The high school football season is continuing this week for four City League programs.
In Division II, Region 7, both Walnut Ridge and Mifflin earned first-round home playoff games Friday, Nov. 3, while Independence and Marion-Franklin will be playing at home the same night in Division III, Region 11 contests.
Independence is back in the postseason for the first time since 2008 after picking up the No. 2 seed in Region 11 and is host to seventh-seeded Jackson. The winner plays third-seeded Hartley or sixth-seeded New Philadelphia in a regional semifinal Nov. 10.
The 76ers lost to Eastmoor Academy 39-22 on Oct. 6 but won their final three games, including beating Walnut Ridge 44-34 on Oct. 27 to improve to 9-1 overall.
"It was very exciting to win the City-South championship, getting into the playoffs and beating Walnut Ridge," Independence coach Maurice Douglas said.
"The bigger the games, the more points you have to put on the scoreboard, but I'm really excited about our defense."
Independence finished 6-1 in the City-South, a half-game ahead of Walnut Ridge, which went 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the league. The Scots' league game Oct. 13 against South was canceled.
Demontae Taylor led the 76ers against Walnut Ridge, rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns, including a 73-yard punt return for a score.
Jackson lost to Chillicothe 31-7 on Oct. 27 but still made the postseason at 8-2. The Ironmen are 7-11 all-time in the playoffs.
Marion-Franklin bounced back from back-to-back losses to beat South 30-6 on Oct. 27 to improve to 8-2 overall and finish third in the league at 5-2.
The fourth-seeded Red Devils play host to fifth-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley on Nov. 3, with the winner to face top-seeded Bellefontaine or eighth-seeded Granville in a regional semifinal Nov. 10.
Tri-Valley is 9-1 and rolls into the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak.
The teams met in the playoffs in 2011, with Marion-Franklin winning 48-42 in overtime for the Division II, Region 7 title.
"We're having issues trying to recover from some key injuries," Red Devils coach Brian Haffele said. "We have played Tri-Valley a couple of times and I know their coach (Justin Buttermore) pretty well. This will be a great challenge for us."
In Region 7, top-seeded Walnut Ridge opens against eighth-seeded Canal Winchester, which is 6-4, on Nov. 3. The winner plays fourth-seeded Whitehall or fifth-seeded New Albany in a regional semifinal Nov. 10.
"We need a great week of preparation," Scots coach Byron Mattox said. "Canal is a team on the rise that we have to be at the top of our game (for). (We need to) establish a run game, take care of the football and capitalize on our big-play capabilities."
Mifflin earned the third seed for Region 7 and plays at home against sixth-seeded Ashland on Nov. 3 in a matchup of 8-2 teams.
The Punchers lost to Aurora, which made the Division III, Region 9 playoffs, 34-14 on Oct. 27 in their regular-season finale after winning their final five City-North games.
Mifflin is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, although coach Anthony Thornton guided Brookhaven to playoff appearances in 2008 and '09.
"(We're) fortunate to be in this position," Thornton said. "(We're) focusing on steadily improving on the small details of our work (and) enjoying the process of preparation that is playoff football."
Vikings earn share of City-North title
The Northland football team forced a three-way tie for the City-North championship with a 39-32 victory at Beechcroft on Oct. 27.
The Vikings also snapped the Cougars' 25-game league winning streak that spanned to the 2013 season. The last time Northland beat Beech-croft was in 2010.
The Vikings, Cougars and Mifflin all ended up with a share of the City-North title at 5-1, ahead of Centennial (3-3), Whetstone (2-4), East (1-5) and Linden-McKinley (0-6).
East closed the regular season with a 14-2 win over Linden on Oct. 27, giving first-year coach Wes Edwards his first victory as the Tigers finished 1-9 overall.
Northland ended the regular season on a five-game winning streak and finished 7-3 overall, but the Vikings had to settle for ninth in Region 7 as the top eight teams advanced to the playoffs.
Beechcroft finished 5-4 overall and 14th in Region 11.
"We talked about getting a share of the league title, and it's a big deal for our kids and our program," Northland coach Brian Staats said. "It came down to the last three minutes. There were a lot of athletes on both sides of the field."
Against Beechcroft, the Vikings' Lavell Mitchell had a touchdown catch at tight end and had four tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble to lead Northland's defense. John Branham Jr. scored three touchdowns and Kalil Branham had a kickoff return for a touchdown for the Vikings.
Quarterback Jovaughn Hill threw for three touchdowns and Shemar Samuel had a touchdown reception and a scoring run to lead the Cougars.