Even losing two of its final three regular-season contests didn't keep the Gahanna Lincoln High School football team from something that's been rare for the program: A home playoff game.

Even losing two of its final three regular-season contests didn't keep the Gahanna Lincoln High School football team from something that's been rare for the program: A home playoff game.

On Saturday, Nov. 7, the eighth-seeded Lions will play host to ninth-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier in the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.

The last time Gahanna was home for a postseason game was in 2005 when it opened the Division I, Region 3 playoffs by beating Newark 21-19.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere," junior linebacker Cael Baker said. "It's going to be ridiculous. The experience of playing a team of this caliber is going to be unreal."

The Lions enter the matchup after finishing a second consecutive regular season at 7-3 overall, while the Bombers are 6-4.

On Oct. 29, Gahanna lost at Pickerington Central 35-22 in its regular-season finale to settle for a second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division runner-up finish.

Central won at least a share of its 10th consecutive league title at 6-1, with Gahanna sharing second with Lancaster and Reynoldsburg at 5-2.

St. Xavier won its regular-season finale 20-10 over Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier on Oct. 30, but that came after it had lost three of four.

"It's very exciting to be in the playoffs for the second year in a row," said wide receiver Tremayne Smith, who had five catches for 92 yards and one touchdown against Central. "We have to move on after (the Central loss). I know St. Xavier has a good team and they play top-notch competition. We're going to have to play top-notch to beat them."

Of St. Xavier's four losses, two came to playoff teams, including a 13-10 overtime defeat Sept. 5 against the No. 1 seed in Region 2, Cincinnati Colerain.

Colerain or 16th-seeded Dublin Coffman awaits the Gahanna-St. Xavier winner in a second-round game Nov. 14.

The Bombers made it to a Region 2 semifinal last year and are in the postseason for the seventh consecutive season.

Junior quarterback Sean Clifford has completed 143 of 241 passes for 1,537 yards with 11 touchdowns and senior running back Sean Prophit has rushed for 758 yards and six touchdowns.

St. Xavier's leader in receptions is tight end Noah Davis (32 catches, 314 yards, 3 touchdowns). Another tight end, senior Brock Davin, is a 6-foot-3, 235-pounder with offers from three Football Championship Subdivision programs.

Senior linebacker Andrew Homer has committed to Miami University, senior center Alex Deters (6-2, 255) has committed to Princeton and senior defensive back Brody Ketron has one FCS offer.

Other key players on defense include defensive back J.P Bitzenhofer, who has four interceptions, and linebacker Michael Gerbus, who has 4.5 sacks.

Gahanna is hoping for better health than it has had in recent weeks.

Senior defensive lineman Jonathon Cooper hurt his right knee in a 43-31 win over Pickerington North on Oct. 23 but played most of the game against Central.

Senior quarterback Mason Blancett, who has thrown for more than 1,300 yards with 11 touchdowns, did not play in the first half against the Tigers as he continued to recover from a right (non-throwing) shoulder injury.

By the time he entered the game the Lions trailed 21-7, and they would go down 35-7 before nearly getting back into it. He completed 12 of 27 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.

"Cooper was cleared to play and he felt good," coach Bruce Ward said. "Any time he's on the field he's effective. He was awfully sore (the day after the Central game) but I think he'll be ready to play.

"Mason's a three-year starter and a competitor, and for him to come out after missing almost two weeks of practice and play as well as he did speaks to who he is."