Is a Colerain-Elder Region 4 Final inevitable? Northmont, Wayne think not.

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Colerain and Elder each spent time at No. 1 in the ONN/Ohio High Power Poll this season.

The prevailing notion around the Cincinnati area this week has media and fans already salivating at a possible Colerain-Elder Division I regional final next week.

While that seems a likely scenario given the high rankings of both teams, Huber Heights Wayne and Clayton Northmont will certainly not give in that easily.


The prevailing notion around the Cincinnati area this week has media and fans already salivating at a possible Colerain-Elder Division I regional final next week.

While that seems a likely scenario given the high rankings of both teams, Huber Heights Wayne and Clayton Northmont will certainly not give in that easily.

Colerain (10-1), which finished No. 3 in the Associated Press Division I state poll, plays Wayne (8-3) in a semifinal at 3 p.m. Saturday at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. The other regional semifinal has Elder (10-1) playing Clayton Northmont (10-1) at 7 p.m.

“It’s definitely one and done,” Colerain coach Tom Bolden told the Cardinals’ fan site, WeAreColerain.com. “That one mistake – you can be done.”

Colerain, rated No. 5 in the season’s final Ohio High-ONN Power Poll, survived a scare from visiting Moeller last week. Colerain junior LB Tyon Dixon picked a fumble and ran it back 88 yards for a late touchdown as Colerain won 17-10.

Bolden said his team is “locked in mentally” this week against the Warriors.

“We are really focused,” Bolden told the site. “Our health is good – we’re probably as healthy as we have been all year.”

The Colerain offense wants to get back on track after it struggled against the Crusaders.

Sophomores Trayion Durham (1,032 rushing yards) and Tyler Williams (1,269 rushing yards) lead the Cardinals.

The Cardinals’ defense will have to be strong once again – it held Moeller to 85 yards rushing last week.

The big question for Wayne will be whether sophomore standout Braxton Miller will return from his leg injury this week. Miller, who has offers from Cincinnati and Ohio State, has been inactive since Week 6. Published reports this week indicated senior QB Ryan Bitsko will return to action after leading the Warriors to an easy win in the first round over Cincinnati Woodward.

One thing is certain: Wayne hopes to establish a ground game against the Cardinals. Senior RB Erique Geiger has rushed for 1,256 yards and 18 touchdowns.

“Their running back is a phenomonal football player,” Bolden said.

The defense is led by senior DE Brock Lundeen, who has a team-leading 5.5 sacks.

“Our defense is playing lights out,” Wayne coach Jay Minton said before the Woodward game. “Our front four is getting some great push off the line and allowing our linebackers to get to the ball.”

 

Elder vs. Northmont

Northmont coach Lance Schneider said there’s plenty to worry about with the favored Panthers, rated No. 1 in the Ohio High-ONN poll.

“As always, any GCL South team is going to be very physical, well-coached and will make very few mistakes while taking advantage of any mistakes their opponents make,” Schneider said.

The Thunderbolts hope to protect the football and move the chains to keep the Elder defense off the field. Senior QB Chase Belton has been strong for Northmont – throwing for 1,160 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“He has been our leader all season,” Schneider said. “He is the GWOC Central offensive player of the year and is a threat both running and throwing.”

Senior running backs Mark Mays and Kevin Rigers are the main threats from the shotgun formation. Despite only returning one starter (senior Sean Brooks), Schneider said the offensive line has been excellent.

Defensively, Northmont is led by senior C.J. Barnett (Ohio State) and Quintin Cooper are the corners. Danny Gress (Kent State) and Chango Noaks leads the linebackers.

“Northmont has the best secondary we have faced,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said. “Barnett is really good. This will be a great challenge for our wide receivers.”

The Panthers have plenty of top receivers, including standout Josh Jones (Cincinnati), who has 48 catches for 792 yards.

“Their offense seems to be hitting on all cylinders,” Schneider said. “We must try to disrupt the timing of their passing game to have success.”

Elder junior QB Mark Miller has over 2,300 yards passing and 24 touchdowns. He had 339 yards passing and three touchdowns last week against Centerville.

“Mark has been outstanding,” Ramsey said. “He continues to get better. Last week, he had two good runs when he got pressure; early in the season he probably would have taken a sack.”

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