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Montpelier explores football-only membership with TAAC

04/04/2014, 12:00am EDT
By STEVE JUNGA BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Having struggled to compete in football in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League for most of the past 20 seasons, Montpelier High School is looking for options outside the league.

The Locomotives’ primary target may be the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, likely as a football-only member. In that scenario, Montpelier would remain in the NWOAL for all other boys and girls sports.

TAAC commissioner Rick Kaifas said that his conference’s athletic directors and principals are looking to update the TAAC constitution at a scheduled April 14 meeting. Kaifas said that he also expects them to vote on Montpelier’s football-only membership at that meeting.

“I think it will pass,” Kaifas said.

Montpelier athletic director Joe Brigle declined to reveal his school’s future membership plans and only confirmed that a change is possible.

“The TAAC is one of the conferences we are exploring at this time,” Brigle said.

Next fall, the TAAC will be a nine-team football conference with the addition of Tiffin Calvert, which moves over from the soon-to-be-disbanded Midland Athletic League.

Tiffin Calvert will become full-time TAAC members along with Cardinal Stritch, Danbury, Gibsonburg, Northwood, Ottawa Hills, and Toledo Christian — all of which have football — plus nonfootball schools Emmanuel Christian and Maumee Valley.

Edon and Hilltop, members of the Buckeye Border Conference, play only football in the TAAC. If Montpelier is approved by the TAAC membership and decides to join, the conference would have 10 schools competing in football.

Kaifas said the earliest that 10-team football lineup could be in place would be the fall of 2016. In that alignment, Kaifas said the TAAC may adopt an East-West, eight-game schedule format, but other scheduling options would be possible.

Montpelier currently has the second smallest boys enrollment in the nine-member NWOAL with 122 boys in the upper three grades. The Locomotives’ only winning season during the last 20 years in football came in 2005, when they were 6-4 overall and 4-4 in NWOAL play.

During those 20 seasons (1994-2013), they were 51-149 overall and 31-129 in league play.

That two-decade drought came on the heels of back-to-back playoff appearances in 1992-93. The Locomotives’ only other playoff appearance cam in 1973 when they Class A state runners-up.

PERFECTION LOST: Clay senior pitcher Bryce Castilleja was one strike away from a seven-inning perfect game and a 1-0 victory Tuesday against Southview. Then the unthinkable happened to the talented right-hander.

Castilleja had a 1-2 count on Cougars batter Alexander Theiss when he tried to cap his mound gem. Instead, he hit Theiss in the back with a pitch.

Southview’s Griffin McDonald then spoiled Castilleja’s no-hitter, shutout, and victory with an RBI double to left field that tied the game at 1.

“I about passed out when that happened,” first-year Clay coach Jim Phillips said of the hit batsman.

Castilleja, who had struck out 10 Cougar batters, retired the next hitter to conclude his 84-pitch outing with a no-decision.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Cougars coach Ed Mouch, who acknowledged his team was fortunate to eventually win.

Southview, outhit 11-2 by the Eagles, added the game-winning run in the top of the 10th inning.

Once again, McDonald was the hero. He doubled to the gap in left-center off of Clay reliever Matt York and later scored on a passed ball. McDonald also pitched the final two innings in relief to pick up the win for Southview (2-0).

Clay (1-1) stranded two runners in five of their 10 innings, with Cougars starter Tyler Stambaugh allowing only one run on consecutive singles by Ryan Fournier, Kyle Row, and Castilleja during the fifth inning.

PORT CLINTON HALL OF FAME: Port Clinton High School has announced its athletic hall of fame class of 2014, with one individual and one Redskins team set for induction.

Scott Rickel (1993 graduate), who earned six varsity letters competing in football, basketball, and baseball at Port Clinton, will be inducted at the hall of fame banquet on Sept. 27.

Rickel later played football and competed in track and field at Wittenberg University.

Joining him in the hall will be the 1976 Redskins football team, which is considered one of the best in school history. They finished 9-1 that season with a nonleague loss to Bellevue and won Port Clinton’s first outright Great Lakes League football championship since 1963.

The Redskins allowed only one touchdown during GLL play that season.

Port Clinton is looking for contact information on 1976 team members. Those with information should contact Rick Dominick or Amy Kelly at 419-734-2147.

KNIGHTS HIRE SUTTON: St. Francis de Sales has named Dan Sutton as its new varsity golf coach, replacing Gil Guerrero, who took the head coaching position at Lourdes University for the men’s and women’s golf teams.

“Dan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our golf program,” Knights athletic director Carl Janke said. “I look forward to working with him in the upcoming season.”

Since 2012, Sutton has been the director of golf at Heather Downs Country Club and will remain in that position.

Prior to that, Sutton was the director of golf at Spuyten Duyval Golf Club (2009-12) and general manager and head golf professional at Eagle’s Landing Golf Club (2002-09). From 2003-08, he coached the Cardinal Stritch boys golf team.

“I am happy to join the St. Francis family and work to continue its fine tradition of winning excellence in golf,” Sutton said.

Guerrero said he will retain his educational and boys basketball coaching positions at Start High School, along with taking the new coaching post at Lourdes.

COLLEGE CHOICES: Archbold senior Jesse Fidler signed a letter of intent with Lourdes, where she will continue her basketball career.

Fidler helped the Blue Streaks to back-to-back advancements to the Division III regional finals, along with Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles each season.

Three key senior members of the Toledo Christian girls basketball team that led the Eagles to back-to-back Toledo Area Athletic Conference championships have made their college choices.

Darian Westmeyer will play basketball and run track on scholarship at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind. Faith Johnson will sign April 15 to play basketball at Spring Arbor College. Camille Gist will sign April 16 to play basketball at Ursuline College.

Westmeyer and Johnson were TAAC co-players of the year this past season.

Their classmate at TC, Noah Wood, has signed run track on scholarship, joining Westmeyer at Bethel.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.

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