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Rematch tonight highlights weekend schedule

If history does indeed repeat itself, area fans will be treated to an entertaining football game tonight when Harding visits Fitch in a Division II, region 5 quarterfinal game.

The game is one of 11 playoff contests this weekend involving area schools. The weekend’s slate also includes a handful of regular season games.

The Raiders and Falcons are meeting for the 32nd time, with Harding owning a slim 16-15 edge in the series. The series is also amazingly close in scoring, with the Raiders holding a 562-557 advantage in points scored.

Harding (5-3) and Fitch (7-0) played to a fantastic finish just four weeks ago when the two teams met in Austintown. The Falcons rallied in the fourth quarter, then halted a late Harding drive for a 25-21 win.

“It’s always great for the area to have these types of games in the playoffs,” Fitch coach T.J. Parker said. “The fact that the two teams just played a pretty memorable game last month adds to the excitement.

“The last time out, Harding threw a whole new look at us with its power running formation. It was the first time they showed that look all year. We were scrambling to adjust. Now, we’ll be more prepared. At the same time Harding has now gotten much better at what it does with that formation. It just all makes for a great match-up.”

As Fitch and the rest of the field enter the third week of the tournament, Parker says his undefeated squad “still has plenty to prove.”

“We know we still have our doubters, and that has kept us focused all year long,” Parker said. “Traditionally, the winner of the Fitch-Harding game is often recognized as the best team in the area for that year, so we know this is a big game.”

Also tonight, in Division III, region 9, Canfield (7-0) looks to stay perfect when it hosts Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. The Irish are 2-0 against the Cardinals, with both wins coming in the playoffs.

McDonald (6-1) and Leetonia (6-1) used to meet regularly as rivals in the Inter-Tri County League. Now the Blue Devils and Bears will meet for the first time since 2014 in a Division VII, region 25 game tonight at Leetonia. Also in region 25, top-seeded Kennedy (5-2) hosts Norwalk St. Paul (6-1).

West Branch (7-0) is looking to go 8-0 for the first time since its state title team in 1994. The Warriors host Ursuline (5-2) in a Division IV, region 13 contest on Saturday night. Also in region 13, Poland (6-1) hopes to win its seventh straight game when it hosts Chagrin Falls (5-2).

A pair of unbeaten teams will clash in Division V, region 17 when South Range (7-0) hosts Beachwood (6-0). Meanwhile, Garrettsville Garfield (7-0) will look to advance when it hosts a team from the Mahoning Valley for a second straight week. Last Saturday the G-Men began their playoff journey with a 24-21 win over Cardinal Mooney. This week, the G-Men host Crestview (5-1). After losing to Champion in the season-opener, the Rebels have outscored opponents 204-20.

Three of the four games in Division VI, region 21 involve area schools. Springfield (7-0) hosts St. Thomas Aquinas (5-2), Pymatuning Valley (7-0) visits Mogadore (5-1) and LaBrae (6-2) travels to Wickliffe (7-0).

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