Among its top seven rushers, only two have seen action in the backfield in all 13 of the Harvest Prep football team’s games.
The Warriors’ quarterback situation also has been in constant flux, with junior Josiah Carroll taking most of the snaps during the playoffs but senior running back Javon Eggert also being used at times in the wildcat, as their first three options are no longer available because of injuries and ineligibility.
Regardless of who has gotten the yards, Harvest Prep has continued to find a way, all the way to it reaching a state semifinal for the second time.
On Saturday, Nov. 30, the Warriors will play Lucas in a Division VII state semifinal at DeSales, with the winner to play Hamler Patrick Henry or Maria Stein Marion Local for the championship Dec. 7 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
In the Region 27 championship game, top-seeded Harvest Prep beat second-seeded Newark Catholic 22-15 on Nov. 23 at Westerville Central.
“The guys stay to it, stay the course and believe in the process,” coach Milan Smith said. “The plan we had at the beginning (of the game against Newark Catholic) was the same plan we finished with. That was what we do and we were going to live with the results either way. (Newark Catholic) is good and deserved to be here. We beat a very good football team.”
Harvest Prep takes a 12-1 record into its matchup with Lucas, which was the second seed in Region 25 and beat top-seeded Cuyahoga Heights 21-13 on Nov. 23 in a regional final to improve to 11-2.
While the Cubs are in the playoffs for the eighth time, including for the sixth year in a row, this will be their first time in a state semifinal.
The Warriors made their first appearance in a state semifinal in 2016 but lost to eventual champion Warren John F. Kennedy 48-7 to finish 10-4.
Harvest Prep lost its first three games that season but went on a 10-game winning streak.
This fall, the Warriors opened with a 13-12 loss to Eastmoor Academy on Aug. 30 but have won 12 in a row.
“We hope it goes a little differently than the last state semifinal for us, but again, we’re really comfortable with the skin we’re in,” Smith said. “We’re not going to change anything. We are who we are and we’re going to approach our week the same way we approach every week — watch a little film, break it down.”
Lucas got touchdown runs of 10 yards by Tommy Zirzow and 31 yards by Ethan Sauder and led 14-0 by halftime against Cuyahoga Heights, which cut it to 14-13 but missed the extra point after its second touchdown.
Zirzow, who rushed for 257 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-21 win over Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas on Nov. 16 in a regional semifinal, made it 21-13 on a 30-yard run with 10 minutes, 43 seconds remaining.
Cuyahoga Heights got the ball with 4:55 to go and moved to the Lucas 1 but fumbled, with Cubs junior linebacker Ethan Wallace recovering to seal the victory. The Redskins had won three consecutive regional titles.
Against the Green Wave, Harvest Prep fell behind 9-0 but got touchdown runs of 44 yards by Carroll and 10 yards by senior Khelin Jackson in the second quarter to take a 14-9 lead.
Newark Catholic made it 15-14 with 3:36 to go on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Matt Carlisle to Slater Evans but failed to convert the two-point conversion pass.
After taking over at its own 39, Harvest Prep moved nine plays for the game-winning touchdown on a 5-yard run by Jackson with 26.9 seconds left.
“We’re just feeling great,” Jackson said. “I’m just thankful to be here. We pulled out the ‘W.’ It just means everything for us because we haven’t been (to a state semifinal) since our freshman year.”