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Time to talk Ohio playoffs

CHECKING DOWN — Edison’s Gage Cline tosses a short pass to Vinnie Marcino during the Wildcats’ 41-7 victory over Catholic Central on Friday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — Opt-in day for the modified Ohio football playoffs has come and gone, and six of the seven teams in the Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area decided to join the chase for a state championship.

The lone school opting out is Catholic Central (more on the CCHS decision appears later in this article).

Modified regions were drawn Friday based on those opting in. During the week of Sept. 28 (after Week 5), coaches will vote to seed teams in the regions. First-round playoff games will be played Oct. 9-10.

Big Red, which fell from the ranks of the unbeaten during Week 4, will compete in Division III, Region 9. This region features the likes of Chardon, Streetsboro, Canfield, New Philadelphia and Aurora. Joe Eitel has Steubenville ranked sixth in Region 9.

Reno Saccoccia and his Big Red were scheduled to play at Wheeling Park this week, but that game was canceled when Ohio County moved to gold on West Virginia’s COVID-19 protocols maps. Teams in gold counties are allowed to play schools within their own county or play against schools in other gold counties.

Indian Creek is part of Region 15 in the Division IV ranks. Currently, unbeaten St. Clairsville, the top-ranked team in the initial AP Ohio Division IV poll, leads the region. Creek will host the Red Devils Thursday night inside Robert Kettlewell Memorial Stadium.

Edison, Harrison Central and Buckeye Local all are assigned to Division V, Region 17. The Wildcats and the Huskies are off to 3-1 starts.

“We’ve opted in for the playoffs, but we’re still taking it one game at a time and not looking too far ahead,” Edison coach Shane O’Brien said following his club’s 41-7 Week 4 victory over Catholic Central. “Obviously, we hope to be successful in the playoffs, but we also are prepared to play regular season games after the first round.”

Toronto is part of Division VII, Region 27. The Red Knights currently are 1-3 and will travel to Campbell Memorial this week. Campbell sports a 2-2 mark.

THEY NEED GAMES

Central’s decision to opt out was based on a single factor — the need to play as many games as possible.

“We were looking at taking our young players into a playoff venue against a high seed and potentially not be able to schedule games in Weeks 8, 9 and 10,” said Crusader grid boss Anthony Agresta. “Our young men need to play games. We made the decision based on the need to grow them as individuals, as players and as a team.

“We need to play as many games as possible. We decided to opt out and work to schedule other teams that opted out. Going this route gives us a chance to hopefully play 9-10 football games. That was the decision we wanted to make.”

Central will host Madonna Saturday, then play Toronto at Harding Stadium. That game was originally scheduled for Clarke Hinkle Field but was moved in order to accommodate a larger crowd.

From there, the Crusaders will host Bridgeport on Oct. 10, Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans on Oct. 17 and Buckeye Local on Oct. 24. An opponent still is being sought for Oct. 31.

Those three contests will be played at Central’s Michael Carapellotti Sports Complex. The opening kicks are set for 1 p.m.

WEEK THAT WAS

Oak Glen now stands as the lone unbeaten team in the area following its 55-46 victory over previously unbeaten John Marshall. In the offensive shootout, the two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense.

The now 3-0 Golden Bears dominated the game for three quarters and led 48-21 heading into the fourth. Turnovers and the injury bug really hurt Oak Glen in the final 12 minutes, as the Class AAA Monarchs scored 19 unanswered points after the Bears fumbled on four consecutive possessions. This made the score 48-40 with just under seven minutes remaining.

Coach Ted Arneault’s club put the game away with an 8-yard touchdown run by Gage Patterson.

The Patterson cousins (Gage and Hunter) again posted huge offensive numbers for Oak Glen. Gage ran for 118 yards and a score and also caught four passes for 84 yards and a score. Hunter put up 195 rushing yards and scored twice. Bruising fullback Paxton Shuman contributed 95 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Nick Chaney continued to be extremely efficient. The senior quarterback threw for 127 yards and a couple of scores.

Four Golden Bears, including Hunter Patterson, left the game with injuries.

Oak Glen does not have a game scheduled this week, but Arneault indicated he might look to secure an opponent. There were reports circulating that Oak Glen may pick up unbeaten Spring Valley. The Class AAA Timberwolves shocked the West Virginia football world when they upset Martinsburg 22-20, ending the Bulldogs’ 57-game winning streak in the process.

Because of the four injuries, the Golden Bears may just take the bye. Big Red possibly may pick up Spring Valley.

DOMINATING PERFORMANCES

≤ Kobe Mitchell continued to work his magic in Harrison Central’s 40-20 victory over Union Local. The talented senior quarterback threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Trevor Carman (seven catches) caught one scoring toss, while Mitchell and Jonathon Vermillion hooked up for a 76-yard scoring bomb. Vermillion finished with four receptions. Mitchell also ran for 57 and two additional touchdowns. And, Mitchell also took a kickoff 82 yards to the house. With the squad’s top two tailbacks sidelined with injuries, converted guard Nathan Bertolino moved to the backfield and rambled for 75 yards and six points.

≤ Edison rushed for 350 yards and six touchdowns in its victory over Central. Sophomore Ethan Waggoner paced the Wildcats with 149 yards on 24 carries and a six-pointer. Junior Tyler Griffith added 81 and a score on six trips. Sophomore quarterback Gage Cline got 44 yards on four carries and found the end zone three times. The vastly improved Wildcats finish their six-game season with a couple of tough home assignments, entertaining Beaver Local and East Liverpool.

≤ In his first game since Week 1, Indian Creek’s Matt Schaefer turned in a monster performance. The senior toted the pigskin 25 times, gaining 137 yards and scoring all four of his team’s touchdowns as the Redskins earned a 30-8 triumph over Buckeye Local. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Creek. The Redskins finished with 265 yards on the ground. Senior Jeremy Brown added 95 on 17 carries.

QUICK HITTERS

≤ Big Red had a night to forget Thursday when it traveled to New Philadelphia and was blanked, 31-0. The last time Big Red was shut out came in Week 10 of the 2002 season when East Liverpool posted a 6-0 victory. Steubenville also was blanked in 2001, dropping a 52-0 verdict to Boardman.

≤ Due to the unique scheduling challenges presented by COVID-19, traditional Columbus powers St. Frances DeSales and Bishop Watterson already have played twice this season. On Aug. 28, DeSales earned a 28-22 overtime victory. On Friday, Watterson got some revenge, clipping DeSales 35-34 in two overtimes. A third meeting is possible since both teams are in Division III, Region 11.

The starting defense for Chardon, the top-ranked team in Region 9 and the leader in the initial Ohio AP Division III poll, has allowed just one touchdown through four games.

≤ Austintown Fitch, Big Red’s Week 6 opponent, is off to a 4-0 start following its 25-21 victory over Warren Harding. The Falcons will visit Cleveland Benedictine before hosting Steubenville. Benedictine fell to 2-2 with a 28-10 loss to Massillon. The Bengals have played two of Ohio’s top Division II teams in back-to-back weeks after a 31-24 loss to Akron Hoban and then Friday’s game against the Tigers.

TOP STATS

Running wild

195, Hunter Patterson, Oak Glen, 2 touchdowns

149, Ethan Waggoner, Edison, touchdown

140, Drake Hukill, Brooke, touchdown

137, Matt Schaefer, Indian Creek, 4 touchdowns

118, Gage Patterson, Oak Glen, touchdown

95, Paxton Shuman, Oak Glen, 3 touchdowns

94, Garrett Dozier, Toronto, touchdown

91, Jeremy Brown, Indian Creek

Gunslingers

212, Kobe Mitchell, Harrison Central, 14 of 22, 2 scores

183, Cade Kernahan, Big Red, 17 of 25

132, Ryan Gorman, Catholic Central, 16 of 36

127, Nick Chaney, Oak Glen, 6 of 7, 2 scores

Hands team

8, Vince Carapellotti, Catholic Central, 70

7, Trevor Carman, Harrison Central, 74, touchdown

6, Aaron Ferguson, Big Red, 56

5, Isaac Hough, Catholic Central, 50

5, Jared Roberts, Big Red, 50

4, Jonathon Vermillion, 109, touchdown

4, Max Maley, Weir High, 94, touchdown

4, Gage Patterson, Oak Glen, 84, touchdown

4, Sam Coleman, Indian Creek, 35

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