Since Whitmer joined the City League in 2003, and moved along with Central Catholic to the new Three Rivers Athletic Conference in 2011, those two schools have been Toledo’s top two football programs.
Last year the rivals took things up another notch, producing the best combined seasons for two teams in Toledo history, each finishing 14-1 overall with trips to their respective state championship games.
The Irish won the Division II championship with a 16-12 win over Trotwood-Madison, while the Panthers fell to Cincinnati Moeller 20-12 in the Division I final.
Whitmer claimed bragging rights in impressive fashion, winning the TRAC championship in the regular-season finale, blanking host Central 42-0.
The teams will resume their rivalry under much different circumstances this season as the Panthers travel to Central to open TRAC play Friday night.
“I don’t know if that means anything but I sure hope so,” Central coach Greg Dempsey said of playing Whitmer earlier this year. “Playing them late last year certainly didn’t work out well for us.”
The Panthers, who saw their 29-game regular-season winning streak snapped in Week 2 with a 10-3 loss to Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s, is 1-2 after being blanked 23-0 at Detroit Catholic Central.
Whitmer owned the best overall record among Ohio D-I teams from 2010-12 at 39-4.
“Central Catholic is our rival, and it’s always a great atmosphere playing against them, and always tough competition,” Whitmer coach Jerry Bell said. “Regardless of where it’s at on the schedule, it’s always fun to play them.
“They’re well coached and they have some great athletes. That’s a great stadium to play at. What a great way to start off the TRAC season. This type of game can really set the tone for your season.”
The Irish, now a Division III team, are 3-0 and ranked No. 2 in the first Associated Press state poll.
Central was picked by TRAC coaches to to finish first, while Whitmer was selected second.
Whitmer graduated starters at 15 of 22 combined offensive and defensive positions. It has lost consecutive games for the first time since dropping four straight (2007-08), and was shut out for the first time since Aug. 25, 2006 (10-0 by Tiffin Columbian). But nobody has forgotten last year’s domination by the Panthers against Central.
“It means different things to different people,” Dempsey said. “We’ve been focusing on just this season and this week.
“You look at all three phases of the game, and there are always things you can do better in each phase. Finishing off drives on offense is something we need to do a better job of. Not just executing, but maybe game-planning too. We’re still working on special teams, and you’re always working on coverage.”
Whitmer has been led in rushing by running back Jamal Bell (28 carries, 140 yards, 2 TDs) and Chase Bodeman (27 for 118), one of the two alternating sophomore quarterbacks. The other, Matt Winzeler, is 33 of 58 passing for 435 yards and 2 TDs. The top receivers have been Casino Stacker (15 catches, 212 yards, TD) and Chris Boykin (16 catches, 210 yards, TD).
“We’ve had our opportunities but we just haven’t been able to make the [key scoring] play,” Bell said. “Last year we were able to make those plays. We’re right there on the cusp. Take away a few of those plays and we’re sitting at 3-0 against some pretty tough opponents.
“When you look at our offense we need to be more consistent with our play — whether it’s blocking or running our routes. Defensively, we also need to be more consistent.”
Central has been paced offensively by quarterback DeShone Kizer (34-of-68 passing, 657 yards, 5 TDs; 20 rushes, 177 yards, TD), sophomore running back Tre’Von Wade (63 carries, 460 yards, 4 TDs), and junior receiver Jermiah Braswell (12 catches, 274 yards, 3 TDs).
“Coming off winning a state championship, people are making comparisons between last year’s team and this year’s team,” Dempsey said. “With Whitmer coming up, this is a new team. Both teams are actually new teams, and our goal is to just be 1-0 in the league this week.”
St. Ursula was ranked No. 1 in the first Division I state volleyball coaches poll last week, and four wins later it held onto the top spot in this week’s poll.
The Arrows defeated Findlay 3-0 in Three Rivers Athletic Conference action last Thursday, then traveled to the Vandalia Butler Invitational on Saturday to beat then second-ranked defending D-I state champion Cincinnati Ursuline 2-1 and the host school 2-0.
St. Ursula (13-0, 4-0 TRAC) topped Notre Dame 3-1 on Monday and has a conference match today at Clay.
In boys soccer, Anthony Wayne is ranked No. 5 and St. John’s Jesuit No. 12 in Division I of the state coaches poll.
Liberty-Benton is No. 8 in Division III.
In the girls poll, Notre Dame is ranked No. 8 in D-I, Liberty-Benton is No. 5, and Oak Harbor No. 6 in D-III.
In girls cross country, Perrysburg is ranked No. 6 in Division I.
Napoleon is No. 7 in D-II, while Liberty Center, which has won two straight state titles, is No. 2 in D-III.
Among the boys, Liberty Center is No. 9 in D-III.
City League hall of fame
Nine athletes, a state championship team, and a highly successful coach will be among the inductees at the City League’s 32nd annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremonies on Nov. 4.
Entering the hall as individual athletes will be Eddie Turner (Waite, Class of 1951), Ed Platzer (Waite, 1967), Abe Steward (Libbey, 1969), Donald Collins (Scott, 1976), Cindy Donahue Brown (Cardinal Stritch, 1979), Brad Wotring (St. Francis de Sales, 1986), Matt Dzierwa (St. John’s Jesuit, 1988), Tamara Browder Hageage (Woodward, 1990), and Angela Pasquinelli Yates (Central Catholic, 2002).
Also joining the hall will be Scott’s 1989-90 Division I state championship boys basketball team and Steve Pfhaler, who coached Central girls basketball teams to eight straight CL titles (1997-2004) and to four state tournament appearances.
Honored posthumously will be John Murphy (Central Catholic, 1962), and the distinquished citizen honoree will be Donald Harbaugh (St. Francis, 1967).
The event will be held at the Premier Banquet Hall on Heatherdowns Boulevard, with a social hour starting at 5:30 p.m., dinner scheduled at 7 p.m., and the induction ceremonies at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available for $45 per person, including dinner and beverages.
For more information, contact Waite principal David Yenrick at 419-671-7000.
Clay inducts 2
Clay inducted two new members into its athletic hall of fame on Sept. 13.
Jeff Keller (class of 1977) earned three letters in both golf and basketball. He was All-Great Lakes League first team in both sports.
Kristin Crawford (2003) earned nine letters in volleyball, basketball and softball. In volleyball she was twice named to All-GLL first team and all-district. In basketball she was All-GLL first team three times. In softball she was All-GLL twice and GLL player of the year.
Donnelly to St. Ursula
Mike Donnelly has resigned his athletic director position with Clay and will become the AD at St. Ursula beginning Sept. 30.
Donnelly was previously the football coach at Clay, his alma mater, before resigning at the end of the 2012 season.
At St. Ursula, he will succeed former Steve Parrill, who resigned after the 2012-13 school year.
Archbold volleyball forfeits
The Archbold volleyball team has forfeited eight matches it had won because of the use of a ineligible player.
Archbold superintendent Aaron Rex said in a press release that the school administration became aware of the potential violation of Ohio High School Athletic Association bylaws, and reported the matter.
Upon receiving a ruling from the OHSAA that confirmed the violation, Archbold notified officials from the eight schools the Blue Streaks had defeated — Patrick Henry, Stryker, Liberty Center, Wauseon, Delta, Fairview, Napoleon and Defiance — to announce the forfeits.
"This is an unfortunate event, and our school, and our athletes did not intentionally try to violate any rules or guidelines set forth by the OHSAA," Rex said. "We will move forward with our season and continue to play with determination and perseverance."