Blanchard River Buzz

A blog for rabid sports fans in the Findlay Area. Maintained by Findlay Courier sports writer Jamie Baker. The opinions expressed are my own crazed ramblings and not those of my employer the Findlay Publishing Company and its subsidiaries.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Big win

Today my blog is a guest column I wrote for the Fostoria Review Times. I covered last week’s losing streak battle between St. Wendelin and Riverdale. Since I am a St. Wendelin graduate and played on a couple of the best SW teams ever in the 1980s I wrote a column on the state of the football program.

The newsworthy links for today are below the column…

In its 83 years of football tradition, St. Wendelin has won 351 games on the gridiron.

And honestly, there haven’t been many bigger wins than the 6-0 victory the Mohawks got over Riverdale last Friday night.

That says a lot, considering St. Wendelin’s football program has made the playoffs five times, won seven league championships over the years while also playing for the Division V state championship back in 1982.

Some fans of other programs may have snickered to themselves if they would have saw the Mohawks’ jubilant post-game celebration after finally getting a long sought after win over a struggling Riverdale program, whose own losing streak now stands at 29 games. But then again, their teams probably haven’t suffered through a 25-game losing streak that’s hung over the heads of Cool and his feisty band of Mohawks for a total of 1,077 days.

But when you consider where St. Wendelin’s football program has been and how they have struggled recently it puts things into perspective.
Mike Cool is a veteran coach. He’s been at it for more than 25 years and always has been involved with successful football programs like at Fostoria High School as an assistant an as a head coach at Seneca East.

When Cool decided to take on the task of rebuilding St. Wendelin’s football fortunes beginning with the 2004 season he knew exactly what he was getting into. The football program was essentially at it’s lowest level ever, starting the 2003 regular season with less than 20 healthy players. And then there was the heart-wrenching, and frankly, embarrassing, way the season ended with the Mohawks not having enough players to finish the final two games of the regular season.

There was even some loose talk by a very few St. Wendelin fans and backers that maybe the school should go a different direction. That the Mohawks’ football program had withered to the point that other fall sports options for the school should be explored like, dare I say it, soccer. Or maybe the school should be focusing on those programs at the school that were thriving.

Thank goodness the North Countyline Street school’s administrators and parents, and of course Cool, didn’t feel the same way when the season was cut short back in 2003.

It hasn’t been easy trying to get things going again on the gridiron at St. Wendelin. Cool had to essentially rebuild the program from scratch with a whole host of new ideas. A new offense, a new defense and most of all new players. They had the heart and desire but the physical talent and experience just weren’t there for the Mohawks to be competitive the past two seasons.

“We had one of the best programs in Ohio 20 years ago. We’re trying to rebuild the program and we’re up against a lot of things. This is a first step and it’s not going to happen overnight but we’re going to get it going,” Cool added with resolve in his post-victory interview Friday night.

Cool’s right. He is up against a lot of things.

Changing demographics and declining enrollment, not a lack of desire on the part of his current team, is what is hurting the Mohawks’ chances on the gridiron the most.

St. Wendelin is the 11th smallest among the state’s 718 football schools, according to the latest OHSAA enrollment figures. The number of boys in the school has dropped by about 40 percent compared to what it was during the school’s football heyday of the 1980s. Many of the kids that would have gone to St. Wendelin in the past, and the kind that helped build the Mohawks’ 83-year football tradition, are now playing for Fostoria, Hopewell-Loudon and other surrounding schools.

Will the Mohawks be the power they once were on the football field? Maybe, maybe not. It really doesn’t matter.

After watching Friday night’s victory celebration, I for one am just glad the kids at SWHS have the opportunity to play every Friday night and now, at long last, understand how it feels to win.

Galion-Bucyrus square off for 106th time (Galion coach Kyle Baughan is a VB native)

Football fuels other sports at OSU

Presidents seek to minimize mistakes

MAL Volleyball roundup

Clarett faces new charges in chase

Donald is Otsego’s trump

Findlay’s Tyler Riley will play in Inverness Intercollegiate

Wapak to face off against Titans


  • At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Even bigger win against Danbury. 2 in a row.


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