No. 12 Comets (6-4) No. 5 Warhawks (9-1)
Westerville Central High School senior Jordan Bratton recalls the bitter disappointment after the football program's first postseason appearance in 2011.
The Warhawks were seeded third in Division I, Region 3 and lost a first-round home game 38-21 to sixth-seeded Gahanna.
Bratton and his teammates are hoping for a better result when Central opens the Division I, Region 1 playoffs Saturday, Nov. 9, against visiting Solon.
The Warhawks are seeded fifth and Solon is 12th, as the top 16 teams in the region qualified for the postseason. The winner plays fourth-seeded Austintown-Fitch or 13th-seeded Marysville in the second round Nov. 16 at a site to be determined.
"This team is a lot different than it was back then," said Bratton, who plays inside linebacker, tight end and fullback. "We have a lot more chemistry and I feel like we've had a lot of preparation for it. I think we'll go longer than one game."
Central clinched the outright OCC-Cardinal Division title at 7-0 with a 40-3 win at Dublin Jerome in the regular-season finale Nov. 1.
The Warhawks are 9-1 overall and have won eight consecutive games since losing to visiting New Albany 57-50 on Sept. 6.
Central averages 48.5 points and allows 24.5 per game.
"Central looks very good on tape," said Solon coach Jim McQuaide, who has a 95-31 record in 11 seasons. "The offense's pace and skill puts a ton of pressure on defenses to cover the entire field. They also are explosive on special teams, (and the) defense looks strong and aggressive."
Solon, which is 6-4, secured its 18th postseason berth with a 44-41 win over Brunswick on Nov. 1.
"Solon is very sound," Central coach John Magistro said. "They have good speed. Their size is decent. They have nothing real big, but they're very sound with the pass game and they're very sound with the run game. They don't try to get real fancy. They just do things that they know they can execute."
Senior running back Antwain Hamilton (5-foot-8, 165 pounds) leads the Comets' spread offense, having rushed for 1,057 yards and 17 touchdowns on 191 carries.
Juniors Ryan Gallagher (6-0, 185) and Matt Laubscher (5-11, 180) have split time at quarterback, with Gallagher completing 80 of 154 passes for 989 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Laubscher has completed 30 of 45 passes for 430 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Senior Kollyn Crenshaw (5-8, 185) is the team's top receiver with 35 catches for 646 yards and six touchdowns.
Solon is scoring 29.9 points per game and allowing 24.7.
Solon's 4-2-5 base defense will look to contain Central's spread offense led by senior quarterback Jared Drake, who has completed 148 of 219 passes for 2,454 yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions and rushed for 640 yards and eight touchdowns on 112 carries.
Senior running back Alex Fisher has rushed for 599 yards and 13 touchdowns on 102 carries and sophomore receiver Cedric Frierson has 33 catches for 664 yards and eight touchdowns.
"The league title is really big to us, but we want to look further since we've accomplished that goal already and we want to keep our foot on the gas," Bratton said. "We don't want to let up at all."Game ticketson sale at school
Central is selling tickets for its game against Solon. Tickets will be available at the school from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, and 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8.