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WRITER: Joe Simon

West Branch and Ursuline almost identical to coaches

When West Branch coach Ken Harris looked at the Ursuline Fighting Irish football team on film, he didn’t see any weaknesses. Ironically, Ursuline coach Dan Reardon felt the same way after watching the Warriors. Something has to give at 7 p.m. Saturday in Beloit when two of Mahoning County’s most talented teams face off in a Division IV, Region 13 quarterfinal. “We get three films of them,” said ...

Tigers all set for a test

It certainly won’t be easy for the Springfield Tigers to make another trip to the state final — with only one public school in Mahoning Valley history going in back-to-back seasons (Warren Western Reserve in 1972 and 1973). Winning another four (or five) games is no easy task, even though the Tigers have made winning look easy thus far. Springfield, coming off a 14-1 campaign that ended with a 48-14 loss ...

Familiar with success

BROOKFIELD — The Springfield High School girls soccer team was posing for a photo after sealing the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference championship with a 6-0 victory over Brookfield on Monday. But they forgot someone during the photo op: head coach Justin Kosek. “It’s girls only,” they yelled when Kosek asked why he was left out. He knew they were joking. Kosek and the Tigers know quite a bit ...

Eagles overcome winless Alliance

HUBBARD — Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman was well aware that despite being 0-6, the Alliance Aviators weren’t going to be an easy first-round matchup in the OHSAA playoffs. His team found that out Friday, but the Eagles were up for the challenge. Hubbard ran for 398 yards, and they made a few clutch passes on fourth-down conversions to outlast Alliance, 42-38, in a Division III, Region 9 quarterfinal at ...

Struthers can’t hold off Girard

STRUTHERS — The Girard Indians looked to be in some trouble in their Northeast-8 Conference volleyball match with Struthers on Wednesday. The Indians won the first set, but Struthers answered with a big rally to start the second game. The Wildcats led, 5-0, momentum was shifting and Girard’s players looked a little bewildered after dominating just a few minutes ago. Longtime coach Phil Walters didn’t ...

Leopards continue making progress

LIBERTY — There’s one main focus Liberty volleyball coach Marcus Hayden honed in on when he took over the Leopards’ program this year. It’s the one almost every first-year coach aims to achieve during that initial season, and unfortunately for Hayden, accomplishing the feat can take time. “You have to get the kids to buy in to what you’re trying to sell,” said Hayden of what it takes to ...

Leetonia continues impressive turnaround

YOUNGSTOWN — Paul Hulea isn’t taking credit for the Leetonia Bears’ first 5-0 start in over 10 years. He doesn’t think he’s the reason Leetonia went from 0-10 in 2017 (the year before he took over) to likely being one of the top seeds in the Division VII playoffs. “Coaching’s overrated,” said Hulea, who led Poland to a state title back in 1999. “You’ve got to have players. You’ve got to ...

Tricky Tigers

NEW MIDDLETOWN — The Springfield High School football team rarely needs to resort to trickery to win football games. The Tigers were the Division VI state runners-up in 2019 and dominated their first two opponents in 2020, winning by combined scores of 76-7. So, no trickery was needed. That’s exactly why McDonald never saw them coming. Springfield used a little deception to pull away from the Blue ...

Crestview falls just short on road in rain

CHAMPION — A hot start by Crestview and quarterback Anthony Cusick was doused with buckets and buckets of rain. The Rebels nearly found a way to get it going again in a Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, Gray Tier matchup with Champion, but the upstart Golden Flashes put out the fire once again. Crestview couldn’t hold on to an early nine-point lead and a last-minute drive came up short as the Rebels ...

What did they learn?

CORTLAND — Two coaches leading young teams were hoping to find out a little bit about their groups in the first match of their volleyball seasons. They couldn’t have learned much more. Lakeview outlasted Hubbard in a tightly contested five-game battle at a sweltering hot Lakeview High School gymnasium. The Bulldogs won, 25-23, 17-25, 26-24, 17-25 and 15-9. Lakeview, which has won back-to-back league ...