Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018
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High School

Eight area teams fight for regional finals berths

  • SPT-SJJCentral03-4

    Sharif McGee scores a touchdown for Central Catholic in front of St. Johns Jesuit linebacker Lester Turner during the first round of the playoffs. The Irish now take on Avon Lake in a regional semifinal.

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  • SPT-Whitmer03-9

    Whitmer's Dalan Layton caught 12 passes for 95 yards and a TD in Friday's playoff win over Lewis Center Olentangy Orange.

    The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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As the temperatures drop, so too does the number of area high school teams still alive in the football playoffs in Ohio and Michigan. Seven games will include teams from the Blade coverage area, including one meeting of local teams when Liberty Center meets Oak Harbor. Whitmer, Central Catholic, Anthony Wayne, Genoa, McComb, and Blissfield all also remain.

Division I

Game at 7 p.m. Friday

Whitmer (9-2) vs. Dublin Coffman (10-1)

Where: Marion Harding

Playoff appearances: Whitmer 19, Dublin Coffman 18

Whitmer breakdown: Whitmer opened the postseason with a come-from-behind 20-17 win vs. Lewis Center Olentangy Orange on a late touchdown run by Kobe Myers. The Panthers have won five in a row after a 21-0 Three Rivers Athletic Conference loss to Central Catholic in Week 6. Quarterback Riley Keller (1,838 passing yards, 20 TDs), running back Myers (570 rushing yards, 9 TDs), and receiver Dalan Layton (59 catches, 594 yards, 7 TDs) lead the offense, with each making key plays against Orange. Defensvie ends Cavon Butler (71 tackles, 7½ sacks) and Bryant Hayes pace the defense. Whitmer has outscored foes 362-206.

Dublin Coffman breakdown: The sixth-ranked Shamrocks beat Westerville Central 27-10 in the first round. Coffman, in the playoffs for the 10th consecutive year, has beaten foes by a combined score of 330-187. Its only loss was to two-time D-I champ Hilliard Davidson, the state's third-ranked team, in Week 8. Leading the offense are quarterback Ethan Brown (1,437 passing yards, 11 TDs; 421 rushing yards, 9 TDs) and running back Mike Drennan (745 rushing yards, 360 receiving yards, 14 total TDs). Pacing the defense are linebacker Noah Smith (101 tackles), linebacker Ryan Hamilton (89 tackles), and free safety A.J. Kirk (73 tackles, 3 INTs).

Scouting report: Coffman's defense has stepped up in recent weeks, keeping four of its past five opponents to 10 points or less. Keller will need time to throw, and the Whitmer ground game and defense need to step up, if the Panthers are to return to a regional final.

Division II

All games 7 p.m. Friday

Central Catholic (11-0) vs. Avon Lake (10-1)

Where: Sandusky Perkins

Playoff appearances: Central 20 (state titles 2005, 2012, 2014), Avon Lake 20 (state title 2003)

Central breakdown: The clear-cut Fighting Irish strength is a defense that has allowed just 47 points in 11 games after recording its sixth shutout this season in a 35-0 first-round win against St. John’s. Central has scored 471 points, with the defense producing 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Troy Durden (943 rushing yards, 13 TDs; 616 passing yards, 5 TDs) and running backs Jonzell Norrils (520 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and Sharif McGee (406 rushing yards, 6 TDs) lead a run-heavy offense, and receiver-running back Jase Bowen (23 catches, 330 yards; 307 rushing yards, 12 total TDs) is the team’s big-play threat.

Avon Lake breakdown: The Shoremen have outscored foes 449-203 and avenged their only regular-season loss by beating Olmsted Falls 44-28 in the first round, bolstered by 251 rushing yards and three scores from running back Konner Riggs, who has 1,839 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season. Quarterback Jack Mikolich (1,852 passing yards, 17 TDs) and receiver Luke Fedders (615 receiving yards, 4 TDs) and Cole Schraff (529 receiving yards, 8 TDs) provide balance in a 400-yards-per-game offense.

Scouting report: Like the first 11 weeks of the season, the big question will be if anyone crack Central’s defensive armor? Avon Lake appears to have the balance needed to push the second-ranked Irish. Central hopes to get more passing output from Durden because eventually that element could become crucial in the quest for a fourth state playoff championship.

Anthony Wayne (11-0) vs. Avon (10-1)

Where: Clyde

Playoff appearances: Anthony Wayne 9, Avon 12

Anthony Wayne breakdown: The fourth-ranked Generals blasted Parma Heights Valley Forge 56-0 in a first-round game at home, forcing a running clock late in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Max Denman tossed five touchdowns for the Northern Lakes League champs and the defense limited the visiting Patriots to 96 total yards. Running back Ezra Scott, who was able to rest a sore ankle, has 243 carries for 1,431 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Denman has completed 123 of 196 passes for 2,054 yards and 32 scores, while Max Bradfield has 42 catches for 756 yards and 18 touchdowns, and Mason Alberts has added five scores.

Avon breakdown: The eighth-ranked Eagles fell behind NLL opponent Springfield 7-0 in their first-round game but then rolled to a 49-14 victory as they forced a running clock in the fourth quarter. Avon was tied with the Blue Devils at 14 in the first quarter but then forced three turnovers and turned them into 21 points. Senior quarterback Ryan Maloy, who accounted for five touchdowns in the win, has thrown for 1,742 yards and 22 touchdowns. Receiver Ryan Jones caught two touchdowns vs. Springfield, and running back Nick Perusek has topped 1,000 rushing yards.

Scouting report: This could be one of the state's top games this week. Both teams have tasted playoff success of late, with Anthony Wayne reaching a semifinal in 2016 and Avon doing the same last season. Both have been dominant, with the Generals outscoring teams 41.0-7.7 per game and Avon boasting a 47.6-19.7 advantage. Whichever team can make stops should have the upper hand given how good each offense has been this season.

Division V

All games 7 p.m. Saturday

Liberty Center (10-1) vs. Oak Harbor (10-1)

Where: Lake High School

Playoff appearances: Liberty Center 18 (state title 1997), Oak Harbor 9

Liberty Center breakdown: The Tigers advanced with a 24-21 win against Casstown Miami East on a last-second field goal by Orry Killum, but moving further will be difficult after losing third-year starting quarterback Jarrett Krugh (1,245 passing yards, 14 TDs) to a leg fracture in that game. They will need a huge ground effort from the 1-2 running back punch of Zach Bowers (1,108 rushing yards, 14 TDs) and Caleb Carpenter (1,213 yards, 14 TDs), as sophomore Camden Krugh tries to fill the void at QB. The Tigers’ defense is led by defensive lineman Maguire Vollmar (95 tackles, 10 TFLs) and defensive back Austin Like (7 INTs).

Oak Harbor breakdown: The Rockets, in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, managed a 28-21 first-round win against Marion Pleasant despite being outgained 384-285 and possessing the ball for only six of the game’s 48 minutes. Quarterback Jac Alexander (1,472 passing yards, 20 TDs; 1,107 rushing yards, 10 TDs) threw scoring passes to four different receivers in that game. Running back Clay Schulte (736 rushing yards, 445 receiving yards, 18 TDs) is the other big threat. Schulte (157 tackles) and Ryan Ridener (81 tackles) pace the Rocket defense.

Scouting report: With Liberty Center ranked sixth and Oak Harbor eighth, this is a marquee matchup on paper. But it will take a herculean effort by the Tigers’ defense and an effective ground attack to post what now would be considered a big upset with Jarrett Krugh out of action. Oak Harbor’s balance might prove too tough to overcome.

Genoa (11-0) vs. Elyria Catholic (9-2)

Where: Bellevue

Playoff appearances: Genoa 11, Elyria Catholic 15 (state titles 1976, 1983, 1984)

Genoa breakdown: The Comets eliminated Northern Buckeye Conference foe Lake 47-21 in the playoff opener, yet another dominant win in a season of them. The Comets have been ranked No. 1 in the state since mid-September, have outscored foes 37.6-12.5 per game, and have won all but one game by two touchdowns. Quarterback Jacob Plantz and running back Daniel Novotney lead the offense, while Andrew Bench (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) paces the defense with 67 tackles and nine sacks, followed by Caleb McGeorge (48) and Gage Gallagher (40, five sacks).

Elyria Catholic breakdown: The No. 12-ranked Panthers knocked off No. 7 Anna 42-35 last week in their first playoff game since 2010. Elyria Catholic scored with 19 seconds left to upset the Rockets as running back Leighton Banjoff scored after quarterback Cameron Engrish orchestrated a a quick three-play drive in the final minute. Banjoff, who has committed to play baseball at Nebraska, rushed for 263 yards and four scores, giving him 19 touchdowns on the year. Engrish has thrown 27 touchdown passes. Receiver David Griffin has 39 catches for 677 yards and seven scores, while Jaret Frantz, a 6-5 sophomore, has 21 catches for 348 yards and five touchdowns.

Scouting report: Genoa has cruised in most of its games and is largely healthy, but the Panthers are an intriguing opponent coming off the win over Anna of the powerful Midwest Athletic Conference. The key could be Genoa’s defense. Elyria Catholic has topped 50 points four times this year but was held to 14 and 13 points in its two losses.


Division VII

Game at 7 p.m. Saturday

McComb (10-1) vs. Leipsic (10-1)

Where: Findlay Donnell Stadium

Playoff appearances: McComb 22 (state title 1983), Leipsic 11

McComb breakdown: The sixth-ranked Panthers advanced with an impressive 45-21 road win against Northwest Ohio Athletic League champion Patrick Henry in the first round and look to beat Blanchard Valley Conference foe Leipsic for the second time this season after a 38-7 road win against the Vikings in Week 6. McComb is led by quarterback Tanner Schroeder (854 passing yards, 9 TDs; 1,177 rushing yards, 17 TDs), running back Kheaghan Loe (973 rushing yards, 18 TDs), and receiver Robert O’Dell (658 receiving yards, 9 TDs). Schroeder, also the Panthers’ kicker, has scored 234 points on the season and has six interceptions at defensive back. McComb has outscored foes 490-141 and outgained them 385-205 in per-game yardage.

Leipsic breakdown: The Vikings, who pounded top-ranked Mohawk 40-14 in the first round, also have a talented Schroeder at quarterback, as Dylan Schroeder has passed for 1,986 yards and 24 touchdowns. Leipsic also counts on running back Gavin Lomeli (1,112 rushing yards, 16 TDs) and receiver Tyler Hiegel (547 receiving yards, 12 TDs). Pacing the Leipsic defense are linebacker Cole Williamson (60 tackles, 10 TFLs) and defensive end Clay Gerdeman (31 tackles, 12 TFLs). The Vikings have outscored their opposition 427-174.

Scouting report: In what has arguably been the most competitive season ever at the top of the BVC, with McComb and Leipsic ending as conference runners-up to third-ranked champion Pandora-Gilboa (11-0), this rematch is not likely to mirror the Sept. 28 meeting. McComb should prevail but will get a test.


Michigan Division 6

Game at 7 p.m. Friday

Blissfield (7-4) at Jackson Lumen Christi (10-0)

Where: Jackson High School

Playoff appearances: Blissfield 10, Lumen Christi 28

Blissfield breakdown: The Royals authored upsets in the first two rounds, knocking off the co-champions of the Lenawee County Athletic Association. Blissfield topped Hillsdale 21-10 in the first round before rallying from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to stun Brooklyn Columbia Central 41-40. Brian Goetz scored two rushing touchdowns to seal the impressive comeback win and has 12 scores on the year, while Royals quarterback Gavin Ganun has thrown for 1,142 yards and 13 scores. His top targets are Zack Horky (42 catches, 614 yards, 6 TDs) and Trent Vansteenkiste (14 catches, 260 yards, 5 TDs). Roman Furll has a team-high 837 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while Jared Bangerter leads the Royals with 47 tackles, including seven for loss.

Lumen Christi breakdown: The two-time defending state champion Titans defeated Michigan Center 41-14 in the district championship and are outscoring foes 37.5-11.2. Running back Nick Thomas, who has committed to Air Force, ran for three scores in the win. On the year, he has rushed for 1,443 yards and 24 touchdowns, adding 10 sacks on defense. Quarterback Joe Barrett has thrown for 1,044 yards (58 of 82) and 10 touchdowns, while tight end Dayton Keller is a Division I recruit who has 526 receiving yards on the year.

Scouting report: Blissfield has a strong challenge in front of it considering Lumen Christi has made 21 straight playoff appearances, won 353 games, and captured eight state titles under longtime coach Herb Brogan. The Royals saw their playoff run end at the regional level last year as well, and to advance this time around, they must score with the Titans, who have topped 40 points in four of the last five games.

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