The central Ohio football teams still playing on Friday and Saturday did it with defense.

The central Ohio football teams still playing on Friday and Saturday did it with defense.

Hartley, a Division IV state semifinalist, might be considered a late arrival to the party, but Division I state semifinalist Hilliard Davidson and Division III state semifinalist Watterson have made a living with a conservative offense and a special defense.

Watterson, which plays Cincinnati McNicholas on Saturday in a Division III state semifinal, is about as nondescript as a dominant team can be.

When the regular season ended, Eagles quarterback Patrick Rhomberg wasn't a 1,000-yard passer and running back Isaiah Murray led the team in rushing with just 342 yards.

Those aren't exactly the numbers one might expect for a football team that ended the regular season 8-1.

But the Eagles have been steadily plugging away. The offense does just enough and the defense has been nearly impossible to score against.

Last Saturday, a Watterson defense led by linebacker Matt Redfield held Tiffin Columbian to 44 yards rushing on 21 carries in an 18-7 win. Watterson shut down Columbian running back Derrick Goliday, who had rushed for more than 1,200 yards in 11 games.

In a 21-7 win over Elida in the regional semifinal on Nov. 13, Watterson faced an Elida quarterback who had thrown for 2,327 yards with 31 touchdowns and three interceptions. But the Eagles intercepted him five times.

If there's one glamorous quarterback in the state this season, it's Huber Heights Wayne's Braxton Miller.

Hilliard Davidson gets a shot at the Ohio State recruit on Saturday in a state semifinal.

How much are quarterbacks loved?

In August, Miller had a two-page spread in Sports Illustrated. The magazine even used stats from his sixth-grade football team to prove their point. In the blurb, Wayne coach Jay Minton compared Braxton to Michael Vick and NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young. Miller has 2,359 yards passing with 24 touchdowns.

His numbers far outweigh those of Davidson quarterback Jimmy Curtis, who was 0-2 passing last Saturday.

Here are the numbers for Davidson's star: 15 solo tackles, 42 assisted tackles, 21 tackles-for-loss.

Those belonged to Davidson linebacker Keith Heitzman before leading a Wildcats defense that helped beat Pickerington Central 13-6 in the Region 3 final last Saturday.

Davidson held Central without a first down in the first half.

It's the second time the Wildcats have done that during this playoff season. They also held Northland without a first down in the first half of a 47-6 win in the first round on Nov. 6.

Not having a highly prolific offensive player has to be the only reason why Davidson ended up fourth in the Division I state poll despite being undefeated and the defending state champions.

Cleveland Glenville, which Davidson beat 16-15 in the state championship game last year, was ranked No. 1, followed by Cincinnati Colerain and Lakewood St. Edward.

Only St. Edward and Davidson are still playing and are likely going to be the state finalists.

Even Hartley got in on the defensive act. Normally a high-scoring attack led by running back Noah Key, Hartley forced two turnovers that led to touchdowns in a as it beat Ironton 26-20 to advance to its first state semifinal since 1988.

It's all about the defense right now in central Ohio, and over the next two weeks we are going to see if, in fact, defense does win championships.

We know at the regional level, at least, it does.