CINCINNATI – The final week of the Ohio high school football regular season is here. That also means the final installment of playoff projections.
Of the 716 football programs statewide, 224 will qualify for the playoffs (32 in each of the seven divisions) when the final Ohio High School Athletic Association’s computer points ratings are posted Oct. 30.
Let’s take a look at some of the top storylines from Week 9, and find out what needs to happen in Week 10 for multiple area teams to reach the postseason:
1. Division I playoff picture: Colerain (9-0), Lebanon (7-2), Elder (6-3) and Mason (6-3) have clinched playoff spots in Division I, Region 4, according to playoff projections analyst Steve Shuck.
But, the order after that is still up in the air. Fairfield (6-3), Sycamore (5-4), St. Xavier (4-5), Springboro (6-3) and Hamilton (5-4) are among those with an opportunity. Shuck will update his projections by Tuesday.
2. Princeton, Anderson battle for final spot: Princeton and Anderson are in a very tight race for the No. 8 spot in Division II, Region 8. Princeton (5-4) finishes the regular season at Middletown (0-9).
Princeton needs Lakota West (2-7) to defeat Lakota East (4-5) that night, according to Shuck. Anderson (6-3) completes the regular season against visiting Walnut Hills (4-5). Princeton is No. 7 while Anderson is No. 10 in the latest JoeEitel.com rankings.
3. Mount Healthy on the bubble: Mount Healthy has an 8-1 record but could use a win Oct. 28 at Edgewood in order to clinch a playoff berth, according to Shuck. Mount Healthy is sixth in the JoeEitel.com standings.
Harrison defeated visiting Mount Healthy 49-48 Friday night. Junior quarterback Frankie Young threw for 288 yards and four touchdowns including the game-winning 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 left to help lift the Wildcats (6-3), who are projected to be sixth in Division II, Region 8.
4. Aiken on cusp of history: Aiken is expected to clinch the program’s first playoff berth in school history as JoeEitel.com indicated Saturday. The school was built in 1962 and soon after fielded a team, according to athletic director Paul Brownfield. Aiken (6-3) is fifth in Division V, Region 20, according to JoeEitel.com.
“It is great to feel the buzz that our program has created at Aiken,” Falcons coach Jeremy Pflug said. “Our students are excited about football for the first time in a really long time.”
Aiken went 11-89 from 2005 to 2014 before having success the past two seasons. Aiken defeated Hughes 40-8 Friday night. Among the highlights was a 99-yard interception return for touchdown by Keoni Jones. Also, Tim Williams has thrown for over 1,000 yards with 11 touchdowns and rushed for 514 yards and seven touchdowns since taking over the quarterback duties. If Dunbar defeats Belmont next week, Aiken will win the Southwest Ohio Public League National division – the first conference championship since 1981, according to Pflug.
5. Memorable season for Lockland: Lockland defeated St. Bernard-Elmwood Place 28-18 to capture the Miami Valley Conference Gray division title.
“It’s been a real special season,” Lockland coach Mark Ellis said. “We have a great group of kids.”
It is the first outright conference title since 1993.
“Everybody is really excited," Ellis said. “We had a lot of alumni at the game (Friday night).”
Junior quarterback JaQuan Emerson had 19 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Nakhyje had 14 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown. Lockland (5-4) plays at North College Hill (4-5) Oct. 28.
6. Bonner for President: Sycamore senior running back Ra’Von Bonner continues to make a case for Mr. Cincinnati in football.
The Illinois commit has 1,530 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns entering Week 10. He had 20 carries for 208 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-22 win over visiting Oak Hills. Bonner is the all-time leading rusher in program history. He has 4,079 career rushing yards.
7. Controversy overshadows La Salle’s victory: La Salle defeated North Clarkson (Ontario, Canada) 31-13 in a game that was ended early due to a physical altercation.
“It’s unfortunate last night’s football game ended early,” La Salle athletic director Keith Pantling said. “We certainly don’t condone the activities which occurred and it is not indicative of who are at La Salle, but it is a situation we can and will learn from.”
The Lancers (7-2) have an opportunity for the program’s first Greater Catholic League South division outright title Oct. 28 when it plays at Elder (6-3).
8. Air Force picks up two standouts: Air Force received two area commitments this week including Turpin senior running back Luke Bohenek and Hamilton senior wide receiver/defensive back Vince Sanford, according to their respective high school coaches.
9. Extra points: Moeller sophomore RJ Khayo broke his own school record Saturday night for the longest kickoff return in program history. He had a 99-yard kickoff return in the second quarter against Lakewood St. Edward. Khayo had a 98-yard kickoff return at St. Xavier Sept. 23.
Anderson junior quarterback Jay Volpenhein is six touchdown passes away from being OHSAA record list for most passing touchdowns in a season. He has 34 entering Week 10. He's also thrown for 2,899 yards. By the way, he's thrown for six touchdowns twice this season (Sept. 9 and Sept. 23).
Kings senior defensive end Dan Sichterman will visit Iowa State Oct. 29. The Cyclones offered Sichterman in September.