It’s been one year since Alter suffered a stunning upset to Chaminade Julienne in the first round of the playoffs. That has not been lost on the returning Knights.
“The loss to CJ in Week 11 last year fueled us so much,” assured Knights senior linebacker Dan O’Connell. “We only have one goal and that’s to still be playing in four weeks.”
Alter passed the first test in that hoped-for tourney-journey by withstanding Cincinnati Mt. Healthy’s second-half comeback to win a Division III, Region 12 high school football playoff opener on Friday night at Fairmont’s Roush Stadium, 14-12.
The win sends top-seeded Alter (10-1) into a regional semifinal rematch with Greater Catholic League Co-Ed rival Badin (8-3) in a Week 12 pairing at a neutral site. The Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce sites for all playoff games on Sunday.
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Badin, the GCL Central champ, advanced by winning 33-22 at Butler on Friday. Alter defeated host Badin 17-7 in Week 8 of the regular season.
The other D-III, Region 12 semifinal is Wapakoneta (10-1) vs. Fenwick (9-2). Wapak, out of the Western Buckeye League, edged defending D-III state champ Trotwood-Madison 24-21 and Fenwick beat GCL North rival CJ for the second time, 28-7.
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Both Alter (24 appearances) and Mt. Healthy (17) are playoff regulars, but it was the first time the teams had played.
“They had that speed,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. “I knew it was going to be physical. You hope that it’s going to help us down the road. Our kids, they expect us to go more than one game in the playoffs.”
Alter led 14-0 in the first quarter after Branden McDonald blasted 30 yards for a touchdown and Lamar Landers did the same from 18 yards.
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Mt. Healthy responded with a 20-yard TD pass from quarterback Michael Crawford to Keion Blankumsee midway through the third quarter. However, the extra-point kick failed.
The Owls (5-6), out of the Southwest Ohio Conference, scored again when eventual QB replacement Brandon Lanier, a 6-3, 230-pound junior, rumbled five yards in the final seconds of the third quarter. This time the Owls went for a 2-point pass, which was incomplete.
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Mt. Healthy drove to Alter’s 9-yard-line midway through the forth quarter and appeared likely to take a lead, but the Owls stalled and Alter’s John Urbaugh blocked a 26-yard field goal attempt.
O’Connell and Mason Henry sacked Lanier on forth down at midfield on the Owls’ next possession and Alter essentially ran out the clock, finishing inside Mt. Healthy’s 10.
“We met at the quarterback, made the play and the game was over,” said O’Connell.
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Five of the Owls’ six losses were to playoff teams. Mt. Healthy edged Piqua for the final No. 8 playoff qualifying spot.
“We did a lot of growing up (against Alter),” Owls coach Arvie Crouch said. “That’s a great program. I’m so proud of our kids. To come up here and play a parochial school, we showed our heart. It says a lot about the competition we played this year.”
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