And then there were three.
Just three of our teams remain from the six that made the playoffs and boy, are they good teams.
All three teams we have left – Columbian, Hopewell-Loudon, and Carey – were top-4 seeds and by virtue of winning last week, will get the chance to host again this week.
Next week, everything goes to neutral sites like it used to be.
I think you can make an argument that all three teams we have left are favorites this week. But being a favorite and actually winning can be two different stories.
Let’s get to talking…
Follow me on X (Twitter): @joshuamorgret
Tiffin Columbian (9-2): For the fourth straight year, the Tornadoes have won at least one playoff game. Now the question becomes can Columbian make it two playoff wins this season? Each of the last two years, the Tornadoes won their opener before losing in the second round. Last season, TC was a top-4 team and hosted two games, but fell in the second one to Parma Padua. If there were any jitters in last week’s playoff games, they were gone quickly as the Tornadoes made quick work of Ashland, 49-21. That’s a nice back-bounce back after a disappointing Week 10 loss to Perkins. Against Ashland, quarterback Brayden Roggow completed 16-of-18 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns while Damien Brockington was super impressive with 11 carries for 191 yards and four TDs. Brady Gooding and Bryce Roggow each caught touchdown passes. For the season, Brayden Roggow is up to 183-of-266 for 2,453 yards and 24 scores while Brockington set the single-season record for touchdowns with 30. He has tallied 222 rushes for 1,882 yards. The interesting thing about the receivers – Gooding, Bryce Roggow, and Jack Koerper – is each lead in one of the big statistical categories. Roggow (657 yards, 8 TDs) tops in catches with 57, Koerper (53 receptions, 6 TDs) leads with 765 yards, and Gooding (34 catches, 650 yards) tops with 10 scores. Talk about balance. Next up for the Tornadoes is Ontario (10-1). The Warriors have just a close 37-31 loss to Shelby in Week 8 as their lone blemish. Ontario opened the playoffs with a 31-22 win over Lutheran West.
Current season status: vs. (6) Ontario in Division III, Region 10 quarterfinals
Hopewell-Loudon (11-0): The top seed in Region 26 took care of business in a 46-14 thrashing of Montpelier to open the playoffs. I think things are going to get a lot tougher for the Chieftains this week, but more on that in just a bit. Against Montpelier, Braylon Martinez racked up 19 carries for 151 yards and four touchdowns while Evan Kreais threw for 126 yards and a TD. Blake Berrier caught four passes for 50 yards while Martinez hauled in the touchdown pass from Kreais for a huge night. For the season, Kreais has completed 169-of-239 passes for 2,394 yards and 27 TDs while Martinez has 218 attempts for 1,294 yards and 26 scores. Berrier leads the receivers with 69 catches for 1,104 yards and 14 touchdowns. It’s hard not to think those three are going to be garnering all-Ohio honors in the next few weeks. Hopewell-Loudon will now host Pandora-Gilboa this week. The Rockets have three losses, but those have come by a combined 19 points. P-G does have wins over Columbus Grove and McComb, two quality programs. One of the Rockets’ three losses was to Leipsic, but Pandora-Gilboa avenged that in last week’s 33-24 win over the Vikings to open the playoffs. This should be a tremendous game in Bascom on Friday.
Current season status: vs. (8) Pandora-Gilboa in Division VII, Region 26 quarterfinals
Carey (9-2): The Blue Devils continue to take care of teams week in and week out. Like I noted a week or two ago, Carey hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game since opening the season with back-to-back losses to Hopewell-Loudon and Galion (who are a combined 19-3 right now). That trend continued with the Blue Devils’ 29-6 win over Ashland Crestview to open the Region 22 playoffs. What is unique to me about the offense is how balanced the rushing attack is. Carey has racked up 2,861 yards on 466 carries in 11 games, but the leading rusher is averaging less than 90 yards a game. That is Eli Steen, who has 144 attempts for 981 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Also for the Blue Devils, Carter Smiley has tallied 80 carries for 599 yards and six TDs while Austin Niederkohr adds 59 rushes for 514 yards and 10 scores. Up next is Columbia Station (10-1) who lost in Week 10 to allow Carey to slide up into the No. 4 slot and host this week. Had the Raiders beaten Black River to end the season, the Blue Devils would probably be headed to northeast Ohio to take on Columbia Station. I’ve got to imagine coach Jonathan Mershman likes having this game at home rather than a lengthy bus ride. Those can wait until next week should Carey win this week.
Current season status: vs. (5) Columbia Station in Division VI, Region 22 playoffs
Tiffin Calvert (8-2): I was afraid the Senecas fell into an incredibly tough draw when they lost to Hopewell-Loudon and were seeded No. 2. Up first was Convoy Crestview and with a win there, would’ve had to face Lima Central Catholic. I did not think Calvert the draw was four-touchdown worthy as the Senecas fell to Crestview, 42-14, last week at Heidelberg University. The biggest issue for Calvert was four turnovers. The Senecas committed three fumbles while the Knights grabbed an interception. It’s been a great season for Calvert, but the sting of losing back-to-back games of the magnitude that they were will leave a sour taste in the mouth of the Senecas for a while. Cal Warnement, Jacob Rombach, Harry Shultz, Billy Clouse, Carter Wolph, and John Schumacher were just a few of the names that were incredible for the Senecas this year as playmakers. The offensive line was big and the defense was key for Calvert this year. The senior class was tremendous for Calvert and I really feel they elevated this program from where it was a few years ago. The Senecas were 4-6 in 2021 and just 10-11 over the last two years. Calvert won eight games this year (would’ve been nine had Fremont SJCC not cancelled) and the future looks bright.
Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE
Seneca East (5-6): The Tigers made their ninth-straight playoff appearance, but came up short against Colonel Crawford, 24-16. That was closer than the regular-season meeting between the two (29-14 CC win on Sept. 15), showing the growth Seneca East made. Perhaps the bigger growth shown was from Weeks 9 and 10 to the playoff game for the Tigers. They entered after losses to Wynford (66-34) and Carey (55-6), but went toe-to-toe with Colonel Crawford. Blake Foos finished off another impressive campaign by completing 158-of-278 passes for 1,965 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air while running 178 times for 1,034 yards and 12 TDs this season. Jackson Gayheart came on strong, finishing with 69 rushes for 433 yards and six scores while Taylor Young led the receivers with 61 catches for 627 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers had an impressive 4-1 stretch during the middle of the season, but started 1-2 and finished 0-3. Ed Phillips is a great coach and I’m sure Seneca East will continue the tradition set forth and get even better next year.
Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE
Lakota (5-6): We all knew it was going to be an uphill climb for the Raiders to go on the road to top-seeded Columbus Grove, but Lakota stood its ground. The Raiders lost 42-17, but made it tough on Grove. How about Jalen Wagner with another big game? He completed 22-of-33 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown while Micah Williams added 12 rushes for 79 yards. Chase Dussel caught 11 passes for 79 yards and the touchdown while Grant Bomer added seven catches for 102 yards. For the season, Wagner was 95-of-162 for 1,423 yards and 12 TDs while Williams contributed 142 carries for 975 yards and nine scores. Dussel led the receivers with 34 catches for 387 yards and six touchdowns. I still think if Wagner doesn’t get hurt late in the Willard game and misses time, Lakota finishes the year stronger. One win over Margaretta or Gibsonburg would have probably boosted the Raiders up the rankings a bit and perhaps a more winnable game. Things are trending in the right direction for Lakota, who has made the playoffs in three out of the last four years. Mike Lento is full of energy, but demands the best from his players. That’s exactly what the Raiders continue to need moving forward.
Current season status: SEASON COMPLETE
Here's a look at where the Heart of Ohio Sports guys will be this week: