The Dublin Coffman football team will face Toledo Whitmer in a Division I, Region 2 semifinal for the second consecutive season, but the third-seeded Shamrocks will see a much different team.
The second-seeded Panthers still have strong-armed Riley Keller at quarterback, but they have added talented running back Jared Banks to balance to their offensive attack.
Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said both players will be a concern when the teams meet Friday, Nov. 15, at the University of Findlay's Donnell Stadium. The Panthers are 10-1 and the third-seeded Shamrocks are 9-2.
"They have a really good quarterback, who is going to play at Bowling Green, and they have a really good running back," said Crabtree, whose team opened the playoffs with a 45-14 win over sixth-seeded Perrysburg on Nov. 8 at home. "They have a talented backfield and they have some good skill receivers to go with those two."
Banks is a move-in from Monroe, Michigan, and has rushed for 2,095 yards and 28 touchdowns on 273 carries. Last season, the Panthers' ground game was led by 2019 graduate Kobe Myers, who ran for 727 yards and 10 scores on 153 carries.
Whitmer defeated seventh-seeded Clayton Northmont 35-21 in its playoff opener Nov. 8 as Banks rushed for 268 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries.
"They are a little different than last year," Shamrocks defensive coordinator Curtis Crager said. "They still have their good quarterback and they had a good running back move into the (school) district. Obviously, when you play a team once, you have a little familiarity, but I guess that can be good for both teams."
Keller has completed 54 of 103 passes for 1,153 yards with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. He was 6-for-13 passing for 100 yards and a touchdown against Northmont.
"(Keller is) athletic and he can scramble well and he is obviously a good passer," Crager said. "We'll have our hands full again, but we still have the opportunity to play, which is awesome this time of year."
Among the leaders for Whitmer's defense are seniors Romelle Grier (4.5 sacks) and Jacob Baker (4 sacks) on the line and senior Tre Young (3 interceptions) and junior James Covington Jr. (4 interceptions) in the secondary.
"They are athletic on defense and have a couple nice-sized linemen," Crabtree said. "They also look like they have some guys in the secondary that can cover and run."
The Shamrocks seized control early against Perrysburg, building a 35-0 lead midway through the second quarter. They amassed 440 total yards, including 251 on the ground.
"We were pretty focused and our team came to play," Crabtree said. "I just think that if you don't show up ready to play, it's not going to end well."
Junior quarterback Connor Mathews was 7-for-12 passing for 189 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and rushed for 67 yards and two scores on four carries. Junior Bryon Threats rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and senior Mike Drennen had four receptions for 71 yards and one score.
"I think one of the things we talked about was understanding the playoff environment and coming in with the right frame of mind and making plays when we need to the most," Crabtree said. "In the playoffs, everyone you play is going to be good. I think our players listened to that and we were focused. I think the reason that we jumped out to a good lead was because of the attention to detail and the focus on what we need to do."
The semifinal winner plays top-seeded Springfield or fourth-seeded Jerome in the regional final Nov. 22 at a neutral site.