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 (3-4) at Lima Senior (1-6)
Injuries have hit both teams rather hard this season, but the intensity level is always high when the Trojans and Spartans renew their I-75 rivalry. The teams first met in 1973 in a series that has seen some wild swings in dominance. Lima Senior won four of the first five matchups, won again back to back during a stretch that included a Division I state championship (1996) by the Spartans, and has won the last five. Findlay rattled off 11 consecutive wins from 2002 through 2012, but has not won again since.
Hopewell-Loudon (3-4) at Liberty-Benton (3-4)
When Liberty-Benton started out 0-4, it looked like the school’s run of 16 consecutive winning seasons might be coming to an end. Now the Eagles, riding a three-game winning streak, are looking to reach the .500 mark. The game will feature two of the top running backs in the Blanchard Valley Conference in Hopewell-Loudon’s Sam Stickley and Liberty-Benton’s Marshall Rose. Stickley has rushed for 786 yards and 16 touchdowns through seven games. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior has also returned two kickoffs for TDs and leads the league in scoring with 120 points. Rose is seventh in the BVC in rushing with 691 yards and fifth in scoring (13 TDs, 78 points). In a 34-7 win over Riverdale, the 5-8, 160-pound junior ran for a school-record 327 yards and scored five TDs.
Carey (4-3) at Wynford (5-2)
With Wynford just a game back of Mohawk (7-0, 4-0 N-10) in the Northern 10 Conference standings and hosting the league-leading Warriors next week, there is major N-10 importance on this game. Carey sits another game back in the standings, but could vault right into contention for a Region 22 playoff spot with a win tonight. There’s a historical footprint to this matchup as well. Wynford had never lost a league game since the N-10 began operations with the 2014-15 school year. That streak extended through last season, but the Royals were beaten, at home, by another N-10 team — Carey — in the first round of the 2017 Division VI playoffs.
Patrick Henry (4-3) at Bryan (6-1)
Two league leaders collide in the first of three key games that will be like a round-robin tournament to see who wears the Northwest Ohio Athletic League crown this season. Veteran Patrick Henry head coach Bill Inselmann, who has amassed a 219-76 career record at the school, has guided the Patriots to four straight wins following an 0-3 start. Bryan was picked to finish fourth in the league in a preseason vote of NWOAL coaches, but comes into this game on a six-game winning streak. The round-robin factor continues next week when Bryan hosts Liberty Center (7-0, 4-0 NWOAL) and concludes in Week 10 when Patrick Henry and Liberty Center square off.
Elmwood (1-6) at Fostoria (2-5)
The season may not have gone as well as planned for either Elmwood or Fostoria. But a win in this backyard rivalry would be an invigorating, inspirational and enlivening lift for the team walking off the field with a “W” in its pocket. Fostoria has dropped two straight to two of the league’s better teams — Eastwood and Lake, both 5-2. The Redmen also have a Week 10 date with unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Genoa. Elmwood enters the game on an upswing after beating Rossford 30-13 last week for its first win of the season. Senior back Garrett Wright was a workhorse for the Royals, carrying 41 times for 241 yards in that win.