Prep football: 5 games to watch


When it comes to high school sports, northwestern Ohio has some of the strongest fan support in the state.
The local team is obviously going to draw the most interest in this rural-rich, small-town area of the state. But there are also some games every week that coaches counting Harbin points and fans lining the fences and packing the stands from schools across the area will want to check the morning paper just to see “Who Won?”
Here’s a look at a few of them.

Lima Senior (3-4, 1-3 TRAC) at Findlay (4-3, 3-1 TRAC)
Toledo Whitmer and Toledo Central Catholic have the inside track for the 2017 Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship, but Findlay and Lima Senior generate considerable buzz as well when these two I-75 rivals square off. Findlay leads the overall series between the two schools 12-10, but the momentum swings in the series have been amazing. Lima Senior, which won the 1996 Division I state championship, topped Findlay in six of the first seven games between the two schools and has won the last four. From 2002 through the 2012 season, though, Findlay rattled off 11 straight wins. It’s been an entertaining series as well, with the teams combining for more than 70 points in four of the last five matchups. The 2013 game remains one of the highest scoring games in the history of both schools, with Lima Senior prevailing 59-40.

Arlington (3-4, 3-2 BVC) at Liberty-Benton (6-1, 4-1 BVC)
A good BVC rivalry whether the league title is up for grabs or not. Liberty-Benton has won 15 straight, but leads the overall series just 27-24-1 because Arlington won eight straight from 1983-90, then five in a row from 1997 through 2001. League standings and Harbins ratchet up the ante a bit. Not only is Liberty-Benton in the thick of the race for the BVC title, the Eagles are also sitting No. 1 in the Division VI, Region 22 computer standings. Arlington is currently 14th among Division VII teams in Region 26, but remaining games against Liberty-Benton and McComb (6-1) offer the potential to climb quickly.

McComb (6-1, 5-0 BVC) at Van Buren (4-3, 3-2 BVC)
McComb has positioned itself well for a run at the BVC title, but the next three weeks offer some interesting matchups. The Panthers first seven opponents have a .469 winning percentage; the winning percentage of the next three (Van Buren, Pandora-Gilboa, and Liberty-Benton) is .762. Typically a run-first team, McComb leads the BVC in rushing (230.7 ypg) and scoring (41.6 ppg). The Panthers do not have a back among the top 10 rushers in the league, though, relying on a yards-by-committee system of Kheagan Loe (442 yards, 6 TDs), Cam Morris (332, 7 TDs), Corey Swisher (378, 8 TDs) and Clay Santos (362, 3 TDs). Friday, the Panthers run into the BVC’s best defense against the run. Van Buren has allowed the second fewest rushing yards (535) and fewest total yardage overall (197.6 ypg).

North Baltimore (4-3, 3-2 BVC) at Leipsic (5-2, 3-2 BVC)
Leipsic’s BVC title hopes took a severe hit with back-to-back losses to Pandora-Gilboa and McComb. The Vikings are still in the thick of the Division VII Region 26 playoff race, though. But they might be facing one of the scariest opponents to prepare in North Baltimore’s spread offense triggered by junior quarterback Brady Rader (2,026 yards passing, 24 TDs) and headlined by receivers David Patterson (35 receptions, 801 yards, 12 TDs), Levi Gazarek (28, 532, 5) and Kole Wymer (16, 316, 4). North Baltimore averages a BVC best 431.9 yards a game.

Ottawa-Glandorf (3-4, 3-3 WBL) at Kenton (3-4, 3-3 WBL)
There will be no Western Buckeye League title on the line when these two teams meet. But two of the WBL’s smallest schools will tangle in one of the league’s biggest rivalries for bragging rights once again. Both teams are 3-4 overall and 3-3 in the WBL. Kenton is coming off impressive wins over Van Wert (35-27) and Lima Shawnee (43-37). Defense has been the name of the game for O-G. After giving up 60 points in season-opening losses to No. 1-ranked Eastwood (39-7) and WBL leader St. Marys (21-13), the Titans have allowed just 67 points over the past five games.


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