This week marks the beginning of the second season for high school football. For the first time, the first round of the playoffs all will be bunched at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
At least two area teams go into the playoffs as state champion favorites, Trotwood-Madison (Division III) and Marion Local (D-VI). Both are 10-0 and were crowed Associated Press state poll champs earlier this week.
Here’s five things to know going into Week 11.
»FAMILY TIES: Jim Place resigns at Ponitz
»DOWN A WARRIOR: Shawn Lamb resigns at Lebanon
»MIKE AND MARC: The boys talk playoff football
»STATE POLL CHAMPS: Trotwood-Madison, Marion Local No. 1 in football
»FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: First-round pairings for area teams
»GETTING DEFENSIVE: Unbeaten Trotwood-Madison in shutdown mode
»CAN’T BEAT THAT: Trotwood-Madison beats Wayne for 10-0 regular season
»PICTURE THAT: Trotwood vs. Wayne photo gallery
»2,000-YARDS: Brookville senior Bailey Wallen joins the elite club
»CHAMINADE GREAT GONE: Paul Kurpiel played on hoop, baseball state title teams in 1970
»SHOT CLOCK: OHSAA adds to girls, boys tourney basketball
»LET’S GET TECHNICAL: Instant replay assists teams
The Greater Western Ohio Conference factor: The super conference is now four divisions of 20 teams, with seven advancing to the postseason. Even better, no GWOC members are matched in first-round games.
Most of that GWOC qualifying bunch is in the GWOC National East. Top-seeded Centerville (9-1) and Wayne (7-3) landed first-round D-I, Region 3 home games. Surprising Fairmont (7-3) ended Springfield’s postseason quest last week and has a tough challenge at Hilliard Bradley (10-0). Fairmont is one season removed from a 1-9 campaign.
Centerville and Wayne have maintained their status as the area’s best D-I programs, dating to the mid-1980s. Home games should provide an edge. Wayne has played — and lost — in D-I state titles games three times since 2010.
Northmont (8-2) is a D-I, Region 3 wildcard. This is the best team coach Tony Broering has had, losing a season-opening shootout at Winton Woods (9-1) and falling to Wayne in double overtime. Northmont also owns a 21-14 defeat of Centerville. Northmont is at Pickerington Central (9-1), which lost only to Trotwood-Madison 28-19 in Week 3.
Sidney (9-1) is must-see football for this Shelby County town. Senior running back Isaiah Bowser led the area with 2,389 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns and should be among the front-runners for Mr. Football. He’s a bruising reason why Sidney has gone bonkers over the Yellow Jackets, who are in the playoffs for only the second time (D-II, Region 8) and have their best team since the 30-0 run from 1968-70. However, hosting Belmont (9-0) will be a challenge.
Trotwood has been in beast mode all season. Coming off a D-III state runner-up campaign, the Rams tuned up for another long playoff run with a 14-7 defeat of rival Wayne last week. Its defense is at its shut-down best and super senior back Ra’veion Hargrove has always been heroic in the playoffs. First to take that challenge is visiting Elida (8-2) of the Western Buckeye League. Trotwood has played in seven straight state semifinals.
What’s wrong with Alter? That was the question after a stunning 13-12 season-opening loss to Fairmont, which was coming off that 1-9 season. Nine weeks later the answer is all is well with the Knights, almost. Alter (9-1) will take a nine-game win streak into an intriguing rematch against rival Chaminade Julienne (7-3) at Fairmont.
Last week Alter clinched an outright Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North title with a 34-6 pounding of host CJ. However, the Knights will again be without their All-World junior running back John Blevins (1,308 yards rushing, 16 TDs). He was lost for the season with a leg injury in Week 9.
The MAC factor: The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance initiative had a profound effect on divisional realignment this season, none more so than the Midwest Athletic Conference. Most noteworthy was Marion Local and Coldwater (7-3) being bunched in D-VI, Region 24. They were joined by MAC members Fort Recovery, St. Henry and Parkway.
The MAC still has great three-division playoff representation, which has been its recent norm. Anna (7-3) is at Madison (8-2) in a D-V, Region 20 opener. Marion Local will play Fort Recovery (6-4) at Wapakoneta after the Flyers’ grass field was deemed unplayable. Coldwater will host Bethel (9-1), which has its best team since coach Scott Clodfelter left Beavercreek. It’s the first meeting between the teams.
MAC teams Delphos St. John’s (6-4) and Minster (6-4) also landed D-VII, Region 28 home games. That makes six of the MAC’s 10 teams in the playoffs, a better percentage than the GWOC’s.
Dayton City League presence: That would be Belmont (D-II, Region 8) and Dunbar (D-III, Region 12) of the football only Southwest Ohio Public League, a merger between Dayton and Cincinnati urban schools. Belmont (9-0) is the ultimate playoff wildcard, having allowed nine points but playing a weak schedule that resulted in a road game at Sidney. Idle Week 10, the Bison have had two weeks to heal and prepare for the playoffs.
Dunbar (7-3) can salvage a disappointing regular season with a deep playoff run that begins at Goshen (9-1). Belmont defeated Dunbar 42-0 in a season opener.
Greeneview on the road? Like Belmont, the Rams (10-0) are among the state’s few unbeaten teams not to land a first-round home game. Only the top four of eight seeds in each region host. Greeneview was No. 6 in D-V, Region 20. Coming out of the Ohio Heritage Conference, Greeneview is at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (7-2).
Games will shift to neutral sites for the Week 12 regional semifinals. Brackets are set and the OHSAA will announce sites on Saturday.
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