Elks coach: ‘(Football) playoffs started four or five weeks ago’

Fairmont LB Jonas Smith takes on the Elks. Centerville defeated visiting Fairmont 43-28 in a Week 9 high school football game on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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Fairmont LB Jonas Smith takes on the Elks. Centerville defeated visiting Fairmont 43-28 in a Week 9 high school football game on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

The Greater Western Ohio Conference National East is assured of three teams advancing to the Division I, Region 3 high school football playoffs and a fourth is likely to follow. That’s heady postseason stuff for the area’s big-school, five-team division.

Centerville (8-1), Wayne (7-2) and Northmont (7-2) all clinched their spots with Week 9 wins. Centerville also has secured a first-round home game and the others could also host should they win Week 10 regular-season finales.

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Fairmont (6-3) hosts Springfield (6-3) this Friday. The winner is assured another playoff spot and the loser still has a shot. The fifth National East team, Beavercreek (6-3), also remains in the running should it pull a Week 10 upset at Centerville.

Among those teams Fairmont has rebounded the most following last year’s 1-9 season, the first under coach Dave Miller.

“The GWOC, especially the National East, has been unbelievable,” said Miller following Friday’s 43-28 loss at Centerville. “For us to be even mentioned in that is an accomplishment.”

There are seven divisions, each comprised of four regions. The top eight teams with the most Harbin computer points following the regular season qualify for the playoffs. The top four in each region host first-round games.

GWOC National East play began in Week 4, with the bulk of those matchups back-ended on the second half of the regular season. Centerville suffered its first loss in Week 8 at Northmont. Beating rival Fairmont reasserted the Elks as the region’s No. 1 team.

“You’re not going to be undefeated when every team in the GWOC (National East) is going to be in the playoffs,” Centerville coach Brent Ullery said. “We’re in here slugging it out. As far as I’m concerned, the playoffs started four or five weeks ago.”

Here’s the playoff picture for other area teams heading into Week 10, according to Drew Pasteur’s Ohio Fantastic 50 and JoeEitel.com:

Division II, Region 8: Sidney (8-1) and Belmont (8-0) are near locks. (Troy 7-2) will join them should the Trojans beat Piqua this week, but are on the bubble if not.

D-III, Region 12: Another strong area presence with Trotwood-Madison (9-0) assured a home game and Alter (8-1) and Franklin (7-2) also having clinched. Chaminade Julienne (7-2) has won seven straight games to get in playoff contention and is likely assured a top-eight spot. CJ will host Alter in Week 10 to decide the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North title.

Dunbar (5-3), Piqua (6-3) Wilmington (6-3) and Bellbrook (6-3) are all on the bubble. Week 10 wins by these teams are a must and they’ll also need higher seeded teams to lose.

D-IV, Region 16: Valley View (9-0) has clinched the No. 1 seed. Clinton-Massie (8-1) is the only other area team to clinch. Fenwick (5-4) and Oakwood (5-4) have all but been eliminated and Kenton Ridge (6-3) is out even if it upsets Bellefontaine (8-1) in Week 10.

D-V, Region 20: Middletown Madison (7-2) has overtaken the No. 1 spot and is joined by Miami East (8-1) and Greeneview (9-0) as sure things. Anna (7-2), coming off a loss at Coldwater, can still take another loss and make the playoff cut. Brookville (6-3) must upset Franklin in Week 10 to have a postseason chance.

D-VI, Region 24: Another region that's loaded with area reps. Midwest Athletic Conference rivals Marion Local (9-0) and Coldwater (7-2) have clinched. Bethel (8-1) and Dayton Christian (8-1) are near locks and Mechanicsburg (7-2) is a strong contender.

St. Henry (6-3) and Fort Recovery (5-4) must win Week 10 games and get help. West Liberty-Salem (7-2) has just a slight chance despite that great season.

D-VII, Region 28: Lehman Catholic (8-1), Fort Loramie (7-2) and Minster (5-4) all have clinched. Ansonia (5-4) has a shot should it beat winless Bradford this week.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association will release first-round playoff matchups on Sunday, Oct. 29.

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