Jessie Hubbard felt like his New Miami High School football team was satisfied last year just making the playoffs. That’s not the case this year. The Vikings want to keep their unbeaten streak alive and are eyeing a deep run into the postseason.
New Miami completed the first undefeated season in program history to qualify for the playoffs for just the third time, after making it to Week 11 last year and in 2008.
The top-seeded Vikings (9-0) play New Bremen (7-3) out of the Midwest Athletic Conference in a Division IIV, Region 28 quarterfinal Saturday at Mara Field – the first time they’ve earned the right to host a playoff game. New Bremen is located about an hour, 45 minutes north of Hamilton.
“It’s unbelievable,” Hubbard said. “Two years ago, we were not winning many games, but our kids, especially the seniors this year, bought into what we were doing and turned it around. We’re excited. The looks on their face after going 10-0 (including a game against Landmark Christian) was priceless. They enjoy practice and it’s enjoyable for everyone.
“Last year, when we went to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and we won our first conference championship since 1988, our kids I think were satisfied. This year, the practice we’ve had this week is completely different. Our kids are hungry and in tune to what we have to get done.”
New Miami suffered a 41-0 drubbing against Fort Loramie last year in the first round, but being the top seed doesn’t guarantee a better result this time. Hubbard said it wasn’t a favorable draw for the Vikings to pair up with a team from the MAC, which is one of the best small-school conferences around.
The Cardinals boast a quality running game led by quarterback Mitchell Hays and running backs Zach Bertke and Wyatt Dicke. They racked up more than 2,000 yards on the ground and posted 24 touchdowns.
“They are very talented, big and the quarterback is really good,” Hubbard said. “He’s a tough kid, aggressive. He’s the heartbeat of their team so we’ve got to come up with a way to stop him. He’s truly the best athlete on the team. I haven’t slept much this week trying to figure out a way to stop him.”
The Vikings are led by quarterback Trey Robinette, wide receiver Deanza Duncan and running backs Danny and Dylan Spivey, who have played key roles in the offense scoring at least 27 points in every game this season. They work behind an offensive line that features three sophomores but has quickly matured, Hubbard said.
“We just need to what we do and run the football, limit our mistakes and play a four-quarter game,” Hubbard said. “I reminded the boys, we’re not going to have a running clock like we did in seven games this year. They have to buckle up and play 48 minutes of football. Our kids are focused, and the school is buzzing. It’s brought the community together, and hopefully we can pull some magic and get our first playoff win and keep this thing going.”
Lakota West at Elder
Lakota West (7-3) has been turning some heads this year under new coach Tom Bolden, who came in after a successful 12 years at Colerain to lead the Firebirds back to the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Fifth-seeded West will play No. 4 Elder (8-2) in a Division I, Region 4 quarterfinal Friday at The Pit.
The Panthers are led by senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe, who has thrown for 2,064 yards and 18 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,099 yards and another 11 touchdowns, and he should be the focus of the Firebirds’ defense. Garren Carter (seven sacks) and Hunter Anderson (four interceptions) could be among those up to the task of containing Luebbe and limiting his receivers.
West will lean on the legs of David Afari, who finished as the GMC’s third leading rusher with 941 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Mitch Bolden continues to evolve as a young quarterback.
Franklin vs. St. Mary’s Memorial
Franklin (9-1) earned the third seed in Division III, Region 12 and will be hosting No. 6 St. Mary’s Memorial (8-2) on Friday.
The Wildcats missed the playoffs last year with a 6-4 record but return looking for their first postseason victory since 2016. They’re coming off a Southwest Buckeye League Southwest title and will be led by quarterback Braden Woods, who has been successful in the pass (1,421 yards, 16 touchdowns with two interceptions) and on the ground (554 yards, six touchdowns), and running back Gage Johnson (837 yards rushing, 16 touchdowns).
St. Mary’s plays in the Western Buckeye League and finished third this season behind Kenton and Wapakoneta.
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