A preview of the Divison II, Region 7 playoffs


Division II, Region 7
Eastern district contributor Kurt Stubbs II chekcs in with a look at this weekend's action in Division II, Region 7.

Division II, Region 7 Outlook:

#8 Zanesville (8-2) @ #1 Columbus St. Francis De Sales (10-0)

Perennial power De Sales will take on the Zanesville Blue Devils this Friday. The Stallions, owner of three state championships (1985, 1997, and 1998), will try to run its record to 11-0 with a win over the Blue Devils. Zanesville’s (8-2) last trip to the post season was 1997 when it was defeated by Columbus Bishop Watterson in the regional final.

The Blue Devils will be making just their 3rd appearance all-time in the state playoffs, while the Stallions will be entering their 18th year in post season play.

The Stallions bring in a mammoth offensive line that will lead the way for a very good rushing game.

The offense, which is averaging 29.6 points per game, is triggered by quarterback Thomas Gentile who has completed 21 of 46 aerials for 411 yards and two scores to a like amount of interceptions. The junior has also rushed for 498 yards and four touchdowns.

The running game is where first-year head coach Ryan Wiggins and his bunch do almost all of their damage. Senior Ryan Clark (6’0, 185) leads the way with 830 yards on just 97 totes (8.6 yards per carry) including 13 scores. Jeff Walsh has 447 yards and 6 TDs, while Nick Crawford has toted the rock for 373 yards and a pair of six-pointers. Adam Griffin (218 yards and 2 TDs) and Sal Carfagna (185 yard and 4 TDs) are other viable options.

When Gentile goes to the air he looks for Division I recruit senior Kenny Stafford (Ohio High #24 ranked player in the Class of 2008). The 6-foot-3 and 180-pounder has hauled in 16 balls for 318 yards and two trips to pay dirt.

The defense, which is giving up just 8.8 points per game, is led by senior Josh Fitzpatrick (6’3, 210), senior Joey Whitehead (5’11, 240), junior Davon Custis (6’5, 210), and senior John Hiles (6’2, 270) on the defensive line. Senior Jeff Walsh (5’9, 185/LB), senior Mark Sherman (6’0, 185/DB), junior Josh Kusan (6’0, 200/LB), and junior Cord McCallister (5’10, 175/DB) provide support.

Fitzpatrick is rated #66 by Ohio High for the Class of 2008.

Special teams are also a strong point for the Stallions as well with the aforementioned Sherman. The senior is 8 of 11 on field goals and 34 of 35 on extra point attempts. Sherman also handles the punting duties with a 35.3 average.

The Zanesville Blue Devils come into the game with its own rushing attack led by Mr. Excitement, senior Bryan Gaiters (5’9, 175). The Division I prospect, who is the schools single season rushing leader, has churned out 1,825 yards on 177 carries (10.6 average) including 26 scores for the year. Other options are senior Anthony “Antman” Chandler with 512 stripes and junior fullback Anthony Scott (464 yards and 7 TDs). Gaiters and Scott are both track stars.

The quarterback is senior James Reid (6’1, 170), who has completed just 17 of 46 aerials for 268 yards in nine weeks of work. Senior Josh Weatherspoon is his top target with six snags for 170 yards and three scores.

Coach Chad Grandstaff’s boys are averaging 36 points per game, while holding their opponent to 11.8 points per outing. However, Zanesville has only scored 14 points combine in its two losses to Licking Valley (9-1) and Logan (9-1).

What to look for in this contest:
Zanesville has been good at stopping the run all season (help Storm Klein to just 53 yards), but I’m not sure the Blue has seen an offensive line this good. Look for the Stallions to shut down the Blue Devil offense, and perhaps score off a turnover or two. I like De Sales, 35-7.

#5 Columbus Marion-Franklin (9-1) @ #4 Canfield (9-1)

Marion-Franklin, winners of the South Division in the Columbus City Leauge four straight years, will be on the road in week 11 heading to Canfield to take on head coach Mike Pavlansky’s Cardinals. Both teams were participants a year ago, but only for a week. The Red Devils, who came in as the number one seed, were bounced by Uniontown Lake (16-13), while the Cardinals fell to eventual state runner-up Pickerington Central (42-37).

This will be the seventh trip to the playoffs for Canfield with its best finishing being a state runner-up in 2005. This will be Franklin’s fourth straight season in week 11 matching the number of times they have been a participant all-time. Ironically, the Red Devils have four straight 9-1 regular season records and each time they have lost in the opener.

The Cardinals, who are averaging 35.9 points per contest, are led by senior quarterback Mark Carrocce. The 5-foot-11 and 175-pound QB has run for 422 yards and scored five times and completed 35 of 58 passes for 467 yards with 6 TDs and an interception.

Junior Dan Banna spearheads the rushing attack. The 5-foot-11 and 220-pound fullback has run for 728 stripes and 12 touchdowns. Junior Christian Smith (5’11, 180) and senior Pat Fenning (5’11, 190) help the cause with 555 and 379 yards respectively. The former has six scores with the latter rumbling for 10 trips to pay dirt.

The offensive line, who will be paving the way, is led by Jordan Graham (6’1, 250). The senior is rated #103 by Ohio High.

The receiving crew is led by senior Jimmy Hudson’s seven catches for 136 markers and four scores.

Defensively the 11-man Cardinal unit is giving up just 9.2 points a game. Carrocce leads the way from the secondary.

Canfield has big wins over Youngstown East, Canton South, and Poland. The latter two are playoff participants, while East finished at 8-2. Coach Pavlansky’s bunch lost in week four to undefeated Warren Howland (14-9).

The Red Devils, under head coach Brian Haffele, are scoring 28.1 points per game.  The Devil offense is led by senior Bobby Harris in more ways than one. Harris has grounded out 1,043 yards thus far including 10 scores, while catching 20 pigskins for 242 stripes and two more six-pointers.

The offense is started by quarterback Jeremy Hill, who has completed 68 of 123 pass attempts for 1,057 yards including 17 TDs to just 4 INTs.

Just behind Harris in the receiving department is Mike Smith with 13 pass catches for 197 yards and 7 TDs. Glenn Wilson (6 for 178) and Tyrell Massey (6 for 142 and two scores) have big play capabilities along with Verlon Reed (9 for 131 and 4 TDs).

Massey is a big playmaker on the defensive side of the ball that gives up just 10.4 points per meeting.

The Red Devils biggest win thus far came over Columbus Eastmoor Academy (16-13) led by big time Division I recruit Isiah Pead (Ohio #16 ranked player for Class of 2008). The defense held him under 100 yards with 16 totes for 98 yards. However, six of Franklin’s win came over teams with records under .500.

What to look for in this contest:
Canfield has played better competition, and has proven it can win in the playoffs. Marion-Franklin is 0-3 lifetime losing in the first round each time. Look for a balanced Cardinal attack to give the Red Devils another opening round loss. The Cardinal defense will limit Harris and make things miserable for the Devil offense. I’m taking Canfield, 21-7.

#7 Uniontown Lake (7-3) @ #2 Louisville (8-2)

This game is interesting in more ways than one. First off, Lake handed Louisville one of its two one-point losses of the season in week 2, 35-34. The other coming to Canal Fulton Northwest (34-33).  Second, this is the fourth meeting between the two schools in a playoff game with it being the 3rd time for a first round contest.

The Blue Streaks got a huge win last week over previously unbeaten Tri-Valley (42-0) to help get them into the dance. In doing so, the Streaks will now have to beat the Leopards for a second time this year.

Head coach Paul Farrah’s Blue Streaks will be making their 15th post season appearance with three state runner-up trophies (1991, 1993, and 1997). The Leopards will be making their 11th trip to week 11 and 8th in nine seasons.

Louisville, with an offense scoring at 34.9 points per game, is led onto the field by the fabulous junior quarterback Neal Seaman. The dual-threat signal caller has completed 116 of 192 aerials for 1,420 yards including 16 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. On the ground, the 6-foot-1 and 185-pounder has rushed for 809 stripes on 144 carries.

Senior Clay Swigert (6’0, 190) is the second leading rusher with 643 yards on 89 tries.

The top receiver is junior Brandon Mathie (6’1, 170) with 30 grabs for 487 markers. Senior Marc Adams (34 for 367 yards), junior Tyler Jones (26 for 265 yards), and senior Tyler Adkins (24 for 278 yards) are all viable weapons for Seaman. Jones stands at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds.

The Leopard defense, led by senior defensive end Matt Schooley (rated #98 by Ohio High for the Class of 2008) has given up points throughout the year (16.4 ppg.). However, in their last five they have cut the number to just 6.6 points an outing compared to the 26.2 given up in the first five.

Louisville has quality wins over North Canton Hoover (a squad Lake lost to 42-21), West Branch, and Canton South.

For the Blue Streak offense, it all starts with the running game led by senior Gene Onabiyi and junior Tyler Crowl. Both Onabiyi and Crowl have surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau for the year. The 5-foot-10 and 190-pound Onabiyi lugged the leather 157 times for 1,152 yards and 12 TDs, while the 5-foot-9 and 175-pound Crowl has carried the rock 143 times for 1,047 stripes and 12 scores.

The offense is triggered by senior quarterback T.J. Viscuso. The 5-foot-11 and 171-pounder has thrown for 787 yards on 59 of 106 passing including four scores to just two interceptions. His main target is junior Mike Chack (6’0, 168) with 19 catches for 260 yards and a score.

Head coach Jeff Durbin’s squad is averaging 35.3 points per 48 minutes.

The defense is led by senior linebacker Matt Higginbotham (5’10, 200) with 94 tackles followed by junior linebacker Travis Talkington (5’10, 183) who has collected 92 stops. Senior linebacker Dylan Traikoff is a big playmaker for the Streak defense with three sacks and four pass thefts. The defensive line is pretty good as well with senior Ryan Jones and his 64 tackles, Nate Latimer who leads the team in sacks with four, and Mike Hammond with three and a half sacks.

Overall, the defense has yielded 21.8 points per game which is pretty high for a playoff team. However, the Blue Streaks play in the predominantly Division I Federal League with a plethora of solid football programs. Their three losses are to Massillon Perry, North Canton Hoover, and a double overtime setback to Youngstown Boardman.

Big wins include: Canton McKinley, Canton Glen Oak, and Tri-Valley.

What to look for in this contest:
Louisville is a team that has made great strides over the course of the season. Junior quarterback Nate Seaman’s evolution will be the difference in this game. He has got better and better throughout the year. The Leopard’s defense has also improved vastly. The Blue Streaks had to get a huge win to get into the dance, so I would say that is a plus in their column having already played a playoff like contest. However, Louisville has been too impressive the last five weeks to go against them in a rematch. I don’t like the saying “it’s hard to beat a team twice,” because it should be it’s hard to beat a team twice in which the game was close the first time. That will be the case here as the Leopards will limit the vaunted Blue Streak rushing attack and come away with a 28-14 triumph.

#6 Tri-Valley (9-1) @ #3 Logan (9-1)

The Tri-Valley Scotties will invade Logan to take on the Chieftains this Friday night in what will be the home team’s last game ever played at Bill Sauer Field. The Scotties, who will be making their second every post season appearance, are coming in on a bit of a low after a 42-0 setback to Lake this past week. On the other hand, the Chieftains are riding high averaging 50.5 points per game over their last four. This will be Logan’s sixth playoff appearance, but first in Division II as they were formerly in Division I.

The Chieftains have been an offensive machine this season. Head coach Dale Amyx’s bunch set a regular season school record for points with 456. This is all taking place after graduating their entire offensive line from a year ago.

The offense starts with reigning Southeast District Division I Player of the Year, Justin Frye. The senior has 197 carries on the year amassing 1,324 yards including 19 scores. Mark Potter (303 yards and 7 TDs) and Clay Morgan (228 yards and 4 TDs) also get into the mix on the ground. The team has rushed for 2,268 yards on the year, while the Chieftain opponents have managed 1,008 yards.

Quarterback Michael Angle has completed 58 of 95 pass attempts for 1,010 yards including 14 scores to 6 giveaways. His main pass catcher is Lucas Wright with 24 snares for 499 yards and 5 TDs.

In all, the offense has scored over 50 points five times this year, over 60 four times, and above 70 once. Logan scored 76 against Marietta.

The defense is limiting its opponents to just 12.4 points per meeting, and giving up 210.7 yards per outing.

The Chieftains have quality wins over Zanesville, Portsmouth, and Ironton. In those three games Logan has outscored its opponents 140-35 with Zanesville being the closest 26-7. Its lone loss came to Lancaster (31-7) in the opening game of the season.

The Tri-Valley Scotties had run roughshod over the Muskingum Valley League, but in week 10 the air came out of the balloon. However, that is not to take away from the Scotties offensive explosion in 2007.

The Black and Gold are led by senior quarterback Cameron West who can do it all running or passing. The versatile West has completed 118 of 193 aerials on the year covering 2,322 yards including 24 TDs to just eight interceptions. One of the favorites to win Division II Eastern District Player of the Year, West, has run for 742 yards and another 11 scores. Yes, he also sells popcorn at halftime.

His favorite target has been senior Wade Warner (6’0, 170) who has hauled in 38 balls for 973 yards (25.6 yards per catch) and eight scores. Senior Ryan Householder has been on the receiving end of 30 pigskins collecting 473 yards including three trips to pay dirt. Junior Ross Allison (17 for 257 yards), sophomore Clay Cameron (13 for 239 yards), senior Taylor Trout (7 for 126 yards), and junior Jacob Strock (6 for 125 yards) are also reliable options.

The ground game, besides West, is helped by junior Tyler Mautz and senior Allen Shirer.

The offense is averaging 42.8 points per contest and that includes being shutout in week 10. The Scotties have gone over 50 points three times and over 60 twice.

One player to keep an eye on for Tri-Valley is offensive and defensive lineman Adam Bice (#54). This 6-foot-5 and 253-pound senior offensive and defensive lineman, who is rated by Ohio High as #60 in the Class of 2008, has committed to Akron.

The Scotty defense has surrendered just 82 points the whole season, and before the 42 they gave up last week opponents had just scored 40 points in nine contests.

Tri-Valley has prominent wins over John Glenn, Thornville Sheridan, and New Lexington. Coach Justin Buttermore’s bunch outscored those three teams 114-13.

What to look for in this contest:
Tri-Valley proved last week they are susceptible to a good running game, and I would consider Logan’s rushing attack pretty good. The Scotties gave up over 300 yards on the ground last week mainly to two individuals. On the flip side, I’m not sure Logan has seen a spread offense quite like Tri-Valley’s. I have been high on the Scotties all season up until last week, but I’m not ready to jump ship completely. The Scotties will score some points this week, but to have any chance they will have to limit the big running plays and limit their turnovers. West threw four interceptions last week against Lake. This will be a close game for two and a half to three quarters, but the Chieftains will wear them down for a 35-21 victory.

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