Remember the positives and forget the losses
Here today, gone tomorrow.
That’s the feeling that surrounds the prep football season.
While the regular season sprints past at Usain Bolt-type speed, the livelihood of the majority of area teams in the Ohio postseason went even quicker.
A week ago in this space, we were excited that the OVAC had qualified with nine spots in the Ohio playoffs.
After a week of play, we’re disheartened by the fact that only two are still practicing today in preparation for this weekend.
St. Clairsville and Steubenville – the two teams that at the start of the season expected to be impressive – are back to work beginning preparations for the Division IV and III regional semifinals, respectively.
For Bellaire, Fort Frye, Harrison Central, Indian Creek, River, Shadyside and Steubenville Central, the focus has shifted to basketball and wrestling after one-game stays in the playoffs.
While we’re excited for the two victors, we’ve found ourselves a little discouraged by the number of losses.
All of the teams listed above had impressive regular seasons. Let’s be honest, qualifying for the Ohio postseason is no easy task and making a run through the month of November is even more difficult since it’s another half a season if you’re to win the whole thing.
The excitement of getting there is wonderful, but the agony of losing and playing that final game after three or four months of practicing and playing games takes some serious time to get over.
Take Shadyside, for instance.
The Tigers accomplished something this season that hadn’t been down in 35 years when they finished 10-0.
However, they lost last Friday on their home field, 19-18, to Berlin Center Western Reserve.
The question becomes: how will that team be remembered?
I know how I will remember it. I’ll remember the undefeated season and the OVAC 2A title especially when the banner is hoisted into the gym rafters after they receive it in the spring.
But, unfortunately, as much as it shouldn’t be the case, there are some who will only remember the playoff loss because the cruel reality of sports – at any level – is it’s a what have you done for me lately world.
The thing to keep in mind is 192 qualified for the postseason and on the morning of Dec. 2, only six will wake up feeling good about themselves.
So, why have the Ohio Valley teams found such tough sledding in the playoffs of late?
There’s a myriad of reasons with everything from regional assignments, tough draws, not being tested enough during the regular season. However, I believe the dwindling population of the Ohio Valley is playing a much bigger role than we originally thought.
Whatever the case may be, it was a tough weekend of playoff football. Actually, it’s been a tough fall for our area when you consider that only seven area runners qualified for state cross country, one volleyball team advanced from the sectional and nary a soccer team won more than one tournament game.
I would put the passion for high school sports in the Ohio Valley up against any area in the state. The coaching is exceptional and there are some exceptionally talented players, but there just isn’t enough depth or as many talented players as there are in some areas of the state.
I tell people this all the time because I think some lose sight of it, but Ohio is a REALLY BIG state and there are good teams, players and coaches everywhere.
So, congratulate the players and coaches for what they’ve accomplished this season and don’t dwell on how it ended because a lot of work went into just getting there, which once again, is no small feat.
And since there are just two OVAC teams remaining in the Ohio playoffs, get behind them and wish them well. They’re representing our entire area, not just their respective communities.
Unfortunately, injuries are a part of football and sports. It’s never good when a kid goes down with an injury of any type, but Harrison Central senior Maurtice Hython and Bellaire junior Spencer Badia both were injured in their respective games this weekend.
According to both of their coaches, they’re going to undergo MRI’s this week to determine the severity of the injuries.
Both Hython and Badia put forth brilliant seasons this year. Hython ran for nearly 2,000 yards to lead the area and Badia, who returned to the game after bracing up his knee, passed for 3,001 yard, which was by far the best in the Ohio Valley.
Hopefully, the results of the MRI turn out well for both young men.
Many people – including myself – were hitting refresh on their web browsers much of the day Sunday awaiting the site assignments for this week’s regional semifinal round.
While geography is supposed to be the biggest factor, it’s by no means the only factor.
First and foremost, a site has to apply to host. Not every field wants to hold a playoff game because it’s a lot of work and time for the tournament manager. Don’t believe me? Ask Shadyside’s John Triveri or St. Clairsville’s Kelly Rine about their workloads during last week’s first round.
Capacity, whether or not the field has turf, restrooms, parking and availability are all considered before the OHSAA assigns a game.
Having said that, geography is the number one concern and the fact that top-seeded St. Clairsville has to make a 2-hour plus drive to Logan and Piketon is making a 60-mile drive is baffling.
There are going to be some anxious and nervous coaches in the Ohio Valley come early May or so when the OHSAA announces the new divisions and regional assignments.
Keep in mind, the OHSAA expands to seven divisions, so there’s going to be a lot of jockeying take place. The regions as you know them this season could look significantly different.
CHECKING IN ON THE LOCALS
STEUBENVILLE BIG Red product Todd Filtz, who is now the head coach at Canton McKinley, will get a chance at some revenge on arch-rival Massillon Saturday night. The Bulldogs and Tigers will meet for the second time in three weeks at Kent State University’s Dix Stadium. The winner will advance to the Region 2 final.
TWO OF the schools we’ve followed in the suburban Columbus area were eliminated on Saturday. Dublin Coffman, which had three players with local connections, and Pickerington Central, which featured Brent Walton, whose parents are Ohio Valley natives, were both eliminated Saturday night.
COLUMBUS BISHOP Hartley still is playing as if its the absolute team to beat in Division IV. It took Upper Sandusky completely apart in cruising to the second round Friday night. Hartley features Notre Dame recruit Jacob Matuska, who is a talented blocker at tight end, and a stud at linebacker. He scored a touchdown this past week.
NORWOOD ADVANCED to the second round of the Division IV, Region 16 tournament with a, 21-14, victory against Middletown Bishop Fenwick. One of the Norwood assistant coaches is former Bellaire High standout Matt Sherwood.
CINCINNATI MOELLER was a 43-21 victor against Huber Heights Wayne Saturday night. Spencer Iacovone, whose parents are Ohio Valley natives, threw four touchdowns in the game. The Crusaders will take on Lakota East Saturday at 2 p.m. at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.
If you know of other area natives or folks with area ties taking part in the Ohio playoffs or playoffs all over nationwide, drop me an email.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org