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  Joining us this morning on “Sports Saturday” are high school football coach Todd Fox of Norwalk, Ed Phillips of Seneca East, Dave Carroll of Clear Fork and Scott Spitler of Lucas. Boys’ basketball coaches Marquis Sykes of Mansfield Senior, Tim Mergel of Madison and David Sheldon of Colonel Crawford. Girls’ basketball coach Tyler Bates of Loudonville. Plus, our regular guests Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports on the Browns and Kevin Noon, publisher of buckeyegrove.com, on Ohio State and Maryland. The show runs from 10 AM to 1 PM on www.swankonsports.com  
 

Norwalk and Sandusky are Different

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Todd Fox

One “SBC” Lake team is going to make the state semifinals in division three. That’s not because I have a crystal ball, it is because Norwalk and Sandusky play each other in a division three regional final on Friday night at First National Bank Stadium at the Bellevue Athletic Field.

Last week, Norwalk (9-3) demolished Rocky River (56-7) in a second round game and coach Todd Fox feels like they continue to improve. “That is our goal to get better and we do think we played even better week two in the playoffs and we want to play better on week three,” he said.

All-district halfback Trevon Raymore has 192 yards and three scores for the Truckers.

Fox says their defense, which pitched three consecutive shutouts at midseason, is back in form. “The last two weeks and against two different styles. The week before was a run first team and last week was a pass first team. They have kind of come back top form where they were at midseason,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We were kind of complacent we believe on weeks eight, nine and 10, but I think we are feeling better now and getting better. So, we are exited about another matchup (Friday) night.”

Sandusky (8-4) also was dominate last week as they hammered Lexington (56-12) last Friday. Fix believes the Blue Steaks are a lot better than the team they beat (52-35) in early October. “They took Lexington out of the game right away. They are a great football team obviously. We have to get better because we know they are going to get better this week than they were last week. So, we are in for a battle. We are excited to be part of that battle. Whoever wins gets to represent the “SBC,” so it’s a great matchup,” said Fox.

Raymore has over 2,100 rushing and Sandusky’s Terion Stewart over 2,600 for the year. Fox is not going to get into a contest on who is better. “Both of those backs are very talented, so it should be real exciting in that part,” he said.

Raymore set a Norwalk school record with over 400 yards rushing against Sandusky in their first meeting. The Truckers have probably the best lineman in the area in Trey Leroux.

Fox says he also has confidence in sophomore quarterback Garrett Chapin. “Trevon had an injury week eight, nine and 10 and I think if anything the quarterback, who played well, it forced him to be in charge and be the horse on offense. He has improved each week too. He is very efficient and feels really confident in there with his receiving corps. We feel that anytime if they want to force us to pass that’s great because we can pass the ball too,” said Fox.

When it comes to Friday night Fox says it is going to be a different game than the first time because the teams are different. “They have changed up their defensive scheme. We have added some wrinkles to ours. Offensively we have added some formations. Offensively they are spreading the ball our more and their quarterback is more comfortable in his position. I really believe it will be nothing like game seven. It will be a whole other war,” he said.

Published 11/16/18

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Orrville Has to Maintain Discipline on Defense

Click here to listen to an interview coach Doug Davault

Orrville plays Akron Manchester for the second time this season on Saturday night. This time in a division five regional title game at Northwest High School.

The Red Riders won the Principal’s Athletic Conference title this season. However, they did lose to Manchester (67-31) in a conference game on October 12.

Coach Doug Davault says they just have a number of athletes on the squad and they have some depth again. “Obviously, we have some talent. We have some kids that can play. We have run a lot of offense. Offensively, overall as good as we have been. We have had maybe some kids that were as good individually, but overall we have a lot of ways we can attack you. We have gotten better defensively. The biggest thing, the last three years our depth, and our ability to stay out of injury, really hurt us. We had some pretty good players the last three years, but couldn’t keep them on the field and our depth wasn’t very good. This year we are running almost 50 kids, so we have a little bit of depth if we have one go down. The kids seem to like each other. I think they are pulling for each other and playing hard. So, it has been a nice run we have gotten on so far,” said Davault.

Marquael Parks has 2,157 yards rushing and 33 rushing TD’s this season for the Red Riders and Davalut says he is more than just a runner and he is pretty good at that. “He is unlike any kid I have ever seen. He is as elusive a kid as I have ever seen. He just makes people miss. He has scored in every possible way that you can score, with the exception of kicking field goals and extra points. He has had fumble returns and interceptions and kickoff returns and punt returns, caught passes, he has thrown passes and run with the football. He is not just a very good offensive player, he is good on defense as well. He has a really good head for the game. He has a savvy about him and he understands when we are doing certain concepts he understands where the hole and gaps are,” he said.

Orrville (10-2) beat Gilmour Academy (50-43) in a regional semifinal last Saturday. They have averaged more than six TD’s per game.

Manchester (9-3) beat LaBrae (56-14) last week in their semifinal and they are coached by Jim France, wo has more experience has a head coach than anyone in the state.

Davault says the Panthers aren’t complicated, they are just good. “Coach (Jim) France has been doing it for what 40 years at a very high level, so that is the first thing that good about them. They have three good running backs. The Wright kid is an elite back as well, then the Foster kid is just gritty and tough, he would be a 1,000 back by himself if they didn’t have Wright and Johnson. They have three guys that can run the football and they do what they do very, very well. You don’t see a lot flash and different things going on. What you think you are getting is what you are getting and they just do it well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You know they are going to run their power and they are going to run their edge plays with pitch or sweep, they are going to run their counters and their traps. They do a good job up front. Their offensive and defensive lines are good.”

Concerning what they have to do better against Manchester, Davault says discipline on defense is at the top of the scouting report. “Once things started going south on us we didn’t do a very good job of recovering. You have to give them credit. We have to be more disciplined. Our lack of discipline defensively was probably the main culprit of what went on. Once we started to have the wheels come off so to speak, we started to try and do too much and taking ourselves out of position by not doing our job. That is what we have been preaching ever since that time you have to take care of your business so the folks around you can take care of theirs. We have to make sure we keep our integrity up front with our gaps,” said Davault.

Published 11/16/18

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Wynford Will be a Work in Progress

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Steve Mohr

Veteran basketball coach Steve Mohr is back on the bench and he is with the Wynford Royals boys’ basketball team.

Mohr says he like the steps the team has taken over the first couple of weeks of the preseason. “I am really happy with our physical effort and the kids are buying into what we are doing. It is a wholesale change from what they have done before. We are breaking things down. We are focusing on the fundamentals. This is the 25 th team that I have coached and in terms of catching on to the basic concepts of the offense and the defense things are pretty significant. I am really happy with where are kids are at,” he said.

With a lot of new things to learn, Mohr believes this is a team that is going to be better in February than it is in November. “It is a process. Teams aren’t made in a day, they are made daily. That is the mindset that we have to have. That is difficult for a young team because we are basically a team, we have got Josh Crall is a returning starter, Caleb Roush is a returning starter, but he is out to January with a foot injury, and Matt McBride is a returning starter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, really we have two starters coming back and the rest of the kids have no varsity experience. It’s a process and it is something we just have to take the attitude that sometimes it is going to be two steps forward and one step back or maybe even one step forward and two steps back. We will be a team that I think we truly show improvement as the season goes on.”

With just three kids with varsity experience, and one of them hurt, Mohr says there is going to be a lot of getting used to, and that is a tough step for kids to take. “In any sport going from the JV level to the varsity level the biggest adjustment is the speed of the game and it just something coaches talk about whether it is baseball, football, soccer, whatever, going to the next level is the speed of the game is one of the biggest adjustments. We have a saying with our kids, be quick, but don’t hurry. Right now, we are just going too quick. We are just hurrying through everything and we need to learn how to slow down and remember the things we are focusing on. It has been good, we have had 15 practices and I am pleased with where we are at,” said Mohr.

Published 11/16/18

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Defense Again the Focus for Wooster

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Pressure defense is going to be the key for the Wooster Generals boys’ basketball team again this winter and it is something they enjoy doing.

Coach Michael Snowbarger says they only return three players from last year’s 18 wins season, but he says all three will be cornerstones for them. “I think it has been very positive. We have a great group of kids this year. They are working extremely hard. We do only have three returning lettermen in Dylan Dagley, Jet Morgan, and Lonnie Harper. Those three were a major reason for the success of the football team experienced this past fall, which is a good thing they are coming off a successful season, but then at the same time they are trying to get their basketball legs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are starting a little bit late having qualified for the state playoffs. We have only had then for about a week. Those three are great leaders and they are helping the younger kids along.”

Wooster’s football team won the Ohio Cardinal Conference this fall and advanced to the first round of the playoffs. Snowbarger says that is a good thing for the basketball team. “People always say when your football team goes to the playoffs and you are the basketball coach are you upset? I have had it both ways and when those kids are coming off the football field and off of a successful season they are coming there excited and ready to compete. If you come in off of a not successful football season it is vice versa and it becomes a grind and we just did this. The attitude has been great with all of the football players coming in and that is the big reason for it, the success they had in football,” said Snowbarger.

Over the last couple of seasons, good ones, Wooster has tried to get their offense from their pressure defense and that will be the case again this year, according to Snowbarger. “We are going to pressure people defensively, that’s what we do. That is kind of what we have hung our hat on. They enjoy that part of it. Over the last couple of years we have been able to get kids to buy into defense. That is not always easy at the high school level. Defense isn’t always primary, but these kids have done it and that is what we are going to continue to do at Wooster,” he said.

Published 11/16/18

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Willard Girls Have the Building Blocks

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Willard, the defending Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division, girls’ basketball champions, look like they are ready for another very good season.

Coach Jon Dawson says so far so good. “It has been a good start. I feel like we are a little bit behind with the success of the volleyball team. We have only had five or six practices and two scrimmages,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, I think the experiences those girls had in the regional tournament definitely invaluable and it is going to pay off in the long run, but we have some catching up to do for sure.”

Now, Willard just played in the regional volleyball tournament two weeks ago. Dawson believes that is going to help his team a whole bunch. “To play on the big stage and to play in the regional finals against a really good team and being that close to making an appearance at the state tournament I don’t think you can trade that for anything,” he said.

When comes to goals, yes, Dawson believes they can be pretty good again this winter. “I like what we have right now. I think we can put together the pieces. I think we have a nice balance between a lot of kids and I really look forward to working with this group,” he said.

Published 11/16/18

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Get Your Clear Fork Playoff Tickets Early

Click here to listen to an interview with AD Jeff Gottfried

Clear Fork plays in its third football regional final ever and its first in 29 years on Saturday night as they meet St. Mary’s Memorial in a third round game in division four at Bellefontaine High School.

Athletic Director Jeff Gottfried says it is to the benefit to both you and the school district to get your tickets ahead of time. “When you get to the regional playoffs it is all designated by the state, the ticket prices all through the regionals, the quarterfinals that we hosted, the semifinals and the finals, the ticket prices are $8 at the school, of that $8, $1.20 from that ticket does get kicked back to the schools in the OHSAA. So, it is a little bit of money to the school itself for the purchase of your ticket and not only that, but $8 is a $1 cheaper than what it is at the gate. If you buy it at the gate the night of the game it is going to be $9 and the OHSAA is going to get all of that. It is always nice if you are planning on going to get out there early, get to the school, and save yourself a dollar and out of your $8, $1.20 is going to go to the school,” said Gottfried.

Plus, on Thursday there will be some extra opportunity to buy presale tickets at the school’s athletic office, according to Gottfried. “We did something a little different this week as opposed to last week, our ticket sales were only during the school day, we felt like it was going to be okay because we had them for an extra day. I just picked up the tickets (Wednesday) and brought them back here at Noon and I just felt like we need to give our fans a greater opportunity to get here to the school, so we are going to extend our hours until seven o’clock (Thursday) night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We do have to cut it off at one o’clock on Friday just because we have to make our deposits and get all of that stuff done to take our check to Bellefontaine for our presale money. So, there is some extra time for people that would be working and not be able to be here during school hours.”

Again, tickets will be on sale until 7 PM on Thursday night only. Gottfried admits that St. Mary’s Memorial has sold more presale tickets the first two playoff weeks than has Clear Fork. He hopes that changes this week.

Gottfried is the long time softball coach at Clear Fork, but this is his first year as AD. He says it has been a special fall. “It is what it is. The nice thing is there is a week between games and it gives you some time to get things done. I am sure with basketball season, or other sports, the turnaround is 24 or 48 hours with presale tickets and it makes it a lot more chaotic, but I have some great people here that are helping me. We are just trying to enjoy this as a school. It is the first time we have been in a regional final since ’89 and at that time there we only four teams, so we have already won more playoff games than we did that year and the year before in ’88. There are a lot of good things happening athletically here at Clear Fork High School,” he said.

Published 11/15/18

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Sandusky and Norwalk, Round Two

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Sandusky and Norwalk, two schools out of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division, square off in the division three regional final on Friday at First National Bank Stadium at the Bellevue Athletic Field.

Of course, it is the second meeting this year between the two schools. The Truckers won the regular season game (52-35) on October 5.

Now, last week, the Blue Streaks (8-4) played perhaps their best game of the season together in walloping Lexington (56-12) in a second round playoff game.

Coach Mike Franklin says they put everything together, leading (28-0) after the first quarter. “We had everything going. We scored in all three phases. We got off to an amazing start. I couldn’t be more proud of the kids. We were able to get them to turn over the football, two defensive scores, fumble recoveries for touchdowns. We opened the game with a kickoff return for a touchdown and it was history from there,” said Franklin.

Franklin says they are still striving to get better and he believes they can turn the tables on the Truckers. “We took advantage of what we were able to last week. You don’t want the kids to be too up. We are playing a team that beat us during the regular season. Time has told us it is tough to beat a team twice is a season and that is what we are thinking,” he said.

In that first matchup with Norwalk, Truckers running back Trevon Raymore rushed for more than 400 yards, a school record. Franklin says better defense is key, but they have to keep the ball away from Norwalk too. “We did not play very good defense obviously. Their running back had more than 400 yards rushing, I think. That is never a good outcome. We think we have gotten better on defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to continue to move the football. We have really struggled all year, every time we look at the stats, the other team has more time of possession as we have. We score quick, which doesn’t hurt, but I think we need to start winning the time of possession.”

Sandusky’s running back ain’t too bad either. Terion Stewart is the media’s choice as Northwest District division three offensive player of the year. He has 2,640 yard rushing. Raymore has more than 2,000 yards himself. Both have rushed for more than 20 scores.

Sandusky is kind in a similar situation to what is was last year. They had beaten Clyde (42-28) in a regular season game, but the Fliers beat them (35-0) in the playoffs. The Blue Streaks would be hoping for a similar type turnaround.

Franklin thinks both teams are different than they were more than a month ago. He says defense is going to tell the story. “Last year we played a team and we played them in the playoffs and it was kind of a quick turnover. This year it has been a few weeks and we are both kind of doing some different things on both sides of the ball. So, it is almost like a new football game. It is going to come down to can they stop us and can we stop them. I really think that is going to be one of the keys on Friday,” said Franklin.

Published 11/15/18

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Shelby With Some Unknowns

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Troy Schwemley

Shelby will return some familiar faces to the basketball floor this season, but the guys wearing the other uniforms are going to be somewhat unfamiliar to the Whippets.

They are in a new league, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

Coach Troy Schwemley says they are working right now to find out what they are good at. “We have five returning lettermen. We have guys that have played well together before. You are still trying to figure out personnel groupings and who plays well together. You always add some news faces to that mix. Every year you go into a plan of things you want to do. I think you are willing to make some adjustments around what your strengths are. Try to focus on the strengths, but also improve the weaknesses,” he said.

When it comes to the preseason, Schwemley says you have an overall plan of what you are trying to accomplish, but sometimes you have to be ready to adapt when it comes to the preseason too. “There are definitely things you are working on. You have to look at the bigger picture. You try and schedule opponents that are going to help prepare you for your games. Sometimes that is difficult when you are playing a lot of teams it makes scheduling scrimmages challenging. Depending on who is still playing football affects things. There are all kinds of factors that go into that. You are going into your scrimmages with kind of an agenda and depending on who you play sometimes helps those things or sometimes you realize there are things you need to work on and get better at,” said Schwemley.

When it comes to the “MOAC,” Schwemley admits there are going to be a lot of things to learn. “When you look at the teams in it, we are pretty familiar with Ontario. Clear Fork we have seen, whether it be scrimmages or postseason and things like that and Galion, but after that it gets a little bit interesting when you have teams like Rive Valley, Harding, Pleasant, Buckeye Valley, it is a new situation where there is not a lot of familiarity with some of those teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I know last year I went to Pleasant on a Thursday night to watch Ontario play, but other than that I don’t know a whole lot about Harding, Pleasant, Buckeye Valley. We did play River Valley non-league, so from that standpoint we are a little bit familiar, but there are going to be a lot of new faces and getting to know some tendencies. When you coach against certain teams long enough, I think coach Balogh and I probably have multiple pages of scouting reports on each other. Some of these teams we do not know a lot going in.”

Published 11/15/18

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Lady Tygers Featuring Depth

Click here to listen to an interview with coach J.R. Wilson

Mansfield Senior is due to tip off the girls’ basketball season in nine days, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, against Jones Leadership Academy.

There is still some time to get better and first year coach J.R. Wilson believes they are going that during the preseason. “The girls are really, just from what I see, are really buying into what us coaches are trying to teach, which is just bring effort every single day on to the practice court. We just want to get better each and every day,” he said.

One of the keys this season for the Lady Tygers, according to Wilson, is the depth they have. He thinks they are going to be able to count on their bench. “Just be out there and understand not to take any play off. To give your all. That’s why we are a team. That is why there is more than one player out there. It is we not I. The girls are understanding that we have got a full bench,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We want to be able to go into every single game using a lot of our players because we are going to be getting down the court a lot, so we are going to be using a lot of energy. The girls are really buying into it. We have had some scrimmages and really getting after it.”

This Saturday, Mansfield Senior is hosting their first annual “Preview in the Jungle” at Pete Henry Gym and their auxiliary gym downstairs. Other than the Lady Tygers, teams from Nothmor, Madison, Clear Fork, Black River, Highland, Crestline and Mt. Gilead will be involved.

Wilson says it is a good opportunity for fans. “There is a total of eight different local schools that will be there and we are showcasing their entire girls’ program from seventh grade all of the way up through. Fans can come out and watch their junior high girls and their varsity girls. We are going to have a three point shooting contest for the varsity girls. We are going to have something fun for to really kick the year off. It can be a wonderful place for parents and even fans that just want to see what their entire girls’ program has to offer,” said Wilson.

Published 11/15/18

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Mt. Vernon to be Inexperienced at the Beginning

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Nick Coon

Mt. Vernon was one of the best big school basketball teams in North Central Ohio last season, this year they are going to be a lot younger having graduated 10 seniors from last year’s Ohio Cardinal Conference co-champions.

Coach Nick Coon says they are going to have a lot of guys on the varsity floor that have never been there before. “We had an exciting season being “OCC” co-champs with Lexington and advancing to the central district final for the first time in 25 years. As exciting as that was, we have had to put that in the past and move on from that. To be honest it has been pretty easy doing that because we lost 10 guys from that team, so not really any of our guys that we have this year were, as far as playing time, were part of that besides one returner,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have kind of started from scratch again and try and work on the basics of what we do in our program and it is a day to day process, but our guys are hungry and they are trying to carve out their time and their chapter in Mt. Vernon basketball.”

To be able to put together some wins this season, Coon says it is going to start with defense for the Yellow Jackets. “In our program we are really big into everything starts with defense. We can play defense every night, that is something we can control and our effort and our energy on the defensive end. That can happen everything single day. We may not hit shots every day and offensively we may not be consistent, especially early in the season, but we have to be able to hang our hat on being able to defend and rebound and just making sure we are playing with energy and effort and showing a passion for our teammates and that is something we think can be a strength of this group and we are going to harp on that all year as we go through this season,” said Coon.

They are working on their offensive game, but Coon says that will be a work in progress because of the inexperience they have on the roster this year. “Especially this year we return 51 total points a season ago at the varsity level, so it is going to be different guys and guys that haven’t proven themselves at the varsity level, but we feel we have a good group that’s ready to step up to that challenge and their ready to play after playing behind some guys to get their turn at that varsity level and being able to contribute in game action,” he said.

Published 11/15/18

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Clear Fork Faces Run Oriented St. Mary’s Memorial

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Dave Carroll

The top two seeds in division four, region 14, square off on Saturday night at Bellefontaine High School, as Clear Fork locks horns with St. Mary’s Memorial.

Although, Clear Fork has never played Memorial, their coaching staff, and their players, have some familiarity with what they are about see.

Last week, despite three turnovers, the Colts (12-0) beat Lorain Clearview (26-8) in a regional semifinal at Wooster High School.

Coach Dave Carroll liked the way they moved the ball, but says they can’t afford those turnovers this week. “From the standpoint that we weren’t putting points on the board again and we were shooting ourselves in the foot. I think anytime you go out, they deferred and gave us the ball, and we just took it down the field and methodically put the ball in the end zone. I felt good and our kids felt good, we can block these guys, we got this. I think maybe it was a little bit of a shy of relief after last week of not being able to score and it possibly made us relax a little bit, I’m not sure. Every time we had the football, we were moving it. We had a pick, I think we were down about the 30 yard-line and made a poor decision with two guys on our one guy and should have thrown it out of bounds or ran and we threw a pick. I think when Schaefer fumbled it was a pass play that just wasn’t open and he held onto the ball instead of running it or getting rid of it and he got drilled and fumbled, I think we were inside the 50. Then the other one we were inside the five yard-line when Trevon (Trammell) fumbled. It could have been 28-0 at halftime because I believe their score came off of one of our turnovers. Once that kind of thing happens then momentum gets rolling, but we just let them hang around by making those mistakes. That is the thing we can not do anymore. I am surprised that we have had those kind of turnovers the last two weeks and we are still playing. We tell the kids you are not going to advance in the playoffs with those kind of turnovers. The higher the level you go the tougher the opponent becomes and the more important securing the ball becomes, so we are not going to be able to do those things,” said Carroll.

This will be the Colts fifth playoff game in the last two years and Carroll believes that kind of experience is a plus. “It reminds me of my first year back here at Clear Fork in ’09 none of those kids had ever been in the playoffs. It is just that giddy feeling, everything that goes with the playoffs. It is just the excitement that you are not used too and all of the extra attention that you get. After they went through what they went through last year and now you have two playoff games under your belt and the further you go the more attention you get, but the kids are used to it and you don’t get that head in the clouds an giddy feelings it is more motivating and just awesome to see everybody get excited than getting goofy about the thing because you have never done it before,” he said.

The Colts have never played St. Mary’s Memorial, but Carroll has and he has great respect for their coach Doug Frey. “I am really familiar with them when I was at Urbana that was our preview scrimmage every year to kick off the season and then we played them in the playoffs in 2002. It’s the same coach, Doug Frey, and he is one the best coaches I have ever seen and I have ever had the pleasure of going against. He coaches it like you are supposed to. He is an old school guy like me. He is very disciplined and his kids are always going to play hard with tremendous effort. They are going to come off the line and smack you and be very fundamentally sound,” he said.

Memorial (11-1) has scored 553 points this season, the Colts have scored 519, the Roughriders have scored 70 points in game, Clear Fork 69 in one. However, the way they go about it is very different. The Colts have two quarterbacks, Jared Schaefer and Brennan South who have passed for over a 1,000 yards. St. Mary’s Memorial is very much a running team.

Carroll says they are going to be physical and they are going to try and pound the ball at you. “They run a wing-T and over the first 11 games the quarterback had thrown for 500 yards, so it is very similar to Pleasant in style of play. They are going to run, run, run, run and do some play action pass here and there or throw if the situation warrants it. They want to run the ball and control the clock. They have scored a lot of points. They get out of the huddle and sprint up to the line, it is like a hurry up offense old school style,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is really neat to watch, a fun brand of football. Defensively, they don’t want to give up the big play. Their db’s are back in a zone or a loose man. They try and keep seven in the box. They want to shut down the run and not give you the big pass play. Very fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball and just very physical.”

Memorial beat a team out its same league, the Western Buckeye League, in Van Wert (55-20) last week. They had beaten them (38-6) in the regular season.

Carroll knows this going to be a tremendous challenge, but he does take some comfort having played Pleasant twice over the last two years, beating them on week nine both times. “Very similar type stuff as I said to Pleasant, the db’s have to get involved. They just put that much emphasis and that many people at the point of attack that everybody is invited to this party, safeties, corners, and everything else and the guys up front. The good news is we played a team this year and last that is very similar to this in Marion Pleasant. Linemen that come off the ball and smack you, backs that fly up in there and are quick. Just a little bit different formation wise. Everybody has to be in that mindset. In 2010, we played Genoa, a very similar type team, similar type offense, and we hadn’t seen anything like that prior to that game because nobody in the “OCC,” nobody that we had played, ran anything that came even close to what they did and I think that was a big disadvantage to us back then, but now we have went against this style of play with Pleasant. So, I think that gives us a little bit of an advantage a little bit of a leg up,” said Carroll.

Published 11/14/18

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Seneca East Has to Tackle in Space

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Seneca East just continues to be impressive.

They play Sherwood Fairview in the division six regional final on Friday night at Findlay High School’s Donnell Stadium.

Not that is makes a difference, or much of one, but it is the second straight week Fairview has played at the same venue.

Last Friday, Seneca East (11-1) beat Columbus Grove (27-20) in double overtime to earn a second round win. They stopped the Bulldogs twice in extra time and Blaine Swartzmiller, the leading rusher in the “N10” this season with over 2,000 yards, scored on a three yard run.

Coach Ed Phillips says Tiger fans are going to remember this one for a very long time. “That one is going to last a while and I have always been okay with that. High school football is a game of momentum and there is seasonal momentum and we are going to take that because that was that was a great program, one of the historic programs in the State of Ohio that we got a win against last Friday night in an extremely special way. So, we are going to take energy from that and the kids have done that this week and roll that right into this week is what we want to do. It is Tuesday and it is a good feeling when you come home Tuesday night and the kids have put together two great practices. We are doing some really good things and we are excited for Fairview this week,” said Phillips.

Phillips says one of the really good things is they can play a lot better than they did last week. “Coach (Kevin) Dick and coach (George) Parks were talking even a little bit (Tuesday) that we did a lot of things last Friday that weren’t real good. We made some mistakes, but when we come out the other end like we did you are better for it. Everything is a learning process too and our kids learned from that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is good to at this point in the season and look at it and say we got a win over a great program and we have a lot of things we can do even better and so that is a good feeling and an even better feeling when the kids step on the practice field with that knowledge and make improvements and get better when you are in week 13.”

Fairview (9-3) scored with just over a minute to play to beat Hillsdale (32-26) last week in a regional semifinal game. The Apaches have gotten better as the season has gone on and they have won their last five in a row. Two of their three losses come to playoff teams, including division seven powerhouse Edgerton (62-29) and Bryan (21-20,) a team Clear Fork beat in the first round.

Phillips says they make a lot of big plays. “They are explosive. They spread you out and they throw the ball around a lot with a lot of empty sets or one running back sets and they are really good at it. They have some good skilled guys, a good trigger guy at quarterback, and their offensive line in doing a pretty good job so they are a good challenge. Defensively, they are really aggressive. So, if I was going to go around the State of Ohio and pick a game to watch and had to buy a ticket this the one I would buy it for,” said Phillips.

Against these spread teams tackling is always a key and Phillips says they have to have a short memory too. “The key to the game probably is tackling and I told the guys, and I told them last week before Columbus Grove, at this point in the season you are playing good teams and they are going to score some points on you and they are going to make some plays, but you just have to make the next one and if you do that and you keep moving forward and you believe in yourself and your teammates then good things are going to happen. That is what happened last week against Columbus Grove and we have to work really hard to make that happen again this week,” he said.

Published 11/14/18

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Rebounding Must Improve for Ontario

Ontario basketball players have been hard working kids and coachable this preseason, but they have to be tougher and good rebounders if they are going to be a really good basketball team.

Coach Joe Balogh says the Warriors have been hard workers without prodding and that is really the first step. “We really like the effort that our kids have put forth. We think our kids have had a real purpose when they have come into practice so when you are able to have that you are not demanding that you want them to practice hard or anything like that. If they come in with a good work ethic a lot of good things can happen. So, we are happy with how we have approached practice each day. You don’t always get the results you want to get, but it is a process and as a coach you have to kind be patient and that is what we are doing right now, but we kind of like where we are at right now,” he said.

Going back to last year, which was a (13-10) season for the Warriors, Balogh says one thing that they took from that season is the kids they have back have to understand how to finish a game. “You really don’t want to focus on a year ago whether it was a great year of whether it was maybe not as good. What we took away from last year we the idea that we won 13 games and actually you felt like if you had dome some things right you could have won maybe 17 or 18 games because in almost every game we were in the game in he fourth quarter than maybe the Lexington game a little bit of our tournament game. So, I think the thing is the kids we have coming back we have some kids that have experienced that and hope they have a better understanding that how crucial it becomes that you have to make plays in the fourth quarter of games when the game is on the line and we really didn’t do that a lot of times last year,” said Balogh.

Looking back then to last weekend, Balogh says the players have to be tougher and they must be better rebounders. “From our first scrimmage on Saturday we have to be a tougher team from a physical standpoint and just the mental approach when we guard people, that has to be a key. Another area that is going to be a real key for us is going to be rebounding the basketball. We have to do a much better job at the defensive end of making contact and then going and rebounding,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We just had a tendency on Saturday of just turning and going to try and rebound and that is not going to work for us. We don’t have great size, but we think we have some kids that can rebound the ball. So, rebounding is an area we have to get better at. Offensively, just kind of being quick, but not in a hurry. There were times Saturday we were in just too much of a hurry. We just have to use that idea that we want to be quick, but not in a hurry.”

Published 11/14/18

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Ashland Wants to Play Faster

Ashland only won two games last year, which is extremely rare for them, and the Arrows are working hard to get back to their winning way this season.

Coach Jason Hess have been very happy with effort he has seen from his group this year that has a little bit of a different makeup than in some past years. “We have been real happy with what we have seen so far. A large portion of our kids did not play football and were not involved in fall sports, so we had a really good turnout this fall starting back in September when we were able to get going with our four man workouts and our weightlifting and conditioning. The kids have been very committed this fall, so we are really looking forward to this season. Unfortunately, our football team did not make it the state playoffs this year like we have been accustomed to in the past, so the couple football kids that we did have were there right at the start of practice. We have had everybody there since day one,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think that is really going to help us out in the long run just getting a little more practice time here at the beginning of the season and getting everybody on the same page. I thought that chemistry wise we have ben really good this fall. We have really been challenging our guys and they have been responding to it. We are looking forward to getting things turned around after last year.”

Conditioning could be a factor for the Arrows this season and Hess says they have been working really hard to make sure they are in the best shape possible. “We tried to push them a little bit harder this fall. Just a little past observation, I was never a football player, just from coaching and watching the kids, it usually takes them three weeks to a month into basketball season to get their legs underneath them where they can play long stretches of basketball. It is such a different conditioning with the constant changing of direction and the long stretches that you might have to play basketball and it is a different muscle group too with some of the defensive sides and stances depending on what positions they played in football and every kid is a little bit different. I think getting our guys in basketball shape as quick as possible can only help us,” he said.

Hess says there are a couple of things in particular that they are working on to be better than they were last year, unselfish play and getting down the floor faster. “A couple of things that we have really tried to focus on. One is just trying to get our culture and team chemistry established where our guys understand the importance of being great teammates to each other an that kind of leads to playing unselfish basketball where we make batter decisions offensively and get better movement and spacing. I think at times last year our offensive execution was pretty stagnate and not where it needed to be. It is just hard to play defense for long stretches if you are not scoring points. I think we are going to try and get back to playing a little faster this year where we can get out and run the floor and use our skill sets that we have got with this year’s group of kids where they can play out in space and allow them to create and play basketball a little bit more and a little more feely,” said Hess.

Published 11/14/18

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Lucas Must Get Past Trimble

For Lucas to advance to its first ever state semifinal they are going to have to beat the school that eliminated them last year.

They face Gloster Trimble in a division seven regional final on Saturday night at Hamilton Township Alumni Stadium, just south of Columbus.

Trimble beat the Cubs (20-19) in a first round game at Lucas in 2017.

Last Saturday, Lucas drilled Waterford (33-14) in a regional semifinal in Coshocton.

Coach Scott Spitler says it was a good overall game for the Cubs. “I thought we came out and played well on both sides of the ball defensively and offensively and controlled the line of scrimmage. I thought in the trenches we really set the tone the entire night,” he said.

If you are into to comparing scores, and that comes with its dangers because there are so many other factors, Trimble beat Waterford (42-12) in a regular season game, so same sort of differential there.

Like all Lucas (10-2) games, Spitler says the line of scrimmage is going to be important. “We want to establish our run game and defensively we want to make teams one dimensional by not allowing them to run the ball. If we can get them in obvious passing situations, which makes our athleticism in the secondary dangerous,” he said.

After the heartbreaking loss last year, Spitler says they thought they might get another chance against the Tomcats this fall in the playoffs. “We are pretty familiar with them. They beat us 20-19 at our place in a first round match-up in the playoffs last year. They were primarily sophomores and juniors. I think if you would have asked both teams after that game last year with the amount of respect we have for them and vice versa both teams probably expected to be in this situation this year with the experience they had coming back. We know what kind of team they are they are very physical, hard nosed, with lots of tradition. It is a tremendous program, well coached. They get after you and they hang their hat on playing very solid defense and running the football just like we do,” said Spitler.

Trimble (11-1) handed Harvest Prep a (7-0) loss in their regional semifinal last Saturday. The Tomcats have an incredible nine shutouts this season, including their last six games and they have only given up 40 points in 12 games this season, that is a little more than field goal a game.

Spitler says to move it against Trimble you must sustain blocks or you are going to be punting a lot. “The big thing is the battle is going to be won in he trenches for both teams. They are a double tight wishbone team. We’re a double tight wing team. We both want to run the football and we both want to play good defense. I think the biggest thing with these guys because they are so athletic and so relentless going to the football is you have to sustain blocks and you have to be rule sound up front and you have to take care of the football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “You can’t take a team like this an give them extra possessions because they are so good defensively. You have to understand that it is going to be a battle for four quarters. There is going to be ups and downs and adversity. You just have to keep plugging and keep plugging.”

Spitler says the purposely built their schedule this year with teams like Lima Central Catholic (which they beat 21-14) to make them ready for a game like this. “That is kind of our mindset. We knew what type of team we were going to have coming back experience wise. I think we challenged ourselves with our schedule this season to get ourselves ready for a postseason run. We played the teams that we played on our schedule so we could get ready for a quality team like Trimble. We’d like to think that playing games like Lima Central Catholic and the D-3 and D-4 schools that we had on our schedule this season that we are prepared for a four quarter, physical battle like we are going to get from Trimble this Saturday,” said Spitler.

Published 11/13/18

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Western Trying to Find Things

Western Reserve is one of the favorites to grab a Firelands Conference boys’ basketball title this winter, but for them to do that they have a lot of improving to do on the floor.

Coach Chris Sheldon says he is really not surprised that they haven’t looked that sharp early in the season because, well, it’s early. “We look like a team that has had six, seven practices. Things right now are sloppy at both ends of the floor. You can tell the difference between guys that played a fall sport and those that didn’t. When you make that transition from a football field to a hard surface it just takes some time to get used to having a ball back in their hands consistently and getting their legs back under them and getting their conditioning back to basketball shape and stuff. So, a lot of that is why you see the sloppiness early and that is way it is supposed to look in the month of November. Right now, we are still trying to work through some of those kinks and I expect that is kind of going to be a reoccurring theme over the next two, three weeks,” said Sheldon.

Sheldon says over the next couple weeks they are going to find out who can play at the varsity level and what they can contribute to the team. “The more reps you can get going game speed and especially against somebody other than yourselves the quicker you are going to get to where you want to be. I think the second thing is so far is in a small school setting you have a good idea who may be your top five or your top seven or eight or your top 10. It is not like being in a big school where you get 75 kids to try out for basketball. You know who your kids are because those are the kids you ended June with for the most part and that is who is going to be with you at this time of year. For us right now it is just a matter of using these next two, three weeks to try and knock down our rotation with who is going to start, who is going to be that guy or two off the bench and between those four or five guys that might be fighting for two spots on the varsity playing time rotation. That is really the battles right now that we are watching as coaches besides all of the team execution stuff from an x’s and o’s standpoint those are the big things that we are really trying to iron out over these next two weeks,” said Sheldon.

They shared the Firelands Conference title last season and to get that level again, Sheldon says they have to find guys that want to do the little things. “We use a phrase all of the time that every year is a different year, obviously you adjust your personnel, but around here we like to say we never rebuild, we reload and that expectation is not going to change. We know we have our work cut out for us because we lost three starters, even though we return our two leading scorers, our three kids that we lost provided everything you need in terms of a formula you need to be a successful basketball team with guts, leadership and grit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Right now, that is a reoccurring theme for us at this point because we are no where close to from an individual and collective makeup out understanding what you have to sacrifice for each other if ultimately the team is going to be successful. We have a lot of guys that have some skill right now, we have some guys that can really score the basketball, but they don’t understand that only one guy can score on every play. Until we figure out what everybody has got to do to lead to a winning play and a scoring play we are going to struggle. That has sort of been a problem for us early on here in finding guys that are willing to do the little things that add up to success and hopefully we can figure that out in the coming weeks. If we have any shot of trying to compete for a league championship again we have a long ways to go.”

Published 11/13/18

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Defense the Key for Northwestern

The Northwestern Huskies are a traditional basketball power and to win this year, at least consistently, they are going to have to do it on the defensive end.

Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says he has been pleased with how good his kids have looked early in the preseason. “It is always fun to start the year. I really like the group of kids that we have got and they are really working hard. I am very proud of their effort they are putting in each day. We are almost hurting our offense right now because I think we could be a very good defensive team this year, even more so that a lot of other years in the past. We have a lot of athletes and we can use 10 guys and press. I think that is something we are really stressing. I really like what I have seen so far. It probably hurt our offense Saturday in a scrimmage, but our defense looked very good and we pressed for six straight quarters,” said Alberts.

Over the first 10 days, Alberts says they have kind of sacrificed working on offense to sharpen that defense even more. “We need to execute and we need to do it more. Right now, we are concentrating so hard on defense we aren’t doing much on offense in practice. It’s weird to say that and I am an offensive guy too, but I feel we have to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball because I felt like last year we didn’t do well enough in that area and I think that hurt us and probably cost us a couple of games that we should have had especially early in the year. Late in the year I thought we played very well and we did what I asked. It is a double edged sword. We have a couple of weeks to figure that out before, exactly 18 days before we play Triway,” said Alberts.

Alberts says the preseason scrimmages aren’t really about winning games, but instead about working on things you need to work on. “I think that is something that is lost and sometimes people try to win here in the preseason. I sacrificed a quarter that we could have won on Saturday to watch our other guys play against a good team and see what they could do. We maybe could have won had I stuck my starters back in, especially my big kid, and we lost because of it. Okay, I didn’t want to lose,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We tried to win some other quarters, but I needed to see if these guys could play. We missed 10 straight shots and I have never said this any other year, but they were all good shots, we just missed. We got them, and we played hard, we just missed the shots. It would be different I guess if we weren’t getting the shots.”

Published 11/13/18

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Bellevue Working on Finishing

Bellevue looks to be in a mix of some pretty solid teams in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference this year an they are working to become the best they can be.

Coach Ed Rich says be believes they players collectively are doing what they need to do to become a good team. “I like what I see so far for sure. I think we have a pretty good group of kids. We see a lot of buy in early. That was kind of our big thing this summer and this fall was to get 100 percent buy in and do what we can on the floor,” said Rich.

This year’s team in going to be a mix of experience and guys that are new to varsity basketball, according to Rich. “It is a mixture of both. I have six returning lettermen and I have four sophomores that don’t have any varsity minutes in their career. So, it is a good mix, but we are really going to rely on our six returning lettermen to carry us,” he said.

In watching the players so far this year, Rich says they need to become better at finishing around the basket and getting the rebound when there are misses. “We had our scrimmage on Saturday and the thing that stuck out most to our coaching staff was that we didn’t finish around the basket. We got good looks, but don’t finish well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We thought our rebounding overall wasn’t what we like. We are going to hit those pretty hard this week and hopefully get those fixed by our next scrimmage.”

Published 11/13/18

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Colonel Crawford Girls Working Hard

Colonel Crawford hopes to get back in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference girls’ basketball race this season and they are putting in a lot of hard work to meet that end.

Coach Kyle Fenner says they have a mix of experience this year, but everybody, top to bottom, is working hard. “It has gone really well our kids have been really, really coachable. They have worked hard. They do what we ask them to do. We are still kind of young,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have three seniors, but we also have a mix of some sophomores and juniors and one freshman in the mix. So, they just keep working hard and we feel good about where we are at and where we are going to be if we work hard and listen and do things we want.”

When you have kids that are knew to varsity basketball, Fenner says one thing they have to get used to is the speed of the game because it is different. “Varsity basketball is extremely different than junior high or JV basketball because it is just a lot quicker. It is a lot faster and you have to make decisions a lot quicker. It is just the speed of the game. It just speeds everything up. What you are used to in junior high and JV, it just not that way anymore,” she said.

It might seem odd, but you can’t be thinking during games. Fenner says you have to be reacting and they are trying to get their kids to that point. “It kind of has to become habit. I know last year we struggled and we were playing a lot of kids and we were thinking too much. By the time you get done thinking the pass you thought was open isn’t open anymore and it gets picked off, the passing lane is not there and it’s not open anymore. The more you play the more it slows down. Hopefully, our kids this year and they find out it is going to slow down a little bit,” said Fenner.

Published 11/13/18

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Clear Fork onto Week 13

Clear Fork has played in regional finals twice before, but they have never played 13 football games in a season before this year.

After beating Lorain Clearview (26-8) on Saturday night, the Colts (12-0) will play St. Mary’s Memorial (11-1) in a division four regional final at Bellefontaine AcuSport Stadium this Saturday night.

As you might imagine people in the valley are pretty stoked about that fact and they don’t even have to live there anymore. Jodi Squires, a 1985 Clear Fork grad, who now lives in nearby Fredericktown says, “Colt Pride is Valley wide! Go get them boys.” Or even wider in this case. You don’t even have to live on the mainland for that matter. “From North Pole, Alaska, wish the Colts the best of luck… all of the way,” says Dan Swank, who now lives in the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” There are a lot of Swanks in the Mansfield area, some are related to me and some are not. Dan is my older cousin, who once donned a Clear Fork uniform.

A lot of people are concerned that this game is going to be played in Bellefontaine, its about a 50 minute drive for Roughrider fans, almost two hours from Clear Fork.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says the distance between schools is a factor, but not the only one, when it comes to choosing neutral sites for football playoff games. Seating capacity, quality of playing surface (think turf,) size of locker rooms, and field lighting are all considered.

Gary Mathes wants to know who made the OHSAA mad? Mark Francisco added the Clear Fork baseball team traveled to Elida and won regional titles (three of them in fact) and he says it “just makes the drive home all the sweeter.” Jim Lyon termed the choice of venue “interesting.”

Mike Uplinger, a Shelby fan, remembers “That’s strange. We played them in Marion last year. That’s a ways to travel.” Shelby beat St. Mary’s Memorial (47-7) last year in a regional semifinal. Marion Harding is not hosting a game this weekend.

My advice would be not to get too upset about the site of the game if you are a Clear Fork fan. The game is on Saturday and the bus carrying the team can leave anytime it wants since the players will not be in school. As far as fans are concerned I have covered Clear Fork teams from Akron to Castalia to Tiffin to Elida to Columbus and there are always big crowds and this one will be no different. Lyon agrees “Personally, I don’t care where our Colts play! The Clear Fork Valley travels well and we will make it feel like a home game.

Now, some have been more pragmatic fans and get down to the x’s and o’s. Clear Fork has really been its own worst enemy in its first two playoff games. They beat Bryan (20-6) in their first game. They have been remarkably similar really. The Colts have three turnovers in each and because of that didn’t get their offense in top gear until the fourth quarter each time when they put the game away.

Eric Marshall, who’s dad Harold was a pretty good coach until he got too old, is straight forward, “Can’t turn the ball over like they did this past Saturday again, I can tell you that.”

St. Mary’s Memorial was declared by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as the favorite to win this region before the playoffs started, but they did that last year too. The Roughriders have been very explosive this season as they have scored more than 60 points three times, beating Kenton (70-29) on week five of the season. They play in an excellent conference, the Western Buckeye League, where three teams made the playoffs this year. Their only loss came on week 10 to Wapakoneta (26-24) on a late field goal by the Redskins. Wapakoneta plays for a division three regional title on Friday.

Ryan Cooper, a graduate of former rival Lexington, talks turnovers too. “St. Mary’s WILL win if Clear Fork plays sloppy. Will be a low scoring defensive battle. Colts need to score quickly and maintain control of the game,” he said.

Published 11/12/18

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Round Three Playoff Sites

Division III

Norwalk (9-3) vs. Sandusky (8-4), Friday, November 16, at Bellevue High School

Division IV

Clear Fork (12-0) vs. St. Mary’s Memorial (11-1), Saturday, November 17, at Bellefontaine High School

Division V

Orrville (10-2) vs. Akron Manchester (10-2), Saturday, November 17, at Canal Fulton Northwest High School

Division VI

Seneca East (11-1) vs. Sherwood Fairview (10-2), Friday, November 16, at Findlay High School

Division VII

Lucas (10-2) vs. Gloster Trimble (11-1), Saturday, November 17, at Hamilton Twp. High School

 

 
     
 

It has to be Team Defense for Lexington

Lexington faces Sandusky in a second round playoff game in division three on Friday night at the new Flashes Field at Willard High School.

It is the second meeting between the schools in the playoffs in the last three years. Lexington won (30-19) two years ago. There have been some basketball tournament game between the schools too over the last three years, each competitive. Lexington has won two of the last three on the basketball court.

Last week, the Minutemen beat Tiffin Columbian (31-21) and coach Taylor Gerhardt says the two touchdowns they scored in the first quarter were critical. “The last two games of the season that was out big goal. We have been through a lot of trials, ups and downs, during the season. The thing we really needed to conquer and be able to do was start fast. We certainly needed to be able to do that against a team the caliber of Tiffin and we were able to do that,” he said.

The Minutemen picked off five Tornado passes last week, two of them by All-Ohio Cade Stover, who also ran for 170 yards and two TD’s.

Lexington (7-4) enjoys a six game winning streak, but Gerhardt says they have to put that in the rear view mirror. “I jokingly talk to the kids, I know they don’t know anything about the 80’s music that I grew up with, but Janet Jackson had a song called “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” and that is always what it has to be about. You can’t rest on you accolades,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “You can’t expect for people to be impressed with what you have done. You can’t wallow in sorrow if you have made a bad play or something bad has happened in a game. You really have got to play the paly in front of you and preform in the now. With the ups and downs that these kids have gone through they have really, really grasp that.”

Sandusky (7-4) handled Bay Village Bay (34-14) last week behind 288 yards from junior running back Terion Stewart. He has over 2,500 yards this season and is the Blue Streaks all time leading rusher.

Gerhardt says he is tough to bring down. “They have a heck of a running back. The Stewart kid is the real deal. He has over 2,000 yards rushing. The kid doesn’t know how to go down. If you tackle him high and you are poor on your fundamentals, he is going to make you pay for it. The thing is they are not just one trick pony. The can throw the ball down field. The Stewart kid’s brother can catch it and run with it. Defensively, they run to the football. Overall, they are a very athletic football team. I am surprised about the number of losses that they have because that is a doggone good football team,” said Gerhardt.

With the athletes that Sandusky has Gerhardt says it is doubly important for them to get great pursuit. “We always talk about on defense at Lexington that you have to swam the ball. There is no such thing as single man tackles as far as I am concerned. It’s a team sport. There needs to be a 11 purple hats at the football at any time. And this is and even more important game because of the kind of kid that the Stewart kid is. He is just absolutely relentless when he runs the ball,” he said.

Published 11/09/18

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Northmor Tangles With Fort Frye Again

Northmor meets Beverly Fort Frye in a division six regional semifinal at Watkins Memorial Ascena Field on Friday night.

Fort Frye was the school that eliminated the Golden Knights last year.

Northmor (10-1) won its first playoff game ever in its second chance when they downed Chillicothe Southeastern (28-16) last week.

They were in control the whole way it seemed and coach Scott Armrose says they were able to make the plays when called upon. “We made plays when we needed to both offensively and defensively and we were able to hold on and pull off a win on a very sloppy field,” he said.

Quarterback Hunter Mariotti found running back Conor Becker for a score with 4:16 left to seal the win. Becker finished the night with 139 yards and two rushing TD’s.

Armrose thought they reacted well to a muddy track. “We made a decision as a team that when our season ends it is because we play a better team. It is not going to have anything to do with the elements or Mother Nature. We are not going to let that decide for us,” he said.

Fort Frye (10-0) beat Milford Center Fairbanks (34-14) in their opening playoff game. They have beaten two playoff teams this fall in Waterford (22-20) on week three and Steubenville Central Catholic (41-23) on week 10.

Armrose describes them as a solid team led by a dynamic quarterback in Tate Engle, who threw for four scores last week against Fairbanks. “Well, obviously, they are real good football team. They are really athletic with a lot of speed at a lot of different positions and they can hurt you in a lot of different ways,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They can run the ball really well. They can throw the ball really well. The quarterback is dynamic, he can run or throw. So, they can attack you a lot of different ways.”

On defense, the Cadets have given up some points at times, but Armrose says they have a couple of outstanding linebackers. “They run a 4-2-5 defense with a big physical defensive line. What they do really well is they have two of the better linebackers we have seen all season. One of them is back from last year and was really good last year. I looked at my scouting report from last year and I had him highlighted, so he is returning, and they bring a sophomore in who is really good too,” said Armrose.

Last year, Fort Frye beat Northmor (6-0) in a first round playoff game, but Armrose says they don’t need to use that loss for motivation. “It didn’t come up all week in the locker room, just with the media we have mentioned it. In the locker room we didn’t bring it up at all. We are a whole different team than we were last year and they are too. We know we are playing a really good team and we have plenty of motivation we don’t need to bring last year’s game into it,” said Armrose.

The Northmor coach gives us the keys on both sides of the football. “We need to take care of the football. We need to be balanced like we have all season. We need to be able to run and throw the ball. We have to slow down their running game and at the same time be disciplined enough to slow down their screen game,” he said.

Published 11/09/18

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Norwayne Faces Unbeaten Kirtland in Playoffs

Norwayne, the champion of the Wayne County Athletic League, faces traditional power Kirtland in division six regional semifinal on Friday night at Strongsville Pat Catan Stadium.

This is the 14 th time Kirtland has been in the playoffs and they have been part of the football tournament in 11 of the last 12 years. They won the state title in 2011, 2013, and 2015. Norwayne also won a state title in 2011 and they are making their fourth straight trip to the postseason.

Last week, Norwayne (10-1) destroyed Southern (52-16) and that was after trailing (16-7) early in the second quarter.

Coach Adam Indorf says they told the players if they could kept pressing things would turn their way. “We told our kids initially that they would come out with a lot of energy and that we just needed to continue to play a play at a time and get after it and eventually things would start going for us and that is exactly what happened,” he said.

Kirtland (11-0) blew out Steubenville Central Catholic (59-0) last Saturday in their first playoff game. That was their sixth shutout of the season. They have not allowed more than one score in any game this season and that includes three playoffs teams. The Hornets last loss came to Marion Local (34-11) in last year’s state title game.

Indorf says they have everything that you would expect a very good football team to have. “They are solid from top to bottom. They like to power the ball. (Joey) Torok, number 4, their running back, really kind of explodes through the hole, gets north and south very quickly, and covers a lot of ground,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively, they like to throw a bunch of stuff at you, stunts and blitzes and stuff like that. So, we are going to have to make sure that we are being sound in our blocking schemes and making sure our heads are up and we are firing off the ball and try and control the line of scrimmage.”

Indorf says they don’t have to be mistake free to win this game, but they are going to have to a lot of things right. “Just go out there and give your best on every play is all we are asking every kid. If a mistake does happen, we will move on to the next play. We will focus on eliminating any blocking scheme mistakes or any dropped passes or fumbles or things like that. We have to take care of the ball,” he said.

Published 11/09/18

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Shelby Shooting for Title

Shelby was chosen as the coaches association’s division two champion this fall and now they get a chance to prove it on the course on Saturday when the state cross country meet is contested at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, in southern Licking County.

The OHSAA was forced to postpone the meet last was originally scheduled for last Saturday due to wet conditions, some would call flooding, at the track.

Shelby coach Chris Zuercher says it did force them to change their training methods a little bit. “We have been training hard and we really didn’t start to back off until last week a little bit, so once we heard the news Thursday afternoon we changed things up and went a little harder into the weekend. If we had to have a delay I glad we had it we these guys,” said Zuercher.

Shelby finished in the top 10 in last year’s state final and they won the division two regional on October 27 at Tiffin. Zuercher feels they are used to this kind of pressure. “They have the experience. They have raced in a lot of big pressure events and they have handled the stress really well. We hope to do well this weekend,” he said.

Caleb Brown finished second at Tiffin, just behind Kyle Johnston of Lexington, and teammate Sam Logan was three seconds behind Brown in third place. Blake Lucius ended up seventh at the regional level.

It is a sport of strategy and Zuecher lays out what they would like do on Saturday. “Our top two, Caleb Brown and Sam Logan, in that top four, five, which is great. Then our number three, Blake Lucius, if he could be ahead of Akron St. Vincent/ St. Mary and Woodridge’s two, things we look really good for us,” told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

Published 11/09/18

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Consistency and Confidence Keys for Lady Colts

The Clear Fork Lady Colts are preparing for the season under a new coach, their third in four years, and they are showing some good signs.

They were (7-16) last season, their first in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. They finished in seventh place in the league last year with a (2-12) conference record.

Coach Randy Pore says he has seen some good leadership and some hard work over the first two weeks of practice. “I know coming in from the summer we were going to have some good solid leadership from our senior and junior classes. We did lose four starters from last year, but we have six returning letter winners. So, we have a good core leadership and we also have some hard working sophomores and some freshmen as well that are pushing those girls. I am really happy with where we are at right now,” he said.

Pore has been the boys’ JV coach the last several years and he is still learning his personnel. He thinks they can be an improved team. “Not having watched a lot of game last year being with the boys, I didn’t have a lot of time to watch the games there. I think consistency is going to be a big part of our season. We have a lot of girls that are capable of putting up a lot of points on certain nights, but then the next night they might be shutout. I think once we get some consistency and our confidence going it is going to go a long way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We had seven wins last year, we would love to get more than that, hopefully double digit wins. In the league last year we had two wins, so we definitely want to improve on that and I think we will.”

Clear Fork opens the season on December 1 against new conference member Shelby at home. Pore says that gives them some time to use scrimmages to allow some inexperienced players to sort of get their feet wet. “A lot of these girls even those they played varsity minutes last year they may not have gotten the majority of the minutes. These juniors especially they are getting a lot of playing time. A lot of them have not had 20 minutes of playing time at one time, so just getting in there and getting their minutes and getting their legs is going to be an important part of the scrimmages. Our first game is not until December 1. Our two games from last year we didn’t reschedule with those teams, so we have an extra week of practice,” said Pore.

Published 11/09/18

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South Central to Try Something Different

South Central has had some pretty good basketball success the last couple of seasons. Including Firelands Conference titles in two of the last three years, but they want more, more tournament success.

Coach Brett Seidel says they have changed some things they are doing this month.

Plus, he says they can take some momentum off of what was a very good football season, the best in more than 30 years. “(Basketball season is) here, we don’t have much of a choice. Our kids were a little bit defeated that they didn’t get a chance to play in the playoffs after the season they had in football. It would like to congratulate coach (Corey) Fickiesen on being able to change the culture and that short amount of time. Getting the kids to believe is a testament to him. I feel like that is going to carry over into our season as well,” said Seidel.

Can you take momentum from one sport to another? Seidel sure hopes so. “It is the first season each year. I think it does a lot and confidence goes a long way. When you start believing in yourself. (Coach Fickiesen) is part of our program as well. You start getting kids to believe in themselves that they can accomplish more than they have in the past you are on to something,” he said.

The Trojans return three of their top scorers in Simon Blair, Isiah Seidel, the son the coach, and David Lamoreaux, who was part of that football team, and one of the leading receivers in the conference.

They have lost in the district semifinals the last two years and Seidel would like to find a way to get over that hurdle. “For whatever reason we have not been able to get over the hump in the tournament and I am trying some different things this fall and the beginning of this season that hopefully will help us have a little bit more of an edge come February. It seems like we are peaking at the wrong time, a little too early,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Hopefully, we can get that solved this year. We had a really good summer. We won our team camp and in order to do that you have to make a tournament run within the camp and I think it was a good feeling for the kids to be able to continue to win and advance against pretty good competition.”

Published 11/09/18

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Clear Fork Faces Big Time Run Game

Clear Fork plays Lorain Clearview in the playoffs for the second year in a row, this time in a second round game in division four, Saturday night at Follis Field at Wooster High School.

The Colts scored twice in the fourth quarter last week on pick six by Ashton Lyons and a short TD run by Brady Tedrow and they put away Bryan (20-6) in a regional quarterfinal.

Coach Dave Carroll says the play of the defense was just tremendous. “We were all really proud of our defense. We talked earlier in the season about some of those games that we won pretty handily, but we weren’t real impressed with our effort. It was kind of opposite of that Saturday night. Our kids just gave unbelievable effort getting after that quarterback. Our big boys, that wears them guys out going up the field after that quarterback play after play. They were relentless the entire game. Trevon Trammell had a great game, Gabe Blauser, the three big boys up inside (Hunter) Tollison and (James) Watts and (Michael) Chillemi. A team the week before threw for like 370 yards passing and we held them to 76 total passing yards. The defense was fantastic and those guys did a great job,” said Carroll.

Clear Fork (11-0) took a (7-6) lead in the second quarter on a TD Pass form Jared Schaefer to Kadin Flynn, but Carroll says on offense they were kind of their own worst enemy. “Offensively, I don’t think it was a lack of effort by any means because a lot of them are the same kids we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot with holding penalties, three interceptions, just not executing properly down in the red zone. We should have had three more scores. We were down inside the 10 three times and didn’t get it done. Hopefully, that was our bad offensive night of the season and we got it out of the way and now ready to get back to where we were,” he said.

Clearview beat Highland, the Knox Morrow Athletic League champ, last week (30-16) in their first playoff game. Clear Fork beat the Clippers (44-0) in a first round game last week.

Carroll says this year’s team is better and much more experienced. “They are still a 3-4 defense. They play a little bit more man coverage than what they did. They play a little more cover two zone. They will still do both. They slant and angle like they did last year. It is a lot of the same kids. I think seven starters on the defensive side are back. Offensively, they are still a run first kind of team. Probably a little more run first team this year. Last year, they had that big tall quarterback that zipped it around quite a bit. The difference is those guys are all back, so they are a year older and bigger, faster, stronger, and experienced. So, we told our kids on Monday to forget about last year because you are not playing last year’s team this is a much more experienced group that is way improved over last year,” said Carroll.

Clearview (10-1) is bringing a 10 winning streak into the game. Carroll says they will bring some confidence with them too. “They had a fantastic season once again. They lost their first game to a bigger school and have rattled off 10 wins since then. I am sure they have a boatload of confidence. I am sure they want a little revenge from last year’s game. I’m sure that is a little extra motivation for them. They have been riding the wave right now,” he said.

Follis Field has tuff and Carroll says his kids are excited about that, plus they had some offensive success when they played Wooster two years ago on that field. “Week 10 against Marion Harding we were on turf and Bellevue was also a turf field. We love that of course because we like to throw the ball and we like to get the ball to our kids out in space. We have some pretty fast guys. Turf helps everybody, but when you are fast it is really a plus to know you are going to have great footing and you can cut much better and do all of those things that those fast guys do. Out kids just start smiling when they know we are going to be on the Astroturf,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are playing at Wooster, which is a very familiar place to us being an old “OCC” team that we played. Last time we were over there two years ago. Jared Schaefer had a monumental game, at the time he set the school passing record, he threw for 275 yards. We lost, it was a heck of a ballgame, back in 2016 when we lost all of those close games and played everybody tight. I think we had 450 yards of offense, but we didn’t quite finish the job and get them beat. His offensive performance and our offensive performance over there was pretty special, so we are hoping we can have another one like that again.”

Carroll outlines some keys to a win by the Colts and a lot of it is going to boil down to the point of attack. “Offensively, we have to block their front. They are a movement front, slant and angle front like we are, out of their 3-4 defense. They have a really big nose guard that we have to be able to handle. They have two good inside linebackers. They mix up man and zone defense, so we have to be able when they have press coverage, get off of that an get into our routes. We have to protect our quarterbacks up front. They do a decent amount of blitzing. Picking up the movement of the front can be difficult at times. Defensively, it has to start with the run with these guys. They have three different backs that they will use in the run game. They all run hard and they are pretty fast. They have a pretty decent pass game. It is a little more of a quick, slant like game. Some quick drag routes, but they can also chuck the fade down the field and some other things down the field, so we have to be solid there. Number one, we have to be really good against the run, especially on first and second down and hopefully get them in some third and long situations where we can pin our ears back and help our defensive back out in coverage. We have to be good on special teams because they have got some returners that can catch the ball and go,” said Carroll.

Published 11/08/18

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Lucas Takes on Solid Waterford

Lucas faces Waterford in a division seven regional semifinal on Saturday night at Coshocton High School.

The Cubs (9-2) routed Hannibal River (42-0) last Saturday in a game that was played at Ram Field at Madison High School, their first playoff win in three years.

Coach Scott Spitler says they came out ready to play. He says there was no letdown against a team they had beaten (62-6) two weeks earlier. “I think the first round exit the last two years in the playoffs by one and two points respectively the kids didn’t want to let one slip away from them in the first week. So, they had a good week of practice and it showed in the game,” he said.

Waterford (9-2) handled Berne Union (34-14) last week. Spitler says they are led by quarterback Peyton Stevens, who accounted for five scores last week, and running back Brandon Bellville. “There are a lot of similarities to ourselves. They have an All-Ohio running back that has nice size 6’2”, 205, 210. They have a duel threat quarterback that is 6’3”, 215, who is tough as nails, he also plays down defensive end for them on the defense, so a guy with a lot of toughness and attitude and he extends plays for them because of how big he is and he has an arm that can make all of the throws,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Defensively, they get after you very similar to the way Centerburg gets after you with just relentless effort and pursuit. They like to run the ball. They do it out of multiple formation. One minute they could be in wishbone and the next minute they could be in four wides. So, they stress you that way. Make no bones about it they want to control the line of scrimmage just like we do.”

Lucas has allowed only two scores when the game has been in question the last month, both to Lima Central Catholic, and Spitler has confidence that that group can do the job on Saturday too. “Here in the second half of the season we have actually gotten healthy defensively and gotten people back into their normal positions. Being able to play solid defense these last five or six weeks is a testament to the kids getting back into being comfortable in their positions and our defensive staff did a nice job. Waterford is going to stress us quite a bit at the line of scrimmage and then with their formations. What makes their quarterback so tough when you think have got him in the grasp in the backfield he slips out and their wide receivers are good in finding the open area in the scramble drill. So, are defensive secondary has to do a nice job with not getting too nosy in the backfield and staying on their receivers,” said Spitler.

Published 11/08/18

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Lexington Ready for State Cross Country Meet

Lexington is poised to put their best performance on the course when the state cross country meet is held this Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron in southern Licking County.

The meet was scratched last Saturday due to extremely wet conditions and a fear for the safety of the athletes involved.

Lady Lex won the division two regional meet on October 27 in Tiffin with Halle Hamilton, Joanna Halfhill, and Carina Weaver, finishing third through fifth in the final standings and Lily Weeks finishing eighth and Natalie Dininger ninth.

Kyle Johnston won the boys’ individual title in 15:32.89. The Minutemen finished second as a team behind Shelby.

Last fall, Lexington won the boys’ and girls’ state titles in division two and coach Denise Benson feels that experience is going to pay dividends this weekend. “Well, that is definitely a plus. When you have experience you know what you are dealing with and they know how the race is going to develop. That is the biggest thing in our sport is to not to have fear and when you have experience it takes away some of that fear because you know exactly what is going to happen as the race unfolds. Plus, I try and keep our schedule very intense throughout the season. I race us D-One when I can. I bring us to big meets whenever I can. So, when it comes down to it, it is just another big race,” said Benson.

There are sections of the course at the raceway that will be new this year and Benson says knowing yourself and your teammates and knowing how to pace yourself is going to be important. “I always tell them we can control what we are doing, but you can’t control what everybody else does. So, as far as strategy we have to know how we are going to race and that means if you know somebody else is going out too fast you let them go. As far as that strategy goes when you start to reel them in how fast can you go out without jeopardizing what we are trying to accomplish. There is a lot of strategy because as the game unfolds you have to see what everybody else is doing out there,” she said.

Regarding the postponement last weekend, Benson says the OHSAA has no other choice, the course was flooded. She says she feels the Lexington athletes are going to be well prepared for Saturday. “The top teams we did not start peaking until the regional meet. I have confidence that the workouts I have come up this week my athletes are going to hold their peak. They are even more hungry. They have kind of calmed back down this week because you come off the regional meet you are so hyped up, you ran so well, we are in fifth gear,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “So, the postponement was kind of just breath again and build back up. I like that we are calmer going into this weekend. Some other teams if their athletes peaked for districts and regionals they may not be able to hold that peak, but those teams are in the same boat also.”

Published 11/08/18

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Mansfield Senior With a lot of Players

Last year, we a stepping stone for Mansfield Senior to get back to where they feel they belong in boys’ basketball and this winter they want to take more steps.

They would figure to compete with Lexington and maybe Wooster for an Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

Marquis Sykes, in his second year as the head coach, says he thinks they have the potential to be very good. “For us I guess it started over the summer. I was really pleased with the effort we put out in the summer. I really felt like we got a lot better in the off season. Moving forward coming into the season, for me, expectations are really high, really just excited for this new group and this group of seasons and few of our new additions that transferred in, just excited to see how we kind of jell together and how quickly we can kind of come together as a unit and see if we can actually be pretty good,” said Sykes.

There is potential associated with the Tygers, but Sykes says he has stressed to the kids they have to remain hungry. “I have made sure to make a point to our guys that we haven’t done anything. It has been several years since we have won an “OCC” championship and several years since we have won a district title. Those are the kind of things that we are striving for. So, we really have to stay hungry and make sure we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder and look to get better everyday that we are out there on the floor. If we do that the wins and losses will take care of themselves,” he said.

Sykes says they have a lot of players this month that are competing for playing time come the Tygers opener December 1 against Dublin Coffman. “We are really anxious the get our scrimmage season started. We start out this Friday with Galion, so it will be a big test for us. We want to see who is playing well together and who can jell together and who does what better in these different positions. That is what the preseason is all about,” he told Swankosports.com on Wednesday, “We kind of have a gift and curse over here at Mansfield Senior because we have about 12 or 13 guys that can play. I have been explaining to the guys that there are only five guys on the court at one time. You can not play the entire game, so I think it has made our practices more competitive and guys are really hungry and really thirsty to be one of those guys that get minutes out there on the floor.”

Published 11/08/18

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Shelby Girls Getting After it

There is a lot of enthusiasm associated with the Shelby girls’ basketball program so far this season and practices have been pretty competitive so far for the Lady Whippets.

They had their first losing season in more than decade last winter, but they appear to be ready for a comeback this year.

Coach Natalie Lantz they have some hard workers, but they have fun too. “From day one they have come in and they are working hard and they are competitors and they are really pushing each other at practice. A lot of great hustle. A lot of smiles, they are working hard, but they are having fun. So, I am seeing some great chemistry right off the bat with these girls. Just really excited about the energy that I am seeing,” she said.

Lantz feels her squad has good chemistry and she says they are pushing each other to get better as players and a team. “We are a week and a half, almost two weeks in and the girls are working hard and we are doing a lot of skill development and just working on the chemistry and knowing where each other is on the court offensively and defensively and little by little you can see kids stepping up and pushing each other to become better and stronger and realizing the different assets of each kid and how they are going to help and contribute to the team,” said Lantz.

Shelby begins the season with a non-conference game at home on “Black Friday” night November 23 against the Madison Lady Rams.

After a year in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, the Lady Whippets are in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and their first league contest will be at Clear Fork on December 1.

Lantz says the new league is going to be a new experience. “Our job as coaches is in getting the girls prepared for a new league. There are only a few teams that we have played in the past as far as our conference goes. So, we are going to have our work cut out for us when it comes to scouting and scouting reports this year,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We will work hard and do the job on our end to have our girls prepared game by game. I know our girls are already to doing their best preparing our own game and what we want to accomplish game by game.”

Published 11/08/18

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Sandusky Faces Streaking Lexington

Sandusky, of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, will play Lexington of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, in a division three regional semifinal at Willard High School on Friday night.

It is a game between two teams that are playing their best football right now.

Last week, Sandusky tailback Terion Stewart rushed for 288 yards as the Blue Streaks demolished Bay Village (34-14) in a first round game. Stewart, a junior, is already Sandusky’s all time leading rusher and has over 2,500 yards this year alone and 3,500 for his career.

Coach Mike Franklin says they played a lot of good football last week. “We played well in a lot of different phases. We turned the ball over three times, which obviously we are not going to be able to do this week. I thought we moved the football well on offense and when we needed to we got stops on defense. We have been up and down all year and hopefully we are playing the best ball of the year,” said Franklin.

At times this year, Sandusky has struggled stopping the run against the other good teams in their league. Franklin says they must get to the ball carrier and get him to the ground this week. “Obviously, it is going to come down to tackling. Going against Lexington they are going to have the big guy carrying the football. We have to be able to tackle really well and be assignment sound,” he said.

Sandusky (7-4) plays Lexington (7-4) on Friday night. The Minutmen beat Tiffin Columbian, also of the Lake Division (31-21) last week.

Franklin is impressed by the Minuteman defense, especially Ohio State recruit Cade Stover. “They have a very good defense. They have gotten better throughout the year. They have gotten better at defense and a standout player obviously that is able to hawk the ball down rather well. So, we have to try and slow his feet down and stop their aggressiveness. They are hard nosed. On defense, we have to make sure we are where we are supposed to be and tackle well,” said Franklin.

Stover is a versatile player and Franklin says they can not allow him to run feely on defense. “He lines up in some different positions, but as good as he is and as fast as he is they could probably line him up on the practice field and he would still be able to make tackles. So, he is a great player. We faced him two years ago and here he is still going. You have to have eyes on him and you have to find ways to make him have to think,” he said.

Lexington beat Sandusky (30-19) two years at this level of the playoffs. Franklin believes they were not ready to play two years ago and he vows not to let that happen again. “I think some of us went into that game underestimating them and you can’t do that at any time, especially the playoffs. So, this year we know that they are good and they are on the upswing,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have won six straight football games. When you start out 1-4 and you are in the second round of the playoffs who are doing something right. They are a good football team, fast, aggressive. Our guys don’t want to quit and I am sure theirs don’t. We have been through a lot this year and we think we are in the right frame of mind.”

Published 11/07/18

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Seneca East Faces Columbus Grove in Second Round

Seneca East is uncharted waters. The Tigers are in the second round of the division six playoffs, somewhere they have never been before.

They face Columbus Grove on Friday night at Tiffin Frost-Kalnow Stadium in a regional semifinal.

The Tigers (10-1) and runners up in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference beat Loudonville (33-9) in a first round game last week.

Coach Ed Phillips says it was another dominate second half for his team. “It was a lot like playing a game in the “N10.” They were a tough football team. They did a lot of things that some “N10” teams did in terms of their wing -T stuff and power football. It was a familiar team and they did a lot of stuff we were familiar with. It was a situation that we were familiar with because they hung with us for quite a while and our kids in the fourth quarter really finished the game off well,” said Phillips.

Seneca East outscored Loudonville (20-0) in the second half to put the game away. Running back Blaine Swartzmiller was huge again for the Tigers. He ran for 264 yards and four TD’s. He has over 2,000 yards for the season.

In terms of winning a playoff game, Phillips says they are proud they could deliver that to the community. “It feels great. It is the first time in school history that we were able to do that and it is something a lot of people have wanted for a long time. So, it is very gratifying,” he said.

Columbus Grove (9-2) beat Carey, another school from the “N10,” last Friday (21-7) in a first round game.

Phillips says the Bulldogs typical game plan is a lot like what they try to do on a weekly basis. “They are little bit like looking in the mirror. Offensively, they do a lot of the things we do. They run it, they throw it, they spread you out in your basic spread formations and throw a lot,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Defensively, they are pretty tough and stubborn. It is going to come down to playing well and taking care of the football and controlling the line of scrimmage up front. I think that is a huge key for us to be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.”

Now, Seneca East had beaten Carey (34-27) on October 5 and Phillips says it does give them a little comfort to be able to compare those games and evaluate certain situations. “That gives you a little sense of security I guess you could say when you know somebody they are playing against and that you are familiar with it allows you to say they did well against that guy or that formation or whatever that may be. That does give you a good feeling that you can kind of gage where they are at,” he said.

Published 11/07/18

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Hillsdale Meets Pass Heavy Fairview

Hillsdale plays Fairview in a second round playoff game in division six on Friday night at Findlay Donnell Stadium.

The Falcons (9-2) routed Northwood (36-6) last Friday night their first playoff game.

Coach Trevor Cline says their defense was able to stymie a Northwood offense that had been averaging more than 50 points per game. “Our offense played good, but our defense really showed up and brought it doing their assignments and with them being able to do their assignments throughout the game they were able to slow down Northwood’s pretty potent offense,” he said.

Hillsdale had 412 yards total offense last week, 309 yards on the ground, while Northwood had just 129.

Fairview (8-3) eliminated “SBC” River Division champion Gibsonburg (35-7) last week.

Cline says this a team that wants to throw the ball and force you to defend their athletic receivers. “Fairview they are another good team that we are going to be facing this week. Offensively they like to go four or five wide and they like to throw the football around. They throw it about 80 percent of the time and run it 20 percent of the time. Their quarterback is very athletic. He throws a nice football and they have a lot of weapons out at receiver that can make big plays,” said Cline.

It’s going to be a tough assignment for Hillsdale offense too. Cline says they need to get into the second level of the Fairview defense. “Defensively, they do a good job of getting to the football and we will have to make sure we are able to control the line of scrimmage and also getting up on their inside linebacker because they do a nice job of finding the football and getting to it and making plays,” he said.

Cline says they really have not faced a team that runs an offense like Fairview’s, at least not on a consistent basis. “They are different than they majority of the teams that we played this year, but there are some similarities to Mapleton, who we played week one where they like to throw the ball around a lot. For the most part they are sort of their own type of team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is not something we have seem a whole lot this year outside of Mapleton and maybe a little bit of Northwestern. It is sort of a new type of offense that we are preparing for. We have seen certain plays where they went four or five wide, but not on a consistent basis like Fairview likes to do.”

Published 11/07/18

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Madison Trying to put the Pieces Together

Madison will be one of the more inexperienced boys’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win some games.

This year, the Rams are going to have a lot of new faces on the floor and coach Tim Mergel says right now at the beginning of preseason they are working to figure out how those new players are going to fit together. “We return one letterman and five points a game, so it is really open tryouts. We are trying to establish some things we want to do with the personnel that we have got. It is just about trying to fit those puzzle pieces together and before you know it November 30 is going to be here. The kids are working hard, they are a joy to be around. I have a good group of kids, but it is going to be quite a learning curve in a short amount of time,” he said.

Mergel says it is a process during the preseason and you have to take things step by step. “You try to get one percent better every day you walk into the gym. Tying to put those pieces together as far as personnel wise with us coming back with so many knew faces at the varsity level it can be a bit of a burden sometimes, but then again the process is why you are there. Everyday going into that gym and figuring kids out and seeing lightbulbs come on that is the joy of that process. We have been fortunate that we have a couple really, really good days of practice where we have seen some progress and the key to that is keeping that going in that upward trend until November 30,” said Mergel.

Madison opens the season November 30 at home against the Shelby Whippets in non-conference play. Their first Ohio Cardinal Conference game is December 7 against rival Mansfield Senior.

Scrimmages start this weekend and Mergel says he wants to always test his kids and this month will no different. “I like to scrimmage a lot of good competition. We always have Celina. We know what they are going to bring to the table. They are always a big, strong physical team. We always tend to get Sandusky Perkins. Colonel Crawford is one we have had for a little bit of time. They are always traditionally very well coached and a very good team. So, the schedule doesn’t change,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I like to go against those good teams because you kind of find out what your kids are made of and you want to get them some different looks. We tend to go with some pretty familiar teams and familiar coaches because I know those coaches are going to have their kids prepared and we are going to be put in a lot of different situations. We don’t change a whole lot based on that. We have to play good competition because our league is never down.”

Published 11/07/18

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Loudonville With High Expectations

Loudonville was one of the very best girls’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio last season and that is clearly going to be the case again this year as they return a bevy of talent.

They were outright Mid-Buckeye Conference champions last season and advanced to the division three district tournament.

Coach Tyler Bates says they believe they can be pretty good this year. “Yeah, we have expectations that I would say are pretty high. Until you start playing those real games you never know exactly what to expect. We return a majority of our team from last year’s squad that went 22-2. We also have Nikki Weber back, who missed last season with an “ACL” injury. So, knock on wood if we stay healthy we hope we can win some games this year,” he said.

Bates says they have looked pretty good in early practices, but he knows they still have to get much better to be where they want to be this season. “We definitely have a lot of work to do. I haven’t slept much. I know the girls know we have a lot of work to do too, but we have seen some good things. We went to Wadsworth for our first scrimmage on Saturday. Schools like Olentangy Liberty, Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary, Columbus Northland were there and we held our own,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Obviously, they exposed us in some areas, but I think that is why you go to those scrimmages to see what you need to work on in practice and we have been doing that this week. All in all, for the first 10 days I am pretty happy with the girls they are working hard and they have a great attitude so far.”

One thing that Bates says must get better for the Lady Redbirds is rebounding the basketball and they are working on it. “We can always execute better. With the schedule we have this year we are going to be in a lot of tight ballgames and it is going to come down to the fourth quarter and who can execute on both sides of the ball. We always have to work on that. As far as what we saw in our first scrimmage we need five girls going to the glass. We are not the biggest team, we are not the most physical team, so it is going to take a team effort to rebound the basketball and we have been working on that a lot this week in practice. We know we have to get better rebounding and holding our opponents to one shot,” said Bates.

Published 11/07/18

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Norwalk Wants to Run the Football

Norwalk won a state football title in 1974, this year is just their third appearance in the playoffs since that championship.

They play Rocky River in a second round game on Friday night at Ranger Stadium at North Ridgeville High School.

In 2013, Norwalk lost a first round game to Tiffin Columbian. In 2014, they defeated Sandusky Perkins and then lost to Clyde. So, a win Friday night would be the furthest the Truckers have advanced since Gerald Ford became President. Gerry was an offensive lineman is his youth and Norwalk is going to need solid line play on Friday.

Last week, the Truckers (8-3) hammered Bowling Green (42-14) to win a first round game.

Coach Todd Fox called it maybe their most complete game of the season and at the right time. “We thought we finally put four quarters together and finally starting to reach our potential that we can be at, so we are excited to get back in the grind this week,” he said.

Halfback Trevon Raymore had 19 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He has been hampered by an injury the last two weeks, but he now has more than 2,000 yards for the season. Sophomore quarterback Garrett Chapin completed 14 of 19 passes for 176 yards and two scores against Bowling Green. Brandon Haraway, perhaps better known for his exploits on the basketball court, caught six passes for 99 yards.

Fox believes they are developing more balance in their offensive attack. “Raymore has over 2,000 yards rushing, but our quarterback has thrown for over 1,800 yards also. On Friday night we had two other backs runs for 60 yards each. We can put that three headed monster out there and run the ball with them too. We do have some weapons that we are starting to piece together and fine tune,” he said.

Rocky River (7-4) came into the tournament as the eighth seed in region 10, but they upset top seeded Clyde (26-17) last week. Defensive back Christian Davis picked off a Clyde pass with less than two minutes to play and returned it for a touchdown just when it appeared the Fliers were going to tie the game or take the lead.

Fox is impressed with a couple of the Pirates receivers. “They just do a lot of things. They spread the ball out. The quarterback does a great job finding his receivers. They have a couple of receivers that just go up and get the football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are fast, of course, but they just go up and get the football. You can have the greatest coverage and they just go up and get it. Offensively, they just do a great job of taking a play and making something out of nothing.”

Special teams could be a big factor in this game. Rocky River has an all-state kicker in Owen Bebie, who kicked two field goals against Clyde, one 43 yards, but Fox has confidence in his kicker Garrison Smith. “We feel blessed that we have a good kicker, but they have a good one also. I believe he may have been All-Ohio last year as a punter and a kicker. He is pretty special, but we feel confident in ours. To be good at this next round you have to have all of those pieces together,” said Fox.

When it comes to keys, Fox believes on Friday night they have to be the more physical football team. “We need to establish a run game. We need to reestablish our blue collar type football. We need to still use our pass game, but we need to get back to being a physical football team running the ball,” he said.

Published 11/06/18

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Containing the Run Big for Mapleton

Mapleton is making its second appearance in school history in the regional semis as they meet Warren JFK in a second round game in division seven Saturday night Canton Central Catholic’s Lowell Klinefelter Stadium.

The Mounties (8-3) knocked off Youngstown Valley Christian School (47-28) in a regional quarterfinal on Saturday at home.

Coach Robert Mahaney felt their quick start was important to their success. “Getting off to a fast start is exactly what we talked to them about all week. We saw something on tape and we tried an onside kick to start the game and we executed that. We have to ball offensively and we do a great job to go up 7-0. They fumbled on their first possession and we took two plays to score and got up 14-0. Had a great three and out on defense and got another great job drive to go up 21-0. It made them a little more one dimensional being behind. It really just helped us and gave us a lot of momentum. We were able to use the home crowd to really help our kids. Just a great night for Mapleton football,” said Mahaney.

The Eagles kind of never went away and Mahaney says they can’t afford to turn the ball over this week. “They had some really good athletes. They had guys making plays until there were zeros on the clock. It is a credit to them and their coaching staff that they fought all of the way to the end. We had some turnovers and some things and every time it looked like we were going to pull away we kind of made a mistake to let them hang around. Obviously, we can’t afford to make any mistakes going into week 12,” he said.

The last time the Mounties were in a regional semifinal it was 2014 and they played and lost to league foe Norwalk St. Paul. Meanwhile, for JFK (6-5) this is the 23 rd time they have been in the postseason. They have won two state titles, the last being in 2016, and they have reached the final four seven times. They beat Windam (35-12) in a first round game last week.

Mahaney says there is a big difference between them and the JFK Eagles in terms of playoff experience. “Part of this team won a state championship in 2016, so they know what it means to win playoff games week in and week out and win the whole thing. They have a lot experience and the coaching staff knows how to do that. I know they are 6-5, but they play in a good conference and they play a lot of good catholic schools up there in that league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They do a good job of competing and they are big up front and they have some really good athletes that they get the football to, so we are going to need a great effort. It is only the second time in school history we have advanced to the second round, so it is a little bit of difference in the experience. We have to hope we can continue to carry the momentum we have right now.”

Mahaney says they are going to try and run the football and they are going to do it from different formations. “Offensively they find ways to run the football. They have three, four really good backs that they get the ball to. They do a good job of finding different formations with different wrinkles every week to try and find ways to run the ball. Defensively they are a 4-4 and they fly around and get to the football. They are big up front on that side and play really good coverage. We just have to execute offensively. With their offense as good as it is we have make sure to take care of the football and execute,” said Mahaney.

Published 11/06/18

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Colonel Crawford Exited for Season

One of the more consistent small school basketball programs in North Central Ohio is in North Robinson where the Colonel Crawford Eagles look like they are going to have another strong year.

Five lettermen return for the Eagles in Jordan Fenner, Gavin Feichtner, Reis Walker, Zye Shipman and Chase Walker, coach David Sheldon, in season number 13 with the Eagles, says his kids are hungry and ready to get to work. “I think the biggest thing is getting kids ready in basketball shape. We have so many kids that play fall sports, football, golf, whatever, and that’s a good thing. We want them to do that. I think the big thing is getting legs back and getting them into shape. It is a totally different transition from the way the game is played from the football field to basketball. Our guys have gotten after it early on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are excited about the upcoming year here, we have five lettermen back that return from a district runner up team and two straight years in the district finals. We are excited and our kids are hungry to get going. I think it is the grind of preseason right now. We are talking fundamentals and getting stuff in and what is going to work with this specific group. Every group is different every year of our 13 years at Colonel Crawford.”

Every year is different and Sheldon says they are trying to find our what this group will be good at and how best to utilize their skills. “It’s a different group. You have five lettermen, but then you are mixing other people in that have played “JV” basketball the last couple of years. So, you have to see what is going to work and what works with this group. That is the nice thing about having five scrimmages. You have five scrimmages to get better and we talk to our kids we want to get better every day we come in the gym before we tip it off for real November 30 against Mansfield Christian. I think that is the big thing guys coming into the gym wanting to get better as an individual and a group before we get to that opening game,” he said.

Sheldon says they have some guys back that have been through the wars the last couple of seasons and they understand what is required for them to become a solid team. “These kids have put a lot time in even in the fall. You can talk about the summer what we did. Now is the fun part when you get ready to play and turn the lights on. They understand what the guys before them have done. There of are three guys in Jordan Fenner, Gavin Feichtner and Reis Walker that are two year letter winners and they are only juniors. They understand what goes into being successful. The tradition of success with seven straight sectional titles and it doesn’t happen overnight. So, these guys know we have to work every day and hopefully we get better. I think their definitely some big strengths that we have with this team this year,” said Sheldon.

Published 11/06/18

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Bellevue Getting Ready for Another Great Season

Bellevue, one the dominate girls’ basketball programs in this part of the State of Ohio, is preparing for what is expected to be another outstanding season.

The Lady Red are the defending Lake Division champions in the Sandusky Bay Conference and they have now at least shared in eight straight conference titles. They were (25-2) last year and advanced to the division two regional semifinals before losing to Toledo Rogers.

Coach Kory Santoro says the goals never really change at Bellevue and this year is no different. “Well, I think the goals are the same every year. We want to have a shot at playing for the league championship and we want to make a deep tournament run,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have had those goals the last eight, nine years and I think it has worked pretty well and those are the goals we have right now.”

Bellevue won the Lake Division in volleyball this fall and Santoro is glad to have some of those kids join the basketball team. “We just got our volleyball girls bask Monday night after a few days off from their exciting season. We hare happy to have them back. It was just like last year we picked it right up. When you get those kids back in your practice, your practice picks up. It’s been good,” he said.

Bellevue is scheduled to open the season the day after Thanksgiving, November 23, by hosting Lexington of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

Santoro believes they will be ready. “I think offensively we are behind. I think the defense is ahead of the offense right now and that is pretty typical every year. As a coach you want that to happen right away, but it is a process and I know we will get there. We have some good young players and some experienced players that play a lot of basketball, so I know we will get there,” said Santoro.

Published 11/06/18

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High School Football Regional Semifinal Pairings and Sites

Division III

Rocky River (7-4) vs. Norwalk (8-3) Friday, November 9, at North Ridgeville Ranger Stadium

Lexington (7-4) vs. Sandusky (7-4), Friday, November 9, at Willard Stadium

 

Division IV

Clear Fork (11-0) vs. Lorain Clearview (10-1), Saturday, November 10, at Wooster Follis Field

 

Division V

Orrville (9-2) vs. Gates Milles Gilmour Academy (11-0), Saturday, November 10, At Twinsburg Tiger Stadium

Akron Manchester (8-3) vs. Leavittsburg LaBrae (10-1), Saturday, November 10, at Louisville Leopard Stadium

Liberty Center (10-1) vs. Oak Harbor (10-1), Saturday, November 10, at Millbury Lake Community Stadium

 

Division VI

Kirtland (11-0) vs. Norwayne (10-1), Friday, November 9, at Strongsville Pat Catan Stadium

Seneca East (10-1) vs. Columbus Grove (8-3), Friday, November 9, at Tiffin Frost-Kalnow Stadium

Fairview (8-3) vs. Hillsdale (9-2), Friday, November 9, at Findlay Donnell Stadium

Fort Frye (10-0) vs. Northmor (10-1), Friday, November 9, at Watkins Memorial Ascena Field

 

Division VII

Warren JFK (6-5) vs. Mapleton (8-3), Saturday, November 10, at Canton CC Lowell Klinefelter Stadium

Lucas (9-2) vs. Waterford (9-2),Saturday, November 10, Coshocton Stewart Field

 
     
 

Lexington Has to Execute its Game Plan

Lexington, the runner up in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, and the winner of five games in a row, will be at Tiffin Columbian, the co-champion of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night in a first round playoff game in division three.

After losing four of their first five game, the Minutemen have turned it on and coach Taylor Gerhardt says they are more comfortable in what they are doing on both sides of the ball. He says they are improved. “That is always the goal. We really started getting comfortable with each other and trusting a little bit more in what we were doing and really stayed the course. I really feel like we have gotten better each week,” he said.

There have been some weeks when the Minutemen have given up some points, but Gerhardt says those guys on defense have done what they have asked them to do. “We have always hung our hat on defense at Lexington. We believe in a defense that doesn’t necessarily have to shut everyone down to punting the ball every single time. The goal is always to bend, but not break and make the offense make mistakes and continue to earn every singe yard they get,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have had some close games. We have had some high scoring games, but in the end our defense has done exactly what we have ask them to do.”

Lexington (6-4) travels to Tiffin Columbian (8-2), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday night. The Tornadoes captured a share of the Lake Division with a (41-20) win over Norwalk last week.

Gerhardt says they are a solid team. “They are a very, very good football team. They are well balanced, they are fast, they are tenacious. It’s the playoffs and they are number two in our region. They are a good football team,” he said.

Columbian quarterback Chase Frankhauser returned the field for Tiffin last week in a limited role. He led the Lake Division in passing while he was in there and Gerhardt knows he will make an impact on Friday night. “We fully except him to be ready to go it’s the state playoffs. He played against Norwalk. He has got a whole other week of healing and preparation. So, we fully expect him to be ready to go. He is certainly one of the keys that we have to account for when we face them,” he said.

When it comes to keys, Gerhardt says they just have to be themselves. “Offensively, we have to do what we do. We have to control the line of scrimmage. We have to run the football and take advantage of what the defense gives us. Our offense is designed to wear people down and pound the football, pop a big play here and there an stay the course. Defensively, we feel like we have got a scheme and players that can matchup with anybody in the state of Ohio and not make mistakes and capitalize on those that are presented to us,” said Gerhardt.

Published 11/02/18

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Top Seeded Mohawk Hosts Leipsic

Mohawk, the winner of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference this fall, plays at home on Saturday night against Leipsic in a division seven regional quarterfinal game.

They were unbeaten during the regular season and voted as they top team in the state in the statewide media poll in division seven.

Coach Brent Konkle says they have played their best football over the last month. “I am proud of were we are at. I think we have really grown this year. We came off a quality year last year and I think we have expanded. It seems the last half of the season we have been more focused. We played some good teams. I’m just proud of how much we have progressed,” said Konkle.

Mohawk lost to (19-15) to Pandora-Gilboa in the first round of the playoffs last year.

Konkle says they are excited to get the postseason started this fall. “We were eager to get to week 10. Let’s get 10-0 and get the championship outright and now it is time to move on to the next part of the journey. We start over again. I told our guys we are 0-0. We are excited to have a home football game. It has been a lot of years since we have been home for a playoff game, so we are excited,” he said.

Mohawk (10-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays Leipsic (9-1) on Saturday night. The Vikings edged Arlington (31-30) in a Blanchard Valley Conference game last week. Their only loss was to McComb (38-7) on week six.

Konkle says they are expected to get a key kid back this week and the Vikings already have a lot of good guys on offense. “Pick your poison in our region. There are six, seven teams that can win our region. They played a couple of good teams early in the year and they have kind of lightened their schedule late. They are pretty solid. Their quarterback, he is a big kid, he throws the ball well all of the time. They have a nice fullback that has 1,100, 1,200 yards. They have some quality receivers. They best receiver has been out since week five, but the word on the street is he is going to be back and that makes them a better team,” said Konkle.

Konkle says in a lot of things Leipsic does reminds the coaching staff of what the Warriors try and do. “They actually remind us of ourselves. Offensively, they are a little more under center. They run the ball well. They throw the ball well at times. They will do what they need to do to beat you. If you dare them to run the football they are going to run the football on you. They are going to find your weakness and they are going to exploit it,” he told Swankosports.com on Thursday, “On defense, they have a little different front than we do, but they get after it. They run to the ball, they fly to the football, I think they have good team speed. They look like they are excited to play football. It kind of looks like us.”

Published 11/02/18

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Highland Plays Athletic Clearview

Highland, the winner of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference football title, plays at Lorain Clearview in a first round game on Saturday night.

The Scots put together a nine game run and ended regular season with a win (38-20) over Northmor in a winner take all championship game in the “KMAC” last Friday.

Coach Chad Carpenter feels like they are kind of peaking. “We played well and we played well against East Knox the week before that and we want to try and take that momentum into this week as well,” he said.

Highland plays in a conference of smaller schools and sometimes feels like they don’t get the respect they deserve. Carpenter says they have used that to their advantage. “It has been an on going discussion with us all year to play with that little chip on our shoulder and to have that confidence we need to carry onto the field. I think our kids do that and hopefully they will bring it Saturday night,” said Carpenter.

Highland (9-1) is at Clearview (9-1) in a first round game. Like the Scots, the Chippers lost their first game, I their case to Amherst (33-0,) and then have put a nine game streak together to win their league title.

Carpenter says the Chippers and both quick and physical. “They are big and very physical.,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a lot of nice looking athletes out there. On offense, they try and spread you out to run and they do a nice job with that. Defensively, they are very physical with quick kids. They are trying to cause turmoil and disruption with offenses.”

Clearview lost a first round game to Clear Fork (44-0) last year. Highland, likewise, was beaten by St. Mary’s Memorial (48-8) in 2017. So, both squads will be looking for better results.

Carpenter says this is a different kind of team that they have been used to playing this year. “It is a different type of team that we have seen. They have a lot of real nice, big, skilled kids and they spread them out all over the place. Their line does a nice job playing. I think their philosophy is to spread all of these kids out and force you to guard them and then they try and run up under you,” said Carpenter.

Published 11/02/18

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Sandusky Meets Bay in the Playoffs

Sandusky, one of four teams from the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference to make the division three playoffs, plays at Bay Village Bay on Friday night in a first round game.

The Streaks, who began the season with five straight wins, broke a four game losing streak with a (43-14) win over rival Perkins last week.

Coach Mike Franklin calls it a big win for them. “It is a rivalry game. They are right across the street and it kind of meant a lot to us to get out there and play really well after the four weeks when we played some halfway decent football. We get to play week 11 and that is always a bonus,” he said.

Terion Stewart leads the area in rushing yards and touchdowns this season. He has more than 2,500 yards and has scored more than 30 times. However, Franklin felt a big key last week was to get the ball to other kids, who then made plays. “We played a little bit more disciplined football. We had a couple of issues we had to take care up outside the lines. I think that was very beneficial,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We got the ball into more people’s hands. Everyone keys on our tailback Terion (Stewart) and we were able to the get the ball in other people’s hands.”

Sandusky (6-4) visits Bay Village Bay (8-2) on Friday night for a first round game with the Rockets. Bay beat Valley Forge (14-13) last week to put a two game losing streak to an end. They have won four games by a touchdown or less this season.

Franklin says they run it well and that is something the Blue Streaks have not defended well in the second half of the season. “This is their fifth straight year in the playoffs and they lost last year to Toledo Central Catholic in the regional finals. They are a good football team, they are 8-2, they play in a solid league. They play really good defense. They like to run the football, which we struggled with here at the end of the year. So, we have our hands full,” said Franklin.

When it comes to what the Rockets try and do, Franklin says they do some similar things that other teams in their league, or division if you will, have done this fall. “They do a lot of things like Bellevue does. They pull guys a little bit more than Bellevue. They like to run the football, Clyde likes to run the football quite a bit. I think they are similar to those teams, getting the ball to their tight end, like Perkins did. There are a lot of tangibles that we have seen, but we have to be prepared for it,” he said.

Published 11/02/18

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Hillsdale Plays in its First Ever Home Playoff Game

Hillsdale hosts Northwood in a regional quarterfinal in division six on Friday night.

The Falcons finished as runners up in the Wayne County Athletic League this year, just a game behind Norwayne, who beat them in overtime (34-28) this year. Their other loss came to Loudonville (21-11) on week three.

Coach Trevor Cline says they are really a whisker from being undefeated, but they aren’t worried about that. “So far, our kids have had a really good year. (Friday) night we are looking to continue that. We had two games that could have went either way. We could be undefeated, but we are just focusing on (Friday) night and looking to take care of business,” said Cline.

It is the first home playoff game in Hillsdale history. It is going to be wet and that field is going to be muddy, but the Falcons are not giving up that home field advantage.

Cline says this is something the community has been waiting for. “It is always good to play at home. It is definitely exciting for this game too with it being the first ever home playoff game. So, the community is really pumped up about it and so are the players and coaches,” he said.

Hillsdale (8-2) is at home for Northwood (9-1) and the Rangers have scored a tremendous amount of points this season. They beat Stryker (75-3) on week five. They have been held under 49 once all year and that was in their only loss (36-22) to Millbury Lake. They beat Cardinal Stritch (52-18) last week. They have beaten a team with a winning record only once this year though.

Cline says the Rangers are going to want to run it, just like them, and throw on their terms. “Watching them on film they are very athletic. They are fast. Their offensive and defensive lines are among the most physical. They are running the flex offense. It is similar to ours,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are underneath center rather than in the gun. On defense, they are very aggressive and they like to blitz and get after it. They have a lot of talent and they have had a really good year so far too.”

Published 11/02/18

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Norwalk Takes on Bowling Green and the Triple Option

Norwalk hosts Bowling Green and the triple option on Friday night in a first round game in the division three playoffs at Whitney Field.

Although they have lost their last two games to Clyde (32-31) and Tiffin Columbian (41-20), also division three playoff teams, in Lake Division games in the Sandusky Bay Conference, coach Todd Fox feels they are well prepared for the postseason. “We feel like we have been tested from game one through game 10. I have always been a believer, even back when I was coaching wrestling, you learn more from losing than you do winning. We have learned a lot about ourselves and ways to improve these last two weeks. We are excited to get on to week 11 and take all of those lessons and put them on the field on Friday night,” he said.

In the loss to Columbian, Norwalk played without the second leading rusher in the “SBC” in running back Treyvon Raymore. Fox says they learned a lot about themselves. “That is something that people kind of miss. We ride our horse. Treyvon (Raymore) is a great running back, but we have some other skilled players that can do some great things for us. Even last week, talking about something you learn, we learned we can depend on those guys a little bit. Quietly Garrett Chapin had a nearly 300 yard passing game because of our running back being injured. Our plan is to utilize everyone this week,” he said.

Norwalk (7-3) hosts Bowling Green (6-4) in the regional quarterfinals. The Bobcats had to win on week 10 to make the playoffs and they did beating Napoleon (28-6) and they have won their last four.

Fox says they have a very good quarterback in Bryce Hoehner, who scored twice in the second half of their win last week. Fox says he is a playmaker. “They are a very good football team. Their record is 6-4, but the bottom line is everybody is 0-0 in the playoffs. They are on a roll as of late. They had to win last week to get in against a very good Napoleon team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Offensively, they are triple option. They are just very consistent and don’t give you the ball back much. Their quarterback is kind of the leader of the show. He runs the ball, throws the ball well. He kind of gets the ball all over the place. On the defensive side of the ball they are very well coached. Nothing flashy, they just play hard football where they fly to the football and have great fundamentals.”

Playing the triple option is assignment football on defense and Fox says they know what they are supposed to do. “Playing Edison we have done that and even in the preseason scrimmages we played Genoa and Olmstead Falls, not quite triple option, not as dominate as Edison and the Bobcats are. We are prepared for that. We have been working on that, we work on that a little bit all of the time. We feel like you just have to be consistent on defense,” he said.

Published 11/01/18

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Northmor Faces the Double Wing Again

Northmor, the runner up in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, plays at home against Chillicothe Southeastern in a division six regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

It is just their second playoff game ever and their first on their home field.

They lost for the only time this year (38-20) last week to Highland in the “KMAC” championship game.

Coach Scott Armrose says they have nothing to be ashamed of. “I am really proud of the way we fought in that game. We fell down early 16-0, but before the end of the half we made a big play and got ourselves back in the game. We were able to score early on in the second half and we were competing. We played pretty well against a really good football team,” said Armrose.

Armrose says he thought they learned last week that they could compete with a really good team like Highland and that is going to be a positive for the postseason. “We tell our boys this every week and we keep telling them this year towards the end of the season, there isn’t anybody that we play that we can’t compete with or beat. We proved that to ourselves. We knew Highland was a good football team. They are a big, physical football team and we competed with them to the end,” he said.

Northmor (9-1), #5 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, entertains Southeastern (7-3) in a first round game. The Panthers walloped Westfall (40-0) last week, breaking a two game losing streak. They have played in a lot of close games this year, winning twice by a touchdown or less and losing three times by eight or less.

Armrose says they have an excellent quarterback in Lane Ruby. The coach says that is who the Panthers want to have the ball. “They are a double wing team and their quarterback is an athlete. He is a good runner. He is a 1,000 yard rusher and he is their playmaker. He is the one they want with the ball in his hands,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “He is a good, he is really good, and tough to stop. Defensively, they are a 4-3 team. They play a soft, cover four zone. They are big up front, they have some big linebackers that can tackle.”

Yes, Northmor has seen this kind of offense before, and more than once, but Armrose says Ruby makes Southeastern a little different. “They are very Lucas like. They remind me a lot of Lucas. We scrimmaged Plymouth, we played Elgin and we played Lucas. We have had some pretty good success against those teams. Our defensive coordinator has a really good plan. We have done a good job shutting teams down like this. With their quarterback being their athlete with the ball they are a little bit different in the way they attack you,” said Armrose.

Published 11/01/18

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Seneca East Faces Aggressive Loudonville

Seneca East, the runner up in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, and the top seed in their division six region, hosts Loudonville, out of the Principal’s Athletic Conference, in a regional quarterfinal on Friday night.

The Tigers (9-1) have won their last five, including (46-14) over Buckeye Central last week, and coach Ed Phillips says after a (31-24) loss to Mohawk they have become a better team. “We got beat by Mohawk there, I think it was on week five, and when that happens you take a look at yourself, you are honest, and you say what do we need to do, what got us to that point? We really focused on fundamentals from that point forward, especially defensively, and I think we have gotten better each week from that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We got a little healthier too and that certainly helps. I think the combination of getting well and improving our fundamentals and playing good basic football has paid off. We are kind of on the rise as we go into the playoffs.”

Blaine Swartzmiller leads the “N10” in rushing this year 1,803 yards, almost 800 more than anyone else in the conference, and Chase Foos, with 1,421 passing yards, paces the conference as well. Swartzmiller has run for 21 scores and Foos has passed for 16.

Plus, Foos was out for a couple weeks, and Swartzmiller replaced at quarterback in mid-season. Phillips it is great to have Chase back and they have had great chemistry all year. “It is real important. We have had guys step up all year long. That is one thing about this team that makes me really proud. When people have needed to step up they have. The guys that are in there that they are playing next to have embraced them and I think that is important that you have faith in the guy next to you and you do it for him. We have talked a lot about that this year. You do it for the guys next to you. You do anything for the team and that is certainly what our guys have done. That is kind of what we are built on and I couldn’t be prouder of our guys for that,” said Phillips.

Loudonville (5-5) reached the playoffs when they completed a TD pass with less than 20 seconds to play to beat Canal Fulton Northwest (21-18) last week, breaking a three game slide. They have wins over Hillsdale (21-11) and Tuslaw (41-7,) both playoff teams this year.

Phillips says the Redbirds and going to come right at them. “They have done a good job and I just met (Coach Kevin Maltritch on Wednesday) and he seems like a really good guy. You watch them on film and they are a very quick team and aggressive. They play fast both offensively and defensively. We have been working on that to be ready for it, to match their quickness, and be physical with them. That is the kind of challenge they present and what we are looking forward to on Friday night,” he said.

Published 11/01/18

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St. Paul on the Road for Round One

Norwalk St. Paul has won 40 high school football playoff games over the years under John Livengood and their pursuit of number 41 comes on Saturday night at Edgerton in the first round of the division seven playoffs.

Thy beat arch rival Monroeville (37-7) last week and Livengood says that is an extension some pretty good play by the Flyers. “Not only just the Monroeville game. But I think our last five, six weeks of the season we were playing what we consider championship like games, starting with Crestview, Mapleton, South Central, Western, and Monroeville. Those teams are all good football teams that were playing well and having good seasons. So, it was a challenge for our kids to rise up and play well each week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our kids did a great job with that. Going into the post season we have to continue to raise our game because our region is one of the toughest regions in the state, everybody seems to be 9-1 or 10-0. So, it is going to be a tough task the whole way through. We have to continue to get better and play hard and continue to improve.”

St. Paul was kind of young in some spots at the beginning of the season, but they have matured, according to Livengood. “A number of them were already on the roster last year. I like to think we were playing championship like games here at the end of the regular season and they will be ready for it,” he said.

St. Paul (9-1) is at Edgerton (10-0) on Saturday night for a regional quarterfinal. Edgerton has not been challenged this year, they have not scored less than 46 points in game and they have four shutouts.

Livengood says the Bulldogs are a smash mouth kind of team that wants to pound you. “They are big and physical. They are the number two ranked team in the state. Lost a tough overtime game in the playoffs last year to Tiffin Calvert in the first round. They are a very good football team. They have good running backs. They are a run first type team. They are a averaging 54 points a game and giving up six points a game. It is a big, tall challenge in the first round,” said Livengood.

Play in the trenches has always been the benchmark for the Flyers and Livengood says those guys are going to be tested and they need to perform on Saturday night. “They kind of have a run first mindset similar to us. There schemes are similar to what we do. If you pack too many in the box they will throw the deep play action on you. If they can continue to run the ball that is what whey are going to do. How well our defensive line plays is going to be a key thing for us in the game,” he said.

Published 11/01/18

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West Holmes Ready for Some Noise

West Holmes takes a three game winning streak into a division three regional quarterfinal at Kenston on Friday night.

It is the first time the Knights (8-2), #5 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, have been in the postseason since 2012 and only the second time since 2002.

They shutout Mt. Vernon (23-0) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game last week, their first shutout of the season. They beat Ashland (56-49) in double overtime on week nine.

Their offense, led by electric quarterback Bridger Cline, has scored more than 30 six times.

Coach Zach Garnder says they have had to play their way into the playoffs. “We have been in the tournament basically for the last three weeks. After Lexington, we told our kids that if you want to extend this season you have to keep winning. We went out and we have done that. We have won three pretty big football games for us and we are able to put ourselves in a position to be invited to the tournament,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It is a testament to the hard work of our kids and we are very, very happy about it. We are not just happy to be here. Our kids have had an intense week of practice and we are ready to make some noise.”

Kenston (9-1) comes out of Northeast Ohio and beat Willoughby South (40-25) last week, avenging their only loss on week nine to Chardon (27-24) in league play. That was one of only two games this fall that they have failed to score at least 40 points in a game.

Gardner they get the ball to a lot of kids. “They are very athletic. They are very well coached. They are a spread offense. They are balanced. They run the football very well and they throw the football very well. They spread the ball around, which is what any good spread offense does. We are going to have to limit their big plays and make them snap the ball as many times as possible to put ourselves in a position to be successful,” said Gardner.

West Holmes lost to the other two playoff teams in the “OCC” in Lexington (34-33) and Wooster before that (47-20) in back to back weeks. Gardner says the Bombers remind him a lot of Wooster. “They are a lot like Wooster with their spread offense and their ability to run the football and spread it around. We didn’t play our best game against Wooster, so we are looking at this as an opportunity to rectify that situation and go out and compete against a team very similar to them. Hopefully, put ourselves in position to survive and advance,” he said.

Published 11/01/18

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Clear Fork Faces Dynamic Quarterback in first round

Clear Fork, the top seed in its division four playoff region, will be at home on Saturday night for Bryan, in a regional quarterfinal game at the Colt Corral.

The Colts have now been in the playoffs 14 times, including the last two years.

They earned an outright Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title and a perfect regular season with a (48-14) win at Marion Harding last Friday.

Coach Dave Carroll says, again, they had good focus. “Especially after the huge, emotional game with Pleasant. That was quite a battle physically and emotionally when you are playing what is becoming our new big rival and a really good program. You hope as a coach you are not going to have a let down after that in playing a team like Harding that had a record of 2-7 coming in. Our kids have been very good at focusing even when they know they are probably better than the team that they are going to play. That started back when we had our preview with Madison, we knew Madison was struggling and young because we did some seven on sevens with them, and our kids went out there and took care of business, the same thing with Fredericktown and a couple of other games. We had some turnovers and stuff. I attribute that not so much to a lack of focus, but it was pretty miserable out there with the cold and the wet. It is not an excuse, but if I had any complaints that would be it that we turned the ball over when we shouldn’t have,” said Carroll.

Clear Fork (10-0), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, led the “MOAC” in total offense this year. Carroll says in the playoffs you just can not one dimensional. “We tend to believe the run game has always been important in our minds and I think everybody’s minds even as the passing game has become more prolific here in the later years of most programs. We are seeing more and more passing and higher and higher scores. We think that having a nice balance is good. Us old coaches think if you can throw the ball efficiently you have a chance to do some things possibly in the playoffs because most of the time you are going to face teams in whatever round of the playoffs that are going to be able to stop your run because they are going to have very similar sized kids up front, so it is going to be hard to run the football. Just like the NFL has developed into quite a passing fest through the years because it is just hard to block and push people around defensively you can stuff people’s run. We feel comfortable having that passing game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have two quarterbacks that can throw very well. My goal every game is to tell those guys we want a run game. We want to be able to block those guys up front. When we can run the football it just opens up the passing game. You can kind of do what you want and you can mix and match it and keep the defense off guard. That is always they case, like Pleasant, they had some big studs up front and the way they slant their defense they are going to load the box up. It makes it really hard to run, but 287 yards passing later we win the football game.”

Carroll, who just picked up win number 200 a couple of weeks ago, spent some of his career in Williams County, where Bryan is located. “I used to live a few miles down the road there was I was coach at Edon for four years. So, I was a Williams County resident there for a while. Never played Bryan when I was Edon, but we heard a lot about them and knew a lot about them. They have been good throughout the years in a lot of things. Maybe in ’12 and ’13 I believe they had a couple of undefeated seasons. They played Kenton up here at Arlin Field in the regional finals and lost a close one to them, so they have had good football,” said Carroll.

Bryan (7-3) broke a two game losing streak with a (41-7) win over Evergreen last week. They are led by a quarterback Nate Miller, who Carroll says can do anything the coach would ask. “They are a spread team. They are in the “NAOL” that has teams like Swanton, Wauseon, Evergreen, Archbold. There is some traditionally good football that comes out of that area. Their team this year, like a lot of spread teams kind of revolves around their quarterback, but these guys more than most because he has thrown for 1,800 plus yards and he is also the leading rusher at around 500 yards. I think the next rusher has a 100 and some. So, we have to do a great job against this kid,” he said.

Carroll says they have kind of faced kids like Miller, but not quite. He says they can’t let him get out of the pocket and they must protect against the draw. “They might be a little bit like Bellevue and a little bit like Galion. I would say those are probably the most similar two teams. Bellevue probably ran the football more. I would say this young man from Bryan is probably a better quarterback because Bellevue’s quarterback was just a sophomore and just didn’t have the experience yet throwing it all of the time. Galion’s quarterback was a pretty good runner and passer, so I would say he is probably a little closer to the kid from Galion. They don’t do a lot of designed run plays for the quarterback. They will run a draw, if they see you have four or five in the box, they will drop back and he is going to take off on the draw. At lot of his rushing yards are just him scrambling around when things break down in the pocket and he takes off. That is a big part of our game plan is we can not let him do that. We have to stop the draw and we can’t let him scramble around and get outside of our containment. If we can accomplish those two things that is more than half the battle. Of course, the guys in the back end really have to cover well,” said Carroll.

Published 10/31/18

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Columbian Tangles With Lexington

Tiffin Columbian, the co-champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division, plays at home against Lexington, the runner-up in Ohio Cardinal Conference, in a regional quarterfinal game in division three on Friday night.

The Tornadoes (8-2), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, have won their last three games, including beating Norwalk (41-20) last Friday. The Truckers like two other schools, Clyde and Sandusky, are also in the division three playoffs.

Coach Judd Lutz says they have been doing a lot of good things. “We feel like we are playing really good football here the last several weeks. We continue to do some really good things on offense and defense and the kicking game. We continue to improve on some small things. Getting healthy in some spots even, which is great at this point in the year. You always want to look at some small things and how you can make them better. That is a great attribute to this team right now,” said Lutz.

Columbian has also battled some adversity this year as they have played without starting QB Chase Frankhauser. He saw some limited action last week and Lutz says he will be on the field this week too. “We were able to get Chase back a little bit last week. We should have him in a similar fashion this week, getting him more and more time in there. He did really good last week. We expected it. He was like a coach off the field and part of all of the game plans,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He was able to do some stuff even through the injury. So, he wasn’t a bump on the log or anything like that. He did some really, really good things in his first action in a while.”

Lexington caught fire in the second half of the season and has produced five straight wins and six in their last seven. They beat Canton South (35-6) last week as Cade Stover ran for 239 yards.

Lutz says this a team that is peaking. “They come in winning five straight games, beating a couple of really good teams. Not many common opponents between the two of us. I think the only team that we have face that they have faced is Ashland and they gave us a very good game early this year, so we know how good of a team they were. They are playing really well here late, so they feel good about themselves as well in a similar fashion to us. We have to be ready to play really well on Friday,” he said.

When it comes to Stover, Lutz echoes the comments of other coaches, they have to know where he is at all times, containing him has been another story. “There is a reason he is a big time player. He sticks out on the film for sure and he sticks out I’m sure in person physically with his size and speed. So, we have to know where he is and account for him. Obviously, he is just one guy and there are 10 others we have to worry about as well. We have to account for more than just him they are a very good team around him. He is a very good player and we want to know where he is in order to have some success,” said Lutz.

Published 10/31/18

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Mapleton Faces Athletic Team in Playoffs

Mapleton, the runner-up in the Firelands Conference, plays host to Youngstown Valley Christian School Saturday night in a first round game in division seven.

The Mounties beat Western Reserve (41-13) and New London (40-0) in their last two Firelands Conference games and coach Robert Mahaney says their defense was particularly good. “If we look at those last two games against New London and Western Reserve. Western Reserve was a pretty good football team that lost a lot of close games defensively through those eight quarters we didn’t give up a touchdown. Western Reserve returned two kickoffs on us for touchdowns. So, if we can kind of keep building off that momentum defensively. Then offensively, we executed pretty well both games. It rained pretty hard and that limited some of our passing options at times, but were still able to run the ball and pass the ball when we needed to. Being affective in those games helps us get ready for this Saturday,” said Mahaney.

Mapleton (7-3) entertains Valley Christian (5-5) in a first round game. The Eagles come in on a four game losing skid, including a (24-18) setback to Crestwood last week. This is their fourth playoff appearance, including last year.

Mahaney says the Eagles have some playmakers in the skilled positions. “We got the film of them on Sunday morning and they are really athletic. They have a safety and slot receiver that is very good, getting some division one looks and some division two looks for sure. The quarterback is a good athlete, we have to do everything to contain him. Their running back runs really hard, he runs through a lot tackles and if he gets into the open field he is really hard to bring down. They are really big up front too offensively and defensively, they have some big linemen,” he said.

Mahaney adds this is a team that has played a solid schedule. “They play in a good conference. You look at their losses against Mogadore, Rootstown and Gilmour Academy, those are tough teams that they lost to and even the other two were against division four and division five teams. They have confidence and they are going to come out ready to play,” he said.

There are some elements that Valley Christian shows that the Mounties have seen before, according to Mahaney. “They are a spread team. I guess for us the most similar would be South Central. They have some good slot receivers like South Central does. They are a little faster than South Central on film. They have a lot of really good team speed, they fly around,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Size wise a Hillsdale that we played earlier would be a good comparison. You take their size and some the athletes that we played later. There is no direct team that they are exactly like, but definitely some looks that we are used to seeing, so we just have to do what we can, keep the ball in front of us, limit their big plays and hopefully execute on offense and defense.”

Mapleton enjoys the home field advantage and Mahaney hopes that is a plus for them. “You look at our region if we weren’t hosting we are probably traveling over an hour and half. To be at home and making them travel to us is an advantage for us. It is our second home playoff game in our history, the last one was in ’14. Hopefully, the community will come out and support us and our kids are excited,” he said.

Published 10/31/18

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Lexington Faces Bay Village in boys’ Soccer Regional

It’s Lexington and Bay Village Bay in the boys’ soccer division two regional semifinal on Wednesday night at Wooster High School for the right to advance to the elite eight.

It has been a good season and one that has gotten better at the right time, according to coach Pete Them. “I think we have some senior leadership that has steered the ship in right direction this year. We have some three years starters and some three year letter winners. That senior leadership I think has been a pivotal part. To join that with a nice sophomore class that is extremely talented. They have just figured out a way to play together with the tough schedule that we have had. They have kind of come together these last couple of weeks here in the tournament and we have just done a nice job of finishing games,” said Them.

Ryan Parker’s header with about 3:00 left in the second overtime with penalty kicks on the horizon gave the Minutemen (14-5) a (2-1) win over Ontario last Thursday in the district final.

Them says the win gives them a tremendous boost in confidence. “The last couple of years this game with Ontario has just become, I don’t want to say larger than life, it is just one of those things for us and for them, you get the schedule out and circle that date. Then you look at tournament time and the potential to see those guys again is always huge. That was huge for our guys to battle through not only one overtime, but the second overtime and finally get a game winner there towards the end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “It was big, especially giving up the PK and the way things ended last year. It was huge for the confidence. Those seniors weren’t ready to be done. They have been through a couple of these district finals and they know what it takes and they did a nice job kind of keeping us in the right direction and steering us towards victory.”

Meanwhile, Bay (16-1-2) beat Rocky River (3-0) in their district final last Saturday. In half of those games, the Rockets have scored at least six goals.

Them says they have a lot of firepower. “They are good. We went up Saturday and watched their district final against Rocky River. Obviously, we played Rocky River earlier in the season. We lost 3-1 and it wasn’t necessarily our best game. We learned a lot about ourselves. Going up and seeing how Bay and Rocky River kind of match up they are kind of like us an Ontario. That is kind of a big rivalry game. Watching Bay they are just kind of quick on the ball with two forwards up front that have a combined 50 some goals and 50 assists and so that 1-2 duo is going to be tough to stop. If we can kind of keep them in front of us and maybe make some things happen we'll see what we can do,” he said.

Published 10/31/18

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Madison in Second Straight Regional Semi

Madison will play in the division two regional semifinals in girls’ soccer for the second year in a row as they meet Bay Village Bay on Tuesday night at Sandusky High School’s Cedar Point Stadium.

They beat Lexington (7-1) in a district semi and Ontario (5-1) in a district final last week.

Coach Zac Huff says they are playing well. “The game on Saturday we handled very well. We played the full 80 minutes. We got the result and it showed. During the season all of the tough teams we played it is benefiting us now,” said Huff.

Madison has been lighting up the scoreboard and Huff says they seem to be at the top of their game. “Taylor (Huff) and Kalie Blasing have been stepping up and Caitlyn Zeigler got one on Saturday. The girls are clicking on all cylinders. The whole team has the same goal and it’s working right now for us,” said Huff.

Taylor Huff, the daughter of the coach, has 31 goals and 81 points this year for Madison. Blasing has added 14 goals.

Madison (16-1-3) plays Bay Village Bay (11-5-3) on Tuesday night. They beat Rocky River (1-0) in their district final. They have had only one game this year when they have allowed more than two goals.

Huff compared them favorably to his team. “Bay Village plays pretty much the same style we do sweeper, stopper. They are fast and they get up and down the field, just like us. It will be a shootout, that’s for sure,” he said.

Last season, Madison won the regional and advanced to the state semis before losing to Mentor Lake Catholic.

Huff hopes their experience benefits them on Tuesday night. “We had 18 freshmen last year that were technically on our roster that went with us through this tournament last year when we made a final four run. They got a taste of what it was like,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We weren’t happy last year when we got knocked out by Mentor Lake Catholic and they are looking to get back and go farther than we did last year. They know what it takes and I think that will benefit us.”

Published 10/30/18

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Clyde Trying to Put Things Back Together

Clyde shared the Lake Division title with Tiffin Columbian and they are at home on Friday night hosting Rocky River in a first round playoff game in division three.

The Fliers did lose last week to Bellevue (28-21) in their final regular season game and coach Ryan Carter says they suffered some injuries in the process.

He says playing in that tough Lake Division, four of the six made the playoffs, is good and bad. “You look at that a couple of ways and we are dealing with it a little bit right now. You feel like you are tested, there is no doubt about that, you feel like you are playoff ready, but that grind really takes a toll on you throughout that five game season, the league part of it anyways. I know everybody is dealing with banged up kids at this point and time, it’s part of it. We are going to put our best team we have available out there on Friday night and see what happens,” he said.

This week, Carter says thy are going to have to rebuild a little bit and find some guys that can fit into spots. “In today’s day and age you don’t have the luxury of being two, three deep at each position. We are piecing it together. We have to move some kids around, some kids have to expand their roles a little bit. Some kids have to play on both sides of the ball. At the start of the year you set out goals and one of our goals was to win our league and we were able to obtain that. Our next goal was to be able to host first round playoff game and we were fortunate enough to get enough computer points to host a first round playoff game. So, we are excited, I know our community is excited. We are pumped to have that first round playoff game at home, get our seniors one more game on our home field and we are looking forward to it,” said Carter.

Clyde (7-3) plays host to Rocky River (6-4) and, like Clyde, lost in their final regular season game, their case to Elyria Catholic (33-13) last Friday. That was the Pirates most lopsided loss of the season, their three previous losses were by a touchdown or less.

Carter says this is an athletic team that has some tall kids at the wide out positions. “A very fast, athletic, tall bunch. They have some very tall wide receivers with our little db’s will present problems. Their overall team speed I think is a strength of theirs. I don’t know a lot about the teams that they play. We are watching them on film and we are watching the teams they played on film. It looks like good football. They haven’t been in the playoffs a tremendous amount. Hopefully, our experience in the playoffs will help us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I told the kids that anybody that gets in is a good football team. It is not the NCAA tournament when a 16 seed barley ever beats a number one seed, it only happened one time in “X” number of years. It’s not like that, if you are in you’re good. We are a one seed playing an eight seed, but that doesn’t really mean anything in high school football where anybody can beat anybody on a given night. We are going to prepare that way this week an try and get ourselves ready to go. We are going to have some fun Friday night with a home playoff game.”

Carter says they have seen speed this year and they have to react well to it, which is something they haven’t always done. “We have faced some very fast teams. You look at a Sandusky team that has all kinds of team speed. To start the year off Toledo Start had a tremendous amount of speed. These guys are multi formations. They are not really spread, they are not really under center they kind of do it all. You have to kind of prepare for everything. They really try and put their athletes against your athletes out in space. If you can’t make plays in space you are going to struggle. There have been times this year when we have struggled making plays in space. So, it is something we have to try and shore up and do a few things to try and help us with that. We are going to work at that this week,” said Carter.

Published 10/30/18

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Pleasant Matches up With Oak Harbor

It is Marion Pleasant, out of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, at Oak Harbor, the winner of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, on Saturday night in a regional quarterfinal game in division five.

Pleasant has as much playoff success as any team we cover. This is appearance number 23 for the Spartans. They have won three state titles in 1972, 1996 and 2002. Oak Harbor has qualified eight times and this heir first since 2007.

Last week, after losing a tough one to conference champion Clear Fork (16-14) on week nine, the Spartans responded to beat Ontario (40-0) and coach Aaron Cooks says they did a good job of bouncing back after that loss. “I was really proud how our kids responded, especially losing that Clear Fork game. Another great high school football game. I think two years in a row I think both staffs would agree it’s a shame that either team had to lose and unfortunately it was us. Again, our kids did a great job responding against Ontario. Did a great job of being focused and doing what they needed to do. It was a pretty, muddy, wet, kind of cold night. We were really happy with that and proud that they responded,” said Cook.

Pleasant running back Patrick Blubaugh has over 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns this year. Pleasant is not going to throw it unless you force them to do so.

Their smash mouth running game does pretty well in bad weather conditions, according to Cook. “We tend to try and do what we do. The other night it was cold and wet and rainy. It seemed to work really well for us,” he said.

Pleasant (8-2), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, is at Oak Harbor (9-1) on Saturday night. The Rockets won a Bay Division championship game last week beating Port Clinton (24-7) on Friday night. Their only loss comes (34-14) to unbeaten Genoa on week two. In six of their last seven games they have allowed a touchdown or less.

Cook says they do a lot of things you would expect from a playoff team. “Oak Harbor is very, very good. They are everything you would see in a playoff team. Everybody at this point is a team that does things really, really well. Everybody has really, really good players at this point. Really, really, good team chemistry at this point. Obviously, that is why you are in the playoffs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are big, they are physical. They are very balanced on offense. They are a very good team top to bottom. They are different than anything we have seen, but they are very athletic. They are one of the most athletic teams we have seen all year.”

Oak Harbor is led by their outstanding quarterback Jac Alexander. He has over 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing this season for the Rockets. Cook says he is one of the better players they have seen all year. “He is a really good player. He is one of the top kids we have seen all year. I can’t say enough good things about him. I am sure he is a great kid. He plays the game the way it is supposed by played. He executes what they want him to do. He is a player, he is a really good player,” said Cook.

When it comes to keys to winning, Cook was close to the vest, and says he wants his players to have fun in executing the game plan. “First and foremost, our kids have to go out and execute the game plan, that’s what it comes down to every week. I really want the kids this week to enjoy the moment and enjoy each other and have fun doing what we ask of them and just see where the chips fall,” he said.

Published 10/30/18

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Another Day at the Office for Norwayne

Norwayne, the outright champ of the Wayne County Athletic League, plays Salinesville Southern in a division six regional quarterfinal on Friday night at home.

The Bobcats got five TD’s from quarterback Clay Harvey and they beat Chippewa (42-20) to win the Wayne County Athletic League outright last Friday.

Coach Adam Indorf says it was a reward for the players and staff. “It is always good to get a win every week. It is a tribute to our coaching staff, who does a great job all year, and the kids and how hard they work in the off season and in season. It is a positive and hopefully it will push us forward here,” he said.

Norwayne (9-1) hosts Southern (9-1) on Friday night. The Indians beat Leetonia (22-0) last week and shared the Inter Tri-County League title. Their offense has been explosive in scoring more than 40 three times and more then 50 once in their 10 games. Perhaps their statement win came on week three (26-13) over Steubenville Central Catholic, also a playoff team.

Indorf thinks the Indians are going to try and throw the ball on them and show them a lot of man coverage on defense. “They come to us from Columbiana County. It is a team with a lot of athletes on it. It looks like they run very well. Good size up front. It seems like they want to pass the ball a little bit more than they want to run,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They will run and use that speed to get to the edge. Defensively, they are in a 3-4. They are going to run some form of man coverage behind. It looks like they are going to blitz.”

Indorf says the Indians are kind of a different team than they have faced from a personnel standpoint, but that is not going to affect how they prepare for Friday night. “It is a different team. They have a few more athletes than some of teams we have seen. It is nothing new, we are going to take the same approach to make sure we are taking care of ourselves on a day to day basis. Work to win the day, making sure we are disciplined and playing fundamental and fast, physical football,” he said.

Published 10/30/18

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Lucas is the Top Seed in Their Region

Lucas is riding pretty high right now as they last Saturday produced one of the biggest regular season wins in program history and they are going to carry that momentum into the postseason where they are the number one seed in their division seven region.

They host Hannibal River for the second time three weeks at Bob Wine Field in a regional quarterfinal in division seven on Saturday night.

Last Saturday, they rallied with some big plays in the second half to get past previously unbeaten Lima Central Catholic (21-14) in a non conference game.

Coach Scott Spitler says it was a statement game for them. “When you are trying to build a program like we are working towards at Lucas you are trying to get the type of success that a program kike Lima Central Catholic has. So, being able to go over to their house and get a solid victory against a quality opponent with a lot of success, they were undefeated at the time, they were at the top of their region last year, and just a tremendous tradition for football, to go in and play on their turf and come away with a victory is just a testament to how hard our kids work,” said Spitler.

Lucas trailed (14-6) at the half, but they got a big play in their special teams in the second half and Spitler says their defense was outstanding all night long against the Thunderbirds. “It was back and forth. You had two teams that wanted to establish the line of scrimmage and run the football. We are a more off tackle, between the tackles team and they are more edges and stretch you in space type run team. It was a unique battle and I’ll tell you what our defense came to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “The defense only gave up seven points on the night. We had a kickoff return that we gave up, that’s how they got their 14 points. Our defense played lights out. We had a tremendous special teams play by Kaiden Thomas, where he blocked a punt and scooped it and scored. That was the deciding score to give us the victory.”

If you are thinking, didn’t Lucas just play Hannibal River? You would be right, in fact 10 days ago, with the Cubs winning (62-6) in a game that was (48-0) at the half.

Spitler says the teams certainly know each other. “I think both teams know each other really well. That is the one thing when you play somebody and you get familiar with them is you just can’t take things for granted because each team knows each other so well you know it is going to be a difficult battle when you playing somebody three times. This is the third time we will be playing them. It’s 1-1, they got us last year and we got them in the regular season this year. I am glad we are at home and they have to come to us, but they are well coached and we expect a good game from them,” he said.

Spitler says considering the results the last two weeks it will be his job to keep the players focused. “I think you look throughout sports and anytime a team comes away with a signature win like we did last Saturday against a good program and you are riding that high and you have a team that you beat the week before you really have to make sure as a coach that you get the kids grounded and they understand that football is a funny game and a fickle sport and it can change on a play here and there. It’s going to be a battle and if we don’t prepare you never know,” he said.

Published 10/29/18

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Wooster Faces Wadsworth Again

Wooster plays at Wadsworth on Friday night in a first round game in the division two football playoffs.

This is the second time they will play this season. Wadsworth handed the Generals one of the two losses this year (37-31) on week two of the regular season.

Wooster claimed an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title last week when they beat Ashland (38-6) at their place.

After sharing the title three times in the last seven years, coach Doug Haas says it was really cool to have that trophy to themselves. “I am certainly very, very proud of our kids and the effort that they put forth from a preparation standpoint leading up to Friday night to put themselves in that position to win it outright and then went out and executed and played very, very well. Certainly, I feel good about that. It is always good from that standpoint to be propelled into week 11. Credit to coach Valentine and his staff those guys do such a good job. They had some unfortunate injuries that probably aided a little bit. None the less, I don’t want to take anything from our kids in regards to their level of execution and preparation. So, very, very fortunate and blessed for sure,” said Haas.

Generals quarterback Dylan Dagley accounted for five scores.

Haas says he has not encountered a time where he has played a team twice in the same season, but he says both sides are going to be familiar with their foe. “This is unique. This is the first time in my coaching career that I have had a rematch. That puts a little bit of a unique spin on it. I have reached out to a couple of guys just to get an idea on what you do or how do you handle it. It is one of those things where you dance with what got you here. We are going to continue to do what we do and work to improve and get better day by day and execute the fundamental aspect of it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “My guess is coach (Justin) Todd and his staff are probably thinking the same thing when it comes to game planning. Familiarity of the teams and the location. That should help with the nerves. It is down to the top 32 teams in division two. There isn’t that extra stuff to really thing about.”

Haas says the Grizzlies are going to be big and physical and they have a lot of kids that can play. “They have great depth. Coach Todd has done a great job in generating numbers, so they have tremendous depth. They are kind of a two headed monster at the running back position. They have Brock Snowball and the other kid is Dom Loparo. Thy are big backs. Their depth is going to be a challenge for us. Mind you it a little easier now that it is 45 degrees and not 85 degrees like it was on week two. That makes it a little more manageable from that standpoint. They have a physical style run game and the RPO in terms of the passing game and they can push it down the field a little bit too,” said Haas.

When the Generals have the ball, Haas says Wadsworth is going to bring a lot of pressure and from different places. “Defensively, they are very, very aggressive from their odd stack. They try and come at you and not necessarily overload you, but they are going to come at you from different angles with different guys, so that puts stress on you from a pass protection standpoint. Just have a understanding where the run schemes and the gaps are to try and pierce,” he said.

Published 10/29/18

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Probable Playoffs Matchups

Division II

Wooster @ Wadsworth

Division III

West Holmes @ Kenston

Rocky River @ Clyde

Lexington @ Tiffin Columbian

Sandusky @ Bay Village

Bowling Green @ Norwalk

Division IV

Bryan @ Clear Fork

Huron @ Van Wert

Highland @ Clearview

Division V

Tuslaw @ Orrville

Sandy Valley @ Manchester

Marion Pleasant @ Oak Harbor

Division VI

Southern @ Norwayne

Loudonville @ Seneca East

Fairview @ Gibsonburg

Northwood @ Hillsdale

Carey @ Columbus Grove

Southeastern @ Northmor

Division VII

Youngstown Valley Christian @ Mapleton

Leipsic @ Mohawk

Norwalk St. Paul @ Edgerton

Pandora-Gilboa @ Tiffin Calvert

River @ Lucas

 
     
     
   

A lot of Things on the Plate for Clear Fork

There are a number of things to accomplish for the Clear Fork football team this Friday, but primary among them is to beat Marion Harding because without that many of those other things go away.

By beating the Presidents, the Colts win back to back outright Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference titles, would have consecutive 10-0 regular seasons and might by the number one seed in their division four computer region for the second straight year.

That all became possible when Gabe Blauser kicked a field goal with just over 3:00 to play and the Colts beat Marion Pleasant (16-14) last week at the Colt Corral.

They were behind (14-7) at the half when Pleasant scored on the final play of the second quarter.

However, coach Dave Carroll says he wasn’t that worried, he had confidence in his kids. “I was proud of our kids throughout the entire game. Pleasant, I think most people that follow high football know their reputation, they were a regional final team last year. They are always good and this year is no exception. They have big, strong kids and they are fast on top of that. We took the lead, but it was brief, and then they tied it up and then they took the lead. Every time we had the ball we moved it. The first time we take it right down the field and we fumble in the red zone and we scored the next time. Another time we take it down and have a nice play the Kayden Flynn and we get a holding penalty that takes us out of there. Last year, was a little different. They stymied our offense last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We did not drive the ball we scored on a couple of heaves in the air at the end of the game, so it was much different. I felt way more confident this year when we were down 14-7 than last year when we were down 14-0 and our offense really hadn’t done much of anything at that point. I knew our kids would fight and keeping going and our defense stepped up and shut them out in the second half and our offense got the points on the board. The rest is history, another classic.”

Clear Fork cut its deficit to (14-13) when Brennan South found Trevon Trammell on a 36-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter.

The Colts (9-0,6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, play at Marion Harding (2-7,1-5) in “MOAC” action on Friday night. The Presidents won their first conference game of the season last week beating River Valley (19-18) last Friday.

Carroll says they do some nice things on offense. “They have some really nice athletes. They have a few of those kids back from last year’s team. They have had some very close games against a lot of the “MOAC” opponents. They struggled a little bit against Pleasant, but everybody else has too. They are very, very good at running the sweep, they have a lot of different versions to get the ball outside, different formation, motions, crackbacks and things like that. They are really proficient at running the boot pass. I think we have counted seven different ways from different formations. We run the boot pass, not as many different ways, where you are faking the run one way and booting the other way and bringing people across the field, bringing backs out of the backfield behind the line. Those are the two big areas that we have to defend well. They will chuck a fade up every once in a while, but we have gotten better and better at defending that over the course of the season,” said Carroll.

In a similar situation last year, Clear Fork beat Marion Harding (41-14) to close things out.

Carroll says they are a team that will show you a lot of things on defense. “They will give you a combination of zone and man. Our receivers have to be ready to get off that man coverage. We are struggling a little bit against that. Against Ontario, especially in the first half. We don’t see a lot of teams that get right up in your face like we do, our guys do that, and bump you and run with you, so we have to adjust to that. They will also play safe and have that four across umbrella. We have to find ways to get the ball in the end zone. Hopefully, get our run game going better than it was last week as well,” he said.

Clear Fork has averaged 47 points a game. Last week, we the only time they have scored less than 40 this year.

Now, with a lot on the line here, Carroll says it would be easy to get lost in the fray a little bit. He says they must have focus. “We are trying to get our kids to not think about that too much, just focus on your job beating Marion Harding. Obviously, that is the elephant in the room, back to back 10-0 seasons. I have had 10-0, 9-1 or 9-1, 10-0, but I have never had two 10-0’s back to back, Clear Fork has never had that, and obviously these kids have never had that. So, it is pretty special, but we have to guard against dreaming about that stuff or thinking about the playoffs and you let this slip away, what is in front of you. We are focusing on Marion Harding and what our job is against these guys,” said Carroll.

Published 10/26/18

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Big One for Norwalk

To have any chance to share the Lake Division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference, the Norwalk Truckers must win at Tiffin Columbian on Friday night.

Both the Truckers and the Tornadoes share second place a game behind Clyde. The winner must also have Clyde lose to rival Bellevue.

In one the better games all season in North Central Ohio last week, Clyde executed a two-point play in overtime to beat the Truckers (32-31) to grab first place to themselves.

Norwalk coach Todd Fox says it was a great learning experience for them. “Once we were able to step back it was a great football game. It would have been greater if we could have taken the victory, but we learned a lot and we just need to continue to work to get better on week 10 and week 11,” he said.

This is the first year for Fox at Norwalk, he had had a lot of success at Tiffin Calvert, and he believes they have grown a whole bunch this fall. “There are a lot of areas that we are better, but the number one area is just the mental part. We have a group of guys that have not experienced a lot of success. We have been able to overcome adversity and respond the right way. That part to me is pivotal in becoming a winning program,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Friday night our first quarter started catastrophic and we were able to come back in the game and lose to a very good team in overtime. Week two, our game started that way and we never responded and we never did get back in the game. Just the mental part of the football game we are so much better.”

Norwalk (7-2,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Tiffin Columbian (7-2,3-1), #4 in our poll, on Friday night. Columbian beat Sandusky Perkins (33-14) last week to keep themselves in the race.

Fox says the Tornadoes do a lot of things and they do them fast. “They play fast. You can tell that everybody has bought in to what they are doing. They are playing with some swagger. Nick Koerper, their quarterback right now that stepped in at mid-season due to any injury is doing a phenomenal job. They are just fundamentally sound and do some great things,” he said.

Now, the Truckers have relied a lot on the running of Trevon Raymore this season, and why not, he has more than 2,000 yards on the ground, but Fox thinks they are going to have to complete more passes this time. “We have to put four quarters together. It’s week 10 and we have to that. We have to put out defense in better situations offensively. We are going to have to play four quarters of football and we are going to have to throw the football more than we normally do and have a little more success if we are going to win this game,” said Fox.

Published 10/26/18

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Ashland Stands in the Way of Wooster

Ashland has a chance to keep Wooster from winning an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title on Friday night as they visit the Generals at Folis Field.

It is a somewhat similar situation to last year when Wooster beat Ashland to stop them from winning an outright title. The difference is Ashland will not get a share if they win, they have been eliminated from the race.

Last week, West Holmes beat Ashland (56-49) in double overtime in “OCC” play.

Coach Scott Valentine says the Knights just made some big plays. “It is just one of those things. I think we have some good athletes in our league and those guys are making plays. Unfortunately for us we haven’t been able to get that one stop, or that one play for ourselves defensively to allow us to get the win. Both sides of the ball our kids are playing hard,” he said.

West Holmes quarterback Bridger Cline threw for 435 yards and seven touchdowns last week against the Arrows.

They had also given up 43 points the week before to Lexington.

Valentine says he doesn’t believe it is really a tacking issue. “I don’t think it is tackling. I think we have been pretty good tacklers this year. It is just one of those things when a guy makes a play we have guys in perfect position on coverage on defense and a guy makes a great play over top or a guy running the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Like Stover running the ball he is a big physical kid. We had two of three guys and you try to get that stop. Again, I think our kids are playing hard. We will have to go back in the off season and look and see about things we are going to have to do.”

Ashland (5-4,2-3) is at Wooster (7-2,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday night. Wooster beat Akron Firestone (44-12) in a non-league game last week.

Valentine says the have to make Wooster quarterback Dylan Dagley uncomfortable in some way and that is not easy. “I think there is no doubt their quarterback is the guy that makes everything go. He will run it on you and then he throws it and he has some good receivers out there. He is the guy you have got to control. You are not going to stop him, but you have to control him. Defensively, they have some big, physical kids up front that you are going to have to keep in tack if you are going to be able to move the football. Those have been our emphasis this week,” said Valentine.

Dagley ran for 98 and threw for 194 last week against Firestone. He accounted for four touchdowns.

Valentine says the Wooster game is a nice game to have at the end of the season. “I think that is something that over the years that our kids and their kids have battled and gone back and fourth with wins here and there. That is what really creates a rivalry when you have both teams battling and a certain team gets a win and the other team gets a win. That is the way it has developed over the years,” he said.

Published 10/26/18

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Seneca East has Goals This Week

Seneca East, in second place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, is at Buckeye Central in conference game on Friday night.

They need a win and loss by conference leader Mohawk to Upper Sandusky to get a share of the conference title.

In their game last week, Seneca East (8-1,5-1) pulled away in the second half and beat Colonel Crawford (39-22) in conference play.

Coach Ed Phillips says both sides of the ball did some good things, but he especially liked the way the Tigers defense reacted. “That was a great win for us. They have played outstanding football this year, especially defensively. I think us and North Union are the only teams to score more than 20 points on them. You look at the list and they hold people to 14 points, 7 points, 0 points. To come out and play that well against them and put the points on them. Our defense, played really well, two of their touchdowns came off a short field,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We gave them a short field on their first drive right off the bat. We didn’t handle the rain real well. To their credit, they made a nice play on an interception and ran it back to the five, so they had another short field. Their third touchdown they didn’t have to go very long either. We gave them pretty good field position. When we made them drive the length of the field our defense really got the job done.”

As most football fans know, Buckeye Central (0-9,0-6) has had its problems this year. They lost (61-26) to Carey last week. They have permitted at least 35 points in every game this year and 61 twice in the last two weeks.

Phillips says the way he looks at, Buckeye’s players have a lot to be proud of. “I give them a lot of credit because they have stuck with it. You watch them on film and they play hard and they do good things. That is the toughest thing to do is to have a season that doesn’t go like you want. To not be able to have a win yet this season is tough, but it also shows the guys they have on the team have an awful lot of character and they need to be commended for that because that is a tough thing to do. Sometimes it takes more character to go through a season like that and they have done a good job,” said Phillips.

Seneca East has already clinched a home game in the division six playoffs and Phillips says there are some things they need to work on. “I think have really improved week by week. I have picked out some pretty specific things for us this week that we need to get better at and really hammered at it. That is our goal (Friday) night is to get better at those things and come out and play really well and do what we need to do to win the football game,” he said.

Published 10/26/18

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Lexington Focused for Week 10

Week 10 could mean a lot for the Lexington Minutemen, but most of all it is about winning.

They host Canton South (2-7) in a non-conference game on Friday night.

A victory will likely put the Minutemen in the division three playoffs. Plus, the fans will be scoreboard watching because if Ashland beats Wooster, they will share the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with the Generals.

Last Friday, Lexington took a six touchdown lead into halftime and beat Madison (42-16) in an “OCC” game.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says the game plan was to start fast. “Our big goal last week was to start fast and we did exactly that. We were able to put ourselves in position to get a lot of kids playing time in the second half,” said Gerhardt.

Gerhardt says on Friday nights you want to get in as many kids as you can. “In terms of team it always helps out the more real game experience you can get kids the better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The better part of it is more kids get to experience the game they love and the payoff of playing under the Friday night lights with all of the hard work they have put in,”

Lexington (5-4) hosts Canton South (2-7) on Friday night in a non-conference game. The Wildcats lost to Carrollton (38-14) last week and have a four game losing streak in tow.

Gerhardt says they have played a quality schedule. “They are a much better football team than a 2-7 record. They have dealt with a lot of injuries throughout the year and they have got some players,” he said.

The veteran coach says the only thing that matters to them is beating Canton South and that is the only thing that can matter. “We can’t even thing about the postseason until we take care of our business at hand, which is Canton South,” he said.

Published 10/26/18

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South Central Has a Lot to Play for

They are trying to build a program at South Central and a win on Friday night is going to help the Trojans a lot.

They still have an outside chance to earn a division seven playoff berth and a win will give them seven the most the program has had in 36 years.

It was a tough loss last week for the Trojans as Crestview scored twice in the second half and beat them (21-12) in a Firelands Conference game.

Coach Corey Fickiesen says they had a lot of chances to win the game. “The first half our first three possessions we felt pretty good. The first possession we drove all of the way down inside the 10 and kind of got stalled out and then our next two possessions we scored on. Then the weather change happened and we just didn’t handle it as well as we should have. We were still somewhat affective we got down to the goal line and fumbled and that’s when the momentum kind of took a turn. It just wasn’t a very good call on my part. I have been rethinking about all of that, all of the different calls that could have been made, but at this point we have to move on and get ready for this week,” said Fickiesen.

South Central (6-3,3-3) plays at home against New London (0-9,0-6) as part of rivalry week in the Firelands Conference.

Fickiesen says know how these rivalry game typically go. “When you get to week 10 in the Firelands and its rivalry week. Week 10 across the state are your rival type games and that is what it is for us. It doesn’t matter the sport when you play New London you know what you are going to get. Both teams are going to play as hard as they can because regardless of records and it is going to be a huge win for either side,” he said.

New London lost (40-0) to Mapleton last week and they carry a 16 game regular season losings streak. Still, Fickiesen says they have some players that can do things. “On film they have gotten a lot better and you can tell that from the three films that we have and I think we saw them early in the year. They have improved and coach Keys has done a really good job over there allowing them to stay on course. Getting better is most coach’s goal and that is what they have continued to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They go with a two quarterback system with the Wilson kid, who can throw the ball really well, and then the Hess kid, that can run the ball really well. So, they are able to kind of put you in situations where you have to determine what they are going to do. Sometimes it throws you off with different guys in there. We just have to continue to stay focused and stay disciplined.”

Fickiesen says this game on Friday night is very important to the entire program heading into the future. “We heard the last time we have won seven games here was 1981. I think it has only been done four or five times in school history, so it is a big deal to get to the seven wins. All hope is not lost on the playoffs. There is still a chance. We need some things to happen and quite few of them and we understand that, but it is still there. So, we are at week 10 and we are not out of the playoff race and that is a big deal for our kids and just for our program as a whole. We have been excited about this week it is another opportunity on our home field, which we know for sure is going to be the last one. We want to make sure our last game this year is a big one,” said Fickiesen.

Published 10/26/18

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Plymouth Must be Disciplined

Rivals Plymouth and Crestview match (4-5) records at Alumni Field in Plymouth on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.

Last week, Plymouth played a tough, physical game against Monroeville, but lost to the Eagles (14-11) in a conference game.

Coach Mark Genders says the Eagles were better at executing their game plan last week. “We had some opportunities and we just couldn’t get the job done and to Monroeville’s credit they did. They got a couple of big goal line stands on us. They made one more play that we did,” he said.

Plymouth’s Kade Collins had 265 yards and a TD rushing last week against Monroeville.

Plymouth (4-5,2-4) is at home for Crestview (4-5,3-3) in a Firelands Conference game. The Cougars scored twice in the second half to beat South Central (21-12) last week, Brevin King ran for a score and threw another in that second half.

Genders says Crestview has some mature kids that can make plays. “They have the opposite of us, they have some older kids playing throughout their lineup. They may not have a lot of experience as far as years under their belt. They have got upperclassmen playing football. They are just good. They are a good solid, football team like they usually are. They are led by their quarterback Brevin King,” said Genders.

To have success on Friday night, Genders says they have to have eye discipline or they are going to give up some big plays. “They mix and match with their formations. Then they come back at you with the option. We have to disciplined in our approach to try and stop them and that is crucial. Everybody is going to have to do their job. If you get caught up and going out there and just running around and playing football you are going to be in a lot of trouble,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If you miss an assignment here or there they are going to take it to the house like they did last week off a couple of broken option responsibilities from the other team. Their quarterback hit a big run and I thought that was a turning point in the football game. Being disciplined and playing with a lot of physicality are a must this week.”

Published 10/26/18

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Western Must Give Mapleton Different Looks

Western Reserve closes its first season under coach Ty Stevenson on the road at Mapleton on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.

They suffered their third straight loss when conference leader Norwalk St. Paul waxed them (49-0) last week.

Stevenson says the kids knew what they were up against. “We are real honest with our kids about that kind of stuff. We told them going in that St. Paul is a great program and they have been for a long time. The honest thing is they won that football game in the off season. We tell our kids that is where we are going to win football games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have to be ready to commit in the off season. Be ready to work and if you are not playing another sport from January until when the football season starts. That’s a lot of it. They have phenomenal athletes and they are really well coached. They don’t make mistakes. They don’t beat themselves and when you put that all together that is a really good football program up there.”

Western (2-7,2-4) is at Mapleton to play the Mounties (6-3,4-2) on Friday night in a conference game. Mapleton hammered New London (4-0) last week in conference action.

Mapleton is paced by all-state quarterback Logan Pharmer and Stevenson says he is a kid that can do it all. “He can sling it, he can run it, he can do anything he wants,” he said.

When it comes to slowing down the explosive Mapleton offense led by Pharmer, Stevenson says you have to show him a lot of looks. “You have to try and slow him down as much as you can. You have to try and mix up some looks because if you just set in one thing he is going to pick you apart because he has that type of talent back there and he has that type of talent at wide receiver as well. They are big up front and they probably don’t get enough credit for how well they run they run the ball because Logan Pharmer is that good. You have to try and show some different things here and there and hope that you can keep them off balance and may it will rain a little bit,” said Stevenson.

Published 10/26/18

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A Win and Norwayne is Outright Champ

All Norwayne needs to do on Friday is win and they are going to undisputed Wayne County Athletic League champion.

However, winning isn’t going to be easy. They host Chippewa, who shares second place in the league with Hillsdale, a game behind the Bobcats.

To get into this position, the Bobcats thumped Waynedale (48-6) last week and coach Adam Indorf says they got at it right away. “I thought we did real well last week. We came out of the gate with energy and some fire. We were fortunate enough on the second play from scrimmage to get an interception and I think that just continued to add fuel to the fire and we kept going,” he said.

Norwayne (8-1,6-0) entertains Chippewa (6-3,5-1) on Friday night. The Chipps blew out Rittman (48-7) on week nine. It can be dangerous to compare scores because there are too many other factors, but Norwayne beat Hillsdale (34-28) in overtime, while the Falcons beat Chippewa (12-0) three weeks ago. So, you would think it might be a good game.

Indorf says the Chipps have some weapons. “They have a couple of nice kids. The Petty kid, the Henninger kid. They run the ball well and they like to create an unbalanced front to try and keep our defense off balance. They are going to bring some pressure from their defense and a little bit of man coverage. The key for us is for our kids to control the line of scrimmage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “There are some nice big kids up front for them. We have to stop their run. For us offensively, we have to have our heads up and make sure we are picking up blitzes and things like that.”

In addressing the unbalanced line, Indorf says you have to be able to read it and react the right way in order to have success in defending it. “You have to identify the backside. They are going to run a tight end on the backside that is eligible and make sure we are identifying the guard, tackle, tackle on the front side for that unbalanced line. Chippewa does the guard, tackle, tackle and they put a wing there. So, they will really try and unbalance us. I think if you identify it and shift to it and make sure you are trying to put yourself in the best situation possible,” said Indorf.

Published 10/26/18

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Northmor Wants to be Physical with Highland

It’s for all of the marbles on Friday night as Northmor is at Highland, both are unbeaten in the league, and to the winner goes the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference title.

Northmor coach Scott Armrose says both sides know what is riding on this game. “It is a big game and we have set ourselves up for that. We took it one game at a time all season long and took care of business and now we have set ourselves up with an excellent opportunity and Highland has done the same thing, so what an exciting situation for the “KMAC” with the two teams undefeated in the league matching up against each other for a winner take all championship game,” said Armrose.

Last year, Northmor beat Highland (34-12,) forcing the Scots to share the conference title with Danville and vaulting Northmor into their first ever playoff appearance. Armrose hopes that gives them some confidence going into Friday. “It’s a different year and two different teams. I think it gives us a little of confidence going into a Highland game. Highland is intimidating. They intimidate other teams in the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You need a little bit of an edge to be able to go in and compete with them. It is a whole different year and two to totally different teams, but I think it gives us a little bit of confidence going into the game.”

Highland (8-1,6-0) has three backs with more than 650 yards rushing this year in Brody Matthews, Brock Veley and Tate Tobin, Tobin has 17 rushing TD’s. Armrose says they want to run and they are going to try and be physical. “They are a physical football team on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively and that take a lot of pride in that and they should, they do it very well. They beat you up, so we want to try and match that physicality,” he said.

Ian Taylor has thrown for eight touchdowns, but Armrose says they want to put the Scots in bad down and distance situations by winning on first down. “They throw the ball surprisingly well. The play action pass is a big part of what they do and they do it very well. It is like playing any other team, if you can put them in second and third and long it gives your defense and advantage,” said Armrose.

Conor Becker has down a great job running the ball for Northmor (9-0,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, too. He has several plus 200 yard nights and had 188 yards and three scores last week against Centerburg. Quarterback Hunter Mariotti has been a good orchestrator for the Golden Knights, his 7 of 11 for 101 yards and a score last week was typical of his season.

Armrose knows his kids and going to be pumped up, but he also knows you can’t live on that. “You have to be controlled and you have to take it one play at a time too. We want to be ready to play, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time a football game has its ups and its downs and we like to be even keel in our approach and we like to try and control our emotions and that way we can stay focused and take care of our responsibilities,” said Armrose.

Published 10/25/18

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Outright Title Lays in the Balance for Clyde

Clyde needs to beat rival Bellevue to secure an undisputed title in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

They play at Bellevue on Friday night.

The Fliers took a one game lead with a (32-31) overtime win over Norwalk last week on Brandi Clark’s two-point conversion. They now lead the Truckers and Tiffin Columbian by a game heading into the final week.

Coach Ryan Carter says it was a heck of a football game. “It was a very good high school football game. I give them a lot of credit, they played very well. We were just able to make one more play at the end. We decided it was in our best interest to go for two on the road and end it right there. Fortunately for us we made a good play and were able to convert. That game could have gone either way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I was trying to tell the kids game comes down to very, very subtle things and very easily this year a bunch of our games could have gone the other way. It is the same things about our opponent this week Bellevue. They are 3-6, but they have had ton of games that could have gone the other way. They could easily be 6-3, so we not looking for anything other than trying to play our best football game this week and give ourselves a chance to beat Bellevue.”

Clyde beat Toledo Start (27-24) and Tiffin Columbian (24-21) on field goals at the horn and Sandusky (33-28) and Port Clinton (7-0) by a touchdown or less,

The Fliers (7-2,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is at Bellevue (3-6,1-3) on Friday night. The Redmen won their first division game last week in beating Sandusky (19-10) on the road.

Carter knows about the tradition at Bellevue and he says the Redmen have talent and it is always a tough place to play. “They are very good on both sides of the ball. Coach Nasonti runs a great program and the kids will be fired up and ready to play there is no doubt about that. We are going to need to improve this week and try and get ourselves better and then to get ourselves ready to go over to what will be a hostile environment an try to get ourselves one last win in the regular season and see where the rest of the season takes us,” he said.

Of course, a win means a lot of Clyde, but Carter says this game means a whole bunch to each community and there is a lot of emotion tied into it. “There always is, that is what rivalry games are all about. We have a lot of cross over between people that know each other, people that have played in the past, and people that work with each other. We are only a couple of minutes down the street. There is a lot at stake and our people know that and I am sure theirs do as well. It will be exciting, it will be a good atmosphere. It is what high school football is all about,” said Carter.

Published 10/25/18

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Crestview and Huron for District Title

Crestview meets Huron for the volleyball division three district title on Thursday night at Willard High School.

The Lady Cougars are the defending district champs and Huron is a longtime volleyball power under coach Don Wood. The Lady Tigers have won four state titles, the last coming in 2014.

On Tuesday night, Crestview won a tough five set match with Galion, beating the Lady Tigers 23-25, 26-24, 24-26, 25-19, and 15-7. “The girls pulled it out. They never stopped battling, that’s for sure and we were able to pull it out,” said Crestview coach Jody Ritchey.

Kenedi Goon had 31 kills and 19 digs, Natalie Restille had 14 kills and 25 digs and Magey Shambre added 52 assists.

Crestview (20-4), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com volleyball coaches poll in the small school division, has had five matches go five sets and they have won four of those, including both Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville who play for the division four district title in what was a very good Firelands Conference this year. Ritchey says they don’t lose their cool. “We have been down 17-24 and the kids will come back. They never stop believing in one another,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “One thing that we do that makes us special and makes us different is we never panic and I think that’s huge, especially in high school athletics. They really work well together and believe in one another. That is fantastic and that is huge for (Thursday) night.”

Huron (21-3), #1 in our poll, beat Western Reserve in straight sets 25-21, 25-17, and 25-19 on Tuesday at Willard. The Lady Tigers were outright champions of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference. Crestview shared the Firelands with St. Paul.

Ritchey says Huron is, well, very good. “He is petty deep as far as his roster and of course they have a lot of size. With our size I would says that is evenly matched up. Of course, they are going to be great that is why they are state ranked number two. It’s a great team and it is exciting game for the kids to be able to compete at that level so. We are looking forward to it,” she said.

Published 10/25/18

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St. Paul and Monroeville in Their Annual Grudge Match

Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville, little more needs to be said, but hey, we are going to say more anyway.

It is the small school rivalry that defines North Central Ohio and they play Friday night at Marsh Filed in Monroeville.

St. Paul, the conference champion, thrashed Western Reserve (49-0) last week in Firelands Conference action.

Coach John Livengood feels they continue to improve each week. “I was pretty happy how we played. The foundation of our program anyway is that we want to continue to get better. We take a lot of pride in that and work hard at that. If your able to do that lots of times wins and losses take care of themselves. Sometimes you are just outmatched. Sometimes you have the ability to get better and improve and our kids have done a great job with that. We have a lot of young kids starting off the season for us with inexperience and they have done a great job getting better each week,” he said.

Livengood says that improvement has been across the board and in every part of the team. “I don’t know if I can say one particular area because we lost a lot of starters. We only had a couple of linemen back. One area we did have some experience back, we had two running backs back and our linebacking corps is back. Offensive and defensive line and our secondary and receiver positions are all new kids. Our quarterback position is a new kid. We have made good strides in all of those areas. We have leaned on our running backs and linebackers because that is the core of our experience coming back and those guys have done a nice job brining along the others. Hopefully, we continue to make that improvement this week,” said Livengood.

Norwalk St. Paul (8-1,6-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Monroeville (6-3,4-2) on Friday night. The Eagles have won their last four, including (14-11) over Plymouth last week.

Livengood says the Eagles backs have great athleticism. “I think the last two or three weeks here we have really been playing well. I watched that tape with Plymouth this past week and I know the score was a tight score, but anytime you play Plymouth it is tough playing them with that offense, it is tough to stop. Monroeville did a nice job with that and had a couple of goal line stands and was able to grind out a victory and it was a tough, wet night that night. They are playing good football. The thing that really sticks out when you watch them is their running back (Dominic) Ruffing, he has great speed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Their quarterback (Chayce) Schaub, great speed, and he is able to make a lot of plays with his feet. He will roll out and the play starts to break down. He might roll the opposite direction or find a seem up the middle and take off with and make what looks like an incomplete pass or sack and he will turn it into a 30 or 40 yard run. They have some really good skilled kids with a lot of speed. I am not sure we can match that speed, so we have to play, sound disciplined football because those athletes can make a huge difference in a game.”

When you have a rivalry game like this there is going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of it, but Livengood says their approach will be just like it has been for the last nine weeks. “We approach every game the same way. It doesn’t matter who we are playing and what their record is we are going to approach it like it is a championship game. We are going to try play our best game up until that point. We put the same amount of effort into it and the same work ethic and practice schedule each week. It doesn’t matter who we are playing we are going to play even keel. We are going to go out there with a determination and play hard and try to play better than we did the previous week,” he said.

Published 10/25/18

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Monroeville Must Beat St. Paul

When Monroeville and Norwalk St. Paul play each one wants to win really bad and that is what makes a rivalry, but this season the Eagles must win Friday night at home to have any chance to make the division seven playoffs.

They stand tenth in their region and they have to land in the top eight to make the postseason.

They beat Plymouth (14-11) last week in what was sort of a war of attrition, according to Monroeville coach Scott Stacher. “We are very excited to come out on top in that one. We made some mistakes, had a touchdown called back. Plymouth is a tough opponent and our defense played lights out. Hats off to coach Nester, coach Dunlap, and coach McDonald for coming up with a game plan for our defense. We had three stops inside the five, one on the one. Then Dominic Ruffing broke a 99-yard touchdown run, which is a school record now. That energized us for a 7-0 lead. The night was brutal with rain. Plymouth only attempted three passes and we only attempted five or six. It was a knock out drag out win the game in the trenches for sure,” said Stacher.

Ruffing finished last week with 148 yards and a score.

Monroeville (6-3,4-2) hosts Norwalk St. Paul (8-1,6-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division. The Flyers are coming off a (49-0) belting of Western Reserve last week.

Stacher says this is just another very good St. Paul team. “St. Paul their consistency year after year. Seeing some stuff early on them and they have improved and they are usually very good to begin with. Not that they don’t improve every year, but I have seen marked improvement from them this year. They have a lot young players that are good and really improved. That impresses me most. The quarterback throws the ball really well. He is tall and he sees the field really well. Caizzo runs really hard and their line blocks really well. What impresses is all of the usual things,” he said.

Cam Caizzo has 1,164 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Noah Good adds 854 rushing yards and 13 scores. St. Paul quarterback Jake Griffin has thrown for 1,090 yards and 11 TD’s.

Stacher says if you are going to beat St. Paul you have to be mistake free and that is their goal Friday night. “You have to make them do a lot of things they don’t want to do and hopefully our kids are up to the challenge this week. Again, we have to have some ball control element in there to limit their possessions. We just can’t make any mistakes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They usually don’t make mistakes and if they make one, we better capitalize on it and we better not make any mistakes ourselves. We are looking forward to a very good game. We are looking forward to protecting “The Marsh.” We have had our backs against the wall the last four weeks and have come out on top and we will see what happens this week. This is a playoff game for us and we want to give ourselves every chance we can to get in the playoffs.”

Published 10/25/18

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Wynford Meets Bucyrus in Curtain Call

Wynford and Bucyrus play in the “Iron Plow” game at Bucyrus in Northern 10 Athletic Conference action on Friday night.

The Royals have kept the trophy since was introduced in 2014.

It was a tough week last week for the Royals as they were dominated (44-0) by Mohawk, the “N10” leader.

Wynford coach Gabe Helbert says there are no two ways about it Mohawk was the better football team last week. “They were the better team that night. They were better by a substantial amount that is why you saw the margin in score that you saw. Obviously, the last two weeks haven’t been near what we like. It is our job to get our kids to continue to improve that we can play at a high level, but Mohawk is a very good football team, very aggressive, very well coached, and they did a nice job of preparing for us and playing us very well,” he said.

Earlier this season Wynford had a 33 game “N10” winning streak snapped and they have now lost three conference games. Helbert says they have been hurt this year by injuries. “It really has hurt us. You would like to think that you could overcome those things and you could find ways to have success on Friday night and at times we have, but there have been some growing pains and some issues with that. They reality of the situation is we lost two of our senior captains for the year. Combined we had them for all of about three and half games. I think it affects maybe the physic of our kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our kids and still out there competing hard. They are kids that are still striving to get better every single day. It is how do overcomes those things when you are dealt with adversity? The kids that got injured have had to deal with that and the team has had to deal with that. At times we have done a nice job with it and other times it has been relatively disappointing,”

Wynford (5-4,3-3) is at Bucyrus (3-6,2-4) this week. The Redmen are coming off a (41-7) win over Upper Sandusky last week.

Bucyrus has not beaten the Royals this century, but Helbert admits this game is a tossup. “The thing about Bucyrus, number one, they have to be very excited with what they have seen with us on film. It is probably the first time in a long time they could watch the film and say we are an equivalent to them, I am not trying sound cocky or to put down Bucyrus, but in past years we have been fortunate enough that we were a better football team. This year I think you have two very evenly matched teams. You have two teams that really want to finish their season in a positive way with the win and it is a trophy game, so Bucyrus is going to be as excited to play that game as we are. They are talented they have some kids that are very hard runners. The Robinson kid is an explosive athlete on the outside and he also carries the ball. The definitely present several challenges for our defense,” said Helbert.

Published 10/25/18

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First Quarter Critical for Madison

Madison hosts arch rival Mansfield Senior on Friday night in hopes they can end the season on an up note.

The Rams have struggled pretty much all season, but last week there were a lot of good signs in a (42-16) loss to Lexington in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

Coach Dave Stupka has talked all season about wanting to run the ball and last week they were able to do that against the Minutemen. “It was very encouraging for us that we played a really outstanding second half. Even in the first half. In the first half we were affectively able to run the ball against Lexington. Miles Bond ended the game with close to 300 yards, he had 292 yards, which is a testament to him, but also to our offensive line, which did a very nice job. He probably got 125 of those in the first half. So, that was very encouraging for us because that is what we want to do. We want to be able to run the ball and against a good team like Lexington we really had some good success. It is really the first good success we have had running the ball since the Wooster game,” said Stupka.

Madison (1-8,0-5) plays host to Mansfield Senior (4-5,2-3) on Friday night at Ram Field at Startek Stadium. The Tygers are coming off a (33-19) win over Mt. Vernon in league play last week.

Stupka says the Tygers give you a lot you have to defend. “This is for the city title, so both teams will be fired up and primed to go. Mansfield has played well throughout the year and they are very athletic and they do some things quite well. They are pretty diverse on offense. They can run the ball right at you. They can also spread you out and force you to defend the entire field, which makes it a challenge for us defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are excited for the challenge. Our players are excited and we feel good about ourselves with regard to how we played last week in the second half and it has carried over to good practices this week. We can’t wait until Friday.”

To be in this game and have a chance to win, Stupka says they can not get blown off the field in the first quarter, which has happened too many times this year. “The thing that is our goal on Friday night is what happened to us against Lexington is we fell behind 7-0, but then we put together a nice drive and could have tied the game up and we turn the ball over on Lexington’s three yard line. For us, we have to win or tie the first quarter on Friday night and keep the game competitive in the first half and if we get through that first quarter and we are tied or we are ahead and now we play another 12 minutes and that is our next goal. I think the longer we can keep the game at that point the more confidence we will have. Certainly, it will lead beautifully into next year,” he said.

Published 10/25/18

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Wooster Wants it All

Wooster claims an outright title in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with a win at home over Ashland on Friday night.

A loss means they would have to share it with Lexington.

They actually took a break from “OCC” play last week to play and beat Akron Firestone (44-12) in a non-conference game.

Coach Doug Haas says their focus was sound. “We had kind of preached all week long that this is kind of a unique situation in the sense of some unfamiliarity with a non conference opponent on week nine. Our job was to just come out and take care of our business and I am proud of our kids and terms of the preparation they put in during the week and the execution level on Friday night was great. We have to do more of the same in terms of getting ready for Ashland and more of the same, and even better, from an execution level on Friday night,” said Haas.

Wooster (7-2,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, hosts Ashland (5-4,2-3) in “OCC” action this week. The Arrows lost (56-49) in double overtime to West Holmes last week. It was their third straight loss.

Haas reminds that they have been able to put up points this year. “They are averaging 36 on the season right now, so that is a number that is eye popping. They haven’t struggled to score. You look at their losses and they have all been down to the wire type stuff,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “An overtime loss last week, Mansfield Senior came back late to win, and they lost by a field goal to Tiffin Columbian. You are talking games they have been in and leading at times, so now it is a matter of just finishing them. Hopefully, we can contain that offense. It is certainly a high powered offense for sure.”

Form a defensive side of the things Ashland has allowed 26, 43, and then 56 points the last three weeks. Haas believes they will be better this week. “They have struggled from a defensive standpoint, but you look at that group and it is really young. I know coach Valentine is going to have that group ready to go and I know that staff is going to have that group ready to go and clicking on all cylinders coming into our field. So, we are going to have to match that or better that execution and that ability to play. I am confident in our kids that we can certainly do that,” said Haas.

There is no question, especially considering their recent past, Haas says they want to be selfish when it comes to the league title. “This is my seventh year and have been fortunate enough to be part of three conference championships, albeit they have all been shared in some compacity and that is not lost on our kids. The opportunity to win one outright is something that we are excited about. More importantly for our seniors you always remember your last football game. Being your last football game you want to put your best product out there from a regular season standpoint and hopefully ride some momentum into a week 11. Our focus is not that all, it is Ashland this week,” said Haas.

Published 10/24/18

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Lucas Plays Undefeated Lima Central Catholic

Lucas does not back away from anyone and they are facing a very good opponent on Saturday night as they travel to Lima to face the Central Catholic Thunderbirds.

“LCC” is unbeaten on the season and has only played one division seven school all season in Delphos St. John’s and that has been their closest game of the season a (20-10) win for the Thunderbirds.

The Cubs destroyed Hannibal River (62-6) last week in game that was (48-0) at the half. Coach Scott Spitler says they got started right away. “I thought the kids came out right from the opening kickoff and established what we wanted to do on both sides of the football. That is kind of what we have been stressing for several weeks now to continue to grow each week and get better and win the week 1-0. I thought we came out and established the line of scrimmage more importantly on both sides of the football right away and kind of took them out of the game immediately,” he said.

Spitler is proud of the tradition they are building at Lucas and he says they want to continue to do so with games like this one. “You can see from our schedule that it has been a schedule that that we have challenged our kids on a week in and week out basis. The last time I looked we were considered to have the sixth toughest schedule in all of D-7. It is what we are trying to do as a program. We are constantly striving the better our program. This is just another opportunity for our kids to challenge ourselves and have an opportunity to prove themselves against a quality, tradition rich program,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They were 10-2 last year and made a deep run in the playoffs and here they are 8-0 this year and number one in their region in D-6. So, we are going to have our hands full and it is going to be a tremendous challenge, but this is what we are working towards. Everybody in our program is working to become the kind of team and program that they are and have the tradition that they have. To do that you have to play good teams like this.”

Lucas (7-2) has already clinched a home playoff game.

Lima Central Catholic (8-0) beat Troy Christian (48-0) last week. Lucas had beat the same team (34-28) earlier in the year.

Spitler says the Thunderbirds have athleticism all over. “They have tremendous speed and athleticism on the offensive side of the ball. They just stretch you from their spread, wing-T offense. They want to run and establish the jet sweep and get to the edges quickly and put your defense in space. Just the thing that jumps off the film is the tremendous speed they have in every facet of the game. We have to be disciplined, they give you a lot of multiple formations and we have to do well tackling in space defensively. Anytime you are playing a tradition rich an quality football team like this you have to take care of the football. You can’t give them extra possessions. We just have to come out and try and establish our game and play our game and not get into the track meet that they want to get into on their turf over there,” said Spitler.

Published 10/24/18

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Mansfield Senior Pumped up for Madison

Mansfield Senior crosses the city limits to play arch rival Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

Unless something dramatic happens it is going to be the last game for both this fall. Mansfield Senior does have a chance to make the division three playoffs.

The Tygers beat Mt. Vernon (33-19) last week in “OCC” action.

Assistant coach Sean Adams says they played well on both sides of the ball. “We did play pretty well. I think Cam Todd really had a good game and Angelo Gross really showed out and he has been a mainstay for us all year, number 8, he is just a great kid, great student, great football player, we are really fortunate to have him and Cam is coming into his own. We played well defensively we gave up a long touchdown on the third play of the game, really that is all of the points they scored on us defensively, a couple of safeties and a kickoff return, a couple of little mental mistakes that we have been talking about all year long,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I thought we did a good job both offensively and defensively last week. Unfortunately, it is week 10, but we get a chance to play against our cross town rivals and we are always looking forward to that.”

Mansfield Senior (4-5,2-3) plays at Madison (1-8,0-5) on Friday night. Madison lost to Lexington (42-16) last week. The Rams have scored more than 20 points only once this season and allowed less than 35 only once.

Adams says the Rams have some good players. “I think the very first thing that stood out me, I watched the Lexington game, Saturday, Sunday, and again (Monday) is number 6. I like the running back. He is a hard running kid, he is fast and quick. They don’t do a whole lot of stuff offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think they have kind of settled in, we are going to run power and we are going to run boots and we are going to try and get the ball into number 6 and we are going to try and slow the game down and see what happens. I really like number 6. Their offensive line has improved immensely, number 72, I like him.”

Adams has been with the Mansfield Senior program for seven seasons and he knows this game is always a war. “I didn’t really watch a whole lot of the defense, but it’s Madison and you can throw out all of the records and we are going to go over their and play our cross town rivals and that is what it is going to be. It is going to be a rivalry game and we have to go over there and take care of business,” he said.

He also knows there is going to be a lot of emotion from both sides in this game. “It wouldn’t be a rivalry game without it. I think both teams want to finish off on a positive note going into the off season. I’m not so sure that we are completely mathematically eliminated for the playoffs, but we are just treating this game as our final game and seeing how the chips might fall. Going into the off season with a win is a lot better than going into the off season with a loss, especially against your cross town rivals. We are going to be prepared. We have had a great week of practice and all we are thinking about is going over there and taking care of Madison,” said Adams.

Published 10/24/18

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Mohawk Looking for Perfect Regular Season

Mohawk has a chance to accomplish something a lot of schools have never done, complete an undefeated regular season.

If they beat Upper Sandusky on Friday night they will be undisputed Northern 10 Athletic Conference champions and finish the regular season unbeaten and likely the top team in the state in the statewide media poll in division seven. Not to mention number one in their computer region.

They grabbed at least a piece of the conference title with a (44-0) win over Wynford last week.

Coach Brent Konkle says it was a strong effort. “Very proud of the boys. Very proud of all of our coaching staff. I thought we were well prepared. It kind of summed up our season right there. We have played well at the end of the year here,” he said.

Mohawk (9-0,6-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, hosts Upper Sandusky (3-6,1-5) in an “N10” game on Friday night. The Rams were hammered (41-7) by Bucyrus last week and have lost their last four and six of their last seven.

Konkle says the Rams have a lot of youth and a lot of injuries and that is not a good combination. “I know they have a lot of young kids playing. They are battling through some injuries. I figure the seniors and going to play on a night when it is their last chance to play. So, we are preparing for all of that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have some nice players when they are healthy. I look for them to be 100 percent on Friday. Hopefully, we take care of business. It would be great to be 10-0 and win the league outright.”

In regards to the Rams, Konkle knows they have nothing to lose. “They know it is their last game. Seniors are going to play 100 percent. It is going to be a very emotional game. A lot of our kids know their kids. I think my kids are going to be ready to play. We are going to have a home playoff game as well, so it is not the last game on our field, but it is the last regular season game. It is senior night and parents are going to be honored and all of that. It’s a pretty emotional night I think. I expect us to go out and play and execute,” said Konkle.

Konkle says they know what they have to do. “We are pretty focused. It’s Tuesday and there are great things happening at Mohawk. We are planning for the future with the playoffs for sure. We take care of business this week. I want to congratulate our volleyball team they play Thursday (in the district finals against Tiffin Calvert.) Again, good things happening at Mohawk,” he said.

Published 10/24/18

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Shelby Wants to End Season on Positive Note

The Shelby Whippets are not going to have the kind of football season they envisioned, but they can still salvage something from it.

If they beat Vermilion this week they will finish as a .500 ballclub.

They lost last week to Oak Harbor (35-0) and coach Erik Will says it was just a situation where they made too many mistakes. “The nice things is this week we get Tyshaundre Hall back. He was out this season just because of some grade issues dating back to last year, so it will be nice to get him back. He will be a welcomed addition to our offense. We actually did get a little going on the run early, we just weren’t able to sustain. Right now, the single biggest thing that is hurting us is we have really stupid penalties at times where you can’t do it. We will have a six yard run and then we have a hold, so we are looking at first and 20 or second and eight and kicks us back to second and 18. It puts you in a situation where you become very predictable. Those are very big things and we need to do a better job this week and see if we can get a win week 10,” said Will.

Shelby (4-5) plays at Vermilion (3-6) on Friday night in a non-conference game. The Sailors beat Edison last week (36-35) on a fake extra point late in the game. That win broke a six game losing streak.

Will says their defense has been suspect this season. “You watch them on film. The number 4 kid is a really good athlete. A matter of fact we call him their Uriah (Schwemley.) They play him a lot like we do Uriah. They move him all over and try anyway possible to get him the ball. The kid that is playing quarterback is not too bad, he is a younger guy, he is going to be good. It is tough to replace a kid that has been a starter for several years like the Heard kid was. He obviously made the go from an offensive standpoint. They have a couple of nice little athletes. If you look they are scoring points they are just getting beat because of that defensive side a little bit. They are capable. Their coaches are saying the exact same thing that we are saying to our kids this is a winnable game this week, so we have to be ready,” said Will.

Will says this will be an important game for them in terms of heading the postseason. “This is kind of like college and this is kind of like a bowl game. That is how we have to look at this. You are not playing in the playoffs for a state championship, but you are playing in a bowl game. You can still go into the off season on a high note. The best we can do is 5-5 and we will take that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Yeah, 5-5 and you are not going to be able to say you were winners, but you are also not saying you are losers. This is a huge game for us because we want to go into the off season on a positive note. Our theme this week is get back home, let’s get this win, get back home, get healed up, and attack this off season.”

Published 10/24/18

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Crestview Has to Slow Down Plymouth

It’s down the road to Plymouth for the Crestview Cougars as they close the 2018 high school football season against the Big Red in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.

The Cougars got their second win in a row with a second half rally to dump South Central (21-12) in a conference game last week.

Coach Dan Mager says they were able to come up with a couple of big plays. “We got a break there in the later part of the third quarter they were down on our one-yard line and we got a fumble and a change of quarters and two plays later we scored on an 80-yard run. We go the ball back an scored again and put it away win for us and pretty happy about that,” he said.

Quarterback Brevin King had that 80-yard run and he threw for the other two scores.

Crestview (4-5,3-3) is at Plymouth (4-5,2-4) on Friday night. The Big Red lost (14-11) to Monroeville last week. Kade Collins has 265 yards rushing in a losing effort for Plymouth.

With that double tight, double win, Mager says they know they have to stop the run. “Two weeks ago, when they played Mapleton they scored on nine straight possessions and had 63 points and had 400, 500 yards of offense. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Monroeville did a good job against them last week slowing them down a little bit. It is all going to be about up front and if our guys can kind of stand our ground up front we have a chance to win, if not, it is going to be a long night.”

Mager wants a win for off season momentum, but also for his seniors who have given the program a lot. “It has been kind of tough year for us. Two years in a row of 7-3 seasons and barley missed the playoffs last year. We lost a lot of starters. We lost a couple of close games this year that I wish we could have back. I want these senior guys to go out with a win. From the younger guys if we could win Friday night ending the season on a three game streak would be really good momentum to go into the off season with,” said Mager.

Published 10/24/18

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Ontario Has to Clean up own Mistakes

It’s week 10 and Ontario will play its final football game on Friday night on the road against physical Marion Pleasant in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action.

A win would double their win total from last year.

Last week, they played a pretty good first half, but lost (45-21) to Galion in league play.

Coach Chris Miller says they were again their own worst enemy in the second half of the game. “We played almost one whole half of good football. We give up a score and we are down 10-0. Owen Hatfield ran a touchdown back. We took the lead, we are up 21-10. Had the ball moving it again and had a big penalty there and kind of killed some momentum. They got the ball back and had two pretty quick offensive strikes to go up at halftime 24-21. Our quarterback injured has hand pretty badly, it swelled up really bad, it didn’t end up being broken, but it sure did look like it on Friday night and he couldn’t come back into the football game. We had to kind of move some people around. Between that and 14 penalties and five turnovers we couldn’t get it done in the second half,” said Miller.

Penalties have been a consistent problem for the Warriors. Miller says they can not have those this week. “They declined four of them, so in 18 plays the flag was thrown for something. We just can’t figure that out. You can’t win football games like that. Holding, personal fouls, offsides, they made us jump I think three times, we weren’t watching the football, not very disciplined from a football playing standpoint and we have to fix that this week,” he said.

Ontario (3-6,1-5) plays at Marion Pleasant (7-2,4-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday night in “MOAC” play. They lost a heartbreaker to Clear Fork last week (16-14) where a win would have tied them for the conference lead.

Miller says with the Spartans there are no surprises. He says they are going to run it right at you. “Pleasant is big, they are strong. They run “Iso,” power, toss and a little bit of counter to the left and then misdirection for some people it might be a reverse, to them they do the same thing the other way. They are not real fancy. They are going to line up and run the football at you. We are going to put a bunch of guys in the box and throw everything we have at them defensively and hope we can build a little bit on that offensive momentum we have had the last couple of weeks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have been able to move the football a little bit. Against Clear Fork we had a couple of drives in the first half. We moved the ball and punched it in the end zone. Last week, we did it for a half of football. We say this every week, but eliminate penalties and turnovers who knows what can happen. You are playing the game to win always every week. That is the goal against this week.”

Published 10/24/18

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Explosive West Holmes Plays Mt. Vernon

West Holmes has a chance to make the division three playoffs, but a lot of things have to happen, first and foremost is they have to beat Mt. Vernon in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

Right now, they stand ninth in their computer region, just .2 points out of the eighth and last position.

They played in a wide affair last week, beating Ashland (56-49) in double overtime in a conference game.

Coach Zach Gardner says it was a super win for them. “It was just a great football game against a quality opponent. It is the type of program that we want to compete against. The type of program we want to beat. Just so happy for our kids to go out and make plays that they needed to win a game,” he said.

Many times games just gain their own momentum and Ashland is averaging five touchdowns a game and Gardner says you have to make a lot of big plays just to keep up. “When you play an offense as dynamic as theirs you have to keep up with them. You have to score points with them. When you have an opportunity to get them off the field you have to get them off the field and turn them over. I was just really happy with our execution offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Our wide receiver Shane Jones played one of the greatest football games I have ever seen a high school football player play. Our quarterback Bridger Cline has a great game distributing the ball. It was just a lot of fireworks in a great game.”

Jones had 213 total yards, six touchdowns, and intercepted two passes, a pretty good night’s work. Cline has 435 yards passing and seven TD’s for the Knights.

West Holmes (7-2,3-2) is at Mt. Vernon (3-6,1-4) on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets were (33-19) losers to Mansfield Senior last week.

The Yellow Jackets want to run the ball and Gardner says they will do it out of a lot of formations. “They do a lot of stuff. They are kind of hard to prepare for with all of the looks they give you offensively and defensively. We are going to have to figure out what they are doing to us and be real balanced and real focused and go out and take care of our business,” he said.

Published 10/24/18

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Highland Plays Northmor for “KMAC” Title

Highland and Northmor, both unbeaten in the “KMAC” play for the football title in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference on Friday night at Highland.

The Scots might also need a win to get into the division four playoffs.

Highland hammered talented East Knox (50-7) last week for their eighth win in a row. “I am excited where we are at right now. I thought we came out last week and played some of the best football we played all year. It seems like we are continuing to get better. That is our focal point. It seems like we are playing some of the best football of the year right now,” said Highland coach Chad Carpenter.

There is going to be a tremendous amount of hype surrounding this game in Morrow County and Carpenter says focus is going to be important for the Scots. “We are keeping the kids grounded right now and they understand what is at stake. It is a fun time of year. We have senior night coming up, so there are a lot of things going on and a lot of excitement right now. We are just trying to build off that excitement. We are going to be focused and play hard here Friday,” said Carpenter.

Highland (8-1,6-0) hosts Northmor (9-0,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division on Friday. The Golden Knights punished Centerburg (34-0) last Friday.

Carpenter says Northmor does a lot things well. “They are very big and a very physical team. Thy are very fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. Their kids play really hard,” he said.

Northmor won this game (34-12) last year vaulting the Golden Knights into their first playoff appearance ever.

Carpenter says they can’t allow Northmor to have big plays and they have to create some momentum for themselves. “We have to limit the big play. We have to play physical. We want to play with a lot of excitement and kind feed off of that energy. It is such a big game, so we have to try and control the momentum and do what we do well,” he said.

Published 10/23/18

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Clear Fork Locks Horns with Ontario

Clear Fork, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, faces league foe Ontario, in the girls’ soccer division two district semifinals on Tuesday night at Madison High School.

The match was originally to be played at Clyde, but has been switched to Madison. It will be the second game of the night with kickoff at 7 PM.

The Lady Colts (13-3-2) beat Sandusky (10-0) in a sectional final last week at Clear Fork.

Coach Brittany Bechtel says they have been able to score goals this season. “We have been able to put the ball in the back of the net, knock on wood, every game. We have been able to take care of it on the offensive end. I am a firm believer in defense wins championships,” she told Swankonsports.com, “So, I really rally around the defense and make sure they are as strong as we can make them. If you can keep the ball out of the net the least you can do is tie and create a shootout, especially going into tournament. We have had a lot of different girls score. Kaylin (Helinski) is our leading scorer and she has definitely been that strong person when we have struggled to find the back of net and she finds a way.”

Helinski has 34 goals this season.

Bechtel has really been pleased with what her team has done on defense this year. She says they have been hard to score on. “I think we have 10 shutouts and only 11 goals scored on us. We have played three of the top teams in the state, so that is not a bad statistic. Kaylee (Krausman) doesn’t have the keeper saves that some other keepers may have and that is because she has a solid defense in front of her, but she has to be one of the best keepers in the state. She has had some just ridiculous, crazy saves, which we for sure goals,” she said.

Krausman has 104 saves this fall.

Clear Fork beat Ontario (10-7-1) in the regular season (2-1) on October 3 to secure the league title. Helinski had the game winner in the 49 th minute that night.

Bechtel looks for another competitive game on Tuesday night. “In the tournament we have not had that solid game yet. Ontario versus Clear Fork is the norm. We tend to match up year after year. Two great programs going at it. Those are the games the girls remember, whether they are winning or losing, those are the games you train for, that is the reason you are out in the summer, for both the programs,” she said.

Published 10/23/18

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Lexington Wants to Keep the Ball Away from Madison

Lexington faces top seeded Madison, at Madison, on Tuesday night in a girls’ soccer division two district semifinal.

Lady Lex (8-5-4) beat Perkins (10-1) at their place last Thursday to grab a sectional title.

Coach Buck Morton says he has been pretty pleased with their play this season. “I mean overall we have done pretty well. We have played a really tough schedule. Obviously. Our league was good and Madison won. It has been okay, we have fought through a couple of injuries. In the end we are in the place that we want to be. We are in the district semis with an opportunity to maybe move on,” he said.

Madison (14-1-3) beat Lexington (4-0) on September 26 in “OCC” play.

Morton says they are just so fast that they are hard to contain. “They have a lot of team speed. I know a lot of people think it rises and falls with Taylor Huff, and trust me she is fantastic, she had three goals against us in the regular season, but they have a tremendous amount of team speed, especially through the midfield and up top. They play hard and they play fast. When you get them on a turf field they are hard to defend. They are pretty good,” he said.

That regular season match was also at Madison.

Morton says what you want to do against Madison is possess the ball, but that isn’t easy and if you give it away the Lady Rams just pounce on it. “When we kind of watched the film of the first time we played them and we possessed we did pretty well. We were able to move the ball forward. Obviously, just like any sport if you can keep the ball out of the hands or off the feet of their best player you are going to be in much better shape and when we were able to do that we generated some scoring chances,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are just so quick that when you turn in over they are so quick to counter and you really have to bust your tail to get back on defense. They put a lot of pressure on you and your goalie.”

Published 10/23/18

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Madison Wants to Play Their Game Against Lexington

Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Madison hosts Lexington in a girls’ soccer division two district semifinal at Ram Field at Startek Stadium on Tuesday night.

The semifinals were originally set for Clyde, but were moved to Madison because all of the schools are from Richland County. Clear Fork and Ontario play in the second game Tuesday.

Madison has an easy time of it in sectional play last week as they blasted Clyde (9-1) and Tiffin Columbian (10-0) in their matches.

Coach Zac Huff says he feels they are prepared for Lexington based on the competition and intensity of their practices. “It is going to be a challenge for us. In practice we have been pushing each other and switching things up where we could get better competition, playing our starting offense against our starting offense and making practice go a little faster and making them work on everything,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Working on little technical and tactical things and be better and be ready for Lexington.”

Madison beat Lexington in an “OCC” match (4-0) on September 26. However, Huff says that score does not represent how the match was played. “The score really doesn’t tell the story of the game I don’t think. They missed a couple of opportunities, which could have changed the game drastically. We are looking by them by no means. They will be a tough competitor,” said Huff.

To win Tuesday night, Huff says they have to make this an up tempo game. “Play fast and play our game and don’t get taken out of it and stop their strikers from countering on us,” he said.

Playing at home is a plus for the Lady Rams, no question about it. Huff says they like it. “Playing on the turf and playing at home is definitely going to be a benefit for us. Lexington isn’t far away and they will have their fans there too, but we are favored playing at home,” said Huff.

Published 10/23/18

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Mapleton Wants to Keep it Going

Mapleton has already earned a playoff spot in division seven, but they have a chance to be home if they beat Western Reserve on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.

Last week, the Mounties got back on a winning track with a (40-0) win over New London in conference play.

Coach Robert Mahaney says they were able to put some things together. “We had some injuries. A kid went out for us defensively against Plymouth and being able to get that guy back for us defensively and kind of getting back to what we were doing before the injury. That was obviously a big thing for us. Then just get some confidence back because we have to get that going against Western because they are a really good football team despite what their record says. They could easily be 4-2 in our conference right now,” said Mahaney.

Mapleton (6-3,4-2) plays at home against Western Reserve (2-7,2-4) on Friday night. Conference champion Norwalk St. Paul flattened the Roughriders (49-0) last week.

Yes, they only have two wins, but Mahaney believes Western has done a lot of good things this year. “They are definitely a run first team. Against South Central they missed an extra point that would have tied that game up late and against Crestview they had an onside kick that if they got, and they probably should have got, they are sitting at 4-2. A lot of that is because they run the ball so successfully. Their tailback runs really, really hard and we have to go everything in our power to bring him down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are going to line up and do a lot of different formations to try and get you in different places and tough positions and we have to do everything we can to try and stop their run. Their quarterback will make some plays when he needs to.”

Mahaney says they need to be ready to play because the Mounties still a lot of play for on Friday night. “We talked to our kids. First of all, Western is a really good football team, second of all it is a chance for us to finish second in the conference by ourselves, third of all it is senior night for our seniors, and fourthly if we win it gives us some momentum going into week 11. If we win we have a good chance to host in the playoffs. There are a lot of things that we need to play for this week. We need to stay up and make sure we have the energy we need to get a win on Friday,’ said Mahaney.

Published 10/23/18

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Colonel Crawford Faces Physical Carey

Colonel Crawford closes out the high school football season on Friday night as they host Carey in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game.

A game Carey needs to have to make the division six playoffs.

Last week, they lost (39-22) to second place Seneca East.

Coach Ryan Teglovic was pretty happy with their play. “It is a 25-22 game at halftime. A few things the other way and it could be a touchdown or two in the other direction. They pulled away and scored twice in the second half. Credit those guys I thought they did a great job coaching and playing. I thought that their kids where very physical. I thought they are one of the more physical teams up front. They are 8-1 for a reason. Credit them I thought they had a great game plan. I thought they played extremely hard. I am happy with how hard our guys continue to play. I apricate their efforts and hopefully we can get one more good effort out of them this week,” said Teglovic.

Here on week 10, Teglovic would like to see his team be a little more physical than they have been. He says last week was pretty good execution wise for the Eagles. “From and execution standpoint last Friday I was pleased that we didn’t lose the turnover battle. It is the first time in a big game that we haven’t done that. We only had three penalties Friday night, so that’s much better improvement wise, so we would like to continue that into Friday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We need to play a little more physical up front than what we did last Friday, especially against Carey, they are a lot like Seneca East in that they are very big and very physical up front. I think that is the big thing. I feel like we were certainly in position the other night and our execution was not terrible. I just feel like we need to be a little more physical on Friday night.”

Colonel Crawford (5-4,3-3) hosts Carey (6-3,4-2) in “N10” action on Friday. The Blue Devils outscored Buckeye Central (61-26) last week and are winners of four of their last five.

Teglovic says they are going to pound the running game on Friday night. “I think it starts up front. They are big and they are going to get in that Maryland stack “I” double tight and they are going to run dive and “Iso” at you and they are going to pound you. If you are not going to stop that they aren’t ever going to do anything different than that. They have some big backs behind those offensive lineman. They are physical defensively as well. They can throw the football. They have a couple of really good receivers out wide on the edge in the Dasher kid and the Summit kid. They can do either, but really impressed by their physicality,” said Teglovic.

Published 10/23/18

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Bellevue Trying to Play Spoiler for Rival Clyde

Bellevue is the only thing that stands in the way of an outright Lake Division title for the Clyde Fliers. They meet each other on Friday night at Bellevue.

Clyde leads both Tiffin Columbian and Norwalk by a game in the division standings.

Bellevue (3-6,1-3) is coming off a good win for them when they topped Sandusky (19-10) on Friday night.

Coach Ed Nasonti was proud of how his kids bounced back from their loss to Tiffin Columbian the week before. “I think you have to give a lot of credit to our kids coming into a game like that. You are coming into week nine and you have struggled throughout the year, with a handful of heartbreaking losses, but to come out and play as well as we did I think that speaks volumes for the character of our kids and our coaches, they did a great job last week. To go in there at Sandusky and play as well as we did it was really a nice win and give us a little bit of momentum coming into week 10,” said Nasonti.

Less than 10 miles apart Nasonti says this is a natural rivalry and he is happy this game is on week 10. “We are so close. We played them a bunch of times in the 60’s and the rivalry game kind of stopped. We picked it up again back in 1994 and it has been a rivalry since. We had played them in week three, but since they are in our conference now and it is not a non-conference game they decided to make it week 10. It is nice to have that game on week 10 because you know it is always going to mean something whether it is for a chance to be in the playoffs or a chance for a conference championship or if it just for a chance for the rivalry of the game. I know we have our kids’ attention this week at practice,” said Nasonti.

Clyde (7-2,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Norwalk (32-31) in overtime last week to grab the Lake Division lead to itself.

Nasonti says they are running the wing-T, which they will have to spend some extra time getting ready for, plus Clyde is just a solid program. “They are an outstanding program. They have some good players. They have good coaching and they don’t beat themselves. They are big enough up front where if you don’t stop them they are going to take the game to you and grind it out. I know they have changed their offense a little bit this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They got away from running the spread. Now they are under center a little bit more. They are getting two backs in the backfield. They are running some wing-T stuff. In this day and age you don’t see many teams running the wing-T. You have to make sure you do some extra preparation for this game and think that may have helped them a little bit down the road here. Plus, they have an outstanding field goal kicker. He has won at least a couple of game for them at the end,”

Published 10/23/18

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Willard Faces Athletic Gibsonburg

Willard hosts first place Gibsonburg in their final football game on Friday night in River Division play in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

A tough loss to Tiffin Calvert (42-25) last Friday eliminated the Flashes from the division race and the division five playoffs.

Coach Britton Devier says they couldn’t punch it in and take advantage of some opportunities. “It was 28-25 deep into the game and we were in the red zone three times and probably should have been up two scores. We got into the red zone inside the 10 three times and didn’t score. They pulled away at the end. We threw a couple of interceptions at the end of the game that set up two late touchdowns by them. Sometimes the score gets inflated at the end,” he said.

Willard has a tremendous passing game this year, but their running game has been less successful. Devier says that hurts them when they get down close. “We haven’t been super affective running the ball all year, so that becomes apparent, or magnified even more, when you get down in the red zone because when you are primarily a throwing team you run out of space to work with when you are down there. You have only got 20, 25 yards of field to work with. So, it becomes obvious when we struggle to run the ball when you get down in there close,” said Devier.

Gibsonburg (8-1,6-0) plays at Willard (5-4,4-2) on Friday night in a River Division game. The Golden Bears survived an upset bid from Fremont St. Joe last Friday, beating the Crimson Streaks (6-2) in a division game.

Devier says they have some athleticism and some tradition. “I mean St. Joe had the ball first and goal on the five-yard line with under a minute to play and probably should have won the game, but credit to Gibsonburg for holding them off. They jumped off sides and that put them behind the eight ball a little bit, but they found a way to win and sometimes that is what it is all about. They have a really nice group of skilled kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I haven’t coached against them in few years. When I was at Woodmore they used to be in the “SLL” and then when it became the “NBC” they left and went to the “TAC” and had a lot of success. Nothing breads success like success, so they are continuing on when they joined the “SBC.” They have had a great season.”

Published 10/23/18

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Tiffin Columbian and Norwalk in Huge Game

Tiffin Columbian hosts Norwalk in a critical game for both sides in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

The schools are tied for second in the division a game behind Clyde. The winner would share the division title if Bellevue beats Clyde on Friday night.

Columbian beat Sandusky Perkins (33-14) last week in a Lake Division game.

Coach Judd Lutz says they were able to get things going after a slow start. “We battled through a little adversity. We gave up an early score right off the bat. They did a good job of executing on their first drive by going down and scoring. We responded really well with a touchdown of our own and then got into a little better rhythm defensively. Offensively, moved the ball pretty well in the first half, but couldn’t score much. We really go it going in the second half and played some really good football,” said Lutz.

Lutz says they drove the ball in the first half, but didn’t score. He says when you move it you have to cash in. “You want to have confidence and make positive plays and move the ball, but ultimately you want to score. Sometimes you want to be explosive and that comes with some play calling and some with execution and having really good players. We were doing a little bit of everything in the second half. We made some explosive plays and some longer plays, but also we moved the ball methodically a couple of times. So, it was good to be sort of all around on offense,” he said.

Tiffin Columbian (7-2,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is at Norwalk (7-2,3-1), #2 in our poll, on Friday night. Norwalk lost a tough one to Clyde last week, the Fliers beat them (32-31) in overtime, executing a two-point play for the win.

Norwalk is led running back Treyvon Raymore, an 1,800 yard rusher, and Lutz they have to know where he is at all times. “He is a heck of a player running behind a good offensive line highlighted by a couple of real good players up front. He is extremely physical and also really fast. They have some good athletes on the outside as well to keep you honest,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “You just can’t pack the box against them. He is definitely is a feature back and a kid they like to highlight and get the ball a bunch and he deserves it the way he runs it. He is definitely talented and we are going to have to be aware of where he is.”

Norwalk’s Kaden Livingston and Brandon Haraway are among the leading receivers in the “SBC.”

Norwalk’s defense has pitched three shutouts this year. Lutz says they are good all over the place on defense. “They have done a really good job this year. You look at the games they have played and the scores they have put up. Offensively, have been real explosive, but defensively they have played really well and kept people out of the end zone and created turnovers at key times and kept scores down from opposing offenses. Nothing is going to come easy. They have really good linebackers and some great athletes on the perimeter and also four d-linemen that really get after it. They are really, really stout and playing really well on defense,” said Lutz.

Published 10/22/18

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Hillsdale With Another Must Win

Hillsdale has a meaningful game on Friday as they host Waynedale in a Wayne County Athletic League game on Friday.

They need a win have a chance to share the league title. They trail Norwayne by one game and would need the Bobcats to lose to Chippewa this week. A win would also solidify a home playoff game for the Falcons, the first in school history.

Last week, the Falcons beat Smithville (41-18) in a league game.

Coach Trevor Cline says they played really well when they had the ball and pretty well when they where defending the Smithies. “Offensively we played really well for most of the night. Defensively, we didn’t play too bad most of the night. They ran they ball like 41 times and had like right around 100 yards or a little bit less. We played pretty well defensively, but what hurt us is we gave up a couple of big plays here and there and we have done that a couple of times throughout the year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “For the most part our defense played pretty well, so the 18 points wasn’t like they were just running all over us or anything like that we just gave up a couple of big plays there.”

Hillsdale quarterback Alex Becker has run for 556 yards and 13 touchdowns and passed for another 450 and 10 touchdowns. Garrett Smith is now the team’s leading rusher with 800 yards and seven scores.

Hillsdale (7-2,5-1) plays host to Waynedale (3-6,3-3) on Friday night. Norwayne beat the Golden Bears (48-6) last week, breaking their three game winning streak.

Cline says Waynedale is better than their record indicates. “If you look at the scores of most of Wayndale’s games this year they have been right in the game. They may be 3-6, but they are a good team. They have some really good athletes on that team. It is not like something where we can just go in there and overlook them. If we do that we are going to be in for a long night. We have to make sure we play up to our potential by executing,” he said.

With what is on line, Cline believes his team will be ready to play. “We are hoping we can go out and take care of business because that will set us up for a home playoff game, which we have never done in school history before. Many people in the community, and our team, we really want to get that. Also, we need to go out and take care of business, and if Chippewa does knock off Norwayne this week, we will have a share of the “WCAL” title,” said Cline.

Published 10/22/18

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Lexington Wants to Start Faster

Lexington trails Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Wooster by a game with one left to play.

They must beat Madison this week and have Wooster lose to Ashland next week in order to share the title.

They also strand seventh in their computer region, however, they will not receive many points in beating either of their last two opponents Madison and Canton South (2-6) on week 10. Also, there is the fact that Cleveland Glenville is in the mix. They have been declared ineligible by the OHSAA, but they are appealing that ruling.

Lexington railed to beat Ashland (43-36) last week in conference play, falling on a fumbled ball in the end zone for the deciding touchdown.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they won because they believed in success. “The kids they never give up and we work on that all of the time. We preach in the program finish fight and never give up. They live those characteristics and I can’t say how proud I am of them,” he said.

The Minutemen ran for 346 yards last week against Ashland.

Gerhardt says their offense is starting to run on all cylinders. “We have a new offense from the year’s past and it just took a little while for it to jell, for the kids to be comfortable in it. They are trusting themselves more now with their responsibilities and it is starting to pay off,” he said.

Lexington (4-4,4-1) is at home for the Madison Rams (1-7,0-4) on Friday night. Both sides see this as a big rivalry. Madison has had its problems in 2018. They lost (41-6) to Mt. Vernon last week.

Gerhardt says they are not void of talent. “Well, they have got some good players. The one thing that you see from them is they don’t give up. When you have that anything is possible. Put into the mix that it is a conference rivalry game and Madison is always a tough opponent we have to be on the top of our game because those boys are coached and they want to win just as much as we do,” said Gerhardt.

It was a big comeback in week seven to beat West Holmes (34-33) too and Gerhardt wants a better first quarter on Friday. “That is one our big goals this week. We have had success, but I want to start quicker. I want to have success earlier and then build on that. That is something that very good teams do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have had shootouts and amazing resiliency and a no panic attitude, but I want to take the next step of being able to make something happen positive and then follow that up. Then not letting something happen that they other team does well. That is one of our big goals this week.”

Published 10/19/18

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Mohawk Expects Big Test Against Wynford

It is probably the biggest game in a while for the Mohawk Warriors on Friday night. If they can beat Wynford they get a piece of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference football title.

If they get it they would be the first school other than Wynford to earn a trophy.

Last week, Mohawk beat Buckeye Central (50-14) in an “N10” game.

It was (30-0) at the half and coach Brent Konkle says they were able to impose their will. “Coach (Rob) Detterman does a good job over there. Those kids play hard. I think we had quite a bit of talent on the field and I think we just got the best of them once we got rolling. I give them all the credit in world over there,” he said.

Mohawk (8-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, is at Wynford (5-3,3-2) for a conference game on Friday night. Wynford is coming off a (45-7) loss to Carey last week. It was their second league loss this year after a 33 game “N10” winning streak.

Konkle says he respects Wynford and its program. “They are reining “N10” champions. This game has been on our schedule since last year, it’s a game we want to get back, they beat us 7-0 on our own field. I think our kids are juiced to play. I think we have had a good week of practice. I think we are excited to play. I think it is at that point in the year. There is something to be had on Friday night if we walk out of there with a victory and I think our kids are ready to roll,” said Konkle.

Wynford has moved the ball this season, but they haven’t been producing points. Konkle says they have made some changes in their offensive approach. “I think with the switch of their quarterback I think they are going back to a little more of their gun stuff and they like to run their quarterback and they are trying to get their athletes in space. They are solid up front, they know that, they have good schemes, a good coaching staff over there, they are going to be well prepared,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is one of those things where they are getting better every week since they made that switch, they have played tougher opponents. It is something where we have to show up and take care of business. We have got to focus on keys and do the fundamentals correct, especially early in the game. We have not got great starts. I think we are tuned up and focused and ready to roll.”

Konkle believes Wynford will use a very good defense to try and control the game and give their offense some short fields. “Schematically they are a solid football team, just like a handful of teams in our league. They are going to be aggressive. They have good linebacker play they are solid up front. They are a team where they are going to try and get the field position battle won on you. I watched the Crawford game, they pinned Crawford deep. They had a couple of fake punts. They are going to do anything they can. This is their playoff game. They beat us and they are in the playoffs. It’s going to be a good battle,” he said.

Published 10/19/18

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Unbeaten Northmor Plays Centerburg

In what could be a trap game, the undefeated Northmor Golden Knights travel to Centerburg to face the Trojans in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

Right now, the Golden Knights share first place in the conference with Highland and they play the Scots next week.

Coming off a (42-8) win last week over rival Mt. Gilead, Northmor has got some football left to play and coach Scott Armrose says that makes them feel pretty good. “That is what it is all about when you get to this point in the season and you playing meaningful games in October then you took care of things earlier in the season. It is really exciting when you are playing meaningful games in the month of October,” he said.

This is the second straight year of outstanding football at Northmor and Armrose says the school and community are really on fire. “We have brought some nice crowds out for our home games and our away games. Our away games are like home games we bring so many fans along. Our community has really started to gather around us. It has been really fun, really exciting,” he said.

The Golden Knights are second in their computer region in division six. If they get in it would the second straight year and the second in school history.

Northmor (8-0,5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, plays on the road at Centerburg (4-4,2-3) on Friday night. The Trojans lost (42-0) to Danville last week and their only conference wins come at the expense of two winless teams in Cardington and Mt. Gilead.

However, Armrose says they have the ability to play well and they have to have focus. “Centerburg has had good weeks and not so good weeks. They play a lot of young guys and that is kind of the mark of a young football team they have their ups and they have their downs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When they are up they are really good. They are athletic and they are big and they are well coached and that is a dangerous combination. So, we know we are going to get their best effort and we need to be ready to play.”

Armrose says this will be a challenge for the Northmor defense because they can do a lot of things. “They have two different systems. They are a spread team, but they are spread to run. They run the ball really well. Then they bring in a different quarterback and throw the ball a little more. So, it is kind of a dual system going on there right now,” he said.

Published 10/19/18

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Ontario Plays Explosive Galion

Ontario plays at Galion in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

Last week, Ontario lost (54-14) to “MOAC” leader Clear Fork.

It was (7-7) early in the game after a long Warrior touchdown drive, but coach Chris Miller says again they were their own worst enemy in the second quarter and the Colts were able to put it away. “In the second quarter we had a couple of miscues and a fourth down that I thought was a first down on third down, but it wasn’t, then went for it on fourth and didn’t get it and that set up a scoring opportunity for them. A couple of things in that second quarter didn’t go our way penalty wise and turnover wise. I am not so sure that would have made the difference in the game because Clear Fork is a good football team, but we didn’t help ourselves in the second quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “In the first quarter we went on an 85-yard touchdown drive and chewed up a bunch of time and it looked like a good football game for a minute and then they kind of overtook us.”

Ontario (3-5,1-4) is at Galion (4-4,1-4) on Friday night. The Tigers lost (49-35) to North Union last week.

Miller says its obvious that they Tigers can score on anyone, even the best teams. “They are pretty good offensively. They have scored a bunch of points against people, against good football teams, teams that aren’t giving up a lot of points. What did they score 35 against Clear Fork? Clear Fork hasn’t given up more than 14 to anybody else this year. They are putting points up. They have a nice quarterback. Middleton is a good quarterback. He moves well, he throws the ball well. They have a couple of nice receivers. Offensively they are as good as anybody in the league. They move the football with very good efficiency. We need to do the same things from week to week that we need to improve on and hopefully be in the football game,” said Miller.

To be successful on Friday night, Miller says they have to get the tough yards running it and they have to get some chunk plays too. “It is easier to say that and harder to do because it requires you to get first downs and control the line of scrimmage. If you can’t control the line of scrimmage, you can’t hold the football. What we need to do from a tempo standpoint is not so much hold the ball, but changing the tempo of the game and trying to get some advantages by speeding it up and slowing it down and jumping around a little bit and maybe poking an advantage out there somewhere. Kind of the same thing we did against Lex. A little high speed at times and slow it down and see if we can’t find a mismatch in there somewhere,” said Miller.

Published 10/19/18

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Flashes Play Calvert in Big one

Willard has not enjoyed this kind of football success in 20 years and they play the biggest game since that time on Friday night when they play at Tiffin Calvert in a Sandusky Bay Conference River Division game.

The Flashes are tied with Calvert in the division standings a game behind Gibsonburg, who they play next week. So, everything is in front of Willard is terms of a division title.

Coach Britton Devier says they have gotten some great leadership and they have a pretty good quarterback too. “We have a nice group of seniors that have kind of been through the fire with us transitioning from the “NOL” to the “SBC.” It has allowed us to be more competitive with more similar sized schools. We have a really strong sophomore class that has had a lot of success football wise. Getting Cooper Parrott back and having him at quarterback has helped a lot also,” said Devier.

Parrott leads the River Division with 1,893 passing yards and 20 touchdowns this season. The Flashes have the top two receivers in the River Division in terms of yards in Joey Holida and Brevon Polacheck.

Devier says Parrott has done a tremendous job for them. “He has been doing a really nice job. My first year we had Ethan Dobb, who probably could have been very, very good, but came up through coach Matula’s triple option and we had limited time to turn him into a spread quarterback. Last year, we had to play Jared Sowers there and he is just kind of athlete that had to play there. Then this year Copper came back to Willard from Western Reserve Academy and has done a really nice job. We are starting to jell together as an offense and do some really nice things,” he said.

Willard (5-3,4-1) is at Tiffin Calvert (7-1,4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, on Friday night. The Senecas beat Sandusky St. Mary’s (42-0) on Saturday night.

Calvert quarterback Trenton Cooper with 813 yards and running back Austin Jones with 1,092 are both very good runners and Devier says they are the key to the Senecas success. “They are very, very fast. Their quarterback and their running back are extremely dynamic players and the guys around them play very hard and do a lot of things to allow those guys in the backfield to make a lot of hay. The running back is averaging 10 yards a carry and the quarterback is averaging 12.3 yards a carry. They are very much a speed team and a big play team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, we have to do what we can to slow them down. They have actually been down in a lot of games. They were down to St. Paul, they were down to Margaretta, they were down to Gibsonburg. They have found a way to come back and win most of the those.”

Published 10/19/18

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Norwayne Has to Get to the Quarterback

Norwayne can clinch no less than a share of the Wayne County Athletic League title with a win at Waynedale on Friday night.

Currently, the Bobcats lead both Hillsdale, who they have beaten in overtime, and Chippewa, who they play next week, by one game with two to play.

Quarterback Craig Harvey had 140 total yards and two scores last week in a (47-14) win at Rittman.

In regard to the league title, coach Adam Indorf says they want to concentrate on Waynedale and not titles. “We try and not think about that stuff. We just try and focus on the task at hand. Our goals are to win the week and that really starts with each play and each day and each practice. We have really been communicating to the kids about the areas we need to improve on and polish up. We want to continue to play and practice at a high level. Really focusing on that and worrying about accolades and things like that after the season,” said Indorf.

Norwayne (7-1,5-0) is at Waynedale to play the Golden Bears (3-5,3-2) on Friday night in league play. The Bears beat Smithville (27-12) last week in league play.

Indorf says Waynedale has a very affective passing game that has been getting better as the season has unfolded. “They are doing a great job. They are playing hard. They have won the last three games. The quarterback does a nice job, big, athletic kid that can throw the ball. They move the ball affectively on offense, so we have a challenge ahead of us of making sure we control the line of scrimmage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Make sure we get some pressure on the quarterback and covering up in the secondary. Making sure that our offense is holding onto the ball and not turning the ball over and things of that nature.”

Indorf says one thing they have been working on a lot this week in preparation for Waynedale is getting a lot of pressure into the pocket. “I think we have done that throughout the season. Last week, was a slow start as far as getting pressure on the quarterback, so that is kind of point of emphasis this week moving guys around and making sure they are disengaging and getting clean off blocks and that are attacking the throwing shoulder of the quarterback. I think those early shots on the quarterback are essential,” he said.

Published 10/19/18

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It’s Ground and Pound for Monroeville and Plymouth

Both Monroeville and Plymouth are old school football teams that want to be physical and run the football. They meet in Firelands Conference play at Alumni Field in Plymouth on Friday night.

The Eagles are on a three game winning streak after outscoring Western Reserve (46-33) in a conference game last week.

Coach Scott Stacher says they were consistent with the game plan and didn’t make a lot of mistakes. “We eliminated some mistakes and cleaned some things up and played really well against an improving Western Reserve team. I was really happy with the second half that we did play,” said Stacher.

Monroeville accounted for over 400 rushing yards in the win over Western Reserve and Stacher says that is what they want to do. “That is every year. I am kind of an old school guy. I just want to control the line of scrimmage, run the ball really well and be efficient in the passing game,” he said.

Running back Domoic Ruffing had 23 carries for 209 yards and four scores last week.

Monroeville (5-3,3-2) is at Plymouth (4-4,2-3) in the Firelands Conference on Friday night. The Big Red scored every time they had it last week in a (63-33) belting of Mapleton. The Big Red had 482 yards rushing in the win.

Stacher says both teams want to be physical and run the ball and it is going to be the team that does it the best that wins. “I’ll tell you what, coach Genders has them doing really well right now. They are a 4-4 ballclub. They have that offense, the old “Lucas Cub” or whatever you want to call it, the double tight, double wing. Their identity is still running the ball and they do a very good job of doing that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They pound it and it is going to be an exciting game Friday night. It is a war that is going to won in the trenches and may the best running team win and the one that makes the fewest mistakes,”

Published 10/19/18

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Bellevue Faces Talented Sandusky

Neither Bellevue or Sandusky have won a Lake Division game this year, but the thing is they aren’t bad football teams, that just tells you about the balance of the “SBC” Lake this year.

Bellevue plays at Cedar Point Stadium against the Blue Streaks in a division game on Friday night.

In fact, I have identified it as the most talented league, or division in this case, that we cover in North Central Ohio.

Tiffin Columbian ripped Bellevue (38-6) last week and veteran coach Ed Nasonti says it was not a quality effort by them. “It is the first game of the whole entire season that I thought we didn’t play up to our potential. We have gave them basically five scores on our mishaps. It is the first time all year I have been disappointed in the effort of our kids. It wasn’t a great night for us,” he said.

Bellevue (2-6,0-3) plays at Sandusky (5-3,0-3) in the “SBC Lake” on Friday night. After five weeks, Sandusky was voted first in our Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, but since they have lost three in a row, including (33-28) to division co-leader Clyde last week.

Nasonti says don’t be confused, this is not a bad football team by any stretch. “It’s a competitive league. They started out and they had some non-conference games and then they got into our conference and our conference is very competitive, we have had this conversation,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, they have a good team. They have a solid running game. They have a solid defense, but our conference is tough and you have to put your best foot forward every Friday night.”

Sandusky’s Terion Stewart leads the division, in fact the whole area, in rushing yards this season with 1,766 to go with 27 touchdowns.

Nasonti says he is capable of making a big play at any time and from anywhere. “Without a doubt. We had a hard time containing him last year. He makes plays for them. He gets yardage when there are no holes there. He is an outstanding running back without a question,” he said.

Published 10/19/18

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