Central Ohio now has a high school football game on Thursday night that fans can watch on the flatscreen, Northeast Ohio and Southwestern Ohio have been televising aThursday night game for the past three years. The games make another travel day for me, but also provide for a chance to watch more football.
Last night, Marion Franklin invaded Walnut Ridge and escaped with a 7-6 victory. The game was an exciting game, but not necessarily a well played game. Penalties and mistakes slowed the game down. Blocked and missed kicks actually hurt Walnut Ridge bigtime. But both teams played tough hard nose football.
Two high profile college bound prospects both did well. WR Jaron Dukes, Michigan bound, caught a ten yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. Really did not get many passes thrown his way, but he made the big catch at the end. WR/DB Rob Wheelwright, Wisconsin bound, had a big punt return for six called back and made some athletic catches. Also liked his play at corner.
Both Walnut Ridge and Marion Franklin have some underclassmen who, I believe, are going to be top rated prospects going into their senior years. Of course, so much depends how hard they work in the weight room, in the classroom, and on the field. But LB Anthony McKee (2015), listed 6'2-189, from Walnut Ridge jumps out at linebacker. DE/OLB Robert Bowers (2014), listed 6'5-27, also from Walnut Ridge runs really well and makes plays. Do not like his "showtime attitude" but he can make plays. OL Martesse Patterson (2014), from Marion Franklin, listed 6'5-299, really impressed with his quick feet and OL instincts. Need to see more of Walnut Ridge's CB Brandon Paschal(2014). Listed 5'9-163 and had one pick. Problem, he played the game with a soft cast on his arm. What would he be full strength?
Need to mention Walnut Ridge senior Terry Cole. Actually have watched him since his freshman year. Plays some OL and defensive end. Also plays some linebacker. Listed 6'1-244. Ultimate team player. Size may be of some concern for some college recruiters, but he has a chance.
Just one note for young people who are thinking about becoming a football official. The field judge in this game was so concerned about players and coaches being "behind the line," that he could not concentrate on field play. When the offense has the ball "going in" on the 15 yard line and you are the field judge, do not worry about the coach stepping on the field to give a play to his quarterback. Worse yet do not throw a flag for a "bench warning" when the ball is in the red zone going in. Worse than worse, do not do this in the fourth quarter of a 7-6 ball game. That is not the intent of the rule. Above all, do not miss an offsides on a player who blocks an extra point with 4:35 remaining in the game with the score 7-6. Officials need to concentrate on the game.
This game was one that I hated to see either team lose. Both teams were well coached and played good tough football. Always next year, and with the underclassmen on the field last night, that game will be just as exciting.