Friday Night Live: Division V regional quarterfinal previews

ThisWeek Sports Staff
ThisWeekSPORTS.com
Harvest Prep's Neiko St. Clair makes a catch between Columbus Academy's Chris Sugar (left) and Jake Carlin on Sept. 4. Academy, which won the game 20-10, plays host to Harvest Prep in a Division V, Region 19 quarterfinal Saturday, Oct. 24.

Harvest Prep at Columbus Academy

Harvest Prep will look to avenge its lone loss of the season when it visits Columbus Academy for a Division V, Region 19 quarterfinal Saturday, Oct. 24.

Since losing 20-10 at Academy on Sept. 4, the fifth-seeded Warriors have won five consecutive games to improve to 6-1. Harvest Prep advanced with a 41-8 win over 21st-seeded Piketon on Oct. 17.

“We know what they’ve got. They have a ton of talent,” said Academy coach Robin Miller, whose team was the outright champion in the MSL-Ohio Division at 5-0 because of its regular-season victory over the runner-up Warriors. “Their whole group is impressive. They’ve stockpiled playmakers and big guys up front. 

“They have a really good scheme for the type of kids they have. It’s going to be a challenge mainly because it’s just really tough to beat a team twice in one year.”

The fourth-seeded Vikings improved to 6-1 with a 45-21 win over 13th-seeded Coshocton on Oct. 17. It was Academy’s first postseason home game since 2003, when it beat Anna 48-6 in the opening round of the Division V, Region 20 playoffs and went on to win the state title.

After both Harvest Prep and Academy had opening-round byes, Drake Bellisari led the Vikings against Coshocton, rushing for 140 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. 

Bellisari has taken over at running back in place of Carter James, who was lost for the season after undergoing ACL surgery.

Jaylen Jennings ran for a pair of scores to help lead the Warriors past Piketon.

“We have to be effective and efficient when we have the ball,” Harvest Prep coach Milan Smith said. “We must contain the quarterback (Brady Hess) and play smart on defense.”

The winner will face top-seeded Ironton or eighth-seeded Johnstown in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at the home field of the higher seed.

—Frank DiRenna

HARVEST PREP at COLUMBUS ACADEMY

•When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24

•Last meeting: Sept. 4, Academy 20-10

•Harvest Prep (6-1) to date: Defeated Buckeye Valley 56-25; lost to Academy 20-10; def. Grandview 64-13; def. Ready 18-15; def. Bexley 46-20 def. Whitehall 52-14; def. Piketon 41-8

•Academy (6-1) to date: Def. Whitehall 38-0; def. Harvest Prep 20-10; lost to Ready 33-7; def. Bexley 31-7; def. Liberty Union 41-15; def. Grandview 49-0; def. Coshocton 45-21

•Top Warriors: Josiah Carroll (QB/DB/K), Jalen Davis (WR/DL), Avery Garner (OL/DL), Phillip Gibson-Perry (RB/LB), Rahshaun Goines (WR/DB), Jaylen Jennings (RB), Terrence Kee (QB/LB), Patrick Moore Graves (OL), Manny Mullens (TE/DL) and Aidan Rogers (QB) 

•Top Vikings: Drake Bellisari (RB/LB), Brady Hess (QB/LB), Sam Huyghe (WR/DB), Parker Logan (RB/LB), Graham Mallory (WR/DB), Gyvnn Mendenhall (OL/DL), Robert Mills (TE/DL), Durell Moultrie (WR/DB), Chris Sugar (RB/LB) and Miles Walter (OL/DL)

Brian Fitzsimmons (23) and Ready visit Wheelersburg for a Division V, Region 19 quarterfinal Saturday, Oct. 24.

Ready at Wheelersburg

Joel Cutler wasn’t Ready’s coach the last time the Silver Knights played Wheelersburg, but he has a good idea of what his team will face when it meets the Pirates in a Division V, Region 19 quarterfinal Saturday, Oct. 24.

“(Coach) Rob (Woodward) and his staff do an amazing job coaching and preparing their players,” Cutler said. “It’s a community with passion and a tradition of winning football. A game like this will come down to discipline and heart.”

Third-seeded Wheelersburg, which had a first-round bye, will play host to the sixth-seeded Knights after a 47-13 victory over 14th-seeded Portsmouth West on Oct. 17. Wheelersburg also beat Portsmouth West 28-0 on Oct. 2 in its final game before the playoffs and is 6-1, with its only loss coming 36-35 in overtime to Waverly on Sept. 18.

The Ready-Wheelersburg winner will face second-seeded West Lafayette Ridgewood or seventh-seeded Liberty Union on Oct. 31 in a regional semifinal.

Ready has won four in a row and improved to 6-2 with a 52-3 victory over 11th-seeded McDermott Northwest on Oct. 17 in a second-round game.

The last time the Knights and Pirates played was in 2017, when Wheelersburg won 34-0 to open the playoffs on its way to the Division V state championship.

In 13 seasons under Woodward, Wheelersburg has missed the playoffs only once and also has reached the state semifinals twice in addition to its title run.

In Ready’s playoff opener, it led 38-0 at halftime and was never threatened.

Quarterback Darius Parham finished 8-for-10 passing for 134 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 51 yards and one score on eight carries.

Running back Brian Fitzsimmons had 13 rushes for 120 yards and five touchdowns and running back Tyrese Hudson rushed seven times for 50 yards, while wide receiver Andy Schulze had five receptions for 103 yards and one score.

Northwest scored its only points on a field goal as time expired after Ready had posted back-to-back shutouts.

The Knights are giving up just 7.3 points per game as they prepare for Wheelersburg, which is averaging 42.6 points and was ranked eighth in the state poll released after the first week of the postseason.

In the Pirates’ playoff win, running back Derrick Lattimore rushed nine times for 102 yards and three touchdowns, quarterback Jake Gregg was 9-for-13 passing for 143 yards and two touchdowns and Matthew Miller had three receptions for 70 yards and two scores.

Another key offensive weapon for Wheelersburg is running back Eli Swords, who ran for one touchdown and had two receptions.

—Jarrod Ulrey

READY at WHEELERSBURG

•When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24

•Last meeting: 2017, Wheelersburg 34-0

•Ready (6-2) to date: Lost to Liberty Union 7-6; defeated Buckeye Valley 20-6; def. Columbus Academy 33-7; lost to Harvest Prep 18-15; def. Whitehall 42-17; def. Bexley 38-0; def. Reigning Sports Academy 36-0; def. McDermott Northwest 52-3

•Wheelersburg (6-1) to date: Def. Chillicothe 31-0; def. Minford 42-28; def. Oak Hill 52-7; lost to Waverly 36-35 (OT); def. Lucasville Valley 63-14; def. Portsmouth West 28-0; def. Portsmouth West 47-13

•Top Silver Knights: Aiden Aiello (DB/WR), Brian Fitzsimmons (RB), Tyrese Hudson (WR/DB), Cole Matthews (TE/LB), Jacob Metz (LB), JeJuan McGowan (WR/DB), Darius Parham (QB/DB), Andy Schulze (WR) and Sage Tilley (DB)

•Top Pirates: Case Dyer (RB), Jake Gregg (QB), Jay Holsinger (LB), Derrick Lattimore (RB), Matthew Miller (WR), Blake Richardson (OL/DL) and Eli Swords (RB/LB)

Playoffs — Week 3

Friday, Oct. 23

Division I, Region 2

Olentangy Liberty (4) at Dublin Coffman (1)

Division I, Region 3

Hilliard Bradley (13) at Pickerington Central (1); New Albany (10) at Westerville Central (3)

Division II, Region 7

Olentangy Berlin (11) at Westerville South (3); Worthington Kilbourne (12) at Olentangy (4); Dublin Scioto (8) at Massillon Perry (1)

Division III, Region 11

Granville (8) at DeSales (1); Dresden Tri-Valley (10) at Hartley (2); Watterson (6) at Thornville Sheridan (3)

Saturday, Oct. 24

Division V, Region 19

Harvest Prep (5) at Columbus Academy (4); Ready (6) at Wheelersburg (3)

Division VI, Region 23

Africentric (8) at Beverly Fort Frye (1)