The Midwest Athletic Conference is synonymous with winning state football titles. Most of its members have had problems booking non-conference games at one time or another. This is especially true of those with recent state championships and/or title game appearances. Potential opponents aren’t anxious to book what may be automatic losses when playoff berths can hang in the balance.
The problem isn’t new. Years ago, I remember traditional winner St. Henry not finding an opener and only playing nine games. More recently, powerful Marion Local has regularly struggled to locate opponents, even resorting to booking Canadian teams who play by different rules and aren’t ready to compete in late August. This year they’ll engage Wapakoneta and McComb as the Flyers hope for enduring relationships
Perennial state contender Coldwater has experienced ongoing difficulty with week two. This year they head to Cincinnati Oak Hills before initiating a series with Bellefontaine in 2022. Week two also spells problems for another recent titleist as Minster still has that date open (as of Monday) for the coming campaign. They’re also searching for a new head coach.
2020 Division VII winner New Bremen has now joined that “scheduling challenged” group since Ada and Ansonia decided to move on from engaging the Cardinals at the front of the schedule. Lehman was quickly secured for week two but it took a lengthy search by Athletic Director Chad Wells to fill the opening week vacancy, and he had to get creative to make it happen.
Wells told me last week that two versions of “Marion” will appear on the 2021 New Bremen slate. Of course, Marion Local is a league opponent. The newest contract is a two year deal with a Marion some 80 miles west of Bremen, namely Marion, Indiana. The first game is in the Hoosier State with the return match in 2022 back in Ohio, provided the Indiana squad doesn’t locate a better opportunity by the end of the current calendar year. In 2020 the western Marion rendition finished with a record of 10-4 which would have sent many computer points back east, assuming a Bremen victory.
Marion’s athletic teams are known as the “Giants” which is actually appropriate when comparing student bodies. Marion’s four year enrollment exceeds 1000 while New Bremen is around 250. So why are these two playing each other? Simple. Neither one found a better alternative closer to home.
Anna, the MAC’s Shelby County football entry, won a state crown in 2019 but is currently in good shape with Indian Lake and Brookville as non-league opponents.
Minnesota Twins bench coach and brother of Reds manager David Bell, 46 year old Mike Bell succumbed to cancer last Friday. Mike has a Sidney tie. In December 1991 he led Cincinnati Moeller to victory in the Sidney Holiday Basketball Tournament and was named the event’s Most Valuable Player. Father Buddy and Grandfather Gus were in attendance at Sidney High School. The elder Bells were both Major League Baseball All Stars. Buddy is currently a Reds executive.
Oregon State surprised the college basketball world by making an “Elite Eight” run in the NCAA men’s basketball tourney. I knew an assistant coach there and visited the Corvallis campus for two games back in 2006. I was given a pullover that marked the 25th anniversary of their most recent conference championship. Didn’t sound like a tradition of success. However, it was a splendid place to visit with the feel of a small town.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has been active in Shelby County area radio, TV, and newspaper since 1975.