This is the high school football season Dunbar thought it was going to have last year. Then everything went ka-boom.
“As a program, we’ve taken another step forward just getting over all that adversity that we’ve been through,” Wolverines coach Darran Powell said this week. “It shows our resiliency.”
There is no more unlikely area team remaining in the playoffs than Dunbar, although Chaminade Julienne might have something to say about that. Here’s seven things to know about Friday’s Week 12 games.
These are all 7:30 p.m. region semifinals that will be played at neutral sites. Brackets are set and the Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce Week 13 regional final sites on Sunday.
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Back together again: Dunbar and Trotwood-Madison have established their boys basketball programs as the best in the area. Those are must-see showdowns. And so too is this Division III, Region 12 matchup.
This is not the same Dunbar that was toasted 42-0 by Belmont in Week 1. Dunbar made its grandest statement by outlasting host Goshen 28-27 in last week’s playoff opener. Tavion Thomas’ two-point conversion run on the game’s final play was the difference.
That propelled Dunbar (8-3) into the semis against Trotwood (11-0) at Butler. A heavy favorite to win a state title, Trotwood whacked Elida 48-7 in its opener. Dunbar and Trotwood haven’t played in football since the 2012 season, a 62-0 Trotwood rout.
“This is the game we’ve been preparing for all season when we found out we were in the same division and region,” Dunbar standout receiver Joseph Scates said. “That’s what made us work harder so we could get a good record and go to the playoffs and play these boys.”
It’s a matchup of two great running backs, seniors Ra’veion Hargrove of Trotwood and Dunbar’s Tavion Thomas. Hargrove will end his career among the area’s all-time career rushing leaders. He needs 237 yards to hit 2,000 for the season. He recently decommitted from Bowling Green State University and is being wooed by Michigan State, among others.
Thomas need less than 100 yards to crack 2,000 this season. He’s verbally committed to Oklahoma.
“All I’m going to say is we’re ready,” Thomas said. “We’re going to prove that we can hang with anybody.”
Getting defensive: Centerville (10-1) has posted two straight shutouts, including last week's 35-0 defeat of Hilliard Darby. That enabled Centerville to be the last Greater Western Ohio Conference still playing in D-I, Region 3, because, Fairmont, Northmont and Wayne all lost playoff openers.
Centerville’s senior combo of quarterback Alec Grandin and receiver Jake Spiewak have it going. Grandin has thrown for 2,351 yards, 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The GWOC’s leading receiver, the 6-foot-4 Spiewak has 66 catches for 1,011 yards and 10 TDs.
Those two will get the defensive attention of Pickerington North (9-2), which ousted Wayne 41-20. It’s also a rematch of their Week 3 game that host Centerville won, 27-26. The do-over will be played at Springfield’s Evans Stadium.
Can't beat that: Sidney (10-1) is the third GWOC team still playing. The Yellow Jackets handed Belmont its first loss last week. Their reward is a matchup against Cincinnati La Salle (8-3), the D-II three-time defending state champion, at Miamisburg in a D-II, Region 8 semi.
Sidney has ridden senior running back Isaiah Bowser, the area’s leading rusher (2,617 yards, 32 TDs). Good thing, because the Sidney defense has allowed 32 or more points eight times.
Upset special: CJ landed the knockout that stunned the D-III, Region 12 field with a 49-28 blowout of rival Alter last week. Just the week before Alter hammered host CJ 34-6 to win a Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North title.
If CJ (8-3) can get past New Richmond (9-2) at Monroe, the Eagles will play the Trotwood/Dunbar winner in a regional final.
The beat goes on: Valley View (11-0) is among the state's few remaining unbeaten teams and also has posted two straight shutouts. Paced by senior running back Collin Genslinger (863 yards, 11 TDs) and senior QB Collin Wood (1,426 yards passing, 16 TDs, 652 yards rushing) and a lock-down defense, the Spartans appear the have the right stuff to match up against Clinton-Massie (10-1) at Beavercreek.
Look for this winner to play for a state championship.
MAC attack: All that stands in the way of a Marion Local vs. Coldwater rematch is Spencerville and Lima Central Catholic. Marion Local (11-0) gets Spencerville (9-2) at Piqua and Coldwater (8-3) is matched against LCC (10-1) at Wapakoneta in D-VI, Region 24.
Two more MAC teams are making runs in D-VII, Region 28. Minster (7-4) is paired against Convoy Crestview (10-1) at Lima and Delphos St. John’s (7-4) will play Lehman Catholic (10-1) at Harrod Allen East. Both Minster and Delphos took their lumps in regular-season MAC play, but have recharged for the postseason.
By the numbers: There are 719 football teams in Ohio that belong to the OHSAA. Of those, 224, or 31.2 percent), qualified for the playoffs. There still remain 58 programs that have yet to qualify since the playoffs began in 1972.
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