the ball out of the spread, but they also like to throw the ball around. The quarterback I think is a two, three year starter, Park Hemminger. and does a nice job for them spreading the ball around and their skilled kids when they catch the ball can pick up extra yards after they make the catch. Defensively I think they are a lot more athletic this year than they were last year. They have a little smaller defensive lineman. When you played Calvert in the past you kind of counted on seeing some 285 pound guys out there. They have some 200 pound guys, 225 type guys, and those guys are a little trimmer and a little more athletic and they do a great job getting off blocks and getting to the ball. It’s a big challenge going against Calvert this week.”

Published 9/07/17

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Madison Must Run the Ball

It’s the third week of the season and the Madison Rams need a win. It has been a year.

They host to Toledo St. Francis, the last team they beat on week three last year, on Friday night.

Last week, they were hammered by River Valley (53-7) in a non-conference game.

Coach Jamie Masi says this week in practice his kids have worked hard and had a good attitude. “I am happy to say our kids have had a great attitude this week. They knew that we played two very good football teams over the last two weeks. We took our bumps and bruises, but they are very excited to go out against Toledo St. Francis this Friday night and prove what they can do,” he said.

In order to start winning games again, Masi says they have to be able to run the ball, something they haven’t done very well. “We have got to be able to run the football. We had opportunities to run the ball Friday night against River Valley. We were somewhat successful at times. We need to be very consistent. I think we have got to put our kids in position to run the football as much as we can on any given Friday night. If we can do that I think we will shorten the game and I think we will help our defense out as well,” said Masi.

If you run the ball successfully you take time off the clock and Masi adds you keep you defense off the field. “I think Friday we had 38 offensive plays to River Valley’s 77 offensive plays. It is hard to compete against a team when you give them that many snaps. Even if you are running the ball and you are not getting first downs you can bleed the clock a little bit, you can play some solid defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We played great defense the first four series, but we just got wore down and before you know it there was mistake after mistake and they capitalized. We have to be able to run that ball.”

Toledo St. Francis (0-2) has lost to Anthony Wayne (45-7) and Bedford, Michgan (19-18) in their two games. Madison beat them last year (46-41) in a shootout.
Masi says they are physical. “They have a brand new head coach. They have done some things differently this year on defense. Last it was a really high scoring game. They are playing some very solid defense. They lost last week a one point game to a pretty good Bedford, Michigan team. The thing that kind of worries me is they are extremely big up front and nobody plays both ways. They have 80 guys on their 10-12 roster and they are playing one way, so it is going to be a physical battle for us when we are playing a lot of guys both ways,” said Masi.

Published 9/07/17

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Monroeville Must Control Bears Run Game

Monroeville hits the road for the first time this season as they travel to Margaretta for a non-conference game on Friday.

The Eagles (2-0) rallied in the second half to beat Sandusky St. Mary’s (26-19) last week.

Coach Scott Stacher says they made a lot of mistakes that put them down in the game, but they played a better second half. “It was pretty tough in the first half and we made some mistakes, but St. Mary’s is a very well coached team and a decent team and in the second half luckily we put some things together and protected the ball a little bit better and got our ground game going. All in all it was a great game for the fans, but still we need to do a lot of things better in order to beat Margaretta this week,” he said.

Defensively, Stacher says they have done some good things, but they have become better tacklers if they are going to be competitive with some of the good teams they play. “I think our defense is doing a really good job. Our front four is doing an excellent job. Our linebacking corps is really good I think. We have Ryan Watt, who has been a four year starter at middle backer, so he is our captain on the field when it comes to the defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “He is making all of the calls. He is doing a really good job of putting us in the positions we need to be in. Our db’s are coming along very well. Defensively, I like the progress we are making we just need to tackle a little bit better. It’s back to basics again.”

Margaretta (0-2) lost a tough one last week when Western Reserve edged them (29-28) on week two. They missed a two point conversion that would have given them the lead.

Stacher says they are going to have to plug the holes and not allow the Polar Bears the control the game with their running game. “If we can hold onto the ball this week, get some good blocks on the line and control that line of scrimmage and cut down the running lanes. Hilton is a really good running back, a 2,000 yard rusher. If we can stop those rushing lanes for him and put some pressure on the quarterback and make him throw it in a hurry we could be in pretty good shape defensively,” said Stacher.

And that goes for when they have the ball too. He says they have to take charge of that point of attack. “I think offensively and defensively whoever controls those lines of scrimmage is definitely going to win the game that is for sure,” he said.

Published 9/07/17

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Perkins Has to Eliminate Mistakes

Sandusky Perkins had trouble with Mansfield Senior’s speed last week, but more than that they kept shooting themselves in the foot and that has to stop.

They host Genoa this week in a non-conference game.

Mansfield Senior beat the Pirates last week (39-6) as Jormell Manns, a Minnesota recruit, scored twice. Perkins coach Jason Ziegler says it was a match-up problem for them. “We knew going into it they are a very athletic team. They have a lot of D-one athletes on there. Speed is hard to coach up. Our kids came in there punching and swinging. What hurt us early was our penalties. We had numerous false starts and it started from the center,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had to make a change at halftime. We fell behind and in the end we couldn’t contain the Manns kid. He is a special athlete. For the effort and the grand scheme of things I was real proud of the kids effort and we are just trying to get better and get after Genoa this week.”

In high school football mistakes kill you and Ziegler says they have to reduce those penalties. “We are starting a game and we go three and out. Our center is twitching the ball twice and now we are first and 20, we get 16, 17 yards and we are punting the ball. That happened numerous times where we are not snapping the ball on time. It’s a first year player at center with a guy at nose over him. I think he just had the jitters and he just didn’t react like we thought he was going to. With that being said they are football players, they are still young men, they are still kids. He is going to get better. We are going back to the drawing board with the backup center and see who can do the job and get it done,” he said.

Genoa (2-0) and a winner over Oak Harbor (35-20) last week will be at Perkins on Friday night.

Ziegler says this will be a battle of wing-T teams. “They are another great football team. They were picked to win their conference. Their quarterback is a junior, he is a division one athlete, he is good. They come off the ball real well. Their offensive line is fantastic. They have two running backs. They run an offense very similar to us. They run a wing-T. So, they are going to give it to their fullback, they are going to give it their halfback, and they have a tight end they like to flank out at times and throw it to him, he is about a 6’6”, 6’7” kid. We match up a little better with them than do with Mansfield, I’ll put it that way. We are a better run stopping team than we are a pass stopping team. We will see how it goes,” said Ziegler.

Published 9/07/17

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Self-Improvement for Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/06/17

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Wynford Improves, but Still has to Improve

Wynford turned things around last week, but Friday night they are going to be even better if they expect to win.

They play at Allen East (1-1) on Friday night.

In their first Northern 10 Athletic Conference game last week, the Royals belted rival Bucyrus (48-0,) beating the Redmen for the 20th straight time. Coach Gabe Helbert says they were better, but they can’t stand still. “Anytime you win on Friday night it is a special thing and something you don’t take for granted. We were happy with the way our kids executed overall. It was definitely a different result than the previous Friday. Obviously, the opponent has a lot to do with that. Liberty-Benton is a very, very good football team. We were certainly happy with the result and hopefully we can continue to move forward because we definitely have to,” said Helbert.

One thing Helbert knows the Royals must me better at doing is scoring when they get down close. “Finishing drives jumps out to all of us with our coaching staff and our kids. Both weeks we have started the game with explosive plays. We had something like a 65-yard play to start the game against Liberty-Benton and didn’t score. Maybe a 55-yard run against Bucyrus to start the game and didn’t score on that drive. So, we need to be better finishers, be more consistent in our finish. Our execution in the red zone has to improve, especially when we play tougher teams like Allen East this week and continuing on. We have to get better in all phases of our game,” he said.

Allen East lost to Lima Bath (19-9) in the opening game and then beat Lima Perry (24-14) on Friday.

Helbert says they have a solid program at Allen East. He says they are wing-T team with some special athletes. “They have had a solid program. They play in a very good league, so they are used to playing very tough opponents. They have a very similar offense to us they are wing-T based. They do a nice job in their wing-T. They spread you out a little bit too and run the ball affectively. Their quarterback is mobile. Their skilled athletes are pretty darn good. It is nice to have a common opponent,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They scrimmage Liberty-Benton every single year, so we have seen them the last five years in scrimmages and had a chance to see them live this year. Liberty-Benton did similar to them what they did to us, so two kind of evenly matched teams”

On defense lot of good teams they are quick to the ball and are aggressive on that side of the ball, according to Helbert. “They are a good football program. It seems like they are very aggressive and they get off the football well. They definitely fly around. They are a super aggressive defense. They play a lot of man coverage and try to create a lot of pressure and stress on the quarterback,” he said.

Published 9/06/17

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Ashland Must be More Consistent

Ashland has the players to be a very good team, but they have to be more consistent on both sides of the ball to reach that goal.

Clyde edged Ashland (22-19) last week. The Fliers scored a fourth quarter TD and they sacked the Arrows on fourth down to end their final drive,

Ashland coach Scott Valentine says it was a well played game by both sides last week. “It was a great high school game. They are a good program and a good team. In third quarter we were able to get a big play and score and it kind of went back and forth. They got the lead there and we drove down and just couldn’t finish that last drive off. So, again it was a great game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I am proud of our kids and how they kept bouncing back and competing. We got better, but we still didn’t get the win, so we have to get back to work and get ready for this week.”

When looking back at the Clyde game, Valentine says they need play with more consistency in all areas. “I think there are some things on both sides of the ball and even special teams that we have to be more consistent with. Part of that is good tackling and reads and things like that. Offensively, executing things that we are doing, so anytime you play somebody good that consistency shows up a little bit, so that is somewhere we have to get better,” said Valentine.

Ashland (1-1) hosts Tiffin Columbian (0-2) in a non-conference game at Community Stadium on Friday night. Columbian lost to Elida (42-20) on week one and Anthony Wayne (42-3) last week.

Ashland beat Columbian (38-21) last year, but Valentine says the Tornadoes are better this year. “When you see them on tape coach Lutz has done a nice job and you can tell they are working on things and they are definitely better than they were last year,” he said.

Tiffin coach Judd Lutz has been talking quite a bit about wanting to run the ball, but Valentine says they still want to balanced. “I think they are somebody who team wise that is something they are looking to do, but them again they are going to be balanced, but they are definitely trying to emphasize the run,” said Valentine.

Published 9/06/17

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Tigers back at it with Home Game with Buckeye Central

After a week off, Seneca East hosts rival Buckeye Central in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night with some emotion in the air.

Seneca East was unable to find a suitable replacement for Ridgedale on its schedule for week two. The Rockets pulled out of the “N10” in football last winter.

Coach Ed Phillips says they spent last week getting better. “It is not fun not having a game, but there are some advantages to it. I would probably like to have it later in the year if you are going to have one. We came out of week one and we had some things to work on and it was really advantageous for us to work on some of the fundamental things that we need to get better and not have to work about preparing for one particular team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That is what I think was really good for us because we play a lot of young guys that are new to it. So, it allowed us to step back and get better at those things. I think from week one to week three of the season I think fundamentally we made some big improvements last week that down the line will be to our advantage.”

Seneca East has posted a sign honoring Bryce Lutz, the young man that was killed in an auto accident this summer, and would be a senior at Buckeye Central.

Phillips says it is a very emotional situation, but he knows what Bryce would want both teams to do Friday night. “They are dangerous and we know each other so well. This is the “Battle for the Paddle.” Your heat breaks for them. Bryce grew up around a lot of our kids and was good friends with a lot of our kids. He went to our school for a longtime with our Seneca East kids, so that is tough. Whenever I think about it what would he want? What would be doing if he was here? He would be playing his butt off on the football field. It’s the best way to play tribute to him and the legacy he left behind is for both teams to go out and play their butts off. They play hard and they have some playmakers you have to contain, especially the (Max) Loy boy at quarterback because he is a dangerous football player and the moment you don’t contain him he makes things happen,” said Phillips.

Buckeye lost (45-14) to Mohawk in an “N10” game last Friday.

Max Loy is the engine for the Bucks (0-2,0-1) this year. Phillips says you have to keep an eye on him at all times. “You have to be really disciplined in your rush while still attacking him. He is not afraid to stay in the pocket. If he doesn’t have a rush he will stay in there, but when he sees a lane open he will go. He is a double threat. He will scramble to run or he will scramble to throw and makes plays in both ways,” he said.

Published 9/06/17

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Plymouth Plays Tough Black River

Plymouth wants to run the football, that simple, and they host Black River this week and the Pirates want to …. wait for it… run the ball.

Who does it the best Friday night is going to win.

Plymouth (1-1) lost last Friday to Willard (32-16) and coach Mark Genders says that put a frown on everybody’s face around the Big Red football program. “It has been highlighted and starting (Monday) a good sign is the team seems pretty angry about the way they preformed, so hopefully that results in a better effort this week,” he said.

Black River (2-0) is a very good team and very tradition rich program. The Pirates hammered Western Reserve (44-0,) another Firelands Conference team in their first game, and edged a solid Northwestern (21-18) last week.

Genders says the Pirates are very experienced and very talented this year. “They return over 3,500 yards of rushing from a two week deep playoff team from last year. They are so sound and the running backs are fast and the fullback is a monster. Anytime you start nine seniors and two juniors on any side of the ball I think that is one of the biggest things we aren’t used to seeing. In small school football, with the exception of a couple of schools in our conference, a lot of us have to rely on some younger guys to preform. When you get to the division five level you start seeing junior, senior laden teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “A matter of fact I think they only start one sophomore on defense and he is a cornerback. Those are some of the intangibles when you have a mature team year in and year out it is really tough to combat that. They are a good team. They are as good as anything we have seen in a while, so we are going to have to play sound just to compete.”

Plymouth features the double tight, double wing offense and Genders knows to win they have to own the point of attack on both sides of the line of scrimmage on Friday night. “The line of scrimmage is going to dictate a lot this week. It is definitely going to be a fast game. I think they threw the ball maybe five times combined the last two weeks, about as many as we have. The line of scrimmage is going to dictate what you can and can not do, so it is a big challenge for our front this week,” he said.

Published 9/06/17

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Clyde Gets Another Big Test

Year in and year out Clyde is one of the better football teams in North Central Ohio and they continue to play one of the toughest schedules.

They beat Ashland (22-19) last week and play at Anthony Wayne (2-0) on Friday night in non-conference play.

The Fliers rallied in the late going to down Ashland (22-19) last week. Coach Ryan Carter says it was an outstanding game. “It was a good game. Both teams played well. We were just fortunate to make a couple more plays than they did. I thought they played well and I thought we played well. We still had a little of the turnover bug, which cost us a little bit when we were in the red zone. They made some plays at the end to take the lead. We made enough plays in a drive to score and take the lead back and held on defensively. They were moving it and we had a couple of nice plays and a sack on fourth down that got us off the field. They are a very good team, but we don’t get to rest at all we have an Anthony Wayne team that looks pretty impressive when you watch them on film,” said Carter.

It is the hope that a tough schedule results in an improved team. Carter says when you play these tough teams you have to win your share. “Well, you hope so. You hope that you are battle tested. I tell people that when you play teams like we have played, and will play this week, if you don’t come out on top, I don’t know how good it is for you. We were fortunate enough to come out on top last week against Ashland. We play another great team this week in Anthony Wayne and we know we are going to have our work cut out for us to give us a chance to compete,” he said.

Anthony Wayne destroyed Tiffin Columbian (42-3) last week. Carter says the Generals are loaded with playmakers all of the field, especially Caleb Townsley. “They are very good up front on both sides of the ball. Their line is what sticks out when you watch them. They have very good skilled kids, but their line to me sticks out. Number 19 is one of the better athletes we are going to see or have seen. He plays all of the spots. He plays wide receiver, he plays quarterback, he plays running back, returns punts, he does a little bit of everything. He is an outstanding football player,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That is not to say anything less about their other running backs. They have a tight end that is really good. They have an offensive lineman that has signed with Air Force. They are good all of the way across the board. We know we are going to have to shore some things up from the last couple of weeks in order to just give ourselves a chance to win up there.”

Published 9/06/17

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Galion Trying to Complete non-conference Unbeaten

Galion has won its first two games and they have gotten better in the process. Their next challenge is Friday night at home against Portsmouth.

On week two, they crushed Cardington (44-21) in non-conference play.

Coach Matt Dick says they were able to get off to a quick start and really all three phases of the game were in the plus category for the Tigers. “I thought we played well week two. Offense, defense, special teams are all starting to get it rolling. We had one fumble I think on our second drive, but other than that it was a pretty smooth first half and we basically played our backups the rest of the game,” said Dick.

Galion has already won as many games as they did all last year and Dick says their confidence is growing as a team. “It was neat. You could see the confidence growing and kids are starting to buy in. I think when they are listening to all of details that go into our offense and defense we preform at a higher rate and we started to see that last week and hopefully we will see a better performance this week,” he said.

Portsmouth (1-1) is coming off a loss to Portsmouth West (32-14) last week. They won their opener (35-7) over Lucasville Valley.

Dick says this is going to be a big and physical team. He hopes they can outlast them and use their speed as an advantage. “Traditionally they have had a historical program. I think in the last couple of years they have been down. Like us they are trying to have a bounce back year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are just really, really big. They have big linebackers, big D-line, big O-line. The good news is a lot of those guys are playing both ways. Hopefully we take advantage of our speed and wear them out.”

Published 9/06/17

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Danville Facing Spread

Danville has played two pretty good teams this season and they have been equal to the challenge and they face another tough game this week as they play Sugarcreek Garaway.

Last Friday, the Blue Devils scored four times in the fourth quarter and belted Portsmouth East (42-6) to improve to (2-0) on the season.

Coach Ed Honabarger says they were able to get some momentum in that final quarter. “We were fortunate enough to get out of there with a victory. Portsmouth East is a big, physical team. It was a tight contest until the fourth quarter. It was 13-6 and we were able to break it open with four touchdowns in the fourth,” he said.

The veteran coach says when you get an opportunity to get a score against a good team you have to take advantage. “You can’t blow opportunities in tight games. We played them in week 11 last year, so we knew it was going to be a playoff type game and for three quarters it was nip and tuck,” said Honabarger.

Garaway (1-1) lost to Dalton (47-14) in their first game of the season and then beat Warsaw River View (34-6) last week.

Honabarger says Pirates are a team that runs a spread and has the athletes to go with it. “Well, Garaway is coming off their 10-0 last year. They graduated 18 seniors, but they just reload every year. They run a five wide offense. They have good athletes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have been in the system for a long time. They do a good job of distributing the ball. They play hardnosed defense. So, we definitely have another tough task this week.”

Published 9/06/17

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Clear Fork to Face Another Good Team

Clear Fork put together a thrilling overtime win against a very good Bellevue team last week and now they must face another strong opponent as they host Jonathan Alder in non-conference play.

Clear Fork scored with just over 2:00 to play last week on a TD run by quarterback Blake Dinsmore and they scored in overtime when Trevon Trammell scored on a running play around the end. Bellevue appeared to be ready to at least tie the score, but the ball was snapped over the quarterback’s head and the Colts hung on (20-14) for the win.

Coach Dave Carroll says the kids are putting in great effort and they are executing. “Our kids played really hard. We talk about not playing perfect, but giving perfect effort and we are getting closer and closer to that pretty consistently. The thing now is we have to move on. It is amazing how many tags, phone calls, stuff you see on Facebook, congratulating us and all of the pats on the back. That is great and we greatly appreciate that and I am sure the kids have been getting the same thing. There is one group that doesn’t really care and that is Jonathan Alder. We have to get back to work and prepare like we did last week and we will celebrate that victory after the season is over,” said Carroll.

He says they have to be careful about over confidence after winning their first two games. “You can’t ever think that you have arrived. It is only week three and we have a lot of improving to do. We were fortunate to turn the ball over twice like we did against Bellevue and still win. We have to quit the fumbling stuff. The one we were in the red zone I believe or close to it and getting ready to score and the other one we were around mid-field, but we were moving the ball. So, we have got to hold on to that football. We got better on the penalty front than we did against Fredericktown. We made some improvements there. We have to hold onto the ball that is the number priority. We have to keep getting better in all phases of the game,” said Carroll.

Jonathan Alder (2-0) has wins over Marysville (35-32) and Marion Harding (21-7) in their first two games of the year. They won the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference red division last year, but are no longer part of that league. This is a non-conference game.

Carroll says they have a fine football tradition at Jonathan Alder. “Number one they have a great tradition. Some of us older guys remember Donnie Nickey that played for the Buckeyes and played in the NFL. He is a Jonathan Alder graduate. When I was at Danville we played them and they were good back then and they have kind of continued that through the years,” he said.

This year’s Pioneers have real good talent again with an excellent running back and Carroll says their quarterback is good at avoiding a bad play. “They have a real good tailback. He is back from last year. He is about a 185 pounder with extremely quick feet and runs hard. They want to pound him off tackle, and lead play and counter play and an “Iso” play. Their quarterback wasn’t going to play because he has a scholarship to play baseball at Marshall and he didn’t want to risk getting hurt, but he did decide to play and he has a nice arm. He can run, but they really don’t run him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “What I believe he does best is he extends the pass play by scrambling around and feeling the heat and then setting up and throwing it. They have some nice receivers, number 13, is probably their go to guy that has caught the most balls the first few games. He is kind of a tall kid that has decent speed that is a good athlete.”

Carroll says Jonathan Alder does a lot of the same things on offense that Bellevue did last week. “They remind you schematically a lot of Bellevue. They line up with a stacked “H-back” that is a lead blocker and he will go out for passes. They run a little shovel pass underneath for him that is a good play for them. They are similar in what they do,” he said.

On defense, Carroll says they are solid too and can run down plays with their speed. “Defensively they are a four man front, a 4-4 or 4-3 defense. They get to the ball. You can tell their kids have been in the weight room, they are not overly huge, not quite as big as Bellevue was, but just nice looking kids and they can run, so they have a pretty quick defense,” said Carroll.

Published 9/05/17

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Hillsdale With Another Non-Conference Rivalry

Hillsdale meets another non-conference rival this week as they host Loudonville on Friday night.

The Falcons has opened the season playing well the first two weeks with wins over Mapleton (49-21) on week one and Crestview (22-14) last Friday.

Coach Tom Williams thought they put together a pretty good overall effort against the Cougars. “I thought overall we played a really good game. We still had a few breakdowns in all three phases that we still have to get ironed out, but overall saw some good improvement from week one to week two,” said Williams.

Despite two solid efforts, Williams says he told the kids on Monday not to be satisfied and their goal should be to get better every day. “We talked (Monday) about ways to continue to find ways to get better every day. Each player on our team, each coach on our staff gets a little bit better then the whole team gets better,” he said.

Loudonville (0-2) has lost to Northwestern (42-7) in game one and Chippewa (31-28) on game two.

Williams says they have some tough kids that can make some plays on both sides of the ball. He says they will have to be warry of the blitz. “They are just a tough team. Being a rivalry game that always adds some intrigue to it. They have an athletic quarterback that cam make plays both running and passing. They have a couple of receivers that can hurt you in the open space,” he told Swankonsports.com on Labor Day, “Defensively they have a lot of tough kids. They blitz a lot and cause some havoc in the backfield, so we have to make sure we do a good job picking up the blitz.”

When the other team tries to blitz you it is going to be a big play either way. Williams says they want to take advantage of their opportunities to make big gainers. “For us the blitz is an opportunity for a big play for us offensively, but they have to make sure everybody is doing their job and that is what we really have to work on this week,” said Williams

Published 9/05/17

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Mt. Vernon Picks it up

Mt. Vernon turned it around last week and blanked Newark with excellent play on both sides of the ball and special teams.

The Yellow Jackets destroyed Newark (31-0) and they play at Buckeye Valley of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference in non-league play on Friday night.

After a tough loss to Marion Harding (14-10) on week one, losing with less than 10 seconds on the clock, coach Mike Kerr says they played much better in all three phases of the game last week and it showed on the scoreboard. “We talked a lot about eliminating mistakes and just making sure that we didn’t beat ourselves. Not just both sides of the ball, but also special teams. I thought the kids responded and I think they played well both offensively and defensively and our special teams took a big step forward too. I was really proud of all three phases of the game,” he said.

Shutouts are hard to produce in high school football unless you are just a lot better than the opponent. Kerr says his kids on the defensive side of the ball take a lot of pride in what they do. “Our Defense really takes pride in what they do. They are a tight knit group and they hold each other accountable and they really get after it. It’s a fun group to coach and they are playing really well right now at a high level. It does give us a lot of confidence going forward and a lot of excitement. They see a challenge in front of them to keep this going, so I am excited to see where it heads,” he said.

Mt. Vernon plays at Buckeye Valley (1-1,) who is coming off a (37-6) win over Bexley last week to even its record.

Kerr says the Barons are very physical and have an excellent running game that they are going to have to try and contain. “They are obviously big and strong. I think they might be the most physical team we have seen and that would include our scrimmages and everything. Up front on both sides of the ball they really come off the ball hard and our strong kids. Their running back might be the best one we’ll see. He is really good. So, we have to contain him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively they are really sound in everything they do. They don’t blitz a lot or anything like that. Those kids know exactly where they are supposed to be and they are there all of the time. We have to make sure we do a good job of maintaining blocks and hopefully winning a few one on one match-ups.

Published 9/05/17

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Mapleton Facing Rittman and Triple Option

Mapleton got a lot better and picked up its first win of the season last week and they are going to have to get better still as they host Rittman in non-conference play on Friday night.

After losing to Hillsdale (49-21) in their opener, the Mounties rallied to hammer Wellington (49-19) last Friday.

Coach Robert Mahaney says they showed a lot of improvement on the field on both sides of the ball. “We played a pretty good game offensively. We put up 40 points in the first half. We executed really well and it was good to see the growth from week one to week two, which is what you like to see as a coach. Normally that is when you see your best growth and it was good to see us do that. Defensively we played well, just a couple of breakdowns,” he told Swankonsports.com on Labor Day, “We held them for very little yardage and it was good to see that, kids flying around. Kids having fun, we want to make sure they are having fun always. When you go out and execute and do the little things right that tends to happen.”

Football is about working hard and battling adversity, but Mahaney says it sure is a lot more fun when you are winning games. “The kids buy in to practice more because they see all of their hard work, buying into the game plan and they see it all paying off for them on Friday nights. So, when you go out and have success the kids are more excited in just makes everything more enjoyable,” he said.

Rittman (2-0) comes in after a (34-0) destruction of Warren Champion on week two of the season. They had beaten Richmond Heights (29-12) in their first game.

Mahaney says they Indians runs the triple option, which means they have to be disciplined, and Rittman is aggressive on defense. “They run the triple option and are pretty good at it, so you have to be really sound and play all your responsibilities. It just takes one mistake for a big play, so we have to make sure that we stick to our reads and keys and play fundamental on defense. Defensively, they get after it too. They play the 3-3 stack and they like to bring a lot of pressure, so our offensive line is going to have to communicate. We are going to have to know our job and play our responsibilities. When we get a chance we are going to have to make big plays. They are good football team that’s why they are 2-0. It’s our home opener so our kids have to play with some excitement and get after it,” said Mahaney.

Published 9/05/17

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Columbian With Another Tough One

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/04/17

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Point of Attack Big For Bucyrus

Bucyrus has had trouble running the football this year and it won’t get any easier as they as they travel to Marion Pleasant to face the physical Spartans in a non-conference game on Friday night.

Last week, the Redmen (0-2) lost to rival Wynford (48-0) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game. They haven’t scored this year.

Coach Aaron Eckert says they just couldn’t get anything done on offense and it kind of put them behind the eight ball. “I think one of the first things you look at for us in going back and watching the film is our inability to move the football on Friday night. We had a little over 150 yards of total offense. When you don’t move the ball and go three and out your defense has to stay on the field longer,” he told Swankonsports.com on Labor Day, “It just seemed like we didn’t control any of the clock on Friday night. The first couple of possessions we had to punt and we just couldn’t get any momentum and it just ended up adding up to points for them.”

There have been some holes to run through, but Eckert says they haven’t been finding those creases. He says they must get productivity out of that running game. “I think we have to do a better job of running the football. I don’t think our O-line play was that bad on Friday night. We had some assignment errors, but for most part we did move some people on their defensive line. We just couldn’t establish a running game. That’s what we have to get better at right now,” he said.

Marion Pleasant (1-0) belted Fredericktown (39-14) in their first game of the season last Friday. The Spartans are one of the most consistent teams in North Central Ohio. They pounded Bucyrus (55-6) last year.

Eckert says Pleasant is going to be tough in the trenches on Friday night and it is a must that they compete at the point of attack. “The first thing that jumps out to you with Marion Pleasant is just how physical they are on both the offensive and defensive line. They really get off the ball well. They have five or six skilled backs that they play. They throw the rock a little bit. They are a very good team. They are very well coached. They are there to just kind of run the ball right at you and see if you can stop it,” said Eckert.

Published 9/05/17

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Crestview Looking Forward

Crestview is 0-2 on the season, but their goal of being Firelands Conference champion remains in front of them as league play does not start until week four of the season.

They lost (22-14) to Hillsdale last week. They play at Sandusky St. Mary’s (0-2) on Saturday night.

Last week, coach Dan Mager says they were right in the game with Hillsdale, but there were too many mistakes in the end. “It could have went either way. We started out really good and scored right off the bat, but turned right around and gave up a kick return and lost the momentum that quick the other way. It was a dog fight and very physical until the last whistle. There was a couple of drives there towards the end with some penalties. We chose when I got there that Crestview was a place where we wanted to play tough non league games to get ready for our league and we have done that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Northmor won again Friday night and they are pretty good and of course Hillsdale has been good for a good while. It’s a good battle and I think it is good for us. A lot of people expected us to be 1-1 or 2-0 and right now we are 0-2. I told our guys that our goal is still to win a conference championship and that is still in front of us and that is what we intend to do.”

Mager says they did some good things last week, but not enough. He says they have to continue to get better if they are going to be able to reach their goal. “We have built our team around our defense and we are still holding true to that. Offensively we are doing okay, but it is not completely clicking. Some of those penalties hurt us the other night. I think we did out gain Hillsdale, but if you don’t score it really doesn’t matter. This weekend when we go up there to Sandusky St. Mary’s Saturday and hopefully have some success. Our kids are holding their head high and our goal is a conference championship and that is what I have my mind on and we have our eyes sit on,” he said.

Sandusky St. Mary’s lost (44-0) to Norwalk St. Paul on week one and then lost a fourth quarter lead to Monroeville (26-19) last Friday.

Crestview won this game last year (42-0) at their place, but Mager knows the Panthers are much better this year. “They played Norwalk St. Paul the first week and Norwalk St. Paul took care of them pretty easily and the close game with Monroeville kind of raised my eyebrow a little bit. That means obviously they are better than they were last year. We have to go up there and they are wanting to win and we are wanting to win. So, I think both programs want to win Saturday night, so it is going to be competitive. We need to do our due diligence during the week and fix some of the things we need to fix from the Hillsdale game and go in there Saturday and take care of business,” he said.

Published 9/04/17

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It’s on Wooster to Get Better

It is a fact that the Wooster Generals have not played well this season over the first two weeks and if they expect to win they are going need to do that and right now.

They were blanked by Wadsworth (47-0) on week two after a loss to rival Orrville (20-16) in their first game of the season.

Coach Doug Haas says they did not improve last week and that is something that must happen this week. “We will move the cliché from hopefully you make your most improvements from week two to week three. We faced a little bit of a momentum piece that we could never recapture. We had a blocked punt on the first drive. That first half we never had any kind of field position what so ever and that was on our shoulders. We didn’t punt the ball well. So, we were never able to get any type of consistency and playing from behind on the scoreboard and the down and distance standpoint. Those are the things we have to get better at and rectified. It is some of that inexperience coming through in that aspect of it,” said Haas.

Winning this week against Dover (2-0) is the goal, but Haas says in order to do it they must execute better. “We need to play well. We haven’t executed cleanly I don’t think certainly from the offensive perspective. There has been a breakdown by one guy or more each and every snap. We need to play a little bit more clean certainly on that side of the ball before we can even start thinking about winning ballgames,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “On the defensive side of the ball we haven’t tackled very well at all for the past two weeks and that has been huge just in regards to yards after contact and extending drives and things like that. There is the fundamental piece of just being a better blocking team, a better tackling team, being a better pass catching team and ball security. All of the things you preach to your kids. The foundation things in order to win games we have to do better.”

Dover has wins over Cleveland JFK (45-0) and Uniontown Lake (30-28) on week two.

Haas says the Tornadoes have explosive players. “They are your typical Dover team since coach (Dan) Ifft has been there. They are running the five wide empty formation. They have a tremendous, experienced quarterback back in the (Alec) Sayre kid. They have some really good skilled kids. Dre Hess is electric when he touches the football. The word is he may be injured. I am not so sure. I will believe it when I see it from that aspect of it. Coach Iftt does such a good job with that program that those kids are so well coached on both sides of the ball, really in all three phases. This is why we have to get better. We have to get better at the fundamental things or we are not going to put ourselves in the position to be successful again,” said Haas.

Published 9/04/17

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Shelby Figuring it Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 9/01/17

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Ashland Must Win up Front

Ashland travels to Clyde Friday night for a non-conference football game between two of the better programs in North Central Ohio.

Clyde won (38-21) last year at Ashland.

The Arrows took a (31-14) early in the fourth quarter and hung on to beat Green (31-28) last week,

Coach Scott Valentine says they made enough plays to get the win last week. “I thought our kids did a great job. I thought we came out and initially I thought we made a few plays. Then I thought we came out in the second half and our defense really turned up the heat on the quarterback and really contained them. It was unfortunate because we had an opportunity to put the ballgame away there in the fourth quarter with a couple of plays and just missed on a couple of throws and missed a couple of blocks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you don’t put people away then you give them that opportunity. Credit Green that they battled back through and gave themselves a chance, but our defense rose to the occasion and got the stop in the end for us.”

Valentine has great respect for the Clyde football program and he says year after year they put together a very competitive team. “There is no doubt. The kids in their program come up through and they understand what has to be done to get ready for the season and he does a great job and his coaching staff. So, you can’t expect anything less than what you get from them every year,” he said.

When it comes to this year’s team, Valentine says the Fliers are very good up front and those guys are very good at controlling the run game and the pass game. “Up front their defensive lineman are really good. They do a good job of not only playing the run, but rushing the passer also. I think that defensively makes them a pretty good defense. Then offensively they just do a good job of shifting and changing their formations and trying to get you not to recognize things and take advantage of some things that you don’t do. That concerns you defensively that you are ready for all of that,” said Valentine.

When you are trying to defend the Fliers, Valentine says you have to be ready to make the needed adjustments. “When they shift you have to be ready to counter a little bit. You don’t have to make a wholesale change. If you don’t counter then they get leverage or get position on you that puts you in a bad situation. It’s just recognizing all of the things is something hopefully we are ready for,” he said.

Published 9/01/17

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Clyde Has to Control Ashland Speed

For the second week in a row the Clyde Flyers are playing a team with a lot of speed. This time it is the Ashland Arrows in the home opener.

Last week, they held off Toledo Start (17-14) in the first game of the season.

Coach Ryan Carter says they had a couple of turnovers and it almost cost them in the game, but they were able to make enough plays. “Going on the road and playing a division one team and having a bunch of kids that haven’t played very much we were pleased to get out of there with a win. I don’t think we played our best football. We turned it over a few times and they didn’t turn it over, but you have to give them some credit. They played extremely well. They played extremely hard throughout the entire game. We got up 14-3 halfway through the first quarter and thought we really could exploit them a little bit. We turned it over two times and they capitalized on it and it was a nip and tuck football game the rest of the way. We were happy to go on the road and get a victory and come back and try and get some growth between week one and week two,” said Carter.

Ashland took a (31-14) lead early in the fourth quarter and held off Green (31-28) in their opener. Carter says the Arrows have a whole lot of speed on both sides of the ball. “Watching them on film they’re good. They play all three facets of the game. Their special teams are very good. Obviously, they put you in a bind offensively with five wide. They have a 6’6” receiver and a quarterback that is really good. They have a couple of kids in the slot. They run it more than they have in the past. They have a couple of kids in the slot that motion in there and run the ball very well for them. So, we definitely have our work cut out for us, we know that. It was a great game between us and them last year at their place and we were fortunate to come out on top. We know we are going to have to play our best football to give ourselves a chance to win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have speed all over the field. Their defense is predicated on speed and flying to the football. We are going to have to shore some things up from week one, cut down on our turnovers, and play better in all three facets to just give ourselves a chance to win.”

With Ashland’s five wide look, Carter says they try and get you in one on one situations. “They put you in space. That is what that offense is for they put you in space and try and make one man miss or get you in space and have that open field tackling become a hindrance. It is something we have worked on all week, but you never know if you are ready until you get in that situation and play the game,” he said.

Published 9/01/17

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Northmor Gets Big Win; Readies for Week Two

Last week, the Northmor Golden Knights produced one of their biggest wins in at least their recent football history when then they knocked off highly regarded Crestview.

Demetrious Johnson scored three touchdowns, two on long runs, and one on a pick six to seal the win, and the Golden Knights beat Crestview (21-14) at their place last week.

They play at Worthington Christian in another non-conference game on Friday night.

Scott Armrose, in his first year as head coach, had a smile on his face all weekend and was very excited for his players, especially the seniors. “(Crestview is) a darn good football team. We wanted to make it a close game. We wanted to control the clock a little bit and be in it at the end and we might have a chance,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We played with a tremendous amount of heart and our defensive coordinator Dave Morgan put together a pretty darn good plan to stopping a really good offense, so I was very pleased for our boys and I was proud of our seniors who worked really hard and had taken a beating the last three years and won a really big game right there.”

Northmor had won just three games over the last two years and nine over the last three.

Johnson is a former state champion in the long jump and a pretty good basketball player too. Armrose says he is a threat anytime he gets the ball in his hands. “Without a doubt, he is a playmaker. He is usually the best athlete on the field. If we can block a couple of people for him he can make plays. The ball just seems to come to him on defense too. He is dangerous on both sides of the ball,” he said.

Worthington Christian lost to Cardington, also of the new Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference, (53-14) last week.

Armrose says the Warriors are going to try and run the football and they are coached by a guy that you might have head of. “Worthington Christian is coached by an All-Pro and a Super Bowl champ in Jeff Hartings, who played for the Steelers. He has some boys of his own that play on the team and they have a lot of really good athletes. They are big up front and the Hartings kid that plays running back is big and fast and hard to stop. They didn’t have a whole lot of success running the ball consistently against Cardington, but we think they will come back and be better this week,” he said.

Published 9/01/17

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Colonel Crawford Kicks off League Play

Colonel Crawford over the last decade is most always a contender in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference football race and it will likely be this year too.

They play at Carey in their conference opener on Friday night.

The Eagles throttled Mt. Gilead (46-7) last week in their opener to the season.

Coach Ryan Teglovic says they made a lot of the improvements he was looking for based on what they had done in the scrimmages. “There were a lot of good things. I was pleased and felt like we made some progress overall in regards to things we wanted to fix from the previous week. I thought the kids did a good job of paying attention to details there and getting better. There is still lots to fix special teams wise and we need to make sure we work hard to tighten some of those things up. There were some alignment issues and those kinds of the things. Overall, it was a good week one and hopefully we can get a little better this week too,” said Teglovic.

The coach said he and the staff had to work hard to get the attention of the players on Saturday morning, well a little more than normal. “One thing we mentioned Saturday morning when we watched film with our guys last year in that game we were only up by seven points with six minutes left against Mt. Gilead last year, so this year was a little bit different story,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We talked to our guys that is was a little easier last year to teach because we almost lost this thing. Even though we won and played pretty well we still have to lock in and make those improvements. It is a little bit about the opponent we are playing, but more than anything is about yourself and how you continue to improve.”

Colonel Crawford travels to Carey to play the Blue Devils in a “N10” game on Friday. Carey scored in the fourth quarter to beat Van Buren (12-7) last week.

Teglovic says Carey is a traditional power that likes to be a physical football team. “It is a great football tradition. At Carey they love their football. The kids are hardnosed kids and they like to compete. They like to hit. They are excited coming off a big win and they have a new coach and all of the excitement that goes along with that. We have to go over there and we expect to get a great effort from them. They are going to play hard. It’s our first league game, so it’s a tuff and important start for us,” said Tegolvic.

Friday night it is going to be a tough challenge for his team and Teglovic knows that. “In this situation it’s a tough order you are going to Carey and you are playing against a group that’s hungry and confident because they got a big win last week and talented as well. So, it’s going to be a big game for us,” he said.

Published 9/01/17

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Pleasant Ready to get Things Started

Marion Pleasant plays its first football game for real this season on Friday night at Fredericktown in non-conference play.

Their game last week with Greenon was cancelled due to two untimely deaths in the Greenon district.

Pleasant coach Aaron Cook says there is no question they are ready to get one in the books this week. “Our kids are excited to go play. It has been a while since we have played taking that week off. Our hearts go out the Greeon community, obviously it is very tragic what happened. Nobody wants to go through that and we completely sympathize with them. Our kids were great about it and we kind of used it as a life lesson,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have talked to them about just trying to focus in on Fredericktown. We gave them Friday night off. We kind of treated last week like a game week and let them go watch some high school football. Came in Saturday morning and treated like we would have after a game. They are excited to go play this week.”

Fredericktown didn’t score until late in the game and lost (27-6) to Clear Fork last week. Cook expects the Freddies to play well. “I know Clear Fork is a really, really solid football team this year, so the score with the two kick returns, it was a pretty close ball game. Fredericktown has been relevant to high school football for a long time. Coach Hartley does a great job over there. We know what we are going to get. It is going to be a great high school game. It is going to be two teams that are going to be well disciplined and go out and try and do what they do. On film, I have been impressed those kids are tough kids. Exactly what you expect from a Fredericktown team,” he said.

With their offensive line from last year back in full. Cook says the Freddies, like a lot of other teams, are going to want the football first. “I think small school football in general if you look at the most successful teams, there are exceptions to that rule, a lot of teams try and run the football. If you can run the football and play good defense it is usually a recipe for success. That is kind of what their program does. They have the ability to throw the ball. They will keep you on your toes with that. By all means they are a physical football team. They look very similar to my kids. They just look like good kids that want to play football,” said Cook.

Published 9/01/17

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Monroeville Working on Getting Better

Monroeville is on its way to becoming one of the more solid small school football programs in North Central Ohio again.

They walloped Crestline (47-18) last week, calling off the dogs in the second half. They host Sandusky St. Mary’s in another non-conference game on Friday night at Marsh Field.

The Eagles led (40-0) in the second quarter last week and coach Scott Stacker says they were able to play a lot of kids. “We started off fast and did what needed to do in the first half. We rushed the ball very well and played tremendous defense. We kind of put it in the bank and put our freshmen in the whole second half and let them roll with it. It was good for them to see action as well,” said Stacker.

When it comes to execution, Stacker says their defense was top notch last week, but they still have to work a little on that offense, especially the pass game. “Our offensive line is doing very well along with our D-line and backers. I thought defensively we played an outstanding game. Offensively we have some things to work on. We worked a little bit on our passing game. We still need to get better at that. It was running back by committee and hopefully we will stay healthy and add a couple more to the stable,” he said.

Monroeville had two backs go over 100 yards each last week against Crestline.

Norwalk St. Paul handled Sandusky St. Mary’s (44-0) last Saturday night, holding the Panthers to just 22 total yards.

However, Stacker says he believes the Panthers have the personnel to give them a very good game. “I think we are going to see a very spirited game. I respect the heck out of St. Mary’s. The coaching staff is very good. The kids are very well coached. They some big kids. They have some athletic kids too. I think they are going to give us a game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is one of those teams that is good enough and you can’t leave in the game. They do a lot of things very well, so I expect a very good game from St. Mary’s. I know St. Paul ran the ball on them pretty good. The entire game they didn’t take their defense out against them. I think St. Mary’s is a good week two opponent.”

Published 9/01/17

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Yellow Jackets Have to Get to the Perimeter

Mt. Vernon has to find a way to use their athletes as they play at Newark in a non-conference game on Friday night.

Last week, Marion Harding completed a TD pass with four seconds left and beat Mt. Vernon (14-10) in the opener for both.

Yellow Jackets coach Mike Kerr says really they just made too many mistakes to win the football game. “It was a tough one, it really was. We did a lot of good stuff, but we just had too many mistakes and eventually those mistakes caught up with us. We were hoping we could hang on for about four more seconds, but eventually those mistakes caught up with us. It was a heartbreaking loss, it really was,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We thought we at times did enough to win, but when you make that many mistakes you are going to put yourself in a position that you don’t need to be in and it came back to bite us. We have been focusing this week on cleaning up those mistakes and looking forward to getting together with Newark this Friday.”

Kerr says the kids were disappointed they didn’t win, but there was no pouting in practice this week. He says they got down to business. “We have a lot to improve and it exposed a lot of mistakes that we made. Now we are aware of them and we can correct those things. I think we have this week. I think we have really come in with the sense of we know what we need to do now. So, we have had a great week of practice. Our kids have really bought in. The kids aren’t hanging their heads at all they have worked extremely hard. So, I think they are ready to get this thing turned around,” he said.

Newark lost to Zanesville (23-19) last week in their first game.

Kerr says the Blue Devils are a physical team at the point of attack and they have to find a way to get some of their athletes to the perimeter in hopes of making big plays. “They are always very physical. They are huge up front, both offensively and defensively. They have that running back that is about 214 yards shy of breaking the school record, so he is quite the dynamic playmaker. Defensively they bring a lot of pressure, so we have to handle that. We just have to handle them up front and get the ball on the edges and get the ball to our playmakers I think we have a real chance,” said Kerr.

Published 9/01/17

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Colts Must be More Disciplined

Clear Fork plays host to Bellevue in the Hall of Fame Classic on Friday night at the Colt Corral in non-conference action and they have to be much better on offense if a win is in the balance.

In their opening game the Colts beat Fredericktown (27-6) scoring twice on kick returns, once on the second half kickoff and a second on a fourth quarter punt return.

Coach Dave Carroll says they played very on defense and very poorly on the offense against Fredericktown. “I am extremely pleased with our defense. We pretty much shut them down to nothing other than that pass play they got on our JV’s there at the end. The special teams scored two touchdowns. The returners did a great job and our blockers setting up the wall on the punt return and the wedge on the kickoff return,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Offensively as equally disappointed. We have to clean a lot of things up. We can’t have all of those penalties, a lot of them were just those stupid penalties as coaches call them, illegal motion, substitution issues. We were trying to do some different things offensively and that might have contributed to some of the chaos. We have to be a little more disciplined, a lot more disciplined, not commit those penalties. What is unacceptable no matter what you are doing offensively we had four turnovers. We had two picks and two fumbles, that just can’t happen. We are working on that.”

The good thing for the Colts is their mistakes are fixable. Carroll says that is what they must do this week in practice. “You can’t make kids bigger or faster or more talented or experienced from one week to the next, but we can definitely button up some of those mistakes that we made. We have been very good at not doing those things in the three scrimmages. That is where you are surprised, of course, in a disappointed way and now it counts, now we are keeping score. That is when you want to have the tightest focus and make the least mistakes. When you can get away with a win and we dominated on the defensive side of the ball and still not play well offensively and cough the ball up four times. There are some great lessons to be learned there. If you go out there and wipe them off the field you might be a little more laxed this week,” said Carroll.

Clear Fork and Bellevue both have solid histories in football and have played four times over the last 10 years. Carroll says he has great respect for Bellevue and its coach Ed Nasonti. “We played them my first four years here. We beat them pretty good the first two years and they got us pretty good the last two years. They were on the top of a run the fourth time we played them they ended up being state runner up lost to Akron St. Vincent-St.Mary and had the Santoro kid at quarterback and they were loaded. It was a good series. They have a very good tradition. There is good football up there around the lake in the “SBC.” They are a traditional playoff team year in and year out. Coach Nasonti is a tremendous coach. He played there and he has coached there for a long, long time. They have an established program,” said Carroll.

Last week, Bellevue scored on a Bryce Ray TD run with 2:54 left in the game and the Redmen beat Canton Central Catholic, the defending division four state champions, (21-17) last week in their home opener. Carroll says the Redmen don’t make mistakes. “What I’m most impressed with Bellevue is their discipline. I don’t believe they had one penalty. We could not find one penalty in their first game. They are a physical football team. They run to the football. They tackle really, really well. They don’t do things to hurt themselves,” he said.

Published 8/31/17

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Crestview has to Play With Balance

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Dan Mager

After a loss in their first game, Crestview has to battle back this week as they host Hillsdale is non-conference play on Friday night in their home opener.

Last week, Demetrious Johnson scored all three Northmor touchdowns, including a pick six, and the Golden Knights beat Crestview (21-14) in the opener.

Coach Dan Mager says they didn’t execute when they had to the most. “We didn’t execute there at the end when we had a couple of opportunities. But Northmor is a really good team. Their running back we really good as well. We have to move on one game at a time type deal like we always talk about. We have Hillsdale Friday night,” he said.

This year the Cougars believe they are contenders for the Firelands Conference title. Conference play begins in two weeks and Mager says that is their number one goal. “I think the biggest thing was to get the guys to understand that last week is no big deal. I main our goal is to win a conference championship and that game has nothing to do with that. We need to come out and play well Friday night and hopefully come out of there with a win and get ready for our conference schedule and playing people like Northmor and Hillsdale should help us a lot,” he said.


Hillsdale (1-0) scored four times in the fourth quarter last week and beat Mapleton (49-21) in their first game. Mager says the Falcons forced Mapleton into some mistakes. “Tommy (Williams) does such a good job over there and that coaching staff. I watched the game and Mapleton was playing well. They might of even had a touchdown called back at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth. With a good veteran team and a program like Hillsdale makes you pay for those mistakes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “What we can’t do this week is turn the ball over and that’s what happened to Mapleton and it started snowballing and one turnover leads to two and all of the sudden you are down. We have to make sure don’t let that happen.”

The Falcons have a very good quarterback, but Mager says what beat them last year (20-6) was Hillsdale running the ball on them. “Trey is a great quarterback. He is coming off a great season and he has a great arm. He is smart and he understands defenses. We can’t worry just about the pass or they will run and that’s what happened last year. We respected the pass so much because they had two outstanding receivers in Wolf and Rogers and we had to pay a lot of attention to that and they ended up running for 200 some yards against us. They have a balanced attack and one thing about coach Williams and those guys over there is they will take what we give them. We have to be a little more balanced from a defensive standpoint. Hopefully our 11 are better than their 11,” said Mager.

Published 8/31/17

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Maturity to Key for Wooster

Wooster lost to its biggest rival last week and now their young kids have to learn from that and move forward as they play Wadsworth this week.

Orrville and Wooster played for the 107th time last Friday and the Red Riders won for the first time since 2011 in downing the Generals (20-16) in the opener for both teams.

Coach Doug Haas says some of their youth was exposed by Orrville. “I think what really surfaced for us is just how green we are. Not only is it your opener it happens to be your 107th meeting with your rival. I think that kind of coupled a lot of things. Then you take that with how much inexperience we have making opening night starts and I think that showed a little bit. Let’s make no bones about it Orrville is vastly improved and what not. So, little bit of that perfect storm piece, but I am really proud of our kids in terms of the effort they put forth this week. They came back ready to work on Monday and are willing to let go of that last one and get back to work and get prepared for a good Wadsworth team,” said Haas.

Haas says they went through a lot of things last week and he says now they understand what it is all about and will try and get better this week. “I certainly hope we live up to old cliché that you make your most improvements between week one and week two and we certainly need to do that. Now our kids have game experience. There were opportunities there to make plays and we got in a lot of different situations. We got in two minute offense, we were in some back up situations, and had a great opening drive. We went through a lot of that game sequence stuff you try to simulate in practice and don’t get to and now we did. So, now a lot of that is under our belts and now it is making sure that we take advantage of those opportunities and get better,” he said.

Wadsworth (1-0) beat up Akron Firestone (55-14) in week one. Haas says the Grizzlies have an excellent quarterback and they are going to feature him in a lot of things they do. “They are really kind of quarterback driven on the offensive side of the ball. Joey Baughman is a returning starter. (Coach) Justin Todd does an excellent job of really finding ways to showcase his players and put them in a position to be successful and that is certainly the case with Joey Baughman both as a runner and a thrower,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Defensively they are not big, but they are very quick and very aggressive. They present a tremendous challenge with their aggression on the defensive side of the ball. We have to make sure we slow them down when we have the chance to find a crease, we have to take advantage of it. When there are opportunities to catch passes and make big plays we need to take advantage of those, which are things we did not do last week.”

Published 8/31/17

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Young Kids Have to Step up for Bucyrus

Bucyrus is dealing with a lot of youth on the football field and many times that leads to crucial mistakes and that is what happened last week.

Galion blanked the Redmen (34-0) last week on the opening Friday.

Coach Aaron Eckert says they did not make plays on the big downs in the game. “We have to better and taking advantage of opportunities. There were a lot opportunities missed both offensively and defensively. Getting off the field on third down or fourth down when you have played some pretty good downs so far. When the opponent bails you out with a penalty to keep you alive on the drive,” he said.

Already young, the Redmen suffered some injuries last week and Eckert says that called on some kids that really weren’t ready to play. “When you have young players and a young team when some of your talent goes down that are older you are asking some kids to step up that haven’t been there before. That is a situation that we got into on Friday night when three of our best players went down and our young guys, although the played hard, didn’t respond in way that enabled us to win,” said Eckert.

Bucyrus (0-1) travels down the short road to Wynford (0-1) on Friday night for a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game. Wynford lost (49-0) to a very good Liberty-Benton team last week.

Eckert says the Royals still have the making of a very good team. “Wynford doesn’t lose in that fashion nor do they lose that often in the regular season, but at the same time you can’t let that score full you. Liberty-Benton is a very talented football team. A team that has probably 80, 90 kids on their roster. Liberty-Benton probably has a little more depth than anybody in our area,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Wynford had 350 yards of offense, but they didn’t capitalize early in the game. It got out of hand a little bit, but at the same time you have to play the game. Wynford is going to be focused and ready to play on Friday night.”

Wyatt Smith is in his first year at the controls of the Wynford offense and Eckert says Wynford might have the tendency to throw the ball a little more. “They have some more will to want to throw the ball a little more this year. They have a really nice quarterback in Wyatt Smith, who spins it pretty well and some decent receivers. I think they do want to throw it a little more than they have in the past. They are going to do whatever they have to do to win the ball game. They are a team that has never been caught up in how much I run it or how much I pass it is more or less what do I have to do to win the game. I have seen them run every play of the game to win the game. It’s a team that isn’t worried about stats it is wins and losses for them,” said Eckert.

Published 8/31/17

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Tackling a Priority for Redskins

After a loss on week one to Sandusky, the Port Clinton Redskins are working to get better as they host Rossford on week two.

Sandusky blew out Port Clinton (41-7) last week,

Redskins coach Beau Carmon says the Blue Steaks are really fast and they had some problems tackling their backs. “We played a really good football team in Sandusky. They were very fast. They out matched us in that department. To play against a team like that you have to make sure you tackle well and not let them get into open space. We didn’t tackle well, so our tackling needs to be cleaned up this week and we have really emphasized that already,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Offensively our route running needed to be a little bit better and we need to make sure catch the ball better too. We need more productivity out of our skilled guys. All in all I was pretty thrilled with our offensive and defensive lines, I thought we held the lines pretty well and we maintained our gaps. Defensively tackling has to be a priority and offensively we have to make sure we get more points on the board and do what we need to do individually to succeed offensively.”

Port Clinton has been in the playoffs the last two years and Carmon believes they will benefit a lot from playing Sandusky because they are going to make them better. “That is the first loss in our stadium since 2015 and that one hurt because it has been a while since we lost in front of our home crowd. I think we played one of the best teams on our schedule this year. I know we play a lot of really, really good football teams, but I think it is fair to say the fastest team is already out of our way. It is nice to play them week one because I think it is going to make us a better football team right way. I think we are going to be more prepared after that week one loss. You never want to lose a home opener, like your homecoming game and get off on the right foot. We have a little bit of a monkey on our back right now and we need to get it off quickly. I know Rossford is going to be hungry this week losing in overtime to Bowling Green. They are going to want to come in and get that first victory as well, so it should be a good game,” said Carmon.

Rossford lost on week one too, Bowling Green edged them (41-34) in overtime.

Carmon says Rossford has some good talent and they will be well coached. “I think Todd Drusback is an awesome coach, he is a good friend of mine and he has been very successful everywhere he has been. He had a lot of success at St. Joe and obviously at Rossford. He is always good at maximizing his talent. There a couple of years ago he had one heck of a football team. I think they went all of the way to the regional final. He always has good quarterbacks. He always has guys that are well coached. He always has a little bit of size. He loves to run the screen. You have to be very, very disciplined when you go against teams like that. They could break one at any time. I know they have a big running back. Defensively they run a multiple set. They are gap sound. They are very, very aggressive. They have good linebackers. I think they are a good football team. It is a good game for us. A good test for us,’ said Carmon.

Published 8/31/17

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Gower Part of Clear Fork Football Tradition

Kevin Gower, one of the great fullbacks in Clear Fork football history, will be inducted Saturday night into the Clear Fork Valley Athletic Hall of Fame.

Gower played varsity football at Clear Fork from 1984 through 1986. He was a two-time All-Ohio selection and ran for 3,033 yards in his career.

He currently lives in Plain City, Ohio, northwest of Columbus, and works in the insurance industry,

He says football was in his blood. “It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the beast football players to come through Clear Fork. When you start playing football in the fifth and sixth grade you really don’t know what you are getting yourself into. My brothers played for Clear Fork and I kind of followed in their footsteps,” he said.

At least once in his career Gower carried the ball 20 straight times. Not sure if the term had been invented yet, but it was definitely smash mouth football in the valley. “It was kind of an old school, Big Ten, kind of football. We kind of lined up in the “I” or the Wing-T and you knew you were going to run the ball. We probably ran the ball 75 to 80 percent of the time. They stacked the box and they knew what you were going to do. You just hoped to get three, four, five yards at a time. It was kind of the way it was,” said Gower.

When you have a run based offense Gower says the running backs get the glory, but it is really the guys on the offensive end that deserve the credit and that was certainly true in his case. “I have to give credit to all of the guys I played with they were really talented. They made the holes that I had to kind of sneak through sometimes. Give all of the credit to the linemen they worked really hard,” he said.

Weight training is all of the rage know in all high school sports, not just football, but in the early to mid-80’s it just starting in the valley. Gower says his class was sort of on the ground floor and he thought is a big plus for the program. “The kids today are doing 12 months out of the year. As I recall my freshmen year we weren’t doing any weight training, but it was kind of hitting the colleges and was starting to get down into the high schools. Starting my sophomore year (head coach) Tom Sargent and some of coaches got some weights, I don’t know where they got them. They put them in the theater of the high school and it was kind of first year of weight lifting. I don’t think anybody really knew what they were doing. They got some benches, they got a squat rack and they had some old free weights. We just went in there three nights a week and we kind of learned as we went,” said Gower.

Gower ran for 268 yards in a game for the Colts. He went on to play football at Capital University in Bexley on the east side of Columbus.

He says is he proud to be a Clear Fork Colt. “They started pee wee football and they taught us from the ground up. In the fifth and sixth grade, an all the way through junior high they did a good job of teaching us football. One of the things I’m really proud of when I got into the working world and started traveling around the state is people kind of know who Clear Fork is. We are kind of known for a rough hardnosed football player,” said Gauer.

Earl Fry, captain of the undefeated 1953 Bellville Blue Jays football team and members of the 1977-78 Clear Fork basketball team, will also be inducted into the hall of fame on Saturday night in a ceremony that will be held at the high school. The program is open to the public.

 
     
 

Lexington Faces Very talented Shelby

Lexington fell just one point short in their opener against rival Ontario and this week they hit the road to play one of the top teams in the area in the Shelby Whippets in non-conference play.

Last Friday, they spotted Ontario a (14-0) lead and battled back in the second half before losing (21-20) to the Warriors.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says he was concerned about how his young team would react to the Friday night lights and that inexperience hurt them a little bit early in the game. “Going out one of my concerns was how fast we were going to be able to start the game. An inexperienced team, a team that really hasn’t had any time playing together. Scrimmages are great, but they are not a real game and there is a difference. It took us a while to get started. Unfortunately Ontario did enough to hold onto the win. We had to go back to the drawing board and go back to work,” said Gerhardt.

Junior Cade Stover, in his first start at quarterback, scored on a couple of short touchdown runs for the Minutemen.

Shelby is starting sophomore McGwire Albert at quarterback in replacing senior Brennan Armstrong and freshmen Owen Fisher at running back instead of senior “Shorty” Brooks. They didn’t seem to miss a beat in a (48-10) win at Mansfield Madison last Thursday.

Gerhardt says his counterpart Shelby’s Erik Will and his staff do an excellent job preparing their kids and that showed against Madison. “First and foremost coach Will has a tremendous staff over there and their success last Thursday night is a testament to that. They have a lot of talent over there it is not just those two kids that unfortunately find themselves not able to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have talent that is young talent and they displayed that on Thursday. To have kids that young to be able to preform the way they did really speaks to the discipline that coach has instilled in his team.”

Shelby beat Lexington (17-14) last year in one of the better regular season games of 2016. One of only two regular season losses for the Minutemen.

Gerhardt says he expects the same kind of approach to the game that they saw last year from Shelby. “I think coach Will is smart he is not going to create an entirely new offense for a few weeks. They just coach those kids up and they are doing what they always do,” he said.

Published 8/30/17

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Freddies Face Some Unknows

Fredericktown is going kind of blind this week and that was pretty scary considering who they are playing.

They face traditional power Marion Pleasant at home on Friday night. Due to some circumstances Pleasant did not play this week.

Last week, Fredericktown lost (27-6) to Clear Fork in their opener.

Coach William Hartley says they just couldn’t get anything going on offense against the Colts. “We really struggled against their defensive front. They were getting a great deal of penetration from the first quarter on. When you can’t put first downs together you are really going to struggle. When you play a lot of guys both ways eventually it is going to catch up with you in other areas. Our defense really battled, but they started to wear down and then we had a couple of breakdowns on special teams and the Colts were able to get a couple of quick scores in the kicking game, one on a returned kickoff at the beginning of the second half and then again in the fourth quarter on a punt return. If you look at one play that was the turning point it was the kick return because we were still struggling offensively and at that point we are down by two scores and it was an uphill battle from that point forward,” said Hartley.

On defense, Hartley feels they did an outstanding job and hopefully they can build on that, but they have do a lot better when they have the ball. “You always want to take some positives out of games. The defense really played well. We talked at the end of the game if the defense can play with that kind of passion throughout the year we are going to be in good shape and we are going to put ourselves in position to win some games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Offensively we really thought that with the experience we have coming back up front and the experience in the backfield, and if you looked at our scrimmages, we moved the ball really well against all teams we had gone against. We felt comfortable going into the game that we would be able to manufacture some kind of offense against Clear Fork and that wasn’t the case. That has left is kind of looking at some different things and trying to get ourselves in a situation this week were we can have a little bit more success on the offensive side of the ball.”

Marion Pleasant’s game with Greenon last week was cancelled due to two student deaths in the Greenon district. Hartley says they know some things about the Spartans, but not as much as they would like. “It is just not a team we are very familiar with, of course we are familiar the tradition and the history of Pleasant, but it just not a team we compete with year in and year out. I believe this might be the first time the two schools have met, definitely in recent history. You don’t have that year to year familiarity with them and also you don’t get a game film on them. It is a little bit of an unknown. We do have some scrimmage film and just asking around and talking to other coaches with what they like to do I think we have a pretty good pulse of what they are going to try and execute against us, but there is a little bit of an unknown facing a team you are not familiar with,” said Hartley.

From what they can see, Hartley says Pleasant is a power team that is just good all over the field. “They are big up front and they are a power football team. They have some big, physical backs. They have a lot of different backs and they have some quicker wingback kind of guys and they have some pounders as well. They are going to have a new quarterback. He is a big kid, he is a junior, he is 6’5”, 190. So, they have good size across the board. They have good speed. They definitely want to run the football first and then suck you up and hit you with their play action pass. If they would remind me of any team it would be Highland, they are real similar offensively to what Highland wants to do. Defensively, they really rock your head back up front. They are very fundamentally sound with really good linebacker play. Just physical tough kids that really cover well in space and good tacklers,” he said.

Published 8/30/17

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Buckeye Central Has to Have more Discipline

Buckeye Central has to eliminate mistakes if they going to become a good football team this fall.

They were not able to do that is a (34-14) loss to Plymouth last week in their first game of the season, giving up more than 400 yards on the ground.

Coach Rob Detterman says they just made way too many mistakes in the game. “We did struggle quite a bit. We were pretty emotional that night. We made a lot of mistakes that were out of the ordinary. We didn’t help ourselves at all. We had 11 penalties on the game. We had nine dropped passes. As far as running the ball they just out maned us. We ended up with all 11 guys in the box and they were still able to run it on us, so we have got to get better up front on the defensive line,” said Detterman.

Buckeye honored two fallen players in a pregame ceremony last week.

This week in practice Detterman says they have to learn from what they saw on film and be able to correct those errors. “Film is a big learning curve and it different from preseason to week one. You can get out there and see actual game speed and see the mistakes you are making in the game. It is a lot different and a lot easier for kids to learn. I think what we learned in film and what we can take forward it going to help us a lot. The discipline part and eliminating those penalties that is really important for us this week,” he said.

The Bucks (0-1) host Mohawk (1-0) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night. The Warriors beat Margaretta (30-14) in their first game. Detterman says Mohawk that is really good football team that wants to run the football. “It looked like it was a fairly evenly matched game that was decided kind of late. Both teams looked really solid. Mohawk is still fairly young, but they are experienced. They played a lot of sophomores last year, which translates into a lot of juniors this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are a big team. They are a solid team all of the way through. There are no real weaknesses that jump out at you. They have kind of mixed it up where they are in more of a spread this year, but they are still trying to run the football and they have two really good running backs we are going to have to stop.”

The Warriors like the spread, but Detterman says they like to run the football out of that formation. “I think the majority of spread team in our sized schools are trying to get guys out of the box and try and find good match-ups. Try to get the numbers game in your favor. That is definitely what they are doing. They can throw too. The quarterback is pretty good, has a pretty good arm on him and he has some pretty good receivers to throw it to too,” he said.

Published 8/30/17

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Trojans Need Better Execution

South Central was in the game in the fourth quarter with a very good Seneca East team last week, but lost (35-14) in the opener.

They host Danbury-Lakeside in another non-conference game on Friday night.

First year coach Corey Fickiesen says they were able to make some plays last week, but when they got down close they weren’t able to stick it in. “Seneca East is a very good football team. I think a lot of people know that and understand that. They have a lot of very good players and very good coaches. We hung around there it was 14-6 in the fourth quarter. We were right there, but we just didn’t make enough plays, especially on offense. Our defense played pretty well in the second and third quarter, but offensively we just couldn’t get things rolling to get a score when we needed it to tie it up and then they ended up scoring a couple late. We have been working on some of those things in being more consistent on the offensive end, getting the ball moving a little bit more and when we get close being able to punch it in,” said Fickiesen.

When you get in that red zone you have to execute even better and Fickiesen says Seneca East made them play faster and they were not able to do it. “The field is a little bit smaller and Seneca East has good athletes. They kind of challenged us, they blitzed everyone. They kind of said we are going to let you throw it and see if you can beat us that way. We just didn’t make enough plays offensively to kind of keep them in check. That is why they were kind of able to disrupt us a little bit,” he said.

Danbury beat Vanlue (39-19) in their opener last week and the Lakers were in the division seven playoffs last year. Fickiesen says they have some guys that can make plays. “Danbury is a very good team that I think a lot of people might think a lot of people might underestimate, but they are coming off a 7-3 season where they made the playoffs for the first time in history and they have got a lot of those kids back. They have a couple of kids on film that just kind of jump out. The Tibbles kid, number 12, is a very, very good players. Every time I am watching film I am saying wow this kid is good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have a couple of other kids that are pretty good players, so we are definitely going to have to execute better than we did last week offensively and defensively. They are a little bit of a different style with the wing-T than we have been practicing against. We put some new things in offensively and defensively to kind of get ready for this week, but we are just trying to hone in and be more consistent with all of the things we do.”

Published 8/30/17

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Hillsdale Faces Physical Opponent

Hillsdale scored four times in the fourth quarter last week to beat Mapleton and now they travel to Crestview to take on the physical Cougars on week two of the season.

Tied going to the fourth quarter, the Falcons exploded to pound Mapleton (49-21) in their first game of the season.

Coach Tom Williams says they were able to take advantage of some things. “It was a great game. We went back and forth for the first three quarters. We were able to get a turnover right before the end of the third quarter and we capitalized on that and we were able to get a few more turnovers in the fourth quarter and kind of pull away,” home said.

It was (21-14) Hillsdale after the first quarter last week and Williams says on defense they must find some ways to be more focused. “The biggest thing for us defensively we didn’t do a very good job reading our keys. So, we have got to a better job getting our eyes in the right place,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “If you get caught looking in the backfield a lot those quarterbacks and running backs are usually pretty good at carrying out their fakes. So, it is important for us to read the guys we are supposed to be reading and getting to the football.”

Crestview lost a tough one on week one when Northmor’s Demetrius Johnson scored all three touchdowns for the Golden Knights and they beat Crestview (21-14) last week.

However, Williams says the Cougars are very good and have a lot of experience in their lineup. “They have a veteran team. They have a lot of guys with varsity experience. A lot of seniors, so it will be a great test for us. They are a pretty physical team with big kids. So, we will find out how physical we can be,” he said.

He says Crestview wants to run it, but they do it in a variety of ways and they are a good play action team. “They run it at you. They run some option. The quarterback does a pretty good job with that. Then they try to lull you to sleep and try and get the big play through the air. So, it is important for us to be disciplined in our assignments,” said Williams.

Published 8/30/17

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Mapleton Has to be More Complete

Mapleton played well for three quarter last week, but in most games you have to play four, especially against good teams, so they have to fix that this week.

They lost to Hillsdale (49-21) last week after the score was tied after three quarters. This week they play at Wellington against the Dukes.

Last week, coach Robert Mahaney says things just got out hand in the fourth quarter of the game against Hillsdale. “We played really well for three quarters for sure and the beginning of the fourth quarter. We just had some mistakes that kind of compounded all of the sudden in the fourth quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Then we got behind and we really tried to force things at the end of the game and it resulted in three interceptions in the fourth quarter and the score kind of got away from us, but our kids competed really hard against Hillsdale, a program that is always really good. I was proud to see where we were at.”

The Mounties were able to pile up the yards last week. This time Mahaney says they have to do a better job of getting the ball into the end zone more often. “I think our goal this week is to obviously build on what we did last week, but eliminate the mistakes. If we can build on the good things and eliminate the bad things I think we are going to be right were we need to be. We still had like 450 yards of offense we just have to do a better job of putting it in the end zone and I think if we do that and keep up our effort and intensity the defense will be just fine,” he said.

Mapleton is on the road to Wellington on Friday night. The Dukes lost to Parma Normandy (42-21) in their first game of the season. They were a .500 team last year.

The Mounties likes to throw the ball and Mahaney says they expect that Wellington is going to blitz them quite a bit and they are going to have to pick those up. “They are a good football team. They have a quarterback that can scramble around. They can bring pressure when they are on defense, so I think we have to do a good job with our pass protection and make sure we have our eyes on the linebackers. I think if we do what we need to we should be alright Friday night. It should be a ball game and hopefully we learn from last week and we make plays down the stretch to get our first win,” said Mahaney.

Published 8/30/17

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Norwalk Faces Edison

Norwalk looked very good in their first game of the season, but they understand they are going to have to be better this week.

The Truckers throttled Willard (40-6) at their place last Thursday.

They travel to Edison on Friday night to face a Chargers outfit that has made deep playoff runs the last two years.

Coach Chris MacFarland says they did a very good job on both sides of the ball against Willard last week. “Things went well. It was nice to see our offensive line come together doing a nice job controlling the front. I thought our backs did an outstanding job running hard. Quarterback Andrew (Ehrenberg) did a great job for his first varsity start really distributing the ball around and was good on his reads. I thought defensively we really swarmed to the football and gave them a lot of different looks and played real physical football,” he said.

The Norwalk coach says this is going to be their first regular week of preparation this year and Edison is a tough team to prepare for with their option look on offense and their aggressive defense. “This week getting ready for Edison there are a lot of things we want to clean up defensively making sure our alinements are right, option football causes another stress. They have the player of the year back, the running back, it’s a big, tall order against them. They bring a lot of defensive pressure, so we have to continue to clean things up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Going into Willard we had three weeks to prepare and now we are into that grind of one week play a game and one week play a game. So, it is going to be the first time we turn around and implement a new scheme and get our looks that we want to go out and be good with and see how they respond with just a four, five day recovery.”

Edison lost last week to Oberlin Firelands (20-17) when they got a field goal blocked in the waning seconds of the game.

MacFarland says the Chargers have a lot of players that you have be concerned with on the field. “I think they are an outstanding football team. We were able to see the game and the offense gives you problems. They get the ball into a lot of people’s hands. They are able to throw the ball deep when needed. So, it is going to be a real challenge for our defense and then when you flip it over their defense brings a lot of pressure. They have a very quick nose, they come off the edge very hard, and the secondary did a nice job keeping things in front. The kids are really disciplined. It’s a great opportunity to play football on Friday night,” said MacFarland.

Published 8/30/17

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More Consistency Needed for Royals

They were still making Volkswagen Beatles and Michael Jackson was still making hits the last time a Wynford football team was in this position.

The Royals, winners of more than 100 games over the last 10 years, lost (49-0) to Liberty-Benton in their opener last Friday night.

Coach Gabe Helbert says they got beat by a better team, plain and simple, and they have some improving to do. “We are very fortunate that that hasn’t happened to us very often, but things like that can happen. We certainly got our butts whopped by a very good football team. There is no sugar coating or anything like that. They came out and they took it to us. We have a decision to make to try and get better. On Friday, we got beat up by a very good football team and that hasn’t happened in a long time. That is the worst loss that we have had in in my 14 years at Wynford. We have been very fortunate, it can happen at any time, and it happened Friday night,” said Helbert,

Wynford (0-1) has some talented players as they always do, but Helbert says the consistency of their execution has to be a whole lot better. “We have to be more consistent in our approach. I’ll say it again the credit goes to Liberty-Benton. We look at the film and we did a lot of bad things because Liberty-Benton made us do a lot of bad things. They played extremely well and they are very good. There are things we can learn from our film. The biggest thing is we have to be more consistent. We just have to continue to stress to do our job to the best of our ability and by doing that hopefully we improve and it allows us to have success moving forward,” he said.

Wynford hosts Bucyrus (0-1) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night. The Redmen were blanked (34-0) by Galion last week.

Helbert says these are teams in similar situations. He says they are going to have to be able to defend the pass. “They are sitting in the same exact spot as us. Rarely do I look at our league stats, but when you get embarrassed as we did. It is something about me that wants to look at maybe it is to continue to enjoy the misery. To look at our league stats there are two teams that haven’t scored a point yet. It is us and Bucyrus and we happen to play each other this week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Watching them on film they have some explosive athletes. The Robinson kid is back, who is a very good football player for them. The quarterback throws the ball pretty well. They do some things in the pass game that definitely make us nervous. They have been successful with that they last several years. They do some things very well. We are going to have to start having more consistent practices or try to find a better consistency than what we have been. Both of us will be excited for the opportunity.”

Published 8/29/17

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Ontario Has to Keep Rolling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/29/17

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Lucas Facing Athletic Centerburg

Lucas picked up a good win last week to open the season and now they have another challenge with Centerburg coming to town for the home opener on Friday night.

The Cubs held off East Canton (40-37) last week.

Coach Scott Spitler says his kids showed a lot of character last week in getting that win on the road. “I think when you are playing the quality team that East Canton was and your kids can have the character to face all of that adversity throughout the game and get it done at end that speaks volumes for what kind of kids they are and what they have potentially at their finger tips for the rest of the season,” he said.

Quarterback Jeb Grover ran for 179 and five scores for the Cubs. Lucas ran for 335 yards as a team out of their double tight, double wing offense.

All good things, but Spitler knows they have to get better in a lot of areas of the game. “We got in there Saturday morning as a staff and as a team and picked the film apart and we definitely had our share of areas where we need to improve on and get better or we are going to get exposed again. With the schedule that we have and the quality of the playoff caliber teams that we have on our schedule this year we can not afford to not get better every week. There are things we have to tighten up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Otherwise traditional Centerburg team, stingy and fast defense and a very athletic quick spread offense with an athletic quarterback and a slasher at running back and five or six receivers. They do a nice jop in their up tempo, no huddle offense. If we don’t tighten things up. Their program used to winning and being successful and being in the post season. They will take advantage of those things if we don’t tighten it up.”

Centerburg beat Utica (19-14) in its opener last week. Spitler says they will need to work on their open field tackling because that is a situation Centerburg wants to put them in. “They know what they do well. They have the type of athlete that plays well in space and with their speed. They don’t always have a lot of size, but they make up for it with their speed and athleticism. They play to their strengths just like we play to ours. That is one thing that is on the docket to get better at this week because we know they are going to stress us in space with their athleticism,” he said.

Published 8/29/17

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St. Paul might Have to Throw More

Norwalk St. Paul threw only six passes in a thrashing of Sandusky St. Mary’s last Saturday, but they might have to throw more when they travel to Fremont St. Joe for another non-conference game on Friday night.

St. Paul scored 42 points in the first half of a (44-0) destruction of Sandusky St. Mary’s on Saturday night.

Coach John Livengood says they executed well on both sides of the ball against the Panthers. “I thought our kids came out from the start are were focused and did a great job executing things early on. Defensively we played very well throughout the game and that kind of set the tone for us. We had a nice opening drive and then the defense was getting three and outs pretty much every possession and giving the offense great field position and the offense took advantage of that and we were able to score quite a bit in the first half and get out younger kids in in the second half of the game,” said Livengood.

Eli Meyer scored three times for the Flyers (1-0) on Saturday night and ran for 251 yards as a team.

They held St. Mary’s to only 22 total yards in the game.

Livengood says they were able to control the point of attack and really control with the Panthers were trying to do. “We look at our second scrimmage with Edison and our kids played pretty well on defense. In our first game we were really able to limit what Sandusky St. Mary’s was able to do. It starts up front with controlling the line of scrimmage and all facets of the game were there on defense. I thought they did a great job,” he said.

Fremont St. Joe (1-0) hammered Oregon Cardinal Stritch on Saturday (50-18) and Livengood says he believes they are going to try and make the Flyers throw the ball. “They have a lot of returning starters this year coming back. They have good size up front. They are a spread team. They toss the ball around quite a bit. They also look pretty affective running the ball against Cardinal Stritch. They have a nice blend of things and do a good job mixing it up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively they are a multiple front defense. They are very aggressive and like to play a lot of man to man coverage and put their safeties down on the line of scrimmage. They make it really difficult to run the ball and load the box up. They were physical with us last year and made it difficult for us and we had a tough time stopping them early on last year. They get the ball off quick and complete those short passes and they keep moving the chains. So, we have a big challenge in front of us this week.”

Published 8/29/17

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Madison Trying to Develop Some Depth

Madison had a difficult time last week with the Shelby Whippets. Injuries led to depth concerns and a loss on week one.

Shelby beat Madison (48-10) last Thursday night at Ram Field at Startech Stadium.

Coach Jamie Masi says they got off to a decent start, but when they started to lose players they lost momentum too. “I think some our young guys that maybe don’t get as much playing time when they are thrown into the fire they have to be prepared and I think that falls on us as coaches and them as players. I felt we played well in the first half. It was a somewhat close ballgame all of the way up to where we happened to lose a few guys. At one point we were down five two way starters. We are just not good enough yet to be able to get through a situation where we have so many guys out,” said Masi.

Madison has about 60 players on its roster, but Masi says not all of them are ready to fill the roles that they are being asked to play here early in the regular season. “We went into the game with three guys that are two way starters who could not play for us. On top of that probably middle of the second quarter and the beginning of the third quarter we lost two more guys. At the end of the third quarter we are down another guy. You just have find ways to develop the depth to help kids mature into those situations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Then when you are playing such an experienced team like Shelby. They had two guys out, but the rest of their squad was returning. They did a great and give them a ton of credit. They are an excellent football team and for us to compete against those guys we need all of our guys fully ready to go and just wasn’t the case.”

Madison visits River Valley (1-0) on Friday night. The Vikings were (34-8) winners over Upper Sandusky last Friday.

Masi says this is a physical team that is going to try and pound it at them from the get go. “River Valley is a team that has made the playoffs consistently over the last four or five years. They are a hard nosed team. We did get an opportunity to go watch them play Upper Sandusky, who is a common opponent because we scrimmaged those guys. I think they are a very physical football team. They are fast, they fly around to the ball. Nothing too fancy, but they are a hard nosed, physical football team,” said Masi.

Published 8/29/17

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Tiffin Making Third Down a Priority

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

They play powerful Anthony Wayne at home on Friday night.

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

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

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

Published 8/29/17

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Danville With Another Test

Danville looked pretty darn good on the first week of the high school football season, but they are in for another test on week two coming up on Friday night.

The Blue Devils (1-0) beat Ponitz Tech, from the Dayton area, (31-6) last week. Coach Ed Honabarger says it was a pretty good win and one that is going to make them better. “We will definitely take the win. There is a lot of stuff we can improve on. I’m happy we went on the road about two and half hours down the road to Dayton playing a D-3 team that is probably going to win about six, seven games and came away with a 31-6 win. That is definitely going to help us down the road,” said Honabarger.

Honabarger says this can be another good year for the Blue Devils, who are in the playoffs year after year, but he says they are going to have to avoid injuries along the way. “We are going to have to stay healthy we don’t have great depth. We are probably playing about 17 or 18 kids, probably like most schools are. Being healthy throughout the year is a big key,” he said.

Portsmouth East comes to Danville on Friday night. The Tartans belted South Gallia (46-14) last Friday. Honabarger says they are a team with size they will have to contend with. “They are a big, physical team. Game one they had a lot of big plays, the quarterback rolled out and threw it deep. Our defensive backs need to make sure we keep track of where the skilled people are for them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have a big lineman that was going to go the Ole Miss. He had verbally committed and now he has reopened his recruiting because of the coaching change down there. He is really a dominate lineman, so we have our work cut out for us.”

Danville plays Sugarcreek Garaway next week before they start play in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference on week four at Highland. Honabarger is a believer in playing a tough schedule because he says that is the way you find out hour good you are. “Against better competition who see who is going to rise up and make plays and who might crumble under the pressure. Our kids didn’t do that. We had some adversity against Ponitz Tech. They took the opening drive and we had a nice goal line stand. We gave them a short field because we were trapped on the one-yard line and they scored, but after that our defense played really well. The last three quarters we only gave up about 40 yards,” said Honabarger.

Published 8/29/17

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Plymouth Getting Ready for Physical Willard

Plymouth took the first step with a new offense last week and now they will face a stiffer challenge as they host Willard on week two of the high school football season.

They beat Buckeye Central (34-14) last Friday and coach Mark Genders says they weren’t perfect, but they did a lot of things well against the Bucks. “The kids played for the most part a pretty clean football game. We did put the ball on the ground once going in on the two on our first drive of which we didn’t like. They buckled up and answered. All in all in was a really good night,” said Genders.

A special ceremony was held before the game last Friday honoring two Buckeye Central players that would have been seniors who died over last year and a half in Bryce Lutz and Tyler Niece. Plymouth players presented a signed number 72 jersey at the coin flip. That was Lutz’s number. He would have been one of the best offensive linemen in the area this fall.

Plymouth (1-0) is introducing a new offense this year the double tight, double wing, featuring the running game. Genders it’s execution is getting better and better. “With the new style that we have the kids executed pretty well. It is somewhat simplified. The quest is to get better everyday and we did last week. Obviously (Monday) we start a new week, so hopefully we will make that big improvement that everybody talks about between week one and week two,” he said.

Against Buckeye Central, Kade Collins ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns and Seth Bailey added 145 yards and three scores. The Big Red ran for 411 yards in the game.

Willard (0-1) lost (40-6) to Norwalk in game that was played on Thursday night at Whitney Field in Norwalk. However, Genders says Willard is better than that score would indicate. “Kind of like us being a division seven team facing Willard they faced a bigger school in Norwalk. Norwalk is a pretty solid team. They have a pretty well rounded football club. The score is not indicative of what I saw with Willard,” said Genders.

Plymouth, of course wants to run the ball, and Genders says they are in for a challenge against Willard. “Willard is big and they are physical. They look like a solid division five team now. You can really tell the shift in that program, so we have our hands full with their size and physicality. Those are all things that jumped out to me against Norwalk,” he said.

Published 8/28/17

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Perkins Looks to Battle Back

Perkins got beat almost at the horn last week and they know their execution has to better as they travel to Mansfield Senior to play the Tygers in non-conference play on Friday night.

Lucas Critelli scored with 1:02 left Friday night and Huron rallied to beat Perkins (27-21) on week one. The Pirates held a (14-0) lead in first half, but coach Jason Ziegler says they made some mistakes and it cost them in the end. “It is one of those things were we started off fast. We got up 14-0 and we had all of the momentum in the world,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “There was a blown coverage and they score one. We have an off sides penalty and they get the momentum and it was just one of those things where we couldn’t get it back. They are a good football team and they fought and our kids fought and we came up short. I was proud of the effort we just have to get better.”

There is generally a lot of improvement between weeks one and week two and Ziegler says considering the opponent they need to show a lot of improvement in order to beat the Tygers. “I would love for the week two opponent to be not maybe as talented as Mansfield. That would kind of help a little bit, but your greatest gain is in between week one and week two. We are going to have to make some big strides in order to beat Mansfield. They are a very good team. They are a well coached team. They have talent and speed all around. We know we are in for a battle,” he said.

Isaac Grude ran for 79 yards on Friday night out of the Perkins wing-T offense.

Mansfield Senior made a number of big plays on both sides of the ball and they beat Columbus Northland (42-14) on week one. Minnesota recruit Jonell Manns ran for 170 yards and four scores.

Ziegler says Mansfield Senior has speed and talent, but they feel they put together and excellent game plan for Friday night. “You can see it on film. It is not one of those things were you are watching film as say yeah he looks fast. You put the film on and they stand out. That is something that definitely is worrisome for us. We have a plan. Our kids are going to try and execute that plan and that is all we can ask. We are excited about the challenge. It is one of those things where we have to play our game and we have to get better and that is what our plan is,” said Ziegler.

Published 8/28/17

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Colts First Regional Qualifier Makes HOF

They say there is really nothing like the first time a school wins a district title.

For Clear Fork that was March of 1978 when the boys’ basketball team won the Class “AA” district title at Ashland University and advanced to the regional tournament.

The team that includes Rocky Black, Dave Jung, Kevin Weikle, Steve Studenmund, Jay Guth, John Rinehardt, Bruce Harter, Jeff Norris, Jay Brokaw, Chuck Golden and Doug Ute, will be inducted Saturday night into the Clear Fork Valley Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony, which will also include the induction of 80’s football player Kevin Gower and Earl Fry, a football player in the mid 1950’s at Bellville High School, will begin at 6 PM at the high school.

Unfortunately Terry Gordon, the head coach of the Colts, will not be in attendance. He passed away in 2006. Pat Durham, then the junior varsity coach at Clear Fork at the time, will introduce the team on Saturday night.

To a man the players believe Gordon was a major reason for their success. “The first thing I think about is Terry Gordon. He was such a dynamic figure and in my opinion had a tremendous amount to do with the success that we had. I really think he was a big reason for the success we had from the 75-76 group through 79-80, which would have been Doug’s senior year. I really think that was a really good period of basketball at Clear Fork. During that time we were in the district four of the five years and won it once. You can talk about kids and players and all of that, but at the end of the day you just have to give coach Gordon a lot of credit for putting that program in place. Pat Durham was part of that as well. He was longtime JV coach and most of us played for him,” said Guth,

Guth is a highly regarded doctor in the greater Mansfield area and also serves as an assistant basketball coach at Lexington High School. He was an all-district selection as a junior in 1977-78.

Doug Ute, the only sophomore on the team, was its leading scorer (15.6 ppg) and would become the Colts’ first All-Ohio selection. He is currently the Superintendent of the Newark City Schools. He says Gordon was a great motivator. “The relationship that coach (Gordon) had with his players, and with being involved in education there is always someone that you can point back to that helped change your life. You felt like you meant something to him and he was highly invested in Clear Fork, not just in athletics, but the Clear Fork School District in terms of believing in it not only as a basketball coach, but a classroom teacher. He cared about you and you knew that. He put us kids in front of him. He could take a group of people and put a purpose with them and set some goals,” said Ute.

Ute and Guth were the team’s leading scorers that year and Golden, a leading business man in the valley and former booster club president, says everybody knew their role. “We had a good mixture of guys. We were a pretty tall team that year, we were 6’4”, 6’5” across the top four guys. We played well together. Doug (Ute) and Jay (Guth) pretty much carried the team and everyone filled in and did their roles throughout the game,” said Golden.

Black, the Deputy Superintendent of the Ohio Department of Commerce, and one of three seniors on the 77-78 team, says they had some scorers, but he thinks the difference a lot of times was their ability to defend as a team. “I think we all had a singularity in purpose and I think we had a really ferocious defense. I think we were focused on defense as much as we had good shooting. We had the best defense that we could possibly have, especially when we pressed,” he told Swankonsports.com.

The team finished 14-4 in the regular season and then beat Colonel Crawford (75-51) and Mansfield Malabar (57-56) in sectional tournament games played at Ashland High School advancing them to the district level.

Three of the team’s four regular season losses were by one point to Margaretta (67-66,) Lexington (67-66) in overtime and Shelby (54-53) and Guth believes the tough regular season schedule was a plus come tournament time. “Coach Gordon really upgraded our schedule. We started playing Mansfield Senior and that’s back when they were big. We played Madison. We played Coshocton. He was looking for competition. I think when we played Willard and Wynford we knew they were good programs, but I don’t think we were in awe of them in any way. I think we went into those games expecting to win. I think we were well prepared for the challenges. I think everything was geared not necessarily to beat the weakest teams on our schedule, but beat the teams at the top of our schedule,” said Guth.

The Colts claimed regular season wins over Malabar (67-61) in overtime, Madison (50-49) and Mansfield Senior (60-59) that season.

Ute, who led Buckeye Central to the regional tournament as a coach, says he didn’t feel the Colts were underdogs in that district tournament. He says they were confident. “I didn’t feel like we were an underdog. We played in our regular season schedule schools that were definitely equal to them. I think we really felt like we had a good team and we could beat anybody. We played within our system and played hard. Our coaching staff was fantastic and they had us believing that we could play with anybody,” said Ute.

The Colts beat Willard (65-52) in the district semi final played March 1, 1978 at Kates Gym at Ashland University and followed that up two days later with a (63-55) win over Wynford.

Golden again points out the leadership of Gordon and says the team had outstanding chemistry. “Everybody got along and everybody worked hard. Also, everybody knew who was in charge of that team and that’s Terry Gordon. Who stood out on the basketball floor or the classroom. He got your attention right away as soon as you approached the basketball floor,” he said.

Sometimes egos can get in the way, even with good teams, and Guth says he and Ute and still very good friends. Doug coached their sons on an “AAU” basketball team. He says that was the case when they were in high school too despite claims to the contrary. “I think when Doug and I played together there was some sense in the community maybe there was some friction, which was never the case. Doug and I have always felt highly of each other and supported each other throughout our careers,” said Guth.

Black, one of the captains of the team, says they had only one goal. “There was absolutely no drama. It was just very, very smooth. We had very similar personalities. They all wanted to win. That is why it worked as well as it did,” he said.

And win they did.

 
     
 

Ontario Has to Contain Stover

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/24/17

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Lexington Has to Play with Intensity

Rivals Lexington and Ontario tangle in the high school football opener for both schools on Friday night at Lexington.

The Minutemen are coming off maybe the best season in school history when they shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title and made it to the third round of the playoffs. Ontario is hoping to come out of a rebuilding process.

This season they are going to be less experienced, but still talented. Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt says they have made the needed improvements during the preseason now it is time to see what they can do in a real game. “I am definitely happy with our progression. I certainly feel like we have room to grow as always. As far as being ready for game one, a big cross town rival game, kids coming in fired up with that rivalry hype I think we are in a good spot right now,” he said.

Cade Stover, who has been a game breaker, especially on defense, his freshman and sophomore years for Lexington, is expected to move from receiver to quarterback this year.

Lexington broke an 18 game losing streak with a (24-6) win last year and then caught fire for what was an excellent season. Gerhardt says this is a rival game and they have to play like it. “Once the first couple of hits go through it is a matter of focus, intensity and hustle. We talk about all of the time that each one of us has a coal in the core of our belly and individually we have to get that thing stoked. In the pregame everybody has it white hot and it is up to every individual to keep that steady coal burning throughout the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “There still has to be a certain level of enthusiasm. You have to enjoy what you do. You have to celebrate when you can and enjoy the moment. We talk about living in the now all of the time. Everybody is white hot right at the beginning, but you have to keep that coal burning through out.”

Ontario expects to be better than the (4-6) record they had in Chris Hawkins’ first year at the helm. Gerhardt knows the Warriors are going to be ready and it will be a tough challenge. “I expect to see a tough football team. Coach Hawkins has a reputation of going places and getting teams, I wouldn’t say turn it around, but improve quickly. We know they are going to be well coached. With it being a cross town rivalry they are going to be ready to go. I expect to see a very tough football team (Friday) night,” he said.

Published 8/25/17

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St. Paul Getting Ready

Norwalk St. Paul hosts Sandusky St. Mary’s in a non-conference football game at Whitney Field on Saturday night.

St. Paul is a perennial playoff qualifier that has earned five straight Firelands Conference titles.

Veteran head coach John Livengood says this was a good preseason for the Flyers. “You come out in your first scrimmage and we scrimmaged a good Keystone team and saw some good things and saw a lot of things we needed to work on. The great thing about when you scrimmage a good team is they show you those things. Those are points of emphasis between our first and second scrimmage against Edison. We saw a lot of good improvement in those areas and got us going in the right direction. As we have continued into our game week here we have had a good week of practice and the kids are pretty focused and have continued to build on the things we need to get better at,” Livengood said.

Coach Livengood is constantly talking about improvement and he says that is what their program is built on St. Paul. “Our big thing here at St. Paul is we always want to continue to improve throughout the season. We are always going to coach hard and our kids we expect them to play hard and pay attention to what they are supposed to improve on and our kids are doing a great job of that again this year,” he said.

When it comes to the St. Mary’s Panthers, Livengood says they have very good size on both the offensive and defensive lines. “They have a lot of size up front. They are 290 at one guard, 275 at the other guard and 205 at the other offensive line positions. They have some real nice athletes. They have a tight end that is 6’5”, 235, they have got another wingback Clay Whimer that is 6’1” and 195 and I think he is one of the best linebackers we will see all year. The same thing defensively, their nose guard is 290, their defensive tackles are 275. So, a lot of size up front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I know they have some inexperienced kids at some of their line positions, but they seem to show good quickness on film. We were able to scout one scrimmage live and they have some nice players. Ryan Wikel is a great coach and he has a great staff over there. We know they are going to be well coached and their kids are going to play hard. We have a tall task ahead of us and we just have to continue to improve and be the best we can be in a couple of days here.”

Published 8/25/17

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Columbian Has to Run the Ball Better

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/25/17

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Bucyrus Looking for Success

Last season was a struggle for the Bucyrus Redmen and they are hoping this year will be much better.

They won only game in 2016, but they are going to be a lot more experienced this fall. They host Galion in a non-conference game on Friday night.

Coach Aaron Eckert says they showed improvement in some areas this month, but not so much in others. “In some areas I was really pleased with how we kind of progressed through August. In some areas I thought we did much better earlier and then leveled off. You throw everything out when we get to Friday night and it starts the count for real. Hopefully we can come out and make a statement and get things rolling the right way,” he said.

Eckert believes they were at lot better as a football team at the end of last season, but he understands that teams are measured by wins. He says getting one Friday night would be big. “If you look throughout the year last year if you are a Bucyrus supporter and watched the games there was a tremendous amount of growth that happened from week one to week ten. The problem is we just didn’t win very many games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That is what your team’s success untimely lies on is wins and losses, so if we can get a win week one and start off on the right foot I think that is going to be the best thing for our program.”

Galion won this match-up last season (49-7) even though the Tigers went just 2-8 for the year. Eckert believes the Tigers are going to be improved in Matt Dick’s second year. “I expect they are going to know their offense and defense a little bit better. They did switch defenses this year. Anytime you are in the second year of a program you have had a whole year to work with the kids and the culture you want have in that system and get a buy in from the kids that were kind on the fence the year before. I think they are going to be a little bit better than they were last year even though they lost some kids,” said Eckert.

This is a rivalry that goes back as far as football in North Central Ohio and Eckert knows how important a win on Friday night would be for either side. “Anytime you can play a county rival. A school that is a similar in size, they are a little bigger than us. Anytime you play a school like that that you are close with and the kids know each other from growing up in playing different sports against them I think it means something. A little bit of bragging rights kind of just getting it out there and hopefully proving a point and getting a little respect for us,” he said

Published 8/25/17

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Hillsdale Starts With Mapleton

Ashland County rivals Hillsdale and Mapleton meet in non-conference play at Hillsdale on Friday night in the season opener for both schools.

The Falcons have done some good things in the preseason, but coach Tom Williams says you never really have a test until they turn the lights on and somebody wins and somebody loses. “You just never know what your team is going to be yet. You have seen them in practice, you have seen a couple of scrimmages, you feel like you have a pretty good idea, but boy I have had years where ended up having a completely different identity than I thought we would going into the season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, getting out there and playing that first game kind of starts to set that identity and especially after the first couple of weeks you are who you are at least to some degree.”

As much as you may want to Williams says there are never any good gauges for what that first Friday night is going to be like. He says the kids just have to go through it. “It is a learning process and it and he can’t get experience without actually playing the games. So, no matter how much we work on it in practice, no matter how much we work on it in a scrimmage, it is still not game speed, it still not Friday night under the lights with everybody there, so until you have done it on a Friday night and run through a tunnel and band has played the fight song and all of that kind of stuff it is still not the same,” said Williams.

Logan Pharmer is now in his third year as the Mapleton quarterback and Williams says he can put up some big numbers with players he has around him. The Hillsdale coach says it will be a test for their defense. “Their quarterback is fantastic. He is a three year starter and he is only going into to his junior year. They have some guys that can run and catch it and make plays in the open field. They return a lot of their linemen, so they are a good test here early on to kind of find out where we are at. I know our guys are pretty excited about it,” he said.

Published 8/25/17

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Mapleton Has to Keep Focus

Mapleton takes to the road to face the Hillsdale Falcons in a non-conference football game on Friday night in the opener for both squads.

Coach Robert Mahaney was not particularly pleased with their performance last week in a scrimmage against Fredericktown, but he was pleased with what he saw this week in practice. “They reacted the way I wanted them to. We asked them to commit this week to our game plan to trust in it, to believe in it, to trust and believe in their teammates and I think they have done that. I think they have worked really hard this week. I think they are excited for the opportunity to play Hillsdale. It is a local school right next to ours and I think it is a great opportunity to bring the communities together on a Friday night. The stadium will be packed I’m sure and it will be a fun night for everybody,” said Mahaney.

Last season, Hillsdale thumped the Mounties (53-7) and Mahaney says this year they have to be able to move onto the next play and not let things linger so much. “We definitely have to sure up our execution from last year. We just had one thing go bad and it kind of snowballed for us. We have been talking a lot about our response and what the outcome is going to be. When something bad happens not everything has to go bad. Our response has to be okay let’s get the next one, the next play is the most important. That is something we have been trying to preach to them this whole off season and into this preseason,” he said.

When it comes to this year’s Falcons, Mahaney says they have solid players on both sides of the football. He adds that on offense everything revolves around Falcons quarterback Trey Williams. “They have a lot of big linemen. They always have big kids over there. They have a big running back that is really good. Trey Williams, Tommy’s son, is their quarterback. He is the all-time leading passer over there I believe. He does a good job running the offense exactly how Tommy wants him to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively they get after it. They are really good against the run and they are really good in pass coverage too. They have always been a really good defensive team and I think this year is going to be the same for them. It is going to be a challenge for us, but I think our kids are excited for the opportunity.”

Published 8/25/17

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Clear Fork Expecting Everything From Fredericktown

Clear Fork begins its football season on Friday night with a visit to longtime rival Fredericktown in a rivalry that dates back to the 1960’s or before.

The final result of last week’s preview scrimmage with Madison was heavily in favor of the Colts, but coach Dave Carroll did not like his kid’s mental approach to the game, especially early, and he says that can not happen this week. “The kids have worked very hard and we have some nice athletes. They are very hungry to get started with real games instead of scrimmages and practice. Hopefully we learned a little bit from last Thursday in our preview. I overheard some of them chitchatting in some down time about what they were going to do to their opponent last Thursday before the scrimmage and we went up there in the first quarter and we didn’t do anything to anybody. Thank goodness we woke up and then we exploded, but when you overlook or underestimate an opponent bad things happen to you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We tell our kids it doesn’t matter the whole season who you are playing it is about how you play and how you play as a team not making mistakes. You can’t worry about the scoreboard, you can’t worry about your opponent, it is about what you do in your preparation and in your play. Hopefully, they learned a little because we stunk in the first quarter.”

In a 180 from the last couple of years Clear Fork is very experienced this season, but Carroll says they are still going to be a little nervous on Friday night, at least he hopes so. “I don’t think there is a kid that we are putting on the field that hasn’t been a starter at least one year, a lot of them for two and three years, and Bailey for four years. Hopefully they have a little bit of the butterflies. I always say when I am not feeling a little nervous and I am old as the hills and when I am not getting nervous and excited and all of that on Friday nights it is time to quit. I think there is still going to be some of that. It is not going to be all my gosh what is going to happen? They know that,” he said.

Clear Fork crushed Fredericktown (42-7) last year, but the Freddies are going to be better. Carroll says former Clear Fork player William Hartley, the Fredericktown head coach, is going to have some things up his sleeve. “It is on their home field. It’s a rival game. You know opening week. They are going to jacked up. This is a big game for them. This is a big game for us. It’s that rival that goes back years and years to Butler and Bellville days. Will Hartley, I can’t say enough about him watching him as a head coach the last several years. He is a former Clear Fork Colt, but he does a fantastic job. He prepares his kids. His kids are disciplined. They do things right. Every year he is pretty good at having some wrinkles for us, something we haven’t seen. He is hiding some stuff, we know he is. We are trying to throw stuff at our kids to get them prepared for anything and everything. He always has some very good adjustments and wrinkles we haven’t seen. So, it is going to be a dandy,” said Carroll.

Published 8/24/17

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Wynford Opens with Tough one

Wynford travels to Liberty-Benton for its first game of the high school football season on Friday night and it should be a good one.

Royals coach Gabe Helbert believes they have gotten better as the preseason unfolded. “I think we have steadily gotten better throughout the camp process and the scrimmage process. I thought we were challenged in our scrimmages by what I felt were three pretty competitive teams. I think Marion Pleasant has a very nice football team as was Tiffin Calvert and I felt Northmor was very improved. Hopefully we are getting better because our week one opponent is very good, they are very talented. They look like a very good small school high school football team for sure,” said Helbert.

With a team with the tradition and skill of Liberty-Benton, Helbet says you have to be ready to go from the opening kick because if you aren’t you going to find yourself behind. “If you set around and wait for the second half or something like that you are going to put yourself in a tough position to be successful. L-B is always very well coached and they have an excellent football program. We have to come out firing. You hope that what you have done to this point your kids are ready, but there is still that unknown when it is the real deal. You just hope that you have covered everything and your kids are ready to go. You better hit the ground running or it is going to be something,” he said.

Now, Wynford, who went unbeaten in the regular season in 2016, beat the Eagles (41-14) last year, but those kind of losses comes around once in a blue moon for Liberty-Benton, Helbert says this year they have quality players all over the field. “First and foremost the quarterback jumps off the film. He jumped out at us when we saw him live. It is the same kid as last year, the May kid. He is just a very talented athlete. He can throw call and can run the ball. One thing we have to do is try and contain him to best of our ability. At the same point and time they return several skilled kids. Their skill is very good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “A lot of those kids were players last year when we played them and obviously are returning for their senior year or junior year. Their skill jumps off and their secondary is very good. They also have kids they have found on the offensive and defensive lines that are pretty talented as well. When you play Liberty-Benton they are going to have players all over the field.”

Published 8/24/17

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Cougars Looking Good

Crestview is a team that a lot of people think have a real chance of being very good this season.

They were 7-3 last season and have just about everybody back from that team.

Coach Dan Mager says they have been in pretty good form, but it is still too early to tell how good they will be this week. “I think if you ask my Thursday night at 10 o’clock I will be able to give you a better assessment, but I think we are ready. With a lot of returning starters it is just a matter of going about our business and do what we do well and play hard and play to the whistle and all of that good stuff I think we should be okay,” he said

Mager says they have potential this fall, but that is all that is right now until the prove some things on the field. “People ask we all of time who guys should do this or do that and I am pretty humble in my response because you just don’t know. I remember one time at Hillsdale we came off a really good year and we had three or four major injuries and ended up going 4-6 that year. So, that was a big lesson to me as a coach. Right now, we are pretty healthy, but things can turn. I think our large numbers could really help that maybe if something does happen because we have good backups at all of the positions, but you never know,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You just practice and do what you do and fine tune things and hope everybody’s mental state is where it is supposed to be and not looking at games ahead. Northmor is going to be better. We saw them on film and they want to get their program squared away. We need to make sure we go in there and be focused and ready to play.”

For the Cougars, it begins on Friday night at Northmor. Crestview won (27-6) last season, but Mager believes the Golden Knights are vastly improved. “I expect them to be better. We have a little bit of film and we went and scouted them play some teams. I went over and saw them at one point. I think they are going to be pretty decent. They have a really good, fast running back and that is one thing we have to make sure we go in there Friday and take care of him because he is a game changer. A couple of runs and you are down 12, 14 points. We have make sure our defense is up to speed on that,” said Mager.

Published 8/24/17

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Lucas With High Expectations

Lucas with their performance on the gridiron the last several years has lifted the expectations of their fans, but their coach says no one has higher expectations than they do.

They kickoff the 2017 season on Friday night at East Canton.

Coach Scott Spitler says they have looked really pretty good in their two scrimmages this season and they feel this can be another pretty good year. “I really like where our kid’s mindset is at. I thought that was a good day for us against two really good football teams there that day at Crestview with Shelby and Crestview. You really get a chance to see where you need to improve as well as see how your kids can hang with two quality programs. I thought our kids had a really good day that day,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Then we had about a week and a half before our final scrimmage against New London. I thought our entire program, even our young kids, did really well that night and we got a lot of confidence headed into week one. We are going to need it because East Canton is a proven team with a lot of starters returning from a playoff team last year with real nice speed, so we are going to have our hands full.”

Spitler says nobody has more lofty goals for the team than the team itself and that helps to push the kids. “Our program has really come along in the last few years. It is a total effort from everybody involved from our pee wee program up to our middle school program to our high school coaches. We have great support from our community and our administration. We kind of borrow from P.J. Fleck everybody in Lucas is rolling in the right direction working towards having a first class program. Nobody has higher expectations than our kids do of themselves. We just had that conversation a couple of days ago with the kids. Nobody else outside of our group is going to have higher expectations than we do of our own team,” said Spitler.

Lucas beat East Canton (49-27) a year ago in the opener, but the Hornets ended up in the playoffs before losing (56-20) to Norwalk St. Paul. Spitler says they bring a lot of athleticism back from that team. “They return eight starters on offense and seven on defense from a playoff team in 2016. They have a returning starter at quarterback and a 1,000 yard rusher in the backfield. They have a lot of long length and size and a couple of tackles both over 265 pounds. It is going to be a tall task for us. Several of their skilled kids, including their quarterback and running back were on a state championship track team for them last spring, so they have really nice speed,” he said.

Plus, the Hornets will be dedicating a new playing surface on Friday night. “Then add all to that they are dedicating their new turf field on Friday night right before our game. They are going to be ready to play. So, we have to come out ready to play football from the first whistle on Friday night,” said Spitler.

Published 8/24/17

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Fundamentals Key for Wooster

Wooster plays at Orrville to open the high school football season on Friday night in the renewal of one of the longest standing rivalries in the State of Ohio.

Generals coach Doug Haas says they have been working on a lot of stuff they plan to feature on both sides of the ball. “Obviously you never kind of know. The scrimmages are such a controlled situation. You have banged on one another for so long that there is still a little bit of nerves on everybody’s end. The sample of information on what we expect Orrville to do is small, so you are basing things on such a small data sample so it makes it a little bit never racking. Ultimately it allows you to just focus on the fundamentals. As I have been telling to kids it comes down to who blocks the best and who tackles the best and who can protect the football. We have to make sure we can control those types of facets of the game regardless of what schemes that our opponent throws at us,” said Haas.

The game of football is about fundamentals. It’s about blocking and tackling and Haas says that is what they have been telling the players. “We really talk about it starting up front on both sides of the ball offensively and defensively. Fortunately for us we have a pretty experienced group back on both sides of the ball. If those guys can kind of keep their level of play where it left off last year it is going to allow some of our green kids in the skilled positions and the secondary positions to mature a little bit over the course of time I think we will feel pretty good about ourselves,” he said.

When it comes to Orrville, Haas says there have been a lot of changes with the Red Riders and they hope they are prepared for what they see on the field. “They have evolved a little bit offensively. They have adopted the spread offense now. They have brought a guy who a coach at Triway for years and he is now running the offense. Triway had tremendous success when he was there. So, they have opened it up a little bit, which has put a premium on open field tackling,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “So, that is the part where we have to make sure we are making hay in that aspect of it. Defensively they are still really, really sound and have some new blood on that side of the ball in a former head coach in the Wayne County League. It is one of those things where they are going to be fundamentally sound in all three phases of the game. You haven’t had a chance to see a whole lot of the kicking game pieces.”

They will be prepared for Orrville and what they do, but Haas says the focus has to be on their execution. “Again it is about some effort, some execution and do the fundamental things to the best of your ability. They are going to give us everything we can handle. I know our kids are excited and ready for that opportunity. We just have to make sure we can kind of control that emotional piece so that doesn’t become anything but blocking and tackling,” he said.

Published 8/24/17

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Clyde Must Handle Speed

Clyde Fliers are not just an occasional football team they are a football program that expects to be good every year and this year is no different.

They play at Toledo Start in their first game of the season on Friday night in non-conference play.

Coach Ryan Carter has been pretty happy with their preparation to this point, but says Friday night will be a different kind of test. “We have been pretty pleased with the progression so far as far as going from scrimmage one to scrimmage two to scrimmage three and then getting ourselves into the first work week. We have been trying to focus on understanding what we need to do to get to that point. We know that you don’t really find anything out until you get out on Friday night and get under the lights on,” said Carter.

He says they do not know a lot about Start besides he says game one is more about what they are doing, He wants to get some young kids some experience under the lights. “You don’t have a tremendous amount of information about the other guys, so you definitely have to focus on yourself and that is what you have been doing all of the way through two a days. We are excited to get out there on Friday night and see where we are at, but at the same point and time we have some youth and we need to get those kids some game time experience and see how they react,” he said.

Start is going to have some athletes that can get the perimeter and stretch the Fliers defense. Carter says their defense has some different wrinkles to it that they must be prepared for. “Seeing them a couple of times on film they are a very fast and athletic type team. They had a lot of success last year and have a new coach this year, so we are not at 100 percent as far as what we are going to see as far as offense and defense goes. We know they are very athletic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They have a very good running back and some big kids up front that are going to present some problems. They play a different style than we are used to as far as coverages and things like that. We know we have our work cut out for us, but our kids are excited to get out there for the first game and see where we are.”

Published 8/24/17

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Madison to be Tested by Whippets

Madison knows what it is up against when it hosts the Shelby Whippets in the opener for both schools on Thursday night at Ram Field at Startek Stadium.

Shelby will be without some of their best players, but they still have a lot of weapons, including a pretty good offensive line.

Rams coach Jamie Masi says it is going to be tough for them, but he feels his kids will respond. “We have some kids injured here and there and just trying to get those few spots filled in. I think this week has been a really positive week for us and I feel good about that. We just have to get to Thursday. It has been a tough one,” he said.

Of course, this game is on Thursday rather than the traditional Friday night lights. Masi says really the biggest affect has been the developing of a game plan for the game. “It really has affected the way that we scout. We actually ended up playing our preview game on Thursday and we treated every day after that kind of like a day ahead, so our Friday was like a Saturday, our Saturday was like Monday and so on. The problem is when we got done with our game on Thursday and watched Shelby Friday night and instead of having that weekend to prepare Saturday morning was like our Monday, so we had to be 100 percent ready to go. We felt pretty good about our game plan at that point and just installed the little things we had left and make a few small tweaks here and there. You kind of get a little confused as the days go on, but we are ready for it,” said Masi.

Shelby is going to be without starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong and leading rusher “Shorty” Brooks, but Masi says the kids replacing them are still really good players. “They are loaded. They have great skill. Their offensive and defensive line as good as any we have seen since I can remember. Obviously, they are well coached. They have had a lot of time to prepare it is not like they were going all of the way up until this week and then they had a couple of kids that they are going to sit or had a couple of injuries,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have had all summer to get ready for it and you can tell quarterback they put in is very confident and at ease back there in the pocket. He throws the ball very well and some very good targets. They are playing a freshman at running back, which makes you raise an eyebrow, but the kid is pretty dynamic. He is a very good football player, makes plays. We are going to have our hands full trying to stop these guys.”

Published 8/23/17

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Fredericktown Has to Strike Back

Fredericktown plays traditional rival Clear Fork in its first game of the season at home on Friday night.

Last year, things didn’t go so well for the Freddies and they hope this season is going to be better.

They were (4-6) last year and lost four of their last five games.

Coach William Hartley says this year they have steadily improved through the preseason. “If you use the scrimmages as a gauge we definitely made significant progress through the preseason and through our three scrimmages. The first scrimmage was definitely up and down and the second scrimmage was a little bit the same. We clicked a little bit on offense. Then our preview scrimmage against Mapleton last Friday was very positive all around,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We played pretty consistent defense and we really controlled the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. We didn’t put the ball on the ground. We didn’t shoot ourselves in the football. We were able to execute and have a good attack from our varsity. If you take that as an indicator we are definitely heading in the right direction as a group.”

He says on Friday night they have to settle down and not make a bunch of mistakes and execute the things they can do. “Especially when you are playing an emotional rivalry like the Clear Fork game is. If you look back to last year we were very green and it showed on the field and hopefully this year we can play with more confidence. In those crunch time situations not make mistakes and not turn the ball over and not have constant penalties and not shoot ourselves in the foot and ultimately continue to move the chains, get positive yardage, put some drives together and score points,” he said.

Clear Fork whipped the Freddies (42-7) last season. Hartley says the Colts have a bunch of experience and they have some playmakers. “They are a very experienced group. They look very hungry. I have been over to watch them twice live in their scrimmages. They bring a lot of experience to the field. They have big, physical kids and play really good defense. They stretch you a lot defensively because they are able to get the ball into a lot of guys hands and they have a lot of guys that have pretty decent speed. So, they are really going to stretch us defensively and we are going to have to step up to the challenge and be great tacklers and pursuers to the ball and understand what they are trying to do from certain sets and certain formations,” said Hartley.

Looking back at last year’s film, Hartley says on offense they didn’t do much at all and Friday night they have to be able to make some plays. “If you look back to last year’s game we didn’t answer them. We stuck around for a while, but I believe in the first part of the game we had four three and outs and they were able to capitalize on all of those situations. We were still sticking around into the third quarter, but because we had had such a stagnate offense we were never able to claw our way back into the game. That’s what we have to got to do this year if they have some big plays or if they have some success offensively we have to be able to answer that and just put ourselves in a situation where we are in the game late and hopefully things go our way,” said Hartley.

Published 8/23/17

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Still a lot of Questions for Colonel Crawford

Colonel Crawford has been one of the most consistent football programs in North Central Ohio in recent years and they should be pretty good again this year, but that there is always a little nervousness over that first game.

They host Mt. Gilead in their first game on Friday night.

Coach Ryan Teglovic says they have looked pretty good at times during the preseason, but there are still some questions that need to be answered. “We still have a long ways to go I mean it is difficult to tell. We were playing scrimmages and we feel we played three pretty good teams and we feel like we competed well. We feel like we have done some things well, but there is still a lot we need to work on. In game one it always scares me to death because we haven’t done any live special teams and now you are at it for real. You are always a little leery about game one,” he said.

Teglovic says games are a lot different than the scrimmages they have had this month. He says this is the real thing. “It is very different. A scrimmage you are trying to work on things to try and get better and see different combinations and different kids, that kind of thing. A game is different. Scrimmages don’t count against your record and now you are going at it for real. The live special teams element is very, very different. A lot of times you get young kids out there on special teams and it is their first experience on Friday night. So, there are a lot of different aspects to game one,” said Teglovic.

The Indians have a new coaching staff this year and Teglovic says that adds more questions to the scouting report for Friday night. He says Mt. Gilead is physical and has a pretty good kid at quarterback. “That is another huge aspect of it in regards to other team all you are getting is scrimmage film. Scrimmage film is a lot different than game film. We have a new coach now at Mt. Gilead, so you don’t know as much what to expect,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Mt. Gilead had had the same guy there for a few years, so you knew what to expect. This group looks like their pistol sets are going to be in two backs with a tight end and also some one back stuff and spread things out. Defensively it looks like they will be a three man front. They are big up front and they are physical. I like their quarterback I think he is a nice player. I think they are going to play hard. With a new coach there in game one you usually get the best effort from everybody.”

Published 8/23/17

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Seneca East Ready to Hit the Ground Running

Seneca East won eight games last year and made the playoffs and they want to keep things going in a fast gear for 2017.

They travel to South Central to play the Trojans in a non-conference game on Friday night.

Coach Ed Phillips feels they have put a program together now at Seneca East and they are just rolling and he is expecting a lot of good things. “I like our progression and not just here in two days and practice, but I like our progression from last December up to this point. When the season ended in the playoffs last year our kids wanted more. They worked their butts off in the weight room. We lost a good senior class last year. They were a big part of our turn around the last couple of years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “So, we had some spots to replace and shoes to fill. Our program right now is kind of in a reloading mode. Those guys have moved on and they expect the guys that are left here to take care of business. Our kids have so far. Our young guys that have come in have really done a good job of learning and improving. We are definitely excited about getting week one under way.”

Seneca East scrimmaged Monroeville last week for a half and Phillips saw some good things, but he also saw some things that need to be sharpened this week in practice. “Last week I think was a good test for us we had Monroeville for our preview and they are a very good program that wants to do big things this year. We came out and did some good things and I thought we played very well and physical, but we made some mistakes that left some yards and points on the board because of some mental errors and penalties. We definitely have to clean that up. Hopefully we got that out of our system last week in the preview and we are a little cleaner as we head into South Central on week one,” he said.

South Central has a new coach this season in Corey Fickiesen. Phillips says the Trojans are team that wants to be aggressive on both sides of the ball and they are going to throw quite a bit. “They kind of give what you would expect having a new coach. They are very aggressive and have an attack mindset when you watch them. They are not afraid to throw the ball down the field and they are really aggressive on defense. He has done a nice job with them in his first off season there because he has an aggressive hard hitting football team that you have to be ready for. He has kind of turned them loose in a sense by going to the spread and he is throwing the ball around a little bit. They have some dangerous athletes on their team that we have to tackle really well and be ready to go when we hit the field on Friday night,” said Phillips.

Published 8/23/17

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Plymouth With New Attack

Plymouth and Buckeye Central will open the season in New Washington on Friday night in non-conference play.

The Big Red is going to do it with a new offense, the double tight, double wing formation, that concentrates on running the football.

Coach Mark Genders says his kids have bought into the idea and he is confident they are going to be able to do some things on Friday night. “It is a little intimidating when you first get started when you install something new, but the kids have taken to it pretty well. It is a little old school in the fact that we don’t do as much, but we want to do what we do really well. Our focus has been doing that everyday. The things we are good at we are going to bring to the table on Friday night,” said Genders.

To run this kind of offense successfully you have to be have strong linemen and physical backs. Genders says he likes it because the focus is going to be on how they execute. “Our motto is effort, physicality and toughness. Those are the three things that are on our board on our locker room, our weight room or in my classroom. Wherever we meet they see that. The nice thing about those three things is each person controls those things and the other team does not. So, it is a true focus on ourselves. Our goal is to get all 31 of our guys to do that. When we do that we are going to compete the best we can and that is all you can ask for,” he said.

Buckeye Central does not have a lot of numbers, but Genders says they have some guys that can make plays. He says they have to control the playmaking ability of Buckeye quarterback Max Loy. “They have had some tough scrimmages. They have played some really, really good and talented teams. The things that stick out they have a nice combination in the backfield. They can lineup and slam it in there with (Kyle) Sanderson, it’s a little thunder and lightning package, or they go to (Avery) Baldosser and they can get you on the perimeter with him. Obviously led by Loy though,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He is the grease that keeps that engine going. He can throw the ball and he has really good quick feet. We really respect what he brings to the table. We can’t over run him and let him step up underneath us and hurt us. We have been practicing for the last couple of weeks making sure we try and contain that with some good, solid secondary play. That is going to be a must in order to stop it.”

Published 8/23/17

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Norwalk and Willard Tangle Thursday

Norwalk hosts longtime rival Willard in a high school football game on Thursday night at Whitney Field in Norwalk.

With both schools switching to the Sandusky Bay Conference they are no longer in the same division.

Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland says playing on Thursday night is not a problem for them as far as preparation. “We were excited about getting the Thursday night game and we just took the attitude that we have three weeks of two a days to get ready for the game. Obviously, it is not your normal first week, but we have been preparing for week one this whole off season. With a one day change we were getting all of our stuff in last week trying to prepare for this week, It has been pretty smooth. I think it would be different if it were game four and you were doing it, but being game one it has been a pretty easy transition,” said MacFarland.

MacFarland says they have still been showing some inconsistency, especially up front. “There have been some ups and downs. We have some kids that playing very well. We do have some inconsistency at some spots that we still have some competition at. It is that growing period. We have some really athletic kids that maybe haven’t been on the field for a Friday night yet, so they are having a hard time showing the consistency it takes at this level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are working hard in practice for us, they are learning, and I think we will are going to see improvement each week. There are some things we definitely have to get better at. I think the most inconsistent thing we have right now is our line play, but it is always the last thing to come together. So, we are pleased with where we are at and we love the competition we have at a lot of positions, but we need to get a little more consistent up front.”

It may not be a league game anymore, but MacFarland says it still smells like a rivalry to him. “It is kind of unique we are going in a new league in the “SBC,” but they are an old “NOL” opponent that we have been playing forever. It is kind interesting that it is a rival game the first game. We have played them for many years and it was game eight or nine or something late in the season. So, I think there is going to be a lot of excitement to this playing a rival like team with some proximity,” he said.

MacFarland says Willard has some talent on their roster and it is certainly going to be a team they are going to have to be concerned with. “They are very big up front. They have some good size offensively on the line and the defensive line. The quarterback is very athletic. Last year, on offense they kind of threw it around a lot on the perimeter. They are also showing the ability to line up with big guys and just run right at you. I think they are going to be very talented offensively and defensively they always swam to the football. It is going to be a great game one and we are excited about it. We are one of the only shows around and hopefully people will come out and see the caliber of football we have,” said MacFarland.

Published 8/23/17

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Shelby Ready to Roll on Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/22/17

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Ashland Still Preparing

Ashland will be tested when they open the season hosting Green on Friday night in their opener at Community Stadium.

Coach Scott Valentine says they have gotten better step by step, but that improvement needs to continue this week as they get ready for Friday. “I think with each of our scrimmages we have seen some improvement, but you still have to make that improvement during game week. So, there are some things we have to get shored up as we head into Friday,” he said.

The Arrows have done some good things as a team this month, but Valentine says they need to find out the things they are best at against other teams in a real game. “I think you always have a little bit of an idea as you head in, but those game situations are a lot of different. You have to find our once you get into games how things play out from there,” he said.

Green was a (2-8) football team a year ago. Valentine says the Bulldogs are a team that is going to show a lot of looks on both sides of the football, so they have to be ready for a lot of things. “They run like a 4-2-5 or 4-3 defense. They show some different looks and different blitzes, so offensively we have to prepare for those,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Offensively they give you a lot of different, multiple formations and do different things out of different formations, so defensively we are going to have to be ready to adjust to those types of things.”

Green is new to the Arrows schedule and it is the first week of the season anyway. Valentine says they have to be ready to make adjustments on the field based on what they see from the Bulldogs. “In the first game you have to find a way to adjust to anything they would throw at you. You are going against guys that haven’t shown anything and all of the sudden they are out in a whole different offense or do something totally different defensively. Those are things you hopefully have in your package that you can play so you can make those adjustments on the sidelines or in between series or even during the series you can do that,” said Valentine.

Published 8/22/17

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Buckeye Must be Physical

Plymouth has changed its offense, but Buckeye Central coach Rob Detterman has seen this attack before.

The Big Red has installed a double tight, double wing offense very similar to what Lucas has been running in recent years.

Buckeye hosts Plymouth in the opener for both come Friday night in New Washington.

Detterman likes the way his team has improved heading into the opening week of the season. “The things we were looking for last week that we wanted to get better at we did improve on. That’s has kind of been our motto. We wanted to get 1% better every day of the year and we have done that. We looked much better, we weren’t physically overwhelmed by a really good team. The score was a little lopsided, but we didn’t game plan for that and they did some things that we definitely weren’t prepared for. So, we felt like we went out there and competed at a good level and we were happy with how the kids played,” said Detterman.

Detterman is a former assistant coach at New London and he is familiar with the rugby scrum type look from coaching against Lucas. He says he isn’t surprised that Plymouth would adopt the look considering the personality of their coach. “That is exactly what they are doing it is not a Lucas type it is just like Lucas. They have only shown one formation so far that double wing. That is the only thing we have seen the whole preseason. They have probably only passed the ball 10 times. They want to run and create a scrum. It is a physical style of football. I have been coaching against coach Genders for a lone time. He is a great friend of mine. That is something he definitely prides his teams on. So, I can see how that fits his personality really well,” he said.

When it comes to defending the double tight, double wing Detterman believes the key is to be physical on defense. “That is what we told our kids. We don’t want to get out of our comfort zone as far as what we do. We don’t want to reinvent ourselves just for this one game. That is something I have learned over all my years of football coaching. We scrimmaged Lucas for years when I was at New London, so I know kind of what they are about and what this style of offense is about,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We want to stay in something that we are familiar with. We just want to bring up our physicality and bring up our level of competitiveness and make sure each kid knows how important it is to their job. At the same time we don’t want to get out of what we normally do too much and make our kids have to think we just want them to play hard.”

Published 8/22/17

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Trojans Must Stop Run

South Central entertains Seneca East on opening night in Greenwich in non-conference play Friday night and they are going to need to be ready to stop a variety of weapons.

The Tigers beat them (54-20) last season on the way to a playoff appearance.

Corey Fickiesein is in his first year as the Trojans head coach after a couple years as an assistant. He says his team is progressing. “We are happy with were we are at right now. We still have some work to put in before Friday gets here. We have to get a couple of guys healthy, but we are feeling pretty good. I think we will be ready to go by Friday,” he said.

The first game is always different and there is some nervous energy, but Fickiesen believes their experience will help to calm them down. “Being at home is going to help us a little bit I think. Also have about 10 starters that have done this before will also help. Every year that first game there are some butterflies. There are some jitters that you have to get our early, but hopefully we can get those out early and kind of move on and settle down and play our game,” he said.

Seneca East is coming off a strong season (8-3) and has a good freshmen class coming in. Fickiesen says they have some athletic kids and some big linemen too. “They are a good team. They have very, very good coaches over there and very, very good players. We have been able to watch some of their film. They have some guys that jump off the film at you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have a couple of guys that can make plays at any time. They have some big guys up front. They are a good football team and when they come over here we are going to have to play pretty well. That’s what we keep telling our kids that it is a tough match-up, but we just have to stick to our game plan. Like I have been saying the goal is always 1-0.”

There is no question the Tigers can throw it too, but Fickiesen feels Seneca East is going to challenge them to stop them from running the ball. “Last year was a little different because their quarterback ended up getting hurt right before they played us and they have a whole new game plan that we didn’t see. You never know because things can happen this week, but they have some athletes at quarterback and running back, so we are expecting them to pound it on the ground. We are also not putting all of our chips in one basket because we understand that they can do both. We are just preparing the best that we can and giving our kids a chance to play as fast as possible,” said Fickiesen.

Published 8/22/17

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Galion Wants Good Play up Front

Galion would like to run the ball and if they are going to do that they must have improved play from their offensive line.

Galion plays at Bucyrus in a non-conference game on Friday night.

As a football team, coach Matt Dick did not think they played very well against Shelby in a preview scrimmage last Friday. He says they have to turn things around this week. I like what we did in the first two scrimmages versus Madison and Centerburg. Against Shelby we kind of took a step back. It made us refocus. We had a couple of injuries. We had a couple of injuries, guys out, hopefully we get those guys back shortly here. Hopefully we can take a step forward now. We kind of took a step back, but some of that goes because Shelby is so tough this year,” he said.

Dick says they need a more consistent effort even when they have to move some players into different positions on the field. “Our O-line we had a kid out and we kind of shuffled some kids around. That kind of hurt us not having a whole week of practice. I think that will make a big difference. Our D-line we need some more depth, we need more kids to play, we got tired. I think we played a quarter and two or three minutes pretty well with good effort and then momentum kind of took the game out of our hands. We quit trying as hard as I would like. We talked about that with the kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We showed them film of it and I think a lot of kids responded to that. They understand to have a chance we have to fight every play. We have to hustle every play. If a kid goes down and we have some crazy kid in there that is playing out of position we can’t lose our momentum.”

Galion started off the season last year with a (49-7) win over Bucyrus, but won only two games all of 2016. Bucyrus only won one.

Dick says Bucyrus likes to take advantage of your aggressiveness and they do a good job of mixing things up on defense. “In their scrimmages in the film we have they threw the ball well. They have a good screen game. I think they want to take advantage anytime the defense wants to get aggressive. Defensively I think they do a real good job of loading the box and emptying of the box. You never know if you are going to see seven guys in the box or only have five. I think they do a good job of mixing that up and not sitting in one defense and keep you guessing,” said Dick.

Published 8/22/17

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Perkins Has to be Sound

Perkins was just a .500 football team last season and that is not what we are used to when it comes to the Pirate football program. They want to get back on track and it begins in the season opener with Huron on Friday night.

Coach Jason Ziegler says they did some good things in the preseason, but there are some areas where they know they have to get better before Friday night. “I really think our players had a good two a days. A good three weeks of practicing. We scrimmaged five teams that are really big schools, good teams, and I think we came away from it seeing where we need to improve on. I think our kids are just ready to get this game one under way,” he said.

There is always great anticipation about week one because Ziegler says you have been talking about it all summer long. “You talk all summer about week one and Huron and beat Huron and get better for Huron. So, now it is finally here and our kids just have to have a solid practice week. Our kids have been improving each and every week, each and every day, and that is kind of what we are focused on right now,” he said.

This is a non-conference game on Friday because the schools are no longer in the same division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with the influx of all of the former Northern Ohio League schools. Perkins is in the “Lake” division, while Huron is in the “Bay” division.

However, they know each pretty well having played for the last 40 years or more. Perkins beat Huron (33-13) last season when the Tigers went 3-7. Ziegler says Huron is going to throw it around a lot Friday. “We had an opportunity to watch two scrimmages. Huron is Huron they do what they do. They are going to throw the ball and use some quick passes. They are going to try and spread you out to try and run the ball. Defensively they are going to be sound. Their linebackers we think are pretty solid. Their front line is solid,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “ Overall, I think they are a very solid team. They are not the biggest team we are probably going to see, but I think in terms of a sound football team that’s them in a nutshell. We have to make sure we are sound a doing what we need to do.”

Ziegler says to be successful against an attack like Huron’s you must play mistake free football. “It is a scary week one because they are not going to make mistakes and usually when you are playing teams in week one you see teams that have the butterflies and it gets the best of them. You don’t know what to expect for some of these kids it’s is their first time starting in a varsity football game. We really have to play sound football and just play our mentality of football,” said Ziegler.

Published 8/22/17

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Monroeville Working on Fundamentals

Monroeville is coming off two very good seasons, but this season the Eagles are a lot younger than they have been the last couple years, so there is going to be a little bit of a maturing process.

They host Crestline in their first regular season game on Friday night at Marsh Field.

Coach Scott Stacher says football is a special time of the year and he says he can’t wait to get started. “It feels really good it was like I was singing Christmas tunes this week. It is like it is Christmas time again when it comes time for football. There are two seasons football season and waiting for football season, so it is finally here,” he said.

Stacher says this month has been a process of getting some younger players used to the speed and complexity of high school varsity football. “We have gotten better, but we still have a ways to go. We traded out basically 15 seniors from last year’s team for 15 freshmen this year. So, we have a bigger group of younger kids. We have spent a lot more time teaching these kids, which we always do away. The dynamics are just different. There is always a different family dynamic. Everybody is coming along nicely,” said Stacher.

The exciting things about football are the long runs and the great catches or the big hits, but it is the fundamental elements that win games at every level. Stacher says they have to be better at those elements of the game. “We have to be better at sustaining blocks and we have to be better at wrapping up and tackling. Be more fundamental. Those are things we need desperately to be better at,” he said.

Monroeville made the playoffs in 2016 and they hammered Crestline (47-13) along the way. The Bulldogs ended up (4-6) on the season last year. This year Stacher says the Bulldogs are going to play hard and be pretty good on defense. “They are lower in numbers than us, but they do play hard. They have switched defenses to a “50.” They play a little more sound defensively than they do offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think they miss their quarterback from last year. They are going to put out all they have got. It should be a decent game for game one. Hopefully both of us can get out injury free and move to week two with ways to improve.”

Published 8/22/17

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Consistency Needs For Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/18/17

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Plymouth With New Look

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mark Genders

Plymouth is going to be a young team with a new look this season.

The Big Red finished 2-8 and 0-7 in the Firelands Conference in 2017 and with a lot of young kids this fall seemed to be a good time for a change.

Coach Mark Genders says his kids have been putting in good effort this preseason. “All you can ask as a coach is to see improvement everyday put in the hard work and that is what they are doing. Every day we have gotten better from our last scrimmage to our next practice to our next practice. We record all of our practices. So, the improvement we see each day has been exactly what we want to see,” he said.

Especially with a young team they have to keep getting better, keep improving, and Genders says so far they have been doing that. “The is our goal to get better. When you have a young football team with only four seniors on it the importance of establishing the work ethic and the ways to get better are highly important. We are trying to put that into these young men’s heads. It’s at the end of camp and that is what we want. Now we have to continue to work to get better each day. Hopefully, they will take those steps to do so,” said Genders.

Fans of the Big Red can expect some new wrinkles this year when it comes to the Plymouth offensive attack and Genders believes they have the kids for the job. “Coaches really earn their paychecks with a really young team like this, but in the same tone it is really a lot of fun. It is not that you don’t focus on the basics all of the time, but it is overemphasized day in and day out, especially when you are emphasizing a new offensive look,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It was one of those times for a transition. We knew it was going to be new to a lot of these kids and we were wanting to make that transition. It was good timing for us. It fits the type of kids we have, so we are really excited about it.”

Published 8/18/17

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Norwalk Working in the Trenches

Norwalk is going to be a football team that has big play potential, but really how good they are will be determined by what happens up front.

Coach Chris MacFarland says they have had a good preseason so far and there has been a lot of competition for positions on the team. “It has been really positive. The kids have worked really hard. We have had a good camp. We have had a great opportunity to develop a lot of talent and a lot of depth. Obviously every football season hinges on what happens up front offensively and up front defensively. If we can continue to improve there I think we will have a successful year. I think we have a lot of skilled kids. We have a lot of underclassmen pushing, so there is a lot of competitiveness at almost every position that we have. Anytime we can build competition it benefits us,” he said.

To have success in football thing have to start up front and MacFarland says they are working hard to get those kids ready for the regular season, which starts next week against Willard. “I want our offensive line and defensive line to be more consistent. That is the hardest part that position takes so long. The offensive line is just a crazy position. You need five, six guys all working together in the same spot, picking up the blitzes, picking up all of the checks. There is a lot to the offensive line and when we get that settled in I think we are going to feel a little more comfortable. On defense, we are rotating a lot of young kids right now. We have some good seniors, but if we could get a little more consistent in those two positions that is probably the most concerning,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “All summer we allowed to throw the ball in seven on seven and we can use helmets in the summer and those types of things. We only get the two a days, and it is three four days in before we can even use shoulder pads, to develop our offensive line and they are all about contact, positioning and taking the right steps. They get the least amount of time all year, but it is the most important I think.”

Norwalk is now in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, but MacFarland says not a lot changes for them. “Our schedule is a little bit different. We open up with Willard next week, we play Port Clinton still, we play Shelby from the “NOL.” We are going to play Edison again. We took kind of a two year break from each other, but we are back. Four our first five games are teams that we have been playing for a very long time. The new teams of Clyde and Perkins in the big division are teams we played in the playoffs. It is really 10 games that we know each other and we have seen each other it is just going to be different with the rotation. There is no question the games six, seven, eight, nine and 10 in our division is going to be a grind. You are going to need to be prepared and good luck with health. Each week will be a playoff type of team,” said MacFarland.

Published 8/18/17

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Things are Normal at St. Paul

Norwalk St. Paul is the favorite to win the Firelands Conference this year. Yes, I know that sounds like every year in the past five, 10, 15 years or more, but more times than not they have fulfilled that prediction.

They have won the last five.

Coach John Livengood says they have prepared well so far during the preseason. “They have done pretty good. Our kids have done a great job working in the off season with weightlifting in the winter and spring and into the summer and then we got into our camps and conditioning and right into two a days. They have great job and the work ethic is great. Two a days are going pretty well. We have got our normal bumps and bruises and a couple of injuries. The kids are doing well and working hard and continuing to improve,” said Livengood.

The Flyers open the season next Saturday at home against Sandusky St. Mary’s. Their other two non-conference games are against are at Fremont St. Joe and Tiffin Calvert, all members of the river division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Livengood has been the head coach at St. Paul for 27 years and he says the right attitude means a lot on the football field. “Having a positive attitude and a good work ethic can take you a long ways no matter what you are doing whether it’s football or anything else in life. I think our kids do a great job with that and I am very proud of way they act. We have some experience and some talent with that and that all works together to put us in good position going into the season,” he said.

As far as being the favorite, Livengood says they used to that and try not concern themselves much with it. “We know that going in and we have been dealing with that for quite a few years. For our kids, and what I try to do, is direct their attention towards focusing on improvement as a team and not hearing the noise on the outside and not listening to preseason rankings,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I guess I look at it that everybody should be pumped up to play everybody every week. We know we have a target on our back and we are the team to beat to a certain degree, but we focus our kids on the fact that whatever we have done last year or the year before has nothing to do with this year. We are starting 0-0 and we have to go out and earn our own way. Our kids embrace that and work hard to be the best they can be.”

Published 8/16/17

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Ashland Building for Another Big Season

Ashland attacks a football season to be ready when Ohio Cardinal Conference play begins on week four or five of the season and just about every year they are in fact ready to contend.

Head coach Scott Valentine says sometimes it takes a little bit to find out just what you have on your team and they are in that process right now. “Each year you have guys you have to replace and you are trying to figure that out. As the team comes together some things you don’t know to about week three what a team is really going to be like. That is what we are trying to figure out here in the preseason,” he said.

Ashland plays its first game next Friday at home against Green. They play always good Clyde on road on week two and host tradition rich Tiffin Columbian on week three. There first “OCC” game is week five against the Mt. Vernon Yellow Jackets.

Valentine says you want to be tested early in the season so you can make some decisions with players and approach to the game that are going to make you a better team when it counts most. “You are trying to find out early in your year where you strengths lie and where you are weak and how you can make it stronger,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Hopefully during that process you are winning games while you are doing that, but I have seen too many people play somebody not very good early and then they find out weaknesses week two, three and four and you are already in the heart of your season. We always try to play some people early that will give us a chance to see where we might need to shore up things.”

Ashland plays Dover in its preview scrimmage on Thursday and Valentine says there is a tight rope to walk when it comes to preparing and the excitement the kids have for that first game. “There comes a point where that you try to hit as many things as you can, but until you play a game you are not sure where you are at, so it comes that point like with Dover we will run half a game so we get an idea of some things we have to work on before we get into that first game. You want your kids excited for that first game, but there are a lot of things that go into being ready, so hopefully you are hitting all of those things,” said Valentine.

Published 8/16/17

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Bucks Are Battling

Buckeye Central is a football team that is battling adversity and they are working to find ways to get around their obstacles.

Due to a number of reasons they have low numbers this year at Buckeye and that can make things difficult.

Coach Rob Detterman says even practice can difficult at times, but they are out there busting their butts to become better as a team. “We have made a lot of good progress so far and the kids are learning and working hard. We are getting a lot of reps. So, the knowledge of what we are trying to do is pretty good. The big issue that we are having is just trying to simulate varsity speed at practice with our low numbers,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When we have gotten to the scrimmages it has taken a little bit to step up to the speed of the game and how it is played on Friday night, but at the same time our kids have stepped up during scrimmages and have gotten better through each one.”

With numbers in the low to mid 20’s that means injuries can be a big concern for the Bucks and Detterman says everybody on the squad has to be as focused as they can, “We tell the kids everyday we can’t afford to miss. We all have to be in on this. You have to be dedicated and be there because if one person doesn’t show up for practice it hurts our team in a big way. It makes it difficult to go out there and have an 11 on 11 practice. We can’t control are circumstances we can only control how we respond to them. That is our message and that’s what we do is keep working hard,” said Detterman.

Buckeye Central plays at home against Plymouth in their first game of the season next Friday and then host Mohawk and plays at Seneca East in Northern 10 Athletic Conference games. With Ridgedale dropping football this year each “N10” school will play two non-conference games after week two. The Bucks play Crestline week four and Sandusky St. Mary’s week six.

Detterman says his kids are eager to get in there and play a game for real. “Scrimmages are nice and it is nice to go out and play against somebody, but it doesn’t give you the feel of a real game. There is some chomping at the bit so to speak to get out there and get going against Plymouth there on week one,” he said.

Published 8/16/17

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Pirates Showing Right Attitude

Sandusky Perkins has broken camp and is now on a track to open the high school football season next Friday at home against the Huron Tigers.

Coach Jason Ziegler says they have been doing an excellent job being ready for whatever that day presents and have been ready to work hard. “I am very excited for these last couple of weeks of practice. (Tuesday) was actually our last two a day, which I think is a relief not only to the kids, but to the coaches. Two a days year in and year out are getting longer and longer. I really liked what our kids did this entire two a day and the scrimmages we have had. They have really gotten after it and their attitude has been great. Our kids have just been very enthusiastic the entire two a days. To me if you can go through two a days and still have that same upbeat attitude you are going to have a pretty decent chance of winning some games,” said Ziegler.

When asked what the most pleasant surprise was this year, Ziegler went right to the attitude of his football team, which he says has been very positive. “I think the biggest thing this year has been the attitude. Even on days when you are out there and it is our second practice and it’s hot and the kids are tired I see kids running around and jumping and getting excited and it just that enthusiasm. That saying that enthusiasm is contagious that is what this team is right now. It takes one or two people to be enthused and it rolls over. To me this is one of the first years that I have ever had that is seems that practices are really up beat all of the time. To me that has been a big surprise,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The other thing is I really like what our offensive and defensive lines are doing. I wouldn’t say I was concerned, but I really think our offensive and defensive lines are really stepping up and that I am excited about too.”

Week two Perkins travels to Mansfield Senior and week three they play host to Genoa.

Ziegler says being healthy is going to be a big key for them because their depth, at least early in the season, is not going to be very good. “Our depth really concerns me right now. We have a couple of guys that haven’t been practicing the last couple of days because of their legs and some minor injuries. When those guys aren’t practicing you realize you are putting a kid in that maybe is not a Friday night ready kind of guy. We have to be healthy, we have to stay healthy and we have to move those younger kids along a little bit faster than what we are doing. I think that is going to take care of itself as long as we keep going in the direction we are,” he said.

Published 8/16/17

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Mapleton Knows Where to Go

Mapleton has some protentional this season to be a pretty good football team and things seem to be coming together.

Coach Robert Mahaney says they have been coming around pretty well here in August as they get ready for the season. “We have been doing really well at practice. It all starts for us at the quarterback position. We are returning a kid that was second team All-Ohio last year. We kind of have everything built around him on offense. We had to replace some receivers, but our guys that are in there now are doing really well. The timing, execution, everything is really clicking,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We will find out a lot more when we scrimmage Fredericktown this Friday. They are a good football team and it will be a good test to see where we are at. Defensively we are getting a lot of guys to the football and I like that, so I’m excited with where we are at right now.”

Logan Pharmer is the Mapleton quarterback and he has already done some really good things for the Mounties over his first two years and Mahaney says he is pretty good kid to build around. “You are talking about a kid that is still only a junior. He has started 20 games. He has all of our career passing records pretty much. We will take that guy any day of the week,” he said.

Mapleton opens the season at Hillsdale on August 25, followed by non-conference games at Wellington and home against Rittman. Their first Firelands Conference game is at Monroeville on September 15.

Mahaney says his kids are ready to get after it for real and kind of show what they can do on the field of play when things count in the win-loss column. “I think that is a good thing. That last time you scrimmage it is kind of like a real game. It wets the appetite a little bit and gets them ready for week one. Everything we do, at least at Mapleton, is to prepare us to get ready for week one. We have a big test in Hillsdale, so everything is building to that moment on that Friday night. This scrimmage kind of gets us as close to ready as we can without playing a game. At the end of the day these are high school kids they play football to play under the lights and play games not to be grinding in the hot weather of August,” said Mahaney.

Published 8/16/17

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Lexington on a Learning Curve

Last season, Lexington was a talented and experienced football team. This season they don’t have as much experience.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says he likes the way his players are responding to the coaching they are getting this month. “I like where we are right now. We are a talented, but inexperienced team. It was a really important scrimmage for us last Saturday (against Clear Fork and Loudonville) to see how our kids would react to another team and see how fast they can play with that inexperience. We got a lot of good looks out of that scrimmage,” he said.

With new kids in a lot of positions, Gerhardt says they this is very important preseason for the Minutemen, which has about 12 days left before the opener against their non-conference rivals in the Ontario Warriors. “Last year we had a very veteran team as far as playing time and we are looking at how far ahead we can be and get through it healthy. You always want to try and get through scrimmages healthy, but this is much more about evaluation and having kids in the right places, do we need to slow down, can we speed up with our installation and all of those things. It is very important when you have an inexperienced group,” said Gerhardt.

When it comes to football it is not about thinking it about reacting and Gerhardt says with inexperienced players there is a lot for them to learn over a pretty short period of time. “It is pretty amazing what we can do on the high school level when you have the kids for as short a time as you do. It is not just knowing where to line up, it is not just know knowing what you responsibility is, it is also understanding when you are an offensive player the defense my throw something, a different look at you or move with a stunt or blitz at some place that it is not expected,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The hardest part is being able to play, which means split second decisions that you have to make that you have been taught whether on the offensive or defensive side of the ball that you are going to have to execute. That is where most young as far as experience wise teams I think struggle the most is being able to play fast.”

Published 8/15/17

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Wynford Preparing Hard

Wynford is nothing if not consistent when it comes to its success on the football field and they don’t change the way they do things very much.

If you win like they do why would you change?

Coach Gabe Helbert says they know they have to continue to get better this year, but they did some good things last week in their first scrimmage against always good Marion Pleasant. “My initial thought is we have a lot getting better to do still. It’s that process of getting better. I thought we did a lot of nice things against Marion Pleasant and we did some things that weren’t very good. We have to acclimate to the speed of the game, especially with our kids that haven’t played a lot of Friday night football. I think it was a learning experience for our guys, which is what you want in the preseason. We have to have that getting better mindset,” said Helbert.

Wynford is one the best and when you are in that position you want to play the best. Helbert says that is how you find out how to get better and where they have to improve. “The opportunity to scrimmage against very quality opponents like Marion Pleasant, who was a division five playoff team last year, like Tiffin Calvert, who has been a playoff team year in and year out for the last several years is good for our kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We definitely need to be challenged because like I said some of kids aren’t necessarily familiar with the Friday night experience. Getting smacked in the mouth a couple of times against a good team, especially a very physical football team heightens you sense of readiness.”

Wynford has won more than 100 games over the last 10 years and other programs in their league and around the area use them as an example of success. Helbert says they always get the other team’s best and they wouldn’t want it any other way. “We are certainly flattered. We definitely have a lot of pride in our program. Our kids take a tremendous amount of pride in our program and what they do and try to be successful year in and year out. We understand we are going to get team’s best effort and best shot. I think as a competitor you want a team’s best effort and best shot. The exciting thing for us is hopefully we can return the favor and give them out best effort and our best execution and everything that goes into being successful in a football game. It is exciting to be the team that teams want to beat. You have done some things right if that is the case,” he said.

Published 8/15/17

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Progress at South Central

Learning to be winners and having the right attitude can be the toughest thing in athletics.

It’s going to take hard work and dedication for the South Central Trojans to become a winning football program and they are starting to show signs.

Coach Corey Finkiesen says they are taking steps in the right direction. “We are definitely getting a little bit better. That is kind if what we have been preaching week by week. We just have to continually get better. We are not where we need to be obviously. Where we started to where we are now we are happy with the progress. We just have to keep pushing,” he said.

They have made some plays, but Fickiesen says they are still making silly mistakes that are holding them back from being more successful. “Just execution overall. We still have the mishaps with the bad snaps and the dropped balls and the turnovers and the missed tackles. Just the little things that are very fixable and that is a good thing,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “You have to do those little things to beat a team like Seneca East, who is always pretty good. So, that is what we are trying to get cleaned up. The enthusiasm around the whole program is getting better. It is still not quite where we want it to be yet, but it has gotten a lot better.”

Fickiesen says they are working on the attitude of the kids everyday and that going to lead them to success on the field. He says they need to work on those little things. “It is always easier to be excited and you are winning. What we have seen the kids are kind of buying in an understanding. This could turn out kind of the way we want it to, so they are buying in a little bit. It is not all of way there yet. I think that is because of those little unfixed errors we still have, so if we can get those fixed that moral and that excitement will continue to grow,” said Fickiesen.

Published 8/15/17

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Galion Wants to be Tough

Galion wants to play football with an attitude. They want to be tough football players and they are working toward that end here in the preseason.

Second year coach Matt Dick says they have done some good things so far, but there is still a long way go. “I think we have scrimmaged fairly well. I think the teams that we have scrimmaged are rebuilding and we kind of on the rise a little bit, so that has helped. I think our O-line has made the offense look good. We have a lot of good backs. Our idea of rotating a lot of backs in has been working out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Our team has started to take a step. We are still working on our toughness. We are still working on staying injury free. Those two things kind of go hand and in hand. We are a little banged up and we now quite as tough as I would like yet.”

Galion starts the season at Bucyrus next week followed by games at home against Cardington and on the road to Portsmouth.

Dick says they can not be satisfied with what they have done so far. He says they have to understand that the payoff in down the road. “I think kids these days really struggle with this idea of delayed gratification. Our kids felt like they won the scrimmages, so they are ready to celebrate and are all smiles and happy and I am trying win week one or week two or week three. It is delayed, it is way down the road, that is why we are working so hard. If we can’t get kids to buy into that approach we are not going to be happy with the progression,” he said.

Galion faces one of the area’s best in Shelby in their preview scrimmage on Friday. Dick says that will be a good test for them and they are going to find out a lot about themselves. “Shelby is the best team in the area or at least I think a lot of people would pick them before the season. They have a great quarterback and a great running back. I am not sure they are going to play the whole time against us. They have a lot of talent. They are really going to challenge us. I look for their O-line and D-line to give us a big challenge as well. They did last year. Our scrimmages are set up well with a kind of stepping stone up the latter and hopefully we will be ready for Shelby and we can compete a little more this year,” said Dick.

Published 8/15/17

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It is a Process at Clyde

The Clyde Fliers don’t rebuild they reload and they expect to have another solid season this year.

Coach Ryan Carter says he thought they looked pretty good in a scrimmage last Friday against Pemberville Eastwood. “It is always a work in progress. You get that first scrimmage in and you have to evaluate some things and try and figure out exactly what you are going to be. We got that first scrimmage in this last Friday against Eastwood, a very good team a very veteran team and I was pleased coming out of there. We definitely have some areas we need to work on. We got some kids banged up and we have to get healthy, but we competed against a very veteran group and we are not very veteran,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, I was excited, but we have to get into this week we have another scrimmage against a very good Columbus West team that made the playoffs last year. We have our work cut out for us trying to get ready for them this week. Our ultimate goal is 12 days from now we have to get after it against Toledo Start.”

With younger players that haven’t played that much varsity football, Carter says you have to get their feet wet right away. “They have to figure out what Friday nights are about and it’s a learning process. I thought early on in our scrimmage against Eastwood we had a couple of kids out there with a deer in the headlights look in trying to find their way around and you can’t do that you have to just play, compete, and let your past experiences take care of it. When you don’t have those past experiences to draw from each day is a new experience. Our kids are learning and each day is process for them and hopefully we can get it to where we are the best we can be 11 days from now,” said Carter.

Clyde opens the season August 25 against Toledo Start and Carter says they are already working with a plan to ready for that first game and be ready to play their best game. “We talk about that you can not stay the same or get worse you have to get better. Staying the same isn’t helpful. We are trying to keep them fresh and keep the energy up. It is tough during two a days, they want to play games. We have another week this week to try and get better and then we will be into game week next week,” he said.

Published 8/15/17

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Port Clinton Wants to be Physical

Port Clinton has put three very good football seasons together, which have all ended in a playoff appearance.

Last season, they shared the conference title and one their first playoff game.

Coach Beau Carmon, at the center of the improvement of the football program, they were 0-10 in 2013, says they have progressed nicely through preseason camp. “We are progressing, but we are certainly not where we want to be like every other coach in the state I’m sure would agree. Our strengths are starting to appear like our coaching staff thought we thought some areas of our team would be stronger than others and that is what we are seeing right now. Up front on the offensive and defensive lines have been doing a pretty good job here the last few weeks about getting better. Of course, we have players individually that are developing. We are able to make plays with our skilled kids. We have a lot of underclassmen that need to play this year and they have come along way, but we still need to get a lot better here these next two weeks before our opener,” said Carmon.

They open the season a week from Friday at home against Sandusky, then host Rossford and play at Norwalk.

Carmon says more than anything they want to establish that they are a physical football team at Port Clinton, that is their number one goal. “The thing we want to be known for along with I am sure a lot of other teams is of course physicality. We want to be known as a physical football team. Those are things that we establish in practice. I thought in our first scrimmage last week against Napoleon we were able to establish some physicality, especially on the offensive line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Playing physical football is very difficult to do when you only have two weeks of doubles and then jump into your first scrimmage and first game. There is no spring ball in Ohio, so you are really playing catch up trying to get guys through the summer and early fall here making sure everything is installed and making sure the kids are physically ready to play the game of football. We want to hang our hat on physicality here at Port Clinton.”

With the success they have had there isn’t a problem getting kids out for football at Port Clinton. They have almost 90 kids. Carmon says they are doing all they can to get the younger kids ready for varsity football. “We try very hard to make sure we have quality scrimmages. We scrimmage Napoleon and Bellevue and they are both really good football programs that are well coached. We think that scrimmaging teams like that and making practice very difficult will set our kids up hopefully for success during the season. Of course, they have to be able to translate everything they learn on the practice field to games on Friday night. You want to put your kids in tough spots in the off season. You want them to strain a little bit. You want them to question what the weaknesses are and they understand that as we go into the season. That is what we really concentrate on in the off season,” said Carmon.

Published 8/15/17

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Arrows on Right Track

Ashland Arrow fans are used to winning football and they should be pretty happy again this season.

The Arrows are coming off a year in which they shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title and made the playoffs and this year they should be in at least in position to do that again.

Veteran coach Scott Valentine says they have already learned a lot this preseason and they have to continue to make steady progress to be the kind of team they are capable of being. “I think like very year there are some things that we saw that were good and a lot of things to work on. Watching the video tape I think it was good for our kids to see the speed of the game,” he told Swankonsports.com before practice on Thursday, “That is the biggest difference is the speed of the game once we got going in the scrimmage compared to practice. We just talked about how we have to bring that speed to practice to help us get better.”

Ashland has won 78 games in the last 10 years against a very good schedule and that has helped them make the playoffs seven times in those 10 years, including the last three. They have won six Ohio Cardinal Conference titles in the last 10 years on top of that.

Speaking of tape, Valentine says technology is a big help to the modern day high school football player if they want to use it. “With Huddle our kids can watch stuff at home and some of them do and some of them don’t. The good ones are usually guys that are watching some of that stuff just see things that you can get better at is very important,” he said.

Ashland hosts Green in their opener on August 25, they play at Clyde on September 1, and at home against Tiffin Columbian on week three. They play at Mt. Vernon on week four in their “OCC” opener.

Valentine says they have the kind of personnel that could lead to a good season, but it is going to take the willingness to improve and get better. “Like every year you just have to keep improving. Right now, we just have a lot of things to improve on and if we do that and keep working hard and keep competing I think we have a shot, but you have to do those other things first,” he said.

Published 8/11/17

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Wooster Wants Program Stability

Wooster doesn’t want to be occasionally good they want to be consistently good and they are building towards that end.

They scrimmaged Akron Copley on Tuesday and will face Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joseph on Friday in scrimmage play. They take on traditional rival Orrville in their opener on August 25.

Coach Doug Haas says he thinks they are getting a little better each time out and that is what he wants to see. “We are in one of those stages where we had a scrimmage on Tuesday and we have a scrimmage on Friday, so we have to recover and prepare. There is a little bit of that fine line. At times it probably hard to see that progression. Certainly when we went against another team in Copley on Tuesday we saw some gains that we had not seen in our inter squad scrimmage on Saturday. So, now we want to see even a little bit more going forward in regards to a better understanding with kids playing a little bit faster. We need better tacklers and better blockers and stuff like that. A lot of that will pan out after we do a little bit of film study. I was pleased with the steps that we took after Tuesday we just have to make sure we continue to make more and more steps,” said Hass.

Scrimmages are not games, but Haas says they are important tools for the team in terms of who needs to be on the field for the Generals. “It allows for a little bit of chemistry. We kind of split the team down in half and we kind of made some moves to have ones and twos and there are always the ones and one-A’s, so this will really allow us to see what our full 11 different units would look like and make an evaluation based on that and is that where we need to be? It will also allow us to tinker a little bit, can we slide a kid over here or slide someone here. That is the beauty of the scrimmages and we are not banging on each other. Our kids are excited to go against a different colored helmet that is for sure,” he said.

Haas says they want to become consistent winners where they are not forced to rebuild. He says they are starting to reach that level. “We are getting there. An eight win season was a disappointing season for us, so I think that speaks to the level of expectation around here. We want that, we welcome that challenge and that pressure. From our standpoint we certainly want that where we just win when we have great talent we have a great team we want to as (Superintendent) Dr. (Michael) Tefs just mentioned put together seasons. We put together three eight wins seasons. It where we don’t rebuild, we reload as the old cliché is. So, we are getting there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday after practice, “There are some pieces and parts that we need to fine tune or hold a plug here and there. I am really, really pleased with how our kids work. I am really pleased with the facilities that we have and I am excited with how the season is progressing and looking forward to the opening night on the 25th versus Orrville.”

Published 8/11/17

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Hillsdale With Some Options

Hillsdale has developed into a football program that is going to be among the best small school teams in the area every year and that should be the case again this season.

They open the season in two weeks against the Mapleton Mounties in non-conference play. Then they play Crestview and Loudonville before opening play in the “WCAL” at Waynedale.

Coach Tom Williams says they have been putting in the work during practice that is required to become a good team. “We have been working really hard. We have a lot of guys giving us everything they have each day in practice trying to improve. Hopefully we will get ourselves ready here for a couple of scrimmages and get ready to go for week one against Mapleton,” he said.

Williams says more than anything what he looks for is a consistent and strong effort from his players no matter the position. “We just want our guys to be their best. We feel that if the kids keep showing up everyday with a good attitude and work hard and they improve and then if they give us their best effort on a Friday night or a Saturday morning that is all we will ever ask of them,” said Williams.

With two weeks to go until that opener Williams says they are working on developing what they are going to be good at doing. He says they believe they have a lot of options on offense. “We definitely don’t know what our identity is yet. Usually you find that out during those first couple of weeks. We return a lot of guys on the offensive line, do we are hoping we are going to be able to push some people around,” he told Swankonsports.com during a break in practice on Thursday, “We are hoping that is going to be a little bit of our identity, but we have some good skilled guys too, so we are expecting to be able to do some different things offensively. Our defense is still a little bit of a work in progress because we have a lot of new guys on that side.”

Published 8/11/17

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Shelby Being Aggressive

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/10/17

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Crestview Competes on Wednesday

There are some big expectations surrounding the Crestview Cougars football team this year and they got their first chance to go against an opponent on Tuesday when they hosted Shelby and Lucas in a three way scrimmage.

Crestview coach Dan Mager says both of their opponents presented a challenge they had to be ready to handle. “We saw some great players. The Shelby guys are just amazing. I was really happy they were able to come over. We know they are bigger, better, faster, a lot of respect for them, but I thought our kids hung tough with them. I really appreciate coach Will bringing his guys over and I hope it was good for them as well. Lucas is Lucas they come to play and they get in that double-T stuff and come at you. I think our guys got a lot of reps (Wednesday.) I think the biggest thing is we got out without any major injuries, as far as I know,” said Mager.

Shelby advanced to the third round of the division four playoffs last season and Mager knew they were going to present a big challenge to his ball club, but he thought they did well against the Whippets. “When coach Will called me earlier in the year I can’t say I would have taken that up when I first got here, but when he called me earlier in the year and wanted to get together I said absolutely because they were in the final eight last year and I knew they had everybody coming back and I thought it was a good barometer for our kids to see where we are at and quite frankly I was very pleased (Wednesday) with our effort against both teams, especially Shelby,” he said.

Crestview was 7-3 last season losing by a point Firelands Conference champion Norwalk St. Paul (14-13) and another close one to Monroeville (18-14) and they have most of their team back. Expectations are high and Mager says they must keep their focus all year. “There are a lot clichés with coaches and I do the same thing when I interview, but it is one game at a time. It is our job as coaches to not only say that, but preach it and not to look ahead,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “We went and watched Northmor (Tuesday) night and they are a lot better than they were last year, so we can’t look ahead. We want to win the conference championship, we want to go to the playoffs. We have some good teams early on with Hillsdale and Northmor. Everywhere I go people are saying you guys are going to do this and that, but there are no guarantees. We are pretty humble about our business. On paper, yeah, but it doesn’t matter until you play the game.”

Published 8/10/17

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Lucas Fighting to Get Better

Lucas has made three straight playoff appearances, winning at least one playoff game each year, and now they are building toward what they hope is another outstanding year.

They scrimmaged against Crestview and Shelby on Wednesday at Crestview in their first action of the 2017 season.

Coach Scott Spitler thought it was good to play solid teams to find out where they were and where they needed to go. “It was a great test for our kids to come out here. You have a big school in Shelby with a lot of tradition and coming off a great season last year. Crestview, a program that is headed, coming off a great season. They are expecting great things from their team this year. We have some nice guys coming back, but we had some spots to fill from last season. We lost three really good offensive-defensive lineman to graduation,” said Spitler.

Spitler says scrimmages like this are a great tool and he hopes they can move forward because it and become a better football team. “There were a lot of questions answered (Wednesday.) To find out where you need to be better you need these kinds of sessions. Sometimes it is hard when you are going against you own guys to find out where you have got some weaknesses and what you need to get better at. We seem to be pretty much healthy coming out of it, which is always a good thing. Now we have a week and a half to get ready for our next scrimmage. We will break down the film (Thursday) morning and find out where we need to get better,” he said.

Lucas plays at East Canton in their opener on August 25. Week two they host Centerburg and week three it’s Northmor at home.

When it comes to the preseason, or really the whole season, it is about getting better. Spitler says they don’t concern themselves with the opponent as much as what they are doing. “We talk to the kids about a faceless opponent because it doesn’t matter week to week who the opponent is it is about us getting better everyday and each game. We talk about the faceless opponent and about Lucas getting better all of the time,” he told Swankonsports.com after the Wednesday scrimmage, “That was what the theme was (Wednesday.) When I watch film or am out on the field I don’t want to see a lack of effort. If we make a mistake make it big and fast. We can fix those things, but we can’t fix lack of effort that has got to come from the kids and their guts and their heart and we got that.”

Published 8/10/17

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Clear Fork Looks Good in Scrimmage

It was just their first test against another opponent and it didn’t count for anything in terms of wins and losses, but Clear Fork looked pretty strong against a good opponent in a scrimmage on Tuesday night.

The Colts dominated Defiance Tinora, a playoff team from a year ago, in a scrimmage at the “Colt Corral.”

Coach Dave Carroll says they were able to get a lot of work in with a number of players and they did some really good things on both sides of the football against the Rams. “We got in a lot of good work. A lot of kids got reps. We were able to get our ones a lot of reps, but in the varsity part of the scrimmage we also got a lot of our twos in, so we get to see them on film against a good varsity football team. Film tells you so much than what you can see with your eyes. The thing I like, and what we kind of thought going in, we have a lot of kids that can do things with the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “Both of our quarterbacks played really well and all of our skilled kids either ran or caught the ball well for the must part. That is the hardest thing to see, but it looked like the offensive line was opening up some pretty good holes for us. I don’t think we let them score in the varsity part of it. Anytime you get a shutout.”

Both Jared Schaefer and Blake Dinsmore saw time at quarterback for the Colts.

Yes, there were a lot good things, but things are far from perfect and Carroll says they certainly gave things to work on this week. “There are some things we have to shore up. A couple of times they got receivers behind us. They run, run, run, and then they throw a deep play action pass on you. It’s self discipline and reading your keys and being where you are supposed to be. A couple of times I thought our tackling was a little shotty, not wrapping up or leaving our feet. These are all fundamental things that we have to be really good at,” he said.

Clear Fork plays Loudonville and Lexington in their next tune up on Saturday. Their preview is against Mansfield Madison on August 18. They open the season at Fredericktown.

Carroll thinks he has a good group that is willing to work hard and get better as a team. “Overall they are a good group of kids that are working hard and having fun. It was a pretty good performance. They were 7-3 and got in the playoffs last year and have everybody back. They are expecting to do big things this year. It is back to work (Wednesday). Back to two a days,” he said.

Carroll says no matter how good you look on one night you have to know you can get better. “I don’t know how many times we scored. We scored quite a bit. We just have to stay calm. You can’t think we have arrived or anything like that at this point and time. You just have to keep fighting and keep getting better and see how far we can take each individual kid and collectively as a team and see how good we can be,” he said.

Published 8/09/17

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Madison and Galion Meet in Scrimmage

Madison and Galion got together for a scrimmage at Ram Field at Starteck Stadium on Tuesday morning and both coaches were pretty much pleased with what they saw.

Both are coming off seasons when they won only two games, so improvement needs to be pretty dramatic.

Madison coach Jamie Masi says he was very happy with how physical they were against the Tigers, but they still have a lot of things they have to work on to be a good team. “It was a good practice for us. It was a chance to evaluate a lot of our guys. We had a few guys out of position. We knew that going in. I liked how physical we were. I liked our enthusiasm,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “Obviously we have to get better at all of the little things, blocking, tackling, just those basic fundamentals. If we can continue to take a step forward (Wednesday) and the next day and the next day hopefully we will be ready when we play Shelby.”

They play the Shelby Whippets on week one. Galion opens at Bucyrus on August 25.

Tigers coach Matt Dick says he saw some bright spots on the offensive line and at the quarterback position. “I thought we played well. I think our O-line is growing up a little bit having some guys back. We have three starters back from last year and I think that made a big difference. We were out a tight end and a center (Tuesday,) so we played two sophomores there and I think they stepped up and played well. We could run the ball a little bit (Tuesday) and that’s exciting. That was a problem last year. Elias Middleton (5’11”, 140 lbs., junior) at quarterback and Harrison Ivy (5’11”, 160 lbs., senior) at quarterback, both of those guys played tremendous and even Trevor O’Brien (5’10”, 160 lbs., sophomore). Our quarterback situation is pretty strong,” said Dick.

It was the first opportunity for both programs to go against somebody wearing other jerseys and Masi says they have concentrate on getting better everyday. “We played an inter squad scrimmage here (Saturday night) and that went really well. Luckily we came out healthy. (Tuesday) I think we came out pretty healthy. It was another chance to evaluate us against somebody different. I am proud of our guys. I love our work ethic. I love the way our kids are playing. It has got to get better every day,” he said.

Something Dick is taking away from the scrimmage against the Rams is they need to develop some depth on the varsity roster. “Finding the right back ups and finding ways to rest kids. That is huge for us. We had an outside linebacker go down (Tuesday,) hopefully his shoulder gets checked out and we get him back. When we move one guy it is a domino effect. We are not a deep team. We have a lot of young kids right now, but we don’t have a lot of seniors and juniors, so when one kid goes down we have to bump some people around,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Hopefully we get some guys back healthy. I know it is the first scrimmage, but I think we have four or five guys that are down for various reasons.”

Madison was not very good on defense last season and Masi says they headed in the right direction, but becoming better tacklers is a must for the Rams. “We are seeing a progression is terms of being physical. Our tackling is atrocious. We have got to bet better at tackling. It is difficult when you are only allowed to hit every other practice and you are only allowed to tackle so often. We are trying to abide by all of those rules and we are, but it is difficult to get better when you can’t see the speed of a Friday night game or the speed of a kid that you are not used to. So, when you get in those situations you just have to find a way of practicing and getting better,” said Masi.

Published 8/09/17

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Clear Fork Experienced and Talented

Clear Fork begins play in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference this fall and they will field a team with both experience and talent on both sides of the ball.

Coach Dave Carroll says they have good numbers in all classes and he has seen some good things from a lot of the players this summer and during the first week in camp. “Well we are pretty excited. We have quite a few kids out. We are up to 60. What is real nice about it is if we had a game today there wouldn’t be anybody on the field for the varsity game that wasn’t a junior or senior. So, our varsity group is the upperclassmen that is as it should be. The last several years we have had to play some freshmen and sophomores and in the “OCC” or any league it doesn’t work out real well,” he told Swankonsports.com after practice on Friday, “We have a real solid JV group, the middle group, and they are still fighting for jobs. We have a really good freshmen group. A lot of nice sized lineman and have some good backs and a very good quarterback. So, we are excited. We have everything in because these guys have been here over the summer. We have been to camps and seven on sevens. Usually at this point you are still putting in base plays. We’ve got base plays, trick plays, all our passing game, the whole nine yards. We are pretty excited they are a fun group to coach.”

In July, Clear Fork, and a lot of schools, participate in seven on seven competitions, and Carroll says they looked good despite not having all of their guys. “In some of those seven on sevens we did not have some of our top players because of either and injury or we had one player that tragically his brother was in an accident and passed, but other guys stepped up and got some reps. We had a nice summer,” he said.

Clear Fork plays at Fredericktown in their first game, hosts Bellevue on “Hall of Fame Weekend” and then hosts Jonathan Alder, They play their first game as a member of the “MOAC” at North Union on week four.

Carroll says they have a lot of offensive weapons, but they have some kids that can play on defense too and they have experience. “We have quite few kids that started in the past. Jacob Bailey this will be his fourth year being a starter, he is an inside linebacker. Kids like Jake Lowe, Bryce Lyon, and Bobby Costello. He didn’t start for us, but he started for Madison the last two years at corner Blake Dinsmore. He moved back to Clear Fork, that is where he is from originally. He took a two year hiatus up there for the Rams and he is back at Clear Fork. He is an awful good player,” he said.

Published 8/04/17

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Fredericktown A Work in Progress

Fredericktown has the potential to be a pretty good team, but they still must continue to progress through the rest of the preseason.

Coach William Hartley says they have done some good things over the first week of camp and he says they have not suffered too many injuries. “(Thursday) we had two really good sessions. The weather has been really cooperative. The second half of the week it hasn’t been really hot. Here on Friday it is a cool day. (Thursday) was probably our best practice. It was our first one in full pads. We have a couple of kids kind of bruised a little bit. Bangs and bruises, but nothing major. We are staying relatively healthy through this part of the season, so off to a pretty good start,” he said.

With a veteran line in place, Hartley thinks they should be able to run the ball this year with their traditional power game, but he thinks they can throw too. “It is a work in progress. Definitely next week in having two scrimmages and seeing some other teams and other competition we can really start to see what we can hang our hat on. We are returning a lot of experience on the offensive line, so you would hope we would be a strong running team. In this area and at this level we have to be able to run the football to be successful, but we have worked a lot in the off season on our passing game and with Jimmy Neusbaum coming back with six starts under his belt from last year he just seems to be much more comfortable with the offense and what we are asking him to do in the passing game,” said Hartley.

Fredericktown opens the season at home the first two weeks against Clear Fork and Marion Pleasant then they travel to Utica for week three. They open play in the new Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference on week four at Northmor.

On defense, Hartley says they have some pretty good players, but they are a little thin, especially on the front line. “Defensively our first group also has a great deal of experience. We don’t have as much depth as we have had in the past, especially along the defensive line, so we are going to asking a lot of those guys to go both ways this year. The last few years we have had the luxury of being able to rest a lot of linemen on one side of the ball or the other,” he told Swankonsports.com on Friday morning before the Freddies second practice, “So, that is going to be a little new for us having more guys go both ways. I am really comfortable with the progress of the older guys. It seems like they are really building on the experience that they had last year and looking to take it to the next level this year on the defensive side of the ball.”

Published 8/04/17

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Shelby Will be Fine

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

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

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

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

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

Published 8/04/17

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Ontario Going to be Better

Ontario believes that this year is going to a lot better than last year.

With a full year in coach Chris Hawkins’ program the players feel a lot more comfortable in what they are doing.

Hawkins says days on the practice field are less of a grind mentally and the players are showing that on the field. “I have been impressed with our guys. We are much further ahead than we were last year. It all started not just now on the first week of two a days it started back in the weight room. Our weight room has been pretty much packed all winter and spring. We had a great summer. We are not where we need to be by any means, but we are light years ahead of where we were last year. Our kids are coming out and we are getting things done and that is a big difference. Last year, even into the season we were still teaching and they were still learning. This year obviously we are still teaching, but it is not necessarily to learn because they already know it now it is about to refine and perfect and that’s a big difference,” said Hawkins.

Ontario was 4-6 last year in the Northern Ohio League and this year they have made the move to the reconfigured Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

Hawkins says he believes there is more of a sense of purpose with the Warriors this year. “The kids say it so much easier this year, so the light is starting to click on and it is not just the x’s and o’s. Last year’s seniors were a good group of kids, but they just didn’t understand what we wanted. It is hard to change a culture. It is hard to get them to understand the expectations in a few short months. They just didn’t understand it,” he told Swankonsports.com during practice on Thursday, “This year’s group understands it. They are not going to the weight room because they are told too, they are going to the weight room because they know there is a purpose. They are not coming to practice because every other team in Ohio is coming to practice, they are coming to practice to get better. So, they understand the reasoning behind everything. The culture is starting to change. I love were we are headed, not where we need to be, but I love where we are headed.”

Hawkins is in his second year at Ontario and before that was the head coach at Galion, who is in the “MOAC” and he has some knowledge of what to expect in the league. “It is kind of an advantage being at Galion my last two years in the “MOAC.” I don’t know those teams great, but at least we have played them all a couple of times. The team that is just joining with us Clear Fork we played last year. So, there is some familiarity with those schools. I tell the kids and I tell the parents the “NOL” was a beast last year, the “NOL” has been up and the “NOL” has been down, last year is was as good as it has been in a long time. I think sometimes people get the idea we are out of the “NOL,” so it is going to be a piece of cake. The “MOAC” is a very good football league. You have Pleasant that is a perennial powerhouse, Marion Harding is a scary division two school, River Valley has been in the playoffs, Clear Fork is joining, Galion has been in the playoffs five years. So, this is a very good football league. The expectations aren’t lowered just because we are changing leagues we are still going to have to play at a very, very high level to compete and win championships,” said Hawkins

Published 8/04/17

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Madison Has to be Meaner

Last season, Madison gave up at least 30 points in every one of its Ohio Cardinal Conference games and that resulted in no wins, so defense is the starting point this year for the Rams.

They open the season by hosting traditional non-conference rival Shelby on week one and then they are at River Valley and home with Toledo St. Francis. They open conference play at Wooster.

Coach Jamie Masi says they are working hard so far and he likes that, plus they have a good number of kids to work with. “We are really happy with the guys we have out. We have about 40 upperclassmen. (Wednesday) in our afternoon practice we don’t have our freshmen with us, but that puts us at about 65, so our numbers are okay. We have great kids in terms of understanding and listening and work ethic. Just a great group of guys with great character, so us as coaches we are really excited about it,” he said.

One of the additions to the Rams roster is Mason Campbell, an All-Ohio basketball player at Mansfield St. Peter’s. He is allowed to play football at Madison because they don’t offer that sport at St. Peter’s.

Masi, a defensive minded coach knows they have to be better on that side of the football is they are going to win more games. He says that starts off the field and they are headed in the right direction. “I think we were just flat out bad last year defensively and some games got out of hand and it was because we just didn’t play sound defense. So, our number one expectation to improve defensively. I think we have kids that are flying around to the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com during practice on Wednesday, “They understand the concept of what we are trying to do. We talked to our weight room coordinator and I gave him two rules. I said make them stronger and make them meaner and I think we are definitely a nasty group of kids and it is fun to coach those guys.”

OHSAA rules don’t allow hitting in high school football until Saturday and that sometimes changes some things, but Masi says they have a pretty good idea already what kids are bringing to the table. “We not allowed to really hit until Saturday and we are going to have a little inter squad scrimmage, so we will the difference between th