Let me start with this, I will be more than happy to revise this list if spring sports happen to officially be played this season.
But now that the state of Ohio is under two-week lockdown besides the essentials (food, groceries, gas, hospitals, etc.), it’s looking more and more bleak by the day.
The OHSAA had its press conference on Thursday and pretty much there weren’t any new developments, which I suppose could be seen as a glimmer of hope that things could possibly go back to normal. Although I’m not going to hold my breath about it.
Supposedly we’ll have another update within the next 24-48 hours about winter tournaments and the spring season, so we’ll continue to wait and see.
So therefore, with spring sports on the brink of being canceled for the year (fingers crossed it isn’t), we’re counting down the top 10 moments from this school year, and here they are:
10. Waverly ousts Oak Hill from SOC II
Despite coming off a tough loss to Wheelersburg, Oak Hill still had a chance to win a share of the SOC II, but it had to get past Waverly first.
Both teams remained neck and neck with each other through the first 12 minutes of the game. Then Keaton Potter and Chase Hammond led a 7-2 run for the Oaks that gave them some confidence before owning a 34-27 lead at the half.
However, the Oaks began to go cold from the field and than lead to a 40-40 game going into the fourth.
Then Waverly’s big man trio of Will Futhey, Tanner Smallwood and Zeke Brown took over down the stretch as the Oaks didn’t have anyone outside of Hammond to help offset the size in the post as the Tigers walked away with the win.
9. Wolford’s winner sends Jackson to sectional final
It couldn’t have been a more even matchup between two very solid teams with elite talent on the field. Jackson led 2-0 after a pair of goals from Collin Ghearing, and looked to be on the verge of a rout.
However, Unioto countered back with two goals in the second half and ultimately forced overtime with Jackson reeling.
Unioto looked as if it scored the winning goal just minutes into the extra time, but Ty Broermann managed to snatch the ball out before the referees could see if it crossed the goal line.
That play swung all momentum back to Jackson and Trent Wolford received the ball from Ghearing and sent Jackson to a sectional final, which it won over Miami Trace.
8. Vinton County downs Alexander, reclaims TVC
Early on, the Vikings had no answer for Alexander’s Kara Meeks on the inside as she scored six early points to put the Spartans ahead 11-9.
The scoring stalled for a while before Rylee Ousley buried a triple to give the Vikings their first lead before Josie Ousley drilled a 3-pointer for a halftime 21-15 advantage.
Josie Ousley had her fingerprints all over this game as the Vikings continued to maintain control down the stretch. She finished with a season-best 18 points and back-to-back 3’s from Tegan Bartoe and Lacie Williams iced the game to put the Vikings back in first place of the TVC before three-peating as champs.
7. Harden’s kick stuns Minford
Despite having a high-powered offense, Minford managed just a 7-0 lead at halftime, which played right into the Oaks’ gameplan.
Triston Diltz carried a heavy load the whole second half, so much so that he was drinking mustard packets to settle some cramping problems. Hey, got to do what you got to do.
He finished with a touchdown, as did Keaton Potter who scored on a 56-yard run to tie the game at 14.
Oak Hill got the last possession and rode Diltz all the way down to the seven-yard line, where Brock Harden kicked the 24-yard field goal at the buzzer to stun the Falcons.
6. Jackson football runs the table
The talent was there, the experience was there and the coaching was there. Now it was just a matter of putting it all together for 10 straight Fridays.
It managed to survive an early test from a pass-heavy Athens team, but it was the Wheelersburg game which showed the Ironmen that they were the real deal as they dominated from start to finish.
From that point, Jackson went on to crush its Frontier Athletic Conference competition and claim the FAC championship with a perfect 10-0 record featuring seven All-Ohioans, including first-teamers Jayden Spires, Brice Parks and Anthony Parks.
It ended the season 11-1 after defeating Centennial and falling to Jonathan Alder in the next round.
5. Vinton County survives Alexander for TVC title
Despite having two games left in TVC play at the time, this game was for the TVC championship and it lived up to the billing.
After Alexander took the first set, Vinton County took the second set behind a 10-0 run featuring kills from Sydney Smith and Zoey Kiefer alongside the serving of Maylea Huff.
Despite falling flat in the third set, the Vikings showed their grit and character behind their senior leader in Huff. Tied at 20, she ripped a pair of kills to give the Vikings enough momentum to push the game to a fifth set.
Smith went into the zone and scored five of the Vikings’ opening six points for a 6-3 lead. Alexander came back to later tie the game at 12, but it was the Vikings’ night ultimately.
After earning the next two points, Cameron Zinn served up the game-winning ace that put the Vikings in position to later clinch their first outright TVC title in school history.
4. Vinton County girls cross county makes state
Over the past two years, Vinton County cross country has established itself not just as the best in the TVC, but the best in the Southeast district.
But 2019 was the girls’ year to take things a step farther. While it had sent individual qualifiers to state in 2017 and 2018, it was time for the whole team to experience Hebron after a seventh place finish at regional competition.
They ultimately finished in 18th place, but the true victory was making it to state for the first time and solidifying its place in school history.
3. Wellston football gets back on the map
Wellston had been through a number of head coaches since its last playoff appearance in 2006, but it got it right with the hiring of Mike Smith.
Despite a system change, the players bought in quickly and saw the rewards of doing so quickly pay off.
It started the season 6-1 including victories over Alexander and a talented Nelsonville-York team. That victory over the Buckeyes clinched the program’s first winning season since 2006, now it was just time to claim a playoff spot.
Although it dropped two of it’s final three games, it was enough to clinch the No. 8 spot in Division V, Region 19 to make it week 11 bound and end its playoff drought.
2. Oak Hill’s run to a district final
Undoubtedly one of the top five girls basketball games I’ve ever seen.
As a 12-seed, Oak Hill was the hottest team in the tournament, pulling off two ‘upsets’ over Northwest and Southeastern to make it to a Division III district final against Eastern Brown, who was 23-1.
The two titans went at it back and forth, but Eastern Brown had a little more firepower in the first half and managed its biggest lead of the game at 24-17 going into the break.
After being challenged at halftime, Oak Hill found its footing behind first team All-Ohioan Caitlyn Brisker and clawed its way back into the game, eventually taking a 34-33 lead in the fourth.
Coming down to the final seconds and Oak Hill leading 39-38, Eastern Brown’s Rylee Leonard converted a scoop lay-in with 5.3 seconds left that ultimately ended the Oaks’ Cinderella run.
1. Vinton County wins sectional title
I’ve said it over and over again, this is one of the top five volleyball games I’ve ever seen/covered.
Simply spectacular in all phases.
The Vikings faced a mental toughness test right out of the gates as they held a 24-19 lead, but were without Maylea Huff in the middle, who landed awkwardly on her ankle. Unioto capitalized with an 8-1 run to take the set.
Huff returned and the Vikings surged in the second. The duo of Cameron Zinn and Sydney Smith led the team to a resounding double-digit second set victory.
After Unioto took the third set, it engaged in a fourth set that saw 15 ties, the final one coming at 21-21.
Huff ripped three straight kills before Unioto countered back with back-to-back points. But Zinn pulled a fast one and got the kill to go to a fifth set.
Smith and Kerrigan Ward got the Vikings ahead 9-4, but the Shermans rallied to cut the lead down to 14-13.
After Vinton County returned the Unioto serve, the Shermans’ kill attempt fell into the net and washed away a 20-year drought as the Vikings were crowned Division II sectional champions.
Considering who is returning for the Vikings for the next two years, I have a feeling this won’t be the only sectional title they win.