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.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Area playoff previews

I’m putting off my explanation on the way the Associated Press all-district and all-Ohio voting works until tomorrow. Since today is my day off at the Courier I’ll work on it tonight to make sure it gets posted bright and early tomorrow morning.

Today I want to look at the area playoff games.

Division IV Region 22
Norwalk St. Paul vs. McComb at Fremont
Should be an interesting match up at a terrific venue -- Fremont’s refurbished Don Paul Stadium. I wrote a story today about McComb’s Derrick Hill for today’s newspaper you can read by clicking on this link.
Norwalk St. Paul is a pound it out kind of team. Rare in this day of pass happy spread offenses. They beat Mohawk 18-15 last week and has won six of their last seven games with a loss to Monroeville the only blemish on their record in that span. Running back Joe Stoll rushed for more than 1,200 yards during the regular season and also leads the team in tackles from his linebacker spot.
McComb runs the spread and runs it very well. Sophomore quarterback Kevan Westenbarger has grown into the position and led the BVC in passing this season. The Panthers have also ran the ball well in recent weeks -- one of the key’s to the team’s 6-game win streak, according to coach Kris Alge.
The Panthers have to cut down on mistakes, specifically penalties, to keep their playoff run going , according to my interview with Alge. He also thinks they have to control the football and not let Norwalk St. Paul’s offense pound the ball at them and control the clock. Should be an interesting game.

Division VI Region 22
Columbus Grove vs. Hopewell-Loudon at Fostoria
Columbus Grove seems to be getting better every week and played one of its best defensive games of the year last week in a 20-13 overtime victory over Monroeville. The Bulldog defense had given up a lot of points in wins the previous few weeks but tightened things up when they had to against the Eagles last week.
Senior running back Jeremy Harnishfeger has been terrific for the Dogs running for more than 1,500 yards this season with well over 3,500 yards in his career. Grove’s passing attack hasn’t been much of a factor this season but quarterback Eric Maag can find open receivers when he has to.
Hopewell-Loudon had its perfect season spoiled in Week 10 in a 21-0 loss in a mudbath to Mohawk. They were without running back Sean Brickner in that loss as he had to serve a one game suspension for his ejection in Week 9 against St. Wendelin. He’s rushed for 1700 yards and the Chieftains have also passed for over 1700 yards, they have a very balanced attack.
The field conditions I have heard at Memorial Stadium are deplorable. Look for a lot of running from both teams. I’ll give the edge to the Chieftains since they are playing in their own backyard in Fotown plus Grove is a very young team, especially on the line. Good things to come from them the next couple of years.

Division VI Region 24
Hardin Northern vs. Mechanicsburg at Bellefontaine
Hardin Northern doesn’t seem to be as big and physical as they have been in the past, looking at the way L-B came to Dola and handled them upfront size might matter this week against Mechanicsburg, who is absolutely huge.
But you can never count out the Polar Bears. They have won more games in Region 24 in the past decade than anyone else. The kids are motivated, well-coached and absolutely hate to lose.
Mechanicsburg looks pretty tough. Looking at their schedule, they dropped a 13-10 decision to unbeaten West Jefferson in Week 1 and their closest game after that was a 21-6 in over Triad in Week 10. In Week 11 they destroyed Triad 61-0.
I‘m pulling for the Bears but I think it will be tough this week.

Division V Region 18
Bedford Chanel vs. Liberty-Benton at Huron
Another interdistrict match up that should be interesting.
Hard to compare the two teams because they have no common opponents and play in different parts of the state. I’d give a schedule advantage to Chanel. They play a number of bigger schools but that doesn’t always translate into results.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have play makers in guys like Michael Busch, Wyatt Elbin and Brandon Craft not to mention precocious freshman quarterback Aaron Craft who has done a fantastic job. But it’s been the big physical line at L-B that’s opened the holes on offense and shut them down on defense that has really carried the day for the Eagles.
The line will have a big mountain in front of them. Cameron Wade, a 6-3, 260 pound lineman, will be one of the key players for the Firebirds. Honestly, he’s not a typical lineman you see in the BVC. He is the defending state wrestling champion in Division III and is currently ranked second in the country in preseason rankings just released by Amateur Wrestling News.
Any L-B fans that would like to get a look at what Wade looks like can check out this YouTube video of him wrestling in the USA Wrestling national finals this summer. He’s a big athletic kid.
I’m pulling for the Eagles but it’s gonna be a battle.

My column this week on Upper's Kelsey Stief and CG's Rayce Risser
Local election coverage from The Courier
Ohio Election Coverage by the Plain Dealer
Election coverage from the Columbus Dispatch
Courier local sports coverage
Flyers, Panthers to meet in Fremont
Big hitter, big heart (Feature on Grove’s J.J. Harris)
Chieftains, Warriors sweep MAL top honors


  • At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I see a Lima News columnist has finally boarded the bandwagon concerning the proposed divisional change. good read.


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