Friday Night Live: Divisions II-III first-round playoff previews

ThisWeek Sports Staff
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Dublin Scioto's Xavier Jeffy tries to get past Delaware's Hezekiah Russell during their game Sept. 25. The Irish open the postseason Oct. 9 against visiting Mifflin.

Mifflin at Dublin Scioto

After playing an abbreviated schedule because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Mifflin coach Anthony Thornton hopes his team gains some valuable experience when it visits Dublin Scioto in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs Friday, Oct. 9.

The 25th-seeded Punchers — who did not have a game Oct. 2 — are 0-2.

“With everything that’s going on with COVID, you don’t know when you’re going to get to play, so we’re going to take advantage of it and see what happens,” Thornton said of competing in the postseason.

The eighth-seeded Irish won their fifth consecutive game with a 15-14 victory over Big Walnut on Oct. 2 to improve to 5-1 overall. The winning points came on an untimed play following a facemask penalty against Big Walnut as time expired in the fourth quarter. 

Quarterback Amare Jenkins connected with Xavier Lopes for a 36-yard touchdown pass after Jenkins was sacked on the previous play but the Golden Eagles were called for a personal foul when Jenkins’ helmet was pulled off.

“They’ve been hurt with all the time off, only having two games,” Scioto coach Karl Johnson said of Mifflin. “They have good looking athletes. We need to be assignment-sound, execute and play our game and respect all opponents.”

The winner plays ninth-seeded Big Walnut or 24th-seeded Logan in the second round Oct. 16 at the home of the better seed.

Jenkins passed for 111 yards, and Ed Worthen and Mason Salvator each rushed for 41 yards to lead Scioto against Big Walnut.

“They’re a solid football team,” Thornton said. “They have a really good defensive line. They’re solid all across the board, so it’s going to require us to have the best practice and preparation that these young men have ever had to go through. 

“We can’t turn it over and we have to allow our defense to keep us in the game and play really good special teams and we’ll see what happens after that.”

Junior Tyler Macklin will be making his third start at quarterback for the Punchers.

“We have to get him warmed up to the task very quickly,” Thornton said.

—Frank DiRenna

MIFFLIN at DUBLIN SCIOTO

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Mifflin (0-2) to date: Lost to Africentric 20-8; lost to Whetstone 12-6

•Scioto (5-1) to date: Lost to Westerville South 42-28; defeated Worthington Kilbourne 21-13; def. Canal Winchester 28-21; def. Franklin Heights 41-0; def. Delaware 28-0; def. Big Walnut 15-14

•Top Punchers: Karaou Camara (OL/DL), Sincere Jay (OL/DL), Elijah Lee (WR/DB), Tyler Macklin (QB/DB), Keith McGee (WR/DB) and Kam Wattie (OL/DL)

•Top Irish: Lesley Andoh (RB/DB), Tysen Boze (WR/DB), Amare Jenkins (QB), Xavier Lopes (WR/DB), Maxwell Martin-Lee (OL/DL), Mason Salvator (RB/LB/K/P), Koel Shaw (OL/DL), Joe Trent (TE/DL), Vernon Williams (TE/DL) and Ed Worthen (RB)

Logan at Big Walnut

Although Logan travels to Big Walnut for a first-round matchup in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs Friday, Oct. 9, still looking for its first win, the 24th-seeded Chieftains give Golden Eagles coach Rob Page plenty to worry about.

“Offensively, they do a lot of different things — run-pass option, go under center and they run a bunch of formations,” Page said. “If you believe in preparing the same way every week, it provides some issues. Defensively, they bring a lot of pressure, and that’s not something we’ve seen this year.”

Logan dropped to 0-6 with a 32-21 loss to Watkins Memorial on Oct. 2.

Ninth-seeded Big Walnut fell to 3-3 with a 15-14 loss to Dublin Scioto on the final play the same night. 

The game appeared to be over, but a facemask penalty against the Golden Eagles gave the Irish an untimed play and Scioto quarterback Amare Jenkins connected with Xavier Lopes for a 36-yard touchdown pass.

Caden Williams’ 2-yard touchdown run with 26.7 seconds remaining had given the Golden Eagles a 14-9 lead. He finished with 191 yards rushing.

A win over Logan could give Big Walnut a rematch with eighth-seeded Scioto in the second round Oct. 16. The Irish play 25th-seeded Mifflin in their postseason opener.

The loss to the Scioto marked the second consecutive heartbreaking defeat for the Golden Eagles.

A week earlier, Westerville North kicked a 23-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to win 20-17. 

Page isn’t worried about his team’s morale, however.

“I think kids have more resolve than we give them credit for,” he said.

—Scott Gerfen

LOGAN at BIG WALNUT

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Logan (0-6) to date: Lost to Jackson 48-14; lost to Amanda-Clearcreek 17-12; lost to Warren 28-14; lost to Bloom-Carroll 14-0; lost to Logan Elm 48-21; lost to Watkins Memorial 32-21

•Big Walnut (3-3) to date: Defeated Delaware 14-6; lost to Westerville South 50-41; def. Franklin Heights 35-6; def. Worthington Kilbourne 31-0; lost to Westerville North 20-17; lost to Dublin Scioto 15-14

•Top Chieftains: Keiton Arledge (OL/DL), Ian Frasure (QB), Brandon Heft (WR), Caden McCarty (RB), Johnny McClelland (WR/DB), Henry Pierce (TE/DL) and Traten Poling (WR/LB)

•Top Golden Eagles: Zach Barnecut (WR/DB), Jagger Barnett (QB), Sam Fortney (WR/DB), Brady Hershberger (WR/DB), A.J. Leasure (TE/LB), Mark Ruffing (OL/DL), Mahlon Spangler (OL/DL), Gage Sutton (TE/DL), Cole Wecker (OL/DL) and Caden Williams (RB/DE)

Whitehall-Yearling at Olentangy Berlin

As Olentangy Berlin prepares to play Whitehall-Yearling for the first time, Bears coach Mark Nori has several concerns about facing the visiting Rams in a Division II, Region 7 first-round game Friday, Oct. 9.

“I know that they’re well-coached and have had some playoff success in the past, which means they know how to win in the playoffs,” Nori said. “On tape, their kids play extremely hard, have size and speed in the right positions, which could present problems for us.”

The 11th-seeded Bears improved to 3-3 overall with a 28-21 win at Thomas Worthington on Oct. 2. They finished 3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

The 22nd-seeded Rams, who fell to 1-5 overall with a 52-14 loss to visiting Harvest Prep for their fourth consecutive loss, went 1-4 in the MSL-Ohio. Their only victory was 22-14 over winless Grandview on Sept. 4. 

The winner visits sixth-seeded Wooster in the second round Oct. 16. The Generals, who are 6-0 and have outscored opponents 214-56, have a first-round bye.

Quarterback Jacob Moeller completed 16 of 26 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns to lead Berlin past Thomas. For the season, he has completed 118 of 193 passes for 1,946 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Nick Tiberio rushed for 120 yards on 24 carries, and Ryan Horstman had three catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.

Whitehall quarterback Elijah Hughes completed 15 of 26 passes for 115 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against Harvest Prep.

—Frank DiRenna

WHTEHALL-YEARLING at OLENTANGY BERLIN

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Whitehall (1-5) to date: Lost to Columbus Academy 38-0; defeated Grandview 22-14; lost to Liberty Union 34-12; lost to Buckeye Valley 14-13; lost to Ready 42-17; lost to Harvest Prep 52-14 

•Berlin (3-3) to date: Lost to Olentangy Liberty 35-21; lost to Olentangy 45-33; def. Hilliard Darby 48-41; def. Dublin Jerome 38-27; lost to Marysville 28-0; def. Thomas Worthington 28-21

•Top Rams: Taron Biles-Walker (WR/DB), Dauvion Henderson (RB/LB), Elijah Hughes (QB), Da’Leon Jackson (TE/DL), Kevin Jackson (WR/DB), Dorrin Mixon (RB/DB), Termir Mosley-Allen (TE/DL), Tyrese Taylor (WR/LB), Jalen Townsend (WR/DB) and David Winegarner (OL/DL)

•Top Bears: Antonio Alonso (OL/DL), Jon Harder (OL/DL), Bennett Lawrence (WR/LB), Ethan Lee (RB/LB), Aiden Loeffler (WR/DB), Jacob Moeller (QB), Colin Pethtel (WR/DB), Justin Radar (WR/DB), Nick Tiberio (RB/LB) and Cole Troyer (OL/DL)

Canal Winchester at Mount Vernon

Canal Winchester coach Josh Stratton thinks his team is playing better than it has all year — particularly in a couple of important areas — as it prepares for a first-round Division II, Region 7 game at 16th-seeded Mount Vernon on Friday, Oct. 9.

“We’re cutting down on turnovers and penalties and we’re getting the best play up front on both (lines) that we’ve seen all season,” said Stratton, whose team is seeded 17th. “They’re blocking very well and playing powerful and physical.”

Canal Winchester improved to 2-4 overall and in the OCC-Capital Division with a 49-21 home win over Delaware on Oct. 2. 

Stephan Byrd ran for 164 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries and caught one pass for a 71-yard touchdown, increasing his season totals to 806 yards and nine scores on 97 carries. He also has seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

Quarterback Reese Musick has completed 29 of 68 passes for 512 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Indians are making their second consecutive playoff appearance, their third in four seasons and 10th overall.

Mount Vernon fell to 2-3 with a 17-7 loss at Mansfield Senior on Oct. 2 in an Ohio Cardinal Conference matchup. 

Although the Yellow Jackets were held to 95 yards, including 34 rushing by the Tygers, they boast talent on the ground in senior A.J. Keen and versatile freshman Jonny Askew. 

Askey has played running back, wide receiver and defensive back in addition to punting for Mount Vernon, which left the OCC in 2016.

“They’ll work out of the shotgun and run the wing-T with spread components,” Stratton said. “They have a good defensive line. It’s probably the strength of their team.”

The winner will visit top-seeded Massillon Perry in the second round Oct. 16.

—Dave Purpura

CANAL WINCHESTER at MOUNT VERNON

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Canal Winchester (2-4) to date: Lost to Worthington Kilbourne 33-14; defeated Franklin Heights 64-14; lost to Dublin Scioto 28-21; lost to Westerville North 21-7; lost to Westerville South 42-24; def. Delaware 49-21

•Mount Vernon (2-3) to date: Def. Lexington 14-0; lost to Ashland 39-6; lost to Wooster 33-23; def. Mansfield Madison 30-26; lost to Mansfield Senior 17-7

•Top Indians: Stephan Byrd (RB), Jonathon Chandler (DL), Mason Fry (OL), Andre Heglar (WR), Korbin Martino (DB), Joey Moreno (OL), Reese Musick (QB), Blaine Riley (LB/P) and Luke Twiss (LB)

•Top Yellow Jackets: Jonny Askew (RB/WR/DB/P), Jesse Bayless (WR), Easton Groom (DE), A.J. Keen (RB), Britten Long (QB/DB), Gavin Moyer (WR) and Zach Snyder (WR/DB)

Marion Harding at Worthington Kilbourne

Worthington Kilbourne has alternated wins and losses this season, and the 12th-seeded Wolves hope that pattern continues when they play host to 21st-seeded Marion Harding in a Division II, Region 7 playoff matchup Friday, Oct. 9.

Kilbourne fell to 3-3 with a 22-21 home loss to Westerville North on Oct. 2 when the Warriors’ Brennan Albertini blocked a 20-yard field-goal attempt in the final seconds. The Presidents finished the regular season at 1-5 after losing 54-14 to Bellville Clear Fork the same night 

The winner will travel to fifth-seeded Uniontown Green in the second round Oct. 16.

Harding, which is a member of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, picked up its only victory with a 14-7 decision over Mansfield Madison on Sept. 18. Coach Jerrod Slater’s team gave up more than 40 points in four of its six games. 

Top players for the Presidents include defensive end Jacob Arndt, running back and defensive back Kyrie Scott, running back Malaki Robinson, quarterback and receiver Wesley Stokes and quarterback Brady Wink. 

Through five weeks, Wink completed 50 of 94 passes for 654 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. Robinson carried 48 times for 312 yards and a touchdown, and Stokes caught 13 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.

Against North, the Wolves fell behind 14-0 but then scored 21 unanswered points to go up 21-14 in the final quarter. Marcus Gipson caught a 34-yard touchdown from Mitchell Tomasek and rushed 2 yards for another score, and Terrique Gray caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Tomasek.

Tomasek has completed 63 of 107 passes for 1,037 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. His top target is Cayden Dougherty, who has 29 receptions for 635 yards and seven touchdowns. 

Gray has 215 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, Trey Davis has 151 yards on 36 runs and J.J. Calip has 135 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. 

—Stephen Borgna

MARION HARDING at WORTHINGTON KILBOURNE 

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Harding (1-5) to date: Lost to Marion Pleasant 42-28; lost to Galion 30-6; lost to Shelby 49-17; defeated Mansfield Madison 14-7; lost to Caledonia River Valley 41-7; lost to Bellville Clear Fork 54-14 

•Kilbourne (3-3) to date: Def. Canal Winchester 33-14; lost to Dublin Scioto 21-13; def. Delaware 31-17; lost to Big Walnut 31-0; def. Franklin Heights 46-26; lost to Westerville North 22-21 

•Top Presidents: Jacob Arndt (DE), Kyrie Scott (RB/DB), Malaki Robinson (RB), Wesley Stokes (QB/WR) and Brady Wink (QB)  

•Top Wolves: Luke Brown (OL/DL), Cayden Dougherty (WR/DB), Mitchell Tomasek (QB/P), Terrique Gray (RB/LB), Spencer Parker-Gordon (WR/DB), Skylar Scott (WR/DB), Bryce Taylor (TE/LB) and Brian Wilson (RB/LB)

Independence at Walnut Ridge

When Independence beat Walnut Ridge 26-14 on Oct. 2, it marked the 20th consecutive season the programs have played one another the final week before the postseason.

That the teams will meet for the second consecutive week in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs also won’t be the first time this has happened.

The 18th-seeded 76ers — who will visit the 15th-seeded Scots on Friday, Oct. 9 — beat Walnut Ridge in Week 10 and again in the first round of the Region 7 playoffs in 2003 on their way to a regional runner-up finish.

The winner of this year’s matchup plays Oct. 16 at second-seeded Massillon Washington in a second-round contest.

Independence improved to 2-1 with the win over the Scots on Oct. 2 after losing 35-0 to Walnut Ridge in each of the past two seasons.

The Scots, who dropped to 1-2, fell behind 8-0 when quarterback Orlando Jones ran for a 52-yard touchdown and then completed a two-point conversion pass to Shawn Munnerlyn. The 76ers stretched their lead to 14-0 when Jones added an 8-yard interception return for a score.

Independence built a 26-8 lead at halftime, with running back Antonio Harris running for a 7-yard touchdown and Jones completing a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Vontez Brice.

While the 76ers bounced back from a 34-22 loss to Marion-Franklin on Sept. 26 with the win over the Scots, Walnut Ridge opened with a 36-14 win over Centennial on Sept. 17 but lost 25-19 in overtime to Eastmoor Academy on Sept. 24.

Walnut Ridge has been led offensively by quarterback Howard Thornton, running back Javarus Leach and wide receiver Damien Whaley, who caught two touchdown passes from Thornton in the loss to Independence.

—Jarrod Ulrey

INDEPENDENCE at WALNUT RIDGE

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Last meeting: Oct. 2, Independence 26-14

•Independence (2-1) to date: Defeated East 58-12; lost to Marion-Franklin 34-22; def. Walnut Ridge 26-14

•Walnut Ridge (1-2) to date: Def. Centennial 36-14; lost to Eastmoor 25-19 (OT); lost to Independence 26-14

•Top 76ers: Vontez Brice (RB/DB), Michael Johnson (LB/WR), Orlando Jones (QB/DB), Shawn Munnerlyn (WR/TE/LB), Jalin Sample (RB/DB) and Benzle Sieh (DB)

•Top Scots: Ras Anderson (OL/DL), Jamarius Dinkins (OL/DL), Antonio Felts (RB/LB), William Felts (WR/DB), Javarus Leach (RB/LB), Howard Thornton (QB) and Damien Whatley (WR)

Whetstone at Licking Heights 

After a lopsided loss in its opening game, Whetstone has won two in a row heading into its Division II, Region 7 playoff matchup at Licking Heights on Friday, Oct. 9.

The 20th-seeded Braves fell 52-6 to Columbus South on Sept. 17, but followed with victories over Mifflin (12-6 on Sept. 25) and Centennial (22-14 on Oct. 2). 

The 13th-seeded Hornets lost 49-20 to Granville on Oct. 2 to drop to 2-4.

The winner will advance to face fourth-seeded Olentangy on Friday, Oct. 16. 

Whetstone quarterback Alex Hurd has completed 17 of 30 passes for 161 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. 

Running back Darric McClinton has carried 39 times for 278 yards and two touchdowns and has caught five passes for 57 yards. Kiefer Young has six receptions for 93 yards. 

Licking Heights opened with a 31-27 win over Zanesville on Aug. 28, but its only victory since then was 23-14 over Newark Catholic on Sept. 25. 

Quarterback Deuce Caldwell has completed 50 of 92 passes for 610 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions, and he has run for 343 yards and four touchdowns on 103 carries. 

Running back Zach Lammers has 464 yards and one touchdown on 90 carries, and receiver Jacob Climer has 23 receptions for 299 yards and a touchdown. 

—Stephen Borgna

WHETSTONE at LICKING HEIGHTS

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Whetstone (2-1) to date: Lost 52-6 to Columbus South; defeated Mifflin 12-6; def. Centennial 22-14

•Licking Heights (2-4) to date: Def. Zanesville 31-27; lost to Watkins Memorial 40-13; lost to Canton Central Catholic 28-21; lost to Licking Valley 28-14; def. Newark Catholic 23-14; lost to Granville 49-20 

•Top Hornets: Deuce Caldwell (QB), Jacob Climer (WR), Noah Coultas (LB), Andre Dewberry (DE) and Zach Lammers (RB) 

•Top Braves: Alex Hurd (QB) Darric McClinton (RB/LB), Zane Fent (DL) Abdourahman Sallah (CB/TE) Khristian Watkins-Sellers (RB) and Kiefer Young (WR)

St. Charles at Uniontown Lake

St. Charles will look to continue the strides it has made in its running game when the 23rd-seeded Cardinals travel to 10th-seeded Uniontown Lake on Friday, Oct. 9, in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs.

The Cardinals are 0-3 overall and in the CCL after a 38-14 loss at Watterson on Oct. 2. Lake is 3-3 after alternating between wins and losses, including a 32-21 victory over Uniontown Green on Oct. 2.

The only previous meeting between the programs was during the Division II playoffs in 2010, when the host Blue Streaks defeated the Cardinals 41-14.

St. Charles got its ground game going against Watterson, led by running back Fred Nimely with 149 yards and one score on 23 carries. Entering the playoffs, he had 250 yards on 52 carries.

Quarterback Carter Bryant was 11-for-16 passing for 100 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed 11 times for 26 yards. 

Isaiah Yarngo (4 catches, 49 yards) and Doogie James (3 catches, 22 yards, 1 TD) were the top receivers.

Lake quarterback Jake Eckels has completed 97 of 185 passes for 1,155 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. His primary targets are wide receivers Carson Miller (29 catches, 302 yards, 3 TDs), Drew DeGeorge (25 catches, 273 yards, 1 TD) and Bryce Snow (16 catches, 287 yards).

Lake running back Logan Brady has 441 yards and seven touchdowns on 69 carries.

The St. Charles-Lake winner plays at seventh-seeded North Canton Hoover on Oct. 16 in the second round.

—Scott Hennen

ST. CHARLES at UNIONTOWN LAKE

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9

•Last meeting: 2010, Lake 41-14

•St. Charles (0-3) to date: Lost to Hartley 49-10; lost to DeSales 48-7; lost to Watterson 38-14

•Lake (3-3) to date: Lost to Massillon Perry 21-3; defeated Massillon Jackson 14-13; lost to Canton McKinley 26-17; def. Canton GlenOak 35-0; lost to North Canton Hoover 17-14; def. Uniontown Green 32-21

•Top Cardinals: Carter Bryant (QB/LB), Ryan Carretta (OL/DL), George Cottrill (OL/DL), J.D. Epler (OL/DL), Alex Herzberg (RB/LB), Doogie James (WR/DB), Solomon Lisath (DL), Fred Nimely (RB/LB), John Protz (WR/DB) and Isaiah Yarngo (WR/DB)

•Top Blue Streaks: Logan Brady (RB/LB), Mason Champagne (WR/DB), Drew DeGeorge (WR/DB), Jake Eckels (QB), Andrew Hammer (WR/DB), Sam Maricocchi (RB/LB), Carson Miller (WR/DB), Kyle Myers (OL/DL), Bryce Snow (WR/DB) and Jacob Sturmi (WR/LB)

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