The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The latest installment of Random Thoughts centers around Massillon Washington, ranking the state title games, Ohio St. fans, Ohio St.’s playoff hopes, a what if scenario and a rule change refresher.

It is time?

Is this the year Massillon Washington finally wins an on-the-field football state championship?

We’ll find out Thursday night, when they face Akron Hoban in the Division II title game. The Tigers are 0-6 in state championship games. I’m actually kind of rooting for them to win it.

Ranking the state title games

This is strictly my opinion, but here is how I rank this week’s state championship games:

No. 7 – Toledo Central Catholic vs. Columbus Bishop Watterson
No. 6 – Glenville vs. Kettering Alter
No. 5 – Springfield vs. Lakewood St. Edward
No. 4 – Marion Local vs. Dalton
No. 3 – Perry vs. Liberty Center
No. 2 – Massillon Washington vs. Akron Hoban
No. 1 – Kirtland vs. Versailles

Let me explain…

Here’s how I came to those rankings.


POSTED: 11/28/23 at 4:32 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have announced a new three-year contract that will keep the OHSAA football state championships in Canton at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium through 2026. The agreement includes two option years. The current three-year contract is set to expire after this week’s state finals.

OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute made the announcement Monday in Canton at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. Ute was in Canton to speak to the members as part of his annual visit with the group on Monday of state championships week.

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium will host state championship games through 2026. Visit Canton photo

“We are excited to continue to grow this partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Ute said. “They have been so good to work with and are just as excited as us to take the next steps with the finals in Canton and have people experience all that the Hall of Fame, the surrounding Hall of Fame Village, and Canton have to offer in addition to state championship football. We also thank Visit Canton for their support of the state championships and appreciate their support to host the games in Stark County.”

“The Pro Football Hall of Fame is proud to partner with Visit Canton and the OHSAA to keep the seven state championship games in Canton for the next three years,” said Jim Porter, Hall of Fame president. “The Hall wants this relationship to continue long into the future. Our staff will look for additional ways to build the weekend into a full community celebration – making the experience even more special for the teams playing in Canton and creating memories that will last a lifetime.”

After Ohio Stadium in Columbus hosted the state championships throughout the 1980s, the finals moved to Massillon and Canton in Stark County from 1990 through 2013. The finals moved back to The Ohio State University from 2014-16, which was also when Fawcett Stadium in Canton was torn down and Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was built, which has hosted the state finals since 2017 except in 2020 due to the pandemic, when the finals were hosted in Massillon.

“Visit Canton is delighted that the OHSAA has selected Stark County to continue as host of its state high school football championship games. Without question, this event has become a cornerstone for our community for several decades,” said Allyson Bussey, president and CEO of Visit Canton. “We continue our commitment to support this longstanding partnership with the OHSAA and Pro Football Hall of Fame and look forward to welcoming the teams, coaches and fans to Canton.”

All seven 2023 state championship games will be played in Canton this Thursday through Saturday.

POSTED: 11/27/23 at 1:59 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Following Friday night’s state semifinals, the matchups are now set for the 52nd annual Ohio High School Athletic Association football state championship games, which kick off Thursday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Six of the seven top-ranked teams in the final Associated Press state poll have reached the state championship games (all but Division IV). Four of the state championship games feature a pair of Top 5 ranked teams squaring off, and one of the games (Division V) features the undefeated No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams.

The No. 12 seed in its region with a 5-5 regular-season record, Springfield is now 10-5 and has reached the Division I state championship game. Of the 14 state finalists, 10 were No. 1 seeds in their region, two were No. 2 seeds, one was a No. 4 seed and one was a No. 12 seed.

OHSAA Football State Championship Pairings

Division II

No. 1 Massillon Washington (15-0) vs. No. 3 Akron Archbishop Hoban (13-1), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Division VI

No. 1 Kirtland (14-1) vs. Versailles (13-2), Friday, 10:30 a.m.

Division III

No. 1 Toledo Central Catholic (15-0) vs. No. 4 Columbus Bishop Watterson (14-1), Friday, December 1, 3 p.m.


POSTED: 11/27/23 at 4:34 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Myia Etzler (2) scores two of her 14 points during Crestview’s 51-29 win over Ottoville on Saturday. Ellie Kline led the Lady Knights with 16 points, including 12 in the third quarter, and Cali Gregory also hit double digits with 11. Crestview outscored the Big Green 30-6 in the second half. Jessica Burgei led Ottoville with 12 points. Both teams will return to action Tuesday night. Crestview (2-0) will host Parkway while Ottoville (1-1) will travel to Lincolnview. Photo courtesy of Wyatt Richardson

POSTED: 11/27/23 at 4:34 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

Addysen Stevens and Keira Breese led a balanced attack and Lincolnview opened the 2023-2024 girls high school basketball season in fine fashion by defeating Continental 56-23 on Saturday.

Stevens led the way with 14 points, including seven in the third quarter while Breese scored 13 points, with eight coming in the first quarter, including a pair of treys. Emerson Walker added nine points and nine Lady Lancers registered in the scorebook. Ava Sheeter led Continental with 10 points.

Lincolnview set the tone early by racing out to an 18-4 lead after the first quarter, and 32-12 at halftime. It was 53-18 entering the final period.

Lincolnview (1-0) will host Ottoville on Tuesday.

POSTED: 11/27/23 at 4:33 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

Here are this week’s high school basketball broadcast schedules for 99.7 WKSD and WERT 1220AM/104.3FM. All games will air live.

Tuesday, November 28

WKSD – Parkway at Crestview (girls)

Friday, December 1

WKSD – Continental at Paulding (boys)
WERT – Van Wert at Crestview (boys)

Saturday, December 2

WERT – Van Wert at Delphos St. John’s (boys)

POSTED: 11/27/23 at 4:33 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

Girls basketball

Crestview 52 Fort Recovery 29

CONVOY — In the season opener, Cali Gregory scored 17 points and Kaci Gregory added 16 and Crestview defeated Fort Recovery 52-29 on Friday.

Ellie Kline contributed eight points and Kennedy Crider scored six points in the win.

The Lady Knights led 11-8 after one quarter and 26-17 at halftime. Crestview enjoyed a 15-5 third quarter scoring advantage and carried a 41-22 lead into the final stanza.

Crestview (1-0) will host Ottoville tonight. The JV contest will be two quarters and will start at 5 p.m.

Ottoville 71 Van Wert 27

OTTOVILLE — Erica Thorbahn scored 18 points to lead Ottoville to a season opening 71-27 win over Van Wert on Friday.

Carly Thorbahn added 11 Paige Turnwald chipped in with 10 points for the Big Green. Ottoville barged out to a 27-11 first quarter lead, with Erica Thorbahn and Jacelyn Langals each scoring seven points, and Carly Thorbahn adding six. Kendra Deehring scored nine of Van Wert’s first quarter points, and went on to finish with 12. Ottoville led 47-25 at halftime and 62-22 after three quarters.

Ottoville (1-0) will travel to Crestview tonight, while Van Wert (0-1) will open the home portion of the schedule against Lima Central Catholic on Thursday.


Division III

XENIA – Celina led 14-0 after the first quarter but Columbus Bishop Watterson stormed back for a 27-14 Division III state semifinal win over the Bulldogs.

Division VI

WAPAKONETA – Versailles ended Columbus Grove’s season, 30-13, in the Division VI state semifinals at Wapakoneta.

Division VII

LIMA — Defending state champion Marion Local jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and cruised to a 42-0 win over Patrick Henry in the Division VII state semifinals in Lima.

The Flyers (15-0) will face Dalton (14-1) in the state championship game at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Canton.

POSTED: 11/24/23 at 10:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

Crestview’s Cali Gregory (No. 5 above) shoots for two, while Ellie Kline (No. 4 below) scoops to the hoop during Friday’s season opener against Fort Recovery. The Lady Knights won the game 52-29 and will host Ottoville tonight. Photos courtesy of Wyatt Richardson

POSTED: 11/24/23 at 10:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports/submitted information

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association has announced the finalists for the 2023 Ohio Mr. Football Award. The winner will be announced next Thursday afternoon in Canton prior to the start of the OHSAA football state championships. The prestigious honor has been awarded since 1987. Ohio’s Mr. Football was selected by the Associated Press from 1987-2016. Since 2017 it has been presented by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.

The OPSWA district chairpersons and officers have selected eight outstanding finalists. The voting process is nearly identical to that used to determine the Heisman Trophy winner in college football. The 221 registered OPSWA members each get one vote, with voting ending at noon on Monday, November 27.

2023 Ohio Mr. Football Nominees (finalists listed in alphabetical order):

Marquise Davis, Cleveland Heights, RB, junior

Northeast Lakes District Offensive Player of the Year. Davis rushed for 2,087 yards and 32 touchdowns on 217 carries , becoming the focal point of their offense after graduating All-Ohio quarterback Darreon Fair. Davis made All-Ohio last year as a sophomore safety. This year, the Tigers (9-1) used him as a safety and linebacker hybrid in addition to that increased load on offense. He had 55 solo tackles, 11 assists, four TFL, one sack, three interceptions, four PBU and a defensive TD. Helped Cleveland Heights to the Greater Cleveland Conference title in its first year since moving from the Lake Erie League. Also is a Power Five prospect with scholarship offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame and USC, to name a few.

Bradyn Fleharty, Hilliard Bradley, QB, senior

Central district Offensive Player of the Year, completed 130 of 245 passes for 2,114 yards with 23 TDs and 3 INTs and rushed for 975 yards on 149 carries (6.5 average) with 12 TDs in the regular season for a sixth-ranked 9-1 team that has since advanced to a state semifinal. A Yale commit (although he is considering recent offers from Air Force, others), Fleharty eclipsed all of the program’s passing records in just three seasons, Updated stats through 13 games for Mr. Football consideration: 170 of 329, 2,627 yards, 30 TDs, 5 INT passing, 186 carries for 1,166 yards and 14 TDs rushing. Updated stats through 14 games: 184 of 363, 2,798 yards, 32 TDs, 6 INT passing, 204 carries for 1,317 yards and 17 TDs rushing.


POSTED: 11/23/23 at 9:44 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

All local winter sports coaches are reminded that after each game or event, win or lose, to send scores, scorebook pages, statistics and any other relevant information to Screenshots of the information are also accepted at 419.681.2130.

Sending the information, or having an assistant coach, team manager or other team representative send it helps the VW independent provide the best possible coverage of your winter sports athletes on our Sports page.

POSTED: 11/23/23 at 9:43 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports