High School Football: Shawnee ready for showdown with Taft

SPRINGFIELD — The Shawnee High School football program is playing into November for the fourth straight season.

While the coaching staff has been there before, it’s a new experience for many of Shawnee’s young players. The ninth-seeded Braves (7-4) will travel to Cincinnati to face top-seeded Taft (8-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday in a D-V, Region 20 playoff game.

Shawnee are also expected to be without several key players due to injuries, including running back Max Guyer, who was hurt during the first round 21-16 comeback victory over Purcell Marian. The majority of the team’s starting offensive and defensive units played at least one junior varsity football game at some point this season, said Braves coach Rick Meeks.

Now, they’re making big plays for the varsity in crucial playoff games.

“It’s great seeing some of these younger kids grow given the injuries that we’ve had,” Meeks said.

The Braves last played Taft in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, beating the Senators 64-8. Taft’s roster that season included former Ohio State University defensive tackle Adolphus Washington and former University of Oregon wide receiver Dwayne Stanford.

The Senators have won eight straight after back-to-back losses to Roger Bacon and Wyoming to open the season. They beat 16th-seeded Madeira 13-6 last week to advance to the second round for the second time in three years.

“They’re an athletic and fast team,” Meeks said. “Our goal is to be the better team because they were (more athletic) in 2011 also. That’s our challenge, meeting their aggressiveness. They’re aggressive on defense and on offense they’re going to try to pound the ball. We’re going to have to meet that physicality up front.”

Several young players have stepped up in recent weeks, Meeks said. The further the Braves advance, the more the experience will pay off in the future, he said.

“Being a part of it, the bright lights won’t mean anything,” Meeks said. “They’ll have been to places and seen things. It’ll be just what we do.”

The extra week of practice will also play a key role in developing next year’s squad, Meeks said.

“I enjoy working with our young kids, being able to get them another week,” he said. “It’s similar to college coaches in the bowl games. It gives them another week to work with their kids to get them better for the next season. With guys being out, we’ve been able to work with a lot of younger guys. Hopefully that pays off after this year.”

D-VI, Region 24

A pair of Ohio Heritage Conference division champions will meet on the field for the second time this season in a D-VI, Region 24 quarterfinal game.

OHC South champion and eighth-seeded Greeneview (7-4) will travel to OHC North champion and top-seeded Mechanicsburg (11-0) on Saturday night.

The Indians beat the Rams 35-10 in Week 5, handing Greeneview their fourth straight loss. The Rams haven’t lost since, winning six straight games.

Greeneview led 10-7 late in the second quarter, but the Indians scored four unanswered touchdowns to seal the win. Mechanicsburg quarterback Aaron Conley rushed for 101 yards and four TDs in the victory.

OHSAA Football Playoffs

Area Second Round Pairings

Today’s games

Division V, Region 20

9 Shawnee (7-4) vs. 1 Cincinnati Taft (8-2) 7 p.m.

Division VI, Region 24

8 Greeneview (7-4) at 1 Mechanicsburg (11-0), 7 p.m.

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