The season is complete for two-thirds of the high-school football teams in the state of Ohio. But the second season is just beginning for the rest, the top programs that have reached the state playoffs.
For some, such as Newark Catholic, it’s almost a fall rite of passage. But for eight of the 224 programs that qualified for the playoffs, there’s history to be made.
Entering this season there were 78 of the 715 schools playing football that had never advanced to the postseason since the playoffs were implemented in 1972, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
That number has decreased with playoff berths this fall by Toledo Start (Division I); Dayton Belmont (Division III); Lewiston Indian Lake (Division IV) and Byesville Meadowbrook (Division IV); Magnolia Sandy Valley, Bidwell River Valley and Bethel Tate (Division V); and North Jackson Jackson-Milton (Division VII).
The eight first-time participants compares with 10 newcomers in 2014.
At other end of the spectrum, Newark Catholic (Division VI) broke a tie with Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller for the most playoff appearances. The Green Wave is in for the 34th time and has won eight titles, the most recent in 2007. Moeller did not qualify this year. Ironton is third with 32 appearances.
The five rounds of the playoffs conclude with the state championships Dec. 3-5 in Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
Elsewhere around Ohio last week:
“TEAMING” WITH PRIDE: A year ago, Warren John F. Kennedy went 2-8. This year the Eagles finished 9-1 and atop the Division VII, Region 23 rankings….Defiance snapped a 19-game Western Buckeye League losing streak with a 34-6 victory over Lima Shawnee….Swanton beat Delta 23-14 to earn a piece of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title with Wauseon. It was the first league championship for Swanton in football since 1995….The Jackson Ironmen won their 600th game in program history with a 64-20 victory over Gallipolis Gallia Academy. The Ironmen are the 30th program in Ohio history to reach this milestone. Jackson had its sixth 9-1 season all-time and has six 10-0 years, including 2014….Middletown Bishop Fenwick completed the first 10-0 season in school history with a 35-7 victory over Dayton Carroll. The Falcons are on a school-record 14-game winning streak and are seeded first in Division IV, Region 14….Middletown Madison’s 62-38 win over Dayton Northridge gave the Mohawks a 7-3 record for their first winning season since 2000….The eighteen playoff teams from the tri-county area of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties is a local record.
TAKE A BOW: Albany Alexander beat Pomeroy Meigs 35-26 to win the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division outright for the first time in school history and deny Meigs a share of the title. Alexander also tied a school record for wins (9-1). … Oak Hill defeated Franklin Furnace Green 60-0 to clinch the outright Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship. Oak Hill has won or shared the title six times since 2009. The Oaks held Green to zero rushing yards on 40 carries and to one passing yard on three completions and five attempts. The two incomplete passes were interceptions….Steubenville Big Red’s defense finished the season allowing fewer than 100 yards per game in rushing (94.8) and passing (92.6)….Milan Edison got a touchdown pass with 11 seconds left to beat Sandusky Perkins 24-20 to share the Sandusky Bay Conference title with Clyde, marking the first time Edison has won an SBC title in football since joining in 1986.
FOOT NOTABLES: Columbiana senior Crystal Stone, who was on the homecoming court the week before, ran for her first two touchdowns in a 67-22 win over Leetonia as the Clippers captured their first league title since 2003….After three touches resulted in three touchdowns in the previous game for Defiance Tinora’s Nathan Drewes, he had four touches for three scores in a 41-0 win vs. Defiance Ayersville — two touchdown receptions and a 42-yard TD run….Zack Carpenter rushed for 220 yards and five touchdowns, including a 97-yarder, as Liberty Center blanked Bryan, 47-0….Grafton Midview quarterback Dustin Crum completed 31 of 38 passes for 415 yards and four TDs in a 35-28 win over North Ridgeville. His favorite target, Logan Bolin, set two Lorain County single-game records with 19 receptions for 302 yards. He had three TDs in the game….Lisbon David Anderson had 493 total yards and Columbiana Crestview had 500 as Lisbon won 55-54 in overtime. Lisbon’s Jason Thompson ran for 244 yards on 20 carries, including touchdown runs of 85, 7 and 69 yards….Andrew Guillaume ran for 324 yards and seven touchdowns, five in the second half, to help Edgerton to a 50-26 win over Sherwood Fairview….Athens senior tailback Zacciah Saltzman rushed for 362 yards and five touchdowns on 38 carries in a 50-14 win over Nelsonville-York. He finished the season with 2,112 yards and 37 touchdowns on the ground.
WELL DONE, SIR: Thornville Sheridan coach Paul Culver Jr., a member of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, announced his retirement following his team’s 20-14 triple-overtime win against rival New Lexington on Friday.
Culver led the Generals to 17 playoff berths and 14 Muskingum Valley League titles in 35 seasons. In 44 years as a head coach he compiled a 324-132-5 record, ranking among the top 10 all-time in Ohio.