Now, the second season begins.
The playoffs get underway this weekend with 16 first-round games involving area teams Friday, Nov. 8, in Divisions I, II, III and VI and three games Saturday, Nov. 9, in Divisions IV, V and VII.
Twenty-three teams in the ThisWeek coverage area advanced to the postseason, including 10 in Division I. Of those, eight are in the central Ohio-dominated Region 3 and represent four of the five OCC divisions.
Here are five things we expect in the first round of the playoffs:
1. Groveport plays host to Hilliard Davidson in what might be the most old-school game of the first round.
This Division I, Region 3 first-round matchup should be a battle of overlapping wills.
Fourth-seeded Groveport is averaging 302.7 yards rushing per game and fifth-seeded Davidson averages 208.3 yards on the ground and has attempted only 14 passes all season in its option offense.
The Cruisers, who run the wing-T, are making their first playoff appearance in 12 years and are eager to shake off an ugly 35-7 loss at New Albany on Nov. 1. The Wildcats have won three games in a row since a Week 7 loss at Upper Arlington and are in the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 seasons.
2. There are layers of intrigue to the other Region 3 first-round matchups as well.
The other three matchups in the region are rematches of regular-season games, and two of those feature teams that know each other from league play.
Top-seeded Olentangy Liberty handed eighth-seeded Westerville Central its first loss of the season in the OCC-Buckeye Division opener for both teams.
Second-seeded Pickerington Central and seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg will renew acquaintances for the second time in three weeks after the Tigers reclaimed the OCC-Ohio title from the Raiders, and third-seeded Olentangy Orange has a chance to avenge its only loss when it plays host to sixth-seeded Pickerington North.
3. Of the area’s three top-seeded teams, Liberty might have the toughest challenge in the opening round.
Not only is there the obvious familiarity between the Patriots and Westerville Central, but the Warhawks statistically dominated their 17-7 loss to Liberty on Oct. 4.
Central outgained Liberty 250-137 in total yards and held the Patriots to 20 yards rushing while forcing two turnovers, but the Warhawks were doomed by their three giveaways. Central benefited from seven turnovers in a 41-7 win at Olentangy on Nov. 1 and thrived with running back Rickey Hyatt back in the fold after he missed time because of an injury.
The other two top-seeded teams from the area are Hartley in Division III, Region 11 and Harvest Prep in Division VII, Region 27.
4. The City League’s three qualifiers should brace themselves for fevered atmospheres.
Fifth-seeded Walnut Ridge’s reward for its first 10-0 regular season is a Division II, Region 8 first-round game at fourth-seeded Xenia, which is in the playoffs for the first time.
In Region 11, sixth-seeded Centennial faces a road trip to third-seeded Jackson, and in Division IV, Region 15, eighth-seeded Marion-Franklin travels to football-crazy Hanover for a tilt with perennial power and top-seeded Licking Valley.
City League games generally have not drawn well over the years, something that isn’t an issue in one-school towns such as Hanover, Jackson and Xenia. Overcoming some culture shock early will be critical for the Red Devils, Scots and Stars.
5. Fans with a sense of history can appreciate a first-round matchup between Columbus Academy and Amanda-Clearcreek.
The OCC isn’t the only league that will see its teams face off in the postseason.
Fifth-seeded Academy, from the MSL-Ohio, will visit the fourth-seeded Aces, who represent the MSL-Buckeye, in Division V, Region 19.
This will be the third postseason meeting between the Aces and Vikings but the first since a 2006 Region 19 semifinal, won by Amanda-Clearcreek 36-9. Academy defeated the Aces 13-8 in the 2003 Division V state championship game.