Northmont leads pack of GWOC reps in D-I, Region 3 playoffs

The rebuilding process complete, the Northmont football program has found Week 11 of the high school season a comfy fit.

“It’s a credit to two groups,” said Thunderbolts coach Tony Broering following a regular season-ending 21-6 win at Miamisburg last week. “The boys for sure. The senior class is a great group of guys. And the second group is my staff. I’m very blessed and we’ve got a great group of guys.”

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This is the second straight season Northmont (9-1) has advanced to the playoffs. This time the Thunderbolts are a No. 2 seed and will host Hilliard Darby (8-2) in the Division I, Region 3 quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday.

Northmont is one of four Greater Western Ohio Conference teams that are bunched in D-I, Region 3, joining No. 4 seed Springfield (8-2), No. 5 Fairmont (7-3) and No. 8 Wayne (7-3).

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Divisions I, II, III and VI play first-round games on Friday and Divisions IV, V and VII on Saturday. All the winners advance to next week’s regional semifinals at neutral sites that will be announced on Sunday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

This is the fourth season as Northmont’s head coach for Broering and this is his best team yet. Northmont lost only at Wayne 49-20 in Week 5, defended its GWOC National West title (3-0) and was the only area team to crack and Associated Press final D-I state poll (No. 4).

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The top four teams in each region host first-round playoff games. As a No. 6 seed last season Northmont traveled to Pickerington Central in its playoff opener and lost 41-21 in a mud bowl. Central won the D-I state championship.

“I’m happy for Northmont because we get to host,” Broering said. “The people who came out (Friday) and have supported us all year, I’m very excited to give them that home game.”

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• Anyone game for a Springfield vs. Fairmont do-over? That’s exactly what will happen when the Wildcats (8-2) host the Firebirds (7-3) on Friday at Evans Stadium.

Fairmont stunned host Springfield 14-7 in the Week 10 regular-season finale this past Friday. That propelled the Firebirds into the playoffs for the second straight season and prevented the Wildcats from winning an outright GWOC National East title, which they shared with Wayne (3-1).

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Fairmont’s season was on the brink following Week 8-9 losses to Wayne and then-winless Centerville. Springfield was coming off a rejuvenating 33-26 Week 9 defeat of nemesis Wayne, its best win since a sweep of Lancaster, Fairfield and Hudson to start the season.

Instead, it was Fairmont that re-emerged in playoff contention as a No. 5 seed.

“We’re going. We’re still alive,” Fairmont coach Dave Miller said. “We’re not putting our stuff away. They’ve got to be really excited about that. We’ve still got to get better. I think they’re ready to come to work. I’m really excited.”

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