After a 20-year playoff drought, the Canal Winchester High School football team is back in the Division III, Region 12 field for the second year in a row.

The Indians lost to Logan Elm 16-13 in overtime last Friday, but finished the regular season 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the MSL-Buckeye Division to earn the sixth seed in Region 12. Canal Winchester will play in a regional
quarterfinal Saturday at third-seeded Chillicothe, which lost to Logan 22-13 last Friday to fall to 7-3.

"We weren't happy with our play last week," Canal Winchester coach Phil Mauro said. "At times we did some awfully good things. We met (last) Saturday and know where our mistakes were. We don't want to finish with that
taste in our mouth and we're fortunate we're still playing in week 11."

"I think (Canal Winchester) is a very good football team," Chillicothe coach Bill Davidson said. "They have some offensive weapons and defensively they run to the football well and show a lot of different fronts and alignments, so we're going to have to be ready to go on Saturday."

Canal Winchester is giving up an average of 9.3 points per game and gave up more than 17 points just once, in a 38-21 win over Lakewood on Aug. 30. Chillicothe is averaging 27.2 points per game and scored 34 or more points four times.

Chillicothe runs a spread-style offense that is similar to that of Canal Winchester's. The Cavaliers are led by quarterback Caleb Knights and running back Eric Young. Knights is a dual-threat quarterback similar to Bexley's
Seth White and Hamilton Township's Dorian Curry.

He is a fourth-year starter and has eclipsed 5,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in his career.

Young has rushed for more than 1,200 yards.

The Chillicothe offense operates behind an offensive line with an average size of 6-foot-1, 260 pounds.

"Caleb Knights, you can tell he's a veteran," Mauro said. "He's in the same mold as the other great quarterbacks we've seen. Chillicothe, offensively, is in the same mold as Logan Elm in that they can spread you out or they can go power-I. They're a multi-dimensional team."

Countering the Chillicothe offense will be a Canal Winchester defense led by defensive linemen Zack Hitchens, Ryan Huff, Travis Stevenson and Morgan Tucker, linebackers Tyler Steube, Harrison Rosch and Ryan Rose
and defensive backs Mike Romanowski, Cory Spelman and Gerald Mathis. Huff had two sacks in the first half last Friday against Logan Elm before leaving in the third quarter with an injury to his left knee. His status likely
will be a game-time decision.

"He was walking well (last) Saturday and will be reevaluated. I'd say it's day-to-day but we're hopeful he'll be back," Mauro said.

The Chillicothe defense operates out of a 50 base defense that likes to pressure the opposing offense and use man-to-man coverage more than zone.

The Cavaliers have allowed an average of 15.7 point per game. The Indians could choose to attack that defense with the quick passing game with quarterback Justin Whitlatch and receivers Tyler Thompson and Matt
Romanowski.

"(Dom Cosby) and (Thompson) are both very impressive," Davidson said.

"They're both very good athletes and both of them have the ability to hurt you at any time."

Chillicothe also features a good kicker in Drew Basil, who is 9-for-13 on field goals with a long of 50 and has 31 touchbacks this season.

Chillicothe is coming off a regular season where the Cavaliers played a difficult schedule. The team earned the third seed despite losing three games because those three losses were to teams with a combined 29-1 record.
Five of the teams Chillicothe played qualified to the playoffs compared to two for Canal Winchester.

The Indians made history last year when they won their first playoff game 17-16 over Germantown Valley View. Canal Winchester is hoping to add more playoff wins this year.

"Anytime you can be in the playoffs, it's exciting," Mauro said. "We know we're going to play a good team in Chillicothe but we're excited we're still playing."