As it turned out, the Whitehall-Yearling High School football team had been in a must-win situation regarding its postseason hopes since Week 2.
The pressure never seemed to get to the Rams, though, as they followed an opening 19-6 loss to Westerville Central by edging Northland 31-28 and closing the regular season on a nine-game winning streak that included a 34-15 victory over previously undefeated London on Oct. 26.
Because of the depth of Division II, Region 7, Whitehall needed each of those victories just to earn what is projected to be the No. 5 seed and a first-round game Nov. 2 at Dover.
The Tornadoes could face a player unlike any they’ve seen this season in Rams quarterback Raymell Byrd, who rushed for 233 yards and three touchdowns and threw for a score against London. With the win, Whitehall clinched the MSL-Ohio Division title and its playoff berth.
Here are five things we learned in Week 10:
1. Hilliard Darby won a de facto playoff game over Dublin Scioto.
With the Panthers needing a win to make the Division I, Region 3 playoffs and the Irish needing a victory to make it in Division II, Region 8, the Panthers found a way to get it done and won 13-11 on Oct. 26.
Darby, which is projected to be the No. 7 seed in Region 3, has won six in a row and has seven victories by seven points or fewer.
The Panthers made the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.
2. Reynoldsburg’s win over Lancaster had great meaning for both programs.
Not many at the beginning of the season would have predicted that Reynoldsburg’s 28-7 victory over Lancaster on Oct. 25 would determine a league championship and playoff berth, but that’s exactly what happened.
The Raiders already had their Division I, Region 2 playoff spot locked up heading into the game, but their victory gave them a share of the OCC-Ohio championship, their first league title since 1993.
While Lancaster was the other team to share the title, its loss ended its hopes of making the Region 3 playoffs.
3. The area teams in the Division III, Region 11 playoffs all are heading into the postseason with momentum.
Hartley didn’t win pretty, but a 6-3 victory over St. Charles on Oct. 26 ensured it a second consecutive CCL championship and locked up the No. 1 seed in Region 11.
The Hawks have won five in a row and are 8-2, with their losses to teams that are a combined 19-1.
Granville is projected to be the second seed and closed the regular season on a seven-game winning streak under first-year coach Justin Buttermore to take a 9-1 mark into the playoffs.
Eastmoor Academy also is 9-1 and is expected to be the No. 4 seed in Region 11 after winning its last seven, including shutting out its last three opponents.
4. Walnut Ridge and Olentangy did just enough to join Whitehall as the area’s other Division II playoff qualifiers.
Walnut Ridge, which is 9-1 but owns just three wins over teams with winning records, is expected to earn the No. 8 seed in Region 7 with OCC-Capital champion Canal Winchester settling for ninth and City League-North champion Northland finishing 12th.
In Region 8, Olentangy is just 5-5 but won four of its final five, including beating Region 2 playoff qualifier Westerville Central 42-21 on Oct. 26 to earn what is projected to be the No. 8 seed.
The Braves ended up in a tie for the OCC-Buckeye title at 4-1 with both Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange, and all three made the postseason.
5. Even wins on the final night of the regular season against quality opponents weren’t enough for Pickerington North or Columbus Academy to make the playoffs.
The Panthers got a touchdown during the final minute to beat Gahanna 14-10 on Oct. 26, but losing four of their previous five ultimately did them in as they are projected to finish 10th in Region 3.
Academy won its final three, including beating Grandview 42-21 on Oct. 26 to improve to 6-4, but it got edged out for the final playoff spots in Division V, Region 19 by Amanda-Clearcreek and Ironton.