Reading only No. 8 seed in Ohio to knock off No. 1

Blue Devils 'played relentless,' coach Rob Page

READING, Ohio – Reading football coach Rob Page was awake at 12:45 a.m. Saturday with the adrenaline still fresh.

It had been a few hours after his team made a joyous return from an hour-plus trip north for its first-round playoff game in Casstown.

Reading upset host Casstown Miami East 27-25 in a Division V, Region 20 quarterfinal Friday night.

The Blue Devils were the only No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed across the seven divisions and 28 regions in Ohio Friday night.

That was indeed quite an accomplishment. 

Page, in his second season as the Reading head coach, couldn’t be more proud.

“They played relentless tonight,” Page said.

With Miami East driving at the Reading 30 and threatening to earn the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter, junior linebacker Gabe Van Skaik came up with a crucial tackle on third down for the Blue Devils.

It was a big-time play for Van Skaik, who entered the game with 81 tackles, including three sacks.

The Reading defense was again stout on fourth down and the Blue Devils turned Miami East over on downs.

Reading (8-3) was able to get a first down on offense with under a minute left to help run out the clock.

Reading had several standouts all night. Senior wide receiver Mancini Jackson had three touchdown receptions including a “super-acrobatic” catch, Page said.

Senior running back Adryian Simmons had over 100 yards rushing. Senior quarterback Johnny Miller had over 250 yards passing, according to Page.

Miller entered Friday with 1,425 yards passing and 16 touchdowns. Simmons entered Friday with 1,030 yards and 14 touchdowns. Jackson had 44 receptions for 711 yards and nine touchdowns entering the postseason.

It was a contrast of styles offensively. Miami East (9-2) is a wing-T team that likes to run 35 times a game. Reading relies on its playmakers on the perimeter.

It was the Reading defense that stepped up in the most important moment of the fourth quarter. Page gave credit to defensive coordinator Jason Friedhoff for his game-planning all season.

Reading also captured its first postseason win since 2004, according to Page. The Blue Devils are in the postseason for the first time since 2015 and also made appearances in 1972-73, 2000-2003 and 2006.

“The players are really proud to represent Reading – our high school and our community,” Page said.

Reading plays West Jefferson (10-0) in a Division V regional semifinal Nov. 10 at a location to be announced Sunday by the OHSAA. 

West Jefferson defeated host Bethel-Tate 48-18 Friday.

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