Alter defense vs. Glenville offense a key matchup in Division VI state final

Knights face Tarblooders on Saturday night in Canton

Alter already defeated one of the 2022 Division IV state finalists. To win the school’s third state title, the Knights must beat the team that won it last year.

Cleveland Glenville (12-2) brings key talent and overall younger team back to Canton for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. final.

The key matchup Alter (12-3) faces figures to be the strength of its defense versus Glenville’s power rushing attack. The Knights shut out their last two opponents, including Cincinnati Wyoming, the team that lost to Glenville in last year’s final. Led by linebacker Henry Reifschneider, Alter’s defense must limit D’Shawntae Jones. He’s rushed for more than 1,500 yards and surpassed 250 in each of Glenville’s last two playoff games behind four of the five linemen he ran behind last year.

“I’ve said it all year. I think he’s under recruited,” said coach Ted Ginn Sr., who also coached Jones’ uncle, Cardale Jones. “I think he’s Mr. Football, based on how we ride him. You don’t get 250 yards back-to-back in a playoff game and not be a tough back, and we’re playing against good teams.”

The Tarblooders also feature Ohio State tight end recruit Damarion Witten. However, Ginn will be without Ohio State cornerback recruit Bryce West. He aggravated a shoulder injury in the regional final victory.

“We’ve lined up against some pretty good football teams, and our kids have answered the call,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. “We have not seen anyone as quick as the team we’re going to see Saturday night, but we have pretty good speed so we’ll see how we match up.”

Division VI: With the dynamic running duo of quarterback Michael Osborne and running back Joel Gehret, Versailles (13-2) looked like a team that could get this far after opening the season with a 26-0 victory over Celina, a semifinalist in Division III.

In the rugged Midwest Athletic Conference, however, the Tigers lost 14-13 to Marion Local and 21-14 to Coldwater, a regional finalist in Division V. Both losses could have gone the other way if not for turnovers and missed kicks. The week after the Coldwater loss, the Tigers finished the regular season with 21-14 victory over a strong Minster team and have won every playoff game by wide margins.

“That kind of righted the ship and gave the guys a little extra motivation and extra confidence going into the playoffs,” head coach Ryan Jones said. “We’ve been able to get better each week in the playoffs and diversify the offense a little bit.”

The Tigers’ opponent is Kirtland (14-1), a familiar one to MAC fans, at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Versailles beat an undefeated Kirtland team 20-16 in the 2021 Division V final. Last year Kirtland lost 14-7 to Marion Local in the Division VI final. Versailles has won seven state titles in 10 appearances. Kirtland has won six titles in 11 trips.

Division VII: The question Tim Goodwin hears during the playoffs every year focuses on the ability of his Marion Local football program to replenish enough to challenge for a state title. The Flyers are back in the state final for the third straight year and 11th time in 12 years.

This year’s task: overcome the loss of 15 seniors and rebuild a defense that allowed 39 points on its way to the Division VI title and its record-setting 13th crown. Well, as expected, the Flyers (15-0) are back for the 17th time in the state final at 10:30 a.m. Saturday against Dalton (13-1).

The Flyers are riding a 47-game winning streak and are back for the same reason as always. Goodwin and his staff prepare the next group to step in and carry the program forward.

“We weren’t exactly real sure how we were going to be, especially on defense and especially early,” Goodwin said. “But we had some good skill kids coming back that were good JV players for us last year. So we could see some talent coming. And it was a process like always going through the season.”

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