Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday Night Live - Division I regional final (state semifinal), Lakewood St. Edward vs. Mentor

Bookmark this page and come back Saturday night to follow along with our coverage of the Division I regional final (state semifinal), Lakewood St. Edward vs. Mentor.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Friday Night Live - Division VI state semifinal, Kirtland vs. Columbus Bishop Ready

Bookmark this page and come back Friday night to follow along with our coverage of the Division VI state semifinal, Kirtland vs. Columbus Bishop Ready.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

The return of Wayne Trace

Glancing at the Division VI state final four, there's obviously one program with which we're all familiar.

In addition to Kirtland, it just so happens this fall there's another team in the final four with whom familiarity exists.

It brought back some memories to look at the other end of the bracket and see Wayne Trace still in the mix. Prior to this year, Wayne Trace had only one other playoff appearance in school history - 2005 - and that season it recorded its first and only playoff victory - at home in Haviland in Paulding County along the Indiana border.

I was there.

That was the fall during which Gilmour was in Region 18, predominantly a Northwest Ohio region, instead of Region 17, and it was one of the years the Lancers were rolling under Coach Bob Spicer. They finished 8-2, and their points earned them the No. 5 seed in the region ... and a trip to fourth-seeded Haviland Wayne Trace, to which Gilmour lost, 40-14.

I've been on many road trips throughout my News-Herald career, but none were quite like that ride to Haviland. Here's Haviland on a map, and it'll illustrate my point:

In what may be an unbreakable record, it's the longest road trip ever for an opening-round playoff game for an area football team. I still remember the itinerary like it was yesterday: Interstate 71 to Route 30, 30 became a two-lane country road at one point, exit 30 at Route 127 in Van Wert and head north.

Unfortunately, the link to my column from 2005 detailing the experience is lost in time, but it can be summed up by saying the community and its genuine enthusiasm left a lasting impression on me.

We'll have to wait and see if Kirtland will run into Wayne Trace in a state final or not. But if the Raiders can join the Hornets there, it'll assuredly put a smile on my face, recalling a long-ago road trip that produced a great memory of what high school football is all about.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday Night Live - Week 13, Saturday playoffs

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Suggestion for Ohio State's football uniforms

Ohio State will wear a road version of its alternate uniforms on Nov. 30 when it plays at Michigan.

The all-white set (photo courtesy Ohio State's website) goes with the scarlet-and-gray gear the Buckeyes wore for home games against Penn State and Wisconsin (AP photo).

Here's a suggestion: Make those the permanent uniforms. They're modern, with elements of tradition. They make the regular uniforms look old.

I especially like the helmets. They're sleek, and the green buckeye leaves pop out at you.
You can make a few adjustments if you want, like gray pants on the road or narrower stripes. But these uniforms shouldn't be alternate anymore. They should be in on every down.

-- Howard Primer

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Friday Night Live: Week 13, Friday playoffs

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Share your best memories of Mayfield girls basketball coach Tony Ware

Every season when I work on my girls basketball previews, I write an overall story which runs with my capsules.
In the past, I've highlighted various teams, athletes and trends.
This year, I am highlighting a very special coach.
Mayfield girls basketball coach Tony Ware has announced this will be his final year of coaching. His first year at Mayfield was the 1987-88 season in which the Wildcats went 6-15.
During his 25-year career as head coach at Mayfield, Ware has had just six losing season. At one stretch from 1991-92 and 2000-01, he led the Wildcats to nine consecutive winning seasons. 
During his tenure, the Wildcats have won four conference championships, nine sectional championships, four district runner-up titles and one district championship.
Their lone trip to regionals was 2007-08, and I was at the game to cover it.
To refresh my memory on the game, I went to my old-school filing system next to my desk to dig through all of my high school articles which I clip out and save.
The first article I came to was a column I wrote on Feb. 26, 2008.
The first sentence of the column is the following:
"Growing up as the oldest of five children has its advantages and disadvantages."
Some of the advantages I listed were: not having to wear hand-me-downs, being the first to learn how to ride a bike and being able to stay up late with my dad to watch Johnny Carson.
Some of the disadvantages included babysitting and living in a room with  my three sisters. The room had a double set of bunk beds. My parents had their own room and my brother had his own room.
I went on to compare the girls on the Mayfield team to my own sisters. Seniors Hope Mancini, Lauren Gatto and their teammates were a strong, determined group with lots of spunk. I loved watching them play because they somehow always found a way to win. At one stretch during the 2007-08 season, they won 18 straight including their first Division I district championship in school history.
When I reread the column, it brought tears to my eyes.
Mostly because it reminded me of my own sister Amy, who died a little over two months ago. Amy was 40-years old.
The reason I bring this up is because life is too short. The memories you create, the trials you struggle through and the triumphs you enjoy will last a lifetime. 
What matters most is your reaction to what life throws your way.
What also matters is the people who have touched your life over the years.
If you are a former Mayfield girls basketball players, I bet you have a story to share about how playing for T-Ware has touched your life.
What are you fondest memories?
What did you learn about yourself from playing Wildcat basketball?
What lessons did you use later in life that maybe you learned while playing basketball in high school?
Please share your memories.
I'd love to hear from you.
My e-mail is

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday Night Live: Week 12, Saturday playoffs

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Football playoffs: What round is it, anyway?

When Divisions II through VII of the Ohio high school football playoffs take the field Friday and Saturday, they will be contesting regional semifinals.

When Mentor, Stow-Munroe Falls and the rest of Division I hit the Field Turf, they will be contesting regional quarterfinals.

It's true. It's also confusing. But this year's OHSAA realignment has brought different names for each round of the Division I playoffs, even though the big-school division has the same number of teams in its bracket as the other six divisions.

Division I was reclassified into two regions of 16 teams. Divisions II through VII remain four regions of eight. So the rounds go like this:

Division I: Regional first round, regional quarterfinal, regional semifinal, regional final, state final

Divisions II-VII: Regional quarterfinal, regional semifinal, regional final, state semifinal, state final

This OHSAA news release has the information for all of them.When referring to the playoffs as a whole, it calls this weekend the second round.

This will take some getting used to. For Division I, it's a departure from the format used since the last expansion in 1999.

I wouldn't be surprised if fans continue using the old round names -- aka current names for D-II through D-VII, if you will -- just because it's what they know. Even Mentor referred to its game against Stow as a regional semifinal in a tweet.

 In the future, perhaps the OHSAA could consider breaking the two Division I regions into four pods after the top 16 teams in each region are set. That way, there are four regional champions as there always have been.

You would also be able to call the Division I final-four games state semifinals. I think that's what a lot of people will call them anyway, even if they're called regional finals under this new format.

-- Howard Primer

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Picking the News-Herald volleyball all-star team is challenging

I started the difficult task of putting together The News-Herald volleyball all-star team today.
The problem I have isn't really a problem at all.
It's actually very exciting for area volleyball.
I have too many good players and not enough first-team spots.
The players are so good, many of them would be players of the year in previous seasons. Teams were just loaded this year.
Some of the top players who come to mind include Abby Detering (Lake Catholic), Jess Janota (Gilmour), Jaime Kosiorek (Kenston), Molly Davet (Beaumont), Courtney Bowman (Beaumont) and Danielle Hicks (VASJ).
Davet was my player of the year last season because she led the Blue Streaks to their first state title in school history.
This year, Janota, Davet, Bowman and Hicks all led their team to the state final four. Of the four players, Janota and Hicks both returned with state runner-up championships. Janota is going to Iowa and Hicks is an undecided Division I recruit.
I also have to consider Detering and Kosiorek, outstanding players who took their team to the next level. Detering, a Florida recruit, led the Cougars to a state championship her freshman year. The past three years, the Cougars advanced to the Division III regional final where they eliminated by Beaumont.
Kosiorek, an Ohio University recruit, led the Bombers to the Division I state semifinals last year. The Bombers lost in the regional semifinals this year.
So take your pick.
Who would you chose as the player of the year? Would you pick a single player or pick co-players of the year?
Over the next few days, I'll be weighing my options and calling area coaches for their recommendations.
Wish me luck.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Friday Night Live: Week 12, Friday playoffs

Bookmark this page and come back Friday night to follow along with our Week 12 high school football coverage.


College football 101: Most famous tie

Nov. 19, 1966: No game produced a bigger "What Now?" then the famous 10-10 between No. 1 Notre Dame (8-0) and No. 2 Michigan State (9-0) at East Lansing, Mich. The Fighting Irish faced an uphill battle the moment they arrived in town, as halfback Nick Eddy stumbled walking to the stadium and injured his shoulder. Quarterback Terry Hanratty was lost during the game because of a shoulder injury. The Spartans led, 10-7, late in the first half, when the game turned into a hard-hitting defensive struggle. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Notre Dame's Joe Azzaro kicked a 28-yard field goal to tie the game at 10. Fighting Irish defensive back Tom Schoen (a St. Joseph grad and former VASJ coach) intercepted a pass and returned it to the Spartans' 18-yard line, but Azzaro's 41-yard field-goal attempt missed wide right with 4 minutes, 39 seconds left. MSU did nothing with the next possession, punting the ball back to ND with 1:24 left. Coach Ara Parseghian kept the ball on the ground, rather than taking a chance through the air, as the game ended 10-10. The conservative play calls dogged Parseghian for years, but the decision paid off as Notre Dame won the Associated Press poll over No. 2 Michigan State.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Worst fantasy football decision of the year

So heading into Sunday, I had plenty for which to be thankful in fantasy football. My team in our News-Herald league was 6-3 and in playoff contention. - not bad at all.

Except for one problem.

In hindsight, I may have made one of my worst first-round draft decisions ever.

I had the No. 7 pick overall, and I absolutely labored over the choice between two running backs.

Both were the focal point of their offense. Both were decent pass catchers, a good thing to have in a PPR league.

Both seemed like solid choices, and I couldn't go wrong either way. Or maybe not.

One was Jamaal Charles. The other was Trent Richardson.

I, uh, yeah ...

Richardson has struggled so much in the Colts' offense getting yards per carry that they're trying to figure out how to get him involved through screens in the passing game.

Charles is a beast on an undefeated team.

Something tells me this is not going to end well, despite having a solid team otherwise, and it's going to come down to one choice - the most important one - on draft day.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Live coverage: Volleyball state final

Theresa Neuhoff Audia will be providing live coverage from the final games of the state volleyball tournament. (Scroll down to see Thursday's coverage and Friday's coverage.)


New rules in college basketball will be interesting to watch

After scoring in college basketball reached its lowest point since 1951-52, according to the Associated Press, the NCAA tightened up the rules for this season.

Or, more accurately, it loosened things up for teams on offense. Tactics like hand-checking, arm bars and jabbing will be called fouls. It will be also tougher to take a charge.

This has caused some hand-wringing over the possibility of 2 1/2-hour games with 80 free throws and the best players watching from the bench after getting into foul trouble.

The first month of the season will make for some interesting box scores while coaches, players and referees adjust to the calls and each other. But will it end up being that bad?

ESPN's Jay Bilas has a simple solution.

"Yeah, stop fouling," Bilas said during a conference call. "I mean, these are fouls. And they've always been fouls, they haven't been called. I'm telling you, look back at tape from the '80s. And it won't be hard to find.  Look at tape that ‑‑ everybody harkens back to the '80s as the heyday of college basketball. Everything that is now being done that coaches are complaining that you can't do was a foul in the '80s."

What this could come down to is, will referees enforce the rules as they're stated, or will they back off as the season goes on and coaches complain?

"It's been a long time coming," Bilas added. "... Finally we've had some movement where we can get ‑‑ we can stop the organized fouling, and that's what it is. Coaches ‑‑ many coaches have been admitting this. They've been teaching fouling as strategy simply because the referees will not call it. And now it's all these things have been in the rule book, but now they're codified as rules. They were in the back of the rule book in the interpretation section. Now they're actually in the rules. So the referees have no excuse. They have to call these fouls. They've been fouls forever, and they need to call them."

- Howard Primer

Friday Night Live: Week 11: Saturday playoffs

Bookmark this page and come back Saturday night to follow along with our Week 11 high school football coverage.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Live coverage: Boys soccer, Division I state final

Chris Lillstrung will be providing live coverage from the boys soccer Division I state final, Mentor vs. Mason.


Live coverage: Friday at the state volleyball tournament

Theresa Neuhoff Audia will be providing live coverage from the state volleyball tournament. (Scroll down to previous post to see Thursday's coverage.)


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Live coverage: Girls soccer, Division III state final

Chris Lillstrung will be providing live coverage from the girls soccer Division III state final, Hawken vs. Hamilton Badin.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Live coverage: Thursday at the state volleyball tournament

Theresa Neuhoff Audia will be providing live coverage from the state volleyball tournament.


Ride to the state volleyball tournament is busy, exciting

This week has been a reporter's dream for me.
I have three local teams in the state volleyball tournament - Beaumont, Gilmour and Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
How do you explain that?
I proposed the question to VASJ coach Mark Royer and he said it's not only because local athletes participate in Junior Olympic and club volleyball, it's also because local coaches get along and work together.
The Northeast, Ohio volleyball community is a close knit group, and I'm so proud to be a part of it.
Honestly, I know the players and coaches are excited to get to state, and as a reporter, I'm excited to make the trip too. I appreciate all of the good stories, notes and milestones the Royer brothers - Pat (Beaumont), Mark (VASJ) and Kelly Coughlin (Gilmour) have shared with me.
I also appreciate the local athletes taking the time to talk to me. I know they have a very busy week.
If you can't make it to Dayton, follow me on Twitter at @AudiaNHSports. I'll keep you posted throughout the weekend beginning tomorrow with VASJ's state semifinal game.
Beaumont and Gilmour play Friday.
If we are lucky enough, we could possibly have three teams in the state championship games on Saturday.
It makes for a busy weekend for me, but I can't wait.
I'm enjoying the ride.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Friday Night Live: Week 11: Playoffs

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Final look at NH area football regions preview

As a follow-up to an item in this space after Week 5, I wanted to take one last look at the top 12 in each region and see how close - or in some cases how far - my area playoff regions preview came to being. Obviously, only the top eight make it to Week 11 in each region except for the top 16 in Region 1. The reason it's 12 here is because that's what was used in the season preview.

(in alphabetical order; NH area teams in bold and CAPS)
Region 1 (12 of 16)
Projections: Austintown-Fitch, Canton GlenOak, Canton McKinley, Cleveland Heights, Elyria, Hudson, Massillon Perry, MENTOR, North Canton Hoover, Shaker Heights, Solon, St. Edward, St. Ignatius, Toledo Whitmer, Warren Harding, Westerville Central
Missed on: Brunswick, Marysville, Stow-Munroe Falls, Wadsworth

DIVISION II (11 of 12)
Region 3:
Projections: Bedford, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, BRUSH, Glenville, Kent Roosevelt, MADISON, Maple Heights, MAYFIELD, North Olmsted, RIVERSIDE, SOUTH, Westlake
Missed on: Garfield Heights

Region 7 (8 of 12)
Projections: Akron Buchtel, Akron SVSM, Alliance, Aurora, CHARDON, Hubbard, KENSTON, Marlington, Poland Seminary, Ravenna, Warren Howland, WEST GEAUGA
Missed on: Canton South, Louisville, Norton, Tallmadge

Region 8 (9 of 12)
Projections: Clyde, Defiance, Elida, LAKE CATHOLIC, Mansfield Madison, Napoleon, Norwalk, Sandusky Perkins, Tiffin Columbian, Toledo Central Catholic, Toledo Rogers, UNIVERSITY
Missed on: Cloverleaf, Medina Buckeye, Padua

Region 11 (9 of 12)
Projections: BENEDICTINE, Cardinal Mooney, CHAGRIN FALLS, Cleveland Central Catholic, Cortland Lakeview, Edgewood, John Hay, Minerva, NDCL, PERRY, Streetsboro, Struthers
Missed on: CVCA, Fairview, Woodridge

Region 15 (8 of 12)
Projections: Akron Manchester, BEACHWOOD, Canton Central Catholic, Columbiana Crestview, Garrettsville, GILMOUR, Hanoverton United, HAWKEN, Independence, Ursuline, Warren Champion, Youngstown Liberty
Missed on: Black River, Fairless, Harrison Central, Lutheran West

Region 19 (9 of 12)
Projections: Brookfield, Cuyahoga Heights, Dalton, Jeromesville Hillsdale, KIRTLAND, McDonald, Mogadore, Newcomerstown, New Middletown Springfield, Salineville Southern, South Range, St. Thomas Aquinas
Missed on: Jackson-Milton, Sugarcreek Garaway, VASJ

Region 23 (9 of 12)
Projections: Berlin Center Western Reserve, Danville, FAIRPORT, Lucas, Mineral Ridge, Monroeville, Norwalk St. Paul, Plymouth, Southington, Trinity, Wellsville, Youngstown Christian
Missed on: Lowellville, Mapleton, Sebring McKinley

TOTAL: 75 of 100

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, November 1, 2013

Revisiting area's 10 most unbreakable high school football records

In 2008, The News-Herald published a list of the 10 most unbreakable records in area high school football.

Let's look at where those records stand, and a few that might be on the list the next time we de one.

1. Euclid's Robert Smith winning AP Ohio Mr. Football twice: This one is safe.

2. Coach Bill Gutbrod's 310 career victories. All you have to do is average 10 wins a year for more than three decades.

3. Tony Fisher's 37 regular-season touchdowns in 1997. South's Kareem Hunt blew past this record like PAC defenders on the way to the end zone. He had 39 in 2011 and 45 in 2012.

4. Sean McHugh's career rushing yards (5,655). For an idea of how many that is, Hunt rushed for 5,295 yards over three years and was 360 short. To break this record, a running back would have to get on a near 2,000-yard pace as a sophomore.

5. Mentor's 37-game winning streak in the mid-1950s. Depending on how you look at it, it's been broken. Kirtland has won 44 consecutive regular-season games going into Friday. There were no playoffs in the 1950s, so the Cardinals had no opportunity to win -- or lose -- in the postseason. On the other hand, the Hornets of 2012 have a state championship ring. Worth noting is that Kirtland had a 29-game winning streak, including the playoffs, from 2011 until the last game of 2012.

6. Euclid's streak of 18 consecutive winning seasons. The key word is winning, not .500. Chagrin Falls is on a run of 16 winning seasons in 17 years, with a 5-5 mark in 2006. Mentor has been better than .500 in 15 of 16 seasons, with a 5-5 finish in 2005. To not have a down year for that long is difficult.

7. Lake Catholic's back-to-back state titles in 1991 and '92. Kirtland was one win from making it two in a row last year. In hindsight, this one and No. 6 should have been higher on the list.

8. Jim Smith's 1,354 receiving yards in 1999. With today's passing offenses, it's not if, it's when. A couple receivers break the 1,000-yard plateau each season. Mayfield's Ryan Bailey has 1,142 receiving yards going into Friday. So it's probably safe for this season. But how much longer?

9. Kevin Harper's 61-yard field goal in 2007. The circumstances have to be right. But it's not impossible.

10. Wickliffe's 469 points in the 1960 regular season. This one has been broken twice. Kirtland scored 482 points in 2012. This season, the Hornets have scored an astounding 517 points through Week 9.

Here are a few more of interest:

-- As reported before the season, Kirtland's Ryan Loncar has a chance to break the state record for most consecutive starts. He's at 52 before Friday's games. The record is 57, by Mogadore's Tommy Lee.

-- South's Ben Munitz had three punt returns for touchdowns against Wickliffe on Sept. 6, 2002. The cool thing about this record is that it could be another 11 years, or it could fall this week. You never know.

-- O.J. McDuffie's 108-yard interception return for a touchdown for Hawken. Another cool record, because it's 1 yard away from being truly unbreakable, like the next one ...

-- Mentor's Jim Gordon had a 99-yard touchdown run in 1955. The best anyone can do is tie it.

-- Euclid Shore's 127 points against Middlefield in 1930. It would to have to be something like a 77-77 game that goes eight overtimes. Let's hope it's an afternoon game.

-- Howard Primer