Week 11: Edgewood among five locals in football playoffs

Edgewood running back Julius Hayden breaks through the Mount Healthy defense Friday night at Kumler Field in Trenton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
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Edgewood running back Julius Hayden breaks through the Mount Healthy defense Friday night at Kumler Field in Trenton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

The euphoric ending of the regular season has been followed with a huge opportunity for Edgewood High School’s football team.

The Cougars are headed to the Division II, Region 8 playoffs for the first time since 2012 and drew a first-round matchup against La Salle, the two-time defending state champion.

“We fell where we did and they are where they are, so we’ll go play them first,” Edgewood coach Scott Clemmons said. “Our kids will approach it like all the other games. They’ll be coached up. They’ll be ready to go. They’ll follow the game plan. I don’t think we’ve ever shown that we’ll let anybody intimidate us.”

Third-seeded La Salle (8-2) is the Greater Catholic League South Division champion and will host the No. 6 Cougars (8-2) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Edgewood, averaging 43 points per game, wrapped up its first Southwest Ohio Conference title Friday with a 49-28 win over Mount Healthy. The Cougars’ two losses came against unbeaten Franklin and Columbus DeSales.

“We wanted that chance to be outright league champs,” Clemmons said. “The third quarter against Mount Healthy was a little bit out of character for us, but once again, the boys were pretty resilient and took the coaching changes and finished the game strong.”

Edgewood’s last playoff win came in 2006 (35-12 over Trotwood-Madison). Junior quarterback Griffin Merritt has thrown for a GCL South-leading 1,556 yards and 16 touchdowns for La Salle.

In Division I, Region 4, Fairfield (7-3) will make its third postseason appearance in four years Friday when the fourth-seeded Indians host No. 5 St. Xavier (5-5) at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s great for our kids and our community and our school to have the opportunity to host a playoff game,” Fairfield coach Jason Krause said. “X plays probably one of the toughest schedules in Ohio. They’re obviously better than their record would lead you to believe.”

The Indians have never beaten the Bombers, losing in 2000 (15-9) and 2005 (45-0). St. X has 1,741 passing yards and 729 on the ground in its spread offense this season.

Fairfield, which is giving up just 14.6 points per game, is coming off a 42-0 beating of Hamilton.

“It started with our defense playing really well,” Krause said. “We don’t usually get off to fast starts offensively, but we got off to a faster start this week, and I think that was what really made us click.”

Franklin (10-0) is seeded No. 1 in Division III, Region 12 and will be at home against No. 8 Tippecanoe (7-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats were expecting a rematch with Piqua, a 30-6 loser to FHS in Week 3, but the region got jumbled Saturday when two forfeits by Dunbar were announced.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Franklin coach Brad Childers said. “We knew that we were going to get an opportunity to play in a Week 11 football game at Atrium Stadium. We’ve got a team coming to town that’s very physical and executes at a high level. Pad level and tackling will be the key to success Saturday night.”

This will be the 12th straight playoff appearance for the Red Devils. Junior Cole Barhorst leads Tippecanoe’s Wing-T offense with 1,132 yards and 11 touchdowns on 173 carries.

“This season has been a special, special blessing,” Childers said. “A lot of teams will be collecting equipment tomorrow. We get the privilege to go down to the stadium and practice and work on getting better.”

In Division V, Region 20, third-seeded Carlisle (8-2) will host No. 6 Greeneview (8-2) on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“This is a wonderful thing for these seniors and our team and community,” Indians coach Mike Brown said. “It’s nice to be able to play an extra game, and to be able to do that at home makes it even more special.”

The Rams have gone 1-1 the last two years in the playoffs. Brown said they’re a spread team that likes to run the ball.

Carlisle rolled over Dixie 41-20 on Friday, extending its winning streak to eight. Senior halfback Ridge Reed (129 carries, 1,445 yards, 14 TDs) didn’t play because of recurring ankle problems.

“With a playoff spot wrapped up, we decided late that he wasn’t going to go,” Brown said. “We’re just trying to get him as close to 100 percent as we can. He’s an important piece of us trying to play as much football as we can.”

What if Friday’s game had been a playoff contest? Would Reed have been on the field?

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “We probably would’ve warmed him up. It would’ve been a game-time decision.”

Senior Zayne Hart has stepped up in Reed’s absence. Hart rushed for 277 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries against Dixie.

“It’s been pretty cool to watch him,” Brown said. “It’s a great thing to see him be able to step up and not just officially run the ball, but become a star in his own right.”

Lebanon (7-3) is the No. 2 seed in the Division I, Region 4 playoffs and will host seventh-seeded Sycamore (6-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. It’s the first postseason berth for the Warriors since 2002.

“Coming into this season, we really thought we had a shot at playing Week 11,” Lebanon coach Shawn Lamb said. “Being a No. 2 seed I’m sure surprised a lot of people, but we knew with our schedule if we were able to get seven or eight wins, we would put ourselves in a good position.”

Senior quarterback Dakota Allen has passed for 1,972 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Warriors. The Aviators have one of Greater Cincinnati’s top running backs in senior Ra’Von Bonner (230 carries, 1,690 yards, 28 TDs).

Sycamore got off to a 2-4 start this year, dropping overtime decisions to La Salle and Covington (Ky.) Catholic while also losing to unbeaten Colerain and Fairfield.

“Bonner is unreal, but they’ve got a lot of quality high-school football players,” Lamb said. “We’re hoping to be able to get some breaks and create some turnovers. If we’re able to do that and keep it close, we feel like we can play with anyone.”

Lebanon is scoring 29.4 points per contest. The Warriors lost to Kings (35-7 in Week 1), Miamisburg (55-20 in Week 8) and Springboro (45-42 in Week 10).

“I definitely think there were high expectations this year,” Lamb said. “When you have a kid like Dakota Allen at quarterback, he’s able to make plays and make guys around him better. We beat some good football teams and won some close games when we needed to. These kids are resilient.”

PLAYOFF HISTORY

Here are the playoff histories for all teams involved in local matchups:

DIVISION I, REGION 4

Fairfield — 5-6 record in seven appearances (1985, 1986, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2013, 2015), state champion in 1986

St. Xavier — 36-20 record in 22 appearances (1981, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), state champion in 2005 and 2007

Lebanon — 11-7 record in eight appearances (1980, 1988, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002), state champion in 1998

Sycamore — 1-5 record in five appearances (1996, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012)

DIVISION II, REGION 8

Edgewood — 12-11 record in 11 appearances (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012)

La Salle — 10-4 record in six appearances (1985, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2014, 2015), state champion in 2014 and 2015

DIVISION III, REGION 12

Franklin — 4-9 record in nine appearances (1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013)

Tippecanoe — 6-12 record in 12 appearances (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

DIVISION V, REGION 20

Carlisle — 1-7 record in seven appearances (1980, 1984, 2001, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2015)

Greeneview — 2-2 record in two appearances (2014, 2015)