When it comes to high school sports, northwestern Ohio has some of the strongest fan support in the state.
The local team obviously draws 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 for, just to see “Who Won?”
Here’s a look at a few of them.
Leipsic (2-0) at Liberty-Benton (0-2)
This Blanchard Valley Conference opener is a rematch of one of the pivotal games of 2017. Liberty-Benton headed to Leipsic a year ago coming off impressive wins over Wynford and Archbold. Leipsic was also 2-0, with narrow wins over Patrick Henry and Columbus Grove. Leipsic stamped itself a BVC title contender with a 21-17 win over L-B, but fate flipped the script on the Vikings. Beset by costly injuries, Leipsic went just 4-4 the rest of the season. L-B, meanwhile, rattled off 10 straight victories after that loss, including a Week 10 win over McComb that earned the Eagles a share of the BVC title. Leipsic, which has not won a BVC crown since 2011, enters this game 2-0 and has scored 100 points in wins over North Baltimore (52-7) and Columbus Grove (48-18). Liberty-Benton is 0-2, with both losses by one point to two reigning league champions — Wynford (19-18) of the Northern 10 Conference and Archbold (28-27) of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
Van Buren (1-1) at McComb (2-0)
Another key matchup to open BVC play. Highlighting this contest will be Van Buren’s offense against one of the perennially best defenses in the league. Spearheaded by a strong front seven featuring all-Ohio linebacker Brice Markel and all-state lineman Andrew Smith, McComb has allowed just 149 rushing yards in two games. Triggering the offense for Van Buren is Brady Rader, who led the BVC in passing the past two years when he was the quarterback of North Baltimore’s potent offensive attack. Rader got off to a slow start in Van Buren’s Week 1 loss to Carey, but completed 26 of 40 passes for 291 yards and two TDs in last week’s win over Bluffton.
Galion (2-0) at Upper Sandusky (2-0)
There’s a lot of history between these two schools. Both were charter members of the Northern Ohio League from 1944 through 2011. Both were also members of the North Central Conference but parted ways when that league folded. Galion is now a member of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, and Upper Sandusky is in the Northern 10 Conference. The teams did meet in a nonconference game in 2014 with Galion winning a 21-14 thriller. This will be the first head-to-head matchup since, and both come in with 2-0 records.
Gibsonburg (2-0) at Mohawk (2-0)
Both teams begin league play next week, and unbeatens Gibsonburg and Mohawk will be looking to keep their momentum going. Mohawk is expected to contend for the N-10 title behind the pass-run balance of quarterback Keith Jenkins (211 yards, 3 TDs) and running backs Bryce Kirian (218 yards) and Jesse Leeth (162 yards, 3 TDs). Veteran coach Mike Lee heads a Gibsonburg program that is making the transition to the Sandusky Bay Conference after winning three straight championships in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
Tiffin Calvert (2-0) at Norwalk St. Paul (2-0)
Steve Reser left Gibsonburg for Tiffin Calvert and has his alma mater off to a 2-0 start. The Senecas face a major challenge in Norwalk St. Paul, though. Calvert features all-Ohio running back Austin Jones, who rushed for 1,980 yards and 29 TDs last season. Jones and his teammates will be going against one of the winningest small-school programs in the state in St. Paul, which has won 18 Firelands Conference titles and one state championship under veteran head coach John Livengood.