With so much happening, it’s time for 25 things

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but with so much happening locally and nationally, it’s time for an early fall edition of 25 things.

1. Even though Columbian has been soundly defeated in its first two games, you have to respect the effort of quarterback Todd Simonds. In Friday’s game against Anthony Wayne, he was tackled seven times for a loss, but he kept getting up, and kept pushing. Things likely won’t be easy for the Tornadoes this season, but Simonds’ grit is impressive.

2. The area’s top quarterback through the first two weeks of the season is a little bit of a surprise. It’s Skylar Garcia, a 5-foot-8, 150 pound senior for Fostoria. He’s been dynamite through two games. He threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s win over Oak Harbor, and on Friday threw for 320 yards and three touchdown passes, running for two more. His final touchdown pass — to Devin Mauricio in double overtime — led to the game-winning PAT in a 49-48 win over Toledo Scott.

Look, no one is gonna compare Garcia to Micah Hyde. Yet. But suddenly, Fostoria could be turning into a factor this season. It has Cardinal Stritch next week, and a chance to go 3-0.

3. I’d been telling people I thought Calvert could run the table in the regular season before Friday’s loss to Pandora-Gilboa.

It was a premature prediction. But I still expect the Senecas to finish with a strong record and make the playoffs for a seventh-straight year.

4. Every time Fostoria has a volleyball match, a game in the office is to guess the stats for Tyriana Settles. There are lots of solid players in the area, but Settles may be the most prolific when it comes to stats. She had 22 kills and seven digs in Tuesday’s win over Woodmore and 20 kills in a loss to Eastwood. But last season, it wasn’t uncommon last season for her to consistently come up with 30 kills a match. She went into Saturday’s invitational with 946 career kills. And she’s just a junior.

5. Tiffin University coach Gary Goff had to answer a question, repeatedly, about who his starting quarterback was going to be this season. He never answered my question directly, but by the middle of last week, it seemed likely that redshirt freshman Nate Watson would be the choice. And he was, starting in Thursday’s season-opening loss to Findlay.

6. Goff sees another Antonio Pipkin — the best QB in Tiffin history — in Watson. And that makes sense. Watson doesn’t have quite the size of his predecessor — he’s listed at 6-0, 190 pounds — but he has a good arm and can run (he broke a 41-yard touchdown dash Thursday).

7. But it also makes sense why Goff would want a quarterback similar to Pipkin (although who wouldn’t), with the offense he has assembled. Many of the players who shined in past years — from wide receiver Charles Holland and Bellevue grads Jalen Santoro and Trent Stamm to running backs JaQuan Hardy and Kyle Brunson — are all back. You want a quarterback with a similar skill set to Pipkin who can run an offense in a similar fashion.

8. Because of the way the box scores are set up, its in our nature as writers to talk about a team’s offense. But during Thursday’s TU-Findlay game, I couldn’t take my eyes off defensive end Charlie Cleveland, a freshman defensive end for the Dragons. Cleveland — who Goff praised earlier in the week — is a 6-4, 245 pounder from Central High School in East Chicago. He made four tackles Thursday, one for a loss, and recovered a fumble. Could be fun to watch him over the next few years.

9. The trade of Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers to the Celtics was a major disappointment, and not necessarily because of what the Cavaliers got back. Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and an unprotected first round pick in 2018 is a solid haul, even for a player of Irving’s stature.

10. It’s just that Irving was so dynamic, so special. I’ll never forget standing in my parents’ living room in Avon, hands on knees, watching Irving’s 3-pointer go through the hoop during Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2016. It was a magic moment, bringing a major professional sports title to Cleveland for the first time in 52 years.

11. It was something I’ll never forget. As you get older, you realize being a sports fan is about five percent moment, 95 percent memory. No matter what Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love or anyone else on that team ever does, or where they do it, they’ll always be Cleveland guys to me. And that’s why, despite the strange way Irving’s Cleveland tenure ended, I can’t be mad at him. He was a big part of my greatest moment as a sports fan.

12. As for the Cavs future, I’m not sure the team could have gotten equal value for Irving. I never would have traded him, but one only can assume Cavs’ management decided that the Irving-LeBron relationship wasn’t salvageable, so they had to deal one. And trading LeBron James, or even trying to trade him, would be insane. So the Cavs made a solid deal and will try to win it all again in 2018. And then, try to keep LeBron from leaving again.

13. Heidelberg put up 405 yards of total offense in Saturday’s 40-24 win over Olivet. Olivet has been a playoff team the last two seasons. Quarterback Tyler Stoyle, receiver Demetrius Magee and do-everything back Cam Vocke look primed for big seasons. Look out.

14. So many people were surprised the Browns released cornerback Joe Haden, and I’m not really sure why. While Haden was a guy who embraced Cleveland and had a great personality, his production had dropped dramatically in recent years, due in part to injury. The fact that Haden signed with the Steelers a mere hours after his release does sting, but not that much.

15. The Browns are still rebuilding, and even if Haden intercepts rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer three times in next Sunday’s season opener, it doesn’t change the fact that a number of veterans won’t be in the Browns’ plans. Cleveland will be bad again this year. I don’t expect it to go 1-15 again, but there’s still a bunch of youth, and not enough depth to make a massive turnaround.

16. That said, I believe in the team’s direction, and I have confidence in the Browns’ front office, led by Sashi Brown. In fact, this is the most faith I’ve had in a leadership group since the team returned in 1999. Admittedly, that doesn’t mean much.

17. Hue Jackson is one of my favorite coaches the Browns have had, and I hope the team sticks with him for 2018 no matter what his record is. Still, I can’t shake this feeling he may not see this rebuild to the end. The best comparison I can make for what the Browns are doing is to baseball’s Houston Astros, who stripped their team to nothing in the beginning of this decade and loaded up on high draft picks and prospects. The plan worked — the Astros have the best record in the American League this season and just traded for Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander. But the manager hired at the beginning of the Astros’ rebuild, Bo Porter, was fired before it could reach its completion. I worry that will happen with Jackson — he’ll be here for the tough times, but won’t be around to reap their rewards.

18. The Indians are playing great right now. They’ve won nine straight games going into Saturday’s contest with the Tigers. That they’ve done this with one of baseball’s best relievers on the disabled list. The Indians will win the Central with ease, but I’m not sure they will go anywhere in the playoffs without a healthy Andrew Miller. The Indians need to be extra careful with him, since the team won’t need him to reach the postseason.

19. Though it’s not really my interest to comment on much politics, here’s my feeling on Colin Kaepernick: He’s an average to below average quarterback in 2017. In 2013, he was a very good quarterback. I think based on abilities alone, he should have a job somewhere.

20. Of course, rarely is a decision made on abilities alone. Many believe the former 49ers quarterback is not being signed because he took a knee during the national anthem before games last season to protest racial oppression in the U.S.

The American flag means something to me, and I always will stand for the National Anthem. I don’t agree with kneeling for the Star Spangled Banner, but I do respect the right of Kaepernick — or anyone else — to make a statement. And frankly, after some of the things we’ve seen in the past year, some statements need to be made. But I’ll admit to being angered last season when Kaepernick wore a Fidel Castro shirt during a press conference. It seemed the quarterback was standing against one form of oppression while cheering on another. But despite that, I hope Kaepernick is signed by someone, if that’s what he wants. We’ve heard from a number of people on this issue, but he hasn’t said much since last season. And now, a number of players are demonstrating during the anthem. We’ll see what happens, but it wouldn’t shock me to see the quarterback signed — and playing — when injuries to Qbs start piling up.

21. Hopewell-Loudon’s Sam Stickley after two games: 360 rushing yards, eight total touchdowns. What a player.

22. Just got word that Reds’ manager Bryan Price will return in 2018 after four straight losing seasons. This is the franchise that once fired Sparky Anderson in 1978 after a 92-win season, and let Dusty Baker go after a 93-win season. But the Reds are committed to Price for a rebuild that began in earnest in 2014. And, with the Reds still 19 games under .500, I have to wonder if the real rebuild has even started. But it appears that — unlike Bo Porter — Price will be around for its duration.

23. Ohio State’s game with Indiana went like it should have. The Hoosiers are solid, and came in fired up for what was being billed as the biggest game in program history. But even when the Buckeyes were trailing in the third quarter, the talent differential between them and Indiana was staggering. It was only a matter of time before OSU ran the Hoosiers off the field. Now, next week against Oklahoma? That will be a much tougher test.

24. I get the feeling we’ll be writing about the golfing prowess of Kyleigh Dull — a freshman at Lakota — for years to come. Her sister, Makayla Dull, was the best female golfer I’d seen in my time at The A-T. Kyleigh — who shoots in the mid 70s in 18-hole tournaments, may be just as good.

25. Hope everyone enjoys a safe, happy Labor Day. Next week will be a big one for the area, with a full slate of high school football games on Friday, the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival Saturday morning and the Ohio State-Oklahoma game that night. Then, of course, the start of another NFL season. Things are about to get fun.

Zach Baker is the sports editor at The Advertiser-Tribune.

Contact him at:

zbaker@advertiser-tribune.comzbaker@advertiser-tribune.com or on Twitter @Zachthewriter

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