Another school year is over, another prep sports year in the book. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and here are some of the memories from Press Pros that made an indelible impression as great, or greater, than any photo.
There’s a photo of Minster coach Mike Wiss from this past weekend’s state baseball tournament that I especially like; actually a couple of them.
One is of the typical celebration emotion with his coaches and players, just seconds after Jared Huelsman scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh for the Wildcats’ 2-1 victory over Russia.
But the other, the one I like most, is a shot of Wiss before the game, showing the calm and confidence of a coach who truly does know the hand he’s holding – the capabilities of his team. Who to play, when to play him, and for how long. It’s a time-honored cliche’ in sports – coaches knowing their players and their limitations. Who can handle pressure? And who can’t? When is the moment too big?
The photo of Wiss reminds me of a man who’s comfortable in his own skin, as the commercial states. He’d been there before, and his steam promptly went out and played to his expectations…as if according to script. I’ll remember that look, that photo, for a good long while – actually above others of more well-known personalities and higher-profiled events we covered this year.
It’s easy to pick the championship moments, because traditionally they say they only happen once in a lifetime. But with schools like Marion Local, we know that’s not true. They’ve won nine titles in football since 2000. But there was a moment on the occasion of their ninth, last December, that stands out in my mind for another reason.
The year prior Coach Tim Goodwin’s wife, Dawn, had arranged prior to their game with Kirtland to have a family photo made on the floor of Ohio Stadium after the game. Presumably, the Flyers would win, everyone would be in a good mood, and it would be a memorable image to be cherished forever, right? Not so fast, Kirtland recovered a fumble in the second half, drove the length of the field, stole the momentum and eventually the game, and the Goodwins, Coach Tim and son Joel, were in anything but photographic mood. Still, Dawn insisted they come out, pose with the expanse of the horseshoe in the background, and have the moment captured for posterity.
How did that photo turn out? We never bothered to print it, if that tells you anything.
Fast forward to last December and Dawn still wanted that photo. Only, this time Tim and Joel were on the winning end, the smiles were ear to ear, and posterity was recorded as a favorable remembrance. Goodwin, who doesn’t often suffer such foolishness, even laughed at the irony. It’s one of my, and our, favorite memories of the year.
Well, fantastic finishes are fantastic finishes, whenever, and wherever. And the over the year you see many things that stand out in your mind. The finish to the St. Henry-Anna football game last October was one of them. It went into overtime, and on St. Henry’s first possession in the OT period the Redskins went for the jugular with a post pattern down the center of the field. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and on this occasion that was the case. St. Hank’s Ryan Breuning gathered in a perfect pass right smack dab in front of your cameras for the winning score.
Not all memorable moments are winning ones. Such was the case during the Division VII championship game between Minster and Warren John F. Kennedy. Minster didn’t win the game, but in the first quarter quarterback Jared Huelsman aired one out right down the middle of the field to teammate Isaac Schmiesing, who had gotten a step on the JFK secondary. But, he couldn’t get an angle on the football because it was coming in from right over his head. Looking straight back, with limited mobility because he was wearing a helmet, of course, Schmiesing made the amazing circus catch. It got a rousing appreciation from the crowd, and even the JFK defender gave him a pat on the back. As good as anything Jerry Rice EVER did!
There’s no doubt about it. Anyone who watched Fairlawn’s Nathan Lessing average 28 points a game last winter can truthfully say they watched history in the making. For the fact is the 6’1″ senior set a new Shelby County League all-time scoring mark with 2,150 points. If you’re old school about your basketball, you couldn’t help but enjoy watching Lessing play because you never knew if he was having a good night or a bad one by his body language. It was always the same. And let’s be honest. There weren’t any bad nights.
At Versailles junior guard Justin Ahrens provided a lot of highlight moments, sending, I’m sure, a lot of people home saying they’d never seen that before…and may never see it again.
But in the district final game at UD Arena against North College Hill he gave them a little of both. In the third quarter of that game he missed on a tomahawk dunk attempt in the wide open court, sending the basketball ricocheting high off the rim and back down the court where NCH retrieved it and scored. Moments later he redeemed himself. Gathering in a loose basketball on a turnover at midcourt, Ahrens streaked for the rim and this time sent it down with both hands, and with some amplitude for good measure. And oh yes, they won the game.
The Versailles girls had their moments, as well. And none more than junior point guard Kami McEldowney. In the sectional round of the tournament, against a much bigger Hamilton Badin team, Badin clogged up the middle to prevent McEldowney from penetrating to the basket and scoring. In one of the odder moments of the year, unable to go over, or around the bigger Badin girls, McEldowney went under them…and scored. Pictures don’t lie.
They say that each succeeding generation gets increasingly more skilled and athletic? Well, we witnessed that first-hand back last August in the opening weekend of the football season when Chaminade-Julienne receiver Adrian Jones wasn’t content with just scoring on a touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Peltier. He did a full somersault into the endzone, out of sheer joy, one would suppose.
He paid for his memorable moment. One, he got a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, although I was personally entertained. And two, the extra exertion on a 90-degree day apparently got to his boiler, because he had to stop on the way to the bench and lose his Gatorade…right on the field. I’m sure he remembers.
Such were some of the highlights from the past year, and we hope you were entertained, then and now. There’ll be more next year, of course. Hope we’re there to see them.
Have a great summer, everyone!