Oakwood is all but assured of missing the high school football playoffs, but the Lumberjacks have done the next-best thing: beat Franklin.
Oakwood raced to a big lead over visiting Franklin in last Friday’s Week 9 Southwestern Buckeye League showdown and held on for a season- and program-defining 35-22 win since coach Butch Snider took over in 2015.
Oakwood (5-4) would have to defeat rival Bellbrook (6-3) this week and get a ton of help from other upsets to qualify for the Division IV, Region 16 playoffs. Franklin (7-2) already had clinched a spot in the D-III, Region 12 playoff field.
“That’s definitely at the top of the list,” Snider assured. “It was very exciting. Our kids stepped up to the challenge. I know they had a couple guys out, but they’re still a real good football team.”
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Centerville (D-I, Region 3), Trotwood-Madison (D-III, Region 12), Valley View (D-IV, Region 16), Madison (D-V, Region 20) and Marion Local (D-VI, Region 24) all retained their No. 1 spots in the computer points rankings released by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Tuesday.
The top eight teams in each region following the end of the regular season this week qualify for the playoffs. The top four will host Week 11 first-round games. The OHSAA will release final computer rankings and first-round matchups Sunday.
Unleashing its high-end passing attack, Oakwood stunned Franklin by racing to a 27-7 lead. Lumberjacks quarterback Brian Erbe completed 19 of 34 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Two-way standout Brendan Talarczyk had seven catches for 52 yards but it was junior Jake Sargent who provided the most damage. He produced 121 yards on just five catches and scored twice.
Connor Dinkler, one of several Oakwood players who recently returned to the lineup after recovering from injuries, added three catches for 85 yards. He was one of five two-way players to miss one or more games. “That’s like losing 10 position players,” Snider said. “It was nice to get some of those guys back and they played well.”
Another difference-maker who returned to action was senior middle linebacker Freeman Whitaker.
Valley View (9-0, 5-0) has already clinched the SWBL Southwestern title and a home playoff game. The Spartans can complete an unbeaten regular season at Eaton (3-6) on Friday.
Madison (7-2, 5-0) has clinched the SWBL Buckeye title. Bellbrook (D-III, Region 12) isn’t out of playoff contention but is buried at No. 14. Snider began his coaching career as a Golden Eagles assistant from 1997-2001. Among those Bellbrook players was current head coach Jeff Jenkins.
The playoffs a longshot, more realistic for Oakwood is becoming the first Lumberjacks team to win six games since 2008.
“This would be a big milestone for this senior class,” said Snider.
• Led by Centerville (8-1), the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East owns four of the eight D-I, Region 3 playoff spots. That includes No. 4 Wayne (7-2), No. 7 Fairmont (6-3) and No. 8 Springfield (6-3). Northmont (7-2) of the GWOC National West, is No. 5.
Wayne is at Trotwood in a GWOC crossover Week 10 matchup on Friday. Fairmont hosts Springfield and Beavercreek (6-3 but No. 11 in Region 3), is at Centerville. Fairmont has lost two straight games, but continues to benefit from early wins over Alter (8-1) and Milford (8-1).
• Alter (8-1, 6-0) is at Chaminade Julienne (7-2, 6-0) on Friday to decide the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North Division title. Alter could withstand a loss and still make the postseason. CJ has won seven straight games.
• Belmont (D-II, Region 8) has completed the regular season with a 9-0 record. The Bison could do no better than No. 5 in computer rankings but have clinched a first-round road game. Belmont has allowed nine points and posted seven shutouts.
• The Midwest Athletic Conference has six of its 10 teams in playoff contention. Anna (7-2) is No. 6 in D-V, Region 20. In D-VI, Region 24 with Marion Local (9-0) are No. 3 Coldwater (7-2) and No. 8 St. Henry (6-3). In D-VII, Region 28, it’s No. 3 Delphos St. John’s (5-4) and No. 5 Minster (5-4).
• There are two Thursday games: Brookville (6-3) at Franklin and Ponitz (2-7) vs. Cincinnati Hughes (3-6) at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium. Both games are at 7 p.m.