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Madison Must Concentrate on Being Better

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Chris Armstrong

 

          Madison entertains Clear Fork in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Their first Ohio Cardinal Conference game is Friday, again at home, versus the Wooster Generals.

          In their first game of the season last Friday, senior Jaden Jeffries scored 35 points and they beat Shelby (67-53) in non-conference play.

          Coach Chris Armstrong says they really moved the ball well.  “One number that stood out is we had 14 assisted baskets.  I felt we played unselfishly.  We wanted to play inside, out.  We wanted to get the ball in the paint, get some paint touches, and then get the kickouts, if we couldn’t finish it there.  So, I thought the ball was moving in and out well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “Obviously, Jaden really got it doing.  When we got kickouts, drove the paint and kicked it out, we were five for five on kickouts.  Jaden was three for three when he got those and Cam Kuhn was two for two.  So, we really got pretty good ball movement.  We can still get a lot better, but I thought we passed it well.”

          Jeffries also made 14 of 19 free throws and nine rebounds in the game against the Whippets.

          Despite the outstanding performance last week, Armstrong says they must continue to improve because they have to get a lot better.  “That was our whole message (Monday) and this weekend was we have got to each practice get better, each game.  So, there was so many things to clean up.  We watched film (Monday) and I think guys saw it was a nice victory, but if we are going to beat teams down the road we going to have to play better defensively and we are going to have to rebound better,” he said.

          Clear Fork has not played yet this season.  Their game with Lexington last Friday was postponed.

          Armstrong says the Colts have players at all of the positions that can make plays.  “With that game being cancelled, I don’t know as much as I would like to.  They have a quick point guard, they have a nice post player, they have some guys on the wing that can make shots.  We will have to come out and play well to win I think,” he said.

 

Published 11/29/22

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Shelby Working on Weaknesses

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Natalie Lantz

 

          Shelby is getting ready to defend its title in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          It begins this Thursday at home against Marion Pleasant.

          They earned an outstanding win over one of the “OCC” favorites in beating Mansfield Senior (53-47) on Saturday.

          Coach Natalie Lantz says they showed some patience and will to win against the Lady Tygers.  “That was a great win for us.  We still have a lot to work on.  We kicked the season off playing some really good teams.  Talking to (coach) JeVar (Hudgens), I told him watching film that his team is much improved, much more disciplined this year.  Their second line of their 2-2-1 press, they really do a nice job.  The players are much improved and composed.  So, we knew it was going to be a tough one coming in,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We had several more unforced turnovers than I would liked.  We knew we were going to have some because they are very athletic and they anticipate passing very well.  I think by the end I was very pleased by the composure at the end of the ballgame with some young guards.”

          Lantz says the Lady Whippets (1-1) continue to deal with some injury issues, but the win on Saturday helped to build some confidence for them.  “Audi (Albert) played really well, she toughed it out on a sprained ankle that happened in the second half and we were able to come out on top.  I think free throws were good for us.  We shot 75 percent, 15 for 20, which isn’t bad, especially early in the season.  I think it was a confidence builder heading to "MOAC” play against Pleasant on Thursday,” she said.

          Pleasant (1-1) lost to Fairbanks (51-31) last week and beat East Knox on Monday night.

          Lantz says the Lady Spartans will be a challenge on Thursday and they will need to be prepared.  “They are well coached.  She does a great job there.  I think their program is getting better and better each year with her at the helm.  I think this week we need to continue to work on some of our weaknesses and get prepared for Pleasant.  I think it is a game that is winnable, but we have to be playing and firing for four quarters and we definitely have to take care of the basketball and value the basketball a little better,” said Lantz.

 

Published 11/29/22

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Loudonville Wins by One Again

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Tyler Bates

 

          Loudonville did it again on Monday night, the earned a one-point win in downing Medina Buckeye (40-39) in non-conference play.

          Coach Tyler Bates says the Lady Redbirds (2-1) did it with defense and he is really proud of them.  “We have definitely had a couple of close games here.  I think we have been trailing for much more time than we have been winning these past two games.  Once again (Monday) night with under a minute our girls’ executed some stuff and we got some stops and came a way with a one-point victory for the second time in a row on the road.  I am really proud of them,” said Bates.

          They beat Cardington (39-38) last week.

          Bates says the confidence is growing with this team because they are doing things hey gave never done before and doing them well.  “We have been playing without our first team All-Ohio in Corri Vermilya.  So, we have some kids trying to do some things they haven’t been asked to do,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “For them to dig deep and come away with two victories, especially in the manner that they have at the end of the game just shows we how proud they are to wear Loudonville on their jerseys and how seriously they are taking tis responsivity.  It was just great to see.”

          Bates has said this year that they have to play defense if they are going to win and he says they have been doing a pretty good job of it so far.  “I really see a lot of things on film that the girls’ are doing that are outstanding.  They are jumping to the basketball.  They are not letting kids cut in front of them.  They are communicating screens.  For the most part we are rebounding the basketball.  It has been the defensive side of the ball that has given us a chance to stay in some of these games,” said Bates.

 

Published 11/29/22

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Bellevue to Face some Challenges

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Ed Rich

 

          Bellevue will be over at Port Clinton to take on the Redskins in a non-conference, or “SBC” crossover, on Tuesday night and then play defending Lake Division champion Sandusky on Friday night.

          They started their season with a solid (54-40) win over Margaretta last Saturday.

          Coach Ed Rich says their play was outstanding.  “I thought we played petty well on Saturday.  We came in with a pretty tough environment, it is a small gym and it was packed.  We came in and kind of took care of business.  I was happy with the way we played, especially watching Margaretta on Wednesday.  They took it to Western Reserve at home, which usually never happens.  So, yeah we will take that win,” he said.

          Rich says their play on defense was very good and that is something they always emphasize.  “Defense has been our calling card.  We had a couple of years when we really struggled to put the ball in the basket.  So, we have really been focusing on that defensive end for the last four years and we are going to continue to do that even though this year we also feel we can put the ball in the basket a little bit more.  The defensive effort where there by all of the guys,” said Rich.

          Port Clinton fell (49-47) in a non-conference game last Friday.

          Rich feels they are going to gate a better effort from the Redskins on Tuesday night.  “I was at the game.  It was a typical after Thanksgiving type of game, low energy and uninspired basketball really.  Port Clinton, they have some guys.  They can be really, really scary.  They have Adam Thorbahn who is an excellent player, one of the best in the “SBC”, so we have our hands full.  They have some athletes around him.  If they decide they want to play they can be really good,” he said.

          Sandusky (2-0) has come out the gate humming.  They edged Elyria (79-76) last Wednesday and they smoked Ashland (89-56) on Saturday night.

          Rich says it is no secret they are a very good team.  “They are playing extremely well.  They have two big wins already.  There really, really took it to Ashland on Saturday night. I think it was by more than 30.  They are playing well and they are pressing.  They are really shooting the ball extremely well.  They are shooting from the long range really, really well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We are going to have our hands full.  I’m trying not to look ahead past Tuesday, but we know what we have waiting for us on Friday.  We will be ready for that game as well.”

 

Published 11/29/22

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Crestview Opens with Improved St. Paul

Click here to listen to an interview with coach John Kurtz

 

          Crestview gets its season started on Thursday night as they play at Norwalk St. Paul in a Firelands Conference game.

          Coach John Kurtz has been pretty pleased with what he has seen in the preseason.  “I think overall we shoot the ball pretty well.  That is something we really spent a lot of time on.  We didn’t do it very well last year, so I think we have made progress there.  I think that is one of the things we have tried to get better at and I think we have shown improvement,” he said.

          Kurtz says the kids have put a lot of time in to become better shooters in the off season and on off days too.  “Our kids just put a lot of time in.  Our kids were in the gym a lot.  I did have a really good core group of kids that were not in football, so they were in the building a lot and shot a lot.  Even on our off days of practice our kids have been in the building.  Kids were in the building (Sunday) shooting, some I’m pretty pleased with that,” said Kurtz.

          St. Paul has also not played a game yet.  They open the season against Vermilion on Tuesday night in non-conference play.

          Kurtz says they were young last year and he believes they are going to be better this year.  “I think they had a really good JV tam last year and a good freshmen group coming through.  I know part way through the year last year he started playing younger guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They played us tougher the second time around last year.  They have a bigger kid that is coming up through now, maybe a sophomore.  We expect them to put a pretty good challenge out in front of us.  We also think it’s tough to play in their gym.”

 

Published 11/29/22

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Highland Plays Rival Fredericktown

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mike Delaney

 

          Highland takes its act down the road to Fredericktown to play the rival Freddies in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          They won their opener last Friday as they downed Lakewood (51-39) to start the season.

          Coach Mike Delaney says it was a good way to get their feet wet.  “It is a great way to start off the season.  It helped the kids get some buy in to what we were doing.  It certainly helped us prepare for Fredericktown on Tuesday,” he said.

          Freshman Gavin Toombs had 19 points and senior Brock Church added 16 in the win.

          Fredericktown (0-1) lost to Johnstown Northridge (58-32) in their first game of the season.

          Delaney says they are going to be experienced and physical.  In order to compete with the Freddies, he says they must rebound the basketball.  “The big thing against Fredericktown is they are a senior laden team, they have eight seniors back.  They are full grown men.  They are very physical.  They are well coached.  Coach (Derek) Dibling does a great job with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “The big thing with us is we are going to have to rebound with them and compete with them from a physical standpoint.  They are well coached and well disciplined and it is going to be a tough challenge for us (Tuesday) night.”

          Of course, Highland and Fredericktown were in the same conference, the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, for years, and Delaney says there is still a spirt of a friendly rivalry even though they are no longer.  “Our community and their community have had great sportsmanship over the years and we have had some great battles with them since I have been here.  I think (Tuesday) night is going to be another example of two communities taking pride in what they do and how they present themselves and going at it tooth and nail until the final buzzer,” said Delaney.

 

Published 11/29/22

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Bellevue Learning How to Win

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Kory Santoro

 

          Bellevue, one of the traditional powers in girls’ basketball in North Central Ohio, plays in its first Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game on Tuesday night at Sandusky.

          They are (2-1) on the season, but coming off their first lost (49-39) to Perrysburg last Friday.

          Coach Kory Santoro says they and young and still maturing.  “I think for having a young group of kids we are still kind of finding our way and puting things together.  I think eventually it’s going to come together,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Right now, we are probably going to go through some growing pains.”

          Santoro says this group of kids is still getting used to the more physical brand of basketball played at the varsity level and how to be able to capture games that are up for grabs.  “I think knowing how to win.  I think that is the big thing.  The physicality and having young players.  I think those are two big things right now.  I think we will get there with that,” he said.

          Sandusky (0-3) has kind of struggled out of the gate, but Santoro says they are going to be fast and play with some intensity.  “Sandusky has got a new coach and I know he is trying to speed things up with that group over there.  I think they are going to be quick and very athletic.  They will play hard.  This is out first league game, so we want to have a good showing over there,” said Santoro.

 

Published 11/29/22

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Mohawk Has to be Ready to go

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Paul Dunn

 

          Mohawk tips-off the season on Tuesday night on the road against Riverdale in non-conference play.

          Coach Paul Dunn says there is no question his kids are ready to go.  “We are probably one of last teams to start in the State of Ohio.  The kids are kind of comping at the bit to get going.  I have been happy with our kids preparation.  In our scrimmages we progressively got better as the preseason moved along.  I think was looking forward to doing it for real (Tuesday) night and see what we can do,” he said.

          Riverdale (0-3) will host the Warriors on Tuesday night.  They have lost their first three games, including (47-40) to Carey, also of the “N10” last Friday.

          Dunn says they are young, but they do some pretty good things at times.  “They don’t bring a ton of kids back with a lot of varsity experience.  They have a couple.  The McCarthy kid played some last year, but overall they seem to be a fairly new team.  They have some young sophomores starting.  It was pretty impressed seeing them on film.  Their point guard does a nice job controlling their pace and they have some kids that play with a lot of emotion for coach (Drew) Hobensack.  I think they are going to be a tough challenge for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “They have three games under their belt.  That is probably the biggest thing that concerns me.  It is going to be the first night with it being for real.  We have to be able to find our flow in the game and get back into that game like feel and we have to do it quickly.”

          Dunn says he wants his kids to be aggressive and play with emotion, but also play smart in their first game.  “I told the kids we have to play with emotion, but we have to keep our emotions in check.  I want our kids to go out there and play with some fire.  Last year, early on in the season we got ourselves in some trouble in some early games.  We got ourselves in foul trouble.  We didn’t adjust to how the officials were calling it and adjust to the game.  So, we have to do a good job when it starts (Tuesday) night of coming out ready to go and kind of feel out how the officials are going to let us play and make adjustments on the fly,” said Dunn.

 

Published 11/29/22

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Mansfield Senior Assembling the Pieces

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Marquis Sykes

 

          Mansfield Senior still has some time before they start the boys’ basketball season and they are attempting to put their pieces together for this winter.

          Their first game will be December 6 at home against Lima Senior in non-conference play.  They open the Ohio Cardinal Conference portion of their season December 9 at Wooster.

          Coach Marquis Sykes says the preseason has been a blend.  “It has been an interesting preseason for us so far.  We certainly got a late start with the football crew.  We didn’t have them the majority of our preseason.  We were able to do some scrimmaging with those guys and really felt that core group of four varsity players and four JV players were really able to improve a lot and develop some skill and really pick up on the things we were trying to learn, which is a good thing,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We get our second preseason where those guys that played football started out back in the basketball gym this Monday.  We gave those guys about a week off.  We wanted to respect their bodies and let them have some recovery time.”

          Right now, Sykes says they are trying to get in the best basketball condition they can.  “We have been at it pretty hard this week trying to get our bodies ready and get their legs in basketball shape.  Just kind of connect the dots and get everybody on the same page and going in the right direction.  So far, so good and I have been pleased with the guys energy and effort and how they have been coachable.  They really look like they are improved and respect the basketball team, so I’m happy so far,” he said.

          With some younger players getting a lot of scrimmage minutes, Sykes believes that is going to help them in the long run be a better basketball team this season.  “We certainly hope so.  Some of those guys got some quality scrimmage time against some quality varsity programs.  We certainly feel that well help them along the way as far as their development and being up to speed with the varsity game and all of that kind of stuff.  It was valuable experience for those young guys.  It was also valuable experience for those guys that returned, who will need it to be in shape and get up and down and compete against people other than Tygers.  It was a good experience all around I think for everybody,” said Sykes.

 

Published 11/25/22

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Wynford Counting on Defense

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mike Smith

 

          Wynford expects to be a better basketball team this season and we start to find out if that is the case on Saturday night as they travel to Monroeville for a non-conference game against the Eagles.

          Coach Mike Smith says they have looked good in scrimmages, but games are completely different.  “It is amped up probably a hundred times on game night.  You don’t have the crowds at a scrimmage like you will at the games.  The first night especially you are going to draw a big crowd.  Going on the road makes it a little more difficult for us, but I think my kids are excited.  We have had a great preseason and they are looking at coming back 1-0 this week,” he said.

          One of the reasons Smith is excited is how well they have played on defense during the preseason and he hopes that continues.  “When you look at the stat line.  We tried to compile all of the stats together for the five scrimmages that we had.  We held all five opponents to 30 percent shooting or under, which is really outstanding.  I am not sure of the competition.  I thought we won ever scrimmage we played.  We tried to keep track of quarters and we competed.  I think we won almost every quarter except for a couple all preseason.  The kids are buying into our defensive side.  I think that is going to take us a long way,” he said.

          Monroeville, out the Firelands Conference, lost one the better players in the area, Isaac Roeder to graduation, but Smith says they still return guys that can play and are a concern.  “They have two guards that are coming back that have a lot of experience.  I think they are both three year lettermen.  They probably carry their team.  I haven’t seen a whole lot of them.  We have watched a couple of scrimmages that they have played on film,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They run basically the same thing they did last year, they just don’t have Roeder to go to now.  It will be interesting to see how they approach the game this year without that go to guy, but the two guys that have coming back are really good players.”

 

Published 11/25/22

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Highland Opens With Lakewood

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mike Delaney

 

          Highland opens the season on Friday night by hosting the Lakewood Lancers in a non-conference game.

          Mike Delaney is now the head coach at Highland.  He has been the athletic director for many years and took the reins of the basketball program in September.

          He says the team has been making the right kind of progress heading into Friday night.  “I feel really good.  The progress we have made in the last week both offensively and defensively has been really solid.  Things are starting to come together,” he said.

          Lakewood (1-0) already has a win under their belts on Wednesday night.

          Delaney says they have solid guard play.  “Lakewood won their first game on Wednesday.  They beat Millersport on a buzzer beater.  So, I think they are feeling pretty good about themselves.  They have two, good lead guards.  They are smaller, but they are both quick and can run the point,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They have a brand new coach that had been in the Newark system for a long time, coach (Dan) Shackleford.  He is a solid basketball man.  I think it will be a challenge from them Friday night.”

          Delaney feels it is going to be important for them to get off to a good start on Friday night.  “Well, I think it helps them that they won Wednesday.  I do think that is a benefit, especially with a new coach trying to get them to buy into their system.  Certainly, the start of the game for us on Friday night is going to be important to kind of stem any momentum that they made have carried over from the last second victory against Millersport,” said Delaney.

 

Published 11/25/22

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Shelby Looking Forward to Madison

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Greg Galloway

 

          Shelby plays at Madison on Friday in the traditional non-conference meeting with the Rams to open the season.

          It’s game week and coach Greg Galloway feels they have done a solid job of getting ready for that opener against the Rams.  “I think our guys have had a good preseason.  In the four scrimmages we had our players did a good job on being coached up and improving each scrimmage.  I think they are confident and I think they are just excited to play game one.  You get to practice against your own guys a lot in the preseason, so they are just excited to play against someone other than themselves.  So, they are really excited to play,” said Galloway.

          Shelby has had really good success in about every sport in recent years and Galloway says that is because they are hard workers.  “I think our school district does a good job with multi sport athletes.  Their success can usually go from season to season depending on what sports they play.  I think the one common denominator we have is our kids just work really hard and they love to prefect their craft in each individual sport.  I am lucky to coach those guys,” he said.

          Galloway is also an assistant football coach at Shelby.

          Galloway says Madison will be a good challenge for them.  He says they can’t allow Jaden Jeffries to go off on them.  “It is a great game one opponent for us and Madison.  A game that has been played a long time between these two schools.  Coach (Chris) Armstrong has done a great job over there developing this being year two with those guys for him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “His guys do a good job of being coached up well on offense and defense.  They really buy into what he wants to do.  So, we are going to play a really well coached team.  When you look at them, I think it starts with their senior returning player, I think he was special mention All-Ohio last year in Jaden Jeffries, who really hurt us in game one last year.  He can do a lot for them.”

 

Published 11/24/22

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South Central Must Avoid Turnovers

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Cory Durbin

 

          South Central plays its first game on Friday night at Mansfield St. Peter’s against the Spartans in non-conference play.

          First year coach Cory Durbin feels it is important that they try and do their stuff and do it well.  “I think in season openers you just have to do what you do and worry about yourself and run your stuff well.  Of course, we have goals for Friday night and we want to make St. Pete’s do certain things.  Those season openers are about what you do well and just trying to establish your identity.  We have to start the season off on the right foot,” he said.

          St. Peter’s is a team that going to try and pressure the ball quite bit in an attempt to create turnovers, according to Durbin.  “We did manage to get a little bit of film from one of their scrimmages.  They are very, very active defensively, so we cannot be loose with the ball.  Feree Kent has been a great player, had a great season last year.  He is their star and we have to make sure we shut him down.  Like I said, we just have to make sure we do what we want to do.  We have to run our offense the right way and be patient.  We just have to relax,” said Durbin.

          Against the Spartans ballhandling is going to be a premium.  Durbin says St. Peter’s is going to try and get offense from defense and they can’t let that happen.  “I do feel like they have done a good job this year.  I think that is going to be their defensive identity this year.  They do have a little bit of length and they are just so active on the ball with pressure, so we can’t be loose with the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “If things break down and they disrupt the first option of one of our sets or something just stick with it we are going to be fine.  Just keep running the offense and trust what you know.  With a young team like what we have got that is going to be key.  Just be patient everything will be fine and just keep playing.”

 

Published 11/24/22

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Crestview Getting Going

Click here to listen to an interview with coach John Kurtz

 

          Crestview had a long football season, so their roundball season will not start until next week.

          Coach John Kurtz says they have all of their kids now and they are trying to put some things together.  “We gave our football kids four days off, so we really have only had our kids a short amount of time.  We did scrimmage on Saturday after we had them back for a day.  So, it was nice to get everybody in the gym.  I can say due to the injury to Mason Ringler we don’t have a ton of kids playing football that play basketball.  So, it was different thing this year.  We are certainly excited about competition and getting going,” said Kurtz.

          Many have identified the Cougars as the favorite in the Firelands Conference this year, but Kurtz calls it wide open.  “Well, I think the conference is going to be more balanced this year.  I don’t think there is that one team that is head and shoulders above everybody like Western was last year.  You never really know until you start playing.  So, coaches can say whatever they want about where they think they are at, but you don’t really know until you get out there and get in those first few games and see how you are doing,” he said.

          Crestview opens the season with a conference game at Norwalk St. Paul next Thursday.

          Kurtz says it has been somewhat difficult to get a gage on the kids this year, plus he knows on game night it is going to be totally different.  “A lot of guys in scrimmages look at a lot of different players, I know we do, with a lot of different combinations.  Our difficulty this year was in our first three scrimmages we had six varsity players, so it really toughened our kids up because ewe had six kids that we used until football kids got out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “We have been pretty pleased with their effort.  I think our practices have been very good this year.  You don’t really know until the season starts and you get out there and guys get put under pressure to see where you are at and what you need to work on.”

 

Published 11/24/22

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Vermilion Wants Good Start

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Kurt Habermehl

 

          Vermilion tips-off the boys’ basketball season on Saturday night at Oberlin Firelands in non-conference play.

          Head coach Kurt Habermehl knows what to expect when the lights come on and they start charging to get in for the first time.  “In my 24 years I have found that openers tend to be sloppy early on in the game and you hope to find a rhythm early,” he said.

          Habermehl says they want to be as relaxed as they can be when they tip it off against Firelands.  “We play Firelands on Saturday and they have lucky enough to play a game already, so they kind of have got their nerves out a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “We have been preaching to our kids quite a bit that we want you to get your nerves out in the warmups, so when the game starts you are ready to go.”

          When it comes to Firelands, Habermehl says his team has to handle it without a bunch of turnovers and make some shots.  “They have some good shooters and some decent size.  They are similar to us.  They have some guys that can shoot the basketball and play aggressive and try and get after you a little bit.  It is just going to be a matter of us taking care of the ball and hopefully knocking down some shots,” said Habermehl.

 

Published 11/24/22

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Willard Must Rebound

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          Willard hosts Upper Sandusky in a boys’ basketball non-conference game on Wednesday night.

          Coach Joe Bedingfield says you never know for sure, but he thinks they are ready to execute in the season opener.  “I think it is human nature to be anxious to get going.  You feel like you are ready, but there are always going to be things that first game that you feel you could have done a little better job as a coach when you look back at it.  So, I think we have done the best that we can do with some of our injuries and some of the other things we have going on.  A lot of programs are going though the same things.  We are just anxious to get going and looking forward to the opportunity to play Upper at home (Wednesday) night,” he said.

          Upper Sandusky is always one the better division II schools in the area and Bedingfield says the Rams are physical and have some skill too.  “They always play hard.  The kids are always well coached.  They just come at you and play a really physical brand of basketball.  They return some guys from last year.  The Daris kid has played three years of varsity basketball.  The (Levi) Lamb kid hurt us last year with his athletic ability and his outside shot,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “They have some young players that are pretty long that might not have a lot of experience, but are playing pretty well for them.  I think coach (Jeff) Winslow does a good job.  He is mixing in some defenses that he hasn’t done in the past.  We have to be prepared for a four quarter game because it usually is.  They will play us tough.”

          Bedingfield says an important factor on Wednesday night will be their ability to rebound the basketball.  “They can shoot the outside ball.  I think that is more and more teams now kind of relying a little bit on it.  Offense favors the three point shot now.  There isn’t a lot of back to basket players anymore.  You have seen that evolve a little bit if you will.  Obviously, those things add up.  We have to do a good job chasing their better shooters off the line.  They have multiple that can get hot if we allow it.  We have to do a good job of scrambling out and run them off the line.  The big thing for us is rebounding.  We have to do a great job of rebounding.  We are not big this year.  We have to make sure we are seeking contact and not avoiding it,” said Bedingfield.

 

Published 11/23/22

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Madison Expects Challenge From Shelby

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          Madison entertains the Shelby Whippets in their annual season opening non-conference game on Friday night.

          Madison will have a lot of players that are going to see their first varsity action against Shelby and coach Chris Armstrong says the play of the team has been inconsistent during the preseason.  “It has been a little bit uneven.  We are young.  We have a freshman and some sophomores involved.  We had some really good scrimmages.  Saturday morning, we had a scrimmage that showed some real signs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We call it fluctuation, we fluctuate a little bit.  We definitely have some ability and those guys are learning.  We have to learn how to be a little more consistent with our energy and our effort.”

          Armstrong admits he isn’t sure what he is going to get, especially from the young guys on Friday night against the Whippets.  “I have really had that sense the past few weeks, just curious.  Again, I really love our young guys.  It is great to have Jayden Jeffries, a guy that has been through the battles and has really improved.  We have two seniors to kind of fall back on, but these young guys, I am excited to see their responses in these first games.  Again, they are promising young players, but there is going to be a learning curve there,” said Armstrong.

          Shelby lost quite few players to graduation last year, but Armstrong says the Whippets return some too, including their leading scorer form last season’s Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champions.  “They have a proven scorer.  They have a 6’6’” wing there in Alex Bruskotter, who is really good.  They have a lot of size and length and experience too.  They are going to pose some challenges with their size and athleticism.  I think it is going to be a great challenge for us,” he said.

 

Published 11/23/22

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A lot of Unknowns for Ashland

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          Ashland opens the season this weekend at Norwalk on Friday and home with Sandusky on Saturday as they face a pair of teams from the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Coach Jason Hess says they have looked good at times, but he adds that they really don’t know what kind of team they are yet.  “We had a lot of question marks coming into the season.  I don’t know if we have fully answered any of those questions until we turn the lights on Friday night and see how our kids preform.  We have had some pretty good scrimmages, but scrimmage and practice situations aren’t quite the same as real life gametimes.  So, the key will be trying to get our kids used to the game speed and action of a varsity game and hopefully we will be ready to play,” said Hess.

          When a team opens the season there is always a different sense of nervousness for that first game, according to Hess.  “There is always that excitement and anticipation the butterflies in the stomach for that first game of the year.  The kids have it, the coaches have it, fans have it.  There is always that excitement of a new season.  It an also make that first game a little jittery and some unforced errors that you are not accustomed to, some first game butterflies so to speak can cause some problems and whoever can overcome those and really make a few plays to win a basketball game,” he said.

          Norwalk has a new coach in Adam Kreischer and Hess admits that will make it more difficult when it comes to trying to figure out what to expect in the first game of the year.  “It makes it a little harder to prepare.  When coach (Steve) Gray was there we had a pretty good idea with many years of playing against him of what we were going to see.  Now this year with a new coach for them he is doing things a little bit different.  I know he had been on staff and worked with coach Gray for many years, so I don’t expect a lot of changes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Every coach has their little thumbprint that they like to put on a program when they take over.  So, this week we have really been focusing on ourselves more so than what Norwalk is going to do because there is not a lot of film out there on them yet with no games being played.”

 

Published 11/23/22

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Pleasant Takes on Pretty Good Fairbanks

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          Marion Pleasant uses the option of beginning their boys’ basketball season on Wednesday as they host Fairbanks in a non-conference game.

          Coach Ben Snively says you are never going to have all of your stuff in for the first game, but he feels they are prepared for Fairbanks.  “I have been doing this thing for a while now and I don’t think you are ever fully prepared.  Different things can happen throughout the course of the game.  With a some experience, we have touched on about everything.  We have an idea of Fairbanks is going to do to us.  When it comes down to it your kids just have to be fundamentally sound.  If we do the basic things right, I think we will give ourselves the opportunity to win,” said Snively.

          More and more teams are taking the option of playing on the day before Thanksgiving and Snively says he is willing to give it a try.  “To be honest this is the first time in my career that we have started this early.  We usually do open up on a Friday night.  We have a couple of teams that we are going to move down later in our schedule.  We actually had a conflict because Fairbanks scheduled our game on the night of a conference game they had, so we thought naturally we would move it the beginning of the year.  It seemed to work out and I am excited about the opportunity.  You want to get that first win so that Turkey tastes a little better the next day,” he said.

          Snively says Fairbanks will have some height and they also have shooters they will have to defend.  “They have a couple of big kids.  One of their big post players in 6’4”.  He is coming off a knee injury from last year.  They have another 6’4” kid that is really athletic that we will have to focus on to keep him off the boards,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “They have a couple of decent guards and that can all shoot the three.  Again, at this stage in the game, I have seen them on film and I went and scouted one of their scrimmages, so it is the first game of the year and you never know what to expect.  Anybody can get hot on any given day.  With a lot of unknowns, we will just go out and kind of play it by ear and see how the game goes.  See who is hot and see what is going on and take it from there.”

 

Published 11/23/22

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Bellevue Opens up With Margaretta

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          Bellevue hits the floor for the first time on Saturday as they are at Margaretta to challenge the Polar Bears in an “SBC” crossover or non-conference game, whichever you prefer.

          Coach Ed Rich says they have made some good progress during the preseason.  “They are coming together little by little.  It seems like this time came really quick this year.  We are still behind in a couple of spots.  Hopefully, with a full week of practice this week we will get to where we need to be by Saturday,” he said.

          Rich says his kids are ready to go out and prove how good they can be.  “Obviously, we had the scrimmage schedule.  We played three scrimmages the last week.  I thought we got better in some spots and not as good in other spots.  We are banking on our kids being ready to play on Saturday and coming out there and giving of best effort,” said Rich.

          Margaretta won a co-title in the “SBC Bay” last season and advanced to the division IV regional tournament.

          Rich says they lost some very good talent to graduation, but they have some guys that can play back too.  “They are still going to be a solid team for sure.  They lose Liebacher and Palamo, who were two of their best players.  Coach (Steve) Keller and his staff, they do an excellent job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They are going to be ready to play.  They are a very disciplined team, a very well coached team.  It is going to take a good effort by us to come away with a victory at Margaretta.”

          Rich says the Bears are one of the teams in the area that have kids that can make midrange jump shots and they have to ready to defend.  “They have a couple of guards in Sosa and a freshman guard, coach Keller’s kid that love that pull up jumper.  They are dribbling and then pulling up from 10 to 12 feet.  They are shooters and they like to shoot it.  We have to get hands up and be really good on the defensive end against them on Saturday,” said Rich.

 

Published 11/23/22

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Improved Northwestern Opens Against Triway

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          Northwestern will be at home for the Wooster Triway Titans in the boys’ basketball opener for both schools on Friday night.

          Veteran Northwestern coach Mark Alberts Jr. says he has high hopes for this year.  “I am very pleased with our guys.  We are making good progress and things are going well.  Every year is different.  It has been definitely an interesting year.  Every year is like that.  You see it as coaches, but when you hear it from another coach when you go to a scrimmage.  You compete hard against these other coaches and one guy comes up to me and says, coach you are 100 times better than last year.  That makes you feel good because at least we have put ourselves in the right direction.  So, hopefully we can keep doing that,” said Alberts.

          The Huskies will have some players that haven’t played in a varsity game before Friday, but Alberts believes they will be alright.  “I think when the lights come on everything changes, especially with guys that haven’t been tested before and we have a few of those guys that haven’t been under the lights before.  I think when you work hard and you have been putting that time in that good things will happen.  Guys will get to that point where they aren’t nervous with the lights being on.  I am confident in our guys here for Friday night, especially being at home.  If we were on the road, I would be a little more nervous, but being at home I’m excited to see what will happen,” he said.

          As for Triway, Alberts says they have a number of guys that can play, but like them, some will be under the lights for the first time.  “Zach Miller is obviously being their senior.  He is their leading scorer back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Then Drew Brishko is their other leading scorer back.  Then they have a senior that came out this year.  His name is Jackson Hagget, a solid player that didn’t play last year and may not have played as a sophomore.  I don’t know what was the reasoning.  He is about 6’3”, 6’4” and a slender, athletic kid.  Coach Holt has his son (Bryden) playing.  He is a freshman.  He can shoot, good player, he will start for them and he can handle the ball.  I am anxious to see how much he touches it compared to Zach Miller because Zach Miller, you have to try and stop him if you are going to stop Triway.”

 

Published 11/23/22

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Buckeye Central Ready to Play

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          Buckeye Central faces a double weekend on the opening week of the boys’ basketball season as they are at Plymouth on Friday night and at home with Crestline on Saturday, both are non-conference games.

          Coach Tom Howell says they are getting themselves ready to open the season.  “We had a pretty decent day (Monday) and hopefully (Tuesday) we get better.  Hopefully, we get a little more energy we can get up and down the floor and tighten things up and be ready for Friday,” said Howell.

          Howell says the kids are ready to play for real and frankly, so is he.  “I have been at this long enough.  It’s tough and everybody is going to want to put a lot of stuff in.  You are not going to have everything in for the first game,” he told Swankopnsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “It is time to play.  It is time to get the ball out on the floor and get some people in the stands and make some noise and let’s play some basketball.”

          When it comes to Plymouth, Howell says they are going to be at a height disadvantage and they must work hard at rebounding the ball.  “They are going to be athletic like they usually are, they will be physical.  I know they have a big guy.  Last year, he gave us some problems.  We have to be able to rebound and check everybody out.  We are not very tall.  I am expecting a good, tough game,” he said.

 

Published 11/23/22

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Clear Fork Opens at Madison

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          Clear Fork, a district final qualifier last year, begins this girls’ basketball season on Tuesday night at Madison in non-conference play.

          Their game with Lucas last Friday was postponed, so coach Scott Sellers says they are especially eager to get going.  “They are, they are ready to go.  The Lucas game got postponed to I believe January 18, so we are looking forward to that.  We have our sites set now on Madison.  Our last practice is (Monday) to prep for that.  We are really excited.  They played Wooster pretty tough on Friday and I know that Wooster has some pretty nice players coming back.  So, we are certainly looking forward to the game, to the challenge.  I know the kids are ready to play against someone other than ourselves.  It is just something we are really looking forward to,” he said.

          The Lady Colts won 21 games last season and coach Sellers says it is a different group this year, but they again have lofty goals.  “It is good.  We like have expectations.  I think we have had expectations for the last two seasons, last season certainly, this season, we have expectations.  I am sure other people look and our curious as to what we will have as well.  Listen, it is fair too.  You lose someone like Conrad last year, who did so many things for us.  I have gotten the question time and time again, how are you guys going to score and rebound or do these things?  I think a lot of coaches have to answer that question when they lose good talent,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “Shelby lost three incredible players.  There were eight All-Ohioans in our conference.  So, there were a lot of teams in our own conference that lost a lot of players that are answering these questions.  I think one year to another if we continue to do the things that we are doing at least we have an outlook of at least we can go compete because we play hard and we play good defense.  It is something that we expect now as a program and as coaches is we will have turnover in talent, but we hope we can continue to do the things that are core to our team.”

          Madison (0-1) opened last week with a (61-49) loss to Wooster in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.  They held the lead for a significant amount of time in that game.

          Sellers says the Lady Rams will enjoy a size advantage and he says they are athletic too.  “They are bigger than us for sure.  They play primarily man defense.  I think at times they will look to play on the ball pressure defense.  It is no real secret, it has not been over the last two years, about how we like to play.  We like to push the ball when we can.  We like to play man defense.  We like to get on the ground first if you will.  Madison does have some kids that are bigger.  To counter that we have to do a good job of pressuring their guards, staying out of foul trouble, and using the rotation that we like to use so far.  I think we have a good chance to go into Madison and compete well.  Two years ago, we went in there and got off to a big lead and I think they ended up beating us by 16 with some really good athletes.  It’s a tough place to play.  We are looking forward to it,” said Sellers.

 

Published 11/22/22

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Western Reserve Showing Improvement

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          Western Reserve, the defending Firelands Conference champion, opens the regular season at home on Wednesday against Margaretta in non-conference action.

          They will be inexperienced, but coach Chris Sheldon says they are making the kind of improvements that he likes to see.  “I feel like over the last week we have taken some steps in the right direction offensively to at least understand what our identity is going to be and how we have got to play form a style perspective.  Trying to realize that get individuals to understand where they best fit into our offensive scheme and have them on the same page as to what their coaches are thinking.  Defensively, we are still a work in progress.  We highlighted a couple of things that we thought we were really not very good at a week ago and spent a lot of time on it.  As our last couple of scrimmages came around we definitely saw improvement in those areas and that is all you can ask for,” said Sheldon.

          Sheldon says you aren’t sure what you are going to get from inexperienced players on opening night and many times it isn’t a good predictor when it comes to the rest of the season.  “For us the one thing is that is really hard on opening night.  Opening night can also be misleading.  Some guys will have the game of their life and other guys won’t play that well.  Over 20 plus game that stuff really balances itself out.  I am one of those that I don’t want to put too much stock into one game, especially because how inexperienced we are and we just want to keep hitting and emphasizing some of our key takeaways on both sides of the ball that we have to get better at.  For us that is what we are going to measure ourselves against.  Then if we can stack those things on top of each other week after week then we will start to see a lot more progression and we will pay a little more attention to the results and what we are doing,” he said.

          Margaretta shared the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division last year and advanced to the division IV regional.

          Sheldon says they do return some talent from that team and have added some guys.  “They bring three guys back from their regional qualifying team from a year ago.  Cameron Sosa obviously has the most experience and a guy that is going to have to be a very good scorer for them this year.  (Hayden) Willey and (Evan) Miller each provide them with some length and strength and ability to knock down some threes, especially the Miller kid.  Having three guys back with that kind of experience is definitely going to help them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “Then they bring two really, really good freshmen into the mix in Julian Washington, a transfer from Sandusky Perkins, and Juda Keller, the coaches son.  Coach’s kids, I am a firm believer that they are pretty darn good just because they have been in a gym their whole life.  Everything that we know about those two is they are highly talented freshmen that they are expecting big things.  Their starting five is going to give us a lot of fits and then they bring a sophomore off the bench that can play too.  They have some experience, but they also have a mixture of youth.  We just have to see if we can hang around and make it a ballgame for four quarters.”

 

Published 11/22/22

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Ontario Plays Rival Lexington in Opener

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          Ontario hosts non-conference rival Lexington in a girls’ basketball game that serves as the opener for both schools on Tuesday night.

          Lady Warriors coach Mitch Willeke says they are about as prepared as they can be for an opener like this.  “These last couple of days it has been just making sure we have all our bases coverer, making sure we are prepared for most every situation.  I know we are not going to cover them all, but we try to make sure they see most of them.  Just try to dot our I’s and cross our T’s here before tipoff on Tuesday,” he said.

          They bring back some kids that played at the varsity level last year and Willeke says he hopes that reduces some of the nervousness associated with the first game of the season.  “We had a lot of kids that saw valuable minutes last year.  I know they are going to have those game one jitters, but I hope our experience from last year to this year carries over.  You are going to see some nervous mistakes and things like that, but you hope that experience kind of keeps that to a minimum and we hit our stride early,” said Willeke.

          Lexington was supposed to open the season last Friday against Loudonville, but their new gym is not ready to go.

          Willeke says Lady Lex has a lot that they are concerned about, especially their height.  “I mean they are going to play hard for coach Daryl Udhe.  They have pieces coming back and pieces coming up.  (Madie) Basilone is the point guard and she is tough.  She has been around for three or four years now.  They have some youth that is big and we have to be able to handle that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “I think first and foremost it is going to be our ability to rebound.  If we can keep them off the boards and keep them in check, we give ourselves a shot.  It is going to one of those games, the first game, that it is going to come down to timely shooting and who is going to make more shots in the end.”

 

Published 11/22/22

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Upper Locks Horns With Willard

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          Upper Sandusky rolls into Willard to face the Flashes on Wednesday night, now the opening night of the boys’ basketball season, in a non-conference contest.

          The Rams will be a more inexperienced team, at least at the beginning of the season, but coach Jeff Winslow says they are starting to come together.  “Honestly, it has been up and down.  We have a lot of young guys playing.  They haven’t been real consistent yet.  As you go and they get accustomed to what you are doing and get used to the varsity speed and varsity practices they become more consistent, but right now we have to be patient and just work through some of the days that are bad days and have some days that are good days.  Hopefully, you have more good days than bad,” said Winslow.

          Willard is going to be a big challenge for his team, according to Winslow, because they have kids that can score the ball.  “Well, the Max Dawson kid is really, really good.  He is going to average 25 or 30 a game.  He does not miss an open shot.  He has good length and really good basketball smarts.  He is going to a really tough guy to match up to and try to limit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “The Robinson kids, I believe they are twins,  Cam Robinson is just a really strong kid that gets to the basket.  He is lefty and that makes it difficult sometimes if you’re not used to it.  He is really physical.  Then his brother is a good outside shooter from the perimeter.  They have two other role players that can spot shoot and do their thing.  They seem to be not really deep, but those five really know what they are doing.  That gives them five really solid players on the court and it is going to be a tough matchup for us.”

          Of course, Upper Sandusky and Willard were both in the Northern Ohio League for years and they had a great rivalry in the late 1970’s.  They have kept playing a non-conference game since Upper left that league 20 years ago.

          Winslow says it is always a good test.  “It has been a good rivalry game, the first game of the year.  I wouldn’t mind if we pushed it back a little bit, a little bit deeper in the season.  Being the first game of the year, it is always a packed house, lots of intensity.  Both teams are usually really good and win or lose both teams have good seasons.  We are back in the same division again, so it could be a matchup in tournament play like we had in the past with them.  It is always a lot of fun to play this game,” he said.

 

Published 11/22/22

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Loudonville Needs Improvement

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          Loudonville plays at Cardington on Tuesday night in a non-conference game between teams that won conference titles last year.

          The Lady Redbirds in the Mid-Buckeye Conference and Cardington in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          Loudonville opened the season last Saturday with a (59-27) setback to Harvest Prep, a statewide power.

          Coach Tyler Bates says they had problems putting the ball in the hoop.  “Well, we have a lot of work to do, but I was really proud of our effort defensively in the first half.  We got stops and we limited them to only 20 points in the first half.  I thought it was a chance to win, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.  They were longer and more athletic than us, honestly, at all five spots on the court throughout the game.  Hopefully, with our young team it is something we grow from.  That’s always what I’m looking at here with our non-conference contests.  Although, you never want to lose, or lose badly, it is something you have to remember,” said Bates.

          Bates says it very important that the clean up some of the mistakes they made on Saturday and play a better game against Cardington.  “I think if you don’t see improvement, honestly after anytime you play, but definitely with the first game, that is wen you start to be concerned.  I don’t think you get too concerned with how you look the first game, but where you get concerned is, okay, we see what we need to work on, now are we going to fix those things,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “If we don’t after we knew we need to fix those things that is when I think you get concerned.  So, our game with Cardington here and then Medina Buckeye next week those are going to be big time games for us to see if we are growing or not, are we learning from these things.”

          Cardington (1-1) lost to North Union (47-32) on Friday and then beat Ridgedale (45-11) on Saturday.  They have a new head coach in Kevin Fitzpatrick.

          Bates says they will see some zone on Tuesday.  “They have a young team as well with a new coaching staff.  They are well coached and they take a lot of pride in wearing the Cardington uniform.  We know they are going to come out and play hard, they spread the court.  They mix in some different zone defenses throughout a game.  I think this is two programs right now that are looking to see who is going to step up next and be that next wave of good players for their school.  It is a fun early matchup, no doubt,” he said.

 

Published 11/22/22

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Colonel Crawford Putting Things Together

Click here to listen to an interview with coach David Sheldon

 

          Colonel Crawford has won the last two Northern 10 boys’ basketball titles, but this year they must replace a lot lost to graduation.

          Coach David Sheldon says they have had limited practices with their full group so far.  “We have had them for four days.  That is a good thing.  We are used to that with the success we have had over the years in football leading into basketball.  So, this isn’t anything new being here for the past 17 years our kids know our system.  The biggest thing is getting them into basketball shape form football shape.  It is just a totally different condition with the way the games are played.  Our guys know our system, it is just getting us fine tuned and all of the skills you need to sharpen up before we open up in week,” he said.

          They open the season next Monday at Crestline, then host Kenton on Wednesday and play their first “N10” game at home against Buckeye Central on December 3.

          Sheldon says bring only on starter back in Braxton Baker (12.1 ppg), but they have of kids that have grown up in their system.  “We bring one starter in Braxton Baker back, but we lost two All-Ohioans in Studer and Valentine and two other starters.  We lost a lot off a very good team last year.  We have two other kids that played off the bench a little in Derek Horsley, who will move now to the point guard position and Jacob Maddy, a post player.  So, realistically there are only three kids that played last year and only one was a starter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “It is a new basketball team, that’s for sure when we take the floor, but they have all been in our system.  We are going to start all juniors and seniors.  It’s not like they are young kids, they are upperclassmen that we are putting on the floor.  They have paid their dues in our program.  We are very fortunate to have kids that understand sometimes you don’t play right away.  This is the time that we talk about leaving their mark on the Colonel Crawford basketball program here.”

          Sheldon says they aren’t going to make drastic changes to what they do just some tweaks to their system.  “Every year it’s a change based on personnel.  It is not like we run the same offense every year.  Are there things that we do?  Yes, but there are things that we tweak too.  Sometimes we are more motion, sometimes more sets.  It just depends on personnel that you have.  These guys have grown up in our system and they understand the expectations of putting on a Colonel Crawford jersey.  It is high expectations every year with the success we have had over the years.  These guys are excited to get going.  They came in last Wednesday when we finally go them all.  They know we have got down to business every night we get in the gym because whether you like it or not, we open up in a week and they are looking forward to the opportunity to compete night in and night out,” said Sheldon.

 

Published 11/22/22

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Huron Heads for St. Mary’s

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          Huron, the defending co-champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division, plays a crossover game on Wednesday night at Sandusky St. Mary’s, of the River Division to open the season.

          Coach Bobby James says his kids can’t wait to get the season started.  “I don’t think there is enough time for me to get anything assembled.  We will just see what happens Wednesday.  Hopefully, my assistant coaches know what they are doing.  I think we will be ready to go our kids are chomping at the bit to get out on the court and play a game.  They are sick of listening to me yell at them,” said James.

          Huron returns four kids that played a lot of minutes at the varsity level for a team that won the division II district title last year and James hopes that will help them with the jitters of opening night.  “I think with us having so many seniors and having a lot of experience and a lot kids that played big time football games I think that will help us going into Wednesday night.  With us not having the full preseason I really do think that is going to help.  I think they will be ready to go on Wednesday I hope,” he said.

          Huron is going to be division III this season.

          James says St. Mary’s will be well coached and they will come up with some surprises for the Tigers.  “Chris (Ceccoli) has done such a great job coaching.  He did a great job at Edison and now he is doing a great job at St. Mary’s.  They have two guards.  They are led by Brock Gill, I think he was all league last year coming back.  It is funny we go on vacation together as a family and now we are going to play against each other, so I have a couple of tricks up my sleave for Brock,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “It should be a good time, but he’ll have those kids disciplined and ready to go and I’m sure they will throw some things at us that we aren’t ready for.  He always does a nice job with that.  Hopefully, our kids are prepared and ready to go Wednesday night.”

 

Published 11/22/22

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Norwalk Starts With Tough One With Ashland

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          Norwalk plays host to Ashland in an opening night game on Friday against the Arrows in non-conference play.

          Adam Kreischer, in his first year as the Truckers coach, says they have shown they are dedicated to improvement during the preseason.  “We are kind of young and definitely inexperienced right now, but we have had progression through practices.  We had a nice scrimmage last Thursday and played pretty well against Tiffin Calvert and Anthony Wayne.  We had a rough one Saturday.  North Union came up here and they just shot it really well.  They shot about 60 percent from the three point line and you not going to look nearly as good when you let a team do that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “So, we have had some good progression, some good growth.  Offensively we are looking a little better and we starting to come together as a team defensively.  There are still some ups and downs.”

          Kreischer says the Friday night lights can be blinding, but he hopes they can learn on some the experience they have.  “We are looking for a couple of our seniors to step up.  A couple of guys that have seen varsity action to step up and be ready for those lights to come on and maybe even switch to a different level when those lights come on.  So, we are excited to get things going against coach (Jason) Hess and Ashland coming up here on Friday,” he said.

          Ashland is the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion and they return one of the area’s best shooters in Grayson Struey. 

          Kreischer says they are going to be a challenge for their defense, especially.  “In talking to a couple of coaches that have scrimmaged them and seeing them a little bit over the last couple of years they definitely have some athletes.  They have about a 6’5” kid inside that can play.  They have a real nice guard.  Just in general, I think they do a nice job of pressuring the basketball and they shoot it really well too.  So, we are really going to have to get up on shooters, contain penetration.  All of those things we talk about and have been working on all preseason we are going to have to do well Friday to come up with a victory,” said Kreischer.

 

Published 11/22/22

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Mt. Vernon Plays Traditional Small School Power Centerburg

 

          Mt. Vernon tips off the boys’ basketball season on Wednesday night by hosting Centerburg, of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, on the day before Thanksgiving in non-conference play.

          Coach Nick Coon believes his team has rounded into shape pretty well after the last week or so.  “We challenged our team with very good teams and programs in our scrimmage schedule that pushed us and opened our eyes with things that we needed to work on and will continue to need to work on.  We have definitely made strides in the right direction heading into game one,” said Coon.

          No matter what they have done in the preseason, Coon knows that Wednesday night is when they really start to understand what they have this season and what they have to do to get better.  “Game lights are different than scrimmage lights.  Each team and each player responds differently to that.  We feel like we know our group pretty well, but there is still always that uncertainty of game one and we will see that come Wednesday night,” he said.

          Centerburg has been very good as late.  They are defending “KMAC” champs and have won at least a piece of the last three titles.

          Coon says they are going to again offer them a challenge.  “Centerburg traditionally has had a good program and good teams over the last several years.  They did lose some key seniors from a very good team last year, but they have a lot of pride and they are very well coached,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “So, we know it is going to be a tough game for us and it is a good game for us because it is a local school.  We except a big crowd and great atmosphere for our players to experience.”  

A note, Mt. Vernon has announced it is leaving the Ohio Cardinal Conference to join the Licking County League.

 

Published 11/22/22

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Wynford Ready to Get Rolling

 

          Wynford entertains River Valley in a non-conference girls’ basketball game on Friday night as they tip off what they hope will be a successful season for the Lady Royals.

          Future hall of fame coach Amy Taylor-Sheldon says her group is small in terms of numbers, but talented and ready to go Friday.  “We have a very excited and experienced group here on basketball season eve.  We have had a really good preseason.  We have been competitive in our scrimmages and made some tweaks and improvements and we will be ready for Friday night,” said Taylor-Sheldon.

          Wynford wants to get out on the fast break this season and Taylor-Sheldon says that starts with being able to rebound the basketball.  “We want to run the floor and that starts with a good rebound.  If we do that, I think we are pretty good in transition.  I think we play really hard.  I think along with communication that will really be to our benefit,” she said.

          River Valley, out of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, is a bigger school than Wynford.  Taylor-Sheldon says the Lady Vikings are going to be a challenge for them and they have good floor balance.  “We saw them in a preview last weekend.  They have had some really fantastic seasons and postseasons the last several years.  Tim has done a great job over there.  They don’t have as many returners we do, but they are going to be competitive,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “They have some inside, outside balance and two good seniors and a post player.  I feel like we will be challenged, but we open with River Valley every year.  It is kind of a gage against a big school for us.”

 

Published 11/18/22

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Huron Has Some Players

 

          Huron shared the title in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference and advanced to the division II regional last season and this season has the potential to be pretty good too.

          Coach Bobby James says they haven’t had their full roster for very long at all and they have a lot of things they must improve.  “The is our seventh day total, so we have had them about a week and we have had one scrimmage.  We have a lot to work on.  We are not where we need to be because they went two weeks into the playoffs and then I gave them some time off,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Right now, we are just trying to play catchup to get ready for next Wednesday.  It seems like it is coming really fast and we don’t have time to get ready.”

          Huron opens the season next Wednesday with Sandusky St. Mary’s in a non-conference game.  Their first Bay Division game comes December 2 against Edison.

          James says they will return some talent from that team last year, including the district player of the year in Dylan Hohler.  “We have two kids that started for me last year coming back in Dylan Hohler and Luke Rager and my sixth man in Adam Murray is back, so he will plug right in as a starter.  Then we brought some kids up from the JV team late last year, so we think they will plug in.  We have Jake Lagando, who was my backup five last year, who will plug right into that spot this year.  So, we have got some experience and some depth.  So, we are hoping having those guys back we can pick it up a little faster than if we were starting fresh,” said James.

          When you have some talent back that builds the expectations with the program.  James says they think they can be pretty good and really that is all that matters.  “It depends on who you talk to I guess, right?  My wife expects me to lose weight every year and that doesn’t happen.  We don’t know what is going to happen once the ball is tipped off.  We always have high expectations for our team here.  I am not sure what anybody else thinks and I’m not sure I care what anybody else thinks.  Hopefully, we can come together in the right time, but we will see, we have a lot of work to do,” he said.

 

Published 11/18/22

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Colonel Crawford Opens With Northmor

 

          Colonel Crawford tips-off the girls’ basketball season on Friday night by making the short trip to Northmor to face the Lady Golden Knights in a non-conference match-up.

          First year coach Zac Bauer says with everything that has been given to them, the girls have gotten better this month.  “We have shown a lot of improvement in our preseason.  With me being new, it’s my first year, there are a lot of terminology changes, philosophical changes.  I think we have seen some improvement through our four scrimmages we have had.  We ended pretty strong last Thursday.  I have talked to all of our kids and they seem a little more natural, a little more comfortable with what we are trying to do.  That is encouraging to get feedback from them too because it is hard to tell sometimes until you see it live or talk to the kids one on one,” said Bauer.

          Bauer says there have been a lot of terminology changes that the players are trying to get used to this year.  “Offensively, I like to run some motion offense, five around zero, four around one, pass the ball and screen.  I am not a big over dribble guy.  It is different from what they have done in the past.  Not that what there was anything wrong with they did before, bit it is just different from the way I have learned and coached and been taught.  The way we talk about things terminology wise has been so foreign because it is almost like a different language,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “It took them all summer and coming into the fall to get used they way I phrase things and they way we talk about things.  Defensively, we play a lot of man to man and we want to take teams first options away.  We want to be a sound, fundamental team on both ends, I think everybody will say the same thing.  We are trying not to overcomplicate in our first year.  We want to do three or four things well and not 25 average.”

          Bauer says they look for Northmor to try and push the tempo of the game on them Friday night.  “Northmor is going to come out and play hard.  They like to play fast and change the tempo.  They have some good athletes on the floor for them that have played some varsity before.  I would expect it to be a good opener for them.  I think we are going to see a lot of people in the stands.  People are excited to watch basketball.  We are expecting a challenge (Friday) night.  We hope to answer and show our best on our first night as well,” he said.

 

Published 11/18/22

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South Central Getting Better Fast

 

          South Central has faced a lot of adversity already this season, mostly due to injuries, but they handling that pretty well heading into game week next week when they open the season the day after Thanksgiving.

          Cory Durbin is their new coach.  He says they will be young, but he likes the improvement he is seeing.  “I love these kids.  They are hard working kids raised really well by their families.  They are easy to get along with.  Love being in the locker room with them.  We are dealing with a couple of injuries with some of our older guys. We have a little bit of a younger team that I think most people expected at this point.  We are getting through those growing pains quickly and I really like the progress we have seen for sure,” said Durbin.

          They scrimmaged Willard and Galion on Tuesday and Durbin says the scrimmages they have had have been important tools.  “I think some of the growing pains I am talking about is because they haven’t seen the speed of varsity basketball, that’s the main thing.  You know what, they are adapting very quicky.  When you have got guys on the floor like Isaac Blair and Brandon Mitchell and some of these older guys that have been around for a long time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “They are so quick and athletic that the young guys grow up even faster in practice.  Certainly, the scrimmages have been huge.  We have been watching a lot of film already of some of our scrimmages.  They are adapting really quickly actually, I have been impressed.”

          South Central opens the season on November 25 at Mansfield St. Peter’s.  Their first Firelands Conference game will be December 2 at Mapleton.

          Durbin says better defense it the key for their improvement between now and then.  “The age gap there.  Some of these guys that are going to be playing a lot of minutes for us this year haven’t played varsity minutes.  Going back to that varsity speed.  Defensively, just doing a better job helping each other out and guarding on the ball better.  Part of that is just an adjustment.  I think we have good athletes, they simply aren’t used to the varsity level yet.  Like I said, it is coming along pretty quickly.  We have seen a lot of little things on film and we have really worked hard to fix those things and we have looked better and better every scrimmage.  It has been very encouraging,” he said.

 

Published 11/18/22

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Highland Has Identified Areas for Improvement

 

          Highland has been learning some things, including a new system, this month as they get ready for the high school basketball season, which begins next week.

          They have a new coach in athletic director Mike Delaney, who took the reins this fall.

          Delaney says he likes the attitude he sees with the squad and that is very important.  “The big thing for us is we are excited.  We have had 15 practices together through (Thursday) night.  Our kids had a successful football season and we have had a good fall sports season as an athletic department.  Their team first attitude and their competitiveness.  Their willingness to come in an adjust to a new system has been very exciting for us as coaches.  We are looking forward to a good year,” said Delaney.

          Delaney says they have upgraded their scrimmage schedule and that has allowed them he find what they have this year.  “There is a balance between scrimmaging and having enough practice time in order to implement your new system.  I think we have reached a pretty good balance with that.  We have scheduled up in terms of scrimmages.  We scrimmaged Linden McKinley and Granville and Wooster Triway.  So, I think it is going well so far and are looking forward to the start of the season,” he said.

          Highland begins next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, with Hebron Lakewood at home in a non-conference game.  They open play in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on December 2 at Ontario.

          There are three things they are really working on consistently in practice ball handling, defense and rebounding, according to Delaney.  “High School basketball games are so short in terms of the number of possessions that you get.  You have to have ball security and you have to be able to defend the ball.  I think those two things are the key for any high school basketball coach and team in order for them to be successful,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Those two things combined with the ability to rebound the basketball give you a chance to be successful night in and night out.  Certainly, we are working on that every day in practice.”

 

Published 11/18/22

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Old Fort Won’t be as Big

 

          Old Fort has been one of the better small school basketball teams in North Central Ohio over the last half decade and time will tell if they can continue that trend.

          Coach Eric Hoover says they are going to be a team that doesn’t have that much varsity experience, but he likes how hard they are working to improve.  “We are a completely different team.  We graduated a lot of guys and not a lot of guys with varsity experience, but I like their work ethic. I like their energy.  They have been practicing hard and learning a lot.  So, I think they will just continue to improve if they can keep that work ethic,” said Hoover.

          Hoover says at Old Fort they don’t just do walk throughs.  He says they want the kids to have to put out the effort in practice.  “We try to make practices difficult.  Try to make them more difficult than a game that are going to challenge you.  You have to get through that adversity.  If you an do that in practice, then it makes the games a lot easier.  I think they have done a good job challenging each other in practice and trying to make each other better every day,” he said.

          Old Fort hits the floor first this season when they play Oak Harbor on November 29 in an “SBC” crossover game.  Their first Sandusky Bay Conference River Division game is December 2 against rival Tiffin Calvert.

          Hoover says over the next 10 days they will be working on sharping how they run their offense.  “The last few years we have had a lot of size and were getting the ball inside a lot.  We have to kind of flip it.  We are small now and we have to play with a whole different style.  Just learning a whole new offensive strategy that better fits these guys that we have.  It is going to be a little different than have been doing, a little different process,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I think that is one thing.  We are inexperienced.  We have to get that in game experience.  These scrimmages have been really important for us.  The rest of the way heading into the season it is going to be important for us to get that game experience as much as we can before the season starts.”

 

Published 11/18/22

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St. Paul Has to Get Better on Defense

 

          Norwalk St. Paul certainly has the potential to be a better basketball team this year, but only time will tell.

          Coach Steve Minor, in his second season, says they have all of their kids back now and he thinks things are going well as they prepare for the season.  “Well, so far, we are pretty happy.  We have only had our football players and our cross county kids back, this will be the fourth day, but they are meshing well, fitting in very well, and catching up relatively quickly.  So, with some fine tuning and conditioning we are getting where we want to be,” said Minor.

          This winter, the Flyers are going to be a much more experienced team on the floor and Minor hopes that is a big plus for them when it comes to wins and losses.  “Last year, we had two varsity lettermen back with one of them that had a lot of floor experience.  This year we have four lettermen back and they all have experience.  We have a couple of other kids that got some time as well.  So, it’s a little more experience than we had.  Sometimes that’s worst teacher there is and sometimes that is the best teacher there is.  We will see how it works out,” he said.

          They don’t play next week.  St. Paul plays its first game on November 29 on the road at Vermilion is a non-conference game.  They start Firelands Conference play December 1 when they host Crestview.

          Minor says before next week, they have to get better on the defensive end of the floor if they expect to be more competitive.  “We can always improve defensively and that is where we are at right now.  Rebounding goes right in with that.  You are not going to have offense if you don’t have defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Offensively, I like some of the things we are doing.  We are okay with what we want to do there.  We are not trying to come up with different ways to score and different plays.  We are pretty settled in offensively, but we have to turn it up defensively.”

 

Published 11/18/22

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Dave Carroll Out at Clear Fork

 

          Clear Fork football coach Dave Carroll has been told by the administration that he will not be returning as football coach next fall.

          The Colts finished (10-2) this year, where Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champions and lost in the regional quarterfinals to Elyria Catholic.  Carroll was (90-61) in 14 years in the valley.  His teams won three “MOAC” titles and one Ohio Cardinal Conference championship.  He took the Colts to the playoffs seven times and had four 10 plus win seasons.

          Carroll told Swankosports.com he was disappointed he had to hear about his fate from someone outside of the school system.  “I don’t want to sound negative or bitter first of all, so if anything comes across that way it is not what I am after.  I am shocked, 39 years in coaching, 14 years at Clear Fork and won 10 games this year.  I guess the one thing that I am most upset about is the way I found out.  I had a friend of mine that doesn’t live in the valley, doesn’t have anything to do with the valley text me (Tuesday) morning and say, what is going on down there?  I said, what are you talking about?  I call him and he says the word is you are being let go as a football coach.  I said, what?  I was sitting there working on the banquet stuff and our football records and having a great week and half off season happy has as a lark,” he said.

          Carroll says he was able to determine he didn’t have any support of the board of education.  “I start calling our administration and they don’t answer, they are busy, but I keep pounding on the phone and eventually got an answer and they didn’t want to tell me.  I am like, so what is this?  I am pretty good at getting things out of people and I was told the board had a meeting last week and they went into executive session and I was brought up.  Supposedly, they said it would be a 5-0 vote against me coaching anymore here.  Our “AD” and our principal were told that that was the case and I wasn’t going to be rehired for next season and they were supposed to sit down tell me this up coming Monday after our banquet, which is Sunday,” said Carroll.

          Carroll wonders how information from an executive session would leak to the press and the public.  As a reporter for 35 years, I would wounder the same thing.

          The coach though understands what is like in a small community.  “I am calling all kinds of people to find our what’s going on and whatnot.  I am just shocked that a friend of mine who doesn’t live here or anything hears this news.  I thought executive session was private.  Then again, you know how people talk in a small community and things like that.  It is just a heck of a way to find out.  My wife is upset of course.  My daughter is at school and I have to call my daughter.  I said before you hear this from somebody else, I want you to hear it from me.  It was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever made in my life,” he said.

          There is no question that Carroll is old school.  His father was a coach and his brothers are coaches.  Dave admits he can be hard to get along with sometimes.  “First of all, let me say, I get it.  I am a tough person to play for and I am hard to coach with because I have incredibly high expectations of myself, of my coaching staff and of my players and that is just the way I was brought up as a coach.  When things aren’t done at the level that is going to give us the best chance to succeed, I do yell at kids.  I am not going to say I don’t yell at kids.  I am not saying just yell at them randomly.  I spend all year around with them.  I have them in the weight room, we do passing stuff in the spring and we do all of the summer stuff.  I have invested a lot of time with these kids, that’s what coaches do,” said Carroll.

          Carroll says it has been hard to find assistant coaches for his staff in recent years.  He admits he can be hard on coaches too.  “I think the majority of kids understand.  I say you have been taught how to do this.  You are expected to give great effort.  You are expected to be tough, be disciplined, if you want to win at a high level.  I get on them when they don’t.  I get on my coaches when they don’t coach at that level.  I coach the coaches.  I have two brand new staffs the last two years.  Last year, was one of the most inexperienced staffs I have ever had.  This year, that goodness, the good Lord was smiling down on us and we got Dave Stupka down here,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “A guy that has been a head coach.  Just a tremendous guy and a great worker.  One of the hardest workers I have ever had.  The rest of our staff was basically new to football or haven’t been in football for a long time.  So, you have to coach your coaches.  That is not always easy to do with guys who are older and kind set in their ways.”

          Yes, winning games and championships is part of it, but Carroll says his main goal is to make men out of his players.  “Coaching is a business, it’s a people business, but it is a business.  The number one objective is to turn boys into men.  There are not a whole lot of things in society that really push that anymore and football is one of those things, sports in general.  That is my number one purpose.  I want to take young boys and make them tougher and disciplined for the road ahead as husbands, as fathers, and as members of our society.  I think most of the kids that have played for me understand that.  I am getting texts from people about what I supposedly helped them with,” he said.

          Carroll, a 1980 graduate of Clear Fork, says he is proud of the way he coaches and most of his players have respected that.  “I know I am not for everybody.  Some people can’t understand a coach yelling at a kid out there on the football field.  They don’t agree with it.  I am not asking them too.  I am not apologizing for it because my whole thing as a coach, I don’t care, what sport it is, football is an intense sport, you have 200 plus pound bodies slamming into each other, it is pretty violent and physical.  You have to do things a certain way.  The game of football doesn’t care you don’t like this or like that.  Either you can do it or you can’t, you try to do it or you can’t, or you will pay the price and that is losing,” said Carroll.

          Carroll says there will be criticism based on what he has said in this story and he is okay with that.  “I know I am tough to coach for and I am tough to play for, but I think the benefits that kids have gotten out of our program through the years far outweigh that other stuff.  I know with this article there are going to be all kinds of comments bashing me further and that’s okay, I get it.  Like I said, I am not for everybody,” he said.

          Things came to a head before, during and after the first round playoff game when Clear Fork beat Upper Sandusky (56-26) on October 26.

          Carroll says there were some incidents at the Halloween parade in Bellville that he was not pleased with and had address the team about.  “This all goes back to the Upper Sandusky game.  Thursday night, we went to the Halloween parade.  I gave them a 15 minute speech.  I had quit doing this with the kids because they were throwing candy at people and I was getting phone calls that they were hitting people hard.  I gave them a 15 minute speech after practice.  We are not going to do that.  I want these people to not only look at you as good football players, but good young men.  The majority of my staff didn’t come with us,” he told Swankonsports.com, “So, we are trying to supervise 50 young kids on this wagon and it happened again.  So, I get to school on Friday and I am getting phone calls and texts from the mayor.  There were people that wanted their money back for the game that purchased tickets.  They were upset because kids were beaning them.  I was on the phone for two hours to try and find out what had happened.  I am not really happy about that because to me being a good young man is more important than a football game.  After I get done with that for two hours, I get a phone call from a parent that their kid is not getting the ball enough.  I am like, this couldn’t have waited until tomorrow?  I was on the phone with this person for an hour.  It got into some other things that are just incredible.  So, I’m not real happy.”

          Carroll says they didn’t not have a good week of practice heading into the game with Upper.  “The week of practice, I felt we were not taking Upper Sandusky seriously.  I’m like, dude this is the playoffs and you take everybody seriously.  The time you don’t take everybody serious, you play bad, even if you win, you play bad and you don’t have the fun that you should have.  I took Upper Sandusky as seriously as I did any game because they can throw the ball incredibly well and they played good defense.  So, I wasn’t really happy with the way we approached practices with the kids or some of the coaches.  Again, not an excuse,” he said.

          Carroll says there was an incident during the first half of the game where he yelled at an assistant coach in front of the players and he should not have done that.  “We get to the game and we are playing bad and I’m not happy.  They are doing stuff to us defensively and I am trying to make adjustments.  I’m the offensive coach and the special teams coach and I am trying to help out and I am trying to get coach Stupka to make some adjustments.  So, I’m yelling, I’m upset, I’m not happy.  Another coach got in between us and started talking back to me.  I’m not even talking to this coach and I yelled at him and probably said some things that I shouldn’t have said.  I will be the first to admit that.  I don’t think that is first time that happened on a coaching staff.  It is what it is.  So, I apologized to that coach in front of the team,” said Carroll.

          With Clear Fork leading (28-13) at the intermission, Carroll admits it was a heated halftime at times.  “We went in at halftime.  We went in the coaches office like we always do and shut the door.  Again, I am not really happy and I am raving and I am facing the wall and I kick the plastic trash cans and I am ranting and raving about how we are playing and I didn’t think we prepared like we should have and here we are in a ballgame that we shouldn’t be in.  A closer ballgame than what it should be.  So, another coach got mad and there was no physical altercation.  It was just shouting and then that coach went out into the locker room and was yelling and talking to the kids about how we are not going to lose this game and I’m tired of coach Carroll yelling at us.  We are not going to lose the game,” he told Swnakonsports.com, “In the meantime, coach Stupka and I come up with the defensive adjustments in the coaches office.  When we agree on that, what we are going to do, we went out to the locker room, like we always do, calm and cool, never yelled at the kids.  We didn’t have time first of all.  We put it on the board, here is what we are going to do, we are going to put this kid as an extra DB and we went out.  We had some problems defensively, but we scored 56 points and destroyed them.”

          Now, what happened after the game is what appears to have many people upset.  Carroll did not address the players after the win and he explains the circumstances that led to that.  “After the game, I am not happy with all of this stuff that transpired.  So, the game is over, the kids always go over to the band and sing the fight song and then they are with the student section.  Usually, me wife and my daughter come up and hug me and a couple of reporters will come up and they didn’t.  I’m looking around and the kids are all having their celebration and I’m looking around.  (High School Principal) Brian Brown came up and shook my hand congratulations coach, good job.  I still waited, not for a long time.  I thought rather than say stupid stuff out on the field that might embarrass the kids in front of parents, fans, whatever, I’m going to go into the locker room and I will address them when thy come back in the locker room.  That tunnel we run through, you have to pack it all away.  I don’t know how long, it was hard getting it in the bag myself.  I was putting stuff away.  No kids come in and I’m like, hmmmm?  So, the reporter form the News Journal came in and he is like, coach can I do and interview?  We went into the coaches office like we do a lot of times.  We did the interview and it took 10, 15 minutes and I come back out, still no kids.  I still don’t know to this day, where did they go?  My brother (Mike) came in and a couple of other coaches came in.  The coach that we had the verbal altercation in the locker room apologized to me.  We shook hands and hugged and that was it,” said Carroll.

          He says Saturday he was told that he had abandoned his team.  He says he apologized to the kids on Monday, in fact he had communicated with some of them on Friday night.  “The next day, I get a call that the superintendent was informed that I abandoned the team out on the field and there were people upset about it.  I am like, abandoned the kids?  What does that mean?  I didn’t leave them in the car at Cedar Point.  I’m not trying to downplay it.  It wasn’t a good idea, but I have done this before where I went into the locker room and wanted to address them in there.  I have done this several times.  I remember my head coach doing that after the Ontario game because of some stuff he was upset about.  Me and Jerry Layfield went back behind the fieldhouse and found him and asked him what was going on.  It wasn’t I’m not going to talk to the kids.  When I got the phone call on Saturday, I said I will apologize to the kids and explain this,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I apologized to the coach that I yelled at.  I said, I love you guys and I love Clear Fork football.  I said there were some things that built up and then our play wasn’t good, but that is no excuse, I apologize, I love you guys and I hope you can forgive me.  I have been asking for forgiveness because I understand that I upset some.  I have to backup, Friday night after the game, I was at home with my family, I called and texted some of the seniors to talk to them about what all went down.  I didn’t tell them all of the details, I said some day, when we are all sitting around when we are old, I will tell you the whole story of what exactly happened.  So, I thought everything is fine.”

          Carroll says he thought that everything had been taken care of and they went ahead and prepared for their game with Elyria Catholic.  “We prepared like crazy, we had already prepared like crazy over the weekend for Elyria Catholic.  We had some of the best practices we had all year leading up to the Elyria Catholic game.  Coaches were all in, they were fine.  Nothing that was evident to me or anybody else.  Then I get this text (Monday).  I was told by an administrator that they didn’t like the fact that I left the kids our on the field at their last home game.  Again, I apologize and it wasn’t a good move.  I should have talked to them.  That is my side of the story.  There are people saying I gave up on the team, I quit the team.  I am like, what?  I spent 13 hours on Saturday and another on Sunday and everyday of the week.  I was just upset about the things that happened.  I am just trying to explain my side,” said Carroll.

          Carroll believes that he deserved to be told face to face the reasons for his non renewal, but that didn’t happen.  “I have been told that the board witnessed enough at the Upper Sandusky game to warrant not bringing me back.  I am like, can you tell me what that is?  I still haven’t head what that is.  It wasn’t that big of a deal, obviously, to some people it was.  Me yelling at that assistant coach, yeah I did that.  To fire a guy that has been doing this here for 14 years and doing that for 39 years.  My thought process is after they had that meeting last Thursday, I would still be in a tizzy because I wanted to coach again, my brother was going to come back and help us next year because he knows we need assistant coaches that are experienced.  All it would have taken is after they got out of that board meeting is for someone to call Dave Carroll and say, here is what is going down, sorry, but I am going to be up front and honest with you, but instead it gets leaked out to all of these people and I get a phone call from my friend,” said Carroll.

          Carroll says he will stand by his comments made here.  He says planned to retire after next year.  “That is the story, that’s the truth and I know I have had people complain about me in the past.  I don’t believe too many coaches that haven’t been in a sport like football and basketball.  I never had any phone calls about track.  I am being told it’s an accumulation of all of these things and then the Upper Sandusky game was like the nail in the coffin.  I just wanted one more year.  There are a couple of more things I wanted to do with our program to turn it over to the next person.  We have done a lot of things that make it a pretty good position, but I’m not going to get that next chance it doesn’t sound like,” he said.

          Carroll says he believes there is a bad relationship between the coaches and parents at Clear Fork and that is a problem that needs to be addressed.  “I also want to say in my 14 years, I have been very up front about this.  My dad was the head coach at Butler, my brothers all played here, and we know this has been a tough place to coach, especially football and basketball.  People say it is like that everywhere.  Well, I have been at five different schools, and it is not like this everywhere.  Are there other places like this?  Yes.  Clear Fork is not unique with angry people that don’t like coaches,” he told Sawankonsports.com, “I have given everybody my phone number.  I put my phone number on Facebook.  I always tell the parents you can call me anytime, I prefer not game day, and I will sit down, you come to my house, I’ll come to your house.  I will be completely transparent.  You may not like what I say, but I am going to tell you the truth.  I have been that way since I have been a head coach.  I can’t stand people that say, I’m not going to talk about playing time, that is what people get mad about or a kid getting reprimanded for something they weren’t supposed to so or something they could have done better.  I have tried to convey because I knew this was an issue when I went to school here.  I know what has happened to a lot of the other football coaches and basketball coaches through out history.  I know every head coach that we have had.  I know how many have been fired and I know how many have been run out and it’s a lot.  There have been people that have tried to get me our of here a lot.  I have tried to tell folks in order to get the level that you see some of these other schools at, we have to start realizing that the parents and the coaches are on the same team.  We have the same goals.  We want your kid to be the best football player and the best human being he can be.  If we are constantly at each other’s throat, if we are at odds all of the time, if we are bad mouthing the coaches to their own kids.  That does nothing to help anybody’s son or the program.  I have never understood that, especially when I say call me.  There is nothing you are going to say to me at my age that is going to offend me.  I am going to listen to you.  I want you to be respectful when I talk to you.”

 

Published 11/16/22

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Shelby Finding Out What They can do

 

          Shelby won the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title last season and they have some guys back from that team, but they also will have some new players in significant roles.

          Some put the Whippets again at the top of the list of favorites for the conference title.

          Coach Greg Gallaway says the team has looked very good in the preseason.  “We have a good first couple of weeks of preseason practice and scrimmages.  I have been very pleased with our group this year.  We lost some great seniors last year, but I think our guys that we got back and guys that have stepped into new roles and taken on that challenge and gotten off to a great start so far for us,” he said.

          The Whippets have a scrimmage on Thursday with Tiffin Columbian and St. Mary’s Memorial and then Saturday versus Mt. Vernon.

          Gallaway says it is chance in those scrimmages for players to get used to their new role and what they have to do to make the team successful.  “It is the time for guys to jump into those new roles and for us as coaches to evaluate and see what makes the most sense for our season this year.  We have returning starters back from last year.  Even though the played a lot of games, a lot of minutes for us their roles have changed drastically in terms of just being a leader for us and being those guys that has experience last year.  We are still figuring those out, but our guys are doing a great job buying in to what we are doing as coaches,” said Gallaway.

          Shelby starts its season they day after Thanksgiving against Madison.  December 2 is their first “MOAC” game at Marion Pleasant.

          Gallaway says this week they are going to be working a lot on how to get better defensive rotations.  “I think when you look at execution right now in scrimmages and practice it is not going to be perfect just because we are so early in the season.  So, I think that is going to be something that continues to take time for us to sink better offensively and defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “I would say the biggest thing that I have noticed is that our guys that are new to the varsity this year trying to figure out those rotations, especially defensively and just getting caught up with the speed of the game.  I would say that is the thing that we are still working on and working towards as a team.”

 

Published 11/17/22

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High Expectations at Bellevue

 

          Bellevue took a step in the right direction last year and they could make even more this boys’ basketball season.

          Coach Ed Rich says they really haven’t been together that long, but what he has seen has put a smile on his face.  “So far, we haven’t been too bad.  We have all of our guys back from football and everything last Thursday, so we have had about four days here to get things back on track.  We have had a couple of scrimmages between then,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “I like what we see and the effort we are playing with.  Obviously, we are making some mistakes, but they are expected at this time of the year.  Just getting guys back into basketball shape is our main goal right now.”

          Bellevue is slated to open the season next Saturday at Margaretta in a cross over game if you will in the “SBC”.  Their first Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game is versus is December 2 at home against defending division champion Sandusky.

          Bellevue brings a lot of talent back from last year and Rich says this can be a breakout season for the Redmen.  “We are pretty excited about the season.  I thought we had a pretty good season last year.  We bring back four of our five starters from last year.  So, we have high expectations.  We are excited, the players are excited.  We have to see what we can do here,” he said.

          If the Redmen are to reach that kind of level, Rich says they have to be more consistent shooting the basketball.  “We need to hit open shots.  We are still struggling a little bit to shoot.  It was kind of achilles heel last year. We have had some guys that could score and some guys that struggled.  Right now, we have definitely been better in knocking down open shots and knocking down open looks.  There are times in our scrimmages where we get good looks and we just can’t buy a basket.  So, if we can find a way to kind of corral that and be consistent shooting the basketball, I think we are going to be pretty tough to beat,” said Rich.

 

Published 11/17/22

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Vermilion Has to Get Stops

 

          To be successful this season, the Vermilion Sailors need to play solid defense and they need to start doing that right now as the regular season starts next week for the Sailors.

          Coach Kurt Habermehl says won’t have much experience, but he is impressed by how hard his team is working.  “I like my kids.  We are a young team.  We don’t have much experience at all.  I only two kids that played meaningful minutes for me last year that are back.  They are working really hard and they are slowly coming along.  We are not quite there yet, but I think we will get there eventually,” he said.

          Last year, their goal was to put the ball inside as much as they could.  Habermehl says this year that will be the opposite.  “We definitely don’t have the ability to be a pound it team.  From last year, we lost 6’4”, 230 and 6’4”, 215.  This year we have two 6’4” kids, but I think they go about 160 a piece,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We are more of a perimeter based team that will look to get up and down the floor a little bit.  I feel like we shoot the ball really well.  It’s just a matter of finding someone to get us in our offense and control the basketball a little bit.”

          Vermilion begins its season on the road against Oberlin Firelands in a non-conference game on November 26.  Their first game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference comes December 9 at Sandusky, the defending division champions.

          Habermehl says if they are going to win some games this year, they have to play defense and they haven’t been doing that very well in the preseason.  “We have to get way better defensively.  We are not doing a very good job right now of stopping the basketball.  That has kind of been a staple of ours in years past.  We have always been a really good defensive team and right now we are kind of struggling to stop people.  We definitely don’t want to get in any shootouts with people, so we are going to have to find a way to keep the score down for the other team and continue to shoot the ball well,” said Habermehl.

 

Published 11/17/22

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Shelby and Margaretta Square Off Friday

 

          Shelby and Margaretta, two teams that were in the regional tournament last year, face each other in the premier game on the opening night of the girls basketball season on Friday night in Castalia.

          Shelby, the division II district champ and defending Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, lost a lot to graduation, but coach Natalie Lantz says they have shown a lot of improvement this month.  “I think we are definitely getting better.  We are seeing some of our younger, less experienced sophomores are improving tremendously.  I think we have good senior leadership.  There are definitely some things I would like to see us do a little bit better, but I really like the direction that we are heading,” said Lantz.

          Lantz added that they are just excited to get out in front of their fans.  “They are very excited.  Just coming in every day and working really hard for us.  The prep that goes into it.  It is just a nice reward, if you try to look at it that way anyway, it is a nice reward to get to game night and go and play and see how much we have improved here in the preseason.  Obviously, we are starting off with a tough one,” she said.

          Lantz says that Margaretta, last year’s division III district champ, is loaded and this year and has one of the best players in the area.  “I expect to see just a really tough, well rounded, well coached team.  They have a ton of experience back headed up by Kylie Leibacher, who is committed to Ashland next year.  The caliper of their guard play is very good.  Maybe some of the best that we will come across this season.  So, it is going to be interesting,” she told Swankonsports.com, “There is not a whole lot of film right now to watch.  They lost Devyn Eisenhauer, their size last year.  Kylie Leibacher can play inside or outside, she is just a very nice well rounded player.  Very strong, nice shot and good defender.  I expect them to be a good three point shooting team, have guards that can get to the basket.  I would expect to see some aggressive defensive play and a good transition team.  So, we are going to have to be firing on all cylinders on Friday.”

 

Published 11/16/22

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For Ontario it is the Little Things

 

          Ontario has a good feeling about the upcoming boys’ basketball season with some more experience this year.

          Coach Tim Mergel, in his second year, says he likes the direction they are headed.  “I kind of like where we are at.  I think we are well ahead of last year.  Just my familiarity with the kids and vice versa the kids with myself and the terminology and expectations.  I am pretty pleased.  I like the pace of play we that we are playing.  Just a good group of kids to be around,” he said.

          Mergel believes they are going to be able to score more points this year.  He says they are going to push the pace more.  “I think it is a team that is going to put up more points this year just based off of experience and a little better skill set than we had last year as far as guys that have gained experience.  I think it is a team that likes to run a little bit.  Every coach says that, but I don’t think we think we can’t run with people,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “I’m not saying we are going 32 minutes balls to walls.  Getting up and down in transition is going to be a point of emphasis for us.  As far as identity, I don’t know, it is kind of going to play itself out.  We are going to see where we are at and we are liking some things and changing some things.”

          The Warriors don’t play next week.  They open the season on December 2 by hosting Highland in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

          Mergel says their philosophy this year it going to be winning the little battles so they can win the game at the end of the night.  “Our points of emphasis have been on making winning plays.  I know that is very broad.  When it comes to 50/50 balls, sacrificing yourself for those, stepping in and helping a teammate out and then helping the helper.  Obviously, rebounding is always going to be a thing for us.  We like to refer to those things as mini battles that win wars.  If we can concentrate on some mini battles and then win the war at the end, that is what we are going to do.  We like to concentrate on two or three things we would like to win so we can win the war in the end,” said Mergel.

 

Published 11/16/22

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Buckeye Ready to Find Out

 

          Buckeye Central tips-off the girls’ basketball season on Saturday night at Willard against the Lady Flashes in non-conference play.

          Coach Abram Kaple says they have consistently gotten better this preseason and he is interested in how they will play on Saturday.  “We have had three scrimmages and we have looked at some things and made adjustments after each and every one.  We are four days away.  We feel confident it what we have and we are fine tuning some things.  Obviously, being opening weekend this isn’t what it is going to be for the entire year.  We will continue to make adjustments.  We are kind of honed in on what we want to do Saturday we will give it our best go and go from there,” said Kaple.

          Kaple says this is a team that really hasn’t developed an identity yet, but he thinks their experience will help them this week.  “This is I guess my first time in five years where our identity is a little uncertain as we enter.  Then again, last year we kind of had the same thing with an injury early in the preseason and we had to make some adjustments there.  I guess I didn’t really know what we had last year going in.  We have five seniors who have played a lot of basketball.  They have been part of a lot of successful teams, so they understand what it takes to win and hopefully that experience plays in our favor early on in the season,” he said.

          Willard had a rare down year last year, but Kaple says they going to be a challenge for them.  He says Sy Sivongsak is likely the best individual player they will face this season.  “You don’t have anything on anybody.  You have some notes from last year.  You have some personnel that played and is returning.  They have a really, really good point guard Sy is her first name.  She is arguably the best individual player that we will see all year.  She is quick, a little smaller in stature, but from a speed standpoint we don’t anybody that can match up with her,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “That is going to be our main focus is trying to contain her and limit her the bast that we can.  They have a couple of other letter winners.  Through the grapevine they have a couple of freshmen that will play some minutes for them too.  Barry Pfahl has been around for sometime and his is one of the best coaches in North Central Ohio of all time, so they will be ready to play.  We understand that going into Saturday.”

 

Published 11/16/22

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Upper Sandusky Learning a lot

 

          Upper Sandusky will feature a younger basketball team this year and one that is going to have to be able to rebound to win.

          Coach Jeff Winslow says he like the progression he is seeing from his players so far.  “It is a really young group this year. We are just trying to get to know them and what they are going to be able to do at the varsity level.  We had a scrimmage (Tuesday) night and I think we have gotten better every scrimmage at something.  That is what we are trying to gain right now, is get a little better each night out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We are really starting to understand it better at the offensive end.  I thought we got better again defensively (Tuesday) night.  It is a team where we are going to have to shoot a lot of threes and make a lot of threes.  Our big battle every night is going to be rebounding the basketball.  So, if we can rebound the basketball, I think we will be pretty solid.”

          With a lot of younger kids playing, Winslow says they have to get used to the speed and physicality of varsity basketball.  “Our first scrimmage the kids noticed, we are playing four sophomores, just the speed of the game.  The physicality and the speed of the game is so much different as a varsity player.  A lot of their mistakes, they are just not used to that speed.  Once they get a little more comfortable.  You can’t replicate that in practice against your JV or scout team.  They just have to get their feet wet a little bit and get used that speed of the game factor.  Once they do that they can settle in and sometimes it takes some kids longer than others to get used to that.  I think our kids so far have done a really good job,” said Winslow.

          Upper opens the season they day before Thanksgiving at Willard against the Flashes.  They play their first game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference at Wynford on December 3.

          With a winning tradition at Upper Sandusky, including four “N10” titles, Winslow says his players know what it takes to win.  “The kids expect to win when they put on that uniform.  They have seen the kids above them and what it takes to win.  Our seniors every year hold our other kids accountable to those expectations.  Those kids kind of just teach that way all of the way through so that you develop that winning culture and that will to win expectation and those are good expectations to have you play with a lot of confidence,” he said.

 

Published 11/16/22

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Clyde Has the Pieces

 

          Clyde was a team that relied on a lot of seniors last year so in turn will have a lot of new faces this season.

          Coach Ryan Fretz says these are kids that have been looking forward to getting on the floor in varsity action.  “We gave them some time off after football and we have now had our guys for four days. We have done a couple of morning practices as well.  I like the grit that they have.  They are showing up and working hard.  We have guys on our team that have been waiting for this opportunity because we had nine seniors last year that graduated.  They have been waiting for this opportunity and now the ball is getting dropped in their hands.  I am loving the energy I am seeing out of our seniors,” he said.

          Fretz says they have got the players to plug into positions that he thinks can do what is ask of them.  “We have one lone junior and then our sophomores.  Our junior in Ben Wott and then our sophomores that are playing with us coming from our JV team are giving us good times.  They are our ballhandlers and our shooters and they are our basketball players.  They love playing basketball.  Couple that with our seniors,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Abe Morrison, he is a bigger guy for us, rebounding guy.  The Adam Kauble, who is a post player for us and Cole Schwochow, who is our garbage man for us, gets on the floor, takes charges and gets rebounds for us.  We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle and we are just trying to put the pieces together in practice and not a lot of time to do it.  We are going to make it work as well as we can.”

          Clyde is slated to open the season on December 3 at Lexington in a non-conference game.  Their first contest in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference is December 9 versus Norwalk.

          Fretz says understanding roles is important to all teams, including the Fliers.  “The quicker that we can learn our roles, define our roles and then fill our roles and it is important that we accept our role, sometimes that can be half of the battle too.  What I like about this group is they know their role already.  They know what they are going to be asked to do and what they are going to be expected to do.  So, we are just getting the reps.  That is what preseason is about getting those reps in.  Whether it is a drill in practice or the scrimmages we have this weekend and next week.  Those opportunities are huge for this group here that hasn’t got to do a lot of that with each other.  We are looking forward to what these guys can do together,” said Fretz.

 

Published 11/16/22

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Colts Will be Good

 

          Clear Fork hopes to grow by leaps and bounds this season and there is some excitement around the program.

          Longtime “AAU” coach Tim Brafford takes the reins of the program and he believes they are going to surprise some people this year.  “We are excited for the season to get here.  We just got our football players this past Monday.  We had four scrimmages last week, which kept us pretty busy trying to get them in basketball shape, but I think that we are going to surprise a lot of people compared to where we were last year and where we are this year is a world of difference.  We have some great athletes and hard workers.  They are very coachable young men.  I think we are going to turn some heads.  I think there is going to be a lot of surprise with what happens with Clear Fork this year,” said Brafford.

          Brafford says they will run a substitution pattern more common in hockey than in basketball.  He says they he wants fresh legs on the floor.  “Basketball is such an intensive game.  The kids that are on the floor, we ask them to go out there and go hard for two minutes at 100 percent with a lot of short running, sharp cuts, sharp angles, keeping up with the defender or trying to make something happen the offensive end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “So, it is non stop action.  At the end of two minutes if they give us 100 percent, they are pretty well spent we try to get them out of the game and get someone new in, so we have some fresh legs.  We rotate quite often.  We will play 11 to 13 players this year.  I think every game will see players get in to see substantial playing time just because of the speed of the game we plan on playing.”

          The Colts will open the season on November 29 at Madison in non-conference play.  Their first Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game will be December 2 at home against River Valley.  Their game with Lexington, originally scheduled for November 25 has been moved to January 7 because Lexington’s gym is not ready.

          Brafford says they plan to play a game that will be exciting for fans to watch.  “I have heard a lot of positive things.  Coach (Steven) Bechtel took them through last year with a lot of inexperienced players and they did the best they could, but we have some experienced players on this team right now and they are excited to play.  I think the community is excited and they will support the program.  We just have to put a good product on the floor and go in night in and night out and make sure we play as hard as we can play.  That we are competitive.  I think the games are going to be fun to watch,” he said.

 

Published 11/15/22

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Ashland Trying to Find Right Combination

 

          Ashland won the Ohio Cardinal Conference basketball title last season and they hare going to have some talent this year too.  Right now, they are trying to figure how that all goes together.

          Coach Jason Hess says they have a lot too work with as they try to form the best team for this season.  “We have had one scrimmage thus far and it went well.  We have a couple of more scheduled here before our opening weekend after Thanksgiving.  So far, we are really pleased with our effort.  We have a group that has a little bit of varsity experience, but is not an overly experienced group.  The big thing that we are adjusting to right now if getting guys used to new roles.  We graduated a couple of guys from last year that were significant contributors on the varsity level, some of them for multiple years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “So, we are just trying to figure out where everybody is fitting in.  We have had some pretty competitive practices.  We are looking at about 10 to 12 guys vying for varsity spots right now, which is a little deeper varsity roster than we have had in the past, but that is a good thing.  We have a couple more weeks here to see how this is going to all shake out and see who is going to be ready to play for us on our opening weekend.”

          Hess says what they try and get accomplished during the preseason is find our who plays together the best.  “Part of the deal is not necessarily putting the best player on the floor, but the best five players.  The guys that work together the best, the most cohesive unit.  That is extremely important and that is hard to figure out in practice when you are going against each other and that is why the scrimmages are really nice where we can actually put our five against somebody else’s five and kind of mix and match and chose which combination of five players we like is certain situations.  Sometimes we need stops at the end of the quarter and we might have a better defensive unit and when we need a bucket and figure out who is our best guy to get that done,” said Hess.

          Ashland plays a couple of teams from the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division on the opening weekend.  They play at Norwalk on November 25 and host Sandusky November 26.  They begin “OCC” play December 2 at home against Mt. Vernon.

          Size will again be an issue for the Arrows, according to Hess.  “I think we might be smaller than we have been in the past unfortunately.  We don’t have a lot of size and that is one of the things that you get in high school basketball in a public school.  You take what comes.  We have some decent athletes, but we just don’t have any big athletes.  Hopefully, we are able to maximize our skill level and we get our guys to play a little bigger than they are listed at in the program because we are not the most intimidating team when you see us get off the bus,” he said.

 

Published 11/15/22

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Madison Ready to Get Started Versus Wooster

 

          Madison starts a new era of girls’ basketball as Mike Leeper returns for a second tour of duty as the Lady Rams head coach. 

          He had been the head coach back in the 1990’s.

          They begin their season on Friday night at Wooster against the Lady Generals in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Leeper says they have some athletes this year, but they need to have better execution than they have shown so far.  “I like the athleticism of the kids.  When they want to play, they can really play hard and play physical.  That’s what I like about them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “They are nice kids.  Particularly the younger kids try to do what we ask them to do.  I just wish they would be a little more precise, a little more particular on the little things.  Overall, I’m very excited to be with the kids this year.”

          Leeper predicts there will be even more excitement and emotion than normal for an opener because they are playing a conference rival.  “In particular conference rivalries and since we are starting with a conference opponent makes it even more exciting.  It makes them more anxious.  So, they are ready to go.  It has been a long few weeks now and we have been going six days a week with practices and scrimmages.  Yeah, they are absolutely ready,” he said.

          Wooster has won three of the last five “OCC” titles a Leeper says they going to be a tough test in the opener on Friday too.  “We do know that their program over the last few years has really been strong.  They have some really good athletes and can shoot the basketball really well.  We are going over film from last year and we are trying to figure out their tendencies and put together a good scouting report for the game this Friday,” said Leeper

 

Published 11/15/22

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Western Reserve Looking for Answers

 

          Western Reserve is the defending Firelands Conference champion and district runner up, but the Roughriders are going to be short on experience this season.

          Coach Chris Sheldon says they really only have one player returning from last year and they are trying to find other players that can contribute something at the varsity level.  “We look like a basketball team that lost their top seven basketball players from a year ago.  We do have one guy back that was key in our group last year.  He has done a nice job, but in the same token he is adjusting to being in a completely different role,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “With that said, we are looking at 11 other guys that are trying to figure out who can play at the varsity level, who can fit a role and more importantly who can provide a skill set on at least one side of the ball that can contribute to positive plays for us.  That is really what we are searching for right now those guys that can provide that sort of impact that makes our team better and makes winning plays whether that is defensively, whether that is rebounding or whether that is offensively scoring or run in function with our offense.”

          Sheldon says this is a team that will need to show consistent improvement, especially early in the season once they throw the ball up fore real and turn the lights on.  “It is going to be a process and we knew that.  We knew with everything that we lost we knew it was going to be a feeling out process and it is going to take some time and part of that unfortunately with us about a week away from opening night we are going to run out of time practice wise and scrimmage wise and we are just going to have to roll with the punches on game nights as well and sort of what we expect over this first month,” he said.

          Western Reserve opens the season on November 23 hosting Margaretta in non-conference play.  Their first Firelands Conference will be December 1 at Plymouth.

          Sheldon says they are in the process, and will be in that process for a while, of finding out who can play at the varsity level and how they fit in.  “We have really tried different combinations in scrimmages.  We have really tried to put kids in roles that we think maybe they can be productive for us just to try and gage who can and who can’t and isn’t quite ready.  That is the beauty of having 12 guys to look at because we systematically only play about seven.  That is what we are trying to find to fit those type of roles.  Unfortunately, when you are inexperienced some of that is also youth.  One day who have got to figure out with a certain combination of kids and the next day a kid or two takes a step backwards and somebody else steps up.  It is that constant juggling of trying to figure out who can put it together and be consistent enough to give us a chance to be formable come game night,” said Sheldon.

 

Published 11/15/22

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Bellevue Starts with Edison

 

          Bellevue, a traditional girls’ basketball power, and defending co-champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division, starts its regular season at home Friday night against Edison in an “SBC” crossover game.

          Coach Kory Santoro says they will be inexperienced this season.  “For starters we are going to be a very young team this year, but we will have some talent with that that group too,” he said.

          They have played an aggressive scrimmage schedule and Santoro says that has introduced their younger players to the varsity game.  “Coming in they get a little time to get adjusted to the speed of the game and the most important I think the physicality of the game.  They have to get used to that.  They are ready to play skill wise.  I think it I the physical part of the game that they have to pick up,” said Santoro.

          Santoro says younger players have to understand that there is going to physical contact and they have to play through that.  “They have to learn that they are going to get arm bared and hand checked and going to hole they are going to get hit.  They have to learn to finish through contact and all of that stuff.  It is a little bit of an adjustment,” he said.

          Edison, of the “SBC” Bay division, comes to Bellevue on Friday night to start the season.

          Santoro says they are going to play with intensity.  “You are getting scrimmage film and sometimes you can’t see the numbers and that stuff, but everyone gets a clean, fresh start and will be amped up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They are going to play hard, we know that.  No one wants to start the season 0-1.  They don’t and we don’t, so both teams are going to get after it.”

 

Published 11/15/22

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Columbian a Mix

 

          Tiffin Columbian returns some talent from a team that lost in the district final last year, but they also will have some players that are new to the varsity level.

          Coach Travis Kinn says have a pretty good mix of players.  “I think we bring back some talented kids.  We are also going to have some guys playing varsity basketball on a consistent basis for the first time in losing five seniors.  We are really confident in the group we have coming back.  As far as expectations for ourself, it is just to be the best version of ourselves every single time we step on the floor whether that is a game or a practice we want to play to the best of our ability,” said Kinn.

          Kinn says right now they are just trying to figure out who should be on the court and who plays well together.  “As I said we bring back talented kids, but we also graduated four starters.  We are trying to find the right puzzle pieces and how they fit.  Who can start the game and who can finish the game and who can play this role.  I think that is a work in progress,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “With where we are at so far with just a few days of practice, I am pleased with our guys’ effort.  It is just doing that on a consistent basis leading up to game.”

          Columbian doesn’t play next week.  Their first game will be at home with Norwalk in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on December 2.

          Still, it doesn’t give them a long time to get ready.  Kinn says one benefit is his kids are pretty much gym rats.  “We had a couple of good days last week on Friday and Saturday, a couple of scrimmages this week and a couple next week and then roll it out and see what happens.  Our guys are committed enough to routinely get in the gym in the off season.  Even our football guys are in the gym shooting in the fall.  So, I think that will pay huge dividends for us going forward, especially with a shortened preseason,” said Kinn.

 

Published 11/15/22

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Lucas Expects War with Danville

 

          Two old rivals Lucas and Danville lock horns on Saturday night at Clear Fork High School in a division VII regional semifinal.

          The winner plays Warren JFK or Southern for a berth in the final four next week.

          Lucas (6-6) got past previously unbeaten Lowellville (35-25) in quarterfinal action last week.

          Coach Scott Spitler says his kids executed well in a high pressure situation.  “Going on the road like we did and as talented as they were offensively, I thought our kids did a great job of executing the game plan and forcing them into playing our style of game rather than us playing theirs.  I think the experience of our older kids in the postseason allowed us to not get too uptight and be able to play the next play and get out of there with a victory,” he said.

          Danville (10-2) survived a furious comeback from Hillsdale last week to beat the Falcons (42-41) in their quarterfinal.  They stopped the Falcons on a two point conversion.  Hillsdale then recovered an onside kick, but missed a field goal at the horn.

          Spitler says the Blue Devils are explosive on offense and physical on defense.  “They are a very traditional Danville team.  They are very physical, well coached, tough, they have great skilled positions at quarterback, running back, and Kaiden Colopy at the wide receiver position is a big play waiting to happen,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Then defensively, they are led by the Central District defensive player of the year in Levi Lyons at middle linebacker, who is just a tackling machine.  He has been at that position his whole high school career and he has been a starter since he was a freshman.  They have good size up front.  There is a reason that stadium sets on a street called Tough Street.  They are a tough, physical football program and this year is no different.”

          Lucas beat Danville (34-20) in a opening night game on August 20, 2021.  The two schools used to play every year when both were in the Mid-Buckeye Conference.

          Spitler says they can’t allow Danville to get big plays in the passing game or control the game with their run offense.  “I think the biggest thing is we can’t let Colopy to get loose with the big play.  Then Max Payne at running back we have to keep him from going downhill with a head of steam.  Because once he gets rolling, he is a beast to bring down.  Then the quarterback is as good a runner as he is a passer.  That is why they have been successful because they stress you so many ways offensively.  So, we are going to have to tackle well in space and we are going to have to do our job of keeping things in front of us and make them earn every inch,” said Spitler.

          Lucas, with their double right, double wing offense, is very good at controlling the clock.  Spitler says they look to do that on Saturday, but knows that won’t be easy.  “We have to do our best to control the line of scrimmage and play our game and force our pace, or style, of game on them.  It is not going to be easy.  They are very talented offensively.  They have some guys that get to the football from sideline to sideline.  Levi Lyons experience at middle linebacker just makes them so tough to do so many things on.  Like always when you are playing the third round of the playoffs it is good football.  The margin for error is very small.  So, we have to take care of the football, be the least penalized, and don’t give up big plays,” said Spitler.

 

Published 11/11/22

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Ontario Has to Be Better on Defense

 

          Ontario gets the girls’ basketball season started in less than two weeks and they are working hard to be ready come that time.

          Coach Mitch Willeke likes a lot of what he sees in practices and scrimmages.  “We are happy so far.  The team we had last year took a lot of lumps.  This year, I think we have a lot of kids that want to put that behind us.  They put the work in.  The upperclassmen are trying to lead the underclassmen so we can hit the ground running.  We have hit a pretty good stride so far.  We have had three scrimmages so far.  The first one is always the ugliest.  Scrimmages two and three went pretty well, so we are happy with where we are going right now,” he said.

          Willeke says one of the things they are working on in the preseason is finding out who can play, where they can play and who plays best together.  “With a school like Ontario, we have multi sport kids, I know a lot of schools do.  Sometimes you are waiting a little bit.  You have that first group that comes for tryouts and you still don’t have those four, five, six kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “You have a scrimmage and you think this group plays petty well together and then you have to sit back and think we these kids coming back to help.  It is definitely something we are still working on.  We are trying to puzzle some things together.  Saturday is our last scrimmage and that will be a test for us going forward.”

          Ontario’s first game of the regular season is against Lexington, at home, on November 22.  They open play in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on December 1 at Highland.

          Willeke says before the season for real starts, they have to get better on defense.  “There are a lot of things on the defensive end.  Just communication, rotations.  Just have that intact mentally on defense.  Everyone wants to get out and run and play with pace on offense.  You can’t play on a slanted floor.  You can’t just drop back on defense and be able to stay in the game.  It is little things like that.  Then that mentality of being in shape and being in basketball shape.  Playing through some spurts where you might be tired and be mentally sharp.  Like I said, come Saturday that is going to be a huge test for us, especially with Lex coming up on week one,” said Willeke.

 

Published 11/11/22

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Willard With Some Pieces

 

          Willard returns three players that were starters on a team last year that reached the district semifinal.

          Coach Joe Bedingfield says with what they have back there is no question they have some building blocks.  “We have some experience.  We have Max Dawson, who was an All-Ohioan last year coming back.  He led the league in scoring at 20 points a game.  We have Cam Robinson, who was a very solid defender, rebounder, finisher.  He has really worked on his shot this year.  He is shooting the ball really well.  We have Isaac Robinson, who ended up starting in our district game last year.  So, we had three sophomore starters in our district game last year against Western,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “They are all coming back.  We have a kid with lost last year to injury in Alex “Joey” Strayer.  He hasn’t played must high school basketball.  He basically has a rebuilt knee and he is playing pretty well for us right now.  We might not have a lot of depth, but I like how this team is playing and more as a team each and every day.”

          Bedingfield says one of their major goals during the preseason is to find some players that can play certain roles for them.  “You have to find kids for roles and that is the good thing about scrimmages.  We usually don’t do five scrimmages, but we need to do five scrimmages this year just see how everybody plays with each other and who fits where and what position and that has been really good.  We just finished up our second scrimmage and we started defining roles a little more just this week,” he said.

          Willard tips-off the regular season the day before Thanksgiving at home against Upper Sandusky.  Their first Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division game is against Margaretta on December 2.

          The Flashes are going to have scorers, but Bedingfield says they have to get better on defense.  “I think my favorite part of this team so far is that they are so coachable and they are sharing the ball really well.  I think they are the type of team that is understanding that we just want to make the right play.  We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to make the right play and that is really what we are looking for.  Just seeing what they can do collectively and get a little better at the defensive end.  Right now, I think our offense is a little better than our defense.  That worries me a little bit.  Hopefully, that will keep getting better each and every day,” said Bedingfield.

 

Published 11/11/22

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Buckeye Central Trying to Find Itself

 

          Buckeye Central won’t have a lot of height this year and they are trying to develop ways to overcome that on the basketball floor.

          Coach Tom Howell says this year they will be relying on a lot of younger kids to fill roles.  “We are spending a lot of time early in the season just trying to get acquainted with each other.  We have four returning letter winners.  Two of them, with a lot of experience, and then after that we are really young,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We are not very big, so we are going to try and do some different things on the defensive and offensive end.  We are working and we are going to be ready to go week one.”

          With their lack of height, Howell says they can’t just hope to make a bunch of threes, they have to get the ball into the lane too.  “We don’t want to just shoot threes all night.  We have to find different ways to get the ball in the paint and get shots underneath the basket and shoot 15 to 12 footers.  We are going to have to get pretty creative.  We have some guys that can drive it and we are hoping that can create some shots for people on the perimeter,” he said.

          Howell says they have some kids that are playing out of position and they are going to have to find a way to be sort of unorthodox in approach.  “We are very inexperienced.  With these guys we are explaining roles.  We are working hard to find roles and do those roles the correct way.  We are going to have some guys play in different positions because of our lack of size.  We have some people playing in the post that aren’t posts.  It has been a good process so far,” said Howell.

 

Published 11/11/22

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Crestview Must Win up Front

 

          Crestview takes on Columbia on Saturday night at Medina High School in a division VI regional semifinal.

          The winner will play either Colonel Crawford or Columbus Grove for a regional title next week.

          The Cougars (12-0) edged Patrick Henry (31-22) in a quarterfinal last week.

          Coach Steve Haverdill likes the way they responded to the challenge of a close game in the second half.  “That is what we wanted to see and our kids did a nice job of not panicking or doing anything in that aspect.  We made some adjustments on the fly.  They handled it very well and kept their composure and just kept doing what we do and we were able to pull away there late in the fourth,” he said.

          Haverdill believes they are playing very good football, but they must continue to grow.  “That is what we have geared up for since June to get better every week.  I thought we played well against a very good Patrick Henry team last week that plays in a very good conference.  You throw the seeds and the records out at this point in the year.  They were well coached and a very good team and I thought we played well.  Our job now is to get better from last week to this week so we can continue to play our best ball,” said Haverdill.

          Columbia also (12-0) beat Hopewell-Loudon (36-6), the “SBC” River champion last week.

          Haverdill says they have a tremendous running back in Marco Cirigliano and some big guys that block for him.  “They are a very well coached football team, hardnosed, big offensive line that gets after you.  They have a running back that has rushed for about 2,400 yards and 40 touchdowns.  They have a fullback that blocks very well.  They have another back, their jet guy, that has a lot of speed, and a quarterback that is similar to ours and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, can throw the ball well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “Defensive wise, they run that 3-4 and get after you and tackle very well in open space.  There is a reason why they are 12-0 at this point and in the regional semifinals.”

          They are going to have to be really good on defense, according to Haverdill, because Cirigliano gets to the hole quick.  “This kid is about 180.  He is similar to the (Lincoln) Mollenkopf kid we saw last year from Colonel Crawford.  He has really good speed and gets in those holes quick.  If he gets outside, look out, he turns it up to another level and he breaks long runs.  They do a nice job up front creating those holes and blocking for him and he finds those seems,” said Haverdill.

          The Cougars have done a great job of winning the point of attack and Haverdill says they are going to have to do that again on Saturday night.  “We have to control the line scrimmage, we can’t turn the ball over, we can’t have unnecessary penalties that put us behind the chains.  If we can control the line of scrimmage we can control the clock as well and keep their offense off the field and put up points when we have those opportunities in the red zone,” he said.

 

Published 11/10/22

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Lexington can be Really Good

 

          Lexington will be one of the favorites in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this year, but sometimes potential can be a dangerous word.

          Veteran coach Scott Hamilton says they have some very good players this year, but they will find more out once they are tested.  “We are just kind of meshing some things together.  We have some experienced veterans returning.  We have some guys from JV last year that are trying to crack the lineup and get some playing time.  Then we also have a couple of newcomers and we are trying to see where they fit in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “When you are following fall sports at Lexington everybody kind of trickles in at different times just because of postseason play and things like that.  You have an injury or two here and there.  So, right now we are excited.  There is a lot of potential in what we are doing, but until we get it all together and get it all on the floor in a contest we won’t really know what we have got just yet.”

          The Minutemen will take on North Ridgeville and River Valley in a scrimmage on Friday.  Their first regular season game will be against Clear Fork on November 25.

          Hamilton says the scrimmage will tell them a lot.  “We have a couple of scrimmages set up.  We have already had to cancel one because of postseason football play, so we have lost out on that opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to just throw you kids in the mix.  You know you don’t have your playbook all in or your defenses all worked out and corrected and everything.  You don’t want to be peaking in November, but it really gives you an idea of what you can do.  Who can replace who in a rotation.  For me it is very important, I think for most coaches, the preseason is looked at in that way,” he said.

          Expectations are always high at Lexington, and with the talent of this ballclub they are perhaps warranted, but Hamilton says they haven’t done anything yet.  “We had quite a few juniors and a sophomore playing a lot of minutes last year on a district runner-up team.  So, we have high expectations like we always do at Lexington.  We have those guys coming back and some of them put in a lot of time in the off season even as multiple sport athletes they have been working as much as we can around their fall sports.  I think the potential is there, but I remember a saying from Bobby Knight when he was at Indiana when somebody questioned him about potential.  His response was potential gets me fired,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 11/10/22

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Loudonville Focusing on Defense

 

          Loudonville, the defending Mid-Buckeye Conference champion, will be more inexperienced, but still talented this year.

          Coach Tyler Bates says he has a group that is willing to work hard, but so far has shown the inconsistency of a younger team.  “I like what I’ve seen from an effort standpoint.  It’s a fun group that we have this year.  I really enjoy being around the girls.  They show up every day ready to work.  We have had some inconsistencies that I think you have with a young team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We are going to be one of the younger teams in the area this year form top to bottom on our roster.  I think there is a little bit of inconsistency that you can expect, but we are trying to work through it.  The bottom line is the kids have good attitudes and they are ready to show up and work every day.  As a coach, that is all we can ask for.”

          The Lady Redbirds open the season November 18 at Lexington of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Their first conference game will be at Mansfield Christian on December 3.

          Bates says there is no question they will have talent this year and they have some younger kids that can make an impact.  “We have some talent.  We have some kids that have worked at it and put in a lot of time.  With female athletics especially, I think, younger kids can come in and make an impact a little earlier.  That is what we are hoping for this year with some of our youth.  Hopefully, it means good things for the future,” he said.

          Defense is going to be very important to Loudonville this year.  Bates says that is going to be the key their success on the floor.  “I’ll say last year it wasn’t good enough.  It wasn’t at the level that you would like it to be or that you would expect it to be at.  That is something this year that we have really been focusing on and saying that we need to get back to.  We just don’t want to win games because we outscore someone.  We want to win games because we played hard on the defensive end at got stops,” said Bates.

 

Published 11/10/22

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Pleasant Will be Competitive

 

          Pleasant has experienced some growing pains the last couple of years, but it looks like now they are ready to compete.

          Coach Ben Snively says they are going to be a more experienced team this year.  “We had our first scrimmage (Tuesday) night.  We went against Ridgedale and Tiffin Calvert, a couple of smaller schools.  Tiffin Calvert was in the regional final last year, so we knew they would come in an be ready to go.  I am happy with what I have seen so far.  We had a lot of sophomores playing last year and they are all juniors now.  I think that experience is going to pay off for us.  We are trying to get in shape and get the kids ready to go.  We have a fun thing at the Coliseum this Saturday where all of the Marion County Schools are going to go against us, the non-league teams.  So, that should be a lot of fun.  We are just getting ready for that first game the day before Thanksgiving,” said Snively.

          The Spartans open the season on November 23 against Fairbanks.  Their first Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game is December 2 at home against Shelby.

          Pleasant will play in multi team scrimmage at Marion Fairgrounds Coliseum on Saturday.

          Snively says that will be fun.  “When I graduated in 1992, we still played our tournament games in the Coliseum.  I was fortunate to ply four or five games there in my career and it really is a neat venue to play in and I think the kids will really have fun in that environment,” he said.

          Snively believe the Spartans have a chance to be competitive in the “MOAC” this year.  “I think right now as we look down our schedule, I believe Shelby and River Valley are going to be the cream of the league.  Marion Harding will be athletic, they have some transfers in as well.  We are somewhere in that area.  At that point it’s about getting better every day.  We have more experience, so we won’t have the excuses that we have had in the past about being young,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “We have some decent depth and some guards that have been around for a couple of years.  So, we are going to rely on that experience, limit the turnovers and make more shots.  Our biggest question mark is still rebounding.  We aren’t very big, so we are going to have to do a great job boxing out.  If we can do those things, I think we will be able to surprise some people.”

 

Published 11/10/22

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Colonel Crawford Must Contain Columbus Grove Speed

 

          Colonel Crawford challenges Columbus Grove on Saturday night in a division VI regional semifinal at the University of Findlay.

          The winner will play either Crestview or Columbia for a regional title next week.

          They ended Carey’s 26 game winning streak by beating Blue Devils (21-14) last Friday.

          Coach Jake Bruner says it was a great game.  “Our kids played extremely hard from the beginning to the end.  It was a barnburner.  I thought our kids, like I said, gave great effort the entire game.  When you give that kind of effort from the first play to the last play, because it came down to that.  It was great for us that we were able to come up with a victory in a place like Carey,” he said.

          Micah Thomas scored with just over 3:00 to play in the game to give the Eagles the lead and they held Carey on fourth down inside their own 20 to get the win.

          Bruner feels special teams were a big factor.  “Obviously, defensively we played a really good game.  Offensively, our first possession we scored on a big play.  We scored with three minuets left to go.  Our special teams were really good too because field position was really big in the game.  We talked last week about winning the battle up front on both sides of the ball and we did that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “The turnovers were even, I think we both had one.  I thought we got the better of the kicking game from a field position standpoint.  Up front really had to be the difference because they are a really big football team up front.”

          Colonel Crawford (10-2) meets Columbus Grove (10-2) on Saturday.  The Bulldogs beat Northwestern, the co-champion of the Wayne County Athletic League, (34-22) in their regional quarterfinal.

          Bruner says this a great football program with a couple of really outstanding defensive players.  “Listen they were 10-0 last year.  It seems like they are in the playoffs at this level every year.  They always have great offense and they play great defense this year.  In their conference they have the defensive player of the year and then last year another kid was defensive player of the year.  So, they have quite the players on their football team.  Year in and year out they are a traditional powerhouse.  So, we know we are going to have our hands full and we are excited for the opportunity,” he said.

          To be able to move the ball and score against the Bulldogs, Bruner says they have to be patient and strike for a couple of big plays.  “We are going to have to be patient.  They have athletes, they do a great job, they have been here before.  We are going to have to be patient offensively and take care of the football and just do what we have done all season.  We have played some good football teams this year and we just have to keep doing what we are doing.  We have to execute up front, take care of the football, and try and get a big play here and there.  Big plays matter in this game too.  We are going to have to make some big plays,” said Bruner.

          On defense, Bruner says they have to contain the Bulldogs speed and limit the big play.  “They have tremendous speed and not just in the skilled positions.  They are going to be on turf and they have some guys that can really go.  We are going to have to limit the big play.  We have got to make them drive the football.  They are a balanced team.  They can run it.  They have multiple kids, different backs.  The one thing that stands out to me is their speed.  We have to be able to contain that speed and not let big plays put us in a bad situation in the game,” said Bruner.

 

Published 11/09/22

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Madison Looking for Things

 

          Madison returns its leading scorer, but they are going to be building around him with a lot of new players this year.

          Second year coach Chris Armstrong says they will be inexperienced to begin the season.  “We do have three seniors coming back that played for us last year.  Obviously, Jaden Jeffries played a big role for us.  He was our leading scorer, averaged about 17.5 points a game.  Tatum Turcott, kind of platooned at that center spot.  Zane Wynn also got a little experience at the varsity level last year.  We did lose six seniors,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “Lost a lot of experience from last year.  Guys that had been around the program and battle tested.  So, we are going to be welcoming a number of sophomores, two juniors, even a freshmen, who is going to be in the mix this year and is going to be really important for us.  We are going to be fairly inexperienced, but we have some talent there as well.  It is going to be interesting putting it together.”
          With some new elements this year, Armstrong says they are trying to find out what is their best combination of players.  “I am curious how these guys will fit together.  I know the chemistry so far has been really good this first week.  I think they are getting to know each other.  Obviously, there is going to be a lack of cohesion early on.  The spirt has been really good.  I think they are enjoying playing together, enjoying working.  So far, they have started to bond.  We have a long way to go.  We are going to be a work in progress.  These scrimmages will be really key.  We have one (Wednesday) night at Galion.  We will have one Saturday and one Monday.  We are going to get a lot of experience here the next week, week and a half,” said Armstrong.

          As far as the regular season goes, Madison opens with its traditional non-conference game against Shelby on November 25.  Their first Ohio Cardinal Conference game will be December 2 against Wooster.

          Armstrong says they have an idea what they have, but he also wants to give the players some freedom to show their skills in the preseason.  “To keep an open mind and kind of let the guys play with a little less structure early on to see what they do well and what they struggle with.  From that being able to evaluate and seeing what kind of structure we need to add to the offense and defense.  It will be nice to just kind of step back a little bit and let them play.  It has been very controlled in practice so far the first week.  That will be eye opening just to see how things have changed and what they do well,” he said.

 

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Defense the Key for Norwalk

 

          Norwalk has a new head boys’ basketball coach in Adam Kreischer, but a lot of the same philosophy remains, that they are going to rely on their defense.

          They had their first scrimmage of the season Tuesday night at home against Mansfield Senior.

          Kreischer says they had their moments, mostly on defense.  “Mansfield Senior still being in the football playoffs coach (Marquis) Sykes came up with that crew (Tuesday) night and didn’t have all of his guys.  We have some guys that are still trying to get a little bit healthy.  So, definitely not our full crews.  Usually as is the case early in the season, first scrimmages, I would say both of our defenses were ahead of the offenses.  So, we had some spots where we looked good for sure.  Defensively, we were very good and they were good defensively also,” said Kreischer.

          Now, the Truckers are working on becoming better on offense, but Kreischer says it is going to be the defense that has to carry the day for the Truckers.  “There is that comfortably factor that we are trying to gain through practices.  When you get that first scrimmage in is when you get your first look against somebody else and what things are going to look like.  We are in a position this year where we are just returning eight points from last year’s team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “So, we are in a position where we need to grow together offensively, but we are in a situation where if we are going to be successful this year we are going to have to be great at the defensive end and great team rebounding.”

          Norwalk opens the campaign on November 25 against Ashland in non-conference play.  Tiffin Columbian will be their first Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game on December 2.

          Kreischer says he thinks the kids realize to get on the floor much they are going to have to play hard on the defensive end.  “That is a philosophy that obviously coach (Steve) Gray had and it’s a philosophy that I have always had as a coach also.  You can have off nights on the offensive end, but you can always control your effort and energy at the defensive end.  We coach things similarly at the defensive end as far as fundamentally and what we expect of kids.  So, that I don’t think comes as a shocker to my players that I demand that they set down and play defense,” he said.

 

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Mohawk Challenging Themselves

 

          Mohawk, who finished fourth in the tough Northern 10 Athletic Conference last year, has some experience back as they prepare for this year.

          Coach Paul Dunn says they have been dealing with some injuries in the preseason, but that also gives them a chance to take a look at other players.  “We are, I’m sure like most teams, trying to get healthy.  We have a lot of varsity guys right now unfortunately setting on the sideline watching practice.  That kind of hinders us, but it gives a lot of guys, those tweener guys, JV/varsity guys, a chance to show what they are capable of,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “We have some guys that are JV type players that are really showing what they can do with the varsity players that we do have on the floor.  So, we are excited about that.”

          Dunn says they don’t have a lot of seniors, but they do have quite a bit of experience on their roster.  “We have a small senior class, but two of those seniors have played a lot of varsity basketball.  We have a junior class that is kind of new to Mohawk.  In reality they are guys that have some experience.  We have a lot of sophomores that earned a lot of experience last year at the variety level.  We are young I guess you would say by looking at the roster, but overall we have a lot of guys that have played a lot of varsity basketball at a high level, so we are counting on those guys to lead us this year,” he said.

          Mohawk has its first scrimmage on Wednesday with Clear Fork and Willard.  They begin the regular season on November 29 at Riverdale.  They play host to Bucyrus in their first “N10” game on December 3.

          Dunn says they are trying to figure out in the preseason who can play where and do what when the pressure is on.  “Especially the older kids know what to expect from us.  It is our job as coaches, and I try to put them in difficult spots in practice, maybe in positions they wouldn’t be in during a game, and challenge them and see how they would respond and see how the guys around them respond as well.  The more we can get used to those situations they better off we will be when we actually get in those game situations.  So, the more we can do that early and often the better off we are going to be as the season progresses,” said Dunn.

 

Published 11/09/22

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Tygers Have to Stop Big Play

 

          Mansfield Senior tangles with Parma Heights Holy Name in a division III regional semifinal on Friday night at Brunswick High School.

          The winner will face either Parma Padua or Norton in a regional final next week.

          Last Friday, the Tygers shutout Defiance (16-0) in a quarterfinal.

          Assistant coach Sean Adams says they were all over the field on defense and made some big plays on offense.  “That was a really physical game.  We knew it was going to be physical going in.  These guys were tough kids.  They play in a tough conference with St. Mary’s Memorial, Van Wert, Celina, Wapakoneta, there is just some really tough teams in that league.  They came down here and they fought.  I was just really proud of how tough and physical our kids were.  Defensively, we were just all over the place,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “This is the best we have played and I am glad we are peaking at the right time here.  Offensively, we had a 99-yard drive.  I thought that was crucial.  That put us up 14-0 at halftime.  Then we were able to get a safety there in the third or fourth quarter to kind of ice it.  So, it was a good win all around.”

          Mansfield Senior (10-2) plays Holy Name (9-2) on Friday.  The Green Wave beat Lutheran West (20-10) last week.  They own an eight game winning streak, same as the Tygers.

          Adams says Holy Name quarterback Jayvon Williams is an outstanding player.  “Their quarterback is phenomenal.  He is just a really good athlete.  They have a great offensive line, a good running back, and they have some skilled receivers.  Their defense is good too.  They have played some tough teams as well.  They played Clyde.  I think they lost to Clyde 20-17.  They play Padua, which was a team we played last year week two of the playoffs.  They have got a tough schedule.  Their kids are tough.  Elyria Catholic they played, who played Clear Fork last week.  They are fast, they are athletic and they are physical, much like us.  It is going to be a good contest,” said Adams.

          If he had to say, Adams says Holy Name compares favorably to Ashland, a team they play every year in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  “I think they remind me of Ashland a little bit offensively with the way they do some things.  They sure do run the ball well.  They have a great back and a great quarterback.  Then their defense is similar.  I think they are a lot like an Ashland team.  Very well coached, very disciplined.  Just looking forward to getting after it again on Friday night,” he said.

          Adams says they have to be able to contain the Green Wave big plays and they must continue to be able to run the football.  “I think from the defensive standpoint we have to stop #8, the quarterback.  We have to limit big plays from him.  He is going to get some yards, but we have to limit big plays and tackle well and tackle #4 as well.  Then when they do go to pass, we have to defend the pass and not get out of position.  Offensively, I think it boils down to being able to run the ball.  How well can we run the ball against this front.  I think with Mekhi Bradley back there at the H-back and a couple of different running backs has really made a world of difference in us running the ball.  I feel like we can do that this week as well,” said Adams.

 

Published 11/08/22

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Wynford Looking Good

 

          Wynford won five games last season and they hope to win a lot more this year.

          Coach Mike Smith, in his second year, says he has liked what he has seen in practice so far.  He says a big goal this year is to be better on defense.  “I am pleasantly surprised right now.  I think our kids after year one of learning a new system they come in this year and everything that we tell them they know already.  It has been a lot easier for them and there is no transition period now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “They have worked really hard.  Obviously, we have to work on our defense.  We have concentrated a lot on our defense and lowering our defensive average and get a few more wins that way.”

          Wynford opens the regular season on November 26 at Monroeville.  They host Upper Sandusky December 3 in their first Northern 10 Athletic Conference game of the year.

          With this being Smith’s second year, he says things are a lot smoother.  “The kids know me and I know them a little bit better.  Luckily, we have three starters that played a lot last year coming back.  Our JV team was, I think, 14-7.  We have a couple of sophomores that are going to move up and play with us.  So, a good combination of experience and youth mixed together,” he said.

          The Royals open scrimmage play Tuesday night against Fremont St. Joe.

          Smith says he believes they will be tested, but not overwhelmed this preseason.  “I think a lot of it depends on your success from the previous year because there are probably some people that are not going to reach out to you to play if they knew you have struggled in the past.  I think ours this year is kind of a mix of both.  So, I think for us gaining some valuable experience and maybe getting some winning under our belt will help propel us through the first part of the season,” said Smith.

 

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Mt. Vernon is Unselfish

 

          Mt. Vernon is a basketball team that every coach would want in that what they care most about is winning.

          Coach Nick Coon says they have a group of kids that care about each other and team success.  “There is a lot of excitement for our team mainly because we have a group that has invested time and commitment to what we have done in the off season and just in general with each other.  They have committed a lot of time to each other and care about each other,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We are excited to work everyday with this group.  We are trying to get a little bit better each day and each opportunity that we get inching closer and closer to game action.”

          Mt. Vernon opens the season on November 23 at home against Centerburg in non-conference play.  Their first Ohio Cardinal Conference is December 2 at Ashland.

          Coon says the Jackets will have a mix of experience and kids that will be getting their first chance at varsity action.  “We will have five players back with varsity experience.  We are going to mix in a couple of guys that are going to come up from our JV team, a couple that are now seniors, and some younger guys, a couple of juniors and a sophomore as well.  We have a nice balance of some experience at the varsity level with some new guys that are excited to get a taste of that level for the first time,” said Coon.

          Coon says he really believes that the best part of this team this year is going to be their unselfishness.  “I thought probably one of our biggest strengths is just nobody cares you gets the credit and this group has always been that way.  It is a close knit group.  They don’t care who scores, who leads the team in scoring, who gets any of the credit as long as we are doing the things at both ends of the floor that is helping Mt. Vernon be successful.  So, it is a very team oriented group that cares for each other,” he said.

 

Published 11/08/22

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Plymouth Working Hard to Improve

 

          Plymouth has a new varsity boys’ basketball coach this year and will have a lot of new players on its roster as well.

          Coach Eric Picklesimer, a former JV coach at Plymouth, and varsity coach at Buckeye Central, says he is impressed with his kid’s work ethic.  “The kids work hard at Plymouth.  I’m excited to be back.  We are getting used to each other and learning the lingo a little bit.  I like how hard our kids are working,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We don’t have a lot of returning starters, only a couple.  So, everyone is getting their chance to show what they have got and battle for that position.”

          Plymouth will scrimmage Edison and Sandusky St. Mary’s on Friday and Picklesimer says they are going to find out a lot about their team then.  “I think scrimmages are a good way to test all of the hard work that you have put in in the gym in practice.  Our first scrimmage is this week, so we will answer some questions.  Some kids that maybe haven’t experienced the varsity game yet will experience that for this first time, so we are excited and are ready to go,” he said.

          The Big Red opens the regular season November 29 against Seneca East in non-league play.  Their first Firelands Conference game is Thursday, December 1 against Western Reserve.

          With some first time varsity players, Picklesimer says it is going to be a jump up in competition for those kids.  “I definitely think the speed of the game and the strength and quickness of the players.  JV basketball is a big difference from varsity.  You go from the 14, 15-year-old kid to the 17 and 18-year-old kid.  So, they are naturally bigger, stronger and faster.  The young guys usually get their eyes opened those first few times in a varsity game or a varsity scrimmage,” said Picklesimer.

 

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Football Regional Semifinal Matchups

 

Division III

Mansfield Senior vs. Parma Hts Holy Name

Friday at Brunswick High School

 

 

Division IV

West Holmes vs. Van Wert

Saturday at Marion Harding High School

 

Canton South vs. Jefferson Area

Saturday at South Range High School

 

 

Division VI

Dalton vs. Kirtland

Saturday at Nordonia High School

 

Colonel Crawford vs. Columbus Grove

Saturday at Findlay High School

 

Crestview vs. Columbia

Saturday at Medina High School

 

 

Division VII

Lucas vs. Danville

Saturday at Clear Fork High School

 

Gibsonburg vs. Antwerp

Saturday at Liberty Center High School

 

 
     
 

Clear Fork to Meet Athletic Elyria Catholic

 

          Clear Fork travels to Elyria Catholic to face the Panthers in a division IV regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          Last week, in their postseason opener the Colts outscored Upper Sandusky (56-26) on Friday night.  The Rams had cut the lead to (28-26) with 7:13 left in the third quarter, but the Colts made four explosive plays to put it away, three of them runs by Pawie Ault and a 90 yard pass play from Victor Skoog to Milo Burgholder.

          Coach Dave Carroll says he was confident they could get it done.  “It got a little dicey there for a minute, but I thought we were okay because our offense was chugging away in full force.  We just needed to find a way to not give up some of the plays we did.  Pawie Ault had a tremendous game, I think he had 188 yards rushing.  Victor Skoog had a 290 yard game passing.  We set two school records in that game.  I was proud of the kids, even though I wasn’t really happy, a most people know that witnesses me on Friday night.  That is the most points ever scored in a playoff game by a Clear Fork football team and it was the most yardage by any Clear Fork football team, not just playoffs, we had 638 total yards, it broke the 2017 game against Galion.  So, we did some things there that were pretty impressive offensively,” said Carroll.

          Carroll says he respected the Rams coming into the game.  “We knew going in that Upper Sandusky was a really good football team.  They fell to some teams early, but they just got better as the season went on.  I will say it to this day, they were one of the better coached teams we have played.  They do some neat things offensively and defensively.  They have a tremendous quarterback.  That kid is good and he is back next year.  They have three really, really good receivers and their running back did a nice job,” he said.

          Clear Fork had won two huge games the last two weeks of the regular season and Carroll says they were not as ready to play last week.   “I just didn’t think we played quite with the pep in the step so to speak that we had the previous three, four weeks.  I think part of that was, looking back on it, especially, the Shelby game was huge for our kids.  They had beaten us.  They won the league the last three years in a row.  They had been throwing the ball for a million yards a game and putting up a lot of points and that was big for our kids.  Then you turn around the week after that and you have another high pressure game with Highland for the league championship.  You had one of the best backs in the state that you have to defend,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “There was a lot of pressure, emotions, whatever in winning the league.  Then I also have to say that people look at the 5-5 record and you start assuming things that aren’t good.  We tell them that everyone we are playing is the best team on our schedule.  You have to preform every week.  We came through in the end and we are ready to go this week.”

          Clear Fork (10-1) plays at Elyria Catholic (9-2) on Friday night.  The Panthers pounded Bryan (43-0) in their playoff opener.

          Carroll says on offense they really stretch your defense, because they are able to score in so many different ways.  “It is down to the top eight in the region, so everybody is good.  They were a division V team last year and they went to the fourth round.  I think they ended up 11-3, so they understand playoffs and good football.  They have a lot of good football players, just like we do.  It is almost like looking in a mirror.  They like to run the football.  They have a running back that has 1,900 yards, I mean he is the main guy.  Their quarterback has like 150.  They have another guy that they put in at running back at times and he has like 300 yards.  We actually have more rushing yards than they do, by a little bit and they have a few more passing yards than we do.  So, they can throw the ball as well.  It depends on what kind of look you give them,” he told Swankonsports.com, “You watch them and they have some games when they just pound it, pound it, pound it.  Other teams have tried to play them in man to man and they have the guys that can go downtown and they try to take advantage of that man to man coverage.  That is the bind that they put you in because they are such a strong running team and everybody tries to load the box up and they can get you in the pass game.  We have devised a plan where we are trying to be good in both areas and not give them anything as far as handing it to them and making it easy for them.  That is easier said than done with a good football team like them.”

          On defense, Carroll says Elyria Catholic is not big, but they are athletic and they are aggressive.  “Defensively, they put a lot of guys on their feet.  They only have three down linemen and they move people around and blitz.  They play a lot of zone defense.  They pay some man on the goal line.  They are not overly huge defensively, but they are just athletic.  Their front three are all about 6’3” and 225 pounds and they are very athletic.  Their linebackers are 215 and 200.  They are aggressive, they are quick.  They are just a good football team and that is what they are supposed to be at this point and time in the season,” he said.

 

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Crestview Faces Pass Happy Patrick Henry

 

          Unbeaten Crestview plays at home against Patrick Henry on Friday night in a division VI regional quarterfinal.

The Cougars (11-0) began what they hope is a long playoff run with (38-0) win over Wayne Trace last week.

Coach Steve Haverdill says they were solid on both sides of the ball.  “The kids did what they had to do.  We have been preparing for week 11 and on since June.  We took advantage and got off to quick start and kept propelling throughout the rest of the game.  When you hold a good team like Wayne Trace down to 89 yards of offense and then you are scoring 38 points, which is the most anybody has scored on them all year, I think you are working on all cylinders,” said Haverdill.

Patrick Henry (7-4) edged Ottawa Hills (18-10) in its first playoff game.

Haverdill says they are going to try and throw the ball a lot against them.  “They are a spread team.  They are going to try and throw the ball all over the field, very similar to South Central.  They have two, three, four good receivers tat they will rotate in there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “The quarterback is a tough kid, good accuracy, throws a nice ball.  They run a 3-4 defense that is pretty stingy.  We have to make sure we have a good week of practice and get ready for Friday night.”

Haverdill says they have been good open field tacklers to keep the Patriots off the scoreboard.  “That is the challenge that we have ahead of us.  It’s like going into the South Central game.  They are going to try and nickel and dime you down the field and every so often try the home run shot.  When they are nickel and diming we have to make sure we are coming up and being physical and tackling and getting everybody to the ball.  We did that against South Central and hopefully we can do that come (Friday) night,” said Haverdill.

Adison Reymer has over 1,200 yards rushing and 19 TD’s this season and quarterback Hayden Kuhn has thrown for 1,100 and 10 scores.

Haverdill says, again, they have to win up front.  “We have to control up front in the trenches and get the running game going.  Once that running game is going, that allows us to go anywhere we want in our playbook as far as the play-action stuff and the pass and the running.  It really puts us in a good situation.  It all starts up front,” he said.

 

Published 11/04/22

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Columbian Plays Tough Padua

 

          Tiffin Columbian entertains Parma Padua on Friday night in a division III regional quarterfinal.

          In their playoff opener the Tornadoes (9-2) blasted Rocky River (41-7) last Friday.

          Coach Judd Lutz says they made some big plays early in the game.  “Last week was a really good start to things.  We started on defense and we got a three and out, got a decent punt return into a short field and then the offensive capitalized pretty quickly, I think it was a three, four play drive to get in the end zone and make it 7-0 right off the rip.  It was kind of the same with a couple of other drives, all in the first quarter.  I think we only ran 10 to 12 plays in the first quarter and we were already up 21-0.  We got a turnover late in our end zone.  We kind kept the pedal to the metal.  So, it was a really good complementary game on both sides of the ball and special teams too,” said Lutz.

          Padua (6-5) downed Medina Buckeye (35-7) in a first round game.

          Lutz calls the Bruins talented on both sides of the ball.  “They have a very talented roster.  They have big guys up front on both sides of the ball, has speed in the secondary on defense and on the perimeter on offense and the running back position and they have a big sized quarterback,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “They are able to score a lot of points and they are able to limit you on defense and play some really good ball there.  So, we have a really good team coming to town.  It’s playoff football, so the margin for error is really thin.  We need to play well to find a way to win.”

          Lutz says they want to take away for Padua run game and on offense, make some big plays.  “We have to make them one dimensional.  We have to shut down their run game.  When they get their run game going, they are really tough to beat.  So, we have to really neutralize that if at all possible.  We have to win the explosive play battle.  We have to make some explosive plays on offense and not give them up on defense at the same point.  We feel like if we do those couple things, we have a really good chance,” he said.

 

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Perkins to Play Explosive Van Wert

 

          Sandusky Perkins, the winner of the tough Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, will host Van Wert, of the Western Buckeye League, in a division IV regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          Last week, Perkins (10-1) destroyed River Valley (65-14) in a first round playoff game.

          They scored eight times in the first half and coach Jalen Santoro says that fast start was key for them.  “We came out and we executed all three phases of the game.  We came out and played a clean game.  We got off to a fast start, which is something we have been preaching.  Obviously, any team wants to get off a fast start it makes the game a little bit easier.  That’s exactly what we did.  We played hard and with focus,” he said.

          Van Wert has had tremendous success in the playoffs in recent years.  They won the division IV state championship in 2020 and lost to Port Clinton in the regional final last year.

          Last week, the Cougars (10-1) smoked Wauseon (40-7) in their playoff opener.

          Santoro says play fast and have a lot of great athletes.  “They are a very good football team.  They have a very rich tradition over there.  They do a lot of things that make it difficult to prepare for them.  They play with a lot of speed in between snaps.  They have a special player at quarterback,” he told Swankonsports.com, “So, you have to stay on your toes and stay disciplined and key your eyes on your keys defensively.  Offensively, you can’t make mistakes.  They keep everything in front of them and they tackle well.  They do all of the little things in space well.  They have talent on both sides of the ball and they have speed as well.”

          Van Wert quarterback Aidan Pratt threw for 138 yards and two TD’s and ran for 63 yards and two more scores against Wauseon.

          Santoro again emphasizes that they have to remain disciplined against Van Wert in order to contain the Cougars.  “You have to play disciplined football.  Make sure you get your eyes on your keys and get lined up properly.  Like I said, the quarterback is a special player.  If you are misaligned or don’t tackle well and you are not playing to their speed then they will make you pay.  So, yeah, he is a special player and we just have to make sure in practice stay disciplined, keep communicating and play quick,” said Santoro.

 

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Buckeye Central Trying to Put Things Together

 

          Buckeye Central is coming off another tremendous year, which included both a Northern 10 Athletic Conference and division IV regional title.

          With going on two weeks of practice, coach Abram Kaple says has seen some good things and some things that need to be sharpened.  “We have been a little up and down.  Th first couple of weeks of practice and always difficult, especially since our volleyball team usually has a lot of success.  We kind of start kids in a staggered start as we get some and then I get a few more and you have to teach again, we are about seven, eight practices in with everybody, so we are learning.  We are going to do a couple of things different this year offensively.  It’s been a learning curve.  We have had one scrimmage and I thought we did some things well.  I thought we played hard.  Right now, that is what we can control and some of the other articulate stuff, I guess, will come,” said Kaple.

          Kaple says they return five solid players from last year, but will also be working other kids into the rotation.  “We return five seniors.  We have five letter winners off last year’s final four team.  We graduated three.  We feel really confident with the five we have coming back.  Then we have some kids that played varsity minutes here and there depending on the game last year, so we kind of sprinkled them in.  We have two juniors and three sophomores that will see some minutes for us.  A good mix of some experience and some youth,” he said.

          Kaple says the biggest task that they are working on now is to figure out how all of the pieces they have fit together.  “That has been what is the biggest challenge so far for us as coaches is we have some kids that do different things.  We have some kids that can make shots, we have some kids that can really defend and it is trying to find the right rotation and the right combination of kids as to who plays well together and kind of go from there.  It has been very much learning for us coaches as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We delt with some injuries over the course of the summer.  You are dealing with vacations and softball and everything else that goes on, so you don’t really see all your kids together until practice is required here in October and November.  We are very much trying to figure out what works and that is what scrimmages are for and four weeks of preseason.  Hopefully, come up with the best answers you can come Thanksgiving time.”

 

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Colonel Crawford and Carey Meet Again

 

          Northern 10 Athletic Conference foes Colonel Crawford and Carey face off at Carey in division VI regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          The Eagles (9-2) blew out Margaretta (49-14) in their playoff opener.

          Coach Jake Bruner says they put together a very good effort.  “We told our guys it was the beginning of a new season.  Take it one week at a time.  We were really concerned about Margaretta, obviously, their record speaks for itself and they have some really good football players.  We felt like we played pretty well, but we have got room to grow.  It was a great win at home for us,” he said.

          Micah Thomas scored five TD’s in the game for the Eagles.

          On September 23, Carey (11-0), who went on to claim the conference title, beat Colonel Crawford (7-3) in North Robinson.

          Bruner says both teams are different now.  “I think you see growth from both teams.  You see how they have changed and how they have done different things.  Both of us get to see each other all 10 weeks (on film) and getting to watch the playoff game.  They are watching all of their games and we are watching all of theirs.  Both teams have changed a little bit.  Both teams have matured in different areas and do different things.  It was great to see how they have done things and how we have done things.  They are a greatly coach team and a lot of talent on Carey.  So, that is why they are in the position they are in,” said Bruner.

          Bruner agrees that both teams want to run the football and he says this will be a different kind of game than was the first matchup.  “I think both teams want to run the football, both teams are really physical, both teams have really good defenses from the score of the last game.  To compare this game to the last game probably isn’t fair either.  I don’t think if coach (Jonathan) Mershman and I sat at a table before the first game we would say it would end up 7-3.  That sounds more like the 1978 game between Carey and Colonel Crawford than 2022,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “I think it speaks volumes for both teams that both kids on both sides play awful hard.  That is a great program there and we respect the heck out of what they do and how they do it.  They are in our league every year.  We know every time we play Carey it is that way.”

          Bruner say they are going to have to play well in all aspects of the game in order to come out of Carey with a win.  “In a playoff game, every point is going to matter.  Every field goal is going to matter.  I think in the last game we had two missed field goals in that 7-3 loss.  Every point is going to matter, every big play is going to matter, who takes care of the football, who wins the line of scrimmage.  There are a lot of factors that are going to be important Friday night,” he said.

 

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St. Paul Plays Southern in Playoffs Again

 

          Norwalk St. Paul with be at Salineville Southern for a division VII regional quarterfinal playoff game on Friday night.

          It is third straight year the two have met in the playoffs.  The Flyers have won the last two, including (21-14) in double overtime last year.

          Last week, St. Paul (8-3) drilled Lisbon David Anderson (64-20) in week one playoff action.

          Coach John Livengood says a quick start was key.  “I thought the kids came out and were ready to go and played well.  We started off the game with a nice drive, five or six plays, and got right down the field and scored.  Turned right around and got a stop and went up two scores very early in the game.  They had a nice kickoff return after that and got good field position and hit a pass and where able to cut it to a one score game, but we came right back with a kickoff return for a touchdown,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “Then they came out on offense and we got an interception and short field and scored in a couple of plays after that.  I think it was 28-7 pretty early on in the game.  So, the kids were ready to go and played hard.  It was a good start to the playoffs.”

          Southern (10-1) destroyed another Firelands Conference team in South Central (65-21) in their playoff opener.

          Livengood says obviously they are quite familiar with the Indians.  “Coach (Rich) Wright is a really good coach.  This is the third time playing him at Southern and we played him in the playoffs when he was the coach at Wellsville also.  There is some familiarity there.  The last three years this is kind of like a regular season game going against each other.  Southern does a really good job.  They run the wing-T.  A lot of their starters are three year starters, so we have seen them the last couple of years.  They are a talented, fast group and they have good size up front,” said Livengood.

          Livengood says against the wing-T, you must be disciplined on defense.  “You have to play disciplined football and read your keys and then you need to pursue.  You get caught looking in the backfield and you see double handoffs with a lot of cross and counter action you end up chasing rainbows.  So, you have to read your keys and play disciplined football on defense,” he said.

          Southern seven times this year has given up only one score or less in a game.  They have two shutouts to their credit.  Livengood says they are solid on that side of the ball too.  “They have had a really good season defensively.  They played us tough last year and held us to 21 points.  They are fast and physical.  They like to load the box up and put you in tough situations.  Again, they are playing well on both sides of the ball.  They have been a really good football program the last three years,” he said.

 

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Clyde Plays Confident Norton

 

          Clyde hosts Norton in a regional quarterfinal in division III on Friday night.

          In their playoff opener last week, Clyde (8-3) outscored Oberlin Firelands (63-35) to advance in the tournament.

          Coach Ryan Carter says the two turnovers they forced in the game were a big factor in its outcome.  “I was happy with our kids.  I’ll tell you what that Firelands team came out and they ran their stuff and they put up some points.  It was back and forth their first a while with a lot of points scored.  It was fun for the fans to watch.  I don’t know how fun it was for me to coach it.  Really the difference in the game was we got a couple of turnovers.  They turned the ball over a couple of times and we didn’t and that was really the difference in the game,” said Carter.

          Abram Morrison threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns against Firelands.

          Norton (9-2) belted Bay Village Bay (35-2) in their playoff opener last week.

          Carter says this is a team that believes it is going to win every time they hit the field.  “I’ll tell you what, they didn’t lose many games last year and they haven’t lost very may this year.  They have kind of got that tradition of winning right now.  They have a couple of classes coming through that are used to winning.  I think that is the feeling you get when you turn on the tape with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “They expect to win, they play with a chip, they play with an edge.  They play hard and they do things very well.  Their kids are fast.  They have some long, athletic kids on the perimeter that scare you, so we have our work cut out for us.”

          Norton has not allowed more than two scores in any game over their last six contests.

          Carter says they have a lot of two way players that are very good on both sides of the of the ball.  “They are pretty good on both sides of the ball to be honest.  They do things hard.  They have some kids that are very, very athletic.  They play a lot of two way players.  They have a lot of the kids on the offensive side that are doing a lot of the work on the defensive side as well.  It is definitely going to be a challenge for us, but we are happy to still be playing, especially at home,” he said.

 

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Wynford Girls With Some Obstacles

 

          The Wynford girls basketball team has some talent this year, but there just aren’t very many of them and that is more than a little bit of a problem.

          They played in their first scrimmage of Wednesday night against Ashland and Bellevue.

          Coach Amy Taylor-Sheldon says they made some improvement during the scrimmage.  “Well, I was happy with our effort, which I always am, but we have a little different angle this year because we only have nine kids on our whole team, no JV team this year.  So, this is really the first time in 10 days or so that we have been able to go truly five on five.  So, we had a pretty slow start, but some pretty solid stuff in the middle.  We have created a baseline and go up from there,” she said.

          Taylor-Sheldon says with only nine players it is very difficult to create game like situations in practice.  “We used to really not too long ago be able to scrimmage against the freshmen boys or the JV boys and they consider that a scrimmage now, so you are not allowed to do that.  So, that is difficult for us.  We are doing 3 on 3 one side of a set at a time.  In the past we have even had JV players double up on a varsity player.  So, I need to be a little more creative.  Find different ways to get what we want out of practice production,” said Taylor-Sheldon.

          When looking at improvement, Taylor-Sheldon says they have to get more consistent and get better at some new offenses they need to run this season.  “I think right now for us it is consistency.  This is one of the smallest teams that we have had, so that is a little different for us,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “I haven’t had a single post offense in my career, so we are doing a couple of different things there just trying to figure out how to get balance and how much trouble we may be in.  The kids that we do have are experienced, but I think it is still a different team every year and taking what you learned over the summer and moving forward from there.”

 

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Northwestern Faces Run Heavy Columbus Grove

 

          Northwestern, co-champion of the Wayne County Athletic League, plays at home against Columbus Grove in a division VI regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          Last week, the Huskies rallied to beat Western Reserve (28-14) in a first round game.

          Coach Joe Cardinal says after they made some adjustments, they game was theirs.  “I thought ours kids actually played pretty well.  They came out defensively in a look we hadn’t seen on film at all.  So, it took us a little while to adjust.  Once we did, the kids picked it up.  Our quarterback started making some really good reads, kind of figuring out what they were doing.  I thought offensively as the game went on, we started scoring some points,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Defensively, actually, I thought we played a pretty good game.  They came out early and ran the ball pretty hard.  They had a 6’4” quarterback at 245 pounds.  So, it took us a while to get that physicality down.  By the end of the game, our kids were reading and they were downhill.  So, it was kind of a tail of two halves for us a little bit.  I thought in the second half we played outstanding.”

          Northwestern (9-2) hosts Columbus Grove (9-2) on Friday night.  The Bulldogs beat Black River (42-17) last Friday in their first playoff game.  They their last six games in a row.

          Cardinal says their formations are a lot like the Huskies, but this is a team that wants to run the ball.  “They are kind of our mirror image when it comes to when it comes to scheme.  They are a spread team that will use an H-back and they run a 4-2-5, 4-3 (on defense), kind of similar to us.  I guess the difference is they really, really like to run the ball a lot. That is kind of where they hang their hats.  They have an H-back that is a pretty physical kid and a running back that can break it from anywhere on the field.  Defensively, the linebacking corps is one of the best, if not the best we have seen all year.  So, it is going to be a tall task.  Our guys have had a really good week of practice so far.  We are excited for the opportunity,” said Cardinal.

          Out of their spread the Bulldogs want create some running lanes, according to Cardinal.  “That is kind of the point, that is what they are trying to do.  They spread you to create running seams, running creases.  From up in the stands, it may look like this is a passing formation, but for them it is a run formation and they are trying to do all they can to get guys out of the box,” he said.

 

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Tygers Must Stop Defiance Run

 

          Mansfield Senior plays host to Defiance in a division II regional quarterfinal on Friday night at Arlin Field.

          They destroyed Ontario (38-0) in their playoff opener last week.

          Defensive coordinator Sean Adams says they dominated the game on defense.  “It was a great team effort the offense, defense, special teams.  Keontez Bradley takes an interception for a touchdown that kind of set the tone the second play of the game.  From there we just rolled.  We were able to stop their run game.  It was good to be able to be out there tackling.  I think we forced five turnovers.  At halftime, Bodpegn Miller was 1 for 6 with four interceptions.  So, I thought that was pretty good.  It was just a good game in our favor.  We are happy to win and now we are happy to host against a very, very physical Defiance team,” he said.

          Defiance (7-4), out of the Western Buckeye League, won at Cloverleaf (63-28) last week. 

          Adams says they are very fundamentally sound team that isn’t going to make many mistakes.  “They are really fundamentally sound on defense.  They don’t do a whole lot, but they just try and beat you with fundamentals.  They have two great inside linebackers, kind of a bigger kid that is at the nose.  They don’t really slant like we do, but they move a little bit.  Their secondary is good.  So, offensively we are going to have to be able to run the ball and pass the ball.  So, nothing changes as far as that is concerned,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Offensively, they feature two great running backs in #27 and #24 and they run hard and they are extremely physical backs.  The quarterback has a good arm.  #41 I really like him as a receiver.  They have some athletes and they have some tough guys.  It is kind like an old blue collar, backyard, donnybrook between Defiance and Mansfield and we are looking forward to it.”

          Adams says they have to be good tacklers and the Bulldogs are tough to tackle.  “#24 does such a good job of getting north and south as soon as he finds a crease and he runs really low and his knees get high and he is really hard to tackle.  He is only 6’1” and 180 pounds, but he is just one of those guys that is hard to tackle.  Their offensive line does what they do for him and other back blocks well for him.  They try and out formation you with several different looks.  They want to come in and say we want to run the ball and this is what we are going to do.  Hopefully, we will be able to stop the run like we did last week,” said Adams.

 

Published 11/02/22

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Clear Fork Will be Different but Still Good

 

          Clear Fork girls’ basketball enjoyed a renascence last season in finishing second in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, reaching the district final and winning 21 games.

          This year can be another very good season.

          Coach Scott Sellers, in his third season, says they are going to go about things a little differently this season.  “This is our 10th practice (Tuesday).  We got half of our team back last week, the soccer kids, so we are at full strength and kid of going at it now.  Our expectations this year are similar to where they have been the last couple of years, especially last year.  We like to play defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “We are going to be a lot shorter, a lot smaller, with that we hope to be a little bit quicker, a little more pressure.  So, a very positive off season in two stages, April through June with the kids that we had, the June-July time frame, then you lose a bunch of the fall athletes, which is fine, and we are into the season now.  So, very excited, I think we have a chance to be pretty good again.”

          Seller says there is still a lot to find out about this team when they scrimmage Olentangy Berlin and Willard on Wednesday.  “We have our first scrimmage (Wednesday) of the five that we have scheduled, so we will see (Wednesday) kind of where we are at.  Losing who we lost last year in Bekah we are changing a lot of things offensively just because we have to.  I think the next two weeks we be pretty telling as far as what we are going to look like at the beginning of the season and that is certainly what we will build upon and hopefully by mid-December when we get into the heart of our league play, we continue to improve throughout the season,” he said.

          Sellers says they know the skills of the girls they have back, but it is a matter of how all of those parts are going to fit together.  “I think on one hand we know what we have coming back.  We have seven kids that lettered last year and played a lot of minutes within our rotation at a pretty high level in getting to the district finals.  I think from that aspect we know what we have coming back.  We have some kids that can dribble, pass, shoot, and they can defend.  The question mark who is going to step up and be the kid that maybe we have to rely on a little bit more.  Last year, we had that person identified in Bekah Conrad.  I think there are a couple of kids that are really going to stand out this year.  That is the process that we are going through now to kind of see.  We are all really excited,” said Sellers.

 

Published 11/02/22

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Bellevue Must Contain Glenville

 

          Bellevue will play top seeded Cleveland Glenville at Collinwood Field on Friday night in division IV regional quarterfinal.

          Last week, they crushed Galion (40-9) in a first round game at Bellevue.

          Coach Ed Nasonti says they put it all together.  “I think we have been playing well on both sides of the ball all year.  I told the kids that they have been playing with great effort on both sides of the ball.  It was really nice to get the results that you want.  We came up on the short end of the stick in a couple of really tight Lake Division games, but in week 11 we put it all together.  I know that Ashton (Martin) had a really good game at quarterback.  Our receivers Ty Ray and Jackson Martin got involved and they had a really nice game.  We put it all together with our protection and played solid defense against a Galion team that had been putting up a lot of points and we got the result that we wanted and happy to be moving on to week 12,” said Nasonti.

          Bellevue (7-4) takes a step up in competition from last week as they meet Glenville (10-0), a (46-8) winner over Napoleon last week, on Friday night.

          The Tarblooders are the alma mater of Ted Ginn Jr. and Troy Smith, two Ohio State legends.

          Nasonti this year coach Ted Ginn Sr. has a lot of talent at his disposal.  “They have a great reputation and at least this year from what I have seen on tape they have been able to back it up.  The have good size across the front.  They have great speed.  They have a running back that weighs 240 pounds.  If you are going to bring him down, you have to hit him low, and hit him hard.  They are really good in the perimeter with their skilled athletes all over the field,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “They are well coached and they have a good football tradition since coach (Ted) Ginn has got in there.  So, it is definitely a challenge for us, but it is one we are looking forward to and we are excited about the opportunity to play such a team with such a great and rich tradition of high school football.”

          With the speed and athleticism that Glenville has, Nasonti says it is imperative that they tackle well.  “Anytime you go up against anyone that has skill like that we stress that with our kids.  Most high school teams if you make them drive the field, they are going to cough it up or make a penalty here or there or they throw a pick, but if you are going to give them big plays and they have skilled athletes.  They have a quarterback that can run the read option and make you tackle them in space you have to do a good job or it is going to be a long night,” he said.

 

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Lexington and Shawnee Meet Again

 

          Lexington and Lima Shawnee are meeting for the fourth straight year in the boys’ soccer regional tournament as they play in the division II semifinals on Wednesday night at Lima Senior.

          The Minutemen (15-4-1) beat Ontario (2-1) in a district final last week.

          Coach Pete Them says they have been playing their game and playing well.  “The biggest thing for us was just getting the guys on the field and just getting the normalcy of tournament play twice a week.  Just playing our style and staying healthy.  The game against Ontario definitely was a great district championship game.  They came out with a great game plan against us.  It worked for a while and then we figured some things out the second half.  The boys played hard and we are back where we want to be,” said Them.

          Lexington advanced to the state final four last season and there are kids on their roster with a boatload of experience and that is a plus, according to Them.  “I think the biggest thing for us is we have guys that have been there, so we can explain it to some of the younger boys that are getting more time on the field now.  I don’t think the nerves are as high, there are always nerves, that is part of the game.  The experience of being there and understanding what it feels like and the crowds and the pressure and each game adds a little bit more to all of those things.  Because of that experience the boys are able to kind of play through that and come out on the other side,” he said.

          Lexington beat Shawnee in 2019 and 2021.  The Indians won in 2020.  This season Shawnee (17-1-1) beat Lexington (2-1) back on August 27.

          Them says they know what to expect.  “Coach (Ryan) Quatman over there runs a great program and has a great group of seniors this year.  They have very similar to us.  They have been through the ringer.  Obviously, we have seen them the last handful of years in the regional.  It has been a regular season matchup for the last five or six years.  It has just been a great contest, a great match and I expect northing less (Wednesday),” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “They have a couple of guys that we will have to keep our eyes on and just try and keep them in front of us.  We have to take care of our chances and hopefully we will be successful at the end of the night.”

 

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Norwayne Hosts Mooney

 

          Norwayne entertains Youngstown Cardinal Mooney on Friday night in a regional quarterfinal in division V.

          The Bobcats (8-3) took Harrison Central to the woodshed last week in winning (71-7) in a first found game.

          Coach Adam Indorf says they played very well and got a lot of people involved.  “I thought our kids came out and played well.  It was a whole team effort.  The whole team contributed.  Guys that didn’t normally touch the ball and score did so last week.  I thought they stepped up and rose to the occasion and did a great job.  There was a lot of effort and a lot of energy and excitement that was happening last Friday and it allowed us to continue to work the ball down the field and create turnovers for us.  It was a great job and tremendous team effort by everybody,” said Indorf.

          Mooney (5-6) upset fourth seeded Richmond Edison (45-14) last week.  Now, their record might not look that good, but a closer inspection shows nine games against bigger schools, plus a forfeit on their record.  Four losses are by a touchdown or less.

          Indorf says this a good team.  “When you look at the record, you have to look back at who they played and look at the scores and even some further research in looking at the box scores there and see what happened.  They are definitely a solid opponent coming into Norwayne on Friday.  We are going to have to prepare and play really well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “They are big up front and athletic skilled guys.  Guys that can stretch the field and guys that can run after the catch and continue to carry after contact even.  We definitely have to put our best football forward and continue to work together as a team and work for that higher goal of everybody pulling in that same direction.”

          Indorf says they will need to pay specific attention to the Mooney tight end, who can do a lot of damage.  “They are pretty balanced.  They do like to throw a fair share though.  We definitely have to be ready for that.  They have a 6’5” tight end/receiver that is about 200 pounds, so we definitely have to know where he is located and where he is on the field and where they can get him the ball when they try to,” he said.

 

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Loudonville Has to be Ready For Everything

 

          Loudonville travels to Athens County to face the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes in a division VI regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          The Redbirds (7-4), out of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, beat Rock Hill (40-7) in a first round game last week.

          They have won five and row and coach John Battaglia says they are developing some confidence.  “I think they are just really starting to believe in themselves.  We have some pretty good players and I think they are just starting to realize that.  They are starting to believe some of what they think are stupid things that we keep repeating to them all of the time, how important some of those little things are.  It is just executing.  When I took over, they hadn’t had a winning season since 2014,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “So, I think getting a few wins under their belt and starting to execute better they are starting to realize how good they can be.  I just think when you haven’t won in a program in a while sometimes that takes a little bit.  You have to go through a tough loss or two and we definitely had that this year.”

          Nelsonville-York (10-1) smoked Grove City Christian (55-7) last week n their first playoff game.

          Battaglia says they will show them a lot of things.  “They are a good football team.  They are well coached.  You can tell by watching the tape.  They have a proud program down there.  It looks like they have a great stadium and great fans.  They do a lot of very good things.  They have good players and they get lined up in a lot of different formations that you have to be ready for.  They will try and do some trickster kind of stuff on you.  So, your defense has got to be locked in, focused, and be able to get lined up.  They do some interesting things with their defense that you have to be ready for too.  We have to go down there and be ready to play some ball,” he said.

          One of Loudonville’s best wins of the season cam early when they beat Hillsdale (14-0) on week three.

          Battaglia says this week’s opponent strike a chord to him of Hillsdale.  “They remind me of Hillsdale.  Just the kind of kids that they have.  Obviously, Hillsdale is having a good season.  We played them earlier in the year.  I was talking to one of my coaches the other day and I said how do you think they would have done in our league?  He said how do think Hillsdale would have done in our league?  Some of the little quirky things they do to.  Some of the trick plays and stuff like that.  Just their level of talent.  Hillsdale was a tough game for us this year.  We were lucky to come away with a win.  I think they are playing a lot better football now.  (Nelsonville-York) has tough kids, so that would be my comparison,” said Battaglia.

 

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Lucas Plays Explosive Lowellville

 

          Lucas, as consistently successful as any football team in North Central Ohio in the playoffs over the last half decade, will play at Lowellville in a division VII regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          They traveled to Toronto and won their playoff opener (35-26) last Friday.

          Coach Scott Spitler says they did a tremendous job of battling adversity all night long.  “I thought the best thing the kids did on Friday night that anytime we faced adverse situation we were able to kind of play the next play and not let adversity snowball and get out of control.  We just came playing the next play and being who we are.  That was good enough to get the win on the road,” he said.

          Spitler says this season they have had more adversity to face than in many other years.  “It is the youthfulness and the inexperience that we had this season losing 16 seniors from last year’s team.  You have to go through those growing pains sometimes.  It was nice to see our kids learn from the adversity and different things that we went through throughout the season with the schedule that we played and being able to use that experience to overcome adversity and play the next play in our first round playoff game,” said Spitler.

          Lucas (5-6) is at Lowellville (11-0) on Friday night.  The Rockets buried Steubenville Central Catholic (54-14) in their playoff opener last Friday.

          Spitler says they have a great quarterback and an explosive offense.  “They are led by a senior quarterback who can make every throw the field.  He is about 6’4”, 6’5”, 190 pounds.  He moves well and like I said he can make every throw of the field.  He is around 4,000 yards on the season and about 45 touchdowns throwing the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “He definitely has a lot of playmakers.  They seem to have a lot of speed and length.  They stress you because they really go after getting extra possessions as well.  They onside kick quite often trying to steel positions and get up on you and get you to panic and get you out of your gameplan.”

          Spitler says they have to stay focused on defense and keep the Rockets in front of them and make them drive the ball and be very sound in the kicking game.  “We have to do a good job of making sure we keep things in front of us and don’t give up big plays and make them earn every inch.  Offensively, we have to take care of business and make sure we are not giving them extra possessions by getting behind the sticks penalty wise and turning the ball over.  We have to have a great special teams game because like I said they do a lot of onsides, the love to fake punt quite a bit, they just try and be on the attack and get their offense extra possessions because of the talent they have on that side of the ball,” said Spitler.

 

Published 11/01/22

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Carey and Crawford Again

 

          Carey beat Colonel Crawford in a regular season game on its way to the Northern 10 Athletic Conference title.  They play them again Friday, this time at home, in a regional quarterfinal in division VI.

          The Blue Devils are the defending division VI state champion.

          They belted Riverdale (49-6) in their playoff opener last week.

          Coach Jonathan Mershman says they didn’t take a win for granted.  “I thought we came out ready to play in all three phases.  I thought special teams, defense and offense all played really well in that first half and we looked like we were ready to play,” he said.

          Mershman says they like the pressure on playoff football.  “Pressure is born from opportunities like playing playoff games and making it farther and farther.  Really it is an honor to have that pressure because you have earned that right.  I think that is the way our kids look at it.  As these games get more and more intense, we are looking forward to that because we have earned that opportunity and those pressures and those situations,” said Mershman.

          Carey (11-0) beat Colonel Crawford (9-2) September 23 (7-3) in a “N10” game.

          Mershman says the Eagles to make some adjustments, but he is not sure what those would be.  “It is just like going into a new game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “Yeah, you have an idea who their players are and their true size, their true speed, their true abilities, but gameplanning wise, what do they think they can do differently from game one to game two?  I don’t know what those things are that they think they can do differently.  What they saw on film versus what I saw on film.  Then it is just becomes back to the chess match just like playing them once.”

          The game will be won and lost again up front, according to Mershman.  “Both teams like to run the ball and both teams like to stop the run.  So, it comes down to up front.  Whoever up from plays better consistently throughout the whole night is probably the one that is going to come out on top,” he said.

 

Published 11/01/22

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For Lady Lex its Defense

 

          Lexington meets Copley in the girls’ soccer division II regional semifinal on Tuesday night at Wooster High School.

          They beat Mansfield Madison, Clear Fork and then Ontario on Saturday in district final all by (2-1) finals, two of those wins coming in extra time or penalty kicks.

          Coach Buck Morton says it has been a great run for them.  “To go through our district is harder probably than almost any district you are going to see in the state.  To have to play Madison, who has been phenomenal and been to the regional maybe five, six years in a row or whatever it has been.  Then to play Clear Fork, who always has a great team and then finish it off by beating Ontario, who was number seven in the state, and constantly has great players over there.  It has just been a phenomenal run by our girls so far,” said Morton.

          Morton believes they have great comradery and know they have to play outstanding defense to win.  “I think there is this presence that they have as a group.  We graduated 10 seniors last year, nine starters and so all of these girls have come in together, mostly JV players, a couple of girls that played varsity, but I think everyone kind of started on the same level and they have a great relationship with each other,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They are a tightly knit group that plays hard.  We have found our identity, which is to defend and just be tough and gritty out there.”

          Lady Lex (11-5-3) plays Copley (18-0-1) on Tuesday.  The Lady Indians beat Parma Padua (8-0) in their district final.  This season they have scored 113 goals and allowed only two.

          Morton says they are outstanding.  “They are really good, there is just no way around it.  They have only let in a couple of goals all season.  They have outstanding players, some D-one commits.  They are top class, no doubt about it.  We are going to have to go up there and work really hard on the defensive end, like we have been doing to try and keep those numbers down.  We are just going to fight like we have been for this whole tournament so far,” said Morton.

 

Published 11/01/22

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Hillsdale Must Slow Down Danville

 

          Hillsdale will be down at Danville in a division VII regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          Last week, the Falcons destroyed Conotton Valley (62-24) in their first round game.

          Coach Trevor Cline says their offense was very productive.  “Our offense played really well last week.  We didn’t have to punt the football once and we were able to do for the most part anything that we wanted.  It just came down to our line controlling the line of scrimmage.  Our slots and tight ends and wide receivers set the edge and we were able to run the ball extremely well.  When opportunities came up in the pass game, we were able to take advantage of those too,” said Cline.

          Hillsdale (7-4) plays Danville (9-2), the runner up in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, on Friday night.  The Blue Devils whipped Windham (41-18) last Friday night.

          Cline says this team is experienced and physical.  “Danville is a very good football team.  You can tell they are a physical football team.  They have a lot of athletes on their team.  Their line is big up front.  They have a lot of seniors on them.  They are an experienced team and overall they are a very good football team,” he said.

          Danville can run it and throw it will be a tough challenge.  Cline says they can’t allow explosive plays in either the run or pass game.  “We are going to have to be able to slow down their rushing attack.  They a running back, #11, I believe his name is Max Payne.  He has had a great career down at Danville, so we are going to have to slow him down and get him to run east and west instead of north and south.  When he runs downhill, he runs the ball well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We are also going to have to be able to slow down multiple receivers because this year their quarterback has thrown for 15 touchdowns, so they have been able to get out in space and make plays.  So, we just have to be disciplined and keep things in front of us and make them have to earn each one of their scores.”

 

Published 11/01/22

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Shelby Girls Reloading

 

          The Shelby Lady Whippets are coming off an outstanding season last year and expecting more of the same this season.

          They won their fourth straight title in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and advanced to the regional tournament last season.

          Coach Natalie Lantz says they have a group of players that play really hard, especially on defense.  “I am really excited with what we see with this year’s group.  I know we lost three tremendously talented players and they are all playing college basketball right now, but our freshmen and JV teams both went undefeated last year.  I just think it is because they play tenacious defense, they are very hardnosed players and they have great work ethics.  I think that is learning from the older kids and the culture we have established and you will continue to see good things from us this year,” said Lantz.

          Lantz says at Shelby the girls know they have to play defense.  “We like to think we get a lot off our defense.  It showed a lot the last few years especially.  The girls have really bought into playing hard on both ends of the court and moving the ball well, hitting the open player for the shot, passing up good shots for great shots.  I was excited the first scrimmage.  Definitely a lot to work on, but we saw some really, really good things,” she said.

          Now, coaches are perfectionist, the good ones are, and Lantz says they need to talk more on defense than they have early in the preseason and keep working on new things they have introduced.  “We have to talk a little more on defense.  We are trying a couple of different things defensively just to kind of add on to what we have been doing.  We saw some really good things form it, but we also need to work on some different rotations with different things that people might throw at us offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “Another thing offensively, is just getting into some continuity.  Against man defense, we are looking to do a better job of reading the defense this year and get strong attacks to the backet and hopefully open some outside shots for each other.  Those are all things that are attainable if we work on fixing a few things.”

 

Published 11/01/22

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Huron has to Play Four Quarters

 

          Huron makes the long trip to Coldwater to face the Cavaliers in a division V regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

          The Tigers (9-2) beat Edison (35-14) for the second straight week in their playoff opener.

          Coach Sam Hohler says turnovers were the difference last week.  “Last week, I thought the kids were really focused.  It was kind of a repeat of the week 10 game as far as Edison was able to move the ball on us with their triple option offense, but turnovers helped us.  We had a scoop and score, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and we had a pick 6, interception return for a touchdown.  We were plus five in the turnover margin,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We didn’t turn the ball over at all.  They had five turnovers and that was really the difference in the game.  Our defense was able to get the ball back for our offense and we were able to do some things because of that.”

          Hohler says they talk about and work a lot on creating turnovers.  “We have kind of prided ourselves this year on that.  We stress that defensively.  Trying to create turnovers, whether it be fumbles or interceptions or strip sacks or whatever and just try to get the ball back for our offense, so we can have more opportunities to score,” he said.

          Coldwater (10-1), runner-up last season division VI, smoked North Union (41-7) last week.

          Hohler says the Cavaliers feature a lot of speed.  “They have a lot of team speed.  They are not the biggest team out there, but they are very athletic on both sides of the ball.  Offensively, they have some playmakers.  They can run the ball well or throw it and get their big plays from time to time with a lot of success.  Defensively, they kind of swarm to the football.  They have a lot of quick athletes.  They play tough defense.  It is hard to score a lot of points on them and keep up with their offense.  We will definitely have our hands full,” said Hohler.

          Hohler says if they score early or not, they are going to have to play 48 minutes to win.  “We told the kids that that is the mindset you have to have going in.  It is going to take four quarters and sometimes more to get the job done.  We played an overtime game this year that we lost.  The other game that we lost was at the end of the fourth quarter when Perkins went for two and got it.  So, we have been in some dogfights like that throughout the year.  This one could end up like that as well,” he said.

 

Published 11/01/22

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Lucas Must Dig Deep

 

          Lucas, often road warriors, makes the trip to the river to face Toronto in a first round playoff game in division VII on Friday night.

          Already having taken trips to Fort Loramie and Arlington the last two weeks of the regular season, there will be more “frequent driver” miles put on the log the week.

          Last week, the Cubs led (21-7) at the half, but after a significant injury, fell to Arlington (29-21) on week 10.

          Coach Scott Spitler says they let things snowball.  “Taking nothing away from Arlington, they are a good football team.  We did a really nice job and came out of the gates strong and had them reeling.  We were getting the ball to start the second half.  One of our senior leaders, and key contributors on both sides of the ball, Andrew Fanello, goes down with an injury on the first play of the second half and that kind of deflated us.  We never recovered and things snowballed on us in the second half.  We just couldn’t snap out of it,” he said.

          Spitler doesn’t make any excuses.  He says they have play better and he believes their tough schedule has prepared them well.  “Make no bones about it, with this type of schedule that we play, the reason we do that, well is twofold, number one when you are independent it gets interesting scheduling, so as you are trying to get ready for postseason, if you earn the right to be in the postseason, that you are ready physically.  I think while we have come out on the short end of some of these matchups it is has allowed us to grow and become a better team.  We lost 16 seniors to graduation, had to replace our whole offensive and defensive lines, our inside linebackers, so we had a lot of youthfulness and inexperience that needed to grow up throughout the season.  They did it under fire.  Our kids have really kept to the grindstone working and had great attitudes,” he told Swamkonsports.com on Thursday night, “They understand now that it is a whole new season.  What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter.  Everybody is 0-0 and we have the opportunity to go out and become 1-0 this week and that’s our mindset.  It is not going to be easy.  Toronto is a very good football team and we have to go on the road about two and a half hours, but with our schedule and the way we travel all over the place, that is nothing new for us.  So, I think our kids are excited about the opportunity.”

          Lucas (4-6) is at Toronto (6-4) on Friday night.  The Red Knights forfeited a game last week, but before that won two in a row.  Two of their losses are to unbeaten teams in Barnesville and Richmond Edison.

          Spitler says they have great size and some athletes too.  “They are absolutely huge.  They average about 6’4”, 250 across their offensive and defensive lines.  I don’t know what they have got in the river over there, but they grow them big and tall and lanky.  They have some nice skilled kids.  We are going into their house and they are the upper seed and it is not going to be easy for us.  We just have to make sure that we play within ourselves and handle adversity the right way when it comes in the game.  It is not if, but when it comes.  No matter what shape or form, we have to make sure we flush it and not let it snowball and make sure we play four full quarters,” said Spitler.

 

Published 10/28/22

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Bellevue Must Contain Galion Run Game

 

          Bellevue hosts Galion on Friday night in a division IV first round playoff game.

          The Redmen finished the regular season at (6-4), but a close inspection would say they are a couple of plays from (9-1) this fall.

          Coach Ed Nasonti says they have given everything he has asked so far this season.  “I talked to the kids (Thursday) night and I told them there hasn’t been one game this year of the ten that I was disappointed in them.  I think our kids have fought hard.  We have had a lot of adversity to deal with and our kids have stayed the course and given everything they have got.  We’ve played physical.  We have come up short in three conference games.  Actually, got beat by three really good football teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It was nothing to hang our head about and I think we learned from it and we are continuing to press on.  We finished 6-4, but with our schedule it was good enough to get us a home playoff game against a quality team and we are excited and celebrating that opportunity.”

          A footnote here, Bellevue and Galion played each fall for about 60 years as members of the Northern Ohio League.  Also, the Redmen beat Galion (34-9) in a playoff game two years ago.

          Galion (6-4) beat River Valley (56-49) in game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Friday night.

          Nasonti says Galion is big and physical and runs the ball very well.  “When you watch Galion on tape, you see a really good sized offensive line.  They are very well coached on both sides of the football.  They have a really nice quarterback and a running back.  The (Gabe) Ivy kid does a great job.  You have to build a fence around him.  He can get it in the end zone in a hurry.  Like I said, their offensive and defensive lines have good size and they are a physical football team,” he said.

          Ivy ran for 330 yards and three TD’s last week against River Valley.

          Tackling is going to be important again for the Redmen, Nasonti says it always is, and they have to get a lot of players to the ball.  “That is what it is in high school football no matter who you play, but if you don’t build a wall around the Ivy kid, he will take it to the house in a hurry.  You have to build a wall around him, you have to do a good job tackling him.  That is the way it has been this year.  If you look at the running backs that we have gone up against in our schedule.  Tiffin has an outstanding running back, Norwalk has an outstanding running back.  We have seen some really good running backs this year.  The Ivy kid ranks right up there with the best of them,” said Nasonti.

 

Published 10/28/22

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Western Reserve Faces High Powered Northwestern

 

          Western Reserve, of the Firelands Conference, makes the trip to Northwestern, co-champion of the Wayne Athletic League, in a first round playoff game in division VI on Friday night.

          The Roughriders (6-4) crushed Trinity (48-7) last week in a non-conference game.

          Coach Ty Stevenson says they played well and it was a good jumping off spot for the playoffs.  “I thought we really came out quick.  We came out the way we needed to and got things going early.  I think we scored on three or four of our first four or five possessions.  So, it was a good way to start the game.  We kind of got some other guys in the game.  So, it was good, it was about an hour drive, which is similar to what we will have this week, kind of an unknown place we are going to, it was a good prep for what we are going to have Friday night,” he said.

          Northwestern (8-2) whipped Waynedale (42-10) in a “WCAL” game last week to clinch a share of the title with Dalton.

          Stevenson says this is a team that has been well tested and is electric on offense.  “The Wayne County League is always really good, really strong, physical football teams, and they are co-champs of that thing, so you know they are going to be a really good football team.  Their quarterback is a phenomenal athlete.  He can throw it, he can run it.  He really does a great job of extending plays, so you have to make sure you continue to play to the whistle is blown,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “You have four or five guys that can really catch the football.  What sticks out probably is #12 and #7, #12 is like 6’1”, 205.  They have two or three guys that can run it.  They are big up front, anywhere from 200 to 240 pounds.  So, offensively, they are very dangerous.  They like to throw the football around and can also run it.  We have our hands full there.  They are a very fundamentally sound 4-3 defense that plays a two high shell and does a great job flying to the football.  If you are going to win in the Wayne County League, you are a darn good football team, so we have a huge challenge this week.”

          One of the better ways to slow down an explosive offense is to possess the ball and Stevenson says they are going to try and do that on Friday night.  “Northwestern has watched enough film and they know that we are going to try and run the football and that is one of the best ways to keep a high powered offense off the field is if you can run it and kind of control the clock and move the chains matriculate down the field.  So, we will try that and see how our hands are dealt to us and hopefully play well,” said Stevenson.

 

Published 10/28/22

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Columbian Takes on Underrated Rocky River

 

          Tiffin Columbian, the runner-up in the tough Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, is at home for Rocky River in a first round playoff game in division III on Friday night.

          Last week, after losing the Lake Division championship game to Perkins (31-14) the week before, came back to hammer Norwalk (41-0) in a division game on Friday.

          Coach Judd Lutz says the start of the game was key for them.  “I thought we came out early and set the tone in a good way starting on defense.  We were able to get a quick three and out.  The offense made a quick turnaround as far as scoring on a short field.  The defense got another, I think, four and out at that point and good field position and turned into points again.  It was kind of an onslaught both offensively and defensively in the first half.  Happy with our kids playing with a great deal of passion and sense of urgency and the results speak for themselves.  We have to turn the page pretty quickly and get ready for the next opponent,” said Lutz.

          Columbian (8-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, hosts Rocky River (4-6) on Friday.  The Pirates are coming off a (34-7) loss to Valley Forge on Friday.

          Lutz says the Pirates are better than their record indicates.  “When you see a record of 4-6, you think it is probably a below average team, but you look at the quality of opponents they have played and how they have played them and they have a good team.  They have played some really good teams really tough.  They have some guys we consider game changers, game wreckers, at a couple of key positions, tight end, defensive end, they are really good.  We feel like the offensive and defensive line, that is where really good football teams have a good heartbeat, and they have some of those tools,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “They have obviously found a way to lose some games, but that doesn't matter now, it’s playoffs.  Everybody is going to put their chips in the center of the table every Friday and only one is coming away with the pot.  So, we have to have a good sense of urgency from the get go and get ready for a four quarter game because it’s playoff time.”

          Lutz says Rocky River in terms of players and approach is kind of a combination of some teams they have played.  “My wife asked me that question earlier this week, are they comparable to anybody?  They are kind of a mix of Sandusky with some good size and some athletes.  Also, Springfield, at a couple of positions, big tight ends, quarterbacks that are athletic and can run around and throw it.  They are kind of like this team in this sense and this team in that sense.  At the same time, you have to look at game plans and put it together specifically for them and who you have to do it.  It’s going to be a challenge and we are excited for the opportunity,” he said.

 

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Ashland the Underdog against Central Catholic

 

          Ashland will be on the road to Toledo Central Catholic for a first round playoff game in division II on Friday night.

          A big comeback, down three scores early, gave the Arrows a (42-28) win over Lexington in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Friday night.

          Coach Sean Seder says they did an excellent job battling adversity.  “I was really happy with our kids performance, especially our seniors on our senior night.  We were down three scores at the beginning of the game and everybody kind of buckled down and came together and overcame that adversity and came up with a pretty big win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We were not able to quite jump up in the standings as much as we would have liked, but definitely solidified a postseason berth and now we are playing on week 11.”

          Ashland (6-4) plays at Toledo Central Catholic (9-1) on Friday night.  The Fighting Irish belted Toledo St. Francis (48-7) last week.  Their only loss came to division I power Lakewood St. Edward (23-20) on week one.

          Seder says they are loaded.  “They are a really good team.  Their record kind of speaks to itself.  I think their average margin of victory is over 30 points.  We only saw two teams that scored two touchdowns on them and one of them was St. Ed’s, who is a pretty good football team and Findlay.  So, defensively they are really good.  On offense, they are able to put a lot of points on the board, I think they are averaging 48 or something.  Just a really solid football team that plays a tough schedule.  We will have our hands full on Friday night,” said Seder.

          Seder says nobody expects them to win, so they can go out and be free and easy.  “We told our kids is we are treating it very similar to the West Holmes week just from the standpoint that West Holmes was undefeated and they still are and they were scoring a ton of points and not allowing any points.  So, it takes all of the pressure off us.  We get to go out and have fun and preform and hopefully at the end of the night it is enough points to walk away with a win,” he said.

 

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Fredericktown Plays Unbeaten Eastwood

 

          Fredericktown, of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, makes the long bus ride to Eastwood Friday night for a first round playoff game in division V.

          The Freddies (6-4) ended the regular season on sour note with a (49-14) whipping at hands of conference champion Centerburg.

          Coach William Hartley says they just didn’t play very well.  “It was a pretty disappointing outing to come up short against our county rival.  I felt for the first time all season, just physically we really got beat at the point of attack, especially our defensive line for one reason or another really got pushed around, especially in the third quarter where Centerburg was able to pull away.  We had a lot of little mistakes too, some bad penalties, costly turnover, so all of those little things added up to a really disappointing and convincing defeat at the hands of Centerburg,” said Hartley.

          Despite the loss, they made the playoffs, which Hartley says was one of their goals to begin the season.  “Some things worked out for us and we got a little bit of help and we snuck in there.  That was definitely one of the goals to begin the season that we wanted to go back to the playoffs and we knew that was going to be a little tougher moving up from division VI to division V, so we accomplished that goal and we are happy for this opportunity,” he said.

          Eastwood (10-0) has enjoyed an outstanding season this year, which in one of a long line of such performances.  They beat Otsego (42-7) last week.  Their (49-48) win over Elmwood on week seven was one of their few competitive games this year.

          Hartley says they are used to winning playoffs games and this fall have great personnel.  “They are a really solid team, a very good program.  They are 25-5 over the last three seasons.  They have made the playoffs in each of those years and have won a first round game in each of those years as well.  They are very physical.  Very fundamentally sound.  They don’t do anything fancy.  They want to run the football.  They have a very athletic and fast quarterback that they use in the running game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Defensively, they are no trills, they just line up and they are very fundamentally sound and they are big kids.  They cover a lot of ground and they are really good tacklers.”

 

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Norwayne Hosts Harrison Central

 

          Norwayne opens the tournament season with a first round playoff game in division V on Friday night at home against Harrison Central.

          After losing to Wayne County Athletic League co-champ Dalton (41-16) on week nine, the Bobcats came out and smoked a pretty good Smithville team (38-0) last week.

          Coach Adam Indorf says it was a good bounce back win.  “I thought we came out and played together and created some momentum and energy early on and that was a positive for us to bounce back from the previous week.  We look to continue to improve our effort and continue to improve our focus as we move forward here,” he said.

          Norwayne (7-3) hosts Harrison Central (6-4) on Friday night.  The Huskies outscored Buckeye Local (45-34) last week.

          Indorf says they are big and athletic.  “They are going to be big up front.  They have a nice big running back, a quarterback that is athletic and can sling the ball, so we will have to be on point defensively and making sure we are rallying to the ball and to the point of attack with the running back.  As far as our offense, we will see multiple fronts out of them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “Being able to identify the front, being able to understand the schematics there and firing off the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage and really get after it and take what the defense is giving us.”

          Pre snap reads are going to be big on Friday night for the Bobcats and Indorf says that is for all position groups.  “I think it is vitally important for our offensive linemen to just understand where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do, but also the quarterback and the running backs can tell what is going on a little bit there and even the receivers a little bit about their coverages and how they are going to run their routes.  As far as our defense, just understanding what they are lining up in, what tendencies they have shown in that formation or that look and understand what we might get,” said Indorf.

 

Published 10/28/22

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Mansfield Senior Faces Physical Ontario

 

          Mansfield Senior, the runner-up in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, faces surging Ontario, of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, in a first round playoff game in division III on Friday night.

          The Tygers (8-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, closed out the regular season with a (37-17) win over rival Madison in “OCC” play last Friday.

          Assistant coach Sean Adams says they got it done playing a lot of young kids.  “I think we started off a little slow, but we picked it up.  We had some guys that weren’t playing.  We had the opportunity for some younger kids to get in there and make some plays and get some experience and kind of build on some things for next year even.  I think that is one of the positives about being able to play in the playoffs is you get an extra week of practice and sometimes two and sometimes three and we were fortunate to get five extra weeks the one year.  So, coming out of Madison we feel good.  We are back to full strength and we look forward to playing at Arlin Field again against a very good Ontario football team,” said Adams.

          This is the first ever meeting between the neighboring schools on the gridiron.

          Ontario (6-4) scored in the final 30 seconds of the game last week to edge Shelby (35-28) in an “MOAC” game.

          Adams says the Warriors can run it and pass it and they are going to have to be very sound on defense to get the job done.  “I think that the big thing is they want to get up there and use that big offensive line and they want to use those big backs and try and run the ball.  I don’t think it is any secret that they probably want to keep the ball out of our hands and try and just grind out first downs. They don’t mind winning that way and coach (Aaron) Eckert, or whoever called the play last week, that was heck of a call there against Shelby with :27 to go to win it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We have to be careful of a lot of things.  I just think that this week we have concentrated on just being sound against the pass and being sound against the run and taking care of what we can do and tackle well, get to the ball and get off blocks.”

          First down is going to be important for the Tyger defense on Friday night, but Adams says that is the case every night.  “I don’t think it is just Ontario, we try and win first down against everybody and I think that is crucial.  At second and three, now they have kind of got you, they could do a little bit of run or they could pass it.  With Bodpegn Miller and the two running backs that they have got they are capable of being explosive and scoring on any down they have got.  So, we have to be really sound in our coverages and sound in our run fits and be ready to take on Ontario at Arlin Field Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 10/27/22

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Galion Takes on Physical Bellevue

 

          Galion travels to Bellevue for a battle between two old Northern Ohio League schools, in a first round game in division IV on Friday night.

          Being an eight-nine game, it should be a good contest.

          Galion (6-4) outscored River Valley (56-49) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

          Gabe Ivy ran for 330 yards and three scores for the Tigers last week.

          Coach Matt Dick says the end of the second quarter was important for them.  “We really ran the ball well.  We had a great series right before half where we ran that hurry up “I” offense.  I mean we have “hurry, hurry” in, but we were having so much success with “I” football and just pounding it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “There was about a 1:30 left, but we still stayed in the “I” and just ran it down their throats and it was fun.  We scored right before half.  They got an interception right before half and we scored one more time with a trick play.  It was a petty cool 1:30 of the game.”

          Galion has relied a lot on it’s big offensive line this year.

          Bellevue (6-4) lost to arch rival Clyde (13-12) last Friday in a game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Dick says the Redmen are physical and like them, they like to run the football a lot.  “I think they are super physical.  They just do a great job of form tackling.  They get a lot of guys to the ball.  You have to give them some credit.  I think offensively they run the ball really, really well.  They are very similar to us in a lot of ways where it is straight downhill football.  If we can match their physicality, it should be a fun night,” he said.

          Bellevue likes to feature quarterback Jax Lapata, who their leading rusher with 1,098 yards and 13 TD’s.

          Dick says Bellevue is very good at giving the ball to Lapata in different ways.  “You know he is going to run it.  It is kind of like Gabe Ivy, you know he his going to get the ball about 40 times.  It is very similar with their quarterback, you know he is going to get the ball.  They do a wide variety of fakes to the running back, follow the running back, all of those things.  They just keep pounding it and good things happen and that kid is heck of a runner.  He is a tough kid.  He plays linebacker as well, one of those two way guys that are just really, really tough,” said Dick.

 

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Once Again Trenches Key for Highland

 

          Highland is at home Friday night for Defiance Tinora in a division V first round playoff game.

          Last Friday, the Scots (7-3) were smoked by Clear Fork (42-7) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference championship game.  Highland finished alone in second place in the conference standings.

          Coach Ty Stover says it went like this, they didn’t play very well and Clear Fork did.  “We didn’t play great last Friday and hats off to Clear Fork, they played wonderful, they were ready to go and we were not unfortunately.  We have had a week’s practice here to get us back in what we do best,” said Stover.

          What Stover didn’t mention was that the Scots played last week with several key injuries.  Coaches don’t like to mention that sometimes because they see as an excuse, but I feel this time it is relevant.

          Tinora also (7-3) takes a three game winning streak into the game after a (54-7) destruction of Hicksville.  Two of their three losses are to unbeaten teams in Liberty Center and Antwerp.

          Stover says Tinora has a top notch defense and a very good run game.  “They have only given up 21 points in three games here.  They have an offense that is heavy run based and an up front group that once again that we will face that is not necessarily over sized, but really good with their feet and very aggressive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “So, we will be in a physical battle for sure on Friday night.  It seems like every week it comes down to owning the line of scrimmage and we will see if we can do that.”

          With both teams wanting to run the ball, Stover believes it will come down to what happens up front, which is pretty much the case every week.  “That is the key we have to try and make some plays behind the line of scrimmage.  Get them into some long third down or some long second downs.  We will be ahead of the game there if we can do that.  That all comes down to our guys on defense doing their jobs and also trying to keep them off the field with our offense.  So, we will be running the football too and trying to make some plays in the passing game this week and then see what we can get done on Friday night,” said Stover.

 

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Perkins Meets High Scoring River Valley

 

          Sandusky Perkins, the winner of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, hosts River Valley, of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, on Friday night in a first round playoff game in division IV.

          Perkins (9-1), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, hammered Sandusky (37-7) to win that title last week.

          Coach Jalen Santoro says they didn’t make a lot of mistakes.  “We came out and we played an efficient game.  I thought we did a lot of good things on offense and defense.  I have said each week it is important to win the line of scrimmage.  If you want to win a game and go deep in the playoffs and make a run it is really important to win the line of scrimmage and I thought we did that,” he said.

          River Valley (5-5) lost (56-49) to Galion in an “MOAC” game last week.  They average 40 points a game and are led by the conference’s leading passer in Cayden Shidone, who has 3,257 yards and 33 touchdowns this season.

          Santoro says he is the engine that runs that offense.  “They have a high potent offense.  They have a quarterback that is very good an All-Ohio player.  He makes things happen.  He is one of the kids that you might have him bottled up and he squirts out there and throws the ball down the field.  He is a fun kid to watch.  He is a really good player.  So, we have to do a good job bottling him up.  I think that is going to be the key to hanging in there and getting a win,” said Santoro.

          Perkins has the best defense in terms of yards allowed in the Lake Division this year and they rely on a lot of man coverage.

          Santoro says a quarterback like Shidone stresses that defense.  “It makes it hard on your defensive backs because now they just have to cover the original two to three seconds that you usually do, but also make sure when this guy brakes the pocket you have to stay with the guy for the whole play until the whistle blows,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “That is something that the defensive backs aren’t used to because the amount of time you see a scramble drill in a game isn’t going to be what you see on Friday night.  You can’t just let him stand back there and sling it and once he is out of the pocket, he is a threat.”

 

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Carey Begins Defense

 

          Carey is the defending division VI state champion and they start the defense of that title on Friday night by hosting Riverdale in a first round game.

          They won their second straight undisputed Northern 10 Athletic Conference championship on last week when they buried Seneca East (56-12) on Friday night.

          Coach Johnathan Mershman says after a come from behind win the week before against Upper Sandusky (20-14) they were ready from the kick last week.  “I thought out team came out ready to play.  We kind of challenged them last week saying let’s earn this outright and I think they took it heart and went out and go it,” he said.

          Carey lost 15 seniors off their team a year ago, but still finished the regular season 10-0 this fall.  Mershman says they have had a great number of kids accept new roles and excel.  “I knew there was going to be some growing pains early.  We graduated a ton of kids.  Some kids going into this year were going out of some role playing parts into major parts and some young kids had to move into role playing parts.  Honestly, I thought we transitioned smoothly,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “I give that to our captains and our seniors to make that happen as fast as it did and then we started rolling and the next thing you know this season just flew by and you are 10-0.  It is one of those things where you look back on it and you are wow, those guys really did a nice job of fitting the pieces of the puzzle together.”

          Carey (10-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays Riverdale (5-5), out the Blanchard Valley Conference.  The Falcons destroyed Arcadia (58-8) last week.

          Mershman says they can score points in bunches.  “They have a really good offense.  They can put up points.  They will spread you out and throw it around a little bit.  Now, looking at film I didn’t see their starting quarterback at the beginning of the year playing at the end of the year, so I don’t know if there was an injury or something like that.  Regardless, they have some receivers that can catch the ball and a running back that can run the ball really hard,” said Mershman.

 

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South Central Faces Run Heavy Southern

 

          South Central plays a first round playoff game in division VII on Friday night on the road at Salineville Southern.

          The Trojans confirmed their berth in the playoffs with a (36-8) whipping of Plymouth in Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

          Coach Corey Fickiesen says they were far from perfect, but they were pretty good against the Big Red.  “We played pretty well.  We were happy with the majority of the things outside of we turned the ball over inside the 10 two or three times and we felt we should have scored.  We had nearly 540 yards of offense and we held them in check defensively and special teams was pretty clean,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “So, overall that is how you want to end the year, that is how you want to play on a senior night.  Obviously, going into the postseason, you want to be at your best and we are hoping we are getting closer to that.”

          South Central (4-6) plays at Southern (9-1) on Friday night.  The Indians are coming off a (14-0) shutout of Hanoverton United last Friday.

          Fickiesen says they are team that has some tendencies toward a lot of things they have seen this year.  “It is hard to tell with a team that is so far away.  It is going to be about a two and half hour drive for us over there.  They are very Firelands Conference like though.  They run the wing-T and they have some athletes that are pretty quick.  So, we have kind of been comparing them to a mix of a Mapleton and a Western.   A little bit of all of the conference teams.  They have little piece of all of them.  So, we feel our schedule has prepared us to get to here,” said Fickiesen.

          Fickiesen says the Indians are an experienced unit and they will need to be at the top of their game to have a chance.  “Anytime you get in the playoffs, you are going to be playing someone at least decent and they are a really good football team.  They are 9-1 for a reason.  They have been here the last couple of years, so they are experienced as well.  We are going to have to play well and we know that, but when you get to the postseason that is what you are expecting anyway,” he said.

 

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Northmor Travels to Bellaire For First Round Game

 

          Northmor, of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, plays at Bellaire in a first round playoff game in division VI on Saturday afternoon.

          There are no lights at the Bellaire field.

          Last week, the Golden Knights fell (28-21) to Loudonville in a “KMAC” game.  It was their third straight loss.

          However, coach Scott Armrose says they accomplished one of their goals last week.  “We took a couple of steps in the right direction.  We wanted to execute better and we did.  We played fundamentally better, but at the same time still too many mistakes to pull off a win,” he said.

          The Northmor coach adds that his kids are still battling and want to play football.  “We don’t have any kids that have given up.  We work hard.  We continue to have good practices and we compete every week.  These kids have no quit in them,” said Armrose.

          Northmor (5-5) is at Bellaire (6-4) on Saturday afternoon.  The Big Reds beat Martin’s Ferry (39-8) last week.  It was their third consecutive win.

          Armrose says they feature some athleticism.  “They are a really good football team.  They are very athletic in the secondary and receiver.  They have a returning All-Ohio defensive back in Ray Ray Pettigrew.  He is a phenomenal athlete,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “They have a really good quarterback at the same time.  So, they are a good combination of run and play action pass on offense and like I said really athletic in the secondary.”

          In terms of personnel and approach, Armrose says Bellaire reminds him very much of “KMAC” champion Centerburg.  “Athletically they make me think a lot about Centerburg because they have a big quarterback that can both run and throw.  They way they are athletic in the secondary and kind of the way they go about their offense.  So, they make you think a lot of Centerburg,” said Armrose.

 

Published 10/27/22

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Clear Fork Plays Aggressive Upper Sandusky

 

          Clear Fork, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, plays host to Upper Sandusky, of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, on Friday night in a first round playoff game in division IV.

          Last week, they held the leading rusher in the conference, Dane Naumann, to only 77 yards and were able to run the ball successfully themselves paced by 144 yards and three TD’s by Pawie Ault and beat Highland (42-7) in conference championship game.

          Coach Dave Carroll says they did an outstanding job on both sides of the ball in that “MOAC” championship game.  “There is no question that our kids came to play.  They have just been so tuned in.  This second half of the season, we have continued to improve, which is great to see at this time of the year.  You want to be playing your best ball when the league championship is on the line and you have the playoffs.  Not to take anything away from what our kids did, Highland was hobbled up a little bit.  Their quarterback broke his arm the week before we played them.  #54 was unable to play and he is a two way starter, inside linebacker and right guard.  I understand that we probably did not get the full Highland team that we have seen all year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “I think (Dane) Naumann was hobbled up a little bit from my understanding.  Our kids did a fantastic job, we didn’t allow him to get started.  He had one or two runs of decent amounts.  Our kids bought into the game plan.  Coach (Dave) Stupka did a great job of putting our players in the spots they needed to be in to stop their offense or slow it down anyway and they executed very well.  Our offensive line did a fantastic job.  Our running backs and quarterback just did a great job.  Luke Schlosser did a great job lead blocking for us and he got some big passes.”

          Clear Fork (9-1), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has won eight in a row and Carroll believes they are peaking.  “It was just an overall team effort by our kids.  They are firing on all cylinders right now and I am really proud of them.  It was great to get that win and win the “MOAC”, but hey it’s a new season now.  It’s playoff time and what has happened so far doesn’t matter, it is what we do now,” he said.

          Upper Sandusky (5-5) solidified a playoff position with a late field goal to beat Wynford (17-14) in a “N10” game on Friday.

          Quarterback Kaden Holman leads the “N10” in passing yards (2,225) and Carroll says they have some weapons.  “They are very athletic.  They have a great quarterback that has thrown for over 2,000 yards, a running back that has run for over 700, and three of their receivers are, I want to say, at 700, 600, and just under 500 yards in receiving.  You can tell they have been in the weight room.  I think they are incredibly well coached on both sides of the football,” he said.

          What is at the top the Carroll’s mind is the aggressive Upper Sandusky defense and how they will handle that.  “Their defense concerns me.  They run around, they blitz, they move kids around, you don’t always know what you are going to get all of the time.  They have quick kids that fly to the football and get off blocks.  They have some outside backers, #40 and #42 who are just relentless football players.  They are not very big, but man do they play the game the way it is supposed to be played.  They will go man coverage, they will go zone coverage, and go combination coverages and they just give you a lot of different looks.  So, your offense has to be in tune, especially your offensive line has got to communicate because they will slant and angle, they will eagle their tackles, they will bring a variety of blitzes,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They wreak havoc on offenses.  They probably sacked River Valley more than any team that played against them this year just because they have exotic blitzing schemes and those guys are quick and relentless and get after it.  So, our guys have to be sharp.  We have to protect the passer and communicate in the run game and make sure we are blocking who we are supposed to be blocking, blocking our rules, and get you eyes on them and your hands and your feet and move them.”

 

Published 10/26/22

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Crestview Faces Big Play Wayne Trace

 

          Crestview hosts Wayne Trace in a first round playoff game in division VI on Friday night.

          The Cougars, (10-0), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, captured the outright title in the Firelands Conference last week by thumping Mapleton (47-16) on Friday.

          Coach Steve Haverdill credits a good start.  “The kids came out ready to play.  We wanted to make sure we got up early on them.  Just be at easy a little bit and we were able to do that.  We got up 47-0 before we put the JV’s in.  The JV’s got a lot of quality playing time there for a quarter and a half,” he said.

          Crestview has an experienced team and one that has played in six playoff games over the last three years and Haverdill thinks that is a plus for them.  “I think it helps a lot.  Obviously, it’s a different year, but that experience of being in those games.  Understanding the importance of being in those games, not having turnovers, field position and all of those little things that go hand in hand in playoff games is huge.  We have a couple of guys that are actually four year starters for us that were in that playoff game four years ago against East Knox.  So, that has helped along the line and it is going to help again this year as well,” said Haverdill.

          Wayne Trace (5-5) takes a three game winning streak into the game, including a (24-0) blanking of Paulding last week.

          Haverdill says they have a solid defense that allows them the freedom to make big plays on offense.  “They are balanced offensively.  They run it in a zone scheme with their running game and they have a couple of really good receivers.  They have two quarterbacks that they can rotate back and forth.  One runs the ball well and he can throw it.  The other one throws a nice ball and reads the defense well.  So, they are pretty balanced offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Defensively, is probably where they are a little better at.  They are very good on the defensive side.  It keeps them in the football game and allows their offense to get big plays over the top.  So, they are always in a ball game.  We have to be careful and make sure we are doing what we need to do, so we don’t give up those big plays.”

 

Published 10/26/22

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Crawford Must Avoid Mistakes

 

          Colonel Crawford will be at home for Margaretta, out of the River Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, on Friday night for a first round playoff game in division VI.

          The Eagles (8-2) take a three game winning streak into the game and coach Jake Bruner says they are playing with confidence.  “We are confident and we are excited for the new season as it is in football now.  After the regular season, the playoffs are their own new season with expansion of everything.  Obviously, we are excited and excited to be at home and play an opponent that we haven’t played before,” he said.

          They have won three playoff games over the last two seasons and Bruner says that experience in the postseason should help them.  “The last two years we have some kids that have played on those teams and some of them played a lot and some of them played a little bit and some were just role players.  It’s good for us that we have a little experience, I think that will help us in dealing with the highs and lows in a playoff game because it is going to be great football game Friday night.  When you get into the playoffs you are playing good opponents,” said Bruner.

          These are a pair of (8-2) teams in an eight-nine game that should be competitive.  The Polar Bears are coming off a (43-16) win over Fremont St. Joe in a River Division game last Saturday.

          Bruner describes them as a well rounded team on offense with size.  “Number one, they are similar to us in the fact that they have good speed, they have a nice quarterback, they have got some receivers and they run the ball well.  They are bigger than we are, so their physicality and their size is a concern for us.  They have a lot of good players,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Coach (Gary) Quisno is a hall of famer being at Oak Harbor and Perkins, so they are well coached.  We know that those guys know what they are doing.  We know we will get their best effort Friday night.”

          Bruner says they have to be the team that makes less mistakes on Friday night in order to be successful.  “We are going to have to take care of the football.  We are going to have to be the more physical football team and we are going to have to make the fewest mistakes.  In our two losses, not a tremendous amount of mistakes, but against Upper Sandusky we fumbled the ball and a couple of key mistakes against Carey and that is the difference in the five points in those games.  We know the margin of error gets a lot tighter as hopefully we climb the rope in the playoffs,” said Bruner.

 

Published 10/26/22

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Clyde Must Defend Wing-T

 

          Clyde will be at home Friday for a first round playoff game in division III as they host Oberlin Firelands.

          They secured a home game this week and perhaps one next week with a (13-12) win over Bellevue in a Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game last Friday.

          Coach Ryan Carter calls it a great win for them.  “I feel like we are playing better each week, but you never know when the playoffs roll around.  You have kind of an unfamiliar opponent.  We were very, very pleased to go on the road, beat our rival in a very close, tight football game.  That was great for our kids and great for our program.  It really boosted us computer point wise and jumped us all of the way where we have a home game,” he said.

          Clyde (7-3) entertains Oberlin Firelands (7-3) on Friday night.  The Falcons has lost their last two, (42-28) to Black River and last week (29-28) in double overtime to unbeaten Columbia.

          Carter says they are a wing-T team that is going to try and keep the ball away from them.  “Watching both of those games they didn’t play particularly bad.  They lost a double overtime game and a game to Black River, who played really well that night.  We have our work cut for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “When you play a wing-T team in the playoffs it always scares you in fact of how many possessions are you going to get.  You don’t want to turn the ball over and give them a longer time with ball.  So, we have our work cut out for us, we know that.  We are extremely happy to be in the playoffs and with an opportunity to host a home playoff game.”

          Carter says they have not seen a lot of wing-T this year, so they are going to need to prepare hard for a team that has five times scored more than 38 points in game this season.  “They have a very good running back, a good jet kid, and they do a good job running their stuff.  They have scored a ton of points.  It is a different animal for us.  We don’t see too many wing-T teams throughout the year, probably back to the Eastwood scrimmage for us to see a wing-T team.  Norwalk ran a little bit at us on week nine, but not a true wing-T like we are going to see this week.  It’s a different animal, but our kids are excited to be playing at home and still playing week 11,” said Carter.

 

Published 10/26/22

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Huron Plays Edison… Again

 

          Huron plays at home Friday night against arch rival Edison in a division V first round playoff game.

          Of course, they just played Edison last week and beat them (31-6) last Friday.  This a rare occurrence, a back to back game, but not unheard of.  Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville is one that comes to mind, just last year it was Shelby and Clear Fork.

          Huron coach Sam Hohler says this is a dangerous Edison team and as a program that have already proven what they are capable of as they underdog.  “We played them at home last week and we are rivals.  We are schools that are just a few miles apart.  The game was hard fought by both teams.  We were able to come out on top,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Then you throw in last year Edison was a 16 seed and beat number one seeded Bellevue in the playoffs.  They have that kind of ability.  The key for us is to guard against that and make sure we have a good week of practice and get ready to go.”

          Edison, a run heavy triple option team likes to get the lead and then consume the clock with their efficient ground game. 

          Hohler says they can not let that happen on Friday.  “That was a focus last week and it will be again this week for us to make sure we get off to a good start.  We were able to get up on them a little bit early on.  They weren’t able to take the air out of the game so to speak and had to try and catch up a little bit and that was definitely an advantage for us,” he said.

          After losing by 25 points there might be a thought that Edison has to alter its game plan, however, Hohler says that would be unlikely in this case.  “Their best opportunity is probably to stick with what they do best and run that triple option offense effectively and try and keep the ball away from us and try and shorten the game the best they can.  We were fortunate to get a number of turnovers against them last week and kind of got them out of what they like to do and that definitely played in our favor,” said Hohler.

 

Published 10/26/22

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Hillsdale Must be Disciplined

 

          Hillsdale hosts a division VII playoff game on Friday night as the Conotton Valley Rockets come to town for a first round game.

          After losing (17-12) to Northwestern on week nine and falling out of a share of the lead in the Wayne County Athletic League, the Falcons responded with a (42-7) rout of Rittman.

          Coach Trevor Cline says it was a win to rebuild some confidence.  “Last week was a good bounce back week.  Obviously, the week before was a shot at a “WCAL” title and that one hurt, but being able to bounce back and get win the next week is always good to get momentum going into the first week of the playoffs.  So, our guys did a good job of bouncing back,” he said.

          Hillsdale (6-4) hosts Conotton Valley (6-4) on Friday night.  The Rockets own a four game winning streak, including a (44-19) win over Madonna, West Virginia last week.

Cline says they are coached by legend Don Hertler Jr. and they have some size on their roster.  “They are a well coached team.  Their coach is a hall of famer in Ohio high school football.  You know they are going to be a well coached team.  They have multiple seniors that have experience on their team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “They have really good size up front.  They have some good size, so they are going to show up on defense, so we are going to need to do the same thing if we want to put ourselves in the position to compete with them on Friday.”

          Conotton Valley is an outstanding play action team, according to Cline, and he says on defense they must be disciplined.  “Our defense is going to have to show up and do a great job of being disciplined because they like to run the ball, but they come at you and they see you start to get nosey and they try and beat you over the top and they have been able to do that to a lot of teams this year.  So, we just have to make sure we are being disciplined and remaining in coverage,” said Cline.

 

Published 10/26/22

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Ontario Must Win Turnover Battle

 

          Ontario makes the short trip to Mansfield Senior to tangle with the Tygers on Friday night in a first round playoff game in division III.

          They solidified their playoff position with a come from behind (35-28) win over Shelby on Friday night in action in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.  It was a Bodpegn Miller to Dylan Floyd touchdown pass with less than 30 seconds to play for the win.

          Coach Aaron Eckert says they never gave up hope.  “I thought our kids did a great job of just being resilient and staying the course.  We got down 13 to start the game and the start of the third quarter we got down 14.  We just battled back and they believed in what we were doing and stayed the course and eventually we wore Shelby down and were able to capitalize with :27 to go to take the lead and win the football game,” he said.

          Ontario did a very good job running the ball on Friday night against the Whippets and Eckert says they have been getting better at running ball when teams know they are going to run.  “It is one of those things that we have gotten better at as the year has gone on.  We have tried to be balanced and at one point in the season we were separated by two yards, rushing and throwing and now we are slightly ahead running the football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We have two really good backs in Chase Studer and Drew Yetter and Bodpegn Miller got his third 100 yard game running to football too.  So, when you combined those things it kind of opens up your passing attack a little bit and you are able to take some shots.  So, for us it has been a good thing.  Our “O-line” has been outstanding all year.  We look to continue that as we move forward.”

          Ontario (6-4), winners of its last three in a row, play at Mansfield (8-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, winner of its last six, including (37-13) over rival Madison last week, on Friday night.

          Eckert says when you watch Mansfield Senior, it is their speed that catches your eye.  “The first thing that stands out is just how fast they are.  Their skilled guys move well.  They don’t tend to give up big plays on defense.  Thy are very solid defensively.  Offensively, they have weapons everywhere.  They receivers everywhere, Amar (Davis) is really good, the quarterback as a really live arm, they have a couple of good running backs, their line is athletic.  Then defensively, they just all run well and are very aggressive.  So, it is a big task going over there on Friday night,” said Eckert.

          To get a win over the Tygers, Eckert says they must remain consistent to what they have done well and the have to win the turnover battle.  “The first thing is you have to try and win the turnover battle.  We did a pretty good job of that against Shelby.  We haven’t done the best job this year, but that is the first thing, we have to control the football and get a couple of takeaways.  We have to play our game.  We can’t do something different, just because of who we play.  Stay true to ourselves, stay the course, and continue to do what we do well,” he said.

 

Published 10/25/22

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Clear Fork Meets Lexington in Districts

 

          Clear Fork plays at Lexington in a girls’ soccer district semi-final on Wednesday evening.

          Clear Fork shutout Norwalk (5-0) last week in their sectional final.  Lexington edged Madison (2-1) in a shootout on Saturday.

          Lady Colts coach Brittany Bechtel says it was just nerve racking watching the game on Saturday.  “You have no idea watching a game like that who you are going to play until the last shot.  So, that kept you on your toes not knowing who to prepare for.  Two great programs, two great teams and what a game to go out on.  I said when I walked in with (Chris) Laux thankfully I get to go to a game an not stress and just enjoy a game and then that happened and you really didn’t know how you where feeling.  I was a very awkward felling,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “I feel for the Madison girls going out in a shootout.  That is always a tough way to go out and I had that happen in an elite eight game.  In those moments you feel like there has to be a better way to end a game, but both teams played 80 minutes and an extra 30 and then a shootout.  Needless to say, I didn’t get to enjoy it they way I hopped to.  I was really stressed out, but I didn’t know who I was stressed out for.”

          Clear Fork (13-3-2) and Lexington (9-5-3) play on Wednesday and they have already played this year and it was a scoreless tie (0-0) August 27, also a Lex.

          Bechtel says that results has next nothing to do with Wednesday.  “It is too old a film to pay too much attention to.  They are not the same team, we are not the same team.  It is a whole new season in a way.  We call tournament time a whole new season anyway.  Since we did see them so long ago it was nice to see them game live to see something that was fresh and new.  We enjoyed the game and glad it wasn’t us in that position.  Moving into Wednesday, you never know what is going to happen, so we will have to prepare for it all,” said Bechtel.

          Play at Lexington in a district tournament is not great, but Bechtel says that is something they must clear their mind of.  “I think that was the problem looking at it with great teams and which way do you want it to fall one of the negatives to playing Lexington was we are playing at their home field.  So, when you are looking at the situation with which way do you want it to fall that would be the negative side of playing Lex is they are getting that game at home,” she said.

 

Published 10/25/22

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Upper Sandusky Plays Balanced Clear Fork

 

          Upper Sandusky is in the playoffs in division IV for only the third time since 2004 and they play at Clear Fork, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, in a first round game on Friday night.

          The Rams (5-5) made the playoffs after a (17-14) win over Wynford in North Central Conference action on Friday night.

          Coach Russell Hall says they had tremendous focus last week.  “It was a great example of playing in a tough game and not panicking.  We did a great job shutting them out in the second half.  This is my 15th year and this is the first time we have won on an end of the game field goal.  So, it is nice to know too that we have that in our pocket should we need it again.  I was really proud of the boys in what we knew would be a challenge.  Their offensive line was very big, very physical and very talented last week,” he said.

          Clear Fork (9-1), #4 in the Swbankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, belted Highland (42-7) last Friday to claim the outright “MOAC” title.  They held the league’s leading rusher Dane Naumann to only 77 yards in the process.

          Hall says Clear Fork is talented at almost every position.  “They are a very talented team.  There is a reason why they won the “MOAC”.  They are a very nice, well balanced team.  They have big, strong linemen that move, they have a couple of different running backs, they have nice receivers, their defensive line is very physical, their linebackers read and fill well and they are great in coverage.  Their special teams are fantastic.  It seems like every game when you follow Clear Fork it seems they had a special teams, kickoff or punt for a touchdown.  So, they are a very, very, very good team and they are ranked where they are because of that,” said Hall.

          The Upper coach says they really have not played a team like Clear Fork this year, but they have seen elements of the Colts from different teams.  “It is a combination actually of Carey’s offensive line with Crawford’s defensive line with some of the best running backs that we have played this year, there was a handful of them.  The same thing with their defense.  It is pretty much like pooling some of the best we have played our entire schedule.  So, we are kind of familiar with how they play. This is probably the most talented team we have played this year, at least on film,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I not trying to put down anybody else that we have played.  They just seem very solid.  Their play at different positions definitely jumps out that we have seen this before, but it was this team’s strongest asset sort of thing.  We have definitely seen the style before.”

 

Published 10/25/22

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St. Paul Welcomes Lisbon

 

          Norwalk St. Paul makes its 11th straight playoff appearance, and their 24th overall, as they host Lisbon is first round playoff game in division VII on Friday night.

          They completed the regular season with a (37-0) win over rival Monroeville on Friday night in Firelands Conference play.

          Coach John Livengood says they had a solid performance.  “We came out and played a good game.  Our kids had the right mindset and played well for all four quarters.  We kind of got in our own way a little bit in the first half with some penalties.  We stopped a couple of our drives with that.  We had a turnover inside the five yard line and came away with no points, but other than that we played really well.  Defensively, we got to the football and limited what Monroeville could do offensively.  Offensively, we put some really nice drives together,” he said.

          St. Paul has two 1,000 yard backs in its backfield this year in fullback Quincey Crabbs (1,790) and halfback Ben Burger (1,166), Crabbs has 20 touchdowns, Burger 17.

          St. Paul (7-3) hosts Lisbon (5-5) on Friday night.  The Blue Devils have lost their last two, including (27-6) to Columbiana on Friday night.  They don’t have a win over a .500 team this year.

          Livengood says they are a team that is going to try and run the ball from a variety of sets.  “Offensively, they remind we a lot of Monroeville with a lot of shotgun, two back sets, they run similar schemes.  They want to be a wing-T scheme, but they do some different things with the power off tackle and iso type stuff out of the shotgun,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “Defensively, they are and odd front.  They do a lot of slanting and angling, that “50” look.  They are a little bigger than us up front and they have linebackers and skilled kids that can run.  So, they are a good football team.  They are young at some positions, but overall they are a really good football team.”

          The Flyers have a (44-22) postseason record under Livengood and he says their approach never changes.  “We don’t change a thing.  Our routine remains the same.  Our approach in terms of what we do day to day in preparation with our coaches and our players is exactly the same as any other week.  So, our kids have become really acclimated to that and that is the expectation,” he said.

 

Published 10/25/22

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Trenches Key For Seneca East

 

          Seneca East heads for Hopewell-Loudon on Friday night for a first round playoff game in division VI.

          The Tigers (7-3) are coming off a (56-12) trashing from Northern 10 Athletic Conference champ Carey last Friday.

          Coach Ed Phillips believes they were competitive in the game.  “We actually came out in the first quarter and had it 14-12 and got the ball back and a shot to go up on them, but they got a stop.  They made all of the plays and they kind of rolled after that, but I think we did some things against them and played as well, especially in the first quarter and a half as most people have in a long time.  So, there were some good that came out of it even though we didn’t finish it.  There was something good, but we just didn’t finish it with them,” said Phillips.

          Hopewell-Loudon (8-2) whipped Gibsonburg (40-23) in the championship of the River Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference last Friday.

          Phillips says they will show a lot of things on offense and be very disciplined on defense.  “They run the ball well on offense.  They throw they throw it well.  They have that balance.  They do some things similar to us in terms of multiple formations.  They are able to go out with one or two tight ends and they are also able to go out and spread you out with three or four wides that are pretty quick and athletic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “Defensively, they are really disciplined.  They have a couple of fronts they throw at you.  They want to cover you up on the edges and not give you much for free.  They will definitely challenge you.”

          Phillips says to get the win, they must win the point of attack and they can’t have a bunch of turnovers.  “We have to play really good up front and we have to tackle well.  Whoever wins the turnover battle is going to have the edge.  We need to win that and take care of the ball on our own,” he said.

 

Published 10/25/22

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Northwestern Plays Really Good Western

 

          Northwestern, the co-champion of the Wayne County Athletic League, plays at home against Western Reserve of the Firelands Conference, in first round playoff game in division VI on Friday night.

          The Huskies (8-2) earned a piece of the “WCAL” title with a (42-10) romp over Waynedale last week.

          Coach Joe Cardinal says it was a game where they needed to be focused and play well and they did that.  “I thought our guys played really, really well.  They knew what the game meant.  We were playing for the “WCAL” co-championship and we were also playing for potentially two home games in the playoffs, which is huge so you don’t have to travel,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I was very, very pleased with our effort and our execution.  We got a bunch of different guys the ball.  I think we had four different guys score.  I thought our defense, minus one series, played lights out.  Just a really good effort.”

          Western Reserve (6-4) beat Garfield Heights Trinity (48-7) in a non-conference game last week for their third straight win.  They have won five of their last six.  Their losses all come to teams with at least six wins.

          Cardinal says this is a physical football team that is very good on both sides of the ball.  “They are a really, really good team for a 13, just really impressive.  They are really physical.  They have a running back and a quarterback that can run the ball incredibly well.  Their defensive line is very stout.  Really, really aggressive kids.  Just really, really well coached as a team.  Play really physical football,” he said.

          On offense, Cardinal says they are very physical and are going to run the ball until they can’t.  “That is kind of their game plan.  They are going to run the football until you stop them.  Their quarterback is a big kid, probably 6’3”, 235 and has an absolute arm too.  They will test you down field.  At the end of the day, they are going to try and run the ball and control the clock.  Their running back does a really good job of breaking it.  He can go for a touchdown anytime,” said Cardinal.

 

Published 10/25/22

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AREA SCHOOLS QUALIFYING FOR PLAYOFFS

 

DIVISION II

Ashland @ Toledo Central Catholic

 

DIVISION III

Aurora at CVCA

New Philadelphia @ Canfield

Rocky River at Tiffin Columbian

Oberlin Firelands at Clyde

Ontario at Mansfield Senior

 

DIVISION IV

Shelby at West Holmes

River Valley at Sandusky Perkins

Upper Sandusky at Clear Fork

Galion at Bellevue

Streetsboro at Northwest

Salem at Canton South

 

DIVISION V

Harrison Central at Norwayne

Orrville at Fairless

Smithville at Garaway

Edison at Huron

Genoa at Oak Harbor

Defiance Tinora at Highland

Fredericktown at Eastwood

Port Clinton at Liberty Center

Wooster Triway @ Perry

Columbus Academy at Centerburg

 

DIVISION VI

Jackson-Milton @ Dalton

Riverdale at Carey

Wayne Trace at Crestview

Western Reserve at Northwestern

Margaretta at Colonel Crawford

Seneca East at Hopewell-Loudon

Mapleton at Columbia

Rock Hill at Loudonville

Mt. Gilead at Worthington Christian

Northmor at Bellaire (Saturday 1:30)

 

DIVISION VII

Windam at Danville

Lisbon Anderson at Norwalk St. Paul

Conotton Valley at Hillsdale

Lucas at Toronto

South Central at Southern

Edgerton at Gibsonburg

Tiffin Calvert at Lima Central Catholic

 
     
 

Shelby Plays Unbeaten West Holmes in Playoffs

 

          Shelby plays at Ohio Cardinal Conference champion West Holmes on Friday night in a first round playoff game in division IV.

          The Whippets (5-5) got in as a #15 seed this year.

          They lost (35-28) to Ontario in game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last Friday.

          They held a (28-14) lead with 8:23 to play in the third quarter, but allowed the Warriors to score three times to take the win.

          Coach Robert Mahaney says they were plagued by the same issues that have been hurting them all year.  “I thought our kids played extremely hard.  We had some things that have hurt us throughout the season continue to hurt us, especially in big moments down the stretch.  We had some missed assignments and some poor execution at times and turnovers.  You credit Ontario, it is a football team that is well coached, and they were more physical than us.  They were able to run the ball really effectively at us and that is a credit to them and what they were able to do.  Our kids fought all of the way to the end.  We had the ball with a chance to tie it, we just came up short.  We fought hard and I was proud of them for that,” said Mahaney.

          Shelby had also allowed Clear Fork to run for 400 yards on week nine.

          Mahaney says the players have to trust each other more.  “A lot of it is we still struggle with our assignments and trusting the guys around us.  Some of that is we have to get kids to buy in.  If you go back and look earlier in the season when we played some good defense, we were able to buy into doing our jobs and trusting the guys around us and I think we have kind of gotten away from that.  If we can get back to that hopefully we can have some success.  Also, we have to be able to match some physicality.  It is something that we have to be able to stress to our kids again to be able to stop them when we play against an extremely good West Holmes team with an extremely good tailback,” he said.

          West Holmes (10-0), the #2 seed in region 14, and #1 in the Swankonports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has won 28 of its last 30 games, including (49-14) over Mt. Vernon last week in “OCC” play.  This season they have averaged 51 points a game.

          They have an excellent tailback in Sam Williams-Dixon, but Mahaney says they have a lot more than just him.  “We were talking about it in our coaching staff meeting (Sunday) night that they would be a really, really good football team without him and then when you add him they are an exceptional football team.  That is why then are third in the “AP” poll and second in the Martin RPI.  They are just a good football team that can run the ball, they have a quarterback that can pass the ball, and they have receivers that can go make plays and their line is big and strong and physical,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “They have all of pieces of a really, really good football team.  We know what we are up against.  We are lucky, there are some teams that don’t get to play this week, but we do.  We have to take advantage of this as a football team and try and go out and enjoy this week together and on Friday, try and play the best that we can.”

          West Holmes beat Shelby last season in a regular season game (51-14) and Mahaney says hey have some familiarity on what to expect.  “We saw how good they were last year.  They were a really good football team.  I think they lost in the final four.  They brought a lot of guys back from that team.  We know the different things they like to do.  They will move Sam Williams-Dixon all over the field and we have to be ready for that.  They are a really, really good screen team in my opinion seeing it live and seeing it up close,” he said.

 

Published 10/24/22

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Crestview Plays for Second Straight Title

 

          Crestview entertains Mapleton on Friday night in Firelands Conference action and a win will give the Cougars an undisputed conference title.

          It would be their second straight such title.

          They put themselves in position to do so by beating Norwalk St. Paul (26-7) last Saturday night in Norwalk in a battle between teams that went into the game unbeaten in the conference.

          Coach Steve Haverdill says they were hitting on all cylinders.  “It was a really good football game.  We knew we were going to get St. Paul’s best effort and we did.  It was a good game throughout.  We were able to pull away there in the fourth quarter to get the win.  I thought our kids played very well handling adversity throughout being in a tight game for most of it and still battling the entire time,” said Haverdill.

          He says a win like that in an environment like that is important for the entire program.  “We hadn’t won there in 20 years, so that is the first time we went to Norwalk St. Paul and got a win in 20 years and that is a feather in the cap for these guys.  We were able to beat them last year for the first time in 10 years and this past week for the first time in 20 years at their place,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Knocking those things off the list is huge and it has allowed the rest of our program to understand that we can beat these guys and beat them at their own place as well.”

          Crestview (9-0,5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays host to Mapleton (6-3,3-2) on Friday night.  The Mounties blitzed Monroeville (53-29) last week and have won their last three.

          Haverdill calls Mapleton dangerous.  “They run that shotgun wing-T and have guys moving all over the place.  They want your eyes in the backfield and watching motion guys, so we have to be very disciplined.  This is a team that if we are not ready to go, they can upset us on our field.  We are going to do everything in our power to battle these guys and that way we can send our seniors out on senior night with a win,” said Haverdill.

          They already can add conference champs to their list of accomplishments, but Haverdill says they want it outright.  “I explained to the guys before that we don’t want to share anything.  Sharing and stuff like that puts a bad taste in your mouth.  So, we want it outright and we are going to go out there and battle for it (Friday) night,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/22

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Mansfield Senior Wants to be Physical With Madison

 

          Mansfield Senior plays across town on Friday night against the rival Madison Rams in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          The Tygers (7-2,5-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, has won their last five, including (35-0) over Mt. Vernon last week.

          Assistant coach Sean Adams says on defense they were pretty solid, but again they left too many points on the field.  “It was good to get another league win.  I think defensively we were able to settle in and kind of hone in on what they want to do.  Once that happened and we took that away, there wasn’t much more they could do.  Offensively, I thought we played well.  We ran the ball well again and made some key passes.  I think we left some points on the field too.  I think we had a punt return called back, we had a pick 6 called back, and I believe there was another touchdown of some sort that was called back.  So, we can’t afford to leave those points on the field,” said Adams.

          Madison (1-8,1-5) lost (28-10) to Lexington last week.

          They have a new coach in former Ashland head coach Scott Valentine.  Adams says the Tygers have had some great battles over the years with coach Valentine.  “It is not really a new regime.  We have had some great battles with coach (Scott) Valentine over the years and his staff.  I think a lot of those fellows are with him.  It has been a real joy in my career at least that we have been able to coach against some great coaches and coach Valentine is one of them.  We have had some great battles.  I don’t think that just because he is at Madison now instead of Ashland that that is going to change,” he said.

          Adams says when it comes to game plan, you are never sure what you are going to get form Valentine and his staff.  “They always come at us with some stuff that makes you ponder what we are going to do against it.  There has been a lot of discussion on should we do this or should we do that.  We don’t know exactly when they are going to come out with because every time we have played them it is something different.  So, we have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Valentine and his staff and Madison.  Our kids are hungry.  They want to beat Madison and move on to next week on a high note,” he said.

          Even this year at Madison, Adams says the Rams have shown a lot of looks on offense.  “They get under there and they like to run the ball some with their running backs, they have a couple.  They run a jet sweep.  Their quarterback throws a nice ball and what he is able to do to make some runs.  They run a little zone read with him and you have to be disciplined on the back side.  They just have a couple of different ways they can exploit you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We have to play sound fundamental defense.  Once we do find the ball we have to arrive with bad intentions and hit like we have never hit before.  That is something we are really trying to strive for is to really hit this week, so we can carry that on to the next and see what happens.”

 

Published 10/21/22

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Bellevue Expects Good Test form Clyde

 

          Bellevue hosts Clyde in the annual week 10 “Route 20 Rivalry” on Friday night at BAF in play in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Both teams have earned playoff sports again this year, Bellevue in division IV and Clyde in division III.

          The Redmen (6-3,2-2) beat Sandusky (34-14) last week in division play.

          Coach Ed Nasonti says they responded well when Sandusky made a run at them in the third quarter.  “At one point in the first minute of the third quarter after they returned a kick on us it was 14 up and then we went for it on fourth down and didn’t get it, so Sandusky had the ball and the momentum with a 14 all game.  Our defense stepped up and caused a turnover and got the ball and felt we started rolling after that.  We got in the grove, but it was a good ballgame,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Like I said, going into the game, I thought Sandusky had some really nice players and a good offensive line.  We tell our kids every week you have to respect who you play and we are going to get everybody’s best shot and that is the way it has been this year.  It was a good ballgame and we are glad to come out on top.”

          Clyde also (6-3,2-2) last week beat Norwalk (35-28) in Lake Division action.

          Nasonti says Clyde has developed strongly again and he has great respect for Ryan Carter and his staff.  “Their kids play really hard and I think they have an outstanding coaching staff over there and we have the upmost respect for them and how they do things.  I think they have done a good job trying to tailor their offense and their defense to their talent level.  It has been a really good rivalry.  I think we have enjoyed it.  I think if you talk to their coaches, you talk to our coaches, we have enjoyed the rivalry.  It has been a solid game.  I think there is mutual respect between the programs,” said Nasonti.

          Nasonti feels this game is good preparation for the playoffs, which begin next week.  “Ever since they moved this game to week 10, we felt that way.  It has always been a great atmosphere, it is a playoff atmosphere.  We are looking forward to it.  The kids have worked hard all year to be in this position and we are expecting a good ballgame,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/22

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Huron Must Take Care of Business

 

          Huron is at home for Edison in contest in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

          A win by either would give them a chance to share the division title with Oak Harbor, who plays Port Clinton on Friday.  A win by the Rockets gives them the outright title.

          Last week, the Tigers (7-2,3-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, got a late field goal from Cam Manner and beat Port Clinton (27-26) on Friday.

          Coach Sam Hohler says it was a great win for them.  “Port Clinton had a really nice run last year in the playoffs.  They got beat in the state semifinals and they returned a lot of those kids from last year.  It was their last home game for their seniors,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “So, for us to go over there and find a way to win against a quality opponent was really huge for us.”

          Edison (6-3,3-1) smoked Vermilion (55-7) on Friday night in division action.

          The Chargers run the triple option offense and Hohler says that is something you almost never see except when you play Edison.  “They are one of the few teams in the area that run it.  They are really good at what they do.  It is just not something you see a whole lot of anymore,” he said.

          Hohler says he tells players on defense not to try and do too much, just do their job each play.  “Again, when you don’t see it all of the time it is hard to impress on your kids that they have one job to do and they have to stay focused on that,” he said.

          Hohler reminds the first thing that must happen if they are going to get a piece of the title is they have to beat Edison on Friday night.  “It is a rivalry game for us.  Our districts are right next to one another.  The kids, coaches and families all know one another really well.  If we have any chance of winning a league title, we just have to take care of our own business first and get a win against Edison to make that happen,” said Hohler.

 

Published 10/21/22

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Northmor Must Execute

 

          Northmor needs a win on Friday night to assure themselves of a division VI playoff berth as they play at Loudonville in a game in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference this week.

          Right now, they stand in 14th place in division VI, region 23.  The top 16 get in.

          Last week, they were blasted (49-13) by conference leader Centerburg.

          Coach Scott Armrose says Centerburg is really good and they didn’t play very well.  “They are a really good football team.  We didn’t do things well, again, and made them look really good, but they are good football team, and they out executed us and outplayed us and that is what happened,” he said.

          Northmor won their first four games, but since that they have lost four of five.

          Armrose says they haven’t executed the way they are capable.  “We just have to take care of the little things we took care of early in the season.  We have had guys in and out of the line up all year and we can use all of the excuses we want for why things haven’t gone our way in the second half, but it comes down to execution and we haven’t executed and we haven’t played the way we are capable of,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “Our last Thursday night practice of the regular season is an emotional one, or senior final practice.  We talked about just going out here at the end of the season in week 10 and hopefully week 11 and going out and playing the way we can and see what we are capable to doing.”

          Northmor (5-4,2-4) visits Loudonville (5-4,3-3) on Friday.  The Redbirds beat East Knox (49-8) last week and they have won their last three.

          Armrose says they feature a defense that the Golden Knights have struggled against.  “They are athletic.  They have a good combination offensively.  They have a really good quarterback and he is a junior and he will be back again.  He can sling it and he can run it.  They combo that with some really good receivers and a good running back.  They are a tough offense to stop.  Defensively, they are another one of the stack teams.  We have struggled with those teams a little bit this season, so we have worked really hard on that this week,” he said.

          A win guarantees Northmor makes the postseason and Armrose says they just want to keep going to practice.  “We just want to keep playing football.  We are having a lot of fun, we are finally healthy.  We just want to keep things going as long as we possibly can.  It is all about our seniors at this point.  We want their football careers to continue and extend as long as possible.  When we get knocked out, we want it to be because it was a better football team and not because we didn’t execute,” said Armrose.

 

Published 10/21/22

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Lexington Wants Playoff Berth

 

          Lexington plays over at Ashland in a game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Friday night and a win gives them a chance to make the division III playoffs.

          Right now, the Minutemen stand in 17th place in division III, region 10 and not even a win would guarantee they have a week 11.

          They gave themselves a chance with a (28-10) win over Madison last Friday.

          Coach Andrew Saris says the win felt good.  “It is always great to get a conference win like that against a rival in Madison.  It was great for our seniors to go out on their home field.  A great overall team win,” he said.

          Lexington (3-6,3-3) takes the bus to Ashland (5-4,3-3) on Friday night.  Ashland edged Wooster (26-21) in an “OCC” game last Friday.

          Saris says the Arrows have a lot of speed and they are going to try to force you to tackle them in space.  “Their speed kind of sticks out, they seem really fast,” he told Swankonsports.com om Thursday night, “I know offensively, they do a good job of putting you in positions where you have to win one on one matchups in order to stop whatever they are trying to do whether it is their run game or their quick game out on the pass.  They do a lot of multiple things, but run the ball really well.”

          It would help Lexington if Wooster could beat Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joe Friday night.  It seems rather remote that Mt. Vernon could upset unbeaten West Holmes.

          Saris says they want to give their seniors a chance to play again next week.  “I put out again to the seniors that it is your destiny.  What do want to be able to do?  Do you want to continue the season and give yourself the opportunity to put yourself in the playoffs and shock some people and always give yourself that chance.  So, we are going to go out Friday and give everything we have to for these guys to be able to continue their careers and get at least another week of football in,” said Saris.

 

Published 10/21/22

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Norwayne Must Play With Passion

 

          Norwayne attempts to bounce back this week as they host Smithville in a Wayne County Athletic League game on Friday night.

          The Bobcats were thrashed (41-16) by Dalton last week in league action.  They feel a game behind the Bulldogs and Northwestern for the league lead.

          Coach Adam Indorf says thy were beaten at the point of attack.  “In the second half they continued to run the ball on us and control the line of scrimmage.  Just little things here and there that we need to improve upon.  What we have preached all year is do your job,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “Out of gap here, eye discipline, not wrapping up and not controlling the line of scrimmage.  Those kinds of things snowballed on us in the second half.  We have to improve that this week.”

          Norwayne (6-3,4-2) hosts Smithville (6-3,3-3) on Friday night.  The Smithies destroyed Rittman (52-0) last week.

          Indorf says Smithville plays hard and will offer a big challenge.  “The Smithies are doing a great job of playing with passion, playing with fire.  They have a good run-pass mixture to try and keep you off balance with some “RPO” stuff.  On defense, we just have to be able to do our job, be gap sound, make sure we are doing everything we need to do to be successful and being aggressive at the point of attack,” said Indorf.

          Norwayne has already clinched a division V playoff berth.

          Indorf says they need to get back to play good football after last week.  “We are hoping to have a little rebound from last week and make sure we are doing our jobs and getting after the Smithville Smithies (Friday) night.  We need to bring some energy and some passion and play with some fire in the belly,” he said.

 

Published 10/21/22

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Clear Fork Must be Very Good on Defense

 

          Clear Fork is at Highland for the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference championship game against the Scots on Friday night.

          Both are unbeaten in the league and to the winner go all of the spoils.

          Last week, the Colts (8-1,6-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, throttled Shelby (61-19) to remain unbeaten in the conference.

          They employed a 3-3 stack defense and coach Dave Carroll says they did a tremendous job.  “I can’t say enough about our kids and the way they played.  They were fired up.  Since we won, we have a home playoff game, but at the time it could be the last time our seniors played on that field.  They were incredibly excited and ready to go.  They bought into our game plan.  Dave Stupka, our defensive coordinator, just did an outstanding job of covering all bases and came up with a good scheme against what those guys do and our kids executed it very, very well,” he said.

          Quarterback Victor Skoog ran for 233 yards and four scores and the Colts ran for a school record 400 yards.

          Carroll says they did the job up front.  “Offensively, I thought we had quite few rushing yards, you never know during the course of the game.  We end up with 400 yards rushing, which is a new school record.  It breaks the record from 2010 when we had McCune and Slavinski and all of those guys when we had 380 yards rushing against Ashland.  That is something to hang your hat on.  I’m an old offensive lineman, tight end in high school and tackle in college.  When you have that kind of yards rushing the boys up front our doing something, not to take anything away from the guys running the football, but a lot of that is the guys up front.  It was fun, we hadn’t beaten Shelby in quite a while and it was good to get that one,” said Carroll.

          Highland (7-2,6-0) blew out River Valley (42-21) in a conference game last week.

          Carroll says they have an outstanding run game led by the “MOAC’s” leading rusher Dane Nauman (2,199 yards and 27 touchdowns) and fullback Chandler Stevens.  “Their fullback, #44, is a very good blocker number one.  He lays the lumber on people.  He runs the fullback trap incredibly well.  He does a great job.  They will run Nauman, Nauman, Nauman, and you start keying on him, and he breaks the trap backside for a big 30, 40 yard game.  He is a 200 pound back that runs angry.  He plays defense and I think he is one of best players they have period.  They can throw the ball.  The choose to run the ball because they have probably a division one back, I would say he is a division one back, but I am not a college coach.  This kid is special,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “You are going to run that guy time and time again and kick the ball to some other guys.  You know this kid can break it at any time because he is so hard to tackle and is elusive.  He has a tremendous stiff arm.  He bounces it and takes off.  He is just one of those special kids like when we had Jordan McCune back in 2010 and everyone that watched him play knew he was a different breed of football player, expect this kid is 215 pounds and he is only a junior.”

          To contain the Highland run game, Carroll says they have to have great pursuit and be tremendous tacklers.  “We have not seen the secret to stopping this guy, I don’t think anybody has.  You have to get 11 guys to the ball and you have to tackle incredibly well.  There aren’t too many kids that can tackle him one on one.  That’s what is impressive.  It takes three, four, five guys to fly to the football.  You have to play with tremendous hustle and heart and read your keys and fly to the football or he will do the damage, he is just that good,” he said.

          Carroll adds their defense has to take pride in stopping Highland from running it all over them.  “Our kids are tough.  Clear Fork prides itself of playing good defense through the years.  Earlier in the year, I wasn’t very happy with some of our defensive play throughout the season.  The last couple of weeks we have talked about Gary Beal and about Clear Fork football and what it means to be tough and be physically tough on defense and hitting people and getting to the ball.  Our kids have really taken that to heart the last couple of weeks,” he told Swankonsports.com, “The last two weeks we have had the best defense that we have played all year.  We are clicking and improving at the right time.  That is what hope for with a football team.  Sometimes you have teams that plateau week five, six or seven and I think our kids play on both sides of the ball and somewhat in special teams have been getting better and that is a sign of their football character.”

 

Published 10/20/22

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Lucas Has to Clean up Mistakes

 

          Lucas concludes regular season play on the road at Arlington of the Blanchard Valley Conference on Friday night.

          The Cubs have already clinched a division VII playoff spot, but would like to improve their seed.

          Last week, they lost at Fort Loramie (34-17) on Friday night.

          Coach Scott Spitler says they made big mistakes at the wrong time.  “We just didn’t do a good job of finishing drives offensively.  We had the ball three times inside the 20, twice inside the 10, and had some snap exchange issues that took us out of scoring opportunities.  Two were turnovers and one was such a big loss we couldn’t recover from it.  So, it is just those little inconsistencies and self-inflicted wounds that we have been doing off and one at different times all season and they just have to get cleaned up,” he said.

          Spitler says when you play the kind of schedule they do week in and week out you just can’t have those kinds of mistakes.  “Our schedule is what it is.  We have a quality schedule, but we expect to be in those games and win those games against good football teams.  Your error window is so small against teams like that and until we learn to finalize those things and clean up those things, we are not going to get over that hump in tight games against good opponents.  We play that schedule for a reason,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We know that win or lose it is going to make us a better team and a better program and we are going to be battle tested if we can earn the opportunity to get in the postseason.  Even with dropping a few tight games this season, we were able to clinch a playoff spot last week.  So, we just need to get back on that consistency and tighten those things up before the postseason next week.”

          Lucas (4-5) plays at Arlington (8-1) on Friday night.  The Red Devils beat Van Buren (35-10) last week.

          Spitler says this a very good program that runs a very sophisticated option game.  “They are a very good football program, they are well coached.  We played them back in the first round of the playoffs in 2016 and it was one point game, we lost (21-20) to them.  So, we know the quality program that they are.  They have nice size and length in the trenches and good skilled kids.  They run an option attack that you don’t see a lot of.  Hillsdale is an option attack, but the way Arlington does it slightly different.  It stresses you a little more with their formations.  We have some experience to fall back on against Hillsdale.  We just have to be very disciplined and read our keys.  Offensively, we have to stay on track and quit shooting ourselves in the foot to have a chance with these guys,” said Spitler.

 

Published 10/20/22

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Ontario Plays for Playoffs

 

          Ontario travels to Shelby to play the Whippets for a chance to make the postseason playoffs in a game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          Both teams are in the same situation, if they win, they are part of the postseason, of not there is a chance they are not.  It is fair to say that Shelby would have a better chance of still qualifying if they lose.

           A (38-6) win over Marion Harding last week gave the Warriors a second straight win.

          Coach Aaron Eckert says that has injected some confidence in the team.  “We have been a team of streaks this year.  We did start off with three wins, we drop four in a row, and now we have won our last two, so moral is pretty high and kids are excited again.  It is good to get back on those winning ways and hopefully get batter each week,” he said.

          Ontario (5-4,2-4) plays at Shelby (5-4,3-3) on Friday night.  The Whippets were hammered (61-19) by “MOAC” co-leader Clear Fork last week.

          Eckert says Shelby has a lot of explosive weapons on offense.  “Shelby is impressive.  They are a tradition rich school with a lot of football pride.  You look at that team and they probably have the best receiver in the conference in the Ramsey kid, who is over 1,000 yards receiving after eight games and you look at their freshman quarterback and what he has been able to do.  He has thrown for 2,000 yards as a freshmen, kind of unheard of in the area,” he told Swnakonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “They have a big offensive line and two tailbacks that run hard, the Winters kids especially has kind of come on, has over 500 yards rushing.  The other kids that they have are athletic kids.  So, offensively, they are able to put up points.”

          Shelby has surrendered some points this year, but a lot of that has been related to turnovers, and Eckert says they have players on defense too.  “Defensively, they are pretty disciplined in what they do.  They are big up front and their linebackers run well.  They always have athletic kids in the secondary.  From a talent standpoint, they are very talented and it will be a good matchup for us on Friday,” he said.

          Eckert says there is a lot play for on Friday night.  “There is a lot on the line.  The first thing is it is a cross county rivalry, we are neighbors, our districts butt up against each other, not separated by very far.  The second thing, winner guarantees themselves a winning record for the year with their sixth win.  To top it off, whoever wins is definitely in the playoffs.  So, there is a lot to play for and anytime you can get to this point of year and have something to play for week 10, your kids should be excited to do that.  Hopefully, we are Friday as we got out there and try and beat the Whippets,” said Eckert.

 

Published 10/20/22

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Perkins Can Win it Outright

 

          Sandusky Perkins will win the title outright in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with a win on Friday night at home against the Sandusky Blue Streaks.

          The Pirates (8-1,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, belted Tiffin Columbian (31-14) last week breaking the tie with Columbian for first place.  It gave them at least a piece of their first title since 2013.

          Coach Jalen Santoro says they showed some new wrinkles.  “We played a petty complete game in all three phases offense, defense and special teams.  We came out and did some different things that favored us a little bit as far as the offense and defense went,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Some stuff that we have been working on all year.  Some stuff that we finally got to showcase last Friday.  Overall, it was a well played game.  Tiffin is a really good football team, so for us to go out and play like that against Tiffin it is probably our best game so far.”

          Perkins has won its last five games and Santoro believes they are beginning to peak at the right time of the season.  “We have been telling the kids that you want to play your best football at this time of the year.  That is something that we have been preaching as well going into this week.  We had a big win last week, but after Saturday morning was done and watching film it was time to forget that and move on to Sandusky,” he said.

          Sandusky (3-6,1-3) lost (34-14) to Bellevue in Lake Division action last Friday.

          However, Santoro say they have a lot of game breakers that they must contain on Friday night.  “They do a good job of getting athletes in space.  They have some athletes that if you are not tackling in space or if you not crowding them at the line of scrimmage they can make you pay.  They have athletes all over the field.  We have to do a great job tackling in space and gang tackling whoever has the ball,” said Santoro.

 

Published 10/20/22

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Madison Plays Rival Mansfield Senior

 

          Madison entertains arch rival Mansfield Senior on Friday night in a game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Last week, the Rams (1-8,1-5) fell to Lexington (28-10) in an “OCC” game.

          Coach Scott Valentine says again they had problems scoring when they got down close.  “We went out there and moved the ball some and got an early lead, but then they got a few big plays and we would get it down and couldn’t get it in the end zone.  Those are things that we would struggle with all year.  We have to find a way to get it in the end zone and get ourselves points,” said Valentine.

          Mansfield Senior (7-2,5-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, shutout Mt. Vernon (35-0) in an “OCC” game on Friday.

          Valentine says they show athleticism on both sides of the ball.  “They are definitely a good football team, there is no doubt about that.  They are very athletic, have great speed.  Defensively, they cover the field and get after you with blitzes.  Then offensively, they have all of the big play capability whether it is outside throwing and catching or getting a big run.  There are a lot of things you have to worry about and get ready for,” he said.

          When it comes to the Tyger defense, Valentine says they will be forced to execute against some aggressive man to man.  “What we try to do is get one more in the box than you have.  So, if you have four receivers out, they are going to match your four.  So, they are playing a lot of man with a combination of some guys double teaming, so they can keep a guy close to the box in the run game.  They have a great defensive scheme.  It is just something you have to figure our how you are going to attack it,” he said.

          This is the “Battle of Mansfield” and Valentine says he has gotten a fresh perspective on its importance.  “It is one of those things where you want to throw the records out the window because you don’t know.  People from both communities know what is at stake as far as winning the game.  I sat down with Sean Conway and Matt Godsil and some of the old coaches,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “I knew what the rivalry was from being the coach at Ashland, but I got an opportunity to talk to them about where it is at and stuff like that.  I get a different perspective on the rivalry from talking to them.”

 

Published 10/20/22

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Northwestern Goes for League Title

 

          Northwestern shares the Wayne County Athletic League lead with Dalton and Friday night they travel to Waynedale with an opportunity to claim no less than a share. Of the title.

          Dalton plays at Chippewa and would be a heavy favorite to win.

          The Huskies (7-2,5-1) held on to beat Hillsdale (17-12) in a league game last week to remain in first.

          Coach Joe Cardinal says they were focused on what they had to do.  “Our kids have been in a lot of those games now this year, just those tight games.  They don’t wavier, they don’t break, they just do a really good job of trying to go play by play and staying the course.  Credit to Hillsdale as well.  They just didn’t give up and kept fighting,” said Cardinal.

          The Huskies count a lot on the play of quarterback Ethan Siders and Cardinal says he is most often up the challenge.  “He is absolutely amazing.  He is a great kid with really, really high character an really coachable.  If a play needs to be made, he will do everything he can to make that play for sure.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without Ethan,” he said.

          Waynedale (3-6,2-4) beat Chippewa (27-6) last week in a league game.

          Cardinal says they do a lot of good things on offense.  “They have a multiple offense.  They can run and throw.  Their scheme is really good.  They use formations to spread you out a little bit.  They come at you running off tackle a little bit and doing some inside “iso”.  They are really good with their pass game and how they move their receivers around.  With our defense, we are going to really be on our game and read our keys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Defensively, their linebackers flow incredibly well to the ball.  I think their secondary is incredibly well coached.  They just seem to be in the right spots and making plays.”

          Cardinal says, honestly, they have always had a league title in the back of their mind.  “It is kind of something we talked about at the beginning of the year.  We always try and take it one week at a time and go 1-0.  We always say if we go 1-0 enough, we will put ourselves in a good spot at the end of the year.  I would be lying if I said if I didn’t say at the beginning of the year when I sat down with the seniors that was one of the goals coming in was to win the “WCAL”.  They have done a really good job of putting ourselves in that spot and hopefully we can pull out one more,” said Cardinal.

 

Published 10/20/22

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Colonel Crawford Plays Rival Buckeye Central

 

          Colonel Crawford, headed to the division VI playoffs next week, hosts rival Buckeye Central in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

          The Eagles (7-2,4-2) smoked Mohawk (48-6) last Friday night in “N10” play.

          It was (28-0) before all the fans had their seats and coach Jake Bruner says it was good effort on both sides.  “We felt good about our performance and how our kids came out and played right away and got off to a good start, so we were happy with that,” he said.

          With the postseason pending, Bruner feels they are stating to peak as a football team.  “We talk about it every day at getting better at things we point out.  We have to tighten up things.  We hope we are, we think we are, but sometimes you just don’t know until you are there,” said Bruner.

          Buckeye Central (3-6,0-6) lost in a close one to Bucyrus (37-34) last Friday night in “N10” play.

          Bruner says the Bucks will show up and play hard and they are going to have to be ready and play well if they are going to win.  “Number one, they are a much better team that they were a year ago.  Chad Jensen has done a great job and they started 3-0.  They lost a close one last week to Bucyrus.  It is a rival game for us down 602.  We knew we are going to get their best effort,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “It is not out of our minds a couple of years ago, we went over to Buckeye Central and they were beating us at halftime.  It wasn’t that far away.  We know how hard they will play against us and are a big rival for us.”

 

Published 10/20/22

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Plymouth Ends Regular Season With South Central

 

          Plymouth plays at South Central on Friday night in a Firelands Conference game.

          The Big Red (3-6,1-4) has an outside chance of earning a division VII playoff spot, but they would have to win and get a lot of help to qualify.

          Last week, they were overwhelmed (55-7) by (8-1) McComb in non-conference play.

          Coach Mark Genders says they played a really good team.  “Like a lot of teams at this time of the year, we are extremely banged up.  I will tell you this other than the 2009 and 2014 St. Paul teams, that is the best team that I have coached against in my 16 years at Plymouth.  They were really good,” he said.

          Plymouth’s leading rusher Shea Sparks is not expected to play in this game on Friday night.

          South Central (3-6,1-4) lost (42-12) to Western Reserve last week in a conference game.

          Genders says they are hard to stop.  “We are completely two opposite approaches.  We have known that and competed in some of the most competitive games over the last few years.  Their timing on their “RPO’s” in their passing attack is really so solid.  Their line blocks it so well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “This year especially with Mitchell being such a veteran, solid quarterback, they have been able to run the ball better.  They just attack you in so many different ways.  I know they have been hit by the injury bug as well.”

          When you end the season with a rival like this, Genders says it is always special.  “It is a big rival game. It is a lot of fun for both communities, I know that.  We are looking forward to it.  It is going to be bittersweet, the last game and all.  It’s a rival game and that is the way we are looking at it,” said Genders.

 

Published 10/20/22

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