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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Well I did not see the first round games, but I found out that Trail got their first win of the season over Shawnee. So that was a surprise. Shawnee is a .500 team, but they have played some tough competition.

Shawnee took on North in the consolation game. Shawnee acquitted themselves well. Good rebounding, balanced inside/outside shooting and they got a lead that they did not relinquish. For North the McAdams brothers were impressive and they did get some points in the paint from one of the post players. But overall Shawnee just overwhelmed them for an easy victory.

The South/Trail game looked to be a blowout early on. South raced to an early lead. They were up 17-2 at one point. But Trail came back and even held the lead briefly. As hot as South was in the first quarter, they were stone cold for minutes at a time in the second half. This allowed Trail to keep chipping away at the lead and catch up.

South played mainly a zone. Slipping into man to man for a bit when Trail got hot from outside. Trail stayed in man to man for the entire game. In the second half, South got reorganized. They did a good job of getting the ball inside by either dribble penetrating, or feeding the post. Walker did get his 4th foul in the 3rd. But South did well during the stretch that he was on the bench.

The team was hitting on all cylinders in the final quarter of the game. They made good plays when they had to and although they had turnovers, they were able to minimize the damage. South would go on to win the holiday tournament.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Well we are in the thick of basketball season. Lots of hoops action this week.

Mississenwa at Trail (girls) - I was impressed with the play of the Trail guards. Everyone knows that 6'3" Yeazel is a presence in the post. But in this game Yeazel did not score much. Maybe she just had an off night. Defensively she did keep the Blackhawks out of the paint. But the guard play was the difference. Trail used the press and vigorous half court defense to hurry up the Black Hawks and generate turnovers. Offensively their passing was swift and accurate. Good win for the Blazers.

South gets their mojo back? A rocky start to the Panthers boys season with 4 losses. And at half time, it looked like another tally mark on the L side of the ledger as the Panthers had a 10 point deficit against Newton at halftime. After playing mostly zone and zone variations in the first half. South manned up in the third quarter. That put pressure on the Indian shooters. And at the other end of the court, South got into a groove and started to hit their shots. They lit up the scoreboard for 29 points to take the lead and not look back.

I thought the Indians started to tire and fade in the second half. South just had a deeper bench and were able to keep fresh players on the court. Newton's shots kept bouncing off the front of the rim as they tired. Walker did a good job of snagging rebounds and Spitler had a good night on offense with 23 points.

South girls are off to a good start and got notice in the Dayton Daily News. Ranked 4th in the area D4 teams. Now the girls will have a bulls eye on their back. D3 is tough in the Dayton area. Middletown Madison is running roughshod over opponents. Anna, Brookville, Versailles, and Miami East are also in that division. I have a feeling that who ever comes out of the SW region will win state in D3.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Something that does not happen very often; TVS boys off to a 0-2 start. They got some points in the paint last night. So that is a positive sign.

TVS girls lost by two to Northridge. So they sit at 1-2. I know that the team is hoping for a better record this season, hopefully they can pull it together.

Preble Shawnee girls need a win. They also have an 0-2 start, pulling for the team to end this losing streak.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Ouch TVS boys lost to Bethel last night. No made two point shots. All points were from the three point line or the foul line. Can't win games shooting daggers all night.

The team that controls the redzone controls the ball game.

TVS girls are 1-1. Good ball movement in the little that I got watch the other night. Need to watch the turnovers. Should have a better record than last year. If the team gels, then lets see if they can take off.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wow, who could have predicted this season's Bengals. The story of the team is the offensive line. I had thought that Palmer would be spending time on his back, but the patchwork O-line has gelled and exceeded expectations. What a slugfest with Pittsburgh. The defense is performing as expected, and the offense just needs to score enough to get the W.

Ohio State had better not overlook Michigan. On paper the game is anti-climatic, but this is the one chance for Michigan to redeem themselves for a lackluster season.

Great play off game between MAC teams Coldwater and St. Henry. 4 OT's to decide a winner! What a game to be a part of, it will become a part of local lore for years to come.

My sports coverage this winter will be sporadic. I am coaching Junior High basketball this winter. So there simply will not be enough time to cover the games(hey I like being married, so I have to spend some time at home!), my daughters, Chelsea and Vanessa, may be covering some games on my behalf so watch for them.

About the team - interesting group with a wide range of talent. Some first year players mixed in with some who have done youth league. So getting everyone on the same page could be a challenge.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

CCC Football Ends for This Season.

As has happened so frequently, Covington was the last team standing. They played a close playoff game with Marion Local only to lose 21-17 in the last quarter. If anyone can beat a MAC team in the playoffs, it would have been Dave Miller. He has come close, but will now have to wait for another chance. Congrats to the Buccs for finishing strong - that playoff win against Ansonia, a team that manhandled them in the regular season, was a remarkable turnaround.

My Panthers. Both Panthers teams didn't perform as well as I would have liked this season. South had some good seniors coming back on both the line and the skill positions. North has decent size on the line, a decent running back, and QB that can throw when given the time. I had thought that both teams would have winning seasons, but not this year. Both schools return classes that were in the junior high championship several years ago. Will any of that success carry over next year?

Trail got a win to end their winless streak. When I saw them play the team did not give up, they kept coming back - so that is a positive. Need some more kids out, their sideline looked pretty thin.

Bethel - Had a better season than I thought they would, so congrats to them.

Miami East - Wow, one loss and no playoffs. With several CCC schools shrinking to D6, it is really tough to make the playoffs for a D5 school. Does the CCC look for some bigger schools to join the conference and go with two divisions - a d5 and d6 division. Or schedule one more nonleague game?

Ansonia - undefeated in the regular season and then Covington upsets them in the first round. A great season for a good coach that I respect and the Tigers will come back hungry for next year.

Arcanum - Hard Hitting Team, but mistakes and turnovers contributed to their losses. Another season of maturity for a young team should make them improved.

Mississenewa Valley - An improved team that started strong and faded. Can they reload for next season?

Basketball local teams:

South loses Nisius(sp) to Dixie. The senior moved to that school district. Dixie has some good young talent, but they only won a handful of games last year. His points should help the Greyhounds, but I don't know that it will be enough for a title. South again has a good crop of seniors, and some younger players that should contribute. They will be competitive, but I don't know that they have enough horses to compete for league.

North will be scrappy and will have good play from their guards. The MacAdams brothers will be a formidable duo. But they need a supporting cast.

CCC Website - No Forums. The CCC website took down their forums. Too bad, because this was a great way for CCC fans to keep on all the chatter around the league. I know that it probably takes a lot of effort to keep up with it, for the little financial reward. But otherwise the CCC gets swallowed up in the Yappi and JJ huddle forums. I hope they reconsider, but I can understand if they do not bring them back.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

South Survives Trail Scare
J. Chris Tilton

Twin Valley South has not had many easy wins this season. Last Friday was another game where South needed some late game heroics to pull out a victory. It was senior night and several seniors would step up to make big plays against the Blazers. Two players would reach the thousand yard mark during the course of the game. Running back Skylar Reckers broke a thousand yards carrying the ball and Miles McCollum would break a thousand yards for passing the ball. And South would need every yard against the Blazers. During the pregame the seniors honored the memory of Joe Kasserman by placing his jersey at the bench before the end of the season.

There was a strong South wind blowing at the start of the game. And maybe it was just coincidence, but South was likewise strong in the early going. Tyler Leach went 68 yards on the second play of the game for South’s first score. Then South utilized Skyler Reckers from the wildcat formation and he raced 40 yards for another score. Finally a third touchdown was scored by Steve Balthis. Seemingly, South could do no wrong.

And as good as South was playing, Trail just couldn’t get on track – particularly on special teams. One kickoff return went thru the receivers hands and he was tackled at the 7 yard line. A snap went over the punters head and resulted in a safety. Later in the game the punter would ‘whiff’ on a punt and give South good position again. The net result was that by early in the second quarter South was up 23-0 and it was beginning to look like the rout was on. I was thinking that perhaps we could see some clean jerseys playing in the second half.

But Trail under coach Graher is a more resilient team. On their first possession of the second quarter, they drove the length of field thanks in part to a TVS facemask penalty. They capped their drive with an old fashioned hook and ladder play where Danny Dillon would score from about 29 yards out. It was about this time that a familiar nemesis paid a visit. Yep once again the rain came down. South would fumble the ball away, but Balthis would intercept a Blazer pass to end that drive. But late in the quarter Trail would score again. This time aided by a South pass interference call. And at the half the South lead had shrunk, it was 23-12.

The third quarter was all defense as both teams dug in their heels and were stubborn at giving up yardage. South had the best opportunity of the quarter when the Trail punter missed the ball on a kick and South got the ball at the Trail 22 yard line. A Reckers TD run was called back by a penalty and on the next play a Miles McCollum pass was picked off by a Blazer to end the threat.

But after that interception the Blazers drove the length of the field and Day scored from one yard out. Now the South lead had shrunk to just three points. South needed to regain some lost momentum. Seniors Miles McCollum and Skylar Reckers provided that spark on a 62 yard pass play that re-extended the South lead. The South defense likewise responded and ended the next Trail drive, denying a 4th and 4 try. After getting the ball back on downs, it was Reckers who scored again. This time on a 23 yard carry. South had a two score lead – 36 to 20.

But the Blazers were angling for a late game comeback. Danny Dillon caught a pass to get the ball inside the twenty. A hold put them into long yardage where Caleb Wesler caught a pass from Taylor Neal for a touchdown. But the all important two point extra point try was denied. Trail did an onsides kick, but the South hands team recovered the ball. And when South needed one more first down to keep the ball away from the Blazers in the final minute, Tyler Leach delivered with a 7 yard carry to move the chains one last time. So South survived a close one 36-26.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dixie – Madison in Thriller
J. C. Tilton

Dixie and Madison squared off in a thrilling game this past Friday night. A game with twists and turns as momentum went back and forth as each team struggled to get an edge over the other. Each coach gambled and in some cases there was a payoff, other times the results were game changing. The play was exciting as both teams spread out their offenses and featured the passing game. And as in all good thrillers, the outcome was in doubt until the very end.

As has been the case so often this season, if it’s Friday – its raining. So it was a soggy field, although the rain did let up before game time. But that did not stop either team from passing. There were some turnovers, but I think that the players have adapted to the conditions this season and neither squad had an abnormally high number of turnovers for the game. The sidelines were abysmal – I regretted leaving my boots in the car back in the parking lot.

Dixie dominated for the first 18 minutes of the game. A stiff defense and a clock eating offense kept the Mohawks on their heels. Dixie was able to make 2 trips the redzone. Both times they started with great field position. Their first trip was marred when a holding penalty moved the ball back and they then had to try a 35 yard field goal which was short. Their second trip was set up by a Jordan Wilson fumble recovery on the Mohawk 41. Again their drive stalled against a stiff Mohawk defense. They called on Garret Moore’s toe and this time he delivered a 25 yard field goal to put Dixie on the board and into the lead.

Now it was time for a gamble. Dixie tried to surprise the Mohawks with an onsides kick with 4:41 remaining in the half. But they were able to pounce on the ball and get their best field position up to that time. And that seemed to ignite a spark in Madison and their offense began to shred the Dixie defense. In about 5 quick plays they put the ball in the end zone as Mason Conley capped the drive with an 18 yard run. When Dixie got the ball back, they went right back to work and went into gunslinging mode as Luke Bowling connected with Tony Prater for a 34 yard catch. But the next play Mason Conley intercepted the ball. Again Dixie’s defense couldn’t contain Madison and they got a quick score as Tyler Dietz connected with Mark Maloney for the touchdown.

But Conley wasn’t done yet. Dixie had a good return to midfield and hoped to make a score before halftime. Again it was Conley who made a pick and gave Madison the ball back with about a minute and half left in the quarter. But Michael Hall sacked the Madison quarterback and ended their hopes of scoring three touchdowns in 5 minutes. Still Madison went into the locker room feeling confident with a 12-3 lead.

But the Hounds were not done yet. Whatever was said at halftime had an immediate effect. Out of the shotgun, Dixie went to the air and after two long passes to get to the 35 of Madison, Bowling connected with Prater for a touchdown. The two teams exchanged possessions, then Madison caught a gear after Dixie failed to convert on a 4th and 8 on the Madison 25. A couple of deep passes later and Madison was able to re-extend their lead as Maloney was able to catch another pass from Dietz. At this point it was Madison 18 and Dixie 9

Doggedly Dixie stayed on their heels. Michael Hall burst thru the Madison return team on the kickoff for about 55 yards. This gave Dixie excellent field position. John Isaacs caught a Bowling pass and was brought down on the one yard line. Bowling then called his own number and ran the ball in for the touchdown. Dixie was now down by two late in the third quarter 18-16.

Nothing went right for Madison on their next possession. They started on their own 25 yard line after the kickoff. Then had back to back penalties on the next two plays. Facing a third and long deep in their territory, the Madison coach gambled and elected to do a quick kick to surprise Dixie and put the ball back to midfield. The tactic misfired when the kick was blocked and Isaacs landed on the ball in the endzone for the Dixie go ahead touchdown.

But there was still a quarter left to play, so Dixie could not relax. And it looked like Madison would bounce right back when they returned to the Dixie 37. But that series the Dixie defense stepped up and made a big play on 4th and 6 when they sacked the Madison quarterback.

With about 7 minutes left in the game, Madison got the ball back on downs from Dixie at about their own 23 yard line. They methodically moved the ball down the field and into Dixie territory. At one point it looked like the drive would be stopped, but Dixie’s Doogie Hauser was flagged for pass interference. There was no time to mope and Dixie needed someone to step up and make a big play. Now at the 9 yard line, Madison looked to pass again. Who could it be but Hauser who stepped in front of the Madison receiver and made a clean interception. Just as the team bounced back time after time Friday night, Hauser was able to step up and make a play when called upon.

But don’t grab your car keys and leave just yet. There was only 1:03 left, but Madison still had time outs. Which meant that Dixie couldn’t just use the victory formation to run out the clock. If they turned over the ball on downs, Madison could still have time for at least one hail mary pass play. On third and eight, Michael Hall made one last big play for the Hounds. He burst thru the line of scrimmage and rambled all way to the Madison 30 yard line where he was dragged down. Finally the coaches could take off their headsets, relax, and watch as Dixie took a knee with 20 seconds on the clock to preserve their 22-18 victory. This makes Dixie’s record 5-4; next Friday they visit Carlisle.

And I will add a little editorial comment here. I was a little jaded going into the game. Had a long day at work and was talking to my wife on the way to the game. I was complaining that it was another soggy night and that none of the teams that I cover are going to the playoffs. Just wasn't feeling the fire, it was just another game.

But to these players and coaches it was the game as far as they were concerned. No chance at playoffs for either team. But for four quarters they fought and gave it all they had. And seeing the emotion and the spirit of these two teams rekindled that fire. It was worth the trip for me.

...and speaking of fire - what got into the Bengals today??? I want to find out what they had for lunch. I could use some of that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

North Bounces Back Against Trail
J. C. Tilton

Last week against South, the North football team had a rough time of it – seemingly nothing could right for the team on either offense or defense. This past Friday they hosted the National Trail Blazers for their homecoming game. Again the weather was not cooperative, it was a steady drizzle for most of the game. Last week they fumbled about 10 times under damp conditions and their offense could not get on track on the ground or in the air. The defense could not adjust either and did not stop the ground attack. So how would they fare under identical conditions, only on their home turf?

On the opening kickoff, North was able to force a Trail fumble and recover it. So it looked as though their fortunes were reversed. But a few plays later North coughed up the ball and gave it right back to the Blazers. This got a lot of fans wondering if this was going to a preview of the nights action. Would it be deju vu? But actually both teams would end up being balanced on turnovers. Later in the game, North would capitalize their opportunities, while Trail had a tough time turning turnovers into points, only turning one fumble into a touchdown.

Another part of the game that North had in their favor, was field position. A combination of poor punting by Trail and a lack of offense had North starting a lot of their scoring drives at midfield. Using the pass and run, they kept Trails defense off balance and took advantage of the short field several times.

You could see that North was fired up and after the early setback in the first quarter, they went to work the next series. After forcing a Trail punt, North started at midfield. Kyle Booth ripped a run to the one yard line where Dalton Overholtz punched it in. Again Trail was held to three plays and punt. This one was shanked and North took over at their own 39. Josh McAdams caught an Overholtz pass for the next score. Finally Cody Broughton caught another TD pass to put North up 20-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Trail was able to manage a touchdown late in the first half when Rexrode caught a Bolinger pass. This was set up a by a North fumble and a 4th down conversion in North territory. So this kept the game close (20-6) and it looked like momentum might have turned to the Blazers side with that score right before halftime.

It really began to look like the Blazers would catch fire when they held North to three plays and punt on their first possession of the half. Using an unbalanced line they were grinding out yardage and worked the ball to midfield. But Trail fumbled there and North was ready to capitalize on this gift at the 50. After Booth moved the ball to the 15, Overholtz found Brandon McAdams in the endzone for another score. Now Trail had a huge mountain to climb, but their offense was not geared for a quick score.

In the fourth quarter, Dakota Gulling kept the momentum going and scored on a long rambling run to end the scoring for North. Trail may have actually had the ball for a longer time than North in the second half. North did their scoring quickly while Trail’s attack was mostly ground based which consumed a lot of clock. Trail did manage a couple of TD’s late in the game, but it was too little to late and North won their homecoming - bouncing back 34-20.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

North – South Mud Bowl

The elements have not been kind to Twin Valley South home games in the last half of the season. And the homecoming game against Tri-County North was played on a soggy field already chewed up from the previous home game that was also played in the rain. A constant rain kept the field saturated and the ball boys busy ushering in a fresh ball every down. By the end of the game about the only way to tell the two teams apart was by the color of their helmets. In the pregame, the homecoming king and queen were selected. Skylar Reckers and Jessica Hick were crowned under an umbrella.

South fared better under the adverse conditions than did North. They would dominate nearly every facet of the game. Ball control was the first thing that I noticed. South had long clock consuming drives that kept a weary North defense on the field as they pounded the ball from their wishbone formation. On defense, South was able to control the line of scrimmage and make big plays. This season the defense has taken heat for giving up a lot of points. But against North they excelled – shutting out their offense. Keeping North on their half of the field most of the night. They were only able to go past the 50 twice during the game.

South’s first drive set the pattern for the rest of night. After grinding out yardage and moving the ball to midfield, the drive stalled. It was fourth and four. South took a time out to set up their play. What ever was said worked to perfection as Tyler Leach powered thru the line and went about 40 yards for a score. That drive alone used up about half of the first quarter. And judicious use of time outs to plan during 4th downs allowed South to convert on 4th down on 4 out of 5 chances in the first half. This kept drives alive and as important - kept the ball out of North’ hands.

North’s first penetration into South territory was set up by a Kyle Booth return to about the 50. And with the wind at his back, Overholtz was able to pass some against South. But after getting to the 29, North could not convert a 4th and 7 situation and turned over the ball to South. Another long drive ensued and again South converted on 3 4th downs to drive the ball to the one where Miles McCollum called his own number to score for South. North tried to answer, but were passing into the wind this time and Steve Balthis intercepted an Overholtz throw to end the last North drive of the half.

Fumbles were a problem for North all night long. I don’t think that they lost a fumble all night, but each time the ball slipped away they had to fall on the ball and that resulted in lost yardage. I counted six up to the third quarter and there may have close to 10 by the time the game was over. North switched quarterbacks at the half and put Kyle Booth behind center. But things got off to a slow start when the first two center/quarterback exchanges were fumbled to start the second half.

The change in signal callers did not change North’s fortunes as they were only ably to penetrate into South territory one more time late in the game where they turned the ball over on downs. South’s last touchdown was set up by another long yardage Tyler Leach carry and McCollum finished the drive with a one yard carry. Roy Wysong ended another North drive when he intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. The final was 18-0 in favor of South. South travels to Miami East next week, while North plays National Trail.
Panthers in Three Over Arrows

Neighboring Preble Shawnee paid a visit to the home court of Twin Valley South this last week of September. Shawnee has a mixture of players with several sophomores and freshmen on the court this season. There are some seniors on the court, but at times the lack of experience showed. The Panthers seemed to more poised and rallied under pressure. This season, South has a winning record to be sure, but will need to finish strong to equal the records of teams past. This game was a step in that direction. In her post game comments coach Roberts noted that the team is coming together for the last half of the season.

Early in the first match it was TVS that was playing sloppy. And allowed Shawnee a 4 point lead - 14 to 10. Despite a couple of net serves and a lift. South was able to battle back and get the lead 19-17 at which point Shawnee took a time out to stop their momentum. Shawnee responded and were able to tie the game at 24 all. But South was able to pull ahead and finally won 27-25 when the Arrows allowed the ball to drop untouched for the final Panther point.

In the second match, it was Shawnee who got to a slow start. They had a rough time of it due to the strong play of South and some more mental mistakes of their own. They were down 13-6 when the team finally found a gear and started to churn out some points of their own. They outscored South 8-4 and closed the gap. And they would continue to rally and close to 2 points. But in the stretch, the Panthers were able to hold off the Shawnee challenge and win by a comfortable margin 25-21. An injury forced a Shawnee starter to go to the bench, further impeding their cause.

For the first part of the third set the teams played well. Both seemed to be in a groove for this last set. But Shawnee could not get any breaks. There were several good volleys, but when the ball went to the floor – it always seemed to be on the Shawnee side. South got a three point lead and Shawnee took a time out to set things right. However, it just wasn’t Shawnee’s night. South continued to pull away and their blockers, Laura Ingram and Taylor Baker, did a great job of throwing back Shawnee spikes thru out the game, but particularly in this last set. In the last part of the set, Shawnee could not stop the South onslaught allowing South to win 25-13.

“We were pleased to come away with a 3 set win,” stated Coach Roberts after the game, “We were fortunate to win over Shawnee with their much improved defense and they were attacking the ball strong. I would say that tonight we were lead by Laura Ingram and Taylor Baker over the middle. Followed by nice play on the outside by Emily Burge and Katherine Leach. Grace Cottingim had most of the assists and did a nice job of distributing the ball. We are 8-5, but we’ve had an injury - had to regroup and find new chemistry. But from here on we are looking good for the future.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

South-Bethel: Battle in the Trenches

It was trench warfare in West Alexandria this past Friday night as the Bees and Panthers slogged it out on a soggy field. Although the rain had pretty much stopped by game time, the past few days of rain had thoroughly soaked the field. Whoever does laundry for these two teams would have to put in some overtime to get the uniforms clean again. Both teams featured their running games in the first half and were able to successfully grind out yardage. However, Bethel was able to mix the pass with some success during the course of the game. And the wet conditions did lead to some turnovers – one of which would decide the outcome of the game late in the fourth quarter.

It was definitely a night for straight ahead running as I saw runners for both teams lose traction when they tried to make a cut. South started with a good run by fullback Tyler Leach that got the ball deep into Bethel territory, but on the next play the ball was bobbled and a Bethel defender pounced on the ball. But the Panthers were able to redeem themselves when Leach burst thru the line for a 41 yard TD on their next possession. Bethel answered with a TD run of their own on 4th and 1 on the Panther 11. This set the tone for night as neither team was able to get a decisive lead and battled back and forth thru out the night.

South’s next score was set up by going for it on 4th and 1 at their 42 yard line. Tyler Leach burst thru the line and scrampered about 40 yards for a go ahead score. Bethel decided to air it out on their next scoring drive. Completing a pass to their tight end to get a first down in Panther territory and finally scoring just before halftime with another pass to even up the score again at 14 all.

In the third quarter, Bethel was able to score a go ahead touchdown. South tried again to go for it on 4th and one in their own territory but a dropped ball resulted in a broken play and Bethel getting good field position around the Panther 40 yard line. With the short field they were able to take advantage and punch the ball in with an eight yard plunge by Rowley.

But Bethel would have a turn over of their own to set up the next Panther score. They had some success mixing in the pass and tried again on a long yardage situation in their own territory. The Bethel quarterback scrambled to avoid a vigorous Panther rush and threw an off balance pass. Roy Wysong made the pick and returned all the way to the one yard line where Skylar Reckers scored to even up the ball game at 21 all. Bethel did have another turnover when Panther Michael Burke fell on a loose ball on a kick, but South was not able to capitalize.

Late in the fourth quarter the Panthers again had a drive stall out at midfield and this time elected to punt. It was starting to look like the game could be headed to overtime. But again the turnover bug bit the Panthers. A high snap could not be pulled down and Bethel was able to gain possession on downs deep in South territory. They would score the go ahead TD, but left the door open for South by missing the extra point.

So a score and extra point could win the game for the Panthers. After a decent kickoff return they were able to start with good field position. But the passing game was not kind to the Panthers on this night. The team had passed a handful of times the whole night without much success and the trend continued on this last effort. They just couldn’t connect and on fourth down they were forced to give up the ball. Only seconds were left in the game and Bethel took a knee to end the game, winning 27-21. A tough loss for the Panthers who face Covington next week.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

South Scores 34 Points…

…but still lost against the Mississinawa Valley Black Hawks. In a night of lopsided scores in the Cross County Conference, this game was not an exception as the Black Hawks scored 55 points of their own to win by 3 scores. A 55 – 34 final is more like a basketball game and the scoring was fast and furious in the first half. Giving up big running plays was once again the bane of the Panther defense as 5 touchdowns came from runs of 40 yards or more.

The first drive of the night ended in paydirt for the Panthers. They started in their wishbone offense and made it look easy as they methodically marched down the field. Roy Wysong capped off the drive with a long run and the Panthers were up. After holding the Blackhawks to 3 plays and punt. It was looking like it may be the Panthers night. But this would be their only lead of the game. The ensuing Panther series ended with a fumble as midfield and that set the tone for the rest of the night. Mississinawa’s Gary Peace rambled 56 yards for a score on their series. They would score again in the first quarter to go up 12-7.

In the second quarter, the Black Hawks could do no wrong when the trickle became a torrent as they scored at will. 29 points were amassed and the Panthers could only score a single TD as Grant Kreitzer pulled in a Miles McCollum pass late in the quarter. At the half, it was 41-14.

The Panthers gamely tried to get some momentum in the second half. Skylar Reckers and Miles McCollum both scored. And when an onsides kick worked to the Panthers advantage, the Panther sideline woke up and made the most noise that I have heard all season. But just when it looked like there was going to be a momentum change, the Black Hawk defense stepped up and made a big play – forcing a fumble at midfield. This crushed the Panthers drive and hopes for a comeback. With a three score deficit, they just could not afford any mistakes. Roy Wysong capped the night for the Panthers with a 21 yard TD carry.

The Panthers were down several players going into the game. Notably, 2 of 3 running backs were unable to start due to injury and illness. At one point, the remaining starting running back was out with a stinger and no starters were in the backfield. However, I don’t think having all backs available would have made a difference in the outcome. Wysong, Combs, and company still managed a respectable 34 points. The team can put points on the scoreboard, they just need to find a way to keep the other team off of it. Next Friday South hosts Bethel.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two teams with 0 and 2 records met this past Friday night. Both South and Arcanum have had a rocky start to the season. But one team would leave with a victory and a chance to get some momentum going, the other would have a 0-3 record and a tough climb to achieve a winning record. So both teams entered the games with high hopes and determination.

But it was a night of big plays. I think both teams may have scored a TD each from a long drive. But the other scores were from long passes, or long runs - which made for an exciting night. Just when you thought one side or the other had some breathing room, someone would slip a tackle or two and beat feet into the endzone. Despite the big plays, defenses were a factor. Arcanum had a pair of interceptions. And South had a bend but do not break mentality as they allowed the Trojans to churn out yardage in their Woody Hayes grind it out attack. But once they got to the twenty, the Panther defense would stiffen and ended up stopping 4 drives during the night – one of them ending at the one foot line where South denied the Trojans on a critical 4th down play.

A case in point was Arcanum’s first drive which ended on a 4th and 4 on the 7 yard line where Grant Kreitzer made a tackle for loss. But South had to punt after 3 plays and in a play from scrimmage, Trojan Brad Rothwell peeled of a 63 yard for the first score of the night. South’s Skylar Reckers then scored on a 48 yard carry. So the tone was set for the evening.

South was up at halftime 14-7 thanks to a Reckers touchdown carry. Other highlights of the second quarter were another Kreitzer tackle for loss to end another Arcanum drive on 4th down and a Roy Wysong catch for about 40 yards.

In the third quarter after Skylar Reckers ended an Arcanum drive, Steve Balthis caught a Miles McCollum pass and went about 70yards for a score. South was now up 20-7. But Brad Rothwell had other ideas as he took the kickoff 85 yards for an answering TD. Now it was 20-13 as the teams battled into the fourth quarter.

After an Arcanum interception, the Trojan offense marched the ball down the field. Advancing all the way to the one foot line. This is where the South defense made a stand when it counted most. After peeling the players off of a rugby style scrum by the goal line, the referee gave his signal – first down for TVS. They had held off the Trojans. This set up the next score. After a gain of about 3 yards. The ball was handed off to Skylar Reckers who slipped thru the line and barreled into the open where he raced 96 yards for a touchdown.

A Roy Wysong sack stopped an Arcanum drive and helped to set up the next Panther score, with Balthis scoring again for South. Arcanum scored easily on their next drive which had to make Panthers nervous again. But they were just about out of clock as only 1:50 was left in the game. After an onsides kick was covered by South, the Panthers ran out the clock to preserve the victory TVS 32 – Arcanum 19.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

You hope that the Buckeyes were looking past Navy to USC, or were just over confident. Or maybe Tressel was holding back not to show too much to USC (roll of eyes here).

But holy moly they were three yards away from a tie ball game with Navy. If they did not intercept the two point try, then things could have ended differently. The defense looked very suspect. Navy was getting a good line surge and moved the ball very well. The offense played well enough to win I guess. Saine showed some ability to slip tackles this year. It seems like he can get thru the first one or two tacklers. Herron had a few good touches. But the pass blocking did not impress. It's a good thing that Pryor can tuck and run as well as he can.

I hope that the team did not hold its head high after that win. USC will be licking their chops after seeing this game film.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Dixie volleyball netted a win over visiting Northridge. But the young team kept it interesting, allowing the Polar Bears to hang around and last longer than they should have. The Greyhounds struggled in the first set, with several miscues and mental mistakes but still managed to win it.

In the second set, the team showed confidence coming from that first set win. After staying even with Northridge, they went up 8-7 and peeled off 6 points in a row to take a commanding lead. Their serves were strong and contributed to a 25-16 win in the second set. With two sets under their belt, I was looking forward to an early ride out of the gym as I expected the home team to keep the momentum and run away in three straight sets.

But an over confident Dixie team and a gritty Northridge put an end to any thoughts about a short night. Northridge scored the first point of the third set and did not look back. Dixie was very sloppy. Serves going out of bounds, allowing the ball to drop between players, and the like. Northridge rallied from the Dixie mistakes and put the pedal down. They were up 13-3 when coach Honeywell had seen enough and called a timeout to refocus the players. He took another time out a few minutes later. The team adjusted and chipped away at the lead. Actually finishing strong, but too many points had been spotted and Northridge won 25-20.

Which Dixie team would take the floor in the next stanza? The confident, playmaking team in the second set, or the fumbling team in the third set. A determined Dixie team took the court and went to work. They quickly built a 9-2 lead before Northridge took a time out. This did not slow down the Greyhounds as they methodically outplayed the Polar bears on route to a 25-11 win of the final set to end the night with a victory.

“Overall I thought we played fairly well,” stated Coach Honeywell, but we still have a lot of work to do” he admitted. “We are a young team this year and we are concentrating on our fundamentals. And I thought we communicated really well tonight.”

On the third set, “I think our youth showed; we thought we had it won at that point. We thought we could win that third set without trying and in varsity volleyball that is almost never the case. As we gain in experience I see that happening less and less this season.”

Stats for Dixie: Ciara Bates had 9 aces, Danielle Foster had 30 assists, and both Haleigh White and Breean Cole had 6 kills.

Dixie volleyball netted a win over visiting Northridge. But the young team kept it interesting, allowing the Polar Bears to hang around and last longer than they should have. The young team struggled in the first set, with several miscues and mental mistakes but still managed to win it.

In the second set, the team showed confidence from that first set win. After staying even with Northridge, they went up 8-7 and peeled off 6 points in a row to take a commanding lead. Their serves were strong and contributed to a 25-16 win in the second set. With two sets under their belt, I was looking forward to an early ride out of the gym as I expected the home team to keep the momentum and run away in three straight sets.

But an over confident Dixie team and a gritty Northridge put an end to any thoughts about a short night. Northridge scored the first point of the third set and did not look back. Dixie was very sloppy. Serves going out of bounds, allowing the ball to drop between players, and the like. Northridge rallied from the Dixie mistakes and put the pedal down. They were up 13-3 when coach Honeywell had seen enough and called a timeout to refocus the players. He took another time out a few minutes later. The team adjusted and chipped away at the lead. Actually finishing strong, but too many points had been spotted and Northridge won 25-20.

Which Dixie team would take the floor in the next stanza? The confident, playmaking team in the second set, or the fumbling team in the third set. A determined Dixie team took the court and went to work. They quickly built a 9-2 lead before Northridge took a time out. This did not slow down the Greyhounds as they methodically outplayed the Polar bears on route to a 25-11 win of the final set to end the night with a victory.

“Overall I thought we played fairly well,” stated Coach Honeywell, "but we still have a lot of work to do” he admitted. “We are a young team this year and we are concentrating on our fundamentals. And I thought we communicated really well tonight.”

On the third set, “I think our youth showed; we thought we had it won at that point. We thought we could win that third set without trying and in varsity volleyball that is almost never the case. As we gain in experience I see that happening less and less this season.”

Stats for Dixie: Ciara Bates had 9 aces, Danielle Foster had 30 assists, and both Haleigh White and Breean Cole had 6 kills.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hey Ohio State starts their season this Saturday at noon. At least one professional team in Ohio will have a winning record this season (insert rim shot here...). They have a patty cake opponent though - Navy. Do hope that the Buckeyes do better against USC this season than they did last year.

And I guess that professional can also loosely be applied to the Bengals. The Bengals have had a great track record with first round draft choices. With Smith breaking a bone in his foot during a drill, memories of blown draft pics gone by start to echo. Heard this quote on a sports talk show and it bears repeating. "At least Kijuana Carter made it into a game." Too early to throw in the towel on Smith of course, but his rookie season is starting to look like a bust. Late to camp, out for several weeks with a broken foot. When he does come back, it is going to take some additional time to get into game shape. So he will see the field what - maybe in October sometime. And now no scrimmages to make mistakes. When (if?) he does get to play, he gets to make his mistakes in a game.

I like the Bengals D, but worry about the offensive line and a fragile Palmer. If the linemen are playing Ole' - Palmer isn't mobile enough to dodge rampaging 300 pound linemen. When he gets pounded into the turf 5-6 times a game, look for another shortened season for Palmer.

CCC didn't do quite as well as I predicted on opening day. But 4 wins are better than the one that we had a year ago. Two of the losses were close and so could have slid the conference over to the plus side if they had gone the other way. The poll predicts Ansonia to take the CCC crown. And I have to lean towards them as well. I still can't wrap my brain around the Tigers passing for 5 TD's against Fort Recovery. History has them playing smashmouth football and you could generally count the number of passes they threw in a game on one hand. It might be worth the trip up there just to watch the air show.

Injuries are a factor for South. I was really looking forward to watching this years team. Lots of talent in the junior and senior classes. But in small school football, when you lose a starter - they generally are playing both ways. And so it may take two people to replace them, one on offense and one on defense. And there just isn't the depth once you get past the starters. So I still think that they will be formidable, but you hope that the kids heal fast and get back into the lineup. Being a D5 team, you just can't afford many losses with all the D6 schools in the conference. Two losses will make it extremely difficult to make the playoffs.
An interesting aside, I am wondering if the South coaches saw how well the Fort moved the ball with their spread against the Tigers and will change their game plan accordingly???

Bradford won big over Yellow Springs. Yeah the Bulldogs aren't known for their football, but on the other hand 64 points shows a dominant team. Are the Railroaders for real and can they make the race for the CCC crown interesting? Program has been down for awhile, they are due for some success.

Covington - high expectations and a disappointing loss to start the season. A winnable game for the Buccs. But look for them to be worked into a froth this week. Should be hitting on all cylinders come Friday.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Third quarter the Difference in Dixie Victory
J. C. Tilton

Dixie and TVS were evenly matched thru out the night, but the third quarter ended up being the difference on a wet Friday night. There was rain thru the first quarter and so the field was damp the entire night. Both teams had their share of penalties and turnovers. The coaching staffs had to begin to wonder if their teams could go thru a series without at least one yellow hanky being thrown.

South’s strategy seemed to be to establish a ball control running offense and to use the pass sparingly. While Dixie mixed things up, sometimes using their spread, sometimes using an I formation. And mixing in the pass more often. South did spread things out in the fourth quarter when they were trying to close the gap with Dixie.

South scored first on a Miles McCollum TD run from the two yard line that he had set up with a 41 yard carry. But Dixie answered quick as Gray connected with Prater for a 70 yard TD pass. South had another first quarter opportunity when Cody Bryant snagged a Grey pass to give South the ball at the Dixie 26. But Luke Bowling pounced on a South fumble to put an end to that threat.

Likewise Dixie had a chance with good field position in the 2nd quarter when a shanked punt gave them possession on the South 34. But a Tyler Leach sack put Dixie into a situation where they had to punt. And towards the end of the half Dixie did a fake punt where Hall managed a first down at midfield. But another penalty helped to put an end to that drive where they had to turn the ball over to South at the 40 with seconds left.

Dixie wasted no time scoring in the second half as Doogie Hauser carried for 60 yards to the TVS 8 and then scampered the remaining 8 yards for a TD on the next play. South did answer as Balthis rambled 35 yards for a TD. Michael Hall carried the load for the Greyhounds on the next possession ending the drive by going 22 yards for the next Dixie score.

And in the 4th quart Hauser found the endzone again and so the Panthers were down by two scores 28-14. After an inadvertent whistle caused a redo of a South punt. An alert Nick Youngerman was able to scoop up a Dixie fumble of this punt to give South new hope. But a stout Dixie defense forced South to 3 downs and punt. Later on the Nick grabbed an errant Dixie pass and this time South capitalized. Skylar Reckers closed the gap to a single touchdown with a touchdown run. But there was only 1:24 left in the game. Dixie covered the onside kick from South and ran out the clock.

Coach Schondelmyer was contacted for comment after the game, “Despite the loss, we are showing signs of improvement from last year. But on Friday night we just had too many mental mistakes in crucial situations. We didn’t see this in the preseason – very few turnovers and few penalties. That was the difference maker, we can’t beat Dixie with the amount of mental mistakes we had. We did miss some critical tackles in the second half and that’s just something we have to get better at.“

Positives from the game, “Tyler Leach had a good game going and we lost him in the second half. Losing your fullback takes away from your option offense. Skylar Reckers played well on both sides of the ball. Steve Balthis had a good night as well. But really despite the disappointment, I feel our guys are playing harder and are in better shape than last year. They seem to be committed to playing winning football.”

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well football season opens this Friday. Lets look at some local match ups.

North hosts Brookville. On paper you have a championship team that was undefeated last season and made the playoffs going against a sub .500 team. But Brookville graduated a lot of talent. I am not sure that they are in a reload mode. They have struggled in at least one of their scrimmages. North returns a lot of players and has some big linemen. The Panther quarterback can air it out and if he can get time to pass, that could be a key to the game. I see momentum as being key. If North can score early and get confidence they will have a good chance.

Eaton vs. Talawanda. Eaton is loaded this year. Plenty of talent in the skill positions (Fudge is back) and a big, big line. All indications are that the Eagles will be the team to be in SWBL big school division this fall. Plus Eaton has home field advantage. Talawanda will have their hands full.

Valley View at Dunbar. The Spartans have a new quarterback in Pohl. Word is that he has a good arm, but this will be his first varsity season at this position. They return some decent lineman and some skill position players. Dunbar are no slouches, this should be a good game.

Shawnee at Trail. Shawnee graduated some good players, but they have a lot coming back. They have decent sized squad. They need to watch the penalties from what I saw at their last scrimmage. Trail has a new coach in Graher – he turned around the Mississinawa program from being a 1 or 2 win program to a respectable team. Even with a home field advantage it could be a tough night for the Blazers.

Dixie at North. The game of the week. Dixie has an experienced line and new faces at the quarterback and receiver positions. Can they establish a running game to give their new quarterback time to get comfortable at the position. Or will they throw their wild card early – go to the spread and air it out. South has almost everyone back, so they have experience and the home field advantage. Their offense has been sporadic at times. But the defense has been respectable. Still I like the overall team speed of Dixie, one missed tackle or one missed pass assignment and you have a Greyhound in the end zone. Should be a good game for the fans.
North – Getting Stronger
J. C. Tilton

Last season the team seemed to be young and the big players lacked stamina. This season the team returns experience and seemed to be in fair condition – although they did have some big bodies on the sidelines with injuries in the scrimmage that I watched. Two of their big linemen had to sit out due to illness and injury. But North was able to score first in their first scrimmage which was against Dixie. And they initially held Dixie to a single score. Although they did allow Dixie to come back late in their scrimmage.

With the big line, you can see that North will be trying to move the ball inside the tackles. But with Overholtz at quarterback, his arm will be able to stretch the field. Two of the North scores were from deep passes. And Booth scampered about 60 yards to score on the ground. I can see that the North strategy will be in part to establish the run inside and then when the defense focuses on stopping that, they will do a play action fake and go long. In the last part of the scrimmage, I thought that Dixie’s spread offense was being effective against North. They had an overall advantage in team speed and were able to beat North to the point of attack on several plays. So getting to the ball faster and better open field tackling will need to improve before next Friday.

Second year coach Jason Hart was asked to discuss the scrimmage, “A definite positive was our passing game, we haven’t had that the past couple of years. The quarterback threw well, the receivers were catching the ball, and we had decent pass protection from the line. We do need to work on our running game, up front we need to get better – we need to control the line of scrimmage. And defense we just need to tackle better. We are in position, but we are just not making tackles. Also I would like to see the team be more physical on defense.

On Dalton Overholtz, “We still have our underneath stuff, but with his arm we can go downfield. He has improved in the off season.” The team returns a lot of players in the skill positions, “All of our backs and receivers have 2 and 3 years experience. And our line returns several players who have been playing varsity level football. We expect a lot out of these guys this year. We have a new defensive end that we are expecting big things from.”

On the CCC competition, “Covington is tough to beat and they will be at the top of the league until someone knocks them off. And Ansonsia – they are bringing everyone back from last years playoff team. But you have to be on top of your game every week, because this is a year where anybody can beat any one. The league is much more balanced than it has been in the past. Even the bottom teams are pushing to get up in the middle.” North will open this Friday night against a tough Brookville team that was undefeated in the regular season and went to the playoffs.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

South – Defense Improved
J. C. Tilton

In his comments after the scrimmage coach Shondlemeyer stated that defense was a focus for this season. “Last season we scored a lot of points, but we gave up a lots points too.” After holding Fort Loramie scoreless on Saturday, it was clear that the team was getting the message. They gave up a few plays, but kept Loramie out of the redzone the entire time. The defense also collected some turnovers, grabbing an interception and a couple of fumbles. But the offense returned the favor and gave up an interception and a fumble. Something that needs to be corrected before the season starts.

South had a couple of scores against a stingy Fort Loramie defense. Tyler Leach set up the first one with a 60 yard carry and the other score was from a nice balanced drive where South mixed the pass and run to get into the endzone a second time. Defensively, they collected several sacks and I liked seeing all the Panthers around the ball. There were some starters on the sideline for the scrimmage with injuries, but word is that all but one are planning to be back before the season starts.

Coach Shondlemeyer was asked for comment afterwards, “I like what we did on defense today, last year we did not do a good job of getting to the ball and gang tackling. I saw great effort on defense and lots of red helmets at the point of attack. Offensively I didn’t think our skill guys blocked very well. Also we coughed up the ball a couple of times and good teams - championship teams do not turn the ball over. I do like the way our players stepped it up on our last scoring drive. Senior Miles McCollum escaped the rush and made a play with Steve Balthis.”

Key returning starters, “Well our offensive line is intact from last year. AJ Bantz is a senior 4 year starter. Jesse Koeller at guard, Ross Lundsford at tackle both have 3 years, Bobby Greene is a two year starter. In the backfield, Skylar Reckers is a senior, Tyler Leach is our fullback. Miles McCollum our quarterback, Steve Balthis at running back – all are back from last year. Roy Wysong and Cody Bryant at the receiver round out the offense.

When asked about the top competition in the league, coach mentioned Covington – “They always have a strong tradition up there. But Miami East has got something going, they have skill guys that are going to be a concern. And I really like Ansonia, they really came off the ball well against us last year. And in this conference the physical team wins the conference and so that’s why I like Ansonia – they are going to be a challenge.

Dixie Football – Young but Ready
J. C. Tilton

Dixie graduated a lot of their skill players last year. So they are coming in with a new quarterback, receivers, and running backs. But they do have an experienced line. In their scrimmage this past week against Tri-County North, they started off slow. North seemed to dominate the first part of the scrimmage. But Dixie regrouped, adjusted and they out scored North in last part of the scrimmage. Their final drive was the best drive by either team. Running the spread offense, they threw short possession passes and mixed in the run to make the final score of the night.

The team did mix in a traditional offense, but the spread with their team quickness was most effective. The defense did give up some big plays - two long TD passes and one long TD run, but overall seemed to handle the run fairly well. The middle linebacker, Ethan Hayes, really seemed to have a nose for the ball. But the young team will need to find a way to be more consistent and eliminate those defense breakdowns before week one.

Coach Tarpley was asked to comment after the scrimmage, “You could tell that we were young and inexperienced. But in that last quarter we did a really good job of coming back. That is something we emphasize to the team - to keep coming back. Our offensive line did a pretty good job, but we are really young at quarterback, receiver, and slots. We are really looking for big things from Michael Hall – who has the potential to be one of the better running backs in the league, Dougie Hauser, and Ryan Jordan. On defense we are impressed with Ethan Hayes, a third year starter. He was a state runner up in wrestling. Cody Johnson is another 3 year starter on the line. “

The League, “Monroe and Carlisle will be two of the tougher teams in the Buckeye division this season. Monroe has always done well in our division and Carlisle returns a lot – plus two kids from Valley View left and are now playing for them. We hope to be competitive with them.”

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Bengals are looking at the success of Pittsburgh and are focusing on a run offense. Which makes sense with a young line - run blocking is easier than pass blocking. We will see if they can pull this off. Also it's worth noting that they have yet to sign their number one pick. Getting Andre Smith into camp as soon as possible will help the cause.

OSU is preseason number 6 pick. I would not pick them so high. I think that they are still a year away.

Will be covering some high school scrimmage action this week. Looking forward to this season.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well at the midway point this is shaping up to be a typical SW Ohio sports season. The Reds are out of it after the all-star break. Now football fans are waiting for the next season to begin. Bengals fans will be saying "this is the year", but by the end of October the Bengals gear will go back in the closet. They are supposed to be on TV during camp, that should be interesting to get a peak behind the curtain.

Again OSU will probably end the season with a top 10 ranking, but I don't see this as the year that they will be the hunt for a national championship. Lots of turnover on defense. The offense should be solid at QB and wideout. But the running game will be a question mark. Herron seems to have the most potential at this point. As we all know, Tressel likes to get the lead and sit on it by going to a running game and a stout defense to eat clock. Will he change tactics this season?

At Michigan, Rodriguez had best get things in gear this season and show progress. If he doesn't, then the clock will start ticking for him. University of Cincinnati is starting to eat into OSU's recruiting base. Not huge bites, just nibbles around the edges. I think that they have a shot at a top 25 ranking if they continue to reload as they have been doing under Kelley.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Well I must confess that I have been busy with a new job, etc. So I have taken a hiatus from sports. But things are leveling off and so I can start devoting more time. I have been adding links to local sports content on my Sports web page so that fans who want to keep up with the area news can do so.

Reds - Not off to a good second half, a young team with lots of injuries. A good team should finish around .500. If they can keep that pitching staff intact and add a bat or two, they could do some damage.

Bengals - The best thing that could happen for this team is this - sometime during training camp a group of Bengals takes Chad Johnson behind the dumpster and give him a good thumping. That should shut his mouth. On paper they should be an improved team. Defensively and on offense. But you have the Mike Brown factor, he could ruin a 2 car funeral - but he would find a way to make a profit off of it...

CCC - It is no secret that the CCC had a down year last season. 1-9 on opening day, ouch! But look at what you had - coaching changes for the majority of teams. A perfect storm (with the exception of league winning Miami East) of weak senior classes. So young teams with new coaches is not a recipe for success. But a lot of coaches were able to lay down a foundation for this season. South returns almost everyone, Covington lost only 6 seniors, Ansonia returns a majority of their players and on down the line. I only know of one or two coaching changes, so there is continuity. Last year the CCC was laughed about, but this year I see the league will be much improved as a whole.

I predict a winning record for the CCC on opening day. I predict a dog fight for first place. The Buccs will be competing, Ansonia can lay a claim, Miami East says we graduated a lot, but our backfield returns a lot of yards. I wouldn't be surprised for South and Arcanum be in the hunt. There will be a lot coming back and we will see some real grid iron battles this fall.

Ansonia - returns a good young QB and some strength at running back. They perform well year and year out thanks to coach Hoening. Last season was a winning one and I can't see them faltering this year.

Arcanum - Coming off a winning season with their coach. The Trojans have a strong tradition, rarely do their teams have a losing season. Look for them to be in the mix.

Bethel - Another team that should be better adjusted to their coach. Heard that they have some good linemen. They usually have good backs. We'll see if they can improve on last years record.

Bradford - Railroader football has been struggling this decade. Their current coach is trying to right the ship. I haven't heard anything to indicate that they will do much better than a win or two.

Covington - Returns almost everyone from a playoff team. Have heard that Millers Father will be helping the team. That is pretty much like having two head coaches for your squad. Reports are that the weight room is very well attended. Look for a big strong squad that will be the team to beat once again. Will this be the year that the CCC beats a team from that league up North???

Miami East - They were the beast from the East last season. Graduated a ton of seniors from a playoff team. But return a good backfield. With any blocking, this team could be back in the mix again this season.

Mississenewa Valley - Will they stay respectable or backslide? Another team that is adjusting to new coaching with the loss of Graher.

National Trail - And speaking of the loss of Graher, this is where he ended up. He took the Black Hawks from a team that saw more homecoming parades than anyone else, to respectablity and their first playoffs. If anyone can turn around the CCC doormat Trail Blazers, this is the man. I am not expecting miracles, but I expect Trail to begin the trip to respectability this fall.

Tri County North - I remember some big linemen that lost their stamina, some talent in the backfield, and yet another CCC team with a new coach, Hart. They have had a year to improve on strength and stamina and also they now know the new system. I look for them to be better this year.

Twin Valley South - The same linemen have pretty much been playing together since they were sophomores. They return experience at all positions. If my memory is right they had none or at most 1 or 2 seniors last year. A decent quarterback, speed and strength in the backfield (Thunder and Lightening???). Returning a lot at the skill positions on both sides of the ball. Word is that there is decent attendance in the weight room. Could be a sleeper team that sneaks up on everyone this year. This will be their second year under Shondlemeyer so that will be a plus for them as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reds have a winning record despite scoring few runs overall than their opponents. The young team needs to grow up quick and figure out how to hit. They don't have a real number four hitter, but I don't know how you get a power with trading away the strength of team - pitching.

In about a week the Bengals will be ruining the football careers of another fresh crop of players. Poor guys will come in all smiles and full of vim and vinegar. Then they will leave discouraged and bitter after being dashed against the rocks of futility that line Paul Brown Stadium. Is it any wonder the Bengals bring out the worst in a player. Carl Pickens, Corey Dillon, and now Chad Johnson.

Seriously the team needs to draft offensive linemen high in the draft. Palmer will get reamed next fall without a halfway decent line.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Congrats to Miami East for their District Championship and their narrow win over Anna. They are all tough games from here - wish them the best.

Hats off to the University of Dayton for making it to the Dance. But I watched them in the league tournament. Not so hot. I know they have some injuries to players, but they seemed disjointed and out of sync in both the games I watched. Not a good send off into the tournament. And they start against West Virginia. After seeing both teams play, I have WV coming out of the bracket. I hope that UD proves me wrong.

Saw a blurb in the news that stated that Bengals were looking at running backs in the draft. Hopefully it is just some predraft misinformation that was being leaked. If I were a running back the last team that I want to have draft me is the Bengals. Just a horrible track record. In my opinion 2 picks out of the first 3 rounds should be for offensive linemen. Use Benson for another couple of years then sign another free agent.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

South’s Season Comes to an End
J. C. Tilton
The last team playing basketball in Preble County finally ended their season at UD arena in the second round of the state playoffs. Their opponent was number one seeded Miami East. Their feature player was Dan Hickman who plans to be playing at the next level for next basketball season. South would have their hands full keeping him away from the basket. And in their regular season encounter, the Vikings decisively beat the Panthers. So South had a lot to overcome to have a chance.

Despite a gallant effort, the team could not overcome a rough first quarter against the Vikings. The Viking execute their trapping 1-3-1 zone very well. And it gave the Panthers fits in the first quarter. The team racked up 8 turnovers in the first 8 minutes. At one point the score was 15-2 and the Panther faithful had to sit on their hands as there just wasn’t much to cheer about. The Panthers were in a hole and had to dig their way out.

The next three quarters were almost even between the two teams. Ryan Innis and Clint Spitler did almost all of the scoring for South. But it just wasn’t enough. The team did adjust and the turnovers slowed down. In the second quarter the team stopped the bleeding and managed to keep pace with the Vikings scoring wise. But were down 34-21 at halftime.

Defensively the Panthers assigned a defender to Dan Hickman throughout the game and the remaining players fell into a zone. The Panthers did keep Hickman from scoring from the field in the second half although he still scored with foul shots. With the extra attention to Hickman, this opened up opportunities for the other players. A total of 4 Vikings would score in double figures.
Like the little engine that could the Panthers kept chugging away at the Viking lead. Finally pulling to within 6 points at the 1:21 mark. Fans that had been quiet were vocal as the Panthers made their late game run. But that would be their high water mark for the game. A heart breaking 3 point shot rimmed out and the Vikings would turn around and score at their end to re-extend the lead. Fouling in the last minute wouldn’t help as they made their shots and the South season ended on the wrong end of a 56-46 score.

“We played even for three quarters, if you could have taken away the first quarter then who knows what might have happened”, stated coach Augspurger. We played so hard and came so close - sometimes this is a game of inches. But we have almost everyone coming back and if they all play ball this summer they have the makings of a solid team - but they have to work at it, it’s not going to happen on it’s own.” Comments:

Friday, February 27, 2009

State Tournament - One Advance, Two Fall

J. C. Tilton
Thursday night was the opening round of the state tournament for three area teams, the season would halt for two and so only one would advance to the next round. The first game had familiar foes Twin Valley South and Preble Shawnee. This would be the third meeting between the two teams, but the first one at a neutral site. The previous games had taken place at Shawnee’s home court. The series was tied with one win apiece, with both games being hard fought. Fans were looking forward to yet another battle on the hardwood.

But Thursdays game was anticlimactic. South used a stifling defense and a strong presence on the boards to control the game. Shawnee had a tough time getting anything going offensively against the Panthers. South used to the same zone as they had in the previous encounter. But Shawnee was cold from outside - a good many of their points came from driving to the basket. And any rebounds from missed shots were quickly scooped up by the Panthers.

South’s scoring was consistent. Shawnee showed a type of zone in the opening quarter, but went to man to man when South drilled some three point shots. Then the Panthers moved the ball inside and continued to rack up the points. At the half South was up, but not by a lot. Shawnee was down 19-8 with seconds left when Dylan Brown hit a buzzer beater to give Shawnee some momentum going into the locker room.

But in the second half the wheels fell off the Shawnee cart. South charged out of the locker room and built an impressive 18 point lead. Shawnee just couldn’t mount a response. When the horn sounded, South won 50-35. Tony Augspurger was ecstatic about the teams performance, “This was one of the best games we had for doing the things we laid out in practice. We talked about what we had to do to for each move they would make and to their credit we did everything we discussed in practice. Innis and Walker did a particularly good job on the boards. Ryan Innis did a good job of keeping his composure when Shawnee gave him extra attention. We have not been a good third quarter team and I told them in the locker room that if we want to be a tournament team, we have to win third quarters - and tonight we did that.”

Roger Ellis on the Arrows, “We plain didn’t shoot well tonight. South gave up some good looks, but we didn’t take advantage. We were hesitant with our offense. And when South came out strong in the second half, we didn’t respond. We held them to 50 points and if we could have generated any offense at all, we could have been in the game. But 5 out of our last 6 games we haven’t scored 50 points, you can’t win games like that.”

The Dixie Greyhounds drew a tough Dayton Christian team in the opening round. It has been a disappointing season for the team and although the team gave a good effort, the Crusaders just had too many weapons for the Greyhounds to stop. The team was tentative in the first quarter. Caught some momentum in the second quarter, and closed the gap with DC. Seniors Matt Risner and Nick Worley scored during this run. But just when the game got interesting, Dayton Christian found another gear and left the Greyhounds behind. They went on to win 57-38.

Joe Miller was unhappy with the loss, but pleased with his seniors. “They are good kids, and they didn’t quit out there - they played hard. Dayton Christian is a good team and are loaded with seniors. We played some young kids today. They did well too and we talked in the locker room about next summer, what we want to do as a team to get where Dayton Christian is today. It’s been a tough season, but next season will be nice - we’ll be alright.” Comments:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

National Trail - New Football Coach

I like the selection that National Trail made for their new head football coach. It is Coach Graher formerly from Mississinewa Valley. The Black Hawks for a number of years were the team that you scheduled for homecoming. Lucky to eek out one or two wins a season. But Graher turned that program around and made it respectable. Even getting them into the playoffs for the first time ever. So here is a guy with proven track record.

He is being thrown into a similiar situation. Trail can count the number of winning seasons that they have had on one hand - and still have fingers to spare. Sports in general at Trail have really fallen off, although there are signs of life in the 2008-09 school year. I think that it is a good decision and I would like to see what one of the biggest school districts in the CCC can accomplish.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No Love Here

J. C. Tilton
Saturday was Valentines day. But there was no love in Preble Shawnee’s gymnasium as the Arrows squared off for a defensive battle against their neighboring adversary, the Twin Valley South Panthers. Veteran coaches Roger Ellis and Tony Augspurger had their respective teams ready to play on Saturday. South was trying to rebound from a Friday night thumping from league leading Miami East. But revenge was on their mind - Shawnee had beat the Panthers in December at the Holiday tournament. Shawnee was likewise trying to rebound from a Friday loss - a narrow 2 point loss against Carlisle.

Both teams played shut down defense in the first half. South played in a zone which they stuck with all night. Shawnee played some man to man and varied their half court defense. They did press against South, it was not too effective in the first half, but in the final stanza, their press would generate turnovers. The South defense was strong inside initially - blocking several shots and negating the Shawnee inside game.

South was starting to accumulate fouls and with about 4 minutes left had their 7th. During the game Shawnee would toe the line more often as South, but would shoot 53% from the foul line. Meanwhile South would make the most of their opportunities and their foul shooting was almost 80%. There were several lead changes in the second quarter. It looked like Shawnee would take a lead into half time, but Jordan Combs nailed a buzzer beater to give South a 23-21 halftime lead.

In the third quarter South kept making shots to keep their lead. Every time Shawnee would close the gap a South player would make a timely shot to extend their lead. Ryan Nisius and Clint Spitler both hit key three pointers during this stretch. Eric Walker would get his 3rd foul in the third quarter and at the start of the 4th he got another and was sent to the bench. Shawnee turned up the heat by going back to the press - and now were generating turnovers. Post player Levi Robbins put in some critical minutes in the fourth quarter. He scored 6 points in a row when South needed a momentum boost.

South held off the Shawnee onslaught and went into a slowdown offense. Shawnee fouled, but fouled the wrong guy. Ryan Innis would coolly score 5 points from the line in the last minute of the game and would have a total of 10 charity points for the night. South would win 54-49.
“It was a hard fought game from both of our perspectives,” stated Coach Augspurger from TVS, “Both teams are less than we thought we would be at this point in the season. We’ve both lost games we thought we should have won. I know Roger [Ellis] feels the same way. Our second half was great tonight. We had foul trouble, but we made some shots in the second half. We haven’t always used good basketball skills this year, but tonight we took a step in the right direction.”

Rockets Catch Fire in Second Half

J. C. Tilton
The Tri-County North Panthers fell into a tough district in the Division Three State tournament. It is a murder’s row of teams - most of which have winning records. The strength of the district shows when last years state champs - Versailles only drew a 5 seed. Their opponent was the Anna Rockets, a battle tested team from the Shelby-Mercer county area.

North seemed to be a bit intimidated in the first quarter. Anna capitalized by scoring the first 7 points of the game. The North defense stepped up and started to generate some turnovers and these turnovers became points. Mallory Ullery scored, then Sarah Whittaker scored 3 fast break layups in a row, and senior Emily Ervin chipped in a bucket. And although the Panthers were down after one quarter, it was by just 6 points.

One pattern became evident early. The Rockets were substituting freely while the Panthers were limiting their substitutions. Anna used full court pressure during a good part of the game to help tire the Panthers. They did not generate many turnovers from the press, but did make them work the ball down the court each possession. North did try to use a zone thru most of the game to save the legs of their players. Anna countered the zone with a single post spread offense to try to spread the North defense thin.

In the second quarter North had a strong finish. After being down by double figures, they scored the last six points of the quarter and kept the gap at 6 - being down 27-21. Kindra Mullins scored from the field just before the half, but the rest of the points came from free throws as North made a point of driving to the basket against the tough man to man half court defense of Anna.

The Rockets blasted off in the second half. North assigned Abbie Schlater to Anna’s Carrie Watkins who had been an offensive dynamo. She would end up with a game high 19 points. But once North slowed down her down, the remainder of the Anna team stepped it up. Both offensively and defensively. And North’s woes were later compounded when 6 foot post player Mallory Ullery got her 5th foul. Her inside presence had helped keep Anna away from the basket. Scoring inside and outside the Rockets built an insurmountable lead. By the time that the dust settled, Anna had a comfortable 55-33 victory.

Coach Music was disappointed with the loss, “They did a good job of taking Rachel Heindl out of the game. We had a good run at the end of the first half. But they just dominated in the second half.” On his seniors, “Rachel Heindl scored over 1100 points for us and was a competitor. Sarah Whittaker pound for pound, inch for inch may be the most hard nosed player I ever coached. She keeps getting after people on defense and is a vocal leader for the team. Emily Ervin sparked us in several games with her three’s. She was a real team player throughout the season.

Finally, “We take pride in our record as a 13-8 team. We won the mythical Preble County championship as we swept the other teams. There was a late start to the season since I took over at the last minute. I am looking forward to next year with our returning players and being able to get them ready this summer.”

Scoring for the Panthers: Sara Brierly 3; Emily Ervin 3; Rachel Heindl 6; Kindra Mullins 5; Mallory Ullery 8; Sarah Whitaker 8. Comments:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rachel Heindl: Congrats to her for scoring her 1000th career point earlier this month. On the the subject of TCN - the girls team are in a tough DIII district bracket. Wow, what a murderers row of teams. Almost every team in that district has a winning record. The Panthers will really need to scrap to advance.

On the other hand, the girls DIV district at Brookville has several local teams that could advance.

Poor Preble Shawnee - another year without a win? Time is running out. A new coach has not made a difference. Picking up a basketball before October would help. I do know that in both of the last two summers that the coaches tried to do summer programs - but no one would show. And the last two winters you can see the results.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

South Clashes With Trail

J. C. Tilton
National Trail has had a resurgent season this year thanks in part to freshman 6 footer Kate Yeazel. She has been able to score in double figures almost at will this season. This has lead to a rebound of the Blazer fortunes. They are playing .500 ball this season after a series of losing seasons. South is struggling this season. They are a team of guards, with little height. So they would need to find a way to counterbalance Yeazel’s inside game with speed. The result was a closely fought game with several lead changes.

South sprang out to an early 6-0 lead. They were double teaming Yeazel every time she touched the ball. At first this was effective but finally Trail found other ways to score and closed the gap and the first quarter ended with a 9-9 tie. South employed a number of defenses - man to man and several zone offenses. But Trail showed the ability to score from outside and it was difficult to stay in a zone for very long. Trail stayed in man to man thru out the game. Placing Stacy Davis against South’s leading scorer Adelee Gates.

Yeazel was able to score more on the South defense in the second quarter - she had all of the Blazers 10 points. Trail employed a spread offense to loosen up the South defense and when South tried to trip them up by going to a zone, they were still able to get the ball inside to her. The half ended with Trail up 19-18.
This season South has had problems in the third quarter and this game was not an exception. They had two turnovers, missed foul shots and open shots from the field in the first 4 minutes of the half. Finally coach Mabry had seen enough and called a time out to get the team back on track. But Trail had already taken advantage and rang up a 10 point lead thanks to Kate Yeazel and Alyssa Joyce. The time out had the desired effect. Now it was South’s turn to go on a run and they closed the gap by slashing to the basket. Adelee Gates, Taylor Creech, and Whitney Wysong (4 free throws) all contributed to the South run which allowed South to pull within 2 of Trail by the end of the third.

Another factor that fell into the Panthers favor was Yeazel getting her third foul in the third quarter which sent her to the bench. And early in the fourth quarter, she would get her fourth. With Yeazel out of the game, South was able to get a small lead. But with the game on the line Yeazel would reappear in the last 5 minutes of the quarter. South had a 4 point lead at this point. But during this critical stretch, South could not find the basket and began missing shots. Alyssa Joyce was a big factor for Trail, scoring 2 big baskets during their run to the finish. Her second basket would tie the game at 41 with 1:47 on the clock. Later with :28 on the clock Yeazel would hit one of two free throws to give Trail the lead. South would try to set up a last second shot, but the attempt did not fall and they fouled on the rebound. This set up the final score of 43-41 in favor of the Blazers.

South Coach Mabry on the game, “Our girls played well, it just came down to who would score the final bucket. We had to foul on their end and they made the bucket. And we tried to set up an out of bounds play, but we couldn’t get the ball where we wanted it.”

Trail Coach Ferguson, “We tried to pull ahead there in the second half. But give South credit they really came back. I thought that our girls played really well. Our bread and butter is our inside game. They did a good job of taking it away early by doubling down. But our girls stayed with it. And Alyssa Joyce ended up with a critical rebound at the end of the game that sealed the win for us.” On defense, “We knew going in that Gates was their leading scorer and we assigned Stacy Davis to her - she held her to 9 points so she really hustled.”

Sunday, February 01, 2009

South Outguns North

J. C. Tilton
Both North and South came into the game knowing that they would need to shut down the other teams leading scorer. Ryan Innis has lead the way for TVS and Brandon McAdams has been the leading scorer for TCN during this season. Finding a way to stop or at least slow down these two players would be a part of each teams defensive strategy.
North employed a man to man defense for most of the game - switching defenders on Innis. South implemented a box and one defense to start the game. This was effective for the first quarter and a half of play. North couldn’t get anything started offensively and South’s Innis had 15 first half points. At one point, South was up 30 to 12; it was starting to look like a blow out.

But finally the lethargic North offense woke up and they went on a 15-3 run to close the gap towards the end of the second quarter and at the half they were down 35-27. They continued their momentum in the third quarter. Closing the deficit to 5 with about a minute and a half left in the quarter. The North defense slowed down Innis, holding him to 4 during this run.

South entered the fourth quarter with resolve and went to work. South needed to regain the momentum and looked for someone to step it up a notch. Both Clint Spitler and Ryan Innis answered for South - finished strong, doing the bulk of the scoring in the stretch run. Both players attacked the basket and the North defense was back on their heels as the South lead lengthened. North tried vainly to press in the last couple of minutes as South countered with a slowdown and cruised to a 67-55 win.

“I thought that we passed well and Clint [Spitler] did a good job of looking up the floor,” stated Coach Augspurger after the win, “Our offensive rebounding went well, which is something we haven’t done much this year. We pounded the glass pretty hard in the second half.” On Ryan Innis, “He has done well for the team this year. One thing he did real well tonight was go after the boards, he got beat on pretty well, but fought hard for rebounds. And I don’t know how many assists Clint Spitler had tonight, but he had a bundle. He did a good job of taking care of the ball.”

Coach Woodworth had praise for South, “They know how to pass the ball, who to get it to at the right time. We were down by 18 points and outplayed them in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. But when we needed a stop tonight, we couldn’t get it done. We allowed Innis too many second shots in the paint. Defense and rebounding wins basketball games. When we learn to do that consistently then we will have something.”

Scoring for TVS: Spitler 16; Innis 25; Burns 1; Combs 7; Smith 4; Nisius 3; Balthis 3; Walker 8. Scoring for TCN: Broughton 2; Burnside 16; Werner 9; McAdams 12; Williams 3; Robinson 13. comments: