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  Joining us this morning on “Sports Saturday” are high school boys’ basketball coaches Troy Schwemley of Shelby, Michael Snowbarger of Wooster, Ed Rich of Bellevue, Jason Engel of Wynford and Eric Hoover of Old Fort. Plus, pieces from Friday night with Tim Mergel of Madison, Mike Smith of Norwalk St. Paul, Joe Bedingfield of Willard, and Steve Gray of Norwalk. Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports on the Browns and Indians and Kevin Noon, publisher of buckeyegrove.com, on all things Ohio State. The show runs from 10 AM to 1 PM on www.swanonsports.com  
     
 

Rams Want to Beat Height Down the Floor

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Tim Mergel

With losses in their first conference games last week, Friday’s Ohio Cardinal Conference matchup between Madison and Ashland at Madison is going to be pretty important for both teams.

Madison lost (55-51) to Mt. Vernon last Friday in their “OCC” opener, but bounced back with a (75-51) win at Norwalk in a non-league game on Saturday night.

Coach Tim Mergel says they had more of a balanced attack. “It was nice to bounce back so quickly after the night before. We like to use learning situations and that was evident against Mt. Vernon. I think the big thing against Norwalk was some other guys got involved. We were able to knock down some shots early and guys kind of settled in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think the first two games Mason (Campbell) and Kyle (Jackson) were right around 75 percent of our offense and that wasn’t the case against Norwalk on Saturday. If we get that type of effort we are going to be a tough out each and every night.”

Because of the abilities of their two leading scorers, Mergel says the other three kids on the floor at the time are going to get open looks. “We have talked about being shot ready and having in your mind what is next. We have been preaching to the kids that was are going to get open shots for other guys because of the attention those two are going to receive. They are good enough basketball players no matter how much attention they receive they are going to get points. It is going to open up some opportunities for some other guys. The other night we were able to take advantage of it and hopefully that carries over,” he said.

Madison (1-2,0-1) hosts Ashland (0-2,0-1) on Friday night. The Arrows have lost Sandusky (65-54) in a non-league game and last week to defending “OCC” champ Wooster (54-48) at their place.

Mergel says they are big. “They have two losses, but they are not are not a winless basketball team. They have 6’7”, 6’6”, 6’5”, 6’4” and they have a group where four of the five present some problems to you if you want to get inside and score. They have played some pretty good teams. We have to do our best to try and attack them and make them work a little bit. I don’t think they are a very deep team. I think pace is going to be pretty important for us,” he said.

Although, they may not be a team that wants to push the pace all of the time, Mergel says they want to get down the floor on Friday night. “We do pick and choose when we want to run. I don’t it is any secret and coach Hess knows we are going to try and beat them up the floor. I think the more that we can dictate that pace the better success we are going to have. Ashland with their height they present such a challenge for us to score on them. It kind of goes back to the philosophy that if you aren’t very good against a zone beat it down the floor. We are not very good against height and we have to beat the height up the floor,” said Mergel.

Published 12/15/17

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Colonel Crawford Working on Defense

Click here to listen to an interview with coach David Sheldon

It’s a double weekend in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference for the Colonel Crawford Eagles as they host Mohawk on Friday and travel to rival Wynford on Saturday.

They won a crucial early season game in the league last Saturday when they downed a talented Carey team (71-56) in the league opener for both. That was after losing (66-63) to Northmor in overtime last Wednesday.

Coach David Sheldon says they played pretty well in protecting their home floor. “We were really happy with the way we bounced back. Carey is definitely a very good basketball team. They tied for second in the league last year with us and has everybody back and it was a good win. I have always said to stay in a league race you have to protect your home floor. We did that last Saturday night. It was a good start to a 16 game process in our league. I was very happy with our guys after a tough loss. Got off to a good start in our league,” he said.

A team as talented as the Eagles has a lot of solid attributes, but Sheldon says what pleases him most is their ability to create tempo. “I think the way we are pushing the basketball. We are averaging 66 points a game and this team has done a good job pushing tempo. We you have guys that can score on all five spots on the floor it is tough to guard. When you push tempo it is tough for defenses to set up no matter what defense they are in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively that is where we are still trying to get better, but I thought in the second half Saturday night we did a good job of getting stops and we were able to push the lead up and end up winning by 15. So, that is the area that we have to keep getting better is the defensive end. The way we have pushed the basketball has been fantastic.”

Colonel Crawford (2-1,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, entertains Mohawk (1-1,1-0) on Friday night. The Warriors buried Buckeye Central (61-43) in their league opener.

Sheldon says this is a team with experience and talent. “It is a very good basketball team. Their starting five are five lettermen back that got to the district tournament last year. This is a very good team. They have guard play, they have post play inside. They have some depth last year getting to a district tournament. It is going to be a challenge. Last year, the second time we played them it was a very close game. We are looking forward to the opportunity. It is at our place. We have to be able to defend guards and posts all night long. They have showed a lot of zone defense as well as a little man. We haven’t seen any zone this year, so that has been in our preparation in getting ready for anything they could throw at us,” said Sheldon.

The coach takes the Eagles into his alma mater on Saturday night as they visit Wynford (2-0,1-0) to play the Royals. Wynford beat Bucyrus (61-46) last week in “N10” play.

Sheldon says they have some talent and road games are never easy. “When you look at Wynford they are undefeated right now. The (Josh) Crall kid is an exceptional player. He is averaging 24 a game. They return the (Cole) Heinlen boy and (Caleb) Rausch as well. They are off to a great start and playing with a lot of confidence. They play Ridgedale Friday night. It is a team with a lot of confidence and we have to go over to their place on a back to back league week. After Friday night you have to have good focus and chance the tune come Saturday morning,” said Sheldon.

Published 12/15/17

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Wooster Working Out Kinks

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Michael Snowbarger

Wooster is the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion and they have played pretty well this year most times and good enough to win every time, but once.

They play at home against Mt. Vernon in a conference game on Friday night.

They started on the road last Friday in league play against Ashland and beat the Arrows (54-48) in beginning defense of their conference title.

Coach Michael Snowbarger says they didn’t shoot it well at all, but they did enough to get the win against a good team. “Especially on the road against a very talented Ashland team. It was ugly after watching the tape I confirmed it was ugly. We didn’t shoot well from the perimeter or the free throw line, but to come away with a win at a very tough place to play at Ashland against a very talented team in the conference opener was definitely a plus,” said Snowbarger.

On Tuesday night, the Generals lost for the first time when Copley beat them (70-67) in a non-conference game. Snowbarger says they had a chance to win and believes they will learn from the experience. “Copley was a great out of conference game for us. We were down one with the ball with 11 seconds and set up a play and got caught with a moving screen. It could have gone either way. To play a team like Copley out of conference, early in the season is definitely beneficial for us as we continue to move on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Copley is very athletic. They get up and guard you have to handle your pressure. We paid for that, but again now the kids know what they need to do to get better and make the next step.”

Wooster (3-1,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at home against Mt. Vernon (3-1,1-0) on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets beat Madison (55-51) in overtime last week. Their first loss came Saturday to Westerville South (60-46) in a non-conference game.

Snowbarger says the Jackets have some players they are concerned with. “Mt. Vernon has definitely gotten better. They went on the road last week and played a very good Madison team and were able to beat them. Collin Barteau is a very good player. We are going to have to find him in transition. If we leave him open from three he is definitely going to hurt us. Kaden Daniels, their point guard, is a great athlete, both on the football field and the basketball court. We just have to limit his dribble drives,” he said.

Published 12/15/17

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Big Weekend for South Central

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Brett Seidel

South Central has shown some good things so far this season, but this weekend is going to be a test for the Trojans in a number of ways.

They play rival New London on Friday and a young and inexperienced Mapleton team on Saturday, both at home.

Coach Brett Seidel says these two games are going to say a lot. “I think this is where we find out who we are. New London has played three quality opponents in Edison, Wellington and Western. We have them on Friday night and then another conference game on Saturday for a double conference weekend. We kind out who is for real and who is not,” said Seidel.

South Central (2-1,1-0) hosts New London (0-3,0-1) on Friday night. The Wildcats lost a tough one (54-51) to Western Reserve last Friday in their league opener.

Seidel says this is a team that is pretty good and improving. “I have seen them on film. Edison is a load, who beat Sandusky Perkins. Obviously, the second half against Western was really good for them as well. Tom (Howell) does a great job so they are going to continue to get better. The inexperience that they have at their positions they are going to get better as the year goes on and Tom is going to have them ready to play,” he said.

Karson Howell is the Wildcats best player right now. Seidel says they have to know where he is at all times. “I think they are aware of that as well. He torched us last year home. Hit big shot after big shot down the stretch. He has gotten bigger, he has gotten stronger. He can score in multiple ways and he gets to the rim now, so he presents a problem. He never stops moving. He wants the ball and everything is kind of geared for him. We are going to have to be locked in and ready to go and guard him as a team,” said Seidel.

Mapleton (0-3,0-1) lost to Crestview (68-41) in their first Firelands Conference game of the season last Friday.

Seidel says this is a game when they are going to have to be focused. “You kind of view it as a trap game,” he told Swankonsports,com on Thursday, “We have a team on paper that we should be better than. They only have two returners with varsity experience at all. One of their best guards is having shoulder surgery in Pharmer. The kids they do have they are going to come out and play and play hard. They don’t care what the score is. That is a trap game for us with having a rival game on Friday night against New London and them having to come back on Saturday against Mapleton. The focus mentally has to be there throughout.”

Published 12/15/17

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Flames Want to Play Faster

Click here to listen to an interview with coach John Kurtz

Mansfield Christian is not exactly the Cavs when it comes to tempo, but they certainly want to play faster than their opponent Friday night in Kidron Central Christian and that is going to be a big key to the game.

The Flames (1-2,0-1) visit the Comets for a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night.

Christian picked up its first win last Saturday when they downed Hillsdale (61-56) in a non-league game. Coach John Kurtz says it was at least a tiny step in the right direction. “We finally played a little bit better. We still feel like we haven’t put a lot of things together as a team. We have shown signs of that a little bit this week in practice. We got a win and that was good for our kids. It was just good to get the monkey off your back so to speak and move forward,” he said.

Inconsistency has been the big problem for the Flames. Kurtz says there has been too many low spots when it comes to scoring. “Kind of how we have played in every game early on we tend to have little spurts where we play really well. I think we got up to a 12 to 15 point lead against Hillsdale. Then had a two, three minute spell in the third quarter when we didn’t play so well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Just being consistent and making shots you know you can make. Those things all play into that. We still have some kids that are pretty young with this group. They are feeling their way around a little bit. Hopefully, we get it going here sometime after Christmas and put it all together.”

Kidron Central Christian (0-3,0-1) lost (54-36) to Mansfield St. Peter’s last Friday. Kurtz says the Comets and coach Craig Martin will do all they can to slow you down. “For us, that has been a hard place to play. They do a good job with their 2-3 zone and they really protect the basket. If there is ever a good reason for Ohio high schools to go to a shot clock it would Kidron. They like to slow it down. They like to play slow. They like games in the 40’s. I think we really don’t like to play that way and we become pretty impatient, especially in their gym,” he said.

Kurtz says they don’t want to face that zone. He says they want to get the ball down the floor and kick up the pace. “Yeah, we would like to speed it up. We would just like it to be played a little faster. They run read and react, which is a lot of passing and a lot of cutting and a lot of movement. We would like the game to be a little faster and we certainly hope we can get it to go that way when we go down there,” he said.

Published 12/15/17

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Perkins and Bellevue in Lake Division Game

Click here to listen to an interview with Scott McVeigh

Sandusky Perkins and Bellevue are two schools trying to find out if they are competitors in the Lake Division in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

They play each other on Friday night at Perkins.

The Pirates are coming off a very good weekend, which included a (72-71) overtime win over Clyde last Friday and then beat Huron (54-47) in an interdivisional game on Saturday.

Jacob Voight made two free throws with a second left to beat Clyde and coach Scott McVeigh says it was a quality win. “It is a good win. Clyde did a nice job the second half of really being the more aggressive team and somehow we snuck out of Clyde with a win. Any league game, especially on the road and we will take it. We played Huron the night after and that was three games in five nights. It is going to be a little weird having just a single game this week against Bellevue,” he said.

Perkins (3-1,1-0) also beat Bowling Green (45-36) last Tuesday. McVeigh says it is kind of nice to concentrate on just Bellevue this week. “It has been kind of a weird week we didn’t get to practice (Wednesday) and we got a real good practice (Thursday.) It is nice because you usually talk about teams and tendencies if you are playing back to back, what they share. We will focus just on Bellevue this week. We know we are going to have our hands full there. They are playing well and had a nice, big win over Sandusky to start their season and then they gutted one out against Willard Saturday night, so we are looking forward to it. We know it is going to be a dogfight. We know it is going to be a battle. Ultimately that is how you get better,” said McVeigh.

Bellevue (2-0,1-0) beat Sandusky (77-60) in their first game of the season last Friday. Trey Ruhlman had 27 points and McVeigh says he is an outstanding player and the Redmen have a lot of good players around him. “They have some nice players. They will get up and down. They will shoot the three. When you look at Bellevue everything starts with the (Trey) Ruhlman. He has done nothing but improve from his freshman year to his sophomore year and it looks like he has made as a much of a jump going into his junior year that he did last year. Everything starts with him, he is one the better guards in the area. He is very dangerous. He is quick, he can shoot it. I think he made 16 free throws against Sandusky. So, he is very, very aggressive.,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You throw (Kayden) Vogel out there and you throw (Jake) Waskielis out there. They have some shooters. Then you throw the (Caleb) Marshall in there I think he had 18 rebounds and numerous blocks. They are very athletic and very dangerous. We relate them a lot to Clyde with how offensive minded they were. It is going to be a tall task.”

Published 12/15/17

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Northwestern Faces Smithville

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mark Alberts Jr.

Northwestern won the Wayne County Athletic League title last season and they are off to a 1-0 start heading into a league game at home Friday night against Smithville.

They beat Chippewa (73-55) last week in their league opener. That is their only win so far, but coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they have played a very tough schedule and have been competitive. “We won our first league and it also happened to be at home and that is nice. We lost three other close games to good non-league teams. One team is undefeated in Woodridge and Clear Fork is 3-1 and Triway is 2-1. When you are tied with a minute to go or less in two of those you have a chance to win. It was nice to get off to that good start against Chippewa in the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “With Smithville coming in it is definitely going to be a challenge. They are picked to be one of the front runners in the league with Rittman. We definitely have a challenge in front of us on Friday night.”

Smithville (1-2,0-1) lost last week to Waynedale (60-49) in their league opener. Alberts says they have two really outstanding players. “They have two really good players and they probably do 70 percent of their scoring. Jacob Reed is a 6’4” returning post-forward. He likes to shoot the three, posts up a little bit, jumps well. He was first team all league last year. They have a point guard named Trevor Pertee, a solid point guard and he averaged 15 last year. Jacob Reed was picked as the number one player in the Daily Record area. Our guys are definitely excited to play against him,” he said.

Alberts says their plan Friday night is two limit the impact of Reed and Pertee without letting the other Smithies go crazy on them. “We have to make sure we control those two guys. You always go into it wanting to control good players, but they do so much scoring we want to make it tough on them. Waynedale beat them last week and held them to 49 points and they had half of those if not more. So, we want to control them, but not let the other guys have big games. If they do that then you are in trouble. Offensively we are not sure what they are going to do. They beat Orrville playing a certain way and I am kind of anxious to see how they play us,” said Alberts.

Published 12/15/17

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Clear Fork Plays Aggressive Buckeye Valley

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Steven Bechtel

Clear Fork is at home for a pair of Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference games this week as they host Buckeye Valley on Thursday and River Valley on Saturday night.

The Colts (2-1,1-0) beat North Union (62-59) in their first ever game in the league last Friday. They had a double digit lead entering the fourth quarter and almost let it get away. Coach Steven Bechtel says they have talked about that. “We talked about it (Wednesday) with a couple of players because that was a concern for them. Getting off to a better start in the fourth quarter when we have a lead. Who knows what will happen (Thursday) night. Hopefully, we can learn from that and fight through that adversity. Fortunately, on Friday we were able to prevail and come out on top,” said Bechtel.

They have quite a few kids back that have varsity experience, but they are still young kids in some cases. Bechtel says leadership is going to be important this week and this year. “We have Brady Tedrow, he is a freshman, and he is logging a lot of minutes. Brennan South, I know he logged a lot of minutes last year, but still just a sophomore, and he puts in a lot of time out there are well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The juniors and seniors have to really step up and be the leaders on the squad. I think everybody is doing a pretty good job of just playing their role and doing it as well as possible every night.”

Buckeye Valley (1-3,1-0) beat River Valley (66-62) in an “MOAC” game last Friday. They followed that with a loss to Highland (68-63) on Saturday night in a non-league game.

Bechtel says the Barons are going to be aggressive on defense. “Traditionally they are a really, really solid basketball team. Traditionally they press a lot, but they are not as deep as they have been. They still get after it really hard in the half court, so we are going to have to be really strong with the basketball and make really good decisions and make our cuts really sharp, so we are able to move the basketball like we want to,” he said.

So far, the Colts have handled the ball very well this year. Bechtel says that is going to have to continue. “I think so far we have done a pretty good job of handling the ball. The guys have done a good job of moving the ball around and finding the open guy and that is going to be a huge key to our success throughout the entire year, so we just have to continue to do that,” he said.

River Valley (0-2,0-1) comes to the Clear Fork Valley on Saturday. Bechtel says the Vikings approach is going to similar to Buckeye Valley. “They are going to come out and they are going to play aggressive as well. They are going to be a solid basketball team, we played them last year. They have a few guys back. They are going to play hard. The “MOAC” most of the teams are fairly similar that way where they are going to be strong defensively and really look to push the basketball as well,” said Bechtel.

Published 12/14/17

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Tygers Not Satisfied

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Marquis Sykes

Mansfield Senior started league play with a win last week over one of their biggest rivals, but they understand they need to continue to get better as a team.

They host West Holmes in an Ohio Cardinal Conference on Saturday afternoon at Pete Henry Gym,

The Tygers (2-1,1-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Lexington (54-53) in an “OCC” game.

Coach Marquis Sykes says it was a good win over the Minutemen, but they need to continue to move forward. “We got that first conference win on the road against one of our conference rivals in Lexington certainly feels good. We have been preaching this week trying to move forward and getting better each day and trying to remind our guys that West Holmes beat us last year in our place and that was certainly one of the low points of our year. Just trying remind the guys that we need to stay focused and we need to be focusing on getting better each week and especially when we have the opportunity to face a conference opponent at home and we have to make sure we are prepared and ready to do what we do,” said Sykes.

Sykes says he wants to bring a different kind of style and approach than the Tygers have had in recent years and it needs some refining. “When I watch us play I just feel like we have to be more disciplined. Defensively, I am not one that likes to gamble a whole lot. My thought process is very traditional. I want to see a lot more discipline on the defensive side of the floor. The offensively, we need to execute a lot better. I have said it before we are not the best outside shooting team, but you don’t have to be,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There are other ways to score with the basketball, so we just have to be more efficient and get better at executing our offensive sets and make sure our shot selection is where it needs to be. Make sure the guys that should be taking outside shots are taking outside shots and the guys that should be shooting the ball in the paint are in the paint taking shots that fits their skill set. That is what we are focusing on just sort of fine tuning all of those little things offensively and trying to get these guys better and in the right position to be successful.”

West Holmes (3-1,0-0) is playing its first conference game on Saturday. The Knights lost their first game (58-53) to Massillon Tuslaw on Tuesday night. Sykes says the Knights are doing some different things too. “They have pressed a little bit. We have seen them do some things that are different from what they have done in the past. They have three shooters on the floor and guys that will shoot it from anywhere going out to about 23, 24 feet. We know we are going to have to locate shooters. We are preparing to see maybe some full court pressure. We are preparing for a little bit of everything. We know they may show us some zone, some things they haven’t done as much in the past. I think we will be prepared that is something we see day to day in practice when we are going against our JV’s and some of the things we like to do,” said Skyes.

Published 12/14/17

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Northmor Still Striving to Get Better

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Zach Ruth

Northmor has won all four of its games so far this year, but they are not standing still.

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

After a win in the conference last week, (81-51) over Fredericktown, the Golden Knights improved to (4-0,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division.

After playing four games in eight days, the Golden Knights will have a week off. Coach Zach Ruth says it has allowed them to get in some practice time. “I think any coach when you have a bunch of games like that and you are winning you just want to keep going. We were actually scheduled to play Danville (Tuesday) night an that would have been our fifth game, but with their football success they moved that game to the 23 of this month. It was like since the games started here we have finally been able to get back and do some break down drills this week. Kind of get back more into a routine other than just preparing for the next game,” he said.

Ruth says they have worked hard in practice this week to challenge the kids and keep them sharp. “Us as coaches have to think outside of the box and try and think of some things to challenge them. For example, (Wednesday) night in practice we were doing break down stuff with the JV’s. If the JV’s got an offensive rebound we had to do 10 push ups. If they got an uncontested shot we had to do 10 pushups. You have to really challenge them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I have never been a fan of letting kids think they have arrived because I think that is a disaster waiting to happen. We like to really challenge them on that. Another thing we have done is we have done a lot of drills where we have to get so many reps in in a certain amount of time. Just trying to keep them ready and hungry.”

Northmor is at Cardington (1-3,0-2) on Friday night. The two schools shared the title in the old blue division of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last year. The Pirates lost to East Knox (51-49) on Tuesday night.

Ruth says Cardington is very young this year. “Cardington is really young. I have the upmost respect for coach (Rod) Brown. We were high school friends. He graduated from Cardington when I graduated from Northmor. We help each other. Of course, we shared the league title last year. This year he is in rebuild mode running a couple of freshmen. He probably has the youngest team around. They pose a threat. They have the Garrett Wagner boy, which will contend for player of the year in our league. He is a pretty good one. We can’t leave him. We just have to play our game one quarter at a time, one game at a time. We have to be prepared to see some junk defenses and some zones, so we have been working on that as well,” said Ruth.

Published 12/14/17

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Upper Sandusky Starts “N10” With Tough One

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jeff Winslow

Upper Sandusky has won the last two Northern 10 Athletic Conference boys’ basketball titles and they begin defense of that title on the road at Carey on Friday night, another good team.

They had their 49 game regular season winning streak snapped last Saturday night by Shelby (68-59) in a non-conference game.

Coach Jeff Winslow says they learned when they play good teams they have to be execute very well and not be sloppy. “Playing a team like Shelby they are really good and athletic. We haven’t had too many close games the last few years. So, when It’s a close game, learn how to play those. We took away from that several little things that sometimes we have been getting away with. Setting up a screen, screening a man, checking out every time. We have to do little things like shot fake inside against guys that are bigger than us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think those are the things that we have kind of gotten away with and the kids get used to doing those kinds of habits. This week we kind of got back to fundamentals to try and take care of those kinds of things.”

Upper (3-1,0-0) plays at Carey (2-1,0-1) on Friday night. The Blue Devils lost to Colonel Crawford (71-56) last Saturday.

Winslow says the Blue Devils have really good guard play and a big guy too. “Their two guards really stand on the Bame kid and the Luzader kid can really shoot the basketball and what makes them tough is they can take you off the dribble as well, especially Luzader because he is quick getting to the basket. The Carey kids are always tough and gritty and they are going to fight and compete and they do a good job of that. The guards set everything up and when you have the 6’7” Stone kid in the middle that makes life tough too. Those are their big three. It’s going to a load handling those three because they can score the ball in different ways. It is going to be interesting trying to stop those guys,” said Winslow.

Both of these teams being contenders for the title in the “N10” Winslow says this is a pretty big game here in early in the season. “It is a big they don’t want to lose number two and we don’t want to start off the league season out 0-1. It is a big time rivaly. We are about five minutes apart right down the road. Our kids and fans know their kids and fans. It is a great game when nothing is on the line let alone when both teams are really good. Both teams are striving to get a league championship this year. It is very important to get off to that good start here early on. We are looking forward to the challenge of going over to Carey and trying to do that,” he said.

Published 12/14/17

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New London Doing Better

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New London is still looking for its first win of the season, but it seems the Wildcats are headed in the right direction.

In the opening of the defense of their Firelands Conference title last Friday, the Wildcats lost to Western Reserve (54-51,) but they really came on strong in the second half.

Coach Tom Howell says that was their best 16 minutes of the season, no question. “We played pretty well in the second half. I think we made a big step and a stride last week at Western. I am hoping we can keep that going,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “This week has been a pretty good week of practice. We are working hard. Hopefully, we can just keep it going.”

There were a couple of keys to that improvement last week, according to Howell. “In the second half we didn’t turn the ball over and we played harder on defense and that is what kept us in the game,” he said.

New London (0-3,0-1) plays at South Central (2-1,1-0) on Friday and Monroeville (1-3,0-1) on Saturday in conference games.

Howell says South Central with sophomore guard Simon Blair are very explosive and Blair is not the only one. “They are very athletic and very explosive on offense. We have our hands full. We are going to have to guard pretty well. They have five, six guys that can score. We will have to try and slow them down a little bit,” said Blair.

New London and South Central are about eight miles apart and Howell says there is a sense of rivalry here. “A lot of our kids know their kids… we know each other. Become friends as adults and even in the schools. It’s a pretty good rivalry and it always fun to go over there and play,” he said.

Published 12/14/17

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Vermilion Tangles With Edison

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Kurt Habermehl

Vermilion is one basket away from being unbeaten on this young season and they host the Edison Chargers in a Bay Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

After losing by one to Lorain (49-48) in a non-conference game last Tuesday, the Sailors hammered Port Clinton (67-38) in their first division game last Friday.

Habermehl says they came out and played the way they wanted to right from the start. “I thought we came out with a lot of energy and kind of set the tone early. We came out shooting the ball well, which we didn’t do very well against Lorain. So, I was really happy with the kid’s effort,” said Habermehl.

And it was an emotional and mental challenge for the kids too because Habermehl says they were very disappointed in the result of the Lorain game. “We were pretty sick about the loss to Lorain. We thought we outplayed them. That we were the better basketball team and we just didn’t knock our free throws down and we didn’t knock down our open shots down. Saying that I was really proud of the way the kids responded to it and I think we are back on track,” he said.

Vermilion (3-1,1-0) is at home for Edison (3-1,0-1) on Friday night. The Chargers lost to Margaretta (51-47) in overtime last week. Habermehl says they have a couple of very good post players. “My first thought immediately go to their big men. I think their big men are pretty solid. Between Hill and Roberts I think they are a nice basketball team. They are very athletic. We don’t have that size that they have and when you put their athleticism with their size it makes them difficult to guard,” he said.

When it comes to keys to a win for the Sailors on Friday night, Habermehl says they will need to rebound and run some good zone offense. “One thing that we have been really good at even though we are small we have been very good at rebounding the basketball. I think we are outrebounding our opponents by 14 rebounds a game right now. That obviously is going to be a major key for us. Last year at times we struggled with rebounding the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday. “Also, I am sure they are going to throw a zone at us. They did everything possible last year to slow us down, so we have to be better prepared for that than we were last year. We didn’t respond to that so well last year and it cost us a game when we went to their place. It is going to vital to adjust to the game and whatever it gives to us.”

Published 12/14/17

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West Holmes to Open “OCC” Play Against Tygers

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Keith Troyer

West Holmes just might have the talent to be a factor in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season. We get an idea on Saturday afternoon as they play at Mansfield Senior.

The Knights (3-1,0-0) lost for the first time on Tuesday night when Massillon Tuslaw beat them (58-53) in a non-conference game.

Coach Keith Troyer says they didn’t show up for the first two quarters and it cost them. “We came out pretty flat and we didn’t hit shots in the first half. We gave up too many offensive rebounds and kind of dug ourselves a whole. In the second half we played much better and played with a little more effort,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We got it to within three with the ball with a little more than a minute to go. We had a wide open look and just missed it. The effort was there the second half, but not the first half. We need to come out and start the game like that.”

One of the things Troyer knows they have to improve is rebounding and that has to be this week. “When you get out and rebound. I think we got outrebounded by 18. That has been one the emphasizes for us this year to really work on our boxing out and rebounding because we are not a big team. (Tuesday) night that just got the better of us,” he said.

Mansfield Senior (2-1,1-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Lexington (54-53) last week. Troyer says they are athletic and this year they are more disciplined. “We had somebody there watching that game and the scouting report was they were really disciplined, very athletic as usual. It is a typical Mansfield Senior team where they probably want to come our and pressure you, they are going to hit the boards hard. So, that is something that we need to really look out for to make sure we keep them off the offensive boards. Very disciplined team and a very athletic team,” said Troyer.

B.J. Patrick and Daquan Hilory have the ball in their hands a lot for the Tygers and Troyer says they need to stop them from getting in the lane. “They are the kind of players that like to penetrate because they are so athletic and so quick, so that is something that we just need to make sure we contain them out front. They have really good guard play. The post players, they are going to get their points too. Just a well balanced team,” he said.

Published 12/14/17

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Shelby Meets Talented Sandusky

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Troy Schwemley

Shelby travels north to Sandusky to face the Blue Streaks in a key early season matchup in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

It will be the Whippets (2-0,0-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, first division game of the season.

The Whippets took down the Upper Sandusky Rams (68-59) last Saturday in a non-conference game, ending the Rams 49 game regular season winning streak.

Coach Troy Schwemley says they made some shots and they did some very good things on defense. “We talked about going into the game as far as just working on some things, but we weren’t going to be real complicated and I thought we did the things we were trying to do pretty good. We did a nice job of executing of what we trying to do offensively. We mixed in few different looks. Defensively I think we played half court man the whole time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Upper does such a good job of playing different personnel and they rotate a lot of guys and I thought our guys got matched up pretty good. They weren’t always on the guys we had them matched up on, but we found guys petty good. We were doing a good job communicating and guarding someone and we have a lot of guys that are interchangeable, so that worked out pretty good.”

Sandusky (1-1,0-1,) the preseason favorite in the division, lost to (77-60) to Bellevue last week. However, Schwemley says the Streaks and still very good. He says they do what they always do. “They are doing the stuff that was successful for them. They have some guys back that scored points for them last year and had success. I would start with Keith Williams. He is averaging around 20 points a game right now. They really just switched to some different personnel. They are trying to do the same things as far as attacking you off the dribble. They keep things pretty simple as well. They play half court man and are aggressive in the passing lanes and really do a good job of trying to get some run outs on you and scoring some points,” he said.

Schwemley says they have to keep Sandusky out of the lane and he says they want to keep the ball in their hands and score. “You listen to coaches talk and the hardest thing to guard is the ball, dribbling, guys attacking and that is what they do so well. They mix in some ball screens, but they are so aggressive attacking off the dribble and then that creates for others. If you over rotate on them they will make extra passes, so you have to help the helper and be sound defensively. The things they do well we want to go in and stop and that is that dribble penetration. What also stops them offensively is good offense. If you are efficient on offense and take care of the ball and get high percentage shots it protects your defense. A good offense in this game will help to protect our defense,” said Schwemley.

Published 12/13/17

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Ontario on the Road for Two More “MOAC” Games

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Joe Balogh

Ontario played its first ever game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last Friday in beating Marion Harding and now they play at North Union on Thursday and at Buckeye Valley on Saturday.

They beat the Presidents (37-34) in the conference opener.

Coach Joe Balogh says playing on the road is always tough and especially this year for them with a lot of new venues. “I think anytime you go on the road in the league and you are able to win it’s a good win. The difference for us with these games we have never played at Marion Harding, we have never played at North Union, and we have never played at Buckeye Valley. When you went on the road before sometimes you have had familiarity with the place you are playing at, but not with this. So, I think that makes it even a little more difficult,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I thought our kids played with a lot of focus at Marion Harding. We didn’t really play very well offensively, but our defense was really solid throughout and we especially solid down the stretch when we needed to get some stops and we were really happy with that.”

The Warriors (2-0,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has had its struggles on offense despite winning their first two. Balogh says they have to be better decision makers. “We are going to have to be better offensively. We are going to have to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball and valuing possession of the ball. That is not to say that we want to slow our pace down. Our decision making just has to be a lot better when we get trapped or even just some decisions we make in just throwing the ball away. I think sometimes kids don’t value possessions and we have to be a little bit more aware of that as we continue on here, especially when we go on the road. If you turn it over a couple of times in a row the crowd gets a lot more involved and just seems to kind of explode on you. That is one the things we really need to try and avoid,” he said.

North Union (1-2, 0-1) lost to Clear Fork (62-59) in its first game in league play last Friday.

Balogh says the Wildcats have a lot of players they can go to and they are likely to show a lot of zone. “We have seen them play once in person and we have seen them on tape several times. They have two guards in Conner Terrill and Riley Price that can really create stuff off the dribble and get to the lane and pitch to shooters. They have a really good shooter in Cody Neel and then they have two bigs in Harley Day and Mason Soviak that can give you problems down low. So, they have good balance of guard play and post play. The other thing is from what we have seen is we anticipate they are going to play a lot of 2-3 zone. We haven’t really seen a lot of zone in our scrimmages or a lot of zone in our first two games. It is going to be kind of interesting to see how we respond to that and handle that as we go over there,” said Balogh,

Buckeye Valley (2-2,1-0) topped River Valley (66-62) in the league opener last week. Balogh says the Barons are a team that likes to attack. “Buckeye Valley is going to be a little bit different because Buckeye Valley is just going to come out and get after you. They are very aggressive man to man team. I saw them play against Highland Saturday and they were down 20-4 after the first quarter and then eventually took the lead late in the fourth and then where able to hang on at the end and win it. They are going to come out and get after you maybe a little bit more than North Union would in their man to man and be physical. They have a great student section that I think has been like a finalist in this OHSAA contest that the Golden Megaphone the last couple of years. So, it is going to be loud. Those are the atmospheres that you love to play in, so hopefully our kids embrace that and we can play well on the road there too,” said Balogh.

Published 12/13/17

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Ashland Must Value the Ball More

Ashland has been close to beating two good teams this year, but close only counts in slow dancing and hand grenades and certainly not in basketball.

They play at Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday and host Toledo Start in non-conference play on Saturday.

It was a (54-48) setback to defending “OCC” champion Wooster last week.

Coach Jason Hess says they have to grow up. “It is a young season. It is a lot of guys in different positions and a lot of inexperience on our ballclub. It is part of growing up and learning. Hopefully, we take a little bit from each game and get better for the next one. We practice four days a week or five days a week and we scrimmage and we do all of this, but there is no substitution for turning the lights on Friday night and putting the kids out there in a real pressure situation,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It forces them to grow up and understand what they can do and what they can’t do at this level. So, hopefully we are able to learn from it and take some positives from these two close games even though we came up a little short and make some positive strides moving forward.”

When it comes to getting better, Hess says ballhandling and shot selection come to mind first. “The big thing that jumps out at us is to value the basketball on offense. I am not talking necessarily turnovers, although Friday night the turnover bug bit us pretty hard, but even our shot selection and our offensive possessions. We are little loose and casual with the basketball. Sometimes we are getting shots up, but they are not the shots we want in that particular situation. It just comes from growing up and understanding the game and understanding your teammates and trust in your teammates to make the next pass and the right play. We are getting there in bits and pieces, but it is not quite there yet,” said Hess.

Madison (1-2,0-1) lost in overtime to Mt. Vernon (55-51) in league play last Friday and won its first game (75-51) over Norwalk in a non-league game on Saturday.

Hess says the Rams are explosive on offense. “I was fortunate to see them play Saturday night against Norwalk. They were really impressive with the way put points on the board and shot the basketball from the perimeter. I think they have that type of team that can put 45 to 50 points up in a half. So, it is going to be a big challenge for us. We are definitely going to have to come ready to play and see some significant improvement from where we were the last two weeks,” he said.

When it comes to the pace of the game, Hess believes the Rams like to run the floor, but they are selective. “I have seen them play both ways. They kind of pick and choose. I don’t think they are necessarily pedal to the metal full throttle all of the time, but they will run when the opportunity is there. They are very aggressive and they have some good basketball players that do a nice job of creating for teammates and setting other guys up for easy shots,” he said.

Published 12/13/17

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Western Faces Double Weekend in the Firelands

Coming off a win last week over rival New London, the Western Reserve Roughriders host Mapleton on Friday and Plymouth on Saturday in Firelands Conference games.

After beating New London (54-51) last Friday, Western lost (45-44) to LaGrange Keystone in a non-conference game on Saturday.

Coach Chris Sheldon says they sort of wrestled defeat from the jaws of victory. “Unfortunately for us we did so many things right Saturday night until the last 30 seconds against a good team. We found a way to lose it rather than win it. The thing we are going to find out is how much did we learn from our mistakes. Lord knows we are going to be in that same situation before this year is over. That is the message we have tried to hit home with our kids we can’t change the outcome hopefully we can use it as learning experience and hopefully starting this week,” he said.

Western Reserve (2-2,1-0) hosts Mapleton (0-3,0-1) on Friday night. Crestview beat the Mounties (68-41) in their conference opener last Friday. Sheldon says frankly this is a game they should win. “The basically only bring back one returner and they are playing a lot of younger guys. On paper it is definitely a game that it looks like we would have a lot more advantages than them, but at the same token our guys have to go out there and respect them and compete and do what we are going to try and ask them to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The one thing you don’t want to do, especially at home, when you are playing a team that you are probably better than is you don’t want to build their confidence and to give them any momentum. It is important for us to get off to a good start and really try and force are will on them.”

Plymouth (1-1,0-0) did not play last week and has not played a conference game. However, Sheldon says they have shown they can do some good things. “The thing that stuck out to me, I know they didn’t play last week because of the St. Paul reschedule, the Adams kid has really played well in their two games. He has really elevated his game from what I see on film. It starts with him and they have some nice supporting cast around him. There are like a lot of teams early they have some inexperience in spots, but they compete and play hard and was right there to win the second game against Seneca East. A play or two in the last minute just went against them. We are going to have come out and really play well against them for sure,” said Sheldon.

Published 12/13/17

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Buckeye Central faces a Big Seneca East Team

Buckeye Central is still looking for some keys to becoming a better high school basketball team.

Coach Phil Loy says they have to get better on both ends of the court.

They lost to Mohawk (61-43) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game last Saturday. Loy says they didn’t get off to a very good start. “Last week we wanted to play Mohawk a lot of zone. We were more concerned about their high low man offense, the size inside. We wanted to get out and play some zone where they ran some other things, but we lost shooters. Mohawk has some good guards and we found ourselves down 10 just like that. They hit three quick three. They ended up hitting five threes in the first quarter. We had gotten out of it after about four possessions, but we found ourselves down 10 after one quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Then in the second quarter Max Loy rolls his ankle and doesn’t return. If he is not going to be on the floor we not only lose scoring and rebounding, but we lose leadership on the floor and that really hurt us. We kind of had an uphill battle from that point on. We kept it right at 8-10 points until the last few minutes of the game and they hit some shots there late on us. That slow start and we have to be able to defend a little better in order to beat teams like Mohawk.”

Loy says they aren’t talking much on defense and that is hurting them, plus they need to rebound better. “For us it is a lot of communication. We have to get more kids talking on the floor communicating switches and how you are defending certain situations. If you don’t speak out there at that level you can get burned. The other thing is we don’t have a great deal of size, so we really have to work our butt off to get position and have good box outs for rebounds. It only takes one guy to miss and assignment every possession to give up a rebound. We outrebounded Mohawk, but it was close and in our other two losses we got outrebounded. That is something we have to take a lot more pride in,” said Loy.

Buckeye Central (0-3,0-1) is at Seneca East (2-0,1-0) on Friday night in “N10” play. The Tigers took care of Ridgedale (77-44) last Saturday in a league game.

Loy says the Tigers are big. “Seneca East has some size. They have a quick point guard that plays for them. They have good size inside and they have a scorer in Alex Forehand, who is a good three point shooter. They start 6’4’, 6’4”, 6’3” and another 6’4” kid and they bring a 6’4”off the bench. So, it is a game that we are going to have to be sound defensively and make sure we box out and we rebound the basketball. We also have to do a better job of offensive execution and taking care of the basketball,” he said.

Published 12/13/17

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Defense the Key For Cougars

Crestview made more shots last week than the previous week, but still defense is going to tell the tale for them.

Two Firelands Conference games are scheduled for the weekend as they host Plymouth on Friday night and travel to Norwalk St. Paul on Saturday.

They beat Mapleton (68-41) last Friday and coach Shawn Spencer says they made more shots then they did in their opener. “It was really the exact opposite of our first game. We were able to make some shots. We played real good defense against Wynford, but it was basically making shots and keeping them off the free throw line. The exact opposite of what we were able to do against Wynford. It was our second game. We gained some valuable experience. Kind of got to know who we were and what we are. We played hard and came out with a victory,” said Spencer.

Focus is going to be a real key for the Cougars. Spencer says they want to keep an eye on the next prize. “Our motto this year is we are not looking past the next practice and we are not looking past the next game. We don’t talk about winning the conference. We don’t talk about the team we are playing after or two games down the road or three games down the road. It’s getting better in practice every day and respecting the opponent we have that night. That is our motto for this year and it has worked pretty well so far,” he said.

Crestview (1-1,1-0) entertains rival Plymouth (1-1,0-0) on Friday night in the Firelands Conference. Spencer calls the Big Red dangerous. “The Adams boy is a good player. They have another Collins coming up through there. They are like a lot of other teams in our conference where they have a lot of inexperience and some young guys that trying to feel their way and see where they are at as far as being players in their system and just trying to get better each game and each practice. They can be dangerous. They can hit shots and do some different stuff. We have to play our game and hopefully we can come out on top,” said Spencer.

Last week was not, but there are likely going to a lot of close games in the Conference this year. Spencer says defense will be the difference. “That is where the senior leadership comes in and the experience comes in. We are able to get some of these games under your belt and when you find those close games you can do what it takes to win. We work on that everyday in practice in getting those defensive stops,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think really that is what it is going to come down to against those better teams seeing who is going to get those stops in the last four minutes. We have been closing out practices trying to get four or five defensive stops before you can get out of practice. That competition level hopefully pays off for us down the line.”

Published 12/13/17

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Season For Willard Starts Now

Willard has played four games thus far and they have lost them all, but the real season, play in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, begins on Friday night at home against Port Clinton.

Last week, the Flashes were hammered by a very good Shelby team (82-41) on Friday night, but rallied on Saturday against a Bellevue team that had beaten Sandusky the night before losing (47-43) to Redmen.

Coach Joe Bedingfield says they saw some good things on Saturday night. “Shelby has a nice team, a nice group of athletes. We kind of had a rough start and that seems to be the M.O. of our season so far. Against Bellevue we had a rough start as well, but I am really happy with our kids and how they battled back. We were down there quite a bit in the third 15 or 16 points and then all of the sudden we got it down within a couple of points towards the end. Definitely something to build off this week going into Port Clinton,” said Bedingfield.

Enrollment has been declining at Willard in recent years and they feel they fit better into the Bay Division and that mix of teams. Bedingfield says their goal is to be competitive against this group of teams. “I think after the game our kids realized how close they came. We talked about we need to put a four quarter game together. We have had a couple of three quarter games. I thought we had three quarters against Upper, we didn’t start very well in that game either. With Bellevue we had a two, three quarter game and almost pulled off a comeback. If we want to be successful this season we have to put four quarters together. The kids know that and they feel we are growing in the right direction,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I saw a lot of kids that were upset after the game and we have had a good week of practice so far. We are selling it is a restart for us. We are going into a new league and we are 0-0 in the league. We might be 0-4 overall, but we are going to focus in on our league record and just work on the process of getting better each and every day.”

Port Clinton (0-2,0-1) lost their opener in the Bay Division to Vermilion (67-38) last week.

Bedingfield says the Reskins have some pretty good guards and they will be hungry too. “They have a couple of good shooters. They don’t have as much size as we do. They play a lot of zone. They have some physical post players inside. We definitely have to find shooters in transition. We have to get the ball inside and take advantage of our height. We have to also rebound the ball at both ends, not just at the defensive end, but offensive rebounding. We are hoping we can get our first win on Friday. We know it won’t be easy because they are looking for their first win as well,” he said.

Published 12/13/17

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Lexington Has to Learn From Loss

Lexington lost to its biggest rival last week in the final seconds and they need to get back on track this weekend.

They play at Clyde in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

Last Friday, Mansfield Senior’s DaQuan Hilory made two free throws with four seconds left to beat the Minutemen (54-53) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game. Lexington had a chance to send it to overtime, but Mason Kearns missed the second half of a two shot opportunity with one second left.

Lexington coach Scott Hamilton predicts there are going be a lot of close games in the league this winter. “It was kind of what we expected. I think it kind of set the tone for us for the “OCC,” at least what I believe the “OCC” is going to be like. I think every night is going to be a tough game looking at the teams we are going to have to match up against. Mansfield has a new coach in place and they kind of came in with a little bit different playing style is you will. Very disciplined in what they were trying to accomplish. We had some mistakes, but you give them credit they came in and played very well and took it right at us and they walked away with a win,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton says they did a lot of good things in the game and they have to learn from the result. “If you would have told me that we held B.J. Patrick and Daquan Hilory to the points that they had and that we would have only had 10, maybe 11 turnovers in that game I would felt really good about that. What it came down to is who was going to make the last play of the game. In a tight game, they put the ball in Hilory’s hands and he did a nice job of getting to the line and knocked them both down and we had opportunities and we had a very good player of our own step up to the line and we felt really good about it and it just didn’t go our way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It doesn’t fall on the shoulders of that one play there were a couple of things throughout the game that cost us a point here, a point there. We just have to get better, that’s the bottom line, we just have to get better as a team and I believe we will.”

Lexington (2-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, is at Clyde (1-1) on Saturday night. The Fliers, now coached by Ryan Fretz, lost in double overtime to Sandusky Perkins (72-71) last Friday in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference. They then beat Margaretta (65-59) in a cross over game.

Hamilton says the Fliers will provide a challenge. “We have played Clyde the last couple of years in the tournament, but they never really have been on their schedule. When we had an opening we looked up at some of those “SBC” teams as opportunities to play some good basketball games and potentially down the road could be a tournament game. So, we scheduled Clyde and then replaced their coach. They have a guy on staff and it appears he has brought a different kind of life into the program. We can’t take anybody lightly we have to make sure we are prepared for them,” he said.

Published 12/12/17

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Lucas Growing and Winning

Lucas has got some kids playing different positions and trying to get used to what is expected of them, but the Cubs are doing that and still winning.

They play at Crestline in Mid-Buckeye Conference action on Friday night.

The Cubs (2-0,1-0) beat Mansfield Christian (49-44) last Friday in a conference game.

Coach Taylor Iceman says their play in the first quarter was the key in their win. “We came out of the gates well, which is one thing I wanted to do and not spot them a lead early on. We jumped on them and I think we were up 15-4. We held them to four points in the first quarter, which was great. All of that being said we knew they where going to make a run. That is a tough place to play over there. It was enough I am glad we had that early run because we didn’t play real good down the stretch. It was just enough to get a win. I’ll take a win anytime. A win ugly early is better than to lose. We will take it for sure,” he said.

Lucas is a team made up of guards and Iceman says they are finding a way to best use those players on both ends of the floor. “I start five guards pretty much. I have two sophomores, a junior, and two seniors. I have the five best ballhandlers from three grades. So, coming up through those are the kids that have probably had the ball in their hands and making all of the plays. Obviously, they can’t all be the main ballhandler, so guys are learning how to move without the ball and just do some different things that they never have done before that I think they are certainly capable of. At times they get caught just standing there watching. So, we are figuring it out.,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Obviously, it is good to win while we are figuring it out and that says something. It has been a good few games here early on picking up that win at Mansfield Christian at their place. I’m glad that is out of the way and we don’t have to go back there because they are going to be improved the next time we play them, so it will be nice to have them at our place. Each game I think we are going to continue to get better and I’m excited about it.”

Lucas plays at Crestline (2-0,0-0) on Friday night. Iceman says the Bulldogs are maturing and they always seem to give them trouble. “You look at their roster and it seems like these kids have been there for 10 years because it is a lot of the same names. They have been young and they just keep coming up through. They are going to be better, I have already told our kids that. They play us tough whether we are over there at their place or at home. They have a little bit of size, which we will have to deal with. Triplet, the Gregory kid, and Ty Clark, guys that have given us fits over the years. We are going to have to deal with those guys and do the best we can,” he said.

Published 12/12/17

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Loudonville Using Long Distance

Loudonville has been getting more than 10 made three pointers a game and that is a big reason why the Lady Redbirds are 5-0 so far this season.

This week they play non-conference games at bigger schools, Tuesday at Akron Kenmore and Thursday at Cleveland Central Catholic.

They beat Lucas (82-49) on Saturday in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game and coach Tyler Bates says they have been scoring like that all year. “I love the start of our season, especially for the girls. After we lost Nikki Weber for the year to an “ACL” injury in the preseason we didn’t know what to expect offensively. We are actually averaging about 79 points a game through the first five games. To see the ball go in the basket at that kind of rate is really exciting and it is encouraging for the rest of the year,” said Bates.

Bates says they have been moving the ball well and getting it in position to get some three pointers in the air and they have been making them. “The girls have been sharing the ball really well and up to this point we have made 55 three pointers though five games. I think anytime you make 11 threes a game for a stretch like that at the start of the year you are probably going to be in pretty good shape offensively. I don’t know if we can keep that pace up for the whole season, but I am pretty happy with it right now. As long as we are getting open looks I don’t care how many threes we attempt,” said Bates.

Being a good shooter takes a lot of practice and Bates says when you start making then it leads to a lot of confidence. “Our girls put in a lot of time in the off season and even during the season after practice and on their days off. Getting on the gun and getting extra shots. Why put in all that work if you aren’t going to shoot the ball in the game when you are open. We have total confidence in all of the girls on the floor to shoot it if they get good looks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The cool thing about our team is the girls don’t care you takes the most shots. When there is a hot hand they continue to feed that girl. That is a great thing to see as a coach and as long as you are unselfish and sharing the basketball you can really be tough to guard in girls’ basketball at the high school level.”

Playing Kenmore and Cleveland CC can only help them, according to Bates. “Our district is really tough up there in Wooster. We are trying our best during the regular season to get prepared for the division three district tournament. Between this week’s games, which will be in different environments and atmospheres than what Loudonville teams typically play in. As well as the “Classic in the Country” and the “Mansfield Christian Holiday Showcase” in few weeks we are pretty happy with our non-conference schedule. We are excited to see where we stand with some of these other teams in the State of Ohio,” he said.

Published 12/12/17

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Wynford Counting on Defense

Wynford has played solid defense so far and they will need to continue to do that this weekend as they play two games in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference Friday against Ridgedale and Saturday against rival Colonel Crawford.

The Royals (2-0,1-0) beat Bucyrus (61-46) in a league game last Saturday. Coach Jason Engel says they did what they had to do to get the win. “It doesn’t matter exactly how you do it as long as you get a win. It was a home game with a rival team. I am proud of the kids for making a few stops there and getting the momentum towards the end of the game and then putting the game away,” said Engel.

Defense has been something the Royals have been pretty good at this season. Engel says they identified what they needed to do last week and they got it done. “We wanted to shut Evans down for Bucyrus and he is a very good player and we held him to four points. There are a lot of things we need to improve on and a lot things to take away from that Bucyrus game that can help us to get to where we want to be. We definitely did some good things,” he said.

Wynford travels to Ridgedale (1-2,0-1) on Friday night. The Rockets lost (77-44) to Seneca East in their “N10” opener.

Again, Engel says there are a couple of defensive keys for them. “I think they are going to run a little four out and one in and some open motion with some ball screens. There are some different set they run with ball screens. They do some good things. They have a couple of kids that have played there for a year or two and have got experience at the varsity level and can shoot. We are just going to have to take care of the ball and shut those kids down,” said Engel.

They host Colonel Crawford (2-1,1-0), #3 the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Saturday night. Crawford beat Carey (71-56) in their conference opener.

Engel says they do a lot of things well. “Number one they are very well coached. David (Sheldon) does a great job. Obviously, he has come from a tremendous background. Their kids buy into what they are trying to do and they execute. They are just fundamentally sound,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They box out. They are athletic. They are very good basketball players, who play a lot of basketball. We have to stop them in transition number one and then try and put our kids in sports defensively to be successful.”

Published 12/12/17

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Bellevue Doing Good Things

Bellevue probably surprised some people with their play this past weekend and now they face a tough game this Friday on road at Sandusky Perkins in play in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

The Redmen belted preseason league favorite Sandusky (77-60) on Friday night in their first game of the season. On Saturday night, they held off old rival Willard (47-43) in an interdivisional game.

Coach Ed Rich says the had to dig down deep on Saturday night and they were able to do that. “I knew going into Saturday we were going to be a little fatigued. A lot emotion, a lot of energy went into our Friday night game. We went in there and actually got up 17 at one point and they found a way to come back and make it a close game. The coaching staff went in think we were going to be in for a dogfight. We came out on top and a win is a win, so we will take it,” said Rich.

Rich says they really executed their stuff well against the Blue Streaks, but against Willard the Flashes made things difficult. “Especially on Friday we were really good executing our stuff. We hit all of our shots on Friday. Saturday, they threw a lot of different looks at us. We weren’t as prepared as we should be and that’s on me. Willard gave us a man look and some zone looks and switched it up quite a bit. So, they kept us off balanced pretty much the entire night,” he said.

Bellevue (2-0,1-0) is at Sandusky Perkins (3-1,1-0) on Friday night in Lake Division play. The Pirates beat Clyde (72-71) in double overtime on Friday on two free throws by Jacob Voight with :01 left. Then beat Huron (54-47) on Saturday night.

Rich says this going to be a good one. “I have saw a couple of their games. In some of those games they probably didn’t play as well as (coach McVeigh) would like, but they found way to win. They had a good weekend, I think they had a double overtime win on Friday and then they went to Huron on Saturday and won,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think things are starting to come together and they definably have got some guys who are scary who are going to be tough matchups for us. It’s always a tough place to play. We will have our hands full with Perkins.”

Rich says a win puts them in good shape early in the league race. “That is what we are going to preach at practice because if we can knock off Perkins on Friday we can be 2-0 in the league and looking pretty good at the start of the season,” he said.

Published 12/12/17

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St. Paul Opens Season

It is the third week of the boys’ basketball season and the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers begin their season this weekend with a double weekend in the Firelands Conference.

It’s old hat for them.

Both are home games with rival Monroeville on Friday and Crestview on Saturday.

Veteran coach Mike Smith says it is time to get started. “We were fortunate we were able to get three scrimmages in. A week ago Saturday, then Wednesday and the following Saturday. So, we were able to get three scrimmages in and a couple of practices between them. Unfortunately, we feel like we are a little bit behind and hitting a little bit of the panic button because we haven’t done a lot with special situations, clock management, zone offense and press offense. We have been working on it, but your just feel a little naked here. We have only had six or seven practices with everybody. It is what it is and we don’t want to use that as an excuse. We want to take the momentum from football and use that to our advantage,” said Smith.

This certainly can be a very good year for the Flyers. Smith says they don’t have a lot experience, but they do have some good talent. “We have back two letter winners and a starter as far as varsity experience we are not loaded with that. I think as far as pure talent and athleticism and quickness we are staring to take into shape. I would be surprised if we didn’t have a really good season. We want to have a great season and to do that you have to fine tune things. You have to be willing to work hard and pay attention to detail, give effort all of the time, and be selfless. All of those things. We do have some depth. We have some really good size and athleticism and all that. I think it will make out to be a pretty good basketball team,” he said.

Monroeville (1-2,0-1) lost to South Central (72-41) in a conference game last week. Smith says Eagles are trying to find an identity, but this is always an intense rivalry. “They are very young and very inexperienced and not real, real deep. They play a lot of 2-3 zone at this point. They really haven’t been able to extend pressure and get after people. He has to look at his personnel and what they can and cannot do. We are expecting them to play really hard and really get after us as far as competing. It is like any St. Paul-Monroeville game goes. It will be a good opener because I don’t think we will have to get overly pumped up for Monroeville because that pretty much takes care of itself,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Anytime these two school meet in any sport. It is good our first two games are at home. There was not a lot we could do after already rescheduling four games. It was just going to make our January and February crowded, so we opted to get going and we are looking forward to it.”

Crestview (1-1,1-0) is coming off a (68-41) win over Mapleton last week. Smith says Cougars are going to bring some pressure from all over the place. “I have seen them live and I have also seen them on film and they are very athletic. They get after you. They push pace. They have got some tremendous athletes. They have got a lit bit of size. Coach (Spencer) does a great job getting the kids to buy in. They are going to pressure you from different areas and different pressure points. We have to really make sure we are organized and match their competitiveness because they are a very competitive group and I have been impressed with what I have seen so far,” he said.

Published 12/12/17

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Pleasant Looking for One Against Harding

Marion Pleasant got off to a good start in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last week and Thursday night they host Marion Harding, a team they have not had a lot of success against in recent years.

They play North Union in a conference game on Saturday night.

Pleasant (1-1,1-0) beat Galion (65-45) in their conference opener last week.

Coach Ben Snively says they were able to get more shots to go in than in their opener against Northmor. “Like I said earlier in the year we have a lot of home games early on the conference, basically this whole month. So, it was very important for us to get off to a good start. We shot the ball much better. Still, unfortunately we had 22 turnovers. You are not going to beat many teams with that type of turnovers. However, we were able to turn Galion over I think 28 times. When you get older you learn anytime you get a win at the varsity level it’s a great win, especially your home opener in the conference. We shot the ball better and we were excited to get a win,” said Snively.

Turnovers have been an issue for the Spartans this year and Snively says they just need to be able to complete the play. “I am not upset with some of them. I think our kids are looking ahead. Basically, it is a situation where we have people open. We try and get out and run a little bit and we just aren’t making the plays. Maybe not putting enough loft on the ball. They are not terrible turnovers. It is not so much violations like traveling, double dribbles, things like that. It is a matter of executing. Sometimes you need a bounce pass with a little finesse on it. We are struggling in that area a little bit right now. It is not that they other teams are pressuring us, so much it is a lot of unforced. We just have to clean that area up a little bit,” he said.

Harding (0-3,0-1) lost to Ontario (37-34) last Friday. The Presidents had the ball in their hands down three within the final minute and could not convert.

Snively says the Presidents are athletic and this has been a tough game for them since Harding was added to this mix of teams. “I’ll be honest it has been a while since we have beat them. They have got us quite a few times. We are on our home floor. There are no excuses when you are home. They (Elisha) Browley kid, he has hurt us the last two years. He has had a knee injury this year. He had a couple of threes against Ontario and I think he is getting back to health. Normally he plays a little more inside. The game I saw him play against Ontario he hit a couple of threes and is looking more outside. I don’t think he is 100 percent. They have got good athletes,” he told Swankonports.com on Monday, “They like to slash to the basket and pick us up half court and trap us. If we turn it over against them we will be in trouble. They are a big school and we are a smaller school, but it is a Marion County rivalry game. It is always real exciting for the kids because not matter if we are here or there the gym will be packed. Plus, they are also hungry for a win right now. I wish they would have got one the other night and maybe that pressure isn’t there as much.”

Published 12/12/17

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Shelby Draws the Line at 49

Shelby broke Upper Sandusky’s regular season winning streak that stretched over parts of four seasons at 49 in a row on Saturday night as the Whippets took down Upper (68-59) in a non-conference game played in Shelby.

It was the Rams first regular season loss since these same Whippets beat them (87-80) on February 17, 2015, a space of 1,027 days.

Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says while breaking the streak is something for people to talk about, for them it was about improving to 2-0 on the young season. “For us this weekend, I knew going in it was going to be a tough weekend. It has been a long time since Upper has lost a regular season game and they return a lot of guys who have been on those teams and they know how to win. It seemed like everybody did a nice job of making big plays when we really needed it. I didn’t realize how many it had been. For us it was just game two of the season, but a big win none the less,” he said.

Carter Brooks scored on a twisting layup with 7:31 remaining in the first quarter and the Whippets never trailed in the game. Uriah Schwemley converted a field goal and a three to make it (7-2) Whippets with 6:41 left in the quarter. The lead grew to 13 (19-6) with 2:34 left in the quarter after a “Shorty” Brooks scored.

Schwemley thought that quick start was critical. “We had a great start. We jumped out early. We were really doing a lot of good things. If memory serves me right about three, four minutes into the first quarter their pressure started to wear on us. We started turning it over, turning it over, turning it over. Going into the game I think that was my fear,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They play three subs, eight guys, and they play so hard. I didn’t know where our legs were at. I mean with a week and half. I was a little bit worried because I knew I wasn’t going to able to sub as much as I wanted to this early in the year, but we were able to weather the storm.”

Shelby has runs of 10 and five in that first quarter and Upper Sandusky coach Jeff Winslow says they didn’t answer those runs and that did them in. “They are a really good basketball team. We said they are a team that is going to go on runs because they are good. I think the problem was we didn’t match at all. We can’t have them coming down and moving the ball and hitting open shots and making it tough on us defensively, but we have to score a little bit more at this end and we didn’t do that. We didn’t move the ball as well and had a couple of forced shots. If we just keep in close there it is a different ballgame. We dug ourselves a whole and is difficult to get out,” said Winslow.

The Whippets shot 56 percent (28-50) from the field on the night and made six of their 13 three point attempts. Schwemley thought they were very good on defense holing the Rams to 42 percent from the field and seven of 19 threes. He says that is what kept them in the lead. “We need to control what we can and if we can defend and rebound. As the season goes you hope to improve on executing the offense and things like that and I thought those were the things we did well. They got it close and I think Uriah hit a big shot. I can remember Carter (Brooks) getting some extra passes and some finishes. It seemed like about the time they were starting to get it close we had a big play by somebody and it was all different kinds of guys. Uriah stands out me because of the three he hit, but it was different guys all night. It just seemed like different guys came up with a big play when we needed it,” said Schwemley.

Upper made it game as good teams will in the second half, forcing a number of turnovers with their aggressive press. They cut the Shelby lead to as little as three twice in the fourth quarter at (55-52) with 4:57 left on an Evan Young hoop and (61-58) on a Jevon Dible goal with 2:15 left.

Winslow says they were not able to convert enough of those turnovers into baskets to get over the hump. “We talked to the guys that you have to be selfish when you get into the paint. You have to be selfish when it is two on one or three on two and we have to finish, especially late. I mean it is a six, five, four point game and we miss a couple of layups and we just can’t afford to miss those. I thought me missed some opportunities at the line to get back in it because we had them in four trouble there in the second half. For us to beat good teams you can’t do that. You may be able to get away with it against some other teams. This Shelby team is very good and you can’t,” said Winslow.

Uriah Schwemley led Shelby with 24, while Hunter Hoffman added 18, including the exclamation mark with a dunk with 35 seconds left. Dible had 26 markers for the Rams and Young added 10.

Coach Schwemley says his son Uriah has worked on his game and has become more of a perimeter threat. “He has worked on that. He didn’t shoot the ball real well last year and he has put in a lot of time. Anytime you have a player and I don’t care who it is, when they put in a lot of time you are happy for him. Any of my players are like my kids. When they put in the time and you see the results it makes you feel good as far as hard work pays off. I think he made some big shots for us,” he said.

Published 12/09/17

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Lexington Hosts Mansfield Senior

Lexington has played some excellent basketball so far this year, but they face their biggest challenge Friday against their biggest rival when they host Mansfield Senior in the Ohio Cardinal Conference opener for both.

The Minutemen (2-0) beat Clear Fork (73-63) last Friday and stomped on Willard (80-39) on Saturday.

Coach Scott Hamilton says it was good to get the season under way. “Playing Clear Fork it was always a tough rivalry. We knew that was going to be a battle and that didn’t disappoint I don’t believe. They return a lot of quality guys from last year’s district tournament team. Then we went up to Willard and we really built the kids up as far as tradition and everything of Willard. I think we were kind of the benefactor of Willard having a tough game on Friday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We got in there and we were all excited to play in their gym and hit a couple of shots. Those guys just didn’t seem to have the energy that we did. I turned out to be a real good night for us.”

Good teams, and Lexington is one, always have good athletes, but Hamilton says this team has a special chemistry too. “The one thing that is exciting for me and I don’t think it is too much of a surprise is the chemistry that we have this year. It is much further ahead at this point than what it was at this point last year. The guys are learning, they are eager to play, they want to be in the gym, but they are really excited about being on the floor together. It seems like they have got a history and a knowledge of playing with each other that is hard to teach. That has probably been when of the more exciting things about this group,” said Hamilton.

Mansfield Senior (1-1) is even after two under new head coach Marquis Sykes. They lost (71-57) to Mansfield St. Peter’s on Saturday and beat St. Michael College (67-51) on Sunday at home.

Sykes is getting his first opportunity as a head coach, but he is not new to the program. Hamilton believes he will get the Tygers back on the right track. “New head coach, but not new to the program, long time player there, JV coach, assistant coach, now he is in charge. He is a long time Tyger guy, he has some history there. I believe his expectations are at a certain level. We are looking forward to the challenge. The last couple of years Lexington games have been a little bit more of a rivalry than when Marquis was a player and Mansfield was just dominating the area. We are excited about the challenge. I have no doubt that Marquis is going to have those guys ready to go,” said Hamilton.

Mansfield Senior has some athletes that can make plays and Hamilton says they can get to the glass. “When it comes to the size you have to look at (Dontavious) Burtin first, then (Terrell) Johnson is a big, long kid that they have, Brylon Mills is another post guy that they play. Then after that it is more of a guard roster, but those guards are pretty tough. (DaQuan) Hillary can really spread the floor out, (B.J.) Patrick can spread the floor out. They can all put it on the floor and get to the rim and all rebound very well no matter what their size is. It is going to be a tough matchup for some of my guys,” he said.

Published 12/08/17

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Ontario Embarks in New League

Ontario has been a consistent winner in every league they have been in since Joe Balogh became its coach more than 30 years ago the old Mid Ohio Conference, the North Central Conference and the Northern Ohio League and Friday night they start play in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference at Marion Harding.

It is the first of three league games on the road to start the season for the Warriors.

They beat Norwalk (49-43) in a non conference game to open the season last Saturday afternoon.

Coach Balogh says he thought they played well, but they still have to get better. “We were pleased with how we played. I felt we were really good defensively. I felt we did a really nice job of taking away Norwalk’s stuff. They run a lot of different sets. Offensively we had 15 turnovers and we need to be able to cut that a little bit, but we put the ball inside, which is where it needed to be. Right now, that is kind of our comfort zone. You are always pleased to come out with a win in your first game, but we still have a lot of things to do to get better,” said Balogh.

Right now, Ontario’s advantage is in the post with Logan Jones and Jayden Jacobs, but Balogh says they have to improve their guard play too. “In the past our experience have been at the guard position. We just have to continue to work to develop the perimeter positions. What we hope with Jones’s play inside and Jayden Jacobs was pretty solid. That kind of balance early in the year is going to help us. Then if our perimeter guys continue to get better we think we can continue to grow to become a really good team,” he said.

Marion Harding (0-2) hosts the Warriors on Friday night. The Presidents lost (81-59) to Olentangy last Thursday and to Marysville (64-41) on Saturday.

Balogh says they must be focused. “They struggled a little bit in the two games they played last week against Olentangy, which is a good team that beat Madison, and then they lost to Marysville on Saturday. The thing I think our kids need to understand is anytime you go on the road in a league, and now we are in a new league, it is going to be more difficult,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You are not going to get the breaks maybe that you get at home. How are your kids going to travel for that first game? Our concern is how well prepared are we and how focused we will be because I think anytime you go on the road you are kind of in a deficit already.”

Harding won the red division of the league last year, there is only one division this year, and Balogh says they are going to be athletic. “They will push the basketball in transition. In addition, they have some athleticism. They have a couple of kids that can shoot the three, some balance. Where we think we can have an advantage is our play inside a little bit. We are going to have to take another step as we go on the road,” he said.

A win on Friday night would be pretty significant for the Warriors, according to Balogh. “Especially being on the road. We start the league with three games on the road. We are on the road at Marion Harding and the next week we are on the road at North Union and at Buckeye Valley. These games can make or break you. You can put yourself in a pretty good situation that is you win some tough games on the road you can kind of go from there,” he said.

Published 12/08/17

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Ashland has to Rebound, Shoot Better

Ashland lost to a very good Sandusky team last week and they play another on Friday night when they host defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Wooster in the league opener.

Sandusky beat Ashland (65-54) last week. Sandusky took a quick lead, but the Arrows cut it to three in the fourth quarter.

Coach Jason Hess says they want to get back on the court and prove they are better. “We just unfortunately got in a little hole at the beginning of the game and came up a little short on the scoreboard. I think our kids have really responded well this week in making the improvements that we have emphasized in practice and we are excited to get back out there. It seems like in basketball is a little different than football where they are used to one game a week stuff,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “In basketball we tend to like to play a little more often that way it keeps your memory short as far as what happened the last game. Having a week off here between games this early in the season it gives us some good practice time to get better, but we are still very anxious to get out there and play again.”

If they are going to beat a team like Wooster, Hess says they have to get on the defensive boards and execute their offense better. “The two big areas I think are against Wooster is one defensive rebounding and the second one is just offensive execution. Wooster is a team that plays very hard and they are very aggressive in the offensive glass. So, we have to make sure we establish a physical presence when shots go up and we can go rebound their misses. Just handle their pressure and execute offensively a little bit better to try and get a little bit better shots then we got last week. I feel our kids are very capable of making shots and we arehttp://www.swankonsportshosting247.com/ better shooters than we shot last week,” said Hess.

Wooster, having lost most of its offense to graduation, stepped up and played very well in beating Massillon and Massillon Perry last week.

Hess says the Generals are playing a lot like they did last year when they won 20 games. He says they take you out of your comfort zone. “They are a team that plays with a lot of confidence. They play hard and they really, really get after it and guard the paint and guard the ball well and can shoot perimeter shots and can kind of disrupt teams with how hard they play defense and get them out of rhythm,” he said.

Published 12/08/17

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Western Reserve Improving as League Play Begins

Rivals Western Reserve and New London get it on in the Firelands Conference opener for both on Friday night at Western.

They are both teams that almost always finish in the top half of the conference standings.

The Roughriders lost to Margaretta (61-41) in their first game last Friday and blasted Oberlin Firelands (74-45) in their second on Saturday night.

Coach Chris Sheldon says the difference was they made more shots in the second game. “One of the things we have talked about is how well are we going to defend. I thought both Friday and Saturday we did a pretty darn good job defensively with the exception of a couple of things we would like to have back on Friday night at the defensive end of the floor. Overall, for eight quarters of varsity basketball I thought something I was really concerned about going into the year it was better than I anticipated. On the flip side there is no secret that we are a perimeter dominated basketball team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are going to shoot our 30 threes a night. The true difference in Friday and Saturday night is Friday night we make five threes and Saturday night we make 15. That is a difference of 30 points and that is the difference in the outcome. We took the same shots both nights with the same guys taking them. Saturday night we got in a rhythm and we made them. We have shown the ability to do that, now it’s a matter of doing that consistently.”

Sheldon adds that part of last weekend was some first game jitters on Friday night. “Part of that I want to chalk up to not a lot of guys that have been in the limelight in a varsity game before against a really good team Friday night. There is no doubt that probably had something to do with it. What is a pleasure to see is we where able to turn it around 24 hours later and really let our talent come out. Now, it is a matter of doing that for the remainder of the year,” he said.

New London (0-2) turned in losses to Edison (55-46) and Wellington (68-41) last weekend.

Sheldon says the Wildcats have some inexperience and the they have Karson Howell, the son of coach Tom Howell, and he is one the better players in the conference. “Even though they probably didn’t play as well as Tommy would have liked in the second half on Saturday night his son had 20 points in the first half and was ungaurdable. When you talk about New London it starts with Karson Howell. On top of it they have the Marschall kid and the Carruthers kid and a couple of other guys to go around him. They are team right now similar to other teams. They bring a player or two back with some experience and then they have some guys that are getting their feet wet for the first time. That is always scary because you never know how they are going to react. The one thing I know about New London is this has been a great rivalry through my 16 years. Their kids know that and our kids know that. We are going to compete and give each other their best. The other thing you know is Tommy is going to get that team better each and every week,” said Howell.

When it comes to Friday night, Sheldon believes this game will be a whole lot like previous games between these two. “I expect a heck of a ballgame as we normally have. We have to start by stopping Karson Howell and really making other guys have to step up and beat us and if they do, you know, tip you cap to them. That is the biggest thing for us going into Friday night,” he said.

Published 12/08/17

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Willard Looking to Respond

It is likely going to be a learning process this year at Willard and there are two more chances to get better this week.

The Flashes (0-2) play at Shelby on Friday and home against Bellevue on Saturday.

Last week, Willard opened with a (60-49) loss to Upper Sandusky. Coach Joe Bedingfield liked the way his kids played in the second half. “We had some sports where we played to our potential. Against Upper Sandusky I thought we played a pretty good three quarters. In the first quarter we didn’t come out ready to match their intensity and their toughness, a lot of things they do vey well. We got down at one point 19-3 and our kids fought back. I was really proud of their second half. At one point it was a seven point game and we had the ball with about 1:30 left. We missed a three and they were able to close with free throws and make it an 11 point game. It is still a loss, but there are some things to build off we thought,” said Bedingfield.

On the other hand, on Saturday night, Lexington beat them (80-39) and Bedingfield says the Minutemen were just better than them. “Saturday night we played Lexington and they have a really nice team. A kid came off the bench and hit three threes in a row. I kind of go by the philosophy of seeing if your team early in the season can play through some things. I should have called an earlier time out and got them settled down. We didn’t respond really well against Lexington. We took one on the chin that night. They are a really good ball team, got a nice program, and they took it to us on Saturday,” he said.

After their successful football season this will be the opener for Shelby. Bedingfield says that can be a positive or negative for them. “Shelby with their success in football. I think football sometimes can carry over to basketball. Coach Schwemley has been at it a long time and has had success with his program. He always gets to the best out of his kids. We know we are going into a fight on Friday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We hope our kids are ready to compete and play hard. We think we have had a pretty decent week of practice and we have them prepared for the game on Friday. You haven’t seen them play. They haven’t played four quarters in a regular season game. If there is one positive, we have played a couple of regular season games. We have that out of the way.”

Bellevue is much the same way. They open the season against Sandusky on Friday. Bedingfield says he likes being part of the Willard-Bellevue rivalry. “When I was a kid I took trips to Ashland to watch Willard-Bellevue games. It means something to a lot of people still. I think we were trying to sell that to our kids a little bit without living too much in the past. We are trying to let them create their own identity, their own rivalries and stuff. The one interesting thing is these guys are not in our league anymore. It is hard for me being an “NOL” type of guy, playing in the “NOL” looking at Bellevue and Shelby as a non-league opponent. We are looking forward to it. We still look at it as a big game. Our community still looks at it as big game and I am sure their community does too,” said Bedingfield.

Published 12/08/17

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Wynford Working on Getting Better

With a win under their belt, the Wynford Royals begin play in their Northern 10 Athletic Conference opener on Saturday by hosting the Bucyrus Redmen.

They won their season opener last Friday (56-50) over the Crestview Cougars of the Firelands Conference.

Coach Jason Engel says they did a lot of good things, especially on defense. “I was happy with the way we played defensively. We have a lot of room for improvement. We are not near where we want to be yet. Obviously, we have only played one game. It was pleasing where we were in terms of rotations and where we were in our spots defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We still have to get better and we have been trying to do that this week getting ready for Bucyrus. They play us very well. Last year, they were up 7-0 on us in the first minute or two of the game. In my opinion anybody can bounce back from a loss, you play hard when you lose. I don’t want our kids to be satisfied that we won one game. How can you respond when things are going well? That is another important part of being able to motivate kids. Get them to buy into what you are trying to do.”

Offensive execution is something the Royals have been working on this week in practice. Engel says there are a number of things they need to improve. “We turned the ball over too many times. It seemed like we started our offense back by the 10 foot volleyball serving line. We are not starting our offense on the wings with our screen and roll. That is not where we want it to be. Our guys off the ball when we are tired are not cutting very well. I don’t think we screen very well. There are a lot of things we need to sharpen on offense. We did rebound very well. We went to the glass hard and some of our big guys and our guards rebounded very well offensively. We didn’t shoot very well the first game and I know it is the first game,” said Engel.

Bucyrus (0-2) lost to Galion last week (67-50) in its first game and talented Northmor (72-33) on Saturday in its second. Engel says they do some basic stuff really well. “Coach Maddox is doing a nice job with them. He has the kids really playing hard and I know they practice hard over there. He is trying to get back to fundamentals and basics. I think they screen well. I think they box out well. They are trying to run some four out, one in, dribble drive stuff. They are not trying to do too much. That is a key for them. They are going to win some games this year, they have too many seniors, guys that have played for a long time, I think he has them headed in the right direction,” he said.

Published 12/08/17

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No Track Meet For Norwalk

Norwalk opens up play in a new league for them as the Truckers travel to Tiffin to meet the Columbian Tornadoes in what is now a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Their home opener is Saturday against the Madison Rams of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

Last Saturday, the Truckers fell to the Ontario Warriors (49-43) in a non-conference game.

Coach Steve Gray says they had their chances. “You know I thought we competed. We just failed to a lot of little things,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Boxing out with 45 seconds to go, we missed two or three layups, making some poor decisions in trying to dribble right and pass left. For the most part I was happy. I think we showed great potential. I am just excited to see how we do this week.”

The Truckers will play this weekend without the services of guard Brandon Haraway as he finishes his three game suspension. Gray says he will be back next week. “He is obviously a very talented player. Based on his decisions he didn’t deserve to play Saturday. Everything will be forgotten in another week and next week we will welcome him back with open arms,” said Gray.

Tiffin Columbian lost its opening two games of the year (56-38) to Oregon Clay and (67-35) to Upper Sandusky. Gray says the Tornadoes have some athletes and they have to make this game an examination of basketball skills. “Well, if it is an athletic event I think they beat us. They are a little bigger, a little longer, a little quicker. We have to turn it into a basketball game because I think are probably just a little more skilled. If we take care of the ball. If we take open shots and defend we have a chance,” he said.

Madison (0-1) lost in its first game to Olentangy (77-67) last Saturday.

They now have former St. Peter’s star Mason Campbell in their lineup to go with Kyle Jackson and Gray says that makes them a lot better. “Mason Campbell make them a lot different. It gives them to great scorers. You spend so much time concentrating on those two kids you run the risk of allowing someone else to go off on you. (Madison coach) Tim (Mergel) is a lot like I was four or five years ago with a very talented group and unfortunately for him he is going division one,” said Gray.

Published 12/08/17

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Northmor Rallies Past Colonel Crawford

Demetrious “Meechie” Johnson’s two free throws :04 seconds left in overtime sealed Northmor’s (66-63) win over Colonel Crawford in an exciting non-conference boys’ basketball game at Northmor on Wednesday night.

Colonel Crawford held the lead for most of the night. The high watermark was a 13 point lead (41-28) with 1:51 to go in their quarter after a basket by Jordan Fenner, but the Golden Knights would outscore Crawford (26-13) over the final 10 minutes to tie the game at 54 after four quarters.

“We didn’t give up at all. The kids were laughing at me because in a time out I told them you guys look scared and I can’t help you because I have never been scared in my life. I said that is the mentality we have to play with here. We preform when our backs are against the wall. I mean Pleasant had the perfect storm to beat us Friday. I thought Crawford had the perfect storm to beat us (Wednesday) night,’ he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “The Kegleys are out of the game with foul trouble, the bench steps up. I can’t say enough. I personally thought that you can’t press Colonel Crawford and we went to the press and we turned them over. We got right back in the game. The complete tide of the game changed. It was a fun game, gosh.”

Brody Martin’s three at the third quarter horn gave the Eagles (1-1) a (46-38) advantage with eight minutes to play, but Northmor went ahead for the first time since the 4:35 mark of the first quarter on Johnson’s steal at midcourt and layup with 2:15 to play in the game giving the Golden Knights a (52-51) lead.

Colonel Crawford coach Davis Sheldon says they just gave it away too much. “The bottom line is you can’t turn the ball over and we had a lot of turnovers when they made their run. That can’t happen. We didn’t take care of the basketball and turnovers hurt us during the run. I was very proud of our effort. Our game plan defensively was good. “Meehie” is a heck of an athlete, we all know that, but turnovers is what did us in. It was not the end of the game, it was turnovers. When I look at the second half and you have 13 turnovers. Those are guys that don’t normally turn it over. That is what cost us,” said Sheldon.

It looked like the fat lady was heading to the mic with :12 seconds to play in overtime as Northmor held a five point lead (63-58,) but Cameron McCready hit a 35 footer to cut the lead by to two (63-61) with six seconds left. Northmor made three of four free throws in the final five seconds to put it away. “You have to take care of the ball, rebound, and hit foul shots. I’ll tell you what Cameron McCreary is one of the best around and I think I have one of the best around. He made it interesting last year up at their place. He kept banking in threes to keep them in it. That one he hit there towards the end was probably 30, 35 feet. He won’t go away. I label that as maybe a district championship like game. That is the type of atmosphere, the type of team, that is the kind of team we will see. At the end of the night we gain a lot of confidence and I think we gave Colonel Crawford some things to work on, they will make adjustments, it will make the better too,” said Ruth.

With Tyler Kegley, Kyle Kegley and Black Miller all over 6’5”, the Golden Knights held the size advantage, but Sheldon says it wasn’t those guys that killed them on the glass. “They had 14 offensive rebounds and that is a lot. A lot of them were Meechie. He just goes in and throws something up and then just jumps over you. There is a reason he has won the state long jump how many times. We had trouble keeping him off the glass. It wasn’t the Kegleys, it was Meechie and Plecther that willed themselves. But, we can’t turn the ball over that much like we did in the second half. That was the frustrating part. Our offense was really good, but when you turn it over you don’t get shots up. You can’t score. You can’t do what you need to do. That is where we struggled a little bit,” said Sheldon.

Pletcher had 21 and Johnson 19 for the Golden Knights. McCreary had 20 and Harley Shaum 14 for the Eagles.

Northmor has designs on a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference title and a long division three tournament run. Ruth says a game like Wednesday night is going to help them get better. “These are fun. I can not phantom what is would be like to be one of our players. We talked the other day that some kids play a whole high school career and never get to this juncture of a game or atmosphere and my kids are living it about every time we step on the floor. I can’t stress enough it is great to be a Northmor Golden Knight right now,” he said.

Published 12/07/17

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Mansfield Senior Laying the Foundation

Mansfield Senior and Lexington have come to define the Ohio Cardinal Conference in boys’ basketball and they renew that rivalry on Friday at Lexington in the conference openers for both.

The Tygers spilt on the opening weekend in losing to cross town rival Mansfield St, Peter’s (71-57) on Saturday and beating St, Michael College (67-51) on Sunday.

Coach Marquis Sykes says they certainly got better in their second game. “It was a tough weekend. It was a little bit out of whack with a Saturday-Sunday schedule instead of Friday-Saturday, but I thought our guys played hard both games. They gave the maximum effort that was in their body both games. Saturday night the execution was not so great and the outcome of that was a loss. Sunday, I thought we executed at a pretty high rate defensively and offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We shot a pretty solid field goal percentage and from the free throw line. Defensively, we were able to cause some turnovers and we finished most of our defensive possessions with a box out and a rebound. So, a lot of progress from Saturday to Sunday and I was pleased with that,”

Sykes says really they are still in the process of identifying what they are good at doing and how to best use those skills to get wins. “We have talked a whole lot as coaches and players and really trying to develop our identity and things we are really going to focus on. Really what we feel like we are going to do is try to focus on our strengths and try and focus on them beating us with their weaknesses. If we do that we will be fine. We obviously have our base defenses that we teach all of our kids seventh grade through twelfth grade so they can be fundamentally sound and ready to go no matter what team they play and adjust accordingly. I think that is about where we are at right now,” he said.

Lexington (2-0) is off to a good start after wins over Clear Fork (73-63) and Willard (80-39) last weekend.

Sykes says they hope to be able to at least contain junior forward Cade Stover and be able to covert on the offensive end. “We will see a heavy dose of Stover. He is obviously one of the best athletes in the country with his football resume. The same attributes he uses on the football field carry right over to the basketball floor. We are going to have to make sure we slow him down a little bit. He is the kind of player that you really just want to try and slow him down. You are never really going to stop him. Hope and pray their three point shooters, don’t shoot lights out and hope and pray that our guys can convert on the offensive end at a pretty decent rate. We expect to see a typical Lexington-Senior High battle. We will go out there and compete to the best of our abilities and may the best team win,” said Sykes.

Published 12/07/17

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Clear Fork Opens “MOAC”

This is the first year for Clear Fork and the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. They won the conference title in football and they tip off the basketball conference schedule on Friday night at North Union.

The Colts (1-1) opened with old rival Lexington and Northwestern, who was in a division three regional final last year, last weekend. They lost to Lexington (73-63) on Friday and beat Northwestern (68-64) on Saturday.

Coach Steven Bechtel saw some good things both nights, but certainly his team was better against Northwestern. “With Lexington on Friday night we knew that was going to be a great atmosphere starting off with them. They are really, really solid at every position. I thought we went over there and got ourselves in position to win, but Lex just made a few more plays down the stretch,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Saturday night we had a really tough hard fought game over at Northwestern. Another solid basketball team with solid guard play and we got some stops down the stretch that we didn’t get Friday night. Hopefully, that is a step in the right direction. We hit some free throws late and were able to come away with a win.”

Free throws are a lost art in some places, like the NBA for example, but not at Clear Fork. Bechtel says they are going to have to continue to shoot them well. “On the year we are 36-39 from the line (92 percent). That is obviously a high percentage and we need to continue to do that, especially when it is to put a game away or just to win basketball games. Everybody talks about free throws being a key and that is something we are doing right now,” he said.

Among the things the Colts have to do better is rebound and defend the other guys, according to Bechtel. “Just more consistency in a lot of different areas, especially boxing out because we are not exactly a huge team. I think we are taking care of the ball fairly well right now. So, box outs and just our positioning off the ball and trying to get up in those passing lanes a little bit earlier than we have. I know that is going to come with the more practice we get and obviously the games,” he said.

North Union (1-1) spilt there first two as well. They beat Ben Logan (58-42) and lost to Triad (57-50) last weekend. Bechtel says the Wildcats are a team built around their guards. “They have solid guard play. I believe they have a coach’s kid that is one their guards. Obviously, when it is a coach’s kid he is going to be a protectionist. He is going to play at a high level. He is a sophomore. Our point guard is a sophomore as well. And they have some size. With their length they run a lot of zone, so we are going to have to come out and execute well, move the basketball, and continue to share it too,” said Bechtel.

The Colts have shown the ability to make three pointers and by a number of guys, but Bechtel says they need to find other ways to score than making jump shots from the perimeter. “We have shot a lot of three already, we just don’t want to fall in love with it. If it is one of those nights when some of those guys are not hitting we have to make sure we find out who is hitting from the outside. We don’t want to fall in love with the arch, we have to run some of our sets as well as move the basketball and try and get some easier shots,” he said.

Published 12/07/17

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Upper Improves; Needs to Continue that Trend

Upper Sandusky plays a couple more non-conference games this week before they begin defense of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference title next week.

They host Galion on Thursday and play at Shelby on Saturday, a couple schools they used to play in the Northern Ohio League days.

After beating Willard (60-49) but not playing that well, the Rams hammered Tiffin Columbian (67-35) on Saturday. Coach Jeff Winslow says the Tiffin game was a better performance. “We just did a much better job. We had eight fouls the whole game against Columbian where as against Willard we had eight fouls in the first quarter and that just really got us into trouble playing our defense fouling all of the time and slowing the game down. We did not do that Saturday against Columbian. We did a really good job of moving our feet and not fouling. We only gave up five offensive rebounds as opposed to we gave up 21 to Willard. So, those were two big areas. We were able to keep the game at our pace by doing a lot better job in those two areas,” said Winslow.

Winslow says this is a group of kids that truly wants to get better. “That is what is nice about this group they seem to respond to coaching. If you show them on film and tell them what they are doing wrong, they do a real good job of making an effort to correct that because they want to do things the right way. When you have kids that want to do that it will make my job a lot easier. I thought we did a great job of executing our game plan Saturday as opposed to Friday,” he said.

Upper takes a 48-game regular season winning streak into the game with Galion (1-0) on Thursday. The Tigers beat Bucyrus (67-50) last Friday. Winslow says they play an aggressive game on both ends. “They like to get up and down. They are a young group and most of them played last year. They have the Alsip kid, he is a really good player. They have a bunch of guys that can score off the bounce and can shoot the basketball. So, we have a tough task,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to guard the three point line and close out, use our feet and keep them out of the paint. Defensively, they like to pressure the basketball and get in passing lanes and things. We need to be real fundamental offensively and we need to be able to move our feet defensively and be able to contest the three point shot to be able to come out of that game we a “W.”

Shelby opens their season against Willard, the night before they play the Rams. Winslow is pretty confident what they will see from the Whippets. “They are typical Shelby. They are big, they are athletic, they have got skill, they are going to be a load to match-up with. They have a couple of kids that have played two or three years over there. It has been a fun game the five years I have been here at Upper. Every game has been a good one and I expect same thing Saturday. I have a good idea on some of the things they do and their players, so it should be a really fun game Saturday night,” he said.

Published 12/07/17

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Flames Dedicated to Getting Better

Mansfield Christian has a lot of things to improve going into a double of weekend of action hosting Lucas on Friday and Hillsdale on Saturday in boys’ basketball games.

They lost their first game to Colonel Crawford (63-47) last Friday and coach John Kurtz says they didn’t play very well. “Not to take anything away from Crawford because they really are a good team. I just didn’t feel like we played really well in that game. We had trouble making shots. We got some decent looks, but we had trouble making shots. Probably more than anything else we got beat in transition and we got beat on the glass. You don’t have a big margin there and that was tough for us. I thought our kids battled, but we struggled all night on the offensive end,” he said.

Kurtz says they missed a lot of shots they should have made and really didn’t play as well on defense as he would have liked either. “After watching the film, we kind of felt like there were about 10 point blank shots inside that bounced around or we hit the front of the rim. Stuff that we thought normally should go in and would have made the game a lot closer. So, we got some good looks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Then again, we like to only be giving up 50-55 a game and we gave up 63. There are a lot of things that went wrong in that game. Certainly, we have tried to correct some of those things for this coming weekend.”

Lucas (1-0) is coming off a (66-57) win over Fredericktown last week and they come to “The Furnace” for a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night. Kurtz says the Cubs have quality guards. “They have three kids back that have gotten a lot of time over the years. They did graduate a lot of seniors, but they have Suader back and Hauger back and Grover back. These are all kids that have played and gotten a lot of experience. So, they will be guard heavy I am sure. They will be a good team. It is a conference game, so it will be important to us,” he said.

Hillsdale hasn’t played a game yet, but Kurtz has been able to get some information on the Falcons. He says they can do some things, like shoot threes. “It was hard to find stuff on them just because they haven’t played and they were a little late getting started. I did get to see a little film on them and boy they put up a lot of threes. Looks like they are running a lot of dribble drive stuff. Probably the two teams will be somewhat similar with a lot more guard play and a lot more shooting threes. We have to do a better job on the glass. We have do a little better job on drive penetrations. Those are the things we have spent a lot of time on this week,” he said.

Published 12/07/17

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West Holmes Off to Flying Start

West Holmes has played three games in the first five days of the regular season and they have won them all and pretty impressively.

They have beaten Orrville (57-43,) Loudonville (74-58) and Wooster Triway (53-50) on Tuesday night.

Coach Keith Troyer is smiling. “We are off to a pretty good start here at the beginning of the year. We have played three games in five days, so the kids are ready for a little break here. Yeah, we couldn’t ask for a better start,” he said.

The Knights have gotten excellent production from Chase Wells and they have been giving good effort, according to Troyer. “The kids come out and they compete every night. They play hard. Chase Wells has had a good start for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “He is averaging 26 in the first three games. We have had pretty balanced scoring, which is good to see.”

Now, the Knights (3-0) don’t play until next Tuesday against Massillon Tuslaw. Troyer says it is nice to have the break. “I can’t remember the last time we opened up the season with back to back Friday, Saturday games. It has been a grueling five days. I have given them the day off (Wednesday) we will do a little light shooting and get back at on (Thursday,”) he said.

West Holmes opens Ohio Cardinal Conference play on December 16 at Mansfield Senior. Troyer feels this is going to be a completive league this winter. “Every team in our league they have two, three players back from last year’s team, so I think every team is going to be solid. There is not going to be a team that is down this year. Most of the JV teams from last year had good years. There are always players stepping in to fill those senior shoes. You have transfers that moved into different schools. It is going to be a tough year,” said Troyer.

Published 12/07/17

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Pleasant Looking to Shoot Better

Marion Pleasant opens play in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Friday night at home against Galion.

In their first game they lost to a talented Northmor team (38-37) when the Golden Knights cashed in on a free throw in the finals seconds.

Coach Ben Snively says they gave a real good effort against a good team. “I definitely felt our kids would go over there and compete and we did that. Both teams played extremely hard, but in the end I think we ran into they are real long team, 6’8”, 6’7”, and we really struggled around the hoop. Give them credit they made one more play at the end of the game. They hit a free throw on us late. I was really proud of our kids, especially going on the road,” he said.

Pleasant went three weeks deep into the football playoffs, but Snively wanted to play. “I had a couple of people asking me what we were doing opening up with Northmor. In the past at Pleasant we really have never scheduled games for the opening weekend. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s we were making deep playoff runs. It just seemed like when I got here they were always trying to avoid that first weekend. Again, this year we had no opening weekend games and we got Northmor to agree to play us. I know coach Ruth has five games in the first week and half. I was just happy we made another playoff push this year and we had three kids that were joining us late, but the other kids were playing, and I was ready to get out there and get a game. It was a really good test for us early in the year. I was really happy and proud of the kids, but we talked about 21 more games and there are no moral victories,” said Snively.

When it comes to improvement, Snively says they need to shoot the ball better and they must reduce turnovers going forward. “My assistant coach I talk about this all of the time really. The game is so much easier when you make shots and we shot I believe 34 percent for the game. Again, it is opening night and all of that goes into it. They shot 36 percent I think. It was kind of an ugly game. I would prefer to play in the 60’s if possible. I think they turned it over 16 times and we turned it over 20. We have to clean that area up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday. “We are not going to win a lot of basketball games turning it over 20 times. We only got to the line nine times. We only shot 11 threes. We tried to attack the rim, but with their length inside, especially the Kegley boys. They are big in there and our kids went in there, but it is difficult at times. They do a really good job, we got no second chance points at all. They really did a nice job of rebounding. The main thing is now we get the jitters out of the way and shoot the ball better like every team in the state and we have to cut down on turnovers.”

Galion (1-0) was a (67-50) winner over Bucyrus in their opener. Snively says it is a matter of them getting better. “With our league it is a meat grinder. They don’t have a wealth of experience coming back, nor do we. I look at this game it is on our home floor, it is our home opener and we have to go out and do the same things we did against Northmor defensively and work on our execution a little bit more on offense. In the “MOAC” there are no nights off. If you walk out and think you are going to beat anybody you might fool yourself. Our focus is really on us right now and not so much concerned with what everybody else has. I know that most teams won’t have the length that Northmor did, so I think our kids are feeling better that we can get some stuff done around the rim,” said Snively.

Published 12/07/17

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Colonel Crawford With Big Week

Colonel Crawford plays one of the best teams in the area Wednesday in Northmor and then starts play in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference on Saturday with another of the contenders in the Carey Blue Devils.

Last Friday, the Eagles (1-0) went to Mansfield Christian and beat the Flames (63-47) on the road.

Coach David Sheldon says they did a lot of good things. “We were very fortunate to go over there and we got off to a great start. That start on the defensive end allowed us to get out on transition and get a comfortable lead and maintain that throughout the entire game. I was happy with the way we distributed the ball running the floor. We had three guys in double figures on the night. It was a good start. We have went over their in my 12 years six times and we have never really won by double figures. We were happy because I think that is a good basketball team. John (Kurtz) does a great job and with McPeak and Kurtz they are going to win a lot of games this year. So, we were happy with the start. We have a big challenge ahead of us this week. This is going to be a great test early on in the season with the two games ahead of us,” said Sheldon.

Crawford likes to run the floor and Sheldon says they have a very good player to orchestrate that attack. “We are very fortunate to have Cameron McCreary at the point. He is one of the premier point guards I believe in the Mansfield area. He proved that Friday right out of the gate. He went for 17 points and 10 assists. He is a playmaker, he creates for people, he creates for himself. It starts with that point guard pushing the pace. You have to make great decisions because you don’t want to push the pace and throw the ball all over the gym and Cameron does a great job and out other guards run the floor as well and catch it ahead of the pack,” he said.

Northmor (2-0) picked off Marion Pleasant (38-37) in their first game and then dusted Bucyrus (72-33) on Saturday night.

Sheldon says the Golden Knights have players all over the floor and with experience. “They have four seniors that have played a lot of basketball in the two Kegleys, Pletcher and “Meechie” Johnson. The neat thing about them in they have great length. They can go inside, they can shoot it outside and then “Meechie” with his athleticism at the point guard position. This is a very good basketball team and this is a great challenge for us come Wednesday night. I told our guys I am excited for this,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “This is sort of like we have seen early on in college basketball with the Big Ten-ACC. You have the “N10” with Colonel Crawford and “KMAC” with Northmor, the returning champ from the “MOAC” last year. So, this is going to be a good challenge. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain in these types of games and learn a lot about your basketball team Wednesday night and how we compete over there on the road.”

Carey (2-0) comes to North Robinson for an “N10” game on Saturday night. They have looked good in wins over Riverdale (83-58) and Van Buren (53-52) in its first two games.

Sheldon says they, like Northmor, have a good combination of height and athleticism. “I have had a chance to see them on person as well as on film. They have the 6’7” Stone kid inside. Then they have great guard play with Luzader, Bame, and Wentling. It is another team that is very senior dominated other than the Stone kid and he has grown three inches, he is 6’7” now. It is a very good basketball team. Last year, we split with them. That is the most important game because that is a league game and it is at our place Saturday night. You need to protect your home floor. Our number one goal is to compete for a league championship and that begins Saturday. It is a tough, tough game right out of the gate with league play. Our kids are excited this week to get out there and play two very good basketball teams,” said Sheldon.

Published 12/06/17

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Northmor Excited by the Challenge

Northmor is in a position they have rarely been in until the last two years they are now the hunters not the game.

They host Colonel Crawford in a battle of basketball titans on Wednesday night. They begin play in the new Know Morrow Athletic Conference on Friday night against Fredericktown.

After beating Marion Pleasant in their first game last Friday (38-37) with a free throw at the end, they dominated Bucyrus (72-33) last Saturday.

Coach Zach Ruth says they got into more of a grove against Bucyrus. “We were wound tighter than a fiddle on Friday night and hopefully we got that out of the way and went up to Bucyrus on Saturday night and we settled in. Friday was a big mental challenge for us, but I think that is going to go a long way with us,” he said.

However, Ruth believes the experience against Pleasant will help them a lot too because they had to get a stop and a rebound to get in position to win the game. “I have always judge all sports when the other team has to spend so much time preparing and trying different things that they are not comfortable with that is a sign that you have a good squad. Pleasant was trying some things that I never saw Pleasant do before. Bucyrus has a new coach up there and he is feeling things out. Some of these marque matchups teams are really putting a lot of emphasis. I can’t wait to see what kind of wrinkle coach (David) Sheldon is going to throw at us (Wednesday) night. We are prepared for things and I have my kids trained. These little things, these little mind games, I love because it is going to make us better,” said Ruth.

Colonel Crawford (1-0) is at Northmor on Wednesday night. The Eagles beat Mansfield Christian (63-47) in their opener. Ruth says it should be a great battle. “(Wednesday) night’s game, I mean there are some good players in the area at all of the schools, but (Wednesday) night’s game features to of the better point guards in the area in all divisions. Then you are going to have two big post guys inside going at it. It is going to be a good one,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I anticipate it coming down to crunch time. The gym is going to be sold out. It is going to be like a conference title or district title atmosphere. I am just so happy for the kids to be part of that in the third game of the season on a Wednesday night.”

Ruth adds the game against Fredericktown is just as important because it is a league game. He says teams in the new league are going to be ready to play them. “My kids hear me say that’s why you play the game. I hate arrogantcy, but we are confident that when healthy we should be the front runner in the new “KMAC” league, but with that we are going to get everybody’s best shot. Even the team’s that aren’t supposed to do very good, we are going to get their best shot. If they can hang with Northmor or knock Northmor off some schools may label that as a success. We have just got to be prepared because people are going to try and bring it every night to get us and what a great place to be in,” said Ruth.

Published 12/06/17

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Big Second Half Leads Lexington Past Clear Fork

Lexington outscored Clear Fork (26-8) in the second half and they beat the Lady Colts (48-28) in a non-conference girls’ basketball game on Tuesday night at Les Hauenstein Gym.

Leading (22-20) at the half Lady Lex (2-0) limited Clear Fork to just one field goal in the critical third quarter. They went to a zone defense and co-coach Connie Doutt says they were a little more aggressive too. “I think this environment was part of it. I think the student section got into their heads and maybe were a little timid, but I thought in the second half they relaxed a little bit and got used to it. I think we were able to get up and put a little more pressure on them,” she said.

Clear Fork shot just 21% form the field on the night and just 5% in the second half. Coach Chuck Schmitt says they did not run their offense the way they can. “We didn’t execute our offense and get shots. If you don’t have good shots you are not going to score. We have to get better at that. Their defense was good, they are quick,” he said.

Abigail Adams scored five her team high 14 points for Lexington during a 30 second stretch late in the third quarter to give Lady Lex a (34-22) advantage with 1:38 to play in the quarter. Clear Fork (2-1) could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Lexington seemed to score repeatedly off the Clear Fork press, but Doutt believes 20 turnovers are too much and “that is something we are going to have to work on and become better at handling the ball as they season goes on,” she told Swankonsports.com after the game.

Macy Wade led Clear Fork with 11, nobody else had more than five.

The Lady Colts made three, three pointers, all in the first half and had trouble get the ball into the post much at all. “They were in a zone and we have to get better at that. That is on me because we haven’t practiced a lot against zones. We have to get better at recognizing that a little better,” said Schmitt.

Published 12/06/17

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Shelby Ready to Get Started

Shelby was one of the best football teams in the state this fall and now the Whippets are ready to start the basketball season.

They host Willard on Friday and Upper Sandusky on Saturday.

Coach Troy Schwemley says sure they would like to have more time, but with what have been given he believes they are going to be ready as possible to play basketball. “Ready or not we are going to be playing. We are going to be a week and half practice in. From the standpoint are we doing everything we can in a week and half to be ready, yeah, the guys have been working hard. If you look at it from the perspective of the weeks of practice we haven’t had you can’t make up for the four, four and half weeks of practice that everybody else has had. We are going to focus on the things we can control and trying to do a few things really well and that is what we can control,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have been doing a lot of good things. We were able to scrimmage Norwalk St. Paul, who is in the same boat. I felt good that we had a scrimmage and he have been able to see our guys a little bit. We have had a week in a half to get ready and do those things as best we can.”

Willard (0-2) will be the first opponent. The Flashes lost to Upper (60-49) last Friday and Lexington (80-39) on Saturday. Schwemley believes coach Joe Bedingfield is going to have them prepared. “I was able to see them play Upper Sandusky, which was a nice game to scout since we play both of them this weekend. I think the first set that they ran is something that I remember they have run before. I kind of had to chuckle and think oh wow how many sets am I going to see this game? I thought the guys played hard to the game and did a lot of good things. Obviously, Hirschy does a great job at whatever level of coaching he is doing. Those two will work well together and get the most out of their kids,” said Schwemley.

When it comes to Upper Sandusky (2-0) who finished they weekend with a (67-35) win over Tiffin Columbian on Saturday. Schwemley says you know what to expect with the Rams. “They pressure and trap and they spread you out. Coach Winslow has them playing hard. A lot of familiar faces from guys last year and I think their JV team was very successful last year too. They lost some of the guys they had last year too, but replaced them with some guys that had success on the JV level or varsity level last year,” he said.

With Sandusky looming next week, Schwemley thought it was important to get the season under way. “Both of those teams have two games under their belt and that is one of the reasons we are playing at some point there have to be no excuses we have to be ready to play, so in no way do I want to sound like we are not going to be. Next week, we go to Sandusky and I would rather have two games under our belt going into our first league game than pushing these games back. We did the same thing last year and there and some sacrifices, but it is the right thing to do. We are fortunate that we are not playing any triple weeks, so I am pretty happy how our schedule lined up,” he said.

Schwemley’s son Uriah played football and he was a big fan of the success they had on the football field and he hopes that transfers to the court. “I was thrilled with the football season. I am sure everybody wanted to play one more game and I really proud of those guys and what they did. A lot of those guys are now playing basketball when you look at Brady and Carter and Uriah and Nick and Grant, Devon Brooks, and Ty Hall. Those are guys that know how to work hard and believe in each other and play together. Hopefully, the things they did on the football field will help us on the basketball court. Then we have some guys in Hunter Hoffman, Tanner Stevens and Cameron Stein that have been practicing and now are joining those guys,” said Schwemley.

Published 12/06/17

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Madison Wants to Push the Pace

Madison has a double weekend this week as they play host to Mt. Vernon in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night and travel to Norwalk for a non-conference game on Saturday night.

Both teams like a half court game, the Rams would rather run the floor.

Olentangy beat Madison (77-67) in the Rams first game last Saturday.

Coach Tim Mergel says they got too fair behind in the game, but he was proud of how they never gave in. “Olentangy came out and had a game under their belt. They were something like nine of their first 11 behind arch and that kind of put us behind the eight ball. We were down 16 at half. We cut it to one with about three and half minutes to play and just couldn’t get over the hump. We had a couple of possessions where we could have taken the lead and ended up empty on four possessions in a row. It was definitely something we can learn from,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I am just proud of our kids for accepting the challenge at halftime and getting up and defending a little bit better. Olentangy is a good ballclub. They are going to win a lot of games this year down in the Columbus area. It was one that got away from us a little bit, but our kids fought back.”

Mergel says they didn’t win that first one, but they certainly learned a lot from it. “There are a lot of good coaching points and we set the kids down and broke down the video for them. We saw some things that needed to be fixed. They are not major things, but when you play a good basketball team like Olentangy they have four guys on the floor, five guys on the floor, that can really shoot it. The little things, the little breakdowns hurt you. They are not huge mistakes just little things that good basketball teams make you pay for and we have go to get them cleaned up,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (2-0) posted two wins last weekend as they beat Highland (57-45) on Friday and Watkins Memorial (65-53) on Saturday. Mergel says the Yellow Jackets have a lot of shooters. “They have a lot of guys back. They have nine seniors on their roster and the majority of them play and they played last year. Last year they beat us at home and they beat us up pretty good. On the road, we had them down double digits and they came back and got us in double overtime. This is a team that is scary in every aspect. They are disciplined defensively, offensively they are going to be patient. They are going to get the shot they want, so we have to do the best we can to try and disrupt their rhythm and getting them playing at a pace they are not comfortable with,” said Mergel.

Norwalk (0-1) lost to Ontario (49-43) last Saturday in their first game. They will play without guard Brandon Haraway, who is suspended. Mergel says they want the Truckers to play faster. “This weekend as far as matchups on Friday and Saturday go pretty well. We don’t talk a lot about Saturday’s game with an “OCC” opponent. When you look ahead at the schedule you look at the pace these teams want to play. Norwalk wants to maintain ball control. They want to execute to they get the shot they really want. We have to do our best to try and disrupt that. At least put one big run out there and put them in a spot that they are uncomfortable with,” he said.

Published 12/06/17

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Northwestern Ready to Move Forward

Northwestern is really just a whisker away from being 2-0, but the Huskies are instead 0-2 and looking for their first win in their Wayne County Athletic League opener against Chippewa on Friday night.

After leading after the first quarter in their opener against Wooster Triway they lost to the Titians (56-49) on the road.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says it was a game they had a good chance to win. “Against Triway we are up 20-11 after the first quarter and we have 10 fouls on us in the first quarter and they precede to call seven more on us in the second and I have four starters setting on the bench, two of them with three and two of them with two and another guy with two that had to play. That was not how we wanted to start and we got outscored in that second quarter 19-3,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Now, to start the day my 6’5” 250 pound sophomore center, who was going to be our sixth man got suspended from school and missed that game and proceeded to miss the Clear Fork game. That was another bit of adversity our kids had to adjust to. I was really proud how we fought back and tied it at 49 with a 1:40 to go and give one of their boys credit, he buried a big three and then we missed a couple of threes and turned it over and fouled with like 10 seconds left.”

It was really a pretty similar game in a (68-64) loss to Clear Fork on Saturday night. Alberts says they were right there in the end. “The same thing happened against Clear Fork. We played really well in the first, third and fourth quarter and didn’t play well in the second quarter. We ended up being down eight at halftime after being outscored by nine in the second. We fought back and fought back and tied the game at 64. There was a phantom call with 14 seconds left and Clear Fork is a nice free throw shooting team and they made two free throws and we turned it over. We were inches away from being 2-0 and we end up being 0-2. So, our boys learned a lot and they did some good things. Friday night it a big night for us to kind of get off on the right foot in the league,” said Alberts.

The Northwestern coach says they have this is going to be an important week of practice for the Huskies. “I saw Chippewa, who played Tusky Central Catholic on Tuesday and Chippewa ended up winning 48-36 and they played hard. You set there and watch what they do and think now we are ready and we actually saw the team and go out and be prepared for what they do. I think it is more about matching the intensity and playing at the level we need to play at. I think you develop that by having good weeks of practice and hope that are guys are ready for that. I know that they had a sour taste in their mouth after last weekend. They are excited to be back on the floor,” he said.

Alberts says he expects the Chipps to play hard for their new coach and they do have some returning experience. “They have three guys back from last year that started. We played them at the end of the year last year, I always look at the last time we played them, not the first time. They have a new coach in Denny Shrock’s boy T.J. Shrock. Denny Shrock is the head girls coach at Chippewa. They have a new outlook on their team. Here early in the season they are going to play pretty darn hard and buy into what their coach is saying. I am anxious to see how we respond to it. Those three returning lettermen will be their keys in Spencer Bailey, Charlie Hemminger, and Steven Rose. It should be a fun night here Friday,” said Alberts.

Published 12/06/17

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Bellevue Starts its Season With Sandusky

After making it to the third round of the football playoffs, Bellevue is ready to tip off its basketball season with games against Sandusky on Friday and Willard on Saturday.

It is never easy to tell, but coach Ed Rich believes they have done all they can to ready for the weekend, despite the shorter preseason. “I think we are ready to play. We had nine guys out for football and we got those guys back a couple of weeks ago. I think we have our time in and I think we are ready to go,” he said.

Plus, Rich says there have been some good things during the preseason that makes him think they will be pretty good. “We had our last scrimmage last Saturday and I thought we played pretty well. I thought that was the best we have played all preseason, so I felt pretty good after Saturday,” he said.

Sandusky is the defending division two district champion and they are going to be pretty good again this year. The Blue Streaks beat Ashland (65-54) last Friday as Keith Williams had 19 points.

Jayresse Williams was the district player of the year and he was lost to graduation, but Rich says the Streaks are still pretty darn good. “They lost quite a bit. They only guy really they have coming back is Keith Williams. He was one of the better players in the league. He was probably number two right behind Jayreese,” he told Swankonsporys.com on Tuesday, “They are playing the same way. The only thing that I see that is different is they are just a little bit less consistent than they were last year, but I think that will come as the season goes on.”

Willard (0-2) lost to Upper Sandusky (60-49) and Lexington (80-39) last weekend. The Flashes have a new coaching staff, but Rich says he knows what he is getting. “They are getting better there is no doubt. I know Joe (Bedingfield) pretty well. I coached against him when I was at Galion and he was Willard JV coach and I was Galion JV coach. We had some great matchups when we both coached JV’s. I think we know each other well. I know he is going to turn that team around,” he said.

Published 12/06/17

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New London Needs More Consistency

New London is an inexperienced basketball team that needs to find some confidence and the sooner, the better.

The Wildcats, the defending Firelands Conference champs, play at preseason favorite Western Reserve on Friday night.

After losing to Edison (55-46) on Friday, the Wildcats lost to Wellington (68-41) on Saturday.

Coach Tom Howell says Wellington pretty much dominated the game on both ends. “It was pretty rough. Wellington was good, I knew that going in. They have a nice team. They took it too us in all aspects of the game and we just couldn’t recover,” he said.

With only one returning starter to work with, Howell says right now they are dealing with confidence issues with younger players. “We need to have more consistency at the defensive end of the floor all of the time. Offensively we just don’t have confidence in some of our younger kids. They don’t have the confidence to play at the varsity level yet,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They just aren’t consistent in all aspects of the game. You can’t play good teams and expect to win at the varsity level if you can’t get people to do what you need to do all of the time.”

Howell says the best way to heal these confidence issues is to taste some success of the floor. “I’ll be honest Friday night we played pretty well against a good Edison team and Saturday we didn’t. It was like two different teams out there. Who knows, if we can go to Western and get one and get these guys going a little bit. A little success will go a long way right now,” said Howell.

Western Reserve (1-1) lost to Margaretta (61-41) on Friday and pounded Oberlin Firelands (74-45) on Saturday in its first two games.

Howell says there is no question the Roughriders have some shooters, a lot of them. “They can shoot it, man, they can shoot it. They are going to shoot it, that’s the biggest thing. They are going to shoot it deep. They want to drive it and get it into the middle of the lane and kick it out to their shooters. You let them get going it could be a long night,” he said.

Published 12/06/17

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Defending “OCC” Champs Start with Ashland

Wooster won the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title going away last year and they start the defense of that title at Ashland on Friday night.

The Generals lost more than 80 percent of their scoring from last year, but they looked impressive in wins over Massillon and Massillon Perry by the same score of (72-51) on both nights last Friday and Saturday,

Coach Michael Snowbarger says he was even a little surprised. “I would have to say the kids kind of shocked me. They came out Friday and played extremely well, both defensively and offensively. I thought we shared the ball extremely well. I think we ended up shooting about 64 percent from the floor on Friday night. That was a lot of layups out of transition. Overall, I thought we played extremely well Friday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Saturday, we didn’t play quite as well, but we were still able to go over the Perry and get a win and anytime you get a road win in the manner that we did that is great for the kids.”

Balance of offense is going to be key for the Generals this year and playing solid half court defense, according to Snowbarger. “Both nights we had four guys in double figures and that is great. We also had some big assist numbers. Sharing the basketball and playing defense in the half court is going to make or break us this year,” he said.

Ashland lost its opener to Sandusky (65-54) last Friday. They were able to cut it the three after trailing by double digits, but couldn’t get over the top.

Like other teams in the league, Ashland lost quite a bit to graduation, but Snowbarger says they have got a lot back too. “The “OCC” I think is pretty even from top to bottom. Ashland has some talented kids. The Denbow kid is extremely good, Manny Langston, Goings is a great athlete. We are going to have to go over there and play extremely well to get them on Friday night. We can’t give them open looks. After their loss last week, I am sure they are going to come out hungry Friday,” said Snowbarger.

Ashland was one of the tallest teams in the area last year, and Snowbarger says they have four guys over 6’4” this year. “They have a ton of length. They did graduate Griffin Gerwig and the older Denbow, Jon Wolfe was a great player for them. When you have Langston, Gowings and Denbow back and you have the big guy inside. They can go 6’4”, 6’4”, 6’5”, 6’6”. You put that on a high school floor you are going to give a lot teams problems,” he said.

Published 12/05/17

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Young Kids Play Well for South Central

South Central split their opening two non-conference games and now they open the Firelands Conference portion of their schedule at home Friday night against the Monroeville Eagles.

The Trojans (1-1) lost to Mansfield St. Peter’s (67-63) last Friday and then beat Buckeye Central (63-39) in Saturday.

Coach Brett Seidel thought they played well both nights, especially their younger kids who were seeing their first significant varsity action. “Overall I liked our fight. I thought we tried to stay in the fight as much as possible. We had some bright spots. We had some youth that had very little if any varsity experience that showed signs that they are going to be able to help us not just now, but even more down the road as we mature and grow into this. Two quality coaches, two quality opponents. Obviously, never happy to lose, but I thought my kids played well even on Friday night,” said Seidel.

Sophomore guard Simon Blair had 31 points in a losing effort to St. Peter’s, the two time defending district champion, as he begins his second year as a varsity regular. Seidel says when the Spartans would spurt they wouldn’t give in and that was key. “Not just because it was St. Peter’s. They are well coached and who they have and how athletic they are, but just because it was the first game. You just never know what’s going to happen that first game, who is going to show up and how things are going to go,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have played these guys first game for I don’t know how many years we have been doing it. It just seems like if we are getting beat we go away and I didn’t feel like we did that this time. They would push it out to 10 and we would close the gap, so I was pleased with that.”

Monroeville has another new head coach in Al Mielarek. They lost their opener (62-43) to Sandusky St. Mary’s last Saturday.

Seidel expects they are going to have to execute against the zone defense in order to score. He says they have been working on it. “We are going to see a lot of zone. We are going to have to get the ball moving. We are working on zone offense right now quite a bit. Buckeye played us zone on Saturday night and Monroeville was there to see it. I have film on them already and that’s what they played the entire time, so we are going to see zone, so we have to get the ball moving. We can’t settle for the first jump shot off the first pass,” said Seidel.

There may be a lot of teams in the mix for the conference title this season and Seidel says this first one is going to be important in the race. “That is how it is in league play. Your goal each year is to win the league, that is the start of it. You have to win the first one in order to stay on top and be on top. That is our focus right now. It is one game at a time. It is a single weekend. We only have one game. So, we are hoping we can start things out right,” he said.

Published 12/05/17

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Lucas Opens “MBC” Play With Mansfield Christian

Who is going to contend with defending champion Mansfield St. Peter’s in the Mid-Buckeye Conference? We might get that question answered on Friday night when Lucas visits Mansfield Christian to play the Flames.

Lucas beat Fredericktown (66-57) in their first game last Friday night in a non-conference game.

They did it with a surge in the fourth quarter and coach Taylor Iceman says that was good to see. “It was a good game, a competitive game all of the way through. We were down a little bit early. In the fourth quarter it was nice to win a game like that. We made 12 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter, which kind of put us over the top. That is a good thing to have game one. Sometimes you see that on down the road when you are in the grove a little bit, so it was nice to make free throws and take care of the little things that you hope to do as you come along. It was night one, and you always take the win, but it was good to win like we did,” said Iceman.

Mansfield Christian (0-1) lost to Colonel Crawford (63-47) in their opener last Friday.

Iceman says they have quality, veteran guards, and “The Furnace” is always a tough place for the opponent to win. “It seems like Jared McPeak and Kyle Kurtz have been over there for 10 years. They are two great kids and great ball players. We are very familiar with them. We play in a summer league over at Crestview and they are there every year, so we play all summer long against each other. They are a good team. Some of their young kids from last year have another year of varsity basketball under their belts, so they are going to be improved,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They also have some more youth coming up through. They always play extremely hard. Coach Kurtz does a good job, so you know it is going to be tough. It is never easy to go play at Mansfield Christian. That will be challenging in the opener for “MBC” play.”

This is the league opener for both and Iceman says the schedule might have done them a little favor this year playing at Christian this week. “I told our kids it is early and I know they are going to get better as the season goes on, so I glad we are going over to their place early. Hopefully, we can play well and steal one here and get to 1-0 in league play,” he said.

Published 12/05/17

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Lexington Tangles with Clear Fork

It just the third week of the season and they aren’t in the same league anymore, but there will still be some emotion as Lexington travels to Clear Fork for a girls’ basketball game on Tuesday night.

Lexington (1-0) has won its only game this season, beating Shelby (43-31) last Tuesday in non-conference.

Coach Heidi Roush says she thought they play pretty well after getting over some early nervousness. “Definitely at the beginning of the game everybody was maybe a little tight,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We had some turnovers that were to result of nerves, but once the third quarter came around I thought the girls sort of relaxed and we hit more shots and found their teammates. Hopefully, we can pick up Tuesday without that first quarter jittery type of stuff.”

Clear Fork is (2-0) after going (1-22) last season. They have beaten Highland (61-34) and Mapleton (56-23) in two games thus far.

Roush likes how hard they play and knows Lady Lex will need to match that intensity. “I just think they play very hard. That is something we have tried to stress to the girls on both ends of the floor they really work hard. They play well together, they hit the boards well. We are going to have to play a complete game in order to come out on top,” she said.

This will be an interesting game for Roush, she played for Clear Fork and coached the Lady Colts too, successfully in both regards. She says this is an important game for both sides. “The two schools are just a few miles away from each other. We play each other in just about everything. Even though we may not be in the same league anymore I definitely think both teams want to come away from this the winner. It is a big game to us and I am sure it is a big game to Clear Fork, so I am looking forward to it,” said Roush.

Published 12/05/17

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Willard Faces Athletic Norwalk

Willard hosts Norwalk in a cross over game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Tuesday night.

The Lady Flashes have lost to Upper Sandusky (72-50) last Tuesday and beat Shelby (52-47) last Saturday.

Coach Jon Dawson says they got off to a slow start in their first game. “We dropped a tough one at Upper last Tuesday. We didn’t get off to a real good start. It was our first game, it was their third game, not to make excuses. I didn’t think we got settled in very well. Take nothing away from Upper they did a really nice job and have a really good team,” he said.

However, Dawson says they started to put things together against Shelby on Saturday and played pretty well. “We looked like we were settled in a little better on Saturday over at Shelby. We played pretty well for the majority of the game. We had a couple of moments the last couple of minutes we didn’t played real well and we let it get back in striking distance for Shelby. I like the balance of my team right now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is only two games in, but we have three girls averaging double figures, which is good balance for us. I think we are doing a lot of good things, but definitely like every other coach in America probably there is plenty to work on to keep getting better.”

Dawson says when you have a number of kids that can score it makes things more difficult for the opponent. “The more balanced you can be the less the other team can kind of focus on one or two kids. I think we are in a pretty good situation where we have Secor and Wiers and Crawford all averaging double figures right around 12 points a game. Brooke Vipperman was in double figures in our last game. Pressly Felder is a freshman, who getting into the sink of things. She is going to get into some double figure games for sure. I just like our balance and I think that makes us hard to guard for other teams,” said Dawson.

Norwalk is different this season without the school’s all-time leading scorer in Jiselle Thomas, but Dawson says the Lady Truckers are still a very athletic team. “We saw them play in their opener against Westlake. Obviously, they are way different without Jiselle (Thomas,) but they are really kind of the same team where they get after you for 94 feet and really get up and guard you and pressure you. They don’t have a lot of size, but they are super athletic and they will really get into us. They key for us will be taking care of the basketball and kind of handling the pressure,” said Dawson.

Published 12/05/17

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Bucks Have to Make More Shots

Buckeye Central has some growing to do and they need to become more consistent in their play.

They play at Mohawk (0-1) in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference opener for both schools on Saturday night.

They lost two last weekend in non-conference play (50-49) to Plymouth on Friday and (63-39) to South Central on Saturday.

Coach Phil Loy says against Plymouth they just couldn’t put it away and that cost them. “We knew it would be a tough weekend. We thought we stacked up pretty good with Plymouth. We thought that was one we definitely could get, but we always know when we play Plymouth it always seems like it goes down to the wire. They are always good battles. Unfortunately, we had some foul trouble and we just didn’t have very good execution down the stretch and ended losing that game by one. We had a six point lead in the fourth quarter and they made some big shots. We couldn’t get a couple of stops there and we came up on the short end,” said Loy.

With South Central, Loy says the first and fourth quarters were killers for the Bucks. “Going against South Central we new that would also be, or maybe even a tougher, challenge for us on the road. They are probably going to be one of the favorites in the Firelands. They have good guard play, they have some size, they can play on the perimeter. They don’t try to beat you inside with their back to basket, but they can really take you off the dribble and kick it out and make some nice shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We played in spurts. Our first quarter we got off to a slow start. I thought we played really well defensively and offensively in the second and third quarters. In the fourth quarter we just couldn’t muster up enough to keep it close.”

Loy says his team needs to find some more balance moving forward. “We are still trying to find ourselves. We need more production out of some of our guys. We have a young kid that was out this weekend that is a key player for us and he is back. So, we are looking for some improvement going into Saturday with Mohawk,” he said.

Mohawk lost to New Riegel (59-51) in their opener last Friday. The Warriors were only down one late in the fourth quarter. Loy says they play hard and good players inside and on the perimeter. “The thing with a Paul Dunn coached team is those kids just play extremely hard. He really gets the most out of his kids. They do a great job. They play you some zone. They play you some man. They are a tough bunch. They have got some good size and they have some good guard play. It is a game where our execution is going to have to be better. The bottom line is we are going to have to make some shots,” said Loy.

Published 12/05/17

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Vermilion Wins two; Faces Big Test

Vermilion won its own tournament over the weekend and now they face a very tough challenge as they host Lorain on Tuesday night in a non conference game.

The Sailors (2-0) beat Gates Mills Hawken (63-50) last Friday and North Ridgeville (50-36) on Saturday on their own floor.

Coach Kurt Habermehl thought they were sloppy Friday, but they played much better on Saturday night. “I was much more happy after that game. North Ridgeville is a pretty high scoring team. Defensively, I thought, we were just fantastic on Saturday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We hold a high scoring team to 36 points. Give them credit, they did a pretty good job of trying to slow us down a little bit. It wasn’t the greatest shooting performance, but I was pretty happy with the outcome.”

Vermilion says some veterans back, but Habermehl, who has been in the business a while, knows that shooting can be a little cold early in the season and you have to rely on your defense. “Shooting does kind of take a while because you have to find that rhythm and you have to find the right groupings of kids on the floor together. If you are playing good defense you are going to keep yourself in the game. You just hope that you start to knock down some shots,” he said.

Lorain is going to be one of the better big school basketball teams in northern Ohio this year. Habermehl says the Titans have great talent. “They are always good. The coach told me last year they had 93 kids try out for their freshmen teams, so you are always going to find good kids out of that many kids. Last year we a great game against them, we lost by seven to them last year. We fully expect (Tuesday) night’s game to be a great game as well,” he said.

Vermilion expects to have a great season too and Habermehl says they can be a good tournament team come March and they want to be tested by teams like Lorain. “We have to play this kind of talent. To me we could load the schedule up with lesser talent, but it is not as important to me to win 19 or 20 games as it is trying to advance in the tournament. So, if we have to learn some hard lessons throughout the season because we are playing good teams then so be it. I think we will be that much better once tournament rolls around,” said Habermehl.

Published 12/05/17

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Ontario Holds off Norwalk

Ontario post players Jayden Jacobs and Logan Jones combined for 23 points and Ontario held off Norwalk (49-43) in a non-conference boys’ basketball game played Saturday afternoon at the O-Rena in Ontario.

The Warriors outscored Norwalk (9-3) over the last 3:46 of the second quarter to take a (27-19) halftime lead and never trailed the rest of the game

They only have two players, Jones and Chance Mott, that played much at the varsity level last season, but coach Joe Balogh says those younger kids understood what they had to do on offense and defense. “I thought our kids did a great job. We tried to stress the importance of our scouting or film work and what we put on paper. The concern with the young kids and the new guys was with how they were going to embrace that. I thought they really embraced it,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I’m not sure if it was because of the scouting report or just his anticipation, but I thought a big play was in the third quarter when they ran a set for the first time in the game that we had on our scouter from last year and Tavian (Harris) shot the gap and stole it and laid it in. I thought that was a big, big, key play in the game. It kind of showed why we do the stuff that we do.”

Norwalk played without likely its best player in junior guard Brandon Haraway, suspended for the first three games of the season. Coach Steve Gray says without him their less experienced guys did the job pretty well. “A lot of that is just inexperience. When you are playing a freshman, a sophomore, a point guard that you are putting a lot of responsibility on for the first time. You know, I’m happy with the way we preformed. We competed. In the second half I thought our point guard play was outstanding. I think our pups are going to get a lot better. They showed a lot (Saturday.) I was pleased with their effort,” said Gray.

Balogh says the goal was to throw the ball inside and make the Truckers guard them there and they were able to do that. “The big emphasis we had offensively is we thought we had to play inside out. We had to put the ball in the hands of our post guys and kind of play off of them. I thought when they were able to make their run we got away from that. We started to put the ball on the floor and do too much with it. We kind of got back to putting it in Jones’s hands inside. Jalen Jacobs was really good inside. That is kind of a strength we have right now. It is kind of a calming factor that we are able to put the ball in the paint I think some good things happen for us,” said Balogh.

Ontario shot 46% for the game, equally in both the first and second halves. They held as much as a 13 point lead (34-21) with 5:05 to play in the third quarter after a basket by Mott, but Norwalk cut their deficit to (38-34) at the end of the third quarter.

It was (46-37) Warriors with 3:48 left after two free throws by Jacobs, but the Truckers cut into the lead again (46-43) with 1:03 left on a field goal by Eric Hull. “We are down three and a rebound goes off our hands. It would have given us a chance, we are down three with 40 seconds to go. We are one bucket away from making this very interesting. Joe’s kids played hard. That was a good game for us. I know more about our team right now than I did 24 hours ago,” said Gray.

Ontario held Norwalk to 42% from the field and (4-15) from behind the arch. Balogh feels they made them work hard to get shots. “We talked at the half that we needed to extend our pressure out a little bit further and make it a little bit more difficult for them to get into it. I thought we did a much better job of that. With our pressure instead of picking up at half court we kind of extended to the three quarter court and made them work a little bit harder and I thought that made it a little bit more difficult for them for them to get into the stuff they wanted to get into,” said Balogh.

Jacobs had 13 for the Warriors, Jones tallied nine.

Jacob Roth led Norwalk with 13 points. Hull added eight,

Published 12/02/17

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Clear Fork Moves to 2-0

Regan Marshall scored seven over her team high 12 points in the pivotal second quarter and Clear Fork went on to blast Mapleton (56-23) in a non-conference girls’ basketball game on Thursday night at Les Hauenstein Gym.

The Lady Colts (2-0) led (8-5) after the first quarter, but they outscored Mapleton (11-2) over the first half of the second quarter, taking a (19-7) lead with 3:58 left until halftime on a field goal and free throw by Macy Wade. They then put the game away by gaining a (7-1) advantage over the final 1:41 of the half, Wade scoring five more points.

After going just (1-22) last season, coach Chuck Schmitt had a smile on his face after the game. “We are excited about it. I don’t think Clear Fork has been 2-0 for a while, so we are excited, the girls have worked hard for it, a lot of investment,” he said.

Clear Fork beat Highland (61-34) on Tuesday night.

Mapleton had more turnovers than they did points on Thursday and Schmitt was happy with how they executed their press. “We have been working on that, full court, baseline to baseline, man to man, putting pressure on the ball, pressure on the other girls. There were a few slipups (Thursday) night, but we will take it,” said Schmitt.

Clear Fork scored repeatedly inside the lane, whether on the break or in the half court and built a (52-17) lead with 5:23 to play on Whitney Snavely’s basket and coasted home. “We are trying to get the ball inside. The post girls are getting better with each week. We have come a long way from last year, so we are looking for that balance both with our post people and our perimeter guards,” said Schmitt.

Wade finished the night with nine points, Erika Robinson added eight, Alli Studenmund had seven and Tabi Hamilton and Snavely each chipped in with six. Schmitt likes that balance. “What did we have? Six, eight, 12, six, nine and seven. We can do some shooting when we are on,” he said.

Yet, there are some things that can be improved as well, Schmitt points out free throw shooting and three point accuracy as two of them. “Well, look at this we are 12-22 from the foul line, that can’t happen,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “19 field goals, that’s nice. We missed a lot of threes. We made six in the last game, only two (Thursday) night. If we can keep a team in the 20’s we are playing good defense.”

Clear Fork hosts Lexington in a non-conference game on Tuesday night. They play their first ever Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game at River Valley on December 9.

Published 12/01/17

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Madison Opens With Fast Paced Olentangy

Out with the graduated Tyrell Ajian and in with the returning home Mason Campbell, it is a new era of Madison Rams basketball and it starts Saturday night at home against Olentangy.

Coach Tim Mergel says he is excited to get the season started. He wants to see how his kids react under the pressure of a real game. “We just have to have a few more pieces and parts put together that the team we are facing, which is Olentangy. I don’t think any team in state is going to say they are clicking on all cylinders. We have to execute better than our opponent,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It’s not an easy task. You have some new faces playing varsity basketball. You have some new guys in. The expectation is to play at a high level, but it is kind of unrealistic at the beginning of the season. Your first thing is you kind of want to see the reactions of the kids underneath the lights when they shine bright on you. I am excited to see how they react and I know the kids are excited to get going. It is always great to open up the season.”

Mergel says he has seen some good things from his players on both ends of the court. He likes how they have defended and he likes how they are sharing the ball on offense. “I think we move the basketball extremely well. I think we see a lot of unselfish play and it is almost to the point with us that is too unselfish. We have some kids that are passing up some pretty good shots, but that is a good thing though. Anytime you want to change a positive you can’t compline as a coach. I think we share the basketball well. I think we are a little ahead defensively than I thought we would be. I didn’t think we would be as strong defensively as we have been in the past, but the kids have made pretty good strides with that. There is one thing at each end that I am pretty pleased with,” said Mergel,

Olentangy opened their season on Thursday night with an (81-59) win over Marion Harding.

Mergel says the Braves are a team that will push the pace and look to take a lot of threes off penetration. “If you are going off of last year’s stuff. You have the Marx kid who is back. He will be a junior and he kind of led their team in scoring last year. They lost some seniors. They are a team that will shoot the three. They want to drive and kick. They want to chuck it and chase it. Last year, we got in a little track meet with them. Our transition defense wasn’t very good. We got it cleaned up and were able to pull out a one point victory, but it was no easy task. They are a team that keeps pushing the basketball at you, so we have to ready to get up and down the floor,” he said.

Published 12/01/17

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Mansfield Christian Battles Colonel Crawford

Mansfield Christian plays host to Colonel Crawford in one of the more interesting boys’ basketball games on the opening Friday of the season.

Both teams have strong guard play and return some veterans to the lineup.

Flames coach John Kurtz says he knows it is going to be a big test for his team. “We open with Crawford and they are a very good team. I think they are one of the better teams in the area. They have a ton of kids back from a team that was pretty good last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They took St. Pete’s right down to the wire in the district final. Their guard play is exceptional. I think Dave (Sheldon) has to be pretty pleased with this group of kids that he has. This has to be one of his better teams.”

Guard play is a strength for both teams on Friday night. Kurtz says it will difficult for the defenses because these kids are going to be able to get their team into their offense and get some shots. “We both have experienced guards, which from a coaching standpoint that is always nice to have it makes your job a little easier. We should be able to run our stuff as both teams have experienced guards. That does make it easier to get your stuff in for the season and then be able to execute your stuff,” said Kurtz.

Neither team scored 50 points in this game last year, the Eagles won (49-46) in North Robinson, but this year both sides are more experienced, and Kurtz says there is at least a chance there are going to be more points. “Last year, I think it was pretty obvious from our standpoint we were trying to control the pace. We tried to get match-ups that were favorable for us. We tried to be very selective in shooting. We don’t play quite like we did last year. Of course, last year we had a lot of young players playing. So, it is hard to predict how those games go. There is definitely the potential for it to be more high scoring,” he said.

Published 12/01/17

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Wynford Needs to Grow up

Wynford entertains Crestview in non-conference action on the opening night of the season on Friday night.

Royals coach Jason Engel says he feels this season they are going to need to be a team that does a lot of the little things right if they are going to be able to win games. “We have a lot of young kids playing. Kids that have never played on the same team together and never had experience playing together. We have made some improvements. We have talked to the guys that we need to be a unit, we need to be a team. We have got to defend. We have to do little things that can keep us in the ballgame, rebound, take care of the ball, those kinds of things. I think our kids are ready and eager to step up to the challenge (Friday.) Crestview has a lot of upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, and they do some nice things. We are going to have to play well at home because they are a good team,” said Engel.

Scrimmages are different than games and Engel says they are going to playing some kids that are going to see the varsity floor for the first time. He says they need to grow up fast. “It is going to be eye opening. These sophomores that have never played at this level and the speed of the game I think it is going to be an eye opener. We are going to have a lot people here (Friday.) I know our student body will be here and we have a lot of support in our community and a lot people excited about basketball. These kids are not going to be used to that with that type of pressure and that type of atmosphere. They will have to grow up fast. We need them to be varsity basketball players, not sophomores, not first time varsity players,” he said.

Crestview has some good talent this year. Engel says they have good defenders and scorers all over the floor and this will certainly be a challenge for the Royals. “They are going to try and get out in transition. They are going to pressure you full court, run and jump you a little bit, trap you, and full court man. The Durbin kid is a really good on the ball defender. He makes a lot of plays and he is scrappy and physical. That kid can really frustrate our ball handlers in the back court. Their post players are physical and they can finish at the rim,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They do a nice job of passing the ball up the floor in transition. They do some good things. They like to try and get a shot off in probably five to seven seconds. If they don’t get anything they want to get the ball to the King kid, who can really shoot it and get it inside. Like I said they have two solid posts that can finish at the rim. They can do some nice things. They have a lot of seniors on their team that have played together for a while.”

Published 12/01/17

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Crestview Looking for Depth

Crestview, like a lot of schools in the Firelands Conference, will be replacing a lot of guys this winter and so far that process is going pretty well for the Cougars.

They open Friday night with a non-conference game at Wynford of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

Third year coach Shawn Spencer says the kids understand what he wants from them and they executed pretty well during the preseason. “I am pleased with everything we have accomplished so far. As far as being prepared we are probably better off than any year since I have been here. This is the third year in the system with me, so we didn’t have to go back and do a lot of stuff that was new. I like what I see. I like the first five we are putting on the floor. We are an inexperienced group, we lost a lot of seniors last year. We will be searching for numbers six, seven and eight and who that is going to be. I’m excited and getting ready to go,” said Spencer.

When it comes to the conference, Spencer, like most, thinks there is going to be some balance throughout. “The last two years the conference was balanced as far as being the best the conference has been in years and years from the top to the bottom,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Now, so many of these teams have lost some players and it is going to be balanced as everybody tries to find out who they are and what their identity is and replace five, six, seven, eight coming off the bench. I am happy with where I am at. These players play hard. They do what I ask them to do. I am looking forward to see what I have got (Friday) night.”

Spencer thinks the Cougars and Wynford are pretty similar coming into the season and he believes it is going to be about who plays harder and wants it more. “Wynford is going to go, fight, scrap, it is never going to be easy going over there to Wynford. You are always going to deal with the first game emotions, especially the home opener. They are going to come out and fight their hardest. They have some size. Like us they don’t have a lot coming back, so they are going to be searching for who they are. It is going to be who wants that ballgame (Friday) the most as both of us coaches look and see what exactly we have from now to game 22,” he said.

Published 12/01/17

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West Holmes New and Experienced

West Holmes has some returning players, but like a lot teams in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, they have a lot new players that are going to see action this weekend.

They play Orrville on Friday and Loudonville on Saturday night in non-conference games.

Coach Keith Troyer says they have some kids that have seen varsity time and they have some that are going to get their feet wet for the first time on Friday and Saturday. “So far in the preseason we don’t have a lot of experience coming back. We have two kids, Chance and Chase Wells, they have the most experience for us from last year. Shane Jones in another one that played a little for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Other than that we have a lot of new kids that we are putting in the system and the scrimmages have been going well so far. Kids are practicing hard and we are looking forward to the season to start because the kids are tired of playing against each other.”

Troyer says they have spent the preseason trying to figure out who plays well together and skills their players have that can be maximized. “You try and look at a lot of different combinations. We have a couple of sophomores that we trying to put the mix here. We have brought up a freshman that has got some potential. You just look at a lot of different combinations and see what combinations work. You try and find your top five, six, seven, eight kids and get ready for the season to start here,” said Troyer.

West Holmes against Orrville is a traditional rivalry, for a long time it was a conference game. Troyer says he kind of knows what to expect from Orrville even with some unexpected changes to their roster. “Orrville is one of those teams, I know one of their senior guards is not on the roster. I am not 100 percent sure why not or what is going on there. Coach (Sly) Slaughter always does a good job of getting his kids to play hard. I don’t think his style of coaching or their style of play is going to change from previous years. We look forward to a good, hardnosed game with Orrville (Friday) night to start the season,” he said.

Published 12/01/17

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Clear Fork With Tough Opening Weekend

Clear Fork has the makings of a very good basketball team this year and they are going to find out quickly on the opening weekend how good they are and where they need to get better.

They play at Lexington on Friday night and at West Salem Northwestern on Saturday night, both are solid programs.

Coach Steven Bechtel says they are going to have to play as hard as they can because that is what it is going to take. “Obviously we are not going to be where we really want to be come January and no team really is, but we are slowly coming along. Friday night we are going to be as ready as we are going to be on that night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We just talked to the kids about that (Wednesday) about coming out and playing with a high effort because they are going to make early season mistakes and we just have to make sure that we play as solidly and take care of the basketball on offense as we can on Friday night.”

This will be one of the more experienced teams the Colts have fielded in recent years and that is a real positive considering the shorter preseason they have had due to the football playoffs. Bechtel says they haven’t had to teach as much. “We noticed that in practice once the football kids started showing up, some of them just hit the ground running. They just picked up where they left off last year and a lot of the things we are doing are the same. There are a few different wrinkles that we are doing. However, having that experience really helps out with this short preseason,” he said.

Lexington is not unfamiliar to the Colts having played them twice a year until this season. Bechtel says the Minutemen are going to be a tough assignment, like always. “It is going to be a huge challenge. Obviously, they have Cade Stover and they have a lot of guys from that junior class as well as a couple of seniors that round out their lineup. It is going to be a huge challenge for us. Our guys are preparing and we are going to put a game plan together and we will have to go out and execute it really well,” he said.

Northwestern advanced to the division three regional final last season and Bechtel says they are loaded again this year. “It is definitely not an easy weekend. Northwestern traditionally always has a great basketball team over there. Coach Alberts does a phenomenal job. Parker Smith back and he is going to be their number one guy now at the guard position and they have some young guys that they are going to plug in as well. It is going to be a huge weekend for us. The guys are getting kind of anxious to go out there and have it actually matter. It ought to be a great weekend for Colt basketball,” said Bechtel.

Published 11/30/17

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Mansfield Senior Plays Spartans; Hosts Tournament

Mansfield Senior opens the season in grand fashion this weekend by playing cross town rival Mansfield St. Peter’s on the road Saturday, plus hosting an international tournament at Pete Henry Gym on Saturday and Sunday.

Coach Marquis Sykes, now the head coach after many years as an assistant, says he believes his team will be pumped up for the weekend. “I’m sure like most coaches would say I don’t think we are quite where we need to be yet, but come Saturday I really do think with a few more days worth of practice our game plan will be implemented and the guys will be up beat for the game and ready to go,” he said.

The Spartans are the two time defending division four district champs and they beat the Tygers last season. Sykes says it will be a battle. “It will be a tremendous task to go into somebody else’s home floor. Elijah (Cobb) and Jared (Jakubick) and two of the better guards in the area, actually in the state. Those guys can put the ball in the basket and they are complete basketball players. They play on both ends of the floor. Obviously, with coach (Joe) Jakubick they are well coached. We expect for it to be a tremendous fight. I think we will be prepared and ready to go for the challenge,” said Sykes.

Sykes adds the game against St. Peter’s will be a learning experience for his team. “That is kind of our approach in all of our non-conference games we hope for to be similar to a tournament test. I think this will be similar to a tournament atmosphere, a hostile environment. I am sure their stands and their student section will be rocking and that is what it is all about, especially early on in the season. You really get to learn who is going to step up in that environment and who is going to be up to the challenge,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Who can be yelled at and who can be coached hard in those kinds of situations. You learn a lot about your guys and you also learn about your coaches and everybody. It is going to be a learning experience for us. Our expectation is to go in and compete and get the most energy and effort.”

Teams from all around North America will converge on Mansfield this weekend and Sykes says that is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of competitive basketball. “I think this is going to be a big deal for the City of Mansfield. There are going to be seven different teams coming in from all over the United States and Canada. It is kind of a big deal for us to be hosting this. We expect to see a lot of talent in the gym. There could possibly different college scouts and recruiting services. We get to see a lot of talent. Teams coming from Wisconsin, Maryland, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Toronto, Canada. We will also host some youth games for sixth graders to just throw our young guys from the area into the mix to kind of see what talent is out there and those young guys will also get to see some the high schools from around the country play,” said Sykes.

There are going to be a lot of other events involved in the tournament and Sykes hopes it will be a benefit to his team too. “I am excited and pumped to see how this turns out it is a pretty big deal for the City of Mansfield. Not to mention one of my best friends, college roommate, college teammate, Ricky Minard, will be in town. He will be one of the featured speakers on Saturday afternoon, so it is going to be a great time for me to hang out with him a little bit and let him critique our team and have him around our guys and talk to them a little bit and see if they can get a little wisdom and a little bit of his shooting touch will rub off on some of our guys,” said Sykes.

Published 11/30/17

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Lexington Building for the Weekend

If history proves us right Lexington is going to find a way to become a very good basketball team.

One thing is for sure they have Cade Stover, one of the more athletic big guys in the area.

They play Clear Fork and Willard on Friday and Saturday and coach Scott Hamilton says they are making the final adjustments to make sure they are ready to play. “We are going to have to be. Whether I think we are or not Friday is going to be here regardless. We are doing our best to get everything done. Just like every coach, we know that we are not going to be at the peak or be where we want to be, but we are just trying to make sure we cover all of the bases and we are as well prepared as we can be by Friday,” he said.

For the first time this season Lexington had all of its players on Monday and Hamilton says that feels pretty good. “Last year our football team had an extended run in the playoffs, so we had to deal with a couple of guys not being with us early on and we did not look to do anything different at the beginning of our schedule. Well, this year we had all of the guys at the start of the season, but we were dealing with a couple of just nagging injuries and a little bit of sickness and thing like that. Luckily for us we have not had a great deal of interference. It was nice coming into practice on Monday and having every varsity guy on the floor ready to go,” said Hamilton.

Clear Fork finished last year strong and advanced to the division three district semis. Hamilton says they have a lot of that talent back and he looks for a very good game. “They finished the season last year with a nice run in the tournament and actually got beat at the buzzer or they would have been going to the district finals. They bring back a lot of kids some of them are fairly young, but a lot of them have experience. When you look at a young roster to me it makes a difference on whether they have played or whether they are just stepping on the varsity floor for the first time and these guys have played and they have played together well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have got to make sure that we match our assignments and we stick to our keys for what it is going to take to win and make sure we study our scouting report for the next couple of days before we get on the floor with them.”

Willard is more of an unknown quantity with a new head coach in Joe Bedingfield. Hamilton says the Flashes have some height on the roster. “One of the things no matter how much the roster changes from year to year if the coach is still there you know that the backbone of what that coach wants to do and it is always going to be fairly similar from year to year even if it is a large turnover in his roster. With Willard having a new guy at the reins up there. They have some size on their roster getting up to 6’8” and 6’5”, things like that. We are going to have a tough task on Saturday night too,” he said.

Published 11/30/17

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Lucas Working Hard

Lucas will feature a mostly new boys’ basketball team this year with a lot of its team from last year lost to graduation.

They play at home Friday night against Fredericktown in their season opener.

Coach Taylor Iceman says they have been working to make those kids ready for varsity basketball. “We have progressed well. It is still early on and I graduated 11 seniors last year, so I have a new crew and we have had a lot of room to grow. It has been nice to have this time. We have had a few scrimmages with some bigger schools that I think has prepared us well. We are just trying to feel things out and we are ready to go and see where we are at, but I think we can jump right into it and hopefully play well this Friday night,” he said.

With a lot of new kids to the varsity team, Iceman says scrimmages have been important to them this season. “We have been practicing. We had to move a couple of our scrimmages. We had to cancel one due to our football season and also we had Black River on our scrimmage schedule and they went a couple of weeks deep, so we lost one there, but we do have a lot of young guys and some guys doing some new things,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You sometimes get tired of going against each other and seeing the same faces and the same types of things everyday. You are playing against a defense that knows your offense. So, the scrimmages have been great, but we are to the point now that I think where we are ready to get it rolling and kind of see where we are at and look at film and go from there.”

When it comes to Fredericktown, Iceman says they don’t know a lot about their personnel, but he knows the Freddies will play hard. “They have a few kids back from last year’s team. It is a typical Fredericktown team. I don’t know that there is one kid that stands out that we are extremely worried about, but they all play hard. They haven’t had great talent the past years, but it is always a close game because they all play so hard. Being a coach myself that is all you can ask for. The special ones are when you get some good talent and you get that great effort and a will to win. We know they are going to play hard. It is game one, so you can’t count on jump shots falling and stuff like that. Usually it is just the teams that are going to be more prepared and ready to out work the other, so we will see,” said Iceman.

Published 11/30/17

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Western Reserve With Big Test

Western Reserve is one of the favorites for the Firelands Conference title this year, and one of the better division three teams, but they have some drawbacks too, mostly on defense.

Coach Chris Sheldon says they are making baby steps on defense, but they have to make a lot more. “I think right now when you have a lot of inexperienced guys and on top of it just some younger guys that are trying to play varsity basketball unfortunately you are not going to see a quick fix. You see glimpses everyday that they are starting to catch on that they are starting to understand technique and they are starting to understand read situations a little better, but unfortunately with inexperience and youth you are going to see two or three good possessions and then you are going to see two or three bad possessions. You hope with the more reps they get through the month of December that we are going to start to make significant strides. We still have a ways to go on that side of the ball. Unfortunately, you always say you are as good as your defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Offense doesn’t always travel well. Right now, in the month of December our offense better be pretty good if we are going to be good if offense is going to buy us some time for our defense to get better. That is sort of how we are approaching it. We are going to approach everyday as an opportunity to get better on that side of the floor and see what happens. We are definitely not ready for opening night. We are definitely not ready for a team of the caliper that we are playing, but what I do know is we are going to go compete for 32 minutes and see if we can be good enough on that night.”

Now, when it comes to offense, the Roughriders can light it up and be very good. Sheldon says they can be very explosive with the ball in their hands. “This is as explosive as we have been offensively, in the preseason I want to preface it that way, as any team I have ever coached. We have really been very, very explosive at the offensive end of the floor in every scrimmage, multiple quarters. We really haven’t had a hard time scoring. Our challenge has been stopping people. When you can shoot the basketball and you have a lot of guys that can do that that can cover up for a multitude of sins. That is one of the things we have been banking on come this weekend. We can score it and we can score it in numbers and we can score it quite often and we will be fine. I have never been a basketball coach that relies on the offensive side of the floor. I have always relied on the defensive side to be our anchor and that is the part that makes you nervous,” said Sheldon.

On Friday night, Western visits Margaretta of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference. Sheldon says they are big and they are talented. “They were a team that was in the district semis last year and took Edison to the wire, a team that ended up beating us in the district championship and they had no seniors. So, they have everybody back. They have probably the best player in the district in Angelo Frias, a 6’6” post player that can do it all. He is very athletic, very gifted. They put another 6’6” post player next to him and a 6’4” wing player that is a four year varsity letter winner and a three year varsity letter winner at point guard and a three year varsity letter winner at wing that can really shoot it. Their starting five has as much experience as any starting five we are going to play. They are tall, they are talented. They have very talented players at every spot on the floor and they bring two players off the bench that can play and have size and experience,” said Sheldon.

When it comes to Friday, Sheldon says they have to control the tempo and make a bunch of outside shots. “We are going to start five guards and they are going to start three trees. It is just going to be a contrast in styles a little bit, yet their bigs just aren’t traditional bigs, they can step out and do some things with it. They can move. I think for us to be affective we have got to limit them to one shot. They are so good and athletic and if they control the offensive glass we are in for a long night. We have to be able to use our five guards to play fast at times, but also still control some tempo. If we are going to be successful we are going to have to shoot it well. Those things can give us a chance to go over there and beat a very good basketball team that is going to be favored to possibly win our district tournament this year. It is a great test for us right out of the gate to see what we are good at, what we are not, and what we have to get better at,” said Sheldon.

Published 11/30/17

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Norwalk Squares off with Ontario

The Norwalk Truckers are anxious to see what kind of team they have this year and playing at Ontario is what is now a non-conference game on Saturday afternoon is going to help them figure that out.

Coach Steve Gray says he told his players on Wednesday it is time to find out what they are about. “I told the kids (Wednesday) night at practice I am very pleased with their effort and their concentration and I said you guys are ready to play a game. I am excited to see how they preform when the lights come on. We are going to start a freshman and a sophomore. It is always interesting to see how young people react to that situation. We have some good perimeter players. I am just looking forward to the opportunity to compete,” said Gray.

The veteran Norwalk coach says no matter what happened in scrimmages Saturday afternoon is likely going to be different. “Like coach (Tom) Foster says all of the time you don’t win or lose scrimmages, you get better of you get worse and that is sort of how we look at it. It is always interesting to me to hear coaches say they won four out of six quarters of three out of five, or whatever the case may be. We just try to get better each scrimmage, each practice, and hopefully our process will allow them to be successful come Saturday afternoon,” he said.

Gray and Ontario coach Joe Balogh have a long relationship and he says they know each other’s programs, and what they try to do, pretty well. “I doubt if there are going to be many surprises. I think we are petty good friends and we know each other pretty well and we talk quite a bit. Joe is probably going to try and stop us from running our sets. We are going to try and stop his dribble penetration and Jones from spotting up for threes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I don’t think Joe is going to come out with an elaborate zone and we aren’t going to press much. It is what it is and we are going to roll it out and let the kids decide the game and it is going to be a great test for both teams I think for the opener.”

Whatever happens on Saturday afternoon, Gray says they are going to be better because of it. “The thing about Joe and Saturday is at the end of the game we are going to know a lot more about ourselves. We are going to look at the film and see what Joe liked to do and what they tried to take away. We will have a good idea of what we need to work on to get better the following week when we open up the “SBC,” he said.

Published 11/30/17

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Huskies Healthy and Ready to Get Started

Northwestern is getting more healthy and that is going to make them a better basketball team.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they got some good news this week and they are about as healthy as they can expect to be more a while. “We have everybody at practice except one guy that ruptured his achilles in June and he is hoping to come back in January some time. It was great at have everybody there. Our one senior Mason Wilhelmy had a shoulder injury. It was kind of interesting because we just wanted him to know if he could play or not this season. I felt bad for him not knowing and once he got the news that he is physically fine with his shoulder just making sure he wasn’t going to hurt it anymore. He is going to go and do as much as he can. This weekend he will get to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “He won’t start this weekend, but he will definitely come off the bench and get some minutes and see where his conditioning is at and hopefully in the next couple of weeks kind of envision that starting lineup that we had hoped to see.”

Northwestern travels to Wooster Triway on Friday night and hosts Clear Fork on Saturday in non-conference games.

Alberts says there have been some changes at Trwiay, but they feel they are prepared for the Titans. “Their coach is the former coach at Dalton, so I went back and watched a couple of our Dalton films from last year and watched our Triway game from last year, so we know some of Triway’s personnel they have got back. They have had some guys not go out. Three starters from last year’s game against us who were all underclassmen are not playing. Now, their best player is back in Gabe Walker. We are expected that Ben Holt, who was at Dalton and is now at Triway, will feature him kind of the way he did Mitchell Clark last year with Dalton. Gabe Walker is a great player and he got 18 a game last year. That is their only double figure scorer that they have got back from last year. We know what to expect there. It is always tough when you go over to the Pit,” said Alberts.

The Huskies had played Clear Fork in scrimmages for years, but this is the first time they have played them in a real game. Alberts says the Colts are going to be talented, especially at the guard spots. “We have played Clear Fork in the scrimmages, so we at least know some of their personnel. I know they lost a few starters from last year and that great tournament run, but they have some good young players coming back. I know their freshmen class is very good. A sophomore guard, who is their point guard, played on J.J. Kline’s “AAU” team, one of my sophomores and Kade Mellott, another sophomore, they all played together in the summer. We know a little bit about them. It is a little bit weird because we are not scrimmaging them this year and we are actually playing them,” he said.

Published 11/30/17

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Upper Sandusky Opens With Willard

Upper Sandusky takes a 46 game regular season winning streak into a non-conference game with Willard on Friday night.

Upper coach Jeff Winslow says he kids can’t wait for Friday night to get here. “Our kids they can’t wait to get in the gym every year. We had a really good November, a really good fall. A lot of participation in our four person workouts and open gyms and things. They are chomping at the bit to play. They were ready to play by practice one I think. Our kids are excited and the coaches are excited. Some of these kids are back from the last couple of years team, but with bigger roles than they have had, some JV kids that will be playing varsity minutes, and they can’t wait to make their mark. They want to come out and be successful as well and keep this thing going,” he said.

Upper Sandusky has also enjoyed a lot of success at the junior varsity level in recent years and some of those kids will see their first varsity action on Friday night. Winslow says that is not an easy transition, but he believes his kids can do it. “They found that out this summer and then in the first few scrimmages. It is just a totally different atmosphere and level of play and quickness and size and strength. I mean it is just magnified. It took them a little adjustment period to get in there. Hopefully this Friday, we have five guys back that have been through the wars before and they can help these younger kids that haven’t played in it to get ready for that. All you can do is throw them in the fire. They were petty successful as JV players and they do have a lot of talent, but they have never been in the heat of a varsity game type atmosphere. There is nothing you can do, but throw them in and get their feet wet and hopefully they get comfortable quick for us,” said Winslow.

There is a new coaching staff at Willard, but Winslow is familiar and believes they are going to be prepared for what Willard is going to try and do, but there is only so much they can do with their height. “I have known Joe (Bedingfield) a while. I knew him when he coached at Seneca East and I know Dave Hirschy who is helping him out. I kind of have an idea of some of the things they will do. I don’t think they will change too much from what they have done in the past. I am sure they have made a few adjustments to their personnel. That’s is the one nice things it is not like I don’t know them at all. I know they are a really good coaching staff and they will have those kids prepared and ready to play. Willard and Upper is always a very exciting game and a big rivalry to start the season off,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Although they are very young their young kids are really talented. We are both going to start some younger guys and see what happens. They have some size, they are 6’8”, 6’5”, 6’5” and a 6’4” kid off the bench. They are pretty athletic with those kids. They can also shoot it if you let them stand out there and shoot the basketball. It will be a little bit of a challenge for us with their size and their ability to get to the offensive glass and also make open shots. I expect them to come out with a real tremendous effort. There is one thing I know is they will be prepared, they will probably know everything we are doing, they are really good at that stuff. We have to be prepared to go out and battle them and try and keep them off the glass and do it at the defensive end.”

Published 11/30/17

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Northmor Chomping at the Bit

Northmor is coming off the best basketball season in school history and they are ready to better that this season.

They open by hosting Marion Pleasant on Friday night and then head to Bucyrus on Saturday night, both are non-conference games.

Coach Zach Ruth says the players are really kicking at the barn stall to get going on what they believe is going to be an outstanding season. “We are ready to go. We have kind of been ready to go we are just tying to keep them challenged and try and keep them hungry. Some coaches I know, and I have been on that end of it, you wish you kind of had a couple more weeks. I think we could have started last week, so, yeah, we are ready to go,” he said.

Ruth adds these Golden Knights are not just great players, but great kids, and they have spent the preseason kind of filling in the cracks if you will. “I am blessed with the group of kids I have. Not only are they phenomenal on the basketball court, but they are just as good outside the court and in the classroom. It makes it really easy. It really makes my job easy,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have kind of really focused on the little things this year. You know, last year it was the big things. We had never been in contention for a league title and we got that out of the way. Now. We are really working on the little things.”

For many years the two schools were part of the old small school division of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. Pleasant remains in the “MOAC,” but Northmor is now in the new Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

Ruth has respect for what Pleasant does as a total sports program and knows the Spartans are going to be tough and physical on Friday night. “Pleasant is a school district that I am hoping that we can be with the success we have had. Pleasant when they take the field or court or whatever sport they are expected to win. This the first game they have played without the Craycraft boys and a lot of people are concerned with them, but at Pleasant it is next man up, the next guy in line and they go. They are going to get up and defend. It is going to be a tough one. We got them at their place last year and I know they are going to try and spoil our opening night,” said Ruth.

Published 11/29/17

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Wooster Going to Do it Different

Wooster won the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title last season and they can do it again, but they are going to go about it in a different way.

They open the season Friday and Saturday against Massillon and Massillon Perry in non-conference games.

Coach Michael Snowbarger says they aren’t going to have as much experience and they want to pace themselves through the year a little bit better than they did last season. “This year’s team obviously is a little bit different in experience. We have about 14 points of the 78 points returning that we scored last year, Calvin Blair makes up the majority of that. So, we are just a little bit different, a little bit younger. Every year we preach to the kids going in that we are going to compete for a league championship and play our best basketball in March. Last year, we probably didn’t do that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We peaked toward the middle or the beginning of the season. The end of the season we didn’t have a great finish, but this year we are hoping to kind of flip flop that.”

Last year, they won their first 19 games, but lost two of their last three and were upended (69-60) by Massillon in their first tournament game.

Wooster has gained the reputation of being a team that presses a lot, but Snowbarger they want to do some different things this year. “As a coaching staff we decided we wanted to mix things up a little bit more. We are going to look to press, do a couple of different half court traps, zone, man to man traps, different things like that just to mix things up and keep the opposing team a little off balance,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Offensively we are moving the ball better than we have in the past we are just not moving without the ball. We move the ball, but then we just kind of stand, so we are a little easier to guard. All of that stuff is correctable. Offensively, I would say we are way ahead of where we were last year with that kind of stuff.”

When it comes to the preseason, Snowbarger thinks they have been better in their defensive execution. “We are definitely ahead of the offense. Defensively, we are playing very well in our practice. In our scrimmages we are moving to the open guy and rotating. We are doing a very good job defensively, but we are not talking as much as I would like, but we are getting to the spots and we are playing extremely hard,” he said.

When it comes to the season opener, Snowbarger says Massillon is going to be very good and a very stiff test for the Generals. “Massillon is going to be a very good team. You talk to a lot of people over in that Canton district and they think Massillon is the early favorite to win that Canton district. They have a lot returning from last year. As far as football players they have got the big kid Kern, he is about 6’5” 230, 240. He had 19 against us in the tournament game last year. So, he is going to be tough. Other than that, they have a lot of just true basketball players and they are very good basketball players. So, Massillon is coming in Friday night with just a ton of talent,” said Snowbarger.

Published 11/29/17

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Three Things for Willard

Willard has height this year, but they are going to have to scratch and claw and play hardnosed defense if they are going to win a lot of basketball games this season.

They play two very successful programs over the opening weekend in Upper Sandusky on Friday and Lexington on Saturday.

First year coach Joe Bedingfield says his kids are giving great effort and they hope they can make a game of it in the fourth quarter. “The kids are giving me a lot of effort. You are never going to be totally prepared. You don’t know necessarily what you are going to see on opening weekend. We do know that we are playing two quality programs in Lexington and Upper. They have had a lot of success and their coaches do a good job. We hope our kids are prepared. We hope to put them in position to compete and win. We are just plugging away and trying to improve each and every day,” he said.

Willard has some height this year and that is always good in basketball, but Bedingfield says their goal is to play hardnosed defense, handle the ball and get more than their share of rebounds. “As coaches we always like to hang our hats on defense and I think with our size and our roster rebounding would be something easy to say. I think by the end of the year I would like those two things to be what we are good at because I think taking care of the basketball, rebounding, and defending are always going to put you in position to win. It’s nice to make shots, but if you can defend and take care of the basketball and rebound you are going to have a lot of chances to win close games and maybe some games people don’t think you can win. So, I am hoping our identity will be those three things. We are just going to try and get better at those three things everyday and hopefully the wins will come with the process,” said Bedingfield.

Upper Sandusky has won its last 46 regular season games and they have done it with a ferocious press and a plethora of three point field goals. Bedingfield says the Rams are going to try and do the same thing this year. “It is a tough environment when you go to Upper. Coach Winslow does a great job. His kids play at another level and they are probably geared up for another good year. They have some good kids coming back and they pressure the ball really well and they basically try to force you to play their style, force you into making turnovers. They have been really successful at it. I know one year I think they might have been undefeated, they might have went undefeated last year, so I don’t know how many regular season losses they might have had. Coach Winslow has had a lot of success playing that style,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have to be prepared to battle through some adversity and move onto the next play and not dwell on our mistakes. Hopefully, our kids are understanding some of that. We always talk about moving onto the next play. You can talk about it, you can have it in scrimmages and practices, but when it is game time and you put the uniforms on and you have people in the crowd and you add all of the variables up and we will see who can fight through some adversity, and see if you can put yourself in position to win.”

Bedingfield says they don’t know as much about Lexington at this point, but they know about Cade Stover. “No question about it he is an athlete. Lexington has always got athletes and they do a nice job. I know we are unfamiliar with them a little bit just as a staff because we haven’t been able to get as much on them. (Stover) is an athlete and difference maker. We have to focus on slowing their penetration down and trying to keep them off the glass and things like that. We are just taking it one game at a time and kind of focusing on more Friday and when Saturday rolls around and take it and prepare for Lex the best we can,” he said.

Published 11/29/17

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Buckeye Central Opens With Double Weekend

Like a lot of teams these days, Buckeye Central opens the boys’ basketball season with a double weekend. They host Plymouth on Friday and travel to South Central on Saturday in games against two Firelands Conference teams.

Coach Phil Loy says the season is here and you have to able to go. “I guess ready or not here we come because the double weekends are tough. You dig right into it. For us these are tough match-ups. Every year they are good games, so we have got to be ready and play our best,” he said.

He says that practice everyday at this point in the season can become tiresome. “They get tired of beating on each other all of the time. You try and make some of your last scrimmages as game like as possible. You try and make your practices, especially this week, as game like as possible, but they are ready to play somebody else and sometimes I feel like we are not ready because we are just going through the motions. We know the strengths and weaknesses of the JV team or whatever and I feel like we let our guard down sometimes. It is that way every year and the lights come on on Friday nights and it is different, but the kids are working hard, but they are just ready to move on and get the season started,” said Loy.

Plymouth was a team that was hot and cold last year, but Loy says they always seem to play them tough and he expects do different come Friday night. “Every time we play Plymouth it is a good game. It seems like it comes down to late in the fourth quarter. Last year, we played them and got off to a quick start and then we did not finish that game very well. The second half we didn’t come out and play very well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We faced them again in the first round of the tournament and that was a dogfight from the start to the finish and we were lucky to pull that one out. I expect no different on Friday. They lost four starters, but they return a really good guard in Jake Adams. They look like they have some good guard play and some good shooters surrounding him. We expect a good game on Friday night.”

South Central and the Bucks have played two one-point games the last two seasons. Loy says the Trojans are pretty good, especially at the guard spot. “Every year we have played them it is a game that has come down to late in the fourth quarter. A couple of years ago we had to make a shot late to win it. Last year it came down to a one point game. South Central I think is going to be one of the best teams in the Firelands. They are extremely good, have good guard play, and have some good size. It is a game where we really have to step up in order to beat them this year,” he said.

Published 11/29/17

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Lady Tygers Trying to Take Steps

Mansfield Senior took a couple of poundings over the weekend, but they feel they can become a better team as the season goes on this winter.

Bellevue belted them (81-15) in their opener and then Loudonville hammered them (77-45) on Saturday night, and those are two good teams.

Lady Tygers coach Todd Krill says right now they have a lot of kids on the floor that don’t have a lot of experience. “I think a lot of it is the experience of the kids playing for us right now. We are working real hard and we are trying to show them things we have to do defensively and offensively to make good progress this year. We have been having good practices it is just the experience of our kids have kind of hurt us in some areas really bad,” he said.

The team is doing some good things in practice, but Krill says they have been unable to take that to games and again he says that is due to their lack of experience. “When we talk to the girls we tell them in practice they are shooting the ball and when we get to the game they aren’t shooting the ball. I tell them, hey, who have got to shoot the ball when you are open. It has gotten to the point now I have told them if you don’t shoot the ball I will bring you out. It is just like I said with the experience that we have right now is kind of showing a little bit. As we start making progress through the year I think it is going to get a lot better for us.”

Mansfield Senior plays another good team in Reynoldsburg on Saturday. Krill says they have a tough schedule and right now it is tough on the young kids that they have in the lineup. “We kind upped the ante a couple of years ago because we knew we had some really good ball players when we had Erika Johnson and Jeryn Reese playing for us and stuff along that line and they had to play against a lot better competition then we were playing, so we upped the schedule and right now we have an inexperienced team and the schedule is still pretty tough for us right now,” said Krill.

Published 11/29/17

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South Central Starts with Two Big Ones

South Central is a young team with some talent and they will be tested twice this weekend as they play host to Mansfield St. Peter’s and Buckeye Central in non-conference games.

Coach Brett Seidel says there are always going to be some butterflies with the anticipation of the season starting. “You never know the first weekend is always unknown. You can have your five scrimmages, but I think you still don’t know what’s going to happen when those lights come on and those stands are filled who is going to accel and who is not, who is a practice player and who is a gamer,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “So, that is kind of the disadvantage of coaching. When I played I knew what I was going to get and give, but as a coach the unexpected is always there.”

The Trojans have some talent, no question, but Seidel says they haven’t proven anything yet. “Potential just means we aren’t there yet. With the youth that we do have there is a little bit of experience and there is a little bit of skill as well. We are hoping we can put it all together and hopefully compete for a couple of “W’s” on Friday and Saturday,” he said.

It is going to be a huge test on Friday night, as two time defending district champion Mansfield St. Peter’s comes knocking. They have to potential all-state caliber players in Jared Jakubick and Elijah Cobb. They beat the Trojans in district semi-finals (79-41) last year. Seidel says this is a team that is going to be confident. “I know who they have. Who they are very skilled and very athletic and they are winners. They have been there they have been through it all. Back to back regional finals. So, this is nothing new to them and I know what they are going to bring. We know we are in for a tall order on Friday night. Hopefully, we match their intensity and make a few shots along the way,” said Seidel.

Buckeye Central has become a solid non-conference rival for the Trojans and Seidel predicts Saturday night is going to be no different. “It has been that way the last few years. We both have games on Friday nights and on Saturday it is kind of a half court grind it out down to the last possession game. We won by one over there last year and they won at the buzzer over here the year before. It has kind of turned into that kind of tournament style play in game two of the year each year,” said Seidel.

Published 11/29/17

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Pleasant Ready to See What They Have

Marion Pleasant is not postponing anything they want to get ready to play basketball and will visit talented Northmor for a non-conference game on Friday night.

Coach Ben Snively says they some football players that will be part of their mix, but they are ready to be tested as a basketball team. “Everybody is anxious to get back in the gym again. Obviously, we went to week 13 with our football team this year, so I have three kids that will play varsity this year that were on the football team. Two of them could possibly be starters and the other will be a key contributor to our team. They have been in the gym now for a week and half. We have been working them in a little bit and it just that time of year it seems the older I get the less time you have to prepare for games and things like that. We are ready to get out there and get a game in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Unfortunately, it is against Northmor who is going to be very, very good this year. We are anxious to get out there and see where we are at. It’s a long season, so week one you go out there and figure out where you are at and learn from your mistakes and try and get better that point forward.”

Snively says these kids that played football are going to make them better as a basketball team. “Kind of ironically with that we actually had 36 out this year, which is the largest amount I have at Pleasant in five years and we have nine or 10 that are football players, whereas the first couple of years I has here, I think the first year we had 33 and 23 were football players. I am at the games every Friday night. I am a Pleasant Spartan through and through. I enjoy watching the football team. We root for the kids. The biggest thing is avoiding injuries in that area and we were able to do that this year even though 13 weeks of football. We need to get their legs back under them and get their shots back, but these kids are resilient they just move from sport to sport. We will just continue to keep working and getting better,” he said.

Northmor is going to be pretty good this year. Snively says they have talent all over the floor. “Obviously, with scrimmage season we have not gotten a chance to see them. I got out the film from last year the one kid they did lose I got their roster and he was number 32 and the new 32 is a 6’5” sophomore. I said that is great to add to that 6’5” and 6’7” they already have on the court. Of course, Meechie Johnson is as good as the area has at the point position has far as doing a just a great job of creating for others. He is a long jump state champ and led Northmor’s football team to their first playoff. He is just a tremendous athlete. It’s a big challenge, but you know one thing I love being at Pleasant is our kids won’t shy away from that they will be ready to go Friday night,” said Snively.

Published 11/29/17

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Ontario Wants Fast Tempo

Ontario is a new league this year, but they will start the season with a team in their old league in the Norwalk Truckers on Saturday night at home at the “O-rena”

Coach Joe Balogh has been pretty happy with the effort he has seen as the Warriors try to find some answers to fill the shoes they lost to graduation. “We are working hard and I think going in the right direction, but it seems like at this point we have a lot that we really have to do a lot better. We like our progress and coming out of the last scrimmage we thought we got better. We have a lot of new faces. A lot of young guys, so the hard part is that we lose the experience that we had a year ago, guys that had played key roles for us for three years, it is really hard to replace that. Our kids are working hard it is just as a coaching staff we have to make sure that we are patient in understanding that we are not in a sprint that it is a marathon here. We need to be patient and maybe whittle some things down and make it a little bit simpler. We have five more days to get ready. We will need to be ready by Saturday night,” said Balogh.

They are dealing with some injuries with one kid out for the season, but Balogh says that is all part of the game and you have to hope that your other kids step up to the challenge. “Cameron Todd was going to be a key player for us and he is out for the year because he broke his ankle and then Logan Jones, who is really our only returnee, him and Chance Mott. Logan started last year for us. He has dealt with some issues with his ankle a little bit and we are trying to make sure that is taken care of. He has kind of been in and out a little bit here the first few weeks. We are hoping we have him healthy for Saturday. Injuries are part of everything you do. Any sport, any team, you always have to deal with injuries or illness or whatever, that is just part of the process,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “You hope you have kids that have put in the time in the off season and have kind of prepared themselves and continue to do that as you practice and when an opportunity arises they can show you that I am ready to step into that role. You are going to face adversity somewhere during the year, so we are facing a little bit here at the beginning with the idea that we are not going to have Cameron and Logan has tweaked his ankle a little bit at times. Our kids are working hard and that is all you can ask and continue to try and listen and learn and we kind of go from there.”

I think you can call Ontario and Norwalk rivals and the coaches certainly know each other well. Balogh says they can’t allow Norwalk to just pound them with sets in the half court. “The thing they do so well is they run a variety of half court sets. If you allow them to move the ball side to side and get into the things they want to get into they are very, very affective putting the ball where they want to. Our defensive pressure whether it is in the full court or just being able to defend in the half court is going to be key in that you have to take away their first and second options and make them try and go to a to a third or fourth option in the sets that they run. With an inexperienced basketball team it is sometimes difficult to get kids to understand that. It is something we are going to have to do. We would like to try and speed the game up a little bit if we can to try and make it so it just doesn’t become a half court game. Coach Gray is very good when the game becomes a game of sets and he is kind of dictating the tempo of the game. Our defense is going to have to set a tone of the game and hopefully it is a little faster paced game than they would want to play,” said Balogh.

Published 11/28/17

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Colonel Crawford Expecting Test From Flames

Colonel Crawford returns a lot of talent and you can bet they will be one of the better small school basketball teams in the area this season.

They had four freshmen on the floor in a district final last season and they are all back, plus some talented upperclassmen.

Coach David Sheldon says that experience is something good to have in your back pocket. “The kids are excited the preseason gets to be a grind and the kids are excited to be able to tip it off. The thing is we return a lot of guys that have played in big games over the course of the last couple of years. I am hoping that that helps us because this is not a new group that we are throwing into the fire on Friday night. So, we are excited to get going. We have to have a great week of preparation in order to go to Mansfield Christian against a very veteran Mansfield Christian and a good basketball team,” said Sheldon.

Many think the Eagles can win the Northern 10 Athletic Conference this year and Sheldon says he likes those high expectations. “I would much rather have expectations than be at the bottom of the barrel and there aren’t expectations. Our program has been established the last 12 years we have been there and we expect that every year. We are looking forward to the expectation, but with that comes a lot of work and you have to make sure kids aren’t satisfied and entitled with success they have had in the past, so hopefully our kids know that and I think they do as we have made great progress throughout the preseason,” he said.

The Eagles can have great balance on the floor this year with a number of guys that can score and from a variety of spots on the floor. “At times we have five guys on the floor that can score at all times, some inside, some outside, off the dribble, shooting. The biggest thing for us is we have to be unselfish and get great shots. When you have multiple guys and multiple weapons we must be unselfish and take care of the basketball and get great shots, especially with the way we are playing. We are playing fast. We want to get up and down the floor. You have to make sure you take care of the basketball first and not settle for contested shots, but really good shots every time we have a possession,” said Sheldon.

Colonel Crawford visits Mansfield Christian for their opener on Friday night. Sheldon says they are going to have to execute on both ends if they are going to win. “You look at Jared McPeak and Kyle Kurtz I have liked them for a long time. They have played a lot of varsity basketball. John Kurtz I have always thought so much of even back to Crestview. They are going to push the tempo. It’s a soccer team that is a very good basketball team. They like to run and I think John has done a great job of opening it up because of his guard play and the weapons he has as well. It is a very good basketball team and it starts with McPeak and Kurtz, but they have other kids that can shoot around them as well. The number one thing and I have said this every year we have played Mansfield Christian guards you,’ he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It came down to the wire last year at our place and we have to travel down to their place. John Kurtz’s teams always play great man to man defense and they try and take you out of things. It is a great opener for us going down there against a good team and that’s what we want in our non-league games. It will be a great atmosphere down there. It is always a great crowd. We are looking forward to the opportunity and tipping off the season.”

Published 11/28/17

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Ashland Asking Players to do Different Things

Ashland was one of the top teams in the area last season and they are hoping they can be there again.

They play Sandusky in an interesting non-conference game on Friday night.

Coach Jason Hess says they have some guys back from last year, but they are going to be asking them to fill different roles. “This year we are excited about the group of kids we have got. We have a few returners from last year’s team that had a good year. We have guys that were with us last year that we are expecting a lot from them this year. They were more role players last year. This year they will still be role players it is just going to be a bigger role,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are going to be asking a lot of our seniors and captains this year to really carry the load, especially early while are newcomers are kind of getting their feet wet at the varsity level and getting caught up with the pace of play. Even though we do all these summer leagues and open gyms and workout stuff we do there is no substitute for game action. It is going to be a little bit of a learning curve here for this opening weekend until we get everybody acclimated to varsity action.”

Hess says there will be a learning curve for some of the players as they adapt to doing some different things and it is going to take a real game to figure out if they are good at it. “Typically you rely on your returners to bring you some experience and leadership, however they also have to adjust and evolve to understand that last year they may have been more of a defensive player or a spot shooter and now we are putting them in a role where they are a primary ball handler or we are asking them to do a little more rebounding or to be a playmaker because guys we leaned on heavily last year to do some of those things are not there anymore. It is a big learning curve year to year. We have scrimmages and stuff, but like I said there is no substitute for in game action. I know we are excited to play Sandusky and turn the lights on and put the uniforms on Friday night in front of a home crowd. It will be all about how we adjust and react to that in game situation for the first time when the adrenalin is really pumping for the first time and how we can handle it,” said Hess.

Sandusky is the defending division two district winner, but Ashland beat them last year by one. Hess says it will take a very good effort to win. “It is a good test they are a well coached team. They are a very athletic bunch. They do have a couple of scorers, they are a little more balanced then maybe they were last year when they were leaning heavily on Jayreese Williams. This year’s team from what I have seen and heard I think is a little more balanced. They do have some good size and some good athletes and it is going to be a good test for us. Last year we were able to pass that test on opening night. Hopefully this year we can find a way to play a little bit of defense and really make things tough for them and hopefully some shots fall for us,” said Hess.

Published 11/28/17

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Shelby has to Cut Down on Turnovers

Shelby needs to take some steps forward as they play Lexington in their second game of the season on Tuesday night.

They lost to Madison (51-48) on Saturday night and coach Natalie Lantz says most of the night they were their own worst enemy. “I think the girls came out a little flat. Defensively we weren’t quite where we needed to be. It seemed like we were a little slow. We did force quite a few turnovers, but we turned the ball over quite a bit and the turnovers that we had the majority weren’t forced turnovers. I can live with forced turnovers. We talked about that with the team (Monday.) We don’t want to have unforced turnovers because those are a lot of lost opportunities. When we do play good defense and we have a chance for a bucket we have to take advantage and capitalize on those opportunities. I think that was something we focused on more (Monday) at practice in preparing for Lex. We are a young team. We lost six seniors from last year and a lot of experience. Now, we do have some back with experience,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “One kid that started half of the season last year. The kids are trying to get the right feel. We changed up a lot of things this year. We had some good take aways from Madison. There were maybe some first game jitters. We made some adjustments (Monday) at practice and hopefully we will see a chance (Tuesday) night.”

She said they made a lot of mistakes on Saturday night and Lantz hopes those were because they were nervous on opening night with many of them playing significant roles for the first time. “A lot of ours were just silly. We would get the ball out top with nobody guarding us and almost pass the ball right to them. I can’t tell you the number of traveling calls. I thought we did a nice job for the most part handling the ball. We had a freshman run point guard for us Saturday night and I think she did a really nice job. There were some other situations where we just had some uncharacteristic turnovers that I don’t know if we should relate them to first game jitters and hope we can sweep that under the rug, learn from it, and move on. I think this is one of those teams we are very competitive. They want to win. They have a taste of winning from last season. We don’t have an easy game on our schedule this year. Our goal for every game is to be ahead or in it and to win it at the end of the game. It is going to take a lot of work to get that done. We can’t just rely on one or two players it is going to take a team to get that done. It is going to take a good defensive effort to get that done,” said Lantz.

Lexington will be playing their first game of the season on Tuesday night and Lantz says they have a lot of good pieces starting with their coaching staff. “Knowing that Connie (Doutt) is back with the program and Heidi (Roush) is there. They have two great coaches in lead roles right there for the varsity, but they also have a veteran cast back with Adams and Kocher and Kearns. Stover has a year under her belt now. So, they have a lot of experience back. If you compare them to our team they should have more confidence and be jelling more than our group does coming into the game. Our girls are prepared, and they know what they are going against (Tuesday.) They are going against and athletic group that has got some height inside. They have athletes, kids that can rebound, kids that can shoot. We are definitely going to have to be on our game and be playing our best ball to begin the game to at the end to have a chance to win it,” said Lantz.

Published 11/28/17

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Buckeye Central Starts Season

Girls at Buckeye Central have had great success lately. They finished second in the “N10” in basketball last winter and advanced to the division four regional tournament and this fall they won the volleyball title and made it to the state semifinals.

That is all a good the only possible negative is the basketball team got a number of their players late and have had less practice time.

However, coach Greg Moore says when you are at a small school you have to share athletes. “We look at as a positive what the kids accomplished. We have only had them two weeks as of (Tuesday.) We basically have four starters coming off of that volleyball team, so we are a little bit behind the eight ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The other thing is we lost four starters last year off that regional run when we won 21 games, but we will get there.”

The one starter that have back is a pretty good one in 1,000 point scorer Jenna Kahl, a 5’8” senior point guard, who will be one of the better players in the area this year,

Moore says they are going to be patient this year. He says their goal is to get better every day. “We are trying to find out who fits where. We are not going to rush things and put a lot of stuff in and take our time. All we want to do is get better athletically and basketball wise. We have challenged our kids to be two percent better each day,” he said.

Buckeye will play at Plymouth (0-1) on Tuesday night in their first game of the season. Plymouth lost its first game (55-36) to Seneca East, also of the “N10,” on Saturday night.

Moore says this game and their other early season games are more about what they are doing. “We need to find out who can play and who can do this and that. This is what this is about. Our preseason was short, but they have been coming in and working really hard. They have had a great attitude. Our schedule is very tough for a small D-4 school when you look at it,” said Moore.

Published 11/28/17

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New London Has to Take it From Practice to Game

New London is going to be young to start the season as they return only one starter from last year’s Firelands Conference champions.

Coach Tom Howell says he has seen some good things in practice over the last week or so. “I think we are going in the right direction. The kids are working hard they are starting to buy into some stuff. With all these new players they are figuring out their roles with a little bit of guidance from me and it has been fun to watch actually,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “As little experience as we have coming back it has been kind of interesting in a good way. These guys are coming together a little bit.”

They play Edison and Wellington on Friday and Saturday respectively. Howell says they have to prove what they can do in game situations. “We are going to see if we can take it from the practice floor. We scrimmage, but that is not the same. We have to take what we have been getting better at in practice and working better with in scrimmages and apply to game situations because it is different. It is going to be fun to see if we can do that,” he said.

The Wildcats have to players with good range on their jump shot, but Howell says they must become better at knowing when to take a shot and when to work to get a better one. “I think we do have some guys that can shoot the basketball. They are figuring out when to shoot it and when not to shoot it I guess at the varsity level and how quick they have to shoot it at the varsity level because it is a lot faster paced game from JV to varsity. It is coming, I can see it coming and hopefully we can put it all together this weekend,” said Howell.

Edison has qualified for the regional tournament in division three the last two years and Howell says again the Chargers are going to have good athletes and they going to have some height too. “It is a tough first game. We have been playing them for a long time. They are athletic. They are big, they have a couple of kids about 6’3”, they are going to be athletic and fast. It is going to be an interesting first game for us,” he said.

Published 11/28/17

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Vermilion to Field Another Good Team

Vermilion is going to be one of the favorites in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference this season in boys’ basketball. They shared the title with Huron and Sandusky Perkins last winter.

Pekins is now in the Lake Division, with the “SBC” expanding to three divisions this school year.

Vermilion begins play this week by hosting their own holiday tournament. They play Gates Mills Hawken on Friday and either Oberlin or North Ridgeville on Saturday,

The Sailors have some experience back and coach Kurt Habermehl thinks they will be ready to go this weekend. “Yeah I think we will be alright. We have a veteran team coming back, so instead of teaching a whole lot of new stuff this year we are kind of reviewing what we have done in years past, so I think we will be fine,” he said.

Habermehl has a lot of experience himself and he says that is something you just can’t teach. “I think it is a lot easier when tough situations arise in a game to have experienced kids in there because they always seem to know what to do. Sometimes they can’t hear you when the game is going on, so the more experience you have on the floor the better off you are,” said Habermehl.

Although they will have a lot of the same players on the floor, Habermehl says they will have different strengths this season. “Last year we were a fast team that played a lot of guards. This year we will still be a fast team that plays a lot of guards, but we also have a couple of post players this year that we haven’t had in years past,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It will be nice when we get a little silly that we can throw the ball into the post and try and score inside instead of just hoisting threes all game.”

Playing two games on the weekend and then another game the following Tuesday is going to be taxing, but Habermehl thinks it will be good for them, “I think it is also going to test our conditioning a little bit. You find our right away on Saturday how well conditioned your team is based on whether or not these can come out and play. We are also different this year in that we are playing again on Tuesday right away, so we will have three games in the first five days. That Tuesday game is against a real good Lorain team, so we are not going to get any breaks. I kind of like that because I think it is a good opportunity to see where we are at early in the season and se how we stack up against good teams,” said Habermehl.

Published 11/28/17

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Perkins Opens With Edison

Perkins has developed into one of the more consistent boys’ basketball programs in North Central Ohio.

They open the season against Edison in a inter-divisional game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Saturday night.

Coach Scott McVeigh says they kind of got a wake up call in a scrimmage last week and that was what they needed. “It has been pretty good. We have been plugging away trying to get better every single day. We had some nice scrimmages and getting after it a little bit. We played Midview and North Royalton on Wednesday and I don’t think we played really well. I think we came out of it with what we wanted to come out of it out last scrimmage with a lot of question marks knowing that we had to work harder and put a better effort in and have better focus. It was a good last scrimmage as an eye opener. Other than that we have been solid working hard and getting after it in the gym and we are getting ready to get it tipped off,” said McVeigh.

Perkins is now part of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with former “NOL” members Shelby, Bellevue, Tiffin Columbian, Norwalk, and Sandusky, plus Clyde.

McVeigh feels it will be competitive from top to bottom. “It is different in that we were so used to the old “SBC.” We played every team in the “NOL” besides Ontario the last couple of years, so I think it has been kind of nice to segway into that with teams you have already played. It is going to be a very competitive league, especially in the Lake Division it is going to be real competitive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think there are a lot of teams that are even that going in night in, night out you have to bring your “A” game to be able to compete knowing you can beat anybody on a given night, but also knowing you can get beat on any given night. I think ultimately it will be very balanced and competitive. You have very good athletes and very good coaches. I think it is going to be fun we just have to make sure we bring it every night.”

Edison should be a good challenge on Saturday night. McVeigh thinks it will be a battle in the post. “You look at the last two years and they were a regional team, that is one thing there that sticks out to me. James Hill is finally a senior. It seems like he has been there for seven years, but probably one of the best post players in the area. He just has a real nice game to him. Then you throw in Bryce Roberts, a senior, and again it seems like he has been there forever. I think everything starts with those two guys. They are very athletic, they are big, they are strong. They can both put it on the deck. They are shooting it a lot better and they can extend you a little bit. They have some nice younger guards coming in. I think that was one thing they struggled with last year was their guard play. They are well coached Kyle (Hammond) has done a nice job with that program,” said McVeigh.

Published 11/28/17

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Former Coach Says Shelby is a Football Town

Steve Hale was only the Shelby football coach two years, but he has great memories of the town and its football fans.

Hale, now the head coach at Olentangy Liberty, like Shelby, in a state semi final on Friday night, coached the Whippets in 1997 and 1998 going 17-5 over those two years, including 11-1 and an outright Northern Ohio League title in 1998.

He says the people of Shelby were just amazing. “Just the great experience of being up there. The town, the enthusiasm. All of the great people Kenny Albert and Tim Tarvin, the late Dave Jones, who hired me. When those guys hired me I was just 29 years old. As crazy as that sounds taking a chance on a 29 year old. Just the unbridled enthusiasm that they brought to the program every night throughout the offseason. Johnny Clayman in the barber shop. All of those great people, all of those great families. Just a wonderful place,” said Hale.

He says he know a lot more about coaching football 20 years later than he did then, but he had a lot of fun coaching in what is clearly a football town. “Those people love it. I was just excited we could bring them a decent product when we were up there. From Bill Varble and all of those legends embracing some of the stuff we were doing. It made it so much fun and great learning experience. I know so much more football now then I did then. I guess I just used enthusiasm and energy to try and bring it about. We had great players too. We had Toby Stepsis, Israel Martin, Jeremy Hall and obviously Erik Will contributing to that program. It was just a great, great time and a great memory,” he said.

Shelby plays Steubenville in a battle of unbeatens at the University of Akron in a division four state semifinal. Hale and Liberty play at Arlin Field in Mansfield against Mentor in a division one state semi on Friday.

Current Shelby coach Erik Will played for Hale in the late 90’s and then coached under him as well at West Liberty Salem. He says the thing he remembers most fondly of Will was his love for Shelby and the Whippets. “The thing that strikes me the most is Erik loved Shelby football and he loved his town. He was a good player. He was on a team with some talented guys. He wasn’t the greatest player, he was a good player, but the things that stuck out the most about him was how much he loved his teammates and how much he loved being part of that program and what that meant to him,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I had conversations with him about going back home when he applied for the job. We talked about some of those things. I encouraged him if that’s what he wanted to do to go and hit it full speed and he certainly did that. I remember the first day that I met him and I remember the time I spent with him as a player and a coach as well.”

When it comes to giving advice, Hale says they text a little. He says Will has done a great job. “We talk a little, you know, text messages, back and forth with situations and different things. Usually you don’t have to talk as much when things are going well. It is more when you are up against things that you tend to reach out. You talk about handling kids, treating kids the right way, putting kids in a situation where they can be successful. He has certainly done a great job with that over the last few years. This team he has know is poised to do something fantastic,” he said.

Hale says the Shelby community deserves a state title and he will be rooting for them.

Published 11/24/17

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Technique is the Key for St. Paul

Norwalk St. Paul is one of just four teams left in the division seven playoffs.

The unbeaten Flyers (13-0) play Minster (9-4) in the state semifinal on Friday night at Lima Senior Spartan Stadium.

Minster shutout Delphos St. John’s (20-0) in a regional final last week. They outscored Convoy Crestview (35-32) in a second round game and beat Fort Loramie (40-24) in their first playoff game. They lost four games during the regular season, but not to any slouches in Marion Local (21-7,) Fort Recovery (28-27,) Coldwater (17-16) and St. Henry (30-7,) all of them but St. Henry were playoff teams.

The Wildcats run out of the spread offense and St. Paul coach John Livengood says the Minster quarterback is very good and does a great job getting the ball to their other playmakers. “It starts with their quarterback Jared Huelsman. He is a 6’2”, 205 pound kid. Their offense runs through him. He throws the ball well, but he runs the ball equally as well. He is their leading rusher and does a great job distributing the ball as a quarterback,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It starts with him, but they have a big offensive line. They have a 305 pound tackle, 250 pound tackle, 230 pound guard. So, they have real good size up front and they do a real nice job blocking for them up front.”

St. Paul’s O-line is not that big and Livengood says they must use their speed to get an advantage. “We have to use our speed and technique. We just don’t have that kind of size up front. So, we have to get our kids lined up correctly. Put them in position to be successful and they have to execute. They have to use great fundamentals. They have to use their quickness for us to be successful slowing an offense like that down,” he said.

St. Paul won the Firelands Conference, but they have been especially good in the postseason with wins the last two weeks over Tiffin Calvert (45-7) and Pandora-Gilboa (49-7,) both excellent teams. Livengood says they have to continue that momentum with great focus. “Our kids have got to be focused and be ready to go. They have played really, really well since about mid-season. We really started working towards getting better every week. I like the way we are playing right now in the post season we are playing very, very well and that starts with your mindset. Our kids have a great mindset going into each and every game,” said Livengood.

When you are still playing football and making out practice schedules on the last week of November, Livengood says this is fun. “When you are playing week 14 it is a lot of fun. The opportunity to practice on Thanksgiving Day. There are 28 teams in Ohio that get that opportunity. We feel privileged to have that. We are going to try and take full advantage of it and take it another week,” he said.

Published 11/23/17

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Colonel Crawford Runs the Floor, Plays Solid Defense

Colonel Crawford scrimmaged against Western Reserve and Willard on Wednesday and they did some good things on both ends of the floor as they get ready for the regular season.

They open against Mansfield Christian on December 1.

Crawford coach David Sheldon says he was among friends and relatives on Wednesday. “This is always a fun scrimmage. It’s a lot of Sheldons in the gym with my brother and “Hirsh” and Bedingfield over there and myself. You have three programs that have been solid. “Hirsh” and Bedingfield are going to get that thing turned around up there with the way they work at the game,” he said.

When it comes to the Eagles, one of the favorites, along with Upper Sandusky, to win the Northern 10 title, Sheldon says he thought they answered some questions. “For us I thought we made some steps forward and that is what you want to do at this time. We put some things on the board that we wanted to work on and I thought we made steps. We will set down and break down the film (Wednesday) night,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “There is no Thanksgiving for coaches. I thought we shot the ball pretty well too. I liked the tempo that we played. We moved up and down the floor. We want to play fast with a lot of the weapons we have. We have to keep cleaning things up. I tell the guys to never be satisfied. We have one more scrimmage Saturday and they we will tip it off a week from Friday.”

Defense is something Sheldon always preaches and he thought they did a good job against Western and Willard. “Overall we did play good defense. We were aggressive defensively. Western has great shooters and Willard has great length. It is a great contrast in styles when you look at this scrimmage. Overall, I felt we did a good job of bringing some passion and taking them out of some things,” he said.

When it comes to scrimmages, Sheldon says he wants to go against teams that are going to make them play well. “You have to execute. That is the key the specifics of execution, screening people, cutting hard, running the floor and getting out in transition. Hopefully, when we see the film we see that as well,” he said.

Plus, there is the added benefit of beating his younger brother Chris, who is the coach at Western Reserve. “In the three quarters we played I think the Eagles won two, two of them handily, and the one they beat us we blew a lead late in the quarter and they won by two. So, I think the older Sheldon go the best of him today,” he said.

Published 11/23/17

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It is Still Better Defense for Western Reserve

The opening of the boys’ basketball regular season is only a week away and the Western Reserve Roughriders are still trying to figure it out on defense and the time is ticking.

They played Colonel Crawford and Willard in a scrimmage on Wednesday in North Robinson.

Coach Chris Sheldon says they are not playing as a team on the defensive end of the floor. “I think it has been an ongoing theme for us we can shoot it, we can get out and play on offense, but we are still light years away from where we need to be to understand defensive concepts and how to truly guard the ball with five guys. Right now, we are still trying to play defense one on one like we do offense at times,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “You are not very successful doing that, especially when you are six-foot across the board at best. That is our problem right now and the only thing that is starting to make me nervous about it is we are almost three weeks into this and we haven’t figured that out and we only have a week to go. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Unfortunately, I have a feeling we are going to have to learn on the fly early in December as well with it.”

On offense, the Roughriders have been better. Sheldon says they have been making shots and understanding a new offense. “We think we can have four or five guys that can really put the ball in the hole. Our offense is different this year. It is tailored around more guard, perimeter play and getting up shots, shooting the three and getting the ball to the front of the rim. Right now, that has been the one real positive of the preseason is we have really done a pretty good job offensively of executing some of the new things we are trying,” he said.

Of course, this is the annual “Sheldon Bowl” that happens the day before Thanksgiving with David Sheldon being the coach at Colonel Crawford. Chris says he wants more, but older brother won’t go for it. “I have been trying to do that in the regular season, but he is too afraid to play me. So, I guess if it is a scrimmage in the preseason than that is what I have to settle for. The younger brother in me I would play anywhere, anytime, but I guess the only thing I can get right now is preseason. He is too afraid to play in the regular season,” he said.

Published 11/23/17

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Willard Must Battle Adversity

Willard has height and talent, but they need more consistency in their execution in order to become a good basketball team.

They played Colonel Crawford and Western Reserve in a scrimmage on Wednesday and showed some good things at times.

Coach Joe Bedingfield says they have must learn from they did wrong and move on. “I think we try and learn from our mistakes. We had some ups and downs in our quarters. It is a lot like the season you have peaks and valleys. We have to play some young guys and they are going to make some mistakes. It is a game of mistakes, but I think it is also trying to teach these guys how to handle it. Crawford has a really good program. Western always has a good program. That’s why we scrimmage them to get tested. I think we had some good moments, but we still have things we have to work on,” said Bedingfield.

One thing that has to get better before they play Upper Sandusky and Lexington, two good teams, on the opening weekend next week is the ability to handle pressure and Bedingfield says it would be nice if they could get healthy too. “We have to be able to handle pressure. We have to be able to handle full court and half court pressure. We have to be able to get healthy. We have a guy banged up right now that plays the guard position in Brevon Polachek. I would like him to play and he didn’t play (Wednesday.) Obviously, as team we have to be able to battle through adversity,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “We have to be able to make mistakes and move on to the next possession. If we can learn to do that and handle pressure, do what we are good at, rebound the ball, and battle adversity I think we can have some success this year.”

Bedingfield they must understand the concept of moving on to the next play and not letting things linger. “We talk about that all of the time. We talk about winning the now. You are always going to lose focus. That is part of your daily battle when you make mistakes and lose focus for a moment. It is about focusing on what we need to do on the next possession. Basketball is a quick transition game and if we don’t move on then it starts to snowball and we don’t want to snowball. I think that is where we could go wrong if we allow possessions to snowball,” he said.

Published 11/23/17

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Northmor Ready to Get Going

Northmor had a tremendous basketball season last year and the Golden Knights show the potential to be even better this winter.

Coach Zach Ruth says they have shown good things and right now he is trying to keep them from going stale before they open the season next week against Marion Pleasant. “We come in with an experienced group of seven seniors, two of them have never missed a varsity quarter. Brock Fletcher is a three year varsity starter. It is to the point now we are ready to go and it just trying to keep them challenged over break and next to week to get them ready for opening week and the game next Friday with Pleasant,” he told Swankonsports.com before practice on Wednesday morning, “I have been pleasantly happy with the scrimmages. We have scrimmaged some big schools. We have a big one Friday morning up at Norwalk with Anthony Wayne and Edison. That will be a really good test of where we are at.”

With their height and athleticism the Golden Knights are going to see a lot of different defensive combinations and Ruth says they have to be ready for those. “In the scrimmages we have been playing with some of the bigs at point guard and moving some of the guards into the post, interchanging, keeping them challenged for some things that could present themselves throughout the season. Will are going to see a lot of zone, we are probably going to see a lot of specialty defenses. We had a scrimmage last Friday and a team zoned us all five quarters. It was good for us because we are going to see a lot of it. That is what this early season stuff is for to get us ready for the season and a big run,” said Ruth.

Northmor qualified for the football playoffs for the first time ever this fall and Ruth says they are carrying a lot of momentum into the basketball season. He says it is good to be a Golden Knight. “We had a phenomenal last year with the school’s first ever league title, followed by the best summer we have ever had, followed the best football season the school has ever had. The community is ready to go, the kids are ready to go. It is a blessing to be part of Northmor right now,” he said.

Published 11/23/17

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Danville Meets Athletic Cuyahoga Heights

Danville and Cuyahoga Heights play in a final four match-up in division seven at Orrville’s Red Rider Stadium on Friday night. The winner earns a ticket to next week’s state final in the small school division.

The Blue Devils made it this far in 2015 before losing to Mogadore (35-21) also in division seven.

This year Danville (12-1) finished in a first place tie with Highland in the new Knox Morrow Athletic Conference. Coach Ed Honabarger feels getting in that league and the good competition they faced helped them in the post season. Their only loss came to Highland (26-0) on week four. They have won eight in a row.

Last week, Honabarger was a riverboat gambler as quarterback Skyler Durbin scored with 1:02 remaining and he went for two and again Durbin got across the goal line for the two point conversion and the lead. Danville held on to beat Hannibal River (29-28) in a regional final. “We got a big defensive stop. I just knew going down the field that if we scored we were going for two because I didn’t really want to go overtime with their quarterback Lukas Isaly as good an athlete as he is running the football. I just didn’t think that would be good for us. We were fortunate enough to get it in the end zone and then we got the two point conversion to get the lead with a minute left,” said Honabarger.

Cuyahoga Heights, the defending division six runner-up, also won in dramatic fashion as they recovered a fumble and then scored with :16 seconds left to beat Wayne County Athletic League champion Dalton (42-41) in a regional final. Honabarger says the Redskins make big plays. “A good core of their kids come back this year. They are pretty big up front. Their wing back/split end (Dylan) Drummon I guess is going to Eastern Michigan, he is a really good football player. He is their go to guy when they need big plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have a big fullback that is about 6’2”, 220 that they like to pound and wear people down.”

Even though their defense has been outstanding this year, Honabarger feels this game is going to kind of be like last week. “I said that last week that we really needed to score 35 or 40 and 29 did it. I believe I told everybody we are not going to stop them we have to get stops at the right time and that’s what we did. This game is going to be similar we have to be able to score some points and get stops at key moments in the game,” said Honabarger.

When you get to this level of the playoffs, Honabarger says you have to be able to make the big plays at crucial times if you are going to win. “If somebody makes a big play or two, whether it be on offense or defense. You have to create opportunities for yourself. At this point in the game that’s what needs to happen,” he said.

Published 11/22/17

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Mansfield Senior Has High Expectations

Mansfield Senior had its worst season in more than two decades last season, but there is a new coach and some high expectations for the 2017-18 season, which starts next weekend.

The Tygers scrimmaged South Central of the Firelands Conference at Pete Henry Gym on Tuesday night and they won five of the six quarters that were played.

Coach Marquis Sykes, a former assistant named the Tygers coach last spring, says it was a somewhat uneven performance, but not unexpected. “It’s early and a preseason scrimmage and it looks they way I thought it would look. There were times we played the way we practiced. There were other times our kids decided to go outside of that and do some things that we don’t teach. All in all I thought it was helpful,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “We got an opportunity to play against someone other than ourselves and work on some of our stuff. We got to see what we needed to see.”

Once the Tygers get all of their players on the floor and on the same page, Sykes believes they can have a successful season. “I think we can be pretty good once they figure out we can actually be pretty good and we get all of our guys on board. We are actually missing a couple of starters (Tuesday) night that had to set out because of some violations of team rules. Once we get all of our guys on board and everybody on deck and bought into what we are trying to do here I really do think we will be pretty good,” he said.

Mansfield Senior opens the season at Mansfield St. Peter’s on December 2 in non-conference play. Their first “OCC” game is at Lexington on December 8.

What about the Ohio Cardinal Conference? Sykes says he thinks it will be very competitive from top to bottom. “I think it will be pretty even throughout. I really feel like anybody could beat anybody on any given night. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see and “OCC” champion that has two or three losses or it wouldn’t surprise me to have three or four teams share the title and then again it wouldn’t surprise we if someone figured it all out and ran the table. Our league has always been pretty competitive from top to bottom and I feel like a lot of guys can beat up on each other, so it will be interesting,” said Sykes.

Published 11/22/17

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South Central Gets Better

South Central, a division four school from the Firelands Conference, scrimmaged at Mansfield Senior, one of the biggest schools in the area, on Tuesday and they benefitted from the experience.

The Tygers took all but the last quarter, however, South Central coach Brett Seidel feels they improved as the scrimmage went on and that was good to see. “I am just grateful we had the opportunity to come and play someone like Senior. Coach Sykes was willing at the district 6 meeting to allow us to come over here and play. They are very, very athletic, very long and they play hard. They play so hard. They are the team that has given the most effort that we have seen all season. It just made us better. I think as it wore on we were starting to compete a little bit better and get used to the speed and the physicality of it. Like I said I am just thankful we were able to come over here and get better,” said Seidel.

South Central opens the season next weekend against defending division four district champion Mansfield St. Peter’s on December 1 and Buckeye Central on December 2 in non-conference games.

Seidel says the Trojans have gotten better this preseason as they migrate towards that opening weekend. “We have had a gradual progression and that is what we have got to ask for. We have continued to get better through each scrimmage. We started in Willard, then we went to Sandusky Perkins and basically practiced with them and got a whole lot better that night and then we had a real good scrimmage with Mohawk and shot it really, really well at home,” he said.

It is unlikely that the Trojans are going to see another team as athletic as Mansfield Senior, at least during regular season play. Seidel firmly believes the experience on Tuesday night will help them down the road. “(Tuesday) night we knew we were going to be in for a challenge. We knew they were going to be up tempo, we knew they were going to be up in us and that was good for us, they were denying all over the floor and that was good for us. By about the third quarter we finally started to figure out we couldn’t run our offense from half court,” he told Swankonsports.com after the scrimmage, “We had to make sure we back cut and loosen things up and those are growing pains. There are times when we have three sophomores and a freshman on the floor. The freshmen looked really, really raw, but by the end he was getting some stick backs and crashing the glass a lot harder then he had previously. I’m encouraged.”

Published 11/22/17

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Buckeye Central has to Know What it Can do

Buckeye Central is not going to be the biggest team in the world and they are going to have to find different ways to score other than just throwing it into the post.

Swankonsports.com was at practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Coach Phil Loy says he likes the attitude the players have exhibited, they have done some good things and he believes they can have a good season. “So far, we just need to keep getting better. We have had two scrimmages, one scrimmage was canceled do to another team’s football. In the first two scrimmages and in our practices our kids are working hard, but we just have to get better. We are not a really big team and we need to work on boxing out, that’s huge for us. We are trying to be a little up tempo where we can get the kids out and play. We have to force teams to play a little more hurry up because we are a small team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We are more guard oriented. In the first two scrimmages it has been so, so, it hasn’t been great, it hasn’t been real bad. The effort has been there, we haven’t shot it well, and our rebounding just needs to get better. I think these kids are buying into things and playing hard, they have good attitudes, good team chemistry, so I think we can get there.”

Tempo is going to be key for the Bucks. Loy says they don’t have to have quick shots, but they need to get the ball down the floor in order to get good opportunities. “We want to push at every opportunity, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily want to shoot quick. We are not going to be great in a half court unless we are making perimeter shots. We are not going to pound it down somebody’s throat. We are going to be more of a more of a dribble attack type thing or shoot perimeter shots. We just don’t have the big post presence like we have had in year’s past. Yeah, we definitely need to push the ball and see if we can get anything and if it is not there we will run our half court offenses,” said Loy.

Buckeye opens the season with a pair of non-conference games next weekend with Plymouth and South Central of the Firelands Conference.

We have focused on the fact that the Bucks lost a lot of close games and Loy feels it could help them mentally if they could win a close one early. “Last year we lost a lot of close ones where we were right there or had a lead and couldn’t find ways to win it. We would turn it over late, couldn’t execute our things down the stretch, so that would be huge for us. I don’t want close games, but to win one would be nice,” he said.

Published 11/22/17

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Wynford Working on Fundamentals

Wynford is preparing for the beginning of the high school boys’ basketball season, which for them starts on December 1 at home against Crestview in non-conference play.

Swankonsports.com visited the high school on Tuesday and talked with coach Jason Engel.

He says they have focused a lot on the fundamental parts of the game so far. “We are really striking on fundamentals right now. We know we have to be more defensive minded. We are really just hitting on key points on defensive shell drills and fundamentals, taking care of the ball, rebounding. We are not trying to do a tone of things right now. We have just had our full group here for close to two weeks now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We haven’t put a bunch of offensive stuff in. We haven’t had a ton of time to do a bunch of things. We have had two scrimmages right now. So, we are trying to focus on the positives and improve where we can improve and that is definitely on the defensive effort,” he said.

The last two seasons of the Royals have really come on strong late in the season under Engel’s leadership. He says they have to find a way to get off to a better start. “I think we have kind of taken some time here the last couple of years to figure out maybe our identity or what we want to do and the credit has been to those classes, those senior classes, for sticking with it and getting better and improving. It is a long year, a long season. Traditionally we play some really good teams off the bat too. We just have to be ready to go and try to maybe simplify things to take care of ourselves,” he said.

Wynford plays Bucyrus, Ridgedale and preseason favorite Colonel Crawford in its first three league games.
Engel says you have to pick out a few things and really concentrate on getting better. “You don’t want to try and do too much. You have to focus on where you can improve and what you can run and what works when you are running it too. That is both and offensive and defensive focal point. We will have one more scrimmage and a couple more practices before next Friday. We are going to try and put our kids in position to be successful,” he said.

Published 11/22/17

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Shelby a Chance For Payback

It what shapes up as an excellent match-up it is Shelby against Steubenville in the division four state semifinals on Friday night at the University of Akron.

It is a rematch from last year’s regional final, won by the Big Red (29-15) in Massillon.

Shelby (13-0) beat Bellevue (42-21) last Friday, meanwhile Steubenville (13-0) downed Perry (33-21) in their regional final.

Steubenville lost to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the last two state finals in division four (24-21) in 2016 and (31-28) in 2015.

This year the Big Red when you look at their scores has not been as dominate as Shelby, but they likely have played a better schedule, including three schools from out of state and one from Canada.

Shelby coach Erik Will says to no surprise Steubenville is best team they will have played this year. “It is probably not even close. They are really good. They are well coached, obviously. The great thing is it is their 2017 team against ours and we feel like we match up well. They are just very, very, very aggressive defensively. They are going to bring five or six guys every single play. You kind of have to guess where they are coming. Offensively they play a lot of power football. They are going to pound you, pound you, pound you and then they are going to throw that thing over the top. They play a heck of a schedule. We will have to play our best game to date,” he said.

When it comes to containing the Steubenville offense, Will says they have stop the run game first or it is not going to matter. “We are going to switch some things up. We are probably going to get an extra man in the box this week. If we don’t stop the run it is not going to mater. They are just going to grind us out. So, we are going to have to get off the field. The key down is first down we are going to have to get them in second and long. We need second and eight, we need second and nine. If we can do that I think that will be pretty good. I think we will survive there. The big thing is your secondary can’t hurt you from the standpoint you can’t fall asleep and give up the big play. It is one thing for a team to nickel and dime you down field. That is really hard to do and it is hard for teams to be patient and do that, but when you give up home runs that is just demoralizing,” said Will.

Steubenville blitzes a lot and they make the opponent pay with their athleticism, but Will says is you execute well you can make some big plays too. “It is high risk, high reward. We are going to take what they give us. We are not going to try and fit a square peg in a round hole. We feel like when they blitz the one thing we can do is having Brennan (Armstrong) and his ability to kind of improvise with his feet I think that is going to help us out a lot. We are not going to abandon the run. We are going to try and make a conscientious effort to have a running game. I’ll tell you there aren’t many teams that just lineup and run the ball on them because they are so darn physical. When they blitz they are bringing five, six guys and they are just attacking gaps, but when you guess right it is a big play,” he said.

The last time Shelby lost a game it was to Steubenville. Will says they are a little different than last year. He says the Whippets are not going to back down. “I don’t know that we encouraged them to watch last year’s film. They definitely do some things schematically the same, but they are a little bit different on offense. They graduated a couple of guys on the O-line, they graduated that really tall wide receiver they had last year. So, they do look a little bit different,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are trying to approach it from the mentality that everybody has been saying, man you have to play Steubenville, but we are looking at it as Steubenville has to play Shelby. We feel like we can be the best team they have played this year. We are looking at it from the standpoint of what we do, we do well. Of course, we are going to tweak some of the things we do to fit our opponent, but we feel like if our kids play the way they have played all year with the same effort and intensity we are going to be right there in the end.”

Published 11/21/17

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Former Mansfield Senior coach Speaks at Buckeye Bash

Former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes when asked by a reporter how come there wasn’t a trophy associated with the Ohio State-Michigan game like some other Big Ten rivalries he replied, “There is son, they can it the Big Ten Championship.” And so is the best rivalry in sports.

Ohio State, already with Big Ten East title in hand, but trying to land a spot in the College Football Playoffs, travels to Ann Arbor on Saturday. They have been installed as an early 13 point favorite.

The annual “Beat Michigan Buckeye Bash” was held on Monday night at the Mansfield Liederkranz. It is organized by the Alumni Club of Richland County.

One of the speakers was Stan Jefferson, the former Director of Player Development at Ohio State and also a former football coach at Mansfield Senior, along with former players Doug Worthington and Drew Basil.

Jefferson says the game is something special. “It is a very special week with all of the tradition of all of the years that the Buckeyes have played “That Team Up North.” I think it really got going from the 10 year war between Bo and coach Hayes. That 10-year war wretched it up even more so, it was always there from the day Francis Schmidt started with the “Gold Pants Club,” but it really got accentuated during the 10-year war,” said Jefferson.

There is normally something on the line for one of the teams and often both, but Jefferson says there is always pride at stake. “It is a big deal, it’s a huge deal, it is everything. You want to have an unblemished record going into that game, but even if you didn’t there are so many implications to the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Who wins the Big Ten, who goes to what, if you look at the 70’s that game determined who was going to go to the Rose Bowl, now we talk about who is going to play for the Ben Ten Championship, who is going to go to the College Football Playoffs, there is so much involved. More so that anything it is representing the great State of Ohio and fighting for a sacred brotherhood of men among those players.’

When it comes to Saturday, Jefferson says both sides will be prepared. “It is going to be a great game. I know the Buckeyes are going to be prepared because that is what the Buckeyes do down there. I’m quite sure “that team up north” is going to be prepared as well. It is always going to be a great game. Like in any game it is going to come down to execution, fundamentals, the basic concepts of football are always played out in that game. The elimination of turnovers, playing great defense and doing the things you are supposed to do in order to win,” said Jefferson.

Basil kicked four field goals in Ohio State’s 26-21 victory over Michigan in 2012 and he says kicking in pressure packed games in both mental and physical. “It is a lot mental, but it is also a lot muscle memory. You can compare it to shooting a free throw. It’s the same thing over and over. It doesn’t matter if it is an extra point or at the top end of your range, every kick should be the same,” he said.

Unlike a lot of kickers, Basil liked to be part of kick coverage and he says you could feel the difference when it was Michigan. “Running down on kickoffs, yes it was different. I was always that kicker that loved to run down and try and make the tackle. In Michigan once you were in on a tackle you really didn’t want to get up. You just wanted to keep laying on them and pushing them further into the ground. I don’t think that is possible being the kicker,” said Basil.

Published 11/21/17

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Colts Have Some Horses

Clear Fork has the potential to enjoy a solid season in boys’ basketball this year, but potential can be a very dangerous word in athletics.

They return almost everyone from last year and have an influx of talent in the freshmen class.

With a 12 week season in football, the basketball team was late in getting eight of their guys, but coach Steven Bechtel says he believes they will survive the late start. “The good thing is we return a lot of guys with a lot of experience and their I.Q. for basketball is pretty high. We have been able to run through a few things and make adjustments along the way during scrimmages. The guys have responded pretty well. We just hope to be able to carry over that same momentum they had during football season,” he said.

Last weekend, the Colts and the Loudonville Redbirds made a special trip to Indiana to scrimmage in the same gym that the movie “Hoosiers” what shot. Bechtel says it was pretty cool. “We went over with Loudonville to play at the “Hoosiers” gymnasium there in Knightstown, Indiana. It was a scrimmage, but for the guys I think it was more about the experience than anything. They had some fun with it,” he told Swankonsports.com during practice on Monday, “A few of the guys shot underhand free throws like they did in the movie. I told them I didn’t really care about that at all. They are never going to play in that gym again, so I think they took full advantage of the situation and I think everybody enjoyed their time.”

There is some very good talent at Clear Fork and Bechtel says they are going to need to play together as a team if they are going to have a successful season. “We have talked about that already. Potentially we could be really good, but on other hand we have to make sure we share the basketball and we play together at all times at both ends of the floor. That will be our biggest obstacle to overcome,” he said.

This year’s freshmen were very successful at the middle school level and Bechtel says they will have an impact this year, it is just a matter of how much. “We have one up on varsity and he is meshing in really well with the guys. Then we have three at the JV level as well. It is just a really solid class and they are out here to work. The guys that work the hardest are going to be able to step in there,” he said.

When it comes to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, Ontario is a known quantity to Clear Fork and its fans, but Bechtel says overall this is going to be a pretty good basketball league. “Marion Harding won it last year over Buckeye Valley. North Union has some size. I think it is going to be a very, very good league. I think everybody is thinking we are going to go out there and do what that football team and I don’t think it is going to be like that. Every night it is going to be a fight. There are going to be some very good basketball teams and we are going to have to show up every night,” said Bechtel.

Published 11/21/17

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Former Teammates Proud of Will and the Whippets

Erik Will is coaching what might become the best football team in Shelby High School’s history and his former teammates are pretty proud of him.

Will played on the first Shelby team to win a playoff game in 1998 along with Tobin “Toby” Stepsis and Israel “Izzy” Martin.

The Whippets went unbeaten in the regular season in 1998 under coach Steve Hale, winning the Northern Ohio League, and beating Poland Seminary (21-14) in a regional semifinal.

Stepsis, whose father Ron, was head coach of the Whippets from 1985-1990, says he remembers, the 1998 team had very good chemistry. “How the team played for each other, being part of an outright Northern Ohio League championship, and being part of winning Shelby’s first ever playoff game,” he said.

Stepsis currently teaches in the Medina City Schools and coaches track and field for the Bees.

Right now, Shelby is on fire with enthusiasm about the Whippets, who play long time rival Bellevue, in a division four regional final at Community Stadium in Ashland on Friday night.

Martin remembers there being similar emotion in 1998. “I have a lot of great memories of the ’98 team. The things that stand out the most probably involve the community and the buzz that was building week after week. We’d broken through the previous season and had some success, but no one expected us to be anything special in ’98 except us. When the Bellevue game came around, I think we all knew that was our chance to prove we were for real, and after we went up there and shut them down you could feel the excitement around town. The tradition has always been so special, everyone has a dad, uncle or grandfather who had been part of it, and people had been waiting a little while to feel like we were on top again. The community did so much to celebrate and take care of us and it just felt great to make them proud,” said Martin.

Martin also stated out in coaching and now works in the Student Advocacy Center at the Ohio State University. He says even as a kid he was impressed with the hard work that the coaches put in. “I really have great memories of our team and our coaching staff. Even as high school kids we recognized how much work the coaches were putting into film study and game planning. They demanded a lot from us and everyone bought in. There were guys that didn’t get a ton of opportunities on the field, but truly everyone was 100% part of the team. The success we achieved was a direct result of the whole operation giving their all and it was really remarkable. I’ve never been part of something like that before or since. I’ve have never had more fun playing sports than I did during that season with that group of people,” said Martin.

Stepsis says he wasn’t sure Will would become a coach, but he knew whatever he did he was going to be a great leader. “I don’t know if any of us truly know what we are going to do in the future when we are young, but I always thought Erik could do anything that dealt with being in charge of a group of people. He could take control of a room and his positive attitude was contagious. He could always bring things into perspective and he could refocus us on what really matters. I always knew he would be an outstanding leader,” said Stepsis.

Martin says he and Erik have been friends since junior high and he also sees Will as a tremendous motivator that is always learning how to be a better coach. “Back then I was positive that the only thing I wanted to do was teach and coach. I had a huge appreciation for my teachers and coaches and I majored in education and I started coaching wrestling and track when I was still in college at Baldwin-Wallace. I remember talking to Erik a few times during that stretch and learning that he was coaching football at Beavercreek and then later he had joined Steve Hale’s staff at Liberty. Erik had been one of my best friends since junior high and he had always had the gift of gab. He can strike up a conversation with anyone about anything. At heart, I think he’s a jolly-guy, but he can get you fired up,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Once I knew he was getting into coaching. I knew he would be a good one. And when he came to Shelby, I got a hold of him right away and let him know how proud and excited I was. Watching him with the kids, I’m blown away. He’s doing what great coaches do, always learning, using the tricks he has picked up along the way. I have seen glimpses of coach Hale in him and being his natural, magnetic self.”

Martin admits there was one incident during the ’98 season when he wasn’t sure Will was as focused and he should have been and that coaching would not be in his future, but he would have been wrong. “I know Erik still periodically tells a story about me getting in his face for horsing around before practice before the Bellevue game in ’98. If you asked me that day whether he was a future head coach would have definitely said no and I would have been wrong, but thank goodness he’s doing it, because he is the right man for the job,” he said.

Published 11/17/17

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Pleasant and Eastwood Square off Again

Marion Pleasant and Pemberville Eastwood meet in the division five regional final on Friday night at Lima Senior Spartan Stadium.

It is the fifth time they have played in the playoffs, a signal these are two established programs.

It didn’t look like the Spartans were going to be in this game at all. They scored with less than 10 seconds to go to beat Archbold (28-24) last week in a regional semifinal game.

Coach Aaron Cook says it was a tremendous game. “That game was a heck of a game. It went back and forth the entire game. It was kind of one of those deals of who got the ball last. Going 99 yards was something where you really have to pull one out at that moment. Credit our kids for making plays and never giving up. It was an exciting finish for sure,” he said.

Pleasant concentrates on a power running game, but they were not in position to do that with first and 99 with less than a minute. Quarterback Ethan Worner hooked up with Lane Russell for a 92 yard pass and then to Tristin Conklin for the score.

Cook says they have confidence in their passing game. “We obviously want to run the ball first. The thing about our team, and it is probably why we are playing week 13, is we have great kids. Our quarterback Ethan Worner is 6’5 and has a huge arm, probably the strongest arm of anybody I have coached. He can throw the ball it is just something we don’t do a lot of. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in him and the receivers when we do do that. He threw it about as far as he could throw it and Lane came down with it. It was just a great play,” said Cook.

Eastwood beat Otsego (41-14) Last week. The Eagles have posted three shutouts this season and four other times limited the opponent to just one score. They beat Pleasant (35-28) in the playoffs last year.

Cook says he knows what they are all about. “Obviously familiar with them. This is the third time I have seen them in the playoffs as a head as a head coach and saw them twice as an assistant. They are the number one team in the State of Ohio for a reason. They are the same team that knocked us out last year. As I walked off the field last year knowing what they had coming back that that team was going to be a team to be reckoned with and they would have a great shot at winning division five,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Top to bottom they are about as solid a team that I have seen in division five in a long time.”

The Eagles are a team based on a strong running attack and a great defense. Cook says they have all the elements of a great team. “They do it by running the ball. They have the ability to throw the ball. Their quarterback is a heck of a quarterback. They are solid everywhere. They score a lot of points and keep you off the scoreboard. Their defense is the best defense I have seen in a very long time and we have our work cut out for us, but we are happy to be playing week 13 and we have a tremendous amount of respect for Eastwood,” said Cook.

In approach, both teams do a lot of the same things. Cook says each side knows what it has to do to win. “We are very similar teams. We run similar offenses and similar defenses. It is kind of scary schematically how similar we are. I have been around small school football for a long time and what we do here has worked for us and what they do up there works for them. There is a reason we have played five times in the playoffs because our kids at both schools really understand the system and execute it very well,” said Cook.

Published 11/17/17

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Hillsdale Faces Liberty-Benton

Hillsdale has played maybe its two best games of the season in the playoffs and they going to need to step it up again when they play Liberty-Benton on Friday night.

The Falcons and the Eagles lock horns in the division six regional final at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin.

Last week, Hillsdale hammered Carey (41-0) in a second round game.

Coach Tom Williams says they played well in all aspects of the game last week. “Our guy played extremely well last week. Offensively, defensively, special teams, everybody did their job. We just kind of came there with an attitude. I really liked that we didn’t wait and kind of feel things out we just went out there and played extremely hard right from the beginning,” said Williams.

In their first playoff game, Hillsdale (9-3) utilized the pass game in beating Seneca East (28-7,) but Williams says against Carey they had to run the ball and they were able to do it. “Against Carey we had to be a little more patient to be honest. They decided they were going to take away some of the big plays we get through the air by putting a lot of extra guys out in coverage, so we just ran the football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The nice thing is our offensive line is playing really well right now. Garret Smith is running the ball well, Trey (Williams) ran the ball pretty well and a couple of other guys. We were able to kind of grind it out a little bit.”

Liberty-Benton (11-1) climbed all over Hicksville (60-7) last week. Williams says this is a team you can not afford to make mistakes against or they are going to take advantage. “They are really good. They have a senior laden team. They just do a lot of things well. They just don’t have a lot of weaknesses. It is going to be important for us to play well and to make sure we limit our mistakes because they just seem like as we watch film of them they turn mistakes into big plays for them,” said Williams.

The Eagles have made the playoffs 10 times since 2003 and they have some really good athletes. Williams says they are going to have to be firing on all cylinders. “This is big boy football here. When you get to this level everybody is good. Everybody has things that they do extremely well. You job is to take away some of those things. Hopefully, some of the stuff that you do really well is still able to work at this level,” he said.

This is the first time Hillsdale has played in a regional final and Williams says it is exciting for everybody. “We are talking to a lot of people, so it gets to be a fun time. The kids are excited, the community is excited. That makes for a fun week,” he said.

Published 11/17/17

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Ontario Building Things

Ontario is always it seems to be one the better boys’ basketball teams in the area and they will probably be the case again this year.

However, coach Joe Balogh says they really are going to be working with a of first time players at the varsity level. “Number one, we really like the effort our kids have given. We lost a lot from last year’s team, especially on the perimeter with Tre Jordan and Quan Jackson and Jackson Todd. Tre and Quan were three year lettermen, so it is going to be difficult to replace them. We have a really good player in Logan Jones coming back. He had a really good summer for us. He seems to be the guy we wanted him to be really the last couple of years. We thought last season he really played well down the stretch the last seven, eight games and he has kind of carried it into this year. He is our only true senior coming back that played a lot. The other guy that we have that had significant minutes at the varsity level is sophomore Chance Mott. We have some kids I think that are excited about the opportunity that is available to them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That’s what’s good to see is you have kids that have put in some time in the summer and the off season to try and prepare for the opportunity that they are going to get. We are still a work in progress and I think at this point of the season you are always a work in progress, but maybe more so than we have been the last couple of years. As a coaching staff we just have to show some patience and they are not going to know all that we expect them to know and maybe have to do a lot more reviewing than we have done the last couple of years.”

Balogh says the scrimmages they have put together this year are going to be important in finding out what they have. “We have to find our who can play at this level and that is what our scrimmages are kind of for. Early on we give everybody a chance and as we get to these final two or three scrimmages we try and figure our those final six, seven, eight guys that we think can really help us at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Of course, the Warriors are entering a new league in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference this year. Balogh says it is different and that is both good and bad. “It is going to be different from the standpoint that you are not going to have the familiarity with the teams in the league. The disadvantage is probably going to be more prep time for us, but that is not a problem. The advantage looking at it is they are not going to know a lot about us. There will be a learning curve there a little bit. The thing that I have always liked about the leagues we have been in is it is an eight team league and you play home and away. I really like the idea that you have to go on the road. If you beat a team at home, you are going to have to beat that team on the road. League play is different than non-league play. I think our non-league schedule is as competitive as any team in the area for a school our size. Our schedule is really going to test us. You look at our sectional, we have 14 teams in our sectional with Bellevue, Norwalk, Clyde, Mansfield Senior, Lexington, Shelby. Our sectional/district is going to be another tough test once we get to the end of the season,” said Balogh.

Published 11/17/17

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Northwestern Trying to Recover

Northwestern, the defending Wayne County Athletic League champs, must replace one of the state’s best post players in Derek Koch, plus they are dealing with a lot of injuries, but they just might be okay in the long run.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says they have a lot of pretty good players that return, but right now a lot of them are hurt. “Every year is new and that is what high school basketball is all about. Unfortunately, you lose some classes and those kids move on. You have new players and different young guys that take their place and new senior classes. We have a lot of nice kids that are coming through our program right now. Our biggest thing is we are just trying to get healthy from football. We have five guys that played a lot of minutes for us last year. One of the boys ruptured his achilles in the summer, so he is out until January, and then we have two boys that played major roles. Two other seniors that played a ton last year, one that started in Park Smith and my son Jared Alberts, that are playing right now. We have a lot of moving parts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We had a scrimmage where I thought we played very hard (Wednesday) night at Ontario. It was our first scrimmage because of injuries. I’m pleased with the progress we have made since the first practice. It definitely could be an interesting year, but I think health is a major thing with our team moving through the year.”

Alberts says they have been forced to change a lot of what they do on offense, but he feels the kids are learning it well. “We have changed everything this year with our offense and added a lot of different things. We had to after losing a guy like Derek Koch. So, it has taken time to learn that as well, but it is really getting a lot better. I think we will be much better by the end of the season, maybe you might even start seeing it mid season and you will say something has clicked with them. I think we have enough depth and players that we are going to be ready for the start of the season when we go over to Triway on December 1,” said Alberts Jr.

When it comes to the Wayne County Athletic League, Alberts thinks it should be an interesting season with a lot of teams in a similar situation. “We have been fortunate to have a lot of good seasons at Northwestern and we have developed a very nice program, but I think our league is going to be interesting this year because there were graduation losses for every team. I think there is always a team that has a bunch of guys back, but everybody has lost some people. You can point to some people that have played a lot of underclassmen, but we all have, so we are all kind of in the same boat. I am anxious to see where that leaves us and how it plays out in the league this year,” he said.

Published 11/17/17

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New London in Learning Process

New London is the defending Firelands Conference boys’ basketball champion, but this year they are a much younger and inexperienced team.

Coach Tom Howell says they don’t have much experience back. In fact, his son Karson Howell, is the only returning starter. “At times I have liked what I have seen. It is early yet. We only have one starter coming back. We do have four returning letter winners. The other three did see some varsity time last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have some guys trying to figure out the varsity level of basketball and they are having some trouble right now. Once they can get it figured out we can make some noise.”

This will be the first fall since 2012 that Wildcats will not have Ryan Layne in the lineup. Howell says they have to sort of move on. “Ryan did so much on both ends of the floor, especially in the rebounding area and right now that is where we are struggling. We are not going to replace him we just have to get some other people to step up a little bit and maybe do things a little better together,” he said.

Howell says right now they are going to many different directions and he says they have to play more as a unit. “They are trying to figure things out on their own. Once we get them going to the same direction that I want them to go in that is when things are going to start to turn around a little bit. It hasn’t been terrible, we are just very inconsistent right now. We are just trying to figure things out just like every other team is right now too,” he said.

Published 11/17/17

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Bellevue Ready to Go

Bellevue might have a lot of points to make up, but they have the kind of personnel to challenge unbeaten Shelby on Friday.

They play the Whippets in the division four regional final at Community Stadium in Ashland.

The Redmen beat Clear Fork (20-13) last week in a semifinal and veteran coach Ed Nasonti is really proud of how his kids have played the second half of the season. “I am proud of our kids. I think we have been playing solid football the back half of the season. We put a new defense in and I thought we struggled a little bit with growing pains early on, plus we got bit by the injury bug. We have put it together the back half of the season and the kids are playing well. They are excited and having fun and playing with enthusiasm and our practices have been outstanding, so we are enjoying the whole thing and we are happy to be in week 13,” said Nasonti.

Of course, Bellevue and Shelby were both charter members of the Northern Ohio League, which started in 1944 and existed until last year. Nasonti says this is the first time teams from that former league have met in a football regional final. “Without a doubt it is ironic. All of the years we had the “NOL” back since 1944. I think you are looking at 73 years of Northern Ohio league football and I don’t think it has ever happened that you had two teams from the same conference meeting in the regional championship game. So, we are excited to be in the regional championship game. We are looking forward to it and hopefully we will put our best foot forward,” he said.

Shelby easily won their regional final (47-7) over St. Mary’s Memorial last week. There has been a running clock in every one of the Whippets 12 games so far. Nasonti says it is no surprise that Shelby is very good, rather it is expected. “When you look at them they are basically an all-star team. They have explosive guys at every position. Anybody who has followed football at all can tell you it is not a big surprise what they are doing this year and they are having that kind of success. We saw this group coming through from the seventh grade on. You take a look at the quarterback position, you look at the wide receiver position, you look at the running back position, you look at their D-line and their skilled guys. They are solid at every spot. There is no question that they were going to have a solid ball club this year and they were solid last year too,” said Nasonti.

On week four of the regular season, Shelby beat Bellevue (46-0) and Nasonti says they have to do a lot of things better. “When you take a look at the film we didn’t do a great job tackling in space and that’s what they are good at. They get you out in an open area and make you have to tackle in space. We didn’t do a great job with that. We didn’t do a great job handling them up front. They won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The kid did a great job with kick and punt returns. They won the special teams end of it. I think when you look at week four we feel we have improved. Our focus has been on just improving ourselves,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There was a lot of improvement to be made. As a coaching staff we just put our blinders on. We made up our mind that we are going to block out all of the noise. We are going to coach as hard as we can and get our kids to play as hard as we possibly can and see what happens. We did that, and the kids responded and we have won seven out of the last eight games. We feel we are in a good position and you’re going into week 13 and we are going to fire all of our bullets and let the chips fall where they may.”

Published 11/16/17

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St. Paul Faces Athletic Pandora-Gilboa in Regional Final

Norwalk St. Paul plays for an eighth regional title Friday night as they lock horns with Pandora-Gilboa in the division seven regional final at Bishop Stadium at Clyde High School.

St. Paul last won a regional title in 2014 when they beat Berlin Center Western Reserve and went on to lose to Marion Local in the state final.

Last week, they hammered a solid Tiffin Calvert team (45-7) in the regional semifinal.

Veteran head coach John Livengood says their aim is just to play better every week and they have been able to that this fall. “The kids came out and played well and hey executed the game plan well. I think as we go through the season we talk to the kids continuously about improvement and continuing to improve each week. I think the kids did a good job of that last week. They continued to improve, they continued to work hard and make steps forward,” he said.

St. Paul has three players with more than 700 yards rushing this season in Thane Crabbs (1,172,) Noah Good (818) and Cam Caizzo (764) this year, but their pass game is affective too. Nick Lukasko has completed 70 percent of his pass attempts and thrown 18 TD passes.

Livengood says their want to take advantage of what the defense is giving them. “Well, Nick is a second year starter at quarterback and we have a number of receivers that do a great job for us and they are able to provide us that balance. When teams load the box we are able to go out and execute our play action and take advantage of sometimes nine, ten guys in the box. When we see that we are able to take advantage of it and continue to move the ball down the field,” said Livengood.

Pandora-Gilboa (10-2) is making its second playoff appearance in the last nine years. They beat McComb (28-9) last week avenging a (49-27) loss on week nine of the regular season. Their only other loss came to Liberty-Benton, who plays Hillsdale in a division VI regional final, (31-20) in a “BVC” game.

Livengood says the Rockets can do a lot of things on offense. “They are an excellent football team and well coached. They run out of the spread offense and things run through their quarterback Jared Breece. He throws the ball well, he runs the ball well, runs the read option and some designed quarterback runs. They have a quick running back in Peyton Traxler and any number of good receivers, probably the standout receiver is (Carter) Nofziger, number 9,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think he leads their team with about 60 catches. He does a great job and they find different ways to get him the ball whether it is spot passes or deep throws or on the jet. It is a balanced offense, about 50/50 run/pass running out of the spread.”

Livengood says they want to keep that explosive offense on the sidelines and keep the ball in their possession. “For us I think every game is like that. We want to make sure we are hanging onto the football and continue to churn out first downs that eventually end in scores. From that standpoint our game plan doesn’t change. We always want to control the line of scrimmage, run the ball well, and pass on our terms,” he said.

Published 11/16/17

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Colonel Crawford Excited by Expectations

Colonel Crawford returns a wealth of talent from a team that won 19 games last season and advanced to the division four district final last March.

Coach David Sheldon says they have really been concentrating on becoming better at the defensive end of the floor early in the preseason. “When you have seven lettermen back from a team that was successful and got to the district finals last year. Right now, we have one injured, but still we have a core group back. I think one of the main focuses that we are talking about is defense. You hear that every year from me we have to be able to defend because I think that is a big key to our success this year. That is something we have been harping on and really breaking down in our practices,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had our first scrimmage last weekend and what that does is show you where you have to get better. We do a lot of film annualization in areas where we have to keep getting better. Our guys are hungry to get back in the gym. It’s exciting as Colonel Crawford basketball is about to tip off a couple of weeks.”

They play Mansfield Christian on the opening Friday December 1.

The Eagles have sophomores Jordan Fenner, Cameron McCreary, Gavin Feichtner and Reis Walker that all saw significant time on the floor as freshmen last season. Sheldon says those kids have worked hard and become bigger and stronger. “You have four sophomores that played an instrumental part last year and three seniors back of the seven lettermen I talked about. They are sophomores, but a year of varsity basketball under you belt makes a big difference. You just look at our guys physically from one year to the next and we are physically stronger, which definitely helps. I think they have played a lot of basketball, those young kids, they have tasted success and they put it a lot of hard work in the off season too. That is a big reason why we have been successful because our kids work on the game of basketball year around,” he said.

As far as expectations go, Sheldon says he would rather have that kind of pressure than not. “That is what we want our program to be. Winning six straight sectional championships. Our guys know that. They have seen the classes before them come and have success. That is what you want. I would rather be where we are the target than chasing people. That is a good thing for our program, but you have to understand what got you to those expectations. You can’t be satisfied with where you have been and we have to keep growing as a basketball program to get even better to get to our goals for this year and what we want to do as a Colonel Crawford basketball team for 2017-18,” said Sheldon.

Published 11/16/17

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Norwalk has an Upside

Norwalk is healthy this preseason and that is different than it has been really since they won the division two state title in 2014.

The Truckers are part of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, which includes Shelby, Bellevue, Tiffin Columbian, Sandusky, Perkins and Clyde. So, really the old “NOL” minus Willard and Ontario and plus Perkins and Clyde.

Veteran coach Steve Gray says he knows one thing for sure. He says his kids and going to play hard. “I know they are willing to work hard. Everybody knows coach (Tom) Foster and he says we have worked them harder this preseason than anytime he can remember in the last five, six, seven years. We have put them through the paces and they have responded well. We are excited about our potential this year,” he said.

Gray says they have some talented players to work with too, beginning with a pretty good point guard. “We have a good point guard coming back in Brandon Haraway. He has already been offered a full ride to Ashland University and he is just a junior. We have Eric Hall back and Jacob Roth and Matt Newberger and those are some kids with varsity experience. I think we have a very talented freshmen in Jarod Chapin. We have a post player in Kyler Lacy. We are in a situation where we have the building blocks. For the first time in the last three of four years we are pretty healthy right now,” said Gray.

Coaches are protectionist and there is actually a long way between now and the opening weekend of the season. Gray says there is really a laundry list of things they have to get better at doing. “The way I coach is in terms of what we can’t do and what we need to work on individually and there is just so much. Defensively, getting in on the weakside and how to defend the pick and roll, what are we going to do in the post, where are we going to double off from to help in the post. Those are just a couple of things defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our top priority is to go get the ball off the boards. Then offensively it is how to create good shots for our best shooters. We are going to run some sets and hopefully a little bit of motion, which the kids seem to enjoy running.”

Published 11/16/17

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Lexington Girls With Another Fresh Start

The Lexington girls’ basketball team has its fourth head coach in as many seasons as former Clear Fork coach Heidi Roush is now on the bench for Lady Lex.

Roush says the team clearly has the skills that give them some potential this year. “We have a lot of good speed, we have some height, if we can all stay healthy I think we can have a pretty positive season. The girls have been very receptive to coach Doutt and I stepping in. We are there fourth coaches in four years, so for them to still want to learn more things and keep trying new things is a really good sign,” she said.

There is going to be a learning curve this season no question, but Roush says the players continue to work hard and that is going to be a positive in the long run. “Even new drills you get used to doing the same things each year, so here we are bringing in another set of drills. We might do a similar drill, but we call it a different name, so there has been a little bit of a learning curve, but the girls are working hard. We just want to keep working toward that next step, that first game. We are looking forward to what we are capable of,” said Roush.

Lexington opens the season November 28 against the Shelby Lady Whippets in non-conference play.

When it comes to improvement, Roush says they must play better team defense if they are going to start winning games. “I think our overall team defense. We have kids that will give good defensive effort individually, but we have to get all five girls on the same page and understanding the importance of the things that they are doing,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They might not be the one with the steal, but they might be the one that gets the help side and alters a shot or they might not be the one getting the rebound, but need all five of those kids committed to defensive rebound and boxing out. Just everybody buying in a little bit more to that team defense concept.”

Published 11/16/17

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Shelby Expects a Better Bellevue

It was 46-0 the first time they played, but the Shelby Whippets expect a more vigorous game when they play Bellevue this week.

The Whippets (12-0) and the Redmen (9-3) meet Friday night at Community Stadium in Ashland in a division four regional final for the right to advance to the final four. It would be the first for the Whippets, the fourth for Bellevue, who also played a state semifinal in 1996, 2001 and 2012, winning in 2012, when they lost the state title game to Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary.

Shelby walloped St. Mary’s Memorial (47-7) last week, getting out to an early lead and taking the Roughriders out of what they wanted to do.

Coach Erik Will says their defense continues to perform at a very high level. “The kids played really well and executed at a high level. I think our defense put us in position where we had the opportunity to be really successful every week. It is one of those things with this group of kids that when they come out mentally focused, and they have done that for 12 straight weeks, we are a really good football team. Now that we have gotten this far we don’t expect anything but that from them. They have raised the expectations and they have created quite a culture,” he said.

With Brennan Armstrong, Carter Brooks, “Shorty” Brooks, and others, the Shelby offense gets the headlines, but Will continues to say their defense is the backbone of the team. “I would argue that is what allows us to be a potential regional or state champion caliber team is the fact that our defense plays so well and at such a high level. When you look around the state with everybody that is left people are scoring in the 30’s, they might even be scoring in the 40’s, but most of them are giving up between 15-20 points a game. With our starting defense only giving up 33 points in 12 games, that’s incredible. I have never been part of anything like this. I think that really allows us to be the team that we are,” said Will.

Bellevue has won all but one of their games since they lost to Shelby (46-0) on week four of the regular season. The two schools had been in the Northern Ohio League since 1944 until this season. The league, one of the oldest in Ohio, folded after last school year.

Will says this a very much improved Bellevue football team. “We are excited about it. Bellevue is a traditional league foe. They have what will be a hall of fame football coach. We respect Bellevue. We know they are going to look completely different than they did week four. Even offensively they are running different things. They are at a point where they have a very high level of confidence,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Their coaching staff is to be commended and their players are to be commended because after we beat them week four I think they were 2-2 and for them to be able to respond. They have gone 7-1 since we played them and they are playing really good football and have beaten a lot of quality teams on that run. They have our full attention and our respect.”

One big difference is the presence of slot back/quarterback Treston Francis, who is Bellevue’s leading scorer this year. Will says he is a difference maker and he is not the only one. “He is a really good football player. When he is in at quarterback he can run the football. He does a nice job. I think that their comfort level goes up. You have a couple kids in the backfield that can run the football and he is good enough throwing the football to keep you honest in the secondary. When they switch their quarterback (Riley Renwand) is a heck of a football player too. He throws the ball well and then McPeak is an elite wide receiver. He is an All-Ohio caliper wide receiver. People that think we are just going to roll the ball out and Shelby is going to win doesn’t know anything about competitive athletics. They don’t understand anything about the momentum that Bellevue is on. Bellevue is going to be a very, very, very tough out for anybody,” said Will.

Bellevue’s defense is clearly better too. They bottled up unbeaten Clear Fork (21-13) in a regional semifinal last week.

Will says there are a couple of reasons why that is the case. “I think when you look at them from week four two groups of people get credit for the growth of their team, the coaching staff and their senior leadership. Most teams would not even be in the situation they are they had to win of their last two games to get in and they went out and got after Clyde, which is a big time rival, and that gave them that second breath of life and they have maximized it. They have already righted one wrong in their eyes, which was that Clear Fork game. They are looking to do the exact same thing to us,” he said.

Published 11/15/17

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Danville Counting on Their Defense

Danville’s defense has been lights out in the playoffs, but they face their biggest challenge this week against Hannibal River,

They meet the Pilots (8-4) in the division seven regional final at Maysville High School on Friday night.

Last week, the Blue Devils (11-1) beat Gloster Trimble (27-10) in a second round game, rallying from a first half deficit (10-6) to do it.

Coach Ed Honabarger says they didn’t get rattled and their defense continues to play well. “Our defense has played really well. We have thought our secondary has really stepped up and made it tough for people to get yardage. We have only given up nine passing yards the last two playoff games. So, defense has been a big part of our success here lately,” said Honabarger.

He says they try to develop a game plan where they concentrate on limiting the other team’s best player or the plays the like to run the most. “We go into the game and try to make somebody else beat us. Let’s try to take away something you do well and make maybe a kid who doesn’t normally make plays, make some plays,” said Honabarger.

River overwhelmed Portsmouth East (59-8) last week in their regional semifinal. They have won their last four, including a (39-34) win over Harvest Prep in the first round.

Honabarger says they have multiple weapons. “They are really hot right now. They play a really tough schedule, so they are more than prepared. They have a real dynamic offense, a lot of formations, a lot of plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “A quarterback that is a dual threat, he is a lot like Michee Johnson from Northmor, that type of athlete and they have a big receiver that they can put the ball up to. So, it is definitely going to be a challenge.”

When facing a team like River, Honabarger says you have to know where to lineup and identify where their playmakers are in the formation. “We just preach to our kids with the multiple formations they are just basically trying to outflank you. We have to make sure we line up right and know where their dudes are and know who is going to get the ball and make sure we are sound,” he said.

Published 11/15/17

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Flames Will be Different

Mansfield Christian is going to try and push the tempo this season and get some easy baskets, but they have to determine how fast they can play and still be efficient.

After the Flames soccer team made it to the district final, head coach John Kurtz says they have all of their kids now and are working to get better as a team. “We got a little bit of a late start. We are kind of getting used to it. We got most of our kids in on Wednesday of last week. We had a couple of days before we had our first scrimmage. That first scrimmage was pretty ugly on our end. We got everybody in there and everybody is pretty healthy and we are pretty happy about that,” said Kurtz.

The Flames host Colonel Crawford on December 1 in their first game of the regular season.

With two half weeks left until the first game, Kurtz says they are using this time to try and build on things they established this summer and become a good team this year. “For us getting everybody back in the building and getting together and starting to build on what we did in the summer. It was good to see everybody back in there. Our work ethic has been really good. There is certainly a long way to go before we are where we want to be,” he said.

Now, when it comes to execution, Kurtz says they want to run the floor, but they also have to make good decisions. Plus, he says it will be crucial to get their share of rebounds. “We are going to be a little bit of a different team than we were last year. I think we are faster and we are going to play a little bit more up tempo. Certainly, there are times as a coach you are thinking do we really want to play that fast? We can’t keep turning the ball over,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We kind of made it a crusade this summer and getting into the preseason here about rebounding and trying to put more emphasis on that. That is certainly the two areas that we have spent the most time on during our first almost a week now. We have made a little progress and hopefully we will get to where we want to be before that first weekend.”

Published 11/15/17

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Loudonville Girls Battling Adversity

Loudonville is coming off a tremendous year and was looking forward to another one and that could still happen.

Coach Tyler Bates says they return a lot of talent, but last week they took a sizable hit when last year’s leading scorer was lost for the season due to an injury. “It has been a rollercoaster of emotions for us this year. Winning 20 games last year was obviously exciting and returning the majority of our team we definitely have high expectations. Last week in our preseason scrimmage our leading scorer Nikki Weber tore her “ACL,” so she is out for the season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is going to be tough to replace 27 points per game, which is what Nikki scored last year, but at the same time we still have a lot of girls in our core that have worked their butts off in the summer. We are excited to get the games going and see what we can do. I think everybody is at the point know where we want to get started playing someone else and see what happens when it really counts.”

Losing Weber is going to hurt the Lady Redbirds, but Bates says he believes his kids will rally. “We saw it happen with the Boston Celtics this year when Gordon Hayward went down on opening night against the Cavs. I told the girls that Brad Stevens said at the halftime of that game that everyone else is just going to have to step up a little bit. We are not going to change our goals. We want to win the Mid-Buckeye Conference. We want to make a deep run in the division three tournament. If we are going to get that done we are all going to have to play a little bit better, coach a little bit better, and work a little bit harder,” said Bates.

Loudonville opens the season November 25 at home against Mansfield Senior. Bates says they are ready go and they want to start playing girls wearing different jerseys. “Having great practices is everyone’s goal and in order to do that you have to have a little bit of a competitive nature for practice between the girls. At this point in the regular season it is starting to get a little bit chippie. I think we are tired up going against each other and we are really excited for Thanksgiving weekend to get here. We open with Mansfield Senior at home. We know that will be a quality opponent for us to see where we are at early,” he said.

Published 11/15/17

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Willard Working on Getting Better

Willard boys’ basketball has a deep tradition of success, about as much as any school in North Central Ohio over the last 50 years, but last couple seasons have been lean. They want to make some new memories.

First year coach Joe Bedingfield says there have been some mistakes early in the preseason, but there have been a lot of good things too. “I think the kids have given me maximum effort. They are doing a great job. We are excited about learning and just doing the little things right. That is what we try and stress to them to try and do the little things that might make a difference in doing the big things well, like winning a game, taking care of the basketball. The nice thing is we have 30 kids in the program 9-12 and we have a freshmen program back and last year we didn’t have that. We are excited with where we are, but it is only a couple of weeks in and we have only had one scrimmage. Scrimmages and basically to learn from your mistakes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We showed them some film. We went and practiced those mistakes we made. We just hope we are prepared for our December game schedule with some of the mistakes and learning opportunities that we have had and the numbers, so it is going pretty good.”

Willard features some height this season, they have three guys over 6’4” that they can put on the floor. Bedingfield says they have to make that good for them. “We are trying to use the height to our advantage. That is one thing we do have is we have some length. We have some guys that have things you can’t teach. Hopefully, we can use that is our advantage when it comes to rebounding. I think our strength has to be our ability to rebound the basketball and create second chance opportunities. Also limit the opponent to one shot. That has been kind of a focal point early on as we are learning what works best for our offense and who we need to get the ball too and things like that,” he said.

Willard is now part of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference along with Huron, Port Clinton, Edison, Margaretta, Oak Harbor and Vermilion. Bedingfield says it is a chance to write a new story. “I played in the “NOL” and these guys played in the “NOL,” it was a different “NOL” than when I played in it. Still, it was opponents that you know kind of what they do and what certain coaches like. This is new to me, this is new to the kids. I tell them that that is an advantage to them because they don’t know you that well. I think it is an opportunity to leave the past where it is and move forward and that is one thing we are trying to tell them is to create your own story, create your own memories and try to build something new in this league. It is a fresh, new start for Willard and we are excited about that new start. We hope the new league will bring some competitive balance and good games. We are hoping to kind of leave our mark and move forward,” said Bedingfield.

Published 11/15/17

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Madison Feeling Good

Madison was a team that was pretty good last season, but just on the edge of being really good. They may have that chance this year.

They lost Tyrell Ajian to graduation, but they have picked up Mason Campbell, who returned the Madison this fall, after three years, and over 1,000 points, at Mansfield St. Peter’s.

Coach Tim Megrel says this month, preseason practice began on November 3, has been pretty good. He really likes the attitude he has seen. “I just really like the kind of attitude and just the overall effort of our kids. We have had a lot of kids go out. We have a good core group back. Anytime you get some numbers back that makes coaching and transitioning into stuff out of the gate a little bit easier. So far, the attitude and the effort has definitely been a positive for us,” he said.

Campbell was All-Ohio for St. Peter’s, and was part of two St. Peter’s teams that played in the regional tournament the last two years. Mergel says getting him back is a big plus and now they are trying to put everything together so it fits right. “I think that kind attributes to that upbeat attitude. Mason played with our kids all of the way up through the eighth grade. There is no secret the talent that he brings to us. Obviously, he is going to add to our depth a little bit as far as a guy that gets a lot of minutes. We are excited to have him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Right now, he has been away from Ram hoops for about three years so he is just kind of getting back into the mix and readjusted to the guys he played basketball with his whole life. He is fitting in nicely. I think him and Kyle Jackson are going to complement each other nice. We have some other guys that are stepping in that are going to play some pretty big roles for us. It is exciting around here and we are looking to get off to a positive start.”

Madison has the potential to have a pretty good season this year, but Mergel cautions they must continue to work hard and understand what each player has to get done. “It kind of goes back to understanding our roles on the team. We are still feeling those roles out. That is what these three weeks are about. Putting kids in the best position possible to help our basketball team. Overall just playing the game hard and playing the game the right way,” he said.

Published 11/14/17

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Dalton in Elite Eight

Dalton has won two playoff football games with relative ease, but things are probably going to get harder this week.

They play Cuyahoga Heights (10-1) in a division seven regional final at North Canton Hoover Stadium Friday night.

They beat a pretty good Windham team (41-13) last week and coach Broc Dial says they played solid fundamental football to come up with the win. “Windham had some really good players and did some really good things against us. We were able to overcome some of that adversity early on. Our kids went out and played really hard, played fundamental football, and they executed. It was really good to see that Friday night,” said Dial.

They scored on six of their first eight possessions and Dial says they were able to make plays when called upon. He says they fought through some early adversity. “It is just like in life not everything is going to go as planned or the way you would like. You have to be able to put one foot in front of the other. We preach the next play mentality and really that is going to be a key for us this week,” he said.

Dalton (12-0) meets Cuyahoga Heights in the third round. The Redskins beat East Canton (46-14) last week and Warren JFK (40-12) in a first round playoff game. Heights is making appearance number 21 in the playoffs. They were the state runners-up last year in division VI losing (21-17) to Marion Local.

Dail says the Redskins have the whole package. “They are a very good football team that has really good players and dangerous players. They are very fundamental. I think when you add those two things together it makes a team very dangerous. They run the flexbone and the option, but they will also line up in empty and throw the ball around and that makes them tough to defend,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively, they are multiple front and do a lot of different things. They are very fundamental and sound of defense also. We have a great opportunity in front of us Friday night.”

Cuyahoga Heights only loss this year comes to Kirtland, in the final eight in division six, (42-34) on week nine.

Anytime you face a team that runs the option, you have to be disciplined and Dail says that is the case this week. “This week being disciplined and doing our job is going to be key. I think if we can do that we can get them down on the ground and make them snap the ball again and that will be advantageous to us,” he said.

Dial believes the team that has the most focus is the one that is going to win the game. “I think this game is going to come down to who is going to want it more. Who is going to zero in and focus each and every snap and do their job and do it with great effort. I think those are really going to be the keys this week,” he said.

Published 11/14/17

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Buckeye Central Being Good Teammates

High school basketball teams spend a lot of time together, so they better get along, and so far, this season the chemistry on the Buckeye Central boys’ basketball team has been very good.

Coach Phil Loy says he is really happy with the effort he has been getting from everybody over the first 10 days of the preseason. “So far, so good. We have had nine practices and I have been really happy with our attitude and our effort. The kids are working hard and picking up things pretty quick. I return five lettermen and they are good leaders and the kids are following. It has been a good start and we will see how it goes if we can keep it going,” he said.

Buckeye was (10-13) last season and they lost a lot of close game, but Loy says he thinks their team chemistry is a lot better this year than it was last and that is going to help. “We had a good season last year and we lost a lot of close games. Finding ways to win just didn’t go in our favor last year, but the thing I like this year is our team chemistry,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I feel like it is a lot better. I just like how we are sharing the basketball. Last year, we had some go to guys, but I felt like some guys were kind of out of the mix, like they weren’t involved like they should be. This year I just think we have much better team chemistry and I think that is going to relate to those close games, hopefully we can find ways to win.”

Team chemistry can be difficult to determine unless you are in the gym every day with the players, but Loy says that is likely the biggest factor at the high school level and if you don’t have you are in trouble. “I think that is number one. You have to have good team chemistry. If you don’t I think you going to see throughout the season you are going to lose close games. The relationship is not going to be there. Right now, I don’t see that. I see us getting along. Like I said sharing the basketball and making that extra pass. Willing to step in and go that extra mile for your teammate. That all kind of adds up. We lost our fair share of close games last year and hopefully that will relate to some wins this year,” said Loy.

Published 11/14/17

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Western Trying to Work Things Out

Western Reserve is almost a totally different team this year, but still one that can be pretty good when it is all said and done.

Head coach Chris Sheldon says they have three solid, experienced players and they are trying to find some guys to go around them. “Our team is such a unique blend right now in that we lost eight guys form a year ago and that is a lot of guys to lose from a team that got to the district championship game. So, when you lose that many guys you worry about experience. The strong suit for us is we do have three really good guards, two of which were starters in Dale Smith and Aiden Markley and our sixth man off the bench in guard Brayden Hood. So far, as expected those three have done a tremendous job of really leading the charge for us in our practices and in our scrimmage. We are where we expected to be at this point. Three guys that really know what they are doing and with the other seven or eight guys trying to figure out who is going to fit what piece in what part. At the same time of those guys who can figure out how to be more consistent on the varsity level on a day in out basis. That is really how you build depth and how you build consistency from a team standpoint. That is going to be our key finding guys that are going to fill in those roles and give us productivity on a night in, night out basis,” said Sheldon.

There are two and half to three weeks before the first games will be played and Sheldon says they clearly have some things they have to work on. “I think in the early part of the season the first thing is always your basketball conditioning regardless of how much you play and how much you do leading up to the season once you ramp up the intensity of demanding how much they have to guard at this level and how they have to play fast at the offensive end, but yet under control. It is just getting back into that basketball shape. It is one thing to do it in drills and four on four workouts and do it in open gyms, but it never matches the intensity of when you get into the season where we are at now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Then obviously the second thing is just the flow of both your offense and defense and the schemes. Learning some of the wrinkles we are trying to do and add to our offensive system this year and in the same regards getting into the ability to do and accomplish some of the schematics in our defensive framework. So much of our defense relies on five guys working as one. Early in the year you have one, two, three guys breaking down on a possession it doesn’t allow you to be as efficient or as consistent as you want. So much of that is just going to come through the reps over the next three weeks leading up to the opener. How fast can we learn from those mistakes and how quickly can we correct them.”

Kyle Lacy transferred to Norwalk and Jaret Griffith, the player of the year in the Firelands Conference two years ago, is attending a prep school in the Northeast.

Sheldon says right now they have to understand what they have to do to score. “Our team right now is very guard oriented. At times we are going to have five guards on the floor. We have to post guys that don’t have very much experience at all. They have a ways to go and we need them to develop. There is no doubt the strength is going to be hinging on our guard play. So, we are going to try and play fast and use our guard’s ability to our advantage. We like to shoot the three and we like to get the ball up and down the floor and attack the basket. That has to be how we play. That is the strength of the guys that make our team up. When we shoot it well so far, we have looked really good and when we don’t shoot it well we look like we need to go back to the drawing board, but that’s why it’s November and nobody is hitting the panic button just yet,” said Sheldon.

Published 11/14/17

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Lady Warriors with New Adventure

There is a lot of new this year for the Ontario Lady Warriors. There is a new head coach and a new league.

Last year’s JV coach Mitch Willeke has been moved up to the varsity head coach and, of course, Ontario is in a new league, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

Willeke says he likes the competitive nature of his girls. “We have been at it for a few weeks and I have liked what I have seen. Our kids give great effort. We have a lot of kids that play with high intensity and like to get after it and like to be competitive. Being a first year head coach I really like to see that early that way we make sure we keep that consistent throughout the entire year,” said Willeke.

There is always going to be a period of adjustment with a new coach, but Willeke says the girls already know him and that is a plus. “I was the “JV” coach last year and that helped that I got to know them. Now being the head coach you kind of have to bring a lot more intensity, a lot more enthusiasm. Now you have to set the tone for them and they have to try and match your enthusiasm every day in practice,” he said.

Ontario’s first game is November 29 at Ashland, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference. They open league play December 2 at Marion Harding.

There are going to be things to improve on in the preseason. Willeke says for them it is rebounding. “Early it has been rebounding. We are not the tallest team. We have quickness all around and we have some length, but we don’t have very much height,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, we have to make sure we are paying attention every day to rebounding and make sure we are focused on technique and things like that. Rebounding comes down to heart and we just have to make sure we have got everyone flying to the basketball so we can corral every loose ball we can.”

Published 11/14/17

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High School Football Playoff Pairings

Division IV

At Ashland Community Stadium

Shelby (12-0) vs. Bellevue (9-3)

 

Division V

At Lima Senior Spartan Stadium

Pemberville Eastwood (12-0) vs. Marion Pleasant (10-1)

 

Division VI

At Tiffin Frost-Kalnow Stadium

Liberty-Benton (11-1) vs. Hillsdale (9-3)

 

Division VII

At North Canton Hoover Memorial Stadium

Dalton (12-0) vs. Cuyahoga Heights (10-1)

At Clyde Bishop Stadium

Norwalk St. Paul (12-0) vs. Pandora-Gilboa (10-2)

At Zanesville Maysville Athletic Conplex

Danville (11-1) vs. Hannibal River (8-4)

 

 
     
 

Colt Teams a lot a Like

If Clear Fork beats Bellevue on Friday night they will become only the second team in the school’s history to play in a regional final.

The last was in 1989, 28 years ago. That was when the Berlin Wall came down, something today’s kids only know through history books, hit singles were Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx, okay not everything was that great, and Michael Jordan had yet to win an NBA title. Okay, you want consistency Pete Rose was banned from baseball and he still is and I have the same hair style, just less of it.

Another thing that is consistent is the name Lyon. Jim Lyon played on the ’89 team, his son Bryce plays this year.

“I actually think I get more enjoyment out of watching him play and succeed than I did actually playing them game. I try not to compare what I would do with what they’re doing because of how different the game is. I think I’m more nervous nowadays than I was when I played,” said Jim Lyon.

Current Fredericktown head coach William Hartley played on the ’89 team and when it comes to memories he doesn’t even talk about the playoffs. “Two stick out, beating West Holmes, which finished the season 9-1, for our homecoming game. This gave us the “MAC” championship. Second would be defeating Mansfield Senior at Arlin. That team has (NFL player) Hugh Douglas on it. For some reason we were heavy underdogs going into that game,” said Hartley.

Luke Beal, a member of the 1989 team, and a former head coach at Northmor, Fredericktown, and Brunswick, and the current defensive coordinator at Medina Buckeye, echoes those comments. “For me, the most memorable moment was our win over Mansfield Senior at Arlin Field. It has been a long time, but that is the one game that stands out. They returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, so it seemed like we were in trouble, but we were able to rally back and score and upset win,” he said.

For Lyon, he talks about the Senior High win and the playoffs, but more about the relationships built then and still has today. “Even though it has been 28 years ago there is no short answer. I have such vivid memories of that season from things like the smell of the grass, the smell of the concession stand, the sweaty locker room, the sounds of the fans cheering, to the actual sounds of my teammates and coach’s voices. The obvious answer that most fans would probably give is the success we had that year beating Mansfield Senior at Arlin Field 43-7 on their homecoming night (the first year they combined Malabar and Senior High) going to the playoffs and winning the first round and losing to Versailles 3-0 in the second round. But, to me it was much more than that. Our team back then reminds me so much of this year’s team. I remember how we had true friendship amongst all of the players on and off of the field and understood Colt pride. I remember how the community came together and cheered us on with banners, parades, and signs,” he told Swankonsports.com, “As far as my memory of the team goes we were a tough, strong, physical, focused team that loved to put a helmet on someone (under (assistant) coach (Gary) Beal there was no other way.) I believe we had five or six All-Ohians on the field that year and started 10 seniors that played on both sides of the ball. Myself, Luke Beal, William Hartley, Jason Fraley, and Scott Tollison. My best memories are my great coaches, my great teammates, our team’s success, the community support and keeping the Clear Fork football tradition alive.”

Clear Fork was the top seed in their division four region this year and they were in 1989 too. Hartley doesn’t remember there being a lot of drama when it comes to making the postseason. “There were four teams (in each region.) We would watch for the News Journal on Thursday, which would publish the point updates on that day. We went into the playoffs as the number one seed. I believe we knew we would get in after the Senior High game, which was week eight,” he said.

Clear Fork made the playoffs the first time the year before.

Beal says the ’89 team has something that every coach wants. “That team had a special chemistry. There was a camaraderie and a level of trust that took a group of good athletes and allowed us to become a pretty good team. As a coach, I have always tried to build that type of chemistry with my teams,” he said.

Lyon says the game has changed a lot in almost 30 years and he feels this year’s team is certainly more athletic and they are probably better too… probably. “Even though the game seems to have changed so much since I played with the rules, the speed, and the style of play, the similarities between us are unbelievable! We were definitely a more run it down your throat, smash mouth, step on your throat, stop us if you can kind of team, but other than that we are very similar in the toughness, focus, aggressiveness, determination and physicality. My son Bryce is definitely quicker, more versatile, and smoother than his old man was. The secondary nowadays is only for the terrific athletes. Many more passing teams now which requires different responsibilities and coverages. A complete nightmare for any player that’s not focused. Today’s secondary players must be extremely athletic. That’s why I feel my son is a better player than I was. This team also had a great line and terrific linebackers like us on defense. Our team now has A LOT more weapons than we did. Today’s team speed is amazing. With the athleticism they have now they can run over 200 different plays and formations, where we probably had less than 50. If you would computerize our team to today’s team on Madden NFL football, today’s team would probably win, but they would also have more injuries,” said Lyon.

Clear Fork this season beat Bellevue (20-14) in overtime on week two. They beat Hartley’s Fredericktown team (27-6) on week one, so he knows a lot about them. He says this is what strikes him most. “Their overall team speed, good size on the D-line, and great linebacker play,” he said.

Published 11/10/17

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Bellevue Wants the Big One

It was an overtime win on week two of the regular season over Bellevue that helped push Clear Fork to the first seed in their division four region and now the Redmen have their chance at revenge.

The two teams play for a second time Friday night at Arlin Field in Mansfield in the division four regional semifinals. The winner gets a ticket to the elite eight.

Bellevue (8-3) pounded Pepper Pike Orange (34-6) last week in their playoff opener, Treston Francis, a young man that didn’t play the first time against Clear fork, scored four times.

Coach Ed Nasonti says his team has really improved this season and are at the top of their game. “I think the last three weeks our kids are playing the best football of the year and that’s what you want at the end of the year you want to be playing your best football and I think we are doing that. We are coming together. We put the new defense in and it took some time, we had some growing pains early,” he told Swankonsports.com on Facebook, “The kids are understanding it. They are running to the ball, they are not thinking, they are reacting and that’s what you want.”

Clear Fork (11-0) blanked Lorain Clearview (44-0) last week and Nasonti says there is no question the Colts are a good team. “They are a solid football team. There is no way you can win 11 straight games without being solid on both sides of the ball. I think their kids are well coached. They have a good program down there and they are a solid football team,” he said.

Defense has been the backbone for the Colts this year. They have bene very good against a good schedule and something that their opponents consistently mention. Nasonti says they are strong on all levels. “They have good size and they have good skilled guys in the secondary that run well. They do some things to keep their linebackers protected. They are fast enough to play man coverage, but they can load up the box if they have to. It is a winning formula for them,” he said.

An interesting fact here is both team use two quarterbacks, Francis and Riley Renward for Bellevue and Blake Dinsmore and Jared Schaefer for Clear Fork. All four have done some really good things this year. Nasonti says it is a system that works for both. “If you do it right and have a good feel for it and you have guys that accept their role. I would say you are looking at two teams that have proven that it can work for you. I know they do the same things that we do. They have two good athletes up there that give them to different aspects of offense. We do the same thing that they are doing and it is working for both of us. It is interesting to have both teams that can get that done,” said Nasonti.

Published 11/10/17

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Ashland Has to Take What’s Available

The fourth quarter last week was not the time for patience really, but Friday night they will likely need a lot of it.

The Ashland Arrows (9-2) rallied for three scores down in the fourth quarter to beat Columbus Mifflin (48-47) in overtime to advance to a division two regional semifinal on Friday night against Massillon Washington at Wooster’s Folis Field.

Coach Scott Valentine says he was awfully proud of what the Arrows did last week when the chips were down. “Sometimes things aren’t going your way. We got a quick score and then our defense got a quick stop and we were able to get some momentum and get going and finish the game off. I am really excited how our kids responded there,” he said.

It was actually Ashland’s first win in a playoff game since 2010.

Valentine compares last week to a come from behind win over Warren Howland in 2009. “We tried to compare a couple of those. One year Warren Howland with Marcus Fuller we scored three times in the last four, five minutes to win that one. It was definitely right up there. When you are around it a long time you see a lot of different things,” said Valentine.

There are very few high schools with more tradition in football than Massillon. Although, they have not won a state title since the playoff system started in the early 70’s. However, I think they still give footballs to parents of newborns at the local hospital.

The Tigers (8-3) beat Youngstown Boardman (28-23) in the first playoff game. They beat arch rival Canton McKinley (16-15) in their regular season finale. Their losses come to Mentor (49-14) in their opener and Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (13-10) on week nine. They play a great schedule, perhaps a (35-6) win over Akron Firestone the lone exception.

Valentine says the Tigers like to run the ball and then do some things off of it. “First of all, they like to run the ball and then play action off of it. They have a couple of good receivers that coming of the play action they will throw the ball to and they will make some plays,” he said.

When it comes to defense, Valentine says Massillon is fundamental and does not allow many big plays. “Defensively, they are very sound. They read their keys and they play good team defense,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They are not going to give you the big play. That is one of those things when you have to be patient enough to take things and move it down the field. They are a good, sound, well coached football team.”

With their empty backfield Ashland kind of lives on the big play, example last week. Valentine says Friday night they must have some patience. “You try to stress to your kids patience as far as moving it down the field and even patience with what we are trying to do. If they are not going to give you and they are going to back off then we have to take stuff underneath and be ready to move it down the field. I think our kids have been pretty good with that. So, that is something hopefully we can do,” said Valentine.

Published 11/10/17

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Dalton Faces Windham and Tough Running Game

Don’t arrive late Friday night because you might miss quite a bit of the game as Dalton and Windham don’t like to fool around.

They are both running teams that like to eat the clock.

They play on Friday night at North Canton Hoover in a regional semifinal in division seven.

Dalton (11-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division and Wayne County Athletic League champs, beat Vienna Matthews (60-13) in their playoff opener last week, as Spencer Horst ran for 137 yards and two scores.

Coach Broc Dial says they were really spot on last week. “It was nice to play at home. Our seniors really applicated that and our team and our community. We came out with real good focus and played hard with good fundamentals. I think there are a lot of things we can carry over to this week that we did last week,” he said.

Windham (9-2) downed Lisbon Anderson (32-13) in their first playoff game. Dail says this is a team with a lot of offensive weapons. “They are very good offensively. They have two backs, one with about 1,500 yards and one with about 1,000 yards. The quarterback has thrown for about 1,500 yards. They have really good size up front. They play really hard,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They are in the flat backs, a little wing-T. Defensively, they play some multiple defenses, 50 and 40. They run to the ball really well, they want to hit. So, it is a really good football team, got a really good challenge in front of us for Friday night.”

Coaches look for ways to allow kids to understand the opponent a little better. One way is comparison. Dial says they have found some things that look at least somewhat similar to what they have seen before. “Schematically I don’t want to say exactly the same, but a little bit like Chippewa. Chippewa is a little more spread wing-Y. Maybe like Smithville last year with their wing-T and flat backs. They have really good size, they have good players. There are some similarities and some differences. Those are the ones we have kind of talked about as a coaching staff,” said Dial.

When it comes to the keys to winning, Dial says effort, the point of attack and just good, fundamental football for the Bulldogs. “I think number one we have to play really hard. I think they play really hard and we have to match that intensity. I think number two we have to play really well up front in the trenches. I think that is what they lean on. We have to have good line play, that is going to be important. Number three, playing with good fundamentals across the board for all of our positions and units. I think if we do those three things we will be in a very good spot by the end of the game,” said Dial.

Published 11/10/17

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St. Paul Tangles with Calvert

Two of the most tradition rich small school football programs square off in a second round game in division seven of Friday night as Norwalk St. Paul plays Tiffin Calvert and Fremont Harmon Stadium.

St. Paul is unbeaten on the season while the Senecas are on a six game winning streak, having lost only once since losing to St. Paul on week three of the regular season.

Tradition rich? You could say so, St. Paul has been in the playoffs 19 of the last 22 years, winning the small school state title in 2009 and appearing the state title game three years ago. Tiffin Calvert has qualified for the postseason on 16 occasions, winning back to back state titles in 1980 and 1981.

No, this is not the first meeting between the two schools in the postseason either. Calvert beat St. Paul (56-27) back in 2012.

St. Paul (11-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, blasted Wayne Trace (52-13) in quarterfinal action last week.

Coach John Livengood says they got off to a good start and were able to maintain that momentum. “Our kids started off the game the right way and had the right mindset. We came out and were able to put together a nice scoring drive to start the game. Went three and out on defense and put together another scoring drive and things kind of went well from there,” he said.

St. Paul downed Calvert (23-7) on week three of the regular season. Calvert (8-3) has lost only once since that time, including a come from behind (50-43) win over Edgerton in their playoff opener. Livengood says a big difference with Calvert has been the return of quarterback Park Hemminger. “I think the big difference is their quarterback was not able to play against the first time due to injury,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I would like to think we are a different football team than we were week three as well. I think both football teams have improved and we are working toward being a better team this week.”

It would be hard to find a team in this part of the state at least that has been better on defense than has been St. Paul. They have allowed more than one score only twice, have allowed only six points a game, of those points none have come in the first quarter and only 26 in the first half, and permitted only 184 yards a game to the opponent.

The Flyers have done it not with size, but speed. However, Livengood says the Senecas are bigger and they might be faster. “They are probably a lot bigger than us up front and they are probably a little faster than us in the skilled positions,” he said. The Flyers have a lot of quickness on their offensive line and that has been a big plus for them.

Livengood outlines what they have to do to win, beginning with what they almost always do control the point of attack. “We have to control the line of scrimmage, take care of the football and play great special teams,” he said.

Published 11/09/17

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Pleasant Locks Horns With Archbold

It’s a regional semifinal match-up in division five on Friday night as Marion Pleasant meets Archbold at Findlay Donnell Stadium.

Pleasant (9-1) has been in the playoffs 22 times, that is more than any school in North Central Ohio. Archbold (9-2) is no stranger, this is the appearance number 12 for them.

Pleasant’s only loss this season comes in overtime to unbeaten Clear Fork (20-17) on week nine of the regular season. The Blue Streaks lost by one to Liberty-Benton (34-33) and (33-27) in four overtimes to Swanton on the final week of the regular season.

It was a big second half for the Spartans last week as they downed Genoa (48-21) in a first round game, scoring four unanswered touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.

Coach Aaron Cook says they did a super job of executing the adjustments they talked about at halftime. “Our kids played really well, both teams played really well. The first half was a whale of a first half. Our kids did a great job coming out in the second half and executing some of the adjustments we had made and really played good football,” he said.

There are only 16 teams left in division five and Cook says when you get to this level you must make adjustments against very good teams. “When you get to this point in the year everybody is well coached and everybody has good kids. You just have to do your best as a coach to put your kids in the right position to try and win a game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Sometimes you do that and sometimes you don’t. It really comes down to whether the kids can execute and our kids did an awesome job of that last week.”

Archbold beat Indian Lake (23-14) in their first round game. Cook says the Blue Streaks bring a lot to the table on both sides of the ball. “Archbold is again a solid team. One of the better teams we have seen all year. Fast, big, athletic. There is a reason they are playing week 12. They are different than any team we have seen all year. They are just solid from top to bottom. What you see them from both sides is scary. They are a good football team for sure,” he said.

The Blue Streaks has athletic kids and Cook says they do a lot of different things on both sides of the ball. “They are different just schematically with some of the things they do. We have seen a bunch of stuff in our league. Just what they do and some of the kids that they have to execute the schemes are outstanding. Just how multiple they are on defense. A lot of teams in our league you kind of know what you are getting with them. With these guys they run a bunch of different things. It is hard to pinpoint,” said Cook.

Pleasant has a dominate running game, they don’t throw it much, and Cook says they are going to change what they do now. “At this point your kids are familiar with what you do and how you do it. You just try and get better, that’s the biggest thing, getting better day to day. That is just what we try and do and the approach we take,” he said.

Published 11/09/17

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Traditional Powers Danville and Trimble in Round Two

Danville takes on Gloster Trimble in a division seven regional semifinal on Friday night at Newark High School.

They have combined for 32 playoff appearances, 18 of those belonging to the Blue Devils. The last time either side was not in the playoffs was 2010.

Danville (10-1) beat Zanesville Rosecrans (35-14) in their first playoff game this year.

Coach Ed Honabarger says they were able to get things going in the second half of the game. “We had two or three fumbles the first half and gave them field position on the one where they had their score in the first half. They only had to go 25 yards. The field wasn’t in great shape, it was wet, but they had the same problem and they didn’t put the ball on the ground, so that is something we had to work on this week. Defensively, we played pretty darn well,” said Honabarger.

Turnovers are killers and the Blue Devils can’t have those going forward. Honabarger says sometimes it is a lack of concentration. “You never know what plays as a factor. It could be a little lack of concentration or a lack to detail. Of course, you know, they ball is a little wet. We need to think about it and squeeze it a little harder. You are dealing with a bunch of teenagers so you never know,” he said.

Trimble (8-2) hung on to beat Lucas (20-19) last week in a regional quarterfinal at Lucas. The Cubs cut it to one with about 5:00 left, but they had a two point conversion called back on a penalty. The Tomcats recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

Honabarger says they have a ball possession offense featuring the wishbone attack. “Gloster Trimble has had a great deal of success through the years. They run a wishbone offense, but they will jump into other formations. They want to eat up the clock and pound the football. They are happy getting three and half yards every play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “A little bit like Woody Hayes. They are real aggressive on defense. They are like a bunch of bumblebees that are upset in groves. They just really get after it.”

Honabarger says the Tomcats can be really affective with that wishbone and they most do a good job containing it. “It can be whatever you want it to be. If somebody is not disciplined on defense it can be a big play. If you get a push up front and have some good backs you can get your three and half yards and eat up the clock, which most wishbone teams want to do,” he said.

Published 11/09/17

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New London Girls Young, but Hard Working

New London is going to start the year with very little experience on the basketball floor, but the Lady Wildcats have been working very hard to make up the difference.

They were (15-8) last season and were in the regional tournament two years ago.

Coach Eric Mitchell says he has been pleasantly surprised by what he has seen this preseason. “Going in I was very nervous just because of losing two huge starters Eden Copley and Morgan Luedy. Going in I knew we were going to be very inexperienced, but with what we have done just in the first 10 days I and very happy. We are way ahead of where I thought we would be. The girls are busting their butts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are working hard, which is a plus for us because we are going to have to play very aggressively, and we are going to have to play good defense to compete this year. I think the girls understand that. Very happy with where we are and I guess we will find out Saturday when we go down to Ashland for a scrimmage with them and Margaretta.”

Mitchell says the preseason is going to be especially important for them this year because they just don’t have much experience at varsity level. “I have a freshman that is going to come in and play a lot and possibly start for me. She is coming into the system and a lot of what we do she didn’t get to do at the junior high school level, so it is a big adjustment for her, but there are also some girls that are stepping in that didn’t have a lot of varsity experience. It is kind of nice in these few scrimmages that we have early to see who is ready to play and who needs a lot of work before I put them on the court,” said Michell.

Scrimmages are important, but Mitchell says, really before you get to the real games it is difficult to know what you really have. “It is hard to get teams to practice so hard against one another that it is going to mimic that game speed. A lot of it is the difference between your ones and your twos. There is such a difference between my top girls and the bottom of my roster. It is hard you just have to push them. You hope they can push each other to their best ability in practice and you hope that helps them a little bit when we get to live competition against other people,” he said.

Published 11/09/17

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Colts and Redmen, Round 2

Clear Fork locks horns with Bellevue in the division four regional semifinals on Friday night at Mansfield Senior’s Arlin Field.

It’s the second meeting this season between the schools. The unbeaten Colts edged Bellevue (20-14) in overtime at their place back on week two of the regular season in early September.

The Colts (11-0), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Lorain Clearview (44-0) in their opening playoff game last week. This is the first Clear Fork team ever to be (11-0) during a football season.

They got a three and out and score on their first possession last week and coach Dave Carroll says they have been putting some things together on offense the last couple of times out. “I have been really happy with our offensive start and just production throughout the game the last two weeks. We knew we had the potential to put points on the board and put them on the board early and keep right on rolling. We have done that the last two weeks. We are kind of catching up with our defense. Our defense has done a fantastic job all year and held the fort down while we got our act together on offense. We kind of feel like we are clicking on all cylinders right now and obviously it is at the right time,” he said.

Bellevue (8-3) is a lot better on offense than the first time they played Clear Fork. Carroll says that is mainly is because of the return of Treston Francis. “There are a lot of things good about the Redmen. We were fortunate to get that win. You start with (Bryce) Ray, number 22, a 200 pound running back that is very fast. Their quarterback, well they have two quarterbacks, now. Number 11 (Riley Renward) played against us the first time and is a really, really good passer. His main target is the (Dakota) McPeak kid, number 24, a 6’3” receiver that has tremendous ball skills, jumping ability and body position. They have a nice sized offensive line, they are not huge, but they are nice sized. They do a good job with their scheme. Now they have Treston Francis back, who was out with an ankle injury in week two,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He is their slot receiver and a free safety, but he is also their wildcat quarterback. I would say he will be the fastest kid on the football field on Friday night. He had a lot of yards rushing last week against Pepper Pike Orange. He is just a dynamic player. He is not a real big, physical kid, but if he gets loose he is usually gone. So, we have to contain him and tackle him well and don’t let him get out on the edge and go. They have a lot of weapons, no doubt.”

Both teams have two kids that play quarterback. Carroll says when Francis is in the game you expect the run, but there is still a lot of deception. “I think the main objective is to get him the ball. He will hand off to (Ray) and once in a while he will throw a pass, mostly play action passes. They don’t throw the ball with Francis like they do with (Renward). You pretty much know you better stop the run, but know you have both (Ray) and (Francis.) They will fake to one and run the other and the other one will block. It does add another dimension to their offense. (Renward) will run a little bit. In the game the first time I think he ran it twice. So, they don’t want to run (Renward.) So, this gives them the opportunity to run some option stuff, fake to the back and run the quarterback, and it makes it a little tougher to defend. You do know, the odds are (Francis) is not throwing the football too much when he is in there at quarterback,” said Carroll.

On defense, the Redmen have also made some changes to take away things Clear Fork was able to execute the first time they played. Carroll says their linebackers are in a different spots. “They have adapted a little bit. They have changed a little bit on how they play the perimeter with the three man side and the two man side when you give them empty and trips and so forth. The first time we had a lot of success throwing quick screens and bubble screens out there. We got some pretty nice yards out there with Trevon (Trammell) and (Bryce) Lyon. Since then he has kind of changed the way they line up. They are taking that stuff away from teams a little more then what they did in week two. They have made some adaptions there. They are a 4-3 team and they play zone coverage. They will get into a 3-3 stack once in a while where they will blitz one or two of their guys. It just kind of a change up they throw in there here and there. Ed (Nasonti) has been pretty consistent with that style of defense and his zone coverage. It is just a little bit of rearranging with where they play their outside backers is what I am seeing,” said Carroll.

Published 11/08/17

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Buckeye Central Meets New Bremen

Buckeye Central, the Northern 10 Athletic Conference champion, and once beaten this year, plays New Bremen in the division four volleyball state semifinals on Thursday at Wright State University.

The Buckettes (26-1) advanced with a 25-15, 25-20, 26-24 win over conference rival Carey on Saturday in the regional final at Elida High School.

Coach Jackie Nye credits the tremendous start the team got for their victory over Carey. “We told the girls all week that it is hard to beat somebody three times. Knowing Carey and the athletes they have one their team we knew it was going to be a tough match,” she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Our girls kind of came out right from the beginning of the match and that set the tone I think for the rest of the match. We were able to play one of our best games and pull it off in three sets.”

A strong start to the match is something Buckeye Central has concentrated as this season has progressed. Nye says that has been one of the keys to their continued improvement this fall. “They girls have been doing really well just staying consistent. At the beginning of the year we would kind of slow down a little bit towards the second set and coast a little bit, but they have been improving a lot when it comes to finishing the match and playing at a high level the entire time,” she said.

New Bremen (26-1) knocked off Fort Loramie 19-25, 25-20, 25-13, and 25-17 in their regional final. Their only loss this year came to Fort Recovery 14-25, 25-18, 25-19, and 25-19 in mid-September. The Lady Cardinals are making their first ever state tournament appearance.

For Buckeye Central, this is appearance number 11 in the state final four. The last coming in 2012. They won state titles in 1993 and 1996. The Buckettes are one of North Central Ohio’s most traditional powers.

As far as New Bremen is concerned, Nye says they have a balanced team, but they try to get the ball to Paige Jones, a senior outside hitter. “Just from watching film and what I have seen so far they are a really solid team. They have one player, Paige Jones, that they tend to go to a lot, but they have a lot of other solid hitters as well. Overall, I think it is going to be a tough match. It is a state semifinal, so everybody is good,” said Nye.

Published 11/08/17

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Calvert Excited to Play St. Paul

Tiffin Calvert and Norwalk St. Paul play for the second time this fall, this time in the division seven regional semifinals at Fremont Harmon Stadium on Friday night.

St. Paul won the first meeting on week three of the regular season (23-7,) but the Senecas are more healthy this time around. They have quarterback Park Hemminger, who did not play in the first game.

Calvert scored in the final minutes on the game to beat Edgerton (50-43) in a first round game last week.

Coach Todd Fox says it was an outstanding game to watch, but he would rather not be so excited. “We had a hard time putting them away. We kept shooting ourselves in our foot. It made for an exciting game for the fans. I would have been really happy to not do that but, it helps to develop character in our young men, so we will go with that,” he said.

After some injuries early in the season Calvert has won its last six games, claiming the undisputed title in the River Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference. Fox says they have some developed some character. “I just think it reinforced what we have been through with the character with this team all year. We have had some adversity due to situations and our response has been pretty good. We have been able to respond, keep their heads up, and drive. They scored to take the lead on us 43-42 for the first time since the first quarter with less than three minutes to play in the game and we were able to go down and score and show they were ready to play,” said Fox.

St. Paul (11-0), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, has only allowed more than one score twice this season, including a (52-13) win over Wayne Trace in a first round game last week.

Fox says their offense is explosive, but their defense is really, really good. “With St. Paul it is a broken record to say they are well coached and it is not just head coach John Livengood, but all of the way through. There are so many great football coaches on their staff. They prepare their guys very well. Their offense you just look at their numbers. Their offense has been outstanding and historically they have been really good at scoring points,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is nothing flashy, it is ground and pound football, but I think what makes this team special for them is their defense. Coach Fisher has a really fast defense. They fly to the ball and they are all over the place. When you look at their schedule putting points on the board is not something too many teams have been able to do. So, we have our work cut out for us and we are just going to have to be able to go back and get to work and prepare for them on Friday night.”

Neither of these teams are that big, but they are fast across the board. Fox says they are similar in what they do. “We have modeled ourselves after them in that regard. We have played St. Paul I don’t know how many years consecutively and this is not the first time we played each other in the playoffs, so twice in a season. They have never been massive up front they are just fast. We feel comfortable that that is where we are too, so we match up in that category. I think team speed we are okay. We just have to be prepared to make plays and play a great game on Friday. We can’t be turning the ball over like we did last week. You have to play a good game to beat St. Paul,” said Fox.

Published 11/08/17

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Clyde Faces Toledo CC… Again

Clyde plays Toledo Central Catholic for the fourth time since 2013 in the post season playoffs.

They play Friday night at Oregon Clay High School in the second round of the division three playoffs.

Toledo CC won the last two meetings (35-28) in 2015 and (35-3) in 2014. Clyde beat the Fighting Irish (42-41) in 2013. Current Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer would have played for Central Catholic in that 2013 game against Clyde.

Clyde (9-2) avenged a regular season loss to Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division champs Sandusky (35-0) in regional quarterfinal play last week. The Blue Streak had beaten Clyde (42-28) on week eight of the regular season.

They had also lost (33-14) to Bellevue on week 10, but coach Ryan Carter says they were really ready to play last week. “After our week 10 loss our kids really came back with great focus and some great energy and we had a good week of practice. We were just enthused to be in week 11 and really put all of our energy and all of our focus into getting ready for week 11 wherever we played and we ended up having to go back to Sandusky. I just thought our kids came out and played a tremendous football game on both sides of the ball. We were able to get out of there with a win and continue to play. That is a big focus for our kids is to just get to the next week and get to the next practice and we will see where we are at from there,” said Carter.

When you shut out a team as good as Sandusky, unbeaten going into the game, with the athletes the Blue Streaks have, you have played very well on defense. Carter says they made some athletic plays. “Our defense really set the tone to be honest. It was from the opening snap all of the way through. We read our keys very well. We had a great game plan going in. Our kids were where they were supposed to be,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Sometimes you can do that and their athleticism will still make plays for them and hurt you. Our kids were in the spots to make the plays and we made some athletic plays and we did some things at a little higher level that we had the previous couple of weeks. I was just very proud of our kids overall and proud of our program. For us to be able to go into week 12 and continue to play is something very good.”

This is supposed to be Toledo Central Catholic’s last year in division three. They are to be bumped up to Division II next season. They beat Cleveland Glenville (28-0) in their playoff opener last week. Their losses this year come to Toledo Whitmer, a division one playoff winner last week, and Toledo St. John’s, who lost to Avon in the first round of the division two playoffs.

Carter says the Fighting Irish have athletes they just don’t see on other teams they play. “They are a notch above everybody we have seen as far as athletes go. They just have kids that are big and fast. They play a style that is really contusive to their athleticism. They have kids that are fast and big, so they put a whole bunch of pressure on you and it just becomes difficult to try and move the ball. I think what sticks out with them is their defense. Their defense is tremendous. They do have some weapons offensively, but their defense is just tremendous. We know we have our work cut out for us, but our kids are excited to be playing,” said Carter.

The Clyde coach says the blitz is going to be key on Friday night. He says they are going to have to find a way to control it. “I think that is what they are trying to do by putting all of that pressure on you is getting you to make mistakes. It easy to set there and say, hey, guys slow down and don’t let that pressure get to you, but when it is coming from different angles and with great athletes it is tough. We are going to put in a game plan this week that is going to give us the best chance and try and get ourselves ready for Friday night,” he said.

Published 11/08/17

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Willard Should Have Another Very Good Season

Willard year in and year out has been one of the best girls’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio and this year should be no different for the Lady Flashes.

They were (13-13) last year, improved as the season went on, and lost to Riverdale in the division three district final.

Plus, coach Jon Dawson says they have nearly everyone back. “We have a lot of kids coming back that had nice years last year. We lost a shooter in Ashley Tuttle, but other than that we pretty much have everybody coming back and a nice freshmen class coming in that I think can help. I think expectations are high. It is going to be interesting with our new league and kind of getting familiar with some new opponents and all of that kind of stuff. We are looking forward to it,” he said.

Practice started about 10 days ago and Dawson says just being back in the gym and working with the players puts a smile on his face. “I love being in the gym. I love being around the kids, that’s why we do what we do. I get a little lonely in the fall when you don’t see them. They are off doing their other sports and that kind of stuff. It’s good to have them back in the gym. You kind of grow close to them over the years and really develop that relationship with them. So, it is good to get back to practice and start to get stuff in. I feel like this is a little bit more of a veteran group, so you can start to add stuff and that kind of thing. It has been really good,” he told Swankonsports.com Tuesday, “We do have some freshmen that are going to contribute, so we have to catch them up to speed a little bit. We started scrimmaging already. We had Toledo Rogers and Ontario in here on Saturday and we had Eastwood and Wellington (Tuesday) night, we go down to Columbus for one and go over to Kenton for one with Kenton and Coldwater, so see a variety of teams. It’s a time to evaluate the kids and try and figure out who can help you and who is going to be where and that kind of stuff.”

Willard is a member of a new league with the Northern Ohio League being no more. Dawson says the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference will be a learning experience. “It is traveling, everything is north for us now. Some schools like Port Clinton and Oak Harbor that maybe we are not as familiar with. We have scrimmaged Oak Harbor for a number of years. Tom and I have kind of become close in that way. We have played Edison, and we have played Huron and some of those teams, Margaretta has always played Willard. Some of them we are a little bit more familiar with that others. Schools like Vermilion we really don’t know too much about. So, scouting will get interesting. It’s exciting. I am looking forward to the change. You go in with a positive look and I think it will all be good,” said Dawson.

Published 11/08/17

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Madison Plays in First Ever State Semi

Madison is in uncharted waters, but the Lady Rams are having a whale of a time and they are playing excellent soccer.

After beating Bay Village Bay (2-1) on Saturday in the regional final at Brunswick, the Lady Rams (21-1) play Mentor Lake Catholic (16-3-1) in the girls’ soccer state semifinal Tuesday night at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.

It’s their first ever state tournament appearance.

Tara Andrews and Kalie Blaising scored second half goals on Saturday and Madison held on at the end to get the win.

Coach Zac Huff says they continue to play outstanding soccer. “The girls played the whole entire 80 minutes. We were up 2-0 with five or six minutes left. We gave up a goal off of a free kick. Our goalie came off of the line. It made 2-1, which is probably the worse score line you could play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “With five minutes left they kept challenging us, but our girls were smart enough to just kick the ball as far they could down the field and weather the storm. We pulled off the victory and we are making school history,”

When the game is on the line, like it was in the final minutes Saturday, Huff says you have to find a different level of play and they were able to that when they needed it most. “They were definitely playing on adrenaline and taking us to a place we have never been before. They were all just digging deeper because I always remind them in practice when you want to quit just think why you started back in June,” said Huff.

Lake Catholic (16-3-1) beat Canfield (2-0) in their regional final Saturday. Huff says the Lady Cougars have a super player in the middle that they are going to try and get the ball to her a lot. “They have a girl named Kati Druzina that is a junior right now that has verbally committed to go to Notre Dame. She is a midfielder/striker. That is their main go to person. Other than that I think they are pretty young. I think we match up a lot better with them they we actually did Bay,” he said.

The winner plays Sunbury Big Walnut (16-2-4) or Cincinnati Indian Hill (20-0-1) Friday at Mapfre Stadium (Former Crew Stadium) in Columbus on Friday.

Huff says they just have to keep playing at the same level they have been and they can win. “I have preached to them ever since beat Ontario (4-1) down at Lexington in the district final. I told them at every single practice that you go and play like we did against Ontario and we get beat that means we played a pretty darn good team,” he said.

Published 11/07/17

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Hillsdale Meets Carey in Second Round

It is a second straight Northern 10 Athletic Conference team for the Hillsdale Falcons as they play the Carey Blue Devils in the division six regional semifinals at Highland High School in Morrow County on Friday night.

Both teams carry (8-3) records on the season.

Hillsdale beat Seneca East (28-7) in an opening round game in Attica last week;

The Falcons executed an onside kick on the opening kick and then Trey Williams connected with Trace Stiltner for a touchdown on the very next play.

Coach Tom Williams says they wanted to be aggressive. “It was pretty exciting. We decided to go with the onside kick. I think they were prepared for it, but sometimes the ball just bounced odd ways and we were able to get it recovered and then threw a touchdown pass on our first play from scrimmage. We kind of started the game off with a bang,” he said.

Hillsdale never surrendered the lead and Williams says they were able to eat up some clock in the second half of the game. “They had some opportunities. They kind of got it down into our end a few times, but our defense was able to hold and get some key stops,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Then we got a key turnover with an interception. We kind of kept them on their heels the whole first half. Defensively and with our run game the whole second half we kind of grinded the game out a little bit.”

Carey upended Wynford (7-2) last week in a regional quarterfinal. Wynford hurt themselves with turnovers and penalties, but Williams says the Blue Devils executed pretty well too. “Their defense played extremely well against Wynford on Friday night. I thought their kids hustled to the ball and were in good position and were pretty disciplined. So, we will have our hands full there. Offensively, they have had some games when they have put points on the board. They kind of have a few explosive players and a good size line. We will definitely have our hands full again,” said Williams.

Carey four times this year has scored 40 points in a game and they have many of those same athletes on the defensive side of the ball. Williams says they have playmakers. “They definitely have some guys. They have some edge rushers that are real good. They have some skilled guys, you know, the big run that they had early in the game against Wynford showed that. They have had a couple of kickoff returns for touchdowns. They get out into open space they can take it to the house,” he said.

Hillsdale has played one of the toughest division six schedules around with losses to unbeaten Dalton and once beat Norwayne this year. Williams says they plan to keep with the game kind of game plan. “We need to just do our thing. We have done a pretty good job of taking care of the football this season and we need to keep that up and just keep playing our game. Make sure we are good at assignment football, tackle well in space, and then just block to the whistle and stay on guys. If we do those things we should be fine,” he said.

Published 11/07/17

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Lady Tygers Will be Young

Mansfield Senior is always going to be at least decent as long as Todd Krill is still their coach, but this year they are going to an inexperienced team at at least three spots on the floor.

Preseason practice began on October 27 and girls’ teams open the season on Thanksgiving weekend. Mansfield Senior plays at always good Bellevue on November 24.

Krill says they will have some spots to fill on this year’s varsity roster and that is what they are working on now. “We are a pretty young ballclub this year. I still have a pretty good point guard back and a pretty good wing back, but every other position is going to be filled in with a lot of young people,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are just hoping the young people can step up and play pretty good for us this year. So far in what I have seen it hasn’t been too bad.”

Scrimmages are already beginning for girls’ teams and the Lady Tygers play at Upper Sandusky, last year’s “N10” champions, on Tuesday night. Krill says it is time to establish some kind of bench mark. “Like (Tuesday) night we have a scrimmage up at Upper Sandusky, so we are going to find out how much progress we have made with the young kids or are we going to have to go back to the beginning and start doing it all over again. The last few practices have been pretty decent. So, hopefully they are catching on and can keep getting better from there,” said Krill.

In the preseason, Krill says you try different combinations to see what works and who is ready to play at the varsity level and go from there. “We are trying to figure out what girls work well together with chemistry and things along that line. A lot of times you are playing your young kids trying to find out if they are going to fit in or not. You might have to move them back down to “JV” or maybe they can stick with varsity. It is a feeling out process for me with scrimmages and hopefully by the time you get to your first game you are pretty much set on what you want to do,” said Krill.

Published 11/07/17

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Unbeaten Shelby Faces Biggest Test

Shelby has been exactly what all of their opponents feared they would be this season… very, very good.

The Whippets (11-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays St. Mary’s Memorial Friday night at Marion Harding Stadium in the division four regional semifinals.

There has been a running clock in every one of their games this season and if the rules permitted there would have been a running clock in the first half of many of their games.

They advanced to the regional finals last year and return more than 95 percent of their offense and although their defense doesn’t get the same publicity they have only allowed 67 points all season, that about a touchdown per game. Many of those when the score has been out of control in the second half.

Last week, in their opening playoff game in division four they hammered Wauseon (50-13) in a game that was really pretty similar to their regular season games.

Coach Erik Will says their 21 points in the first quarter were key in the game. “We were able to get off to a fast start. Most teams want to do it, there is no secret behind it, we want to get on the board early, we want to get on the board fast, and we were able to do that. Defense sometimes has a hard time and if there is going to be a little bit of a lull it is going to be on the defensive side. It is hard to get the scout team to simulate what the other team does offensively. In division four when you have so many two way players it is better that you set the tempo and then you adjust on defense. Sometimes I think people think a sign of taking the ball is they don’t respect your defense, but it is really more it is nice to set the pace on the offensive end,” said Will.

Senior quarterback Brennan Armstrong is headed to the University of Minnesota on full scholarship. Will says he is simply one of the best players the school has ever produced. “He is commander and chief of our offense. He really has been for four years. You are talking about a young man who is approaching 11,000 all purpose yards. He is our school’s second all-time leading rusher with 3,400 or 3,500 yards rushing. He has right around 60 rushing touchdowns. He has thrown for nearly 7,000 yards. He has thrown I think 77 or 78 touchdown passes,’ he told Swankonports.com on Sunday evening, “He is basically the Larry Siegfried of our football program. If people from around the area know who Larry Siegfried is. He is very, very important to what we do. Quite frankly, we would not come close to being the team or be able to run the things that we do without him being under center.”

St. Mary’s Memorial (10-1) is the outright champion of the Western Buckeye League. Their only loss coming to Sidney (39-32) in the season opener. They beat Highland (48-8) last Friday.

Will says the Roughriders aren’t fancy, but they know they are good at and that is running ball. “They are really good. They throw the ball maybe three, four times a game on average. That is pretty much what you are getting. It is funny because people say they don’t throw the ball much, but there is a difference between can’t throw the ball and choosing not to throw the ball. St. Mary’s is just a team that chooses not to throw the ball because they are so good on the ground. The statistics that we have figured out they are averaging between 350 and 370 yards a game on the ground. There is no reason to get real creative offensively,” said Will.

Will says that Shelby defense is going to have to eliminate the Memorial long drives and get off the field. “It really does come down to our run defense against their offense. I think the thing that will help us is we have to get out early. We want to build a 7, 14 point lead early because their game plan is going to be very simple. They want to milk the clock and keep our offense off the field and then they want to score touchdowns and be efficient. When you play a team like St. Mary’s and they get up 14 or 21 points that is like us being up on you like 35,” he said.

On defense, the Roughriders are very fundamental. He says they don’t make mistakes. “They are very aggressive. They are very gap sound. Their coverages aren’t real sophisticated, but they are normally where they want to be and where they need to be. They will blitz. They are just very sound. Sometimes people want you to say something that is kind of outlandish and give you this big secret that they do. They are nothing really schematically complex in what they do. They have done it for years. Doug Fry is a hall of fame coach. He was at Bucyrus. He has been around forever and has had success wherever he has been. He is good at what he does,” he said.

Published 11/06/17

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Local High School Football Playoff Sites

All games are on Friday, November 10, 2017

Division II

Ashland (9-2) vs. Massillon Washington (8-3) @ Wooster Folis Field

 

Division III

Clyde (9-2) vs. Toledo Central Catholic (9-2) @ Oregon Clay High School

 

Division IV

Clear Fork (11-0) vs. Bellevue (8-3) @ Mansfield Arlin Field

Shelby (11-0) vs. St Mary’s Memorial (10-1) @ Marion Harding Stadium

 

Division V

Akron Manchester (9-2) vs. South Range (11-0) @ Louisville High School

Marion Pleasant (9-1) vs. Archbold (9-2) @ Findlay High School

 

Division VI

Norwayne (10-1) vs. Rootstown (11-0) @ Green High School

Carey (8-3) vs. Hillsdale (8-3) @ Marengo Highland High School

 

Division VII

Dalton (11-0) vs. Windham (9-2) @ North Canton Hoover High School

Norwalk St. Paul (11-0) vs. Tiffin Calvert (8-3) @ Fremont Ross HS

Danville (10-1) vs. Gloster Trimble (10-1) @ Newark High School

 
     
 

Clear Fork With Proud Football Tradition

At its heart the Clear Fork Valley, made of the twin cities of Bellville and Butler, is a football town.

In the center of the Midwest with a rural character and whether your name was Walker or Doup or Meeks or Hamilton or Brokaw or whatever you grew up playing football in village parks or backyards or school playgrounds. Some of those kids probably dreamed of being NFL players, but first they dreamed of being Colts.

When Bellville and Butler high schools combined to form Clear Fork it was 1963, the time of John Kennedy, the time of Camelot. For the first four years, the Colt football teams under the direction of coach Bill Frazier went 36-2-2, that is a winning percent of 92 percent, pretty impressive to say the least.

Current Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll also played for the Colts, graduating in 1980. “The mid-sixties Colt teams set the standard of excellence for all of us players that came after them. The bar was set very high!” said Carroll.

This year’s team was the first since 1965 to complete a perfect regular season and 52 years in a long time ago. I can tell you that because I was born in May of 1965 and I have a lot of grey hair and a bald spot that seems to get bigger every day.

Swankonsports.com was able to talk to two guys that played on the 1965 team in Bill Worner and Steve Leedy about this year’s team and the one they played on a half a century ago.

Leedy says he made it to two games this season, one of the them being when Sloan Bowman kicked a game winning field goal as time expired to give the Colts a come from behind (23-20) win over Buckeye Valley.

He says these kids never give up. “I was able to get to two games this year (Buckeye Valley and Marion Harding.) I think that this year’s team showed a lot of heart and a neve give up attitude. They might be identified as Clear Fork’s “Kardiac Kids,” said Leedy. That was our course in reference to the 1980 Cleveland Browns, known for the late game heroics. Now, the Browns can’t even beat the clock with a phone call.

There were 80 players on the 1965 team. Worner says they are very proud of what the 2017 Colts have accomplished. “I and all of my teammates are very pleased to have some new members to what has turned into a pretty elite club. Hopefully, we will have more in the years to come,” said Worner.

There have been some close calls over the years, in fact the very next year the Colts were 9-0-1. In 1978, a team Carroll played on was 9-1, their only loss to Loudonville. In 1997, the Colts won their first nine games and lost on week 10 to Loudonville. The 2010 team, which won an undisputed Ohio Cardinal Conference title lost to Sandusky on week one and then ran the table.

Still Worner says it’s hard to believe it has taken 52 years for another perfect regular season. “Back in the beginning, Clear Fork was so successful that we would have not believed it would be 52 years before it would happen again. Congrats to the team and coaches, let’s keep this process going,” said Worner.

In 1965, the Colts were Johnny Appleseed Conference champions, they allowed no more than one score in nine of the 10 games. 3,500 fans gathered as they beat Fredericktown (12-6) on a pair of TD passes from Steve Walker to Dan Jackson. They rallied to down upset minded Crestline (28-24) on a Roger Bowers TD with 1:45 left. They then broke Ontario’s 23 game winning streak on the final week of the season with a (24-8) blitzing the of the Warriors. The Colts rans for 270 yards on the night and Walker scored three times, including a dazzling 94-yard score.

Of course, there were no playoffs then, only the “AP” media poll, which as a member of the media I can tell you nobody has enough intelligence on every team in the state to make an honest vote and that is with today’s technology. Back then it was on reputation. How many state titles has Massillon won since the playoffs began?

What if there had been playoffs, how would that ’65 team have done? “It is difficult to say how we might have done in a playoff. I do remember that we were not expected to have that great of a season by the public. I believe that my teammates had a great deal of heart also,” said Leedy.

Worner adds it’s kind of too bad we didn’t get a chance to find out. “Bob Parker said it well when our team was inducted into the (Clear Fork Valley Athletic) hall of fame, I don’t know if we would have stayed undefeated, but would have loved to have found out,” he said.

Published 11/03/17

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St. Paul With Test in First Round

The Norwalk St. Paul Flyers have been to postseason football 19 times and have missed them only three times since 1995, so, yes, they are familiar.

The Flyers (10-0), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, host Wayne Trace (6-4) in a regional quarterfinal in division seven on Friday night.

They are the number one seed in the region and they kept that with a (42-0) win over rival Monroeville last Saturday night.

Coach John Livengood says they forced some turnovers and more importantly to him they showed some overall improvement. “We were pretty happy with the outcome. The kids came out ready to play and executed pretty well. We were able to force some turnovers early on in the second quarter and turn those turnovers into points and gave us a 35-0 lead going in at halftime. I am pretty happy with how we have continuously improved throughout the season. That is something we really emphasize to the kids to continue to get better and the kids have embraced that and put that into action on game night,” said Livengood.

With all that postseason experience the Flyers are used to week 11. Livengood says they want to stay consistent in their preparation. “When we get into the post season we approach it just like the regular season. Our main focus is always about improving as a team. What can we do to get better and improve on our technique? Obviously, we have to adjust to our opponent with what we are doing scheme wise, but technique wise it is always continuous improvement. We take it one week at a time. Hopefully, that works out for us and we keep moving on,” he said.

Wayne Trace has lost its last three games, including a (15-0) loss to Defiance Tinora last week. Their other three losses are all to playoff teams in Convoy Crestview (39-13,) Edgerton (55-34) and Hicksville (42-20) two weeks ago.

Livengood says they have a lot of weapons on offense and they do a lot of different things. “Offensively, they throw a lot at you. They have got a freshmen quarterback that is a really good athlete with a nice arm, does a nice job in the pocket sliding and buying and extra second of time to throw and he has excellent people to throw to. He’s got two 6’5” twin brothers out there that are excellent receivers and athletes as well. They spread the field on you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are not afraid to throw it down field. If the coverage breaks down their quarterback does a great job finding that open man and getting the ball to him. They also have a nice running game. They will line up in a little bit of a pro set and run the ball. What really scares you and jumps off the film is their passing game.”

St. Paul has seen some strong passing games, Mapleton for example, but Livengood says they are all a little different. “They both run out of the spread offense, but I think it is a little bit different style. Each team runs the spread a little bit different. What you have to try and find out is what their personality is and try and take away what they do best. With Wayne Trace they do a lot of things good, so it is going to be a heck of a challenge for us,” he said.

Livengood adds this is not your typical eight seed and he knows they are going to have to play well to advance. “We got moved to the west this year and top to bottom every team is strong. You look at Wayne Trace’s record and you think 6-4 and you are hoping you can win soundly, but you look who they lost to. Their losses came to playoff teams. They had a big win over McComb (31-28) week two. They are a proven team with a lot of strong athletes out there. Their record isn’t necessarily indicative of what kind of football team they are,” he said.

Published 11/03/17

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Lexington Boys’ and Girls’ Teams to Compete in State

Lexington will field both a full boys’ and girls’ team in the state cross country meet, which will be contested on Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron in southern Licking County with a chance of winning individual or team titles. In both genders.

The boys’ team won the regional last week at Tiffin and coach Denise Benson says they are very good at the top end and have been improving their depth this fall. “On the boys’ side with the upperclassmen we have a one, two, three punch with Johnston, Johnston, and Volz. They rest of the team we have been working on closing the gap between number three and number four and have some younger runners that have been dropping in time. Throughout the season we have been solid, but trying to prefect that gap. In the postseason we are finally coming around. It is exciting, we had a great showing at regionals. We had our best performance 1-7 and everyone is healthy. So, we are just going to go see what we can take of on Saturday,” said Benson.

Ryan Johnstown won the regional last week in 15:38,78, Kyle Johnston was fourth in 15:52.22 and Forest Volz took sixth in 16:19.13, to give the Minutemen three in the top six placers.

However, Benson says you can not win big meets without depth. “Number five runner is critical. You can have a front pack and that number five is back, when you are talking about trying to get on the podium, winning the meet, those points are just critical. We can not win a state meet, or be state runner up, if you don’t have depth,” she said.

Lady Lex also won at the regional level with junior Carina Weaver taking first place individually in 19:15.44 and Lady Lex added two more top ten finishes with freshmen Halle Hamilton fourth and senior Olivia Wolfe in ninth.

Benson says the girls’ squad in young, but it is very talented. “On the girls side we have a very young team with only one senior in the top seven. With that there is some excitement that when you have underclassmen they don’t really know what they are in for, so on a positive note they just go and race. There is the other side that they don’t have the experience at the state meet. We have a lot of talent, so we will go see if they can run under the pressure,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “There is (Gates Mills) Hawken and they are extremely talented young team. I think it is going to be a head to head match runner for runner. That is what it is all about when you are going for a state title let the best one win on that day.”

Benson says the course isn’t that physically challenging, but it is very tough mentally. “It is definitely a flat course, but it is not known to be excessively fast because it has so many turns and there are many spots on the course where there are no spectators and coaches can’t even get to. So, I would say there is at least a mile of the course where athletes are just out there on their own with no one cheering them on, so you have to be extremely mentally tough back in the woods and the windy part after the mile. You can’t just back down because no one is there yelling for you and cheering you on. It is more mentally challenging than it is physically challenging. So, that is my take on it. Those that can really push through mentally those are the ones that are going to concur the course. There is nothing about it physically that is grueling it is just that mental aspect,” said Benson.

Published 11/03/17

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Point of Attack Big For Highland

Highland travels St. Mary’s Memorial for a first round playoff game in division four on Friday night.

The Scots (8-2) lost last week to Northmor (34-12.) It was just their second loss of the season and coach Chad Carpenter says his kids have reacted well. He says it has been a good week of practice. “Practice has went really well this week. I think our kids got refocused there on Saturday. We came in on Monday and just approached this week like any other week. We gave them the scouting reports and talked about expectations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “What to expect from the playoffs and just get them as much information as we could this week. (Wednesday) night was really cold, windy and raining with some snow in there and we go out and have a great practice. I never heard one kid complain about the weather. That’s what it’s all about just the kids having fun still and still working hard. We are taking the next step.”

Highland is making its first playoff appearance since 2010 and Carpenter says they know how special it is to still be playing on week 11. “We look at it as very special thing. One of our goals going into the season was to get to the playoffs and once we are here now we get to refocus them on trying to win it. We strive to try and win for another week. That is kind of our approach. I have said that numerous times to the kids this week, we have to keep fighting and hopefully we can keep playing next week,” he said.

St. Mary’s (9-1) has been to the playoffs 16 times, but only once since 2008, that coming last year. The Roughriders won the tough Western Buckeye League this year. They beat Wapakoneta (10-0) last week. They have scored more than 50 points three times this year, including a (63-21) destruction of (8-2) Elida this year.

Carpenter says the Roughriders have big kids and backs that run the ball very hard. “The lines on both sides are really big kids. They move extremely well. They have some backs that run the ball really hard. They are really simple, in fact they are a mirror image to us. Maybe even a little more simpler than us. What they do, they do extremely well. They run a 4-3 defense. The guys up front do an amazing job of kind of funneling everything outside. They are fast and very physical. They are a really good football team,” said Carpenter.

The line of scrimmage is going to be a focal point in this game. Carpenter says they must win at the point of attack. “That has been kind of our approach all year. We have been able to hang our hat on the guys up front with them creating holes for us and also stopping the other teams’ run and maybe into a throwing situation. We have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and hopefully our guys are able to do that,” he said.

Published 11/03/17

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Hillsdale Preparing For Aggressive Seneca East

Hillsdale of the Wayne County Athletic League and Seneca East of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference clash outside of Attica on Friday night in a division six regional quarterfinal.

The Falcons (7-3) got into the playoffs with a big second half last week in beating Smithville (34-20) in their final regular season game. They have losses this year to Dalton (10-0) and Norwayne (9-1,) both playoff participants.

Coach Tom Williams believes their schedule has been a big plus for them this year. “We feel like our schedule has been very good. We played a lot of quality to teams both non-league and in the league. It prepared us for a lot of different defenses and offenses because we faced a lot of different things during course of the year. We feel like we are prepared for just about anything once we get to the playoffs,” said Williams.

Seneca East (8-1) is coming off one of their better performances of the season in a (42-13) win over Carey last week. Williams says they show balance on offense and aggressiveness on defense. “They are very good. They are able to run the ball extremely well and then their quarterback is very accurate through the air. They can make you pay if you cheat too many guys up. Defensively, they are extremely aggressive. They like to blitz and get in the backfield and cause problems,” he said.

The blitz might be a big play in this game. Williams says they have to execute when it comes to their blocking schemes in order to have a chance to make plays on offense. “They have done a good job at least on the film we are seeing at causing some havoc in the backfield,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They get some big plays with their defense. So, it is important for us to make sure we know our assignments and who we are responsible for in our blocking and things like that so we can get everybody blocked.”

That big play has fueled the Falcons this year and Williams says they have to get some of those on Friday night. “That has kind of been us this year. In the games where we have gotten a few big plays we have done pretty well and the games where the other teams have done a good job of keeping us from getting big plays or the other team has gotten a few big plays we have gotten ourselves into trouble. I think in high school football trying to eliminate the other teams’ big play and getting a few of your own is huge,” said Williams.

Published 11/03/17

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Mohawk Faces Athletic Pandora-Gilboa

Mohawk made the playoffs eight straight times from 1999 to 2006, but this year marks just the second time since then for the resurgent Warriors.

They play at Pandora-Gilboa in a first round game in division seven on Friday night.

Mohawk (8-2) beat Carey (32-0) two weeks ago in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play and they handled Edon (44-14) last week in non-conference action.

Coach Brent Konkle says they are starting to get healthy again. “I think we are about as healthy as we have been in a long time. Our offensive line is really meshing together. When you get some more practices together and communicate it straightens out a lot of difficulties, so excited about going into this weekend,” he said.

Konkle thinks the play of the offensive line is going to be critical this week and he says that is something they always concentrate on. “That is where we start everything. We have good athletes up front on both sides. Our goal is to control the line of scrimmage very week. For the majority of the year we have been fairly successful at it. Every once in a while, it gets bye you at times. I think our bread and butter is up front,” he said.

Pandora-Gilboa survived the tough Blanchard Valley Conference with losses to two playoff teams in Liberty-Benton (31-20) and McComb (49-27) a couple of weeks ago. They hammered Cory-Rawson (54-12) last Friday.

Konkle says they are very athletic in the skilled positions. “Boy they are athletic. I have said this before our league does a good job of preparing us for athleticism,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Pandora has some very good skilled kids at receiver and quarterback. They are pretty good up front on both sides, but I think our advantage is there. They are athletic and it is going to take good game execution for us to have success.”

When trying to compare the Rockets to someone they have seen before, Konkle keeps coming back to Wynford. “They are a lot like Wynford of a year ago and kind of a mesh of Wynford this year and Seneca East. They have athletic kids and their linemen are athletic as well. They don’t just have one or two guys. They have good speed on the perimeter. Their receivers go up and get the ball and their quarterback does a good job of running and throwing, a lot like Wynford’s quarterbacks always have been,” said Konkle.

Published 11/03/17

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Second Season Starts For Shelby

Shelby had a perfect regular season and won an undisputed Bay Division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference, but their season will be defined by what happens from here on out.

Their goal at the beginning of the year was to win a division four state championship. Their first test is Friday at home in a first round game against the visiting Wauseon Indians.

Coach Erik Will says this really starts the third phase of their season. “We have broken down our season into three categories. The non-conference, the conference, and then the playoffs. We have gotten two checks in the non-conference and the conference. I told the kids that they can now consider themselves one of the best teams in Shelby history, but if they want to be considered the best team in Shelby history this is what matters,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “These playoffs are going to be huge for us, but we can’t worry about weeks 12, 13, 14, we can’t look ahead in match ups and things like that, we have to take care of this Friday and this Friday only.”

Wauseon (8-2) has lost only twice by three (24-21) to Archbold and by one in overtime (28-27) to Swanton. They are coming off a (48-0) win over Delta last week. They have been in the playoffs seven times and this is their first appearance since 2015.

Will says they are athletic and they are very aggressive. “They are really aggressive. It is a wrestling school, they have a lot of nice wrestlers. We know we are going to get their best. Defensively they have some nice athletes. Basically if they have a 2 in the number they are really athletic and do a good job. They have a really nice, tall, wide receiver, that kind of reminds me of Carter Brooks a little bit. Their defensive line is very aggressive. It is kind like it is flipped, their defensive line looks to make tackles and their linebackers just kind of fill,” said Will.

When it comes to comparisons to some of the teams that Shelby has played, Will says there are examples. “Defensively, they are a mixture of this year’s and last year’s Lexington team. Offensively, they are kind of a mix between Bellevue and Edison,” he said.

One thing is for sure, Will says they have to have great focus on their keys. “When you look at their offense. Offensive lines do what offensive lines do. When they run counter they are pulling a guard, they pull a guard and tackle on some plays. It is all stuff we have seen before. The stuff that goes in back behind it, as far as the athletes, that may look a little be different, but if our guys are reading their keys the stuff in the backfield shouldn’t matter. We should be following the guys that take us to the ball. If we do that I think we will be fine,” says Will.

Shelby is a football town built on a tradition from the 40’s to the 80’s. This is the sixth time they have made the postseason and the second straight year. They lost to Steubenville in the regional finals last year.

Will says the feeling around the school is really electric. “The kids are excited. I think we have sold 700, 800 championship and playoff t-shirts. For us to be able to do something like that, they went out on a Friday and we had that many sold by Monday. That tells you about the excitement around here. Everybody is in to it. The student body is into it and there is just a lot of positive momentum coming around the city. It is a good time to be a Shelby football player,” he said.

Published 11/02/17

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Clyde Needs a Little More This Time

Clyde and Sandusky will meet for the second time this season this time in the division three regional quarterfinals at Cedar Point Stadium at Strobl Field on Friday night.

In the first meeting, Sandusky (10-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, won (42-28) and eventually claimed an outright Lake Division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Clyde coach Ryan Carter says they gave up too many big plays in that first game back on October 13. “We did things very well in that first game. We just gave up too many big plays. They had many times they hurt us on both sides of the ball either by us turning it over either by them turning us over on defense or us turning it over or them hitting us with big plays on their offensive side. We need to narrow it down to a few things and try and get better in those areas. They are just doing things very well. Obviously, when you are 10-0 you are doing things very well. They are doing things well on both sides of the ball. They are a very good football team, so we know we have our work cut out for us,” said Carter.

He says you have to look at what you did well and try to expand on that, but also be prepared for some tweaks from the Blue Streaks. “I think you look at the first time you played and you look at some things that were successful for you. They are going to do the same thing, but you also have to be prepared for what they are going to counter punch with as far as the things they are going to do differently to try and take away the things you had success with. We are going to have to be prepared for everything, we know that, but so are they. It is going to be a tough task going on the road up there where we were before and try and get out of there with a win,” he said.

With the athletes that Sandusky has like quarterback Javez Alexander and running back Therion Stewart, Carter says a little mistake by the defense becomes a quick score. “We talked about it the first time we played them. Their athleticism is different than anybody we played. When you give them a little crease you are going to find yourself giving six points. We have to be assignment sound and even when you do that you can put yourself in a place where their kids are going to make plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Their kids are out there trying to make plays. You have to do everything as hard as you possibly can, but you also have to know you are going to give up some. We have to play better offensively in order to keep their offense off the field. I felt we did that for the most part the first time we played them, but we have to do it a little bit more and a little bit longer if want to give ourselves a chance to win this game.”

Carter wants to take it down the fourth quarter where he has confidence in his kids. “I hope we give ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter because I like the toughness of this year’s group for us. We have talked about that all year. We don’t have the athleticism that other teams are blessed with, but our kids play extremely hard and fight it out all of the way to the end. If we give ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter our kids will definitely be playing as hard as they can to get that done,” he said.

Published 11/02/17

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Seneca East Looking in the Mirror

Seneca East and Hillsdale meet Friday night in the first round of the division six playoffs outside of Attica.

The Tigers (8-1) are making their third straight playoff appearance after a runner up finish in the tough and balanced Northern 10 Athletic Conference. Their only loss of the season coming to conference champion Wynford (31-13) on week eight of the season.

They beat Carey (42-13) last week to end the season on an up note. Coach Ed Phillips says they did it in what amounted to a monsoon and that was good to see. “It was a great feeling to play Carey last Friday at home, who is a very good football team and come out and play like we did in all three phases of the game and in some crappy weather. Last Friday was not ideal conditions by any means and our kids came out and handled that, which at this time of year you have to be able to do. That is just another thing to put in your back pocket and feel good about your kids that they can handle different conditions and play well,” said Phillips.

It is likely we will see rain again on Friday night and many times that can lead to ball security issues, which hurt Carey last week, but not the Tigers.

Hillsdale (7-3) is no stranger to the postseason either. This their sixth trip to the playoffs all since 2009 and all under current coach Tom Williams. They beat a good Smithville team (34-20) by outscoring the Smithies (27-7) in the second half.

Phillips says the Falcons do a lot of the same things they do on both sides of the ball. He says Hillsdale does it very well. “It was funny because we were out in practice (Wednesday) and our defense is playing against their offense. Our kids were having a really good practice with great energy and communicate very well, and one of the coaches goes they are a lot like us, which makes it easier. They do a lot of the same things we do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They run it well, they throw it well, they spread you out, they have a lot of weapons. So, it is a good challenge for us because they do a lot of things we do, but it makes it kind of fun to prepare for them because it is stuff you are used to in that sense formation wise and play wise. So, it has been a lot of fun this week. We are excited to play them.”

Both teams have solid and athletic skilled position players, but Phillips believes the story of this game in going to be told up front. “I say it week in and week out to somebody, but execution and who plays well up front on the offensive and defensive lines is probably going to come out on top on Friday,” he said.

Published 11/02/17

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Lexington Plays Toledo Central Catholic in Sweet 16

Lexington plays at home in the regional volleyball tournament on Thursday night.

They host Toledo Central Catholic in the division two regional semifinals.

Coach Jennifer Moore says it is great to be at this level, but they don’t want to be done. “There is work to be done, but we have had a good three days of practice and we are hoping we can get that work done (Thursday) night,” she said.

Lexington (23-3) beat Norwalk 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, and 15-12 in the district final and Perkins 25-22, 25-18, and 27-25 in the semis. They were second in the Ohio Cardinal Conference losing only to conference champion Ashland twice.

Moore says she believes they are ready for what the regional brings. “I feel like we are prepared. The district is tough. The last two games have been really, really strong,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Just playing those games and having Norwalk take us to five sets and getting all that volleyball in was definitely good experience for the girls at this level and the more volleyball you can play the better you get.”

Toledo Central Catholic (12-10) beat Oak Harbor, the Bay Division champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference, 15-18, 25-11, 19-25, 25-15, in the district final, handing the Lady Rockets their only loss of the season.

Moore says Lady Irish are good on both sides of the net. “They have a really strong defense. They have some amazing setters that can move the ball around. So, we are prepared to stay where we need to and watch the setter and react as quickly as we can. They have a strong outside hitter and a strong middle. If we can get our block on them I think we are going to be okay,” said Moore.

The Lexington coach says it is going to take a real team effort if they are going to advance to Saturday’s regional final. “We rely on about four people to put balls down, but we also rely heavily on our defense. I think at this level you don’t necessarily rely on just one or two girls. You have to rely on five or six. You have to have everybody to be focused, intense and involved to move forward,” said Moore.

Published 11/02/17

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Buckettes in the Regional

Buckeye Central plays Ada in the volleyball division four regional semifinals at the Elida Fieldhouse on Thursday evening.

The Buckettes are (24-1) and coming off a dominating victory over Firelands Conference champion Norwalk St. Paul in the district final last week at Willard High School.

Coach Jackie Nye says the Northern 10 Athletic Conference champions have more depth this year and that has been a plus. “We have had quite a few players really step up this year, who I think were just background players last year. This year they have made us a more well rounded team. In the past we only had one or two go to players. As an entire team we have done really well because everybody is able to play and step up,” she said.

They also have outside hitter Jenna Kahl, who earlier this year recorded her 1,000 kill of her career. She is a four year starter for Buckeye.

Buckeye Central beat Norwalk St. Paul 25-17, 25-22, and 25-20 last week in the district final. Nye says that is an illustration of just how well they are playing right now. “That was one of our best games for sure this season. The girls just came out with a lot of intensity,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You could just tell that they weren’t going to back down. I think the last few years losing to St. Paul in the districts has kind of been the monkey on our backs. So, they were really looking forward to that game. It has always kind of been in the back of their heads. It has really been what they have been working for.”

It is possible Buckeye Central could play league foe Carey for a third time this year in Saturday’s regional final. Buckeye won both regular season matches. Carey plays Toledo Christian in the other division four district semi at Elida on Thursday.

Ada (18-7) was the third seed in their district and they beat Lima Central Catholic 25-19, 25-15, and 25-15 to advance in the tournament.

Nye says they have been doing some scouting. “They have quite a few good players. Melina Woods is one of their middle hitters, that is what we have been hearing a lot about just looking at their stats. We are trying to get an idea of who they are going to try and go to. She seems to be one of their go to players. That is what we are really going to have to focus on along with some of their other hitters that they like to go to in the front row,” said Nye.

Nye says Thursday they are just going to have to continue to go with what has gotten them this far. “We are just going to have to play our game though. We told the girls (Wednesday) the team that shows up is going to be the team that wins. Hopefully, that is us and we can keep playing the way we have been playing,” she said.

Published 11/02/17

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  BREAKING NEWS: Ontario football coach Chris Hawkins announced his resignation on Monday night. The Warriors were 2-8 this year. Hawkins was 6-14 over two years. He told Swankonsports.com, “I have stepped down as football coach for personal reasons. I think the time is right to step away and do it as soon as possible in the best interest of the program. I want to focus on teaching and I have wanted for the last several years to go back and finish my college graduate administrative classes, but could never do it while coaching. I am proud of the effort our kids put forth this year in spite of the unbelievable number of injuries we sustained.”  
     
 

Lucas, Trimble are Similar Teams

Lucas is making a habit of making the playoffs. This is the fourth straight year.

The Cubs (8-2) are coming off a (54-3) win of Conotton Valley last Friday. They host Gloster Trimble in a regional quarterfinal in division seven on Friday night at Bob Wine Field.

Coach Scott Spitler says they are in this position because the leadership they have gotten for their seniors. “This senior class has been really tremendous for us. All four years of their high school career they have been in the postseason. They are averaging and 8-3 record throughout their four year career. Going into Friday night they 33-14. So, they have built that expectation level up. Our success this season has been a result of their leadership,” he said.

Spitler says they enjoy playing football at Lucas and that includes getting ready to play the game. “We talk to our kids all of the time about that you embrace the process and enjoy the journey because you can’t take these things for granted because this happens to be our fourth year in a row each year has been different. Your kids change due to graduation and eighth graders become freshmen, so each team has its own uniqueness, so you can’t take these types of situations for granted and our kids don’t do that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They applicate this type of opportunity. The fact that they are one of 200 some teams that earned week 11 in the postseason out of 700 some football schools. So, our kids have put it in the proper perspective. They are approaching this week with the same blue collar, workman type effort they have the first 10 weeks.”

Trimble takes a six game winning streak into the game, the last three coming in shutouts. Their losses are to unbeaten Nelsonville-York (21-0) and once beaten Waterford (30-12,) both in the first four weeks of the season.

Spitler says the Tomcats have a very good tradition themselves. “They have their own tradition. This will be their eighth straight playoff appearance. In those eight years in 2013 they played for the state title and lost to Marion Local. They followed that appearance in 2014 with a final four appearance. So, under coach Ferris this team knows success and they have an expectation of success all of their own,” he said.

It is the toughness of the Tomcats that becomes obvious, according to Spitler, and he thinks they quite a bit like the Cubs. “The one thing that jumps off the screen at you when you watch film of them is their tenaciousness. They are very physical and tough, a blue collar tough, physical mentality. It is going to be like looking across the field at ourselves with the brand of football they want to play. They want to run the football as well and do it from a multiple type attack from wishbone to power “I” to running it out of the spread. So, defensively we have our hands full to make sure we are lined up properly each and every play,” said Spitler.

Published 11/01/17

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Bellevue Healthy Again; Plays Orange

Bellevue has played a murderous schedule and has done so with kids on the injured list, but they are playing their best football of the year heading into the second season and they are as healthy as they have been all year.

The Redmen (7-3) play at Pepper Pick Orange in a division four regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

They advanced courtesy of a (33-14) win over rival Clyde last week that vaulted them from number nine in the standings in their region to fifth.

Veteran head coach Ed Nasonti says that win over Clyde was huge in a number of ways. “You want to come in playing good football. You want to come in coming off of a win, of course, that is always nice. I look at our case. We finished up against two really tough opponents. You have Sandusky on week nine and you had Clyde in week 10. I thought our kids played very well in both of those games. I think right now we are playing our best football. We are feeling good about ourselves and playing with confidence,” said Nasonti.

Bellevue’s three losses this year are to unbeaten teams in Clear Fork, Shelby and Sandusky. Nasonti believes they have been getting better and for the first time they are healthy. “I think if you ask any football coach to make a comparison between week one and week 11 he would tell you we got progressably better. If he can’t say that then he hasn’t done a very good job coaching number one. Number two, we are pretty healthy. We went through a stretch this year when we had one, two, three guys out. We have bene fortunate we played some tough football teams. Our kids are getting back healthy. We should have all hands on deck this week,” he said.

Orange (8-2) has won three of their games by less than eight points and that ability in close games put the Lions in the playoffs. They beat Beachwood (20-7) last week.

Nasonti says the Lions have some home run hitters. “They are a good football team. They have played some good football teams this year. If you look at them probably the strength of their team is their skilled guys. They have an elusive quarterback that has run and passed for quite a few yards. They have a real nice running back. They have a receiver that can take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Defensively, they play a four front and mix up their secondary coverages a little bit. They give you some man to man. They have some skilled athletes that can cover people out there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Obviously, they are a good football team. When you get into week 11 there are only 25 percent of the football teams in the State of Ohio that are making that step and they are one of them.”

Nasonti says they aren’t really going to find out about Orange until the game starts on Friday. “There are probably a few teams on our schedule that do things similar to them, but I don’t like getting into that comparison thing. They are compared to this or compared to that. It is hard to tell on tape. We don’t have a history with them, they don’t have a history with us. I feel like the only way you can get a true reading is to get out there and lineup and start banging,” he said.

Published 11/01/17

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Dalton Faces Wishbone

Dalton is back in the division seven playoffs again this season. This time they are unbeaten and outright winners of the tough Wayne County Athletic League.

The Bulldogs (10-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, hosts Vienna Mathews (6-4) on Friday night in a first round game.

Dalton lost in to Kirtland (21-0) in the first round in division six last year.

Coach Broc Dial believes their regular season schedule this year, which included three playoff teams, has prepared them. “We opened the year with Garaway, I know they are young, but it’s a good football program, played Fairless, they are in the division five playoffs, played Hillsdale and Norwayne in our league, which both made the playoffs. Really, I think there were some teams that were on the cusp as far as making the playoffs in our league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “So, there were a lot of tough games this year. There was really good competition against well coached teams, so we had to come out and prepare every week and they made us better.”

Dial believes it is important for the players to enjoy the ride because this doesn’t happen every day in most schools. “In the playoffs it is one and done. We told the players to enjoy it, not every team gets this opportunity, but you also need to prepare so you can go out and play as good as you can play. Really do enjoy it. You have to live in the moment even during the playoffs,” he said.

Mathews beat Newbury (35-17) last week to reach the postseason. They are in the postseason despite a three game losing streak in the middle of the season. Two of their losses come to unbeaten teams in Rootstown and Grand Valley.

Dial says they feature the wishbone attack. “Mathews has some pretty good skill. A couple of good running backs, a wideout, the quarterback is a good athlete. They run the wishbone, the “I” and a little bit of trips on offense. On defense, they are a 4-4 stack, they play a little 3-3 stack. They have a lot of guys up on the line of scrimmage, they want to force you to throw the ball. They want to stop the run. They have played pretty good football this year. They had to win last Friday to get into the playoffs. They jumped a few teams. Their kids will be really excited for Friday night,” said Dial.

This is a different animal for Dalton to play and Dial thinks that has added an element of excitement to this game. “I don’t know if they necessarily remind me of anyone we have played this year with what they do offensively. They are kind of like us because they are run heavy. They do not want to throw the ball as much as us. We really haven’t seen anyone like them and I think our kids are excited. That is one of the great things about the playoffs sometimes you get to play teams you are unfamiliar with, which I think adds some excitement to the game,” said Dial.

Published 11/01/17

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Pleasant Ready for Playoffs

It’s time for the high school football playoffs and the Marion Pleasant Spartans embrace everything that that means, including the weather.

It looks like rain and 40’s when the Spartans host Genoa in the division five regional quarterfinals on Friday night and Pleasant is alright with that.

After their tough overtime loss to Clear Fork (20-17) on week nine, Pleasant flattened Ontario (41-14) last week. Coach Aaron Cook says that allows them to take some momentum into the playoffs. “Our kids did a good job of bouncing back from the Clear Fork loss. It was just an emotional hard fought game and coming back and getting a win against Ontario on the road. I always tell them anytime you go on the road and play in somebody else’s backyard and get a win that is always something that is big. So, I was proud of our kids to be able to do that,” said Cook.

Pleasant (8-1) is home for Genoa (8-2) in the first round on Friday. Genoa has been in the postseason in nine of the last 10 years and Cook says they know about the playoffs too. “Genoa is a traditional power. I have been watching them a long time. It’s a great program, well coached, kids very similar to ours that just love football. They are a very good team. They do a little bit of everything and they do it well. So, it is definitely going to be a challenge for us,” he said.

For Pleasant, they have been in the playoffs 22 times, winning state titles in 1972, 1996, and 2002. Cook says the postseason is a time when football is measured with a microscope. “At this point and time everybody’s got talent, everybody’s well coached. In order to win you have to do the itty ditty things right and Genoa definitely does that. Like I mentioned before we have our work cut out for us. Our kids know they need to do. Now, it’s just a matter of trying to go out and play well and do it,” he said.

Pleasant has not thrown very many passes this year and that is by design. Cook believes that you have to be able to run the ball in order to win playoff games in November in Ohio. “It is just something we have always believed in around here, long before I even got here. It is just something we do. That is kind of the foundation of our program. We love this weather,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “This is playoff weather. Watching the rain come down and the cold (Monday) at practice was awesome. Our kids embrace it. They love it. We are just ready to go play.”

Published 11/01/17

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Unbeaten Colts Play Clearview

Clear Fork fans know the playoffs, but for their kids it is a new experience.

The Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference winners are making appearance number 13 in the postseason, that is more than just about anybody in North Central Ohio, but is their first playoff game since going two weeks deep in 2010, so none of their current players have tasted it.

Clear Fork (10-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, and the number one seed in their division four region, plays host to Lorain Clearview (9-1) on Friday night.

Coach Dave Carroll is proud of all they have accomplished, but he says it is time to move on. “We said on Saturday it is time for the second season. The first season is over, so now it is 0-0 starting over again. It’s a five game season. Just like the old cliché says one game at a time. It is all eyes, ears and attention on Lorain Clearview,” he said.

Clearview’s program has produced a lot of quality athletes. “The first thing that impressive about their program is they have a guy that is playing for the Dallas Cowboys right now. Anthony (Hitchens,) he played for Iowa. He actually got injured this year for the Cowboys. He is a middle linebacker for them. Then they have a kid from last year’s team that has a full ride to Michigan State. They obviously have some talent that comes through that school,” said Carroll.

It is not that the Clippers can’t throw the ball, but they certainly want to run it. Carroll says they are a power football team. “They love to run the football. They run a lot of two and three back formations. They are in the gun most of the time. They like to run up the gut. They like to run off tackle. They will run outside a little bit. They get most of the yards up inside,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Their quarterback (Anthony Terry,) we are calling him Cardale Jr. He is 6’4”, 245 pounds. He can throw. He has quite an arm. He does not run the football. In all of the films we have seen he does not run the football at all, even on a scramble. He is a big boy and he can chuck it down the field. They have some speed that can go get the ball. They really like the fade route, but they run some other pass plays as well.”

On defense, the Clippers run on odd front. Carroll says they move around a lot like Ontario did when they played them three weeks ago. “Defensively, they run a “50” or 3-4, whatever you want to call it. They will mix up their coverages, some zone, sometimes man. They remind me a lot of Ontario’s defense. They are very disruptive. They do a lot of blitzing and movement up front, so the offensive linemen have their work cut out for them picking up that movement and picking up the blitzes,” he said.

Clearview won the Patriot League, Stripes Division, this year, but they have not beaten a team with a plus .500 record this season. They are coming off a (46-14) win over Brooklyn.

Carroll says it is clear that Clearview wants to run between the tackles and play smash mouth football and that is something they have not seen a lot of this fall. “Watching film from teams that they play up there. A lot of the teams seem to do very similar things. They like to get a bunch of people in the backfield and pound away. It is from the gun usually, but it is a lot of inside run game. We don’t see a ton of that here. You will see inside zone run and outside zone and those kinds of things out of the spread. It is kind of a mixture of new football and old school football. It’s kind of cool,” said Carroll.

Clearview moves kids around a lot on defense and Carroll thinks that is good coaching. “Defensively, the definitely remind me of Ontario. Ontario was in a “50” front for the most part. They are very quick defensively. They are using them I think in a very intelligent way. They are moving them around. They are blitzing them. They are not huge, they have some big kids, but they are more quick and athletic than they are big and strong. That makes a lot of sense to move them around and blitz and disrupt opponent’s offenses,” he said.

Published 10/31/17

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Madison Ready For Regionals

Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Mansfield Madison plays Western Buckeye League winner Wapakoneta in the girls’ soccer division two regional semifinal on Tuesday night at Findlay High School.

Madison (19-1) avenged its only loss of the season when they beat Ontario (4-1) on Saturday at Lexington.

The Lady Rams have won 16 in a row and coach Zac Huff says that might have been their best effort of the season. “They beat us 3-2 the first time. After that game I told the girls we will close the book and we will reopen it when hopefully we get to play them in the district finals. That did come true we played them on Saturday. Every single girl that played on the field played lights out. It is probably the best soccer that we have played all year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is the best time of the year for us to bring that out playing the regional semifinal (Tuesday) night. My six seniors had never beat Ontario and I haven’t beat them as a coach in my three years here. It was a great win for us and our program.”

Huff says his defense was particularly impressive. “Julia Litt, she is more or less my center back back there, she had an awesome game, along with Trinity Tucker and Hannah Schmidt and Alexis Lemon. All four of them played the entire 80 minutes. They got a goal on us, but it was after it was 4-0, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Those girls played lights out on Saturday,” he said.

Wapakoneta beat Elida in a shootout in their district final and beat Lima Bath (4-3) in overtime in the district semis.

Huff says the Lady Redskins are good, but he believes they have been tested more often. “What I do know about Wapakoneta is they are 20-0, but they have only played one division school, so I don’t think the competition they play is up to ours. At this time of year when you get to the regional finals anything is possible. They would have to have something to make it here,” he said.

There are only 16 teams left in each of soccer’s three divisions and Huff says this is the regionals and they must be at the top of their game. “I stress that everyday to the girls, when our season comes to end I want it to be the state final and you guys all have a reason to cry. I don’t want you crying on me because we got beat and we didn’t leave it on the field. At any given point the season could come to a quit halt if they don’t go out there and preform,” said Huff.

Published 10/31/17

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Ashland Takes on Athletic Mifflin

Ashland has now been in the playoffs four straight times and it’s their seventh appearance in the last nine years. That’s consistency.

They travel to Columbus Mifflin on Friday night for a first round playoff game in division two.

Ashland has a 9-10 playoff record and went as far as the state semifinals in 2007. This season, they shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with Wooster and Mansfield Senior. Wooster did not earn a playoff berth. Mansfield Senior plays at Bay Village in division two.

Wooster railed to beat Ashland (34-31) last week to give the Arrows their only conference loss. Wooster led (20-0) in the first quarter, but Ashland battled back to take a (21-20) halftime lead. Arrows coach Scott Valentine says it was a heck of a game. “Anytime you don’t get a good start and they jump out on you, you use a lot of energy to get back in the game. I was proud of our kids. We got back in the game. We had some opportunities to get some stuff done in the second half, just unfortunately we didn’t. Their kids made some good plays, so I give them a lot of credit,” said Valentine.

Mifflin (8-2) out of the Columbus City League has won five of its last six. They did lose last Friday to Aurora (34-14) in a non-conference game. The Punchers have scored at least 40 points in half of their games. Valentine says they remind you of Mansfield Senior. “They are a very athletic team. They remind you a lot of Mansfield Senior with their athletic ability and their running. They have a quarterback that throws the ball to his receivers and they go up and get it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively, they bring some pressure like we saw against Mansfield. Those are the things we are going to have to be prepared for.”

Ashland (8-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Mansfield Senior (46-20) in a regular season game.

Valentine says they have to be good tacklers or there are going to be big plays. “Especially in the open field you have to be able to get guys on the ground and if you don’t that is going to cause you problems. That is going to be an emphasis this week,” he said.

With the kind of blitzing the Punchers do, Valentine says if they there will be opportunities for big plays. “That is something we always tell our guys outside. If they are going to blitz you have to win that one on one battle outside and then hopefully make a big play for us. Those are things that we are going to have to look and see what kind of blitzes they are running and what tips them off and try to have our guys ready to make a big play,” said Valentine.

Of Ashland’s 10 playoff appearances nine of them have been under Valentine since 2003, so they seem to know what they are doing. He says they treat this like any other week. “We are not changing the way we practice. A few weeks ago, we cut down a little practice time actually on the field just because it is the second half of the season. You just have to be careful with the wear and tear on the guy’s bodies. We are going to keep on the same schedule,” said Valentine.

Published 10/31/17

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Danville Hosts Zanesville Rosecrans in Opening Round

Danville is making its seventh straight playoff appearance as the Blue Devils host Zanesville Rosecrans in a division seven regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

The Blue Devils (9-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, end up sharing the Knox Morrow Athletic League title with Highland after they beat East Knox last week and Highland lost (34-12) to Northmor.

Danville coach Ed Honabarger says the (21-14) win over the rival Bulldogs was another example of what is a great rivalry. “It was a typical rivalry game with us and East Knox. You throw everything out the window it was a great game. We went up early. We had some chances to put them away. We could have been up maybe 28-0 at halftime, but we missed on a couple passes just off the fingertips of our receivers and missed a field goal,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “East Knox stood solid after that and they had a couple of drives. We had a turnover and gave them a short field. They hit a long run on us. It was a defensive battle most of the second half. When we needed it, we put a drive together and scored with about two minutes left.”

Danville also to beat Garaway (25-22) and Northmor (41-34) earlier this year. Honabarger says his kids are battle tested in close games and that should help them in the postseason. “We have had about three of those this year that were tight contests. So, I think that helps you down the road. Now that we are in the playoffs and you get in a tightly contested game you know you have been there before and maybe you are not so nervous as a kid,” he said.

Rosecrans (8-2) lost back to back games in the middle of the season to Harvest Prep (50-14) and Worthington Christian (16-10) on week six. Harvest Prep (9-1) finished second to Danville in the region. Worthington Christian was (5-5) this year. Their most impressive win was (41-13) over (7-3) Berne Union.

Honabarger says they have some real offensive weapons. “They average about 42 points a game. They have some really good athletes. They only have about 20 kids on the team. They have a receiver with over 1,000 yards. The quarterback is a dual threat quarterback. He has thrown for 1,300 and ran for about 750. Then they have a tailback that has about 1,200 yards. It is a triple headed monster that we need to be able to contain,” said Honabarger.

The Danville coach says they have played teams like this before in the playoffs. “What they really remind us of is back in 2015 when we played South Gallia. They had very similar athletes and with similar stats with the quarterback, running back and receiver that you really have to concentrate on getting stops on,” he said.

Published 10/31/17

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Calvert Has to Stop the Run

Tiffin Calvert is not new to the football playoffs. They have more appearances than I have bumps on the head and that is a lot, 16 a matter of fact.

They have been in the postseason now seven straight years.

The Senecas (7-3) play at Edgerton (8-2) on Friday night in a first round game in division seven.

Coach Todd Fox says when it comes to playoffs focus is important. “We had that conversation with our team (Monday.) I don’t want to take away from the fact that it is a great honor and they should be excited and really ramped up to be in the playoffs, but at the same time it is something they have all been through. The seniors have done it every year and there should be some normalcy to it too,” said Fox.

Edgerton wants to be physical and pound the ball at the Senecas, according to Fox. “They are bringing a really good running game to us. They are a really good team on offense and defense. They do a lot of sound things. They pound the football at you and have some size up front. We are going to have to play a good football game,” he said.

Edgerton is way up in the northwest corner of the state and quite a ways from Tiffin, so there is not going to be much familiarity. Fox says they are kind of a mix of a couple of teams they have played. “I think this is a good mixture between a Norwalk St. Paul and Oak Harbor that we played the following week. They are a run first team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I don’t think they are as fast as St. Paul, I know they aren’t as fast as St. Paul, but I think they are a good mix of the Oak Harbor team we played. Defensively we are going to have to play a great football game, but we have been to hang our hats on our defense all season long.”

Calvert has an excellent junior running back in Austin Jones. He had 242 yards and five scores last week against Willard. Fox says they want to get him the ball a lot, but they have to be balanced. “Offensively we are going to have to keep the balance. Keep the ball in Austin Jones’ hands and also let (quarterback) Park Hemminger do his thing. Austin over the last six games has 1,600 yards rushing and has broken our school record and he has been our starter for six weeks, so we need to keep the ball in his hands. But, at the same time with Park back he has been doing some great things. I think our defense will be fine, we just have to put some points on the board to help them out,” said Fox.

Published 10/31/17

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Wynford and Carey Go at it Again

It is round two for the Wynford Royals and the Carey Blue Devils, this time in the division six regional quarterfinal at Wynford on Friday night.

Both teams are members of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

Wynford coach Gabe Helbert says that helps as far as preparation for the game is concerned. “It probably helps both schools immensely. We have film from our league pool, all the film we had and they had on us. We had to wait until late Saturday night to see who our opponent was with that St. Joe-St. Mary’s game. We didn’t have to scramble for rosters, we didn’t have to scramble for film and things like that. We had to prepare for two teams we thought we might play, but when we found out it was Carey it definitely helped the process as far as of getting things prepared and that type of stuff,” he said.

The first time the teams played back on September 22 Wynford (8-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, won (37-20,) but Helbert says that was a game that was a lot closer than the score would indicate. “It was a very close game. It was a battle, back and forth into the fourth quarter, and we were fortunate to score twice late. It was a very tough football game. Two teams that really wanted to win bad that night. They do a lot of things well. The quarterback is elusive and they have athletes. Watching that first game again you see the score at 37-20 and it was a 17 point win, but that is misleading. It was very close and we were fortunate to make some plays at the end that allowed us to extend that lead. It is going to be a tough football game for us on Friday night,” said Helbert.

Helbert says the Blue Devils (7-3) are an athletic team that has a lot of big play potential. “Their quarterback is dangerous. He is a very good athlete. One of their receivers that plays in the backfield is very dangerous as well. There are some other kids around that can definitely make plays. It is one of those things that when you go on later in the season and you get nicked up a little bit and things happen that change some of the stuff you want to do. I know we have gone through a little bit of that as well. It is kind of similar in that regard. We know we are going to get their best effort,” he said.

Wynford lost its starting quarterback Wyatt Smith to injury on week seven and been trying to find some things since.

That loss to Wynford was the only one suffered by Carey in their first eight games of the season, but the last two weeks they lost (32-0) to Mohawk and (42-13) to Seneca East last Friday.

Helbert says Carey played two very good football teams and they had some turnovers too. He believes it will be another tough game against the Blue Devils. “In the Seneca East game, they had some unfortunate turnovers. They gave Seneca East very short fields that they took advantage of. It was kind of similar to our game versus Seneca East where they turned it over. That is something that is not easy to overcome, especially against a team that went 8-1 in the regular season. Mohawk is very good. They are a playoff team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “It is fortunate this year we have four teams that in the playoffs in our league. Carey played two very good playoff teams late in the year and that probably had a lot to do with it, maybe more than anything. They still look athletic on film, they still run to the ball very well. I’m very impressed with their linebackers. They have talented kids and that is the reason they are playing on week 11, that’s for sure.”

Published 10/30/17

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Northmor Feeling Good and Confident

Northmor is playing on week 11 of the high school football season for the first time ever.

They are certainly the feel good story of the fall of 2017. The girls’ volleyball team at Northmor made the district final too.

The football team plays at Beverly Fort Frey (9-1) on Friday night in a first round game in division six.

They say there is nothing in a school’s history like their first district title in basketball or their first playoff appearance in the football. Coach Scott Armrose says this is a special time at Northmor. “It feels great, it really does. I am just happy to be a part of it. It’s exciting for our community. It’s exciting for our coaching staff. It’s exciting for our players. It’s an exciting time to be involved in Northmor football,” he said.

The goal of the football program is to be excited, but stay focused. Armrose says they won’t be easy. “That is the challenge. There is so much excitement in our school right now. We told the boys this is a regular week of practice. We are going to stay focused. We are going to approach it like a regular week. We will keep our schedule the same. Everything is exactly the same. It is just a week, it is an extension of the season. We are going to try and be consistent with what we have done all year,” said Armrose.

Fort Frye has lost only once this year, that coming in week two (6-0) to Johnstown Northridge. The Cadets have allowed only 81 points all season, that’s just over a touchdown a game. In mid-season they produced three shutouts in four games. Over the last seven games they have scored at least 30 points in six of them, all wins.

Armrose says the Cadets are a very physical team, much like the team they played last week in Highland. “Fort Frye really reminds us a lot of Highland. They are a big, physical team. Their colors are similar to Highland. They run a similar offense to Highland. They like to run the ball and work the clock. They are physical on defense. They aren’t real big up front defensively, but they’ve got really good team speed. They are a tough football team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “They are 9-1 on their season. They have a lot of big wins. They lost early in the year and they have kind of gotten on a roll. This will be their third straight year in the playoffs. They lost last year in the regional championship game.”

Northmor (8-2) beat Highland (34-12) last Friday, stopping Highland from winning an outright title in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference. Armrose says that was their best win their best win this year. He liked their approach to the game. “We are a confident football team right now, we really are. That is what we told our boys going into last week with Highland. Highland was we felt the best team we had played all season. We said if we play our best football and go into the game relaxed and confident. Our boys are certainly always relaxed and they play confident all night long and I think we will continue to do that. We play our best football when we are relaxed and we are out there having fun we play with confidence and that is what these boys do,” said Armrose.

Northmor has one the biggest playmakers in this part of the state in quarterback Demetrious Johnson. Armrose says he thinks the Fort Frye coaching staff has reviewed their film more than once. “We can’t be a match-up that anybody looks forward to. When you get a glance at Demetrious Johnson on film you don’t say, oh good, we play these guys. I know we are a nightmare as far as match ups go, we really are. Then as they start to watch Demetrious they see the other weapons that we have. We are a tough match up without a doubt just from the standpoint of watching “Meechie” offensively,” he said.

Published 10/30/17

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Local Schools to make Football Playoffs

Division II

Friday, November 3

Ashland (8-2) at Columbus Mifflin (8-2)

Division III

Friday, November 3

Clyde (8-2) at Sandusky (10-0)

Mansfield Senior (8-2) at Bay Village (10-0)

 

Division IV

Friday, November 3

Lorain Clearview (9-1) at Clear Fork (10-0)

Wauseon (8-2) at Shelby (10-0)

Highland (8-2) at St. Mary’s Memorial (9-1)

Bellevue (7-3) at Pepper Pike Orange (8-2)

 

Division V

Friday, November 3

Navarre Fairless (8-2) at Akron Manchester (8-2)

Genoa (8-2) at Marion Pleasant (8-1)

Otsego (8-2) at Edison (8-2)

Division VI

Friday, November 3

Berlin Center Western Reserve (8-2) at Norwayne (9-1)

Carey (7-3) at Wynford (8-2)

Hillsdale (7-3) at Seneca East (8-1)

Northmor (8-2) at Fort Frye (9-1)

 

Division VII

Friday. November 3

Vienna Mathews (6-4) at Dalton (10-0)

Wayne Trace (6-4) at Norwalk St. Paul (10-0)

Tiffin Calvert (7-3) at Edgerton (8-2)

Mohawk (8-2) at Pandora-Gilboa (8-2)

Zanesville Rosecrans (8-2) at Danville (9-1)

Gloster Trimble (8-2) at Lucas (8-2)

 

 
     
 

Win over Rival Clyde Gets Bellevue a Playoff Ticket

Bellevue has a lot riding on Friday night’s game at rival Clyde, including a possible share of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division title and a playoff berth in division four.

They trail conference leader Sandusky by a game, the Blue Streaks play host to Perkins (2-7,2-2) on Friday. They are currently in ninth place in their division four region. They have to finish in the top eight and Clyde comes with a boat load of second level points.

Bellevue (6-3,3-1) lost to Sandusky last week (49-35) to fall from a share of the division lead.

Coach Ed Nasonti says they were a whisker away from being right in the game. “I was proud of our kids. I thought they played very hard. It was a championship game. We knew what Sandusky was going to bring to the table. I mean their defense was only giving up 10 points a game on average all year. We were able to put 35 points on them. We just had a hard time getting the stops when we needed them. We felt we were a couple stops here and there away from getting it into a tie ball game or may maybe a one score game. The kids played very well for the most part,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We executed a onside kick late in the game. We fought hard throughout the game and that is all you can ask. Disappointed that we couldn’t come away with a share of the conference championship. We are looking ahead to week 10 and we still have a chance to make the playoffs and win a rivalry game,”

Clyde (8-1,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, got back on the winning path in beating Norwalk (24-7) last week. They had lost (42-28) to Sandusky the week before.

Nasonti says Clyde has good personnel on both sides. “They are a typical Clyde team. They have great size, they have good speed, and some nice skilled athletes on the perimeter to go along with their big linemen on offense and defense. So, a typical Clyde team,” he said.

When it comes to keys to winning the game, Nasonti says they must do the job at the point of attack, complete some passes, and not allow the Fliers to make big plays. “I think we have to be strong up front with our offensive line because I think one of the strengths of their football team is their defensive line, so we are going to have to do a good job up there. We are going to have to execute our passing game. I think defensively we are going to have execute going down the field and not give up big plays. I think if we can do that we are going to be right there. Hopefully, we can pull this thing out and get us in the playoffs,” said Nasonti.

Published 10/27/17

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Playoffs the Goal For Crestview

Crestview can share the Firelands Conference title this season, but their stated goal in to make the division six playoffs.

Right now, the Cougars stand eighth in their division six computer region. A win does not guarantee a postseason berth, but it almost does.

Last week, Crestview (6-3,5-1) beat South Central (49-14) in a conference game to remain in second place a game behind unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul, who plays Monroeville Saturday night.

Coach Dan Mager says the were able to bend and not break on defense and the offense continued to operate at a high level. “We knew that South Central would be pretty dangerous offensively. They gave us more fits than a lot of teams have. They got a lot of first downs, but our defense tightened up and did okay. Offensively, we did what we have been doing lately and scored a lot of points,” he said.

Plymouth (4-5,3-3) lost a shootout with Monroeville last week (40-36) in conference play. The Big Red had a halfback pass incepted in the final minute of the game ending their last chance.

Mager says the Big Red and their double tight, double wing offense, is a unique approach, but scrimmaging against Lucas helps. “They are exactly opposite of what we saw last week. We couldn’t get more on the opposite end of the spectrum as far what offenses are out there. South Central wants to spread everybody out and put athletes in space. These guys just get together close and say here we come. I think what has helped us a little bit is we scrimmaged Lucas and we have two years to see them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think that is going to help a lot. It is just going to a matter if we read our keys and get in the right position to make tackles and keep them from sustaining those big six, seven, eight, nine minute drives and scoring at the end of them.”

The Plymouth offense looks like a rugby scrum and Mager says it can be difficult to even find the ball carrier. “We watched the (Seth) Bailey kid, 30, go into a middle wedge play and the whole thing was just dust and all of the sudden he squirts out the other end of it and goes for a 40-yard touchdown. He runs hard, number 5 runs hard, the quarterback runs hard. We have our hands full defensively, no doubt about it,” he said.

With the playoffs in mind, Mager knows this is a must win game for them. “This is what we have tried to get to. Our goal is playoffs and we have a chance it looks like to do that. Starting off 1-2 like we did we really put ourselves in a hole, but winning six of our last seven games we have put ourselves back in that position. We have to make sure we come ready to go Friday night. We are playing at home and we have a big tribute to first responders this weekend. It should be a big crowd. We are kind of calling it our home playoff game,” said Mager.

Published 10/27/17

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A Bounce Back week for Lucas

Lucas is coming off a rare loss and needs to fell good again as they host Conotton Valley in a non-conference game at Wine Field on Friday night.

They have already clinched a fourth straight playoff berth in division seven, but they want to take some momentum into the postseason.

They lost (30-27) to Hannibal River last Saturday afternoon. They were driving for the possible go ahead score when they turned the ball over on downs late in the game.

Coach Scott Spitler says they need to get back on the winning track this week. “It was a tough football game. Both teams played pretty hard. We had our chances in the second half and just didn’t get it done. That is on me to get them better this week and hopefully get us back on track heading into the playoffs,” he said.

Conotton Valley (1-8) on the year and they have given up at least 40 points in each of their last four games.

Still, Spitler says they can’t go to sleep on these guys. “They have a single win on the season. They play over there in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference on the eastern side of the state. It is a one year contract for us to fill an open sport that we had coming into the season. They are going to come in and be multiple on offense out of a spread formation. They have a nice athletic quarterback. Defensively, they base out of a 4-3,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have talked to kids about we have to make sure we are getting better this week and making sure we are firing on all cylinders and not just finishing this season, but heading into the playoffs. It is senior night for us. One of the big things in our program is we make sure our seniors have an opportunity to get a victory on senior night.”

Spitler has talked consistently about not just a single team, but their program and he says senior night is a big part of that program. “Our seniors have done a nice job all season in leading our team. Setting the goals and pushing the team to achieve those goals. This week is all about them and our younger players and our coaching staff paying forward and making sure they get the victory (Friday) night and springboard us into the post season,” he said.

Published 10/27/17

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Madison Ready for Rival Tygers

Madison and Mansfield Senior tangle in the annual Battle of Mansfield at Arlin Field on Friday night.

Mansfield Senior (6-2,4-1) can make the playoffs in division three with a win and share in the “OCC” title is Wooster beats Ashland.

Madison is looking to spoil that opportunity.

It has been a tough season for the Rams (0-9,0-5) this fall, but one thing is clear the Rams have never quit playing hard and that makes coach Jamie Masi feel pretty good. “You want to be proud of your guys for the right reasons. It is not always because of a win. It is sometimes more important about the attitude and the way they go about their business and the way they conduct themselves. I am really proud of their effort. Hopefully, (Friday) that will continue on and if things go our way maybe the ball bounces our way and good things can happen for us,” he said.

Madison lost last week to Lexington (14-6) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game. Masi says they had a chance to win right to the end. “It was 0-0 at halftime. Neither team could generate offense, but I think both teams played well on the defensive side. They have a kid like Cade Stover that can just run inside and out. I thought Lexington’s kids played very, very well, but our kids stood up to that challenge and we were in it to the very, very end. You want to find things you can build on. Offensively, if we can get the ball to some of our playmakers and we do have some hopefully we can put ourselves in position to win by keeping nice and tight again,” said Masi.

The Tygers beat Mt. Vernon (44-17) in league play last week.

Madison and Mansfield Senior have spilt the last six meetings in this rivalry, with the Tygers taking the last two, including (50-7) last season.

One of the most prolific offensive performers this fall has been Mansfield Senior’s Jornell Manns, headed to the University of Minnesota, and Masi says they have to know where number 11 is on the field at all times. “They do have other weapons, but I think we would be foolish going into the game thinking that we do not have to stop him. The ball goes through Jornell Manns almost every single play depending on where he is aligned and what they are trying to do. He is a huge part of their offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Last week he primarily played running back, the week before that not as much, and the week before that not as much, so they have really kind of trended putting him in the backfield. I think he had about 250 yards or close to it last week. Our number one job when he is in the backfield we are going to have to stop that run. When he is at wide receiver we can’t just worry about him because they still have capable running backs and they have guys out on the edge that can catch the ball and go.”

Published 10/27/17

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Madison Has Score to Settle

Madison has lost only one girls’ soccer match this season to Ontario and they have a chance at revenge on Saturday evening as they meet the Lady Warriors in the division two district final at Lexington High School.

Ontario beat Madison (3-2) almost two months ago, August 31 in fact, and since then Madison has won 15 straight matches, including the Ohio Cardinal Conference title. Nine times they have scored at least six goals, including a (9-2) win over Norwalk in the district semis on Tuesday.

Coach Zac Huff believes they have been showing consistent improvement. “We are pushing every day. We just got done with practice on (Thursday.) We are working everyday to get better. The first time we played Ontario thy beat us. I told the kids there would be another chance and come (Saturday) we are going to get our shot again,” said Huff.

It has been a long time since Madison (18-1) played Ontario (15-4) and Huff thinks both teams are better, he knows for sure they are improved. “I think we are playing a lot better soccer offensively then we were and the same for them. They have thrown in a lot variables. There are some players that were starting for them that aren’t starting for them now. Both sides are going to be different and hopefully from my aspect we have a different outcome,” he said.

Ontario shared the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title with Clear Fork and Buckeye Valley. They beat Lexington (4-0) at Lexington in the district semi final on Tuesday.

Huff says Ontario has a lot weapons they will have to contend with on Saturday. “I watched the game before ours on Tuesday down at Lexington when they played Lexington. (Taylor) Beard up top is definitely a threat,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The first time against us she didn’t really do anything. Alexis Williams put on a heck of a show. I give her credit all around for what she did against us the first time.”

Huff thinks they don’t have to do anything special to win Saturday. He says they just have to be who they are and who they have been. “We just have to keep playing the way we have been playing since they beat us 15 games ago. Offensively we are hitting on every cylinder and we are looking strong,” he said.

Published 10/27/17

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Highland Plays Northmor for Outright Title

Highland has a chance to secure an outright Knox Morrow Athletic Conference title with a victory on Friday night over a good Northmor team.

The Scots (8-1,6-0) lead Danville by a game in the conference standings. Northmor and East Knox trail by two.

Both teams need a win to make sure they are in the playoffs. Highland is right now in fourth in its division four region and Northmor is sixth in their division six region. Neither school has locked into their berth, so a loss on Friday night could cost them.

Highland beat a sound East Knox team (28-7) team last week.

Coach Chad Carpenter says they put together a very good effort and performance together last week against the Bulldogs. “Both sides of the ball I thought really stepped up to the challenge and played really well. It was a very physical game, both sides, and I liked our approach last week,” he said.

Carpenter says right from the beginning they want to be a physical team and that starts in the weight room and in preseason workouts. “Not only this year that is kind of what our M.O. has been in the past as well. We like our kids to play very hard and very physical,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “This year especially that is kind of what we try and hang our hats on. This last game here, Northmor, they are very physical as well, so this should be a very good football game.”

Northmor (7-2,4-2) beat Centerburg (49-0) last week. Their only losses come to Danville (41-34) and East Knox (32-28) in conference games.

They have one the best quarterbacks in the area in the electric Demetrious Johnson. Carpenter says he can do a lot with the ball and make big plays on defense too. “He is really good. He is very shifty and extremely fast and is playing with a lot of confidence right now,” he said.

Northmor on defense is really good too. Carpenter says the Knights make it difficult to get the perimeter. “I think their defense is really good and getting back to the physicality part they play really physical. They have a lot guys that run to the ball extremely well. You can tell they take a lot of pride. It is going to be a big challenge for this week,” said Carpenter.

Published 10/27/17

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Undisputed Title in Dalton’s Grasp

Dalton has been up to every challenge so far this season and they can finish up with an unbeaten regular season and an outright Wayne County Athletic League title with a win at Northwestern on Friday night.

The Bulldogs (9-0,6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Hillsdale (20-13) last week in what has been one its most competitive games so far this season.

Coach Broc Dial says they did what was needed to win the game. “Last Friday was a great win. It was a really good team win. Hillsdale is a heck of a football team. We were fortunate to get that win. We did a lot of really good things. There were just a couple of things that put us in bad places. Overall really happy with how we played last week,” said Dial.

Dalton is ranked number two in the statewide media poll in division seven and has been very highly regarded all season. Dial says they don’t think much about that they just want to focus on the next opponent. “We talked about it quite a bit earlier in the year, but at this point and time we are kind of in our routines and our kids are doing a good job focusing. We are just taking it one week at a time and focusing on that opponent and try and do the things we need to do week in and week out to be successful,” said Dial.

Northwestern (5-4,4-2) is in third place in the league standings. They beat Chippewa (25-16) last week in a league game. They have lost some tight games to good teams, including Black River (21-13) and Norwayne (19-7) two weeks ago. They beat Hillsdale (22-20) in a league game.

Dial says the Huskies play with intensity and they have to be able to match that. “Northwestern is very scrappy football team that plays very hard. You can tell their kids enjoy hitting,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That’s a big part of their game and we have to make sure we come out and match that with our intensity and physicality from the get go. If we can do that I think we will be in an okay position.”

They already have a piece of the title, but Dial says they don’t want to be satisfied. He says they want to be focused on winning on Friday night. “We talked to the players earlier this week and said we have the opportunity to win the league outright and an opportunity to go 10-0 and those are two things that not a lot of teams get an opportunity to do. We have to make sure we prepare and cherish that and go out and play (Friday) night as good as we can play,” said Dial.

Published 10/27/17

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Outright Title up to Shelby

Shelby has a chance to do something they have not done since 1998. Win an outright title in football. A win over visiting Vermilion on Friday night gives them the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title to themselves.

The Whippets, (9-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports,com football coaches poll in the large school division, has won every game they have played by at least 30 points.

They blasted Oak Harbor (59-10) last week and coach Erik Will says his team has responded to every challenge this year. “I was really happy with the way our kids responded. They opened up with an on sides kick, they actually recovered it, it hit our kid in the chest, and we weren’t able to recover it. We turned right around and ended up getting a sack and the quarterback fumbled it and we were able to get a scoop and score. I just like the way our kids handle adversity,” he said.

Their offense gets the press, but Will thinks the bedrock of the team is their defense. “I think the thing that makes us a really, really good team are the obvious things your offense, the Brennan (Armstrong,) the Carter (Brooks,) the Shorty (Brooks,) and those things, but the defense is really what is making us the team I think we can be going down the stretch in the playoffs. I think we have a championship defense. That is what is nice about this conference run that we have had is I heel that each week. We have been presented new challenges and I think our kids have done a nice job answering those,” said Will.

Vermilion (5-4,1-3) lost last week to second place Edison (35-14) in a Bay Division game. Will says the Sailors are a pretty good passing team. “A lot of teams we have played they run to open up the pass. Vermilion is the opposite. They want to throw the ball and get the ball out in space. The quarterback actually is a pretty good ball player and they have a really nice wide receiver, number 4, who is really skilled. So, we have to keep those guys in check,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Defensively they mix their three and four man fronts up. They are aggressive. They are tremendously better from the last few years. This coaching staff has done a really nice job of kind of putting their imprint in year one on the program. I know our first year we were 1-9 and kind of getting beat around. These guys are actually pretty confident. They are trending up and I think next year they can be really good.”

It may not matter what Vermilion has done in the past because Will says they often get a totally different look from opponents, but he says they have adapted well. “It is one of those things where each and every week we are going to get people’s best shot. From that Edison week with us kind of establishing ourselves as the team to beat we feel like people have been coming out swinging and we have had to answer that. We have passed on that. We talk to our kids about pass/fail and right now we are passing in most things we are doing. I think this league and our schedule has done a good job of preparing us for what we are going to see in the future from the standpoint that you are going to see a mix between run and pass and I think that is what we have gotten in this league,” said Will.

The Whippets already have no less than a share of the division title, but Will says they want it all. “One of my assistant coaches that has kind of been his thing the last few weeks we don’t want to share the title. We told the kids the eleventh commandment in this situation is thou shall be greedy, and our kids have really responded to that. There is no doubt our kids are honed in on this Friday. May assistants would agree that we have had one of the best inside run periods that we have had all year on (Tuesday) on a cold, blowing day where a lot of kids throughout the state may not want to be outside. There is a lot adversity, there are a lot of different things, that kind of take kid’s focus away from finishing up the season, so I was really, really proud of how our kids practiced,” said Will.

Published 10/26/17

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Ashland Can Take it All

Ashland will win the outright Ohio Cardinal Conference football title with a win at home on Friday night against the Wooster Generals.

They lead Wooster and Mansfield Senior by one game entering the final week of the regular season.

In a wild game last week, Ashland (8-1,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, held on to beat West Holmes (49-48) in an “OCC” game. The Arrows were able to stop a West Holmes two point conversion attempt after their final touchdown with less than a minute to play.

Ashland coach Scott Valentine says it was a game with a lot of momentum. “It comes down to how the game is going. We were in one of those games where it was going back and forth, and we had to keep scoring. Fortunately, we got the stop there on the two point play to give us the win,” said Valentine.

Wooster (4-5,4-1) is coming off a non-conference loss to Canton Central Catholic (31-27) last week. They also lost a tightly contested game to Mansfield Senior (28-21) two week ago.

However, coach Valentine says when you watch the Generals it is clear they are getting better. “Coach Haas and his staff do a great job. You can see as we watch games as they progress it is a team that has kept getting better as the year went on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.

Wooster has scored more than 40 points three times this season. Valentine says Generals quarterback Dylan Dagley is a good orchestrator. “I think their quarterback is the guy that controls a lot of that. He makes a lot of plays. He will pull it down and run it when he needs to and makes pretty good decisions when he is running the ball. He has got some good playmakers with him,” said Valentine.

On defense, Valentine says Wooster will likely blitz a lot. “I think defensively they do bring a lot of pressure. They play some man and some zone too. Their front four guys have shown to be pretty good and their linebacker corps as far as controlling the running game. That is something that concerns you,” he said.

Ashland has won more “OCC” football titles than anyone and Valentine says their kids look forward to games like this. “I told our kids this is why you work all winter long and all summer long to hopefully be in a position to where you are going to play in a game like this at the end of the season. We are hoping for a fun night,” he said.

Published 10/26/17

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St. Paul Respects Monroeville

Norwalk St. Paul locks horns with arch rival Monroeville on Saturday night in a Firelands Conference game. If St. Paul wins they claim the undisputed conference title.

The Flyers (9-0,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, and number one in the statewide media poll in division seven, beat Western Reserve (44-12) last week.

Coach John Livengood says they were able to recapture the momentum late in the first half and that was important. “The game started off well. We were able to move the ball decently on them. We got up I think 14-0 and then Western Reserve put together a drive in the second quarter and really did a nice job possessing the ball and converted a number of third down plays and even a fourth down play I believe and was able to cap that off with a score with about 45 seconds left in the second quarter. They pretty much kept the ball the entire second quarter, but our kids responded well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We were able to come back out and drive the length of the field in those 45 seconds and put ourselves in position to kick the field goal. They had cut the lead 14-6 and we were able to hit that field goal and make it 17-6 and we were receiving that second half kickoff. Coming out in the second half we knew it was going to be important to put together a good drive and put a good defensive stand together and get a stop and hopefully things would roll from there and that’s what happened.”

Monroeville (6-3,4-2) broke a two game losing streak with a (40-36) win over Plymouth last week. They could finish as high as second in the conference.

Livengood says the Eagles passing game is improved, but it is their running game that concerns him the most. “Chayce Schaub is doing a nice job for them at quarterback. He is a mobile kid, he has good speed and throw the ball well. They have some good receivers too. Gage Blackford does a nice job tracking the football, especially on deep passes. They have hit their tight end quite a bit, Gaven Etile, on play action passes and their backs out the backfield do a nice job as well. The reality is when you watch Monroeville you have to stop their run game. (Dominic) Ruffing is doing a nice job for them at tailback and Tche Leroux at fullback and Zach Horner will line up at wing and do a lot of things with counters and jets and that sort of thing. So, they are pretty balanced offensively and defensively they are playing well and they have a great football team,” said Livengood.

The veteran St. Paul coach says this is not only an intense rivalry, it is a good rivalry. “It is a rivalry game. It is a big game between programs that have had success over the years. The communities are only about three miles apart. There are a lot of kids that are neighbors and relatives. The communities come out and support their teams. It is a great game to be a part of,” he said.

Published 10/26/17

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Rivals Danville and East Knox Clash

Week 10 is rivalry week and one of the better ones around North Central Ohio will be at Danville as the East Knox Bulldogs make the short trip to play the Blue Devils in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game.

Danville trails Highland by a game in the conference standings and would need Northmor to beat the Scots to have a chance to share in the first football title in that league’s history.

Danville has already clinched a playoff berth in division seven, but East Knox needs a win to get a week 11 game in division six.

The Blue Devils (8-1,5-1) beat Mt, Gilead (56-14) last week for their fifth win in as many games.

Coach Ed Honabarger says they have done some really good things on both sides of the ball the last month. “It seems like we have really jelled the last five weeks offensively and defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have been able to jump out to early leads on people and play good defense and put them in a bind no matter what they want to do and get them out of a rhythm.”

East Knox (7-2,4-2) lost last week to Highland (28-7) and the week before to Fredericktown (32-28) after winning its first seven games of the season.

Honabarger says the Bulldogs have a lot of athletes that can make big plays. “They have some real playmakers on offense. They run to the ball well on defense. They have stumbled the past two weeks, but in a rivalry anything goes and they will be more than ready for us,” said Honabarger.

Danville and East Knox go way back and Honabarger says this is always the most important game on their schedule. “Of course, we are four miles apart. It’s for bragging rights for a year. There are a lot of families and a lot of friends on both sides for this game,” he said.

Published 10/26/17

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Ontario Still Fighting Injuries

Ontario concludes its season Friday night by hosting once beaten Marion Pleasant in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play.

They will be looking for their first conference win after a (35-20) setback to Galion in “MOAC” action last week.

Coach Chris Hawkins says their injury ridded offense was improved, but their defense took some steps back. “Offensively it was the third or fourth game without our quarterback and I think we were more efficient. We put up three scores at were kind of driving there. So, it was definitely a step in the right direction. As happy as I was with our offense, but our defense really struggled in that game. That has kind of been our strength the last four weeks. We gave up 35 points against Clear Fork and actually I thought played pretty well. They didn’t pound it on us they just had a couple of big plays over the top and a couple of big runs by their phenomenal athlete. I thought we played with the exception of five or six plays pretty good defense against Clear Fork,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “To turn around and give up the same amount of points to Galion was disheartening. We just never have put a whole game together this year, well we haven’t had our full team since Lexington, but even in the beginning of the year when we had most of our guys, we would have a great offensive game and struggle defensively or we would have great defense and struggle on offense. We have had a hard time putting both sides of the ball along with special teams together.”

The injuries never seem to stop for the Warriors. Hawkins says you can add a few more to the list. “We have lost two more kids, two more starters. We have another kid out with a concussion that is a two way player and a defensive starter out with a possible torn “ACL.” I have never been part of this it has been a tough year, but we told our kids a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores are playing and hopefully that will pay dividends next year,” he said.

Ontario (2-7,0-6) plays host to Marion Pleasant (7-1,5-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday night in league play. Pleasant lost their first game of the season in an instant classic to Clear Fork (20-17) in overtime.

Hawkins says they know Pleasant wants to run, run, and run some more and they are good enough to do that. “Them and Clear Fork are elite teams of the league. That game could have either way. Pleasant was controlling and dominating the first half and Clear Fork came back. I thought if they played 10 times they would spilt it five and five. They don’t want to pass the ball. Make no bones about they are going to come out in double tight wing and wing-T and “I” and just play smash football with the exception of against Marion Harding where Pleasant came out and threw 15, 16 times. The other three games we watched the total passes they threw combined was seven. So, we know what they want to do, but I tell you what they are still hard to stop. All of the other teams know what they want to do too, and you can load the box, but they are still pretty good at coming off the ball,” said Hawkins.

Published 10/26/17

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Run Game to Decide Crawford-Upper Game

Colonel Crawford and Upper Sandusky conclude the football season with a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Friday night at Upper.

Last week, Crawford laid waste to Buckeye Central (61-0) in an “N10” game, scoring 54 points in the first half.

Coach Ryan Teglovic says its allowed them to take a look at the kids that will be playing the next couple of years for them. “It was a nice opportunity to get some young kids in in the second half. It was a good night for our seniors. They were playing their last game on their home field. We got out to a big early lead. There were several good performances by our kids. It was nice to get a win,” he said.

Upper Sandusky (3-6,2-4) lost to conference leader Wynford (34-0) last week. The Rams have had a somewhat uneven performance this year.

Teglovic says on film at times they look very good. “You go back to last week against Wynford and Wynford is up 7-0 with about four minutes left in the first half and they are right there. They have two turnovers late in the first half and boom, boom, they are down 20-0 at halftime. There are times when you will see them play stretches of really good football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are physical defensively, have some big kids. There rush defense has been very good this year. Offensively, they have two playmakers in the Vent kid and the McMillian kid.”

Colonel Crawford (4-5,2-4) has relied on its running game a lot this year. Teglovic says it should be a good battle up front. “I definitely think there are some good match-ups there. They do a good job in their defensive scheme. They get their guys in the right spot. They play a physical brand of football. We are going to have to definitely be solid with our schemes up front. Hopefully we can take advantage of some outside match-ups. We have been able to do that an awful lot this year too,” said Teglovic.

Published 10/26/17

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South Central Excited to Play New London

South Central meets New London in Firelands Conference action here on week 10 of the high school football season and they excited to get a chance to play together for a final time.

The Trojans (3-6,1-5) lost to second place Crestview (49-14) last week.

Coach Corey Fichiesen says in his opinion the game was more competitive than that score might indicate. “They are a very good football team and have a lot of upperclassmen, who we have been playing against for the last three or four years. So, a lot of familiar faces so we knew it is going to be a challenge. I am proud of the way we played really because, obviously the scoreboard says a little bit different, but I felt like we were right there, we were in the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “A few plays go our way and a few don’t go there way it is a lot different, but that is why you play the game. Again, I am just proud of my guys. A lot of my younger guys have kind of had to step into knew roles and they have taken it on. So, we are going to move onto this week and it’s a big one.”

New London (1-8,0-6) has not scored in the last three weeks, including a (56-0) loss to Mapleton last week.

However, Fichiesen says the Wildcats might be more healthy this week. “We have head there is the possibility of some kids coming back from injury for them, which would help them out big time. Like I tell me kids at this point in the year it doesn’t matter with records. You get to week 10 this is rivalry week. So, they are going to throw everything they have at us and we are going to throw everything we have at them because this is the last game for both teams. Obviously both teams are going to want to send their seniors out the right way. We are focused and locked in and hopefully we play that way on Friday night,” said Fickiesen.

No matter who plays for New London, Fichiesen says he knows his kids are going to play very hard. “That is kind of the way my kids have approached this week. I have a great group of seniors, but the biggest thing is my underclassmen. They want to send these seniors out on the right note. We have had a lot of energy this week. We are excited for another opportunity to play together. We are going to leave it all out on the field on Friday night,” he said.

Published 10/26/17

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Clear Fork Goes for Outright Title, Perfect Regular Season

If they beat Marion Harding at home Friday night, Clear Fork will win its first outright football title since 2010 and have its first perfect regular season since 1965.

They put themselves in that position with an exciting, come from behind, win (20-17) in overtime over Marion Pleasant last week. Trailing (14-0) with just over 4:00 to play Blake Dinsmore completed a pass to Jake Lowe with 4:02 left in the game and the Colts tied it with 1:34 remaining on Dinsmore’s TD pass to Trevon Tramell. After Pleasant missed a 47-yard field goal at the horn and kicked one on their overtime possession, Dinsmore ran another one in to give the Colts the win.

Veteran coach Dave Carroll says his kid never stopped believing. “I was an unbelievable example of believing in your teammates and believing in yourself and having a never say die attitude. I am so proud of the kids for that. I told them after the game that I apologize. I said you guys won that game in spite of me. I over prepared. I probably did some things offensively that put our kids in not the best situation. We did some different things. I kind of had in my mind that it was going to come down to us and Pleasant a long time ago and that is the way it panned out. I started game planning for them about a month ago. We added some things little by little. If had to do it all over again I wouldn’t do it. You would think somebody my age would already know this. Just let our kids do what they do, but I thought Pleasant was that good, and I have that much respect for them, that we need to have a couple of surprises for them, and those things didn’t work out real well,” said Carroll.

He says it in the second half they got back to things they are good at doing. “The game started out weird. They had that 10 minute drive. We jumped off side when we had them third and long and they got it. They had the ball the entire first quarter. We had some screwups offensively that put us in a bad spot and gave them the ball back and before you knew it it was halftime. All of those clichés you talk about as a football coach about never giving up and so forth. They kept saying out on the field that we aren’t losing because we can score 14 points quickly and by golly they were right,” he said.

Clear Fork (9-0,6-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays at home against Marion Harding (6-3,4-2) in an “MOAC” game on Friday night. The Presidents beat River Valley (28-21) last week.

Carroll says the Presidents have good talent and good size and will be a tough challenge. “They are a very good football team. They are not very many points away from being undefeated. They lost by 14 to Jonathan Alder, they lost by seven to Pleasant and they lost by three or four points to Buckeye Valley, that’s it. They have some skilled people offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have three tailbacks and they use those guys at wide receiver. Number one is faster than all get out and the quarterback can run it and throw it. They have nice sized kids, they are not huge, huge, like some of the teams we have played, just nice solid looking kids. We have our work cut out for us. You would like to be in a situation right now were it was somebody that wasn’t doing so well this year. These guys are scary they can play football.”

Undefeated regular seasons don’t come around very often in most places. Carroll says a win Friday night would be special. “The biggest thing is when you get to 9-0 you want to go 10-0. The league title, undisputed champions, that would be nice, and going into the playoffs with momentum. There are a lot of things. One of the big things for me, and the kids, and for everybody, is to do something that hasn’t been done in 52 years. We have talked about that a lot since I have been here. This is ridiculous that our community has had to wait around this long for an undefeated season. There is something about that that is pretty special. As a group we aren’t talking about that right now. We are talking about what we have to do to beat Harding. We are keeping the eye on the prize of beating Harding right now. Everything else will take care of itself. We will celebrate those things later on. It is pretty important,” said Carroll.

Published 10/25/17

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Huge Game for Clyde and Bellevue

Clyde hosts Bellevue in a game between rivals that has a lot riding on it.

The winner earns a share of the Lake Division in the Sandusky Bay Conference if Perkins upsets unbeaten Sandusky plus there are playoff implications for both sides.

Last week, Clyde beat Norwalk (24-7) a week after losing their only game of the season to Sandusky (42-28) to fall out of a share of first place.

Coach Ryan Carter says they played well, especially on defense. “It was a bounce back week for us. I thought Norwalk came in and really played hard. Despite their record they have a lot of nice players and have been in some games this year. You have to tip your hat to them for not giving up on the season and coming in and playing hard. I thought we did some things offensively to keep ourselves around. We hurt ourselves with penalties in our drives early, but the defense just played very well. We blew one coverage and they hit us over the top, but other than that we did a really nice job defensively in the Norwalk game,” said Carter.

Clyde (8-1,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is at home for Bellevue (6-3,3-1) on Friday night.

Carter says the Redmen have been tested. “They are a very good football team obviously. They have three losses on the year and their three losses come to teams with no losses. They lost to Shelby, who is 9-0, Sandusky, who is 9-0, and Clear Fork, who is 9-0. We know we have our work cut out for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are good in every facet of the game. Coach Nasonti does a great job with his kids year in and year out and doing their system and doing what they do. Their kids play tremendously well in big games. Obviously, they are tested.”

Carter says this is the kind of game you want on week 10. He says there is a lot to play for. “They will come here ready to play. Both teams are playing for a lot. A possible conference championship where we need some help and so do they. We are playing for a home playoff game and they are playing to still get in the playoffs. So, a lot at stake. It should a great atmosphere and a great high school football game,” he said.

Clyde is fourth in its division three playoff region and has clinched a playoff spot. Bellevue is ninth in its division four region and needs to move up at least one spot to qualify for week 11.

Bellevue has not scored the points in bunches like the last couple of years, but Carter says they still have a number of playmakers. “They still have some athletes. The McPeak kid is very good on the outside, both offensively and defensively. They run a two platoon quarterback system with one more of a runner and one more of a passer. The Ray kid is an outstanding runner and has been for a number of years. They have up front people that are very good. They are just a sound football team all of the way through. We are going to have to play our best football game to date in order to just give ourselves a chance to win,” he said.

Published 10/25/17

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Monroeville Must Have Win over Arch Rivals

When Monroeville and Norwalk St. Paul play there is always something on the line and this year it is no different.

For the Eagles, they must beat St. Paul on Saturday night at Whitney Field to make playoffs. If St. Paul wins, they win the Firelands Conference outright, if not, they might have to share it with Crestview.

The Eagles (6-3,4-2) broke a two-game losing streak with a (40-36) win over Plymouth last Friday night.

Coach Scott Stacher says he thought their passing game was a big factor in the win. “We broke a couple of long runs. We got some stops defensively. They run that double wing stuff very well. We both rush the ball very well. I think our passing, 7 for 10, made the difference. It was a great high school game Friday night,” he said.

Norwalk St. Paul (9-0,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, and number one in the statewide media poll in division seven, is coming off a (44-12) win over Western Reserve.

Stacher says they are very balanced and very solid on offense. “They are very efficient and very consistent. In order to beat them you have to be at your best and play the best game you possibly can defensively and offensively. They have gotten better at the passing game. I know that and they still run the ball very well. We have to be sound in all phases, particularly tackling for one. We just need to sustain our blocks and go back to basics. Hopefully, jump out and put some pressure on them,” said Stacher.

St. Paul quarterback Nick Lukasko has become a very affective passer and Stacher says that makes the Flyers tough to defend. “They have a three year starter at quarterback and receivers on the edge. Their backs run hard. They are very well coached and very disciplined. They have been in the same system for 25 years and they are good at it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They know what is expected of them. It is going to be a challenge for us. We have been in the system now for four years and the kids know. It is a rivalry game and it is going to be cold and anything can happen. We are just excited about playing on Saturday night. They are number one ranked in the state. We have a challenge, but we are up to it, we are excited about it.”

It is one the best small school rivalries in the state and Stacher says they are looking toward Saturday night with great anticipation. “I don’t think in all of my years of coaching in regular season play I don’t think I have ever had the opportunity to play number one in the state. It is the only gig in town. It’s Saturday night and there are going to be a lot of extra people there. Even though it is not for all of the marbles as far as the league is concerned. I am a little disappointed there, but other than that for us to get into the playoffs means a lot. One of the coaches said something (Tuesday.) We have lost three games, but they will easily be forgotten if we beat St. Paul on Saturday night,” said Stacher.

Published 10/25/17

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Undisputed Title at Stake for Wynford

Wynford has won every Northern 10 Athletic Conference football title and they can make it four in a row with a win Friday night at Buckeye Central.

In fact, the Royals have never lost a conference football game. Friday night would make 32 in a row.

They beat Upper Sandusky (34-0) last week to maintain a one game lead in the standings over Seneca East.

Coach Gabe Halbert feels they executed well in two phases of the game last week against Upper. “I think we are getting better defensively. We are still a work in progress offensively. I think we have been very good on special teams overall. All phases of our special teams I have been happy with. The process of getting better is still trying to figure it out on offense and what we can do best as we move forward without Wyatt Smith, our quarterback,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I thought Joel was very efficient last week as our starting quarterback in his second start. Zack Houck is doing a nice job for us playing at the quarterback position a little bit. It is just a process of getting better. I thought we were very good in two of the three phases of the game against Upper. Just watching our film, I think we can be better offensively.”

Starting quarterback Wyatt Smith broke his leg on week seven against Lima Central Catholic and the Royals have been going with junior Joel Griffin and Zack Houck.

Helbert says it is a process on offense. “We kind of got into a grove a little bit and felt comfortable in what we were doing with Wyatt and things had to change. The process is trying to find what we do best. We are continuing the evaluation. I thought the film was very good for us Saturday because we need to see things to get better at. It is an everyday process to get better. You want to play your best football by the end of the year and we are going to continue to strive to do that,” he said.

Wynford (7-2,6-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Buckeye Central (0-9,0-6) on Friday night. The Bucks are coming off a (61-0) loss to Colonel Crawford last week.

Helbert says he respects the rivalry. “Buckeye Central and Wynford is a good rivalry. Buckeye Central is a football program that has done a lot of great things in their football history. They have played for two state title. They have been in the playoffs. From a Crawford County perspective, they have done some things that nobody else has ever done. Anytime we get a chance to play Buckeye Central it is an exciting time for our kids and our community. I really have a tremendous amount of respect for coach (Rob) Detterman. He is a great guy, great coach, does a nice job with their kids and it is just one of those things they are struggling right now and going through some stuff. They will continue to build to try and get better,” said Helbert.

Published 10/25/17

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Calvert Wants it Outright

Tiffin Calvert has a piece of the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division title and Friday night is a chance to win it outright.

They play at Willard on Friday night in a River Division game. A victory means an outright championship.

The Senecas (6-3,4-0) beat Margaretta (41-16) on Saturday to earn no less than a share of the title.

Coach Todd Fox says they played pretty well against the Polar Bears. “We felt really good about our offensive and defensive performance. At this time of the year you want to be playing at your best and I think we can say that. We still have areas where we can get better, but we are pretty happy with how we are playing right now,” he said.

Fox says they made a big play right before the half. “They scored first and we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times in the first quarter inside the red zone. We went back and scored, but they blocked the extra point. We had a big 80-yard touchdown pass right before half to Austin Jones, which gave us the lead. We came out in the second half and made some adjustments to what they were doing and the kids just played extremely well,” he said.

Calvert plays at Willard (3-6,2-2) on Friday night in the first meeting between the two teams in a number of years. Willard scored and added a two point conversion later in the game to beat Sandusky St. Mary’s (22-21) in a division game last week.

Fox says the Flashes have some size. “We are playing a big school. We don’t make any excuses everybody we play is bigger. They are big up front. They have a lot of size up front. For us we are playing secure the “SBC River” alone and secure our playoff week 11,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “For them they are just playing to finish the year. We expect a hard fought fight. This is the first time we have seen them on the field. I know Calvert has some history playing them years ago. We are kind of excited about a new adventure.”

Fox is a graduate of Willard High School and he admits this is a different game for him. “It is difficult. Willard was my home not only as a player and a graduate, but I coached and taught there for 17 years. I actually live in Holiday Lakes, which is just north of Willard. It’s difficult, it’s just different. At the same time when it is seven o’clock it is us versus Willard,” he said.

Published 10/25/17

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Lexington Plays Thomas Worthington

There will not be a post season this year for the Lexington Minutemen.

They will finish their season on Friday night by entertaining Thomas Worthington in a non-conference game.

The Minutemen broke a five game losing streak with a (14-6) win at Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game last week.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they had to play a good four quarters to earn the win and they were able to do that. “We knew that going into the game that coach Masi and his team. It is a rivalry game and Madison always plays tough, especially at home. We knew that we were going to have to play four quarters of football to be able to get it done and that’s what it came down to,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We shot ourselves in the foot early in the first half. We missed out on some red zone opportunities. We really went back to our basics and our line kind of took over. Devon Stroud had a big, tough running, game for us. Defensively we played well to come away with a victory.”

Lexington (2-7) hosts Thomas Worthington (3-6) on Friday night. The Cardinals have lost their last six games, including (20-7) to Dublin Scioto last week.

Gerhardt says the Cardinals play a very tough schedule and they are better than a normal three win team. “They are a division one football program. They are 3-6 and they are much better than their record. They have a big, bruising, running back that has definite talent. They throw a lot of formations at you. They play tough defense. On film they look like a very good football team, so we definitely have our work cut out for us,” he said.

With a seven team league somebody always has to play a non-conference game late in the season. Gerhardt says this will be a fun game for the Minutemen to play. “It is always nice to have your last game be a big conference game. We talked to the kids this week that this is a great opportunity. Here is a team that doesn’t know us and we don’t know them and we are going into this last week preparing for something that we haven’t done and that is pretty exciting. To have a big school come down to play us at our place is just a great opportunity,” said Gerhardt.

Published 10/25/17

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Mt. Vernon Finishes With Big Play West Holmes

Mt. Vernon plays its final game of the 2017 season on Friday night at West Holmes in Ohio Cardinal Conferenced play.

The Yellow Jackets held a (10-0) lead last week against Mansfield Senior, but they ended up losing the game (44-17) in “OCC” action.

Coach Mike Kerr says they have had trouble sustaining things all season long. “It is unfortunate and that has kind of been the way of a lot of games this year. We get off and we do a lot of good stuff and then we are just not able to hold on and finish games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Obviously, that has been a point of focus, but it is something we are still working on and still learning, a lot of good things came out of Friday’s game. Hopefully, the kids took away something that was positive and hopefully we can learn from it going forward.”

Mt. Vernon (3-6,2-3) is on the road to Millersburg to face the West Holmes Knights (3-6,2-3) on Friday night. The Knights played in an exciting game last week, losing to conference leader Ashland (49-48) in a shootout. They went for two inside the final minute and were denied.

Kerr says they get the ball into the hands of guys that can make plays. “They are explosive on offense. I kind of see when I am looking at them a team that is kind of finding its identity. It is a team that is able to get the ball to playmakers. They are exciting to watch. Not exciting to prepare for, but they are exciting to watch,” he said.

West Holmes has been making a lot of big plays over the last month. Kerr says they need to stop that Friday night. “That is definitely a focus of ours. Keeping them in front and allowing pursuit to get there and stopping the big play. It seems every time I am watching them they are making a 70, 80 yard play. We have to rally to the ball and get all 11 guys there. All of the same things that you always do. We really have to focus at keeping them in front and not allowing the big play,” said Kerr.

Published 10/25/17

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Wooster Plays for Part of “OCC” Title

Wooster travels to Ashland on Friday night and they hope they return from Community Stadium with a piece of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

Right now, the Generals and Mansfield Senior trail Ashland by a game in the “OCC” standings.

Wooster played a non-conference game and lost (31-27) to Canton Central Catholic last week.

It was a game that Wooster led for most of the way, but got beat in the end. Coach Doug Haas says they got a couple of bad breaks. “It was one of those things where we were in control for a large portion of the game. I don’t want to call them fluke plays or anything like that, but we gave up a big play essentially on a halfback pass and then on the ensuing kickoff it hit our upback and kind bounced in a goofy way and we weren’t able to recover it. They got two quick scores that kind of forded any momentum that we had whatsoever,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That was a disappointing piece from that end of it, but all in all we knew what we had to do in regards to coming back this week and making sure we have a great week of preparation so we can go out and secure a piece of the “OCC” championship.”

Wooster (4-5,4-1) plays at Ashland (8-1,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division. They held on to beat West Holmes (49-48) in an “OCC” game last Friday. The Knights scored a touchdown late and went for two and didn’t get it.

Haas says the Arrows offense is explosive and they have a lot options. He says the Ashland quarterback is a very good orchestrator. “They are so formattable offensively. Coach Valentine does such a good job there. Keagan Armitrage has really settled in and taken such great command of that offense. The two tall drinks of water that he can throw it to make it pretty nice too. So, we are going to have our hands full, but we are not just going to roll over from that standpoint. We are going to give them everything we’ve got. I know our kids are excited about that opportunity. Hopefully, we do the things that you need to do to win big championship like games and come out on top,” said Haas.

Defensively, the Arrows have allowed some points at times, but Haas says Ashland has solid personnel on that side of the ball. “Coach Tabler, who runs the defense, really does a good job and I have always been impressed with that. They are just so fundamentally sound. They use their hands well, they tackle well in space. So, it is going to be a tremendous challenge, but we have a few playmakers of our own. If we can start clicking on some cylinders I feel good we can challenge them in that aspect,” he said.

Haas says as football players you always look forward to games like the one that is going to be played Friday. “This is kind of one of those game where this is what you do in the backyard as a kid. It’s a championship game and we are going to get ready for it in that way and try and make plays and at the end of the night the hope is that when our kids take off their helmets they are “OCC” champs,” he said.

Published 10/24/17

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A Win Puts Northmor in Playoffs

2017 could be a watermark season for the Northmor Golden Knights.

A win on Friday night over one loss Highland will put them in the postseason playoffs for the first time ever. If they lose it will be up the mathematicians. Right now, Northmor is fifth in their division six region. They need to finish in the top eight.

Last week, they hammered Centerburg (49-0) in play in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

Coach Scott Armrose says played four solid quarters on both sides if the ball. “It was a really good effort on both sides of the football. We did exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to get a fast start and we didn’t want to let up. We thought against Mt. Gilead the week before we kind of let up in the second half and we didn’t want to do that last week. We wanted to take care of business from beginning to end and we did a good job of that,” said Armrose.

There are a lot of teams just kind of playing out the season, but not the Golden Knights. Armrose, in his first year as head coach, says that is kind of cool. “That is what it is all about to make these games last in the season meaningful and that means you much have had a pretty good season to this point. To be part of Northmor football and to play meaningful games in October it is pretty darn exciting,” he said.

Northmor (7-2,4-2) hosts Highland (8-1,6-0,) who has secured no less than a share of the conference title. They lead Danville by a game.

Armrose says Scots are a physical team and that is what makes them good. “Their physical style of play, without a doubt, on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they have a big strong offensive line. They don’t do anything fancy they run right at you. Defensively, they just play a physical defense with in your face man coverage and they beat you up all over the place. What makes Highland so good is how physical they are,” said Armrose.

He says all football teams are physical, but they have to make sure they are at Highland’s level on Friday night. “When you say that football is a physical game and to say that somebody is more physical than other teams you kind of laugh. With the way that the game has turned to the spread offense there aren’t a lot of teams that play a physical offense like Highland does anymore. We want to match their physicality,” he said.

Demetrious Johnson is electric as the Northmor quarterback and Armrose says they need to feed him the ball a lot. “When you talk about how physical Highland is fortunately we play a pretty physical game too. We also go into every game knowing we are going to have the best athlete on the field and we have all season long,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are going to try and take advantage of that without a doubt. We don’t hide the fact that Demetrious is our main weapon. They are going to have to try and stop and contain him. When they do that that opens things up for other people.”

Published 10/24/17

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Seneca East Tangles With Carey

Two teams battling for a playoff spot square off on Friday night in Attica in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play Seneca East hosts Carey.

Both sit right now in the top eight of the same division six region. Seneca East (7-1,5-1) is fourth and Carey (7-2,4-2) is fifth. You must finish in the first eight to play on week 11. Both are clearly in with a win.

Seneca East blitzed Bucyrus (46-7) last week just seven days after losing a tough one to conference leader Wynford (31-13) top fall into second place.

Coach Ed Phillips says they just went out and had fun. “It capped off a really good week for us. Maybe that is ironic to hear a coach say that after the week we had. Probably the best back to back four practices that we have had in a while and that is saying a lot because our kids practice really well. So, we had four great practices and went out right from the get go and executed in all three phases. We just went out and had a lot of fun. Sometimes I tell the kids you have to go out and play like you are on the playground with your friends. That is kind of what we did last week,” said Phillips.

Carey fell two back of Wynford when rival Mohawk pounded them (32-0) last week. Phillips says the game of football is a lot about momentum. “Just as I say that, but what I think about the league the whole year you have five teams that are at the top the league that are really good. When you get in there you better be ready to go because if you’re not or if things don’t go well for you, you are going to get beat. Things just kind of rolled for Mohawk right off the bat and went well for them and they had a good night. You can’t draw any conclusions from that because Carey is a very good, dangerous football team that has a lot of very good football players that we have to be ready for,” he said.

Phillips believes that Carey have a lot of quality athletes and they have opened up their offense a little more. “They have playmakers at every spot. Their quarterback is extremely dangerous. They have some receivers. They have evolved and they have a new coach this year. They were kind of evolving under coach Wourst too. They had a 1,000-yard passer under coach Wourst for about four years. Now they are really multiple in formations, like a lot of teams in this league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They will come out and play power football one snap and then they will spread you out and make you play the spread another snap. They are very multiple and get their guys in space and do a really good job of using a lot of formations to make sure that you are disciplined and sound in what you do.”

Published 10/24/17

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Lexington Tangles With Perkins in Districts

Lexington, the top seed in the district, meets Sandusky Perkins, in the volleyball division two district semi-finals on Tuesday night at Seneca East High School.

Lexington (21-3) beat Clear Fork 15-14, 25-11, 25-12 and Mansfield Senior 25-6, 25-1, 25-6 in sectional play last week in matches that were played on their home floor.

Coach Jennifer Moore says those were matches they were expected to win. “We had Clear Fork and Mansfield and they had some down seasons. It seems like Mansfield just can’t get their volleyball going. So, it was fairly easy to get into the district semi finals for us,” she said.

Lady Lex was the runner up this fall to Ashland in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

Norwalk, the defending district winner, plays Bellevue in Tuesday night’s other semi-final.

Perkins (17-6) is a team that has gotten better this year, they beat Norwalk in their second meeting this season. The Lady Pirates downed Vermilion 15-18, 25-21, 25-20 on Saturday.

Moore says it should be a good match-up. “They are a good team they have really come on strong later in the season. When we played them earlier in the season we beat them in four sets,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, we know we have to play our “A” game in order to win. They have a really strong outside hitter that we have to put a block on.”

Moore adds they are going to need to be efficient on offense if they are going to score points on Perkins. “Their defense is really feisty and they work well together and they are really scrappy. We have to make sure we can put balls down on the offensive end,” she said.

Published 10/24/17

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Kids Make Hillsdale Coach Proud

Hillsdale has a chance to make the high school football playoffs this year and if they do that’s great and if they don’t coach Tom Williams is very proud of the effort they have given all season.

The Falcons are tenth in their region in division six. They have to pick up a couple of spots and finish eighth.

They play at home against Smithville in a Wayne County Athletic League game on Friday night.

Last week, they lost to unbeaten Dalton (20-13) in a league game.

Williams says the players did all they asked them to do. “We played extremely well. Maybe about as well as we could play. We gave ourselves and opportunity. We had the ball driving there late in the fourth quarter and they were able to get a stop. I am really proud of how our kids played and really competed for four quarters,” said Williams.

Every week through nine weeks, Williams says the effort has been there for the Falcons. “Our kids have played extremely hard week in and week out and we are very proud of them,” he said.

Smithville (6-3,3-3) is at Hillsdale (6-3,3-3) this week in the league. Williams says the Smithies have speed to burn. “They are a very athletic team. They have some kids that have run track and done really well. I think one was a state champion. So, they have some really good speed at the skilled positions and they have some pretty big guys up front. They don’t have a lot of depth, but the guys that they have are really good,” said Williams.

It could be their last game and it might not be. Either way Williams says the senior class has come a long way since they started playing organized football for Hillsdale. “For our senior class they only won one game in junior high and for us to go into week 10 of their senior year and still have an opportunity to make the playoffs is great,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are really pleased with how much It they have improved over the course of their time in our program.”

Published 10/24/17

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Mapleton Wants to Finish Strong

With a win Mapleton finishes the season with a .500 record and in the upper half of the Firelands Conference.

The Mounties (4-5,2-4) plays at Western Reserve (4-5,3-3) on Friday night.

Last week, they blasted New London (56-0) in a conference game.

Coach Robert Mahaney says they played well on both sides and he was really encouraged by what he saw from the defense. “It is a rivalry game and our kids came out and had some fire. We played well on offense, obviously, scoring 56 points. We have played really well on offense all year. It was really encouraging to see our defense step up and get our first shutout since 2014. As we get ready for a good Western team hopefully we can continue to build on that,” he said.

Western Reserve beat Monroeville (44-21) two weeks ago and trailed unbeaten Norwalk St. Paul (17-6) at the half last week before losing (44-12) to the Flyers.

Mahaney says the Roughriders power game can be tough to stop. “They have had some games where they have played really well. Beating Monroeville was one of them. They played St. Paul tough for a half and they are a really good football team, so that speaks to them. Their quarterback is pretty decent. Their running backs are really good. They have a really fast one. They have one that is a big back that is going to come at you. They do a good job of spreading the ball out to both of those guys. The quarterback can make the throws to beat you,” said Mahaney.

Western runs a lot of unbalanced wing-T, but they throw some different stuff at you too. Mahaney says this is a big game for them in a couple of ways. “They still do that, that is their base offense, the unbalanced wing-T kind of look. They will pound their backs at you. They will try and fake the dive and the sweep around is the home run play that they try and hit you with. They will do a little bit of spread, but mostly they are going to try and run it right at you. Coach Stoll has been there a while and he does a really good job, so we have to make sure are kids are ready and prepared,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is a big game for us to finish 5-5, .500, would be a great way for the seniors to go out and finish fourth in the conference, so we have a lot to play for this week.”

Published 10/24/17

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A Win Important to Norwalk

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

Both are 0-4 in division games this year.

Norwalk (2-7,0-4) lost to Clyde (24-7) last week.

Coach Chris MacFarland says they pushed the talented Fliers pretty hard last week. “I was really proud of the way our kids played. We played very physical with them. Actually, had an opportunity when it was tied at seven in the first half and missed two field goals and they scored, so it was 14-7 at halftime. I thought the defense played outstanding. We missed some catches on some nice passes. We really kept ourselves in the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I know the score doesn’t look like it at the end. Like I said we missed two field goals and had a couple of other opportunities. I was really pleased with how the kids responded against a really good football team in Clyde.”

Tiffin Columbian (0-9,0-4) got edged by Sandusky Perkins (23-21) on a late field goal last week. MacFarland thinks the Tornadoes have some solid players. They just haven’t been able to get over the top. “The quarterback I think is very good. He is a three year starter. He does a lot of good things. They have some kids that that they get the ball to that make plays. Defensively they are aggressive. Teams that are winning a lot get a lot of positive things to happen throughout the year. Teams that are struggling to win seem to be snake bit at certain times. Kind of like the end of the Perkins game for them. We are experiencing it too. You get some positive things going and you just can’t get over the hump in some of the tough games,” said MacFarland.

Although there aren’t any league championships or playoff berths available here, MacFarland says both teams are going to be playing for a lot of pride. “We think they are a good team and it is going to be a battle. They are going to come wanting to make sure they get a win this season. Our seniors are going to want to make sure they get a win in their last game of their careers, especially at home and hopefully push us right into the off season. I think it is a huge Friday night for us. There may not be playoff implications or league battle or things like that, but to end a senior year and play week 10 is very important for everybody’s program,” he said.

Published 10/24/17

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Perkins Closes Season With Tough Task

At one time Sandusky Perkins was 0-7, but they have won their last two and will close their season with a Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game at unbeaten Sandusky on Friday night.

The Blue Steaks need the win in order to earn an outright Lake Division title.

Two weeks ago, Perkins beat Norwalk (20-7) and last Friday it was a field goal at the horn to beat (23-21) Tiffin Columbian and Lake Division games.

Coach Jason Zeigler says it is all about confidence for the Pirates. “I think it just confidence. The last two weeks I think are kids are just really believing they can win. They are not folding and putting their heads down when bad things happen. I think that has probably been the biggest thing. They are trusting their keys, they are running to the football. It has taken a little while. I think they are believing a little more,” he said/

Zeigler says they have been telling the kids to concentrate on the play at hand and that seems to be working. “I see it all of the time with kids. They make one bad play and they let that affect the next play. We have been preaching, especially the last couple of weeks, about it’s not the last play, it’s not the next play, it’s the play at hand. You have to play that play the best you can and then move on to the next one. Our kids are really starting to buy in. We are playing some good football. It’s unfortunate we are in week 10 now and we are playing on the better teams we are going to see all year,” said Zeigler.

Sandusky (9-0,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat a solid Bellevue team (49-35) last week to take sole possession of first place in the division. They had beaten Clyde (42-28) the week before.

Zeigler says the Blue Streaks offense is scary good. “What’s not good about them? They have athletes all over the place. They have a division one quarterback going to Michigan State on full ride. He can run and he is very actuate at throwing the ball. He has all of those intangibles that you want in a field general out there. They have a running back that is a sophomore that is one of the faster kids I have seen. He has great vision and can take it to the house at any time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Their line is big and strong. That is just on the offensive side. They have two receivers that will go up and get the ball and will run by you. Just saying that is kind of scary.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Zeigler says Sandusky is pretty good there too. “Defensively they are fast. They move to the football. They have two down lineman that are big and strong and quick. They are enormous. Their linebackers run to the football. Their safety is good. There are not a lot of weaknesses on this team. We are going to have to go down to Sandusky, which is just a two minute drive for us, and we are going to have to play our best football, but I think our kids are ready for the challenge,” said Zeigler.

Published 10/23/17

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Plymouth Has to Stay Home

Plymouth finishes its season at rival Crestview in Firelands Conference action on Friday night.

A win will give them a .500 season and perhaps as high as a third place finish in the conference standings.

Monroeville broke the Big Red’s two-game winning streak with a come from behind (40-36) win in conference play last week.

Gage Blackford intercepted a halfback pass inside the final minute to preserve the win for the Eagles.

Plymouth coach Mark Genders says they played hard, but they didn’t execute very well on defense. “They made the last play. Our effort was really solid Friday night, but to be quite honest our discipline just wasn’t there defensively. I am not talking about the effort part, but I’m talking about gap integrity and kids doing their job. Taking a 10 point lead into the second half and they had two one play drives for touchdowns, two long runs. Kids just not doing their job. If you don’t do that you are going to lose against good teams,” said Genders.

Crestview (6-3,5-1) hosts Plymouth (4-5,3-3) on Friday night. The Cougars are coming off a (49-14) win over South Central last week. They handled everyone in the conference pretty easily with the exception of a (38-7) loss to conference leader Norwalk St. Paul.

Genders says the Cougars have a lot of kids and they do a lot of things well. “They are seasoned, fast, big, well coached, and have a lot of numbers. They do a lot of great things offensively. You watch a motion here, you watch a motion there. They hit you on the backside with a counter or the triple option. They just do so many things that you have to be sound discipline wise to stop. Defensively they just play so fast. If you don’t stay on your box for any time they are there. That’s the big thing we see. You really see that their experience has really started to shine the last three quarters of the football season. Their athleticism is equally impressive,” said Genders.

They didn’t have the defensive discipline they needed last week, but Genders says boy they need it this week and then some. “When your eyes are in the backfield and you are not reading your keys and doing your job with the kind of speed they have it is not a five or six or seven yard gain it’s a home run. If we get caught doing that they are most certainly going to hit home runs against us. We have to have a solid week of high discipline this week, especially defensively,” he said.

Published 10/23/17

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Norwalk Has Battled Adversity

Norwalk plays Bellevue in the division two district volleyball tournament on Tuesday night at Seneca East High School.

The Lady Truckers (16-8) are the defending district champions.

They won Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference this year.

Coach Angie Kalizewski says she is proud of what her team has accomplished this fall. “We have had a pretty good season. We are pretty young. We have ha d a lot of injuries. So, considering our age and our injuries I am very pleased with what we have done this year,” she said.

Considering all of the injuries and other factors, Kalizewski says they had to battle a lot adversity this year and that might be a good thing for them this week in the district tournament. “That is exactly what we have been talking about along the way. In the past I have had teams where we haven’t had to do that too much and then we have had some adversity down the road at the regional and things like that and then those kids don’t know what to do and how to react. They had been so set in one rotation all year. That is definitely not the case with this group we have had a different lineup on the floor every two to three weeks,” she told Swankonsports.com, “We have had to run something different because something else came up. In the long run as a coach that is going to make us better. These kids are playing all around positions and not just being trained in one area. They are becoming very versatile. It is very fortunate in that aspect. I think I have learned a lot as a coach. That’s not always a bad thing.”

Bellevue (11-12) has been playing improved volleyball and they beat two higher seeded teams in the sectional tournament in Shelby and Willard last week. They also beat Norwalk 25-19, 21-25, 25-18 and 25-18 on October 14. Lexington plays Sandusky Perkins in the other semi final.

Kalizewski says a key for them this week is going to be their leadership, which as has been very good all year. “Our leadership is amazing with this group. My senior group, and a couple of my younger kids are just buying into everything we are trying to get them to do as coaches and they are running with it. Overall, they are very nice kids and they want to do well for one another. It is not just about them. It is very team oriented. On top of that they work extremely hard. They work day in and day out to get better. They want to know all of the time what they can do to get to the next level. That is huge in volleyball,” she said.

Published 10/23/17

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Campbell to Play For Rams

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

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

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

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

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

He went to school at Madison through the eighth grade.

 
     
 

Shelby Looking For Title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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St. Paul Meets Improved Western Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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Highland With a Chance at a Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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Yellow Jackets Face Athletic Mansfield Senior

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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The Assignment is Clear For Northmor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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Rivals Mohawk and Carey Scrap in Big “N10” Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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Monroeville Looking Forward

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/20/17

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Colts Must be Physical

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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Dalton With a Chance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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Crestview Needs Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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Danville Riding Momentum

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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Rivals Lexington and Madison Meet

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

These are longtime rivals and pride is on the line.

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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More Tweaks For Ontario

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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Colonel Crawford plays Rival Buckeye Central

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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Norwalk Has to be on Game

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/19/17

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First Place on the Line in the “MOAC”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/18/17

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Wynford Can do it Again

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/18/17

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Ashland One Step Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/18/17

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A Win is a Must For Clyde

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/18/17

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Hillsdale Challenges Unbeaten Dalton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/18/17

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Plymouth and Monroeville Match Running Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/18/17

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Mapleton Has to Finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/18/17

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Bellevue Plays Sandusky For Lake Division Lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/17/17

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Lucas with Long Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/17/17

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Lexington the Top Seed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/17/17

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Calvert and Margaretta for the Marbles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/17/17

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Seneca East Still Confident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/17/17

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South Central Has to Eliminate Mistakes


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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/17/17

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Freddies Upset Unbeaten East Knox; Ready for Cardington

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/16/17

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Wooster Still in it

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/16/17

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Ontario Preparing For Tough D-2 Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/16/17

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Unbeatens Clyde and Sandusky Lock Horns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/13/17

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Ontario Must Execute Against Very Good Clear Fork Defense

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

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

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

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

Ontario ran a lot of wildcat stuff last week.

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/13/17

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Lexington Has to Play Much Better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/13/17

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Northmor Not Thinking of Playoffs… Yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/13/17

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Calvert Finding Itself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/13/17

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Mapleton Has to be Efficient

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/13/17

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Clear Fork Must be Prepared for a lot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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Wynford and Seneca East Battle For “N10” Lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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Shelby Hosts Second Place Port Clinton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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Ashland Needs to Keep Going

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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Monroeville With a lot to Play For

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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The Trenches are Key for Highland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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Madison Getting Closer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/12/17

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Wooster Must Limit Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/11/17

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Bellevue Good, Wants to Get Better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/11/17

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Port Clinton Faces Talented Shelby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/11/17

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Lady Colts Have Battled Adversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/11/17

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Unbeaten Pleasant Plays Rival River Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/11/17

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Flyers Need to Tune Things up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/11/17

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Dalton Meets Smithville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/11/17

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Seneca East Must Tackle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/10/17

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Lucas Looking for Battle with Colonel Crawford

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/10/17

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Crestview Knows What it Has to do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/10/17

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Mt. Vernon Building on Positives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/10/17

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Norwalk Getting Solid Effort

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/10/17

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Plymouth Wants the Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/10/17

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Hillsdale With Must Win Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/10/17

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Hope Run Comes to Dayspring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
     
 

Eagles Must Control Point of Attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/09/17

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South Central Challenges Conference Leaders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/09/17

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Big One for Monroeville and Crestview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/06/17

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Northmor Must have Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/06/17

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Lucas Needs to Take Care of Winner’s Ratio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/06/17

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Wooster Knows What it Has to Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/06/17

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Wynford to be Tested by LCC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/06/17

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Focus the Key for Dalton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/06/17

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Seneca East and Mohawk Play Big One in “N10”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/05/17

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Flyers Preach Discipline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/05/17

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Highland Has Chemistry

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

They play at rival Fredericktown on Friday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/05/17

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Fredericktown Faces Rival Highland

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/05/17

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Plymouth Must be a Total Team

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

They have to fix that.

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/05/17

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Mt. Vernon Tries to Get Back on Track

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/05/17

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It’s a Battle Shelby and Edison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/04/17

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Ashland Tangles with Mansfield Senior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/04/17

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Mohawk Getting Ready for Talented Seneca East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/04/17

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Crestview Has to Battle Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/04/17

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Danville Hosts Cardington

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published 10/04/17

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Madison With New Look

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

They have lost their last 11 games.

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

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

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

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

Madison (0-6) plays host to Columbus St. Charles (0-6) in a non-conference game on Friday night. The Cardinals have struggled too, loosing la