Freshman class plays part in Shawnee’s playoff run

Shawnee's Tyler Mercer runs against Mariemont on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, Photo by Michael Cooper
Shawnee's Tyler Mercer runs against Mariemont on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, Photo by Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Braves play top seed Roger Bacon on Saturday

A strong freshman class has done its part in helping lead Shawnee to the Division V, Region 20 championship game.

Braylon Brim, who Shawnee moved from linebacker to the defensive line earlier this season, had three sacks last week in a 21-7 victory against No. 11 seed Mariemont. Another freshman, Darian Dixon, took over the starting left tackle job at midseason.

“He’s going to be really good, too,” Shawnee coach Rick Meeks said. “Great kid. Very coachable. Works his butt off.”

Explore» State finals to be played in Obetz

Meeks knows the freshman class well because his son TJ is a part of it. Many of the players have been teammates since their early days in youth football. TJ is one of half a dozen freshman making an impact on special teams, though his dad sometimes gives him snaps as a slot receiver.

“He’s a smart kid and knows what he’s doing,” Meeks said.

Shawnee will need help from the freshmen and the rest of the roster at 7 p.m. Saturday. The No. 7 seed Braves (6-2) play No. 1 seed Roger Bacon (9-0) in Cincinnati. The winner will play in the state semifinals at a site to be determined at 7 p.m. Nov. 14.

In the other D-V regional finals, Canfield South Range plays Kirtland, Pemberville Eastwood plays Tontogany Otsego and Ironton plays West Lafayette Ridgewood. Of the eight regional finalists, two have won state championships. Kirtland is a five-time champion. Ironton has won twice.

Explore» Playoff schedule

Shawnee came closer than any Clark County team to winning a state championship when it lost 21-14 to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in 2011. With a victory Saturday, it would join Catholic Central (1991 and 2007) and Springfield (2019 and 2020) on the list of county schools that have made multiple state semifinal appearances.

Roger Bacon, which is making its seventh playoff appearance, has never reached the state final four. It advanced with a 31-28 victory against No. 4 seed Versailles. Corey Kiner, an LSU recruit who ranks 13th among Ohio players in the class of 2021, according to 247Sports.com, rushed for 211 yards on 21 carries.

“They’re good,” Meeks said. “Kiner’s really good, patient, but he’s not the only thing they have. They throw the ball well. You can’t just absolutely key on him, but he’s obviously where you start when you try to figure out what your defensive scheme is going to be. There’s no way to stop him. You just try to slow him down and defend the pass at the same time.”

One other area team plays Saturday in a regional final. Here’s a look at that game:

No. 2 seed Mechanicsburg (9-0) at No. 1 Coldwater (9-0): The Division VI, Region 24 final matches two perennial playoff teams. Mechanicsburg has made eight straight appearances. Coldwater has played in the postseason 24 straight seasons.

Coldwater has won six state championships and played in the final four 15 times, most recently in 2016. Mechanicburg reached the state semifinals last season for the second time — losing 36-6 to Anna — and the first time since 2013.

The Coldwater-Mechanicsburg winner will play Beverly Fort Frye or Proctorville Fairland in the state semifinals on Nov. 14 at a site to be determined. The D-VI championship game will be played Nov. 21 or 22 at Fortress Obetz.

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