Bowls, Birds, and Murmuration

Shots in the Darke

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Congratulations are once more in order for the small school football dynasty at Marion
Local!! The Flyers won their 14th state title in the past 17 years in Canton this Saturday,
finishing the campaign a perfect 16-0 after defeating Dalton 38-0 in D-VII action. Head Coach Tim Goodwin was quoted after the game as saying “these guys spend a lot of time in the locker room and the weight room. The older I get, that’s what football is about—the locker room, the weight room, and the bus rides. That’s what they’re going to remember. Yeah, they’re going to remember some games, but it’s about the brotherhood.” Whatever is going on in Maria Stein, as in other MAC schools, is well worth emulating—talk about talent, dedication, and accountability!

Also, hats off to the Versailles Tigers on a great 13-3 season that came up just short in the
D-VI title contest to another state power in the Kirtland Hornets by a 32-15 count. Tiger Ball is rolling again and much well-deserved pride is obvious in northeast Darke County!

High school basketball has swung back into full gear over the past week as boys play
began and girls action ended the second week. Early impressions are that the Tri-Village girls are going to be a force to be reckoned with again this year; Ansonia’s Lady Tigers opened with two wins; Sidney’s Lady Jackets have gotten off to a 3-0 start and look like the class of the Valley Division of the Miami Valley League; and Greenville’s Lady Wave are improved from last year but need to show that they can be competitive with the better schools in the MVL.

It’s still too early in the boys schedule to form any solid opinions but Arcanum looked
awfully good in their opener against Greenville forfirst year head Coach Kevin Brackman. Tipp and Troy appear to be headed to successful seasons once more in the MVL while other WOAC members Preble Shawnee, Dixie, Newton, Franklin-Monroe, and Bradford all will be in the title chase this year—not to mention Tri-Village’s Patriots who don’t open their season until this coming Friday at Mississinawa Valley and Ansonia’s Tigers who travel to Arcanum the same evening.

Staying with basketball, this was an historic week in NCAA Division One with three of the
top four ranked teams in mens play all going down to defeat. Number one Purdue lost in
overtime to Northwestern, number three Marquette went down to Wisconsin, and number four UConn lost to Kansas (although the Jayhawks werefifth-ranked). We might as well throw in seventh-ranked Duke’s loss to Georgia Tech and twelfth ranked Kentucky’s defeat at the hands of UNCW (the University of North Carolina-Wilmington). My wife and I frequently vacation at Wrightsville Beach just outside of Wilmington and have attended Seahawk basketball games in the past on the beautiful campus of UNCW.

Speaking of Jayhawks and Seahawks, as well as RedHawks which will be mentioned later,
today’s trivia question is what is murmuration? Did the 49ers reestablish themselves as the team to beat in the NFC this year after thumping the Eagles in Philadelphia? And the Browns suffered a blow to their playoff hopes in losing to the suddenly resurgent Rams. Veteran Joe Flacco, signed just a week or so ago, became the fourth quarterback to start for Cleveland and was about as respectable as could be expected. With the Steelers being upset by the Cardinals (Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin said his team played like a junior varsity squad) the Browns weren’t dealt a death sentence since the Ravens had a bye week but life-support is on standby if things don’t improve!

Okay, time to address the College Football Playoffs that were announced this Sunday afternoon – Michigan and Washington were obvious first and second seeds and Texas wrapped up a third seed with a dominating win over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game.

Alabama’s win over Georgia in SEC championship was enough to earn the fourth spot,
relegating an undefeated ACC champion Florida State to the fifth-seed and an Orange Bowl
date with the Bulldogs. Fair or not, the injury to the Seminoles star QB Jordan Travis was the deciding factor in ‘Bama earning a date in the Rose Bowl with the Wolverines. How many people will remember the Tide’s miracle escape against Auburn the week before on a “4th and a mile” touchdown pass in the game’s closing moments? What are your thoughts on the four teams selected?

You Buckeye fans will have to be content with a Cotton Bowl tussle with the ninth-ranked
Missouri Tigers—a big concern for THE will be how many prospective NFL draft choices will
choose to sit out the contest.

Meanwhile Miami’s RedHawks celebrated a Mid-American Conference title and an invitation
to the Cure Bowl in Orlando to face the Mountaineers of Appalachian State on December 16th.

Other Ohio schools in post-season play will be Ohio, Bowling Green, and Toledo as the MAC
rode the popularity of MACTION on ESPN to bowl invites.

Murmuration you ask and what does it have to do with the previously mentioned ‘Hawks.
It’s the term used to describe the flocking behavior of birds in flight, which presumably gives our fine-feathered friends safety in numbers from predatory birds (although I doubt if anyone told the falcons, peregrines, and hawks!). Did you ever wonder who the lead bird is as the flock swoops through the skies? That might only be for the truly deep thinkers out there!!

Have a great week!