Mansfield Senior's football team made me proud last Friday in their playoff game with New Albany at Olentangy Liberty High School. Although they lost the game 26-22, the game was hard fought between to very good football teams. Honestly, it was a game that you hated to see either team lose.
I applaud the work of Mansfield's head coach, Chioke Bradley. I go back with Chioke to his high school playing days at Mansfield Senior. A really good college prospect, but he not quite fast enough for the very top programs. A linebacker type, but needed to get bigger. But what I remember most was his effort and his toughness. Bowling Green scholarshiped Chioke and he went on to have a good career with the Falcons. Once again he played with all his physical ability. Next time, I saw him he had come back to Mansfield.
Three years ago Mansfield Senior was starting to resemble a well coached and disciplined football team. Up until that time, the program struggled with numbers and coaching changes. I think Mansfield was 6-4. The next summer, I commented to Bradley at a 7on7 at Dublin Coffman, that he was building a team attitude. Last year I think that they won nine games. This year 11 games in a row. The first undefeated and untied team in 82 years. Chioke feels that this is the best team that Senior High has put on the field.
Senior WR Chek Washington was the man as the go to receiver. He had a 40 yard catch in the first quarter. Came back and had two catches in Mansfield's second touch down drive. In the third quarter, senior QB Jalen Reese and Chek played pitch and catch in the red zone in front of me. Actually the two were signaling back and forth. Finally, Chek made the 17 yard touchdown play. I felt bad because not once did the New Albany corner get any help.
Seniors Chek Washington, Jalen Reese, LB Jaleel Taylor, LB Travon Harris, and TE Mitch Nixon led the way in this game. Their enthusiasm before the game and during warm-ups was contagious. They played hard and well during the game.
As far as underclassmen, OL Marshall Lewis (2015), playing in his first varsity season did some things well and some not so well, but he is listed 6'4-270 and can run. He will improve his blocking fundamentals. Sophomores Marvin Parker (SS) and Tyquan Vickers (RB) should be well recruited over the next three years. If junior DL Jaquille Fletcher loses some weight and works on his overall quickness in the off season, he should get recruited. He is wrestling this winter.
Business as usual, I evaluated players on both teams and both teams had recruits. But I just was so impressed with the work of Chioke Bradley and his staff. Players bought into the program and stayed the course. I watched the Tygers years ago, which makes me appreciate the distance that this program has come.