Wayne’s McCleskey: ‘I love the journey’

Wayne senior Daryl McCleskey is pulling double duty and enjoying every big play, hit and run. He was at his best in Saturday night’s 52-21 walloping of Springboro at Centerville in the Division I, Region 2 high school football playoffs.

McCleskey has worked himself into Wayne’s offense as a running back and receiver and also is a lock-down defensive back. He had five catches for 93 yards and a touchdown against Springboro to go with seven tackles and one of three interceptions of Springboro quarterback Elijah Cunningham.

Anything else? Sure, he returns kickoffs.

“This is big,” said McCleskey, who transferred from Thurgood Marshall as a senior and is averaging more than 23 yards on 25 receptions. “I love the journey. I love being the player my team can count on. It’s a remarkable feeling that you get when your team can call on you in the playoffs like this. The Division I playoffs? It’s remarkable.”

Wayne (12-0) will enjoy somewhat of a home-field advantage this week. The Warriors will play Hilliard Davidson (11-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Welcome Stadium. Neutral sites for third-round games were announced by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Sunday.

There are five other games this week that involve area teams:

D-III, Region 10: Trotwood-Madison (9-3) vs. top-seeded Wapakoneta (12-0) at Lima, 7:30 p.m. Friday.

D-IV, Region 14: Fenwick (12-0) vs. Clinton-Massie (11-1) at Xenia, 7 p.m. Saturday.

D-V, Region 18: Brookville (12-0) vs. Coldwater (12-0) at Piqua, 7:30 p.m. Friday.

D-VI, Region 22: Marion Local (11-1) vs. Mechanicsburg (12-0) at Bellefontaine, 7 p.m. Saturday.

D-VII, Region 26: Minster (10-2) vs. Fort Recovery (10-2) at Sidney, 7:30 p.m. Friday.

D-I games this week are regional semifinals. Divisions II-VII will be regional finals.

Davidson advanced by defeating Upper Arlington 17-10. In the other D-I, Region 2 semifinal it’s top-seeded Colerain (11-1) vs. Elder (9-3) at Mason. The winners will play in next week’s D-I regional final.

Wayne defeated Lakota West 38-3 last year also at Welcome Stadium in the third round.

• Fenwick completed a sweep of Alter for the first time in program history, 19-9 on Saturday at West Carrollton. The Falcons also beat the Knights 24-0 in Week 4. That sets up a regional final against Massie, which won consecutive D-IV state titles in 2012-13.

Those were the only losses by Alter (10-2).

“I can’t be upset with the effort our kids gave,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said on Saturday. “It’s tough, particularly on the seniors, but kids are resilient. It’s not like we won’t smile again. But this was one we worked very hard for and we weren’t able to do it. We’ve got a lot coming back and an undefeated freshman team, so we feel pretty good about where the program is heading.”

• Marion Local has 109 boys enrolled in grades 9-12 and 83 are on its football roster. Besides that commitment to football, the Flyers also benefit from a psychological advantage because opponents have to think all week about playing the four-time, defending state champions.

“Obviously, I don’t know what (opponents) are thinking, but we do talk about getting off to a fast start,” Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin said following Saturday’s 34-0 defeat of West Liberty-Salem at Wapakoneta. “Over the years we’ve been able to get off to fast starts against teams. And once they settle down they can play with us, but they’re down three touchdowns which makes it tough.”

Sure enough, WL-Salem (9-3) played catch-up after trailing 13-0 in the first quarter.

“This is as good of a team as we’ve ever played,” said West Liberty-Salem coach Dan McGill.

• Trotwood beat then-unbeaten Wapak 34-28 in overtime at Sidney in the third round last year.

• The Brookville/Coldwater matchup is one of three statewide playoff games this week between unbeaten teams.

• The Minster/Fort Recovery game is a rematch of their Week 7 Midwest Athletic Conference game in which Minster won, 14-12.

• Tickets are available at all participating schools during regular hours. A portion of $8 presale cost is returned to schools. Tickets are $9 at the gate.

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