Friday Night Live: Tougher tests await central Ohio programs in next round
Of the 11 first-round playoff games involving central Ohio football teams in Division I on Oct. 9, four were won by lower seeds.
Teams such as Hilliard Darby and New Albany will be among those hoping the momentum they gained will help them pull even bigger upsets in the regional quarterfinal round Friday, Oct. 16.
Darby is the ninth seed in Region 3 and will travel to top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Pickerington Central after winning 21-7 on Oct. 9 at eighth-seeded Gahanna.
The Panthers improved to 4-3 as quarterback Blake Horvath rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns and completed a 48-yard pass to Beau Bridges to set up their final score.
Central, behind six touchdowns and 117 yards on 16 carries from running back Nick Mosley, beat 16th-seeded Grove City 49-0 on Oct. 9 for its fourth shutout as it improved to 7-0. The Tigers have given up only 25 points all season.
“I’m happy with the result (against Gahanna),” Darby coach John Santagata said. “I thought our defense played really well and I was happy with how our special teams played. (Central is) nationally ranked and the No. 1 team in the state. We’ve scrimmaged them over the years and they’re a tremendous football team.”
The second seed in the region is Pickerington North, which improved to 6-1 with a 35-22 victory over 15th-seeded Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 9 and now must get past 10th-seeded New Albany on Friday, Oct. 16, to move into a regional semifinal.
The fact that the Panthers beat the Eagles 56-21 on Sept. 25 wouldn’t seem to bode well for New Albany in the rematch, but the Eagles were within two touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter.
New Albany won at seventh-seeded Westerville North 34-3 on Oct. 9 to improve to 4-3 and set up the matchup.
“We’ve played some pretty good teams the last couple weeks in Pickerington North and Westerville Central (on Oct. 2) and they’ve made some good teams look pretty bad,” New Albany coach Bubba Kidwell said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to show we’re a better team than a couple weeks ago.”
Here are other matchups of note, by division, during the second week of the playoffs:
•The top seed in Division I, Region 2 is Dublin Coffman, which will play host to eighth-seeded Springboro after routing 16th-seeded Beavercreek 56-7 on Oct. 9 to improve to 7-0. Bryon Threats had one of his biggest games of the season, rushing for 225 yards and five touchdowns on 13 carries and adding a 50-yard receiving touchdown.
Also in Region 2, fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty is host to 12th-seeded Kettering Fairmont.
In the other games in Region 3, 11th-seeded Upper Arlington is at third-seeded Westerville Central and 13th-seeded Hilliard Bradley travels to fifth-seeded Reynoldsburg.
For the Warhawks, it represents a rematch of a game they won 28-23 on Aug. 28 as well as a postseason opener after their first-round game was canceled.
Bradley surprised fourth-seeded Groveport 28-7 to improve to 2-5 and set up the matchup with Reynoldsburg, which avenged a 41-40 loss to Lancaster on Sept. 18 with a 53-19 victory over the 12th-seeded Golden Gales on Oct. 9.
•While Division I has six rounds of playoff action, other divisions will begin the second of seven rounds of competition.
In Division II, Region 7, among the matchups to watch is ninth-seeded Big Walnut at eighth-seeded Dublin Scioto in a rematch of a game won 15-14 by the Irish on Oct. 2. Caden Williams rushed 41 times for 183 yards and one touchdown for Big Walnut, but Scioto quarterback Amare Jenkins connected with Xavier Lopes for the winning 36-yard touchdown on the game’s final play.
Opening the postseason after first-round byes will be third-seeded Westerville South, which plays host to 14th-seeded Watkins Memorial, and fourth-seeded Olentangy, which will be host to 13th-seeded Licking Heights.
The other matchups involving area teams feature 11th-seeded Olentangy Berlin at sixth-seeded Wooster, 12th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne at fifth-seeded Uniontown Green, 15th-seeded Walnut Ridge at second-seeded Massillon Washington and 17th-seeded Canal Winchester at top-seeded Massillon Perry.
•Kicking off the postseason in Division III, Region 11 after having first-round byes will be top-seeded DeSales, second-seeded Hartley and sixth-seeded Watterson, with all playing second-round home games.
Also in Region 11, eighth-seeded Granville and ninth-seeded Eastmoor Academy will meet after having first-round byes and 14th-seeded Columbus South travels to third-seeded Thornville Sheridan after defeating 19th-seeded Bellefontaine 44-18 on Oct. 9 in the first playoff game in program history.
Other teams that will open after having first-round byes are Marion-Franklin (6) in Division IV, Region 15, Columbus Academy (4), Harvest Prep (5) and Ready in Division V, Region 19, Worthington Christian (4) in Division VI, Region 23 and Grove City Christian (11) in Division VII, Region 28.
Africentric is the eighth seed in Region 23 and plays host to ninth-seeded Lore City Buckeye Trail after beating 25th-seeded KIPP Columbus 34-14 in the first playoff game in its history.
Playoffs — Week 2
Friday, Oct. 16
Division I, Region 2
Springboro (8) at Dublin Coffman (1); Kettering Fairmont (12) at Olentangy Liberty (4)
Division I, Region 3
Hilliard Darby (9) at Pickerington Central (1); New Albany (10) at Pickerington North (2); Upper Arlington (11) at Westerville Central (3); Hilliard Bradley (13) at Reynoldsburg (5)
Division II, Region 7
Watkins Memorial (14) at Westerville South (3); Licking Heights (13) at Olentangy (4); Big Walnut (9) at Dublin Scioto (8); Olentangy Berlin (11) at Wooster (6); Worthington Kilbourne (12) at Uniontown Green (5); Walnut Ridge (15) at Massillon Washington (2); Canal Winchester (17) at Massillon Perry (2)
Division III, Region 11
Wilmington (16) at DeSales (1); Mount Orab Western Brown (15) at Hartley (2); Eastmoor Academy (9) at Granville (8); Columbus South (14) at Thornville Sheridan (3); Hamilton Township (11) at Watterson (6)
Division VII, Region 28
Grove City Christian (11) at St. Henry (6)
Saturday, Oct. 17
Division IV, Region 15
Carrollton (11) at Marion-Franklin (6)
Division V, Region 19
Coshocton (13) at Columbus Academy (4); Piketon (21) at Harvest Prep (5); McDermott Northwest (11) at Ready (6)
Division VI, Region 23
Lucasville Valley (13) at Worthington Christian (4); Lore City Buckeye Trail (9) at Africentric (8)