And then, there was one – at least from the ThisWeek coverage area, anyway.

CORRECTION: The print and earlier online version of this story omitted Cincinnati Elder offensive lineman Jakob James' name as an Ohio State commit.

And then, there was one – at least from the ThisWeek coverage area, anyway.

The Pickerington Central football team will play for a state championship when it takes on Cincinnati Elder in the Division I final Friday, Dec. 6, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Licking Valley also will play for a title, in Division IV, while Hartley and Harvest Prep fell in Division III and VII semifinals, respectively, to cap their seasons.

Central, which is seeking its second state title in three years, cleared a major hurdle when it edged top-ranked Mentor 28-21 in a semifinal Nov. 29 at Canton GlenOak. The talk when that site was finalized was that the Tigers could be heading to Stark County in consecutive weeks, and they are.

That will be the fourth of seven state finals this week, with one game taking place Thursday, Dec. 5, followed by three each of the next two days.

Here are five things we expect heading into the state finals:

1. Central’s depth and athleticism could be its best shot to overwhelm the Panthers.

Not that Elder (12-2) hasn’t run a gauntlet of its own in a schedule that included Division II state finalist Cincinnati La Salle and usual juggernauts Cincinnati Colerain, Cincinnati St. Xavier and Lakewood St. Edward, but the Tigers have been on another level during a 10-game winning streak.

Quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw, wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. and defensive standouts Dom Marasco and Ty Hamilton are only a few of the stars leading Central (13-1). Crenshaw led the Tigers to the 2017 state championship as a sophomore.

This will be the teams’ first postseason meeting since a 2008 state semifinal that Elder won 24-10. Three years ago, Central defeated the Panthers 20-14 in the season opener.

2. Four Buckeyes commits are seeking state titles, including three in the Division I matchup.

Three future Ohio State teammates -- Hamilton (DE) and Elder's Jakob James (OL) and Joe Royer (TE) -- will face off in the Division I final.

All are three-star recruits, according to 247Sports.com.

Royer has 15 touchdown catches this season, including one in the Panthers’ 31-24 semifinal win over Springfield on Nov. 29, and was named the Greater Catholic League’s co-Receiver of the Year along with St. Xavier’s Liam Clifford. Clifford is a Penn State commit and the younger brother of Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford.

La Salle kicker Jake Seibert, whose team is seeking its fourth Division II championship in six years, also is an Ohio State commit.

3. Maybe this is the year longtime Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman finally wins a state title.

The Panthers (14-0) would appear to be the favorite in the Division IV state final against Clyde (10-4) on Saturday, Dec. 7, but the Fliers just handed Cincinnati Wyoming its only loss of the season, 35-14 in a state semifinal Nov. 30.

Licking Valley, which had won only one game by fewer than 14 points entering last weekend, rallied from 15 points down in the second half to edge Poland Seminary 25-24 in a state semifinal Nov. 30. The Panthers have been to eight state semifinals and finished as state runners-up in 2007 and 2001.

Running back Gunner Golden paces Clyde’s ground game, as he scored five touchdowns against Wyoming and has led the Fliers in touchdowns two seasons in a row.

Baughman, who is in his 38th season, has 320 career victories.

4. A northeast Ohio team will not play for the Division I title. Think it’s rare? It is.

This is the first Division I state final since 2012 not to involve a team from northeast Ohio, encompassing not just Cleveland but the Akron, Massillon and Youngstown areas. That year, Cincinnati Moeller defeated Toledo Whitmer 20-12 for the championship.

Before that, northeast Ohio hadn’t been left out of the big-school final since 1976, when Moeller defeated Gahanna 43-5 to win the Class AAA title.

5. The Division II state final Thursday, Dec. 5, will pit Massillon Washington coach Nate Moore against his former team.

Moore coached La Salle to the 2014 state championship in Division II, a run that included a 48-13 rout of Olentangy in a state semifinal, before heading to Massillon a few months later.

The Tigers were 4-6 in Moore’s first season but have gone 44-8 since, including 14-0 this year.

La Salle has been fine for the most part since Moore’s departure, winning state titles in 2015 and 2016 and making the playoffs every season except last year.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave