Friday Night Live: 5 things we learned in the first round of the playoffs

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
A.J. Mirgon and 13th-seeded Hilliard Bradley upset fourth-seeded Groveport 28-7 on Oct. 9 in a Division I, Region 3 playoff opener.

If the opening weekend of the playoffs is an accurate indicator, we should get prepared for unexpected moments following this year’s abbreviated regular season.

The week began with Westerville Central moving on after Central Crossing canceled its Division I, Region 3 matchup with the Warhawks because of an issue with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Then on Oct. 9, the brackets were far from chalk in Region 3 as four games were won by lower-seeded teams.

That’s not even including what took place in a rematch between City League programs Walnut Ridge and Independence in Division II, Region 7.

Here are five things we learned in the first round of the playoffs:

1. Hilliard Bradley had a breakthrough in its playoff opener.

Despite entering as the No. 13 seed, Bradley controlled the action by outrushing fourth-seeded Groveport 326-228 on its way to a 28-7 victory in a Region 3 opener.

Maybe we should have seen this coming after the Jaguars gave up a late touchdown and lost 37-34 to Olentangy Orange in Week 5 and then hung with Dublin Coffman before losing 28-14 a week later.

Bradley advanced to a regional quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Reynoldsburg.

2. Upper Arlington avenged a loss to Orange to begin its postseason.

After losing 31-14 to the Pioneers in Week 4, 11th-seeded UA built a 17-point halftime lead and took advantage of two turnovers by sixth-seeded Orange on its way to a 17-10 victory.

The Golden Bears, who will get another rematch Oct. 16 when they visit third-seeded Westerville Central after losing to the Warhawks 28-23 in Week 1, got 89 yards rushing and one touchdown from Carson Gresock and a 1-yard touchdown pass from James Hayek to Dominic Chiavanoli and had their defense do the rest.

Upper Arlington celebrates after defeating Olentangy Orange 17-10 on Oct. 9 in a Division I, Region 3 playoff opener.

3. It turned into a memorable night for Columbus South and Walnut Ridge.

City League teams played only three regular-season games before beginning competition in the playoffs, but the Bulldogs and Scots proved up to the task Oct. 9.

South, which is making its first postseason appearance and is seeded 14th in Division III, Region 11, got four touchdowns from Tyreese Ford while beating 19th-seeded Bellefontaine 44-18.

Walnut Ridge and Independence, the 15th and 18th seeds, respectively, in Region 7, met for the second consecutive week and produced a back-and-forth battle won by the Scots 42-38 a week after the 76ers won 26-14. Javarus Leach rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns and Howard Thornton threw for two scores, including the game-winner with 3 minutes, 2 seconds left for Walnut Ridge.

4. New Albany had no trouble getting past previously red-hot Westerville North.

Although the Eagles had lost three of four and the Warriors had won their previous three, 10th-seeded New Albany built a 24-point halftime lead and won 34-3 at seventh-seeded North in Region 3.

Brock Tibbitts threw for three touchdowns for the Eagles, who moved into a rematch against second-seeded Pickerington North after losing to the Panthers 56-21 in Week 5.

New Albany's Jayden Fudge gets a hug from Andrew Clouse, facing, as they celebrate the Eagles' 34-3 win over Westerville North in a Division I, Region 3 playoff opener Oct. 9.

5. Canal Winchester found a bright spot after a tough regular season.

Coming off a season in which they went 9-2, the Indians entered the playoffs with just a 2-4 record and as the No. 17 seed in Region 7.

That didn’t keep Canal Winchester from doing a number on 16th-seeded Mount Vernon as Stephan Byrd rushed for 122 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-7 victory.

The win set up a meeting with top-seeded and undefeated Massillon Perry on Oct. 16.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek