The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

State Champ: Zac Johnson wins state title

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It’s time to remove the word “nemesis” from Zac Johnson’s dictionary.

Take a black Magic Marker and scratch it right out.

Johnson had a nemesis—a foe he just couldn’t conquer—until Saturday night.front.wrestle

Now it’s Zac Johnson who’s on top.

In a spectacular turn of events, the Morenci senior finally defeated Addison’s Tom Schneider 5-1 in the finals of the Michigan state wrestling tournament to win the Div. IV championship at 189 pounds.

Schneider came into the tournament as the defending champion, looking to cap his high school career with an unbeaten season.

Almost, but not quite, as Johnson became Morenci’s 12th state wrestling champion.

Schneider had notched half a dozen wins against Johnson in the past, including two decisions earlier in the season.

When it came to the final meeting of the two standout seniors, it wasn’t a matter of taking a new strategy into the bout for Johnson. it was more a matter of attitude.

“I got really pumped,” he said. “I got really aggressive. I was trying to take advantage of every second out there.”

That he did, agrees coach Scott Clark.

“Everything Zac did stopped him,” he said. “This time Schneider couldn’t take him down.”

Schneider’s only point came in the first period when Johnson was called for stalling.

“In the second period I put him on his back and got two points,” Johnson said.

He added a point in the third period through an escape, then finished it off.

“The last points were from a take-down and that pretty much sealed it.”

“From start to finish,” Clark said, “he just handled him completely.”

That concluded what Johnson saw as a developing trend. He lost in the county meet by an 8-0 margin, then closed it to 5-2 when Schneider took first in the regional finals.

“I think he knew I was coming for him,” Johnson said. “I was narrowing the gap.”

All of this from a season that nearly didn’t happen.

Johnson decided last year to give basketball a try in his senior season. He still hoped to wrestle on weekends, if he gained the cooperation of coaches.

Then came a case of infectious mononucleosis that eventually led to hospitalization. It also led him back onto the wrestling mat.

“After mono, once I began getting into shape, I decided to wrestle since that’s what I’ve been doing,” he said. “Stick with what you know.”

It took some time to get back into the swing of things and he qualified for the state tournament with an 18-3 record—fewer than half the matches he would have had in a typical season.

But 22-3 will do just fine for this year as he joins other members of his family in wrestling fame. His father, Eric, placed third in the state, his uncle Karl was a champion and his uncle Kurt scored two firsts, a second and a third.

Johnson closes out his career with a 126-20 record—only two of the losses were pins—and a first, second and third in three years of state finals competition.

    – March 14, 2007

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