The beginning of the week started with some temperatures that felt like we were back in Week 1, but by the time the games kick off tomorrow night, it’ll feel like October.
Right now, it looks like five of our teams are playoff-bound, two are going to be bubble teams, and one is most likely out. Remember, the top 16 in each region get in with the top-8 hosting a first-round game. The top-4 would host two games if applicable.
Let’s openly talk about the doubleheader at Frost-Kalnow Stadium last week. I’ll get into what I saw in a bit under Columbian, but from what I’ve heard, everything ran pretty smoothly. I know the running clock from the first game certainly helped the second game get started on time with Calvert’s Homecoming festivities included. What did you guys see or experience? Give us some feedback.
Of note, as we’ve mentioned before, these two are likely both going to have a home playoff game in Week 11 and possibly Week 12. What are the options? Another doubleheader? One plays Saturday? One plays at a neutral site? I think any of the three are viable options.
With a doubleheader, you’d have to get all four teams and the OHSAA on board with that. You take a major chance of a problem happening on Friday night. Also in the playoffs, I’d think you’d have to charge for both games with it being a playoff game. That could mean emptying the stadium between games. I think this is the least likely option.
With playing on Saturday, what happens if weather postpones the game? Then you’re looking at Sunday afternoon and the winner of that coming back five days later for another game. One note to keep in mind with one team playing Saturday is Tiffin University is at home the Saturday after the first round of playoffs at Noon AND Frost-Kalnow hosts a Division III boys soccer district final. I suppose soccer could be moved to a nearby location open to hosting, but having TU at home at Saturday could affect things. Can we get a Frost-Kalnow Stadium TRIPLEHEADER? Haha.
The last option and what seems a bit more open to me is moving to a nearby location. Fremont has turf, but has backed down in hosting the past few years. What about Fostoria? They have recently installed turf and are great hosts. They had a big Division I playoff game last season. They’re qualified. I would exclude Clyde because they will be playing that night and maybe even at home.
It’ll be interesting to see what is decided in the next few weeks. Maybe we can get more information before next week’s Observer.
For now, let’s talk about our teams.
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Tiffin Columbian (6-1): For the first time this season, I watched the Tornadoes in person and I was thoroughly impressed. Columbian scored on three of its first four offensive plays and led a good Clyde team, 42-0, at halftime. The Tornadoes finished with four interceptions of Drake Guhn, giving them 12 this season. We talk a lot about Damien Brockington offensively (and we will in just a minute), but he leads Columbian with five interceptions this season. Against Clyde, he ran 13 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Brayden Roggow completed 14-of-19 passes for 219 yards and three scores – one each to Brady Gooding, Jack Koerper (who had an interception on defense), and twin brother Bryce Roggow. Columbian’s defense has been a bit of hit and miss. The Tornadoes have kept three opponents to 17 points to less this season (3-0), but have allowed 33 or more points in the other four games (3-1). Columbian hosts Bellevue (3-4) this week, a team that is spiraling with three straight losses after a stretch of three-straight wins. The Redmen have lost to Perkins (49-0), Edison (41-7), and Huron (37-18) in consecutive weeks. This seems like a night for Columbian to continue to flex its muscles on the path to a Week 10 league title showdown with Perkins.
Current playoff position: 3rd in Division III, Region 10
Tiffin Calvert (6-0): Hey look, Calvert got to play last week! I’m sure coach Steve Reser and his Senecas were anxious to get back on the field and they returned to the winning column with a tough 27-14 win over Margaretta. It was a gritty win for Calvert after not playing for 13 days. It was the first time the Senecas played on a Friday since Sept. 8. Harry Shultz completed 10-of-18 passes for 202 yards while Jacob Rombach ran 18 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. Cal Warnement added 13 carries for 83 yards and two scores. One thing we probably don’t talk enough about is the distribution to the receivers. Shultz completed 10 passes to five different receivers Friday – Rombach, Warnement, Billy Clouse, Carter Wolph, and John Schumacher. I like that. It doesn’t let the defense settle in on one or even two receivers. Calvert is back on the road at Woodmore this week. In another odd stat, the Senecas have not had a road game since Week 2 at Monroeville. That probably feels like forever ago. Woodmore (2-5) is a bigger school, but it hasn’t had much success this year. The Wildcats’ two wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 2-11 including Fremont SJCC, who cancelled its game against Calvert a few weeks ago.
Current playoff position: 4th in Division VII, Region 26
Hopewell-Loudon (7-0): The only thing that surprised me about Hopewell-Loudon’s win over Willard last week was the Chieftains led just 32-26 in the second half… but then they exploded for 40 more points in a wild, lopsided 72-33 win. It’s hard to criticize the H-L defense (it IS more points than the Chieftains allowed over the last three games combined) because Willard likes to score. I’d guess they went score for score in the first half, but the Chieftains got a pair of pick-6 interceptions by studs Blake Berrier and Braylon Martinez to pull away. Evan Kreais completed 18-of-23 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns while Martinez ran 14 times for 160 yards and three TDs. Berrier caught three scores among his six receptions for 163 yards. Shoo. That’s a lot of offense for someone to have to defend. Hopewell-Loudon hosts Fremont SJCC this week in what should be a pretty easy night for the Chieftains. That’s not looking ahead or being confident. It’s really just the obvious when you look at where H-L and the Crimson Streaks are right now as programs. Knock on wood because it’s Homecoming at Hopewell-Loudon. Hopefully there are no issues with the game after this article is posted. H-L has outscored opponents 278-99 this season while SJCC has been outscored 340-18 this season (and that doesn’t include Calvert’s cancelled game). The biggest thing for the Chieftains will be coming out of this game healthy. A thunderous Week 10 conference title game against Calvert awaits.
Current playoff position: 3rd in Division VII, Region 26
Mohawk (1-6): Mohawk gave Carey a challenge last week, but still came up short, 28-13. Carey had only allowed a total of seven points the previous three weeks. Things just have not fallen the Warriors’ way this season. We mentioned last week that three of Mohawk’s six losses have been by a total of 12 points. Some years those games go your way and some years they don’t. I think Eric Daniel is a great coach, but something just hasn’t clicked this season. When Daniel and I talked in the preseason, he emphasized a desire to run the football like Mohawk teams of the past, but it hasn’t happened. The Warriors are second-to-last in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference with 784 yards rushing in seven games. That’s just over 100 yards a game. That’s not going to be enough most nights against the likes of Colonel Crawford, Carey, and Seneca East. Quarterback Ben Bogner has completed 98-of-188 passes for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns while running 105 times for 554 yards and six touchdowns. With Kahne Hayman out, Kaleb Bish has thrusted forward as the top receiver with 26 catches for 287 yards and three scores. Things do not get any easier with a trip to Seneca East this week. More on the Tigers below.
Current playoff position: 25th in Division VII, Region 26
Seneca East (4-3): On the flip side, the Tigers are gaining momentum. Seneca East has back-to-back wins over Buckeye Central (42-14) and Bucyrus (44-14) and hosts Mohawk this week. I’d think the Tigers are favored to make it three in a row, but you never know sometimes. Seneca East has to be motivated still considering a win over Mohawk and at Wynford next week would allow the Tigers to host Carey in Week 10 with at least a share of the league title on the line. We’ll talk more on that as it happens. Quarterback Blake Foos has completed 95-of-168 passes for 1,105 yards and 11 touchdowns this season for Seneca East while rushing 122 times for 813 yards and nine scores. Taylor Young leads the receivers with 39 receptions for 376 yards and three TDs. Another big factor for the Tigers is that they currently sit 11th in their region. Right now, Seneca East would go to Western Reserve in Week 11. A few wins could push the Tigers into the top-8 and a chance to host a playoff game.
Current playoff position: 11th in Division VI, Region 22
Carey (5-2): The team that has improved the most since the beginning of the season has to be Carey. They are just steamrolling teams since starting 0-2. Last week, it was a sluggish win over Mohawk, 28-13. It was the closest game for the Blue Devils though since a 28-14 win over Lima Central Catholic in Week 3. Carey is third in the N10 in rushing as a team, but already have wins over the two teams above them in that category in Wynford (34-0) and Colonel Crawford (27-7). The Blue Devils have totaled 309 carries for 1,626 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground. Eli Steen leads the way with 98 attempts for 601 yards and seven touchdowns with Austin Niederkohr (44-346-6) and Carter Smiley (52-305-4) just behind. Carey has shot all the way up to third in Region 22, but oddly enough, still behind Colonel Crawford (and undefeated Bluffton). Carey faces winless Bucyrus this week in its last regular-season home game. Then, the Blue Devils hit the road to Upper Sandusky and Seneca East. Watch out for that Week 9 game against Upper Sandusky. That could be a sneaky one for Carey.
Current playoff position: 3rd in Division VI, Region 22
Lakota (3-4): For as good as Lakota played in a 36-7 win over Willard two weeks ago, the Raiders played just as bad in a 34-3 shellacking to Gibsonburg last week. I think it’s safe to say coach Mike Lento is still searching for that consistency week-to-week. I actually thought Lakota had a decent chance to win out after the Willard win (Gibsonburg, Margaretta, Fremont SJCC, and Woodmore), but the Raiders have to play significantly better against Margaretta if they want to get back on the winning track. The Polar Bears are down to a second-string quarterback in Jake Buoy after an injury to Judah Keller, but have big-time receivers in Julian Washington and Gage Bodey. Lakota will have to bring its A-game defensively against those two to have a chance. This is a huge match-up in terms of being in or out of the playoffs and seedings. With identical 3-4 records, Lakota sits 14th in Region 22 while Margaretta is just a few spots behind in 17th. Margaretta still faces Gibsonburg and Willard after Lakota, so each will be searching for a big win Friday at the “Duck Pond” in Castalia.
Current playoff position: 14th in Division VI, Region 22
Gibsonburg (3-4): As mentioned above, Gibsonburg tallied a big win over Lakota, 34-3, last week to help improve its playoff hopes. That is two wins in a row for the Golden Bears. Against Lakota, Gibsonburg racked up 37 rushes for 307 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Reece Walby, Antonio Salazar, Aiden Morant, and the returning Grant Smith each ran in a score for the Golden Bears. Smith had not played since an injury against Calvert two weeks prior. Quarterback Camden Mooney even threw a touchdown pass to Morant in the win over Lakota. It’ll be another challenge for Gibsonburg this week as they host Willard. Talk about contrasting styles. Lakota had to prepare for it back-to-back weeks, but Willard wants to throw the ball 50 times a game while Gibsonburg would like to run the ball 50 times a game. Willard is coming in off a 72-33 loss to Hopewell-Loudon. Crimson Flashes’ quarterback Isaac Robinson has completed 138-of-218 passes for 2,027 yards and 27 touchdowns this week. Cam Robinson (no relation) has 66 catches for 1,000 yards and 11 TDs.
Current playoff position: 18th in Division VII, Region 26
Here's a look at the Associated Press Poll Rankings for week 7