The MAC attacking everybody

To be honest, it wasn’t exactly surprising.

It’s no disrespect to Upper Sandusky, but we’ve seen it before. A lot.

For the third-straight year, one of our area teams made the trip to the Nutter Center for the state volleyball tournament and for the third-straight year, a team from the Midwest Athletic Conference sent our girls packing.

This year it was Versailles doing the honor. Last year it was Marion Local knocking off Buckeye Central.

In 2011, it was St. Henry edging Mohawk.

All three went on to win a state title. Again, not exactly shocking.

To say the MAC is the best conference in the state would be a vast understatement.

I firmly believe you could make an argument for it being the best conference in the country.

Consider these fun facts.

In the football playoffs, the MAC’s first round record against non-MAC schools is 51-1.

Or this one: Coldwater has made the playoffs for 18 straight years, which is the longest active streak in the state and in the last four years have made it to the state final every year, making them the first school to play in 60 games in that span.

In the conference, there are 105 state championship titles, all since 1973. Minster has 27 and St. Henry is next with 20. In fact, all but one school in the league, New Bremen, has won a state title. The other nine schools have won at least one title and in many cases, multiple crowns.

I can’t imagine the expectations athletes in that conference go through.

This weekend, my family and I went down to the Dayton area to visit some friends and made a trip to Greenville on Sunday morning. On a related note, Greenville is a wonderful little town with some nice places to eat (try a Maid Rite sandwich), but many of the places you’ll want to visit are closed on Sunday. In fact, a lot of the places in that region observe a Sabbath, which is a refreshing change of pace to the 7-day a week access we’re used to having.

As we started to head north toward home, we took the scenic route, checking out all of Annie Oakley’s key spots: from birth to death to in between. We went through Versailles and at the village line there’s a huge sign displaying all its eight state titles as well as all their individual state champions.

We drove on to St. Henry and then Coldwater and it was all more of the same.

Back home, we don’t have placards quite that big. A state championship here. An individual there.

That trip not only made me appreciate the athletic heritage of that area, but also the scenery. It’s not unlike our own. Miles and miles of farmland. Quiet communities with its niche shops and delicious Mom and Pop greasy spoon eateries.

It also made me appreciate what we have back here at home. While we may not have the volume of state crowns that area has, it makes the ones we do have that much more special because along the way, our teams likely had to beat a team from the MAC. And to be the best, you need to beat the best.

Speaking of the best, the fantasy football season is heading into the home stretch of its regular season with teams fighting for those top playoff spots.

It’s not too late to make a pickup that could be the difference between being in or out.

This time of year can be a challenge to find any value on the waiver wire but some recent injuries and team decisions could change that.

Ben Tate shouldn’t be still available in your league but if he is, he’s well worth the pickup. Arian Foster’s backup has now become Foster’s replacement with the latter going on the IR for the season. He’s been a long-time handcuff for Foster owners. Temper your expectations though. He’s not Foster and he’s playing with broken ribs so he may not be as explosive as we’ve seen before.

Mike James had a heck of a little run as Doug Martin’s replacement and now will join Martin on the IR for the year. What is left behind is a guy Greg Schiano is very familiar with: Brian Leonard. The former Rutgers back had 22 touches for 73 yards Monday night and I figure he’ll see more of the workload than Browns’ castoff Bobby Rainey. It’s not an ideal situation but it’s a better option than, say, Willis McGahee.

Ryan Fitzpatrick becomes a trendy pickup after a solid performance in week 10 where he threw for 264 yards and two scores. He replaces Jake Locker for the remainder of the season as Locker was put on IR. Locker was having a solid season and Fitzpatrick gave fantasy owners some flashes of excellence in his time with Buffalo. But they are flashes and you’ll have to pick your weeks carefully. He has some favorable matchups coming up, including the Jags that he should be a solid contributor and good depth on your bench should something happen to your main starter.

John Carlson came out of nowhere last week and made seven catches for 98 yards and a score for the Vikings who are without Kyle Rudolph for the next few weeks. Carlson had 106 catches over two seasons earlier in his career in Seattle so this kind of production isn’t foreign to him. However, he’s an upgrade over Rudolph, whose fantasy value is largely touchdown dependent. Carlson can be a nice bye-week fill-in for a team in the next two weeks.

Speaking of bye week fill-ins, don’t forgot those team defenses. Arizona this week and Houston the next should be solid pick and plays for those respective weeks as they play Jacksonville. The Jaguars have been a team defense dream most weeks as their offense has been putrid and their scoring even worse.

And last but not least, Percy Harvin is finally expected to make his 2013 debut this week against the Vikings. For those who patiently stashed him all season, congrats. If he’s still sitting on your waiver wire, snatch him up but make sure you sit him the first week. As a general rule, I don’t play guys their first week back from an injury, especially a serious one like this.

Aaron Korte is the A-T’s fantasy football writer.

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