#8 Poland (7-3) @ #1 Canal Fulton Northwest (10-0)
Northwest appears to be on a mission this season after quite a few successful regular seasons dashed by playoff letdowns. Junior Danny Beers leads the Indian rushing game with 917 yards. Senior Ted Robb (6’1, 190) is a big playmaker on the outside hauling in 41 balls for 785 yards for senior quarterback Jimmy Shiplett (6’3, 180). The signal caller has thrown for 1,815 yards on the season with 14 TDs to just four interceptions.
Poland comes into the contest with a 7-3 record, but all three L’s were to quality opponents. Normandy, Howland, and Canfield are a collective 27-3 on the year. Junior quarterback Gannon Hulea (6’3, 200) leads Head coach Mark Brungard’s Bulldogs. The Division I recruit has thrown for 770 yards on 53 of 97 passing. Hulea will most likely play in the secondary in college. Another big time performer to watch is offensive lineman senior and #53 rated player by Ohio High, Bill Dugan (6’5, 290). Poland’s leading pass catcher is senior Jason Simons with 24 receptions for 392 yards and a couple scores. The defense has two outstanding players in seniors linebacker Mark Turnbull (6’0, 220) and defensive lineman Jake Hochendoner (6’2, 230).
The Indians have been solid all year with wins over Chardon, Louisville, and Canton South. However, there is potential for an upset in this game but I think this is Northwest’s region to win. I like Canal Fulton 28-19 in this match up.
#5 Canton South (6-4) @ #4 Dover (7-3)
Not too many people had Dover penciled into the playoffs after three weeks of play let alone hosting a game, but after cleaning house in the East Central Ohio League the Tornadoes did just that. Head coach Dan Ifft’s crew will take on Canton South in a rematch of the season opener for both schools. South won the first meeting 28-21.
This question to ask is has Dover got that much better or was the competition in the ECOL that weak? The three teams Dover lost to are all playoff bound, and the same can be said for South’s four losses.
South lost to Canfield, Northwest, West Branch, and Louisville who have a composite record of 35-5. The Wildcats own quality wins over Dover and Ravenna.
The Wildcats have scored exactly the same amount of points (187) on offense as they’ve given up on defense.
Junior quarterback Matt Trissel leads the South offense with 1,639 yards passing and 229 yards rushing. The 6-foot-0 and 170-pound quarterback completed 19 of 22 pass attempts in the first meeting for 228 yards and two scores, while running for another two trips to pay dirt.
Seniors Jamil Robinson (335 yards) and David Whipple (192 yards) are the two top ground gainers next to Trissel.
Trissle has plenty of weapons on the outside and it starts with senior Brad Hebert who has hauled in 35 pigskins for 503 yards. Senior Lonell Bush (26 for 410 yards), sophomore Jerald Robinson (22 for 330 yards), and senior Derreick Daniels (27 for 317 yards) can all make plays as well. Robinson is a 6-foot-2 and 170-pound sophomore.
The Tornadoes have improved each and every week thanks in large part to the strides junior quarterback Corey Lisowski has made. The 6-foot-3 and 180-pound Lisowski has flourished in the pass happy Tornado offense by completing 161 of 249 pass attempts for 2,141 yards including 23 TDs to just four interceptions. The brother of former Dover quarterback Todd Lisowski has run for 421 stripes.
Another viable option on the ground is senior Ryker Marsh with 142 yards on just 27 totes.
The receiving core is deep and talented with a mix of young and old. Senior do-it-all Matt Rinehart has snagged 64 balls for 772 yards on the year. In addition, the 5-foot-9 and 165-pounder has drilled 38 PATs and booted four field goals. The other senior in the receiving package is Michael Reneker (27 for 395 yards). Junior Kyle Sattler (24 for 361 yards), super sophomore Marcus Mamarella (27 for 294 yards), and sophomore Ian Drapcho (12 for 205 yards) have all got into the shuffle.
The offense is scoring 34.8 points per contest. In conference play, the Tornadoes averaged 42.8 points per outing.
Senior linebacker Bobby Gilmore and senior twin brothers Bill and Mike Longacher lead the defense, which is giving up 13.5 points per ball game.
In conference play, Dover gave up just 6.7 points per game and completed four shutouts.
I have a tough time deciding if Dover was just that much better than its competition in league play or has this team really made that big of strides. The Tornadoes had a nice rally that fell short against South in the opener, and I believe this time it will be the Wildcats trying to play catch up. Dover wins this game in reverse fashion, 28-21.
John Glenn (8-2) @ Beloit West Branch (8-2)
John Glenn is well known for sneaking into the playoffs and pulling a first round upset or at least giving its opponent all it can handle. This season may be a bit different. Why? The Little Muskies faced one team this season (Tri-Valley) that ran the spread offense, and the result was a 39-7 loss. What type of offense does WB run one might ask? The Warriors run the spread O led by a great quarterback.
That above-mentioned quarterback is senior Steve McNeely who holds almost every passing record at WB. This season the senior has completed 148 of 254 pass attempts for 2,156 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven giveaways. The 6-foot-1 and 200-pounder has also rushed for 320 stripes and three scores.
His lead support on the ground is senior Corey Catania (392 yards) and senior Mike Morgan (244 yards).
McNeely’s top targers are senior Jeremiah James (50 for 745 yards), junior Jase Uyselt (34 for 531 yards and 5 TDs), junior Chad Butcher (29 for 488 yards and 6 TDs), and junior Eric Bates (25 for 281 yards and a score).
The Warriors are averaging 25.7 points per 48 minutes with big wins over Southeast, Beaver Local, Canton South, and Marlington to their credit.
The lone two setbacks were close games with Louisville and Northwest.
On defense, WB is giving up 16.4 markers an outing. The unit is led by Eric Bates from his middle linebacker spot.
Another advantage for the Warriors is a very good kicker in sophomore Bo Beegle with 32 made extra points and three field goals. However, John Glenn is no stranger to good kickers as Aaron Bates a senior last year is now the starting punter for Michigan State.
The Muskies will counter with the Wing-T. Senior Justin Gidcumb leads the way with 835 yards on 176 carries and 12 scores, while senior Garrett Bennington produced 679 yards and four trips to pay dirt.
They will run behind big time Division I recruit and #33 rated player by Ohio High, Joe Pachuta (6’7, 290).
Junior quarterback Josh Fraunfelter has completed 38 of 73 pass tries for 513 yards including a like amount of TDs to INTs (4 to 4).
The Little Muskies are only averaging 21.8 points per meeting, and giving up 15.9 lightings a game. However, they are 5-0 on the road this season.
John Glen has won four straight games with big wins over New Lexington, Martins Ferry, and Morgan to close out the regular season.
The Warriors will score and score often in this game with their speed and skilled players proving too much for JG. I don’t think the Little Muskies can muster up enough offense to stay in this game. Look for a Warrior rout, 31-7.
#7 Granville (7-3) @ #2 Newark Licking Valley (9-1)
The Panthers are led by Ohio State commitment Storm Klein (RB/LB) and his 989 yards rushing (8.2 yards per carry) and 20 TDs. Klein’s numbers are down a little this year, but so are his carries. After a week 2 setback to North Canton Hoover (45-40), the Panthers have been stingy on defense allowing just 7.6 points a night.
The game will be a week 7 rematch that the Panthers won 28-0.
The Granville Blue Aces are led by tailback Zac Lemmon (1,228 yards and 19 touchdowns) and quarterback Cory Becher (2,119 yards and 22 touchdown passes).
The rematch should be much of the same as the first time around. The Panthers are on a mission after losing a game they probably shouldn’t have a year ago to Canton South. Klein is going to bust lose in this one and the Panthers will roll, 42-7.