The Road to Canton/Massillon is getting shorter. And now there are only 48. Schools, that is. 48 Ohio High Schools vying for six State Championship trophies. Half of those teams will fall short of that dream on Friday and Saturday. Keep in mind when the State Semi-Finals are paired up on Sunday, they will be paired up based on geographic proximity, so an Akron or Cleveland-area school doesn't have to travel all the way to play a Dayton, Columbus, or Cincinnati-area school, or vice versa.
DIVISION I- ALL GAMES on SATURDAY
Region 1- (3) Lakewood St. Edward Eagles (12-0) vs. (1) Solon Comets (12-0)- at Parma H.S.
Region 2- (4) Toledo St. John Jesuit Titans (11-1) vs. (3) Toledo Whitmer Panthers (11-1)- at Bowling Green State University's Doyt Perry Stadium
Region 3- (2) Hilliard Davidson Panthers (12-0) vs. (1) Pickerington Central Tigers (11-0)- at Upper Arlington H.S.
Region 4- (8) Huber Heights Wayne Warriors (9-3) vs. (6) Cincinnati St. Xavier Blue Bombers (7-4)- at Dayton Welcome Stadium
DIVISION I PICKS:
(Region 1)- This is a tough game to pick, because you have to great teams. Solon, up near the corner of Ohio, playing Lakewood St. Ed's, who is the most perfect parochial power in the State of Ohio. Last week, St. Ed's knocked off last year's D-I runners-up Cleveland Glenville.
(Region 2)- In Week 5, Whitmer topped St. John 49-24 for St. John's only loss of the year.. This week, the winner of this game will most likely play the winner of St. Ed/Solon.
(Region 3)- This is most definitely the Game of the Year in Central Ohio football. The two most perfect programs in the Ohio Capital Conference fight for a spot in the State Semi-Finals, and most likely, the winner of St. X-Huber Heights Wayne. Pickerington Central's defense has been solid as a rock, allowing only four points a game during the regular season, and so far in the post-season. The Tigers play the defending State Champs, Hilliard Davidson, who are looking to end Pick Central's perfect streak.
(Region 4)- Is it Midnight yet in Cincinnati? St. X is the Cinderella of the Division I bracket, knocking off Cincinnati LaSalle in a Round 1 rematch, and then topping Colerain last week. Can they knock off Huber Heights Wayne? It is possible, because St. X's reward in the State Semis, is Central Ohio's most perfect team.
PICKS: St. Ed, Whitmer, Pickerington Central, and St. X (St. Ed vs. Whitmer, Pick Central vs. St. X)
DIVISION II- ALL GAMES on FRIDAY
(Region 5)- (4) Ashland Arrows (10-2) vs. (2) Mentor Lake Catholic Cougars (11-1)- at Brunswick H.S.
(Region 6)- (5) Maple Heights Mustangs (12-0) vs. (3) Olmsted Falls Bulldogs (9-3)- at Baldwin-Wallace University's Tressel Field
(Region 7)- (5) Big Walnut Golden Eagles (10-2) vs. (3) Uniontown Lake Blue Streaks (9-3)- at Ashland University's Miller Stadium
(Region 8)- (4) Trotwood-Madison Rams (10-2) vs. (2) Kings Mills Kings Knights (11-1)- at Cincinnati Princeton H.S.
DIVISION II PICKS:
(Region 5)- This game will be an interesting one, but the 2001 D-III State Champs will punch a ticket to the final four in 2010.
(Region 6)- Maple Heights made it all the way to the State Title Game last year, because they were hungry (and ended up getting devoured by Winton Woods). This game probably won't be even close.
(Region 7)- Both of these teams knocked off top-ranked Marion-Franklin in the playoffs. Uniontown Lake did it in 2006, while Big Walnut did it last week in a 24-12 rout, where the Red Devils were flagged 21 times by officials.
(Region 8)- Trotwood-Madison knocked off the defending D-II champs Winton Woods, while Kings escaped upset-minded Mount Healthy. This could be an interesting game to see if Trotwood-Madison can knock off Kings Mills Kings, and punch a ticket to the State Semis next weekend.
PICKS: Mentor Lake Catholic, Maple Heights, Big Walnut, and Trotwood-Madison (Mentor Lake Catholic vs. Maple Heights, Big Walnut vs. Trotwood-Madison)
DIVISION III- ALL GAMES on SATURDAY
(Region 9)- (6) Youngstown Cardinal Mooney Cardinals (7-4) vs. (4) Akron Buchtel Griffins (9-3)- at Ravenna H.S.
(Region 10)- (3) Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes (11-1) vs. (1) Bishop Watterson Golden Eagles (10-1)- at Ohio Wesleyan University's Selby Field
(Region 11)- (7) Dover Tornadoes (10-2) vs. (1) Alliance Marlington Dukes (12-0)- at Canton Fawcett Stadium
(Region 12)- (4) Eaton Eagles (12-0) vs. (2) Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas Rockets (10-2)- at Mason H.S.
DIVISION III PICKS:
(Region 9)- The defending D-III state champs play Buchtel in a game that could be a mismatch, as opposed to Mooney's win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary last week.
(Region 10)- Watterson has played nearly perfect football, and could find another test in Columbian, who knocked off another Columbus school (Eastmoor Academy) in the first round.
(Region 11)- Marlington is too good. Last week, they snapped Licking Valley's nine-game winning streak, 48-21, and have advanced to play Dover, who knocked off previously unbeaten Thornville Sheridan, by courtmartialing the Generals out of the playoffs in a 34-28 overtime win. Can Dover blow away Marlington, or will the Dukes move on up to the State Semis?
(Region 12)- Who is Eaton? Could Eaton be the surprise of the year, if they knock off Cincinnati catholic power McNicholas?
PICKS: Cardinal Mooney, Bishop Watterson, Alliance Marlington, Archbishop McNicholas (Mooney vs. Marlington, Watterson vs. McNicholas in the State Semis)
DIVISION IV- ALL GAMES on FRIDAY
(Region 13)- (2) Chagrin Falls Tigers (11-1) vs. (1) Akron Manchester Panthers (12-0)- at Macedonia Nordonia H.S.
(Region 14)- (4) Genoa Area Comets (12-0) vs. (3) Orrville Red Riders (9-3)- at Avon Lake H.S.
(Region 15)- (3) Bishop Hartley Hawks (10-2) vs. (1) Ironton Tigers (10-2)- at Logan H.S.
(Region 16)- (6) Kettering Archbishop Alter Knights (10-2) vs. (5) Kenton Wildcats (11-1)- at Wapakoneta H.S.
DIVISION IV PICKS:
(Region 13)- Can Manchester be stopped?
(Region 14)- Look for the Comets in the sky....now on the football field.
(Region 15)- This is a rematch of the Oct. 8 game down in the tippy bottom of Ohio, when Ironton stopped Hartley's running game in a 37-16 Tiger clawing of the Hawks. Last week, Ironton spanked Sparta Highland, while Hartley survived a shootout with Heath.
(Region 16)- If # 1 played # 2, it would have been a rematch of a game on Sept. 10 when Clinton-Massie blocked an extra point attempt in preserving a 28-27 win over Jonathan Alder. Last week, both Clinton-Massie and Alder found brick walls. The shortcomings of Clinton-Massie exposed against Cincinnati Taft came back to haunt them as Kenton whupped the top-ranked team in D-IV, while last year's D-IV State Champions Kettering Alter knocked out Jonathan Alder. This could be a dog fight.
PICKS: Manchester, Genoa Area, Ironton, and Kettering Alter (Manchester vs. Genoa Area, Ironton vs. Kettering Alter in State Semis)
DIVISION V- ALL GAMES on SATURDAY:
(Region 17)- (2) Kirtland Hornets (12-0) vs. (1) Youngstown Ursuline Fighting Irish (12-0)- at Aurora H.S.
(Region 18)- (7) Jeromesville Hillsdale Falcons (11-1) vs. (4) Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds (11-1)- at Univ. of Findlay's Donnell Stadium
(Region 19)- (2) Fredericktown Freddies (12-0) vs. (1) Oak Hill Oaks (11-1)- at Columbus Hamilton Township H.S.
(Region 20)- (5) Coldwater Cavaliers (9-3) vs. (2) West Jefferson Roughriders (12-0)- at Clayton Northmont H.S.
DIVISION V PICKS:
(Region 17)- The Best Game in this Division, as the two-time defending State Champs play unbeaten Kirtland. Can the Hornets sting the Fighting Irish and advance to the final four?
(Region 18)- Both of these teams pulled off big upsets last week as the T-Birds knocked off unbeaten Archbold and Hillsdale knocked off both Collins Western Reserve (# 2) and Hamler Patrick Henry (# 3) in the playoffs. This will be a tough one to choose.
(Region 19)- Can Fredericktown get up the next rung and advance to the State Semis?
(Region 20)- Coldwater's experience and prestige in the Mid-Western Athletic Conference > West Jeff's long winning history and short domination in the Mid State League Cardinal Division
PICKS: Ursuline, Lima Central Catholic, Fredericktown, and Coldwater (Ursuline vs. Fredericktown, Lima Central Catholic vs. Coldwater, or Ursuline vs. Lima Central Catholic, Fredericktown vs. Coldwater)
DIVISION VI- ALL GAMES on FRIDAY:
(Region 21)- (5) McDonald Blue Devils (10-2) vs. (2) Mogadore Wildcats (12-0)- at Twinsburg H.S.
(Region 22)- (2) McComb Panthers (12-0) vs. (1) Delphos St. John's Blue Jays (12-0)- at University of Findlay's Donnell Stadium
(Region 23)- (2) Bridgeport Bulldogs (12-0) vs. (1) Shadyside Tigers (11-1)- at St. Clairsville H.S.
(Region 24)- (8) Minster Wildcats (7-5) vs. (2) Sidney Lehman Catholic Cavaliers (11-1)- at Piqua H.S.
DIVISION VI PICKS:
(Region 21)- You deserve a break today...Mogadore sounds like a good name.
(Region 22)- Tweet...tweet...tweet...Delphos St. John's is the little Division VI engine that will and should.
(Region 23)- Bridgeport barely escaped the most-storied playoff team in Ohio history (Newark Catholic) last week, they're not going to make it far against Shadyside.
(Region 24)- Minster knocked off another biggie by upsetting past State Champ Maria Stein Marion Local. Minster's competition only builds up from here as they play Sidney Lehman Catholic.
PICKS: Mogadore, Delphos St. John's, Shadyside, and Sidney Lehman Catholic (Mogadore vs. Shadyside, Delphos St. John's vs. Sidney Lehman Catholic in the State Semi-Finals)
NEXT WEEK: The Final Four...