Buckeye Pipelines puts the spotlight each week on a high school program who has had numerous and notable alumni go on to play for the Scarlet and Gray.
This week, we take a look at a school that has produced six Ohio State football players since 1970: Piqua. Three of the past five Indians to play for the Buckeyes have made an NFL roster.
LOCATION: PIQUA, OH
CONFERENCE: MIAMI VALLEY LEAGUE
2021 RECORD 12–1
2 STRAIGHT PLAYOFF APPEARANCES
1 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
46TH-MOST PLAYERS ON OHIO STATE'S ROSTER (6)
51ST-MOST ROSTER APPEARANCES (17)
Between 2008 and 2019, Piqua only made one playoff appearance. The program appears to be making a comeback as Piqua has qualified for the postseason in consecutive years.
Piqua is not the biggest hotbed for Buckeyes, but half of the Buckeyes it has produced have gone on to make a noteworthy impact at Ohio State.
Notable Buckeyes from Piqua
DE Matt Finkes (1993-96)
Finkes was named to the All-Big Ten team as a sophomore and senior. He finished his Ohio State career second in tackles for loss with 59. When he left Columbus, Finkes was third on the Buckeyes' career sacks list with 25, which now ranks fifth in school history.
Although he dominated on the defensive line and harassed quarterbacks, Finkes might be remembered most for a game-clinching fumble return against Indiana. The Buckeyes held a perilous 20-17 lead late in the game and the Hoosiers' offense had the ball near midfield.
With the Big Ten title on the line, Andy Katzenmoyer was able to force a fumble that Finkes returned 45 yards for a touchdown. Not only did the scoop-and-score secure the game, it also punched Ohio State's ticket to the 1997 Rose Bowl.
Although many fans associate Finkes with the Indiana play, he stated that his most memorable play was against Michigan in 1994. With two minutes remaining in the game, and the Wolverines facing fourth-and-seven, Finkes sacked Todd Collins to seal John Cooper's first victory in the rivalry.
The Carolina Panthers selected Finkes in the sixth round of the 1997 NFL draft. He ended up in New York where he was with the Jets for eight games in 1997.
At Piqua, Finkes was an All-Ohioan and the Greater Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year as a senior. He was also the Division I state champion in wrestling.
DT Quinn Pitcock (2002-06)
Following a solid junior season, Pitcock had a breakout senior year for the Buckeyes. The defensive tackle collected 39 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks to earn All-American and All-Big Ten honors in 2006. The Touchdown Club of Columbus also awarded Pitcock the Bill Willis Award.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Pitcock in the third round of the 2007 NFL draft. He played in nine games and recorded 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his lone season in Indianapolis, but did not play another game in the league after leaving the Colts due to depression and video game addiction.
Pitcock earned All-Ohio honors as a junior and senior at Piqua. He also made it to the state finals three times in the shot put and discus.
RB Brandon Saine (2007-10)
Coming out of high school, Saine was known for his blazing speed. He owned the Division I state record in the 100-meter dash (10.38), four state track titles and also won the national championship in the 60-meter dash.
Saine's speed was also utilized by Piqua's football team as he led the program to its only state title in 2006. In the championship game against Pickerington Central, Saine ran for 226 yards and had touchdown runs of 80, 52 and 29 yards. He was named Mr. Football for the state of Ohio as a senior.
As a member of the Buckeyes, Saine never seemed to meet the lofty expectations of fans. He played in 49 games and finished with 301 carries for 1,408 yards, nine touchdowns and three 100-yard games.
Arguably Saine's best game came in an overtime victory over Iowa in 2009. In the Big Ten title-clinching bout, he rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. The second score – a 49-yard run that put Ohio State up 24-10 in the fourth quarter – was the longest of Saine's Buckeye career.
The speedster’s numbers at Ohio State weren't bad, but it always felt as though Saine was never fully utilized in Jim Tressel's offense.
The Green Bay Packers picked up Saine as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and he was with the team for two seasons, rushing for 69 yards on 18 carries.
|POS||PLAYER||YEARS||OHIO STATE CAREER||HS CAREER|
|DE||MICHAEL FALER||1977||No stats during only season on roster.|
|DE||MATT FINKES||1993-96||2x All-Big Ten, 5th on Ohio State's all-time career sacks list.||All-Ohioan, GWOC Player of the Year, 90 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior; Division 1 state champion in wrestling.|
|DT||QUINN PITCOCK||2002-06||Captain, All-American, All-Big Ten and Academic All-Big Ten||2x All-Ohioan, had 69 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior.|
|LS||JACKSON HAAS||2007||Was the field goal long-snapper his senior season.|
|RB||BRANDON SAINE||2007-10||Captain, Academic All-Big Ten||State champion, Ohio's Mr. Football, Parade All-American, ran for 1,895 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior; won 4 state track titles, broke the Division 1 state record time in the 100-meter dash.|
|LB||BEN SCHMIESING||2019-20||Former walk-on who made on tackle in two seasons before transferring to Dayton.||All-Ohioan, GWOC Defensive Player of the Year, All-Conference and team MVP in football and basketball.|
|Note: Former Piqua player Tom Heffelfinger (2009) also spent time with the Buckeyes as a walk-on, but was never listed on an official media guide roster.|
More about Piqua
The original high school, known as Piqua Central, was built in 1914. Today, the Piqua Central building is registered as a historic building. The current Piqua High School was built in 1981. Piqua is the only secondary school for Piqua City Schools and is located 27 miles north of Dayton.
The Indians compete in the Miami Valley League and Division 2, Region 8. Piqua was a perfect 9–0 in the regular season last year and qualified for the state playoffs as the top seed in the region. The Indians defeated Little Miami, Withrow and Edgewood before losing to Winton Woods in the regional final.
By qualifying for the playoffs in 2020 and 2021, Piqua made the post season in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2006 and 2007. The Indians defeated Pickerington Central, 26-7, to win the state football title in ’06. Across all sports, that is Piqua's only OHSAA championship.
Other famous alumni
In addition to the six Indians who have gone on to play football at Ohio State, 2004 bronze medal hockey player Kristin King is also from Piqua.
Why are Buckeyes prior to 1970 not highlighted or included in the rankings? Ohio State's official rosters listed the hometown of players, but did not provide their high school on the roster before 1970.