CINCINNATI — The Ohio high school football playoff schedule is starting to take a solid form Saturday morning.
Longtime playoff projections analyst Steve Shuck provided insight into the possibilities for those Cincinnati-area teams leading up to the Ohio High School Athletic Association postseason schedule being released at approximately 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs with the top four hosting first-round games.
In Division I, Region 4, Shuck projected the order: 1. St. Xavier (8-2), 2. Fairfield (9-1), 3. Colerain (9-1), No. 4 Elder (8-2), No. 5 Lakota West (7-3), No. 6 Princeton (6-4), No. 7 Hamilton (5-5) and No. 8. Mason (5-5).
St. X is projected to make its 11th consecutive postseason appearance - the longest active streak for a Division I area program.
Princeton is projected to make its first playoff appearance since 2007 while Hamilton is likely in for the first time since 2010.
Colerain defeated visiting Fairfield 16-10 in overtime for the Cardinals’ 20th consecutive Greater Miami Conference title.
The Cardinals have won 83 consecutive GMC games and are 144-1 in the GMC over the past 20 consecutive conference titles. Colerain is 20-0 in first round games (not including the 1995 forfeit).
In Division II, Region 8, Shuck projected 1. La Salle (8-2), 2. Turpin (10-0), 3. Harrison (9-1), 4. Xenia (9-1), 5. Walnut Ridge (10-0), 6. Canal Winchester (9-1), 7. St. Francis DeSales (8-2), 8. Little Miami (8-2).
La Salle won the Greater Catholic League South division title with a 27-25 win over visiting Elder. It was the second outright GCL South title for the Lancers (2016).
Little Miami (8-2) edged Winton Woods (6-3) by .47 points for the final spot, according to Shuck.
In Division III, Region 12, the projected order includes 1. Chaminade Julienne (8-2), 2. Wapakoneta (9-1), 3. Franklin (9-1), 4. Badin (7-3), 5. Ross (8-2), 6. St. Marys Memorial (8-2), 7. Trotwood-Madison (7-3), 8. Alter (6-4).
"If Thurgood Marshall beats Ponitz today, Ross will pass Badin and be fourth," Shuck said early Saturday morning.
In Division IV, Region 16, the projected order includes: 1. Wyoming (10-0), 2. Clinton-Massie (9-1), 3. Waynesville (9-1), 4. Kenton (8-2), 5. Indian Hill (8-2), 6. Roger Bacon (9-1), 7. Valley View (8-2) and 8. Milton-Union (8-2).
Wyoming won its 41st consecutive regular season game with a 21-18 win over Indian Hill Friday night. Wyoming senior quarterback Evan Prater (UC) rushed 37 times for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
"Evan continues to elevate himself and his teammates in big games," Wyoming coach Aaron Hancock said.
Roger Bacon will likely make its first playoff appearance since 2010. Junior running back Corey Kiner had 15 carries for 312 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-20 win over visiting Summit Country Day. Kiner has 33 rushing touchdowns this season and is two away from entering the OHSAA all-time list for most rushing touchdowns in a season.
Clinton-Massie would have an area-best 18 consecutive playoff appearances.
In Division V, Region 20, the projected order includes: 1. Taft (9-1), 2. West Jefferson (9-1), 3. Springfield Shawnee (8-2), 4. West-Liberty Salem (9-1), 5. Madeira (8-2), 6. Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (8-2), 7. Summit Country Day (7-2), 8. Blanchester (6-4).
There are no area qualifiers projected to be in the playoffs in Division VI.
In Division VII, Region 28, New Miami (9-0) is projected as the No. 1 seed. Cincinnati College Prep (7-2) is projected to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in program history. Cincinnati College Prep is No. 6, according to Joe Eitel, but could move to No. 4 with a win over North College Hill today, Shuck said.
Shuck – the Greater Miami Conference commissioner – is assisting WCPO for the fourth consecutive season. Shuck’s information is independent and unofficial. It has no official connection to the OHSAA computer points.
WCPO will continue to update Shuck's projections through this weekend. There are also a number of games Saturday afternoon and night that impact the playoff qualifiers.
The OHSAA will announce the 224 playoff qualifiers Sunday. There are 712 high school football teams around the state this fall with 710 in the computer points standings.
The playoff qualifiers and first-round pairings will be released at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. During the playoffs, Divisions I, II, III and VI will play on Friday nights at 7 p.m., while Divisions IV, V and VII will play on Saturday nights at 7 p.m.
The largest 72 schools are in Division I, while the remaining schools are divided equally in Divisions II through VII (approximately 108 schools in each division).
The state football finals will be played for a third consecutive season in Canton. The seven championship games are Dec. 5-7 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.