“I’m extremely happy for these kids,” said Indians coach Kurt Forrest. " It’s been a long year. We’ve had a lot of ups-and-downs. We were an extremely talented group of individuals to start the year. Now, we’re a group of people that’s become a team. We’re doing everything that we can to fight, scratch, kick and claw to find ways to win games. Whenever you get a chance to get some momentum and head into Week 11 and see these kids get rewarded, it’s an awesome feeling.”
Two other Champaign County schools — Urbana and West Liberty-Salem — also advanced to the playoffs
The Indians beat Fairbanks 47-7 in Week 7 and followed that performance with a 19-13 loss against D-VI state-ranked West Liberty-Salem, which gave his players a confidence boost heading into the final two games of the season. Mechanicsburg knocked off Northeastern 28-25 and beat rival Triad 29-24 in Week 10.
“When you’ve had the history and the tradition and all those things, the expectation in our program is to be in Week 11 and to be able to have an opportunity to go into Week 12,” Forrest said. “When you have a team and a program that does that year-in and year-out, you rely on the things that win football games, you rely on blocking, tackling and playing with great physical effort.”
The key, Forrest said, has been limiting mistakes, especially winning the turnover battle.
“We want to make sure that we don’t do anything to lose the game,” he said. “We want to make sure that anybody else that plays us is going to have to beat us. That’s where we’re at and we have a group of kids that understand that. They’re giving us everything they got.”
The Indians are traveling for a first-round game for the first time since 2019. They beat St. Bernard-Elmwood Place 59-0 in a first round game in 2021.
The Titans are making their fourth straight trip to the playoffs and hosting for the second time in school history. They fell at Catholic Central 33-0 in a first round game last season.
The Indians will travel more than an hour-and-a-half for Friday’s game.
“It’s going to be new for us,” Forrest said.
The winner will advance to face either No. 2 Ansonia or No. 15 Lockland.
Here’s a look at other Champaign County playoff games on Friday:
Division IV, Region 16
No. 15 Urbana at No. 2 Chillicothe Unioto: The Hillclimbers (7-3) are making their second straight playoff appearance.
Urbana started the season 5-0, but have lost three of its last five games to strong Central Buckeye Conference opponents — Jonathan Alder, Bellefontaine and London.
They’ll travel to Ross County to face a Sherman Tanks (9-1) squad that’s won seven straight games since falling to Waverly in Week 3.
The winner will advance to face either No. 7 Shawnee or No. 10 Waverly.
Division VI, Region 20
No. 13 Lucasville Valley at No. 4 West Liberty-Salem: The Tigers (9-1) are hosting a playoff game for the fourth time in five years.
After an 0-5 start, the Indians (3-7) won three of their last five games to earn a playoff berth for the fourth straight season.
The winner will face either No. 5 Tri-Village or No. 12 National Trail.