High School Football: 5 things to watch this season

SPRINGFIELD — With the first of two preseason scrimmages in the book, the first Friday night of the high school football season is rapidly approaching.

The quest for Clark County’s first state title begins Friday, Aug. 20. No Clark County team has won a state football championship since the playoff era began in 1972.

Only three teams in Clark County history have advanced to the state championship game — Catholic Central (1991), Shawnee (2011) and Springfield (2021).

The Wildcats advanced to the state final last winter, falling to Lakewood St. Edward 23-13 in the Division I state championship game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Springfield is seeking its fourth straight state semifinal appearance.

Here’s five things to watch on the gridiron this fall in Clark County.

Early season road warriors: Springfield will travel more than 850 miles to play three games in two different states this month.

The Wildcats traveled to Kentucky to play Louisville Trinity for a scrimmage game on Saturday. They’ll scrimmage again at 6 p.m. Thursday at Westerville Central for their final preseason tuneup.

In Week 1, the Wildcats will travel three hours to play at Cleveland St. Ignatius. Last season, the Wildcats mounted an epic comeback to beat St. Ignatius 24-20.

Springfield doesn’t have a Week 2 opponent. The Wildcats won’t play in Springfield until it faces former Greater Western Ohio Conference rival Trotwood-Madison in Week 3, the first of four home games in September. They also host Wayne (Sept. 9), Fairmont (Sept. 23), Springboro (Sept. 30) and Miamisburg (Oct. 14).

Tough CBC Kenton Trail: The Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division will be strong again after four of its six programs made deep playoff runs last fall.

Shawnee is seeking its fifth straight playoff appearance and first league championship since 2011. The Braves went 7-5 last season, beating Purcell Marian 21-16 in a D-V, Region 20 first round game before falling to Taft 21-0 in a Region 20 quarterfinal game. Shawnee moved back up to D-IV, Region 16 this season after spending two years in D-V, Region 20.

London won the division championship last fall, finishing 5-0. The 10-3 Red Raiders advanced to the D-III Region 11 semifinals, falling to Granville 15-14.

Bellefontaine went 7-5, advancing to the Region 11 quarterfinals before falling to Western Brown 50-20. Jonathan Alder finished 6-4, falling to Columbus Eastmoor Academy 35-7.

Irish resurgence: Catholic Central will look to advance to the playoffs for the second straight season with a new coach at the helm.

The Irish recently named Jim Dimitroff as its head football coach. He replaced Ty Myers, who led the program to a 9-11 record over the past two seasons that included snapping a 31-game losing streak.

Dimitroff, a 1975 Central grad, served as offensive coordinator last season as the Irish finished the season 7-4, qualifying for the playoffs in 2011. The Irish fell to Fort Loramie 38-16 in a D-VII, Region 28 first round game.

Jets taking flight: Northeastern returns a strong nucleus from last year’s squad that finished 7-4 and hosted a playoff game for the first time in school history.

Northeastern fell to Anna 17-3 in a D-VI, Region 24 first round game last season, falling to 0-9 all-time in playoff games since 1985.

The Jets are also seeking their first Ohio Heritage Conference North Division title in school history. Northeastern hasn’t won a league championship since winning back-to-back OHC titles in 2002 and 2003.

Three in a row?: Greenon is seeking its third straight playoff appearance after qualifying for the first time in school history last season.

The Knights finished 6-4, falling to Preble Shawnee 21-13 in a D-V, Region 20 first round game.

Greenon is also seeking its third OHC South championship in four seasons. The Knights won titles in 2019 and 2020, but fell to league champion Greeneview in Week 10 last season.

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