Area teams, coaches working on creating sequels in 2014

Last updated: August 28. 2014 8:24AM - 448 Views
By - jnaveau@civitasmedia.com

Marion Local is chasing its fourth consecutive state football championship in Division VII. RICHARD PARRISH / The Lima News
Marion Local is chasing its fourth consecutive state football championship in Division VII. RICHARD PARRISH / The Lima News
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The hope is always that a sequel will be as good as the original.

Hollywood loves sequels. It loves them to the point it sometimes doesn’t know when to stop creating more sequels to a beloved film.

Some people turn their annual vacations into sequels by returning to the same place year after year after year.

And sports, too, has its own plentiful supply of sequels.

Teams create sequels. Players create them, too. And so do coaches.

If a player or coach wins one title, they want two. Or three or four. If a team wins it all or even just does well, fans want to know if it is going to be able to do it again the next season.

It happens every year. It happens nationally. It happens statewide and it happens around here.

This year, especially, sequels are prominent stories in high school football in this area.

The incredible success story that is the Midwest Athletic Conference has two of them, with Marion Local chasing its fourth consecutive state football championship in Division VII and Coldwater trying for a three-peat in Division V.

Crestview got a taste of success on a large scale by winning its first football playoff game in 2013. With most of the key players back from that team, it is expecting to enjoy creating a sequel to that season.

It only took five wins last season for Lima Senior’s football team, coaches and fans to eagerly anticipate this season and start thinking about what comes next.

Those five wins were the most by a Lima Senior football team since 2000 and matched the number of wins the Spartans had in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 combined.

So, add a group of talented players to five wins and a fan base starved for excitement and you have a recipe for people – including everyone on the team — wanting more.

What a difference a year makes. Lima Senior running back Juniel Liles says his goal this year is a state championship to follow up last year’s break-through season.

A year ago when Mike Fell was hired as the Spartans coach Liles wasn’t sure what was coming.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I knew he was a good coach and won a lot of games but I didn’t know how that was going to translate to us,” Liles said.

There are a lot more people outside the program telling players how they expect great things now, too. Liles has an answer for that, too.

“There’s been a lot of those, but we just try to stay focused on what we’re doing as a team,” he said.

Fell says he doesn’t think he will have to spend too much time reminding the players that a successful follow-up to last year will not automatically happen. All he has to do is point to a 70-26 loss to Toledo Central Catholic and an 83-28 defeat against Toledo Whitmer at the end last season.

“The way we ended the year kind of put us back at ground zero where you’ve got to understand if you don’t do it the right way and you don’t give it 100 percent effort, we’re right back where we were. We were fat and happy going into week nine and we got exposed in those last two games and realized we’re not there yet, we’re just trying to get to that point,” he said. “It made us really push harder in the offseason.”

On the sidelines at Lima Central Catholic and St. Marys, there are two long-time coaches in the area writing their own sequels.

Lima Central Catholic coach Scott Palte stepped away from being a head coach in 2011 after a 45-28 record and two trips to the playoffs in seven seasons as Columbus Grove’s coach.

After working on a limited basis as an assistant at Ada in 2012 and being LCC’s defensive coordinator last fall, he’s back as a head coach.

And in a considerably more shocking way at St. Marys, Doug Frye is creating his own sequel by returning to the program he led for 11 seasons before leaving to coach at its bitter rival Wapakoneta for the last four seasons.

Palte said his desire to return to being a head coach was something that developed gradually, not overnight.

“When I stopped, football wasn’t really on my mind. I thought I’d sit back and see what happened,” he said. “The following year, 2012, I still was interested but I didn’t really want to commit the time to coaching so I kind of sparingly helped out Mike (Fell) at Ada. After that, I was like, ‘You know, I’d like to get back into it.’ ”

He got back into it by taking the defensive coordinator’s job at LCC last season with the stipulation that he would be the “coach in waiting” whenever Jerry Cooper decided to retire.

Palte thought he might be waiting several years. “I saw that as being a four or five years down the road thing,” he said.

But when Cooper announced earlier this year he was leaving nine seasons at LCC, eight of them playoff seasons, the wait was not very long at all.

“I never saw it happening after one year. I did not see that coming. I thought it would be at least four years because his son was going to be a freshman. I figured if I was going to be a head coach it would be in a couple years and I would go somewhere else. I didn’t know if I’d be here long enough to wait him out,” Palte said.

Frye’s Wapakoneta team’s were 33-10 in four seasons, including 9-2 last season, and went to the playoffs twice.

He coached 11 seasons at St. Marys and had an 89-35 record, including a Division III state runner-up team in 2004.

He resigned after the 2008 season and sat out a year before signing on with Wapakoneta. In the five years since he left St. Marys, the Roughriders have gone 5-5, 1-9, 4-6, 0-10 and 0-10. They currently have lost 21 games in a row.

He calls his decision to return to the town where he maintained his residence even while he coached at Wapakoneta one “based solely on the heart.”

“If I wanted to just worry about wins and losses, we had almost everybody coming back at Wapakoneta. The next four years there look very good,” he said.

He says he has been well received in St. Marys in round two and hasn’t been subjected to excessive criticism in Wapakoneta for leaving.

“Actually, the people have been fantastic. I’m sure it has spiced up the rivalry a little bit, though,” he said. “I joke that I probably should have taken a salary negotiated on the gate of the St. Marys-Wapakoneta game.

“There was no other job I would have taken. This is the way I wanted to finish,” he said. “ “I wrestled with it for a long time. It was a very difficult decision and there was only one ‘No’ vote and that was my wife. She was the toughest one to convince. We’ve been happily married for 34 years and when I went to Wapakoneta, I told her that was the last challenge I was going to take on,” he said.

“In some ways this is actually probably a little bit simpler this time around because the first time I was the first outside guy, I believe, who had come through the door in 39 years. Skip Baughman was there 36 and then Bob Priddy, the longtime defensive coordinator took over. So anything I did different, even though I had been a head coach for years at a number of places, was radically different. Right now, anything is good that we do.”

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