Newsmakers: State runs help legitimize Northwest Ohio prep sportsWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With mainstays in Northeast Ohio, Southwest Ohio and even Central Ohio, Northwest Ohio prep sports often get lost in the shuffle when it comes to compilations of the state’s best.
This year, however, Northwest Ohio area teams from across the prep sports spectrum made a strong case for changing that perception with deep runs in the state playoffs.
Central Catholic defeated Trotwood-Madison 16-12 to capture the Division II state championship in football, while the Perrysburg girls soccer team defeated Mason 1-0 for the Division I state title. Whitmer’s football team and Sylvania Southview’s boys soccer team, meanwhile, each made it to the state championship game in their respective divisions.
“Northeast Ohio and Cincinnati and Columbus, those three regions get known as [having] the better athletics,” said Central Catholic head football coach Greg Dempsey. “But Northwest Ohio has been making a heavy dent in that perception the last five, six years now.”
The Fighting Irish’s football title was its second in seven years. Perrysburg, Whitmer, Southview, Sylvania Northview, St. Ursula, St. John’s, Ottawa Hills and Clay, among others, have either made deep state runs or won state titles during the past seven years in other sports.
Perrysburg co-head girls soccer coach Margaret Bernard said, “I’m glad that we’re starting to get some recognition for all the good teams and good athletes that we have in this area.”
Both Dempsey and Bernard said the development at the youth level in the area played a role in the success that several local programs are having at the high school level.
“It really helps when you have good coaching and people that can really prepare the kids at a young age so that by the time they get to high school, they really have a good understanding of the game and [have] excellent technique and everything,” Bernard said. “And then at this level, it’s just the fine-tuning.”
Fine-tuned is exactly what Central Catholic and Perrysburg were in 2012. Central’s only blemish was a 42-0 home stomping by Whitmer for the Three Rivers Athletic Conference title; the Fighting Irish outscored opponents by an average of 42.2-15.9. The Perrysburg girls soccer team, meanwhile, amassed a 23-0-0 record en route to its state title, outscoring opponents by a whopping 108-5 on the season.
With Perrysburg returning 14 girls next season and Central Catholic returning 13 starters (eight offense, five defense) in the fall, they’ll each have an opportunity to vie for state titles again.
“We tell the kids all the time, ‘Success is not an event; it’s a process,’” said Dempsey, whose 2005 state title team wasn’t even the favorite to win the City League that season. “We’re going to do what we do every year. We’re going to attack the process, which will start in January and take us all the way up to the end of that season.” O