The Beechcroft High School football team might not have faced an opponent this season with the combination of bulk and speed as it will when it travels Friday to Marion-Franklin in a Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal.

Well, maybe once.

"They're a very physical team, and defensively they definitely look like they play much like Brookhaven," said coach Tom Dunlap, whose team won its last three to set up the matchup of teams that are 9-1. "They've got four guys who weigh about 300 pounds and about three or four who are (6-foot-2) or 6-3. I think they're probably the biggest team we've faced."

Other than a 13-6 loss to the Bearcats on Oct. 3, Beechcroft hasn't been tested.

Led by junior running back Wallace Hale, who has 15 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards rushing, the Cougars have posted seven shutouts and been equally as dominant offensively. Junior B.J. Watkins has seen more
action offensively in the season's second half and has responded as a complement to Hale. Quarterbacks Joe Simpson and Antonio Stevenson also have been effective at times running the offense.

Defensively, Marion-Franklin's only stumble came Oct. 17 when it gave up more than 300 yards of offense and had a 32-game City-South winning streak snapped by Independence 51-17.

The Red Devils have a group of big defensive linemen, led by junior Matt Williams (6-1, 335), that left most other teams in their league overmatched.

"It's going to be a good game for the City League," Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele said. "Two weeks ago we made eight turnovers and you just can't make mental mistakes like that. They know how good Beechcroft is.

It's going to be a great challenge trying to stop (Beechcroft's running game). They give you a ton of formations and Wallace Hale runs the ball really hard. This game is going to won up front."

Hale and Watkins alsohave led a defensive unit that has allowed just 32 points on the season.

Marion-Franklin's top offensive weapon is senior Tyrell Massey, who was honorable mention all-state last year on defense and is one of the team's busiest ball-carriers in an offense that sometimes has a multiple-receiver look.

Junior Verlon Reed has been solid at quarterback. Receivers Brandon Wentzel, Jeremy McCoy and Glen Wilson and tight end Mike Smith are other weapons.

Beechcroft is making its first playoff appearance since 2005 when it lost to Canfield 28-0 in the first round.

The Cougarsbeat the Red Devils 14-10 in a regular-season game in 2002 when both teams were members of the City League-Red Division in their last meeting. Beechcroft's last postseason win came in 2003 whenit beat
Big Walnut 28-23 in a Division III, Region 10 quarterfinal before losing in a regional semifinal at Kenton 36-24.

Marion-Franklin has lost opening Region 7 playoff games each of the last four years and never has won a postseason game.

"For our program, this is what we really shoot for," Dunlap said. "These juniors have never been to the playoffs before. Marion-Franklin is a very good football team. I'm very impressed with Massey and very impressed with
their quarterback. They run the option and they throw the ball well. We'll have to run the ball well to keep it away from them."