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It took long time and several twists but Don Masters and Van Buren finally headed for playoffs

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In his 21 years as head coach at Van Buren, Don Masters' teams went 116-93-1.

Yet he never got into the playoffs. His squads even posted back-to-back 10-0 seasons in 1988 and 1989, but that was when the format was much more restrictive.

Masters stepped down after the 2000 season, then got back into the game as the freshman coach at Findlay. But now he's finally earning a trip to the playoffs and he's doing it with his former team.

When Kevin Shoup, one his former assistants at Findlay, was named Van Buren's head coach in 2010, he took Masters with him. And, with a 20-0 win over Pandora-Gilboa, Van Buren assured itself a spot in the D6 playoffs — its first postseason berth ever.

And Masters is finally in the postseason.

NIGHT OF FIRSTS: Port Clinton won seven games for the first time since 1979 and qualified for the postseason for the first time ever; Wauseon defeated Metamora Evergreen 55-14 to win its league outright and to go 10-0 for the first time in 20 years; Norwalk's 35-0 win at Willard gave the Truckers their first 10-0 regular season, as well as their first Northern Ohio League title in 38 years; John Rings became the first player at Centerburg to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a season; Glouster Trimble broke a 34-year-old school mark for points in a season while outscoring foes 507-62; and Middletown Madison buried Dayton Northridge 79-0 to finish 5-5, winning its last five games to tie Waynesville for its first-ever Southwestern Buckeye League title.

OVERACHIEVING: With a 58-15 victory over Canton Timken, Wooster Triway put the wraps on the school's first perfect regular season. The Titans set the Wayne County area regular-season record for points (537, breaking Norwayne's 529 in 2012) and Parker Carmichael set another mark with 64 total touchdowns (48 passing, 16 running) to eclipse Adam Wallace's 61 total scores in 15 games for the 2011 D4 state champion Bobcats. Carmichael moved into fourth place on the all-time OHSAA career passing list with 11,157 yards.

BEST FOR LAST: Piketon won its last two games to finish 5-5, but the story for the Redstreaks was Ethan Fremdner. In a 56-26 season finale win over Ross Southeastern, Fremdner had 51 carries for 461 yards and five TDs. In the last two games of his high school career, he totaled 84 carries, 608 yards and seven scores.

THEY'RE NO. 1: Running for a Kettering Alter-record 402 yards, Dusty Hayes scored all six TDs as the Knights went 10-0 and won their league title with a 42-21 win over Dayton Chaminade Julienne. Hayes carried 30 times and had 12 runs that went for 14 yards or more.

"We found some things that worked and Dusty played an amazing game," Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. "He had one of those games you dream about."

RUSH TO JUDGEMENT: Findlay's Emmanuel Mogolu rushed 32 times for a school-record 393 yards and scored four TDs in a 41-13 win over Toledo St. Francis, which had Lamar Carswell, who left with an injury with 6:34 left in the third quarter, pile up 292 rushing yards on 29 carries; Gnadenhutten Indian Valley's Jake Davis rushed for a school-record 305 yards against Tuscarawas Valley, putting him over 2,000 yards for the season and giving him 6,900 rushing yards for his career; Delta's Jesse Beverly rushed for 288 yds and 4 TDs in a Panthers 27-11 win over Swanton; Carlisle's Ridge Reed ran 14 times for 282 yards and five TDs in a 53-6 win over New Lebanon Dixie; Isaac Fitzgerald rushed for 272 yards and four TDs on 43 carries helping St. Marys Memorial past Van Wert, 39-14; and Hicksville's Phil Karacson had 341 yards rushing on 50 carries for first nine games, then had 261 yards and four TDs while adding three two-point conversions in a 54-34 win over Holgate.

STOPPAGE TIME: West Branch's Jerian Thomas had five interceptions — one off the state record — including four in the first half and one pick six in a 21-7 win over archrival Salem.

MR. EVERYTHING: North Baltimore's Lane Bishop accounted for 529 total yards and had a hand in seven TDs in a 54-20 win over Vanlue, passing for 294 yards and three scores and rushing for 235 yards on 15 carries and four more scores; and in a span of 46 seconds midway through the fourth quarter, Centerville's Chase Whitaker kicked a 76-yard punt, intercepted a pass and kicked a 25-yard field goal in a 19-14 upset of Huber Heights Wayne.

BIG MAC: The Midwest Athletic Conference, after a down 2013 where just three teams qualified for the playoffs (although two won state titles), will have six teams in the postseason and nearly had a seventh.

NO PASSING FAD: Ohio State commitment Joe Burrow completed 23 of 30 passes for 379 yards and four TDs in a rain-filled 48-22 win over Nelsonville-York, making him 135 of 180 for 2,860 yards, 42 touchdowns and just one interception on the year;

GAUDY NUMBERS: Oxford Talawanda's Maurice Thomas, a Miami University commit, finished the regular season with 3,250 all-purpose yards and 36 touchdowns (218 points), rushing 284 times for 2,561 yards and 29 TDs as the Braves won their last five games to qualify for the D3 playoffs.

STOUT SCHEDULING: Middletown Fenwick finished 6-4 and barely missed the D4 playoffs.

But the Falcons' four losses came against teams that were a combined 39-1 — 10-0 Kettering Alter, 10-0 Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, 10-0 Cincinnati Mount Healthy and 9-1 Cincinnati McNicholas (whose only loss was to Alter).


Rusty Miller can be reached at http://twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

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