Heart of Ohio Sports Observer Final Edition 2023

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Published on
November 22, 2023

Just like that, the season is over. 

Like I said many times, the football season is just about as fast as it gets. It feels like all of us were at Mohawk on a rainy Thursday night wondering if the weather was going to be a factor as the Warriors host Tiffin Calvert in what proved to be a pretty darn good game. 

Now, it is in the rear-view. 

I want to again thanks Nate Mullins for allowing me to share some thoughts on our local teams just about every week. I appreciate that. 

I’ve got a few more football games up my sleeve yet, but this upcoming weekend could be it for me. Follow me on Twitter below as I’ll be in Sidney on Friday for a Division V state semifinal between Liberty Center and Germantown Valley View. If that doesn’t tickle your noggin, come back Saturday as I’ll be at Tiffin University’s home playoff game against Slippery Rock. 

Follow me on X (Twitter): @joshuamorgret 

Tiffin Columbian (11-3): You can easily argue that the Tornadoes played their best all-around game this year when it trounced Medina Buckeye, 35-0, in the regional semifinals at Bellevue High School two weeks ago. That was just the second time this year Columbian has kept an opponent under 12 points after a 44-7 win at Norwalk in Week 9. Despite the big win, Columbian faced probably its toughest opponent of the season last week against Toledo Central Catholic and were overpowered, 41-6. TCC won the Division II state championship last year, but were dropped to Division III in the most recent enrollment numbers. The Irish were just too good after the teams exchanged early scores. For the season, Brayden Roggow completed 241-of-351 passes for 3,357 yards and 31 touchdowns for TC. On the ground, Damien Brockington finished with 272 carries for 2,190 yards and 36 TDs. Through the air, Jack Koerper caught 70 passes for 948 yards with seven scores while Bryce Roggow (69-826-9) and Brady Gooding (47-965-12) were both huge options. I would think all five will be receiving all-Ohio honors shortly. It was a tremendous season for the Tornadoes, who tied a school-record with 11 wins. Coach Judd Lutz moved into second-place for wins at Columbian. Let’s take a quick look at Columbian’s schedule. The Tornadoes lost to Bishop Watterson, Perkins, and Toledo Central Catholic. Watterson and TCC will both play in state semifinals this week in Division III while Perkins lost in a Division IV regional final last week. TCC will take on Chardon – who the Tornadoes beat in perhaps the wildest game of the season. Shoutout to beefing up the schedule to compete with some of the heavyweights in the state. 

Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE 

Hopewell-Loudon (12-1): We all knew Region 26 was pretty wide-open, but the Chieftains had a chance. H-L ran into a tough Patrick Henry team and came up short, 26-14, two weeks ago in the regional semifinals. Patrick Henry is a team that started 6-0, lost to heavyweights Liberty Center and Archbold, but have won five straight games (the first three by 26 points or more) since. Patrick Henry followed up the H-L win by taking down McComb for the regional title and will play in the state semifinals this Friday. The Chieftains trailed 14-0 before it even had possession against Patrick Henry. Evan Kreais threw a pair of touchdown passes, but the 14-0 deficit was too much. Kreais finishing the season 196-of-282 passing for 2,684 yards and finishes with 30 touchdown passes. Braylon Martinez caught one of those TD scores and finished with 257 carries for 1,424 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. Blake Berrier led the receivers with 81 catches for 1,241 yards and 14 TDs. It was a great year for Hopewell-Loudon, winning the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division – as it was picked to do in the pre-season media poll. 

Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE 

Carey (10-3): In a contest pitting the last two Region 22 champions, Columbus Grove was just too much to handle for Carey as the Bulldogs pulled away for a 37-21 win at Fostoria two weeks ago. That is the most points Carey gave up in a game this season. In no shocking twist, the three games in which the Blue Devils gave up their most points in a game, they lost all three. There were no shootout wins for Carey this season. The Blue Devils won the Northern 10 Athletic Conference again this season and was the last team standing. Carey finished with a whopping 3,447 yards on the ground this season on 572 carries with 53 touchdowns. Eli Steen led the way with 171 attempts for 1,193 yards and 15 touchdowns. Carter Smiley added 110 rushes for 680 yards and eight TDs while Austin Niederkohr added 69 carries for 554 yards and 11 scores. Just an all-around great season for Carey. The Blue Devils easily could have gone down the hole after starting 0-2, but they bounced back to win 10 consecutive games before the loss to Columbus Grove. And listen, Grove is good. They won this region last year before running into Marion Local and beat Bluffton to win it again last week. They’ll play in the state semifinals this Friday too. 

Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE 

Tiffin University (11-0): It was another dominating performance by Tiffin when the Dragons topped Findlay, 26-7 two weeks ago. I was there and honestly, it wasn’t even that close of a game. Tiffin led 26-0 at one point before a late touchdown by Findlay. The Dragons’ defense was really the key here. Findlay punted seven times, turned the ball over on downs twice, fumbled, and Caleb Streat had a pick-6 touchdown interception for Tiffin. Offensively, Tiffin got three rushing touchdowns by bruising back Carson Gresock among his 11 carries for 71 yards. Devin Nelson led the team with 15 rushes for 124 yards. Keegan Ray completed 10-of-17 passes for 100 yards on a day where Tiffin didn’t necessarily need huge numbers from him. Again, this team hasn’t missed a beat since quarterback Kason Martin got hurt a month ago. Going into Nov. 11, Tiffin was second in Region 1, meaning a home game was waiting for the Dragons. However, the only team ahead of them in the region, Slippery Rock, got blitzed by Kutztown, sending Tiffin to the No. 1 seed. The Dragons had a bye this past week and will open postseason play Saturday at home at Frost-Kalnow against Slippery Rock. What looked like a regional final to be played at Slippery Rock will be a second-round meeting between Tiffin and The Rock in Tiffin. The Dragons finished the final American Football Coaches Association poll ranked No. 9 in the country. 

Current season status: vs. Slippery Rock in Region 1 semifinals, Saturday at 12 p.m. at Frost-Kalnow Stadium 

Heidelberg (6-4): Somehow, Heidelberg continues to churn out winning seasons. Now, the 2023 campaign didn’t go exactly to plan, but with the regular-season finale, a 31-17 win over Capital, the Student Princes finished 6-4. Coach Scott Donaldson has not had a losing season since taking over before the 2016 season. In fact, the Student Princes haven’t finished under .500 since 2009. That is incredible for a Division III school in tiny ol’ Tiffin. Against Capital, Carey graduate Lance Rickle completed 11-of-23 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown while running 15 times for 54 yards. Montavious Yearby led Heidelberg with 30 rushes for 119 yards and a score. It will be interesting to see if quarterback Drew Sims stays for another year for the Student Princes. He is among those that have another year of eligibility due to COVID. His season this year was cut short by an injury, so will the hunger and desire to play another year be there, or will he move on? I can see the argument for both sides. If not, Rickle might be the guy next year for Heidelberg. Rickle was basically the fourth or fifth option this season after Sims was hurt, but he by far had the most success after Sims. I want to give a shoutout to Yearby for finishing with a career-high 1,118 yards rushing this season. Yearby has been a constant for the ‘Berg the past few years. Donaldson recruits character first and not many are better than Yearby. 

Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE 

About the Author

Owner of Mullins Entertainment Productions, and head of sales at Heart of Ohio Sports, Nate has an associates degree in Music Business and over a decade of experience in media. Along with his duties at HOOS, he is a devoted husband, a father of three boys, Bailey, Gabe, and Issac, and he also volunteers his time as a board member for local non-profit Tiffin Youth Football. Follow him on twitter at @N8_Mullins, or email nmullins@heartofohiosports.com.

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