Almost like clockwork, the members of the Pickerington High School Central football team are getting "a hop in their step" again.

Almost like clockwork, the members of the Pickerington High School Central football team are getting "a hop in their step" again.

That's the phrase coach Jay Sharrett uses to describe what he has seen so many times from his program once it has gotten to this point in the season.

The Tigers are in the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season after wrapping up the outright OCC-Ohio Division championship with a 41-0 victory over Grove City on Oct. 28, and their confidence couldn't be higher.

"We're coming (together) at the right time," Sharrett said. "Our guys seem to speed up when the temperature drops. We've just wanted to continue getting better."

On Friday, Nov. 4, the third-seeded Tigers will look for a playoff victory for the third time in four seasons when they play host to sixth-seeded Springfield in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.

While the Wildcats are in the postseason for the first time under third-year coach Maurice Douglass and last made the playoffs in 2010, Central lost to Upper Arlington 27-17 in the first round of the Region 2 playoffs a year ago.

Central enters the postseason 9-1 overall and finished 5-0 in the OCC-Ohio, while Springfield is 7-3 and has won three of its last four games. The winner plays second-seeded Hilliard Bradley or seventh-seeded Pickerington North in a regional semifinal Nov. 11 at a site to be announced.

"We've won (at least a share of) 11 league titles in a row," junior strong safety Jeremiah Wood said. "We knew we had a really good team this year and we wanted to come out each week. It feels great."

Morgan Ellison rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Darius Coker had 55 yards and one touchdown on the ground against Grove City, whose coach, Mike Lanza, announced after the game that he was stepping down. The Dawgs went 0-10 this fall and 5-25 in his three seasons.

On the season, Ellison has rushed for 1,239 yards and 17 touchdowns on 156 carries, while Coker has 404 yards rushing and seven touchdowns and is 57-for-123 passing for 921 yards with three scores.

Trenton Gillison has led Central's receiving corps with 16 catches for 316 yards and one touchdown.

Springfield has a running back who compares to Ellison numbers-wise in Danny Davis, a 6-foot-1, 178-pound senior who has rushed 164 times for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 20 receptions for 470 yards and five touchdowns and is considered a four-star recruit by 247sports.com, having received scholarship offers from Kentucky, Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State and West Virginia.

Ellison has been offered by four schools from the Mid-American Conference as well as Youngstown State.

Springfield quarterback Leonard Taylor has thrown for 623 yards and seven touchdowns and has rushed for 119 yards and nine scores. Shane Ramey is another key running back who has 849 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.

The Wildcats opened the season with a 22-20 win over Dublin Coffman on Aug. 27 in a matchup of eventual playoff qualifiers in Region 3.

"(Springfield is) hard to describe, but they've got size at every position and they play extremely tough," Sharrett said. "They don't beat themselves, and that's probably the most frustrating team. They're coached in a way that they don't get tricked on counters, and that's one of the things we rely on.

"We played them in 2008 and '09 (with Central winning both matchups) and those games were hard, tough, physical games."

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