The playoff formula doesn’t get much simpler for the Shawnee High School football team — win and you’re in.
The Braves (5-4) upset Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division champion Bellefontaine 34-0 in Week 9 to catapult itself up the Division IV, Region 16 rankings.
Shawnee is ranked seventh and controls its own destiny in a crucial Week 10 game against another Region 16 playoff hopeful Jonathan Alder (6-3). The top eight teams in each region advance to the postseason.
The Braves haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, the team’s longest drought since Rick Meeks took over the program 16 seasons ago.
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Jonathan Alder can also clinch a share of the division title with a victory.
“This is a playoff game for both of us,” Braves coach Rick Meeks said. “They’re going to be highly motivated. It’s a big game. It’s going to be fun.”
Shawnee started the season 4-1, but lost three in a row to Tecumseh, Urbana and Kenton Ridge.
“We’re young and we’ve been inconsistent,” Meeks said. “We’ve showed some promise at times. At times we’re pretty good, but at other times we’ve been pretty bad.”
On Friday, the Braves jumped out to a 34-0 halftime lead and were able to milk the running clock in the second half. They played mistake-free football with no turnovers, no botched snaps and no offensive penalties, which have plagued them in recent weeks, Meeks said.
“We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “I told them our guys that this is the formula and look what happens.”
The Pioneers are led by quarterback JT Keith (1,262 passing yards, 13 TDs) and running back Garret Proxmire (1,175 rushing yards, 10 TDs).
“They run the ball, use play action pass, they’re stout and well-coached,” Meeks said. “They’ll be ready to play.”
The Braves are led by junior quarterback Robie Glass, who’s thrown for 1,109 yards and 8 TDs through the air. Glass needs 59 yards to reach 1,000 rushing yards on the season.
Shawnee expects to have a big crowd in Springfield Twp. on Friday night. It will be the last home game for seniors Devin Harris, Cameron White, Pete Mueller and Nick Humphreys.
“It’s the biggest game we’ve played in in years,” Meeks said.
Outright title: Springfield (7-1, 3-0 GWOC National East) clinched a D-I, Region 3 playoff berth and a share of its first conference title since 2010 with its 33-26 overtime victory against Wayne last week.
The Wildcats can win the division title outright with a victory over Fairmont (6-2, 1-1) in Week 10. A victory would also mean the Wildcats would have a better chance at hosting a playoff game at Evans Stadium.
A year ago, Fairmont beat Springfield 7-3 in a Week 10 winner-takes-all matchup, keeping the Wildcats from advancing to the playoffs.
Mad, Mad River Division: The CBC Mad River Division could end in a three-way tie for the first time since 2007.
Indian Lake (3-6, 3-1) has already clinched at least a share of its fourth straight division title.
However, the Lakers loss to Urbana last week opens the door for both the Hillclimbers (4-5, 2-1) and Northwestern (6-3, 2-1).
With a Northwestern victory at Graham (2-7, 1-2) in Week 10, the Warriors can earn their first conference title since 1967.
Urbana can also clinch a share of the division title with a victory over Benjamin Logan (2-7, 0-3). It last won the division title in 2014.
Coming home: Mechanicsburg (8-1, 3-1 Ohio Heritage Conference North Division) will play one more home game this season after clinching a D-VI, Region 24 home playoff game last week with a 54-0 victory at Northeastern.
While their playoff future is set, the Indians face a huge game at Fairbanks (6-3, 3-1) with a share of the division title on the line. The winner will clinch a share of the title and could win it outright if Triad (5-4, 1-3) can upset West Jefferson (7-2, 3-1).
The Panthers also control their own destiny in the D-VI, Region 23 playoff rankings.
Playoff Sunday: The Ohio High School Athletic Association playoff pairings will be released on Sunday. The top eight teams in each region advance to the playoffs; the top four teams will all host regional quarterfinal playoff games.
Playoff games for Divisions I, II, III and VI will all be played on Friday night, while D-IV, V and VII will be played on Saturday night.
All football state championship games will be played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.