9 local teams in football regional semifinals
The Mahoning Valley will be represented by nine schools in the regional semifinal round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs. At least two Valley schools will advance to the regional final round, as the fourth week of the tournament includes a pair of all-area matchups.
After handing Fitch its first loss of the season, Harding (6-3) will travel to Hudson (8-0) on Friday night in a Division II, Region 5 semifinal. The Explorers advanced with a 35-28 overtime victory over Painesville Riverside. Harding and Hudson last met in 2016. In a regional title game, Hudson prevailed 24-21.
In Division III, Region 9 Canfield (8-0) will make its first road trip of the playoffs when it visits Streetsboro (8-0), also on Friday. The Cardinals had to work “overtime” to advance, as their 14-6 win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary took two days to complete. The Cardinals trailed the Irish 6-0 on Friday when lightning halted play. The teams resumed play Saturday, with Canfield scoring 14 unanswered points.
The Cardinals will try to figure out a way to slow a Streetsboro offense which is averaging 52.4 points per game.
In Division IV, Region 13, Ursuline (6-2) handed West Branch its first loss of the season, while Poland (7-1) cruised past Chagrin Falls. As a result, the Irish and Bulldogs will meet at Dave Pavlansky Field in Poland on Saturday night. It will mark the first meeting between the neighboring schools since 2005 when Ursuline downed Poland 13-0.
A Division V, Region 17 semifinal also will feature an all-area contest. Crestview (6-1) won its sixth straight game, this one a 23-15 victory over Garrettsville Garfield (7-1). South Range (8-0) rolled past previously-unbeaten Beachwood 49-16. Now, the Rebels will take one of the shortest fourth-round road trips of any team in the state when it travels nine miles to visit the Raiders on Saturday.
Oddly enough, Crestview and South Range had met during the regular season for decades, with the series ending this year. South Range owns a four-game winning streak over Crestview, including a 42-0 win a year ago.
Springfield (8-0) and Mogadore (6-1) will face off in a Division VI, Region 21 playoff game for a second straight year. The Tigers rolled past St. Thomas Aquinas, 44-8, last weekend, while the Wildcats cruised past Pymatuning Valley 32-14.
While Mogadore owns an 18-3 postseason record against area schools, the Wildcats fell to Springfield 35-21 a year ago in the regional title game.
WKennedy’s 27-21 win over Norwalk St. Paul propelled the Eagles (6-2) to a Division VII, Region 28 showdown against Dalton (6-2). The Eagles and Bulldogs followed the exact same path to this meeting. Both squads started out 3-0, lost two of three (including their respective regular-season finales), then won a pair of playoff games. This is the first-ever meeting between the teams.
Also in Region 28, McDonald (7-1) advanced with a 41-24 win over Leetonia. Now, the Blue Devils will look for revenge when they travel to Lucas (6-2).
A year ago, McDonald and Lucas met in the first round of the playoffs. Lucas prevailed 21-20 in overtime when it turned away a potential game-winning two-point conversion attempt. Ironically, Lucas also ended McDonald’s basketball season last March with a 47-45 win in a regional semifinal game.
A quartet of Trumbull County players teamed up Friday to rush for exactly 1,000 yards.
Howland’s Eric Babinchak led the charge with a record-breaking performance. Babinchak set a school record when he rushed for 414 yards in the Tigers’ 42-36 regular season win over Niles.
Babinchak carried the ball 43 times and scored four touchdowns. He currently leads all area players with 1,775 rushing yards, averaging 7 yards per carry. The OHSAA lists his 414-yard performance as the 36th best rushing game in state history.
McDonald’s Dominic Schadl scored six touchdowns while rushing for 226 yards on 28 attempts. He also threw for 105 yards, completing 6-of-8 passes. Schadl has rushed for 1,652 yards this year, averaging 9.5 yards per carry.
Brysen Powell led the Harding offense Friday with a 192-yard rushing performance. Powell carried the pigskin 24 times, scoring one touchdown.
Kennedy’s Cam Hollobaugh rushed for 168 yards and scored a touchdown. He also completed 7-of-10 passes.