St. John’s Jesuit, Libbey, Whitmer make memoriesWritten by David Gatwood | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week marks the end of another calendar year. Time flies and is irreplaceable, but it does leave us with many memories. In 2006, high school sports fans in Northwest Ohio have many memories to cherish.
Two basketball teams deserve special mention. The first is the St. John’s Jesuit Titans. Over the years, St John’s has had many outstanding teams and so, ordinarily, the fact that coach Ed Heintschel managed to take another team to a state semi-final would not be a surprise, but the 2005-06 team was different. This team was not seen as a state contender. Local success was likely, but to be one game away from playing for a state title was a pipedream — and yet, the Titans did just that. With all of Heintschel’s accomplishments, the 2005-06 team might be his finest.
On the girls’ side of the basketball ledger, we have the Southview Lady Cougars. Great things were expected of this group for some time and in 2005-06 they had a dream season. An outstanding group of seniors led the team to an undefeated regular season, an Associated Press No. 2 state ranking, and an NLL title. Only a heartbreaking loss in the district finals to a good Waite team blemished their record, but the excitement they created and the memories they left will last a long time.
The 2006 football season began with a flourish as a young man who had not played football since junior high set a City League single-game rushing record in his very first game. Aeric Clay ran for 377 yards on 20 carries in the Rebels’ season opener. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived as Clay was able to play only two more games as he suffered a season-ending hand injury. But for one shining moment, Clay was a high school football star.
Another inspiring memory is the success of the Whitmer Panthers football team. The Panthers, coming off one of their worst seasons in many years, found inspiration in the coaching style of new coach Joe Palka, and rode that inspiration all the way to the state football regionals.
The resurgent Panthers not only created excitement on the field, they stirred up old loyalties in the Washington Township/ West Toledo neighborhoods.
Similarly, the Perrysburg Yellow Jackets volleyball team pulled off some surprises. The Yellow Jackets provided only fleeting glimpses in the regular season of, what they were capable of but once the state play-offs started, they began playing at a new level. Pulling upset after upset, the Yellow Jackets found themselves on the campus of Wright State and in the state semi-finals. The dream ended abruptly, but what a dream to cherish.
Finally, there is a story that did not receive the coverage it deserved: the Libbey Cowboys football team finally won a game. The Cowboys have suffered through a long drought and their awaited win over the Scott Bulldogs deserves consideration as a major 2006 memory. The young men who played tirelessly throughout the winless period and the coaching staff who remained loyal and hard-working deserve recognition from the Toledo community. In strapping on the pads every day and continuing to participate, the members of the Libbey football team demonstrate what high school sports are truly about. Playing the game when you are winning is easy. Doing so when you know that losing is a strong likelihood is not. The 2006 Cowboys did just that and, as a result, they should hold their heads high.
For more high school sports news, see David Gatwood’s Web site, www.nwoprepsports.com.