Ohio Highs

Published 1:04 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In China, 2009 was the year of the ox and 2010 is the year of the tiger.

In Athens, Ohio, 2009-10 was the year of the Bobcats.

During the past college school year Ohio University won the Mid-American Conference East Division championship in football and played Marshall in the Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl. The men’s basketball team was the MAC tournament champion and upset Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

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The women’s volleyball team captured the MAC title and the field hockey team also claimed the conference championship.

“It’s a great time to be a Bobcats,” said Ohio director of broadcasting and radio play-by-play announcer Russ Eisenstein during Tuesday’s Bobcat Caravan stop at End Zone Pizza in Ironton.

“This was the year of the cat. We’ve had unparallell success. Now the other challenge is to keep it going.”

One person who wants to keep it going is head football coach Frank Solich. In his previous five years, Solich has done pretty well.

Solich (23-26 in five seasons) gave Ohio the MAC East Division title in 2006, the school’s first football championship of any kind since 1968. But he is not satisfied with past accomplishments.

“We’ve taken a few steps, but we hope to take even more steps,” said Solich who wants his team to get its third bowl big in five years.

Solich said his goal is to achieve consistency in the program, but that consistency will be challenged early this season as the Bobcats non-league schedule includes trips to Ohio State and Marshall among its first four games.

The Bobcats open with Wofford and also have an early game against MAC opponent Toledo.

While the game at Ohio State is a one-year deal to face the top-five ranked Buckeyes, the game with Marshall begins a six-game series.

Solich is happy to renew the Marshall series.

“We need to flood Marshall with Ohio U. people and get that rivalry to grow where they don’t like us,” said Solich with a chuckle.

“They have a new coaching staff and do a good job and they have a great program.”

Not only is the program having team success, but Solich noted that many individual players are playing getting a chance at the NFL including wide receiver Taylor Price who became the first player drafted in the first three rounds to sign a contract.

Price was drafted by New England.

“We feel we have more guys who can go on to play at the next level,” said Solich.

Among the players who carry big-time credentials are wide receivers LaVon Brazill who is one of the top return men in the country, linebacker Noah Keller and placekicker Matt Weller.

“”We have more depth in our program than ever before,” said Solich. “I noticed in the MAC that when you get hurt you’re not the same team as before. You need depth.”

The Bobcats’ home schedule includes: Sept. 4 Wofford; Sept. 11 Toledo; Oct. 9 Bowling Green; Oct. 16 Akron; Oct. 30 Louisiana Lafayette; Nov. 4 Buffalo.

Various ticket packages are available. Fans should contact the Ohio ticket off at 1-800-575-2287.