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Wynford Plays Unbeaten Otsego

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Gabe Helbert

 

          Wynford travels to Otsego for a regional quarterfinal in division V against the unbeaten Knights on Saturday night.

          Ironically, this is the matchup for the opening game of the 2021 season next August.

          Last Saturday, Wynford (5-2) downed Indian Lake (15-2) in a second round playoff game.  The only points they game up came from a bad snap on a punt.

          Coach Gabe Helbert says the defense was the difference for them.  “It was the key to the game.  It allowed us to win.  It’s a all three phases, but defensively, they were the difference in the game.  I thought our defense played great.  They did an excellent job of executing the game plan.  They played physical, we had to play physical because they had a downhill run game and a back that was very effective.  Our kids tackled, they made plays when they had to.  Just enough to allow us to win,” said Helbert.

          The Wynford coach says they have talented kids on all three levels of their defense.  “You have to be good up front to start with.  We feel we have solid linebackers behind it and the back end is pretty strong as well.  It’s a continued process of getting better.  It has kind of been up and down for us offensively, and defensively, at times this year.  Our defense was certainly up for the challenge on Saturday and they played very well,” he said.

          Otsego (7-0) handled Marion Pleasant, out of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, (38-6) in a second round game last Saturday. 

          Helbert says they have an outstanding quarterback, who does a lot of things, and defensively they hard to move the ball against.  “They are an excellent football team.  I think their passion for football jumps out to you on film.  They are very aggressive both offensively and defensively.  Offensively, it starts with their quarterback, who is a 6’6” lefthander who can throw.  He is affective in the run game as well.  They have talent around them, their skill is very good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Then defensively, they attack you with a variety of blitzes.  They certainly have penetrators in the run game.  They get hats to the football.  They are not overly big, which kind of fools you into thinking they are not big you can go right at them.  I haven’t seen in yet.  They play teams that run it very affectively in the league they are in and they have stuffed the run.  We are going to have to make sure we have our hats up and make sure we have our eyes on people.  We have to sustain blocks from an offensive standpoint.  They are very good football team and it makes sense why they are 7-0.”

          The fact that the quarterback Joseph Dzierwa is lefthanded is not that much of a factor, but Helbert says his height makes him difficult to defend.  “It doesn’t make much of a difference that the kid is lefthanded.  They might be a little more lefthanded per say than a team that has that righthanded quarterback.  You see so many righthanders that a lot of times teams are going to run their stuff to the right.  With him, they do a nice job balancing the field.  I think his height is more of a factor than him being lefthanded because he does such a nice job of moving in the pocket.  He always has pass lanes because of that height.  He extends plays.  His brother is the senior wide receiver and obviously he has a great connection with him.  There are a lot of other nice skilled kids around him as well,” said Helbert.

 

Published 10/23/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Madison Plays Arch Rival Mansfield Senior

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Dave Stupka

 

          Madison entertains Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          The Rams (0-8,0-5) are coming off a (40-20) loss to Sandusky in a non-conference game last week.

          No matter when it is played, Madison coach Dave Stupka knows this is the biggest game on their schedule.  “This is a city championship and I’m sure they feel the same way.  We have had a good week of practice.  All of the games are important, but this one has special significance.  It is very important to both squads.  The preparation on our side is intense and I’m sure it is over there,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (3-5,2-3) lost to “OCC” foe Ashland (35-22) in a second round playoff game in division III last Friday.

          Stupka feels the Tygers were right in that game and says they have shown a lot of improvement this season.  “The thing is they have gotten better as year has gone on and that’s a sign that they are coached well.  Watching them against Ashland, which is a very good ballclub, they were very, very competitive in that game and a play here or there and it might have been a different result.  I fully expected a very close game between Ashland and Mansfield and that is really what it was,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have done a really nice job defensively with just about everybody that they have played.  They have shut teams down and offensively they have gotten better from week to week.  They are relatively young.  They graduated a lot of players for last year and they are getting better week by week.  Hopefully, they are saying the same thing about us because that is where I think we are at as well.”

          Due to some eligibility issues, junior Brock Hill has not been at quarterback for the Tygers the last two weeks.  They have turned to freshman Duke Reese and Stupka says he has done a good job.  “I will tell you I am impressed with their quarterback.  He is a ninth grader, but he doesn’t play like it.  He does an exceptional of getting out of the pocket and his receivers do a very good job of breaking off their routes, clearly they work on it in practice and it has been quite impressive to me since he is just a ninth grader.  That’s good news for them, bad news for us.  He doesn’t look like a freshman right now playing and we are definitely not treating him like one,” he said.

 

Published 10/23/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Lexington Plays Athletic Galion

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Tim Scheid

 

          Lexington plays at home against Galion in a regular season non-conference game on Friday night.

          Last week, was a wild one of the Minutemen (1-7) as they build a (24-0) halftime lead at Clear Fork only to lose (29-27) on a last second touchdown pass by the Colts.

          Coach Tim Scheid says they were not consistent enough and mistakes hurt them in that second half.  “It was a tough one to take, but there are lessons to be learned from it and things we are going to be able to grow from and learn from as a program and hopefully our younger kids can learn from it for the fact that you can’t fight yourself.  You only have one other team on that field and you can’t bring yourself into that as well with penalties, turnovers and things like that.  That was our focus starting the game.  I told them just take care of ourselves and be disciplined and make good decisions and don’t worry what the score is and I think they be surprised if we didn’t hurt ourselves,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We saw that at halftime and I reminded them of it and I said now you have got two more quarters and we have make sure we take care of ourselves and make sure we don’t make mistakes that are going to hurt us in the long run.  We couldn’t capitalize on that.  We couldn’t put four quarters together of not hurting ourselves.  I like the progress that we have made.  Definitely earlier in the year we weren’t in games, now towards the end of the year we are in the games, so that is good progress.  Now, we have to learn to finish it and go four quarters.”

          Galion (4-4) lost a division IV second round playoff game at Bellevue (34-9) last Saturday night.

          Scheid says with players like quarterback Wilson Frankhouse and receiver Hanif Donaldson they have athletes all over the field.  “They are dynamic.  They are very explosive on offense.  They have speed at just about every position.  The quarterback is a heck of a player.  He is going to create a lot of problems for us and then they have a really good receiver that they move around a ton and seem to focus their offense on.  You can’t really key on him either because they have other playmakers that can make you hurt if you are just focused on one player.  So, they have a wealth of weapons to move around on offense that we have to be aware of and take care of on our side of the ball.  Defensively, they are very active with their front six.  They bring a lot of pressure and then they have the athletes to back that up too in their secondary.  So, overall they are a pretty good team.  It is one that we look forward to playing.  It will be a challenge for us and our kids are ready for it,” said Scheid.

          Scheid says this is just another opportunity to play football and they are glad to have it.  “Just like I told them all season you never know what you are going to get.  You don’t know if you are going to play the next game.  Every time you step on the field if it’s a JV game, a freshman game or whether it is a varsity game it could end up being the last one you play because you never know, especially with times we are in.  You tell your team that every year just because of injuries, but this year more than any because of the COVID thing, every game could be your last.  We value every game that we can put ourselves on the field,” he said.

 

Published 10/23/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Wooster Gets Back at it With Wadsworth

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Doug Haas

 

          Wooster, the Ohio Cardinal Conference leader, plays Wadsworth in a regular season non-conference game on Friday night.

          The Generals (6-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, lost for the first time this season last week when they were upset (48-40) by Olentangy Berlin in the second round of the division II playoffs.

          Coach Doug Haas says they have to refocus.  “It was disappointing without a doubt.  We had some opportunities and made a valiant comeback and our kids demonstrated some resolve.  That certainly doesn’t change the outcome of the game unfortunately.  Nevertheless, it was disappointing coming away with that loss.  When you are that stage of the playoffs, that was the round of 32, so if you equate that to the old playoffs, those are challenging type of games.  Our love for the game is going to be tested a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “I thought we had a good week from a practice standpoint.  I am confident that our seniors are going to be passionate about going out there and playing and playing hard and playing well.  We have tremendous pride in our program, Wadsworth has tremendous pride in their program, so it is going to be kind of the battle of the wills.  It is going to be who is going to demonstrate that resolve to try an improve and get better and better.”

          Wadsworth (2-5) also lost last week in the division II playoffs, in their case to Avon Lake (30-7) last Friday.

          The Grizzles have been very successful under former Loudonville coach Justin Todd, but this year not so much.  Still, Haas says they have some division one college athletes on their roster.  “They have a couple of really talented players.  The quarterback is a Notre Dame commit, I don’t necessarily know he is going to play quarterback at Notre Dame, but he is a Notre Dame commit.  They have a linebacker that is committed to Iowa State.  So, you are talking about having to contend with two guys going to power 5 schools.  Obviously, from a Wadsworth standpoint and their standard, it’s a down year for them, but I think they have been battling some injuries throughout the season and I don’t know where they stand with that.  They are very prideful of their program and the tradition of Wadsworth football.  So, we know we are going to get nothing but their best,” said Haas.

          It is a very odd season where a loss in the playoffs does not end your season.  Haas calls it an opportunity.  “For both programs it’s an opportunity to get back in the winning ledger.  What is unique about this year is you can end your year on wins.  Having played in the playoffs, but have an opportunity to end your season on wins.  That’s our goal and I’m sure that is their goal as well,” he said.

 

Published 10/23/20

© Swankonsports.com

Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Fredericktown Excited to Play South Central

Click here to listen to an interview with coach William Hartley

 

          A couple of young teams looking for experience clash on Friday night as Fredericktown hosts South Central in a non-conference matchup.

          The Freddies (2-6) outscored Utica (55-27) in a non-league game last Friday.

          Coach William Hartley says they have been able to shift their offense into high gear.  “We have really started to hit on all cylinders offensively.  I think over the last two weeks we only have one punt, so that’s always a good thing.  As I mentioned last week, we are starting to finish drives and that continued down at Utica.  Our sophomore quarterback Ben Mast is really starting to get his feel for the offense.  We have a nice group on targets for him on our perimeter passing game.  We are getting better protection and he is sitting back there and making really good reads and decisions with the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have been able to run the ball better over the two weeks, so that always opens up the play action pass for us.  So, it has been two very productive weeks for us offensively and hopefully that continues for us against South Central.”

          The Freddies, a small school program, has taken advantage of the opportunity to play some regular season games after losing in the playoffs.  Hartley says it can only help them.  “It is kind of fun.  You get all of these random calls during the week trying to set up these games and it is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.  In this after the playoff season we have fallen into some good matchups in playing Utica, which we play year in and year out and we play Johnstown Northridge next week, who we pick up next year as a fixture in our non-league schedule, so that will be good for us.  The South Central just came out of the blue.  It’s a good north of Mansfield, south of Mansfield matchup and I think it is going to be a good game.  Our kids are excited to play and the South Central kids are excited to come down here and play.  Anytime these kids get to compete it’s a good thing,” said Hartley.

          South Central (1-7) out of the Firelands Conference lost last week (35-26) to unbeaten Malvern in a division VII second round playoff game.

          Hartley says they have some weapons on offense.  “They are a pretty athletic team.  They lost a tough week two playoff game last week to Malvern.  They have some really nice skilled guys.  A nice sophomore quarterback and they do a really good job of distributing the ball.  They do a lot of run-pass option scheme stuff on offense and that is always a concern because if teams get in a rhythm with that they can really make your defense very uncomfortable.  So, we have to make sure we avoid that.  Keep them out of rhythm, get pressure on the quarterback, defensively play well in space against their skilled guys because that is definitely the strength of their team,” he said.

 

Published 10/23/20

© Swankonsports.com

Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Seneca East Meets Northmor in Regular Season Game

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ed Phillips

 

          For Seneca East it is back to regular season play on Friday night as they visit Northmor to tangle the Golden Knights in a non-conference game.

          Unbeaten Colonel Crawford downed the Tigers (44-6) in a second round playoff game in division VI last Saturday.

          Despite the loss, coach Ed Phillips says they did some good things on Saturday and they can build on those.  “Our kids battled.  We went through that tough stretch in the earlier in the year.  When we did that, we struggled to move the ball.  A sign of progress was we really moved the ball last week against them.  We didn’t finish a couple of drives, but we addressed that this week and worked to improve that.  In high school sports sometimes you fail,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “If you take that and you push through that and get better because of it.  That is one of the goals you have when you work with high school athletes and one of the goals of our program.  Sometimes you have to fix things and move on and our kids have done that.  They did it earlier in the season and they have done that this week.”

          Seneca East did have 238 total yards and 13 first downs against Crawford.  The biggest concern were the four turnovers they committed.

          Phillips says his kids will be ready play and there won’t be a letdown after a playoff loss because his players have the right attitude.  “One of our coaches said if anyone came and watched our practice they wouldn’t know if we were 4-4 or we were 8-0 because our kids are just so consistent in how they work and how hard they work and how much fun they have on the field.  That is a credit to the kids and coaches in our program,” he said.

          Northmor (2-6) lost to Black River (27-7) in a non conference game last Friday.

          Phillips says the Golden Knights have some talented backs they will need to contend with on Friday.  “They run the ball well.  They have a big back and they have some quick backs and a good mix.  I think they are a team when you look at them throughout the season and they have improved as they have gone through the season.  They have a good mix of athletes.  They have some size and quickness.  Their quarterback is definitely a playmaker and so are their other backs and receivers.  Thy are a good football team that you can tell was young and has improved and is definitely dangerous,” said Phillips.

 

Published 10/23/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Plus, again this week there will be a special Saturday night

Edition of “Out of Bounds” between 10 and midnight

 
     
 

Ashland and Norwalk Tangle in Playoff Game

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Sean Seder

 

          Ashland, in a share of the second place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, takes on Norwalk, out of the tough Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, in a division III regional quarterfinal game at Community Stadium in Ashland on Friday night.

          The Arrows (6-1) beat Mansfield Senior in a battle of “OCC” teams (35-22) last week in a second round game.

          Coach Sean Seder felt it was a pretty good overall effort.  “We felt pretty good about last week’s game.  We kind of joked, or at least told the kids, that we played three quarter of really good playoff football and that fourth quarter we need to flush that and put four together.  Give credit to Mansfield Senior, their coaches and their kids.  They played well and fought back, but overall thought we played a pretty good overall football game last week,” he said.

          Declan Rohr threw four touchdown passes in that game.

          Ashland has shown good balance by being able to both run and pass and Seder says that makes them more difficult to defend.  “That has been a big focus of ours.  I just know from a defensive perspective that anytime an offense can both run and throw they are more of a treat to you.  We try to be two dimensional as much as we can.  I think we have a pretty good run game with Ethan Hartley and our O-line and Declan Rohr and our receivers do a pretty good job too.  We try to be as multi dimensional as possible.  Hopefully, the weather fairs well and we can take that into week three of the playoffs,” said Seder.

          There is rain in the forecast for Friday.

          Norwalk (4-3) outlasted Copley (17-10) last week after giving up all 10 of those points in the first couple minutes of the game.

          Seder says they have an outstanding defense and they have some athletes on offense.  “We feel like they have a pretty good defense.  They kind of play a 4-2-5 base and they shift into a 3-2 look at times with a lot of zone coverage behind it.  I think they really rely on that defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Offensively, they have a gun slinger in #12 (Garrett Chapin).  The person we call their due is #6 Ethan Phillips, I think he is a pretty good player.  Then they have (Oliver) Maloney #3 and #4 (Kade Staley) and #1 (Sam Battles) are pretty good players as well.  They have some pretty good guys on offense kind of game planed around their passing game mostly.  Again, with the weather this week it will be interesting to see what happens.  We have to prepare on all fronts if you will.”

          Norwalk also has one of the best field goals kickers in the country in Garrison Smith.  Seder says they have to account for what he brings to the table.  “He is a heck of a field goal kicker.  Last week he made a 57 yarder.  He has made a couple of other 50-yarders this season.  From what I have heard one of the top field goal kickers in the nation, so anytime you have a kid like that on your team it gets you more points on offense.  Game planning wise it affects us a little bit that we know if they get past the 50 they are in striking range.  So, we have to take advantage of our offensive snaps and our possessions on offense,” said Seder.

 

Published 10/22/20

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St. Paul Gets Athletic Warren JFK

Click here to listen to an interview with coach John Livengood

 

          Norwalk St. Paul, the Firelands Conference tri-leader, plays at Warren JFK on Friday night in a regional quarterfinal in division VII.

          It is fair two call these programs a couple of the blue bloods when it comes to small school football.  This is the 22nd playoff appearance for St. Paul, for JFK it is number 25.  St. Paul has a state title to its credit, JFK has two.

          The Flyers (6-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, destroyed Salineville Southern (48-14) in a second round game last Saturday in Norwalk.

          Coach John Livengood says they played really well on both sides of the ball last Saturday.  “Our kids came out and played really well.  I thought our defensive effort was especially good.  They had a couple of good running backs that were really fast and we needed to contain them and our defense was able to do that for the most part all night.  We created some turnovers, we got a fumble, we got a couple of interceptions that put us in scoring position and gave us some opportunities and took away possessions on their part.  Offensively, we were very efficient and we were able to score on every drive but one.  So, I was really proud of the kids, they came out and played really well for us,” said Livengood.

          Myron Stoll was back as the Flyers starting quarterback after missing three games.  Livengood says that was a big plus.  “Not just because of his throwing ability, but having him on the field, his leadership and management of the offense, you can’t put enough emphasis on that.  The fact that he is a senior, you hate to see anytime that a senior is injured and possibly loses their senior season.  To get him back out there we were really excited about that, really happy, and Myron came out and played really well,” he said.

          Warren JFK (5-2) is the top seed in the region and pounded Lowellville (65-33) last week in their second round game.  They play a schedule that includes a division III school, a division IV, and three division V’s.  Their losses coming to Garrettsville Garfield (27-21) and Warren Howland (32-22) this season.

          Livengood says they have an outstanding quarterback and a very athletic team.  “It starts with their quarterback Cam Hollobaugh, he is also an All-Ohio linebacker for them.  He 6’1”, 210, big kid with good speed.  He does a nice job out on the field commanding their offense.  They like to spread it out and run him.  They will also line him up at running back on occasion and play power football.  He is a talented athlete and is the center piece of their offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “They also have a great tailback in Jesse Likens that has a lot of speed.  Those two guys really make their offense go.  They have good size.  They are very aggressive and quick defensively.  They do a lot of moving with their defensive line.  Their linebackers play downhill.  They are a great all around football team.”

          To win, Livengood says they have to be the one that has most of the possession of the football on Friday night.  “I think the big thing defensively, we have to get off the field.  We can’t let them sustain drives against us.  Offensively, we have to be able to sustain our drives.  We have to be able to be patient and put drives together and finish in the end zone.  Taking care of the football, playing great special teams, all of those different intangible things are going to come into play in a game like this where who have two teams that are pretty evenly matched,” he said.

 

Published 10/22/20

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Old Rivals Clyde and Huron Meet in Regional Quarterfinals

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ryan Carter

 

          Clyde heads down to road to play Huron in a regional quarterfinal game in division IV on Saturday night.

          This used to be an every year game until the Sandusky Bay Conference broke into divisions in 2017.

          Last Saturday, Clyde ran for more than 300 yards in a (28-15) win at Wauseon in a second round game.

          Coach Ryan Carter, who led the Fliers to a division IV state title last season, says his kids were outstanding last week.  “I was very proud of our kids last week in just the way that game played out and how talented they were and us to go on the road to get out of there with a win was huge.  We had found something early on and thought we could run the ball a little bit.  Our running back Michael Daniels was just doing a heck of a job of getting extra yards,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Our line was doing a great job and our outside guys were doing a great job blocking.  We mixed in enough throws to keep them off balance.  I was really proud of way our guys really ground one out.  Our defense played phenomenal against what I thought was a very, very talented Wauseon team.”

          Clyde (5-3) had been averaging almost 200 yards passing going into the game and Carter feels that’s what Wauseon expected them to do.  “I think they came in and played us to pass and we started running the ball and they never really got out of it, so we didn’t really get out of it.  We really controlled the clock and kept their offense off the field, which is what we wanted to do,” he said.

          Daniels ran for 312 yards and three scores last week.

          Huron (7-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, led (37-0) at halftime and went on to beat Bryan (44-22) in their second round game.

          Carter says the Tigers have always had athletes and now they have some excellent players in the trenches too.  “We have scrimmaged them the last couple of years and we used to be common opponents, we used the play every year in the old “SBC.”  They are a typical Huron team.  They do things the right way.  They are very well coached.  Their kids play extremely hard.  They have a traditional program over there.  Sam (Hohler) does a great job.  Their kids play extremely hard and they are extremely talented.  They always have talented athletes across the board.  Now, they mix in a pretty big offensive line and they become really good and that’s why they are undefeated,” said Carter.

          Huron quarterback Cole Parker has thrown 15 TD passes and ran for an additional eight.  Carter says they will have to account for him.  “He will hurt you both ways and we have seen a lot of that this year with guys that have run and thrown it.  They do a nice job of mixing in both run and pass.  Another thing that they are very good at is special teams.  So, we are going to have to be on our “A” game.  We are going to have to go with everything we have on the road again to try and compete and get ourselves into a four quarter game,” he said.

 

Published 10/22/20

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Ontario Gets Clear Fork Again

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Chris Miller

 

          Although it is not a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game, two teams from that league play each other this week, as Ontario takes the bus to Clear Fork to play the Colts.

          The last time Clear Fork and Ontario played twice in a regular season?  Well, gas prices were 86 cents a gallon and a new car cost less than $7,000.  Yes, it was 1979, the last year of the Johnny Appleseed Conference.  Clear Fork won both of those games by the way, (20-15) and (37-0) were the scores.  Current Clear fork coach Dave Carroll would have played for the Colts in those games.

          Ontario (5-3) lost to Kenton (32-20) in a division IV playoff game last Saturday night.

          Warriors coach Chris Miller says they got too far behind a good team.  “We dug ourselves a hole too deep to get out of this time against a good football team.  It was 7-7 at the end of the first and 26-7 going into halftime.  We came out in the second half an made a run at it.  We scored 13 in the third quarter and then just kind of didn’t capitalize on our chances down the stretch.  Our kids played hard to the bitter end.  They have done that all year.  I am certainly proud of this group.  We still have work to do and we are blessed to have a couple of opportunities to play this game again,” he said.

          Now, Ontario was scheduled to play Highland this week, but Miller says when that fell through, they had to go looking for someone to play.  “Highland let us know Sunday morning that they would not be playing us due to some county health regulations, so we spent the next half a day trying to find somebody.  Posted some things on boards around Ohio, calls to everybody you know, had assistant coaches make calls to everybody they know and try and set something up and we were just striking out.  We knew Clear Fork was available and kind of crossed that bridge on Saturday night and then coach Carroll came back around and said we will play you at our place, so we are going to get on a bus and go there this week.  If you back up to August, we weren’t sure we were going to play any games.  So, it being week nine of football, and even though it has been different, to play week nine with the landscape that exists right now we are blessed to have that opportunity no matter who it’s against,” said Miller.

          Clear Fork (3-5) rallied to beat Lexington (29-27) last week in a non-conference game. 

          The Warriors crushed the Colts (41-14) in their first meeting.  However, Miller says they know the Colts are going to be different this time, they just don’t know how.  “You are almost on disadvantage when you are on our end.  On the surface, you look at things we did on both sides of the ball for the majority of the game and it was working and your nature is to says why fix something that isn’t broken, but you know better.  They were without Tedrow in those three quarters.  They have since caught fire a little bit and have won three of their last four with the playoff loss being a close game.  It is not an easy task to beat a good football team, or any football team for that matter, twice in the same season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The one that comes up on the losing end has all of these things we have to address this, we have to fix this, we have got to do this, we have got to do that, in order to fix those problems.  If you come up on the winning end a lot of things must have went your way, so you look at it and say, why would we fix anything?  So, are in a mode of trying to fix what we anticipate happening.  It turns into a guessing game a little bit from a scheme standpoint.”

          Miller says they most have intensity and focus, just like any other football game.  “The bottom line is are we going to go out and play hard, are we going to go out and tackle, are we going to go out and execute of job and grab some momentum.  That has been the question and that is what we have challenged our kids to do this week.  Just maintain a level of focus.  We are one week off of a playoff loss, they are two now, they have settled back into a routine.  We come off a Saturday night game and go into a Friday night game, so we kind of lose a day in each end, a prep day and a rest day or a workday.  So, it’s a short week for us, so hopefully our kids refocus quickly and come ready to play.”

 

Published 10/22/20

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Norwayne Faces Canton CC in Playoffs

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Adam Indorf

 

          Unbeaten Norwayne, the Wayne County Athletic League leader, plays host to Canton Central Catholic on Saturday night in a division VI regional quarterfinal.

          These two squads scrimmaged the week before the regular season started in August.

          Last week, the Bobcats (7-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, walloped in Mineral Ridge (55-14) in their playoff opener in a second round game.

          Coach Adam Indorf says they had some rust early on offense after a bye week, but they were able to get it going.  “In the first half we had a problem with just some miscues with penalties and dropped balls, but we responded to those and really played well.  The defense seems to be playing really well and physical right now and creating some turnovers for us throughout the game.  That was a positive win heading into week three of the playoffs,” said Indorf.

          Canton Central Catholic (3-5) won on the road last week (24-14) over Hanoverton United in a second round game.

          Indorf says they must have great pursuit against the Crusader offense.  “They bring in a lot of athletes in the skilled positions and some tenacious linemen.  They have a quarterback that is a viable runner.  We have to make sure we put a hat on him to bring him down when he is scrambling and when they utilize him in the run game.  Make sure we are communicating and being solid in our coverages and really making sure we are rallying to the ball defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “Offensively, I think we can run downhill and really fire off the ball and continue to allow that old adage to work for us on control the line of scrimmage and spread the ball around and try to be balanced not only run pass wise, but be balanced with all our weapons we utilize on offense.”

          Canton CC has played a big time schedule with a division I, two division II teams and two division III programs on their regular season schedule.  They did not play a division VI school until the final game before the playoffs when they lost (26-10) to Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas.

          Indorf says they are well tested.  “They have been through the grinder and it definitely shows from when we scrimmaged them in the beginning.  They have really come through the year and gained a lot of valuable experience.  So, you can see them really cranking it out and doing a fantastic job.  Those guys are playing really well right now,” he said.

 

Published 10/22/20

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Buckeye Central Returns to Regular Season Play Against Triad

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Chad Jensen

 

          Buckeye Central is still playing football this week, which was they plan all along.  After losing in the playoffs last week, they play at Triad in a regular season game on Friday night.

          For the second week in a row, Buckeye traveled to Columbiana County, but this time came up empty in losing to Leetonia (32-16) in a second round playoff game in division VII.

          Coach Chad Jensen says turnovers did them in.  “We turned the ball over early and that hurt us.  When you are in the playoffs like that and you are playing a good team, you can’t turn the ball over.  We had three turnovers and they turned them into points, so that was really big.  That is something we have been working on this week to get better,” said Jensen.

          The Bucks were also held to less than their average on the ground, running for 119 yards last week against Leetonia.

          They also plan to play Willard next week and Jensen says their plan is to get on the field as many times as possible this fall.  “We want to give our kids 10 games and that has been the goal since the beginning.  We knew when we got beat in the playoffs we were going to schedule these games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “We were going to play Triad in the non-league games anyway this year if we had a normal year.  So, they have agreed to play us here at the end.  It’s a good matchup for us.”

          Buckeye Central (2-6) plays at Triad, in Champaign County, in a non-conference game on Friday night.  The Cardinals (3-5) are coming off a loss (37-6) to powerhouse Coldwater in the division VI playoffs last Saturday.

          Jensen says they have the kind of athletes that make big plays.  “They are pretty decent, they are a pretty good football team.  They have athletes on offense that can make plays.  We have to stop the big play that is going to be a big key for us.  Defensively, they are very standard in what they do, but they do it well.  You can tell they are well coached.  They are aggressive and we are just looking forward to the challenge,” said Jensen.

 

Published 10/22/20

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Lucas Plays Aggressive Independence in Playoffs

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Scott Spitler

 

          Lucas will host Independence in a division VII regional quarterfinal game at Bob Wine Field on Friday night.

          The Cubs (5-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches pull in the small school division, blanked Cuyahoga Heights (35-0) in a second round game last week.

          Coach Scott Spitler says they were well prepared and executed well against the option offense and once they got some kinks ironed out started to roll on offense too.  “It thought our defense and our defensive staff did a whale of a job.  Anytime you are facing an option offense it requires your team to be very unselfish and extremely disciplined.  I thought our staff did a nice job of getting our kids ready and then our kids executing the game plan,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Then offensively we were able to control the line of scrimmage, which is what we want to do.  In the first half we had a couple of uncharacteristic penalties that stopped a couple of drives.  I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage well enough.  We were getting a lot of chunk plays in our run game, which allows us to be successful.  In the second half, we tightened things up and sealed the deal and got out of our first playoff game of the season with a good win at home and it’s a good way to get started.”

          Independence (6-1) rallied behind two defensive scores to beat Monroeville (28-20) last week in a second round game.  They have two shoutouts this season and twice more have allowed just one score.

          Spitler says they have great athletes in the skilled positions.  “For a division VII I am really impressed with the bodies, especially in the skilled positions, tight end, wide out, running back, a lot of 6’0” to 6’4” bodies that are anywhere from 180 to 220 pounds, so a lot of length and good frames and very athletic.  One minute they are in double tight, triple “I” and the next minute they are in five wide spread, so they stretch you with multiple formations.  A lot of shifting and motion, so they really require you to be disciplined in your alinement defensively.  Then on the defensive side of the ball they run an attacking style 5-3 defense where they are stunting and blitzing a lot.  They are an extremely aggressive team with great skilled positions.  Their spread package and the athletes that they have reminds me a lot of what Ontario has in the skilled positions.  Everyone of them can put it in the end zone at any time,” said Spitler.

          In order to have success, the Cubs have to make sure they are in the right positions on defense and as always control the line of scrimmage when they have the ball, according to Spitler.  “We are going to have to do a good job of being aligned properly and keep them in front of us to make them earn every inch.  Offensively, we have to control the line of scrimmage and take care of the football,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/20

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Bellevue Looks for Good one Against Kenton

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ed Nasonti

 

          Bellevue matches up with Kenton in a regional quarterfinal in division IV on Saturday night at Bellevue.

          The Redmen (7-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is one of the best football teams in this area and mostly likely the best second half team.  They proved that again last week when they turned a three point halftime lead into a (34-9) second round win over Galion.

          Veteran coach Ed Nasonti says it is the character of this football team to turn in on in the second half.  “As the year has gone on, we are finding out we are second half football team.  I think our kids settle in.  I thought we had a slow start to the game last Saturday, but got it together.  We got in the grove.  We had the bye week the week before and I thought we came out a little bit lethargic in the first half, but we were able to put it together and we were able to settle in and played Bellevue Redmen football and got in the grove and were able to get that win,” said Nasonti.

          Bellevue has made the playoffs 20 times over the years, Kenton has been there 12 times, winning two state titles along the way.

          The Wildcats (4-3) outlasted Ontario (32-20) last week to advance.

          Nasonti says Kenton is doing what they always do.  “Anybody that knows high school football knows that Kenton has a rich football tradition.  I think their kids are tough football kids.  They have a good football town.  I think they are similar to Bellevue.  The kids like to play football they are very competitive and we are looking for a good game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They haven’t deviated very far from the kind of football when coach Mauk was there.  They are going to no huddle, they are going to empty out the backfield, they are going to throw the ball all over the park.  So, you have to be able to stop the passing game if you are going to compete with Kenton.”

          Bellevue played Kenton 17 years ago in the 2003 playoffs, with the Wildcats winning (46-27) that day.

          Nasonti says they are still doing the same kind of things and they make you execute to beat them.  “I coached against coach Mauk back in 2003.  They came to Bellevue and we played a playoff game and it was the same thing.  They are going to go for it on fourth down, you are going to get onside kicks, you are going to get it all.  So, you are going to have to be ready to go in all facets of your game,” he said.

          Kenton was one of the first teams to go no huddle and you see a lot more of that today.  Nasonti thinks they will be ready for that kind of pace.  “They are going to empty it out.  They are not going to huddle.  They do play a fast pace.  Fortunately for us over the years they game has progressed.  They were innovative in the early 2000’s doing to the no huddle stuff, but over the years you see a lot more of that kind of pace.  I think we are used to it.  I don’t think that is going to be anything that surprises us.  I think it is going to be a good challenge for us.  They are a good football team, but I think we are a good football team too.  It’s going to be playoff football at its best.  We have to be up for the challenge,” said Nasonti.

 

Published 10/21/20

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Clear Fork Gets a Chance for Revenge Against Ontario

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Dave Carroll

 

          There seems to be no end to the craziness associated with 2020 high school football season and you can add this one to the list, Clear Fork will play Ontario for the second time in a regular season game, this time in the valley on Friday night.

          Last week, the Colts (3-5) made a tremendous comeback in beating Lexington (29-27) in non-conference play.  The winning touchdown coming on a Brady Tedrow to Jack Harris TD pass with one second to go.

          Assistant coach Mike Carroll kind of lit a fire under the Colts with a halftime speech leading the rally.

          Head coach Dave Carroll says they made some plays and got some breaks in the second half.  “I am just really proud of our kids.  They responded to our challenge at halftime.  Nobody wants to play like they did in the first half when it’s your rival and you are getting close to the end of your season and some of them at the end of their careers, they didn’t want to end it that way and they just came out and played so much better, especially defensively.  We started getting to the ball and tackling and we weren’t doing that in the first half.  The turnovers in the first half killed us.  Right off the bat, first play, we fumble the snap and they got the ball in our territory and momentum goes on their side.  Things just changed around for us because we played better and played with more toughness and discipline, but the ball bounced our way too.  Just like in the first half it bounced their way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “We coughed it up twice in their territory for short scores.  Same thing, they fumbled and got us our first score and gave us the short field.  Later on in the game, they were throwing the ball an Ashton Lyon came up and broke on the ball tipped it and Victor Skoog picked it off.  So, we got some turnovers and there was a facemask on top of Vic’s interception that took us down in there.  So, there is two scores off of turnovers, but they kind of negate each other because we gave them two scores as well.  There was twice in the second half were Lexington had the ball in the red zone and the first time we held them and made some great plays, Kaleb Hollar plays on the Berry kid.  They had to kick a field goal and they missed it.  The second time they were down there we didn’t let them score a touchdown, but they did get a field goal that time.”

          Carroll says that momentum kind of jumped on their back in the second half of the game.  “High school football is so much about momentum.  We got that first touchdown we are like alright.  Then we are sitting there thinking if we score again.  We got that two point conversion and now we are at 16.  Now, it’s an eight point ballgame, one score ballgame, let’s go.  It just got contagious and the next thing we are winning the ballgame with one second to go.  It was crazy, but what a testament to our kid’s toughness,” he said.

          Now, phones were ringing and texts were popping up all over the place on Sunday as schools were trying to find opponents for this week.  Carroll takes us through how they came up with Ontario.  “We did this back in 2017.  We beat Bellevue in overtime on week two or three and then we ended up playing them in the second round of the playoffs.  So, we have done this before where you play somebody twice in the same season.  It is kind of a weird thing, especially the way this whole season has been.  This weekend was crazy.  We were supposed to play Loudonville and at 2-5 they beat undefeated Centerburg.  My wife and I are watching the game and I am like my lord we do not have a game.  I am getting on the horn and calling and texting and emailing everybody that I know, hey we need a game and no luck.  Ontario was supposed to play Sparta Highland and Highland said they couldn’t play them because Richland County is a red county and Ontario looking for a game and I am like, nah, we already did that, not really interested, I’m going to keep looking,” he told Swankonsports.com. “We kept looking, looking and looking.  Then we finally decided as a coaching staff and we texted our older kids, what do you guys think of a rematch with Ontario?  They were all up for it.  They all responded back in a very positive manner and I gave that information to our coaches.  Here is our choices, play this team that is two and half hours away, play this D-2 school from Parma that will come here and has a division one running back or have a redo with a neighboring school here.”

          Now, the game, which will be a non-conference game this time, will be at Clear Fork and Carroll says that was a deciding factor for them.  “I called our AD and said we will play them, but I want it to be home, I want a home game and we played there the first time.  He was they have only had three home games and I said I don’t care.  He said, you need to call them.  So, I called their coaching staff, I know those guys and we are friends with one another, and they had me on speaker phone.  I’m like we are tired of looking and we will play you, but I have a stipulation, I want it to be in the valley an Chris Miller was like, I knew you were going to say that and he is laughing.  I’m like, I’m sorry, but if you want to play us, we played at your place, I think it’s only fair, fair, I don’t look at fair, it’s just what we want, we play at home or we don’t play and they agreed with it, so here we are,” said Carroll.

          The first time these teams played on September 18 Ontario (5-3) won (41-14) in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play.  That was after the Colts scored the first 14 points of the game.

          Carroll says this is like a do over for them and he hopes his team plays much better.  “It’s Clear Fork-Ontario, that rivalry goes back forever.  We were terrible.  That was our worse game of the season.  It’s the only game where anybody beat us badly.  We had just come off a double overtime loss to Galion and things just weren’t good in our camp at the time.  We had some kids out and it just wasn’t good.  I told our kids there aren’t a lot of times in life when you get a redo.  So, here you go let’s see what happens,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/20

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Colonel Crawford Battles Liberty Center

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ryan Teglovic

 

          Colonel Crawford, unbeaten on the season, will be at home Saturday night for a regional quarterfinal game in division VI against the Liberty Center Tigers.

          After the bye week, the Eagles (7-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, blasted “N10” rival Seneca East (44-6) in a second round game.

          Coach Ryan Teglovic says they were ready to play.  “I felt like we got off to a good start offensively and defensively.  We were able to put 14 points up in the first quarter.  Felt like we played pretty clean, I think we had one penalty in the first quarter.  Overall, all three phases of the game pretty clean.  I felt our guys were pretty locked in, especially after having a week bye,” he said.

          The Eagles ran for 371 yards in the game last week and forced four Seneca East turnovers.

          Liberty Center (6-2) beat Western Reserve, out of the Firelands Conference, last Saturday (42-18) in a second round game.  The Tigers have won their last six games.  Their only losses with the first two weeks against solid teams in unbeaten Archbold (30-16) and Wauseon (42-25) a division IV school.

          Teglovic says have a great run game and a defense that presents a lot of problems.  “Well, they have the leading rusher in their league, which is obviously a very good league.  I think he has scored the most points in their league.  His name is Max Phillips, he is 5’11” about 205 and can move.  He is like tackling a bowling ball, he is good.  Up front they get off the football and they are physical.  That doesn’t mean they can’t pass it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They do a great job in the play action passing game.  Their quarterback is really accurate, very poised.  So, all the way around they are a good football team.  Defensively, they run a lot of different fronts.  They throw a lot of different things at your offensive line.  So, we are going to have to have a great week of preparation.”

          Tristan Cross is the leading rusher in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Both teams want to run it and Teglovic predicts a physical battle up front.  “It is going to test us physically.  They do a pretty good job with their schemes as well.  We are going to have to be very sound squeezing down blocks and making guys run sideways.  We have done a pretty good job of that this year and we are going to have to do a really good job of that this week,” he said.

          This not the first time these teams have played.  Liberty Center edged Colonel Crawford (28-20) in a regional quarterfinal in 2016.

          The Eagles have played outstanding football this year and Teglovic says now they are going to have to turn it up even more.  “If you look in our region and there are eight team left and if we would have gone by the Eitel points those would have been the eight top teams in our region.  So, there are good football teams left.  As I told our guys we can beat anybody, but anybody can beat us from this point out.  So, you have to make sure you lock in and focus on every play,” said Teglovic.

 

Published 10/21/20

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It’s Mansfield Senior at Madison

Click here to listen to an interview with DC Sean Adams

 

          We weren’t sure at the beginning of the season if it was going to happen or not due to the schedule, but Friday night Mansfield Senior travels to Madison for an Ohio Cardinal Conference between rivals.

          Mansfield Senior was eliminated from the non-postseason playoffs after a (35-22) loss to “OCC” foe Ashland in the second round of the division III playoffs last Friday.

          Assistant coach Sean Adams says the Arrows did some things they weren’t ready for and they made a lot of mistakes, not a good combination.  “Give Ashland credit, they had a nice game plan offensively.  They came out and scored a couple of touchdowns on something we hadn’t seen before and they had their kids really prepared and the kids came out and executed.  Credit Ashland for the win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Aside from Ashland doing a good job, we had a slew of mental mistakes and that is something we hadn’t exhibited up until that point except for maybe weeks one and two.  I’m not sure what it was.  Credit Ashland and their game plan last week and we wish them well this week as they continue on in the playoffs.”

          The Tygers (3-4,2-3) play at Madison (0-8,0-5) on Friday night for a game at Ram Field.  Madison lost to Sandusky (40-20) in a non-conference game last week.  The Rams have lost their last 25 in a row.

          Adams says they have building blocks to a good team.  “They have a big, physical offensive line.  I like the right guard.  He comes off the ball and he blocks to the whistle.  They have a nice little running back in the Isaac (Brooks) kid.  The quarterback will throw a decent ball.  They have some weapons, it’s just a matter of who is going to show up.  I have watched two or three films and it’s like, which team is going to show up?  They played Ashland tough for a little bit.  They played Mt. Vernon tough.  Anytime you get 16, 17, 18-year old kids together and you couple that with a rivalry anything can happen, so our kids are focused this week and we are ready to go across town and play our arch rival,” said Adams.

          It is a regular season game after a playoff loss, but Adams says they are looking forward to playing Madison, plus it’s a chance for their young players to learn more about football.  “It’s Madison and it’s over there.  They know each other really well, but I think more importantly it’s just that one other chance that we get to play football.  It’s that one other chance that we can learn some lessons.  Lessons that we can take with us into our lives.  Lessons that can help us grow as a young football team and move forward next year.  Certainly, being able to play our arch rival, cross town rival, is something we are looking forward to and we can’t wait for Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/20

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Big Effort Required For Plymouth

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mark Genders

 

          The assignment for Plymouth this week is to travel to Western Reserve for a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

          That will wrap up conference play for both sides this season.  These two schools are doing what should be done, owing up their responsibilities to the conference.  South Central and New London plan to do the same next week.  The only school in the conference unwilling to do so is Monroeville, where equipment was packed up on Monday.

          The Big Red played a very good team in Dalton last week, losing (21-0) in a second round playoff game in division VII.

          Coach Mark Genders says he was proud of the tremendous effort they game last week against a very good team.  “My kids played so hard. We had a few opportunities we didn’t capitalize on, but other than that.  I thought defensively we played a really fine game, but you can only be on the field so much.  Our kids just fought so hard and I couldn’t be more proud of them.  Tip my hat to Dalton.  That was pretty much a whole returning team from the year before division VI, 9-1, and playoff team.  My kids went toe to toe with them for a long time and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Genders.

          Plymouth (4-4,3-3) is at Western Reserve (5-3,4-2) on Friday night. 

          Genders says Western is versatile on offense.  “Well, you know they are going to be well coached.  Coach Stevenson just does a fantastic job with what he is doing.  They have some great athletes.  Their quarterback Muenz and Gandy, those guys are just so explosive.  They formation you a lot.  They still like to run that football, but they pass so much more this year with such a solid quarterback,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “So, you have to be ready to go with a lot of stuff and we have to prepare like we do each week.  They have a lot of intangibles and you have to read your keys and do your job and if you don’t they make it a long night for you because they are always solid up front and they are big.”

          Like any other week, Genders says it boils down to intensity for them.  “We are going to have to match the intensity, like I say every week.  We are going to have to play well at the line of scrimmage in order to compete with these guys,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/20

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Western Reserve Looks Forward to Playing Plymouth

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ty Stevenson

 

          It’s a Firelands Conference game on Friday night as Western Reserve hosts Plymouth as both return to regular season play.

          Last week, Western bowed out of the playoffs, losing (42-18) at Liberty Center in a second round game in division VI.

          The Roughriders found themselves down (28-0) at halftime, but they came back and played an outstanding third quarter.

          Coach Ty Stevenson says they were able to make it a game.  “Our kids didn’t play really well early on.  We talked at halftime that we want to play our best football in the second half of that game and I felt we did.  I felt we played really well in that third quarter especially.  We got a fumble on that opening kickoff and got a short field and went down and scored.  Got a stop and a second touchdown and another stop and a third score,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “So, we got the thing back to 28-18 and I was proud of our resilience right there in that our kids just kind of kept playing.  They got a couple of touchdowns late and the score looked worse than maybe it was at different points.  Overall, I was proud of our kids, it was good experience for them to go into a legendary team and a legendary place.  We hope we can keep building on that for years to come.”

          It is an option this season after you lose in the playoffs to return to regular season play.  Almost everyone is doing do with Monroeville being the notable exception.

          Stevenson says they want to play and have a responsibility to play this game with Plymouth.  “We are excited to get our seniors one more game on our field.  We feel that for our conference we should finish our conference schedule.  We are excited to play Plymouth, they are a longtime, traditional rival.  The last two year we have had really good games with them.  We are looking forward to coach Genders and the offense and defense that they bring to us.  We are looking forward to that contest,” said Stevenson.

          With Plymouth (4-4,3-3) coming to Western Reserve (5-3,4-2) it is going to be a game between two teams that want to be physical.  Stevenson says the Big Red does what they do very well.  “They do a great job.  They execute very well.  Coach Weltin is their offensive coordinator and he does a great job getting their guys where they need to be and they run their stuff really well and it will present a great challenge for us on Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/20

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Galion Has to be More Fundamental

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          Galion returns to regular season football this week as they play at Lexington in a non-conference game on Friday night.

          Last Saturday, they trailed only (12-9) at halftime, but lost (34-9) to unbeaten Bellevue in the second round game in the division IV playoffs.

          Coach Matt Dick says mistakes derailed them.  “You have to give them credit.  They came out and played a way better second half.  We came out and really struggled with the center-quarterback exchange and it really hurt the whole momentum of the game.  They got a blocked punt and boom it was over just like that,” said Dick.

          Lexington (1-7) on the other hand had a (24-0) lead over Clear Fork at the half only to lose (29-27) when the Colts scored with one second to play to win the regular season game.

          Dick says the Minutemen have some weapons.  “They look explosive at times.  They have a lot of speed.  They look a little young up front, very similar to us.  That Clear Fork game could have gone either way, it was a coin flip,” he said.

          When it comes to Friday night, Dick says they have to clean up their mistakes and be the more physical team.  “Number one, we have to get the snap taken care of.  We are doing some stuff there trying to build some depth on the O-line.  It has been something we have been working on all year long,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “After we take care that, play well on special teams, make sure we don’t give up and touchdowns on special teams.  Then be the more physical team.  I think that is something we can do.  We just have to make sure we have that right mindset come Friday.”

 

Published 10/21/20

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Shelby Meets Run Oriented Firelands

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          Shelby, unbeaten on the season, plays host to Oberlin Firelands in a division IV regional quarterfinal at Skiles Field on Saturday night.

          Leading only (13-10) at the half and (19-13) in the fourth quarter, the Whippets got a defensive touchdown and pulled away down the stretch to beat Rossford (32-13) last Saturday in a second round game.

          Coach Robert Mahaney says the Whippets (7-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, were sloppy in the first half, but then put things together.  “Credit to Rossford they are a really good football team.  They have two scholarship kids on their football team, a really big lineman, and a really, really good receiver, who is the best athlete we have seen.  So, they are a really good football team, well coached.  We came out pretty sloppy offensively.  We had five possessions in the first half, three turnovers and two touchdowns, so it was kind of ourselves beating ourselves, so we have to do better, clean that up, going into this week.  The good thing is the way we have been playing well at the end of the season we really haven’t had to play a game in the second half, especially into the fourth quarter, so for us to handle a little adversity and be battle tested down the stretch is a good thing for us and hopefully it will help us down the road here,” said Mahaney.

          Shelby has gotten Marek Albert, one of the best defensive linemen in the area, back from a broken collarbone and Mahaney says he is a difference maker.  “Marek played his butt off, there is no doubt about that.  You could see it from the first snap all of the way to the end.  He was able to get into the backfield and wreak havoc and keep their quarterback under pressure all night.  The biggest play of the game when we got a strip sack in the end zone and were able to recover it and go up two scores and kind of put the game away.  Marek blows up two offensive linemen and a back and frees up Nate Zehner coming on the backside and he strips him and Caleb Baker falls on it.  That is the strength and depth of our line.  Marek is really going to help us going forward.  He is a team player and captain and he is somebody we are really happy to have back,” he said.

          Firelands (7-1) rallied to beat Napoleon (21-20) in its second round game last week.  They have three times scored more than 50 points this year and have four shoutouts to their credit.  Their only loss comes (40-14) to unbeaten LaGrange Keystone.

          Mahaney says they are good on both sides of the ball.  “They are a really good football team.  At this point in the regional quarterfinals it is going to be really good teams form here on out, we know that, and we are excited for the opportunity.  Offensively, they have some really good receivers and a good quarterback, good running back, a good offensive line.  They run the ball about 75 percent of the time, so they are going to challenge us that way.  They just have some really good football players, they are well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively, they are really good as well.  They have some really good defensive linemen that fire off and get after the football, their linebackers are aggressive and their db’s cover and lock down receivers.  This is where the normal playoffs would start and this is exactly what this type of game this is.  We are 7-0 and they are 7-1, so it’s going to be a really good football game at Skiles Field on Saturday night.”

          Against a running team like Firelands, Mahaney says it is going to be important for their defense to get off the field and get the ball back to their explosive offense.  “It is going to be a challenge for our defense.  Our defense has done a great job in my opinion week in and week out adjusting to different schemes, whether we play Lucas or Ontario or River Valley or Rossford last week, run versus pass heavy teams.  We have done a great job of adjusting what we do up front and on the back end as well.  So, it’s another challenge for us this week against a team that wants to run the ball, we haven’t seen that since Lucas.  This will be a good week for us, a good challenge.  Our kids are excited to still be playing with all the craziness and especially to still be playing in the playoffs,” said Mahaney.

 

Published 10/20/20

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Norwalk Has Big, Physical, Fast Ashland in Next Round

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          Norwalk, who has now won five playoff football games over the last three years, travels to Ashland to take on the Arrows in a division III regional quarterfinal on Friday night at Community Stadium.

          The Truckers (4-3) spotted Copley an early (10-0) lead before rallying and beating the previously unbeaten Indians (17-10) last week.  Garrison Smith nailed a 57-yard field goal at the end of the first half.  There was no scoring in the second half.

          Coach Todd Fox says he was proud.  “We were very happy with our ability to respond to some adversity there and ended up the right way in the end,” he said.

          Fox says their playoff experience and the rugged Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference help them in clutch situations.  “A lot our juniors and seniors have had seven playoff games in the last couple of years.  It does help and our league helps, the grind of our league helps us too, so a lot of different ingredients,” he said.

          Ashland (6-1) beat Mansfield Senior (35-22) last week in a battle between schools in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Declan Rohr threw four touchdown passes for the Arrows.

          Fox says they have all of the elements of a very good team.  “They are a very good football team.  They have very big up front.  They have a lot of the pieces every coach wants they great size up front, speed and power in the skilled positions, a quarterback that can threaten with the run or the pass, and a running back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They do some great things.  Coach Seder and the offensive and defensive staff on both sides of the ball are doing a lot of great things at Ashland.”

          Ashland has been running the ball more under coach Sean Seder the last couple of years.  Fox says they start with Evan Hartley flanked out wide, but motion him into the backfield.  “They are unique, they still use the empty set, but they motion into the backfield and then have I guess you would call it your traditional set.  They do some unique things that make it interesting for a defense to prepare.  Hartley is a great running back, so we have to be ready for him and Rohr for sure,” said Fox.

          Ashland has been very good on defense, with the exception of the second half of their final game before the playoffs against West Holmes, where they gave up 35 points in the third and fourth quarters.

          Fox says they are big and fast.  “They are huge up front.  Beverly, a linebacker, is a great athlete, a couple sport star there that does some things.  They have speed in the secondary, their players can fill pretty hard.  So, I just think they are confident in what they are doing.  They coaches have done a nice job preparing them to play the game and not think about the game,” he said.

 

Published 10/20/20

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Huron Locks Horns With Clyde

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          Huron, the outright champion of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, plays host to Clyde, of the Lake Division, in a division IV regional quarterfinal game on Saturday night.

          The Tigers (7-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, are unbeaten on the season and coach Sam Hohler says they have a number of kids that have played a lot football at Huron and that has been a big plus for them this year.  “We have 23 seniors on our team, so we have very good leadership and overall team experience.  So, a lot of our guys are two and three year players.  That has been really beneficial for us all year,” said Hohler.

          Huron leads the Bay Division in points scored and fewest points allowed this season.  Quarterback Cole Parker has thrown 15 TD passes and he has run for eight more for the Tigers.

          Last Saturday, Huron destroyed Bryan (44-22) in a game that frankly wasn’t that close.  Hohler says they were ready to play.  “We had a great start and were up 37-0 at halftime.  We had the bye week the previous week and had a few guys that had some bumps and bruises get healthy.  We had a great week of practice in preparation.  We were really firing on all cylinders to start the game,” he said.

          Clyde (5-3), who is second in the Lake Division in passing this season, 20 yards behind Perkins, instead ran the ball for ran the ball for more than 300 yards in a (28-15) win at Wauseon on Saturday, Michael Daniels carried it 47 times for 312 yards and three scores for the Fliers.

          Hohler says they are very much aware for the Fliers and their talented kids.  “We have scrimmaged Clyde the last few years and we are very familiar with one another.  We are old Sandusky Bay Conference rivals.  Obviously, what they did last year making a terrific run for the D-4 state title was unbelievable.  They have a great coaching staff.  They have kids that really buy into their program.  They have worked on some things throughout the season.  They play a very tough schedule.  For them to be able to run the ball like they did was very impressive against Wauseon.  For us, we will definitely have our hands full on Saturday night.” said Hohler.

          Huron has returned three kicks, two of them on punts, for scores this season and Hohler hopes they can make their special teams a factor on Saturday night.  “The first thing we have got to do is not turn the ball over and give them extra opportunities.  They are very balanced on offense.  They play terrific defense, so we can’t afford to give them the ball because they will just keep it from us all night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The other area we hope we have an advantage is special teams.  We have a terrific punter and kicker this year, coverage teams and return teams.  So, we are hoping that will be an advantage for us.”

 

Published 10/20/20

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Crestview Travels to Elgin for Regular Season Game

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          Crestview, after a playoff loss to Carey on Saturday night, travels to Marion Elgin for a regular season non conference game on Friday night.

          Carey scored a couple times early and led (29-7) at halftime on Saturday and went on to win (42-14) in the division VI second round game.

          The loss broke a Cougar (6-2) five game winning streak.  Coach Steve Haverdill shoulders the blame for the loss.  He says he did not have his team prepared to play at a high level.  “We knew we couldn’t make mistakes and things like that.  I didn’t do a very good job of getting our team prepared mentally and physically for that game.  That goes strictly on my shoulders and we did not go out and play good Crestview football that night,” said Haverdill.

          Now, 2020 is the first football season ever where teams have the option to return to regular season play after the playoffs and almost everyone is doing just that.

          Haverdill says there could be an emotional letdown and it’s the job of the coaching staff to prevent that from happening.  “That is our job to make sure these kids are ready to go every time we step on the football field, so we are looking forward to that challenge.  This week presents a new challenge for us and we are excited to be able to go out and play football,” he said.

          Elgin (5-3) lost a division VI playoff game as well on Saturday night, falling (63-20) to Barnesville.  The Comets can score points, four times this season they have put more than 50 on the board, including a (52-42) win over Fredericktown in their playoff opener.

          Haverdill says Elgin can clearly light up the scoreboard.  “They score a lot of points.  They will give you a bunch of different formations.  They like to run the ball.  They will throw it when they need to,” he told Swankopnsports.com on Monday afternoon, “Defensively, we have our hands full and we have to make sure we are disciplined and make sure we are tackling.  They do a nice job of breaking tackles.  It’s an exciting one for us to get ready for.”

          It is a homecoming of sorts for Haverdill, who was an assistant at Elgin and coached the Comets head coach Zach Winslow.  “I was defensive coordinator there back in the mid-2000’s.  In ’05 went to the playoffs and lost to Huron.  (Elgin coach) Zach (Winslow) was actually my nose guard on that defensive unit that we had in ’05.  It’s nice to go back to the old stomping grounds sometimes,” said Haverdill.

          Speaking of playing games after the playoffs.  Monroeville has no interest in doing so and is packing up equipment.  Eagles coach Scott Stacker was quoted in Saturday’s edition of the Norwalk Reflector “To play extra games that are meaningless… why risk getting kids hurt?  It is the craziest thing I have ever heard.  It’s dumb.”  Crestview has told Swankonsports.com they very much want to play Monroeville.  Right now, Crestview, Monroeville and Norwalk St. Paul all have one loss in conference play.  A game against Crestview would certainly seem to be meaningful since it would affect the final standings in the conference.

          In a note, the Crestview board of Education Monday night moved to hire John Kurtz as their head boys’ basketball coach.  It his second stint at Crestview.  He coached the Cougars between 2009 and 2011 and was (32-34), including 16-6 in 2011.

 

Published 10/20/20

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East Knox Faces Aggressive Shadyside in Playoffs

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          East Knox went all of the way to the state semis last year and even after losing a lot to graduation they are enjoying another fine season as they host Shadyside in the division VII regional quarterfinals on Friday night.

          They scored three times in the second half last week to down Toronto (20-6) in a second round game.

          Coach Cody Reese says they have been an excellent second half team, but he would like to be more of a four quarter team.  “We would like to come out in the first half and get some things accomplished as well, it’s certainly not by choice, but the boys have been overcoming adversity and working hard.  It seems like the second half they decide to play, which is great overcoming that adversity.  They just never give up, they just keep playing hard, but as time goes on we are going to face a good team and we won’t be able to do that and we need to play four full quarters of football.  They are being tenacious and resilient and really proud of that aspect of them,” said Reese.

          The Bulldogs (6-1) have only allowed one score in each of their last three games and Reese says their defense is becoming more confident as they season goes on.  “The boys are getting after it and having a lot of fun and they are just taking ownership on the defensive side.  Honestly, the last two weeks that is what has kept us in these ballgames.  Thankfully, last week we were able to get a little breathing room there in the fourth quarter, we haven’t had much experience with that the last couple games, so that two score lead is as much as we have had and it was enjoyable there at the end,” he said.

          Shadyside (4-3) beat Frontier (48-14) last week to advance.  The Tigers are not new to the playoffs.  This is their 22nd appearance and their 20th in a row.

          Reese says they are a team with a multi tool quarterback and an aggressive defense.  “They are a solid team.  They play hard and just get after it.  Offensively, they have a quarterback that is a good runner and a good thrower, he is a dual threat.  They have good receivers to throw to.  Their offensive line is solid and gets after it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Defensively, they are an up in your face kind of team.  They like to be aggressive, they like to bring it to you and they like to play a lot of man coverage on the back end of their defense.  They are a tradition rich program and you can definitely see why.  They know what it takes to get the “W” and they are willing to do that.  It is going to be a tough challenge for us this week.”

          With Shadyside playing a lot of man to man defense, Reese says the Bulldogs have to win some of those one on one matchups, something they really haven’t been doing.  “That is something we have been talking about, do your 1/11th and make plays.  One on one we haven’t done a great job with that the last few weeks and definitely we are going to have to step up on that, especially now that we are playing these good teams.  When we get those one on one matchups if you can win that, good things are going to happen,” he said.

 

Published 10/20/20

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South Central Heads for Fredericktown

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          We are having some unique matchups in these regular season games among teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs and one of those has South Central, of the Firelands Conference, at Fredericktown, of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, on Friday night.

          The Trojans (1-7) won their first game of the season in their playoff opener in beating Fairport Harbor Harding (41-7) and last week were in position to upset unbeaten Malvern before falling (35-26) in a second round game in division VII.

          Coach Corey Fickiesen says they had every chance in the world to win that game, but came up a little short.  “At one point there in the third quarter we were up 20-7.  We had an opportunity right before half to score and we didn’t get it done there and then we gave them a little bit of momentum, but I was proud of our effort.  We talked Saturday when we were in that we belong in that spot,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We belong in the second round of the playoffs and honestly we feel like we could easily be playing this week.  Hats off to them they made a couple of more plays than we did in the second half.  So, our kids played hard.  It is upsetting and it has been bubbling still all weekend.  It was a tough one to swallow, but we have to move on and get ready for the next one, especially for our seniors.”

          Fredericktown (2-6) blasted winless Utica (55-27) last week in a non-conference regular season game.

          Fickiesen recognizes Fredericktown’s excellent football folklore.  “Traditionally they have a good program and that is why we wanted to schedule them.  It kind of has that playoff feel.  A team that you are not really familiar with.  You have to travel a little bit.  We wanted to keep it like that just for experience for our kids for our seniors, but for our underclassmen as well to get some extra experience for them,” said Fickiesen.

          It is a chance to play another football game, and after all that’s what we are in this game to do play football games, and Fickiesen says they are looking forward to the opportunity.  “We get another opportunity to go play football with each other and that’s what we keep talking about.  As long as we are able to do it, that’s what we are going to do,” he said.

 

Published 10/20/20

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Columbian Takes on Physical Revere in Regional Quarterfinal

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          Tiffin Columbian will host Richfield Revere in a regional quarterfinal game in division III on Friday night.

          Columbian (6-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, hammered Norton (45-13) in a second round game last Friday.

          Coach Judd Lutz feels they came out with some intensity and kept putting the pressure on Norton.  “I thought our kids played with great intensity, really urgent.  There were times we could have got frustrated, could have slowed down and taken a step back, but I thought every kid kept the pedal down and played with tremendous urgency when they were out there.  They executed at a really high level when we put in the film for even having a week off.  Obviously, there is stuff to fix.  You are going to make mistakes when you are playing at a high level with a lot of speed or trying to at least, but at the same point do a lot of things pretty well,” he said.

          Tiffin has put together three outstanding regular seasons in a row, sharing the “SBC” Lake Division title last year and finishing second this year, but last week was their first playoff win since 2013, losing to Holy Name last year and Lexington the year before in regional quarterfinals.

          Lutz says it’s time to take it to another level.  “That is the direction we want to take the program.  I am not going to be bashful or shy about it we are trying to build one of the most dynamic programs in the state, that’s the goal, and a long term goal for sure.  Obviously, we have to have a great week, this week and prepare for a very good opponent in Revere.  Continue to stack good days on good days and wins postseason wise on each other.  You can only do that one day at a time,” said Lutz.

          Revere (4-2) blanked Medina Buckeye (27-0) in their second round game last week.  It was their third shutout this season. 

          Lutz says the Minutemen are physical on offense and very stingy on defense.  “They are a physical team.  They have some big guys up front on the line.  They have a young man going to Ohio State, who definitely pops off the screen, not just with his size, but plays with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and an edge.  He gets off the ball on both sides and throws guys around.  He is not just a big body out there, he is also very dynamic and has great foot work and can be a game wrecker if you allow him to be.  They have some great players around him, it is not a one man band.  They seem to fall into what there niche the last couple of weeks, which has been the power run game on offense and take their shots when they are there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “They are playing really good defense.  They play a couple of different coverages, really keep you guessing, bring some different blitzes at times.  It is really hard to pinpoint when they will do what they will do and they have had a lot of success doing it they have only given up just over a touchdown a game.  It is going to be a great challenge to go out and hopefully get a win.”

          Lake Division champion Bellevue is the only team to have beaten the Tornadoes this year and that came (20-13) a month ago.

          Lutz says Revere compares to them a little bit, but there are a lot of differences too.  “I would say there is a little similarity there, they are really physical on the offensive end of it.  They want to run the ball first and everything comes off of that.  They should, they have some size up front.  They don’t run the quarterback as much as the arch rival “B” team does.  Defensively, the Redmen were more of a base defense.  You know where they were going to be and what they were going to do. but execute at a really high level, these guys you have an idea, but really it’s like one of four or five things at any time.  So, you have a good idea of what they do, but at the same time it could be one of five things and it changes your responsibilities a little bit.  You can’t go in with a crazy organic game plan and expect to execute at a high level against something like that, we’ll see,” said Lutz.

 

Published 10/19/20

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Lucas Faces Familiar Foe in Cuyahoga Heights

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          Lucas will at home for the first time this year as they entertain Cuyahoga Heights, a school they beat in the regional final last year, in a second round playoff game in division VII on Friday night.

          Lucas (4-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, the second seed in the region, earned and took a bye last week.

          Coach Scott Spitler says they accomplished some important things in the process.  “I thought our kids handled it well.  We took the opportunity to go back and handle the week practice wise similar to what we would be doing in early August and doing a lot of focusing on fundamentals just trying to tighten up little things there that we felt we needed to, clean up, and get better at, and to improve our execution in all three phases.  We were also able to give the kids a little time off here and there strategically as well as get healed up.  I think as far as the body and the mindset and being able to have some extra time to look at some things that we wanted to get better at without having to prepare for a team I thought the week went really well for our guys,” said Spitler.

          Spitler says his kids are excited to finally be at home at Bob Wine Field on Friday night.  “You can tell that the kids have a little extra spring in their step with idea of being home this week, especially our seniors.  They have not had an opportunity to have a game in the stadium this season.  We were all kind of wondering if we would get that opportunity and we are fortunate enough with our seeding and everything to get to play at home.  It’s going to be nice and it’s just a special place to play, especially in the fall on a Friday night and we are excited about being at home,” he said.

          The Redskins (2-4) beat Mapleton, of the Firelands Conference, (35-20) in a first round game last Friday.

          Lucas beat Cuyahoga Heights (21-13) in the regional finals last year.

          Spitler says they personnel is different, but both teams have the same approach to the game.  “They really haven’t gone away from what they hang their hat on.  Coach Martin is a very established, successful coach, that believes in the triple option and they are still doing that.  They do a nice job of mixing in some spread attack passing game wise.  They are extremely efficient running the triple option and the option game is something that requires the defense to be very disciplined be assignment sound,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Neither team is the same team that we were in the regional championship game last year due to graduation and stuff.  The thing that doesn’t change is you have two teams that want to control the line of scrimmage and run the football.  What they do offensively just really stresses your discipline as a defense.”

          On defense, coaches want their players to be aggressive and fly to the ball, but in this case, against this offense, Spitler says you can be too aggressive.  “That is the thing about the option if you get too aggressive one step too far one way or the other you open that crease to the fullback in the midline in the veer or the quarterback keeping it around the end  or the pitch in the option game.  So, you just rely on your kids being focused on doing their 1/11th  on very play to the best of their ability and be able to count on the guy next to them to do their 1/11th.  You don’t want to curb that excitement that attack mentality, but that is why the option is as deadly as it is uses those types of things against you if you aren’t disciplined,” said Spitler.

 

Published 10/16/20

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Crestview Tangles With Carey

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Steve Haverdill

 

          In what has the potential of being one of the better matchups this week around here, Crestview travels to Carey to lock horns with the Blue Devils in a second round game in division VI on Saturday night.

          Crestview has won its last five and Carey owns a six game winning streak.  They have played each other in the regular season twice in recent years with Crestview winning (3-0) last year and Carey winning (24-7) in 2018.

          Last week, Crestview (6-1) blew out winless Evergreen (49-0) in a round one game and like has been the story for the last month, the Cougars got off to a good start scoring five times in the first half.

          Coach Steve Haverdill says that start was key.  “We wanted to get out to a quick start.  We felt that they were a pretty good football team just with their conference and the teams that they played, four state ranked teams in their conference, so we wanted to make sure we got out early not let them think they had a chance in that football game.  We were able to do that and both sides of the ball played really well early on and we carried that momentum the rest of the game,” he said.

          Carey (6-1) destroyed Montpelier (63-0) last week in round one.  The only time they have been challenged in the last month was a (31-23) win over Wynford in “N10” play two weeks ago.

          Haverdill says the Blue Devils are the whole package.  “They are a very good football team.  They are big, they are skilled, they do a lot good things on both sides of the ball, special teams.  We saw them last year week three and they were young last year and they got better every week making the playoffs and making a nice run there at the end and losing to East Knox in the regional finals.  So, we know we have our work cut out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We have to win the line of scrimmage battle as big as they are, we can’t let them push us around.  We have to win the turnover battle and make no mistakes.  If we can do that, then I think we can be in the game in the fourth quarter to get a win, if we make those mistakes we can be in trouble.”

          Carey averages 43 points a game and 55 over its last five games.  Haverdill says they do a lot of different things offensively that they have to be ready for on defense.  “They just about everything you could possibly think of.  They will be in double tight Maryland “I”, they will be in double tight with a wing, then they will be in a spread three by one, so they mix it around.  You have to be very disciplined to understand what you are getting.  They don’t change personnel at all, so the same guys for most part are running those different personnel packages, so there are no real tips about what formation they are going to be in.  We have to be prepared for it all,” he said.

          Carey has also produced a lot scores from their defense and special teams.  Haverdill says they have to be mistake free on offense.  “We can’t make mistakes.  We have played these guys the last years and we have scored a total of 10 points.  Luckily, we came out and were 1-1 against them.  So, we have struggled to score points against these guys and that’s because they are very good defensively, are athletic, and move around and they are aggressive.  We have to make sure we take care of the football.  We have to be patient and take what they give us.  Hopefully, we keep the offense going from what it has been in the past.  If we can do that, then we should be okay,” said Haverdill.

 

Published 10/16/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Colonel Crawford Has to Contain the Big Play

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ryan Teglovic

 

          Colonel Crawford is unbeaten and the champion of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference and they play host to Seneca East, a member of the same league, in a second round playoff game in division VI on Saturday night in North Robinson.

          Now, this gets complicated here.  The Eagles (6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, and Tigers didn’t play a regular season game due to the reduced schedule, however, this a playoff game, and can not be counted in those standings.

          With the second seed in the region, Colonel Crawford had a bye last week and did not play.  Coach Ryan Teglovic says he is not a fan of the bye, but it was something they dealt with.  “It was different, yeah, I’m not sure I’m a fan of it, but it was something that we had to do, so we practiced.  We gave the kids a little bit of a lightened load practice wise, but we met all five nights last week.  We got some things accomplished, I didn’t feel like it was a great week overall, but I feel like this week has been much better, the focus is good, and I feel like this week we have had a good week of practice,” he said.

          Seneca East (4-3) produced a fourth quarter rally to beat Delta (32-28) in a first round game last week.

          Teglovic says they are more healthy and they have been improved as a football team over the last couple of weeks.  “It is the one team in our league that we haven’t played.  It is not something that we have experienced before, but now we are going to get a chance to play each other here in the second round of the playoffs.  I feel like they are playing their best football of the year.  They have got an offensive lineman back and they have got the Foos kid back a couple of weeks ago, feel like he is playing good football.  They had a nice game last week against Delta.  So, we are going to have our hands full,” said Teglovic.

          There are going to be a couple of pretty good running backs in this game as Colonel Crawford’s Tristan Cross leads the conference is rushing, while Jesse Beckman of Seneca East is second.

          Teglovic says it is there job to contain Beckman.  “They spread the field and do a lot of different stuff, but it comes down to you have to stop their athletes, you have to stop big plays, #21 the Beckman kid is the second leading rusher in the league.  He has good speed.  We have done a pretty good job this year of corralling backs at the line of scrimmage and not letting them get their shoulders downhill.  We have to make sure we do that with this guy and not let him get out in the open,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We have to limit the big plays in the passing game, they have some weapons there too.  The Hargis kid has had a good first year at quarterback.  The Bischoff kid #20 is right there with the league leaders in regards to receptions.  They have some big play guys.  We have to make them work, make them drive, and take away the big play.”

          The Tigers had allowed some points in the middle of the season, but Teglovic says they are clearly improved on that side of the ball.  “I think the addition of Foos coming back has certainly helped them.  Anytime you get a 220 pound linebacker that can run a little bit back in your lineup you are automatically going to be a little better defensively.  #72 the Snook kid is one of the best linebackers in the league.  He is 250 plus and can move.  He has been playing there, he is a three year starter and he is only a junior.  Being a three year starter on team that has had a lot of success over the last four, five years, says something,” he said.

 

Published 10/16/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Clyde Plays Talented Wauseon in Second Round

 

          Clyde, the defending division IV state champion, plays a second round playoff game on Saturday night at Wauseon against the Indians.

          Last week, the Fliers (4-3) scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and five in the first half on their way to a (42-6) shellacking of Lorain Brookside in a first round game.

          Coach Ryan Carter says they could breath a little easier for once.  “I was pleased with the way we came out and started that football game.  We have played in some tight games and it was nice to have a game where we got off to a comfortable lead and were able to play a lot of people in the playoff game and have a home playoff game.  It is always a goal of ours to play at home in that first round and we were able to do that this year,” he said.

          Jaden Cook, who led the “SBC” Lake in passing yards. threw for 133 and three TD’s last week.

          Wauseon (5-1) comes in with an impressive body of work, including wins over Liberty Center (30-16) and Patrick Henry (51-7), their only loss coming in their last regular season game before the playoffs against rival Archbold (36-35) two weeks ago.

          Carter says they compare to anyone they have seen this season.  “They are about as good as we have seen.  They have very, very good athletes all over the field starting with their quarterback, who was a wide receiver last year.  He had almost 300 yards as a receiver receiving last year.  He really runs around and makes plays.  They have other wide receivers that are very, very talented.  They have some big up front people,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “They are extremely talented.  They play very well.  They lost one game by one-point to their rival Archbold.  They are about as talented as we have seen.  They are pretty good on both sides of the ball, especially at home on their grass field we have our work cut out for us.”

          When you have a mobile quarterback that can throw on the run, Carter says that really stretches your defense.  “It is a very tough situation and you can be in the right places and have very good coverage and have good pressure on him and he can run around and make plays.  He slings it from every angle and throws it into tight windows.  He is really good.  We have our work cut out for us, we know that, but we are looking forward to playing in the second round and try and go up there and get something done,” said Carter.

          Clyde has three losses, but they have led every game they have played in the second half against a tremendous schedule.  The Fliers are number one in the Lake division in offense this season and number two defense.

          Carter says they going to go to Wauseon with all guns blazing.  “We have told out kids, they have to be able handle us as well.  We have some very good athletes.  We have some good kids that can get things done on both sides of the ball.  We are going to go up there with every bullet we have and give it all we have and we will see where it falls in the end,” he said.

 

Published 10/16/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Unbeaten Norwayne Starts Playoffs With Mineral Ridge

 

          Norwayne, the Wayne County Athletic League leader, opens up the non-postseason playoff potion of their schedule, at home on Saturday night against Mineral Ridge in a second round game in division VI.

          Like many teams in Ohio, the Bobcats earned a first round bye and did not play a game last week.

          Coach Adam Indorf says they did scrimmage and also took some time to mentally recharge the batteries a little bit.  “I thought it was good.  We tried to utilize it in a productive manner.  We got a scrimmage in so we got some our young guys, or key backups, a lot of reps in that scrimmage, live action, and keep everybody sharpened up a bit without having a full game and risking injury.  I thought it was good.  We also got some time off on the weekend to get a little mental recharge going into this week as we head into the playoffs, especially playing on Saturday you have a little bit longer week to get that mental recharge and move forward here,” said Indorf.

          Mineral Ridge (4-3) beat Wellington (40-8) in a first round game last Saturday.  The Rams have won their last three games.

          Indorf says they are fast on both sides of the ball.  He says they have to control the line of scrimmage.  “They have a lot of skilled guys, a lot of athletes.  Shakir Perkins runs really hard, really athletic kid, out of the backfield.  Mark Bunch throws a nice ball, he’s a lefty, so that is a little different for us at quarterback.  He has some good targets on the edge that are athletic and can run,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “Defensively, they are going to move and stunt up front. Those athletes definitely come downhill.  The old adage we have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball focusing on coming out quick with a lot of energy and try and take it to them and be physical with them.  Hopefully, that’s our ticket to the ballgame.”

          With a team that stunts a lot of the line of scrimmage, Indorf says they have to have a lot of communication and they have to play hard.  “Those linemen need to know exactly what’s going on.  Trust their steps, trust their footwork.  If all else fails, you just need to get at them and run downhill on them,” he said.

 

Published 10/16/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Improved Lexington Ready for Clear Fork

 

          Lexington, playing some better football, heads for Clear Fork to take on the Colts in a regular season non-conference game on Friday night.

          The Minutemen (1-6) beat Madison (28-7) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game two weeks ago and led Rocky River (7-5) at halftime in a division III playoff game last week before losing (29-7) in the first round game.

          Coach Tim Scheid says they played well last week.  “I was really happy with our kids improvement since the beginning of the year and all of the adversity we have had to face to get to that week seven playoff game and go up against a team that I’m not sure many people would have given us any kind of a shot to even be in the lead in any part of the game.  To be in the lead of that game at halftime showed a great determination and improvement that the kids have put into this program and to the team this year.  The second half didn’t come out the way we wanted it to.  That is something of being young and learning how to finish off games and finish off teams that you are not expected to is another level of development our kids need to get to, and will, with more experience,” said Scheid.

          Clear Fork (2-5) lost a back and forth game to Edison (35-28) in the first round of the division IV playoffs last Saturday.

          Scheid says the Colts are improved too and he credits Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll and his staff.  “They are kind of in the same boat as us when you look at them being a young team and the improvement that they have made from the beginning to now has really been eyepopping to me watching them on film and how far they have come.  Coach Carroll every year is able to squeeze out all of the ability and motivation to get those kids moving and improve by the end of the year.  I see that in this Clear Fork team that we are facing.  They present challenges, they are always well coached and well disciplined,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Coach Carroll has them running on a level that not too many teams that we face bring to us.  Getting them prepared for the teams they face he brings something unique that you have to be ready for.  We have been practicing and preparing for as many different looks as possible.  Hopefully, we get it right and have been practicing the right ones.  I have been facing his offenses for years and a lot of times you hit that game and you see something you have never seen before and you have to really improvise on the spot to just make sure the kids are entering the game fundamentally knowing what they have to do.”

          Last week Brady Tedrow ran for more than 250 yards against Edison and Scheid says the Colts are a run first team.  “They have a very heavy run tendency and everyone is aware of that.  They use that to their advantage and they pick their spots to hit you with play action.  While you gear up to stop that run you have to make sure that those kids that are responsible for the pass aren’t being lulled asleep so much on the running game.  The running game is their bread and butter and you have to stop that,” he said.

 

Published 10/16/20

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Keep up to the minute on Friday night scores

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Mansfield Senior Plays Ashland a Second Time

 

          Mansfield Senior meets Ashland for a second time this fall, this time Friday night in the second round of the division III playoffs at Community Stadium in Ashland.

          It is not the first time the Tygers have played someone in their own league in the playoffs.  That would have been in 2000, when the Tygers were part of the Ohio Heartland Conference and beat Marion Harding in a regular season game, but lost to them in the playoffs.

          Last week, Mansfield Senior (3-4) edged Sylvania Southview (7-3) in a first round game.

          Defensive coordinator Sean Adams says they played some outstanding defense last week.  “We got it done.  It wasn’t flashy and it wasn’t high scoring.  I think it was good for us and as a defensive guy I like watching guys fly around and tackle and hit and have fun and get interceptions and get off blocks.  All of those things that make you a great defensive player.  It was good for our kids to be able to gut out a win.  We faced a boatload of adversity.  We didn’t have coach Bradley for two weeks, then we didn’t have our quarterback last week, and we found a way to win.  I think that is important for our kids to be able to do, not only in football, but in life,” he said.

          Brock Hill did not play last week due to what has been described as eligibility issues.

          Ashland won the regular season game played on September 18, (13-6) also at Community Stadium.  Arrows running back Ethan Hartley ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

          Adams thinks the Tygers are a lot better now than they were then.  “I don’t know what they are going to do.  I know that we still have lots and lots of room for improvement and those are the things we are trying to take care of this week is to get better offensively and defensively and take care of ourselves and we will deal with what they throw at us on Friday night.  Our kids will be prepared,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It is just a matter of making sure we take care of business.  I was watching film on Sunday and at least defensively I feel like our guys are just improved immensely, even since a month ago against a very good Ashland team.  We are just going to continue to do the little things that we need to do to improve and we will see what happens Friday night.”

          On Monday, Ashland coach Sean Seder said they planned to open their offense a little more than they did in the first meeting.

          Adams says they must be ready for whatever the Arrows bring to the table on Friday night.  “There are two ways to score, you throw it or you run it and we have to be able to defend both.  I really like the quarterback, he kind of torched us the last time that we played them throwing the football the last time and Hartley was able to get a few good runs.  They have a big, physical offensive line.  I don’t understand why they would do anything different, you rely on those big guys up front and Hartley and try and get some passes down the field to some very good receivers,” he said.

 

Published 10/15/20

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Shelby Hosts High Scoring Rossford

 

          Unbeaten Shelby makes its playoff debut on Saturday night when they host Rossford in a second round game in division IV at Skiles Field.

          The Whippets (6-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, are the second seed in the region and received a bye in the first round.

          Coach Robert Mahaney says they were able to polish some things and maybe more importantly continue to get healthy.  “I thought it went pretty well.  Our big challenge as a coaching staff was we wanted to find ways to mentally push our kids to get better.  We have done a good job all year of getting better, so we wanted to continue to do that.  Our kids did a good job of responding to what we asked them to do.  Sometimes lost in the grind of the season, you are so worried about the opponent and what they do, you kind of lose time or lose track of working on things that you need to work on.  Some things with individual position groups and different things that you can work on and we were able to do that.  The big thing for us to is we were able to rest up and get healthy, get everybody back, and we are excited to start the playoffs this week,” said Mahaney.

          Rossford beat Wooster Triway (44-34) in a seesaw first round game last Saturday.

          Mahaney says they have a lot of weapons on offense.  “I think Rossford is a really, really good football team.  They have a quarterback that is a sophomore that has a super strong arm and makes a lot of throws.  We have seen him throw it 55 yards in the air.  They have two really good outside receivers, a really big offensive line.  Their one receiver last week had eight catches for 260 yards and five touchdowns in a first round playoff game.  So, we have go, to be ready for him, he is a good football player,” said Mahaney.

          On the defensive side of the ball, Mahaney says the Bulldogs have the best defensive line he has seen all year.  “Defensively, they are big up front, in my option probably the best D-line we have played all year, so we are going to have our hands full up front.  They like to stunt and blitz as well, so it’s going to be a challenge for us trusting our gaps, trusting our responsibilities and keeping our eyes up.  They play man coverage and challenge your receivers a lot, so we have to be able to win on the outside.  Like I said, the are a really good football team and I think Saturday will be a really good football game,” he said.

          Rossford has shown the ability put up some points and score quickly with that passing attack and Mahaney says that puts stress on them on both sides of the ball.  “When you play a really strong offense obviously this first thing you want to do is get your defense prepared to play as well as they can.  That is something we have been lucky to do each week this six week season we have done a good job defensively kind of limiting what an offense wants to do and try to force them to do something else.  It will be a good challenge for us this week.  It’s a really high scoring offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “It is going to put pressure on our offense.  They are such a good offensive football team we have to make sure when we have a chance to score, we do it.  Make sure we take care of our possessions and don’t give them a short field or don’t give them too many possessions.  We have to do everything we can offensively to go out there and execute and play together and do what we need to do.”

 

Published 10/15/20

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Old Rivals Clear Fork and Lexington Meet Friday

 

          If you lose in the playoffs in this crazy season it might lead to a bit of a letdown in your next game unless you are playing your biggest rival and that is the case with Clear Fork.

          The Colts (2-5) host Lexington (1-6) in a regular season non-conference game on Friday night.

          Last Saturday, Clear Fork lost a back and forth game in the division IV playoffs (35-28) to Edison.

          Coach Dave Carroll feels as if his team played some pretty good football against an outstanding team.  “If you are a fan it was an incredibly entertaining game.  Again, I am proud of our kids because it shows you that in spite of our record, in spite of the adversity that we have faced, these kids are still working hard and playing hard and getting better.  We played a good football team that was 4-2 at the time and runs an offense that is very unique and difficult to stop and with a really good fullback with that veer option.  Our kids gave an unbelievable performance.  It was one of those games where you say we didn’t lose, we just kind of ran out of time,” he said.

          Clear Fork held a (28-21) lead late in the third quarter of the game.  Carroll says their offense played a very good game led by their offensive line and tailback Brady Tedrow.  “One the highlights, and this goes to our offensive line, and our wingbacks that blocked, our tailback, Brady Tedrow had 253 yards, which in my stats, my records, that I have been accumulating for Clear Fork football through the years, that is the fourth best performance all time of a Clear Fork runner.  For a team that is 2-5 that is pretty impressive to be able to do.  We had over 400 yards.  We haven’t had a ton of points and yards and you have a 4-2 team and you are out gaining them, that’s getting pretty good.  So, I’m proud of our kids they are fighting and getting better each week.  It was just a tough opponent and we knew it was going to be one of those games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “We thought it would be more like the Lucas game was, even the Galion game, be more lower scoring type affair.  Both of use did a really good job offensively, neither of us were happy I don’t think with our defense.  We were pounding the ball on them all night, had some nice pass plays on them as well, and had a couple of other opportunities that we didn’t cash in on as well.  It was just a heck of the football game between two teams that fought their hearts out.”

          Carroll says there are some similarities between the two rivals, the most obvious is the youth on both rosters this year.  “We saw Lexington on film way back at the beginning of the season with their scrimmage against Lucas and I can tell you this coach Scheid and his staff have done a good job because they are an incredibly improved team and hopefully he is saying the same thing, he probably saw us against Madison, that he is saying the same thing about us.  They have a lot of young kids playing like we do.  I am pretty sure their center is a freshman.  I think there is another young man that is a freshman that sees a little bit of time and they have some sophomores.  Now, we don’t have any freshmen, but we have a bunch of sophomores playing and other inexperienced kids,” he told Swankonsports.com, “To me, being an old dude, I am not trying to pat myself on the back, I am trying to pat coach Scheid on the back, when you have been around the game long enough and you are dealt that hand, that is the hand you have.  You have the players you have, not like the NFL, where you draft kids or Ohio State where you recruit the world.  We have the kids that we have, and God bless them, they work hard, they try hard, they are good kids.  When you have a lot of younger kids playing, you want to win, everybody wants to win, the objective you have to bring them along and get them better, keep them involved where they want to continue to play week after week and day after day at practice and you hope that better times are ahead.  I see that with Lexington, they have done a very good job of improving their football team and I think we have done the same thing.”

          Having a regular season game after a playoff loss is a first time event this year for football programs.  Carroll says they not treating this game as a scrimmage or anything other than game where there are winners and losers.  “I think it is going to be a heck of a game.  It goes back to our days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and then the Lexington-Clear Fork rivalry is one of the most intense rivalries in this area.  So, it’s going to be a lot of fun.  I have heard people say, are you taking this serious?  I am not even sure what that question means.  I take playing a game of checkers serious.  If we are going to lineup and play football, it doesn’t matter, COVID or no COVID, playoffs are over, it’s a football game against our rival.  This is just like any other game any other time and place.  We are taking it really serious and so are our kids and I’m sure Lexington is too.  We are pretty pumped up, we can’t wait,” said Carroll.

 

Published 10/15/20

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Wooster Has to do Fundamental Things

 

          Wooster, at least the co-champion of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, will host Olentangy Berlin in a second round playoff game in division II on Friday night.

          The Generals (6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, ran the table in their regular season games before the playoffs and then had an off week last week.

          Coach Doug Haas says they got some things out of the experience.  “It certainly is unique.  Coming from the college ranks I had experienced it before, but that was 18 years ago.  Times have certainly changed.  It was a good week for us.  It allowed us to simply focus on us and getting better at what we do really in all three phases of the game.  We didn’t divert really from a standard kind of week albeit we did do a scrimmage on Thursday rather than a simulated game on Friday and allow for the kids to have some extra time off on Friday and Saturday to get both physically and mentally refreshed.  So far, I think it proved to be positive in the sense that our kids came back hungry at the beginning of the week ready to practice and have had great focus and that is certainly what you need when you are talking about playoff football,” said Haas.

          Berlin (4-3) has won four its last five, including a (47-7) thumping of Whitehall-Yearling in a first round game last Friday.

          Haas says they have been tested and play with a lot of enthusiasm.  “They are a good football team.  They play in a really challenging conference in that Ohio Capital Conference, there is a gazillion different divisions of that.  They play a pretty demanding schedule and have held their own.  It’s a young program in that this is just their second year.  This year’s senior class I believe will be the first senior class to graduate from the high school.  You can see that excitement still there and they are playing really well.  We had the opportunity to go down and watch them on Friday night and just kind of gage how big they are and how fast they are and those types of things.  Coach Nori is doing a great job building that program up.  A very, very solid football team and we are going to have to play very well to be successful,” said Haas.

          When it comes to strategy, Haas thinks the Bears are going to try and be physical and run the football and limiting mistakes is going to be a key factor.  “They are big up front on the offensive side of the ball, so I think they want to run the ball first and foremost.  They have a talented running back.  They are old school in the fact that they use a fullback.  They have some good players and a pretty talented quarterback.  They put you in a bind and do a lot of that run-pass option, so it can be a real challenge,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “Defensively, they are not flashy, they are going to play a 3-3, 3-5, and they are going to make you be right.  They are going to make you execute all of the way down the field, so it’s going to be hard to get shots over the top on them.  So, we are going to have to be patient.  We are going to have to be efficient.  In a game like this I think it can boil down to field position and turnovers.  That has always kind have been the M.O. of playoff football.  Those are things that we have to make sure that we excel at doing.”

 

Published 10/15/20

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Monroeville Hosts Independence in Playoff Opener

 

          Monroeville, the co-leader in the Firelands Conference, kickoffs the non-postseason playoffs with a home game Friday night against Independence in the second round of the division VII playoffs.

          Last week, neither team played, as they both had byes.

          Eagles coach Scott Stacher says he has never had to deal with such a thing before and they did some different things to keep the kids loose, but still focused on the task at hand.  “It was very weird.  Never had a bye week in all of my coaching days, playing days as well, a weird gig.  We focused a lot on getting back to fundamentals.  Did a lot of fundamental drills like we did in camp and two a days.  Focused on Independence and some of the things that they did.  We mixed in some fun things, we played a little trash football, played a little kickball, so we got through the week pretty well I think and the kids stayed focused and brought us into this week and focused on Independence,” said Stacher.

          Independence, like Monroeville, is (5-1) on the season.  Their only loss coming to unbeaten Wickliffe.

          Stacher says they have experience on their roster and they are also an athletic team.  “They are a very good football team, they are very solid.  They have a lot of athletes on their team, a lot of them are in that 5’10” to 6’1” range and are 175 to 200 and can move around.  A couple of defensive linemen that are pretty good, a couple of linebackers, the quarterback is decent.  All around a solid team.  They were a playoff team last year, a very senior heavy team, so we have our work cut out for us, but we do have some experience as well with our seniors and look forward to the challenge,” he said.

          Independence likes to run the spread and their approach to the game might be a little like South Central of the Firelands Conference.  However, Stacher says they are certainly a different kind of team than the Eagles are in their makeup.  “I would put them in the same category maybe of a South Central, but no disrespect to South Central, but across the board their players are, maybe not as big on the front line, but skill wise a little bit bigger and a little more athletic, even though South Central is athletic.  It’s the same type of offense there, a spread offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “They play a lot on turf.  They are an odd front defense that blitzes a lot, kind of an opposite of what we are.  They don’t see any team that line up against them like we do and run the ball downhill and playing on grass.  Just some different things, so kind of a contrast of two different worlds meeting on Friday night.”

 

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South Central With a Bigger Challenge

 

          South Central competed in, and won, the first playoff game in school history last week, but its going to be tougher this week as they travel to unbeaten Malvern to meet the Hornets in a second round game in division VII on Friday night.

          After going winless in the six games headed into the playoffs, the Trojans trounced Fairport Harbor Harding (41-7) in a first round game last Friday.  Trey Beverly carried the ball 18 times for 177 yards and three TD’s.

          Coach Corey Fickiesen says the kids had really good focus.  “We had talked with our guys about kind of a rest of the season, everyone is now 0-0 headed into the playoffs.  We got some guys back and were a little more healthy than we were, so it kind of felt like a reset for us.  The energy level, the excitement level was all there.  To come out and get a score early, and get a stop, and go get another score it just gave our kids some confidence, which is what they needed,” he said.

          Injuries to key players has been a problem for the Trojans this season, but Fickiesen says they are starting to get more healthy.  “We are getting closer.  We are not all of the way there yet, but we are getting closer, which is huge for us.  We have quite a few seniors, but the problem was a lot of those guys were sitting on the sidelines or they were dressed and they could only play a little bit of the game because we were trying to monitor how much.  Now, those guys are little more full go,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It has kind of brought everyone else around them up as well.  Plus, you have a lot of other kids that now have experience and when you throw them in there, they have been playing all year and it doesn’t feel like that much of a drop off.  We have a lot of guys playing and that’s a good thing.”

          Malvern (6-0) has been very good this season, but they haven’t beaten a team all year with a winning record.  The most any of their opponents so far has is two victories.

          Fickiesen says they have an athletic quarterback and on defense they have a group of very fast linebackers.  “They are good obviously.  When you talk about an undefeated team, they are going to be good.  Their quarterback is very athletic.  He is a kid that you have to got to try and contain the best that you possibly can.  He is probably going to make a couple of big runs, but you just have to keep him in front of you as often as possible.  They have a couple of athletes that he can throw the ball to.  You flip over to the defensive side and they have a couple of linebackers that are good, their outside backers are really fast.  So, it’s a challenge, but I think it is one our kids are ready for.  They are ready to embrace it.  It is exciting to get to the second round of the playoffs.  Our energy level is high, so we have to continue that the rest of the week.  We look forward to a good matchup on Friday night,” said Fickiesen.

 

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Line of Scrimmage Critical for Buckeye Central

 

          Buckeye Central heads to Eastern Ohio for the second time in as many weeks as they face Leetonia in a second round playoff game in division VII on Friday night.

          Last week, the Bucks pilled up 368 yards rushing and made a big fourth down stand with a minute left in the game to outlast Wellsville (32-29) in a first round game.

          Coach Chad Jensen says he is really happy with the kids responded when the game was on the line.  “We were really happy with how our kids responded.  We got down in the first quarter and then we came right back and scored.  We were up by two touchdowns most of the game and just some things happened and they were able to claw their way back in.  Down the stretch our kids really dug it out and did what they had to do.  Just really happy with our kids because it wasn’t easy.  At the end there it was anybody’s game and our kids really wanted it.  We did what we had to do and got a defensive stop there at the end of the game,” said Jensen.

          Leetonia (5-1) is coming off a bye last week.  They only loss this season came in their last game on October 2, when United beat then (41-8) in a regular season game.

          Jensen says they recognized what they were doing right away because they run the same stuff the Bucks do.  “They are mirror images of us.  It’s like we are playing Buckeye Central.  They run the same offense we do, a lot of double tight, a lot of wing-T principals, and run the football a lot.  They are probably 80, 90 percent run,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “Defensively, they are aggressive.  They do a lot of things that we want to do.  Put pressure on the quarterback.  They want to control the line of scrimmage, just like we do.  Very similar teams to be honest.  It’s going to be a matter of control that line of scrimmage and who is the most physical.”

          Jensen says this game will be determined by who runs the ball better and who makes fewer mistakes.  “Both teams want to do the same thing.  There are no secrets both teams want to run the football.  The team that runs it the most effectively is going to win this game and the team that has the least amount of mistakes.  We talked about that with our kids this week.  We can’t turn the ball over.  We had some turnovers against Wellsville and one of them was a scoop and score by them, so that gave them seven points.  We talked about we have to hang on to the football and limit mistakes and the team that executes the best is going to win,” said Jensen.

 

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Madison Must Limit Mistakes

 

          Madison returns to regular season play this week still in search of that elusive win on the road at Sandusky in a non-conference game against the Blue Streaks.

          Last Friday, they lost (45-10) in a division III playoff game to West Holmes, a fellow Ohio Cardinal Conference member.

          They were able to take a (3-0) lead in the game, but coach Dave Stupka says the Knights were able to put together some explosive plays in the second quarter and went up (38-3) in the game at the half.  “We got off to a really good start in the game on both sides of the ball and special teams.  We took the ball down and had a nice drive and made a field goal and then we stopped West Holmes and got the ball back and put another nice drive together.  Just the explosiveness of West Holmes, they hit a big pass play, they just hit some really big plays against us in that second quarter and really dominated the second quarter.  That was kind of the ballgame there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We came out in the second half and played them even, so there were a lot of positives.  We certainly played a lot better than we did in week two when we went over there.  There were a lot positives in terms of performance.  Obviously, we are not satisfied with a loss, but we are better football team than we were a month ago.  I think it is something we can build on these last three games.”

          Sandusky (0-7) lost their first round playoff game in division III as well last week, falling to Norton (21-20) on Friday night.

          Stupka says his team and the Blue Streaks, of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, sort of suffer from the same ills.  “They play a very competitive schedule and at times we are mirror images of each other.  At times they look like a really good football team and at other times they struggle.  Had a conversation with their coach last week and we were commiserating about it.  Just talking about the same kind of things making critical mistakes at critical times.  They are definitely explosive on offense.  They have a running back that is really out of this world.  In the two game films that will saw he made some incredible runs.  Their quarterback is solid.  They have some good receivers to throw to.  Their defense runs to the ball very well,” said Stupka.

          The Madison coach believes this game is going to come down to which side can limit the mistakes better.  “It’s going to be a good game and we look forward to it.  It is going to come down to, like I say many times, which team is going to play without making those critical mistakes is going to win this ballgame without question,” he said.

 

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Ontario Plays Ultra Aggressive Kenton

 

          For Ontario it is going to feel like they in a hockey game this week more than a football game as they travel Kenton for a second round playoff game in division IV against the Wildcats on Saturday night.

          Kenton plays football different that just about anyone else you will find and they have been successful with it.  For the opponent, things come at you very quickly.

          Last Saturday, Ontario (5-2) drilled Vermilion (62-0) in their opening playoff game.

          Coach Chris Miller says they took care of business early, which was the plan.  “I was proud of our kids.  We try to prepare all week.  The expectation was to get up early and often and the kids rang that bell and did that.  We were able to keep the pedal down and put the younger guys in in the second half.  I was super proud of the way they prepared all week and preformed on Saturday.  We put that second, third tier guys in and continue to move the ball and a play hard.  It was a great team win, it was a great night, it was only our third home game on the season, so we certainly cherished being at home last Saturday night.” he said.

          Kenton (3-3) is part of the very good Western Buckeye League.

          They are going to throw the ball on almost every down and they are going to do it at a lightning quick pace. 

          Miller says they are going to be waiting at the line of scrimmage of the officials to blow the whistle and say they can start the play.  So, the Warriors have to prepared and quickly make their pre snap reads.  “They are the same style of football that they have played for a long time.  They spread it out.  They throw the ball 55, 60 times a game.  They have a couple of really good receivers on the perimeter.  They do some things unconventionally.  The pace that they play at is really, really fast, often times waiting on that whistle to snap the ball.  So, we have to be up at the line of scrimmage and recognize things quickly and that will be a stress all week this week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Defensively, coach Fackler was their defensive coordinator there back when coach Mauk was there when they would make their state runs and so forth.  So, they are running the same defense they have run for probably 15 years and they do it very well.  They are physical on both sides of the ball.  We have got to do a job of tackling in the open field and matching that physicality and intensity for 48 minutes.  It’s going to be a fun game.”

          Miller was the head coach at Lima Bath, also in the Western Buckeye, and played Kenton every year.  He says they are going to try and do some different things in practice to get their kids prepared.  “It is impossible to duplicate exactly what they are doing.  We have some strategies that we are going to use this week to try and get us close to that feeling, whether that be two huddles or wrist bands on the scout team, maybe widen the field a little bit so our guys have to run a little farther to cover guys to try and duplicate the speed that they have on the edge and watch film.  Kind of some of the things I had done at Bath while I was in the league with Kenton for a couple of years.  It’s a different week, it’s a spread offense, but they are still onside kicking every time or virtually every time.  They very rarely punt, they go for it a lot on fourth down frequently.  They used to go for two every time.  I have seen them kick extra points this year.  They have some backs in the backfield, so they are a little different, but the pace is the biggest change and the thing we are going to have to adjust to this week,” said Miller.

 

Published 10/14/20

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Plymouth Plays Very Good Dalton

 

          Plymouth, after winning the first playoff game in school history last week, travels to Dalton for a second round playoff game in division VII on Friday night.

          Last week, the Big Red (4-3) got off to a good start and pounded Lisbon David Anderson (46-12) in a first round game.

          They led (32-6) at the half and coach Mark Genders says that’s what the game plan called for.  “We finally got out to a solid start.  The kids played extremely hard that resulted in a nice opening drive touchdown.  We just kept the foot on the gas pedal and the defense stepped up and took charge of the game pretty quickly,” he said.

          Dalton (4-2) had a playoff bye last week.  The Bulldogs stand third in the tough Wayne County Athletic League.

          Genders says this is a significant upgrade in terms of opponent and the Bulldogs do a lot of things well.  “They had really high expectations.  They are just really solid, I’m not going to lie.  Even watching their two losses to Norwayne and Northwestern.  In the 7-6 loss (to Northwestern) I think they outgained them 3-1.  They just couldn’t get it in the end zone.  Against Norwayne they did some really nice things and you know how good Norwayne is.  They create some serious challenges,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They have 58 kids on their football team for division VII, which is an astronomical number.  They play with a lot of older kids from that division VI 9-1 team from last year.  Especially going over to their place and it is opening night for them as far as playoff time.  So, we are going to have to be sharp and play four really physical quarters just to compete with them.”

          Genders adds that Dalton will give them a lot of looks on offense and they are going to have to identify what they are seeing.  “They have Mapleton’s former offensive coordinator over there, so they formation you to death.  They do so many things, they come out in a spread, then they will line up in double tight, power “I” and then they run the midline option at you.  To say your have to prepare is crazy.  You have to keep it simple with your team.  We are going to go with our base and go out there and try and play assignment football and play as hard as we can,” said Genders.

 

Published 10/14/20

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Bellevue Plays Talented Galion in Playoffs

 

          Bellevue, outright champion of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, and the number one seed in region 14, will host Galion in a second round playoff game in division IV on Saturday night.

          It is the first meeting between the schools, charter members of the Northern Ohio League, since Galion bolted from the league and joining the North Central Conference in 2010.

          Ed Nasonti has been the Bellevue head coach for 30 seasons and he has never experienced a bye week during the season like his team did last week.  “We feel we got through it pretty good.  We put a lot of thought into it and talked to several different people that have some experience with the bye situation, I’m talking about some college coaches, and we got some ideas, and we thought we came up wit a pretty good plan.  We thought we executed it and got what we wanted out of the week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We got some competition throughout the week.  We were able to hone in on some things that we thought we needed to work on.  We were able to get some of our kids that were hurt got them back healthy.  We got what we wanted out of week.  In all my years I have never gone through a bye week like that.”

          Bellevue (6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has the top defense in the “SBC” Lake this season, but Galion has an explosive offense, especially when they have all of their players on the field.

          Hanif Donaldson was the leading receiver in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference this season.

          Nasonti scouted the Tigers (4-3) in person last week in their (55-7) win over Lutheran West and we impressed with what he saw.  “Well, Galion has an outstanding football team.  When you watch them play and you see how explosive some of their guys are.  Their quarterback does an outstanding job.  Their wide receiver is very explosive.  They move him around and get him the ball a lot of different ways.  They are a pretty solid ballclub.  We are expecting a good ballgame,” said Nasonti.

          Galion also has an elusive double threat quarterback in Wilson Frankhouse.  Nasonti says they are going to have to contain him.  “Ask anybody when you are trying to defend an offense and they have a quarterback that can do those kinds of things it gives you headaches.  This week defending Frankhouse will be no exception.  You are going to have to do a good job containing them, he can run it, he can throw it, he does a good job running their offense and what they want to get done,” he said.

 

Published 10/14/20

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Western Reserve Challenges Traditional Power Liberty Center

 

          Western Reserve has started to play some pretty good football as they take a four game winning streak into a second round playoff game in division VI Saturday night at Liberty Center.

          In their playoff opener last Saturday, the Roughriders (5-2) dismantled Margaretta (41-7) at home.  The Roughriders had three backs over 90 yards in rushing led be quarterback Jude Muenz with 143, and two scores, and running backs Logan Wiegel 131 yards, two scores and Muck Grandy 93 yards, and two more TD’s.

          Coach Ty Stevenson says it was their best performance of the season.  “I thought our kids played really well.  I thought they had a good week of practice.  We were locked in all week and played probably the best game we have played so far this year against Margaretta.  They are well coached and have a good football program up there.  We are happy to beat them the way we did.  We ask our kids to improve every week and I thought we did a great job with that.  I thought our offense played really well and out defense gave up some yards, but I thought they did great once the team got in the red zone,” said Stevenson.

          The Roughriders did give up nearly 300 yards passing, but only gave up one score.

          Liberty Center scored seven touchdowns in the first have and went on to pound New London, also of the Firelands Conference, (69-6) in the opening round last week.

          The playoffs are not a new thing to the Tigers, they are making their 20th appearance this year and they were in the state semifinals just two years ago.

          Stevenson says they know what they are up against.  “Liberty Center is a great football program.  They have been for as long as I have been alive.  They play the game the right way, they are very physical up front.  The head coach that was there forever retired about four years ago and basically his staff took over and they haven’t missed a beat.  They are going to run the wing-T very well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are going to run a multiple 3-4 defense and they are going to be physical up front and their kids are fast an active and you can tell they lift really hard in of the off season.  It should be a great challenge for us.  We are excited to get to go up there and play another meaningful game this week.”

          With the wing-T there is a lot of faking and Stevenson says they have to be solid on their keys.  “We talk about eye discipline a lot, that is very important this week, probably the most important thing we do.  We have to make sure we read our keys and do they things that we are supposed to do.  Make sure we are all running to the football and getting to the ball and tackling well,” he said.

 

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Pleasant Plays Best Game; Needs to be Better

 

          Marion Pleasant is a fixture in the state football playoffs, but this year has been their least productive year in more than a quarter of a century.  Last week, in their playoff opener it was a different story.

          They beat Ben Logan (35-13) to advance in the playoffs and will travel to Otsego to play the unbeaten Knights on Saturday night in a second round game in division V.

          Last Saturday, Pleasant (2-5) belted Ben Logan in what was their best performance of the season.

          Coach Aaron Cook is excited by what he saw.  “We were really proud of our kids.  It has been a little bit of a different season than what we are used to.  Credit the teams in the “MOAC,” it is a really talented league and we saw that round one of the playoffs, just teams that did play from our league.  It was the first time all year we faced a division V team, so that was kind of refreshing for us.  We are usually playing up a little bit in our league.  Ben Logan was a very good team, very big, very physical, had some really nice athletes.  It was a battle, it was one of those games that went back and forth.  Just proud of way our kids hung in there and fought,” said Cook.

          This the 25th playoff appearance for the Spartans and they have three state titles to their credit.

          The Pleasant defense was much better last week than it has been.  It was the first time all season they had allowed less than 28 points in a game, they had twice given up more than 48.

          Cook says those kids have worked hard to get better.  “We have just prided ourselves in getting better on that side of the ball.  We are playing some young kids, we are starting three or four sophomores on that side of the ball, so anytime you do that you go through some growing pains.  Those kids have started to grow up a little bit.  Just really proud of how they have fought and how they have played.  We have given up a lot of points this year and being able to contain a really good Ben Logan team that was a nice thing for us,” he said.

          Otsego (6-0) has only really been challenged once this season and that was a (17-7) win over Pemberville Eastwood on week two of the season. 

          Cook says they are led by brothers, who are the sons of the head coach in quarterback Joseph Dzierwa and Noah, a wide receiver.  He says this is the best team they have scouted this season, and that includes unbeaten Shelby.  “They are as talented as anybody we have seen.  Probably have the best quarterback we have seen and that is not saying that lightly because we have seen some really good quarterbacks in the “MOAC.”  He is a very talented kid, 6’6” kid, head coach’s son.  You can tell he is a student of the game.  Has been raised around the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “His older brother is a starting receiver, kind of the same deal with him, very talented kid.  You can tell those guys have spent a lot of time with dad.  The rest of the kids around them are just phenomenal, super quick, they are just solid, you can see why they are 6-0.  They as talented as anybody in the State of Ohio.”

 

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Norwalk Faces Unbeaten Copley in Round Two

 

          Norwalk has been a good playoff team the last two seasons and they get this non-postseason playoffs started on Friday night by hosting unbeaten Copley in a second round game at Whitney Field at Contractor’s Park.

          The Truckers advanced to regional semifinal last fall and state semifinal in 2018.

          Like many of the best teams this season, they were given a bye in the first round of the playoffs and chose not schedule a regular season game last week.

          Coach Todd Fox says at first, they kind of wished they didn’t have a bye, but it the end it didn’t work out too badly.  “When we first looked into it, it was not something we wanted.  I think in hindsight it was a great week.  We had a lot of things we were able to focus on, some of the fundamentals that you were able to do in two a days and install time.  We were able to go back and refocus and refine that.  We found it as a valuable week.  We have had a great two days this week, so we feel, again not something we really wanted, but at the end of the day it was very beneficial for us,” said Fox.

          Now, Copley (6-0) played a regular season game last week and beat Aurora (10-7) to make it six straight wins.  However, Aurora is the only winning team the Indians have beaten this season.

          Fox says Copley is a team with a good mixture of size and speed on the field.  “They are a very good football team.  We get to host, but going into that game, you would never know we would be the higher seed.  They played last Friday, a regular season game, where they beat a very good Aurora team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “They are fast on the defensive side of the ball, they are fast on the offensive side of the ball, and they have size.  Coach Parsons has done a great job developing that program over the last two years.  We have a great challenge in front of us on Friday night.”

          Norwalk is part of the tough Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, but Fox says really they have not played a team that is similar to them all year.  He says they kind of a combination of elements.  “I think this is a different animal.  There are some bits and pieces.  They have a running quarterback like the Bellevue Redmen, a great defense like some of the other teams we have played.  Their defensive style is a lot like the Columbian Tornadoes and the Huron Tigers.  All together they are their own beast.  We have to be firing on all cylinders on Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 10/14/20

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Hillsdale Must be able to Run it

 

          Hillsdale takes its act northeast to play Pymatuning Valley in the in the corner of Ohio near Lake Erie and the Pennsylvania boarder for a second round game in division VI on Saturday night.

          After finishing at .500 in the tough Wayne County Athletic League, the Falcons hammered Campbell Memorial (51-0) last week in a first round game.

          Coach Trevor Cline identifies it as their best overall performance on the field this season.  “I would say last week against Campbell Memorial it was our best performance offensively, defensively and special teams for us this year.  So, we are hoping we can carry that momentum or expecting to carry that momentum into this week,” he said.

          Pymatuning Valley (6-0) has had an excellent season so far, including four shutouts.  They have given up only 14 points all season, however, the strength of their schedule is not at the same level as Hillsdale.  They only team to have scored on them this season is Harbor Harding, who was blown away by a previously winless South Central team last week.

          Cline says they are a physical team on film.  He says they hope they can wear them down.  “By watching them on film they are a very big team and they definitely have some skilled position athletes.  So, it is one those games where we are going to have to show up and be physical with these guys because size wise they are going to have an advantage, but they also play a lot of guys both ways and we are hoping to be able to wear them down over the course of the game, but the only way we are going to be able to do that is if we get after them from the very beginning of the game and continue on with that for all four quarters,” said Cline.

          Cline says a big factor for them on Saturday night is being able to run the football effectively against the Lakers.  “I thought that was one thing that we did a nice job with against Campbell Memorial was being the more physical team.  There have been a couple of games this year where I thought that we were not the more physical team and for our team to have success we have to be able to run the football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “In games where we have been able to run the football we have done well and in games we have struggled to run the football we had some trouble controlling the game.  So, going into this week, I know that is one thing that we have to make sure we are able to do is control the line of scrimmage and be able to run the football consistently.”

 

Published 10/14/20

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Fredericktown Returns to Regular Season Play Against Utica

 

          After a tough loss in the playoffs last week, Fredericktown returns to regular season action this week as they travel to Utica for a non-conference game against the Redskins.

          Last Saturday, the Freddies (1-6) lost a shootout (52-42) to Marion Elgin in a first round playoff game in division VI.

          Coach William Hartley says they had their chances to win that game, no question.  “It was one of those game where who ever had the ball last was probably going to win and unfortunately, we didn’t keep up our end of the bargain.  We had a nice shot inside their 10-yard line.  We had about a 40-yard pass that just fell a little long about their 10-yard line and that was fourth down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “At that point they were up four and there was a 1:30 left.  They punched one in with less than a minute left to put them up by 10.  It was a back and forth game the entire night.  We had an opportunity to win and that is really all you can hope for in those situations and we did, but we weren’t able to take advantage of it.”

          It has been a very different high school football season to say the least.  Different?  That’s like saying Jeff Spicoli was a different kind of student in the classic film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”  It’s an option for teams to return to regular season play and play as many as 10 games.  Hartley thinks that a good strategy for them.  “We have been able to slate two old Mid-Buckeye foes in Northridge and Utica.  I think it’s important, we have a pretty young group, we have 14 sophomores, so I think the more they get to play, the more it is going to help us in the long run.  We have two games and if we get the opportunity to see who dops out of the playoffs this coming week potentially we can lock in a game for the 23rd or 24th too,” said Hartley.

          Utica (0-7) was hammered by league foe Johnstown-Monroe (56-13) in a playoff game last week.

          Hartley says they have been well tested.  “It is a typical Utica team.  Their record is deceiving.  They play in a really tough Licking County League and they are playing teams such as Johnstown, Heath and Newark Catholic that are all having really good years and good programs.  They are 0-7, but that does not reflect their talent level.  They are very big up front, big, physical kids up front.  They have 14 seniors.  They are scrapy and you can tell early in games they compete and they simply get worn down by numbers and size and they struggle late.  It is a game that we play year in and year out and it is always tight nip and tuck game,” he said.

 

Published 10/14/20

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Ashland Wants to be Aggressive This Time

 

          It’s the second time around for Ashland and Mansfield Senior as they Arrows and Tygers clash Friday night in a second round playoff game in division III.

          The first time they met, also at Community Stadium on September 18, the Arrows won (13-6) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          Ashland (5-1) did not play last week, but coach Sean Seder says they got better as a football team.  “I felt we took a step forward.  That is one of the big things that we really try and focus on.  Bye weeks in high school football aren’t too common, so you can either go backwards of go forward and we really focused on getting better.  I think we have a lot of guys that were banged up and they got healthy, so I feel like we took a step forward last week,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (3-4) scored on the first play from scrimmage on a reverse pass from Amar Davis to Myles Bradley and made that stand up for a (7-3) win over Sylvania Southview in a first round game at Arlin Field to advance.

          It’s rather unique to play a team twice in a football season, but Seder says they know what to expect.  “In football you don’t see it a whole lot.  Playing a team twice is always tough, especially once you get to know what they do.  I think when it comes down to it, it is going to be a good football game.  Senior High has an elite defense.  It looks like they are trying to figure things out on offense, but when you have a defense that plays that well they keep you in every football game.  They have some dynamic players in Bradley and Grose and a couple of underclassmen that can take it to the house on any given play, so they are always a tough opponent,” said Seder.

          The Ashland coach says they want to be more aggressive in the things that they call on both offense and defense this time.  “When we look back at the first game and we have spent a lot of time watching that film we went in with kind of a conservative game plan.  We feel we have a pretty good O-line and a pretty good running back and we were going to lean heavily on them and lean heavily on our defense because they have been doing great all year as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “I think this time though we will look at some similar things, but I think we have some confidence in our quarterback and our receivers and we might have a little more of an open attack offensively and defensively if they really do have a freshman quarterback back there then we have to do our job on defense and try and make his life difficult.  It’s playoff football, try find a way and advance.”

          The last time they played on October 2, West Holmes outscored Ashland (35-0) in the second half and beat them (35-14) for the Arrows only loss this year.

          Seder says they are out to prove that half is not what they are all about.  “We looked offensively and defensively and said here is what we have done for the entire season and that second half against West Holmes was kind of the anomaly.  The defense was not happy with their performance, the offense wasn’t happy with their performance.  The nice thing is you get another chance to come out and play and it’s at home, so you get to have a final say about what people think about how you play on the field.  Everyone is kind of chomping at the bit to get out there and show what we are made of,” said Seder.

 

Published 10/13/20

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St. Paul Has to Handle Stunts

 

          Norwalk St. Paul has won 41 playoff football games since 1995 and they would like to add to that when they play Salineville Southern in a second round playoff game in division VII on Saturday night at Whitney Field inside Contractor’s Park.

          The Flyers (5-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, shares first place with Monroeville and Crestview in the Firelands Conference standings.

          In their last game, October 2, they went to arch rival Monroeville and handed the Eagles their first loss of the season (28-7) and coach John Livengood says they were ready to play.  “I was really proud of our kids.  That was something we have worked hard on the last five, six weeks, just improving each week and over coming adversity.  We have had some issues with some injuries and things like that and our kids have overcame that and came out with the right mindset every day in practice and came out and executed at Monroeville,” he said.

          Livengood says having an off week in the middle of the season certainly felt different.  “It was real different.  Quite honestly, I felt kind of out of sorts this past weekend.  Don’t get my wrong I enjoyed having a weekend in the middle of the football season, but I really did feel out of sorts, it didn’t feel right.  We did some things differently last week with the bye week with practice.  We are hoping we can help out ourselves with the injury situation.  I wouldn’t normally like a bye week and wouldn’t be something I would want to have necessarily in the future, but this year with the way things have gone with the injuries and stuff that worked out pretty good and hopefully we get some kids back a little healthier going into our first playoff game,” said Livengood.

          Southern (5-1) has won its last five since an one-point opening week loss to Leetonia (14-13) and Livengood says they are an athletic team that is bigger than the Flyers.  “They were 10-0 last year.  They are a good physical football team.  They have a lot of speed and an athlete Brad Sloan just talking to their coaches, he looks as fast as any kid I have seen on film, and his coach tells me he runs a 10.7 100 and he looks it.  He is a very explosive player,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “He is one of those kids when he gets in the open field nobody is going to catch him.  They are big up front, they have a 250 pound center, a 265 pound tackle, 215, 225 at right guard and right tackle, so they are big up front, much bigger than us.  They have had a lot of success over the last few years and they are a good football team.”

          When it comes to the trenches, Livengood says they are going to need to be very disciplined and on defense they have to contain to Southern’s athletes.  “I think the big key for us is controlling the line of scrimmage.  They run a 3-3 stunt package.  They are bringing linebackers every play and trying to disrupt things.  Our offensive line is going to have to be able to pick up those stunt packages in both run blocking and pass blocking.  We have to be able to anticipate and pick those things up scheme wise.  Defensively, we have to contain their explosive athletes.  We can’t let them get loose.  We have to play good team defense and have balance on defense and make sure nobody is trying to do too much, just do your job and keep those guys contained.  I think if we can do those things, we have a good shot at success,” said Livengood.

 

Published 10/13/20

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Galion Plays Number One Seed Bellevue

 

          After a blow out win in week one of the playoffs, things get quite a bit tougher for the Galion Tigers this week travel to Bellevue to play the top seed in the region in a second round game in division IV on Saturday night.

          Last week, they scored 27 points in the first quarter and went on to pound Lutheran West (55-7) in the first round.

          Coach Matt Dick says they were able to take advantage of the blitzes.  “Yeah, it worked out on the positive side.  Their pressure definitely took up the fight, but we executed well and put up some big points,” he said.

          Bellevue (6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is the outright champion of the very good Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Dick says they are just very sound and don’t make a lot of mistakes.  “They are just really, really solid in all facets of the game.  They are just tough and nasty, they want to hit you.  Their quarterback is running behind a big fullback and running downhill.  On defense, they make you earn every yard.  They are definitely a tough, fundamental football team.  Basically, they make you beat yourself,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are going to allow you to dink and dunk them.  They are going to prevent you from going over the top for the most part and they are going to make you earn everything.  Every game they have had this year has been a seven or 14 point win, so come the fourth quarter they find a way to get it done.”

          Bellevue quarterback Keegan Ray is leading rusher in the Lake Division this year.  He has rushed for 10 TD’s and thrown another seven.  Dick says he is physical and so is the rest of the team.  “The fullback in front of him plays linebacker as well and is a big, nasty kid, you have a 200 pound blocker right there who enjoys hitting you.  Our defense is going to have to match that physicality on the offensive side of the ball.  Their D-line has physical, athletic ends and we are going to have to match that.  If we get beat up at the line of scrimmage it is going to be a rough night on offense and defense.  That’s where the whole game plan starts,” said Dick.

          Bellevue likes to shorten the game by eating up the clock.  Dick says they would like to get some early scores and get the Redmen out of their game plan.  “If you watch their games there are lots of punts on both sides of the ball and then it seems like in the fourth quarter they make some kind of a long drive to win the game, that’s their recipe.  So, if you can score some points, which is a lot easier said than done.  They don’t score that many points,” he said.

 

Published 10/13/20

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Seneca East Meets Unbeaten Colonel Crawford

 

          It’s a game that never got played during the regular season, so fate saw fit to have Seneca East and Colonel Crawford lock horns in the second round of the division VI playoffs in North Robinson on Saturday night.

          The Tigers (4-3) made that happen with a come from behind (32-28) win over Delta on Saturday night outside of Attica.

          Coach Ed Phillips says they made big plays when they had to.  “We have had some wins lick that in recent years and I think it was really what our kids needed.  They needed to b in a game like that and com through it and get the win in a clutch situation.  They kids were really clutch, on offense we had a big drive at the end of the game to win it and the defense needed come up with a stop and they had a couple of big stops on fourth down.  So, it was a great team effort.  When the chips were on the table our kids made plays.  There is no better feeling than when it comes down to the wire and your kids get things done,” said Phillips.

          Jessie Beckman scored the deciding touchdown on a 4-yard run with just over six minutes to play.  Quarterback Gavin Hargis threw 170 yards and a score and ran for 101 yards and another score.

          Colonel Crawford (6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, took a bye and did not play last week.

          The Eagles don’t lead the “N10” in either total offense or total defense, but Phillips says they are just very good on both sides of the ball.  “They are a pretty well rounded football team.  They have a good O and D-line, they have some good receivers, their quarterback is playing well and they always have some good backs over there and they certainly have some good ones this year running the football,” he said.

          Crawford running back Tristan Cross does lead the “N10” in rushing yards, running for more than 130 yards per game.  Phillips says he is just a good overall back.  “He is kind of their go to guy.  He is a good physical runner.  He can bang it up inside and he is fast enough to be out on the edge too.  He is a very good football player,” he said.

          On defense, Phillips says they have top of the line athletes at all three levels of their defense and that makes them very tough to move the ball against.  “They have a good defensive line, their linebackers are really good, and their secondary is good too, so when you are good on all three levels that turns into good things.  They do have good playmakers at each level of their defense,” he said.

 

Published 10/13/20

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East Knox Defense Needs to Get off the Field

 

          East Knox begins the non postseason playoffs at home on Friday night in a division VII second round game against the Toronto Red Knights.

          Like many teams in this part of Ohio, the Bulldogs chose not to play a regular season game last week, a bye week for them, but coach Cody Reese says he thinks they get better in trying to refine some things last week.  “They went well.  What we did was practice all week and focus on the fundamental aspects that we needed to address.  We were excited for the opportunity to rest up from the normal bumps and bruises that come with any season of high school football.  Focus on us and improve in areas that we need to improve and building off our strengths.  We just tried to make the most of that opportunity,” he said.

          East Knox (5-1) hosts Toronto, and know that’s not in Canada, but instead down by the Ohio River in eastern Ohio on Friday night.  The Red Knights (4-3) beat Tuscarawas Central Catholic (26-12) at home last week.  They have won their last three games.

          Reese says this is a team that wants to be a power football team.  “They are a good football team.  Those kids play hard and they come right at you, the run the ball right at you.  They have a lot of misdirection as well to complement their smash mouth mentality.  Defensively, they get after it was well.  The kids play hard and you can definitely see they have a lot of fun playing together,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We have to make sure we are ready to rock and roll Friday night.  Not only has this year been odd, but when it comes to playoffs anything goes and everybody is playing for the right to play next week and loser goes home.  So, we have to be ready to go.”

          The Red Knights appear to be a team that likes to eat the clock.  Reese says they can’t let them do that and their defense has to be able to get off the field.  “They are big across the front.  We are going to be undersized, so we have to make sure we are disciplined, have low pad level, and use our speed as our strength to try and disrupt they power run game that they have.  They can control the clock and when they do that, they limit our offense’s opportunities to be on the field.  When that happens that just puts stress on the entire team.  So, we have to make sure that defensively we execute at the level we need to to be successful,” said Reese.

 

Published 10/13/20

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Tiffin Columbian Opens Playoffs Against Norton

 

          Tiffin Columbian, the runner up in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, entertains Norton in a second round playoff game in division III on Friday night.

          Columbian (5-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, being the top seed in region 10 was afforded a bye, which they took last week.

          Coach Judd Lutz says they took advantage of the opportunity and had a good week of practice.  “It was an excellent week to really be reflective and look at some stuff that we have done well up to this point and some things that we need to do better moving forward.  Also, give some guys a chance to catch their breath and heal up some bumps and bruises and get a little healthy before hopefully a good playoff run,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It was good, it was really good.  I thought out coaching staff did a great job of having a great week of preparation and our kids had a really great week of taking it serious and continuing to get better.”

          Norton (2-5) beat Sandusky, also of the Lake Division, (21-20) in a first round game last week.  The Panthers have not beaten a team that has win let this year.

          Lutz says they will have some confidence coming into the game.  “They had a big win last week.  They played Sandusky really well, an opponent we are familiar with.  They jump off the page with a couple of key players at positions for them.  We have to play well to find a way to get a win.  We can’ just walk in there and expect them to lay down.  They are going to have a lot of pride in what they do and be excited to play us I would imagine.  We have had a great Monday so far and looking forward to a great Tuesday,” he said.

          Can it be an advantage watching them play Sandusky, a team the Tornadoes have already played?  Lutz won’t commit to that.  He does say that the run game for both sides is going to be important.  “Obviously, they are going to want to attack us and do some things different to us then they did against Sandusky.  They are a team that looked really good last week and did some really good things.  We have to find a way to neutralize their playmakers and reset the line of scrimmage.  They have a pretty good run game they get going sometimes.  They have a lot of kids near the box on defense, so they can pose some difficulty in getting the run game going for us.  So, it’s going to be a good challenge,” said Lutz.

 

Published 10/13/20

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Wynford Plays Solid Indian Lake Team in Playoffs

 

          Wynford, of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, plays at home against Indian Lake, of the Central Buckeye Conference, in second round playoff game in division V on Saturday night.

          In a season that has been as odd as finding a dance troop of hell’s angels, Wynford, like most teams in Ohio with a bye in the playoffs, didn’t play at all last week.

          Coach Gabe Helbert says they tried a stay sharp and at the same time get some rest.  “I think it was one of those things where we really tried to figure out what we wanted to do and maybe talk to some people that had experienced it before and find out what they had done and handled the week.  We wanted our kids to work hard earlier in the week and allow them to get off the practice field early as well, try to a little mix of both.  You hope you are doing the right things, but I guess that will kind of be proven on Saturday night.  I think it was nice in a way that our kids were able to spend some time off their feet and get their legs back and get a few kids back who had been nicked up.  So, from that standpoint it was good, but like I said we will find out more this coming Saturday,” said Helbert.

          Helbert adds that it is a fine line because you want to get healthy without losing your edge.  “You hope the bumps and bruises get better, but at the same time you sort of maintain that edge so you understand the physical demands of the game.  It is hard to simulate a game in a practice setting.  Get your scout team in different things like that so you maintain that edge.  The nice thing is it has only been two weeks, not like a full summer or off season.  We expect to be able to play at a high level Saturday because we have kind of bounced back from a health standpoint,” he said.

          Wynford (4-2) hosts Indian Lake (4-3) on Saturday.  The Lakers beat Willard (37-12) on Saturday night.  Indian Lake has played well this year, including losing in overtime (28-27) to unbeaten St. Pairs Graham.

          Helbert says the Lakers have some athletes that can make plays.  “One thing that was nice with the bye week we were able to go down and watch them (Saturday) night and get a chance to see them on the hoof there, really enjoyed that.  They are a good football team.  They have a very good back that runs extremely hard.  Some very talented kids in the backend of their defense that kind of double as wide receivers.  Their quarterback is elusive and can throw it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “They are good football team and they play bigger schools in their league.  They are in a league that has some very good football teams.  They had a 4-2 and a 6-0.  They took a 6-0 team to overtime.  Only lost 13-0 to a 4-2 North Union team.  So, they have played good football and their regular season schedule is tough.  They are going to compete and very impressed with what we saw on Saturday.”

          Helbert says Indian Lake is a little like Carey, but they are also different than anyone they have played this year.  “I think from a secondary skilled standpoint they remind me of a Carey.  They are not as big as Carey, but just from skill they remind me of them in a certain way.  Offensively they are a little different than what we have seen out of some of the teams in our league as far as Carey is going to get in a stack and different things like that.  I think they are a combination of a few of the teams we have played.  They some talent and some gamebreakers skill wise and those kids are good in the backend of their defense as well,” said Helbert.

 

Published 10/12/20

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Ontario Wants Quick Start Against Vermilion

 

          Ontario opens the playoff portion of their schedule at home on Saturday night in a first round game in division IV against the Vermilion Sailors.

          The Warriors (4-2) have won their last four games, including a (48-13) pounding of Marion Pleasant last week.

          Coach Chis Miller says they have gotten better as the season has worn on.  “We have made some improvements as the season has progressed.  I think that is kind of what you expect take the field and practice and get a little better and hopefully apply that to next week’s game.  Hopefully, we can continue that trend.  I think our kid’s minds are in the right spot.  I think we are excited about this week and blessed to have an opportunity to go out there and play in a playoff football game on our home field,” he said.

          Ethan Snyder is second in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference in passing yards with 1,183 and Griffin Shaver, Owen Hatfield and Kolton Kurtz are all in the top five in the conference in catches this season.

          However, Miller says they have to eliminate the penalties on both sides of the ball going forward.  “Ethan is having a great year.  The kids on the perimeter are having a great year.  We have got to be able to move the ball on the ground a little better.  Opening up holes and eliminating mistakes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We may be the most penalized team in the “MOAC.”  We have got to cut that down and be a little more disciplined with where our hands are and our body is on the field and be aware of our surroundings.  Some of those petalites are a product of our kids playing hard and blocking to the whistle and those kids of things, but we have to clean that up on both sides of the ball.  We have had some defensive penalties this year that have cost us some yards.  Take care of business on both sides of the ball and clean up our penalties and hopefully have a week here.”

          Vermilion (1-5) out of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference won for the first time this year in beating Willard (50-24) last week.  They had not scored more than 13 points against any of their other division vials.

          Miller says they can do some things on offense.  “They put 50 points on the board and I don’t care who you are playing that is a lot of points.  They do some things well.  They spread you out to run.  They have been very efficient in the passing game, close to 1,000 yards passing on the year, that’s against a very good conference.  The middle conference in the “SBC” is very talented and they have been able to show some things getting on the field and moving the football.  Defensively they have maintained some pretty good teams early in games and been able to slow those guys down,” said Miller.

          Vermilion allows 386 yards per game on defense and 40 points per contest, both fifth out of six teams in their division.

          Miller says they have to work on being better at the things they do.  “This week is about taking care of ourselves and making sure we get better this week.  We need to heal up a little bit.  We had two guys out last week and one guy banged up a little bit still.  If we can get healed up this week during the week, take care of business, eliminate penalties.  I think we need to control the pace of the game on both sides of the ball and try to get up early, similar to last week.  Last week was the first week we really did that.  Emphasizing that again in practice, start quick and keep your pedal down and just get better as the evening goes on,” he said.

 

Published 10/09/20

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Lexington at Rocky River in Playoffs

 

          Lexington, fresh off its first win of the season, will be at Rocky River for first round playoff game in division III on Friday night.

          After a season of frustration, the Minutemen (1-5) beat rival Mansfield Madison (28-7) last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          Coach Tim Scheid says there was an improvement in both execution and effort by the players.  “We still have a long way to go, but it was really good to see the progress we made last week in execution and just overall effort for the kids on the field.  They played with an intensity and an energy that we haven’t seen all year.  We came out and got the job done and we need to be able to carry that over now into the playoffs to make sure we come with the same type of intensity,” said Scheid.

          The Lexington coach says they must build on what they did last week.  “You always have to find ways to get better.  It is easy to find them when you are losing, ways to improve, but when you are winning you still need to find those areas and always push yourself to get better and that is what we have been doing,” he said.

          Rocky River (3-1) did not play the first two weeks of the regular season, but the Pirates have won three of the four they have played, including (31-0) over Lakewood last week.

          Scheid says they have some gamebreakers on the roster.  “They have some talent.  They have some good playmakers.  They have some youth as well, like us they play a lot of juniors, but their juniors are really good and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball that we have to be aware of,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have to try and contain that offense that averages somewhere in the mid-30’s a game.  We have our work cut out for us.  We knew what we are getting ourselves into.  We know the type of competition the “OCC” gives us and prepares us for teams like this that we haven’t played before, so we are ready.”

          When it comes to personnel and schematic approach, Scheid says Rocky River looks a lot like Wooster, the “OCC” leader, that beat them (43-0) on week two of the season.  “They are kind of a spread team, kind of what we saw in Wooster, that is probably the closest comparison and Mansfield as far as the offensive sets they give you.  Defensively, they are a four man front and that again tends to lean heavily toward what we saw in Wooster and their personnel.  We look back at that and see how we played and what adjustments we could have made and try and apply that to this.  They are a different team with different kids, but just the familiarity with the type of style that they want to run is nothing brand new to us, so we know what we are getting ourselves into,” said Scheid.

 

Published 10/09/20

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Galion Must Handle the Blitz

 

          Galion has a division IV first round playoff game on Saturday night at home against Lutheran West.

          They are coming off one of their better performances of the season in beating Lucas (24-13) last Friday, according to coach Matt Dick.  “Yeah, we played well.  We got a couple of guys back and our offense started to mature a little bit, which was good to see,” he said.

          Hanif Donaldson was a big difference maker last week.  He leads the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference in receiving yards and Dick says getting some guys back was a big plus.  “Having some guys out and having some young guys in there held us back at times, but we are starting click now.  We are looking to play our best football the next couple of weeks,” said Dick.

          Lutheran West (2-4) lost last week (28-23) to Western Reserve Academy.

          Dick says this a team with some athletes on offense and an unorthodox approach on defense.  “Offensively, they have a really good running back.  He breaks a lot of tackles, runs for a lot of yards.  They haven’t scored a lot of points, but if you watch the film this kid probably runs for 10 touchdowns in three games, but about five of them are called back.  He is a special kid, we are going to have to tackle him, gang tackle him, that is going to be important on defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Offensive for us, they put so much pressure on the quarterback.  They love to play man to man defense and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.  If you can run the ball it leads to long runs and leads to long passes, but if you don’t do that well it leads to sacks and interceptions.  The defense definitely tries to put you in bad situations, but if you can handle the pressure good things can happen.”

          With all of that pressure, Dick feels a real key will be their ability to run the football.  “Their defense puts way more pressure on an offensive line than anybody maybe I have ever played.  They are all about bringing seven, eight, nine guys and you don’t see that done a lot.  “A” they are playing man to man and “B” they are leaving someone wide open.  There are not many high school teams that play one on two.  They really, really pressure you.  I don’t think I have ever seen anything like that.  Offensively, they are like a Marion Harding, especially since they have had some good backs the last couple of years.  They are similar to that,” said Dick.

 

Published 10/09/20

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South Central Excited by Opportunity

 

          South Central leaves early on Friday for the long trip to Lake County, east of Cleveland, for a first round playoff game in division VII against the Fairport Harding Skippers.

          The Trojans (0-6) lost to Western Reserve (30-0) last Friday in a Firelands Conference game.

          Coach Corey Fickiesen says his kids have the right attitude going into this playoff game.  “Injuries have kind of got the best of us.  The good thing about that is we have had to have a lot of other guys that have had to step up and play a lot of minutes, which in the long run is going to help you out.  We still have some guys out, but we have some guys coming back.  You pair those with some guys that got some experience.  Our kids have had a really good attitude this week and they are really excited about the opportunity that is in front of us,” he said.

          Harding (4-2) plays in the Chagrin Valley Conference and lost to Pymatuning Valley (38-7) last week, in fact, both of their losses this season come to the same team.

          Fickiesen says they have some kids that can make big plays on offense.  “They have a really good running back, quick and shifty, so we have to be able to contain him.  A big tight end that spits out and plays some receiver that they like to get the ball to.  A couple of tall, athletic receivers.  They are pretty good up front.  You don’t get a 4-2 record by being bad.  The two games they lost were both to a team we call “P” valley that is really big and really physical.  We understand that our league has prepared us to play a lot of different teams.  We kind of felt like out league didn’t get the justice that we felt it should have in the voting.  So, we are excited to go and perform and show people what our league is really about,” said Fickiesen.

          The Firelands Conference has featured a lot of good teams and different approaches this year, but Fickiesen says there really wasn’t a team like Harbor Harding.  He has to go back to last year.  “We talked to our kids about that because you are playing a team we know nothing about.  Honestly, our kids have never heard of schools up in that area.  So, this year we couldn’t compare them to anybody we played, they just really didn’t fit.  We went back to last year and kind of an Oberlin team and some of our upperclassmen remember that.  They have some athletes and if let them get out and space and get going you might be in trouble.  If you are able to corral them and your are able to move the ball offensively you are going to have opportunities to score, but you have to take advantage of those,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Like I said our kids have been great leading up to this point we have been saying for the last six weeks we are trying to get ready for this first playoff game.  Now it is here, so how are you going to react?  They have been positive all week long and they are excited for the opportunity.”

 

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Sandusky Needs to be Able to Run it

 

          Sandusky goes in search of some success on Friday night as they are at Norton for a first round playoff game in division III.

          The Blue Streaks, who have enjoyed quite a bit of success in recent seasons, including a trip to the regional final last year, have struggled with youth and injures this season and will be looking for their first win on Friday.

          Coach Mike Franklin says it seems they take a step forward and then two steps back.  “There are glimpses.  Every time we have something go forward, we kind of go backwards.  What we are focused on right now is stopping them on third down.  After we get to third down for some reason we can’t pass that river.  So, that is one of the biggest points right now is when we get to third down can we stop them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Offensively, we have been down a little bit was far as we lost our quarterback and we had another one fill in and he is doing a great job as far as throwing the football and running the football.  So, we are positive.”

          Franklin says hey have get off the field on third down so they can get their offense the ball.  “We have a few guys going both ways.  We have gotten better as far as third down is concerned.  The money down is the money down and we have been busting tails to try get the guys to understand we have got to get off the field because we can be explosive on offense,” he said.

          Norton (1-5) has lost its last four, including a (42-0) loss to unbeaten Streetsboro last week.

          Franklin says the Panthers are going to try and run it right at them.  “Norton is going to be physical.  I would kind of put them in the same style as Clyde and Bellevue.  I assume they are going to line up and they are going to try and run the ball right down us.  On defense, they are going to sit back and they are going to try and wait and think we are going to make a mistake.  So, we need to run the football the best we can as we did last week and make sure we don’t turn the ball over,” said Franklin.

 

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Clear Fork Faces Edison and the Triple Option

 

          Clear Fork will kickoff the non-postseason playoffs on the road at Edison, of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, in a first round game in division IV on Saturday night.

          The Colts (2-4) have won their last two, including a (54-14) thrashing of Marion Harding in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game last Friday.

          Coach Dave Carroll believes they are coming into their own.  “I am really proud of the kids because they have stuck with us.  When you lose you face all kinds of adversity and you hear negative things and that can be hard on kids.  They have come to practice every week and have continued to improve and are becoming a pretty darn good football team.  All of the stuff we have talked about, being more disciplined and being tougher and playing unselfish football, we are really doing those things.  Last week’s game might have been one of the most overall team efforts that I have seen,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “We had two pick sixes, we had a blocked punt for a touchdown, there was a bad snap and our guys ended up getting it and tackling the guy in the end zone for a safety.  The offense was scoring, the defense was scoring, we threw a couple touchdown passes and we ran for the others.  It was just a great effort by a lot of kids.  I think there are six, seven, eight sophomores out there playing and even some of the juniors and seniors this is their first time being fulltime varsity players.”

          Carroll adds they have had some kids step up into positions and he believes they have reacted well to adversity.  “Again, Friday night, Brady Tedrow, it was just a minor thing, but he was out of offense after the first quarter, so sophomore Trystyn Robison takes over at tailback and has almost has 100 yards.  He played a little more on defense, but then we got a pretty good lead and we said we don’t need him in there.  So, we are doing that without one of our best players on the team.  That just shows you that the rest of the kids are improving.  The offensive line is coming along.  I am just proud of the them because they have withstood the adversity and just continue to get better.  That’s what this game is all about.  It’s great when you win, everybody wants to win, that’s the objective, but sometimes you learn a heck of a lot more about yourself as a man and life lessons when you face tough times,” said Carroll.

          Edison (4-2) lost a game that would have given them a share of the Bay Division title last week when unbeaten Huron whipped them (40-14) last Friday.

          Of course, the Chargers run the triple option or veer offense, which you don’t see very much at all anymore.  Carroll had to reach back a few years.  “It is a system offense, like Lucas’s double wing is a system or St Mary’s Memorial’s wing-T.  We actually dabbled in this a few years ago.  We really didn’t have spread personnel and we ran some veer offense and it was kind of fun getting to know that in the off season.  I have faced it as a head coach going all of the way back to 1994 when I was at Danville, we played Columbiana, whose quarterback was the state high jump champion and they ran the veer.  It was really tough to defend,” he said.

          Edison is true to this offense and Carroll says they have some excellent players, beginning up front.  “They have a fullback that hits that thing hard.  They have had a couple of different quarterbacks that we have seen on film.  Not sure what’s going on.  #7 appears to be the starter.  In the Huron game Friday night and he was in and then he was just gone from both sides of the ball and he never came back in, so we aren’t sure.  They are both capable, but it appears #7 is the one they want in there.  I think their center and their left guard are two of the best offensive linemen that I have seen in a longtime.  With this offense you put your good dudes inside at the center and guards spots because they are going to come off and just smack people as hard as the can and then you are going to read a couple of other people and you aren’t even going to block them.  You want those guards and center to just dominate and those guys are really good,” said Carroll.

          To defend this kind of offense, Carroll says they must be very disciplined on defense or it ends up in big plays.  “Again, it’s like Lucas from the physical standpoint they are going to smack you right in the mouth in the heart of your defense every play with the fullback and they are going to see how you defend it if the quarterback is going to pull it, if he pulls it he has the next option to pitch it to the pitch man, so it is a fun offense to defend.  Our kids just have to be really, really disciplined and we have been playing disciplined football the last few weeks, so we hope that continues in defending their option,” he said.

 

Published 10/08/20

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Buckeye Central Travels to Wellsville for Playoff Game

 

          Buckeye Central makes the long, three hour, trip to Wellsville for first playoff game in division VII on Friday night.

          Coach Chad Jensen says they are excited to just get the chance to play in a playoff game this fall.  “The kids are really excited.  This has been obviously a weird year with all of the changes, but being able to play in the playoffs is special and our kids understand that and they have been excited all week.  This is just a great opportunity for us to be able to play in the playoffs and it’s really exciting for us,” he said.

          The Bucks (1-5) lost (42-8) to Mohawk in a game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference last Friday.

          Jensen says it was a better effort, but they are still looking for better execution.  “Last week it was more about execution.  Our effort was there against Mohawk, a lot better than it was against Crawford.  We definitely improved our effort, but our execution wasn’t there with things that we need to do, so we talked about that this week.  It’s not about effort now, it’s about execution.  We are going to have to execute if we want to be successful against Wellsville,” he said.

          Wellsville (3-3) has won its last two beating East Palestine (42-20) last week and Columbiana (3-0) the week before.

          Jensen says they will do a lot of things on offense out of a lot of formations.  “They have some skilled guys on offense.  They have a four year starter at quarterback.  They have a tailback that is a nice player.  They are pretty balanced.  They will line up in an old school “I” and run the iso and dive and line up in empty the next play and throw it up.  On the defensive side of the ball, they are very aggressive.  They play hard, they really play hard,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Again, we are just happy be playing.  They are very similar in size to us, enrollment, so we are excited about that.  Our kids are excited to be playing in the second season.  We will be prepared and we hope to have some success on Friday.”

          Jensen says that the Tigers are not as good as the cream of the crop in the “N10” but they are sill going to be a challenge for them.  “Our league is really, really tough, so honestly, they are not at the top with the four top in our league.  They are not Mohawk, they are not Wynford, they are not Crawford and they are not Carey.  So, they are not those, but they still play hard and they still do a lot of things.  There are a lot of unknowns, which is kind of good.  They don’t know a lot about us and we don’t know a lot about them.  We will see where the chips fall,” said Jensen.

 

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Northmor Matches up With Loudonville

 

          Northmor of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference plays host to Loudonville of the Principal’s Athletic Conference in a first round playoff game in division VI on Saturday night.

          It is an odd football season from many angles and one of them is the playoffs are here on week seven and not week 11 as normal.

          Northmor coach Scott Armrose says they are not as good as they can be, but they are improved.  “Well, we have definitely improved every week.  Our scores and our record aren’t necessarily showing that, but I think we have gotten better.  I don’t think we are as good now as we can be at some point,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We have definitely improved every week.  You are not going to be playing your best football by week seven like you would be by week 10, but everybody is in the same situation.”

          The Northmor (2-4) defense has been very good this season and Armrose says they are going to keep them in games.  “That is the comforting thing every week is our defense plays so hard and we have such a good defensive game plan that they are going to keep us in football games.  At some point the offense is going to start to click and we are going to figure some things out and we are going to become a little more consistent and things are going to come together,” said Armrose.

          Loudonville (1-5) lost to unbeaten Canal Fulton Northwest (41-20) last week in a “PAC” game, but like in most weeks they were in that contest for most of it.

          Armrose says they have a very good back in Sam Williams.  “That record is deceiving.  They play D-4 and D-5 teams, so they have a tough, tough schedule.  They have one of the fastest running backs that we have seen all season.  He is a freshman, so he is going to be a good football player for a while,” said Armrose.

          He adds they are in spread, but they are going to try and run the ball.  “They have become more of a spread team.  They are doing a lot of spread stuff now.  They will spread the field and get the ball to their #2, their good running back.  They probably run the ball more than they throw, but they do it from spread formations,” said Armrose.

          The Northmor coach says they have seen a lot of what Loudonville does from schematic standpoint.  “It is definitely not new to us.  We are getting used to the spread and preparing for the spread.  They are a 4-2-5 defense and we have seen that before, so nothing new to us,” he said.

 

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Mansfield Senior Not Complicated

 

          Mansfield Senior, of course, had great success in the football playoffs last year, finishing as runner-up in the state in division III.  This year, they have a less experienced team that begins the non-post season playoffs at home Friday night against Sylvania Southview in a first round game.

          Last week, the Tygers (2-4) beat Mt. Vernon (17-7) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference football game.

          Assistant football coach Sean Adams says once they settled in against Mt. Vernon’s wing-T they big a great job stuffing that run oriented offense.  “I was really proud of the way our kids came out and played defensively.  They went on a nine minute drive and went down and scored a touchdown.  We finally settled in after that.  We held a really good Mt. Vernon team to 36 rushes for 34 yards.  Our kids just did a phenomenal job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I have said before it is fun the play Mt. Vernon, it’s fun to watch them, they are tough, they are physical.  It is refreshing to see the old block down, block down, kick out, pull the guards up through there and a big smash mouth running back.  It was just a good win for our kids.  We are looking forward to playing another football game this week.”

          Tygers head coach Chioke Bradley will not be on the sidelines for the second week in row due to issues related to COVID-19.  He is quarantined, but has not tested positive for the virus.

          Southview (1-5) lost to rival Sylvania Northview (14-5) last Friday.

          Adams says on defense, they are going to try and bring some pressure and play some zone.  “Defensively they run a 3-3 stack.  They try and put a lot of pressure on you and bring people from all different angles and still try and play zone behind it,” he said.

          Tygers quarterback Brock Hill threw two TD passes last week against Mt. Vernon.

          Now, Southview has had their struggles on offense this year.  They have been shutout three times. 

          Adams says they try get you in bad matchups.  “Offensively, they have about four or five formations.  They try and utilize the quarterback as a runner mostly and throw a little bit.  They try and out formation you and try get you into some different precarious positions,” he said.

          When it comes to their game plan, Adams says they are not going to be very complicated.  He says that worked last week.  “We are just going to have to play sound football.  I think we learned our lesson last week coming out of the butt whopping from Wooster we just kind of keep things simple.  Last week, we kept things really simple for our kids and they really responded by playing really well,” said Adams.

 

Published 10/07/20

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Crestview Expects to be Tested

 

          Crestview, co-leader and maybe co-champion of the Firelands Conference this year, is at home for a first round playoff game in division VI on Saturday night against Evergreen.

          They are coming off a (33-12) trashing of Plymouth in a conference game last week.

          Coach Steve Haverdill believes they have consistently gotten better throughout their six game regular season pre-playoff schedule.  “That’s what we preached at the beginning of the year, even back in June and July, is that our goal is to get better every single day.  Our kids have worked extremely hard and through the six weeks our regular season we have gotten better.  We are playing pretty good football on both sides of the ball as well as special teams.  So, all three phases have gotten better and that is what we wanted to do going into this playoff season,” he said.

          They have one the best quarterbacks in this area in Ross Kuhn, who leads of the Firelands Conference in touchdown passes, but last week against Plymouth they ran for 275 yards as a team. 

          Haverdill says they want balance.  “Well and that’s Crestview history too.  We are going to run it down your throats until you stop it.  This year, we have been fortunate we have some good skilled guys on the outside as well.  Ross (Kuhn) can throw the ball very well and read it.  He is in his second year in this offense.  So, we have that ability to open it up if we need to, which has only helped our running game even more,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have been very balanced and that is a tribute to coach (Don) Keener.  He does a very good job of staying balanced.  You can’t just key on certain things in certain down and distance.  He has done a very good job this year.”

          Evergreen (0-6) comes into the game off of a (48-21) loss to Liberty Center last week.

          Haverdill says this team is a lot better than their record would suggest.  “They are probably the best 0-6 I have ever seen.  When you get this format, you are thinking when you get a team that is 0-6 maybe it is not going to be that difficult.  They play Archbold, Liberty Center, Bryan, Patrick Henry, Delta, their schedule has been murder’s road.  They are pretty good.  They have got two good receivers.  They have a quarterback that is very athletic and can run the ball.  Their defense is aggressive and flows well to the football.  They play multiple coverages in the secondary.  So, they are going to give us a good look.  We are going to have to play good football on Saturday night to be able to beat these guys,” said Haverdill.

 

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Hillsdale Still Wants More Consistency

 

          Hillsdale plays Campbell Memorial in a division VI first round playoff game on Saturday night.

          The game will be played at Community Stadium in Ashland, where all of the Falcons home games have been played this year.

          Last week, in play in the Wayne County Athletic League, Hillsdale (3-3) dopped a (22-15) decision to rival Northwestern.

          Coach Trevor Cline says they did not execute as consistently as is required to beat good teams like the Huskies.  “Our players, they battled throughout the whole game.  Being a rivalry game, you always know it is going to be a tough game.  Our biggest thing in that game is we were just not consistent enough for four quarters.  The first and third quarter we really could get anything going on offense and defense and it came back to hurt us.  We just have to bounce back from last week.  Just looking forward to getting in the playoffs here and playing to our potential,” said Cline.

          Although this year is different, Hillsdale is no stranger to the playoffs and Cline believes that always has helped them at this time of year.  “It is always a plus when you have experience in the playoffs and this is our fifth year in a row being in the playoffs.  They players who are going to be playing on Saturday night a lot of those guys played on our team last year and got good experience in just the playoff atmosphere, so they know what to expect and they know it’s going to be a great atmosphere.  When you get in the playoffs it doesn’t matter what your record is anyone can win on any given night,” he said.

          Campbell Memorial (2-4) also lost its last game (35-0) to Brookfield.

          Cline says the Red Devils are athletic.  He says what they need is all 11 players on defense to execute and that will help to eliminate the big play.  “Just from watching them on film.  They have a good amount of athletes.  They are aggressive on defense and they will get after your offensive line be in the backfield.  The biggest thing if we can slow down their athletes, especially their quarterback, we will be able to slow down their offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “So, we just have to make sure we are disciplined do our job each play.  That is one of the things that has hurt our defense this year is we have 10 guys playing well and we will have one guy that just has a mental lapse and that will turn into a big play.  So, we just have to get that fixed up going into the playoffs and we will be fine if we are able to do that.”

 

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Fredericktown Plays High Scoring Elgin

 

          Fredericktown takes to the road to play Marion Elgin on Saturday night in a first round playoff game in division VI.

          The Freddies (1-5) got the first score of the game last week, but ended up losing the unbeaten Centerburg (48-9) in a game in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          Coach William Hartley says they had a chance to make it more of a game early in the contest, but couldn’t cash in.  “We had a lot of opportunities in the first half.  We went down and scored first and had 7-0 lead.  They came back and tied it.  Later in the half we were able to get a safety and it was 14-9 for the longest time.  In the second quarter, we had two deep drives into their territory and we fizzled out inside the 20 on both of those opportunities and came away empty,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Right before half they had a big pass play and went up 21-9.  Then they came out the second half and their first play from scrimmage they gave it to their best running back Marshall and he took it 59 yards to the house and that was really the back breaker and we really never recovered from that.  Hats off to Centerburg, they ran the table in the league this year.  They really showed they were the quality of the league, the most consistent team week in and week out this year.”

          Elgin (4-2) out of the Northwest Central Conference has scored more then 50 points in a game in three games this fall, including last week when they beat Crestline (55-41) in league game.

          Hartley says they can do a lot of things on offense, including running some wing-T.  “They are a really big team up front.  They have a lot of size.  They don’t have the speed we have seen of the last two weeks.  I think we match up with them pretty well athletically, but their size is a concern.  They are very efficient on offense and they are scoring a lot of points.  They are pretty balanced too.  They like to run the ball out of their wing-T offense, but they will also get in the spread and pass the ball around.  They have some nice perimeter guys that do well with the guys in space.  Offensively, they can be a challenge.  I think we matchup pretty well against their defense and hopefully we can get our offense rolling and start to finish some drives because that has been our big deficiency so far this season,” said Hartley.

          With what Elgin does, Hartley says they have to be ready to adapt defensively.  He says they have not seen wing-T this year.  “Traditionally Highland has always been a wing-T team for years and years and years, but this year they have jumped into the spread, so we have not seen any team running the wing-T this year.  So, this will be a first for us, but like I said they are balanced and run wing-T for a series and come out and be in the spread and feature the quarterback running the ball.  We have to be prepared for both things,” he said.

 

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Madison Can’t Allow Big Play

 

          Madison has a very difficult assignment this week as they travel West Holmes to meet the Knights on Friday night a first round playoff game in division III.

          If you are saying, hey, those two teams are in the same league and haven’t they played each other already this season?  You would be right, West Holmes demolished Madison (63-0) back on September 4.  So, obviously, the Rams are going to have to be much better.

          It has been a difficult season again this year for Madison as they are (0-6) on the year and coming off a (28-7) loss to Lexington last week.  West Holmes (4-2) scored five straight TD’s in the second half an handed Ashland their first loss of the season (35-14) last week.

          Madison coach Dave Stupka says they know what they are up against.  “West Holmes is certainly a formidable opponent.  Our squad knows that, our coaching staff knows that.  They put it on us back in week two something fierce.  We look at it as a tremendous opportunity for us.  We think we are a lot better football team than we were on week two and West Holmes is probably a better team than they were on week two as well.  We are going to work really hard this week, it is a privilege for us to be in the playoffs and have an opportunity to play.  We are going to give it everything we have got, so we look forward to it,” said Stupka.

          Of course, Madison has the film of the week two loss and Stupka says they hope to use that this week to their advantage.  He says they need to learn from it.  “We will look again (Monday) from the strategic aspect.  Here is how West Holmes attacked us last time.  We lined up this way and this is what they did.  So, we use it just as a teaching tool for our guys to show them okay last week versus Ashland, West Holmes ran the same stuff that they did against us, here is how they blocked it and how they made adjustments and things of that nature,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “So, if there is a chance to educate our team and prepare us for West Holmes we are going to do that and it will include some film of week two as well.  In all of my time in coaching, I have never, not once played a team twice in one year, so this us unique for me.  I know it happens more now with expanded playoffs and things like that, but it is certainly different.”

          West Holmes is an explosive team that gets in a rhythm and scores in a hurry.  Stupka says they must make them drive the ball if they are going to score.  “That is our challenge is to make them take another snap.  That’s what we are going to preach to our defense all week in practice is we have to make West Holmes take another snap because that is exactly what happened the first time, we played them.  They scored very quickly and there were moments where we turned the ball over on offense and they scored.  When they get rolling, they are pretty darn good.  That is the kind of style that they play, so we have to try and take them out of that style and that is our challenge heading into this week,” he said.

 

Published 10/06/20

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Western Reserve Familiar with First Round Opponent

 

          Western Reserve, a winner of its last three games, and four of its last five, plays at home on Saturday night against Margaretta in a first round playoff matchup in division VI.

          The Roughriders smoked South Central (30-0) in a Firelands Conference game last Friday to add to wins over Norwalk St. Paul (20-19) and New London (46-12) the previous two weeks.

          Coach Ty Stevenson says they feel pretty good.  “I think we have gotten better every week and that was kind of our aim at the beginning of the season.  We talked about that all summer long, it is not about where you start, but where you finish.  We just try and get better every week and we have had two or three good performances that we have stung together and we are excited to get things going here for the playoffs,” he said.

          They were pretty young and inexperienced to begin the season, especially in trenches and the running back position.  Stevenson says they have had a lot of guys step up.  “We have even had a couple of injuries and have had guys step up and do a good job of filling a void, next guy up, so I think our inexperienced guys have really stepped up, especially the last three or four weeks have really started to understand how it is to play varsity football and the extra things you need to be able to do.  So, I am really proud of the guys and the way they have worked,” said Stevenson.

          Western has been led by the play of quarterback Jude Muenz, who leads the team in rushing as well as passing, and slot back Jake Jarrett, who is one of the leading receivers in the conference.

          Margaretta (1-5) earned it first win of the season last week in beating Fremont St. Joe (43-29) in a River Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference last Friday.

          Stevenson says they know the Polar Bears personnel pretty well.  “Since I have been here, we have played them on week two each of the last two years.  We were going to this year, but obviously COVID took care of the that. So, we are kind of happy that we get to see them in the postseason a lot of our coaches are close to their staff up there because a couple of their coaches used to be here,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “They are talented, they are very similar to South Central in that they have some big linemen up front, a quarterback that can throw it, a couple of good backs back there, and pretty good skilled guys on the edges too.  It is going to be a great challenge for us.”

          The two schools spilt those two regular season games with the Roughriders winning last year.

          Stevenson says the Bears will come in with a shot of confidence after their win last week.  “They played really well against St. Joe and we were able to see some of that film.  They do a really good job in the special teams and keep you on your toes.  Their defense is very physical up front and have some skilled guys that can really play.  It should be a good atmosphere on Saturday night and we are excited to get the opportunity to do it,” he said.

 

Published 10/06/20

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Defending State Champion Begins Playoffs

 

          Clyde won the division IV state title in 2019 and they begin defense of that title at home on Saturday night against Lorain Brookside in a first round playoff game.

          The Fliers finished (2-3) in the juggernaut of a league in the Like Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, just like they did last year.

          Coach Ryan Carter says actually the Fliers (3-3) have played some very good football.  “We have not been disappointed in how we have played with our 3-3 record.  Our three losses have been to three really good teams and three really good programs and we have led in all three of those games in the second half.  We have got to get a little more healthy and we have to figure out how to finish a few more drives and few more games.  We are playing with some young kids and experience based off of some injuries, but we are excited to be in the second season and we are going to see how it shakes out on Saturday night,” said Carter.

          Clyde led Lake Division champ Bellevue (7-0) at halftime last week before falling (16-7) to the Redmen.

          They lead the league in passing yards this season.

          They graduated a lot of players form that state title team last year, but Carter says this year’s group knows what it takes to win playoff games.  “You can look at that is say those kids were around that experience, but until you get out there and do it for yourself there is really nothing like game time experience.  We know we are going into the playoffs with some different kids that hadn’t played a whole lot of playoff football, but at the same time they got to see it last year, they got to be around it, and they understand what it takes to move on,” he said.

          Brookside (1-5) has lost its last four, including (31-0) to Columbia last week.

          However, Carter says this is a team that can make some plays.  “We have looked at their record and everything that they did and they have some really good athletes.  Their quarterback is a really good athlete and runs the ball extremely well and plays safety for them.  He really comes downhill and really takes some shots on you.  They have some pieces.  They been in some games.  They played a Keystone team that was undefeated to a 28-14 game.  We know it doesn’t matter when you are in the playoffs.  We have been on both sides,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We have been an eighth seed that has beaten a one seed.  We have been a one seed that has lost to an eighth seed.  So, it does not matter what seed you are or what your record is coming in.  This year being completely different with everybody getting in we are going to have to play great football in order to advance.”

 

Published 10/06/20

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Seneca East Hosts Run Heavy Delta in Playoffs

 

          Seneca East may be rounding into shape at just the right time as the Tigers are home Saturday night for Delta in a first round playoff game in division VI.

          After losing three straight games to very good teams and suffering through some injuries, the Tigers (3-3) walloped Upper Sandusky (42-7) last Friday in a game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Coach Ed Phillips calls it a very good performance.  “The kids came out and played really well on Friday night.  We kind of put it all together.  The things we have struggled with, we did really well.  We ran the ball really well the whole game.  Got a lot of people involved.  Played really good on defense.  Got some people back that hadn’t played in a while.  It was kind of fun for us to wrap up our last regular season home game,” said Phillips.

          Jesse Backman scored four times for the Tigers last week, once on an 84-yard kick return to open the second half.

          The Tigers totaled 201 yards on the ground, with three players between 50 and 60 yards.  Quarterback Gavin Hargis threw for 303 yards and three scores.

          Phillips says they like to be balanced.  “We do run the spread offense, but when we are really rolling, we are pretty balanced.  When we are really going, we run the ball extremely well and we did that Friday night,” he said.

          Delta (3-3) beat a solid Patrick Henry program (7-0) last week, their other two wins are against winless teams in Evergreen and Swanton.  Evergreen plays Crestview out of the Firelands Conference in a first round game in division VI.

          Phillips says they are team that wants to get in a two back formation and run it right at you.  “They are kind of an old school team.  They get in a lot of two backs.  Run a lot of power and iso.  They want to run the ball right at you and have some good backs and a good offensive line and some play action off of that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Defensively, they run a lot of different fronts.  So, they give you some challenges in that aspect.  I do think their guys up front are very good and will be a good challenge for us.”

          He says they really haven’t had to defend a team like this so far this fall, so this will be a different challenge.  “Playoff wise they remain me a little bit of when we played Loudonville.  They do some things like Mohawk does, but they are under center way more.  Mohawk throws it a little more this year.  Scheme wise they do some similar things.  They are so much more under center and we haven’t seen that, so they are different from that perspective from most anybody we have seen this year,” he said.

 

Published 10/05/20

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Plymouth Needs to Stop the Run

 

          Plymouth is at home Friday night for a first round playoff game in division VII as they host the Lisbon Blue Devils.

          After winning their first three games of the season, the Big Red (3-3) has lost three in a row, to the three leaders in the Firelands Conference incidentally, including (33-12) to Crestview last Friday.

          Coach Mark Genders says turnovers did them in.  “We opened up the game and drove the ball down to their eight or nine-yard line and fumbled the ball.  They came down with a good steady drive punched it in and our very next drive we threw a pick six.  So, we went from being up 7-0 to being down 13-0.  Once again, three weeks out of the last four, anytime that happens that’s not a good thing.  The kids kept scrapping and it was a tight ballgame for most of it.  They got one late on us that kind of opened it up a little bit.  I can’t say many negative things about my club, they played extremely hard, but anytime you put the ball on the carpet or throw a pick and have three or four turnovers you are not going to win and that was definitely the case,” said Genders.

          Crestview also ran for 275 yards against the Big Red.

          Lisbon, the county seat of rural Columbiana County, has lost it’s last two.  The Blue Devils (1-5) lost (34-21) to Columbiana last week.  Their win comes two weeks ago (39-7) against winless East Palestine.

          Genders says the Blue Devils will feature a couple of backs that will be hard to contain.  “First and foremost, they have to make a long drive to get here, I would say it is 2:45, they are on the boarder of Pennsylvania.  They have a couple of really nice skilled players in their running back and their quarterback and they will come at you in almost a wildcat look,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “They will do a little bit of throwing.  They will try and spread you out and get some mismatches because those two are pretty quick.  They do play a few young kids.  They have a couple of real nice sized offensive linemen.  They show some athleticism and they look pretty gritty.”

          When it comes to the wildcat formation, Genders says they have seen it, or at least a version of it, this year.  “We saw it against St. Paul.  They gave us a pretty good diet of it.  I would like to think everybody has a little version of it some of our quarterbacks are so good.  Even Crestview with Ross Kuhn, he is such a solid quarterback.  With him you could almost say it is a wildcat series because they are running so much option and stuff off of it.  It is not something we haven’t seen.  It is one of those things that sometimes teams lean on a lot, especially if they don’t have an excellent throwing game.  We are going to see a steady diet of it Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 10/05/20

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Shelby Faces Excellent Passing Game

 

          Shelby leads River Valley and Ontario by a game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference standings heading into week seven, the last week before the non-postseason playoffs, and the Whippets host River Valley on Friday night.

          A win and it’s an outright conference title for Shelby, right?  Well, maybe or maybe not.  Like every conference we cover except for the Sandusky Bay Conference there is another game to be played after the playoffs it that is possible.  Swankonsports.com has been told that if Shelby leads by two games after Friday it’s over, that means the Whippets win and Pleasant beats Ontario.  If not, the conference wants those games played if at all possible.

          Last week, Shelby (5-0,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Lucas (37-7) and coach Robert Mahaney says after the first drive their defense was able to settle in against that double wing, double tight offense.  “They came out and they kind of did their thing on offense and drove the field on us and got seven points up on the board, so it was 7-7, but I think after that first drive our defense kind of settled in and kind of picked up on their keys and saw what they needed to see.  They need to see that live going against that offense, you need to see it live before you get it down pat and trust your keys.  We held them to like three first downs after that first drive.  It was a great atmosphere.  Lucas is well coached and a really good football team.  They are extremely physical, which is good for us to see in week five and prepare us for conference championship game this Friday,” said Mahaney.

          River Valley (4-1,4-1) smoked Marion Harding (41-7) last week in an “MOAC” game.

          The Vikings Cayden Shidone leads the conference in passing yards with 1,190 and TD’s with 13.  Mahaney says that offense presents some challenges to them.  “They have a really good quarterback.  He is only a sophomore.  He does a really good job of throwing the ball down the field.  He has an extremely strong arm, so they take advantage of that in two ways.  One, they throw quick screens, they get the ball on that perimeter really fast because he can throw it out there.  Secondly, he is able to stretch the field vertically.  He is able to make some throws down the field that we really haven’t seen yet this year, so he is really going to stretch us that way.  They also have some really good receivers, big, tall, long receivers that make good plays for them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The good thing about their quarterback is he is not gun shy either.  He is willing to take some shots down the field and squeeze in some balls and try and take advantage of the one on one opportunities.  Really, defensively we have our hands full.  It is the exact opposite of what we saw last week.  So, we have to make the adjustment and get ready for this week.”

          On defense, Mahaney says the River Valley is very athletic and will show them a lot of different fronts.  “You can tell they are well coached and they have some really good players.  Copper Graham and Carson Klingel are two kids from last year that are back this year and doing really well for them.  As a whole they are just really athletic and strong kids that fly around and get to the football.  It is going to put some stress on us offensively, so we are going to have adjust to that.  They have some athletic guys, so they can play some different fronts, so we have to make sure we know our assignments up front.  When we do well offensively it is because our line plays well and we know what we are doing an execute to the best of our abilities,” said Mahaney.

          Shelby got the second seed in division IV, region 14 and will get a bye in the first round before playing either Wooster Triway or Rossford.  There is an option to play a regular season game next week, but Mahaney says they want to take the week off.  “We have a lot of bumps and bruises and actually some pretty good injuries.  We are going to take that bye week to try and get as healthy as possible.  We have River Valley and we have told our kids to leave it all out there on the field and then we have two weeks before the next game to really recover, rest and get ready for it.  That is the good thing about having a good season and I don’t think we need to force any games at this point.  We will finish the season off against River Valley and get ready for the playoffs and take week to get healthy,” said Mahaney.

 

Published 10/02/20

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Wynford Lock Horns With Carey

 

          The two teams tied for second place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference square off on Friday night as Wynford plays host to the Carey Blue Devils.

          Both trail Colonel Crawford by a game in the standings and the winner would have a chance to share in the title.  Crawford would have to lose to Bucyrus, which would be a huge upset, or to Seneca East in a game after the playoffs.  That game has not even been scheduled.

          Last week, Wynford (4-1,4-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, overwhelmed Upper Sandusky (68-21) in a conference game.

          Coach Gabe Helbert says they did not take a win for granted and came out ready to play.  “We talked about getting off to a good start was critical.  When you are playing a team you feel you are better than you try to get off to that fast start and try and put them away early and I thought our kids did a nice job of that.  Very happy with the way our kids played and the energy that our kids played with.  I thought we did better against Upper Sandusky than we did Seneca East, so I was happy to see that,” he said.

          Wynford has the top passer in the league in Dustin Brady, who leads the “N10” in both yards and TD’s.

          Carey scored seven times in the first half last week and went on to blast Seneca East (49-0) in an “N10” game.  Their only loss this year was week one (16-7) to Colonel Crawford.

          Helbert says they are good all over the place.  “I’ll tell you they jump out on film, they are an excellent football team.  I would be willing to argue they are the best team in our league at this point and that is no disrespect to any other league team.  I know they lost a game to Crawford, but they are very impressive.  They are impressive defensively, they are impressive offensively.  I think the most impressive thing overall is their team speed defensively and their size up front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “They have only given up 28 points this year, through five games 28 points is pretty good.  The defensive scheme that they run they do very well.  On the offensive side of the ball they have some nice skilled kids coming into their own offensively.  Our work is going to be cut out for us.  It is one of these fun and exciting games when you play a really good football team and have to play great deep into the game.  I guess that is what you do all of this stuff for.”

          With as good as the Carey defense is, Helbert says their defense is going have to keep Carey off the board.  “Defense wins championships and defense wins big games and I think that is going to be key.  Our defense is going to have to get their offense off the field.  We are going to have to make plays offensively and try and win some of that line of scrimmage.  It is going to be extremely hard to win, but it these big games it is going to come down to that line of scrimmage and the physicality and that kind of stuff,” said Helbert.

          The Royals will play either Indian Lake or Willard in a second round playoff game in division V and Helbert thinks the Carey game will be good preparation for the playoffs.  “This is a game our football program needs.  The way our league is right now it is very top heavy.  There are four very solid teams in our league and I guess I am including our football team.  So, to play a very good team week six heading into the playoffs, heading into that bye week, is going to be really important for our kids.  They are going to have to play a lot of football, which they haven’t had to do recently.  We are excited to play Carey,” said Helbert.

 

Published 10/02/20

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Plymouth Must Control the Line of Scrimmage

 

          Plymouth has lost the battle for the line of scrimmage the last two weeks and that can’t happen again on Friday night or they are in trouble as they host Crestview in a Firelands Conference game.

          Next week, by the way they start playoff action by hosting Lisbon David Anderson (1-4) in a first round game in division VII.

          Plymouth (3-2,3-2) got handled (35-6) by Norwalk St. Paul in a Firelands Conference game.

          Coach Mark Genders says it is very simple, they lost the battle up front.  “We lost the line of scrimmage.  We did some really good things as well.  We played some pretty solid defense.  I believe they came out and took 12 plays to score.  We just couldn’t get that stop.  We were bending and bending like we do, we just couldn’t get that play.  We got a turnover and took it to the house, so good game there.  Ultimately, we could get the ball moving, just couldn’t get it going.  They had a short feel all night long and it cost us.  It all came down to the trenches and they outplayed us,” he said.

          Crestview (4-1,4-1) is in a share of second place with St. Paul, a game behind Monroeville.  The Cougars routed South Central (55-7) last week.

          Genders says Crestview is vey talented, but it all begins with quarterback Ross Kuhn, who has 15 TD passes this season.  “They have the best offense we have seen all year hands down.  They are just so balanced.  They average something over 400 yards a game.  They are really balanced, I would say their run/pass is like 55/45, something like that.  They have a lot of athletes on their team and they are led by the best quarterback in this conference,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “He is a stud.  He is big, he is strong.  The biggest intangible you see is the maturity and the leadership he brings.  Those kids believe when he has the football the play is never over until it’s whistled and that’s a fact.  They showed that against South Central.  He kept plays alive, put the ball up and they made plays.  When teams are running hot on offense and playing well those are the kinds of things you see and they are most certainly that.
          To have a chance to win this game, Genders says they must keep the football in their hands and out of Crestview’s.  “We have to control the football and try and keep that offense off the field.  That is no slight on their defense.  Where they have come since the beginning is pretty impressive.  They are so quick and they are just tough.  It is Plymouth versus Crestview, so we know they are going to try and gear up and stop what we do up front and it is all going to come down to that again.  If we can’t establish some kind of success up front it is going to be a very long night for us because they are going have the ball all night.  We are not going to stop them, we are just going to try and contain.  If we don’t play our style of football and get back to winning the line of scrimmage it is going to be a long night for us,” said Genders.

 

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Hillsdale Plays Rival Northwestern

 

          It’s Hillsdale and Northwestern in a significant game in the Wayne County Athletic League on Friday night at Northwestern.

          Northwestern trails league leader Norwayne by a game and must have a win over the Falcons.

          Last Thursday night, Hillsdale (3-2,3-2) held off Waynedale (25-17) in a league game.

          Coach Trevor Cline says it was a win, but they still could have played much better.  “Waynedale played extremely well last week against us and we still had a few too many mental mistakes that allowed them to stay in the game.  We are continuing the work to get those fixed going into this week against Northwestern because they are one of the better teams in our league.  They have surprised a lot of people this year.  Their underclassmen have really stepped up and played really well so far this year,” said Cline.

          Northwestern (4-1,4-1) is coming off a (40-7) whipping of Smithville last week and carries a three game winning streak into the game with Hillsdale.

          Cline says the Huskies have big play potential.  “They have a few just really good athletes that when they are out in space they make plays.  Their QB, who is just a sophomore, he’s going to be a good one.  Right now, he has made some huge plays for them.  Huber, he is a senior, has had a really good career up there too.  He is someone who runs the ball well, he can catch the ball our of the backfield too.  They have multiple weapons and they are guys that if you are not careful, they end up making some really big plays,” he said.

          Cline, who also played football for the Falcons, says Northwestern is their biggest rival in the league and he expects this one to have intensity and come down to the fourth quarter.  “Anytime we play Northwestern it is always a battle.  Coach (Mike) Tuts has been there for 20 some years and he has done a phenomenal job up there.  For us, and I would say Northwestern would probably say the same, they are our biggest rivalry in the league, so each year we play them it is a very good game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Even in years when one team’s record is better than the others, it is always a battle, and this year we are fairly evenly matched and we are expecting it to be a really good game.  They have a lot on the line too because if things go their way, they may get a piece of the league title if they are able to beat us.”

 

Published 10/02/20

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Sandusky Meets Rival Perkins

 

          Sandusky takes the bus, or maybe they walk the short distance, to Perkins for a game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

          Between them they have only won one game this year, but there is still going to be some intensity in this one.

          Last week, the Blue Streaks (0-5,0-4) lost to division leader Bellevue (38-7) in a Lake Division game.

          Coach Mike Franklin says the Redmen were as good as advertised.  “They are a heck of a football team and we knew we couldn’t make any mistakes and they didn’t and we did.  They did what they normally do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “What was better was the quarterback threw the ball very well and our defensive backfield is not as good as it should be.  Give credit to Bellevue and I would be very surprised if they are not in there for a fight for a state championship.”

          Perkins (1-4,0-4) lost (42-7) to Tiffin Columbian in a division game last week.

          Franklin says they have some athletes.  “They are getting better.  They are young, very similar to us.  The quarterback runs the ball very well and has gotten better throwing the football.  We have to be able to contain him.  Their defense is big and strong.  I figure a 1-4 versus an 0-5 team to be a battle since we are only .4 miles away from each other,” said Franklin.

          It has not been a good season for either when it comes to wins and losses, but Franklin says this is still a game that means a lot to both sides.  “Not only for the kids, but the adults.  A lot of adults grew up in Sandusky and moved over to Perkins.  There is a lot that goes into this football game as it always has,” he said.

 

Published 10/02/20

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Lexington Ready to be Better

 

          Lexington hosts Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night to see who will win their first game this season.

          The Minutemen (0-5,0-5) also found out on Thursday that they will travel to Rocky River (2-1) for a first round playoff game in division III on October 9.

          They lost (44-10) to Ashland in an “OCC” game last week, but coach Tim Scheid says he saw a lot of positive things on offense.  “We got our offense moving a little bit.  We found some playmakers, some young kids that stepped up, some sophomores.  We are a young team on both sides of the ball.  Some of those sophomores stepped up and were able to make some plays and moved the sticks a few times for us offense.  We have to be able to finish plays, finish drives right now, which is normal for a young football team.  They can get it down there, but to punch it in is a different matter,” said Scheid.

          Madison (0-5,0-4) lost (30-26) to Mt. Vernon in a conference game last Friday.  It was likely their best performance of the season.

          Scheid says they have playmakers, one young man in particular.  “They have a couple of playmakers that you really have to be aware of.  They have one guy on their team, a wide receiver, (Isaac) Brooks, that reminds me Tyrell Ajian that they had a few years ago.  He is a dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball.  If he gets the ball, he can make some big plays for them.  So, we have to make sure we know where he is at,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “They have a big offensive line and we have to be able to push them back a little bit and create at least a stalemate on it.  They can be dangerous and I think they found a little bit of what works for them at the end of the Mt. Vernon game and we have to be ready for what they bring to us this Friday.”

          Scheid really believes his team is ready to win.  “Our kids had a great week of practice, perhaps one of the best weeks we have had all season.  Things are starting to jell a little bit better than they have all year.  So, we are hoping that translates into a victory (Friday) night,” he said.

 

Published 10/02/20

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Ontario Defense Improving

 

          Ontario takes a there game winning streak to Marion Pleasant on Friday night for a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

          They share second place in the conference with River Valley, a game behind the Shelby Whippets.

          Ontario (3-2,3-1) blanked Galion (28-0) last week in a conference game.

          Coach Chris Miller says they have really been improving on the defensive side of the ball.  “Defensively, we kind of had a breakout game a little bit.  We have been inching closer to being pretty good on that side of the ball and I thought our kids played really well over there once we settled down.  Give credit to Galion, they figured some things out and how to move the ball without some guys and went down the field.  Owen Hatfield had a pick and they were doing it again a little later in the game and Owen had another pick.  We forced turnovers and I think our run defense is getting better every week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “We will find out defensively defending the run how good we are this week again with Pleasant.  They do a fantastic job getting on bodies and moving people.  They have been able to run the football every week.  They have just been plagued by the turnover bug at times and kind of inopportune moments in games, but they are a good football team.  Like I told the guys this week in practice, there is no bad “MOAC” football team.  Everybody is good and anybody can get anybody on a single week.”

          From the beginning of the season until now, Miller says they have made big strides and it begins every week in practice.  “I think every week we get a little bit better in certain aspects.  Football is a big matchup thing.  How do we matchup here?  What do we need to work on this week to have our best chance at winning a game?  So, as long as we are kind of identifying those things and making sure we are getting better at our weaknesses and I think our kids are doing that.  I think they have bought in and believe in themselves and the system that we have going on.  We have a great coaching staff.  The coordinators and assistant coaches are all invested in kids and people and schemes are really working.  So, it’s going the right direction right now.  We just have to continue to preach the most important game of your career is the next game you play and that’s this week,” he said.

          Pleasant (1-4,1-3) is having a very rare down season, but they can still run the ball.  Quarterback/running back Austin Shaffer has rushed for 769 yards, that’s second on in the conference.

          Miller says they must contain that run game.  “They have a good initial surge.  That push that they get off the line of scrimmage is as good as anybody in the league we have seen.  They have two really big tackles.  Their center is very good.  He comes off the ball and spends a lot of time cutting guys and you will see him blocking down the field.  Austin Shaffer, they move him all over the place.  They throw him the ball, they throw with him, they pitch it to him, the hand it to him out of the backfield, just anyway they can get him the ball.  I think he has over 100 carries on the year.  Most of the offense is kind of run through him, but they have some guys they can give it to on counters and reverses and spread it out a little bit.  There is no question they are going to try and line up and run the ball and we have to do a nice job of maintaining the line of scrimmage and tackling the football,” said Miller.

 

Published 10/01/20

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Monroeville Wants it All

 

          Monroeville has a chance to win an outright Firelands Conference on Friday night if they can beat arch rival Norwalk St. Paul in the renewal of the best small school football rivalry in Northern Ohio.

          Right now, Monroeville (5-0,5-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, leads St. Paul and Crestview by a game.  Crestview plays Plymouth on Friday.

          Last week, Monroeville beat Mapleton (35-16) in a conference game.

          Coach Scott Stacher believes they were kind of looking ahead to this week.  “We played sloppy at times, but I think they had a little bit of St. Paul on their minds, but Mapleton is much improved.  It was good to get a win.  It was good to get a piece of the Firelands Conference and now it’s the whole piece of the pie with St. Paul,” he said.

          That isn’t necessarily written in stone.  There is a seventh conference game hanging out there to be played after the playoffs are over.  Sources inside the Firelands Conference tell Swankonsports.com that if all four of those week seven matchups are played then that game would count in the conference standings.  In Monroeville’s case that game is against Crestview.  The others would be St Paul versus Mapleton, South Central and New London and Plymouth taking on Western Reserve.  In all cases the logistics would have to be worked out to set a date for the game.

          Norwalk St. Paul (4-1,4-1) lost by one point to Western Reserve (20-19) two weeks ago, but rallied last week to beat a good Plymouth team (35-6) on Saturday night.

          Stacher says St. Paul kids always believe in themselves.  “They are just darn good.  They are very good.  They are disciplined.  They have been the system.  John and the coaching staff do an excellent job.  They have tradition.  They don’t want to be the team that loses.  They want to be winners,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They do all of the right things.  They keep plugging in kids at positions and play well and very disciplined.  They are good offensively and defensively, no doubt about it.”

          St. Paul quarterback Myron Stoll has been hurt and did not play at all last week against Plymouth and the Flyers went with a wildcat look.  Stacher says they will be ready for whatever St. Paul throws at them.  “Our defensive coordinator Tyler Nester and Brad Dunlap and Chris McDonald, our defensive guys have seen it before.  They ran wildcat against us in the playoff game for years ago.  Unless John goes to five wide spread, I’m sure there are things we haven’t seen.  They are going to do what they do best.  They are going to run the ball and throw a little bit just like we do.  So, I think that is going to be the matchup,” said Stacher.

 

Published 10/01/20

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Clyde to Try and Ruin Bellevue’s Party

 

          Clyde and Bellevue are rivals both with solid football programs and they get together Friday in Bellevue for a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          These teams already go after each other like a couple of pit bulls scraping for a steak and now add to it the fact than Clyde is the only thing that stands in the way of an outright title for Bellevue.

          Clyde (3-2,2-2) dropped a (30-14) decision to Norwalk in a division game last week, but coach Ryan Carter says where ahead in the fourth quarter and things got away from them.  “We were leading in the fourth 7-6 and they kicked a field goal and made it 9-7.  We just had some unfortunate drives and some bad things happen to us there in the fourth and they put a couple of touchdowns on.  I was proud of the way our kids played, we just didn’t finish drives, we didn’t make enough plays and you have to give some of that credit to Norwalk as well, they played a pretty good game,” he said.

          Bellevue (5-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Sandusky (38-7) last week to grab a piece of the title.

          Keegan Ray, the Bellevue quarterback, leads the division in rushing yards with 726 and Carter he is a tough runner and he is hard to stop.  “They are very big and experienced up front and they have a very good quarterback.  They are just managing the game very well right now.  They are keeping offenses off the field.  Their defense is playing extremely well because they don’t have to play very much,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “They are running the ball, they are grinding out first downs, they are running the quarterback a ton, he is very talented.  When you jam the box and put too many in there, they can throw it really well too.  They are multifaceted.  It is definitely going to be a challenge for us on the road, but it’s a rivalry game and we are looking forward to playing on Friday.”

          Carter adds that Ray likes to be physical and run between the tackles.  “He grinds it out.  He is looking to get four, five, six yards, instead of the home run every time.  He keeps it in there tight, he does not like to bounce where you can get yourself in trouble.  He is not trying to outrun anybody.  He has a great feel to their offense and what they are trying to do, what they are good at, and what they can be productive with.  He is experienced.  Coach Nasonti does a great job with his program.  His quarterbacks have always ran it really well.  We have our work cut out for us just trying to slow them down,” said Carter.

          Clyde is second in the division in run defense, giving up about 120 yards per game.

          The Bellevue defense leads the division in total defense and they allow just over three yards per rush.  “They stop the run with their down guys and the linebackers, so they don’t have to bring extra guys in the box, which allows them to cover it up behind.  It is tough sledding, we know that.  We are going to try and figure a few things out and try put our kids in the best situation we can,” he said.

 

Published 10/01/20

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Wooster Focused on Improvement

 

          Wooster, the Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leader, will play a non-conference game on the road against Louisville on Friday night in the week before the non-postseason playoffs.

          Last week, the Generals outgained Mansfield Senior by almost 300 yards and forced six Tyger turnovers in beating Mansfield (40-6) in an “OCC” game.

          Coach Doug Haas says they played well on both sides all night long.  “It was probably our most complete game to date and it was one that in my opinion took to long, but we will certainly take it and I’m proud of the kids in terms of the effort they put forth and the execution level that we had.  If you can create six turnovers you are putting yourself in pretty good position to be successful on game night,” he said.

          In a season that is as radically different as Elvis was to the American south, one of the biggest changes is the playoffs after only six weeks of regular season games. 

          Haas says they hope to use last week as a springboard into the rest of the season.  “If you look at the schedule just chronologically and we are in a situation where we are approaching week six and you just kind of came out of midseason.  I know for us, there are still some of those growing pains going on in terms of figuring out who we are.  It was great to overcome those last week and hopefully those are a springboard for us as we move forward and hopefully just get better, better and better,” he said.

          Wooster (5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, travels to Louisville (2-3) to meet the Leopards on Friday night.  Louisville beat Canton Central Catholic (34-20) last week.

          Haas predicts this will be a tough physical game.  “They are certainly going to be a big and physical football team.  They have been that way for years.  We have scrimmaged them actually for the previous two years, so when all this transpired we lost the scrimmage and it became an opportunity to become a regular season game.  They are really well coached, they are going to be fundamentally sound.  It is one of those things where football in Stark County is important,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “It is going to be a stiff test for us, so we are going to have to play well, we are going to have to play tough, we are going to have to play smart if we want to have an opportunity to be successful.  Our kids are ready for it.  They are excited about it.  They feel like they are shouldering a little more just representing Wayne County and the Ohio Cardinal Conference.”

 

Published 10/01/20

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Limiting Mistakes Big for Madison

 

          Madison goes to Lexington on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference play in search of that victory that they have been just on cusp of the last two weeks.

          They have lost their last 22 games in a row.

          Last week, they played an excellent second half, but came up just short in losing (30-26) to Mt. Vernon.

          Coach Dave Stupka says they played really pretty well for the last three quarters of that game last week.  “We did play a competitive four quarters.  On the bad side of that we got off to a really bad start.  Mt. Vernon had a lot to do with that, give them credit, they made a lot of nice plays early in the game and we got behind.  To our credit, we fought back to get a score before half and narrowed the margin as the game went on and really played a nice second half, really a nice three quarters of football.  So, we walked away again just very optimistic.  Even though it was a loss there were a lot of positives that were to be found.  It’s got to the point where our guys have got a taste of it the last couple of weeks, which we haven’t had.  So, it comes down to preparing this week for Lexington, “ said Stupka.

          Lexington (0-5,0-5) lost (44-10) last week to “OCC” co-leader Ashland.  They played pretty well most weeks this year on defense, but their offense has struggled quite a bit.

          Stupka says they will have to execute to score on the Minutemen.  “They had held some high powered teams to low scores.  Most impressive was their work against West Holmes.  That was a very tight ballgame and a couple of plays go their way they are only two scores out of that.  They had some unfortunate things happen offensively for them in that game.  Again, they weren’t able to take care of some opportunities that they had, but they are a very formidable defense and we are very concerned about that defense as we head into Friday,” he said.

          This shouldn’t sound as a surprise to anyone, but in a game between winless teams, Stupka says it is going to boil down to limiting mistakes.  “It comes down to, and this is going to sound cliché, but it is going to come down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes.  Like last week, we made some mistakes in the kicking game, which hurt us terribly.  I have watched Lexington and they have made some mistakes offensively at times, like we have.  It is going to come down to the team that sort of focuses on what they do and does it better than the other team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Yes, we are playing Lexington and Lexington is playing us, but our opponent is ourselves to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to do and I’m sure Lexington might feel the same way about it.  We just have to take care of business in terms of not making the critical mistakes, which turn into points for the other team.  I really believe that is what it is going to come down to.”

 

Published 10/01/20

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Seneca East Making Progress

 

          Seneca East would like to get a win on the board before the non-postseason playoffs begin next week and they get their chance at home Friday night against Upper Sandusky in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play.

          Last week, the Tigers lost (49-0) to Carey in conference game.

          However, coach Ed Phillips says they got off the deck and played very well on defense the second half of that game.  “It wasn’t the way we wanted it to turn out on the scoreboard, but at halftime we went in and I told the kids that we are going to keep going in the second half and keep positive and working to improve like we have for three week now and they did that.  We did that, they came out and defensively they shut out Carey and did a really good job on defense, which is hard to do.  They put up a lot of points.  We did it against their starters and that made us feel good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “When the game was over I told the guys, I know this, we have played three outstanding teams in a row and we took some lumps, but I know at the end of those three games I know we are a far better football team than we were three weeks ago.  That is most important thing at this point in the season, especially since everybody makes the tournament, so that is an exciting thing for us right now.”

          There have been injuries that has been a concern this year with the Tigers, but Phillips says they are getting some of those guys back.  “I know we are a good football team.  When you have to do things and adjust and change in the end it makes you better.  Knock on wood, we are getting healthier and getting some guys back that we haven’t had in a while, some all season.  If ever there was a year to do that, this is the year to do it,” he said.

          Seneca East (2-3,2-3) hosts Upper Sandusky (1-4,1-4) on Friday night.  The Rams were steamrolled by Wynford (68-21) last week in conference play.

          Phillips says the Rams have some guys on offense that can make plays and make trouble for them.  “They have skill on offense.  They play a couple of different guys at quarterback.  They both throw the ball really well.  They have some guys with juice that make some big plays.  We have to be really sound and we have to be physical.  We have to be physical up front.  We have to come out and tackle really well because they can get some guys out in space.  We have to tackle and not let them make some of the big plays they have made this season,” he said.

 

Published 10/01/20

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Northmor Finds Some Things on Offense

 

          Northmor, after finding some offense last week, goes to Highland to play the Scots in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

          The Golden Knights (2-3,1-3) beat Fredericktown (34-13) last week to break a three game losing streak.  They had 406 total yards last week, 323 coming on the ground, 119 from running back Max Lower and 116 by quarterback Marcus Cortez.

          Coach Scott Armrose says the finally saw on game night what they had been seeing in practice from their players.  “We had a really nice second half were things started to click.  We feel like we turned a corner offensively.  We kind of were able to show and do what we knew we could do all along and we got things moving,” he said.

          Armrose says they are not fancy in what they do on offense, but they work hard a perfecting what they do.  “We don’t do much offensively.  We are not that creative.  We do what we do.  We just try and get better that those things each week.  Just continuing the work on the things that we do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “We were kind of able to just get better at those few things.  We just executed better, made fewer mistakes, limited turnovers, we cut back on penalties.  Those are the things that killed us the three weeks prior.”

          Highland (2-3,2-3) lost (29-6) to Danville last week in a conference game. 

          Armrose says Highland has some size and they are going to be difficult to run against.  “Highland is a big strong football team.  They have some nice speed on the back end, but they are really big and strong up front.  It is going to be quite a challenge for us,” he said.

 

Published 10/01/20

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Bellevue With Chance at Outright Title

 

          Bellevue needs a win over arch rival Clyde on Friday night to secure an outright title in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          By the way, thank God for the “SBC” this year, who will play all of its division games before the non-postseason playoffs.

          Last week, Keegan Ray threw four touchdown passes and Bellevue (5-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, smothered Sandusky (38-7) in Lake Division play.

          Coach Ed Nasonti says they are playing keep away from the other team and that’s working.  “Whatever formula that gets me a win that’s what I’m for.  I know the last couple of games we have been right there around 34 minutes as far as time of possession.  On the defensive side, our defense has been out there very little.  So, the kids have been playing well.  I think we are playing good football.  We are fairly healthy.  So, we hope we can keep going in that direction,” he said.

          Bellevue leads the Lake Division in total defense this season, allowing just under 170 yards per game. 

          However, part of that success is due to the offense keeping the Redmen defense off the field, according to Nasonti.  “You talk to a lot of football coaches and they will tell you that the best defense is our offense.  If we can keep our offense on the field and grind it out, not turn the ball over and keep our defense in a favorable spot, that’s what we’d like to do.  I know the last three game that is kind of what we have done,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Teams have had very few snaps in the second half starting probably with the Perkins game and into the Tiffin game and then the Sandusky game.  We are really happy with the way the kids are practicing.  We are happy with way the kids are playing.  We are setting at 5-0 right now and that’s a good place to be.”

          The Bellevue defense is pretty darn good too, they allow only 3.1 yards per rush and less than 10 yards per pass completion.  Their giveaway/takeaway ratio as a team is plus three for the season.

          Ray also leads the division in rushing yards with 726 and TD’s with 10.

          Clyde (3-2,2-2) lost (30-14) to Norwalk last Friday in a division game.  However, it was a (16-14) game in the fourth quarter.

          Fliers quarterback Jaden Cook leads the division in passing yards with 977.

          Nasonti knows this game is going to be a battle.  “You have got to understand you are playing the defending state champs.  You have to have a program that has pride in it.  Those kids are going to come to play every Friday night.  I know they are going to come to play us when you are looking at a school that is five miles down the road.  It’s a natural rivalry.  I think we have all enjoyed this rivalry over the years and it’s going to be a good ballgame,” said Nasonti.

 

Published 9/30/20

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Point of Attack Key for St. Paul

 

          Norwalk St. Paul makes the short trip they have made so many times to Monroeville for their biggest game of the season as they face the unbeaten Eagles in a game of great significance in the Firelands Conference.

          Right now, Monroeville leads St. Paul and Crestview by a game in the conference standings going into the last game before the non-postseason playoffs.

          If a game between Monroeville and Crestview that would have been scheduled after the playoffs has impact on the standings, and if it would even be played depends on who you talk to, however, the importance on Friday night’s game is not questioned by anyone.

          Last Saturday night, the Flyers (4-1,4-1) crushed Plymouth (35-6) in a conference game.

          Coach John Livengood says his team really responded well to their only loss of the season (20-19) to Western Reserve the week before.  “I thought a big key in the Plymouth game was controlling the line of scrimmage and I thought our kids did a good job with that.  Plymouth is big and physical and they are well coached and they are a very good football team on both sides of the football.  I was very pleased with how our kids responded and bounced back from our loss to Western and did a nice job coming back a playing a really solid game against Plymouth, a really good football team,” said Livengood.

          The Flyers ran a lot of wildcat formation last week and Livengood says the players reacted very well to the need to change their offense.  “Against Western we lost our top two quarterbacks, so we had to go to some different looks.  When you try to put some different things in offensively and you only have a few days to do that.  Our kids were able to do that and embrace that and fortunately things worked out for us,” he said.

          Monroeville (5-0,5-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Mapleton handily (35-16) in a game that frankly wasn’t that close.

          Livengood says the Eagles are big and physical and more than anything they have tremendous experience.  “The biggest thing is they return almost all of their starters.  They return their entire offensive line, their quarterback, their backfield, they have a big tight end in Scheid, they return their receivers.  Same thing on defense, they return their defensive line, their linebackers and two of their four of their secondary guys are back.  You are looking at nine or ten starters on both sides of the ball are coming back from last year’s team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “So, they return a lot of guys and have good size up front, they are 260 and 230 at tackle.  They are big, experienced, tough hard nosed kids.  At linebacker, their kids get to the football, they control the line of scrimmage pretty well, they are a very good football team, balanced all of the way around, really well coached, really good football team.”

          Remember, Monroeville beat St. Paul (13-0) last year, so the Eagles, many of whom return from that squad, have the experience of beating St. Paul, something that had not happened since 2010.

          Livengood says to win at Marsh Field they must win at the point of attack and play outstanding defense.  “We have to control the line of scrimmage again.  I think about any coach will tell you that offensively and defensively controlling the line of scrimmage goes a long way in being able to be successful.  Taking care of the football, playing great special teams.  We played really good defense against Plymouth last week, we have to do the same thing this week.  Monroeville is very good at running the football.  We have to find a way to slow down that running game and get our offense back on the field,” he said.

 

Published 9/30/20

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Lucas With Things to Work on

 

          Lucas plays another Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference team on the road on Friday night as they visit Galion to play the Tigers.

          Shelby handed the Cubs their first loss of the season (37-7) last week by outscoring them (21-0) in the second half.

          Coach Scott Spitler says the Whippets have a lot of athletes they can put on the field.  “Hats off to them, they are such a talented and well coached team.  Early we were right there with them, but I thought there in the second half things got away from us.  They are just so balanced in everything they do.  They have weapons all over the field.  We did a good job against their run game.  The talent in the secondary and the quarterback kind of took over and we got behind the sticks and behind on the scoreboard a little bit.  They did what good teams do and put us away there in the second half.  The silver lining of playing a quality team like that is you definitely find out what things you have to get better at before the postseason.  The outcome wasn’t what we wanted and they exposed some things that we definitely have to get better at,” said Spitler.

          Now, if you lose a game, you want to learn from it and Spitler says they need to improve their game plan in the secondary and improve some things with the offensive line.  “I think we have to do a better job of simplifying things in the secondary, so we do a little less thinking.  What that does is we get flatfooted and things end up being by us and we give up some big plays in the passing game.  So, simplifying things there, so we can play fast and not think, just play free.  Offensively, we have to tighten up some things technique wise and things across the offensive line.  We just have to get better in certain aspects of our attack to get to were we want to be in the postseason.  The thing when you play good quality teams like Shelby is you get to find out what you still need to work on and it definitely showed us that,” he said.

          Lucas (4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, is at Galion (2-3) on Friday night.  Galion has lost its last two, Shelby beat them (42-6) and then Ontario blanked them (28-0) last week.

          However, Spitler says they are very athletic are the Tigers and they are just huge up front.  “For us another D-4 school on the schedule.  Coach Dick does a tremendous job over there.  They have a tremendous athlete at quarterback in Wilson Frankhouse.  The one thing I have seen in the “MOAC” this year with us playing them is at the quarterback position this league has just so many athletes when you talk about Shepherd at Shelby and Snyder at Ontario and Shaffer at Pleasant and now Frankhouse, he is an All-Ohio quarterback.  Just the size and athleticism at the receiver position with all of these “MOAC” teams and Galion is no different,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are just monstrous up front.  They have a freshman starting at right guard, who is 6’3” and 325.  When you watch him play you are just amazed at how well he moves for someone his size and he is mauling people as a freshman.  They are just so talented.  They have dealt with some injuries and some players being out.  This is going to be a very good task for us.”

 

Published 9/30/20

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Galion Must Play Well Early

 

          Galion is he next Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference team to take a crack at the Lucas Cubs as they host them on Friday night.

          The Tigers (2-3) played well the first three weeks, but some internal problems help lead to losses to Shelby (42-6) and Ontario (28-0) over the last two weeks.

          Coach Matt Dick says they have to sort of reshuffle the deck and try to come out with a good hand going into this week.  “We are getting some guys back off suspension and I think that helps.  When we start mixing them in, how can we take what we were doing well maybe before the suspensions and take what were doing well during the suspensions and mix those together and come out the other side a little better team.  That’s the goal.  We have two guaranteed weeks, I guess with Pleasant it is three, to really try and reach our potential.  That’s the goal to keep growing.  Our kids are bought in and they are working hard and hopefully this Friday we will play the best football game we have played all year,” said Dick.

          Lucas (4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, lost for the first time all year when Shelby spurted in the third quarter and beat the Cubs (37-7) last week.

          Of course, they run that double wing, double tight offense, and Dick says you can not let them get a lead on you or they become very hard to beat.  “Our defense has played really, really well all year long, but it is really hard to simulate this type of offense, but I have played it before.  I think we played them at Fredericktown when they had two 1,000 yard backs.  The bottom line is in my experience with it the first two series are just eye opening.  You just can’t believe how low they play and nasty they play and then after about two series you calm down and realize it is still football, you still have to tackle the running back and get off blocks, that type of stuff,” he told Swankosports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Also, I think it is important that they offense does something early because if they get rolling, let’s say up 14 points, it’s over.  Their offense is perfect for that.  The flip side, if you can hit some passes over the top or score some points in some fashion and they are down 14, it becomes a totally different ballgame.  So, having a fast start is important again this week.”

          Dick says you must attack the ball carrier because their backs have the ability to either pound or squirt through the mass of humanity at the point of attack.  “Their kids are good at slipping through those little cracks.  They have had a lot experience with it and a lot of games doing it, so there is a complete buy in there.  So, it is definitely a tall challenge.  Like I said, our defense has played well all year and hopefully they rise to the challenge,” he said.

 

Published 9/30/20

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Mansfield Senior Has to be Better

 

          When you don’t play well and you are playing a really good football team, you get thumped and that’s what happened to Mansfield Senior last week and they have to be improved this week.

          They play at home against Mt. Vernon on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          Wooster drilled the Tygers (40-6) in a conference game last week.

          Assistant coach Seam Adams says they got beat in about every possible way they could last week by the Generals.  “Well, give Wooster credit, they came out and took it to us.  They were more physical, they were more disciplined, they were tougher, they just did everything you need to do to win a football game and they did it very well.  I give them credit, they have things rolling over there in Wooster.  It was just a tough way to go out against a good team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We just didn’t play well, we didn’t execute, didn’t get lined up right, we didn’t do special teams right, we didn’t do offense right, we didn’t do defense right.  It was just a culmination of things that we just didn’t do right.  Hopefully, this week we can correct those mistakes and do things right and go out and play the way we know we can.  Win, lose or draw, we know that we played hard, we executed, we were disciplined, we were tough, and those are the things we are trying to do this week.”

          Wooster had 429 total yards last week, Mansfield Senior had 169.  They Tygers had six turnovers while Wooster had two.

          Adams says they have shown improvement this year, but last week just wasn’t one of those times.  He says they need to get back at it this week.  “I think some of the guys are repeating the same mistake, but I see a lot of growth too in some other guys.  I don’t want to belabor the point of being negative.  We just try and coach them up, that’s coaching.  You just try and coach them out of it and find a way to motivate them.  I have seen a tremendous amount of growth overall.  I think offensively we have grown.  Defensively, we have gotten better.  I think last week was just a culmination of things that we just didn’t do right.  So, moving forward this week, we are planning on doing things the right way and the way we know we are capable of playing,” said Adams.

          Mansfield Senior (1-4,1-3) plays at home against Mt. Vernon (2-2,2-2) this week.  The Yellow Jackets hung on to beat Madison (30-26) last week.

          Adams says they are going to see buck sweep after buck sweep from the Yellow Jackets unless they prove they can stop it.  “They line up in that wing-T and they run buck sweep and if you didn’t get enough of the buck sweep they are going to give you some more of the buck sweep and if you still didn’t get enough they are going to give you more of the buck sweep.  They run it to perfection.  You make an adjustment to the buck sweep and they counter back.  I really like #44, he is a freshman.  I just like how the kid plays football.  He’s tough, he plays hard, he’s physical, and he just gives it everything he has got.  So, we are going to have our hands full with a tough, big, physical Mt. Vernon team, but it’s the last night at Arlin Field for our seniors and we look to go out with a bang,” said Adams.

 

Published 9/30/20

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Norwayne With Chance at Title

 

          Norwayne warps up no less than a share of the Wayne County Athletic League football title this year with a win at home Friday night against the second place Dalton Bulldogs.

          Dalton and Northwestern both trail the Bobcats by a game.  Norwayne has already beaten Northwestern this season (50-7) on week two.

          The Bobcats (5-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, has averaged 50 points a game this season and given up less than a TD per game, they walloped Chippewa (62-7) last week.

          Coach Adam Indorf says they have been very good on both sides of the ball.  “I’m really excited about how well we are playing.  We are playing with passion and energy.  Defensively, we are playing really fast and physical.  Offensively, we are playing fast and have the ability to use a multitude of young men and be proficient and efficient on offense.  We are looking good, but we still have a lot of work to do.  We still have a lot ahead of us.  We can’t rest on our laurels and still have to move forward,” said Indorf.

          Dalton (4-1,4-1) won their first three games rather easily and then lost to Northwestern (7-6) on week four.  They had to rally to Rittman to beat winless Rittman (28-13) last week.

          Indorf expects them to be heathy and offer up a tremendous challenge.  “They are a really good team.  I know they had a couple of guys out the past couple of weeks.  Those guys are back this week.  Definitely when they have everybody and they are clicking on all cylinders they can definitely be dangerous.  We have talked about potential challenges,” he told Swanknsports.com on Tuesday, “We have talked about the ability to face adversity and how we are going to work through that.  Just take every rep we have in practice to do our very best and move forward and make sure we are taking care of ourselves again this week.”

          With what is riding on this game it would be an exciting atmosphere at Norwayne, but Indorf says that has been tempered a little bit because this is the year 2020.  “It’s unfortunate in 2020 that there is not going to be a packed house.  It’s a different atmosphere and just a little bit of excitement when you know there is just a little bit more at stake an just a little more energy in the stadium that always helps out.  That’s a great thing to have as a player,” he said.

 

Published 9/30/20

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Buckeye Central Must Rebound

 

          After breaking a long losing streak two weeks ago, Buckeye Central took a couple steps back and did not play well in loss last week to Colonel Crawford.  They must get it back headed in the right direction as they play Mohawk on Friday night in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game.

          Crawford scored four times in the first quarter and went on to demolish the Bucks (56-8) last week.

          Coach Chad Jensen says it was just not a good effort by them.  “Crawford is a very good team, but we didn’t play very well and our kids recognize that.  We as coaches understand that.  We didn’t help ourselves by turning the ball over early.  You can’t do that with a really good football team.  We did not do ourselves any favors.  We played, honestly, very poorly.  So, that has been our challenge this week to improve from that,” he said.

          Jensen says they didn’t do a very good job as a staff getting the players ready and the players didn’t play well.  “We had the big win against Bucyrus and frankly last week we had a poor week of practice and we didn’t play well in the game.  Again, as coaches we take that responsibility and we accept that responsibility.  So, this week we have really challenged our kids.  We didn’t play well, we all know it, so what do we have to do to get better and that is going to be the challenge for our kids this week and we will see how they respond,” Jensen said.

          Buckeye Central (1-4,1-4) hosts Mohawk (3-2,3-2) on Friday night.  The Warriors belted Bucyrus (64-7) last week.

          Mohawk is second in the “N10” in total defense so far this season and Jensen says this is a very athletic team they are facing.  “Our league is loaded and Mohawk is a really good team and they are very athletic.  They are very quick.  They are not real big.  I think their biggest kid is 225, so that are not real big,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They are athletic and on defense they really flow to the ball well and are aggressive.  On offense, they run the ball well and are able to throw with the quarterback.  They just do things well.  They are very well coached and they are just fundamentally sound and that is going to be a challenge for us.”

 

Published 9/30/20

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Another Tough one for South Central

 

          The Firelands Conference is rugged this year and it seems every time South Central turns around they have another solid team to play and this week is no exception as they are at Western Reserve on Friday night.

          Last week, Crestview blasted the Trojans (55-7) in a conference game.

          Coach Corey Fickiesen says they did some good things, but two plays stand out to him in particular that gave the Cougars the momentum.  “We were able to move the ball well at times, especially early on.  We got down in the red zone, we were on the three-yard line there and we didn’t punch it in.  We turned around and had Ross Kuhn sacked and he made a great play and got out of it and ended up throwing a deep pass.  I thought those two plays really turned the momentum in their favor.  They made some more plays than we did and obviously the score tells they made a lot more plays than we did.  Watching the film, we still have some kids doing some good things, but we have to get a lot better in a lot of areas,” said Fickiesen.

          The Trojans are still being affected by the injury bug.  Their best athlete in David Lamoreaux is likely out for the season with a broken collar bone.

          South Central (0-5,0-5) plays at Western Reserve (3-2,3-2) in a conference game on Friday.  The Roughriders roughed up New London (46-12) last week in their game.

          Fickiesen says Western has an outstanding quarterback in Jude Muenz and they are a physical team.  “Well, they are good.  I think everyone would agree with that.  They beat St. Paul a couple of weeks ago, regardless if they had their quarterback or not, they still beat them.  That’s a big deal.  Jude Muenz is a man.  He is a really good quarterback and he is a really good runner, he kind of does everything for them.  The (Jake) Jarrett kid in the slot is a really good player.  The offensive line is really well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They run the football right at you and then they take shots when they need to.  Defensively, they are disciplined.  They try and stop the run first and make you beat them through the air.  They are just good all of the way around.”

          Playing the kind of schedule they have, Fickiesen believes they will be well prepared for the non-postseason playoffs, which begin next week.  “It is kind of how our season has gone, there are no cakewalks, there are no easy games, but we knew that at the beginning of the year.  We knew it would test us and hopefully we will be ready for that playoff game when we get there due to the strength of our schedule,” he said.

 

Published 9/30/20

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Clear Fork Making Steps Forward

 

          Clear Fork, fresh off its first win of the season last week, plays at Marion Harding in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

          The Colts (1-4,1-3) beat Marion Pleasant (35-14) last week.

          Coach Dave Carroll says they did a lot of things better on week five than they had the previous four weeks.

          He says their linebackers and defensive backs had an outstanding game.  “It was the best performance for four quarters that we have had all year.  In previous interviews, I kept saying we are just not a good football team and I always tagged on the word yet.  I think we are starting to become, I mean one win doesn’t make us world beaters, but we definitely took a big step in becoming a much better football team.  One of the things we have been talking about that we needed to do was paly with more discipline, especially our linebacking corps.  Jack Harris, a senior, and Chris Grove, a young sophomore, outside linebackers, and then our two inside linebackers Caleb Hollar and Brady Au just had fantastic games.  They were disciplined and more physical than they have been and it kind of set the tone for our defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Our secondary I thought did a good job.  Pleasant, they are kind of in the same situation that we are they don’t throw a lot, they run it, run it, run it and then bingo they will throw one.  That is even scarier than a team that throws it all of the time because you can fall asleep as a defensive back.  Our guys did a really good job of reading their keys and not just looking into the backfield.  For the most part we had their receivers blanketed.  I was really proud of those two units on our defense.”

          Turnovers had been killing momentum and leading to scores for the opponent and Carroll says they solved that last week.  “The other thing we have had an issue with all year, and it has decimated us, is turnovers.  We had one turnover and it was after the score was 35-14.  There is a never a good time to have a turnover, but in crucial situations that led to opponents getting touchdowns.  So, holding onto the football was key for us.  Another thing special teams were good.  Our special teams have been petty solid all year,  Our goal is to make our special teams great and do something big and Brady Au blocked a punt, which led to a score and kind of sowed the game up at that point, so that was big,” said Carroll.

          The veteran Clear Fork coach says that this was the first game this season when injuries to the Colts were not a big factor.  “I want to say and I could be wrong here, but I think it was the first game that our best players played the whole game, there wasn’t an injury during the course of the game or kept them from playing or kept them from playing the whole game from a previous injury and that’s huge.  When your top players are injured, they are out, it makes it tough when you are struggling offensively.  Our young offensive line is each week getting better, still have a long way to go, but they are getting there,” he said.

          When you are not having a good season, it is easy to kind of give up and playing and practicing hard.  Carroll says that has not been the case with this group.  “The biggest thing for me is and I know a lot of people don’t understand this because they see wins and losses and that’s how they count success, but these kids haven’t given up, they haven’t quit when they have been surrounded by negativity and just losing is hard and we are not real used to that.  Every week they come back to practice and work hard and get better and learn what the game plan is.  I am way more proud of that than a win.  It was good to see the kids happy and ringing the victory bell, enjoying films on Saturday morning.  They really deserved that because they have worked hard and really needed that,” said Carroll.

          Marion Harding (1-4,0-4) lost (41-7) to River Valley last week in an “MOAC” game.

          Carroll says it hasn’t been a good season in terms of their record for the Presidents, but they have some guys on offense that can make some plays.  “They have been struggling, their only win is a close game with Madison.  They have some offensive firepower.  They have a quarterback that can throw the ball, some nice receivers, good running backs, a big offensive line.  They run the sweep really well, they run some iso and a variety of pass plays that they do a good job with.  Defensively, again they have some big boys up front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We feel if we can get our speed past that first line and get it in the secondary those guys can do some damage like they did against Pleasant last week.  We are going to be a run first team.  Hopefully, our passing game improves a little bit to complement the run.  Again, no turnovers, limit the penalties, hopefully eat a lot of clock with nice long drives like we have been doing and finish them with some scores.  Defensively, we can not let those guys get big plays on us.  The guys did a good job with that against Pleasant.  They drove the ball on us a couple of times, but held them to 14 points and having some big stops.  Pleasant had a huge offensive line very similar to Harding.  So, we have been against size and had success and hopefully we can do that again.”

 

Published 9/29/20

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Norwalk Has to Handle Columbian Blitzes

 

          Norwalk and Tiffin Columbian share second place in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.  The winner has a chance to share the league title.

          First place Bellevue would need to lose to Clyde in order for there to be a shared title.

          Last week, Norwalk (3-2,3-1) scored two fourth quarter touchdowns and Garrison Smith kicked three field goals, including a school record 54-yarder and the Truckers beat Clyde (30-14) in a division game.

          Coach Todd Fox says they are getting better.  “At this point that is what you want to be able to say each week and I feel they way we finished that game we have gotten better in a lot of phases of the game and have continued to improve,” he said.

          Norwalk has won its last three.

          Fox says they have been able to put their offense in another gear.  “The first 10 quarters of the season we scored 20 points and the last 10 quarters we have scored 87.  So, we are getting better and after watching film from Friday night we saw a lot of errors and there were a lot of places where I wish we could do this, this and this, but when you set back and realize what we were able to do with the easy fixes we had on film we can look at ourselves and respect the game and get better,” said Fox.

          Ethan Phillips is now the leading receiver in the Lake Division with 32 catches for 393 yards.  Garrett Chapin is second in the league in passing yards with 932.

          Tiffin Columbian (4-1,3-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Perkins (42-7) last week in a good comeback after falling to division leader Bellevue (20-13) the week before.

          Fox says they have an excellent sophomore quarterback in Logan Beaston and a lot weapons around him.  “They have two special quarterbacks.  It looks like they have settled on the sophomore Beaston, who is already a great quarterback.  He is going to have a bright future for them the next couple of years.  They have a lot of weapons on the outside and a slot receiver that is doing a really nice job for them too.  They have some big guys up front.  So, offensively they are sound.  They are a little different from what they have had in the past, but they are doing things the right way and getting better themselves,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Defensively, they are an attacking, swarming defense that dials up a blitz it seems every other play.  Just a good, sound football team.  We are going to have our work cut out for us.”

          Beaston leads the Lake Division with nine touchdown passes this year.

          As far as handing the Columbian blitzes, Fox believe they will be prepared, it’s just a matter of execution.  “We have changed up some things this year with the way we practice.  At the end of the year we evaluate how we prepare ourselves.  We didn’t give enough attention to the blitz packages coming at us.  I know coach Ziegler and coach Cole have done a phenomenal job of prepping our guys, but it still has to be executed on Friday night.  We will just give it our best shot and hope to improve.  When the dust clears if we are winning at triple zeros and did our best, great, and if not we get ready for week seven and the playoffs,” said Fox.

 

Published 9/29/20

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Big One for Ashland Versus West Holmes

 

          Ashland is in a share of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with the Wooster Generals and they travel to West Holmes on Friday night for an “OCC” game against the dangerous Knights.

          Now, the Arrows are scheduled to play Wooster in maybe about a month after the non-postseason playoffs are done for both sides, but that game isn’t nearly as interesting if Ashland doesn’t win on Friday.

          Wooster plays a non-conference game against Louisville on Friday.

          Ashland (5-0,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Lexington (44-10) last week.

          Coach Sean Seder says they were ready to play against the winless Minutemen.  “We thought Lexington had a pretty good defense.  We knew they were struggling a little bit on offense.  We knew it was one of those games where we couldn’t overlook our opponent.  Thankfully, we came out and took care of business on both sides of the ball and got a big conference win.  Now, we are set up for a big conference game with West Holmes,” he said.

          Quarterback DeClan Rohr threw for 366 yards against Lexington last week.

          The Arrows defense has not allowed more than one TD in any league game, but they are going to be challenged this week.

          The Knights lost a non-league game to future “OCC” member New Philadelphia (37-15) last week.

          Seder says West Holmes (3-2,3-1) is very explosive on offense.  “We think they are a really good offensive team.  They play pretty good defense as well.  Offensively, they are pretty impressive.  They started out the first week against Senior and put 56 points on them.  They have had some pretty tough opponent lately in Wooster and New Phily.  I think New Phily is the real deal and so is Wooster.  We don’t put too much weight into that, that all of the sudden they aren’t a very good football team.  We think they are pretty good.  It’s going to be a tough game down at West Holmes,” said Seder.

          West Holmes averaged 60 points over their first two games, but they have put only two scores on the board in each of their last three contests.

          West Holmes tends to be very aggressive on offense.  Seder says they are not afraid to take chances and that can end up in big plays for them.  “They have a pretty good receiver in #20 Brady Taylor.  They will throw it deep to him and he either catches it for a big play and a touchdown or like against Wooster I think they had five turnovers.  They are kind of a fest or famine team.  It can be scary because you definitely don’t want them to be feasting on you and getting lots and lots of big plays.  That is kind of what happened week one against Senior.  Hopefully, we stay opportunistic on defense and we can force some turnovers and keep some of their big playmakers in check,” said Seder.

 

Published 9/29/20

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East Knox Plays Arch Rival Danville

 

          East Knox and Danville are tied for second place in the football standings of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference and they play each other in Howard on Friday night.

          The winner has a chance to move into a share of first place with Centerburg if the Trojans would lose to Fredericktown, but this game is for more than that, its for bragging rights for the next year.

          Last week, the Bulldogs (4-1,4-1) punished Mt. Gilead (56-7) in a “KMAC” game.

          Coach Cody Reese says they went out and accomplished the task that was given them.  “The schedule it is what it is.  All we can do is make the most of the opportunities we are given.  We work in practice to improve from week to week and accomplish what we can in terms of being successful in the game.  We were pleased with our performance on Friday night.  We felt like we did what we needed to do in order to be successful,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We did what we needed to do to improve from the prior week.  We felt like we handled our business the way we should have.  There are always going to be things we need to work on.  We are definitely pleased with our boy’s efforts and level of execution Friday night.”

          Danville (4-1,4-1) beat Highland (29-6) in a conference game as quarterback Max Payne threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.

          The Blue Devils have won four straight and Reese says are physical and also a team that keeps improving.  “Week one they lose to a very solid Centerburg team and from there they have done nothing but improve.  Watching film, they play extremely hard.  Defensively, they are very active.  They like to move guys around and give different looks and try to confuse the offensive line and quarterback and coverages and things.  Offensively, they throw bodies at you.  They are extremely physical and they come right at you.  It is definitely a physical Danville football team that plays hard the first snap to the last snap,” said Reese.

          Reese says when you play football at East Knox this is the game you look forward to playing every year.  “They are a lot of fun.  It is kind of like that playoff mentality, you lose, you go home.  That is kind of how these rivalry games are, nobody wants to go home the loser.  There is lots of energy.  There is going to be a lot of pad popping on Friday night.  We tell our boys this is what we play for, situations like this, opportunities like this.  Now that we have it, what are we going to do with it?”

 

Published 9/29/20

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Western Reserve Hosts South Central

 

          Western Reserve is looking to take the momentum of a three game winning streak into the division VI playoffs with a win Friday night over the visiting South Central Trojans in Firelands Conference play.

          Last week, the Roughriders (3-2,3-2) avoided a possible letdown and buried New London (46-12) in a Firelands Conference game.

          Coach Ty Stevenson says they had a good approach.  “I was happy with our kids, I thought they prepared hard all week.  New London had some athletes and had some dangerous guys that we were happy we were able to contain.  We let them lose one time and they got a deep touchdown on us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “For the most part we prepared really well and played pretty well early and that was able to get us a lead and we kind of just kept going from there and had a good performance.”

          South Central (0-5,0-5) was hammered (55-7) by Crestview in a conference game last week.

          However, Stevenson says they have a lot of talent and they may be healthy for the first since week one.  “Their 0-5 record is very deceiving.  They are loaded with talent.  They have had some injuries and a couple of different things.  It sounds like they will be back to full strength this week, so we will definitely have our hands full.  They have a lot of really great athletes.  They are big up front and the kids are really strong.  So, they pose a lot of problems and we will have to bring our “A” game,” he said.

          This high school football season is as different when compared to previous seasons as landscape on the moon as contrasted to the look of planet earth, it’s almost like we are in another dimension.

          Stevenson says no matter what happens this week there is playoff game next week for everyone who wants one.  He says that brings a different energy.  “It is a different experience for sure.  That is kind of the nice thing if you are 5-0 and 0-5 you are preparing for a playoff week next week.  We will find out our brackets and where we go on the lines on Thursday.  That should bring some excitement and a good, competitive game.  Hopefully, play well Friday night and give ourselves a chance to win.”

 

Published 9/29/20

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Another Quick Start Required for Crawford

 

          Unbeaten Colonel Crawford, the Northern 10 Athletic Conference leader, plays at Bucyrus against the winless Redmen on Friday night in “N10” action.

          Last week, the Eagles (5-0,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, pounded rival Buckeye Central (56-8) in a conference game, to give them a one game lead over Wynford and Carey, who play each other Friday, in the conference standings with game to play before the playoffs begin.

          They scored four touchdowns in the first quarter, Carson Feichtner returned an interception for a score, one of two defensive touchdowns on the night for the Eagles.

          Coach Ryan Teglovic says that’s what they needed to start the game.  “You certainly don’t bank on getting a couple of defensive touchdowns.  That really propelled us.  We moved the ball as well when we had the ball.  So, we got off to a great start and just kind of continued that throughout the game.  It’s going to be important to do the same thing this Friday,” said Teglovic.

          Tristan Cross finished with 126 yards rushing and three scores for the Eagles.  He leads the conference in rushing yards this season with 640.

          The Eagles are about in the middle of the pack in the conference in defense this season, but Teglovic says they have come up big when they have had to this year.  “They have played very well.  Two weeks ago, we play a very good Mohawk team and they hold them to one score on offense, so obviously they played very well.  The Wynford game they gave up some points, but when we needed to get crucial stops at the end of the game, we were able to do that,” he said.

          Bucyrus (0-5,0-5) got drilled last week (64-7) by Mohawk in a conference game.  They have averaged less than a score a game and only 83 yards of total offense.  They have surrendered 57 points a game and almost 450 total yards.  They have given almost 300 yards per game on the ground.

          Teglovic says they must keep their focus.  “We have to go over there for one.  We have to go on the road and go to Bucyrus and these are close communities.  They will come out and play hard and it’s going to be important that we start fast.  If we do, we will have some good opportunities,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “I think it’s extremely important that we get off to a good start.  They have some big kids.  I like their quarterback, he is just a freshman.  #1 Randy Banks is an exceptional athlete, he can make plays.”

 

Published 9/29/20

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Fredericktown Trying to Find Answers to Centerburg’s Quickness

 

          Fredericktown plays on the road at Knox Morrow Athletic Conference leader Centerburg on Friday night in a conference game.

          The Freddies (1-4,1-4) are going to have to find some answers to the Trojans quickness, which most teams have failed to do so far this fall.

          Last week, Northmor outscored the Freddies (20-7) in the second half and beat Fredericktown (34-13) in conference play.

          Coach William Hartley says they just couldn’t get anything done in the second half.  “It was a pretty disappointing second half.  The first half went pretty much how the whole year has gone, really close nip and tuck.  It’s 14-6 Northmor at the half and then we just didn’t respond very well in the second half.  We had a three and out coming out of halftime and then they had a really quick drive.  They had two really big chunk plays and scored in I think a five play drive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We did some nice things offensively, but we just couldn’t finish drives.  We ended up going out on downs deep in their territory and they got the ball back again and had another drive and scored and that kind of stretched the lead out and we were really never able to respond throughout the fourth quarter.  We felt we kind of took a step back on Friday.”

          One thing that was a problem last week for the Freddies is they were not as physical as Northmor, especially in that second half.  “The biggest thing against Northmor is they just played more physical than us in the second half.  That is long term stuff, that is getting in the weight room and getting the kids bought in in the off season because Northmor was able to control the line of scrimmage throughout the third quarter and into the fourth quarter and just wore us out,” he said.

          The Golden Knights outgained the Freddies on the ground last week 323 to 112 yards.

          Centerburg (5-0,4-0) handled Cardington (35-6) in conference play.  They hand rallied in the late going to win the previous two weeks against East Knox (35-28) in double overtime and Highland (34-28) to stay unbeaten.

          Hartley says they have very good speed and quickness and they are trying to find ways to matchup with the Trojans.  “As far as Centerburg is concerned.  They bring a lot of speed to the field.  They are a very athletic team.  They are not overly big, but they have a lot of really nice athletes that they get the ball to in space.  We are trying to make a few adjustments and get some of our quicker kids onto the field defensively and hopefully we can matchup up with their speed and play well in space and be good tacklers and run to the ball.  We need to try and create some turnovers because they are going to put the ball up quite a bit, so if we can get some turnovers, that helps us as well,” said Hartley.

 

Published 9/29/20

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Crestview Has to Get Off Blocks Against Plymouth

 

          Crestview, in a share of second place in the Firelands Conference with Norwalk St. Paul, a game behind Monroeville, plays at Plymouth against the Big Red on Friday night, in the final regular season game before the non-post season playoffs.

          Last week, the Cougars (4-1,4-1) led (35-0) at halftime and went on to hammer South Central (55-7) in a conference game.

          Coach Steve Haverdill says it was their focus to start fast and play relaxed.  “They were able to play fast early and we got out to that early lead.  For our kids, when we get out early, we are just able to relax a little bit more and played good, relaxed, fast football.  By doing that it just took care of itself through the first half and into the third quarter and the kids played well,” he said.

          Quarterback Ross Kuhn set a school record with five TD passes in the game and Haverdill says he does an outstanding job leading their offense.  “Yeah, Ross is pretty good.  He is one of the best in the area, if not the best.  We are pretty well balanced.  Coach (Don) Keener does a nice job with our offense.  Doing stats this weekend, I think we are averaging about 440 a game.  When you look at rushing, passing, it’s about 238 to 202, so it’s really well balanced.  I think we have 15 rushing touchdowns and 14 passing touchdowns.  So, across the board it has been pretty balanced.  We do have weapons on the outside and we a good run game with an experienced line.  Ross does a good job of executing and leading the way,” said Haverdill.

          Wideout Evan Hamilton caught four of those touchdowns, that’s also a school record.

          Plymouth (3-2,3-2) got drilled on Saturday night (35-6) by St. Paul.  They had lost to previous week (20-12) to Monroeville after winning their first three games.

          Haverdill says the Big Red is going to come into Friday night fired up and he says their defense is aggressive.  “They have played two good teams, so obviously they are hungry to get after us.  They do that double tight, double wing stuff and they are just going to smash mouth.  We have to have that intensity and be prepared to play against that.  It is going to be a complete 48 minutes.  We know it is going to be a hard, physical game.  We have to be ready for it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “We went and watched them (Saturday) night against St. Paul and their defense is very aggressive and they get after you.  They cause some problems and they are fast.  We will have to have our “A” game, there is no doubt about it to beat these guys on their turf.”

          When defending the Plymouth run oriented offense, Haverdill says they have to be able to get off blocks and get to the ball carrier.  “You have to be disciplined.  You have to read your keys.  You have to fight through that traffic, you can’t go head on with these guys, you have to make yourself small and dip and run through guys and get to the point of attack.  If you don’t do that, they are just going to swallow you up and they are going to have a big night.  We have to do a really good job this week of using our hands and staying low and coming off blocks,” he said.

 

Published 9/28/20

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Second Place Teams in Lake Division Matchup

 

          Tiffin Columbian hosts Norwalk in an important game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

          The two schools share second place in the division a game behind Bellevue.  The Redmen play Clyde on Friday night.  A Bellevue win gives them an undisrupted division title, a loss to Clyde, and the winner of the Columbian versus Norwalk games shares the trophy.

          The Tornadoes (4-1,3-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Perkins (42-7) last Friday in a division game.

          Coach Judd Lutz says they were able to get their offense back in gear after a loss to Bellevue (20-13) the week before.  “We had kind of tough go of it on offense for two weeks finding a way to score points.  I thought we did some good things for two weeks, but couldn’t score points in the fashion that we feel we can and need to and we really got back to the drawing board a little bit.  We did some pretty good things against a really good Sandusky Perkins team. I thought our defense played really well containing some great players on their team.  Just glad to get back in the winner’s column,” he said.

          Tiffin running back Keason Jackson ran for a 267 yards and four scores last week against Perkins.

          Norwalk (3-2,3-1) had a big fourth quarter last week and beat Clyde (30-14) in a division game to win their third game in a row.

          Lutz says the Tuckers have shown a lot of improvement this year.  “Coach Fox has them playing at a really high level.  You put on the tape and watch them play early in the season and you see certain things they are probably trying to figure out themselves a little bit, maybe still figuring on their personnel and the best fit for those guys.  I wouldn’t say it’s sloppy, it was just like us, if you put us on early in the season, they have come a long, long way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “They are a really good team playing at a high level.  They had a big win last week versus Clyde.  Their only loss in the division is week two against a really good Redmen team like we had.  So, they are playing really good, probably feeling pretty good about themselves.  It has been a pretty good week 10 rivalry the last couple of years, being a meaningful game between the two of us, and it’s another one for sure this year.”

          Norwalk quarterback Garrett Chapin is one of the better quarterbacks around and Truckers kicker Garrison Smith might be the best kicker in Ohio, he kicked three field goals last week, including a school record 54-yarder.

          Lutz says Norwalk has a lot of weapons, including Smith.  “Chapin is a big kid.  He has been a three year starter I think for them, has a great arm, they are running him a little bit more this year.  He is not afraid to take off a little bit on you.  He is a good athlete in space.  They have several weapons, they have an outstanding receiver and another good one in the slot we feel.  Their defense is playing good football as well.  Not often do you think a weapon is a kicker, but holy smokes that kid is special.  He is like a deep shooter from three in basketball who walks in the gyn he is open, when they cross midfield they are in field goal range.  So, we are going to have to play really well,” said Lutz.

 

Published 9/28/20

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A Win Gives Bellevue a Share of Lake Division Title

 

          Again, the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference is one of the toughest in Northern Ohio and Friday night the Bellevue Redmen have the opportunity to earn no less than a share of the division title.

          They need a win at Sandusky to do it.  If they get it, a win next week over the rival Clyde Fliers would give the Redmen an outright title.

          Bellevue (4-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, dominated the time of possession in the second half last week and handed Tiffin Columbian its first loss in the division (20-13) to take the lead to themselves.

          Their last title came in the Northern Ohio League in 2015.

          Veteran head coach Ed Nasonti says their solid play this season has been the result of their practice habits.  “When you are dealing with high school kids it is tough to get that consistency, but we have been really proud of our kids basically because we have practiced really well.  It has been my experience over the years that when you have a group of kids that practice well more times than not you are going to play well on Friday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Those are the things that we are emphasizing that each day you get on the practice field you have to focus on getting better.  They do a good job in the weight room and our kids are doing a good job with film study.  So, they have been a good group to work with so far and hopefully we can keep it up.”

          Sandusky (0-4,0-3) played their best game of the season so far last week, in falling to Clyde (34-27) as the Fliers scored with about a minute to play to get the win.

          Nasonti says the Blue Streaks still have some players capable of making big plays and they can’t allow them to get to the perimeter of the field.  “When you go up against Sandusky, they always have some guys that have great speed, they have some strong guys that are physical and you are going to have to do a good job of defending the perimeter.  It’s tough to come up with a running back like Terrion Stewart that could carry the mail like he did for the last four years, but they still have some kids that are pretty good,” said Nasonti.

          Ed has been part of 11 conference titles over his 30 years as coach of the Redmen.  He says they know what is in front of them on Friday night.  “We have an opportunity to be conference champion, we have an opportunity to keep our record unblemished and have a chance to get a good seed going into the tournament.  So, obviously, there is motivation for us to get it done Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 9/25/20

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Western Reserve With More Confidence

 

          Fresh off a huge win at Norwalk St. Paul last week, the Western Reserve Roughriders play at home Friday night against New London in Firelands Conference action.

          They have now won twice in a row at St, Paul, they won (41-35) in overtime last year on their way to a conference title, and last Saturday night got two scores in the final seven minutes to upend the Flyers (20-19) in a conference game.

          The Roughriders (2-2,2-2) are gaining the reputation as dragon slayers.

          Jake Jarrett caught a tipped pass from Jude Muenz with just over a minute left at Whitney Field and then the Riders forced an interception to clinch the win.  Muenz is third in the conference in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards.  Jarrett has caught 31 passes this year.

          Coach Ty Stevenson says his kids made some big plays late.  “I was proud of our guys they continued to fight, continued to battle, down 19-7 midway through the fourth quarter.  Our kids put together a real nice drive and were able to score and got a three an out then went down and scored again to tie it up and made the extra point, that is always fun.  To come out with a win that way, St. Paul, obviously, they are the best in our league every year, so anytime you can compete with them, especially in Norwalk on a Saturday night you are usually pretty happy with that,” said Stevenson.

          The Western coach hopes they can take that momentum forward into the playoffs, which start in two weeks.  “We have talked to our guys all year about that we are probably a better football team than some of our guys even think they are.  We talked on Monday that hopefully now they believe a little bit of that, now hopefully we will ride this into the postseason and see if we can win a couple of games that way,” he said.

          New London (0-4,0-4) gave up four touchdowns in the first quarter last week and Crestview destroyed them (62-14) in a conference game.

          It was been a rough year for the Wildcats, who have given up 45 points a game, but Stevenson says they have kids that can make plays on offense, including quarterback Jamil Arnold.  “They have a really athletic quarterback, he can throw it a mile, a couple of receivers and a slot, he does a good job with the football.  They run him off the jet sweep and stuff, he is a really good athlete.  It is going to be a challenge.  Their line is really good up front, good, physical, big kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Defensively, they are going to do a lot of things to us that we have to make sure we are on point and make sure we are taking care of things we need to take care of.  They do a lot of blitzing and stunting and moving around and stuff.  So, we have to make sure we know what we are doing and we are locked in all week mentally here, we have had a pretty good week and hopefully we can go (Friday) night and get a win.”

 

Published 9/25/20

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Buckeye Central Must Keep Ball

 

          Buckeye Central won last week for the first time since the 2016 season in breaking a 35-game losing streak, but their challenge is going to be much tougher this week as they travel to Colonel Crawford to meet the first place Eagles in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference games.

          After coming close the week before against Upper Sandusky, the Bucks ran for more than 400 yards as a team and hammered Bucyrus (54-10) in a conference game last Friday.

          Coach Chad Jensen says there were a lot of smiles after the game last week, but they still have to move forward.  “I think the kids gained a lot of confidence last week.  The hard work that they put in was realized.  I think that is the biggest thing, they worked hard and they were rewarded.  We have tried to stress to them all week that this is another week and Crawford is a very good football team and we have to be ready to go,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford (4-0,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, got a score from Cade Hamilton with 57 seconds remaining to beat Mohawk (20-14) last Friday and stay a game in front of Wynford and Carey in the “N10” standings.

          Jensen says the Eagles are physical and they are athletic in the skilled positions.  “They are really physical on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively.  They just have a lot of athletes.  They flow to the ball well on defense.  They attack on offense.  They have the best running back in the league in Tristian Cross and they have a lot of weapons,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “They are very good on the offensive line.  They want to run the football right at you and they can throw it as well.  They are just very balanced and very athletic and talented.”

          In order to stay in this game, Jensen says they can’t get behind, and they have to control the clock with their running game.  “Our philosophy is the same every game.  We want to take time off the clock.  We want the opposing team’s offense off the field.  That is always our philosophy it doesn’t matter who we play.  That is going to be the key for us.  We have to finish drives and get first downs and keep their offense off the field and that is going to be the key to our success every week.  We have to match their physical play and see what happens,” said Jensen.

 

Published 9/25/20

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Fredericktown Looking to Grow

 

          Fredericktown won for the first time last week since week three of the 2019 season and they hope to be able to build on that going forward this fall.  They play Northmor at home in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

          The win broke a 10-game losing streak.  They had lost 17 of their last 18 dating back to 2018.

          The Freddies (1-3,1-3) built a (22-7) lead last week before turnovers and mistakes let Mt. Gilead back in the game, but Fredericktown survived (28-22) last Friday in conference play.

          Coach William Hartley is proud of the way the bowed their back on defense last week and got that win.  “We had a really nice first half and we really could have put the game away early in the third quarter.  Give credit to Mt. Gilead, the clawed themselves back into the game and really made it a contest down the line.  One thing we can really build on is that we held on late at the end.  We really could have let that game slip through our hands late, but the kids really responded and we had a really nice stand on defense and were able to get out of their with a win.  Definitely some stuff we can build on moving forward,” said Hartley.

          Hartley hopes the win they got last week brings some conference to the ballclub going forward.  “Definitely when you have a younger, inexperienced group when you get that monkey off your back and get in the win column you can take a big breath.  It is also right around the middle of the season here and look towards the second half of the season and we can grow from that experience,” he said.

          Northmor (1-3,0-3) has had problems sticking the ball in the end zone since they started conference play.  They have only four TD’s in three games and lost last week (14-12) to Danville in a “KMAC” game.

          Hartley says the Golden Knights defense is tremendous and their offense still has a lot of potential.  “Defensively, they are really solid.  They are not really fancy on defense, they are just very sound.  they have a nice front four and they have a really good group of linebackers and they have a lot of speed in the backend.  Offensively, they are dangerous,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We are probably going to see the best back that we are going to see so far this year in Max Lower.  He is a big, strong, physical kid.  They have some other nice backs on the perimeter.  It seems like they have really good team speed.  They have a first year starter at quarterback.  From one week to the next watching the films he definitely is getting more comfortable and starting to get his reads and hit some big pass plays on their play action pass as well.  They haven’t been as productive as they would have liked offensively, but they definitely have some weapons there.”

 

Published 9/25/20

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South Central Needs Better Discipline

 

          South Central goes in search of its first win of the season on Friday as they play at Crestview in a Firelands Conference game.

          The Trojans (0-4,0-4) have done some good things this season, but they have not been able to play well enough for four quarters to get a win yet.

          Mapleton got 166 yards rushing and three TD’s from Bryer Ramey last week in a (50-32) win over the Trojans in league play.

          Coach Corey Fickiesen says they had some problems stopping the Mounties wing-T offense.  “Their offense, we saw it week one, a little bit when we were watching games.  It’s scary and we got to see that first hand on Friday night.  They get you to think the ball is going one way and it’s going a different way.  Honestly it seems they are getting better every single week.  They are running it and they are getting more confident.  It just so happened on Friday night they ran it well against us.  We did not play as disciplined football as we needed to to stop them.  So, a lot of credit to them,” he said.

          Crestview (3-1,3-1) stands in a share of second place in the conference with Norwalk St. Paul and Plymouth, and they walloped New London (62-14) last week.  

          Quarterback Ross Kuhn threw three scoring passes and ran for two more in the win over New London.  He leads the conference in passing yards (805) and passing touchdowns (10) this year.

          Fickiesen says Kuhn is a very good quarterback and he has some weapons around him.  “They have one of the better quarterbacks in the area in Ross Kuhn, who is a really good all around player.  They have the Hamilton kid out wide, who they like to throw it to.  They have the Shifflet kid in the backfield.  They are solid up front on both sides.  They will play you man on defense and say beat us if you can.  They are pretty good at it all of the way around,” he told Swankonsports.con on Thursday night, “Our kids have been working and grinding all week.  We have been proud of the effort they have been giving despite where we are at having some guys out and some injuries getting healthy is the big thing right now.  The guys that are out there are still fighting and clawing for everything they can get.”

          Fickiesen believes they are going to continue to struggle as a team until they find more consistency.  He says they must play four solid quarters on Friday night.  “We have some guys now that are getting a little more experience with some guys that are out injured, we have had to plug some different guys in in a bunch of different areas.  It is the same thing on offense and defense. It’s being more consistent, taking away some of the penalties here and there, being a little more disciplined all of the way around.  We have continued to preach just playing together.  We don’t feel like we have really done that yet.  We haven’t really played a full game yet, so that is what we are looking for.  Hopefully, we can do that on Friday night and we will see how it goes,” said Fickiesen.

 

Published 9/25/20

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Lexington Needs to Turn it Around

 

          Lexington is at the point in their football season where they need a win pretty badly, but it won’t be easy to get it.

          They travel to Ashland to face the Arrows (4-0,3-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday night.

          It can be done, last year, Lexington lost five of its first six games before finishing the season winning three of its last four.

          It has been the offense that has been most concerning for the Minutemen.  It has scored just one TD and that was in the fourth quarter of a (42-6) loss to Mansfield Senior two weeks ago.  They lost (16-0) to West Holmes last week.  Mistakes, and especially turnovers have hurt them and that must be rectified this week if they are to have a chance against the “OCC” co-leaders.

          Ashland coach Sean Seder told Swankonsports.com earlier in the week that they have been focusing their energies on the defense this season and it shows.  They allowed only score in each of their conference games this year.  So, it is going to be tough sledding for the Minutemen.

          History is not on Lexington’s side in this matchup either.  Ashland has won nine of the last 10 meetings between the schools.  The only win for the Minutemen came in 2018 when they rallied to beat Ashland (43-36) at Community Stadium.

          Last year, Ashland won (35-10) in a game played at Lexington.  In eight of the nine wins over the last decade the Arrows have scored at least 35 points.  It would seem the Minutemen can not allow that kind of scoring of they expect to win Friday night.

 

Published 9/25/20

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Shelby Has to Attack

 

          High school football fans have circled Friday’s date on their schedules since before the revised season began figuring it to be an outstanding matchup and that is exactly what we have on our hands as Shelby hosts Lucas on Friday night.

          Both are unbeaten through four games.

          The Whippets (4-0,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, are in first place by themselves in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference standings and the Cubs have already beaten three “MOAC” teams in Clear Fork (18-15), Ontario (28-21) and Marion Pleasant (35-21) over the first four weeks.

          Last week, the Whippets whipped Galion (42-6) as Marshall Shepherd threw four TD passes and Shelby held an potentially explosive Galion offense to just over 100 yards of total offense.  Galion’s lone score came late in the game.

          Coach Robert Mahaney was pleased with their execution on both sides of the ball for the most part.  “I thought we did a great job against Galion.  We came out fast and kind established the way we want to play offensively.  Made some big plays in the pass game and also ran the ball really well.  We probably could have been more efficient in the running game, but overall it was a good day offensively.  Defensively, we held a really good Galion offense to 106 yards of offense.  We are pretty proud of that.  We just have to continue to get better defensively with some of the injuries that we have had.  This week is going to be a huge test for us and we have to be ready for this week,” he said.

          Owen Fisher ran for 714 yards in game against Pleasant three weeks ago, establishing a school record.

          Lucas (4-0), #1 in our small school poll, blasted Troy Christian (42-0) last week.

          For the few football fans that don’t already know, Lucas runs the double wing, double tight offense.

          Mahaney says their goal is to get as many blockers are possible to the point of attack and then the back finds his way through that maze of bodies.  “The first thing is coach (Scott) Spitler does such a good job of getting that team ready to play and focusing in on their game plan and the way they are going to run their offense.  They do a great with that.  Obviously, he has built a great program at Lucas.  A lot of teams in the area were trying to get to the program he has built because how long he has been there and the job he has done.  Offensively, with what they want to do in running the ball and trying to find as many different ways to run power and get as many lead blockers as they can to attack you,” he told Swankonspots.com on Wednesday, “It’s definitely going to be a big challenge for us.  It is something we haven’t seen.  You add in how good their running backs are with Sauder and Barrett.  They are both really good running backs.  Their quarterback does a good job.  Their offensive line is big and aggressive and do a great job of creating a new line of scrimmage.”

          If you watch Lucas play it can be very difficult for officials to tell if the play is over or not and many times a Cub running back will squirt out of the back of the mass of humanity and race to the end zone.

          Mahaney says they want to be aggressive and get that ball carrier to the ground.  “Playing against that offense at Mapleton when Plymouth ran it, they try and create that big scrum and the running back keeps his legs moving and they can break out of that pile and make big plays out of it.  It’s a fine line because you have to make sure they are on the ground and you want your kids to play to the whistle, but you also don’t want the refs to not extend plays too long just because they are in a big pile.  You want your kids to play hard and fast and through the whistle, but you also want to make sure kids are protected.  We are out here to protect the kids.  It is an interesting thing when they go into that big scrum.  We have to do whatever we can to get them down,” said Mahaney.

 

Published 9/24/20

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Wooster Will be Tested by Tygers

 

          Wooster can get one step closer to a possible Ohio Cardinal Conference title with a win at Mansfield Senior on Friday night.

          Right now, the Generals share the top stop with Ashland, and will not play the Arrows until October 23 at the earliest.  Friday night will be the final “OCC” game for the Generals before the playoffs.  Ashland hosts Lexington (0-4) on Friday night and plays at West Holmes (3-1) next week.

          Wooster (4-0,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, did not play its best game last week, but they beat Mt. Vernon (33-23) in a conference game.

          Coach Doug Haas says they found a way.  “It was sloppy, it was ugly, but when you can do that and go on the road and Mt, Vernon is always tough.  They are a tough physical group.  It’s a long trip, so that makes that a challenge as well.  When you go down there and play sloppy and win you feel very, very fortunate,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (1-3,1-3) lost a tough one to Ashland (13-6) last week in “OCC” action.  The Tygers only win this year came two weeks ago (42-6) at the expense of Lexington.

          However, Haas believes they have shown a lot of improvement this season.  “I can tell you this I have seen a tremendous amount of improvement from that week one game against West Holmes until last week.  I know it does show on the win and loss column for them, but they are playing some pretty good football right now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “So, we are certainly going to have our hands full and have to play really well on Friday night in all three phases of the game to have an opportunity to be successful.”

          Don’t forget an (18-17) win over Mansfield Senior last year affectively earned the “OCC” title for Wooster.

          Haas says they will have to execute against an aggressive Mansfield Senior defense.  “They try and create and cause chaos on the line of scrimmage and the other side of the line scrimmage and they feel they can recover on the backend because of the skill that they have and that is certainly very, very true.  So, we are going to have to be sound in our assignments.  If we get some opportunities to get to the second level on beyond, we are going to have to take advantage of those so we can put some points on the board,” said Haas.

          On offense, Haas says the Tygers are going to try and spread the field on them and take advantage of their athletes.  “They are trying to spread the field and try and maximize the space that is available on the football field and create some one on one matchups and they do a good job with that.  They get the ball out fast, so its hard to get pressure on the quarterback.  Again, that’s going to be a test as well.  It’s going to be a test from an individual standpoint and collectively can we make sure we are all running to the football to minimize the one on one matchups they try and take advantage of,” said Haas.

          The Wooster coach says games against the Tygers are always big to them and this one is no different.  “It is meaningful because it’s the one we have got, but it’s also meaningful because it’s Mansfield Senior in my tenure here has been a back and forth and coach Bradley does such a great job with his group and they just continue to get better and better as the season goes on.  We know we are going to get Mansfield Senior’s best, but we are going to give them our best as well,” he said.

 

Published 9/24/20

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Ashland Faces Tough Lexington Defense

 

          Ashland, the co-leader in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, entertains Lexington in a conference game on Friday night at Community Stadium.

          The football season is about as clear as driving U.S. Route 30 near Charles Mill Lake, simply it ain’t clear in almost every case.

          In the “OCC” the co-leaders Ashland and Wooster on not scheduled to play until October 23, if they play then.  Wooster plays at Mansfield Senior Friday night in their final conference game before the playoffs.  The Arrows host Lex and then travel to West Holmes next week.

          Ashland (4-0,3-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, hung on to beat Mansfield Senior (13-6) last week to remain unbeaten. 

          Coach Sean Seder is pretty proud of the effort.  “We came into that game knowing Mansfield Senior is a heck of a football team.  I know the record may not show how good they are, but we thought they were a pretty good team and it was going to be a dogfight.  They have a really good defense and they have some weapons on offense.  Our defense did a good job of keeping them corralled in.  Our offense was able to put some points on the board.  Always happy when you can get a quality win against a good opponent,” said Seder.

          Ashland has been known for an explosive offense, but this year Seder says their focus has been on defense.  “If you have a stout defense you don’t have to score 40 points to win a game.  We said we wanted to switch things up a little bit going into this season and really wanted to focus on having a tough, physical defense and I think we have that.  Our goal is to always keep the other team under 20 and the offense score over 24 and if we make those metrics happen, we will win a lot of football games,” he said.

          Lexington (0-4,0-4) lost (16-0) to West Holmes last week and they have played good defense all season.  Their offense, on the other hand, has only one score to its credit this year.

          Seder says they are going to need to execute to score because Lexington isn’t gong to give them easy ones.  “I think they are a pretty good defensive football team.  They held West Holmes, which is a pretty good offensive football team, to two touchdowns last week.  They did the same thing to Mt. Vernon.  They played Mansfield Senior and Wooster tight for a little while, but then turnovers and big plays got the best of them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “I think their defense is pretty tough.  I think they have some athletes on the offensive side.  It looks like they still trying to find their identity and get things rolling.  You don’t want to be that team they figure it out playing.”

 

Published 9/24/20

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Colonel Crawford Focused on Buckeye

 

          Colonel Crawford holds a one game lead over both Wynford and Carey with just two games left before the playoffs as they host Buckeye Central in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night in North Robinson.

          It appears a win would give them at least a share of the “N10” title, but under state guidelines they would have the opportunity to play Seneca East after the playoffs are finished for both teams.  However, there are no specific plans for that game and it appears unlikely.

          Last week, they beat a good Mohawk team as Cade Hamilton scored with 57 seconds left to give the Eagles a (20-14) win.  Mohawk had just tied the game with a TD and two-point conversion.

          Coach Ryan Teglovic says they have been a fourth quarter football team this year.  “It’s nice to see, the last couple of years we have struggled to kind of finish the deal in those games.  This year, I think our experience has helped us a little bit and we have won the big games in the fourth quarter.  So, proud of our guys for putting ourselves in a good position, but we have a big one this week.  If we win this week, we have an opportunity to win an “N10” title, so big game for us,” he said.

          Crawford (4-0,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, had also rallied to beat Wynford and held off Carey in the fourth quarter for wins early this season.

          With Buckeye Central and Bucyrus, with a combined one win, left before the playoffs Teglovic says they have to remain focused.  “That’s key and it is tough for adults let alone 17-year-old kids to keep showing up every week and keep focused on the end goal and just day after day trying to get better.  I was pretty pleased with our practice (Tuesday) night.  I thought the practice (Tuesday) night was better than a lot of the practices we had last week.  So, I think we are healing up a little bit and the kids were locked in pretty focused,” said Teglovic.

          Buckeye Central (1-3,1-3) broke a 35-game losing streak with a (54-10) destruction of Bucyrus last week.

          Teglovic says they will be dealing with a team that has an injection of confidence.  “They have to be excited, they not only won, but they won big.  They had a fairly competitive game with Seneca East week one, a couple touchdown game there.  They are getting better.  Coach (Chad) Jensen has instituted a scheme there offensively, they are going to pound the ball.  They are big up front, very disciplined,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “They do what they need to do, they continue to get better every week and fix mistakes.  It’s a team that is on the rise.  It is also a team we were only up on 13-6 at halftime last year.  It is not one we can take for granted, it’s one where we have to go in there ready to play.”

          Buckeye Central had two running backs in Kolin Rowlinson (193) and Mason Brown (123) that ran for over 100 yards last week against Bucyrus.  Teglovic says there is no doubt they want to pound the ball.  “Not only is that a great offense, but it’s a great defense as well.  Teams like that get their offense on the field and get three or fours yards at a crack and slow the game down and make the game a shorter game that puts more pressure on your offense.  It’s a great game plan, it’s a great formula. It’s been used for a longtime and they do a very good job of it.  I’m not saying they can’t throw the ball.  They have a boot package that they use and use very effectively.  They want to pound the football and shorten the game,” said Teglovic.

 

Published 9/24/20

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“FC” Leading Monroeville at Mapleton

 

          Monroeville stands alone atop the Firelands Conference standings entering week five as they travel to Mapleton to face the improving Mounties on Friday night.

          A win would give at least a part of the conference title to the Eagles, or it might not.  They play arch rival Norwalk St. Paul next week, but also hanging in the balance is a possible meeting with Crestview, who like the Flyers and the Plymouth Big Red, stand a game behind Monroeville in the conference standings.

          This has been a football season filled with more question marks than a final exam in philosophy written by Descartes.

          Monroeville (4-0,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, put itself in this position by beating Plymouth (20-12) last week at Marsh Field.  Coach Scott Stacher describes it as war.  “It is always what coach Genders referred to it as trench warfare.  Yeah, it was a battle in the trenches.  It was just one of those old school type football games that you love to go see,” he said.

          A fourth quarter touchdown run by Eli Ott was the difference.  Ott leads the Eagles in rushing with 440 yards and five scores.

          Monroeville has not won a conference title since 2006 under legendary coach Steve Ringholtz and Stacher says they have to take it one game at a time.  “It is kind of weird to hear that actually.  This week’s opponent Mapleton is one of those slug it out, trench warfare kind of teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They have done a great job with their wing-T offense.  I have been around wing-T for a longtime, so it is kind of old school as well.  We have got just one game at a time and grind it out and give it our best effort.”

          Mapleton (1-3,1-3) beat South Central (50-32) as Bryer Ramey piled up 166 yards and three TD’s for the Mounties, who have been improving with their wing-T offense. 

          Stacher says they want to play keep away from Mapleton.  “My philosophy is if we can run the ball and keep it away from them and do our thing on offense our defense with coach Nestor, coach Dunlap and coach McDonald  has our defense playing really well right now.  Offensively if we can keep the ball and stay free from mistakes, I think we should be in pretty good shape,” he said.

 

Published 9/24/20

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Clyde Tangles With Norwalk

 

          Clyde and Norwalk has been one the best games in North Central Ohio in recent years and Friday night should be no different as they meet at Whitney Field in game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Both trail first place Bellevue by a game and the loser in all likelihood falls out of the division race.

          Clyde (3-1,2-1) beat Sandusky (34-27) last week with a score with about a minute to play in the game.

          Coach Ryan Carter says they were not in top form, but they found a way to get it done.  “We were fortunate, we didn’t play our best football and we were down a few guys, but you have to find a way to win.  Sandusky’s record is deceiving, they are better than a football team that hasn’t won a game yet this year.  They have young talented kids.  We knew we were going to have our work cut out for us, but our kids showed up and we had some kids step up, kids fill in in some spots that we needed and we are going to need that for the next two weeks because it doesn’t get any easier playing Norwalk this week,” said Carter.

          Norwalk (2-2,2-1) put up their most points of the season in a (38-28) win over Perkins last week.  Garrett Chapin threw for 222 yards and three scores.

          Carter says the Truckers do a lot of things they have to defend.  “They are very complex on offense.  They bring a lot of different things at you and they do things very well.  They are a well coached team, coach (Todd) Fox does a great job.  His kids are always going to be ready to play.  We have our work cut out for us, we know that.  We are just going to have to go on the road and try and play our best football game to date,” he said.

          Carter says Norwalk will be aggressive on defense and they also have one of the best kickers in the nation in Garrison Smith, and he changes the game.  “They will bring a bunch of heat.  I am really good friends with their defensive coordinator and I know what he is going to bring to the table.  It’s going to be a battle.  We are going to have to be sharp.  We can’t turn the football over.  We are just going to have to try and be as even as possible on special teams because winning the special teams war this week is going to be impossible,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They have one of the best kickers in the State of Ohio, if not the country.  It is not just with him when they get inside the 30, they are in field goal range and he gets three for them.  He puts so much pressure on your kickoff return team with bloop kicks and onside kicks and kicking out of the end zone.  If you are not sharp it is going to cost you possessions.”

 

Published 9/24/20

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Norwalk and Clyde in Big One

 

          It is basically what amounts to an elimination game when it comes to the title in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference Norwalk hosts Clyde on Friday night at Whitney Field at Contractor’s Park.

          Both schools trail first place Bellevue by a game in the division standings.  Clyde is in a better position because they have not played Bellevue yet, while the Truckers have already lost (20-6) to them.

          Last week, Norwalk (2-2,2-1) beat Sandusky Perkins (38-28) as Garrett Chapin threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns.

          Coach Todd Fox thinks step by step they are improving.  “I feel each week we have made small strides.  We hope this week we can continue to build on that and improve in some areas and that is the nature of the beast with some young guys.  They are getting there and hopefully Friday we can do the same,” he said.

          On defense, Fox says they have played well at times, but their defense has to do a better job of getting off the field.  “Defensively we have actually played pretty well this year.  That is the side where we actually have less returning guys.  There have been too much bend and that is something we have talked about as a staff and the players this week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The focus has to be on our money down, our third down, and making some of those bigger plays because there has been too much bend and every once in a while we break.  We need to get the offense back on the field and stop allowing these long, sustained drives.”

          Clyde (3-1,2-1) rallied in the late going to beat Sandusky (34-27) last week in a division game.  Their only lost is to Tiffin Columbian (19-16) two weeks ago.

          The Fliers have had some injury concerns the last couple of weeks, but Fox says again Clyde is a very solid football team.  “The Fliers are obviously very well coached, a great football team, a great football program, coming off a state championship season.  They are blue collar football players.  Coach (Ryan) Carter and his staff do an outstanding job year in and year out.  For them they are a lot like us with a lot of rebuilding spots, but their offensive and defensive lines are pretty good.  So, we are going to have to compete with them in the trenches if we if we are going to have a chance Friday night,” said Fox.

          Has this been a good matchup?  That’s an understand statement, the Fliers won (32-31) two years ago and Norwalk won (41-40) last season, both games went overtime.

          Fox says it going to be battle up front.  “Their “D” line, all four of those guys, do a nice job, which frees up their linebackers, same way on their offensive line.  They are not huge or flashy they just get the job done,” he said.

 

Published 9/24/20

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Lucas With Great Opportunity

 

          It should be fun on Friday night as two the better high school football teams in the area lock horns as Lucas travels to Shelby to face the Whippets.

          Both are unbeaten through four games.

          The Cubs (4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat up Troy Christian (42-0) last week.

          Coach Scott Spitler says it was a business trip.  “I was very pleased with how our kids focused on what they had control of and didn’t worry about things they didn’t have control over.  We came right out of the gate.  That was our mindset.  We wanted to start strong and play a good four quarters and we were able to do that,” he said.

          Shelby (4-0), #2 our large school poll, behind only Bellevue, blasted Galion (42-6) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.  They lead the conference standings.

          Spitler says the Whippets have home run hitters all over the place on offense.  “You just see tremendous playmakers everywhere, especially om offense.  They have a receiving corps that has height, length, speed, with Bowman and Lantz and Hill that can just stretch you vertically, horizontally with those guys.  They have a bell cow running back that can hurt you running and receiving out of the backfield,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have a big, tall, athletic quarterback, that can make every throw on the field.  A big, physical offensive line.  They are just so impressive with the balance they have offensively.  Coach (Robert) Mahaney is a quality coach and you can just tell that they are very well coached.”

          Three weeks ago, Whippets running back Owen Fisher established a school record with 417 yards rushing against Pleasant, he also scored seven TD’s that night.

          Although somewhat underrated, Spitler says the Shelby defense is also very good.  “Defensively, I think a lot of times the quality of their defense kind of gets overlooked because they are so good offensively, but they play really good defense led by Ingram at middle linebacker, the kid is just a sideline to sideline player and is the tone setter for them,” he said.

          Shelby quarterback Marshall Shepherd has had a very good season.  He tossed four scoring passes last week against Galion.

          Spitler says he makes all of the plays.  “The one thing I know about coach Mahaney is he is kind of a quarterback whisperer.  When he was at Mapleton, he had some phenomenal athletes at quarterback under his tutelage and this is no different here.  He has taken a great athlete in in Shepherd and really turned him into a very polished quarterback.  Obviously, even though this is his first full season as a starter, this is a young man they trust to do a lot of things.  He punts for them, he kicks, and playing the quarterback position and being their distributor on offense.  He can hurt you just as well with his legs, so they are a complete team,” he said.

          Shelby is the best team the Cubs have played this season and Spitler says it’s a great opportunity for the program.  “If you love high school football this is the type of game you want to play.  These are the type of games when we stretch ourselves as a program to continue to grow and be better.  Have the mindset of not being afraid of failing Friday night because it is going to make you a better team whether you win or lose just from the experience and this is no different.  You are taking about a tremendous challenge for our team and a tremendous opportunity to grow as a football team win or lose.  That is something we pride ourselves on of strapping up and play no matter what the division it is and get after it and try and make sure at the end of the night Lucas is a better football team than they were at the beginning of the night.  That is what we are going to do Friday night.  We are going to let it hang out and see what we’ve got and if we are good enough to get the victory on Friday night it will happen, if not we will get back to work and get better the following week,” said Spitler.

 

Published 9/23/20

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Clear Fork and Pleasant Matchup Well

 

          Clear Fork and Marion Pleasant has been the football rivalry that has defined the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference in recent years, neither is going to win the league title this year, but they still matchup well as they get ready to play Friday night at Clear Fork.

          It as a tough second half for the Colts (0-4,0-3) last week in a (41-14) loss to Ontario.

          Coach Dave Carroll says it was good start again to the game, but injuries and execution mistakes did them in.  “I was really proud of how the kids came out.  We had a drive, our second drive, I don’t know how many minutes it lasted, our first scoring drive, and it was just what we wanted to do.  That was the game plan to eat up clock and run the ball, dink and dunk it and get the first down, and we did.  Then the next time we go the ball we held them defensively and we get the ball and Brady Tedrow, one our best athletes, if not our best athlete, gets hurt and that is a downer for everybody.  We come back we hold them and we take the ball down the field and score again without him.  So, I’m like, alright, let’s go, that’s awesome, the kids found a way to overcome that.  Whenever you get a great player like that out, it’s tough, not just talent wise, but emotionally,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They did a good job.  Then here comes Ontario.  They are a talented team, like I said last week, I think it’s the best team since 2013 or 2014, when they came down here and beat us.  They got some plays on us that really frustrated us.  The one I talked about after the game the tailback screen that we repped.  Coach McCorkle, our defensive coordinator, ran that play at our defense many, many times and they got it twice for huge plays.  I think the one was like an 85-yard touchdown.  Those are backbreakers when you get plays like that.”

          Carroll says their youth is making it difficult at times.  “Again, I think we had eight sophomores out there on the field.  They are trying hard and they are working hard. It is not for lack of effort.  They are gaining experience, we are just inexperienced.  When you are younger, you are not as physical, you are not as tough, and you not as disciplined as what you need to be to really be good.  They have come back again this week and they are working hard.  Things just got away from us.  Ethan Staley wasn’t with us either, another starter.  I give these kids credit for fighting like they have been.  That one just got away from us.  It was a good team.  If you let a good team off the hook like that, they can score points.  They have a good quarterback and skilled kids and pretty aggressive defense.  You are going to be in trouble and that’s what happened to us,” he said.

          Marion Pleasant (1-3,1-2) lost (28-14) to rival river Valley last week.

          Carroll says the Spartans are in very much the same situation as they are this year.  “Aaron Cook is a good friend of mine, their head coach, my brother Mike was his defensive coordinator for several years.  He has had unbelievable football teams.  He is going through the same thing that we are.  They are struggling, their only win is against Marion Harding and they were in trouble in that game and they found a way to win.  Aaron Cook is a tremendous coach.  We all know their tradition.  He took over for Chris Cubs, their legendary coach, two state titles, a state runner up, numerous unbelievable seasons.  Cook hasn’t won any state titles, but they have been really good.  They have been to the regional finals, had undefeated seasons and so forth.  They are kind of in the same boat we are here.  They just are not in a good cycle of great athletes in their upper classes and they are struggling.  When I popped in the film I was anxious, I started my career at Marion Pleasant and my brother was there for years and years, when you get to that point in the schedule, you are anxious to see what is going on.  It is such a mirrored journey that they are going through like us,” said Carroll.

          Clear Fork has tried some different options at quarterback and moved some players around this year and Carroll says Pleasant is doing the same thing.  “They have tried different things offensively.  They have tried different things defensively.  Neither of us are like that, but you are not just going to sit back and take it, you are going to try and make adjustments and get your kids in the best positions you can to be successful and they are doing the same thing.  Last week, they took their quarterback, who was their quarterback last year, when they went to the second round of the playoffs and got beat by Orrville, this kid was their starting quarterback, Shaffer, a 1,000 yard passer, heck of a runner, they had him last week at fullback,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They went to a double tight, double wing, offense with a younger quarterback.  So, they are trying to find a way to move the ball and score points.  Before they were in the shotgun.  The Shaffer kid is their main runner, but it was from a different set and formations and a different kind of philosophy offensively.  They are doing the same thing defensively, kind of changing things around there.  They are struggling like we are.”

          There may not be a league title in the balance, but Carroll believes this will be another good game.  “I am telling our kids, the last three years we have seen two overtime games and another down to the wire.  So, hopefully the fans come out because I think you are going to see the same kind of thing because I think we are very evenly matched and it is going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and just plays solid football,” he said.

 

Published 9/23/20

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Mansfield Senior Faces “OCC” Leading Wooster

 

          Mansfield Senior welcomes the Wooster Generals, co-leaders in the “OCC,
 to Arlin Field on Friday night for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          The Tygers (1-3,1-2) lost to Ashland, the other co-leader, (13-6) last week at Community Stadium.

          Assistant coach Sean Adams says they failed to capitalize on their chances against the Arrows.  “Credit Ashland for their kids coming out and making those plays.  I think we left a lot of plays on the field ourselves.  That is one thing that we have kind of addressed this week because you can’t leave plays on the field.  I think defensively we had some lapses mentally.  We are being held accountable this week for those.  I think we have 200 up downs we have to do as a unit.  We have the athletes, we have the toughness, but do we have the discipline every single play?  I think if we couple the athletes, the toughness and the discipline we are a formattable opponent both offensively and defensively and we in turn will make those four or five plays that determine the game,” said Adams.

          Wooster (4-0,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Mt. Vernon (33-23) in a conference game last week.  There was a total of 26 penalties in the game.

          Adams says the Generals have a very physical offensive line and some playmakers to go with them.  “I think it really starts up front with their offensive line.  It seems like #78 has been there for years.  He is a big fellow, 6’3”, 300 pounds.  They keep getting bigger and bigger over there on the offensive line.  I didn’t realize they had that many seniors coming back this year, but I think eight of their 11 starters are seniors, at least offensively.  Their quarterback, you think our kids are fast, boy is this kid fast.  Once he gets out in the open, he is gone and I don’t remember him being that fast.  There are a lot of things where Wooster poses a problem.  They have a nice running back, their quarterback can throw well, and they have some great receivers outside that catch passes as well as bring it deep,” said Adams.

          On defense, Adams says they expect the Generals are going to mix up what they do and show them different looks.  “Defensively, they are very physical.  Usually they play zone or they will bring six guys and hurry you and they are good on the back end and good linebackers, just a very good football team all around,” he said.

          Wooster quarterback Owen Roach threw three scoring passes last week and also ran for more than 140 yards and another score against Mt. Vernon.  Adams says he must be contained and that won’t be easy.  “That is one thing we didn’t do last week was to get the quarterback off his spot, especially when they were empty.  That is something we have tried to address this week to try and get the quarterback to at least move a little bit.  The quarterback for Wooster, he is fast, he is quick, and I think he makes some great reads,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “I’ve seen him make some hot reads when he gets it out.  There are two plays I can think of off hand where they run the zone read with him and he splits two defenders and he is gone and that is worrisome because you try and be aggressive and you try and set back and you are giving him lanes and everyway you look at it he poses a problem.  You couple that with that big offensive line and the running game and the receivers they are a very good football team.  We are excited, we get a chance to play football again and we are excited we get to be home at Arlin Field.”

 

Published 9/23/20

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