The OHSAA state football playoffs are down to two weekends. The state semifinals are upon us and the state finals are looming. The field has been cut to 24 and 12 more will go home
after Friday and Saturday. Here’s what you need to know – including game times and locales – for the Final Four.
Some might be shaking their heads wondering how Columbus Eastmoor, Newark Licking Valley and Sunbury Big Walnut are not in the same region. Those three are thankful they’re not.
Despite being in the neighboring counties of Franklin (Eastmoor), Licking (Licking Valley) and Delaware (Big Walnut), the Warriors, Panthers and Eagles are all in the Division III state semifinals.
Just call Central Ohio the home of the state’s top D-III teams. Sorry Aurora.
Licking Valley and Big Walnut are repeat state semifinalists and could meet each other in the state final again (which Big Walnut won 17-10 last year).
Eastmoor, which went 9-1 last season and failed to make the playoffs, faces Big Walnut in one state semifinal, while Licking Valley faces Aurora in the other.
FIVE GAMES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
1. Columbus DeSales vs Anderson (D-II, State Semifinal): Rematch of Week 4 regular season game the Stallions won 38-17. Last week Anderson avenged on of its two regular season losses by beating Winton Woods. Can the Redskins complete the sweep this week?
2. Findlay Liberty-Benton vs Maria Stein Marion Local (D-V, State Semifinal): Marion Local is a two-time defending state champion that allows just 9.6 points per game. L-B, led by junior standout QB Aaron Craft, has an offense averaging 46.5 points per game. Something has to give.
3. Malvern vs Bascom Hopewell-Loudon (D-VI, State Semifinal): There’s only one state semifinal that features undefeated teams. This is it.
4. Genoa Area vs Kettering Alter (D-IV, State Semifinal): Technically this game is between undefeateds too. Alter had to forfeit its first two games for playing a third string senior. Genoa Area has given up 97 points all year (7.5 per game), while Alter has scored 571 (43.9 per).
5. Delphos St. John’s vs Sidney Lehman Catholic (D-VI, State Semifinal): A couple years back Lehman applied for admittance into the Midwest Athletic Conference. The MAC said no and took Versailles instead. Most people said it was because the MAC didn’t want two parochial schools. Now the Cavaliers get a crack at that MAC private power DSJ.
NEWS, NOTES & NUGGETS
Sick Stat: You want an astonishing fact? Try this. Midwest Athletic Conference members Marion Local and Delphos St. John’s have a combined postseason record of 67-12. The Flyers and Blue Jays each have four state titles (all in D-VI, except for Marion’s D-V title last year). Should Marion win a state title in D-V and DSJ in D-VI, it would mark the fourth straight season the MAC has had two state champions in the same season.
Lets Go Streaking: Talk about win streaks, Marion local has won 13 straight postseason games. The Flyers – two-time defending state champs (D-V in 2007, D-VI in 2006) – last lost in the postseason 28-21 on Nov. 12, 2005 in the D-VI Region 24 semifinals to eventual state champion Delphos St. John’s. Marion’s last loss in the postseason to a non-MAC team was a 28-26 loss to Columbus Grove in the 2003 D-VI state championship.
Lucky 7s: It’s a good thing the OHSAA went to eight teams per playoff region instead of four, because if not there would be five state semifinalists at home this week instead of practice. Akron Hoban (D-II), Sunbury Big Walnut (D-III), Alter (D-IV), Liberty Union (D-V) and Marion Local (D-V) were all No. 5 seeds or lower. Big Walnut and Marion Local, both No. 7 seeds, are the lowest remaining seeds left.
Lions Roar: Heading into the postseason, Baltimore Liberty Union had a pretty impressive three playoff victories in two trips. This season the Lions have an even more impressive run with three wins in their third trip (and first since 1999). LU Lost to fellow D-V regional finalist West Jefferson 41-13 in Week 4, but since then has won nine straight. During that win streak, the Lions have allowed 46 total points, including 24 in the playoffs.
Best Ever: I’m not here to debate Malvern football history, but record-wise, this is the greatest Hornets football team ever. Coming into this season Malvern was 0-4 in four previous trips to the postseason. This year the Hornets are 13-0 and 3-0 in the D-VI playoffs.
Kudos Kirtland: Few thought Youngstown Ursuline would be challenged en route to an eventual D-V state title date with either Marion Local, Anna, Liberty-Benton or Patrick Henry, but Kirtland had other ideas. The Hornets took the Irish to the brink in the Region 17 final, losing 18-17.
STATE SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS
Division I – All Games at 7 p.m. Saturday
Region 1 vs. Region 2
(1) Cleveland St. Ignatius (12-1) vs. (1) North Canton Hoover (13-0), Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Region 3 vs. Region 4
(3) Pickerington Central (13-0) vs. (3) Cincinnati Elder (12-1), Dayton Welcome Stadium
Division II – All Games at 7:30 p.m. Friday
Region 6 vs. Region 5
(2) Sylvania Southview (13-0) vs. (5) Akron Archbishop Hoban (9-4), Fremont Don Paul Stadium at Harmon Field
Region 7 vs. Region 8
(1) Columbus St. Francis DeSales (13-0) vs. (3) Cincinnati Anderson (11-2), Dayton Welcome Stadium
Division III – All Games at 7 p.m. Saturday
Region 11 vs. Region 12
(2) Newark Licking Valley (12-1) vs. (4) Columbus Eastmoor Academy (12-1), Gahanna Lincoln Stadium
Region 9 vs. Region 10
(2) Aurora (11-2) vs. (7) Sunbury Big Walnut (11-2), Ashland Community Stadium
Division IV – All Games at 7:30 p.m. Friday
Region 13 vs. Region 15
(1) Steubenville (12-0) vs. (2) New Lexington (11-1), Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Region 14 vs. Region 16
(4) Genoa Area (12-0) vs. (6) Kettering Archbishop Alter (10-2), Findlay Donnell Stadium
Division V – All Games at 7 p.m. Saturday
Region 17 vs. Region 19
(1) Youngstown Ursuline (13-0) vs. (6) Baltimore Liberty Union (12-1), New Philadelphia Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium
Region 18 vs. Region 20
(2) Findlay Liberty-Benton (13-0) vs. (7) Maria Stein Marion Local (11-2), Findlay Donnell Stadium
Division VI – All Games at 7:30 p.m. Friday
Region 22 vs. Region 24
(3) Delphos St. John’s (11-2) vs. (2) Sidney Lehman Catholic (11-1), Wapakoneta Harmon Field
Region 23 vs. Region 21
(2) Malvern (13-0) vs. (1) Bascom Hopewell-Loudon (13-0), Ashland Community Stadium