Written by J. Patrick Eaken
Sunday, 12 October 2008 09:19
Northwood is not guaranteed that one loss at season’s end will be enough to get the Rangers into the football playoffs.
Northwood remains in first place in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference at 4-0 (6-1 overall) heading into their game with long-time rival Ottawa Hills at Black Stadium. In addition, the Rangers, classified in Division 5 by one student over Division 6, are two spots away from qualifying for the playoffs with three weeks remaining.
"We may not get in at 5. We'll see how it works," James said.
Ahead of Northwood is good company, including, in order, Liberty Benton (7-0), Wynford (7-0), Archbold (7-0), Patrick Henry (7-0), Delphos Jefferson (7-0), Fairview (6-1), Western Reserve (6-1), Liberty Center (6-1), and Hicksville (7-0) is ninth.
After Ottawa Hills, Northwood has the Toledo Christian Eagles at home this week and the annual Big Apple Deli contest with Cardinal Stritch the final week of the regular season.
Northwood coach Ken James has been working hard to see to it more players are seeing plenty of time on defense during a six-game winning streak. Injuries have had an impact, he said.
“The starters started rotating back in and some guys aren’t getting a whole lot of activity for playing time. It’s been a competitive business the last few weeks and that has helped us get better because we’re practicing hard,” James said.
Linebacker Justin Grindle, a three-year starter, and fourth-year starting end Charles Artino are playing well on defense.
“Those two haven’t had a whole lot of tackles lately because a whole lot of guys are getting to the ball carrier,” James said. “Our defensive coordinator, Dave Russell, is doing a good job of putting our kids in position to make plays.”
After six weeks, outside linebacker Mike Prothero was leading the Rangers with 53 tackles, followed by Grindle with 50 and outside linebacker Corey Jones with 47.
Eastwood’s 24-0 loss to Genoa in the 52nd meeting between the two schools hurt the Eagles playoff picture, but it’s not as if they are down and out.
While undefeated Genoa (7-0) moved to third behind Fostoria (6-1) and Lorain Clearview (7-0), Eastwood (5-2) fell to ninth, one spot away from a potential playoff spot. Between the two schools, in order, are Marion Pleasant (6-1), Ottawa-Glandorf (4-3), Sparta Highland (4-3), Bellville Clear Fork (4-3), and Huron (5-2).
After traveling to Lake Friday night, the Eagles host Elmwood and close the season by traveling to Lakota. All are games which could potentially carry enough points to boost the Eagles into at least eighth place in the playoff picture.
Don’t forget the Clay Eagles, a team most likely eliminated from the playoff picture, but at 14th with three weeks remaining and a light City League schedule, Coach Mike Donnelly’s team could end the season 7-3.
Clay (4-3) hosted Scott Friday night, travels for a 1:30 game with Woodward at Mollenkopf Stadium this Saturday, and finishes by hosting a much improved Libbey team at Clay Memorial Stadium on October 24.
Local Division II girls’ soccer teams all open sectional play at Genoa and Lake this week, with the Suburban Lakes League’s first girls’ champion, the Lake Flyers, leading the way.
In the Division II sectional hosted by Lake, the top seeded Flyers get a first round bye and will play the winner of Monday’s 4 p.m. sectional opener between Swanton and Cardinal Stritch next Saturday, October 18 at 4 p.m.
In the Genoa Division II bracket, Oak Harbor got the number one seed and Genoa number two, but strong Northwood, Eastwood, and Woodmore teams could also be a force in this tough sectional.
Northwood improved to 10-2-2 with a 3-1 victory over Waite as Jessica Grindle scored two goals, but the Rangers were playing without starting goalie Megan Hess, who is out with an injury. Fantasia Combs scored for Waite.
Earlier last week, the Rangers suffered only their second loss, 7-4, to Wauseon, even though Grindle had a hat trick. The game was tied at two goals each when Hess left the game with a shoulder injury.
“Wauseon took advantage of the change in goalkeepers and the match turned into a high scoring game,” said Northwood coach John Turkal.
The Rangers also have a recent 4-1 victory over Toledo Christian in a two-day match. The game started on a Monday, but due to severe weather was concluded on a Thursday at Northwood.
“Although Christian scored first on a goal by Kate Worley, the youthful Rangers took charge of the match on two goals by Jessica Grindle in the first half,” Turkal said.
The Rangers open the Genoa sectional against Woodmore this Wednesday, October 15, under the lights at 7:30 p.m. Oak Harbor and Clyde square off the same day at 5 p.m. On Monday, the Comets square off with Edison in the 5 p.m. opener and Eastwood and Margaretta follow at 7:30 under the lights.
In Division I, the Clay and Waite girls open sectional play Tuesday. Clay plays Bowling Green in the 5 p.m. game at Whitmer, and Waite plays Northview in the 5 p.m. game at Southview.