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Are you ready for some football?



Published: Fri, November 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



We call it the "Upset Special."

Some colleagues of mine in the sports department gather every weekend inside these walls, thumb through the high school football games for that given week and make their selections.

What area underdog is about to shock the favorite? Make your pick.

The key element in this process is instinct.

You're lucky enough to join me this week as I make my "Upset Special" public -- Girard over Canton Central Catholic in a Division IV regional quarterfinal.

No easy chore: The Indians have the tough task of traveling to Canton and playing the defending Division III state champion Crusaders, whose stadium is named after their coach, Lowell Klinefelter.

Girard quarterback Randy Mason should be able to rival the offensive output of Central Catholic quarterback Vince Gliatta, but the key will be for the Indians' defense to make the needed stops.

While we're talking football on this playoff weekend, let's take a look at the other area match-ups.

The team playing at Stambaugh Stadium tonight has caused a statewide stir, and we're not talking about the surging Chaney Cowboys.

Walsh Jesuit, Chaney's opponent, qualified for the postseason with a 3-6 record after benefiting from a schedule dotted with Division I opponents.

Playing on their home turf with speedster Ed McElroy, the Cowboys take this one in a struggle.

Also playing home games tonight are Hubbard, Poland, Crestview, South Range and Warren Kennedy.

Moving on: Hubbard takes advantage of its third straight playoff appearance to knock off Portage County League's Mantua Crestwood.

Poland and its opponent, Chesterland West Geauga, each have four shutouts this season. The Bulldogs' defense, which helped lead it to the Metro Athletic Conference crown, comes through in this first-round game.

Count on Crestview, the Tri-County League champion, to win over a Wellington team that dropped from Division IV to V for this season.

Not much should slow unbeaten and Inter-County League champion South Range in its game against Columbia Station Columbia.

A potential lopsided game looms in Warren as the Eagles trip Massillon Tuslaw. One of the Mustangs' losses this season came to Canton Timken, which was beaten by 2-8 Woodrow Wilson 34-8.

The area teams on the road Friday will struggle the most.

Up-and-down: Coming off their emotional regular-season finale victory over Warren Kennedy in the mud last week, the up-and-down Howland Tigers will fall at Green, while Akron Hoban, which has won five straight games, gets the best of West Branch.

Saturday's games include the biggest area match-up of the weekend when Warren Harding and Boardman meet in a Steel Valley Conference rematch at Mollenkopf Stadium.

While Boardman was tempting to pick as an "Upset Special," Warren, with Maurice Clarett and Co., finds a way to beat the Spartans for a second time.

The remainder of the area teams playing Saturday -- Lowellville, Southington and Wellsville -- will have their seasons end early.

Lowellville goes against unbeaten Mogadore, which has its sights set on a state title game rematch against Maria Stein Marion Local after last year's 54-0 beating.

Southington's win last week over Ashtabula Sts. John & amp; Paul got it into the playoffs, but the Wildcats, first-year postseason participants, will use this year's experience as a stepping stone for the future.

As the 2001 playoffs begin, who would have thought defending Div. IV champion Ursuline wouldn't be involved? Four forfeited games and losses in the final two weeks did in the Irish.

That may be the postseason's biggest upset of all.

XBrian Richesson covers high school sports for The Vindicator. Write him at richesson@vindy.com.




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