Football player leaps to catch a pass
Ashland's Michael Franz makes a leaping catch against Marion Harding. Credit: Doug Haidet

ASHLAND — The Arrows circled the wagons and stayed in Ohio Cardinal Conference contention.

Ashland’s 31-14 win at Mount Vernon last week not only snapped a two-game losing streak. It kept the Arrows within striking distance in the chase for the OCC title.

After dropping its OCC opener at New Philadelphia, Ashland couldn’t afford to slip two games back, not with games against conference heavyweights Mansfield Senior and West Holmes looming.

“I told our kids we had a couple of tough weeks, with Buckeye Valley and then last week down there in New Philly, a couple of tough weeks, but our kids kept working,” Valentine said last week. “That’s what I’m proud of them for. They kept working, kept getting better, and we knew we had to come out and show that improvement tonight.”

The Arrows will host improving Madison on Friday. The Rams are still searching for their first win, but scored 35 points in a loss to West Holmes last week.

Madison (0-5, 0-2) at Ashland (3-2, 1-1): The Rams scored more points last week than they had in their first four games combined in a 56-35 loss to West Holmes. Quarterback Cameron Kuhn threw an 87-yard touchdown pass to Grayson Sasis midway through the first quarter against the Knights. Madison was shut out in two of its three non-conference games, but has been competitive in OCC losses to Wooster (27-14) and West Holmes. 

Quarterback Nathan Bernhard rushed for two touchdowns and tossed a 35-yard TD pass to Michael Franz in last week’s 31-14 win at Mount Vernon. Hayden DiPuccio added a 4-yard TD run as the Arrows snapped a two-game skid. The 31 points scored were a season-high for the Arrows, who were coming off a shutout loss at the hands of New Philadelphia.

Hillsdale (4-1, 1-1) at Dalton (3-1, 2-0): The Falcons bounced back from a Wee 4 loss at Norwayne with a 40-0 win over Chippewa as quarterback Jack Fickes tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Hayden McFadden and ran for another score. Fickes has completed 39-of-57 passes for 637 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 254 yards and five TDs on 39 carries. Braylen Jarvis has rushed for 217 yards and a touchdown on 41 attempts, while Owen Sloan has 199 yards and two TDs on 29 carries. McFadden has 15 catches for 377 yards and six touchdowns, while Jarvis has 15 receptions for 193 yards and three TDs. Linebacker Brady Heller leads the defense with 44 tackles, while Jarvis has 40 stops. Gavin Casdorph returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown last week.

The Bulldogs blanked Smithville 35-0 last week and have outscored their two Wayne County Athletic League opponents by a combined score of 90-7. Dalton limited the Smithies to 103 yards of total offense. Sammy Tomlinson rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries for Dalton, while Greyson Siders added 120 yards and two TDs on 13 carries. Quarterback Colin Pearson completed 5-of-6 passes for 55 yards.

Danville (5-0, 2-0) at Loudonville (2-3, 1-1): The Blue Devils faced its stiffest challenge of the season last week and came away with a 32-21 win over Northmor. Cole Delaughder leads the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference in rushing with 658 yards and eight touchdowns on 85 carries. Quarterback Walker Weckesser has completed 31-of-52 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 285 yards and eight TDs on 25 carries. Bryer Boeshart has  team-high seven catches for 103 yards and a TD. Josh Byers leads the defense with 38 tackles while Caleb Lucas is tied for the KMAC lead with four sacks.

The Redbirds fell to Centerburg 37-15 last week,  but boast one of the top passing attacks in the KMAC. Quarterback Mathew Sprang has completed 55-of-101 passes for 665 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 405 yards and two TDs on 96 carries. Baylor Weiser ranks among KMAC leaders with 17 catches for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Josiah Hershberger has 14 catches for 146 yards and three TDs. Weiser has a team-high 54 tackles and five tackles for loss.