The last time the Brookhaven High School football team won a league championship, before it wrapped one up with a 48-0 win over Mifflin on Nov. 1, was in 2009.
That season also marked the last time the Bearcats won a playoff game. They'll try to change that against a team that, under coach Ron Hinton, has risen from years of struggles.
On Friday, Nov. 8, third-seeded Brookhaven will play host to sixth-seeded Chillicothe in the first round of the Division III, Region 9 playoffs. The winner plays Marion-Franklin or Dover on Nov. 15.
Hinton coached Amanda-Clearcreek for 29 seasons, winning state titles in 1999 and 2000 and earning three state runner-up finishes in Division V.
Chillicothe went 11-19 during his first three seasons but is 9-1 this fall, with its only loss coming to defending Division IV state champion Clarksville Clinton-Massie 17-7 on Oct. 11.
Brookhaven has won seven in a row and is 8-2. Its win over Mifflin gave it a 7-0 finish in the City League-North Division.
"Ron Hinton came in there and got the program moving in the right direction," coach Trevor White said. "They're a physical, disciplined team that likes to run the ball. They've got a good quarterback and a good offense."
In 2008, Chillicothe opened with a 14-7 loss to Brookhaven in the last time the teams met, but the Cavaliers made their last playoff appearance that season.
In Brookhaven's last time in the postseason in 2011, it lost to Marion-Franklin 34-28 in a first-round Division II game.
Hinton earned his 300th career win when Chillicothe beat Lees Creek East Clinton 28-0 on Oct. 25, and he added to that total when the Cavaliers closed the regular season with a 57-27 win over Portsmouth on Nov. 1.
Against Portsmouth, senior running back Markel Cain (5-foot-7, 154 pounds) rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, sophomore running back Nate Rosenbauer (5-7, 148) had 16 carries for 121 yards and two scores and junior quarterback Ryan Mathis rushed for 59 yards and was 4-for-11 passing for 50 yards with a touchdown.
Since sophomore Macyah Fleming took over at quarterback for Brookhaven on Sept. 27 in a 46-24 win over Whetstone, the Bearcats have averaged 43 points and are 6-0.
Fleming is 30-for-65 passing for 644 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions and has rushed for 313 yards and five scores.
Junior running back David Peoples has 858 yards rushing and eight touchdowns and senior wide receiver Terry Barker has 20 receptions for 450 yards and nine scores.
"We're moving in the right direction," White said. "We started off with a bunch of untested kids who have prepared and put the time in and everything seems to be coming together at the right time."
Vikings in playoffs for second time
Despite losing its regular-season finale 17-14 to Beechcroft on Nov. 1, Northland qualified for the Division II, Region 5 playoffs as the eighth and final seed.
The Vikings are 7-2 overall and play Friday, Nov. 8, at top-seeded New Albany in a first-round game. The winner plays Mansfield or Licking Heights on Nov. 15.
Northland's only other playoff appearance came in 2010, when it was the seventh seed in Division I, Region 3 and lost to Hilliard Davidson 47-6 in a first-round game.
Coach Kevin Tooson is hoping his team quickly forgets about the loss to Beechcroft, which dropped the Vikings into a second-place tie in the City-North with the Cougars at 5-2.
"Whether it's in the college, high school or professional ranks, next week you have to know that you can do something great," Tooson said. "We've just got to refocus and come out swinging. We just weren't in sync (Nov. 1) and Beechcroft had a little bit to do with that."
Northland has found success with a balanced offense that features junior quarterback Nick Fischer and running backs Malcolm Marshall, Nateshawn Hargrove and Jhustus Cornley. Glenn Smith III began the season at quarterback but has been the team's top receiver the last few weeks.
New Albany is 9-1 and features a run-first offense led by running backs Trey Quillin, Wyatt Johnston and Hayden George. Quarterback Tanner Cline has thrown for 849 yards and eight touchdowns and wide receiver Joe Siegenthaler has 26 catches despite playing in just six games.
"(New Albany is) big and physical and has a strong running game," Tooson said. "We have to have great line play and get the ball out in spaces on offense. We have to read our keys and tackle on defense."
Red Devils set to face Dover
Marion-Franklin qualified for the postseason for the 10th consecutive season and opens the Region 9 playoffs Friday, Nov. 8, at home against seventh-seeded Dover.
The Red Devils, who are seeded second, have won 33 consecutive City-South games and wrapped up at least a share of their 10th league title in a row with a 37-12 win Nov. 1 over Columbus South.
The Tornadoes lost to New Philadelphia 34-28 in three overtimes Nov. 1 to fall to 7-3. They were a state semifinalist a year ago and are making their ninth consecutive playoff appearance.
"Their coach (Dan Ifft) is a legendary coach in the state of Ohio, and they win a lot," coach Brian Haffele said. "... I coached against Dover in the late 1990s when I was an assistant at Walnut Ridge and they beat us pretty badly."
The Tornadoes run a spread offense and average 42.6 points. Junior Merrick Mamarella (5-10, 170) is at quarterback, with senior Jordan Mills and juniors Kyle Abel and Cory Contini among the top receivers.
Marion-Franklin has been led offensively by running back Landon Yeartie, who has more than 700 all-purpose yards.
"Hopefully we're getting healthier," Haffele said. "We had a chance to rest some kids the last couple weeks. It's getting better and better offensively. Defensively our starters have only given up one touchdown except (in a 28-14 loss) to Hartley (on Sept. 13)."