Cover Photo Credit: Tommy Hall - @realtommycash
And just like that, we are halfway through the regular season.
It feels like we just started five weeks ago, but here we are in the middle of playoff pushes while conference slates heat up, or in some cases, are just getting underway.
It's a big week ahead for our local teams. A couple teams are desperate for wins while others are state-ranked and getting some love.
Starting next week, we will add a note at the bottom of each team’s write-up on where they stand when it comes to the playoffs. A couple of the teams like Columbian and Calvert are almost locks while a couple will come down to the final week.
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Tiffin Columbian (4-1): One team that bounced back after a tough loss was the Tornadoes. After losing on the road to Bishop Watterson, Columbian topped Huron at home, 35-17. Huron is a consistently good and tough program, so it’s another nice win for the Tornadoes. Against Huron, Brayden Roggow completed 18-of-23 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown while Damien Brockington ran 26 times for 162 yards and two TDs. That is the kind of balance Columbian desires and when the Tornadoes get that balance, they are going to be tough to stop. For the season, Roggow is 101-of-150 for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brockington adds 119 rushes for 787 yards and 12 scores. The receiving game continues to be balanced as Jack Koerper leads the way with 29 receptions for 330 yards and a TD while Bryce Roggow (28-325-4) and Brady Gooding (17-334-5) are viable options. Columbian travels to Sandusky this week. The Blue Streaks have won three in a row after starting 0-2. Jason Henlon has completed 56-of-86 passes for 605 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions for Sandusky. It’s one Columbian wants to win before facing Clyde and Bellevue the next two weeks.
Tiffin Calvert (5-0): The Senecas continue to just roll the past three weeks after winning their first two games by a total of three points. Calvert was in control pretty much the whole game in a 42-25 win over Gibsonburg. I was at Frost-Kalnow Stadium on Saturday night and there’s just a vibe in the air that this team is pretty special. The Senecas have scored at least 35 points in their last four games – something that had not been done since 2018. Harry Shultz completed 8-of-14 passes for 71 yards while Jacob Rombach tallied 10 carries for 140 yards and two scores on the ground. Cal Warnement added 10 rushes for 87 yards and two TDs. Like Columbian, the Senecas are getting great balance between passing and rushing. Through five games, Shultz has completed 52-of-85 passes for 720 yards and nine TDs while Warnement (56-400-5) and Rombach (44-355-6) have been tremendous on the ground. One player that doesn’t get a ton of love but does a little bit of everything is John Schumacher. He has 32 tackles on defense, 13 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown, one carry for 21 yards and a score, and multiple blocked kicks/punts. Calvert travels to Fremont SJCC this week, a team that has been outscored 299-18 this season. There should be no issues for the Senecas, who really just need to come out of the game healthy before facing Margaretta, Willard, and Hopewell-Loudon in three out of the last four games of the season.
Mohawk (1-4): It was another tough loss for Mohawk, who was outpowered by Wynford, 41-21. The skinny of it for the Warriors when it comes to a playoff appearance is absolutely beating Bucyrus in Week 10, likely needing to beat Upper Sandusky this week and Seneca East in two weeks, and probably needing to beat either Carey on the road or Colonel Crawford on Senior Night in Week 9. That is a tall task for a team that played so close to Calvert in Week 1. The Warriors’ offense is solely running through Ben Bogner at quarterback. He has completed 78-of-139 passes for 988 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions, while running 81 times for 406 yards and five touchdowns. The rest of the team has combined for 43 carries for 167 yards this season. As mentioned, Mohawk travels to Upper Sandusky for a rivalry game this week it desperately needs to win. Upper Sandusky is coming in off a wild 68-42 win over Bucyrus. The Rams are similar in that the offense runs through their quarterback – reigning offensive league player of the year Kaden Holman. He has completed 94-of-143 passes for 1,314 yards, 16 touchdowns, and three INT while running 75 times for 374 yards and six more scores. Mohawk will likely have to score to keep up with Upper Sandusky, who has only defeated the Warriors once in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play since 2015.
Seneca East (2-3): One team that seems to still be a mystery is Seneca East. I think we were all impressed when the Tigers snapped Ashland Crestview’s long regular-season winning streak, but Seneca East hasn’t looked great since. Yes, they beat Upper Sandusky, but it was a close one with the Tigers winning, 46-44. Last week, Seneca East lost 29-14 to undefeated Colonel Crawford on the road. If there’s any time of the schedule for the Tigers to get on a roll, it’s now. They play Buckeye Central (2-3), Bucyrus (0-5), Mohawk (1-4), and Wynford (2-3) over the next four weeks. I don’t think it is crazy to think Seneca East is a favorite in each of them. The Tigers are led by Blake Foos, who has completed 74-of-135 passes for 720 yards with six touchdowns while running 101 times for 654 yards and seven TDs. Those are solid numbers, but maybe the bar was set too high by some for Foos this season. There’s a lot of play left for the Tigers though. Buckeye Central won its first two games by a combined 117-0, but have been blasted by Mohawk and Carey the last two weeks by a combined 97-15. There’s talent in New Washington, but it’s just a different animal in the league. Derex Dean has completed 61-of-114 passes for 780 yards and 11 TDs while Dom Dean leads the running game with 31 rushes for 192 yards.
Carey (3-2): Is the train starting to roll? After losing their first two games to Hopewell-Loudon (5-0) and Galion (4-1), Carey has reeled off three straight wins. They beat Division VII state semifinalist from last year Lima Central Catholic before back-to-back shutout wins over Wynford (34-0) and Buckeye Central (41-0). But, it’s back to the deep end of the pool as they host Colonel Crawford this week in what is likely a defacto league championship game. Remember, Carey beat the Eagles last year in the regular season before Colonel Crawford got revenge in the playoffs. Carter Smiley has come on strong at quarterback in the past few weeks for the Blue Devils, completing 20-of-35 passes for 344 yards in three games. The running game has totaled 195 carries for 1,025 yards this season with Eli Steen’s 60 rushes for 425 yards and six touchdowns leading the way. Colonel Crawford’s running game is even more impressive with 189 carries for 1,637 yards and 22 touchdowns. Micah Thomas leads the way with 77 attempts for 620 yards and 10 TDs, but Trevor Vogt (46-535-4) and Connor McMichael (34-388-6) are dangerous options as well.
Lakota (2-3): Another team that desperately needs a win is Lakota. The Raiders won back-to-back games in Weeks 2 and 3, but then ran into state-ranked powerhouses Tiffin Calvert and Hopewell-Loudon. It is not a state-ranked team this week on Homecoming, but Lakota does host Willard (4-1), a team scoring 37 points per game. Last week against Hopewell-Loudon, the Raiders only mustered 39 yards rushing on 18 times while quarterback Jalen Wagner completed 7-of-14 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. For the season, he is 48-of-86 for 612 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. Micah Williams leads the running game with 40 carries for 222 yards with Wagner adding 103 yards on 32 rushes. Avery Shilling is the top receiver with 19 receptions for 298 yards. Lakota will have to contain Willard’s high-octane passing attack this week. Isaac Robinson has completed 101-of-148 passes for 1,571 yards with 22 touchdowns. His leading receiver is Cam Robinson (no relation), who has 45 catches for 752 yards and nine TDs. Those are numbers most kids hope to have in an entire season. Harry Meisner (22-329-5), Paxton Flores (24-303-4), and Jackson Beamer (10-173-2) are all capable of big plays for Willard too.
Gibsonburg (1-4): Things continue to spiral in the wrong direction for the Golden Bears. After losing in Week 1, Gibsonburg beat Seneca East – which as I noted earlier, seemed like a really good win because we were high on Seneca East – but have dropped their last three games. Things might have gone from bad to worse as during Saturday’s game I was at, Grant Smith limped off the field in the first quarter and did not return, finishing with four carries for 30 yards. Spencer Waugaman filled in with 16 rushes for 52 yards and Reece Walby added 12 carries for 42 yards. Still, the Golden Bears will have to find another big option and piece of the offense if Smith is hurt. Gibsonburg hosts Woodmore (1-4) this week, a team it should be favored over. After that is a rivalry game at Lakota before facing Willard and Margaretta.
Take a look at how area teams stack up compared to the rest of the state in this week's OHSAA #APPoll:
(AP POLL PHOTO CREDIT Jeremy Schneider - @j1schneider)