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Central Ohio Postseason: State Semifinals Preview

By Danny Fogarty, 11/23/21, 12:30PM EST


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- About a month ago, there were almost too many central Ohio teams in the playoffs to count as dozens played in the first round.

Now, in the State Final Four, only six teams remain.

These six will represent central Ohio football on an all-state stage this season.

How each team performs will speak not only for that school/'s program but for central Ohio football as a whole.

This weekend, fans will find out not only if their favorite team will win, but if central Ohio football has what it takes to go up against the rest of the Buckeye State.

Here are the previews for the central Ohio playoff games in this year's State Semifinals.

Division I: Friday at 7 p.m.

Upper Arlington (14-0) vs. Lakewood St. Edward (12-1) at Mansfield Arlin Field

Upper Arlington stands as the only Division I team that is still undefeated heading into the Final Four after Medina lost last week.

Who did Medina lose to? St. Edward.

It was not merely a loss but an utter blowout as the Eagles routed Medina 41-6.

Upper Arlington is coming off a close 21-14 overtime win against central Ohio powerhouse Pickerington Central.

The Bears have been, and likely will be, led by quarterback Simon Monnin who has eight touchdowns in his last two outings.

However, Monnin will have to throw past a St. Edward defense that has only allowed 10 points per game all season.

Upper Arlington will also look to get running back Carson Gresock going Friday night as, though he did not score last week, he leads the team with 33 touchdowns on a whopping 166 rushing yards per game.

Division III: Friday at 7 p.m.

Hamilton Badin (13-0) vs. Granville (13-0) at London Bowlus Field

Granville comes off a victory in which it scored 57 points against Western Brown.  They would also give up 49 points: the most they have given up this season by far.

While the Blue Aces' offense clearly did hold up, led by six touchdowns from running back Devon Haley, the allowance of so many points could be cause for concern.

This is especially true considering Granville's Final Four opponent, Badin, averages around 34 points per game.

Badin will have its own issues Friday night, though, as it comes off a Regional Finals game in which it did not score until the fourth quarter.  Granted, the 21-9 win was decisive, but the inability to score in the first three quarters is not something the Rams would want to repeat.

For the Blue Aces, a focus will be to get Haley going early to open up the passing game.  As well, the Rams has two turnovers last week, so it will be crucial for Granville to not only get takeaways but capitalize on every offensive chance it has.

Division IV: Friday at 7 p.m.

Bloom-Carroll (14-0) vs. Clarksville Clinton-Massie (12-1) at Performance Stadium at Volunteer Field (Plain City)

Bloom-Carroll is no stranger to the Final Four.

Last season, the Bulldogs fell in the State Semifinal to Lake Catholic. Now, a year later, they are back and hoping for a chance at redemption against Clinton-Massie.

Lucky for them, the Bulldogs are better than ever and currently stand as one of if not the best Division IV in Ohio heading into the 2021 Final Four.

While a 14-3 win last week against St. Clairsville was nothing special, the three points allowed continues a 12-game streak of allowing 7 points or less for the Bulldogs' defense.  

This brick wall has made Bloom-Carroll's wins much more manageable as the offense does not have to worry about scoring 25 or even 15 points to secure a win.

The Bulldogs' defense will need to contend against tough competition in Clinton-Massie's running back duo of Colton Trambler and Carson Vanhoose who both average over 75 rushing yards per game.

The Falcons' offense overall averaged 45 points per game so far this season and will hope to match that output Friday night.

Division V: Saturday at 7 p.m.

Harvest Prep (10-2) vs. Versailles (13-1) at London Bowlus Field

Harvest Prep is on somewhat of an unprecedented run thus far in the playoffs.

Coming in as a No. 2 seed and a 2-loss team, the Warriors were certainly in the discussion to win a few games, but not to make it to the Final Four.

Three wins, including two blowouts, later, Harvest Prep now stands as a team ready for the State Championship. It will first need to make it past Versailles who is on its own Cinderella run. 

As a No. 5 seed, the Tigers had to pull off two upsets before making it to the Final Four.

This means both teams will have momentum and a hunger to keep winning all the way to the State Championship.

Harvest Prep will lean on this energy and effective rushing from running back Jaylen Jennings is coming off a 192-yard and 2-touchdown game last week.

Versailles has its own lead running back in the form of Jack Osbourne who has scored two touchdowns in his last three games.

Division VI: Saturday at 7 p.m.

Coldwater (12-2) vs. West Jefferson (13-1) at Alexander Stadium (Piqua)

While they have made it this far, West Jefferson still has a lone blemish on its schedule in the form of a Week 10 loss against rival Mechanicsburg.

The Roughriders hoped for a chance at revenge in the postseason, but the Indians fell 42-6 last week in the Regional Finals. 

As a consolation, though, West Jefferson faces down Mechanicsburg's destroyer: Coldwater.

The Coldwater Cavaliers have averaged 37 points per game all season but have turned it up in the playoffs scoring 42 points or more in each of its four games.

On the flip side, the Roughriders have only allowed 12 points per game this postseason, offering a challenge to the Cavaliers' offensive output.

On offense, West Jefferson quarterback Tyler Buescher boasted 330 passing yards last week in the team's 16-14 win against Fort Frye, so he will look to continue his success against Coldwater.

Division VII: Saturday at 7 p.m.

Newark Catholic (13-1) vs. Warren John F. Kennedy (10-2) at Marlington Stadium (Alliance)

Newark Catholic is back in the Final Four for a second consecutive year hoping to rewrite its 20-13 defeat in last year's State Semifinal.

Much has changed since last season's loss, but there is one constant: Warren John F. Kennedy.

It is not often there are back-to-back rematches in the Final Four, but this year the Green Wave will get a second chance to defeat the Eagles.

This time, Newark Catholic comes in with an offense that averages 35 points per game led by a quarterback in Cole Canter who is coming off a 4-touchdown game against Shadyside last Friday.

JFK comes into the Final Four off a tough 20-13 overtime win against Dalton in the Regional Finals.

To their credit, the Eagles have only allowed, 11 points per game this season offering a contrast to the Green Wave's offensive effectiveness.