Top seed McDonald faces tough test
Hopewell-Loudon, the opponent on Saturday, is no stranger to the playoffs.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
MCDONALD — McDonald High’s football team will be making its 12th appearance in the state playoffs and the fourth straight under coach Dan Williams.
Saturday night, the Blue Devils (10-0) who completed their second straight undefeated regular season, will take on Bascom Hopewell-Loudon (8-2) in a 7 p.m. kickoff at A.A. Burkey Stadium.
Williams, now in his 10th season as head coach, has taken the Blue Devils to five playoff appearances. His overall record at McDonald is 70-36.
A year ago, after completing their perfect season the Blue Devils defeated Western Reserve in their opening round playoff game, 21-7, then lost to Norwalk St. Paul 34-0 in the regional semifinal matchup.
This season, McDonald finished as the No. 1 rated team in Region 21 of Division VI, while Hopewell-Loudon was the No. 8 rated team.
McDonald is 10-11 all-time in the playoffs and has twice finished as the state runner-up, in 1989 and 1994. In 1989 they finished with a 3-1 postseason mark losing to Minster 16-7 in the title game. In 1994 they also finished 3-1 in the playoffs with a 21-7 loss to St. Henry in the final.
The Blue Devils also reached the state semifinals in 1991.
McDonald’s opponent on Saturday is no stranger to the playoffs having played in the Div. VI title game the last two seasons.
“This is an extremely tough draw for a top seed, but the fact is our region is loaded from one through eight,” said Williams this week. “Whoever survives the first three games will have been battle tested.”
The Chieftains, who lost two games this season by a combined eight points to teams that had a combined record of 18-2, lost to Delphos St. John’s in the 2008 title game, 34-14, while in 2007 they were defeated by Newark Catholic, 28-14.
Williams also noted that his first round opponent will run the spread offense from the shotgun formation. “But they are more run-oriented than in past years,” he added. “They also have a couple of running backs who have both rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season.
“We’ll be tested but at the same time our kids have had the bullseye on their backs all year long and they have survived,” Williams said. “We’re excited to be playing at home, where we feel as though we can play with anyone.”
The Blue Devils feature a potent running game led by 5-10, 180 pound senior Nick Cupan, who has rushed for 1,138 yards on 158 carries and scored 26 touchdowns. He has more than half of McDonald’s 2,135 total rushing yards.
The Blue Devils have scored 355 points this season, while holding the opposition to just 77 points.