Thursday, October 31, 2013

Friday Night Live: Week 10

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Volleyball in the News-Herald coverage area is outstanding

A year ago when I took over the volleyball beat, I had no idea what to expect.
I had been covering cross country for years and honestly I was excited to leave the mud and rain behind for a warm gym.
Little did I know how good the volleyball talent in this area would be.
In my first year on the beat, I followed Beaumont to the Division II state championship in Dayton where the team won its first championship in school history.
To top it off, Kenston reached the Division I state semifinals.
Two teams from the area at Dayton is outstanding.
My question is, how many area teams can make it to Dayton again this year?
In the regional semifinals this week alone, there are six teams still in the hunt - Beaumont, Gilmour, Kenston, Lake Catholic, Mayfield and Villa Angela-St. Joseph. Are we blessed in this area by the volleyball gods or what?
How does this happen in Northeast Ohio?
It happens because area athletes and their coaches are dedicated to the sport. They don't just compete in it during the high school season. They are involved year around in clubs and Junior Olympics. The girls started practicing at a young age and as a result, their teams have benefited.
The hard work has also paid off for area girls who have earned Division I volleyball scholarships.
It's exciting to be a part of it, and to be able to cover so many talented teams.
Honestly, I've already booked my hotel room in Dayton. I am confident we will have at least one team make it to state. 
The more the better.
Good luck Blue Streaks, Cougars, Bombers, Cougars, Wildcats and Vikings.
Here's to a long postseason!

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Remaining high school football unbeatens in Ohio

As has become a tradition in this space heading into Week 10, let's take a look at who the remaining high school football teams around Ohio are that still have aspirations of completing a perfect regular season en route to the playoffs, with special thanks as always to for convenient reference:

Region 1: Austintown-Fitch, Canton McKinley
Region 2: Cincinnati Colerain, Hilliard Davidson, Pickerington North

Region 3: None
Region 4: Akron Ellet, Avon, Medina Highland
Region 5: Mansfield, Zanesville
Region 6: Loveland

Region 7: Akron SVSM, Hubbard, Louisville
Region 8: Sandusky Perkins, Toledo Central Catholic
Region 9: The Plains Athens
Region 10: Springfield Shawnee, Tippecanoe, Western Brown

Region 11: None
Region 12: Bryan, Genoa Area, Kenton, River Valley
Region 13: None
Region 14: Urbana

Region 15: None
Region 16: Columbia, Liberty-Benton
Region 17: None
Region 18: Cincinnati Hills Christian

Region 19: KIRTLAND, South Range
Region 20: None
Region 21: Bishop Ready, Centerburg, Lucasville Valley
Region 22: Cincinnati Country Day

Region 23: Berlin Center Western Reserve
Region 24: None
Region 25: Glouster Trimble, Shadyside
Region 26: Covington, Maria Stein Marion Local, North Lewisburg Triad


- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, October 25, 2013

Western Reserve Conference? How about Snow Belt Conference?

Kudos to the soon-to-be Western Reserve Conference for going with something different and not considering their new league an expansion of the Premier Athletic Conference.

The PAC acronym was fine, but the full name? Generic, and with three state final-four appearances in team sports in nearly 15 years, premier isn't the best descriptor.

The WRC has a little history behind it. It was the name of a conference spawned out of all the shuffling that occurred in the mid-to-late 1990s.

New WRC members Mayfield and Brush were in the old version from 1998 to 2006. They helped replace West Geauga, which joined in 1996 and was back in the CVC two years later. Kenston also joined in 1996 and returned to the CVC in 2005.

But is Western Reserve Conference the best name? Maybe. It's safe and agreeable, like wheat bread.

Here are two alternatives, one that has probably crossed many minds, and one I'm offering up.

1) Greater Cleveland Conference. It has plenty of history with four of the new WRC schools - Brush, Mayfield, North and South. Unfortunately, it's not available. As my colleague John Kampf found out while reporting the story, Mentor owns the rights to the name from back when the original GCC parted ways with the Cardinals in the early 1990s. With the turnover rate in the Northeast Ohio Conference, the Cardinals might need it.

2) Snow Belt Conference. I pitched this as a new name for the PAC a couple years ago. Here goes another try. Exhibit A: What you saw outside your window Thursday morning. It's a great name for a conference on the East Side. Plus, SBC is easy to chant after your team clinches the conference championship.

It sounds as if the name Western Reserve Conference is wrapped up and ready to go. But I hope for the WRC or other future conferences, the name doesn't always have to be a compass point or something generic. It can be a specific region, like Chagrin Valley Conference, or something unique to the area, like Lake Effect Conference.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Friday Night Live: Week 9

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

World Cup update

Tuesday's busy slate across the world shed some more light on World Cup qualifying and who is already on their way to Brazil. Here is where we stand:

AFRICA: The five home-and-home playoffs are under way, and after the first leg it's:

Burkina Faso 3, Algeria 2
Ivory Coast 3, Senegal 1
Nigeria 2, Ethiopia 1
Tunisia 0, Cameroon 0
Ghana 6, Egypt 1

The second legs will be played Nov. 16-19, and the team with the better aggregate score is on its way to Brazil.

ASIA: As previously mentioned, this is already set: Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea are automatically through, and Jordan won a playoff with Uzbekistan for the fifth spot and the right to an intercontinental playoff. Jordan's opponent is revealed below.

EUROPE:The group winners with automatic berths are Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, England and Spain. A pool of 8 - Croatia, Sweden, Romania, Iceland, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine and France - will be drawn into four home-and-home series, with the four winners on their way to the World Cup.

CONCACAF: The United States won Round 4, well known as the Hexagonal. Costa Rica and Honduras are also automatically through. Mexico, thanks to some late help Tuesday from its neighbors to the north, lives to fight another day as the fourth-place side and will take on New Zealand in an intercontinental playoff.

OCEANIA:New Zealand represents this region and will take on Mexico in a home-and-home playoff in November.

SOUTH AMERICA: With group play complete, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador are in, along with tournament host Brazil, which did not have to compete here since the hosts automatically qualify. Uruguay will take on Jordan in an intercontinental playoff.

So, all told, the following 43 nations are either in the World Cup or are playing for a shot at it:

Burkina Faso
Costa Rica
Ivory Coast
New Zealand
South Korea
United States

We're inching closer to Brazil now with every international date on the calendar, and we'll know even more in about a month.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Saturday, October 19, 2013

College football 101: Irish go green

Oct. 22, 1977: For the first time in its history, Notre Dame sported green jerseys against rival Southern California, and the move paid off, as the Irish rolled to a 49-19 win in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana completed 13 of 24 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. St. Joseph grad and linebacker Bob Golic blocked a punt that was returned for a TD, and also forced two fumbles.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kirtland football on verge of area history

In 2008, The News-Herald published a list of the 10 most unbreakable records in area high school football history. The Kirtland football team is closing in on one of them.

In 1960, the Wickliffe Blue Devils scored 469 points  to set the area record for most points in the regular season.

Through seven weeks this year, Kirtland has 411 points, an astounding average of 58.7 points per game. At that pace, the Hornets would break the record by more than 100 points.

The Hornets' final three opponents -- Berkshire (3-4), Beachwood (5-2) and Independence (4-3) -- will likely have something to say about that.

-- Howard Primer

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Friday Night Live: Week 8

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting back into the gym is not an easy process

I spoiled myself this spring and summer.
For the past few months, I've been running outside four to five times a week. It was such a treat to put my gear on, walk out my back door, run to the beach and back home.
There was no packing up my gym bag, packing up a lunch or packing up a change of clothes.
I simply went on a run and didn't worry about anything.
Now that the weather is starting to get cold and dreary, it's time for me to head back inside to the gym. It's not easy after you are used to running in the fresh air and sun with a beautiful destination like a beach to go to.
But it's back to reality for me.
For the first time in months, I returned to the gym today.
It was good to see some old friends. The workout room had even been painted and updated. The machines were in their usual spot with a few televisions in sight to pass the time.
But it's just not the same.
It's going to take me a while to get back into the swing of things.
If I look on the bright side, it's probably good to switch up my workout routine. I had been running so much my hamstrings started to hurt so it's probably time for a rest.
It's good to change up your workout routine not only to avoid injuries, but to keep your body guessing so that it doesn't complacent.
I realize this is probably a "first world pain" like the famous twitter account so I really shouldn't be complaining.
I should be happy that I am healthy enough to even workout whether it be inside or outside.
So from here on out, I'll embrace my time in the gym. Working out is an endless battle that I look forward to no matter what the weather conditions.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Soccer player impresses with maturity

Praising high school athletes for their performance inside of sports, and occasionally out of it, is not uncommon. Doing so for this reason probably is.

I'm going to utilize this space this week to heap praise on an athlete for criticism - that's right, criticism.

Out of respect because the athlete didn't intend for this to become public, I won't identify them, other than to share the story of what ultimately came across as a refreshing act of maturity. 

Earlier this week, when the boys soccer Top of the Crop was released, a player saw its contents and noticed his side had positive results against many of the teams ranked. His side was not ranked, and he wondered how that could be.

His solution was to send me an email asking why. He laid out his team's match results against News-Herald area sides ranked in the Crop, cited an example of praise from an opposing coach and explained why he felt his team was worthy of consideration. The email was constructive, clearly thought out, well-argued and - at the end - HE thanked ME for MY time.

The reason, for the record, this team is not in the Top of the Crop - which I explained in response to the player's email - is because the school is not in our coverage area. Only teams in our coverage area are considered for the Crop.

In a day and age in which much of the criticism we face in this job is some anonymous variation of "You're a moron" (or much, much worse), this young man sought out the source with whom he had an issue and directly and constructively delivered his concerns in more than 140 characters.

If only he had any idea the remarkable level of maturity that shows.
- Chris Lillstrung | | @CLillstrungNH

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Friday, October 11, 2013

'Football people' and the college playoff committee

After hearing ESPN's David Pollack and ex-Auburn coach Pat Dye talk about how only those with football experience should be on the committee to pick the four teams in the upcoming College Football Playoff, I wish we could do an experiment.

We'd have two groups of people, both charged with seeding schools 1 through 4.

Group 1: "Football people." I put that in quotes because it seems like the only people qualified to identify "football people" are "football people." As Dye said, "You've got to play with your hand in the dirt."

Group 2: A half-dozen or so people pulled off jury duty at random before the weekend of the conference championship games. They would be given hotel accommodations, a conference room, whatever technology they needed and a deadline to turn in a four-team bracket.

Here's my question: Would Group 2's bracket be any different than Group 1's? If so, would it be so different you couldn't rationalize the selections?

I say no, for this reason: This isn't complicated. It's not as if we're trying to get the government up and running. As long as Congress isn't involved, getting the best four teams into a playoff can be done, even if a non "football person" is on the committee. At some point, it will come down to a matter of opinions, and I don't think breaking down a play with X's and O's would be the difference-maker in seeding.

You might argue that only "football people" know what's best. But "football people" have been doing it their way for decades. How's that going?
 -- Howard Primer

Thursday, October 10, 2013

College football history 101: Weird October

Oct. 12, 2002: Lewis Howes of Principia set an NCAA record with 418 receiving yards against Martin Luther College.

Oct 12, 1969: Barry Swanson of North Park threw 10 touchdown passes against North Central, as North Park won, 104-32.

Oct. 15, 1887: Yale beat Weselyan, 106-0.

Information courtesy of the College Football Hall of Fame.

- Mark Podolsk | @mpodo

October 12, 1968: Barry Swanson of North Park threw 10 touchdown passes against North Central. North Park won, 104-32.  - See more at:
October 12, 1968: Barry Swanson of North Park threw 10 touchdown passes against North Central. North Park won, 104-32.  - See more at:
October 12, 1968: Barry Swanson of North Park threw 10 touchdown passes against North Central. North Park won, 104-32.  - See more at:
October 12, 1968: Barry Swanson of North Park threw 10 touchdown passes against North Central. North Park won, 104-32.  - See more at:

Friday Night Live: Week 7

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

MLB's wild-card format gets it right

When Major League Baseball added a second wild card in each league in 2012 and made a winner-advances wild-card game for each one, it got it right for a couple reasons.

-- It gives teams more incentive to win their divisions and not just make it in. Also, it rewards the No. 1 seed with an opponent whose pitching staff is not as rested as the top seed's.

-- It starts the playoffs with a bang. MLB put the wild-card games on Tuesday and Wednesday, away from football, and made them the best kind of postseason drama it can offer -- winner take all. Instead of easing into the playoffs, they start with a sprint.

-- Howard Primer

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Night Live: Week 6

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