Ohio prep football conference remains one of toughest

Published 12:46 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

The big debate around the Midwest Athletic Conference is this: Is it harder to win the league title, or to win a state title?

After all, in each of the last three years MAC teams have won two state playoff championships.

Fortunately for the rest of Ohio, the conference doesn’t have teams in all six divisions.

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The MAC has started out strong again, going 18-2 in the first two weeks of the season since changing from a nine-game league schedule to an eight game schedule where each school does not face one conference foe.

The two state champions from the MAC last season, Division IV champion Coldwater and Division V No. 1 Marion Local — which are No. 1s in the first weekly Associated Press rankings, are both 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the MAC heading into their showdown this weekend at Cavalier Stadium in Coldwater.

UPSETVILLE: Anyone trying to figure out the best teams in the Wooster area are on shaky ground. Take, for example, what happened on Friday night.

Triway, led by Ben Cline’s 210 yards rushing and 2 TDs, beat Applecreek Waynedale 15-12 and Loudonville topped Jeromesville Hillsdale 19-14. The Titans and Redbirds won three and zero games, respectively, last year and lost to the opponents they turned the tables on by scores of 35-0 and 40-14. They have already combined for more wins (4) than they had all last season.

GOING STREAKING: Ashland Crestview (3-0) hasn’t allowed a point through three games and hasn’t given up a point in its last four games dating back to last year’s finale; Wellsville is averaging 49 points a game in a 3-0 start, with freshman Nick Dalrymple totaling 340 rushing yards on only 16 carries (21.3 average); New Middletown Springfield is 3-0 after going 2-8 last season; Cincinnati Colerain has won its last 32 regular-season games and last 44 at home (dating to 1999); and Cincinnati Elder beat neighboring rival Oak Hills 30-7 for the Panthers’ 23rd straight win in the series, including one playoff game.

HOT IN COLDWATER: Coldwater place-kicker Mario de la Rosa extended his streak of consecutive extra points made to 74 after making all seven in a 49-0 win over Versailles; and teammate Tony Harlamert broke a school record when he caught a pass in his 29th straight game, breaking the mark set by Matt Bruns in 2000. The state record is 35, held by Jimmy Jewett of New Lebanon Dixie from 1999 to 2002.

THE D NEVER RESTS: Ian Pingitore returned a fumble 65 yards for a TD and Tra’Cario Thompson went 45 yards with another to lead Mansfield Senior to a 34-24 win over Marion Harding.

NUMBERS, PLEASE: Michigan recruit Fitzgerald Toussaint of Youngstown Liberty rushed for 261 yards and scored four TDs in a 30-13 win over Campbell Memorial, giving him 585 yards and 8 TDs through 3 games; Fredericktown’s C.J. Ruhl rushed for four TDs (9, 2, 13, 12) and caught four passes for 39 yards and a TD (19 yards) in a 38-7 win over North Robinson Colonel Crawford; Anna QB Wesley Hunsucker was 13-of-18 passing for 468 yards and eight TDs as the Rockets improved to 3-0 with a 68-21 win over Fort Recovery; Salineville Southern’s Nathan Melhorn has 719 rushing yards on 69 carries (10.4 average) with 5 TDs as the Indians started the season 3-0 for only the second time since 1978; Shane Ewing of Berlin Center Western Reserve has thrown for 505 yards, averaging over 18 yards per completion, and has 6 TDs in his team’s 3-0 start; Sheridan’s Brian Crader carried 32 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-14 win over Chillicothe; Wauseon’s Landon Schaffner rushed for 3 TDs in a win over Swanton, and added two more through the air; McComb’s Kevan Westenbarger completed 31-of-44 passes for 449 yards and four TDs, but Pandora-Gilboa sacked Westenbarger nine times and intercepted him three more — all of which were returned for scores — in a 55-41 win.

NOTEWORTHY: Philo’s Chase Fuller returned two kickoffs 72 and 84 yards for touchdowns, his team’s only scores in a 44-14 loss to New Lexington; Middletown’s Caleb Watkins threw for a personal-best 307 yards in a win over Lima Senior, and has totaled 849 yards in the air in the first three games; Eric Finklea rushed 20 times for 243 yards and 3 TDs as Cincinnati Woodward beat Lockland 48-6; Tyler Williams carried 15 times for 240 yards and two TDs and fellow soph Trayion Durham had 21 carries for 184 yards and two TDs as top-ranked Cincinnati Colerain beat Highlands (Ky.) 33-18; Cincinnati Sycamore’s Bud Golden rushed 12 times for 239 yards and three TDs in a 44-6 win over Roger Bacon; Sherwood Fairview’s Ben Wonderly had 18 receptions including two for TDs in a loss to Archbold; Ada’s Kyle Baker, who caught 100 passes for 1,573 yards and 16 TDs last season, had 16 receptions for 199 yards and a score in a 34-19 win over Columbus Grove; and Findlay Liberty-Benton’s Aaron Craft, who recently gave a verbal commitment to play basketball for Tennessee, completed 19-of-20 passes for 246 yards and 4 TDs in a 52-0 win over Vanlue.

ELEMENT OF SURPRISE: St. Marys Memorial came back from 20-7 to beat Celina 25-20 to win the Battle of Grand Lake for the 10th straight time. The win came with 1:05 left when the Roughriders faked a 21-yard field goal and quarterback-holder Jake Taylor found Paul Lauth for a 4-yard pass in the end zone.

YOU DA MAN: Fostoria’s Micah Hyde is generating considerable college interest and it’s easy to understand why. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound quarterback/safety, who earlier this season broke the schools career passing record held by former Mr. Football Derek Kidwell (over 5,700 yards), has been extremely clutch for the 3-0 Redmen. Hyde threw for 106 yards and one TD, rushed for 108 yards and two scores and kicked the PATs in a 21-7 win over Ottawa-Glandorf; threw for one TD, ran for another and kicked a game-winning 22-yard field goal in a 24-21 win over Bowling Green; and this past Friday drove his team 52 yards, scored a touchdown with 21 seconds left, and ran for the 2-point conversion in a 42-35 win over Toledo Whitmer.

UNDERMANNED: Fostoria St. Wendelin had to forfeit the last two games of the 2003 season because of a lack of healthy bodies and has gone 4-36 since. So the Mohawks are moving from the Midland Athletic League to the Northwest Central Conference next year. St. Wendelin has 12 seniors but just two juniors and no sophomores on the roster. The Mohawks are going down fighting, though. With 11 of those 12 seniors starting on both sides, the Mohawks are 3-0.