The Ohio high school football playoff kick off Friday with first-round games in Divisions II, III, IV and VI. Here are the outlooks for Greater Cincinnati teams:
DIVISION II, REGION 6
(All games Friday, Nov. 8 @ 7:30 pm)
#8 Butler (6-4) @ #1 Loveland (10-0) – Butler started the season with a 35-6 loss at Loveland. The home team outgained the Aviators by a 394-37 margin. Things have evolved for Butler since then, but they still haven’t proven that they can keep good teams out of the end zone. The Tigers average 41.5 points per game while allowing just 6.7 points to their opponents. Loveland has yet to give up more than 15 points in a game and has three shutouts in their last six outings. They have outscored their last four foes 158-21 and have beaten nine teams by 29 or more points.
#5 Harrison @ #4 Northwest (8-2) – Northwest is hoping the third time is a charm. The Knights have lost their last two meetings in SWOC play to Harrison and each loss ended Northwest’s perfect 8-0 start. The Wildcats have been able to out-physical the Knights. Northwest doesn’t want to end 2013 like they did 2012 with three defeats in a row. This is a senior class that has a ton of pride, so expect a dogfight out of them.
#7 Withrow (8-2) @ #2 Mount Healthy (9-1) – No matter who comes out on top, both teams are more than worthy of moving on to the second round. Athletes fill both of these rosters, so look for some dynamic plays. Withrow has prepared for this moment with a tough pre-season and non-conference schedule. The Tigers are capable of prevailing, but they have to close out the contest. That is easier said than done versus a Mount Healthy team that is a one-point loss away from perfection. The Owls have shown that their feathers can be ruffled, allowing 57 points over the last three weeks (19 per game) after giving up just 44 total points in their first seven games.
#6 Kings (7-3) @ #3 Winton Woods (8-2) – Everything is gravy from here on out for a surprising Kings team that took second place in the ECC this season. Winton Woods has a different order of business. The Warriors feel like they should have won the Region 8 title last season only to have turnovers doom them against Trotwood-Madison. Winton Woods has a size advantage up front on defense and that should slow down the Kings running game, forcing the Knights to put the ball in the air. That will play in favor of a very special Winton Woods secondary. The only way that Winton Woods doesn’t make it back to the regional finals is if they shoot themselves in the foot and become their own worst enemy.
DIVISION III, Region 10
(All games Friday, Nov. 8 @ 7:30 p.m.)
#5 Thurgood Marshall (6-3) @ #4 Western Brown (10-0) – This game features one of the most intriguing one-on-one matchups with Western Brown quarterback Devyn Wood challenging Cougars defensive back Vayante Copeland. Wood has thrown for more than 3,500 yards and 35 touchdowns while Copeland has more than 20 career interceptions. Western Brown has not seen a team as fast as the Cougars. Marshall has an explosive run game that starts with great ball deception by quarterback Jamahl Manley. The Cougars have postseason savvy, having won the Division III, Region 12 title a year ago.
#7 Trotwood-Madison (7-2) @ #2 Franklin (9-1) – For all its hard work, including winning seven straight to end the regular season, Franklin get rewarded by hosting three-time Division II state finalist Trotwood-Madison. The host Wildcats will have a large home crowd to rev them up but it will take more than adrenaline to keep up with the most athletic and biggest team they have faced all season. The Rams, who also have won seven in a row, only beat one team with a winning record -- Butler. They did light up the scoreboard for 41 points or more in each of the last six weeks, scoring 67 or more three times.
DIVISION IV, Region 14
(All games Friday, Nov. 8 @ 7:30 p.m. except Urbana @ McNicholas)
#8 Wyoming (8-2) @ #1 Alter (9-1) - Wyoming has won seven in a row and averaged 50.3 points per game in that span. Cowboys running back Terrell Dailey has 150 touches on offense and has found the end zone on 25 of them. Alter couldn't care less if it ever threw a pass. The Knights dare opponents to stop their run and very few can. Of their 3,648 yards of offense this season, 3,191 have come via the run. The schools have one common opponent: McNicholas. Alter beat the Rockets, 51-20 while Wyoming lost a heartbreaker to McNick, 21-20.
#7 Miami Trace (7-3) @ #2 Clinton-Massie (9-1) – This will be the second meeting in three weeks of these SCOL rivals. Clinton-Massie won last 42-7. The Falcons have given up just two touchdowns in the last five games, which includes three shutouts. Miami Trace "held" the Falcons to their second lowest rushing total of the year at 251 yards. They have to stop C-M on third downs and get off the field. The Panthers are coached by a familiar face, Steve Bartlett, who had a very good run at Carroll before coming to Miami Trace.
(10-0) @ #3 McNicholas (8-2), Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 1:30 p.m. - McNicholas will have its hands full with Urbana QB Nathan Mays. The junior has thrown 90 touchdown passes and only 10 interceptions in 30 regular season starts. But the Hillclimbers are 0-2 with him under center in the playoffs. The Rockets won’t be fazed by what they see in Urbana, which is very similar to Northwest at the skill positions. McNick has to avoid turnovers. The Rockets are 3-2 versus playoff teams this season. The Hillclimbers have won 18 consecutive regular season games all by 14 points or more.
DIVISION VI, Region 22
(All games Friday, Nov. 8 @ 7:30 p.m.)
#7 Summit Country Day (8-2) @ #2 Cincinnati Country Day (10-0) – This is a rematch of Week 8's close game in which Cincinnati Country Day prevailed, 35-27. The unbeaten Indians have only two victories over teams with a winning record. Antonio Woods has been a force for SCD -- he led the MVC in rushing with 1,126 yards and was second in passing with 1,300 more. The senior quarterback has also accounted for 40 touchdowns (21 passing, 17 rushing, one punt return, one receiving). The other two MVC runners to break the 1,000 yards mark were Darryn Jordan and J. R. Menifee of CCD. The duo has combined for 3,356 all-purpose yards and 43 touchdowns.
#6 West Liberty-Salem (8-2) @ #3 Williamsburg (7-3) – West Liberty-Salem is making its eighth playoff appearance in the last 11 years and third straight. The last five wins of the season for Williamsburg were all against larger schools, but none of those foes were better than .500. The Wildcats are paced by Mason Hall, who ran for 1,354 yards with 12 touchdowns, and Lane Edmisten, who racked up 1,258 more with 15 scores. Edmisten also threw for 788 yards and eight scores.