In 2004, the Hardin Northern Polar Bears were cruising to a Division VI state championship – the first in their school’s history. Although 2005 ended with a loss in the regional final and 2006 in the regional semifinals, Hardin Northern is hoping that 2007 is their year once again. Eric Frantz has more on this year's Polar Bears.
RB Nathan Bame (5-10, 170, Sr.), DB/RB T.J. Ratliff (6-0, 175, Sr.), C/P Kyle Albert (6-1, 215), DT/G Jaden Heacock (5-10, 220, Sr.), TE Brock Crisp (6-1, 210, Sr.), FB/LB Troy Summa (6-0, 180, Jr.), LB/G Chase Motter (5-10, 175, Sr.)
2006 Record: 10-2
Few programs in the state can rival what Dola Hardin Northern has been able to accomplish the past 23 years under head coach Pete Brunow. Since his hire in 1984, Brunow has led the Polar Bears to 210 wins, 12 playoff appearances and two state finals (one title). Over the past 14 years, Hardin Northern has been especially tough, winning at least nine games 13 times. The Polar Bears have at least 10 wins each of the last six years.
This season should continue the trend.
In addition to Brunow returning for his 24th season, the Polar Bears also return workhorse running back Nathan Bame. A first team All-Ohio selection last season, Bame rushed for 1,733 yards and 29 TDs en route to winning Blanchard Valley Conference player of the year honors. He’s one of 15 seniors, which makes this year’s senior class one of the biggest in school history.
“We’ll hopefully field about 40 kids, which we’ve only done once before,” Brunow said.
Besides Bame, key cogs are senior defensive back T.J. Ratliff, center Kyle Albert, defensive tackle Jaden Heacock, tight end Brock Crisp and linebacker Chase Motter. Ratliff is a four-year starter, while Albert is a three-year starter.
Move-in Troy Summa, a junior fullback/linebacker, who transferred from Upper Scioto Valley, also excites Brunow.
Finding a new quarterback seems to be the only concern.
“The key thing we have to do now is find a QB to run the offense,” Brunow said. “We have good experience in the backfield and along the line. Defensively we’re working on finding out where everyone is going to fit.”
Despite being the ninth smallest school in the state that fields a football team, Hardin Northern fits in any discussion about Ohio’s top small school programs. Arguably only Midwest Athletic Conference teams, Newark Catholic and Mogadore have had more success on a statewide scale.
In 2002, the Polar Bears were state runner-up and in 2004 they captured the state title.
This year’s senior class was freshmen during the school’s lone title run.
The Polar Bears open with a stiff test against Hardin County rival Ada, whom many predict to contend for a state title itself. The two met in the opening round of the playoffs last year with Hardin Northern prevailing 21-14.
“I think we should be able to compete in every game we play,” said Brunow, who has never had a losing season at Hardin Northern. “We have an opportunity to be a pretty good team this year.”
Dola Hardin Northern
|10/5/2007||@ Rawson Cory-Rawson||6|
|10/19/2007||@ Findlay Liberty-Benton||5|