Tuesday, November 28th, 2006
By Randy Bruns
Success at state almost expected from MAC
With the history of success that St. Henry and Marion Local have had in football, it's no surprise that the two long-time rivals are both playing in state championship games this weekend.
What's surprising is that it took this long for both schools to make it to Stark County on the same weekend. Over the past 17 years, St. Henry has made eight trips to the finals and Marion has made four, but this is the first time they've made the trip in the same year.
St. Henry's Jeff Starkey is looking to win his second state title in three years of coaching for the Redskins while Tim Goodwin is striving for a third state title in his eight-year stay at Marion Local.
Both schools are, of course, members of the Midwest Athletic Conference, a league that has seen unprecedented success at the state level in all sports, but most notably in football.
The MAC was formed in 1972 and started play in 1973, but it took nine years for the first MAC school to make it to the state level. Marion Local fell in the semifinal round in 1981, and it was another five years before the next league team advanced that far, as St. Henry also lost in the semifinals in 1986.
Since then, it's been a veritable MAC bull rush to state, as six different teams have not only qualified for state competition, but all six have won at least one title.
Since 1988, there have only been two years (1991 and 1993) in which at least one MAC team has not won a regional title and advanced to the state semifinals. Over the span of 19 seasons from 1988 through this year, the MAC has sent a mind-boggling 31 squads to state competition.
Once they get to state, MAC teams aren't simply content to just be there, either. While nine have bowed out in the semifinal round and six settled for the runner-up trophy, 14 have brought home the gold that signifies a state championship.
The banner year thus far has been 2005, when both Coldwater and Delphos St. John's both garnered state titles. It's not like that feat was an unanticipated occurrence, though, because on four different occasions the MAC has sent three qualifiers to state in the same year. In each of those years (1999, 2000, 2003, and 2004) one team dropped their semifinal game, one lost in the finals, and one took home the big hardware.
With such lofty success at the state level, it's not hard to figure that MAC teams have been absolutely dominant throughout postseason play.
Beginning in 1981 when Marion Local made the MAC's first ever playoff appearance, league teams have built a 140-43 overall playoff record for a 77-percent winning clip. Of those 183 games, 14 were contests in which two MAC teams faced each other, thus accounting for one win and one loss. If those 14 games are taken out of the equation, MAC teams are an astounding 126-29 in the playoffs, for an 81-percent success rate.
In all, MAC teams have faced 83 different non-MAC opponents in the playoffs, and 66 of them have losing records against the MAC, nine have winning records, and eight have won as many as they have lost.
Both St. Henry and Marion Local face opponents this weekend that have never played a MAC team in the playoffs, and the sentiment in the area is strong in hoping that both Warren JFK and Shadyside will soon join the long list of MAC playoff victims.
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