Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don't drink and ref

One of my favorite regular soccer visits online is to ESPN Soccernet's "Off the Ball" - a collection of unusual happenings around the world in the beautiful game.

There was an entry on the list this week that was just too good to be true.

They told the story of an official at a match in the Czech Republic domestic league. It seems this gentleman had a little too much of a good time at his birthday party, then turned up to officiate a match - I repeat, OFFICIATE A MATCH - three sheets to the wind.

If you're taking the time to read this, please follow this link to the rest of the story.

What isn't jaw-dropping in that story? The quote definitely is. The fact this ref was handing out red cards like martini napkins definitely is. The blood alcohol content - while certainly far from condonable - definitely is.

There are certain things you just cannot make up, and this is one of them.

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, October 28, 2011

CSU runners can look to provost for inspiration

When Cleveland State hosts the Horizon League cross country meet on Saturday at Squire Valleevue Farm in Hunting Valley, one of the fastest runners on hand will be on the outside of the ropes, but not because of injury or other reason.

CSU provost Geoffrey S. Mearns was a top runner during his undergraduate days at Yale. His time of 29 minutes, 50 seconds in the 10,000 meters in 1979 is third on the Elis' all-time outdoor list.

Mearns stays active by exercising in the morning, and he set the 50-54 age group record of 31:18 in the 5-mile Blossom Time run in 2010.

"Having been an intercollegiate athlete myself, I really enjoy the interaction with student-athletes," Mearns said.

Mearns has been the provost at Cleveland State on an interim and full-time basis since February 2010.

The Horizon League men's race is scheduled for 11 a.m. The women's race is set for noon. Butler is the defending champion on both sides.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Week 8 football picks

Each week, Sports Editor Mark Podolski picks five games, four against the spread: one high school, two college and two NFL.

Another less-than-sparkling week (2-3) puts the season mark at 19-15, so let's try to turn this around.


Lake Catholic at Avon: Coach Mike Bell's program was looking at a Week 10 bye before the two school's agreed on this matchup, and what a matchup it should be. Avon is the No. 1-ranked Division II team in the Associated Press state poll. Win or lose, this should be a great test for the Cougars entering the Division III state playoffs next week. Right now, advantage goes to the home team. PICK: Avon 21, Lake Catholic 17


Wisconsin at Ohio State (+7.5): The Buckeyes are a difficult team to figure this season, and this matchup only adds to the confusion. How much improvement has QB Braxton Miller made during the off-week? How upset will the Badgers be after last week's heartbreaking loss to Michigan State? PICK: Wisconsin 27, Ohio State 17.

Stanford at USC (+7.5): Andrew Luck and Stanford have won a NCAA-record 10 straight games by 25 points or more. The streak stops at the L.A. Coliseum, but the Cardinal remain perfect on the season. PICK: Stanford 41, USC 28


Browns (+9) at San Francisco: Coach Jim Harbaugh has the Niners playing well, and while Coach Pat Shurmur's Browns aren't flashy, they are 3-3. Expect a tight, defensive game, but the Browns, as usual, will struggle to make big plays on offense. PICK: San Francisco 24, Browns 13

New England (+3) at Pittsburgh: After a slow start to the season, the Steelers have found their stride, but the Patriots have had Pittsburgh's number over the years. Toughest game to call this week. When that's the case, go with the home team. PICK: Pittsburgh 31, New England 27

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Euclid's Emily Sweet is succeeding despite suffering from mono

Euclid senior Emily Sweet has mononucleosis.
That didn't stop her last Saturday from winning the Division I Lakeland District championship.
It was hard to tell she was even suffering from mono after the race.
She was understandably cold and full of mud from a rough course, but she was barely winded and looked just fine.
When asked if she felt tired, she said she felt tired after every race and districts was no different.
What impressed me is Sweet was determined to run the race in an attempt to qualify for regionals. She did let a major illness stop her from her ultimate goal of qualifying for state.
She was sick a year ago at regionals and did not complete the race. Instead, she collapsed halfway through and had to be carried off the course by her father and brother.
After all she's been through, Sweet has remained strong.
This is her time to shine.
She has the heart and determination of a champion.
In my mind, there is no doubt she will not only reach state this year, but earn a spot on the podium.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Monday, October 24, 2011

Now THAT was football weather ... I guess

The players seemed to enjoy it. The media - not so much.

Last Friday's field conditions across Northeast Ohio for teams that play on natural grass were borderline unplayable. I would describe the conditions at Sidley Field for the Ledgemont-Grand Valley game as a mudpit, but that would be an insult to pits filled with mud everywhere.

It was melted chocolate soup where grass and dirt used to be, and the players were covered head to toe and in other spots I would just assume not envision. When you are 17 years old, that is fun. When you are ... older ... and aren't wearing spikes or football pants, it isn't exactly a laugh-fest.

It's not complaining, really. That's what you get in October in Northeast Ohio. Rain, cold, mud, more mud and muddy mud on top of mud caked in mud. What I was so surprised at was that the players could get any traction at all to cut, plant or move without falling flat on their faces.

Maybe that is the way football was intended to be played? I will still take two good teams doing battle on turf and deciding who is the better squad on equal footing.

But at least everyone had fun last Friday ... I think.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pool should benefit area swimming

Last winter, if you follow area high school swimming, you may recall my story on the lack of competition pools in the area and some of the borderline painful experiences swimmers have to go through.

There are those who use a business amenities pool or even over the years a hotel pool just to practice. There are those who take the bus every day downtown to Cleveland State. There are those who can't count on significant fan support at their meets because it would violate fire codes at their facility.

Thankfully, another solution is on the horizon to help with these issues.

Friday night, I covered the NDCL-Benedictine football game at Spire Institute (aka GaREAT) in Geneva and ran into Chris Mullan, a facility manager at Spire who I know from his many years coaching high school soccer at Lake Catholic and Madison.

At halftime, he was kind enough to give me a sneak peek of Spire's newest addition, a 10-lane Olympic-size pool that will be opening soon, and I have to say I was impressed. Check out the picture here, and you'll see what I mean.

There's more than adequate space on deck, overhead spectator seating, it's not stifling humidity-wise (which, if we're honest, is an issue at some pools), and I'm told the pool is one of the fastest of its kind in the country.

It's not quite ready yet, but when it is it's a huge step forward for the area high school swimming community, a high-quality option at which to stage meets and practices.

I'll also make a bold prediction. Like everyone else in the Ohio high school swimming community, I believe there's just something about going to Branin Natatorium in Canton every year for state - it's a hallowed venue. The atmosphere there is something you can't replicate, and of course for my coverage purposes having the University boys and Hawken girls leading a fast area contingent helps, too.

That said, after seeing this pool - and folks, I hope this doesn't come across as a cheap plug; I was simply legitimately impressed by what I saw - it would not be a surprise at all to see the state high school swimming meet at this facility one day.

Granted, the geographic location is not centric for a state high school competition.

But take it from me after Friday's sneak peek - if the OHSAA ever considers moving from Branin and wants the best available option in Ohio, this is it.

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, October 21, 2011

Premature NFL draft syndrome

I shouldn't be surprised at how football fans are talking about the NFL draft - next year's prospects, not this year's rookies - even though it's the third week in October.

I still find it hard to believe, though, when I log on to Twitter and see a timeline filled with questions about who's available for the Browns. These aren't just frustrated fans venting after a loss. These speculatory inquiries come during the week, when most of the NFL talk is about injuries and strategy.

These questions are impossible to answer without two key pieces of information: Where the Browns are drafting, and who's available. None of this will be known until after the season ends in January.

That doesn't stop people from debating skill position players vs. interior linemen, as if the draft is the main event and the season is a succession of exhibitions used to determine the picking order.

I bet I could wait until the day of the draft - April 26, if you've already bought a 2012 calendar - spend a couple hours reading up on the top prospects and arrive at the same destination as all the people who are talking about it now.

This is not exclusive to the NFL. Back when the Cavaliers were in the playoffs, we held pregame chats before postseason games. A chunk of the questions were about the draft.

If the point of the draft is to build to the point where your team is an NBA championship contender, then the Cavs were exactly where they were supposed to be. But people wanted to talk about the NBA draft, even though the Cavs were (without hindsight, remember) at the pinnacle of what the draft was supposed to produce.

I don't get it, but I also know that the NFL and NBA drafts are economies unto themselves. Speculate away, but I'll be using my time otherwise.

- Howard Primer

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Week 7 football picks

Each week, Sports Editor Mark Podolski picks five games, four against the spread: one high school, two college and two NFL.

Boo, boo, boo!!!

I booing myself, and I deserve it after an 1-4 week puts the season mark at 17-13. It has to get better, right?


Benedictine at NDCL: Both teams need this win to bolster their playoff hopes. Let's go with the home team. PICK: NDCL 21, Benedictine 17


USC (+9) at Notre Dame: USC QB Matt Barkley should have no problem moving the ball on the Irish, but the Notre Dame should be able to throw and run. Expect a close game. PICK: Notre Dame 27, USC 24

Wisconsin at Michigan State (+8): The Spartans were the only team to beat the Badgers last season, but with QB Russell Wilson this is a different Wisconsin offense. Take the Badgers to win, but the Spartans to cover at home. PICK: Wisconsin 28, Michigan State 23


Seattle (+3) at Browns: No Joe Haden? No Peyton Hillis? A disgruntled Josh Cribbs? Good luck trying to figure out the Browns. PICK: Seattle 14, Browns 10

Pittsburgh at Arizona (+3.5): The last time the Steelers played the Cardinals, they won the Super Bowl. That's not on the line here. The last time Pittsburgh played at Arizona in the regular season was in 2007, with the Cardinals winning, 21-14. Upset special here. PICK: Arizona 21, Pittsburgh 14

- Mark Podolski

Lake Catholic grad Matt Borcas goes the extra mile

I’m impressed with recent Lake Catholic graduate Matt Borcas who competed in the Columbus half marathon.
The freshman at Ohio State University got up every morning throughout the summer and prior to class this fall to train for the race.
How impressive is that?
He placed 24th overall out of 3,736 males in 1 hour, 12 minutes, 49 seconds. Overall, he placed 24th out of 9,9931 competitors with an average pace of 5:34 per mile.
“I knew that I wanted to continue running whether or not I was still competing in cross country and track, and thought the Columbus Half-Marathon came at an opportune time,” Borcas said in a recent e-mail.
Borcas gained confidence to run the half marathon after finishing 56:45 at the Perfect 10 Miler in Lyndhurst in August.
“I knew the Columbus Half-Marathon would attract a deep, talented field of athletes that would provide me with the chance to spend much of the race in a pack, something that a smaller-scale road race would not offer,” he said.
This 18-year-old is going to go far in life.
He’s already setting goals and achieving them one at a time.
He credited Coach Erik Schroeder for helping him develop a love of running while at Lake Catholic.
“Early on in my cross country/track career, I would frequently get nervous about the workouts or long runs we had planned,” he said. “Eventually I realized I could hold my own on the team, and started to look forward to these practices because I knew they were instrumental in the improvement process.
"As a result, I am always excited to tackle a new workout or distance.”
This was Borcas’ third half-marathon. In 2009 and 2010, he ran the Cleveland half marathons with times of 1:24 and 1:17, respectively.
This year, he thought he may have gone out too hard running a 16:37 through his 5K and 34:00 through his 10K, so he told himself to focus on “racing the mile at hand and not to worry about the subsequent ones.”
Isn’t that how day-to-day life is?
We tackle problems as they come. We can either take a positive attitude toward our problems or be negative. It's up to us.
We can either finish the day strong or weak, it's up to us.
In Borcas’ case, he’s already learned how to live each day to the fullest.
A handful of half marathons is just the beginning.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Going for perfection in high school football

Many teams will write down 10-0 as a goal at the beginning of the season, but the truth is it's a lot easier said than done.

As we head into the final two weeks of the regular season, I was curious to see just how many teams were still striving for perfection in Ohio. The answer is not quite as many as you may assume.

Thanks to the wonderful, I scrolled through and am able to report with some quick analysis there are 50 teams around Ohio that are still unbeaten through eight weeks. Four of them reside in The News-Herald area, of course - Mentor, Chagrin Falls, Kirtland and Ledgemont.

Here are a few more tidbits I found interesting:

-- Ledgemont is one of only two Division VI teams in the state still unbeaten along with the squad the Redskins have been battling with for top honors in the state poll, Berlin Center Western Reserve. Reserve closes with 3-5 Jackson-Milton and 4-4 McDonald, while the 'Mont finishes up with a showdown this coming Friday with Grand Valley and a trip to Southington in Week 10.

-- Mentor is one of only four D-I teams in Ohio with no blemishes on their record, but two of the four - Cleveland Heights and Hilliard Davidson - are only 7-0 because of idle weeks. The lone 8-0 D-I team in the state other than the Cardinals is Toledo Whitmer.

-- The division with the most undefeated teams is D-V which has 15, including Kirtland.

-- For the record, Division II has eight unbeatens, and Division IV has nine.

-- Chagrin Falls is one of 12 in D-III, leading the charge in Region 9. Interestingly, if you want to talk about a tough region, how about Region 12? Six of the eight teams currently in the playoffs there according to Joe Eitel are undefeated, as many as Division I and Division V combined.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Another reason to like Andrew Luck

For those who haven't heard about the "Suck for Luck" campaign that is making the rounds in NFL cities, here it is:

Some fans have caught onto the gimmick, rooting for their struggling team to lose to have a chance to draft the Stanford quarterback, who some say is the best QB draft prospect since John Elway.

"Suck for Luck" is a ridiculous idea, and I'm not the only one who thinks so.

"I am aware of it," Luck told The New York Times. "A couple of guys told me about it. I think it's stupid. Simply put."

Well said, Andrew.

- Mark Podolski

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Friday, October 14, 2011

The power of Twitter

I think it's cool when something I've posted on Twitter is retweeted. It means someone values my opinion. It might even lead to a new follower or two.

Say what you will about LeBron James, but plenty of people want to know what he has to say. On Tuesday, he tweeted at ESPN NFL reporter John Clayton, "When is the deadline for a team to sign a free agent?"

It was immediately a talking point on the Internet, and ESPN devoted a segment on some of its shows to analysts breaking down James' NFL chances. They even showed footage from his days as a wide receiver at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Could you imagine tweeting an opinion and having it instantly blasted across multiple media platforms, reaching millions of people?

Perhaps the tweet is mightier than the sword, as well.

- Howard Primer

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Week 6 football picks

Each week, Sports Editor Mark Podolski picks five games, four against the spread: one high school, two college and two NFL.

A 4-1 week puts the season mark at 16-9, so let's get ready for Week 6:


North at University: University knocked off Madison in Hunting Valley for a huge PAC win earlier in the season. North lost at Madison but without its best running back Jordan Morris, who's back for this game. If North plays mistake-free, the Rangers win. PICK: North 28, University 21


Michigan (+3) at Michigan State: The question here is, is either team legit? I feel a little stronger about the Wolverines than the Spartans. PICK: Michigan 31, Michigan State 30

Ohio State (+3.5) at Illinois: The Buckeyes play inspired ball until Braxton Miller got hurt and the defense fell apart at Nebraska. Historically, OSU has had a lot of trouble in Champaign, Ill. PICK: Illinois 20, Ohio State 14


Browns (+7) at Oakland: Will the Peyton Hillis saga ever end? Here's a start: Give Hillis the ball 20-plus times and see what happens. PICK: Oakland 23, Browns 17

Dalllas (+7) at New England: The Patriots have too many weapons, and Cowboys QB Tony Romo will make a few turnovers. PICK: New England 34, Dallas 24

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why are programs so hard to come by for members of the media?

I have a pet peeve that I need to get off my chest.
Whenever I go to a high school sporting event, one of the first things I try to do is get a program.
For whatever reason, this is nearly impossible at times.
For one, I am not going to pay for a program. I refuse. I am there to do my job. In order to do my job, I need a program.
Why is that so hard?
I'm not going to spend a few hundred dollars a year of my own money to get names and numbers of kids I cover. It's just not going to happen.
Schools want coverage, but some aren't willing to give you a simple program to help you cover their kids.
Believe me, I've heard it all:
1. Programs are in the press box (usually not the case).
2. Programs are $3 (forget it).
3. We don't have a program, you'll have to get the information from the coach (while he/she is in the middle of preparing for a game?).
4. Why do you need a program?
It just gets old after a while.
I am not the only one who encounters this problem. My colleagues who cover high school athletics - including photographers - have this happen to them all the time.
So the next time a media member asks you for a program, please remember we are just trying to do our jobs.
We need a program to accomplish that.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Media coverage of death of Al Davis is selectively positive

Amazing how a man's death is like White Out when it comes to the media's portrayal of him, especially in sports.

For years, Raiders owner Al Davis was written and talked about repeatedly as the out-of-touch old man in Oakland who couldn't draft worth a lick and made crazy statements. Davis was a caricature of his former self. A wacky old grandfather who dressed in velvet jumpsuits and wore glasses with a chain and constantly barked incoherent nonsense at people. He took a kicker in the first round? He took Darius Heyward-Bay over Michael Crabtree? He did what? Just win baby! Commitment to excellence! Boo!

He was a rebel, a pioneer, a black hat in the NFL sea of heroes, but he certainly wasn't as saintly as CBS, Fox and ESPN would lead you to believe.

Then, tragically, Davis died over this past weekend and every story was a glowing tribute to a "legend" or a "visionary". Was Al Davis both of those things? Yes. Should we stomp on a man's grave after his passing? No.

But this total blackout that occurs when someone dies and we forget all that was said so recently about him by the media is irresponsible and a little offensive. We aren't that stupid as fans. We know what the perception of Al Davis was up until his unfortunate death.

Sometimes, the national talking heads need a refresher course in being fair and balanced, or at the every worst, just remember what they said a month ago.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

The ultimate cliche

In this line of work, if you haven't heard an overused football cliche, that likely means you've been wearing earmuffs reinforced with bulletproof armor.

It is inevitable. After all, does anyone out there expect a football coach to say after a game, "That team stinks. They're lucky they don't have to donate their paycheck to charity. Their offensive line couldn't block my nephew's pee-wee football team, and their quarterback couldn't hit the broad side of a barn."

(Let the record state the QB comment was not necessarily meant as a joke at the expense of Joe Bauserman.)

Anyway, hearing so many football cliches, more times than not in small doses from well-meaning coaches whom I really, really like and are a pleasure with whom to interact, I always thought it would be fun, just once, to try playing the role of a coach.

So here I am, after a game, doing my best imitation of a football coach using coachspeak doused in cliche:

"That's a good football team over there. They're well-coached, give 110 percent and leave everything on the field. Those young men, those natural leaders, play football the way football is meant to be played. Our quarterback was a field general out there, managing the football team the way football teams are meant to be managed. And our defense, they're tenacious - outstanding leaders on and off the football field. Their desire to play the defensive line position, linebacker position, defensive back position is such a joy to watch as a football coach. We're just happy to get a win, because you've got to take it one game at a time, one play at a time. You've got to focus on your goals, which is to win the league, go undefeated at home, make the playoffs and win a state championship. And above all else, no matter what may be added here or anywhere else, you've got to give them credit because that's a heck of a football team, and I could not be prouder."

Ah, that felt good. I feel like a coach already.

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, October 7, 2011

Prep football area single-game records

As you’ll see below, we’ve had a number of record-breaking performances in the first six weeks of the high school football season.
Headed by Chris Lillstrung, we’ve done a lot of research into won-lost records for every area school, playoff histories and area single-season marks for individuals.
Single-game records are much tougher to come by. The OHSAA record book is a good resource, but it isn’t comprehensive.
Big performances from decades past easily slip through because statistics weren’t kept on computers back then.
Here is our list of area single-game records. If you know of one that’s tied or better, please let me know:
-       - Howard Primer

Individual points in a game: 64, Carl A. Squires, University vs. Cleveland South, Oct. 20, 1894 (Squires was unstoppable with touchdowns and extra points that day, but it appears the scoring system was different in 1894. If so, we might have a record under modern rules as well).

Touchdowns in a game: 9, Carl A. Squires, University vs. Cleveland South, Oct. 20, 1894

Rushing touchdowns in a game: 7, Kareem Hunt, South vs. Chardon, Sept. 30, 2011. The state record book lists no one from the area with eight or more.

Passing touchdowns in a game: 6, Jeff Walton, Hawken, 1997

Receiving touchdowns in a game: 5, Paul Burkhardt, Mentor vs. Maple Heights, Oct. 17, 1969

Rushing yards in a game: 415, Kareem Hunt, South vs. Chardon, Sept. 30, 2011

Passing yards in a game: 469, Mitch Trubisky, Mentor vs. St. Ignatius, Sept. 10, 2011

Receptions in a game: 16, Chris Pike, Hawken vs. Perry, 1982

Receiving yards in a game: 283, Cameron Kavan, Mentor vs. St. Ignatius, Sept. 10, 2011

Interceptions in a game: 4, Anthony DeCamillo, Chagrin Falls vs. NDCL, Sept. 2, 2011

Field goals in a game: 4, Kevin Harper, Mentor vs. Solon, Sept. 7, 2007

Extra points in a game: 14, Carl A. Squires, University vs. Cleveland South, Oct. 20, 1894

Most points kicked in a game: 28, Carl. A Squires, University vs. Cleveland South, Oct. 20, 1894

Team points in a game: 127, Euclid Shore vs. Middlefield, 1930; 100, University vs. Cleveland South, Oct. 20, 1894

Team rushing yards in a game: Unknown. State record book has no area team with 500 or more.

Punt/kickoff returns for touchdowns in a game: 3, Ben Munitz, South vs. Wickliffe, Sept. 6, 2002 (all were punts)


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Take advantage of meeting Olympians at Legends Cross Country Meet on Saturday

If you are going to the Legends Cross Country meet this Saturday, you'll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet four Olympic gold medalists.
Every year, area athletes are recognized and honored at the meet at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds. This year, Briana Shook, Bob Schul, Harrison Dillard and Bernice Robinson Holland will be honored. Fans will have an opportunity to meet them and get their autographs on Saturday during the meet.
I had the pleasure of meeting Harrison Dillard a few months ago.
He is a kind, humble man who is easy to talk to.
He is happy to share memories of his Olympic days, and we are lucky to have the Richmond Heights native in the area.
Dillard is the only man to ever win Olympic gold medals in both the sprints and high hurdles. Overall, he has four gold medals including two as a member of the 4x100 relays in 1948 and 1952.
He attended Baldwin-Wallace College where he won four national collegiate titles in the low and high hurdles.
For more information on Dillard, the rest of the legends and Saturday's meet, go to:

- Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Week 5 football picks

Each week, Sports Editor Mark Podolski picks five games, four against the spread: one high school, two college and two NFL.

A rough 2-3 week has me flirting with .500 at 12-8, so I'm hoping for a rebound week:

HIGH SCHOOL (no betting line, of course)

Mentor at Solon: It doesn't get much bigger than this regular-season matchup. The Cardinals are averaging 44 points per game and haven't scored fewer than 38 in any game. With weather expected in the mid 60s and clear for this mega-contest, it's difficult to think QB Mitch Trubisky and Co. will be slowed down, although Solon's defense is said to be tough. The Comets have posted three shutouts and allowed 2 points in another. PICK: Mentor 38, Solon 27


Ohio State (+11) at Nebraska: The Buckeyes are sticking with true freshman Braxton Miller at QB. As bad the OSU offense looked last week against Michigan State, it could get worse on the road and at night as the Cornhuskers prepare for their first-ever home Big Ten game. PICK: Nebraska 31, Ohio State 7.

Texas (+10) vs. Oklahoma at Dallas: History shows in this rivalry, the team expected to win usually does, but that doesn't always mean a win in Vegas. The Longhorns are on their way back, but not all the way back. I'll take the Sooners. PICK: Oklahoma 30, Texas 17


N.Y. Jets (+9.5) at New England: Last season, the Patriots blasted the visiting Jets, 48-3, in the regular season. In the playoffs, New York returned to New England and eliminated the Patriots. The Pats big, right? This game smells of, "If everyone bets one way, I'll bet the other way." PICK: N.Y. Jets 24, New England 21

Chicago (+6) at Detroit: If anything, the Lions are fun to watch, overcoming double-digits deficits the last two weeks to stay undefeated at 4-0. Motown will be rocking on Monday night for this one. PICK: Detroit 31, Chicago 24.

- Mark Podolski

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Postseason Points possibilities - Week 7

Division I, Region1

Looks like the winner of the Mentor-Solon game gets a home game locked up, if not a shot at the top seed depending on what happens moving forward. The North-South game in Week 10 could be a winner-gets-in game. Very interesting.

Division II, Region 5

Madison controls its own destiny with a game against South this week. So does West Geauga with a matchup against Chagrin Falls on the upcoming schedule.

Division III, Region 9

There are five teams in the area in this region, and if the playoffs started now, they would all be playing in November. What a region. Chagrin Falls, Lake Catholic, US, Benedictine and NDCL. Still plenty to be shaken out in the next four weeks, but this is really exciting for area teams.
Akron SVSM on the road? Ouch, what a matchup in the first week of the playoffs.

Division IV, Region 13

Perry needs to beat one of the big boys if not two. Kenston, Chagrin Falls, Aurora. It is there for the Pirates if they can get it done on the field.

Division V, Region 17

Kirtland wins out and goes 10-0, will that be enough to hang on to the No. 1 seed? That's the only drama in this region, but the Hornets should be at home the first weekend in November.

Division VI, Region 21

Ledgemont is No. 1 in the state poll, but might not get a home game in the playoffs even at 6-0. Strange? Keep an eye on the next few weeks for VASJ and Fairport - both are still alive but need to take care of business.

- Bill Tilton

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mentor's biggest regular-season games the past 10 years

With Mentor traveling to Solon on Thursday for the high school football game of the year to this point, here’s a look at some of the biggest regular-season games the Cardinals have played in the past 10 years – by pregame hype or games that turned out to be great:

2003: Week 4, Sept. 12, Mentor 78, Chardon 7. It was billed as a matchup of longtime area powers. Both teams were ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press state poll in their respective divisions. The Cardinals scored 21 points in a span of 5 minutes, 31 seconds in the first quarter and led, 38-0, at halftime. Chardon shook off the loss and made it to a state semifinal in Division II.

2005: Week 4, Sept. 16, St. Ignatius 55, Mentor 35. They met in the playoffs two years earlier with Mentor winning, 31-0. The Cardinals came into the game 1-2, but that didn't hold down the hype because it was the Wildcats' first trip to Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium since losing to Lake Catholic in 1996. St. Ignatius quarterback Rudy Kirbus, a Willoughby native, was 15 of 16 passing for 253 yards and four touchdowns.

2007: Week 5, Sept. 21, Mentor 56, Massillon 52. The game featured 10 lead changes, the last of which occurred at the end of an eight-play drive in the last two minutes. Bart Tanski, who was Mr. Football that season, connected with Steve Orkis on an 8-yard touchdown pass for the winning points with 24 seconds remaining. Tanski was 7-for-7 on the drive.

2007: Week 6, Sept. 28, Euclid 35, Mentor 34. The following week, the Cardinals traveled to the rival Panthers’ home field and were on the other end of some last-minute heroics. James Thomas took an end-around from Howard Drake on a fake extra-point attempt and scored the game-winning points with 17.7 seconds remaining. Euclid trailed, 34-20, in the fourth quarter.

2008: Week 5, Sept. 20, Mentor 34, Cincinnati Moeller 26: The seven-time state champions traveled north for the first game of a two-year series and a rare Saturday afternoon game. Mentor scored three times in the second half and used a big goal-line stand to send the Crusaders back to the Queen City with a loss.

2010: Week 5, Sept. 24: Mentor 48, South 47: The game featured 932 yards of offense, 51 first downs and four ties. Mentor scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, and Jared Donovan blocked a South extra-point attempt midway through the fourth quarter that ended up as the difference.

Those were some of Mentor’s top regular-season games of the past 10 years. Here are two bonus games that were among the most-hyped in school history:

1968: Week 1, Mentor 19, Massillon 0: This was the game that put Mentor on the map and showed the pollsters that teams from Northeast Ohio could play with Stark County teams. Mentor went 10-0 that year.

1995: Week 2, Lake Catholic 35, Mentor 0: Imagine what the hype would be like if Mentor played Lake Catholic this year. Now imagine what it would be like if the schools had never played before. This was like the Ohio State-Michigan game of Mentor. It was first of five meetings between the schools, with the Cougars winning four.

- Howard Primer

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Defining boring

It was rather interesting - and a first as I recall - to see the choices for network television sports viewing in this market on Sunday.

Obviously, the Browns were playing (if that's what you want to call it) on WOIO. When an NFL team has a home game televised in its home market, the opposing channel, in this case WJW, steps aside and doesn't show an NFL game at the same time because league rules restrict it.

So instead of the NFL, and even instead of the usual mix of Seinfeld reruns and infomercials for the latest weight-loss product or juicer, WJW showed Fox Soccer's coverage of a taped English Premier League match between Tottenham and Arsenal.

<a href="" target="_new" title="">PL Highlights: Tottenham/Arsenal</a>

As you're probably well aware if you read any of my work, I'm a huge soccer fan.

But I chose the Browns game, and I would choose the Browns every time because, as horribly as they played, that's my team - even with soccer as an option.

It does bring up an intriguing contrast in viewpoints on American football vs. soccer. Many NFL fans probably would rather scratch their nails on a chalkboard than watch soccer - that's their right, and that's fine. Their reasoning, normally, is soccer is too boring for their liking - not enough scoring, not enough action per se.

That's why it may surprise you to find out what diehard soccer fans think of the NFL when the tables are turned. The truth is, they can't stand it either, the reason being they think the NFL is boring. There's even a segment who would argue soccer players are tougher because they're not wearing as much protective equipment. (No, I'm serious.)

As a fan of both the NFL and soccer, I don't subscribe to either viewpoint. I enjoy both sports immensely.

I'm merely pointing out it's interesting how segments of both fan bases view the other sport as boring. It doesn't seem to make sense, but to them it does.

- Chris Lillstrung