By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — There are two ways to measure success on the football field.
The simplest way is to measure success in terms of wins and losses, but it can also be measured in goals accomplished and memories made.
If the former is going to be the barometer of success for Miami County high school graduates in the 2015-16 bowl season, then it was a disappointing finish, as the teams on which county graduates played went a combined 1-4 in bowl games. If the latter is going to be used, however, six former county players on five different Division I college teams were afforded the opportunity to close out their seasons in college football’s most exciting time of the year.
Of the six county graduates who were on bowl game rosters, five will have eligibility remaining next season. The only county graduate who will be graduating college this year — Troy High School graduate Christopher Fong, a walk-on defensive lineman for Ohio State — also was the lone county graduate to see his team win its bowl game.
Here’s a look at how Miami County graduates and their college teams fared during the bowl season, listed in chronological order:
Appalachian State 31,
Ohio University 29
Local Player: A.J. Ouellette (Covington)
Ouellette, a Covington High School graduate and sophomore running back at Ohio University, led the Bobcats in rushing with 14 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown. He also had one reception for 2 yards.
The Bobcats took a 29-28 lead with 1:47 to play in the game, but Appalachian State drove the length of the field and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired to pull out the victory.
For the season, Ouellette led the Bobcats in rushing for the second year in a row, finishing his sophomore campaign with 151 carries for 691 yards and six touchdowns. He also had 12 catches for 72 yards. Ouellette also had four tackles while playing both special teams and filling in at linebacker for the Bobcats.
Georgia Southern 58,
Bowling Green 27
Local Players: Nick Fields (Milton-Union) and Gus Schwieterman (Bethel)
Incredibly, Bowling Green led this game at halftime, but the Falcons were outscored 35-0 in the second half.
Fields, a Milton-Union graduate, a redshirt sophomore kicker for the Falcons, had one kickoff for 41 yards in the game. Schwieterman, a redshirt sophomore defensive tackle for the Falcons, was injured before the season started and did not play this season.
This was Fields’ first season seeing playing time. He finished the year with 13 kickoffs, averaging 44.8 yards per kickoff. Schwieterman was a starter last season and should be in the mix again for a starting role in 2016, provided he’s full recovered.
Duke 44, Indiana 41
Local Player: Wes Martin (Milton-Union)
Martin, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for Indiana, was part of one of the most controversial bowl games this season.
After playing to a 41-41 tie in regulation, Duke kicked a field goal in overtime to take a 44-41 lead. Indiana couldn’t score a touchdown on its possession to win the game, but settled for a field goal attempt. The officials ruled that Indiana kicker Griffin Oakes’ kick was no good, but replays appeared to indicate it might actually have gone through the uprights.
Martin started the first six games of the season for Indiana, and appeared in 12 of the Hoosiers’ 13 games. He was named to the Freshman All-Big Ten Team and was named an honorable mention freshman All-American by Campus Insiders.
CFP Semifinal/Orange Bowl
Clemson 37, Oklahoma 17
Local Player: Alex Dalton (Troy)
Dalton, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for the Sooners, could only watch from the sidelines as Oklahoma’s dream of a national title fell short with a loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff Semifinal/Orange Bowl.
Dalton suffered a non-contact knee injury during bowl practice and was unable to play in the game. Prior to the injury, Dalton had appeared in eight games as a back-up offensive guard for the Sooners.
He was expected to explore his surgery and rehabilitation options and said he hopes to be back and competing for playing time again this fall.
Ohio State 44, Notre Dame 28
Local Player: Christopher Fong (Troy)
Fong, a walk-on defensive lineman for the Buckeyes, saw his career at Ohio State end with a victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
Fong was a two-year walk-0n and scout team player at Ohio State, including last season’s national championship run. He will graduate from Ohio State this spring.
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong