I was wrong.
There, I said it.
And it feels good to get it off my chest.
We as journalists work in a business that speculates on things constantly.
Who will be the next coach of the Buckeyes?
When will the NBA settle its labor dispute?
How far will Mohawk go in the Division IV volleyball tournament?
As you figure out coverage plans each week and who's going to cover what, you speculate on what will transpire.
Admittedly, I had Mohawk all wrong. I thought the team we'd be covering the longest was going to be Buckeye Central.
I based it on a few things. One, I had just seen the Buckettes destroy Wynford a week earlier and felt they were the strongest team in our area. My other reason? I had seen similar records from Mohawk in previous seasons, only to see it knocked out in the district tourney. I thought this was the year Buckeye Central got the Norwalk St. Paul monkey off its back.
Instead, I saw a flat BC team get spiked by the Flyers in the district semifinal and Mohawk, in turn, dispatch the Flyers in the regional final. How great would it have been to see a Mohawk-BC regional final?
So when did I have Mohawk bowing out? As early in the sectional final. Hopewell-Loudon is a traditional playoff performer and I felt the Chieftains had a chance to knock it out. The Chieftains gave Mohawk a scare before the Warriors won in four.
So then I figured they were done in the district final against New Riegel. The Blue Jackets had had a phenomenal season, winning an outright MAL title for the first time in ages and beating Mohawk earlier in the season. The result? An easy three-game Mohawk win in the district final.
The following week we're talking about the regional and Mohawk's matchup with Crestview, another traditional volleyball powerhouse. I said I thought Mohawk had a chance against the Knights but they would probably lose there. And if they did get by Crestview, the Flyers would surely beat them in the regional final.
Wrong, and then wrong again.
So Friday rolls around and I tell Zach that I felt St. Henry would win in four but if it went five, Mohawk would pull it out.
After Mohawk was crushed in the opening game against the Chieftains, 25-9, I turned to one of my former colleagues and said, "Well, I might be wrong again. This could be pretty quick."
Oh, yeah, wrong again.
In our business, we're taught in school that you're not to be a cheerleader. You are to stay objective and impartial. You're not to buy the shirt or sign the card wishing them good luck. You are there to be the impartial observer, reporting on what happened.
When former boys basketball coach Keith Diebler arrived in Upper Sandusky in the summer of 2004 with public perception a state title had just rolled into town, I had a very candid conversation with him. I told him the day we met that we would get along just fine if he understood one thing: I was not there to be his cheerleader.
"I don't care if you go 20-0 or 0-20. My life doesn't change either way," I told him.
He smiled, slapped me on the back and said "I like that. We're going to get along just fine."
And we did.
And Upper Sandusky won a state title, allowing me to share some really cool stories from the tournament trail.
Do you want to know what we as reporters want most?
A close game.
A compelling story.
Something great to write about.
I'm not a big fan of the "best game ever" philosophy, but I can safely say in the 20 years I've been covering sports, Friday was the best volleyball match I've ever seen.
Mohawk stormed back in game two, fell in game three and destroyed St. Henry in game four. Game five went to 10-10 before St. Henry pulled away. It was one of those matches that you wished would have been best of 11 because you didn't want to see it end. Vicious kill after vicious kill and body twisting save after body twisting save. Just an incredible game that had so many momentum swings it looked like a grandfather clock.
It ended with a lot of tears on the part of Mohawk and smiles for St. Henry.
I think I witnessed the state championship Friday night because I saw Tuscawaras Central Catholic (St. Henry's finals opponent) and I think Mohawk or the Redskins could beat them.
This Mohawk team loses three key pieces: Molli Cartwright, Ashley Cooper and Kristen Weininger. Cartwright and Weininger are not only the two admitted goofballs on this teams, but arguably their best servers and Cooper is the team's only left-handed hitter. Cartwright and Cooper start but Weininger was on the floor every bit as much as a stellar defensive specialist.
"I have confidence in them," Cartwright said of Mohawk's chances to get back here next year without them and go even farther.
"So do I," said Weininger. "They can do it. They're going to have the same exact girls next year, just minus us. They're going to get some new girls and they're going to make them as much a family as we were. And they're just going to play their hearts out like we know they can."
Mohawk coach Eric Hoover said the three seniors' value can't be measured on a stat sheet.
"They've done a lot for the program. They've had a lot of success and they've shown a lot of character all throughout their careers," Hoover said while trying to maintain his composure. "The experience and leadership that they brought really means more than you can imagine to a program and the rest of their teammates.
"We do have a lot coming back but as a coach, I know what these three do and how much they added and it's going to be very, very hard to replace the skills and intensity and athletic ability that we're losing with these three," he said. "Some people underestimate them probably. I don't at all. I know exactly how much they meant to what we were able to do this year. They're really going to be hard to replace."
A-T sports editor Zach Baker and I talk about this often: championship teams don't happen often. Heck, just getting there like Mohawk did this year doesn't happen often. Our opportunities to cover state titles are not a regular occurrence. You have to savor the chances when you get them.
While I've proven I've been wrong before, I feel fairly confident in saying this.
Our paper will be back in Dayton again next November, covering Mohawk in the state volleyball tournament. And if we as reporters are lucky, maybe a state title too.
Aaron Korte is a sports writer for the A-T. He can be reached at akorte(at)advertiser-tribune(dot)com.