• DE Darryl Baldwin, Solon, Ohio – A berth in the state semifinals is on the line when Baldwin and the Comets take on Cleveland Glenville at Parma's Byers Field Saturday in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I, Region 1 final.
The Comets needed more than four quarters to advance past Mayfield last week in a regional semifinal. Senior kicker Kevin Hicks booted a 37-yard field goal to give Solon a 13-10 overtime victory. The Wildcats led 10-7 early in the second half, but Hicks tied the game with a field goal with 5:47 left in the fourth quarter. After Hicks gave Solon the lead in overtime, Baldwin and the defense stopped Mayfield on downs.
Top-seeded Solon (12-0) has been tested in both of its playoff victories, overcoming a slugging start Nov. 7 with a 10-7 victory against Euclid.
While the Comets have struggled at times in the postseason, the fifth-seeded Tarblooders (11-1) have had little trouble in their two victories. After dispatching fourth-seeded North Royalton 41-16 in its playoff opener, Glenville turned what was supposed to be a hard-nosed battle with defending champion Cleveland St. Ignatius into a blowout. The Tarblooders took advantage of an impressive performance by Latwan Anderson and routed the Wildcats – and OSU verbal Scott McVey – 30-13.
Anderson intercepted four passes and returned them for a combined 196 yards.
"That was the best game of my life," Anderson told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer after the game. "All week long everyone was telling me that I'm ranked as one of the best players in the country and that I had to play like it."
Glenville raced out to a 23-0 lead thanks in part to five St. Ignatius turnovers in its first six possessions. The Wildcats finished with eight turnovers for the night.
Solon could have trouble moving the ball against the Tarblooders if leading rusher Kyle Hammonds is unable to go. The senior sprained his ankle early in the fourth quarter and did not return.
• LB David Durham, Charlotte (N.C.) Christian – The previous two North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 3A champions will battle for another title this weekend when Charlotte Christian hosts Charlotte Latin.
The top-seeded Knights (9-2) earned a berth in the title game by blasting fifth-seeded Raleigh Ravenscroft in the semifinals last weekend. The defending champions had little trouble against the Ravens, scoring on its first five possessions of the first half. Charlotte Christian built a 17-0 lead after the first quarter, and Durham and the Knights' defense took care of the rest. Ravenscroft was held to a pair of second quarter touchdowns and a fourth-quarter score after the game's outcome had been determined.
Latin (10-1) won the 2007 state championship and will have a chance to earn another trophy after defeating rival Charlotte Country Day 31-24 last weekend in double overtime. Jalen Ross scored three touchdowns, the last of which coming in the second overtime. The Latin defense stopped Country Day on downs after the score to earn the victory.
Christian and Latin have already faced off once this season. In that Nov. 7 matchup, the Knights earned a 38-35 road win thanks to a 34-yard field goal by Wes Medeiros with 8.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
• DE Steve Miller (junior), Canton (Ohio) McKinley – McKinley hopes to continue its surprising postseason run with a victory over archrival Massillon Washington in the OHSAA Division 1, Region 2 final Saturday at the University of Akron's InfoCision Stadium.
The game will be a rematch from three weeks ago when McKinley clinched the eighth and final seed in Region 2 with a 35-21 win over the Tigers in the regular-season finale. In that game, Miller and the McKinley defense helped pave the way to a victory by bending but not breaking. The Bulldogs (8-4) allowed Massillon (9-3) to drive into McKinley territory in each of its first nine offensive possessions but only came away with three touchdowns. Miller recorded a sack in the win.
Both teams expect a different type of matchup this weekend.
"You know you're not going to get the same look," McKinley coach Ron Johnson told the Canton Repository. "I know (Massillon coach Jason Hall is) doing a great job with his staff and his kids are working hard. (Massillon defensive coordinator) Steve (Kovacs) is going to do a great job with the defense and (offensive coordinator) Alex (Wood), of course, with the offense.
"We know we're going to get a different look. It's the same teams, it's the same school, but it's just going to be a different package that we're going to have to prepare and adjust to."
The coaching staffs got a chance to scout their opponents last week. The teams played a doubleheader of sorts in Stark County last weekend. McKinley bounced Canton GlenOak in the afternoon at Massillon's Paul Brown Stadium before the Tigers ousted Twinsburg in the evening at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
• OT Andrew Norwell, Cincinnati Anderson – The smallest school left in Division I playoffs will take on state power Cincinnati Elder in the OHSAA Division I, Region 4 final Saturday at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.
The top-seeded Redskins (12-0) rode their powerful running game to a regional semifinal victory over No. 7 Middletown last week. Talented running back Kyle Slater rushed for 250 yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries in Anderson's 41-2 win. Norwell has been out of the lineup since late September with a broken left tibia, but the Redskins' rushers haven't missed a beat. Anderson ran for 399 yards against the Middies and even quarterback Brandon Bornhauser got in on the act. The senior carried the ball 23 times against Middletown for 130 yards.
"That's our offensive line and it's Kyle and it's Brandon," Anderson coach Jeff Giesting told the Cincinnati Enquirer after the game. "You've got tough kids running the ball and you've got tough kids blocking. And we're patient. Our offensive coaches do a good job of mixing things up. We've done it for 12 games. We've done it for three years. That's what we do, and our kids believe in it. That's all you can ask. When they believe in something they're going to play as hard as they can."
Elder (9-2) has rebounded nicely after dropping two games in a row to Cincinnati powers St. Xavier and Moeller in the middle of the season. The Panthers earned their trip to the regional final by outlasting archrival St. Xavier 17-14 at Nippert mere hours after Anderson's victory on the same field. Elder led 17-0 after three quarters before holding off a Bombers' rally in the final minutes.
Junior running back Ben Coffaro led the Panthers, carrying the ball 30 times for 130 yards. He also caught four passes for 64 yards and scored Elder's first touchdown on a 44-yard run on a wildcat play.
The following OSU verbal commits have finished their seasons: K Drew Basil, Chillicothe, Ohio; RB/WR/CB Corey Brown, Springfield (Pa.) Cardinal O'Hara; QB Taylor Graham, Wheaton (Ill.) North; S/RB Chad Hagan, Canonsburg (Pa.) Canon-McMillan; DE Ken Hayes (junior), Toledo Whitmer; WR James Louis, Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic; LB Scott McVey, Cleveland St. Ignatius; DE J.T. Moore, Youngstown (Ohio) Boardman; RB/FS Roderick Smith, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Paul Harding; LB/TE Jamel Turner, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy; WR Tyrone Williams, East Cleveland (Ohio) Shaw.