Glenville brings a slew of major-college recruits into the Division II championship Friday, while Loveland seems to have destiny on its side.
Ohio Division II Championship
LOVELAND TIGERS (14-0) vs. GLENVILLE TARBLOODERS (13-1) Kickoff: Friday, Dec. 6 @ 7 p.m. at Canton Fawcett Stadium Follow on Twitter @TSFootball, #9fridayfrenzy
CANTON, Ohio - The 2013 Ohio Division II state title is a cornerstone for the building blocks that Loveland and Glenville have laid.
Loveland is the seventh Southwest Ohio team in a row to land in the DI championship game. Its predecessors, Anderson, Winton Woods and Trotwood-Madison, were only able to garner one crown. The Tigers are looking to start their own tradition and not only bring back one trophy but more in the future with talented underclassmen getting invaluable experience this season.
Glenville is set and equipped for a long run -- one that will take it to elite-program status if it can capture a victory. It would be a first title for the Tarblooders, who have a cupboard full of talent to win more in the coming years.
No matter what the outcome, these schools have already left a legacy for future teams to build upon.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Gunner Gambill is 79 yards away from becoming the third Loveland running back to go over 1,000 yards on the season. He will join Ohio Division II Offensive Player of the Year Nate Slagel and freshman Luke Waddell. Gambill has gained 784 yards since replacing Slagel in Week 8, after Gambill's season ended prematurely with a torn ACL against Walnut Hills. Waddell has a team-high 1,410 yards on the ground.
Ohio State commit Marcelys Jones is rock solid on Glenville's offensive line. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Jones paves the way for an explosive set of skill players led by Marshon Lattimore, Davon Anderson and quarterback Quan Robinson Jr. Lattimore does it all for Glenville. The Tarblooders will look to get the ball in his hands in the open field. Besides that, Lattimore is the Ohio Division II Defensive Player of the Year. The senior’s offers include Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon and USC at the top of the list. Joining Lattimore in the secondary is Eric Smith, whose offers include Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Cincinnati and Kentucky, to name a few.
TEAM TRENDS: Loveland has scored 12 unconventional touchdowns. Senior defensive back Max Mather has two of the team's six pick-sixes. Mike Weber has a pick-six and an 81-yard fumble recovery for a score. Evan Deever has taken two kickoffs to the house.
This is Loveland's fourth playoff appearance and first since 2002. The Tigers are 4-3 all-time in the post-season. They have never been to the finals.
The Tigers have made amazing fourth-quarter comebacks to win their last two playoff games over Mount Healthy and Zanesville, but they don't want to try that against Glenville.
Glenville is in the playoffs for the 12th time, all since 1999. The Tarblooders are 19-11 overall with one state runner-up in 2009 and three regional championships.
LOVELAND’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Tigers' defense has to keep Lattimore in front of them all night long. He is a terror in the open field. The secondary must wrap up the ballcarrier and finish tackles. Loveland, a very opportunistic squad, will need to come up with big takeaways and create points off turnovers. On the other side, the Tigers have to get Waddell involved in the passing game. He didn't make a single catch last week, ending a streak of seven straight games with at least two catches.
GLENVILLE'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Tarblooders must realize that this isn’t going to be easy. Loveland will play them down to the wire. That is where focus has be a top priority for 48 minutes. Getting Loveland down early by a couple of scores will allow the Glenville defense to put pressure on sophomore quarterback Drew Plitt, who has five interceptions in the post-season.
PREDICTION: LOVELAND 28, GLENVILLE ACADEMY 27