Area teams outscored Round 1 opponents, 394-328
By Steve Ruman
For Howland, Warren John F. Kennedy, Niles, Warren G. Harding and Austintown Fitch, it is time to look toward 2013.
For Hubbard, Poland, Liberty, Brookfield, Crestview, Ursuline, Western Reserve and Youngstown Christian, the post-season march continues.
Eight of the 13 area teams which qualified for playoffs enjoyed first-round success, thus advance to the regional semifinals. The area is no longer represented in Divisions I or II. It has two representatives in each of the next four Divisions.
Hubbard (8-3) advanced in Division III, Region 9 with a 39-27 win over Niles. It will now face Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (9-2) Saturday at Falcon Stadium in Austintown. The Eagles’ last playoff loss came at the hands of the Irish – a 27-19 second-round setback in 2010.
In Division III, region 11, Poland (8-3) advanced with a 38-0 victory over top-seeded Marlington. It will now face Dover (9-2). The two teams meet Saturday at Green Memorial Stadium in Uniontown.
The Tornadoes are coached by Niles native Dan Ifft.
Division IV, Region 13 will continue to be represented by a pair of Trumbull County teams. Top-seeded Brookfield (11-0) had little trouble with Ashtabula Edgewood, and will now face Akron Manchester (8-3). The Panthers are in the playoffs for a 20th time. The teams will meet Friday at Tiger Stadium in Twinsburg.
Meanwhile, Liberty (9-2) advanced with its 48-35 win at Streetsboro. The Leopards’ second-round opponent is Creston Norwayne (11-0), the defending Division IV state champion which is riding a 17-game winning streak. The two teams play Friday at Lake High School’s Alumni Field in Uniontown.
Norwayne is averaging 52.4 points per game.
“Norwayne is as potent as any team we’ll face,” said Liberty coach Brian Jones. “They have a great quarterback and two very big and athletic receivers. And, they have a solid running game which makes them tough to defend.”
Liberty will be playing on turf for the first time this season, which pleases Jones.
“I’m excited. We have some nice speed, so this will be a different dynamic which we’ll look to use to our advantage,” Jones said.
Crestview will travel to Warren’s Mollenkopf Stadium on Saturday to meet its second-round opponent, also a defending state champion. The Rebels (11-0) moved on with a thrilling 51-50 win over St. Thomas Aquinas. They now go up against Kirtland (11-0), which has won 26 straight. The Hornets went 15-0 last season en route to a Division V state title.
Also advancing in Division V, Region 17 is Ursuline (7-4). The Irish survived a first-round game against Garaway, 64-48. They will square off against Cuyahoga Heights (10-1), whose only loss this year was to Kirtland. The Irish and Redskins play Saturday at Infocision Field in Copely.
Ursuline defeated Cuyahoga Heights in the playoffs in both 2008 and 2009.
“We’re facing an opponent that is used to November football, and one that is extremely well-coached,” said Ursuline coach Larry Kempe. “Defensively, we took the foot off the pedal when we built a big lead against Garaway. If we don’t play hard for 48 minutes against Cuyahoga Heights, we’ll be in trouble.
“We’re going up against a quarterback [Jordan Martin, 1,699 passing yards, 22 touchdowns] who can hurt you in a hurry.”
In Division VI, Region 21, Youngstown Christian (8-2) advanced to the second round for a second straight year thanks to a 20-14 win over Warren John F. Kennedy. YCS on Friday will face Malvern (10-1) at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Green Street Stadium.
“We came out with a lot of intensity against JFK, and we came away with a win over a very good football team,” said YCS coach Brian Marrow. “Last year when we made the playoffs, there was a lot of hoopla. This year, these guys were very business-like in their approach. They weren’t happy just to get there. They want more.”
Also in Region 21, Western Reserve (9-2) advanced with a 19-18 win at Shadyside. The Blue Devils have won nine straight since opening the season with back-to-back losses. They now go up against Mogadore (11-0), which was recently crowned Division VI regular-season state champions by the Associated Press. The game will be held Friday at Gilcrest Field in Ravenna.
A year ago, 13 area teams qualified for the playoffs. Of those, five advanced to the second round.