Heading into tonight's games, we're halfway home in the high school football season. What's happened so far?
BIGGEST SURPRISE: When Woodward posted its first winning season in 12 years last season (6-4, 4-3 City League) under coach Henry Delffs, that effort was viewed as an aberration. The Polar Bears were picked in a preseason poll of the CL's 12 coaches to finish 11th in the league this year.
Delffs and his coaching staff are proving them wrong again.
The Bears (4-1, 2-0) - led by sophomore back Makonnen Rice (84 rushes, 469 yards, 6 TDs) and QB Robert Barner (20 of 43 passing for 331 yards and 2 TDs, plus 42 rushes for 222 yards and 6 TDs) - are seeking a second straight winning season.
Woodward coaches and players deserve a huge chunk of respect for making things happen at a program that just a few years ago had trouble fielding more than 25 players.
POISED FOR PLAYOFFS: Barring injuries, the best bets for multi-victory playoff runs from around northwest Ohio appear to be the following - (Division II) Southview, 5-0. (Division III) Napoleon, 5-0, and Bellevue, 4-1. (Division IV) Delta, 5-0. (Division V) Patrick Henry, 5-0, and Liberty-Benton, 5-0. (Divsion VI) Defending state-champion Columbus Grove, 5-0; Hardin Northern, 5-0; and maybe Hicksville, 5-0.
Expected to make the postseason but not win more than once in the playoffs: St. John's and St. Francis in D-I; Central Catholic, Maumee, Tiffin Columbian and Clay in D-II; Clyde in D-III; Otsego in D-IV; Mohawk and Liberty Center in D-V; and Hopewell-Loudon in D-VI.
Eastwood (4-1, 2-0) should make the playoffs, but the Eagles' chances of winning more than one playoff game depend heavily on their All-Ohio QB, Kevin Leady, who is battling a shoulder injury. If he's healthy, Eastwood could gp deep.
In southeast Michigan, coach Jack Giarmo's Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons made the Division-6 state semifinals last year, and have the potential to go all the way this season. The Falcons have outscored their first five foes 208-6.
TOP 13 IMPACT PLAYERS: (Offense or defense) 1, Nate Kmic, RB-DB (Delta); 2, Marcus Waugh, RB-LB (St. John's); 3, Romen Walton, RB-DB (Scott); 4, Zack George, QB (Patrick Henry); 5, Aaron Waldie, WR-DB (Southview); 6, Alex Junga, SE-DB (Maumee); 7, Andy Stickel, RB-DB (Eastwood); 8, Nick Sondergeld, RB-LB (Clay); 9, Cody Donald, RB-LB (Otsego); 10, Matt Foley, WR (Start); 11, Curt Silveus, RB-DB (Liberty Center); 12, Marc Krauss, WR-DB (Patrick Henry); 13, Dan Amato, QB (Central).
This list includes players who have had the most impact on the success of teams through midseason. It includes only players from the City League, Northern Lakes League, Suburban Lakes League, Northwest Ohio Athletic League and Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
BIGGEST UPSET: Last week, Northview 15, Maumee 10. The Panthers appeared poised for a battle-of-unbeatens NLL showdown for the second straight year against Southview next Friday, but the "other Sylvania team," Northview (3-2, 1-1), which was beaten by Bowling Green (1-4, 1-1) a week earlier, stunned Maumee and took some thunder out of that showdown.
BEST LEAGUE: At the season's midway point, the 12-team City League has no unbeatens, but does have five 4-1 teams, and one of those is not defending Division I state semifinalist St. John's. City League teams produced a 19-17 non-league mark and, from a parity standpoint, promise to have the most suspenseful league race in the closing weeks.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, in its sixth season as a football circuit, has been woeful this year. The TAAC is an ugly 6-19 overall. Toledo Christian (3-2) has the only winning record at the midway point.
The four others are 3-17.