This fall, as has been the case every autumn in many moons, area high school athletes have blessed us with great performances, incredible efforts, and some games and seasons that exemplify exactly how hard-working and dedicated our local athletes are. This fall was no different as numerous athletes from Hiland, Garaway and West Holmes stepped up and delivered in some pretty big and impressive ways. Following is Dave Mast’s list of 2016 Ohiosportsticket.com’s Golden Ticket Awards for the recently completed fall season.
Male Athlete of Fall — R.J. Jacobs — Senior — Garaway Pirates Football
Jacobs will not be forgotten any time soon by the Pirates faithful. The talented senior quarterback has rewritten the entire record book at Garaway. A starter as a freshman, he made an immediate impact on the program, showing great poise for a youngster. His numbers have been gaudy over the years, and this fall was no different. However, what he did add this year was an increase in his leadership skills, something he readily admits have improved.
Hostettler did what Hostettler does, which is basically get out in front of everyone else and enjoy a nice little 5K skip and a hop around whatever track she chooses to blister this fall. An incredibly gifted runner, Hostettler’s talent is trumped only by her inspirational work ethic. A district champ, a regional champ and a sixth at state puts the finishing touches on this grand career of one of West Holmes’ finest athletes ever.
So many great teams from which to choose: Garaway cross country, Hiland boys soccer, Garaway’s dominant football program. I wanted to throw some love the way of Jason Otto’s tremendously gifted, senior-laden team. With a pair of state qualifiers in Kate Rodhe and Erin Stitzlein to a gifted singles player in Sabryn Cutlip, who could have played number one for a lot of teams, this group would be a juggernaut if it weren’t for the machine that is Lexington.
Sometimes the struggle is not in finding the talent to play on the pitch. Bodiker has that galore with 15 seniors roaming the field. It is there within that the toughest decision lies. Bodiker has displayed a fierce loyalty to his seniors, so it was agonizing for him to have to see a number of them have to sit. Coaching is more than wins and losses, and Bodiker understands that so well.
Here’s the thing about Garrett Miller: He can jump up and bite you at a moment’s notice. Miller had built himself into a really terrific defender for the Hawks. A few years back he was a pudgy kid who was hard-working and fierce in competitiveness. As he matured, he thinned out and now possesses not only the ability to defend well, but also to run the sideline to help create scoring opportunities for Hiland. I think of Miller, and I think of a kid who rose from nowhere to make himself into a great player.
Wengerd is the type of kid who you might not realize her value until you have to replace her. While much of the Lady Hawks’ rise to relevance again on the volleyball court centered around a group of much-ballyhooed youngsters, this senior was the glue that kept them clicking. A back-row baroness who would stick her nose in anywhere, Wengerd has poured herself into a program that won very little until this year. It was wonderful to see her finally get the success she deserves.
I am not sure how Dave Zimmerly is going to replace this stud keeper next season. Campbell was simply awesome in net for the Knights, showing off a blend of athleticism and flair for knowing when to be in the right place at the right time. He has tremendous communication skills, and he saved the Knights’ bacon on many occasions when it looked like a sure-fire goal for an opposing team. Campbell deserved his first-team all OCC honor. That’s for sure.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the Pirates offense, taken in by the ridiculous numbers it put up. But the Garaway defense was just as good, and Hershberger was a huge reason why. The savvy senior is a high-motor player, a ferocious hitter who patrols the middle linebacker area as though he is guarding the Queen of England herself. Hershberger has defined what has been a glowing cast of awesome middle linebackers for Garaway, and he carries on that tradition well.
Rodhe has the best demeanor. She somehow juggles being a big-time competitor with being one of the truly nicest kids you’d ever want to meet. She is everything you want in an athlete. She has that fun-loving personality that makes her a joy to be around and at the same time hates to lose, something she did rarely this past season.
Bicycle kick attempts are a rarity at the high school level of soccer. But bicycle kicks that find the back of the net are truly the kind of “duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh” plays that show up on EPSN highlight reels. Miller connected on one this fall, bringing the student body section out of their seats to cheer the “did you see that?” moment of the fall. You have to be two things to pull that kick off, the first being athletic, the second being fearless. Miller is both in massive quantities.