Triad has patched together a historic high school football season. And if the Cardinals are to pad their unbeaten record, they’ll have to find a way to get past two-time defending state champion Marion Local.
It’ll be the first time Triad has played a team from the mighty Midwest Athletic Conference.
“It’s often been referred to as the MAC Truck,” Triad coach Payton Printz said of the conference that has produced multiple small-school state football championships. “Right now, they’re the lead semi.”
Triad and Local, both 12-0, will meet in the Division VII, Region 26 final at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Piqua’s Alexander Stadium-Purk Field. The winner will advance to next week’s state semifinals.
Triad has been playing since midseason without leading rusher, receiver and tackler Tre McIntyre, out with a broken leg.
“A lot of people thought … just stick a fork in us,” Printz said.
Like its wins, other key injuries also have been piling up.
Trent McIntyre, Tre’s sophomore brother and starting quarterback, sustained three injuries in the 28-7 playoff-opening defeat of Cedarville. He broke a bone in his throwing hand in the first quarter, sprained an ankle in the second quarter and separated a shoulder in the third.
He missed just two plays in that win. But he was out for last week’s 14-7 defeat of Lehman Catholic and is lost for the playoffs.
He’s not all who’s out. Chaz Adams, who took over as the team’s leading tackler, suffered a high ankle sprain on the opening kickoff last week and won’t play on Saturday. Standout defensive lineman Colton Coil was sidelined with torn ankle ligaments in the third quarter.
Triad’s roster is so depleted, Printz said just 25 will suit up against Local. Practice isn’t an issue; Triad hasn’t hit in practice since the preseason.
It’s a daunting task to play a quality program like Marion Local three games into the playoffs. With that many key players out, Triad must quickly regroup and hope for the best. This is the furthest Triad has ever been in the postseason.
“We’re going to have to play an exceptional game and they’re going to have to play a very poor game to even be on the field with this team,” Printz said. “They’re just too good. I keep telling the kids that it only takes 11 (players). You can’t measure the size of a kid’s heart. We’re gonna bring it every snap.”
7:30 p.m. Friday at Wapakoneta Harmon Field
Mechanicsburg (10-2) vs. West Liberty-Salem (10-2), D-VI, Region 22 final
7 p.m. Saturday at Piqua’s Alexander STadium - Purk Field
Triad (12-0) vs. Marion Local (12-0), D-VII, Region 26 final