By JAMIE BAKER
Time to put a wrap on what was the 2012 high school football season around the area.
COUP FOR THE BVC: Heck of a year for the Blanchard Valley Conference, and that’s understating things just a bit.
If not for falling behind by 3 touchdowns early, the Panthers probably would be playing Newark Catholic for the Division VI state championship on Friday morning in Massillon.
But all four quarters count and Marion Local just slipped by McComb in three overtimes. Great season, one to remember for the Panthers. I was also impressed by the way the town came out en masse to support their boys. During the season, I was a little disappointed in the crowd support for the boys in black but when the playoffs started everyone was all in to borrow a catchphrase from McComb coach Kris Alge.
No one has addressed the elephant in the room though, I just wonder what kind of an impact BVC defensive player of the year Michael Jones might have had if he wouldn’t have sat out the state semifinal Friday night because of a disciplinary suspension.
As for Liberty-Benton, it was an accomplishment for the Eagles just to reach the state semifinals. Close wins over Liberty Center, Lima CC and Patrick Heny tested their mettle. They were far from dominating in the postseason, they just won and in the end that’s all that mattered.
There’s no shame in losing to a better football team, and I think everyone who attended Saturday’s game at Lima Stadium realized that Coldwater was certainly the better team.
Reaching the final four is certainly something the coaches and kids at Liberty-Benton will always remember.
REST OF THE CONFERENCE: Leipsic has another terrific season under Joe Kirkendall and could be the team to beat in the BVC next season. Arlington made the playoffs and probably played its best game of the year against McComb in Week 11.
Van Buren had a decent year but needs to step up and show it can beat the teams in the upper echelon of the conference. The rest of the league has some work to do to make their programs competitive with the top four or five in the league.
UNFORTUNATE FINDLAY: This might have been one of the best Findlay High School teams ever. And yet, the Trojans failed to make the playoffs. Playing a team from Canada and Cleveland East Tech didn’t help their playoff chances, yes, I know, thank you Mr. Obvious.
When you consider the Trojans’ only losses came to Whitmer and Toledo CC who are playing for state championships you can’t help but wonder if they could have won a couple of playoff games if they had gotten in. We’ll never know. It was a great season and hopefully there we’ll get to see a number of the Findlay seniors make their mark at the college level.
It will be quite a chore for coach Mark Ritzler and his staff to replace this group of seniors. But beginning next year, Findlay’s playoff chances will improve dramatically. They will be one of 72 schools in the new Division I and 32 of those schools will make the playoffs.
REMEMBER THE TITANS: Ottawa-Glandorf went toe-to-toe with Columbus Hartley in the regional finals before losing to the Hawks. It’s obvious the Titans love to play for coach Ken Schriner. He’s an old school kind of coach, kind of refreshing in this day and age of high-flying offenses.
Luckily for the people in Ottawa, I think he has built the football program from scratch at Ottawa-Glandorf and he has roots there or else he could have his pick of any high school head football coaching job in the state.
OVERACHIEVERS: If I had an award to give in this category it would go to Bluffton. The Pirates ended up 5-5 with quality wins over Delphos Jefferson and Columbus Grove. The Pirates were very young and expect a move up next season in the conference for Bluffton.
FAST FACTS: The Northwest District has five state finalists this fall Marion Local (D-6), Coldwater (D-5), Bellevue (D-3), Toledo CC (D-2) and Whitmer (D-1). The only other team the NW District has five state football finalists was in 1999 when Norwalk St. Paul (D-6), Delphos St. John’s (D-6), St. Henry (D-5), Sandusky Perkins (D-3) and Sylvania Southview (D-2) made it to Massillon/Canton. … In the 18 years since the OHSAA went to a six division playoff format in football, 26 of the 36 finalists in Division VI have been from NW Ohio. Mogadore (1996, 2002) and Newark Catholic (2007) are the only schools from outside NW Ohio to win a state title in Division VI. … The last year NW Ohio had teams in both the Division I and II was 1996 when Lima Senior won D1 and Fostoria won in D2. Both schools finished with 0-10 records this year.