Monday, August 24, 2009

Northwest Ohio top 10

Beginning today I'll post my top ten football teams in Northwest Ohio regardless of division.

My definition of Northwest Ohio is that area north of US 30 and west of US 250.

Agree, disagree, comment, tell us who you think belongs in the top ten. It's all in good fun.

Here we go....

1. Sylvania Southview
The defending DII champs move up to the big school division this year. Despite the divisonal change the Cougars will not miss a beat. Southview will want to prove they can compete. Week one has them hosting Toledo St. Francis.

2. Toledo Whitmer
The Panthers are expected to be one of the challengers for a playoff spot in region two. Whitmer has fared well in their preseason scrimmages against Findlay and Perrysburg. Friday night finds the Panthers at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin battling the Columbian Tornadoes.

3. Toledo Central Catholic
A familiar face in the DII playoffs of late the Fighting Irish want to wipe away the memories of their quick exit in the 2008 postseason. CCHS opens the season Friday night at Bowling Green.

4. Fremont Ross
The Little Giants really want to wipe away the near-miss label they have achieved in the past two seasons. Ross just missed the postseason in '07 and '08. Many folks believe this talented Little Giant squad could make a playoff run. Ross hosts Toledo Start at Don Paul Stadium Friday night.

5. Genoa
The Comets, a team that pushed Kettering Alter in the playoffs in '08, are back and are the favorites in the Suburban Lakes League. Genoa opens the season at Rossford on Friday night.

6. Bellevue
The Redmen, a playoff qualifier in 2008 return some talent and have high hopes in 2009. Bellevue would like to take the NOL title away from Tiffin Columbian and return to the playoffs in 2009.

7. Clyde
The Fliers, defending champs of the Sandusky Bay Conference are the favorites once again.
Clyde will need to hit the ground running as they will be at always tough Eastwood on Friday night.

8. Kenton
The Wildcats have a familiar, and talented, name at QB. Sophomore Matt Mauk will lead the offense for his fathers Kenton squad. Kenton will find out quick just how good they are with a Friday night contest at Coldwater.

9. Defiance
The Bulldogs won the Western Buckeye League title in '08 and made a playoff appearance. They'd like to repeat that this season. The 'Dogs are a favorite along with Kenton in the WBL.

10. Eastwood
The Eagles will once again challenge Genoa for the SLL title. The Eagles open the season against a very tough Clyde squad on Friday night.

On the radar screen...
Toledo St. Francis
Toledo St. Johns
Bowling Green
Tiffin Columbian
Norwalk St. Paul
Patrick Henry

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And it begins again...for the 115th time

The dog days of summer begin to wind down. The sunlight becomes dim at an earlier hour. The crickets chirp louder and the desperate bees become more aggressive.
Ah yes, the signs of seasonal change. Another summer begins to fade into fall. We know that soon enough the leaves will begin to change and the thoughts will become the cold and snow.

But before all of that our thoughts are focused on one thing and one thing only, Little Giant football. The 115th edition hits the field very soon and that means new memories will be added to the old ones that live forever.

You know the memories I am talking about. We've all experienced them. We remember them well.

The anticipation of the game all week
Walking down Woodson way amid the giant footprints
Seeing the lines at the gate buying tickets
The sound of the Marching Little Giants coming down Franklin Ave. before the game
The smell of Heinz Ketchup in the air
The sound of the big crowds of the past
The Marching Little Giants running onto the field for pregame
Standing and singing the alma mater
Gary Kaltenbachs voice announcing halftime
Larry Jacksons recognizable voice announcing "touchdown Fremont Ross!'
The Pioneers sugar towers in the distance
The ghosts of Tiller, Lewis, Liggins, Lytle, Woodson and more haunting the field
Remembering Binkley, Mackey, Shuff, and Moore prowling the sidelines
The old scoreboards at the northest and south ends of the field
Memories of Harmon Stadium and the "junior high" section in the south endzone
The crowd spelling F-R-E-M-O-N-T after the band plays The March of the Little Giants
The church steeples off to the southeast
The great days of the Buckeye Conference
The memorable battles with Sandusky
...and the happy walks back to our cars or home after another Little Giant win.

Yes the 114th edition of Ross football is just around the corner and the excitement that comes with it is in the air.

Sure the cold and snow are coming closer and closer. But we'll think about that later, we have more important things to consider. We're Little Giant fans.

See you at the Don!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ross and the NOL....a good match

Fremont Ross belongs in the Nothern Ohio League. Now I realize that many regular forum visitors will say whoa there buster, You've been against this for most of this year. Why the change now? That is a fair question and I hope to effectively answer it here.

As the league-change dominos began to fall last year with the move by Fostoria St. Wendelin out of the Midland Athletic League we all saw the writing on the wall. That simple move would eventually create a sea-change in league and conference memberships in Northwestern and North-Central Ohio. Next came Lakota, then Galion and Upper Sandusky, followed by the collapse of the Suburban Lakes League, and on and on.

In the meantime Little Giant fans, including myself were wondering, what would happen to us? Where would Fremont Ross wind up? The Northern Lakes League? Nope. The move by Napoleon from the GBC to the NLL, paired with the fact that the brief talk of an NLL expansion to 10 or 12 teams went nowhere eliminated that possibility. The Toledo City League? Not so far. The fact that Oregon Clay was told no by the NLL and will for now remain in the TCL seems to have wiped that chance away. A new league made up of Ross, Findlay and the TCL privates?
Seems like that long talked about dream will remain just that. An expanded Greater Buckeye Conference? No way in heck that will ever happen as only four teams remain and no one is beating down the door to get in.

That leaves the Northern Ohio League. With todays announcement that NOL member Fostoria has been extended an invitation to join the Northern Buckeye Conference, which is a given, the NOL will drop back to six members. New member Sandusky joins Tiffin Columbian, Norwalk, Bellevue, Willard, and Shelby. A six team league can work, but as the GBC has discovered it's not as easy to function with six members as it is with eight.

Some long time NOL folks are holding out hope that some way, somehow, they can lure Clyde and Perkins out of the Sandusky Bay Conference. The Fliers and Pirates were two of the programs that were sent letters of interest from the NOL this past spring. The answer to those letters was a resounding no, we're fine right where we are. The SBC is a stable league. Sure, some folks will point to Margarettas current financial state and the possiblity that there will be no Polar Bear sports teams soon. But that situation, much like what happened in Huron will resolve itself and things will be fine in Castalia.

Recently a Toledo Blade sports article quoted Ross AD Art Bucci as saying that back in April we sent a letter of interest to the NOL. As of this time there has been no response by the Northern Ohio to that letter of interest. Why is that? The simple answer is the Fremont Ross and the NOL are a good match and in the long run we will need each other.

Ross has a history of athletic competition with the six teams that will remain in the NOL once Fostoria leaves, and I am not just talking about football here. While the pigskin is a huge part of the scenario it is not the whole story and must not be the determining factor. Little Giant athletic teams play NOL teams in many sports. We play Willard in basketball, Norwalk in soccer, Bellevue in baseball, and Columbian in all sports. We are competitive with those programs. We do not dominate them.

Then there is the issue of travel and ecomomics. Fremont is centrally located to almost all of the remaining NOL schools. The cost of travel for them and us would be drastically reduced. It's a win-win situation. When Fremont comes to town the gate receipts would go up as we all know Little Giant fans travel well. If we can take 1,000 fans or more to Reynoldsburg, image how many would show up in Bellevue or Norwalk.

I believe there is a reason the Northern Ohio League has not responded yet to the letter of interest from Fremont Ross. I think they too, realize that in the long run if they want their conference to survive they will need us as we, quite frankly, need them. I urge the athletic department and administration to continue to court the NOL. In the long run it will be a good match.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

So are we arrogant?

"Your attitude precedes you". "Leagues won't admit you because of your attitude".

These are two comments that some of us have encountered on a statewide sports forum from a few fans of other schools in the past few weeks. Their intent is to make us, and others, believe that somehow Fremont Ross fans as a whole have a bad attitude. We supposedly think we are better than everyone else, or in laymans terms, we think our "stuff" doesn't stink.

Is it true?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this topic, about what has been said, and about the people who have been saying it. In my humble opinion the answer is a resounding NO, it is not true.

What attitude are they talking about? Sure, we have fans who are more vocal than others. what program doesn't? There are folks out there who live, eat and breathe Fremont Ross athletics who cannot see anything but purple and white and believe our athletic program is better than everyone elses. Show me a program that does not have fans like that. I can direct you to posts on statewide internet forums by fans of other programs that are just as bad. Some of those posts are from people from other GBC schools. Some are from NOL and NLL schools. Yes, the same NOL and NLL that some people say don't want us because of our attitude. I continually read posts by a particular Findlay fan that makes things Fremonters say look meek in comparison.

I've been following Ross athletics for four decades now and in all honesty can tell you that I rarely, if ever, run into a Little Giant fan who doesn't understand that showing class and sportsmanship is key. Respect your opponent and expect the same in return. That is what I learned early on from my fellow Ross fans. Are we perfect? Of course not. Do we sometimes get riled up? You bet. Are there times when we get carried away with our success and tradition? Yes. Those things are not specific to Fremont. Fans of all programs get that way. Saying that just Fremont Ross fans do these things is flat out wrong.

Then there is the whole issue of other leagues allegedly not wanting us because of the attitude of our fans. Our fans? Really? A potential new league is going to avoid us because we allegedly have fans who are too boisterous? Too proud? The example I was given involved supposed comments to an individual from two NLL programs that we have had very few athletic events against. A potential new league is going to ignore the great tradition, the great facilities, the big gate receipts they would get when Ross comes to town because of our fans attitude? What are we supposed to do? Sit on our hands? Stop being proud? That's ridiculous. After all aren't they supposed to be concerned about the attitude of our AD? The administration? The coaches? In other words, the people they'll be dealing with regularly?

Now not everyone out there thinks we Ross fans have bad attitudes. Many folks have come to our defense. Fans from Whitmer, Findlay, Lima, Marion and yes, even Sandusky have stepped up to say that this whole bad attitude stuff in unfounded and not true. And these are people who we have a long and proud tradition of competing against. People who would know better than anyone.

So yes, we have fans with attitude, and probably some fans who could be defined as arrogant. But none more than any other program. And the bottom line is that it is unfair and just plain wrong for others to be accusing us of anything more.