Canton, Crushes, and Confusion

Shots in the Darke

How about those Versailles Tigers!! Third year coach Ryan Jones has the Orange and Black  headed to Canton this coming weekend to seek a state D-V championship trophy following a  28-22 win over Harvest Prep in the state semifinals. The Tigers will be going after their seventh  title, the first since 2003, and will be facing three-time defending champion Kirtland at Tom  Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at 7:30 Saturday evening. It will be a monumental task awaiting  the Tigers as the Titans, from just east of Cleveland, boast of a nation’s best 55 game winning  streak! The game will be broadcast on WTGR-FM as Carson Bey and Landon Henry lead their  team into battle!  

The mighty Midwest Athletic Conference will also be represented by perennial powers  Coldwater and Marion Local. The Cavaliers match up with Carey for D-VI honors at 3:00 while  the Flyers tangle with Newark Catholic in a D-VII contest at 10:30, both games at the Hall of  Fame Stadium on Saturday. Divisions I through IV settle titles throughout the day on Friday  with the Southwest District sending Springfield, Winton Woods, Hamilton Badin, and Clinton Massie up north. Good luck to all of the area teams! 

Let’s take a look at the NFL briefly—the Bengals seemed to have finally turned the page in  the rivalry with the Steelers, crushing Pittsburgh 41-10 yesterday. In winning over the Black  and Gold for the second time this season the Stripes completely dominated the line of  scrimmage, giving Joe Mixon room to run for 165 yards and Joe Burrow plenty of time to throw  to his talented group of receivers. Defensively Cincinnati forced the Steelers into three  turnovers and made Ben Roethlisberger, as much as I hate to say it about a fellow Miami grad,  look like an aging quarterback compared to the youthful Burrow. With the win the Bengals  improve to 7-4, a game behind the AFC North leading Ravens. 

Speaking of the Ravens, they are now 8-3 following a late come from behind win over the  Browns last night. Every time that I start to think of the boys from Cleveland as possible Super  Bowl contenders they let me down, falling to 6-6 in the North. 

Elsewhere around the league, the resurgent Patriots hold a half-game lead over the Bills in  the AFC East; in the South the Titans and Colts both lost yesterday, Tennessee being crushed  by New England; and in the West the Chiefs at 7-4 are one game ahead of the other three  competitors, the Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders, all at 6-5. Over in the NFC the Packers,  Cowboys, and Super Bowl champion Buccaneers hold commanding leads while the Cardinals  at 9-2 try to fend off the 7-4 Rams in the West. Lots of big games for fans to feast on over the  next 5 or 6 weeks! 

Boys high school basketball around the county got underway this past weekend with  Arcanum and Ansonia winning their openers while Greenville, F-M, M-V, and T-V all fell to 0-1.  Arcanum handled the Green Wave, limiting the Green and White to only eight field goals in a  46-32 contest. Tri-Village took on D-I power Mason and played well in a match-up that was  closer than the final score of 60-46 in a game that was meant to toughen up the Patriots for  what most followers believe will be a deep run in the D-IV tournament this spring. 

By the way, after losing at home to UMass-Lowell, Lipscomb, and Austin Peay, Dayton’s  Flyers beat Miami of Florida (had to get that dig in there after all the years of being called Miami  of Ohio), upset number four-ranked Kansas with a buzzer beater, and pulled out a 63-61 win over a solid Belmont team to claim the ESPN Invitational title. Talk about a turnaround in a  week! Speaking of my Miami, the RedHawks missed a chance to go to the MAC  championship game, failing on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime in falling to Kent  State 48–47. OUCH!! 

Buckle up your seat belts college football fans for what promises to be a wild ride over the  next few days. Michigan’s unexpected pounding of THE in the Big House, Alabama’s narrow  escape over a mediocre Auburn team, and Oklahoma State’s win over Oklahoma have all led to  chaos and confusion in this week’s national rankings.

With most D-I league titles to be  determined in games this weekend, there are many scenarios regarding the playoffs that can  arise! Can UC beat Houston and become the first non-power five team to make the final four?  What happens if Iowa upsets the Wolverines and thus denies the Big Ten a berth in the semi finals? If Alabama knocks off undefeated Georgia in the SEC title game will the Crimson Tide  be a two-loss participant? Will the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame somehow sneak into the  picture based on the outcome of league championships?

While we’re talking about football,  what do you think of Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley leaving Norman for Southern Cal? What a  great time to be a fan of D-I football!! Stock up on snacks and liquid refreshments for the  coming weekend!

Dr. Alex Warner | Correspondent for Darke County Now

Dr. Alex Warner / Correspondent

Alex Warner is a retired Greenville chiropractor as well as a former educator and high school coach. He has over 30 years experience in broadcasting high school sports on both radio and public access television in addition to producing over 50 episodes of the local television series “Our Town”. A man of many interests, he is naturally curious with a “gift of gab”. He currently writes the weekly sports column “Shots in the Darke” and hosts “Talk of the Town” featuring people, places, and events that make Darke County the place we choose to reside.

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