Champion’s champions

Flashes win state titles on same day

Tribune Chronicle file
Champion’s baseball and softball teams won state championships on the same day in early June.

Tribune Chronicle file Champion’s baseball and softball teams won state championships on the same day in early June.

For a high school athletic team to win a state title in Ohio is a big deal.

For two different teams from the same school to win a state championship in the same school years is even more amazing.

For those two teams to be crowned state champions on the same day is enough to be considered the No. 1 story on the Tribune Chronicle list of top 10 stories in 2017.

1. Trumbull’s title town

The Champion High School baseball and softball teams both won Division III state championship games on June 3, the boys in the morning at Columbus and the girls later in the day at Akron.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers won the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers won the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division.

The Golden Flashes’ baseball team, coached by Rick Yauger, defeated Berlin Hiland, 1-0, at Huntington Park in Columbus. Following the victory, the baseball team and coaches stopped at Firestone Park in Akron on the way back to Trumbull County and watched the Champion softball team, coached by Cheryl Weaver, win a 5-1 decision over Wheelersburg.

It was the seventh state title for the school’s softball program and the first for Champion in baseball.

2. Indians streak, then crash

Coming off a World Series appearance in 2016, the Cleveland Indians used a major league record 22-game winning streak to record an American League-best 102 victories in 2017, winning the Central Division title for the second straight season.

But things fell apart after the Tribe opened a 2-0 series lead against the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series. The Yankees won three straight from the Tribe to win the series. Corey Kluber, who later was named the AL Cy Young Award winner, had two poor starts in the series.

Tribune Chronicle file photos
Youngstown State went in a new direction with its men’s basketball program, hiring Jarrod Calhoun after the retirement of longtime coach Jerry Slocum.

Tribune Chronicle file photos Youngstown State went in a new direction with its men’s basketball program, hiring Jarrod Calhoun after the retirement of longtime coach Jerry Slocum.

3. Youngstown State’s football team started the year off by playing for the NCAA FCS national championship, but in Bo Pelini’s second season as the Penguins’ head coach, YSU dropped a 28-14 decision to James Madison in Frisco, Texas.

Pelini and the Penguins followed that up with a disappointing 2017 season, finishing 6-5 and out of the playoffs.

4. For the third straight season, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors met in the NBA Finals in June. After the two each won an NBA crown in the two previous meetings, the Warriors swept LeBron James and the Cavs this time.

During the summer, the Cavaliers traded point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston, apparently at his request. As the 2017-18 season nears the midway point, it appears Cleveland and Golden State are headed for a fourth Finals meeting. The Cavs have revamped James’ surrounding cast — it now includes Dwayne Wade, among others — in an effort to beat the Warriors.

5. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers, under first-year manager Luke Carlin, won 11 of their last 14 games to capture the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League.

The Scrappers were swept, 2-0, though, by Vermont in the first round of the league’s playoffs.

6. A bad loss at Iowa in midseason prevented Ohio State from making the College Football Playoffs, but the Buckeyes finished off a 12-2 Big Ten championship season with a dominating 24-7 win over Southern Cal in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

Austintown Fitch graduate Billy Price finished his OSU career as a three-year starter and All-American selection as a center.

7. Coming off a 1-15 season, the Cleveland Browns couldn’t go anywhere but up. Or could they.

The Browns’ struggles continued as they stood 0-15 heading into their season finale on the last day of the year. Meanwhile, several quarterbacks bypassed in the past two drafts by the Browns are playing well for their respective teams.

In an effort to change the team’s fortunes, team owner Jimmy Haslem fired GM Sashi Brown and replaced him with John Dorsey.

8. Longtime Youngstown State men’s basketball coach Jerry Slocum retires and is replaced by Jerrod Calhoun, who most recently led Fairmont State of West Virginia into the NCAA Division II title game.

Through the 2017 portion of Calhoun’s first season, things were not going well as the Penguins have a record of 2-11.

9. John F. Kennedy graduate Chad Zallow leads the YSU track and field program to success. Zallow finished third in the 60-meter hurdles in the NCAA Indoor Championships and ninth in the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

He also led the men’s track team to titles in the Horizon League indoor and outdoor competitions. The YSU women’s team also won the league indoor and outdoor titles.

10. The John F. Kennedy boys basketball team ended up one step away from the state final four, losing 67-64 in the Division IV regional final at Canton to eventual state champion Lutheran East.

The Eagles had just come off a 72-60 win over McDonald in a regional semifinal. The Blue Devils, along with LaBrae, won Associated Press state poll titles in Division IV and Division III, respectively.

On the girls side, Garrettsville Garfield (D-III) and Jackson-Milton (D-IV) both reached the regional final round, like the JFK boys falling just one victory short of the state final four.

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