CLEVELAND, Ohio – It’s week 13 of FOX 8’s Friday Night Touchdown and it’s down to the elite eight. The OHSAA Football Playoffs continue this weekend, with regional finals at neutral sites across the buckeye state.
Friday’s schedule includes a dozen state quarterfinal games in Divisions II, IV, and VI, including four games that feature local teams.
DIVISION IV, REGION 13:
The marquee matchup is in Division IV, Region 13, where the top-seed, unbeaten Brookfield (12-0) faces off against 2011 State Champion, Norwayne (12-0), which brings an 18-game winning streak into the game.
The Warriors and Bobcats have both breezed through their first two playoff games, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 195-42. Norwayne defeated Brookfield 42-7 in last season’s playoffs, the first step on the Bobcats road to Stark County.
Norwayne relies on a balanced attack, led by junior quarterback Joe Dreher, who has thrown for more than 3,000 yards, with 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions. But the Bobcats main weapon is senior tailback Jon Zimmerly, who has run for nearly 2,000 yards, averaging more than nine yards per carry, with 34 total touchdowns.
DIVISION II, REGION 5:
The Division II, Region 5 Final should be another great game, with Chardon (10-2) looking to continue its surprising season by knocking off perennial power Aurora (11-1). The Greenmen are looking for their second straight trip to the State Semifinals, while the Hilltoppers last trip to the Regional Finals came back in 2006.
Chardon runs the ball, almost 90-percent of the time, relying heavily on quarterback T.J. Benenati to lead the full house backfield, with help from a trio of talented backs, Matt Bolden, Alex Muir and Reilly Hawkins. But Coach Mitch Hewitt says the difference this season has been the Hilltoppers conditioning and defense. After giving up more than 28-points per game in 2011, Chardon has nearly cut that number in half, allowing just over 15-points per game this season.
When Aurora has the ball, quarterback George Bollas leads a balanced attack with help from backfield mates, Zach Quinn and Jake McVay. Bollas has thrown for more than 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns, while he, Quinn and McVay have all have run for at least 700 yards this season, combining for 36 touchdowns on the ground.
Chardon and Aurora have one common opponent, Kenston. The Hilltoppers beat the Bombers twice in 2012, 29-28 way back in week two, and 34-15 in last week’s regional semifinals. The Greenmen routed the Bombers, 48-20 in the final game of the regular season.
DIVISION II, REGION 6:
The Division II, Region 6 Final is another playoff rematch from 2011, pitting Avon (11-1) against Toledo Central Catholic (11-1). The Eagles ran past the Irish 49-28 in last season’s regional semifinals. Despite sending several players to college in the offseason, both teams have come back as strong as ever.
Avon lost its season opener to rival Avon Lake, but the Eagles have run off 11 straight wins. Their balanced offensive attack is quarterbacked by senior David Zeh, who has passed for more than 2,000 and 23 touchdowns. Zeh gets plenty of support from a pair of Division 1 college recruits, tailback/cornerback Ross Douglas, who has run for more than 1,300 yards and 23 scores, and receiver/cornerback Ralph Smith, who has caught 7 touchdown passes.
The Irish have been dominant in their first two playoff games, routing Midview and Mansfield Madison by a combined score of 100-14. Central does most of its damage on the ground, relying on a pair of senior backs, Amir Edwards and Paul Moses, who have combined for nearly 2,000 yards and more than 30 touchdowns. The Irish also feature a dual-threat quarterback, DeShone Kizer, who has 24 total touchdowns, and ran wild last week against Madison.
Avon is two wins away from a return trip to the Division II State Championship Game, after falling to Trotwood-Madison 42-28 in 2011.
DIVISION VI, REGION 21:
The Division VI, Region 21 Final is yet another playoff rematch, pitting three-time State Champion, and perennial power, Mogadore (12-0) against the new kids on the block, Youngstown Christian (9-2).
The Eagles stunned the Wildcats in the opening round of the 2011 playoffs, 20-17 in a hard fought game that was also Christian’s first ever OHSAA playoff appearance.
The Wildcats are back this season, with revenge on their minds. Mogadore is making its 14th straight trip to the playoffs, and looking for its first championship in a decade (2002). Mogadore relies heavily on workhorse back Gary “Bubba” Strain, who has run for more than 2,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns. The Wildcats also have a solid passing attack, orchestrated by quarterback Anthony Ricci, who has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards.
Christian relies on the speed of talented tailback Ryan Grier, who has run for more than 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season, including more than 370-yards in the first two playoff games.
For all the final scores, plus video highlights and photo galleries from Friday’s games, head over to the FOX-8 High School Football page.