FNL Preview: Playoffs Continue For 6

Six future Ohio State football players take the field Friday and Saturday in the OHSAA regional semifinal round. Two will play Friday night in Division III play, while four more will play Saturday in Division I action.

The second round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs kick off this weekend, and six Ohio State verbal commits will suit up in five regional semifinal games across the state.

Starting with the Friday games, two Division III games will feature future Buckeyes. Running back Warren Ball of Columbus DeSales will lead the top-seeded Stallions against No. 5 Elida in a Region 10 game at Clayton Northmont in suburban Dayton.

Ball helped DeSales (7-3) advance out of the first round last weekend by scoring three touchdowns in a 35-0 victory against No. 8 Caledonia River Valley. Ball rushed for touchdowns of 30, 6 and 55 yards and finished with 163 yards on the ground. His performance pushed him past the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season.

The Bulldogs (8-3) went on the road to start the playoffs and crushed No. 4 Bellevue 54-20 in their postseason opener. Elida scored touchdowns on all eight of its offensive possessions. Quarterback Reggie McAdams had a big night. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 353 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 44 yards and ran for three more scores.

"This was probably the best game I've played all season," McAdams told the Lima News. "I just wanted to come out here and be a leader and set a good tone."

Elida's defense did a good job holding Bellevue's running game at bay. Bellevue QB Jalen Santoro rushed for nearly 1,400 yards in the regular season but was held to 50 yards on 21 carries against the Bulldogs.

• The other Friday game will feature defensive back Najee Murray and Steubenville as the No. 1 Big Red face No. 4 Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in a Division III, Region 11 semifinal at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

Steubenville (11-0) remained unbeaten last weekend by routing eighth-seeded Wintersville Indian Creek. The Big Red won 68-13 and Murray not only helped defensively but caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Prather on offense in the second quarter. Indian Creek scored the first points of the game on a 12-yard touchdown pass from David Kemp to Mike Furda, but Steubenville took command after that. The Big Red got a 1-yard touchdown run by LeShawn Luke, a 15-yard scamper by Jo Jo Pierro and a 27-yard TD pass from Prather to Eric Robinson made it 21-7 less than four minutes after falling behind.

Cardinal Mooney (7-3), the No. 4 seed in the region, hosted and defeated No. 5 Canal Fulton Northwest in last weekend. The Cardinals earned a 42-22 win thanks in large part to its rushing game. Roosevelt Griffin ran for three of Mooney's six ground-game touchdowns. The senior finished with 148 yards on 12 carries. Marcus McWilson added two more rushing scores, and P.J. Quinn threw for and ran for a touchdown.

• Turning to Saturday's games, four future Buckeyes will play in three Division I regional semifinals.

Starting in central Ohio, offensive guard Jacoby Boren and wide receiver Roger Lewis of Pickerington Central will face Gahanna Lincoln in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal at Selby Stadium on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan.

The second-seeded Tigers (8-2) coasted to a 55-14 victory against No. 7 Dublin Coffman last weekend. It was Pickerington Central's eighth straight win after opening the season with two losses. The Tigers scored on their first five possessions in building a commanding 35-0 lead. Lewis provided one of those scores, nabbing an 81-yard TD pass from quarterback Nick Jensen-Clagg. Lewis later added a 98-yard touchdown return after he fielded the second-half kickoff.

Jensen-Clagg completed 6 of 7 passes for 166 yards, and Devone Penick rushed for 95 more and scored two touchdowns.

Lincoln (9-2) upset No. 3 Westerville Central in its playoff opener. The sixth-seeded Lions earned a 38-21 victory with quarterback Tyler Grassman leading the efforts. Grassman has completed 124 of 192 passes for 1,642 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has also rushed for a team-best 620 yards and six more scores.

The Tigers and Lions have already met once this season, with Pickerington Central earning a 28-7 road win on Sept. 30. Grassman gave Lincoln a 7-0 lead with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Peyton Ross before Pickerington Central scored four unanswered touchdowns. Billy Eakins led the Tigers with two touchdowns on runs of 5 and 24 yards, respectively.

• Upper Arlington, and wide receiver Frank Epitropoulos, will travel to DeSales to face unbeaten Hilliard Davidson in the other Region 3 semifinal.

The fourth-seeded Golden Bears (9-2) needed overtime to knock of No. 5 Troy last weekend. The UA defense stuffed Isaiah Williams at the 1-yard line on a two-point conversion attempt to preserve a 21-20 victory. Gus Ackley led UA with 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Ackley's second score, a 25-yard rush, gave the Golden Bears the lead in overtime.

Davidson (10-0) defeated eighth-seeded Lewis Center Olentangy Orange 22-0 in the regional quarterfinals. Alex Mickley led the Wildcats with 192 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 28 carries. Orange running back Brandon Schoen was limited to 22 yards on 15 carries by the Davidson defense.

Upper Arlington and Davidson already faced off once this season. The Wildcats earned a 25-7 victory that night after scoring 16 points to pull away in the fourth quarter. UA trailed 9-7 when Davidson took the momentum in the fourth quarter. After the Wildcats downed a punt at the UA 1-yard line with less than 10 minutes remaining, Davidson recorded a safety when linebacker Ian Losey tackled Ackley in the end zone on the first play of the ensuing drive.

After Upper Arlington's free kick gave the Wildcats good starting field position at the UA 38, Davidson needed only four plays to add another touchdown. It came on a trick play in which running back Tyler Talbot took a pitch from quarterback Brandon Gleim and then threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Nick Waters.

The Talbot TD throw gave Davidson an 18-7 lead with 7:24 left. The Wildcats added an 8-yard touchdown run by Talbot with 1:54 to end the scoring.

• Another rematch will take place in the last game when No. 2 Cleveland St. Ignatius and tight end Blake Thomas battle sixth-seeded Lakewood St. Edward at Bruswick's Judy Kirsch Field in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal.

Thomas caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of St. Ignatius' 29-14 win against visiting Youngstown Boardman in the quarterfinals. Quarterback Eric Williams completed 15 of 25 passes for 174 yards and rushed for 98 yards on 15 carries in the victory. The Wildcats (9-2) outgained Boardman, 3710148, in the victory.

The defending state champion Eagles (8-3) beat No. 3 Cleveland Heights last weekend. St. Edward took a 28-14 victory. Cleveland Heights, making its first playoff appearance in school history, fell behind 21-6 at halftime and could not rally. A 7-yard touchdown run by Kenny Butler in the final minutes sealed the victory for St. Edward. It was Butler's second score of the night.

The Wildcats earned a narrow 20-17 win against St. Edward on Oct. 29. St. Ignatius turned two Eagle turnovers into third-quarter touchdowns in the victory. The game between the West Side rivals featured two lead changes and three ties. Thomas helped St. Ignatius seal the victory by caught a first-down pass from Williams on a third-and-9 play from the Wildcats' 41-yard line. Thomas caught three passes that night, including a 10-yard TD pass in the third quarter.

The following OSU verbal commits have completed their seasons: De'Van Bogard, S, Cleveland Glenville; Bri'onte Dunn, RB, Canton (Ohio) GlenOak; Patrick Elflein, OG, Pickerington (Ohio) North; Cardale Jones, QB, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy; Joshua Perry, OLB, Lewis Center (Ohio) Olentangy; Tyvis Powell, S, Bedford, Ohio; Luke Roberts, MLB, Lancaster, Ohio; Mike Thomas, WR, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.

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