Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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What it lacked in imagination it more than made up for with emotion and desire, as Clinton-Massie knocked off Coldwater in “the statement” game.

Clarksville, OH – Moments after Clinton-Massie wrapped up it’s 24-14 win over Coldwater Friday night, an emotional Dan McSurley, who’s coached there for nearly a quarter century, gathered his jubilant and emotional team, and after a brief prayer, told them……..

“In all of my coaching career this is the greatest win in the history of Clinton-Massie football,” said a euphoric McSurley, playing the moment to its fullest. “That team (Coldwater) has only lost 28 games in the last twenty years, and tonight we made a statement. We’re the team to beat in Division IV, and now we’re on our way to Canton.”

Strong words!

If you’ve never been to Clarksville, Ohio, it’s a hellish drive down state route 380 and a little bit of route 22, through the backroads of Clinton County, to get there.

Clarksville itself is nothing more than a crossroads, a convenient store, and a neat-looking and antiquated old grain elevator. The people are nice, very colloquial, and simply ‘bats’ over high school football, so it’s understandable that McSurley’s contention that beating Coldwater and it amounting to the greatest game in school history was over the top.

The problem was…he might have forgotten the two state titles he and the Falcons won in 2012 and ’13.

And to be honest, the Coldwater they beat Friday was not the Coldwater of all those wins, and four of the last five state titles in Division V. This was Coldwater, yes. But it wasn’t Austin Bruns, Brody Hoying and Kraig Schoenherr Coldwater.

mrshoppe_sidebar_284x284But it was ‘a’ version of Coldwater at this point of the 2017 season, and McSurley’s Wishbone attack of running backs Christian Poynter and Cody Collingham controlled the clock, ate up yards, and was relentless as it tried to wear down a retooled Cavalier defense.

And for the first 30 minutes of football it worked.

After trading punts and a scoreless first quarter, Massie was first to score on their first possession of the second quarter. Forced to punt, the Falcons lofted a kick that the Cavaliers Jack Muhlenkamp chose not to catch at the 30 yard line. A mistake…as the ball rolled all the way to the 10, where it was downed, forcing terrible field position. Coldwater could not move the ball, and on a third down passing attempt by quarterback Sam Broering to teammate Jacob Hartings, Hartings let the ball slip through his fingers and into the waiting hands of a Massie defender.

Like shooting fish in a barrel, moments later Poynter scored from five yards out to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead at the 8:35 mark of the quarter.

Quarterback Sam Broering unloads the second of his second half touchdowns to Ben Wenning (foreground). It closed the margin, for a time, to 17-14.

Quarterback Sam Broering unloads the second of his second half touchdowns to Ben Wenning (foreground). It closed the margin, for a time, to 17-14.

Unable to move the ball again, Coldwater turned the ball back over to Massie for the final drive of the half, which ended with a 23 yard field goal by Falcons’ kicker Derick Carlisle and a 10-0 lead at the break.

Massie is an impressive collection of athletes, to be sure, and their interior line averages about 280 pounds, a fact that Coldwater found hard to run against again at the start of the third quarter. More, Massie’s dominance at the point of attack allowed them to pressure Broering with as few as three rushers at times.  The Cavs’ first year signal caller simply had no time to set up and scan the field for open receivers.  Forced to punt again, they gave Massie the ball with good field position on a windy, rainy field, and within minutes Poynter was crossing the goal line again for his second touchdown, and a 17-0 lead.

But Coldwater has always been a big-play football team, and on their next possession Broering, making only his second start at quarterback, found wide receiver Ben Wenning down the middle of the field on a slant pattern, and behind Poynter and the rest of the Massie secondary. 55 yards later Wenning crossed the goal line at the 5:22 mark to cut the lead to 17-7.

It energized what had become a lethargic Cavalier team, and crowd. The defense, which had played gamely all night, stiffened and forced Massie to punt, giving Coldwater the ball on its own 30 yard line. And on their second play Broering again found Wenning behind the defense and hit him, this time, for a 67-yard strike…the score cut to 17-14.

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Massie, in the words of Press Pros football analyst Tim Boeckman, former coach at St. Henry, is a team that’s one-dimensional almost to a fault.

“McSurley has them schooled well,” said Boeckman, who watched from the sidelines. “They’re beatable, but they’re going to run it and they don’t make mistakes. Best of all, they don’t turn the ball over.”

To that point in the game Massie had thrown the ball exactly twice. And on the ensuing possession after the Coldwater score they chose to throw it again…and caught the Cavalier defense flat-footed, playing close to the line of scrimmage to stop the run. It worked, as senior Luke Richardson was wide open without a man near him to haul a 61-yard bomb from quarterback Corey Stultz. It broke the back of an anticipated Coldwater comeback, and closed the scoring at 24-14.

In defeat, Cavalier coach Chip Otten could find a silver lining as the rain intensified and hastened the crowd to the parking lot and down the road to route 22 and 380 north.

“We missed some great opportunities in the first half to make some touchdowns with the passing game,” he said, turning his head away from the driving rain. “That didn’t happen, but gosh, I’m really proud of how our defense played. We went after them. We kept plugging, and playing, and got back in it with those two big plays.

Bummer...Wind and rain, and a very good Falcons team made for a long ride back to Coldwater.

Bummer…Wind and rain, and a very good Falcons team made for a long ride back to Coldwater.

“This was contrasting styles of play, and the wind doesn’t affect them at all. But it does sure does us. We got beat by a really good team, but I’m really proud of our guys.”

Offensively, there wasn’t much to write about – those two pass plays from Broering to Wenning accounting for 120 of Coldwater’s total of 171 yards. Against that huge, formidable Massie line, the run game could account for only 17 yards in 14 carries. Broering, through the air, connected on 8 of 21 for 188 yards.

Massie, behind Poynter and running mate Cody Collingham, ran it 60 times for 274 yards. And to repeat, they only threw it three times, completing two…for 72 yards. In total, the Falcons finished with 346 total yards.

But one of those passes was the killing blow, of course, that punctuated an impressive performance by Poynter, and gave some credence to McSurley’s claim that the Falcons will be the team to beat in their region…and the team to beat in Division IV come December in Canton.

As to the point about beating Coldwater and it being the greatest win in the history of Clinton-Massie football, well, that’s like saying the ’27 Yankees were the greatest team ever. They never played the Big Red Machine or Charlie Finley’s Oakland team that won three straight World Series.

And this very fine Clinton-Massie team never played Coldwater…with Keith Wenning, Brody Hoying, and Ross Homan.

Just for history’s sake.

This 23-yard field goal gave Massie a 10-0 advantage at the half.

This 23-yard field goal gave Massie a 10-0 advantage at the half.

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