The playoffs are heating up as only the strong will survive on to the Regional Finals next week.
DIVISION I (ALL games on Saturday):
# 3 Lakewood St. Edward Eagles vs. # 2 Cleveland Glenville Tarblooders (both 11-0)- at Parma Byers Field- GAME OF THE WEEK (Outside of Central Ohio)
This is a tough game to pick. Both teams are among the elite in Ohio football. St. Ed is from the Cleveland Catholic powerhouse factory that also produced ten-time State Champ St. Ignatius (who had a rare off-year this year at 4-6). Glenville was last year's runner-up, losing to Hilliard Davidson 16-15 in the State Championship. Ted Ginn Sr. is working hard to win one up in Massillon, but I think it won't happen this year, as St. Ed is way too tough an opponent for Glenville.
Pick: Lakewood St. Edward
# 4 Westerville South Wildcats (9-2) vs. # 1 Pickerington Central Tigers (10-0)- at Gahanna Lincoln High School
This is a running back's game. For South, you have Jayshan Jackson, and for Pick Central, there are recruits Eilar Hardy and Tyler "Speedy" Hammond. Pickerington Central's defense is also doing the job, having only allowed four points a game during the regular season, and only eight in last week's win over Troy. It looks like Westerville South's wonderful season will end in Gahanna.
Pick: Pickerington Central
# 3 Springfield Wildcats (9-2) vs. # 2 Hilliard Davidson Wildcats (11-0)- at Ohio Wesleyan University Selby Field
There is a 100 percent chance that the Wildcats will win this game. Hilliard Davidson was hoping for a rematch with fellow Hilliard school Darby, but Springfield saw to it that that wouldn't happen. Springfield is going to be a tough opponent for the defending D-I champs, as these Wildcats would like a clean sweep of the OCC Central (having beat Upper Arlington in Week 2, and Hilliard Darby in Round 1). Davidson's experience on the field has the higher edge, and will lead to an eventual date with Pick Central next week.
Pick: Hilliard Davidson
# 6 Cincinnati St. Xavier Blue Bombers (6-4) vs. # 2 Cincinnati Colerain Cardinals (11-0)- at University of Cincinnati Nippert Stadium
Don't underestimate 5 or 6-win teams against unbeaten teams (case in point- Hamilton Badin's romp over North Union in Division V last week). This could be the upset of the week as St. X is the DeSales of the Cincinnati area. Look for a Blue Bombers upset win.
Pick: St. X
DIVISION II (ALL Games on Friday night):
# 8 Sandusky Blue Streaks (7-4) vs. # 5 Maple Heights Mustangs (11-0)- at Avon Lake High School
Sandusky knocked off top-seeded Avon last week in a wild shootout. This week, the Blue Streaks play the defending D-II runners-up Maple Heights, who stampeded over Toledo Central Catholic. Maple Heights will ride away with this game.
Pick: Maple Heights
# 5 Big Walnut Golden Eagles (9-2) vs. # 1 Marion-Franklin Red Devils (11-0)- at Westerville Central H.S.- CENTRAL OHIO GAME OF THE WEEK/UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK
City League vs. Ohio Capital Conference. The most lop-sided rivalry in all of Central Ohio. City of Columbus (proper) vs. City of Columbus (large suburbs and exurbs). The City League only won five meetings against OCC schools this year (four of them were against Southwestern City programs Central Crossing- twice, Franklin Heights, and Westland), while losing the rest (Hilliard Davidson- twice, Dublin Coffman, Watkins Memorial- twice, Thomas Worthington, and Pickerington North). Anyways, back to the topic. This has the makings of a big disappointment at Warhawk Stadium for the # 1 team in Division II (that being Marion-Franklin). This time a year ago, the Red Devils knocked off the then # 1 Louisville, before heading to the State Semi-Finals (losing to eventual State Champ Winton Woods). The Red Devils assumed the # 1 spot at the end of the season, which is a sign that all the opponents are looking to knock off the top team. Big Walnut went into Canal Winchester and finally beat a playoff team this year. The Eagles are peaking at the right time. Given the fact that the game is only 15 minutes away from Big Walnut, at Big Walnut's rivals, Westerville Central, Big Walnut will not only bring the fans, but a "W", much like when LSU beat Ohio State in the BCS National Championship three years ago in the Superdome.
Pick: Big Walnut
# 6 Cincinnati Mount Healthy Owls (9-2) vs. # 2 Kings Mills Kings Knights (10-1)- at Mason H.S.
Not many people know much about these schools (or where Kings Mills Kings is). Last week, Mount Healthy upset Cincinnati Turpin, a school that was # 1 in the state in D-II earlier in the year before Marion-Franklin assumed that spot. I originally thought that Kings Mills Kings was near Cleveland, or maybe even in Pennsylvania somewhere near Pittsburgh, but Kings Mills Kings is near Kings Island, just north of Cincinnati proper. Anyway, the Knights of a school that I thought was near Cedar Point will end these Owls season.
Pick: The Kings of Kings Mills Kings (I mean Knights)
# 4 Trotwood-Madison Rams (9-2) vs. # 1 Cincinnati Winton Woods Eagles (10-1)- at Cincinnati Princeton H.S.
Pick: Winton Woods
DIVISION III (ALL Games on Saturday Night):
# 7 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Irish (7-4) vs. # 6 Youngstown Cardinal Mooney Cardinals (6-4)- at Uniontown Lake H.S.
The Akron-Youngstown version of the Holy War...well, sort of. LeBron James' alma mater plays the defending Division III state championships, which will bring fans alike, much like last week's rematch against Watterson and DeSales.
Pick: Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (somewhere in South Beach, LeBron probably doesn't really know that
# 5 Elida Bulldogs (8-3) vs. # 1 Bishop Watterson Golden Eagles (9-1)- at Piqua H.S.
Last week, Watterson edged DeSales in a rematch at packed Hegaly Field in south Clintonville. This week, the Eagles travel to western Ohio to play Elida, who edged Tipp City Tippecanoe in Round 1.
# 5 Licking Valley Panthers (9-2) vs. # 1 Alliance Marlington Dukes (11-0)- at New Philadelphia H.S.
Licking Valley has a tough opponent as the Panthers' nine-game winning streak is on the line, when they face top-seeded Marlington in New Philadelphia. This could be the end of the ride/season for Licking Valley.
Pick: Alliance Marlington
# 7 Dover Tornadoes (9-2) vs. # 3 Thornville Sheridan Generals (11-0)- at Zanesville H.S.
Pick: Thornville Sheridan
# 3 St. Bernard Roger Bacon Spartans (8-3) vs. # 2 Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas Rockets (9-2)- at Goshen H.S.
This is a tough one to pick between two more Cincinnati-area Catholic schools.
DIVISION IV (ALL Games on Friday Night):
# 3 Orrville Red Raiders (8-3) vs. # 2 Elyria Catholic Panthers (10-1)- at Medina H.S.
Pick: Elyria Catholic
# 4 Sparta Highland Fighting Scots (9-2) vs. # 1 Ironton Tigers (9-2)- at Logan H.S.
All good things must come to an end, and for Sparta Highland (located just north of Marion), one of the top schools in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, the Fighting Scots find themselves a brick wall to climb in the Hocking Hills of Logan, as they face Ironton.
# 3 Bishop Hartley Hawks (9-2) vs. # 2 Heath Bulldogs (10-1)- at Johnstown H.S.
This is the other top game on Friday night, as Hartley's multi-headed running game (led by Noah Key and Omar Lane) heads to Johnstown to play Heath, who has ran over all of its opponents (except Licking Valley). This will be a real good game, as the Bulldogs bite faces the Hartley running game.
# 5 Kenton Wildcats (10-1) vs. # 1 Clinton-Massie Falcons (11-0)- at University of Dayton Welcome Stadium
Clinton-Massie is not really as perfect as I thought they were. They almost lost to Cincinnati Taft, and needed overtime (and a missed Taft PAT) to vote the Senators out of the playoffs. This week, the Falcons fly into Welcome Stadium (at the University of Dayton) and play a Kenton team that spanked Carlisle really bad. Look for the Wildcats to be in Clinton-Massie's face all night long.
# 6 Kettering Alter Knights (9-2) vs. # 2 Jonathan Alder Pioneers (10-1)- at Troy H.S.
Jonathan Alder takes their almost-perfect season on the road to Troy to play Kettering Alter. This could be an upset in the making for the Knights, but the Pioneers will come out on top.
Pick: Jonathan Alder
DIVISION V (ALL Games on Saturday)
# 3 Wheelersburg Pirates (9-2) vs. # 2 Fredericktown Freddies (11-0)- at Nelsonville-York H.S.
# 8 Hamilton Badin Rams (6-5) vs. # 5 Coldwater Cavaliers (8-3)- at Sidney H.S.
Last week, Hamilton Badin knocked off top-ranked North Union in a 23-0 rout. Their reward: Coldwater (more on that when I talk about Minster-Marion Local). Coldwater is going to make it a long night for the upset-hungry Rams.
# 3 Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Eagles (8-3) vs. # 2 West Jefferson Roughriders (11-0)- at Clayton Northmont H.S.
Pick: West Jefferson
DIVISION VI (ALL Games on Friday Night)
# 4 Ada Bulldogs (10-1) vs. # 1 Delphos St. John's Blue Jays (11-0)- at University of Findlay Donnell Stadium
Pick: Delphos St. John's
# 3 Newark Catholic Green Wave (8-3) vs. # 2 Bridgeport Bulldogs (11-0)- at Zanesville H.S.
I only have this to say, Newark Catholic is the most storied school in all of Ohio high school playoffs, having been to the postseason more times (31) and won more games (63) than any other Ohio school, so with that said, their 64th postseason win won't be coming this week against Bridgeport, as I think that the Bulldogs will stay unbeaten.
# 8 Minster Wildcats (6-5) vs. # 5 Maria Stein Marion Local Flyers (9-2)- at Wapakoneta H.S.
Minster pulled off a big upset over Springfield Central Catholic last week. Minster backed in to the playoffs, because of a tough schedule, with Delphos St. John's, Coldwater, St. Henry, and Versailles ALL on little Minster's plate, as Minster, and those four other aforementioned schools are members of the Midwest Athletic Conference. This week, Minster plays one of the little powerhouses in the state, Maria Stein Marion Local.
Pick: Maria Stein Marion Local