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High School Football: 7 things to know about Friday’s regional semifinals

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Dunbar seniors Joseph Scates and Tavion Thomas address a D-III, Region 12 high school football semifinal at practice on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

This is the high school football season Dunbar thought it was going to have last year. Then everything went ka-boom.

“As a program, we’ve taken another step forward just getting over all that adversity that we’ve been through,” Wolverines coach Darran Powell said this week. “It shows our resiliency.”

There is no more unlikely area team remaining in the playoffs than Dunbar, although Chaminade Julienne might have something to say about that. Here’s seven things to know about Friday’s Week 12 games.

These are all 7:30 p.m. region semifinals that will be played at neutral sites. Brackets are set and the Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce Week 13 regional final sites on Sunday.

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Back together again: Dunbar and Trotwood-Madison have established their boys basketball programs as the best in the area. Those are must-see showdowns. And so too is this Division III, Region 12 matchup.

This is not the same Dunbar that was toasted 42-0 by Belmont in Week 1. Dunbar made its grandest statement by outlasting host Goshen 28-27 in last week’s playoff opener. Tavion Thomas’ two-point conversion run on the game’s final play was the difference.

That propelled Dunbar (8-3) into the semis against Trotwood (11-0) at Butler. A heavy favorite to win a state title, Trotwood whacked Elida 48-7 in its opener. Dunbar and Trotwood haven’t played in football since the 2012 season, a 62-0 Trotwood rout.

“This is the game we’ve been preparing for all season when we found out we were in the same division and region,” Dunbar standout receiver Joseph Scates said. “That’s what made us work harder so we could get a good record and go to the playoffs and play these boys.”

It’s a matchup of two great running backs, seniors Ra’veion Hargrove of Trotwood and Dunbar’s Tavion Thomas. Hargrove will end his career among the area’s all-time career rushing leaders. He needs 237 yards to hit 2,000 for the season. He recently decommitted from Bowling Green State University and is being wooed by Michigan State, among others.

Thomas need less than 100 yards to crack 2,000 this season. He’s verbally committed to Oklahoma.

“All I’m going to say is we’re ready,” Thomas said. “We’re going to prove that we can hang with anybody.”

Getting defensive: Centerville (10-1) has posted two straight shutouts, including last week’s 35-0 defeat of Hilliard Darby. That enabled Centerville to be the last Greater Western Ohio Conference still playing in D-I, Region 3, because, Fairmont, Northmont and Wayne all lost playoff openers.

Centerville’s senior combo of quarterback Alec Grandin and receiver Jake Spiewak have it going. Grandin has thrown for 2,351 yards, 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The GWOC’s leading receiver, the 6-foot-4 Spiewak has 66 catches for 1,011 yards and 10 TDs.

Those two will get the defensive attention of Pickerington North (9-2), which ousted Wayne 41-20. It’s also a rematch of their Week 3 game that host Centerville won, 27-26. The do-over will be played at Springfield’s Evans Stadium.

Can’t beat that: Sidney (10-1) is the third GWOC team still playing. The Yellow Jackets handed Belmont its first loss last week. Their reward is a matchup against Cincinnati La Salle (8-3), the D-II three-time defending state champion, at Miamisburg in a D-II, Region 8 semi.

Sidney has ridden senior running back Isaiah Bowser, the area’s leading rusher (2,617 yards, 32 TDs). Good thing, because the Sidney defense has allowed 32 or more points eight times.

Upset special: CJ landed the knockout that stunned the D-III, Region 12 field with a 49-28 blowout of rival Alter last week. Just the week before Alter hammered host CJ 34-6 to win a Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North title.

If CJ (8-3) can get past New Richmond (9-2) at Monroe, the Eagles will play the Trotwood/Dunbar winner in a regional final.

The beat goes on: Valley View (11-0) is among the state’s few remaining unbeaten teams and also has posted two straight shutouts. Paced by senior running back Collin Genslinger (863 yards, 11 TDs) and senior QB Collin Wood (1,426 yards passing, 16 TDs, 652 yards rushing) and a lock-down defense, the Spartans appear the have the right stuff to match up against Clinton-Massie (10-1) at Beavercreek.

Look for this winner to play for a state championship.

MAC attack: All that stands in the way of a Marion Local vs. Coldwater rematch is Spencerville and Lima Central Catholic. Marion Local (11-0) gets Spencerville (9-2) at Piqua and Coldwater (8-3) is matched against LCC (10-1) at Wapakoneta in D-VI, Region 24.

Two more MAC teams are making runs in D-VII, Region 28. Minster (7-4) is paired against Convoy Crestview (10-1) at Lima and Delphos St. John’s (7-4) will play Lehman Catholic (10-1) at Harrod Allen East. Both Minster and Delphos took their lumps in regular-season MAC play, but have recharged for the postseason.

By the numbers: There are 719 football teams in Ohio that belong to the OHSAA. Of those, 224, or 31.2 percent), qualified for the playoffs. There still remain 58 programs that have yet to qualify since the playoffs began in 1972.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

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Former Florida State TE coach called out for contradicting himself on Twitter

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:17 AM

Tim Brewster-Florida State-Florida State football-Texas A&M

Seemingly every year, college football coaches, players and fans alike argue which is the best conference in the country. But be aware of changing sides in the argument.

Former Florida State tight end coach Tim Brewster might be learning that the hard way this week. When ex-Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher called the ACC the best football conference in the country last summer, Brewster quickly agreed on Twitter.

But then on Saturday, Brewster, who followed Fisher to Texas A&M to become the Aggies tight end coach, tweeted about how “the greatest stage” in college football is really in the SEC.

Tuesday morning, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Cale Gundy hilariously called out Brewster for his contradiction, tweeting a screenshot of Brewster’s two tweets side-by-side.

That’s a pretty great troll job. Well done, Gundy.

The post Former Florida State TE coach called out for contradicting himself on Twitter appeared first on Diehards.

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Sports Today: Joey Votto says what everyone is thinking

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 10:12 AM

The Reds’ Zack Cozart, left, slaps hands with Joey Votto after hitting a home run against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
The Reds’ Zack Cozart, left, slaps hands with Joey Votto after hitting a home run against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Joey Votto proved again he is the greatest by not only saying a bunch of cool stuff but waiting until Monday to do it so it wouldn’t get lost over a three-day weekend. 

The Cincinnati Reds first baseman sounded like one part fan, one part player, one part owner and all wise man in his first comments of this season. 

votto on winning digital

Joey Votto on current state of Reds: “Something has to start changing and going in a different direction”

Here are the cliff notes: 

  • It’s time to win now — or at least make winning soon look realistic. 
  • Fans are justified in feeling frustrated if that doesn’t happen. 
  • The team is on the right course as far as trusting who is on the roster — but those guys better feel some urgency to get the job done now. 
  • They’ve been smart not to sign any contracts that could compromise future roster flexibility. (Votto’s mega-deal looked like it would be an exception when he signed it, but the market has caught and passed him.) 

I approve of all of these messages. 

I’m excited to see how the young pitchers do this season and who in the lineup proves he has staying power. 

Votto is unique among star athletes in that he can say reasonably what others might make sound like a hot take or empty rhetoric. 

“It’s time to win!” is easy to say. 

It’s what should be said, probably, and therefore it’s easy to dismiss. 

But with Votto it’s like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” 

Of course, Votto’s ability to replicate his amazing 2017 is going to be a big key to the Reds getting better as a team in 2018, especially with Zack Cozart’s exit… 

Meanwhile, basketball season chugged on with Dayton and Wright State winning (twice in the case of the Raiders) and Ohio State losing again. 

I was at the Nutter Center on Friday night and very impressed with what I saw as the Raiders outlasted Northern Kentucky 69-67 to move back into first place in the Horizon League. 

The WSU and NKU provided a reminder that the NCAA tournament needs more of these teams and fewer boring middle-of-the-road Power 5 teams with double-digit losses. 

›› HARTMAN: Don’t look now, but Wright State is for real

Nebraska might have a better roster (then again, it might not), but the Cornhuskers already squandered multiple chances to prove they are one of the best 30 or so teams in the country. 

Why give them another? 

I picked Nebraska in part because they were the subject of a Mid-Major Madness editorial on just this topic, but I’m sure there are a dozen other teams that fit the bill just as well if not better. 

The point of playing a tournament, especially one this large, is not to name the best teams but to see who would win if they all were put into a pool and had to play each other. 

It’s to see who can prove they are the best — or at least give us a hell of a thrill trying. 

And what’s more thrilling, seeing a Horizon League team try to knock off a Power 5 champion or watching another Power 5 team that already lost 10 times to similar foes do it? 

Pretty easy for me to answer — especially seeing just how many talented players were on those rosters Friday night… 


Wright State avoided a letdown loss last night. 

Grant Benzinger scored 20 points on his Senior Night, leaving the Raiders two wins from at least a share of the Horizon League championship and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. 

Benzinger rallies Raiders on Senior Night

Ohio State and Dayton are back in action tonight. 

The Flyers play host to Saint Louis. The game is on ESPNU if you can’t make it out to UD Arena. 

The Billikens already beat Dayton once this season, but the home team is the favorite according to KenPom. 

Two interesting things happened for the Flyers over the weekend: Coach Anthony Grant picked up his second recruit for the 2018 class and he played a walk-on minutes over veteran point guard John Crosby

Here’s what you need to know about the newest Flyer, Jhery Matos

Regarding the current team, I think it is pretty clear Grant has been handling minutes with an eye on the future all season. 

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He’s done this in two ways: Some players seem to be allowed to play through mistakes while others haven’t been afforded even the time to make them. 

I am of the opinion a similar approach has paid off for Wright State coach Scott Nagy, who has his guys playing the way he wants them to in his second year in Fairborn, but there is certainly risk. 

» FORDHAM GAME: NotesWesterfield sees actionPhotosGame story

No coach wins without good players, but few teams succeed without everyone being on board with personal expectations, either. 

If Grant is trying to send a message to some of his players (who obviously have the physical ability to play at this level) it comes with the risk of some of those players deciding to go elsewhere. 

Maybe that, too, will lead to a team being better than the sum of its parts, but only time will tell… 

Postgame press conference: Dayton's Anthony Grant after beating Fordham(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Along those same lines: Ohio State’s thin roster has been exposed late in what was a dream season that is starting to look more like just a nice story. 

Penn State might just be a bad matchup for the Buckeyes, but Michigan was clearly better in a Sunday showdown in Ann Arbor. 

The Wolverines have a coach who has been recruiting his types of guys and developing them for years now while the end of Thad Matta’s career at Ohio State was marked by disinterested play, recruiting mismatches and mistakes and eventually numerous transfers. 

Matta’s attempt to reset the program two years ago didn’t work. 

Now Chris Holtmann has done a lot of good stuff with what is left, but the reality these Buckeyes are limited offensively may be setting in. 

They play Rutgers tonight in the final home game of the season. Then it’s a trip to Indiana that could be tricky. 

After the Big Ten tournament, they’ll have almost two weeks off, so at least fatigue shouldn’t be a problem when the Big Dance rolls around. 

Everyone knowing the team has to play offensively through Keita Bates-Diop probably still will be, though. 

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Penny Hardaway thinks he’s ready to be a college head coach. Will Ole Miss, Memphis or someone else roll the dice?

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:12 AM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There has been plenty of speculation lately about Penny Hardaway jumping from the high school ranks, where he has Memphis East bidding for a third straight state title, to a college head-coaching job. He’s been mentioned for the vacancy at Ole Miss and the not-yet-vacant seat at his alma mater, Memphis.

But is Hardaway actually actively pursuing a move like that? He certainly isn’t running from it.

“It’s a huge compliment for any college to even think about wanting me to come in. I feel like I bring a lot to the table even though I haven’t coached college,” he told SEC Country on Monday after his team’s practice. “I feel like my NBA experience and the coaches I’ve had over the years, I’ve learned enough to be a head coach in college. But I’m really enjoying this right now and coaching these guys.”

Hardaway, a native of Memphis who became an All-American for the Memphis Tigers and then earned more than $100 million during a decade and a half in the NBA, has been mostly tight-lipped about all this college coaching talk as the Mustangs pursue a 3-peat and the program’s record ninth Tennessee state championship.

He was a bit more open to the idea Monday, though, going as far as to give SEC Country his pitch for any college athletic director thinking of taking a chance on him.

“I’d just talk about my experience — my experience playing in the NBA. I think that’s enough,” said the 46-year-old Hardaway. “If you played on the highest level, you understand how to run practices, you understand how to run a team, you understand how to get kids to know what they need to do. And basketball isn’t rocket science, man. It’s not like somebody can reinvent the wheel. You’re not going to reinvent it.

“It is what it is, and that’s playing hard on both ends of the floor, playing together on both ends of the floor, and if you can get your kids to do that — I’m confident I can do that on any level.”

Oh, and then there’s the primary reason Hardaway is being mentioned for these jobs without having had so much as an assistant-coaching gig at the college level: his ability to attract top talent. The No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2019, James Wiseman, transferred to East this season after playing on the Nike-sponsored Team Penny AAU team over the summer.

RELATED: Wiseman talks Penny, Kentucky, reclassifying

Team Penny also includes 5-star 2019 forward DJ Jeffries, while East’s roster is stocked with a half-dozen Division I prospects, including top-100 2019 forward Malcolm Dandridge and top-50 2019 wing Chandler Lawson (who has a freshman brother on the team and two older brothers at Kansas).

“My son played on the (Nike AAU circuit) for three years,” Hardaway said, “and I just built a lot of relationships with guys, watching guys, going around and seeing different games, kids coming up and shaking my had. I had relationships with [2017 NBA lottery picks] Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr., Bam Adebayo. To have those relationships, yeah, absolutely that is an advantage.”

In other words: Your move, Ole Miss, Memphis or anyone else looking for a former NBA star with recruiting cache to energize a stagnant program.

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Florida coach Dan Mullen inheriting more talent than predecessors

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:09 AM

Welcome to Chomp Chat, SEC Country’s  daily Florida podcast with reporter Zach Abolverdi and Gators broadcaster Jeff Cardozo.

First-year Florida coach Dan Mullen is inheriting 17 returning starters on offense and defense.

In the latest edition of Chomp Chat, Zach Abolverdi and Jeff Cardozo discuss the talent Mullen has to work with in 2018 and how it compares to his predecessors.

You can listen to the  podcast on iTunes or below on SoundCloud.

Miss a previous edition? Find every episode of SEC Country’s daily Florida Gators  podcast right here.

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