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Top 10 most-read sports stories of 2018: Zach Smith saga, GWOC changes top list

Four stories by Tom Archdeacon make the top 10

When 2018 began, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was celebrating a Cotton Bowl victory, Kostas Antetokounmpo was trying to find playing time with the Dayton Flyers and Yasiel Puig was looking ahead to his sixth season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

» JABLONSKI: My top 10 sports photos of the year

The year ends with all three men in different situations. Meyer will coach his final game with the Buckeyes on Tuesday in the Rose Bowl. Antetokounmpo is making his way in the G League. Puig now plays for the Cincinnati Reds.

It was an unpredictable year, but aren’t they all? Here’s a look back at the top-10 most-read stories on our websites.

1. Aug. 6: Attorney for Zach Smith: ‘Who is the check and balance on the press?’ in Ohio State/Urban Meyer coverage

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Brad Koffel, the attorney representing former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, used his weekly local radio show to blast the way the story has been covered, particularly the focus on head coach Urban Meyer.

» STORY UPDATE: Meyer to retire after Rose Bowl

“The past two weeks Columbus, the country, has personally witnessed reporters not report but draw inferences upon inferences and create narratives that are designed to grab eyeballs and clicks, not against corrupt public officials like the royal governor of New York that John Peter Zenger went to trial over but against football coaches. Football coaches!” Koffel said in the latest episode of his weekly show, “For the Defense,” which aired Sunday morning on 610 WTVN. 

2. Feb. 7: GWOC American Conference teams intend to leave Trotwood-Madison out, form new league

The mega-team Greater Western Ohio Conference apparently is on its way out.

Superintendents, principals and athletic directors met in the annual winter meeting Wednesday at the Huber Heights Athletic Foundation where a bomb was delivered: All of the American Conference North and South division teams want out. Their intention is to begin a new affiliation, excluding current GWOC South member Trotwood-Madison.

» STORY UPDATE: Trotwood voted out in December

“Why is it that the only African-American school in that entire league isn’t allowed to be in (a proposed new) league?” Trotwood principal David White asked. “They didn’t (realign) based on geography or enrollment.”

Who is Kostas Antetokounmpo? Facts about the former Dayton forward (David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

3. March 22: Three more players leaving Dayton basketball program

The University of Dayton basketball team has lost three more players, including 6-foot-10 redshirt freshmen Kostas Antetokounmpo, who has already withdrawn from school.

» STORY UPDATE: Antetokounmpo last player taken in NBA Draft

Junior point guard John Crosby and 6-foot-11 freshman Jordan Pierce also requested and were granted their release from the program so they could transfer elsewhere. The trio — whose departure was revealed Thursday afternoon by Coach Anthony Grant — follows the exit of two other players, Xeyrius Williams and Matej Svoboda, since the Flyers ended their 14-17 season two weeks ago after losing to VCU 77-72 in the second round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Washington D.C.

Wright State’s Ryan Weiss with his mother, Barbara, and sister, Rachel. CONTRIBUTED (columnist)

4. May 30: Wright State pitcher copes with loss of both parents

Back in Illinois for the final days of Wright State’s Christmas break five months ago, Ryan Weiss was out with friends one night when he decided to contact his mom.

“We were supposed to have family day the next day and I texted her to find out what time it would start,” he remembered. “It was about 11:30 and I didn’t get a response so I figured she was sleeping.”

Reds first baseman Joey Votto throws to first for an out against the Pirates on Sunday, July 22, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff (Contributing Writer)

5. July 20: Amazing stat explains just how good this Reds player is at the plate

According to FanGraphs.com, Joey Votto has popped out on the infield only 16 times in his career and not at all in 2018. Jeremy Frank, of NGBaseball.com, brought this stat to everyone’s attention this week on Twitter.

Votto has popped out in the infield only seven times since 2010, and according to Frank, the average player with the same number of plate appearances (5,341) would have popped up in the infield 127 times.

The Thobe family from left: Erica, Kinsey, Gavin, Aubrey, and Dan. CONTRIBUTED

6. Nov. 5: Former Dayton Flyers safety Dan Thobe dies at 46

Thobe, a Dayton Flyers safety in the early 1990s and a longtime high school football coach in the area, died Saturday at 46 at his home in Maria Stein.

WATCH: Marion Local wins state title on late free throws (David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

7. March 24: Marion Local lives out dream on big stage

After Marion Local won the Division IV state basketball title by beating his team, 52-51, in double overtime at the Schottenstein Center on Saturday, Cornerstone Christian coach Dan Selle was right about everything … except for one thing.

8. Oct. 27: High school football playoffs: Who’s in, who’s out

Here’s the area teams we think qualified for the high school football playoffs and what those first-round match-ups will be. These pairings were based on joeeitel.com, the official website used by the Ohio High School Athletic Association to determine qualifying teams.

9. Aug. 4: Community embraces beloved coach and his fight to live

In a small town like Maria Stein, word spreads quickly — especially when a beloved community figure like Dan Thobe is involved — and everyone wanted to help, though, at first, no one knew what to do.

The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig singles in the first inning on Monday, June 9, 2014, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff (Staff Writer)

10. Dec. 21: Reds make blockbuster trade four days before Christmas

Four days before Christmas, the Cincinnati Reds delivered a gift to their fans in the form of a blockbuster trade.

» MCCOY: Trade tilted in favor of Cincinnati

The Reds acquired outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, starting pitcher Alex Wood and infielder/catcher Kyle Farmer and cash from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for starting pitcher Homer Bailey, shortstop Jeter Downs, one of the franchise's top prospects, and pitching prospect Josiah Gray.

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