GAMES OF THE WEEK – WEEK 4

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.

Findlay (1-2) at Fremont Ross (1-2)

What was once a great Week 10 showdown, whether league titles or playoff spots were on the line or not, is now the Three Rivers Athletic Conference opener for both teams. Friday’s game marks the 89th straight year and 96th time overall the Trojans and Little Giants have battled. Not only has this rivalry produced two Super Bowl champions (Charles Woodson, Super Bowl XLV; Ben Roethlisberger, Super Bowls XL and XLIII) but they also went head-to-head in Super Bowl XLV when Woodson and the Green Bay Packers edged Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25. Findlay has a 7-3 edge over the last 10 seasons, including triple overtime wins last year (55-49) and in 2009 (40-37). Nine of the last 13 battles have been decided by a touchdown or less.

Leipsic (3-0) at Van Buren (1-2)

Talk about a brutal schedule. There are four undefeated teams in the Blanchard Valley Conference and Van Buren is in the midst of a four-game stretch where the Black Knights will face them all. Following last Friday’s 52-14 loss to McComb (3-0), Van Buren hosts Leipsic (3-0) this week, travels to Pandora-Gilboa (3-0) on September 21, then hosts Arlington (3-0) in Week 6. With Friday’s 34-7 win over Liberty-Benton, Leipsic has stamped itself a definite title contender. There’s more at stake than league standings, though. Leipsic’s last six games are all against Division VII opponents. Van Buren, a Division V program, is the third straight bigger school the Vikings will face, meaning this is their last chance to tack on valuable Harbin points that can be earned by beating a larger school.

Carey (2-1) at Mohawk (3-0)

They claim professional wrestling was the origin of the term “slobberknocker” but the phrase could have coined much, much earlier during one of the intense battles between these Wyandot County backyard rivals. Courier sportswriter Ted Radick has been covering area teams for 10 or 12 years and he says the hardest-hitting game he’s seen in that time was a Carey-Mohawk matchup. An ironic sidelight to this game is the fact that the host team has been terrible at defending it’s home turf. The last time the home team won was Carey’s 40-22 victory at Wentling Field in 2012, and only twice in the last 12 matchups has the home team come out on top.

Vanlue (0-3) at North Baltimore (0-3)

Two teams each looking for its first win in what could be an explosively high-scoring affair. North Baltimore has allowed 169 points in three games; Vanlue is allowing an average of almost 32 points a game. Both programs are fighting a numbers problem, but there could be plenty of numbers being put up on the scoreboard in this contest.

Tiffin Calvert (3-0) at Gibsonburg (2-1)

How’s this for irony? Last season, Steve Reser was coaching Gibsonburg to a third straight Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship. Friday, he’ll be coaching against his former team in the Sandusky Bay Conference-River Division opener for both teams. Reser’s move to Tiffin Calvert, his alma mater, coincided with Gibsonburg’s transition from the TAAC to the SBC-River. Calvert is coming off an avenging 33-14 win over a Norwalk St. Paul program that beat the Senecas twice last season, once during the regular season and again in the Division VII playoffs. Gibsonburg is under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Lee, who has previously served as head coach at Oregon Clay and Woodmore and as athletic director and an assistant coach at Fostoria.

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