The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023

Random Thoughts: football, basketball

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

This pre-Thanksgiving installment of Random Thoughts centers around Saturday’s huge rivalry game, Black Friday football, Division VI and IV semifinal matchups, public vs. private, and Van Wert boys basketball.


It’s the matchup people envisioned before the season even started – 11-0 Ohio St. vs. 11-0 Michigan, No. 2 vs. No. 3.

Michigan is dealing with some injury problems right now but then again, so is Ohio St. This is going to be a tough one, perhaps tougher than many people realize. I’m calling a final margin of seven or less.

Black Friday

I’ve really come to like Black Friday – not for the shopping but for a day full of college football. Some of the games on this Friday’s slate include Baylor/Texas, Nebraska/Iowa and Florida/Florida St. In all, 13 games are on the schedule Friday. Hopefully you’ll get to enjoy some of them.

Division VI semifinals

Columbus Grove and No. 1 Marion Local will meet in the Division VI state semifinals in Lima on Saturday.

The Bulldogs have a chance to even their postseason record against the Flyers. Columbus Grove defeated Marion Local 28-26 for the 2003 Division VI state championship. The other two games in the series have gone to Marion Local.

Marion Local is considered an overwhelming favorite in the game. Columbus Grove has a shot to send shockwaves throughout the region and really, all of Ohio. We’ll see how it turns out.

Division IV semis

Steubenville (12-2) vs. Wyoming (14-0) intrigues me.

This is Steubenville’s 18th state tournament appearance. The school has won four state titles and finished as the runner-up five other times and has qualified for the playoffs every year since 2001. Another fun fact – Steubenville hasn’t lost to a team from Ohio this year. The two losses have come to Linsly, West Virginia (28-27), and Rock Creek Christian, Maryland (36-20).

It’s Wyoming’s eight state tournament appearance. The Cowboys won one title (1975), but this edition might be the best of all the teams in school history. The defense has allowed 35 total points in 14 games, or 2.5 points per game. Wyoming is the first school to record 10 shutouts in a season in the playoff era.

Something has to give on Saturday.


Massillon Washington has a legendary history, claiming two dozen Associated Press poll championships and nine mythical national championships.

One thing the school doesn’t have is an on the field championship. That’s right – since the playoffs began in 1972, the Tigers haven’t won a state championship. They have six runner-up finishes, including 2019 and 2020.

Is this the year? They have a chance, but they’ll need to get by Akron Hoban this Friday, then Toledo Central Catholic or Kings in the title game.

Public vs. private

If you’re keeping track, 28 schools are in the state semifinals in Divisions I-VII. 20 of those are public schools, eight are private.

Cougar hoops

The start of Van Wert’s boys basketball season has been pushed back to December 9, when the Cougars open at home against Celina, then Kalida the following night.

This Friday’s planned season opener against Crestview is now the season finale, February 18, while next weekend’s games against Parkway and Lima Central Catholic have been pushed to January 10 (LCC) and 24 (Parkway).

Here’s the new breakdown – seven games in December, 10 in January and five in February.

As always, if you have thoughts or comments on any of the above topics, feel free to email me at In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

POSTED: 11/22/22 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: Sports