Staying on task has been the biggest goal for the Eastmoor Academy football team the past few weeks.
The Warriors outscored their final three opponents by a combined 170-0, including a 43-0 win over Africentric on Oct. 26 to improve to 9-1 overall and wrap up the outright City League-South Division championship as well as a home game in the Division III, Region 11 playoffs.
On Friday, Nov. 2, fourth-seeded Eastmoor will play host to fifth-seeded Hillsboro in the first round of the playoffs, with the winner to face top-seeded Hartley or eighth-seeded Athens in a regional semifinal Nov. 9.
The Warriors were sixth in last week's state poll.
"I'm excited," senior running back and linebacker Miicah Coleman said. "I really can't wait because it's my senior year and I want to go out on top. It's been a (while) since we've been in a tough game, so I'm excited to see how we do against this competition."
Eastmoor, which won the City-South at 7-0 and was one of two teams from the league to make the playoffs along with Walnut Ridge in Division II, led Africentric 29-0 at halftime.
Running back Savon Edwards rushed for two touchdowns and quarterback Marquise Laster hit Napoleon Harris for a 39-yard touchdown pass in the first half.
Tyree Grace-Sawyer ran for a 38-yard touchdown, Cameron Foster had a 33-yard touchdown run and Larenz Lacking added a 17-yard touchdown reception for the Warriors, who are back in the postseason for the second time in three seasons.
Eastmoor, which limited Africentric to minus-28 yards of offense, will face a Hillsboro team that also is 9-1 and is riding a four-game winning streak. The Indians beat Greenfield McClain 68-7 on Oct. 26 as Josh Keets ran for three touchdowns and returned a punt for a score.
Keets, who is 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, heads a run-first attack that also includes Dean Burns and Mark Gallimore as well as quarterback Mason Swayne.
In addition to the success the Warriors have had on the ground with Edwards leading the way, coach Jim Miranda has been pleased with the play of Laster as well as his team's secondary.
"(Hillsboro is) a tough running team," Miranda said. "They're wide-bodied, but they're not tall or big. They've got some strong runners, some big, beefy runners, so we put an offensive tackle in as a fullback (in practice) and had him run just trying to prepare us for it. I'm sure they'll travel well."
Scots earn No. 8 seed for Region 7 playoffs
With a 35-0 victory over Independence on Oct. 26, the Walnut Ridge football team earned the eighth seed for the Division II, Region 7 playoffs and a trip to play top-seeded Massillon Washington in the first round Friday, Nov. 2.
The Tigers, who were third in last week's state poll, beat Canton McKinley 24-17 on Oct. 27 to improve to 10-0.
Massillon, which beat four Division I programs this fall, was a state semifinalist last season.
"Massillon has one of the greatest football traditions in the United States," coach Byron Mattox said. "Football is very important in Massillon. You can tell by the facilities and the community support. It's definitely going to be a challenge, but it's one that we will be ready to take on."
Walnut Ridge went 9-2 last season, including losing to New Albany 30-6 in a Region 7 semifinal.
The Scots are 9-1 overall this season, with their only loss coming to Eastmoor (26-20 on Sept. 21), and finished runner-up in the City-South at 6-1, behind the Warriors.
Against Independence, Javarus Leach rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Isaiah Murphy threw for 145 yards and three scores, with two going to Qian Magwood.
"It definitely means a lot to make it (to the playoffs) in arguably the most difficult region in the state," Mattox said. "In our region, Canal Winchester (which finished 9-1) doesn't make it (into the playoffs). But our guys have some playoff experience and hopefully that will help us some on Friday."
Vikings football team wins City-North title
Despite winning its final eight games, the Northland football team missed a Region 7 playoff berth, finishing 12th in the region to miss the postseason for the fifth consecutive season.
On Oct. 26, the Vikings beat Beechcroft 7-0 to capture the City-North title at 6-0 after sharing it with Beechcroft and Mifflin last season.
Quarterback Kalil Branham threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to his brother, John Branham Jr., in the first quarter and the Vikings' defense limited the Cougars to 24 yards of offense. Branham Jr. also had 105 yards rushing on 24 carries.
While Northland finished 8-2 overall, Beechcroft went 6-4 and tied Centennial for second in the City-North at 4-2 under first-year coach Charles Gibson.
The Cougars had won five games in a row, including beating the Stars 30-25 on Oct. 5, before falling to the Vikings for the second consecutive season.
Eastmoor's Bonkiye to run at state meet
Eastmoor senior Bushra Bonkiye is headed back to the Division II state boys cross country meet after previously competing at that event as a sophomore when his team qualified.
He will compete at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway after taking fourth (16 minutes, 27.8 seconds) of 181 runners at the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
"At first, it was about getting out fast and, later on, it was sticking with the pace," Bonkiye said. "It feels really good because last year I didn't make it (to state) as an individual. I was really mad, but the next time I came back (to regional), it was going to be a different story."
At the 2016 state meet when the Warriors finished 17th, Bonkiye placed 148th (17:34.6) and was the team's No. 4 runner. His goal at this year's event is a top-10 finish.
"His mindset was that he had the gloves and the hat, and it wasn't really that cold," coach Jason Lewis said. "We've run in cold before. He ran a really good race."