Jacoby Boren and Roger Lewis will suit up for Pickerington Central Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Region 3 final against state power Hilliard Davidson at Ohio Wesleyan's Selby Stadium in Delaware. At the same time, Blake Thomas and Cleveland St. Ignatius will take on Mentor at Lakewood High School in the Region 1 final.
Thomas and the Wildcats have already faced their opponent. This time they're looking for a better result. The Cardinals defeated St. Ignatius, 38-24, on Sept. 9. In that game, Mentor quarterback Mitch Trubisky piled up 553 yards of offense. The Cardinals found plenty of success with its five-wide, no-running back offense. Trubisky completed 28 of 44 passes for 469 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 84 yards and two more scores.
Trubisky did throw four interceptions, however, and those miscues led to 17 St. Ignatius points. The Wildcats posted 413 yards of offense and led 21-17 in the second quarter but could not pull off the victory.
In the postseason, Mentor has had a lopsided victory and a narrow win. The Cardinals (11-1), the top seed in the region, began its run with a 48-16 beatdown of No. 8 Cleveland John F. Kennedy. Mentor scored six first-half touchdowns in that win. Trubisky threw five TD passes, completing 14 of 22 passes for 292 yards. He and most of Mentor's starters did not play in the second half. Last weekend, Mentor barely held on for a 42-40 win against fifth-seeded Solon. The Cardinals led 35-7 but nearly blew the game thanks in large part to seven turnovers. Solon converted five of those turnovers into touchdowns. Trubisky threw six touchdown passes but also had six passes picked off.
Second-seeded St. Ignatius (10-2) earned its spot by beating No. 7 Youngstown Boardman and No. 6 Lakewood St. Edward. Against Boardman, the Wildcats earned a 29-14 victory. Quarterback Eric Williams finished with 272 yards of total offense. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 174 yards and rushed for 98 yards on 15 carries. St. Ignatius outgained Boardman, 371-148, and scored 29 unanswered points after allowing an early touchdown. Thomas, a tight end, scored one of the Wildcats' touchdowns on a 15-yard connection with Williams.
A week later, St. Ignatius earned a dramatic 20-17 victory against rival St. Edward. Senior kicker Tim Shenk made a 32-yard field goal as time expired to seal the win. The Wildcats erased a 17-3 third-quarter deficit, and Thomas caught a 15-yard TD pass during the comeback.
The Pickerington Central-Hilliard Davidson matchup will pit Ohio Capital Conference teams against each other. The Tigers (9-2) and Wildcats (11-0) did not meet in the regular season and face off Saturday night for the first time since Davidson beat Pickerington Central 13-6 in the regional final last season.
Pickerington Central lost its first two games of the season, a 14-0 defeat Aug. 28 vs. Cincinnati Moeller at Nippert Stadium in the Queen City and a 38-21 loss Sept. 4 at Ohio Stadium against Cincinnati St. Xavier. Since then, the Tigers have won nine in a row by a score of 367-66. Two of those wins came in the postseason. No. 2 Pickerington Central began its playoff run with a 55-14 rout against seventh-seeded Dublin Coffman. In that game, Lewis scored two touchdowns. The wide receiver was on the receiving end of an 81-yard touchdown pass from Nick Jensen-Clagg and later added a 98-yard touchdown when he returned the second-half kickoff for a score. Boren, a guard, and the Tigers' offensive line helped open holes for Devone Penick, who rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Jensen-Clagg completed 6 of 7 passes for 166 yards.
In the regional semifinal, Pickerington Central defeated Gahanna Lincoln, 41-10. Lewis caught another TD pass, this one on a 34-yard connection from Jensen-Clagg. That score gave Pickerington Central a 14-3 lead at the time, and the Tigers went into halftime with a commanding 20-3 advantage. Penick rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns, and Jensen-Clagg added 86 yards and two TDs on 7-of-14 passing.
Hilliard Davidson has used its rush-heavy offense to dominate its opponents. The Wildcats have outscored opponents 345-34 this season. Six of those points came last week when future Buckeye Frank Epitropoulos of fourth-seeded Upper Arlington closed the scoring with a 20-yard TD catch from David Smith in the fourth quarter of Davidson's 15-6 win in the regional semifinal. Alex Mickley led Davidson's rushing attack with 209 yards and two scores on 43 carries.
The top-seeded Wildcats began its postseason with a 22-0 blanking of No. 8 Lewis Center Olentangy Orange. Mickley rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns and Tyler Talbott return a punt for a touchdown. The Davidson defense held Orange to four first downs and 72 yards of total offense.
The following OSU verbal commits have completed their seasons: Warren Ball, RB, Columbus DeSales ; De'Van Bogard, S, Cleveland Glenville; Bri'onte Dunn, RB, Canton (Ohio) GlenOak; Patrick Elflein, OG, Pickerington (Ohio) North; Frank Epitropoulos, WR, Upper Arlington, Ohio; Cardale Jones, QB, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy; Najee Murray, DB, Steubenville, Ohio; 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.