Week 12 of the 2017 season is in the books, and just six area high school football teams still are alive.
There still is plenty to look forward to a week from now, including Pickerington Central and Pickerington North set for a rematch and Hartley competing in its eighth consecutive regional final.
Here are five things we learned from the second week of the playoffs:
1. New Albany seems to be peaking at the right time — again.
As was the case a year ago when it followed a 1-3 start by going all the way to the Division II, Region 7 championship game, New Albany will play for a regional title after a 1-3 start.
The Eagles, who are seeded fifth in Region 7, posted one of their most impressive wins to date Nov. 10 when they beat top-seeded Walnut Ridge 30-6 at Westerville South.
They have a breakout star in junior running back Michiah Burton, who rushed for 193 yards and a touchdown against the Scots.
2. Hartley again is living up to expectations.
Despite it being in Division III for the first time, many pointed to third-seeded Hartley as the favorite to win the Region 11 title.
The Hawks have been impressive so far, following a 62-21 win over sixth-seeded New Philadelphia on Nov. 3 by crushing second-seeded Independence 44-14 on Nov. 10 at Hilliard Darby.
Hartley rushed for 321 yards against the 76ers, but its defense might have been even more impressive considering it held one of the area’s top rushers, Demontae Taylor, to 209 yards — about 100 under his average.
3. Revenge was sweet for Pickerington North.
After losing to Centerville 27-26 on Sept. 28, fifth-seeded Pickerington North got a rare opportunity to avenge the loss when it faced the top-seeded Elks on Nov. 10 at Springfield.
The result was everything the Panthers were hoping for as they won 42-12 to set up another rematch, with Pickerington Central, on Nov. 17 for the Division I, Region 3 title.
In North’s latest win, it forced five turnovers and used the right arm and legs of quarterback Jimmy Weirick to build an early lead. Weirick passed for 211 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 67 yards and one score.
4. Pickerington Central’s trademark of having a great defense has it back in a regional final.
With four interceptions leading to four touchdowns, Pickerington Central is back in the Region 3 final after it won the region a year ago.
The third-seeded Tigers picked off four passes from one of central Ohio’s top quarterbacks, Hilliard Bradley’s Josh Stewart, during a 42-31 victory in a regional semifinal Nov. 10 at DeSales. Stewart had thrown just six interceptions over the Jaguars’ first 11 games.
Central’s Xavier Henderson, the district’s Defensive Player of the Year, had an 88-yard touchdown reception and a 16-yard scoring run.
5. The Olentangy Liberty defense turned in a clutch performance against high-powered Gahanna.
With Matthew Webb rushing for 132 yards on 33 carries and Ben Roderick scoring on a pair of touchdown receptions, second-seeded Liberty held off fifth-seeded Gahanna 17-14 in a Division I, Region 2 semifinal Nov. 10 at Westerville North.
Probably as impressive, though, was what the Patriots’ defense did, holding Gahanna to 127 yards rushing that included a 62-yard scoring run by Jerome Buckner.
They also kept the Lions off the scoreboard on their last drive despite not having senior defensive back Johnny Wiseman, who had been ejected earlier in the game because of a targeting penalty.