Friday, November 30, 2007

Flyers lean on defense, special teams

Marion Local had just enough offense.
But the Flyers relied big time on their defense and special teams.
It was defense and special teams that drove Marion Local to the Division V football state championship Friday with a 20-14 victory over Youngstown Ursuline. This is the Flyers' fourth football state championship.
First, the defense.
Defensive end Luke Bertke had three sacks, seven tackles and the game-winning 19-yard interception for a touchdown.
Linebacker Greg Koesters had 12 tackles and blocked a punt.
The entire defense held Ursuline's running game in check to a tune of 98 yards on the ground. While Ursuline quarterback Lamar McQueen got loose for 69 yards, tailback and 1,100-yard rusher Darrell Mason was held to 11 yards on 12 carries.
That might has well be nothing.
When the Flyers trailed 7-0, they got a blocked punt from Koesters and Dustin Heitkamp recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. That tied the game at 7.
And with the game tied at 14 in the final quarter, Bertke picked off a lobbed middle screen and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.
Sure, quarterback Chris Stucke ran for 70 yards and threw for 76 with a touchdown.
And Ben Schaefer did run for 70 yards.
But, in the end, when the Flyers needed a state championship-type play, they turned to their defense and special teams.
And that's why the Flyers are 15-0 and state champions for the second straight year.

Flyers lean on defense, special teams

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cordero to boost woeful pen

It's a start.
Signing Brewers closer Franciso Cordero is certainly a move in the right direction.
Reds owner Bob Castellini freed up over $40 million for four years to sign Cordero, a true closer. This should help plug up a bullpen that ranked last in the league last year.
It also will move David Weathers from the closer role back to the set-up role, where he beefs up a terrible set-up staff. Super rookie Jared Burton will also help the set-up staff.
The problem is the bullpen still includes Mike Stanton, Gary Majewski and Todd Coffey. All three were awful last year.
So more bullpen help is needed.
The Reds also need at least one starter to go with Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.
A trade might be the only way to provide help here. Someone like Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Dunn or Josh Hamilton would have to be dealt.
For now, signing Cordero is a huge step forward.
It's the perfect way for the Reds to kick off the hot stove league.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coldwater faces the supreme test

The blowouts are over for Coldwater.
This week the Cavaliers face six-time state champion Youngstown Cardinal Mooney for the Division IV state championship.
But before we spend too much time bowing down to Mooney, let's face one fact:
This is a pretty special Coldwater team.
Cory Klenke is a strong-armed, accurate passer at the center of the Cavs' spread offense.
Ryan Geier is a speedy wide receiver on the outside. Tony Harlamert has run for 27 touchdowns, caught 10 TDs and run back two interceptions for scores.
Then, there's the Coldwater defense, led by sack machine Tyler Kunk.
It's the wide-open Coldwater offense vs. the run-happy Mooney attack.
Mooney may be favored.
But never be surprised if a Midwest Athletic Conference team wins.
Marion Local and Coldwater will be trying to make it three straight years that two MAC teams have won state titles in the same year.
It's the MAC.
Don't be surprised if they do it again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Marion Local impressive again

Marion Local finally had a "this is it" moment.
The Flyers were pressed to the limit Friday night in the Division V state semifinals against Patrick Henry.
Marion Local trailed 20-14 early in the third quarter.
That's when the Marion Local offensive line took over. The Flyers scored 28 unanswered points to pull away with a 42-20 victory over the Patriots.
And, yes, Patrick Henry quarterback Tom Busch missed the second half with a separated shoulder. Certainly, that was a factor in the final score.
But Marion Local's running game ended up with 297 yards for the night. Quarterback Chris Stucke ran for 110, Ben Schaefer ran for 91 and Ben Smith had 73 yards. The Patriots never stopped any of them.
On the other side, Marion Local's defense held Drew Kuesel, who had 221 yards last week, to 48 yards on 17 carries before he left with just under six minutes to go with a knee injury.
Running the ball, mixing in the pass and playing tough defense against the run.
So far, it's been a winning formula for the 14-0 Flyers.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nuxhall: A friend to all who heard him

My best memories of Joe Nuxhall weren't the times I talked to him.
They were the times I'd sit on the front porch with my dad listening to him on the radio.
Nuxhall, the longtime color man of Reds' radio, passed away this past weekend.
Everyone who knew or heard Nuxhall on the air liked him. He was a hard person not to like.
Nuxhall had a passion for baseball and his broadcasts came across that way. His "get out of here" or "stay fair" calls on Reds' home runs were legendary.
So were his interviews with players like Tony Perez.
I'll never forget how hard my dad laughed at some of the things Nuxhall said on the air, some of them intentional, some not.
In the end, Nuxhall was an everyday guy from Hamilton, who became a major league baseball player. He never forgot his roots or the fans who adored him.
A few years ago, he came to Lima for his book signing. Over 200 people waited in line to shake his hand or get his autograph.
Most just wanted to say thanks for how much he had meant to them over the years.
With each person who said, "Thanks Joe for all those years on the air," he nodded and said, "Thanks, I really appreciate that."
And he really did. He was that kind of guy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pleasant stuffs O-G

Ottawa-Glandorf ran at will against Fostoria.
Against Marion Pleasant, it went nowhere.
Marion Pleasant's speed and quickness, especially on defense, controlled the Titans in its 48-21 victory over O-G in the Division IV regional semifinals Saturday at Tiffin.
Nowhere was this more evident that watching O-G super sophomore Logan Kaufman, who steamrolled for 270 yards and three touchdowns last week.
Saturday, as soon as Kaufman touched the ball, he was hit by two Pleasant defenders. Kaufman did roll his ankle in the first half, but played the second half. O-G coach Ken Schriner wouldn't use Kaufman's ankle injury or the ankle injury to quarterback Jake Meyer as an excuse.
O-G needed its 'A' game to win Saturday. It didn't get it.
O-G threw four interceptions and botched a punt.
Kaufman finished with 32 yards on 14 carries.
Here's the bottom line: On Saturday, Marion Pleasant was quicker, faster and the better team.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reds whiff on Lidge

The Reds badly need bullpen help.
Brad Lidge would have helped, but they weren't able to get him.
Lidge was dealt from the Astros to the Phillies for three minor league players. The minor league players were a pitcher, an outfielder and a third baseman.
In order to get Lidge, the Reds would have had to give up a top everyday player, like third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, or a top-rung minor league prospect. The Reds weren't willing to give up a Joey Votto or minor league player of the year Jay Bruce.
That's understandable.
Votto and Bruce are the team's future.
But the Reds have to understand that this bullpen hole must be filled. The club also needs at least another starter.
We'll see how the winter plays out.
But right now, giving up Encarnacion, Adam Dunn or Josh Hamilton is the only way the problem will be fixed.
So for now, Lidge will be the Phillies' closer.
And the Reds are still looking.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Kaufman crushes Fostoria

It was the Ottawa-Glandorf offensive line.
And it was 198-pound sophomore Logan Kaufman running behind it.
That was enough for O-G to roll to a 35-18 victory over Fostoria in the opening round of the Division IV football playoffs Saturday at Fostoria.
Kaufman bulldozed straight ahead for 270 yards on 38 carries with three touchdowns. He had TD runs of 44, 41 and 7 yards.
I know we have mentioned it on these blogs before, but it is worth mentioning again. Kaufman is one of the better sophomore running backs I've seen in a while. He should put up some big numbers at O-G before his career is over.
And enough can't be said of his offensive line with left tackle A.J. Hohenbrink and center Doug Cramer leading the way. He had some huge holes to get through, then ran over people after that.
O-G quarterback Jake Meyer can throw. He proved that against Shawnee in the WBL title game. But he didn't have to throw against Fostoria, completing only 2 of 5 for 52 yards and one touchdown.
Next up for O-G is Marion Pleasant.