The Grandview Heights and Bainbridge Paint Valley high school football teams have a couple things in common. Both are making their first postseason appearance since 2015, and both played in leagues that produced multiple playoff qualifiers.
The eighth-seeded Bobcats will travel to just outside Chillicothe to battle top-seeded Paint Valley on Friday, Nov. 2, in the first round of the Division VI, Region 23 playoffs.
The Bearcats are 10-0 and won the Scioto Valley Conference, which also had Chillicothe Southeastern (Region 23), Chillicothe Unioto (Division IV, Region 15) and Frankfort Adena (Region 23) reach the postseason.
"For the first time in the history of our league, we had four teams make the playoffs," Paint Valley coach Pete Hollon said. "It was a tough fight to get through that."
Grandview is 7-3 overall and finished 2-3 in the MSL-Ohio after losing to Columbus Academy 42-21 on Oct. 26. London (Division IV, Region 16) and Whitehall (Division II, Region 7) also reached the postseason from the MSL-Ohio, while Academy finished ninth in Division V, Region 19, one spot out of the playoffs.
Senior running back/defensive end Hudson Jump started as a freshman for the Bobcats when they reached a state semifinal before losing to eventual state champion Kirtland 13-9. He said the playoffs are a totally different game.
"It's different in the playoffs, and anything can happen," said Jump, who has rushed for 999 yards and 11 touchdowns on 122 carries. "When we were there my freshman year, we didn't think we could make it that far. If you catch fire, anything can happen."
Paint Valley has a run-based offense and also loads the box defensively to try to limit its opponent's running game.
"They like to throw the ball as much as (Hilliard) Davidson does," Grandview coach Jason Peters said. "They don't want to throw the ball. They want to be able to control the line of scrimmage and control the clock. It will come down to the team that will win the game will control the line of scrimmage."
Through nine games, quarterback Bryce Newland had completed 55 of 88 passes for 880 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. The Bearcats had used a three-back rushing attack of Iann Cockrell (86 carries, 755 yards, 8 TDs), Brayden Ison (69 carries, 494 yards, 8 TDs) and Lane Mettler (79 carries, 437 yards, 9 TDs).
"We play a pro-base offense with tight ends," Hollon said. "It's pretty much old-school football. This is my 23rd season here, and I haven't changed a lot since then."
Defensive back Andrew Walker led the team with 77 tackles. Mettler had 74 tackles at linebacker and Cockrell had 72 at defensive back.
The Bobcats have been led offensively by Jump, but Harrison Morosky has 436 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 50 carries despite missing two games with injury.
Kyle Casey is 59-for-104 passing for 857 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Luke Lachey has 38 catches for 649 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"They play physical, hard-nosed football," Peters said. "We'll have to tighten down our screws and be ready to play."
The winner plays in a regional semifinal Nov. 9 against fourth-seeded Shadyside or fifth-seeded Adena at a site to be determined.