High School Football: Shawnee looking to return to postseason

Loaded with proven talent, Shawnee is looking to do what its recent teams haven’t done: get back to the high school football playoffs.

The first step on that 10-week, regular-season journey begins on Saturday night when Shawnee opens the season against Dayton City League member Thurgood Marshall at Welcome Stadium. It’s the second straight season the teams will open against each other. Last year Shawnee convincingly won 31-6 at home.

Ample offensive and defensive starters return for Shawnee coach Rick Meeks, but depth will be a concern. Most of those returnees are two-way players. They should be the difference-makers for a program that hasn’t been in the postseason since 2013.

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“If we have some injuries, we could be in trouble,” Meeks said. “But as long as we stay healthy our (starters) are pretty good. As long as things go well, I like our chances.”

Unaffected by the debut of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance initiative, Shawnee remains in Division IV but switches to Region 16. Joining Shawnee in that region are Central Buckeye Conference rivals Graham, Kenton Ridge, Northwestern and Urbana. Moving out of that region and up to D-III is state heavyweight Alter.

Shawnee, 6-4 last season, played catch-up after falling to playoff-bound teams Tippecanoe, Clinton-Massie and Indian Lake following that opening defeat of Thurgood. The Braves finished the 2016 season on a 5-1 run, but that wasn’t enough to join the top eight teams in D-IV, Region 14.

Other than the alternating home-field advantage, there is just one change in Shawnee’s schedule from last season. Longtime CBC member Greenon left to make its debut in the Ohio Heritage Conference. Jonathan Alder, located at Plain City in Madison County toward Columbus, fills that void and makes its CBC debut. Shawnee is at Alder in Week 9.

Thurgood was 5-5 last season, missing the D-III, Region 12 playoffs. The Cougars ended on a 5-2 run, but couldn’t overcome a 0-3 start that also included lopsided setbacks to Alter (13-1) and Miamisburg (10-3). Thurgood, led by coach Brian Carter, is in the football-only Southwestern Ohio Public League, a combination of Cincinnati and Dayton City League teams.

Shawnee hosts Tippecanoe in Week 2.

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Shawnee vs. Thurgood Marshall

7 p.m. Sat., Dayton’s Welcome Stadium

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