The state football finals are set, here's who is in
When the playoffs started 192 teams had dreams of winning a state title. Now 12 have a chance to make that a reality. After Saturday's state semifinal action, the pairings for the 38th annual Ohio State Football Finals are in order. Here's your first look at who is in, when they play and what you need to know. Oh yeah, it's championship week...
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP PAIRINGS
Hilliard Davidson (12-1) vs Cleveland Glenville (13-1)
Canton Fawcett Stadium, Saturday, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: Hilliard Davidson was thought to be the second best big school team in Central Ohio all year and turns out it might be THE best big school team in the state. Did we mention the Wildcats are looking for their second D-I state title in four years? After avenging its only regular season loss with a win over Dublin Coffman in the regional final, Davidson shocked Cincinnati Elder 24-20 in the state semis. Despite having the talent to win a state title in previous years (i.e. Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, Jr., Pierre Woods, etc.), Glenville finally earned a shot for its first title with a 31-17 win over Massillon in the state semis. The Tarblooders ousted defending state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius in the regional semifinals and survived Solon 28-27 in the regional final. Glenville is the first Senate League team to ever play for a football state title.
The Stat: Both Davidson and Glenville are in the postseason for the 10th time. The Wildcats are 21-8 in the postseason, while the Tarblooders are 14-9.
Maple Heights (12-2) vs Winton Woods (12-2)
Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: Maple Heights? Yep. The Mustangs earned their first berth in the state final by beating yet another parochial school – Mentor Lake Catholic – in the state semifinals. Heights previously ousted Toledo St. Francis, Toledo Central Catholic and Toledo Rogers. Now the Mustangs draw Winton Woods – another first time state finalist. The Warriors – whose two losses are to D-I playoff teams Anderson and Cincinnati Moeller – might be the hottest team in the postseason. Winton Woods is averaging 48 points per game in the playoffs and slapped 69 on Columbus Marion-Franklin in the state semis. This game also features two programs that are relatively new to postseason play. Both teams combined have made 11 of their 13 postseason trips since 2000.
The Stat: As a No. 6 seed in Region 6, Maple Heights is the lowest seeded team to make the state finals this week. Winton Woods is one of five No. 2 seeds (Davidson, Alter, Coldwater and Norwalk St. Paul are the others) to make state finals.
Youngstown Mooney (14-0) vs Columbus DeSales (11-3)
Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday, 11 a.m.
The Skinny: This match-up wreaks tradition and state titles. Mooney is in its fifth state final in six years and is looking for its seventh title overall. DeSales is looking for its fourth state championship and first since 1998. Counting this season, the teams have played in a combined 18 state championship games. The Cardinals are 6-3 and the Stallions are 3-4 in their previous state finals. They’ve never played each other with a championship on the line.
The Stat: Combined, DeSales and Mooney have 43 playoff berths and 95 playoff wins (Mooney 48 and DeSales 47). Both have 16 postseason losses.
Kettering Alter (14-0) vs Chagrin Falls (14-0)
Canton Fawcett Stadium, Saturday, 11 a.m.
The Skinny: Alter is back to defend its title – just as many predicted. The Knights ran over Coshocton 31-6 in the state semis and have beaten everyone on their schedule by at least 15 points. Chagrin Falls is making its first appearance in the state finals but is a power nonetheless. The Tigers dropped down form D-III this season and have made the most of their opportunity.
The Stat: Alter is 26-13 in 15 playoff trips. Chagrin Falls is 8-6 in seven trips, with four wins coming this season.
Coldwater (13-1) vs Youngstown Ursuline (10-3)
Canton Fawcett Stadium, Friday, 3 p.m.
The Skinny: No team in Ohio has won more football games since 2000 than Coldwater, which has 122 victories and two state titles over that span. Now the Cavs are one step closer to adding another mark to each tally. Coldwater also gets another crack at the Steel Valley Conference. In 2007, the Cavs beat nationally ranked and SVC member Mooney in the D-IV final. This time they tackle fellow SVC-heavyweight Ursuline, which is the defending D-V state champion. The Irish are also making their third straight appearance in the D-V state final. Before beating Findlay Liberty-Benton in last year’s championship, the Irish lost to Marion Local (of the MAC) in the 2007 final.
The Stat: No. 13 will be unlucky for one of these two teams as each has 12 postseason losses in their history. Coldwater is 37-12 in 15 playoff appearances, while Ursuline is 28-12 in 15 trips as well.
Delphos St. John’s (14-0) vs Norwalk St. Paul (14-0)
Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Saturday, 3 p.m.
The Skinny: This is the third time these two teams have met in the state championship and first since 1999. St. John’s is 2-0 in those meetings. If the Jays improve to 3-0, they’ll also accomplish another feat. Only seven schools in state history have six or more football state championships. St. John’s is trying to become the eighth. The Blue Jays are the defending state champions and have won 21 straight games since losing to Coldwater in Week 8 last season. To call St. John’s a “Machine” is an understatement. The Blue Jays are 39-6 in 12 playoff appearances. St. Paul is one of the state’s top programs regardless of division and has been a D-VI power for the last 15 years, having made all 13 of its postseason trips since 1995. The one thing lacking from the Flyers resume – which includes 27 playoff wins - is a state title. This is St. Paul’s fourth trip to the state final and first since 2004.
The Stat: St. John’s is 5-0 in state finals. St. Paul is 0-3.