Between a normal slate of Fridays, Saturday games and a deep playoff run, I have seen quite a bit of football this season. It is time to run down some of the best this football season had to offer. Blake Williams gave some input, too, and we'll let this be a little tease to last until Thursday's release of our football players of the year and all-area teams.
* Best game: This one is pretty easy. This past week's 22-21 playoff win by Liberty Union against Oak Hill was exciting and well-played. The Lions looked to be in trouble on a few occasions, but they rallied each time. A two-minute drill at the end of the first half took a chunk out of an 11-point deficit, and the Lions held on to a one-point lead without numerous injured starters. The game had a blocked field goal, a jubilant celebration and all the drama of a classic.
Lancaster played a few exciting games, most notably a one-point win against Groveport on Sept. 28 when the Golden Gales stopped a 2-point conversion attempt with 2:49 to play to preserve the win. The Gales came up short two weeks before that in a well-played chess match against rival Pickerington Central, losing 14-10 when their final drive ended with an interception. Fairfield Union also came up with a weather-extended, 32-31 double-overtime win Sept. 21 against Bloom-Carroll, when the Falcons successfully executed a 2-point conversion in the second OT to win a game that went past midnight. That same night, Canal Winchester beat Amanda-Clearcreek in an area-high four OTs. All of those games were good, but they did not compare to Liberty Union's dramatic win.
* Best individual performance: Ben Tobin had a season's worth of good games for Fairfield Christian, but his best performance came when the Knights were in trouble against upset-minded Fisher Catholic. Trailing 14-13 with 7:16 to play in FCA's Week 2 match-up against the Irish, the Knights executed a 22-play drive that took all but 20 seconds off the remaining clock. Tobin ran the ball 12 times in that stretch and also caught a pass. On his 39th carry of the game, Tobin scored a game-winning touchdown for a 19-14 FCA win. Tobin finished with 303 yards, his first of four 300-yard games. Without that comeback win, the Knights might not have made the playoffs in Division VI, Region 23. It was an early-season performance that went a long way in igniting a team.
Tobin's running back counterpart in that game, Derrick Schneider, turned in some fine outings of his own. Schneider eclipsed 200 yards on 13 carries in barely more than a half of an opening-week loss to Tuscarawas Central Catholic. (TCC later forfeited that game). Schneider missed the latter part of the game because of cramps, but still managed to break three long TD runs. He followed that up two weeks later with a unique performance, tallying more than 100 yards both rushing and receiving in a 63-20 loss to Newark Catholic. Most of those yards came against the Green Wave's first-team defense, and Schneider also had a TD called back because of a penalty.
Check back in a few days to see the area's players and coach of the year, and we'll also honor the top performers in the Eagle-Gazette all-area team.