The Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs are in full swing, and four future Buckeyes will be playing on Saturday in Division I regional semifinals.
Clayton (Ohio) Northmont cornerback C.J. Barnett will lead his Thunderbolts vs. third-seeded Cincinnati Elder in the second game of a Region 4 doubleheader Saturday night at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Second-seeded Northmont (10-1) needed a blocked extra point by senior Danny Gress to preserve a 28-27 victory over Greater Western Ohio Conference rival Kettering Fairmont in the regional quarterfinals. Elder (10-1) also played a GWOC team in the first round and cruised to a 52-27 victory over Centerville. Quarterback Mark Miller led the Panthers, completing 16 of 26 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns.
Northmont, despite its higher seed, is seen as an underdog against perennial power Elder. The Panthers have won nine in a row since a late-August loss to Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and future Buckeye receiver Duron Carter.
"No one picked us to win the GWOC Central (Division)," Northmont coach Lance Schneider told the Dayton Daily News following his team's victory over Fairmont. "No one picked us to beat Centerville. No one believes in us but the guys in the locker room. If we come out on top (against Elder) people will say what a huge upset. If we get beat, we'll go down swinging."
Northeast of the Northmont/Elder tilt, two more OSU verbals will be hoping to continue their Division I playoff run in Region 3. Linebacker/fullback Zach Boren and defensive back/wide receiver Jamie Wood will lead third-seeded Pickerington Central vs. No. 2 Upper Arlington Saturday at 7 p.m. at Gahanna Lincoln.
Both Boren and Wood scored touchdowns in the Tigers' 38-21 regional quarterfinal victory over Delaware Hayes on Nov. 1. Boren scored on touchdown runs of 3 and 1 yards, while Wood added an 8-yard score. Tailback Tyler Hammond led the rushing attack for 11-0 Central. He compiled 157 yards with two touchdowns.
Upper Arlington (10-1) struggled at times but pulled out a 28-16 victory over Marysville Nov. 1 in the regional quarterfinals. The Golden Bears threw one interception, fumbled three times (but recovered each) and needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to put the game out of reach.
The regional quarterfinal will be a rematch of both teams' season opener Aug. 22 at Upper Arlington. In that game, the Golden Bears outgained the Tigers 273-217 but saw three turnovers turn into touchdowns for Central. The Tigers went on to post a 23-6 victory.
Another Buckeye verbal will be a part of a key rematch in a Division I Region 1 semifinal. Defensive end Jonathan Newsome and No. 4 Cleveland Glenville will attempt to earn another win over top-seeded Cleveland St. Ignatius Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Lakewood. The Tarblooders (11-0) defeated St. Ignatius, 20-17, on a last-second field goal by Marvel Brooks in the season opener. Since then, the Wildcats (10-1) have outscored their opponents 378-73. That includes a 37-0 rout of Cleveland St. Edward in the regional quarterfinals.
Glenville overcame five turnovers in a 35-8 regional quarterfinal victory over Brecksville Broadview Heights. Robert Walton Jr. and Mordecai Cargill led the Glenville rushing attack, which finished with 337 yards. Walton compiled 144 yards on the ground with two touchdowns on 15 carries. Cargill added 99 yards on 14 carries.
Two verbals will be back on the field Saturday night in the OHSAA Division III regional semifinals. Defensive tackle/offensive guard Adam Bellamy and his Aurora Greenmen will face Hubbard at Warren in Region 9, while linebacker/running back Storm Klein leads Newark Licking Valley vs. Poland Seminary at New Philadelphia in Region 11.
The second-seeded Greenmen (9-2) earned the right to face third-seeded Hubbard by defeating Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedrial Latin, 30-14, in the regional quarterfinals. Senior rusher Steven Yung led Aurora to victory behind 171 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Brenden Gallagher also threw for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Hubbard (9-2) defeated sixth-seeded Ravenna, 40-12, in the opening round.
Klein led second-seeded Licking Valley (10-1) with 97 rushing yards on 17 carries in the Panthers' 37-6 victory over seventh-seeded Rayland Buckeye Local in their regional quarterfinal. LV outgained Buckeye Local 382-151 and cruised to the win. Klein, who had been suffering with a right foot injury, left the game early in the second half, but Valley head coach Randy Baughman told the Newark Advocate it was only a precaution.
"He could have played more, but once we got the lead we didn't want to push it," Valley coach Randy Baughman said. "We just wanted to get him iced and thinking about next week."
Poland Seminary, the No. 3 seed in the region, edged Granville, 27-24, in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs (9-2) forced three turnovers and blocked a punt, but still needed a 30-yard field goal from Ryan Roynak with 1:28 left to earn the victory.
Another pair of verbals will be in action Friday night in Division IV. Linebacker/fullback Adam Homan and Coldwater will face Oakwood at Piqua in a Region 16 semifinal. Across the state, defensive tackle John Simon and Youngstown Cardinal Mooney will face unbeaten Steubenville at Canton Fawcett in Region 13.
Top-seeded Coldwater (11-0) won its 24th straight game by crushing Cincinnati North College Hill, 42-0, in the first round. The Cavaliers led 35-0 by halftime and were led by quarterback Cory Klenke, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for two others. Homan and the Coldwater defense held North College Hill to only 17 yards rushing.
Oakwood upset Plain City Jonathan Alder in the first round. The fifth-seeded Lumberjacks (8-3) earned their first postseason victory since 2001 thanks in part to a trick play in the third quarter. Receiver Scott Feldmiller took a reverse handoff in the third quarter and connected with Connor Charbat in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown and 12-3 lead. Jonathan Alder scored a late touchdown to narrow the deficit, but the Jacks held on for the win.
Simon missed most of Mooney's 14-6 win over Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in the regional quarterfinals. According to the Youngstown Vindicator, the senior suffered a high ankle injury in the Cardinals' game vs. Columbus Bishop Watterson Oct. 25 and that hampered his efforts vs. CVCA. Even without Simon, the Mooney defense was solid. The Cardinals held CVCA to 83 yards rushing and did not allow a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
Top-seeded Steubenville (11-0) had little trouble in a 61-29 victory over Coshocton in the first round. The Big Red scored touchdowns on their first eight offensive possessions in the rout. Steubenville has won 52 of its last 53 games, with its lone loss coming against the Cardinals in last season's regional championship game.
Across Ohio's eastern border, three more future Buckeyes will continue their runs in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League playoffs Friday night. Monroeville Gateway, featuring linebacker Dorian Bell and cornerback/wide receiver Corey Brown, will play Glenshaw Shaler in the Class AAAA quarterfinals at Norwin. In Class AA, running back/cornerback Jordan Hall will lead Jeannette vs. Beaver in the quarterfinals at Pittsburgh Fox Chapel.
Gateway (10-0) blasted Mt. Lebanon, 42-0, in the first round. Running back Brian Williams led the Gators with three touchdown runs. He finished with 194 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Rob Kalkstein added 109 yards passing and another score. Kalkstein also rushed for a score.
Shaler (8-2) was down to its third-string quarterback in its game first-round game at Canonsburg Canon-McMillan, but that did not matter as running back Anthony Waskiewicz rushed for 175 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns in a 16-0 victory. Waskiewicz scored on touchdown runs of 55 and 10 yards in the win. Shaler's defense also did its job, holding the Big Macs to 45 rushing yards and 106 yards of total offense.
Hall finished with 116 yards on 16 carries and the Jayhawks (9-1) defeated New Kensington Valley, 46-7, in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. Hall scored four times and did so in front of former Jayhawk Terrelle Pryor, who arrived during the first half. Jeannette built a 28-7 lead by halftime and cruised to victory. Hall scored on runs of 44, 2, 3 and 5 yards before sitting out the majority of the fourth quarter.
Beaver (8-2) defeated host Sto-Rox in their first-round game. Running back Jake Nardone led the way in the 43-36 victory. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound rusher carried 42 times for 279 yards with three touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 1:03 remaining. The win was the first in the playoffs for the Bobcats in five years.
Finally, receiver/cornerback James Jackson and his Grand Ledge Comets will face 9-1 Rockford in a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division I district game.
The Comets (10-0) did not rely on their high-powered passing attack in their pre-district victory over Battle Creek Central. Instead the Comets got 205 rushing yards from senior tailback Steve Kingery in the 38-32 win. Kingery rushed for touchdown runs of 4 and 5 yards.
Rockford (9-1) defeated Traverse City West, 46-26, in its pre-district game Oct. 31. The Rams built a 17-7 lead by halftime and never trailed. Tailback Aaron Kwekel led Rockford with his first 100-yard game of the season. He carried 13 times for 129 yards with touchdown runs of 45, 5 and 37 yards.
The season is not over for the following verbal commitments, who are still in the midst of their regular seasons: RB Jaamal Berry, Miami (Fla.) Palmetto; WR Duron Carter, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas; CB Dominic Clarke, Frederick (Md.) Tuscarora; CB/WR Justin Green, Louisville (Ky.) Male; FB Carlos Hyde, Naples, Fla; LB Jordan Whiting, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity.
These OSU verbal commits have finished their seasons: DE Melvin Fellows, Garfield Heights, Ohio; WR Chris Fields, Painesville (Ohio) Harvey; TE/OL Reid Fragel, Grosse Pointe (Mich.) South; OG Corey Linsley and J.T. Moore (junior), Youngstown (Ohio) Boardman; OT Sam Longo, Bellbrook, Ohio; DB Bradley McDougald, Dublin (Ohio) Scioto; OL/DL Jack Mewhort, Toledo (Ohio) St. John's Jesuit.