Championship weekend has reached a new level at The Courier.
For the first time in the newspaper’s history, a volleyball, girls soccer and boys soccer team will compete for a state championship in the same season — and on the same weekend.
Liberty-Benton’s volleyball team, playing in its first state tournament, will square off against Independence in the Division III state final at 11 a.m. today at Wright State University’s Nutter Center in Dayton.
L-B’s girls soccer team, also playing in its first state final, will compete for a Division III state title against defending champion Cincinnati Country Day at 4 p.m. today at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.
And Bluffton’s boys soccer team will look to cap its wild postseason run with a state title as the Pirates take on Columbus Wellington at 4 p.m. Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium.
Bluffton has won its last four tournament games in either overtime, double overtime, or penalty kicks.
L-B and Bluffton’s soccer teams will have a chance to do what no area soccer team has done: bring home a state championship.
Only two other area girls soccer teams have reached the state final four: L-B in 2017 and Ottawa-Glandorf in 2014. O-G finished as runner-up in Division III that season.
Seven prior boys soccer teams have qualified for the state semifinals. Findlay High’s 1995 and 1979 teams both finished as runner-up, while Ottawa-Glandorf (1998) and Van Buren (2003) also made appearances.
Fort Jennings (2004) and Kalida (2002 and 2001) also made the state semifinals.
Area volleyball teams have had more success, especially Hopewell-Loudon with five state championships in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Nine other schools have reached the state volleyball tournament, including Findlay High in 2011. McComb (2016, second in 2014), Hardin Northern (second in 1984) and Upper Sandusky (2013) are among other schools.
In addition to this year’s volleyball and soccer success, eight area teams are competing in the high school football playoffs, which began Friday tonight.
Carey, Ottawa-Glandorf, Liberty-Benton, Leipsic, McComb, Patrick Henry, Arlington and Hardin Northern earned trips to the regional quarterfinals in their respective divisions.
Carey played Friday night and beat Collins Western Reserve 50-41 in the Division VI, Region 22 quarterfinals. The other seven teams play tonight.
The Liberty-Benton community will have one of the more remarkable days in area sports history today. The Eagles’ football team takes on Eastwood at 7 p.m. tonight in Pemberville, giving fans a tripleheader of tournament action stretching from Dayton (volleyball) to Columbus (soccer) to Pemberville (football).