Twitter Updates

Friday, July 31, 2009

Twitter + Site Recognition + Internet Ranking = Total Dweeb

The following post includes shameless self-promotion. You've been warned.

Yes, I'm Twitter-ering, Tweeting on Twitter. I have one loyal follower (albeit one with a mighty editorial voice). Here's the link, and if you click the Twitter logo at the top of this page, you'll end up there as well.

My plan is to use it for items of note in the local sports scene, but items not really worthy of an entire blog post. I've got it set up to automatically add blog posts to my Twitter feed, so you won't miss any blog content if you choose to follow my Twitter. Twitter will dovetail nicely with this site. Give it time, allow me to grow into it (just like the blog), and I think you'll see what a neat thing it is.

What it will be used for has me real excited...posting in-game from Red Rider Stadium, or wherever the mighty Rider happen to be playing. Except maybe Clear Fork. Have they discovered cell phone service down there yet?

Limiting my thoughts to 140 characters is proving to be quite challenging, but I'm working on it.

Now onto some shameless backpatting. Your fearless blogger has garnered another bit of exposure, this time on the very popular Ohio high school sports site, JJHuddle. In a collaborative effort, the archive of OHSAA Computer Points (1972 to present) that was housed (exclusively, to my knowledge) on this site, now appears on JJHuddle's front page (right hand side, look for the tournament bracket icon), check out the bottom of the page for the kudos.

And in the news of Chase Hoobler committing to Akron, I got a little mention there too. So...a link to the site has now appeared on the Mansfield News Journal site & JJHuddle. I really need to get some love from the Daily Record. I've got an idea for a future post that may spur some countywide discussion, so maybe the door will open up a little bit then. Maybe I'll get picked to do their football predictions this fall too. Who knows?

Not surprisingly, all this exposure has led to skyrocketing popularity. The site is now ranked in the top 3.1 million websites in all the galaxy (I currently rank 3,045,623 according to's up from 3,202,720 a scant 9 days ago). Don't laugh. Seriously, stop laughing. That ranking is up 500% over the past 3 months, so if you think it's laughable now, imagine what it was 3 months ago. I'll still take it. I ain't too proud.

I've also topped the 250 member mark on my Facebook page. Another great way to track the site if Facebook is your scene.

July was another record breaking month for the site in terms of visitors and we have now topped 6,500 visitors and 17,000 (SEVENTEEN THOUSAND!!) pageviews since the first of the year. I had no goals going into this....only to be informative. The fact that so many of you have visited the site, and then returned or subscribed or followed is just so awesome. Can't thank you enough.
Football season is right around the corner and I'm looking forward to another season of providing Rider fans with unique and informative content.

Your emails and comments are always appreciated.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rider Hoops: Meet Chad Spurlock

Hey all, take a minute to read this brief interview I did with new Orrville boys freshman basketball coach Chad Spurlock. He was hired by Coach Slaughter back in the spring and is looking forward to his first season on the staff. I thought it might be a neat idea to let him introduce himself, convey his coaching style and ask him what he believes his role in the program to be.


Blog: Where did you go to high school? College?
Coach Spurlock: I graduated from Smithville, I decided to go back and get my degree about 4 years ago. I am in the process of finishing my bachelor's degree in education at the University of Akron. I should be student teaching next spring.

Blog: Why did you decide to get into coaching basketball?
Coach Spurlock: I would say to interaction with young men, the competition, and the love for the game of basketball just being around it. I have always enjoyed playing and watching basketball and I have developed a passion for the game, also the strategy that goes with it.

Blog: What coaching experience do you bring to Orrville?
Coach Spurlock: I have coached the last three years at Waynedale, as a JV coach for one year and a varsity assistant for two years. I enjoyed my time there, a lot of great people there. Coach Geiser gave me an opportunity to grow there and cut my teeth the last three years. It was a great learning experience for me. Before that I helped at Smithville for two years with the baseball team. I was the assistant/pitching coach for the JV team. But basketball is my love.

Blog: What about coaching gives you the greatest sense of worth?
Coach Spurlock: My biggest joy of coaching is the interaction with the kids and trying to be a positive role model for them. I also enjoy watching kids succeed and improve within the season.

Blog: At the freshman level, is it about winning, developing players or getting them comfortable in the system? Or all three?
Coach Spurlock: Winning is important, as I consider myself the ultimate competitor at what ever I am involved in. I would say the main goal is progress from last year to this year always improving not leveling off and being satisfied, always wanting to improve. I want as a freshman coach to see these young men continue to learn the style that Coach Slaughter wants for the whole program. I will try to implement, to the best of my ability, the style that will help us win games as well. Ultimately I want to see progress from the team standpoint defensively and offensively, if I see progress in those areas through the season I will be happy.

Blog: Other than freshman coach, what other role will you have in the program?
Coach Spurlock: My main contributions will be scouting the upcoming teams we play, something I did at Waynedale at times. You may see me on the bench a few times during the season as well, mainly during tourney time though. Coach Slaughter did say he would like my input at times during the season from time to time if I see anything that would help the varsity succeed.

Blog: If you could have one goal that your players achieve year in and year out, what would that be?
Coach Spurlock: It is hard to think of just one, but I would say that I want them to understand I am trying to put us, as a team, in the best possible position to win every game and sometimes that means sacrifices by a certain player or players to accomplish that. Also having confidence in themselves, pride and an overall improvement in their basketball IQ. Above all, I want it to be a positive experience for them.

Blog: Are you a "coach to the system guy" or one that crafts a system around the available talent?
Coach Spurlock: I would have to say coaching to the talent I have because it always changes year to year, especially at the freshman level where kids are getting moved up and down between JV and freshman. But in saying that, there are certain styles I have that I want to see year in and year out. I am a man to man defense coach and stress strong defensive principles. I like to heat it up and get out and pressure the ball and mix up the defense from time to time, but that again depends on what kind of talent I have. But overall I think you have to coach to the talent you have and the ability the kids have to succeed.

Blog: Anything else to add?
Coach Spurlock: I am very excited about the opportunity to coach at Orrville and thank Coach Slaughter, Coach Landis and Coach Smith for making it an easy transition. I'm grateful for the opportunity given to me by Coach Slaughter. I would like to be part of getting this program heading in the right direction again, and if my small part at the freshman level in time helps this program to succeed at winning a district championship and even a state championship that will be very satisfying for me, because it is time to get Orrville basketball back to the top where it belongs and I know that is where the other coaches goals are as well.

That's it. For what it's worth, Chad and his wife have lived in Orrville for the past 6 years and he has 2 small boys....future Riders no doubt.

Everything I've heard mentioned about him has been positive. He's known as a coach who has the respect of the kids and gets the most out of his teams. From my conversation with him, he seems to be a humble man who appreciates the opportunity with a tradition rich school like Orrville. I'm sure he's excited about the opportunity to be on the staff in what is hopefully a successful period of Orrville Basketball.

Coach Spurlock also wanted me to pass along the team's success at a shootout in Apple Creek a few weeks ago. Teams were Wooster, Waynedale and Waynedale's 8th grade team (who went undefeated last year). The Riders went 5-0 and won the championship game. He expressed a lot of positives from what he saw. Said the kids played hard and unselfish. Always great to hear.

Last but not least, from speaking to Coach Spurlock, he relayed to me the possibility of seeing some new uniforms this season for the varsity team. Nothing groundbreaking, but a return to the red uniform that have been absent for the past few seasons, having been replaced by the black uniform set. I've not liked the black uniforms since day 1, doesn't say "Orrville" to me (says Rittman or Manchester, in my opinion). I guess I'm just old school.

White at home, red on the road...just like it used to be. Can't happen soon enough. This is all tentative right now, as funds have to be secured in the budget, but it sounds like if Coach Sly has his way, we'd see the Riders back in the Red & white this winter.

Thanks again to Coach Spurlock for his time and effort in making this happen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hoobler commits to Akron

Red Rider senior Chase Hoobler committed to play football for coach JD Brookhart and the Akron Zips (Fear the Roo!!!).

Akron was the first school to offer a scholarship to Chase, and since that offer, roughly a dozen official offers have come in, including most schools in the Mid American Conference and Big East schools Boston College and Louisville.

In my opinion, the Zips got a steal. Chase will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact, and will have the privilege to play in Akron's beautiful new Summa Field. He'll also join Orrville alum Rhyne Ladrach as a Zip, also giving Rider fans a very short drive to see 2 Riders in college.

Chase can now focus on his senior season as a Red Rider, where he looks to lead the Red Rider defense from the middle linebacker position and get us back to the playoffs.

Congrats to Chase and good luck in '09.

PS - As a Zip alum myself...I'm terribly excited about this.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Simply, Thanks....and some music.

Just a quick note of appreciation for anyone who has ever visited this site.

June was the biggest month ever in terms of site visits & pageviews.

It was also the best month in terms of return visitors.

Say this site was a restaurant.....returning customers are what every business covets, and last month, 54% of my readers were return customers. This number was 30% just a few months ago. I like to think the article in Orrviews and the new (and terrific) exposure on Facebook had a lot to do with the influx of new visitors, as well as the huge jump in return visitors.

This means the world to me, and is very vindicating. I wasn't sure how this would work, but I'm very pleased with how it's gone so far. I can only say thank you.

One new wrinkle mentioned above, is the exposure on Facebook. Click the facebook logo at the top of the page and become a fan. Just a simple group so far, not sure what I want it to be, if anything, but feel free to participate there if you prefer. The site feed is updated every time I post something new here, so you won't miss anything.

We're less than a month away from the start of practice, and exactly one month away from our first scrimmage at Minerva (Aug. 15th, I think.). Rest assured that I'll be here to cover every inch of the 2009 season.

Here's something for your listening pleasure.

Who's ready for football?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Red Rider Playoffs: 1988

Ok...apologies first. It's been almost 7 months since I've made an installment to the Orrville Football Playoff History series. If you're new to the site in the past few months, or if you're a younger Red Rider fan (or current player) please check out the link. Gain some appreciation for the teams that came before you.

I knew it had been a while, but had no idea it was before Christmas since my last one. That's unacceptable to me. This was a project that gave my blog life, and a purpose, and it deserves more than back burner status. So we'll knock out a few more years leading up to the 2009 football season, and I'll work more in during football and basketball season. OK? OK.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Daily Record article on Coach Slaughter

Very good article by Mike Plant in this past Sunday's Daily Record about new Rider hoops coach Sly Slaughter.

Here's the link to the article, and in case the link goes dead, here's the actual text, along with some highlighted items and comments in parenthesis by yours truly.

Orrville's Got a Winner in Slaughter
"A few thoughts from the week in sports, with Mike Plant substituting for the vacationing Aaron Dorksen, whose column will return next week ...

Lou Holtz, when asked back in late 1978 if he was interested in the Ohio State football position, said it best.

"I don't want to be the guy who replaces Woody Hayes," Holtz said. "I want to be the guy who replaces the guy who replaces Woody Hayes."

The eventual pick as Woody's successor, Earle Bruce, found out soon enough that 8-3 records -- even if it included a winning record against Michigan -- wasn't enough to keep the Columbus crowd happy.

Locally, Donald Short was in the same situation at Orrville High when he took over for Steve Smith.

Smitty, of course, was a legend both on and off the court. And, despite a 103-51 (Me: 7-7 in postseason) record in seven seasons, his replacement, if you'll pardon the pun, was bound to come up short (Me: I disagree that it was a no win situation for Mr. Short, but it certainly was a difficult task).

Orrville stayed in-house when it selected Sly Slaughter, Short's top assistant, to take over the program. The other finalists were Doug Hanzie and Rocky Smith. As much as I admire Hanzie -- someone will be getting a great coach when they hire him -- and as much as I think Rocky will someday prove that he shares more with his Dad than a name and a drawl, I think Orrville made a great choice.

Instead of distancing himself from Orrville's storied past, Slaughter has embraced it. And, as the starting point guard on the first of the late Smith's three state title teams, it's a smart move, as was hiring Rocky and former OHS assistant Ken Landis as his top assistants.

"Rocky's the fiery guy, like Smitty, I'm more laid back and Ken is right in the middle," Slaughter said. "We're all pretty much on the same page on how things should be."

That includes a return to tight man-to-man defense, one of the hallmarks of Steve Smith's teams.

"No offense to Donald, but he was primarily a zone guy, it's what he learned," Slaughter said. "You play what you know, and I've always been a 'man' guy. I played for Coach Smith, of course Rocky did, and Ken coached -- that's what we know."

Having been an assistant in both basketball and football, Slaughter has already built a rapport with his team. He also has the built-in pride of a former Red Rider.

"It's nice to be doing it at the same place where I played, and it's nice to have Rocky involved. Not only because of his dad and what he meant to me, but I know how much Rocky wants to see the program succeed. For us to be doing this together is real exciting," Slaughter said.

"I haven't been making major changes -- the kids knew when I got the job that we'd be playing man defense, up-tempo on offense, and that we'd be concentrating on the fundamentals of basketball. We've been trying to correct some of the things they've been getting away with. (Me: This was interestingly worded...not that they weren't being taught fundamentals but they were allowed to get away with bad habits. Very telling.) That's how Ken, Rocky and I are -- a lot of fundamental stuff," he added.

"But the biggest thing is that I will make sure the guys I put on the floor make the community proud with how hard they play and how hard they work." (Me: Not that it wasn't being done before...but it's nice to hear it will be a point of emphasis...a little Rider Pride will go a long way with the town.)

Orrville hasn't had much tournament success recently, one of the reasons the heat was put on Short. Next season, the Riders will add some spark to the already combustible Wooster Div. III Sectional/District, where they'll join Triway, Smithville and most of the other teams from Wayne County.

Orrville fans, of course, will expect to win the district. (Me: Who us? When have we ever had high expectations? LOL.) That comes with the territory, as Slaughter knows all too well.

But, like everything else, he accepts those high expectations. And, with guard Jake Bolyard and post Zach Wasson leading a team as talented and athletic as any OHS has had recently, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Slaughter meets those expectations and starts making his own mark as a head coach right from the very beginning.

I, personally, just could not be happier with the hire of Coach Slaughter. Very excited for this coming season.

We discussed this a few months ago, but here's a link to the Riders 2009-10 schedule. We only had 6 non-league games to try and schedule up, but it seems we're on the right track to better preparing ourselves for post season play. I think the combination of new coach, new schedule and new district is going to produce some very positive results for the team this season.

Good luck to Coach Slaughter, his staff and the program.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Volleyball: Short & Ohio Elite Finish 2nd

First volleyball related post....let no one say I'm not an equal opportunity recognizer. Wrestling, swimming, track, baseball and now volleyball...all in the last 3 months. Ok, enough back patting...on with the show.

Senior-to-be Erin Short and the Ohio Elite Club Volleyball team finished runner up at the Junior Olympic Championships held this past week in Miami, FL. They were defeated in the championship game by the 951 Elite Club out of California.

The Ohio team finsihed the tourney with 10 wins and just the one loss, winning 8 of their 10 games in straight sets. They finished higher than 46 other teams in their division, and were one of only 6 teams out of 124 in the entire 17U group to finish with 1 loss or go undefeated.

Both clubs were stocked with college level talent, including local players Jade Craycraft (Wooster) and Jenna Pew (Smithville) for Team Ohio. Both Short and Craycraft were named to the All-Tournament team for the 17 Gold Division.

Erin is an Eastern Michigan commit, and I'm sure is looking forward to her final season as a Red Rider with the comfort of having already secured a free education and a chance to play collegiately.

This may amount to a little bit of Red Rider trivia, but with Erin's older sister Erica having completed a fine college volleyball career at Indiana, I'm curious as to the number of siblings to come through OHS that saw both play at the Division I college level. Not necessarily the same sport, but just at the D1 level.

Please share in the comments section if you know of any siblings that might meet that criteria. I can't imagine if the list is very long. Maybe the Howard sisters (DeVonne & DeNesha)for starters? I know Mo Tipton had at least 2 (and maybe 3) of his sons play college football, but not sure if any were at the D1 level.

Raber Shines at AAU Disney Duals

This was passed on to me from a reader of the site....thanks mystery man. :)

"Dennis Raber just returned from the Disney Duals AAU National Wrestling Championships in Orlando.

He went 8-1, pinned 4 state champions, got the silver medal and is now an All-American. He lost to the #3 wrestler in the nation 11-7 for the title match.

He suffered a slight concussion when he went out of bounds while wrestling and hit his head on a chair.

He wrestled for the Ohio Black Dragons."

How awesome is that? From what I can gather, this was a team tournament, and Raber's performance helped his team to a top 20 finish.

Great job Dennis!! Anyone not excited to see him on the football field (and wrestling mat, of course) this fall, needs their head examined.