The County Division is off and running for another edition of Friday night lights. Even though the season actually got started on Thursday, the division had a respectable debut with four strong wins by the now seven division participants.
It may only be one game in the win column and the regular season only 10 percent complete but a win is a win. Mogadore, Garfield, Streetsboro and Woodridge have a digit in the left-hand column and that's a positive.
The Portage Trail Conference is now only 14 teams, seven in each division. In addition, the OHSAA has now introduced a seventh division in football for the state playoffs. Six of the seven divisions have approximately 105 to 108 schools. However, the largest division (DI) with a minimum of 608 boys enrollment now has only 72 schools. The 715 schools will battle for a birth in the seven championships the first week of December.
The realignment of the County Division is as follows: Woodridge, the division's largest school (264 boys), will drop to Division 4, Region 11 from Division 3. The Bulldogs will be joined in D4-R11 by Streetsboro (250 boys) and Southeast (247 boys). Waterloo (149 boys) and Rootstown (137 boys) will join Mogadore (116 boys) in D6-R19. Garfield (176 boys) will drop from D4 to D5-R15.
Other area schools noted are St. Thomas Aquinas and Newton Falls, who will both join the PTC trio in the same D6-R19. Windham and East Canton, who moved to other leagues, will both drop to Division VII. Approximately 30 percent of high school teams will make the OHSAA state playoffs (32 of 108).
Due to the seven-team PTC divisionS -- which means teams have only six division opponents -- scheduling four non-league games can be a problem for most other conferences. The PTC elected to schedule a cross-division opponent between the Metro and County divisions.
Therefore, each PTC team will automatically face an opponent from the other division which will be based on location and size; however, the matchup will serve only as a non-league contest. In the case of Southeast, the Pirates will face three Metro opponents this season. They will start this week when they host Field and then Crestwood next week before traveling to Ravenna in Week 9.
Hurdling a tackler
The Southeast Pirates were flagged twice in their 49-22 loss to Alliance when a Pirate ballcarrier hurdled a potential Aviator tackler. Pirate new head coach Scott Pollock said it also happened this year in a preseason scrimmage.
"I understand the rule and that was not the problem I had with the call," said Pollock. "The rule states that the defender must have both feet planted and the runner has to lead with his knee or foot in a hurdling move. I didn't think their defender was planted, I thought he was already laid out on the field.
"By no means did that penalty cost us the game," added Pollock. "It was a good officiating crew; we just disagreed on that call. Alliance has speed and discipline and does a lot of things right. We think they are a good team."
The Falcons will invade Southeast Friday, and Pollock said his scouts were impressed with Field.
"This looks like a typical Field team, they have some skilled guys, they are big and they like to hit," he said. "They always have some backers that are thick and like to pound you, so this will be a tough one."
Field lost to Minerva 21-14 last week.
Junior running back Brandon Berry put on a real performance last Friday against Norton. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound runner rambled for 312 yards and three scores to lead his team to a 49-34 win in the opener. Berry's yardage ranks third in Wildcat one-game rushing history. Mike Raddish is still the leader at 354 yards, while Tommy Lee ran for 317 yards in one game.
Berry totaled 950 yards rushing in 12 games last year as a sophomore.
Saturday night lights
Waterloo made a journey to Salinesville Saturday night to meet Southern Local in its opener that did not get reported in Sunday's edition of the Record-Courier. Southern came back in the second half to defeat the Vikings 19-7.
Waterloo first-year coach Nathan Peters, who was the offensive coordinator last year at Newton Falls, was happy about the first-half Viking performance. Leading 7-6 at the half, the Vikings let several opportunities slip through their hands.
"We had opportunities but just couldn't cash in. Three turnovers were very costly," said Peters.
Junior quarterback Henry Bolanz rushed for 185 yards in 23 runs for the Vikings. The Vikings will host last year's head coach on Friday when Doylestown Chippewa visits Atwater. The Chippewa head coach is Mike Bohley, who was the Viking head mentor for the past five years.