Eight area teams qualify for state football playoffs; Wildcats, Jets will host games

Springfield's Te'Sean Smoot throws a pass against Northmont on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Springfield. David Jablonski/Staff
Springfield's Te'Sean Smoot throws a pass against Northmont on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Springfield. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

SPRINGFIELD — Eight area high school football teams qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begins this weekend.

Springfield, Graham, Greenon, Shawnee, Mechanicsburg, Northeastern, Greeneview and Catholic Central all advanced to Week 11 in the expanded OHSAA playoff format.

Beginning this fall, 16 teams in each region advanced to the postseason, an increase from the top eight teams in previous seasons. Every team made the playoffs in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

The expansion increased the number of football playoff qualifiers from 224 to 448. The higher-seeded teams will host first- and second-round playoff games and all remaining games will be played at neutral sites beginning in the third round. The state championships will be played Dec. 2-4 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Division I through D-IV games will be played on Friday nights, while D-V through D-VII playoff games will be held on Saturday nights .

Springfield (8-1) is the No. 2 seed in D-I, Region 2 and will host Northmont (3-6) for the second straight week. The Wildcats beat the Thunderbolts 47-0 on Friday to clinch a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference title.

Springfield qualified for the playoffs for the seventh time in school history, including four straight appearances. The Wildcats are seeking their third straight appearance in the D-I state semifinals.

Northeastern (7-3) qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The Jets are the No. 6 seed in D-VI, Region 24 and will host Anna (4-6) on Saturday night. The Rockets won the state championship in 2019.

The Jets have made the playoffs nine times in school history, but are seeking their first playoff victory. They’re also hosting for the first time in school history.

“It’s really exciting for the kids,” said Jets coach Jake Buchholtz. “I think there’s a lot of people who aren’t really sure how it’s going to happen to be honest with you. It’s been 18 years since we last made the playoffs. It’s going to be an exciting week. There’s going to be a lot of build up. The community is going to come out and support them.”

Two other Ohio Heritage Conference teams will also host playoff games Saturday in D-VI, Region 24. Top-seeded and undefeated Mechanicsburg (10-0) will host 16th-seeded St. Bernard-Elmwood Place (3-5), while eighth-seeded Greeneview (6-4) will host Cincinnati Gamble Montessori (6-2).

Catholic Central (7-3) qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The No. 9 seeded-Irish will travel to eighth-seeded Fort Loramie (4-6) on Saturday, a year after snapping a 31-game losing streak and opting out of the playoffs.

The Irish were hoping to host a playoff game, but Fort Loramie beat 8-2 Lima Central Catholic in Week 10, leapfrogging five teams to grab the No. 8 seed.

“It’s been awhile,” said second-year Irish coach Ty Myers. “We’re definitely excited ... We’ll play who they put in front of us. We’ll game plan just every other week and we’ll go in there and put our best foot forward. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

Shawnee (6-4) advanced to the playoffs for the 11th time in school history and fourth straight season. The ninth-seeded Braves will face eighth-seeded Cincinnati Purcell-Marian (7-3) 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Walnut Hills High School. Last season, the Braves won three playoff games before falling at Roger Bacon in the regional finals.

Greenon (6-3) is making its second straight playoff appearance. A year ago, the Knights beat Taft 30-28 before falling to eventual state semifinalist Roger Bacon 41-19 in the second round. This year, the 14th-seeded Knights will travel to undefeated Preble Shawnee on Saturday night.

In D-IV, eighth-seeded Graham will host No. 9 seed Cleves Taylor (5-5) on Friday night.

OHSAA Football Playoffs

Area First Round Pairings

All games kick off at 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 29

Division 1, Region 2

15 Northmont (3-6) at 2 Springfield (8-1)

Division IV, Region 16

9 Cleves Taylor (5-5) at 8 Graham (6-3)

Saturday, Oct. 30

Division V, Region 20

14 Greenon (6-3) at 3 Preble Shawnee (10-0)

9 Shawnee (6-4) vs. 8 Cincinnati Purcell Marian (7-3) at Walnut Hills High School, 1:30 p.m.

Division VI, Region 24

16 St. Bernard-Elmwood Place (3-5) at 1 Mechanicsburg (10-0)

11 Anna (4-6) at 6 Northeastern (7-3)

9 Cincinnati Gamble Montessori (6-2) at 8 Greeneview (6-4)

Division VII, Region 28

9 Catholic Central (7-3) at 8 Fort Loramie (4-6)

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