PENINSULA — You couldn’t miss him if you tried.
Ric Blevins, Woodridge’s no-nonsense head boys basketball coach, is usually the tallest guy in the room.
Often, by far.
With this in mind, it probably wouldn’t be wise to mistake him for being the mild-mannered type. When it comes to Blevins, he’s not exactly quiet as a mouse.
No, when this imposing hulk of a man raises his voice, you’re sure to hear it.
You might find yourself trembling in the process too.
Oddly enough, Blevins recently found himself in a position he never thought was possible for a formidable creature like himself.
"There was a point when I thought I was losing the locker room," Blevins said.
Really? Coming from a man who could burn a hole through a poor soul’s body part by simply unleashing his menacing stare?
Believe it or not, it happened.
If you rewind Quick Road’s celebrated documentary a little more than a month ago, Blevins may have experienced his lowest point of the season.
His talented, but discombobulated Bulldogs stumbled mightily in a brutal loss to Aurora. By the way, the Greenmen had lost nine of their last 10 games until they unexpectedly smashed Woodridge by a hard-to-believe 30-point margin.
On Tuesday, the champing-at-the-bit Bulldogs got another opportunity against the gang in green.
While part two wasn’t nearly as lopsided, Blevins’ crew still couldn’t solve Aurora, which played in the rugged Suburban League American Conference during the regular season.
Seventh-seeded Woodridge’s season came to a heartbreaking end after losing to the 10th-seeded Greenmen 61-56. The Stow Division II sectional semifinal contest took place in Peninsula.
Thus, the Bulldogs closed the door on another winter season after finishing with a respectable 13-10 record.
It could have been much worse.
Like their coach, the Woodridge players were once "lost" after their vicious defeat to their friends from Portage County back in January.
However, a certain group of seniors helped the Bulldogs "find" themselves rather quickly. And thanks to those distinguished gentlemen, Blevins’ precious locker room, which was under siege at one point, became safe and sound.
This time, for good.
"It was a great group of six kids that I’m going to miss dearly," Blevins said. "Fortunately, my seniors were able to galvanize that locker room. The last five weeks, we have been playing really good basketball. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. They gave it what we had and it wasn’t enough."
Sadly for Blevins, he wound up "losing" his locker room a second time. Some of it, at least. Well, actually, a large chunk of it.
A very large chunk, as a matter of fact.
That’s because Blevins had the unfortunate duty of saying goodbye to those unflappable seniors. Five of them, guards Kyle Mottice, Joshua Fleming, Brandon Albright and Andrew Mekeal, to go along with forward Ben Lahoski, were three-year varsity players.
The sixth senior, guard Nick Williams, joined Woodridge two years ago after moving to the area from Kent.
When the game ended, the matter-of-fact and perhaps to some degree, intimidating Blevins showed a rare side of himself that belies his towering stature. Especially when he’s barking rather noticeably on the sidelines.
"If character actually created a basketball player, we’d win a state title with those guys," Blevins said. "They’re high-character kids. I wouldn’t trade them for the world."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.