Newark Catholic High School football coach Bill Franks is expecting "a nice test" in the Division VI, Region 23 championship game against Beverly Fort Frye on Friday, Nov. 18, at Zanesville.

Newark Catholic High School football coach Bill Franks is expecting "a nice test" in the Division VI, Region 23 championship game against Beverly Fort Frye on Friday, Nov. 18, at Zanesville.

After surviving tight wins during the first two rounds of the playoffs, the fifth-seeded Green Wave take an 8-4 record into the matchup against the second-seeded Cadets.

Fort Frye beat sixth-seeded Barnesville 40-19 in a regional semifinal Nov. 11 at Marietta College to improve to 12-0 and continue what has been the best season in program history.

The Cadets were 0-4 all-time in the postseason before beating seventh-seeded Centerburg 44-6 in a first-round game Nov. 4.

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Nov. 25.

"(They have a) balanced offense (and a) very talented quarterback (with a) solid defense," Franks said. "(They've played a) tough schedule, seven playoff teams to date."

Newark Catholic is back in a regional final for the first time since losing to Ready 48-21 in the 2013 Division VI, Region 21 title game.

The Green Wave avenged that playoff loss by beating the eighth-seeded Silver Knights 20-14 in overtime in a regional semifinal Nov. 11 at Thornville Sheridan.

Kyle Gibson, who rushed for just 59 yards against Ready but scored the winning touchdown on a 21-yard reception from Hunter Chapman, has rushed for more than 1,500 yards on the season.

Chapman has thrown for more than 1,500 yards, with senior wide receivers Mason Peddicord and Tanner Lake being the primary targets.

Newark Catholic's offense will face a Fort Frye defense that features senior lineman Jacob Prichard and senior Garrett Lochary in the secondary. Both players were named first-team all-East District.

Lochary also plays a key role on the Cadets' offense, having rushed for 11 touchdowns in the regular season.

Senior running back Casey Lewis rushed for 1,467 yards and 25 touchdowns during the regular season, while sophomore quarterback Tate Engle had passed for 1,175 yards and 16 touchdowns through 10 games.

Engle and Lewis also were first-team all-district honorees, as were senior offensive linemen Jordan Baker and Owen Matheny.

Against Ready, Peddicord returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown and blocked a 36-yard field-goal attempt to lead Newark Catholic's defense.

Senior defensive back Nolan Jurden and senior defensive lineman Conner Sheehan also are key players on defense for the Green Wave.

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