Playing for a state title was the furthest thing from the mind of St. Francis de Sales water polo coach Dave Eisenstein midway through the season.
The Knights were 6-9 before something finally clicked.
St. Francis, which has captured 14 state championships, closed out its schedule by winning nine straight matches before falling 6-4 Saturday to Columbus St. Charles in the state final in Mason, Ohio.
"I'm really proud of them," Eisenstein said. "They have no reason to hang their heads."
Eisenstein, who is in his seventh season overseeing the Knights, watched his team grow and become a late-season force in the pool.
Under his watch the Knights were state runner-up in 2004 and finished third in 2008 and 2009. But he considers this year's effort as special as any because of the slow start.
"Since Oct. 2 when we played in a tournament in Michigan, we went 9-1 the rest of the season," Eisenstein said. "So, they came a long way. All the pieces fell into place. The team chemistry and focus fell into place."
Seniors Rowan Williams, Nick Carmony, and junior Daniel DiSalle III earned all-tournament team at the state tourney.
Williams, a goaltender, made 223 saves this season. He recorded 27 saves in a 12-10 overtime victory over Milford in the state semifinals.
Carmony, a three-year starter, had a team-high 63 goals, while DiSalle had 36 and junior Matt Zimmerman scored 32.
DiSalle and Zimmerman provided four goals apiece during the state tournament for the Knights, who finished 15-10.
"This group was determined and a pleasant surprise," Eisenstein said. "They were dedicated and they believed in themselves."
Over a period of three games, Toledo Christian senior quarterback Nick Rightnowar recorded a string of 30 straight complete passes. His last three of the string came at the start of the Eagles' 20-14 victory Friday over Northwood in a Toledo Area Athletic Conference clash for the title. The streak began with 15 consecutive to close out a 20-15 win over Edon and a perfect 12-for-12 effort in a 70-0 drubbing of Danbury.
Geren nears 2,000 yards
Edon junior Shannon Geren, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound running back, needs only 73 yards rushing to reach 2,000 yards this season.
Geren has already set the school's single-season record with 1,927 yards. The previous mark of 1,685 yards was set by Dustin Mohre.
"He works really hard in practice and that's the reason why he's done well," Edon's first-year coach Scott Staten said. "He's a workhorse. He's an aggressive runner. He's a powerhouse."
Geren has scored 21 touchdowns (19 rushing, 2 receiving) and averages 7.4 yards per carry for the Bombers (6-3, 3-2 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference). He rushed for 1,004 yards last season.
Bedford readies for playoffs
The time to celebrate the first-ever unbeaten regular season in team history is over for Bedford.
The Kicking Mules (9-0) have spent this week preparing to play host to Southgate Anderson (8-1) in a Division 2 opening-round playoff game Friday at 7 p.m. at Bedford Community Stadium.
The Mules, led by senior quarterback Jared Kujawa, enter the matchup riding plenty of momentum after clinching the Southeastern Conference Red Division championship for the second year in a row.
Kujawa closed out the regular-season by rushing for 326 yards on 15 carries, including seven touchdowns, in a 54-34 victory over Monroe Jefferson.
Elsewhere, Blissfield (6-3) is preparing to travel to Ecorse (6-3) for a Division 6 first-round game.
Elmwood's volleyball team played one too many matches during the regular season, resulting in automatic disqualification from postseason tournament.
The Royals played 23 matches - one more than allowed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. A scheduling change led to the mix-up.
The Royals (6-17) were scheduled to play Otsego in a Division III sectional earlier this week at Liberty-Benton.
St. John's Jesuit, which won the Division I district, is a favorite to win again in the regional cross country meet at Tiffin.
Titans senior Greg Turissini (15:55.40) ran second at district behind Maumee senior Ryan Kraus (15:53.20).
Also heading to regional are Clay, Maumee, Findlay, St. Francis, Northview, Perrysburg, and Bowling Green.
Northview senior Mike Wallace captured a district championship with a time of 15:48.20.
In D-I girls, Northview sophomore Abby Masters leads a strong Wildcats team into the regional after prevailing at district with a time of 18:51.80.
Northview, Anthony Wayne, Southview, Notre Dame, Perrysburg, Findlay, and Clay have also qualified. Northview senior Kaitlyn Llewellyn (18:44.60) won at district.
In D-II boys, Napoleon, Lake, and Eastwood advanced to the regional. Napoleon junior Steven Weaver (15:40.10) won at district.
Maumee, Port Clinton, Oak Harbor, and Napoleon will compete in the D-II girls race. Maumee senior Brooke Tullis (19:40.72), was a district champion.
In D-III boys, Delta's strong team, led by Colin Fisher, K.J. Abair, Maxx Lackie, and Alec Nash, are favorites to prevail at the regional. Liberty Center and Archbold also advanced.
Liberty Center and Liberty-Benton advanced in the girls.
Contact Donald Emmons at:
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.