Well, here we are.
The playoffs start this week, but some of the weather this week has first made me think it was December and later in the week, it has become September and maybe a little bit of August. Sign me up for the warm temperatures!
We had some massive clashes last week between Tiffin Columbian and Perkins, as well as Tiffin Calvert and Hopewell-Loudon. We’ll get into those in just a minute.
Get out there and support your local team this week. If you’re reading this and your team or school didn’t make the playoffs, be a fan of high school football and find the best game near you and go have some fun! It is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous Friday.
Remember, Tiffin Columbian is playing at Frost-Kalnow Stadium this week while Tiffin Calvert will play at Heidelberg.
Let’s talk about our teams!
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Tiffin Columbian (8-2): I think a lot of us in the media world wondered if the Tornadoes’ defense could hang with Perkins’ high-powered offense and we got the answer as the Pirates rolled to a 55-28 beating of TC to win the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division title. Listen, 28 points is going to win you a good majority of high school football games, but the Tornadoes’ defense has been questionable this season. I think it has been better of late, but there are still some major questions as Columbian opens the postseason this week. Against Perkins, Brayden Roggow was 10-of-18 passing for 151 yards with two touchdowns while Damien Brockington ran 16 times for 148 yards and two TDs. The Pirates were able to limit the three-headed receiving monster of Jack Koerper (four catches, 92 yards, TD), Bryce Roggow (4-32-1) and Brady Gooding (1-22-0). For the season, Brayden Roggow is 167-of-248 for 2,245 yards and 22 touchdowns and Brockington is up to 211 attempts for 1,691 yards and 26 scores. Bryce Roggow leads the receivers with 52 catches for 595 yards and seven touchdowns. Ashland (5-5) lost last week to Lexington, 24-14, but does have back-to-back wins twice this season. Columbian should be the favorite here.
Current season status: vs. (14) Ashland in Division III, Region 10 LIVE on the Heart of Ohio Sports main channel!
Tiffin Calvert (8-1): The Senecas could not have drawn up a better start against Hopewell-Loudon last week when Jacob Rombach scored on the first play from scrimmage. That was about the peak of the success for Calvert offensively, as the Chieftains shut them down the rest of the way in a 19-7 win. The Senecas had three fumbles offensively and were in striking distance a few times, but never got any more points. Rombach finished with 16 carries for 116 yards while Cal Warnement added 13 rushes for 90 yards. Quarterback Harry Shultz added 6-of-11 passes for 65 yards with five of his passes going to Billy Clouse for 58 yards. For the season, Shultz is 84-of-143 for 1,319 yards and 15 TDs. Warnement leads the rushing game with 98 carries for 768 yards and 11 scores while Rombach (87-731-8) is close behind. Clouse tops the receivers with 31 catches for 534 yards. The Senecas get what seems like a really tough draw with Crestview (6-4) – a team that was 5-1 at one point this season. But, the Knights were shutout by Bluffton (21-0) and Columbus Grove (37-0) before a 49-28 loss to Leipsic last week. Tough match-up for the Senecas, but I think Calvert’s defense does enough to get the win.
Current season status: vs. (15) Crestview in Division VII, Region 26 LIVE on the Heart of Ohio Sports X-Stream YouTube channel!
Hopewell-Loudon (10-0): On the other side of the ball, the Chieftains finished up a full regular season undefeated for the first time since 2011. H-L was 5-0 in the regular-season in the COVID shortened 2020. Coach Brian Colatruglio had undefeated regular seasons at Hopewell-Loudon in 2007 and 2008’s state championship runners-up appearances too. Against Calvert, Evan Kreais completed 12-of-18 passes for 215 yards while Braylon Martinez ran 28 times for 119 yards and two scores. Blake Berrier continues to impress on the outside, catching nine passes for 160 yards and a TD. All three of them will surely be garnering all-Ohio honors later this season. For the year, Kreais is 160-of-222 for 2,268 yards with 26 touchdowns, Martinez has tallied 199 rushes for 1,143 yards and 22 TDs, and Berrier has caught 65 passes for 1,054 yards, and 14 scores. All 10 of the Chieftains’ wins have been by at least 12 points this year including six by 20 or more points. H-L is the top seed in its region and will open against Montpelier, who got in just over Gibsonburg. The Locomotives only have one win over a team with a winning record this year, losing to all three top teams on their schedule this year. Hopewell-Loudon should have no issues against Montpelier.
Current season status: vs. (16) Montpelier in Division VII, Region 26
Carey (8-2): The Blue Devils continue to truck over teams after last week’s 55-6 thumping of Seneca East. Carey has won eight straight games after starting the season 0-2. The one thing that really stands out to me is the Blue Devils gave up 36 points in Week 1 to Hopewell-Loudon and 21 points in Week 2 to Galion. Since then, Carey has kept every opponent to 14 points or less. That defense figured it out and figured it out quickly. The Blue Devils are only allowing 31.5 yards per game rushing. Not per drive or per quarter. Per GAME. That is redonkulous. But hey, the offense isn’t too shabby either. Carey was second in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference in rushing yards per game at 256.9 per contest. Eli Steen paced the rushing attack with 127 rushes for 904 yards and 13 touchdowns while Carter Smiley (69-534-5), Austin Niederkohr (53-418-8), and Conner Norden (59-262-3) are all capable. The Blue Devils snuck up to the No. 4 seed – which will be nice in the second round of the playoffs should they advance. Carey would host probably Columbia Station instead of making that trip to near Strongsville) – and will host Ashland Crestview this week. The Cougars entered the year the favorites in the Firelands Conference, but started the season 1-4. Crestview has played better as of late including a Week 9 win at Western Reserve. I think Carey wins pretty comfortably here.
Current season status: vs. (13) Ashland Crestview in Division VI, Region 22
Seneca East (5-5): If the Tigers are headed towards any sort of success in the postseason, they will have to figure something out quickly with the defense. Seneca East has given up a total of 121 points the last two weeks in losses to Wynford (66-34) and Carey (55-6). The Tigers were playing pretty well in wins over Buckeye Central, Bucyrus, and Mohawk, but have certainly hit a wall the last two weeks. Blake Foos continues to put up big numbers for Seneca East, having completed 142-of-250 passes for 1,710 yards and 17 touchdowns while running 167 times for 1,001 yards and 11 TDs. Taylor Young is Foos’ top target with 54 catches for 538 yards and four touchdowns, but something caught my eye. I’m not sure how I missed it recently, but Seneca East has 10 different players that have hauled in a touchdown pass this year. Ten. That is absurd. I’d guess there are teams that don’t have 10 players that have caught a pass this year out there. Foos definitely sprays it around to a lot of different players, but some of those are hurt too. It will be a tough challenge this week for the Tigers, who travel to Colonel Crawford for the second time this season. The Eagles topped Seneca East, 29-14, back on Sept. 15 in North Robinson. Colonel Crawford’s rushing attack leads the N-10 while the Tigers allow over 210 yards per game on the ground. Seneca East will need to stop Micah Thomas (144 carries, 1,055 yards, 10 touchdowns), Trevor Vogt (91-1,037-5), and Connor McMichael (62-821-7). I don’t think the Tigers are able to do it and lose in the first round of the postseason for the third-straight year.
Current season status: at (3) Colonel Crawford in Division VI, Region 22
Lakota (5-5): By a pretty decent margin, the Raiders were the last team in the field in Division VI, Region 22. Lakota did it by taking care of business against Fremont St. Joseph (62-0) and Woodmore (36-0). The Raiders were heavy favorites in its final two games and did what they were expected to do. Something that was pointed out to me was Lakota has either had one-sided wins or one-sided losses this season in nine of its 10 games. In the Raiders’ five wins, four came by 24 points or more. In Lakota’s five losses, all five were by at least 17 points. The only really close game the Raiders had this year was a 15-13 win over Northwood in Week 3. The next closest game was a 20-3 loss to Margaretta in Week 8. Weird. Anyways, Micah Williams had a big night for Lakota against Woodmore, tallying a career-high 263 yards on 27 carries and four TDs. The week prior, the Raiders got the passing game going as Jalen Wagner completed all seven passes he attempted for 194 yards and two scores. Wagner was hurt late in the 36-7 win over Willard, but looks like he’s back in top form. He has completed 73-of-129 passes for 1,174 yards and 11 TDs this season while Williams is up to 130 rushes for 896 yards and nine touchdowns. Avery Shilling leads the receivers with 26 receptions for 434 yards and three TDs. Chase Dussel is not far behind with 23 catches for 308 yards and a team-high five scores. The Raiders make the one-hour drive to Columbus Grove to take on the top-seeded Bulldogs who won this region last year before losing to Marion Local in the state semifinals. Grove started this year 1-2, but has won seven games in a row including last week’s win over state-ranked Bluffton to vault itself to the top seed in the region. This will be extremely tough for Lakota.
Current season status: at (1) Columbus Grove in Division VI, Region 22
Mohawk (2-8): The Warriors were able to get a little bit of positivity to end the season by topping Bucyrus, 53-0. It was a tough go for Mohawk this season, losing three of its first five games by a total of 12 points. That was all before uphill climbs against Carey, Seneca East, and Colonel Crawford. The Warriors had the second-worst rushing attack in the N-10, finishing with just 1,159 yards in 10 games. For the season, Ben Bogner completed 144-of-264 passes for 1,813 yards and 19 touchdowns while running 144 times for 788 yards and six scores. Mohawk had to play the second half of the season without Kahne Hayman and that didn’t help matters. Brayden Chester ended up being the top receiver with 28 catches for 383 yards while Kaleb Bish added 26 receptions for 287 yards and three scores. The Warriors have a long offseason ahead to figure out how to make 2024 better. Mohawk was right there early in the season with Calvert and Margaretta, who are both playoff teams. The N-10 is tough year in and year out. I’m sure coach Eric Daniel will make adjustments and use this season’s rough stretch as fuel for next year.
Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE
Gibsonburg (5-5): For the second-straight year, one of our local teams finishes 17th in Division VII, Region 26. Last year, Mohawk missed the playoffs by less than .8 while Gibsonburg is the bubble team this year by less than .2. The Golden Bears certainly would have been in with one more win or maybe just a few more wins by the teams they beat. That’s a tough way to end the year for Gibsonburg. Listen, the Golden Bears’ start to the season was loaded. The first five opponents Gibsonburg played all made the playoffs. The four losses the Golden Bears had in the first half of the season came to teams that are a combined 36-3. That is wicked. One win in there would have sent Gibsonburg to the playoffs. I actually thought the Golden Bears clicked after that when they beat Woodmore, Lakota, and Willard pretty easily. But then, Gibsonburg laid an egg against Margaretta. Not even the win over Fremont St. Joseph last week was enough points to get the Golden Bears in. I think the future is bright for Gibsonburg. The Golden Bears ran for 467 yards on 33 carries against SJCC, finishing the year with 397 attempts for 2,327 yards and 24 touchdowns. Gibsonburg is going to run the ball over and over and force you to stop it. Despite missing part of the season, Grant Smith was the leading rusher with 112 rushes for 573 yards and eight TDs while Reece Walby (83-505-8), Aiden Morant (45-499-3), and Antonio Salazar (64-391-2) were all good options for coach Joe Wyant. The Golden Bears had just three seniors this season and none of them have been mentioned. Smith and Walby are freshmen. Watch out for Gibsonburg in 2024.
Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE
Tune in on Heart of Ohio Sports this Friday for some exciting high school football playoff action!
You can find this one live streaming EXCLUSIVELY on our Heart of Ohio Sports X-Stream YouTube Channel!
Here's a look at the final Associated Press Poll Rankings after the conclusion of the regular season: