During the postgame interview with Pickerington High School Central football coach Jay Sharrett on Nov. 9 at Springfield, it was mentioned that Olentangy Liberty had pulled the plug on one of the most memorable seasons that Reynoldsburg has ever produced.
There wasn’t even a little bit of shock on his face as he said: “This is November.”
In other words, at this time of year there are no real upsets.
Here are five things we learned from Nov. 9 playoff action:
1. Liberty’s 10-0 victory over Reynoldsburg is a reminder of how important it is to play mistake-free.
The top-seeded Raiders entered their Division I, Region 2 semifinal at DeSales as winners of four in a row, including winning a share of the OCC-Ohio Division title.
In their loss to the fourth-seeded Patriots, however, they committed four turnovers and had a field goal blocked.
Liberty, which will play for its third consecutive regional title Nov. 16 against Dublin Coffman, got a 28-yard field goal from Mitchell Kershner and a 44-yard touchdown run from quarterback Mitchell Okuley to support its defense.
2. Eastmoor Academy’s depth and strong defense helped it beat Hartley 19-14.
From a physical standpoint, the Division III, Region 11 semifinal at Hamilton Township between top-seeded Hartley and fourth-seeded Eastmoor lived up to expectations.
Hartley quarterback Miles Fleming left in the second quarter with a head injury and three of Eastmoor’s running backs, including Savon Edwards, went down with injuries.
The game’s biggest play might have been a 24-yard touchdown pass from Warriors quarterback Marquise Laster to Napoleon Harris on fourth-and-6 early in the fourth quarter, giving their team a lead it didn’t relinquish.
3. Coffman and Pickerington Central had little trouble in regional semifinal wins.
Both Coffman in Region 2 and Central in Region 3 will get a shot at Division I regional titles after handily winning their semifinals Nov. 9.
The Shamrocks’ biggest playmaker, Mike Drennen, finished with 53 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving with two touchdowns as his second-seeded team beat third-seeded Toledo Whitmer 43-20 at Marion Harding. Coffman forced three turnovers, including a fumble by Whitmer quarterback Riley Keller on a play in which he was injured.
The defense of sixth-seeded Central overpowered second-seeded Clayton Northmont during a 33-7 victory as DeWayne Carter, Jaquwon Crawford and Terry Simuel all returned interceptions for touchdowns and Mike Dunlap got a tackle in the end zone for a safety.
4. Hilliard Davidson was steady in beating Springfield 17-14 in a Region 3 semifinal.
On its way to a win at London, Davidson not surprisingly produced a drive that took more than nine minutes off the clock to begin the second half, producing a 37-yard field goal by Sean Carrier that capped its scoring.
Davidson committed two turnovers that led to scores for Springfield, but a pair of touchdowns by Jordan Hicks and a defense that limited its opponent to 263 total yards helped the Wildcats advance to a regional final for the first time since 2015.
5. Whitehall’s loss to Massillon Washington was much closer than it appeared.
Top-seeded Massillon earned a 35-17 victory over fifth-seeded Whitehall in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal at Arlin Field in Mansfield, but the game was still in doubt early in the fourth quarter.
Whitehall trailed 23-17 with 10 minutes remaining when Wayne Blackshear returned a fumble 35 yards to the Tigers’ 34. The Rams then had penalties on three consecutive plays and were forced to punt.
Massillon later returned an interception to the Whitehall 10 to set up another score on its way to improving to 12-0 while one of the Rams’ greatest seasons ended at 10-2.