The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

Monday Mailbag: R-14, Van Wert, more

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

This week’s Monday Mailbag features questions about remaining teams in Division IV, Region IV, Van Wert vs. Wauseon, the WBL vs. others and Columbus Grove.

Q: With No. 1 seed Bellevue out of the playoffs in Region 14, how would you rank the remaining teams? Name withheld upon request

A: Right now I think you have to say Van Wert is No. 1, but things get a little murky after that with the next 3-4 teams and there may not be a lot of separation between 1-4. Clyde is playing extremely well right now and Keystone is right there with them, so I’d say they’re 2-3 or perhaps 2-2A. Don’t read too much into Wauseon being a No. 11 seed – this team is dangerous as evidenced by a blowout win at Triway.

After that, I’d say Shelby, then I’d give a slight edge to Port Clinton then Perkins (yes, I know Perkins beat Port Clinton by one early in the season), and Edison, the team that knocked Bellevue out of the postseason. The Chargers will play Perkins on Friday and I believe the Pirates will win that game.

Q: How will Van Wert match up with Wauseon? Kaden Farmer

A: Wauseon (8-3) is probably better than many people realize and playing in the always tough Northwest Ohio Athletic League has prepped them for the playoffs. They’ve played a very tough schedule and their losses have come to opponents with a combined record of 30-3.

The Indians are very physical up front and they have playmakers on the outside. Their quarterback, sophomore Elijah McLeod, threw for 351 yards against Triway.

I’ll have more information in Wednesday’s game preview but there’s no doubt Wauseon is dangerous. It has the potential to be a very interesting playoff game.

Q: Especially considering the results of this weekend, I would like to see your take on the caliber of WBL football compared to elsewhere in Ohio — past and present — and why. Name withheld upon request

A: It certainly was a good weekend for Western Buckeye League teams in the playoffs. They went a combined 5-1, with the Bath being the only loss (14-3 to Liberty-Benton).

As far as the caliber, I think it depends on who you ask. I think it’s highly regarded in this part of the state but I sometimes wonder if it’s slightly underrated elsewhere. Having said that, I think Van Wert may have changed that possible perception.

I do know that St. Marys Memorial did a lot for the WBL back in the 90s and certainly Kenton did the same when the Mauks were playing. The Roughriders literally bulled their way to state championships in 1990, 1992 and 1993 and Kenton appeared in three straight title games and won two (2001, 2002) with an offense that at the time hadn’t really been seen before. The Wildcats also appeared in title games in 2003 and 2011.

It’s more than fair to say Van Wert helped the WBL by making it to the 2000 state championship game as No. 8 seed.

How a team does in the postseason sometimes reflects on a league or conference as a whole.

Q: It’s nice to see someone still has a sense of humor. A lot of people would take offense to being picked sixth in their own conference after winning three straight championships, but not Columbus Grove. It sounds like they took your prediction as a challenge and had some fun with it. Kudos to them. But what were you thinking (I say that in good fun as well)?” Name withheld upon request

A: Yes, it certainly is nice to know that Columbus Grove took it all in stride and congratulations is in order to head coach Andy Shafer and the Bulldogss for finishing the regular season 10-0 and winning a fourth straight NWC championship.

As for what I was thinking – I guess I just overanalyzed the whole thing. It’s not like the cupboard was bare entering the season. Despite losing some great players to graduation they still had some nice players coming back and some that were ready to step up.

Lesson learned – don’t underestimate a winning culture.

If you have a question or comment for the next Monday Mailbag, please email it to sports@thevwindependent.com.

POSTED: 11/01/21 at 3:57 am. FILED UNDER: Sports