As politicians roll out turnaround plans across the country to try and win elections, they may want to consult the coaching staffs at Canal Winchester and Logan Elm high schools. The turnaround plans at those Mid-State League Buckeye Division schools has produced amazing success. Both teams are undefeated heading into Friday’s regular season finale. Last year the Braves were 0-10. Two years ago Canal was 2-8.
As politicians roll out turnaround plans across the country to try and win elections, they may want to consult the coaching staffs at Canal Winchester and Logan Elm high schools.
The turnaround plans at those Mid-State League Buckeye Division schools has produced amazing success. Both teams are undefeated heading into Friday’s regular season finale.
Logan Elm (9-0), which went 0-10 last season, is one victory away from a complete turnaround that would mark the first perfect regular-season in school history.
After Canal Winchester suffered through a 2-8 campaign in 2006, the Indians (9-0) have won 18 of their last 19 regular-season games and are the defending league champions.
This season’s MSL-Buckeye championship will be decided Friday at Canal in a matchup that has been talked about for weeks in Central Ohio.
“This is a game we’re honored to play in,” Canal Winchester head coach Phil Mauro said. “Obviously this is pretty exciting for our two schools and the league to have two 9-0 teams squaring off for the title.”
“This is a spotlight game for the MSL,” Logan Elm head coach Scott Bartholomew said. “I’ve talked to more people this week about the game than I have all season.”
Much of the praise for each school’s turnaround has been directed at the head coaches.
Mauro is in his second year at Canal Winchester and Bartholomew accepted the reigns of the Logan Elm program in February. Both coaches directed praise for the turnaround to their respective staffs and players.
“In our case, the head coach gets way too much of the credit,” Mauro said. “Without a great staff, a great and supporting administration and players who are dedicated and want to do it, we aren’t where we are.
“Right from the get go I told the staff and players that I don’t run, block or catch balls – and that’s a fortunate thing or we wouldn’t be very good.”
“Our coaching staff has done a good job this season and our players have bought into what we’re selling,” Bartholomew said. “This is about them.”
Bartholomew has also noted several similarities the Braves and Indians have.
“We have a lot of things in common,” Bartholomew said. “The turnarounds both programs have had are similar, and the style of teams we have aren’t far apart.
“They run a pistol formation on offense, which is a form of the spread. Defensively, they do a good job of running to the football and keeping things in front of them like we want to.”
The Indians have relied on a defense that has allowed a stingy 8.7 points per game.
“We’re trying to hang our hat on playing defense,” Mauro said. “We’ve been real pleased with them.
“Our coaching staff has done a good job of preparing them and getting them in the right position. We had a young line to start the season, but they’ve grown and mature.
Mauro said he has been impressed with Logan Elm’s tough, physical plau along the lines.
“They’re a well-coached team and disciplined,” Mauro said. “They have good technique on both sides of the ball that jumps out when you watch their tape. Their quarterback, Johnnie Brown, is a tremondous athlete …who has done a nice job running their spread offense.
“On the offensive line side, they are about big enough to block out the lights. They’re very physical on both sides of the ball. We’ve been very impressed with them; we can see why they’re 9-0, and this will be our toughest game to date.”
Bartholomew noticed some of the same qualities in Canal Winchester.
“The first thing you noice is how well they are coached, and the second thing you notice is the quality of athlete they have,” Bartholomew said. “They’re a team that likes to run a ball control passing game and hit you with short passes. We need to keep them in front of us and make sure we don’t turn a short gain into a touchdown.”
A possible advantage Logan Elm has is the number of close games they’ve been part of. The Braves have trailed or been tied with five of their nine opponents at halftime this season.
“We’re hoping to get off to a good start,” Bartholomew said, “but if we dont, we know our kids won’t panic because they’ve been there before.
“With what is on the line and the atmosphere Friday, we need our kids to keep their emotions under control.”
Mauro and Bartholomew both cited the turnover game — especially with a forecast calling for rain Friday night — and special teams as keys to who will take home the league championship.
Another aspect Mauro is looking for is cashing in opportunities.
“We need to take care of the scoring opportunities we have,” he said. “We want to come away with points when we have chances.”
With the stakes both teams will be playing for Friday, Bartholomew wants his team to remember one of the most important tasks — having fun.
“This is going to be a game our kids remember for years to come, and we want them to go out and have fun and play their best. If they play their best, that is all we can ask for.”