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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Red Rider Playoffs: 1985 (Part 1)

The following is the latest in a series of historical reflections dealing with the Red Riders of Orrville High School and their quest for a football championship in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s state playoffs.  The full archive can be found here.

This edition looks at the year 1985.

Division III Regional Semifinal:
Orrville 35 - Van Wert 15
Starting with the 1985 season, the field of playoff teams in Ohio expanded to 16 per division (4 regions, 4 teams per region), up from 8 per division. Another change was that the #1 and #2 teams per region got to host a first round playoff game.
After a 9-1 regular season, and AOL title and a victory over arch rival Wooster, the Riders were crowned Region 10 Champions and were again poised to make a deep run in the playoffs, and thanks to the new format, Rider fans didn't have to travel far for Game #1.
The Rider welcomed the Cougars from Van Wert to the first ever home playoff game at Red Rider Stadium.

The Cougars were the ones feeling at home at first, as they capitalized on two Orrville turnovers and jumped out to a 15-0 lead before the home crowd even got settled in. The Riders talent and size advantage eventually won out as they scored 35 unanswered points, advancing to the 2nd round with a 35-15 victory. Jack Leeder led an unstoppable Rider ground game, rushing for 157 yds and 4 touchdowns.

Read the game article here (both pages of the article are in this one link).

Scoring Summary
1st Quarter
VW - 38 yd TD pass, Jon Gerold to Ty Fiegel (kick failed) 6-0
VW - 8 yd TD pass, Gerold to Scott Welker (kick failed) 12-0
VW - Field Goal 15-0

2nd quarter
Orr - 23 yd TD run by Keith Denson (2 pt. conversion good) 15-8
Orr - 3 yd TD run by Jack Leeder (2 pt. conversion good) 16-15

3rd quarter
Orr - 2 yd TD run by Leeder (conversion failed) 22-15
Orr - 17 yd TD run by Leeder (conversion failed) 28-15

4th Quarter
Orr - 1 yd TD run by Leeder (Sibonhuang kick) 35-15

Personal note.
This game was my first recollection of Orrville football. I may have been to others, but my recollection began with this game

I remember being amazed at how far away Van Wert was from Orrville (not sure how we ended up in the same region), and how the team took chartered buses, not regular school buses to make the trip. I also loved (and still do) seeing a "new" team on our field, with uniforms that we've never seen before, and helmets that dont look like West Holmes, Wooster, Copley or Triway.

Home playoff games have such an atmosphere about them, it's the same stadium you've been to hundreds of times, but there's so much more importance to the game. There are no ceremonies before the game, no senior nights or homecoming festivities, just a game, a game that will end one school's season and bring the other a step closer to a state title.

Regional Madness?
The state sure had some funny region lines. How Orrville & Van Wert, a scant 160 miles apart, could be placed in the same region just defies all logic. There were some other area teams in Region 10 (Triway, Medina Buckeye & Highland), but most were in Central & Western Ohio.

Division III Regional Final:
Orrville 27 - Lima Bath 8
The next step in the Riders playoff trail would again put them on a muddy field, this time in the perpetual mud of Arlin Field in Mansfield against the undefeated Wildcats of Lima Bath.

The Rider defense again set the tone and frustrated the Bath offense all night, forcing 2 turnovers to go with 5 QB sacks en route to a 27-8 Rider win and the school's third straight and fourth overall regional championship.

Game article here. It's the article that is titled "Orrville gives Lima a Bath in the mud." Note the comments by Mark Tillison and Mo in this article. Do any high school players or coaches talk like that anymore? I like the attitude. I'm noticing this in a lot of these old game articles, much more "dissing" than what you read in the papers today. Maybe it's just honesty and now everyone gives that "coach speak" so as to not provide bulletin board material.

Scoring Summary
1st Quarter
Orr - Leeder 3 yd TD run (Sibonhuang kick) 7-0
Orr - 94 yd punt return by James Bradley (Conversion failed) 13-0

3rd Quarter
Bath - Greg Fasig 1 yd TD run (2 pt. Conversion good) 13-8

4th Quarter
Orr - Denson 6 yd TD run (Conversion failed) 19-8
Orr - Leeder 2 yd TD run (2 pt. conversion good) 27-8

Stars of the Game
  • Red Rider Defense - 117 total yds allowed, 5 QB sacks, 2 forced turnovers.
  • Keith Denson - 101 rushing yds on 20 carries.

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