Familiar feel to regional football finals despite missing regulars

Alter, Coldwater and Marion Local all advanced to the high school football regional finals this week. Nothing unusual about that; all three programs have traditionally thrived in the postseason and often are state-title contenders.

What is different are the missing area teams. Those seven Greater Western Ohio Conference representatives that were spread through Divisions I, II and III? Gone.

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That includes Trotwood-Madison, which was ousted in the first round. That snapped a streak of eight straight seasons the Rams advanced to the state semifinals.

Clinton-Massie, the run-heavy machine that figured to have a state-title rematch with mighty Steubenville? Gone.

Minster, which couldn’t contend for a Midwest Athletic Conference championship and instead made three small-school state title appearances since 2014, winning twice? Gone.

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The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced neutral regional final sites on Sunday afternoon. Divisions I, II, III and VI will play on Friday and Divisions IV, V and VII on Saturday. All games are at 7 p.m. The winners advance to the Week 14 state semifinals on Nov. 23-24.

Here’s the area matchups:

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• D-III, Region 12: Alter (11-1) vs. Wapakoneta (11-1) at Piqua, Friday. The top-seeded Knights have won out following a season-opening loss at Fairmont. Wapak eliminated Trotwood and Fenwick in its tourney journey.

• D-V, Region 20: Madison (12-0) vs. Wheelersburg (11-1) at Hilliard Darby, Saturday. The Mohawks haven’t had a close game since a Week 3 defeat of Valley View. They’ve allowed just 21 points in the last eight games. Wheelersburg is tucked in Scioto Valley and didn’t play any area opponent until a 35-13 KO of Greeneview on Saturday.

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• D-VI, Region 24: Coldwater (10-2) vs. Marion Local (11-1) at Sidney, Friday: This is the matchup MAC patrons have dreaded ever since the Cavaliers and Flyers were lumped in the same region. Both multiple state champs, Coldwater defeated Marion Local 26-20 in two overtimes in a Week 10 regular-season finale to snap a two-game losing skid. Marion Local beat Coldwater in last year’s regional final on its way to a state title.

• D-VII, Region 28: Fort Loramie (11-1) vs. Convoy Crestview (11-1) at Lima Spartan Stadium, Saturday: It's Loramie, not Minster, that gets a small-school shot at a state title. What's significant about that? Loramie lost to Minster 34-14 in the season opener and hasn't lost since. The Redskins are members of the Cross County Conference for football only and a long time Shelby County Athletic League member in all other sports.

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