City League Roundup: Marion-Franklin football team cruises into playoffs
As he posed for pictures with his family while celebrating senior night Oct. 3, Marion-Franklin football player Giovonni Scales couldn’t help but wonder how much sharper his team might be heading into the Division IV, Region 15 playoffs if it had more games under its belt.
The sixth-seeded Red Devils at least can enter their playoff opener Saturday, Oct. 17, at home against 11th-seeded Carrollton or 22nd-seeded Bexley in the second round knowing they’ve done everything asked of them so far.
That includes beating South 8-6 on Oct. 3 to improve to 3-0 and earn their 18th consecutive victory in the series.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot to work on in our offense,” Scales said. “Defensively every game we (hold our opponent) under 100 yards, but the whole team has still got to work.”
Scales, who plays safety and also sees action as a wildcat quarterback, has 20 Division I scholarship offers, including from Washington State, Air Force and most of the Mid-American Conference.
He and the Red Devils will get a chance to showcase themselves while making their second consecutive playoff appearance.
Marion-Franklin, which hasn’t won a postseason game since 2014, lost to Licking Valley 28-6 in a first-round contest last season to finish 8-3. It would play third-seeded Bloom-Carroll, 14th-seeded Gnadenhutten Indian Valley or 19th-seeded Wintersville Indian Creek in a regional quarterfinal Oct. 24 if it wins its playoff opener.
Against South, the Red Devils scored on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Mateo Brooks to Chrishawn Adams in the second quarter and got what proved to be the game-winning points on a two-point conversion run by Mickail Perry.
According to coach David Lakso, running back Taylen James and defensive lineman Matt Ward also have been among the standouts.
“We’ll just keep plugging along,” Lakso said. “We’re like in mid-August in terms of how much practice time we’ve had.”
battling in tennis
Northland and Centennial are among the eight City League schools participating in girls tennis this fall.
The Vikings were 2-1 in the City before facing Marion-Franklin on Oct. 7, including losing 4-1 to Whetstone on Sept. 21 as senior Twei Twei Aung won at third singles.
Sophomore Huai Pi has been competing at first singles, with sophomore Cing Huai at second singles and Aung splitting time between singles and doubles.
Others in the program are juniors Bless Florence Annor, Mary Kim, Mang N. Kim, Karmela Ree and Dalisa Roberts and sophomore Nia Waugh.
“This group of kids is just phenomenal,” coach Dan Zedeker said. “They practice on their own all the time because they love tennis so much. Being around these kids is fun.”
Centennial won its first three matches before losing 5-0 to Whetstone on Oct. 5.
Senior Champa Bista has been at first singles, with junior Foune Traore at second singles, junior Iyanna Sanders at third singles, senior Nicole Kaiser and junior Brianna Richardson at first doubles and juniors Talia Blackwell and Lily Rogers at second doubles.
“Since the kids are not in the building and we’re lottery-schooled, (my players live) all over the place so transportation hasn’t been easy,” coach Barbara Stevenson said. “We were shut down (for two weeks in late August) and that made some things difficult because some kids got jobs.”
South football team
With this year’s football playoffs being open to all teams, Africentric, Linden-McKinley, South and Whetstone all competed in the postseason for the first time.
The Bulldogs, who received the 14th seed and opened the Division III, Region 11 playoffs Oct. 9 at home against 19th-seeded Bellefontaine, weren’t planning to let their disappointment from the 8-6 loss to Marion-Franklin on Oct. 3 linger.
After losing the rivalry matchup 45-14 to finish last season at 6-4, South took a 6-0 lead over the Red Devils on a 1-yard first-quarter touchdown run by Tyreese Ford but failed on the two-point conversion.
South, which according to coach George Yates also has been led by senior two-way lineman Shermar Lindsey and senior quarterback Ronmel Robinson, was 2-1 heading into the playoffs.
“We just didn’t execute (against the Red Devils),” Yates said. “We’re very assignment-oriented and when we don’t complete our assignments, we don’t play well. (Not playing until Week 4) probably hurt us because I don’t think as much as you want to raise the level, it’s pretty hard to raise it that far when you can’t get focused on assignment-based football.”