A Closer Look: Contenders and Pretenders in Stark County

Look out Federal League, the McKinley Bulldogs have found their stride. An offensive outburst vs. Green last week and again vs. Hoover Friday has to have their remaining league foes very concerned. Mackey and Hill provide a 1-2 punch at running back, an offensive line that gets better every week, McNeal at WR is a match-up nightmare and Keaton Rode has turned into the great leader every successful team needs. They were very fun to watch last week! Some were very surprised that a 1-4 Bulldog team won so easily over a 4-1 Viking squad.

How did that happen? Part of the reason might be how the first half of the season prepared each team. Hoover played 5 teams with a combined record of 11-19 and lost to the only team with a winning record. McKinley’s 5 opponents have a combined record of 19-10 and none of them have a losing record after 6 weeks. Playing tougher teams early in the season may not be good for your record but they do get your team ready for league play and the state playoffs. Since the OHSAA added another round of playoffs, a team’s record is not that important. Heck, almost everyone gets in the playoffs and certainly teams with at least 5-5 records are all but guaranteed to play in the postseason.
Just check out the schedules of teams that look to compete for a state championship each season.

Massillon plays Moeller, Fitch and St. Ed’s, St. Ed’s play the likes of St. Ignatius, Moeller, Mentor and Hoban. Teams that play in a league have a much tougher time scheduling because a certain number of games are spoken for each season. They may have only 2 or 3 non-leagues games to play who they choose. Then that opposing team has to want to play you and have a matching opening on their schedule as you do. This is where Athletic Directors that work with the head football coach are very valuable to the program. Scheduling is hard but its importance cannot be understated. We are now finding out what teams were pretenders and what teams are contenders. See you Friday from Navarre with Canton South at Fairless.