Prep games to watch: Challenges mount for remaining playoff teams

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    Whitmer's Kobe Myers breaks a tackle during Friday's playoff game against Olentangy Orange.

    The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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  • For teams like Anthony Wayne, Central Catholic, and McComb, the first round of this year’s playoffs was relatively easy. Those three schools combined to win their games by a total of 136-21.

    This week’s regional semifinals should be a much more difficult test for the remaining schools around the state. Only 18 of the 112 teams left in playoffs have lost three or more games.

    Teams also hit the road for neutral-site games for the first time in the postseason, adding an entirely new element to the process as well. With that in mind, we’ve also attached links to driving directions for our five highlighted prep games as well.

    WATCH: Whitmer prepares for regional semifinal

    Division I, Region 2

    1. No. 3 Whitmer (9-2) vs. No. 2 Dublin Coffman (10-1)

    7 p.m. Friday, at Marion Harding

    A week after beating Lewis Center Olentangy Orange 20-17 in the first round, Whitmer faces another team from the Columbus area. Dublin Coffman advanced with a 27-10 win over Westerville Central, the Shamrocks third straight win. Since losing to Hilliard Davidson — the top seed in Division I, Region 3 — Coffman has outscored its last three opponents by an average of 27 points per game. The Rocks are led by senior quarterback Ethan Brown, who threw for 123 yards and a score in last week’s win, adding another 43 yards and three TDs on the ground. Two weeks ago in a win over Galloway Westland, Brown tossed five scoring passes and 318 yards. The schools share a common opponent in Perrsyburg, with Coffman winning 42-21 in Week 1 and Whitmer winning 45-15 in Week 3. Both squads are playoff veterans — Whitmer has 20 wins in 19 appearances, Coffman has 18 wins in 18 trips — but both are also among the schools which have the most playoff wins without a state title. One of them gets closer to changing that ignominious stat this week. 

    Directions to Harding Stadium

    WATCH: Week 12 familiar territory for Irish 

    Division II, Region 6

    2. No. 1 Central Catholic (11-0) vs. No. 4 Avon Lake (10-1)

    7 p.m. Friday, at Sandusky Perkins

    Central Catholic has been on a tear over the last six weeks, including a second straight shutout of St. John’s Jesuit last week, giving up a total of 6 points in those wins. In fact, the Irish allow 4.3 points per game this season. They’ll meet an Avon Lake team averaging nearly 41 points per game, including last week’s 44-28 win over Olmsted Falls, a revenge win for a loss in Week 9. The Shoremen are led by 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior running back Konner Riggs, who posted 251 yards and three TDs in last week’s win. Over the last four games, he’s rushed for 822 yards and 12 scores, and his season totals are 1,815 yards and 26 TDs. Quarterback Jack Mikolich has thrown for more than 1,800 yards. The Irish are led by their QB, but Troy Durden gets it done on the ground, with 944 yards and 13 TDs; he averages 7.5 yards per carry. Durden adds 608 yards through the air. Over the last two weeks, Sharif McGee has provided nice support for Durden, totaling 199 yards and averaging 8.6 yards per rush. These two programs have combined to win 52 playoff games, with Central Catholic winning three state titles and Avon Lake hoisting the hardware in 2003 for its only title. This is one of six games across the state pitting former state champs against each other. 

    Directions to Firelands Regional Medical Center Stadium

    WATCH: Generals advance to regional semis in dominating fashion 

    3. No. 2 Anthony Wayne (11-0) vs. No. 3 Avon (10-1)

    7 p.m. Friday, at Clyde

    The Generals drew the short straw, facing the defending region champs in the semifinal round. But Anthony Wayne has shown it can handle business so far, averaging 38 points per game and giving up just shy of eight per game. Last week, the Generals beat Parma Heights Valley Forge 56-0; it was the second most lopsided win of the week with AW scoring the fourth most points in the state in Week 11. Avon took care of another Northern Lakes League team last week, beating Springfield 49-14, scoring the last 21 points off turnovers. All-Ohio senior quarterback Ryan Maloy tossed for three scores and rushed for three more in the win. The Eagles have two Division I-signees along the offensive line, Jack Roesch (Air Force) and Michael Bergen (Toledo). Avon will face a balanced AW squad, led by quarterback Max Denman’s 2,092 passing yards and 32 TDs and running back Ezra Scott’s 1,428 rushing yards and 17 TDs. The receiving duo of Mason Alberts and Max Bradfield have totaled more than 1,400 receiving yards, averaging around 17 yards per catch. Bradfield had two TD catches in last week’s win, giving him 18 for the season.

    Directions to Robert J. Bishop Jr. Stadium

    Division V, Region 18

    4. No. 2 Liberty Center (10-1) vs. No. 3 Oak Harbor (10-1)

    7 p.m. Saturday, at Lake

    Oak Harbor, making its first playoff appearance since 2007 and ninth overall, is making up for some lost time. In last week’s 28-21 win over Marion Pleasant — a three-time state champion making its 23rd playoff appearance — Rockets quarterback Jac Alexander threw four TDs, giving him 20 on the season. Alexander comes into the game with well over 2,400 yards of offense and 30 TDs this season. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Tigers will be entering with a new player under center after Jarret Krugh broke his leg in last week’s 24-21 win over Casstown Miami East. But the last name remains the same, at least, as younger brother Camden Krugh took over, throwing for a TD and 46 yards last week. The Tigers will rely on running back Caleb Carpenter, who has 1,205 yards and 14 scores this season. After rushing for 224 yards on 37 carries last week, Carpenter now averages 6.7 yards per rush. Orry Killam was the savior of last week for LC, booting a 25-yard field goal on the final play of the game for the win.

    Directions to Lake Community Stadium

    WATCH: Tanner Schroeder does everything for McComb 

    Division VII, Region 26

    5. No. 5 McComb (10-1) vs. No. 8 Leipsic (10-1)

    7 p.m. Saturday, at Findlay

    These two schools are no strangers — the Panthers and Vikings are both members of the Blanchard Valley Conference and face off annually during the regular season. This year’s win went to McComb, a 38-7 decision in Week 6. Since that loss, though, Leipsic has gone 5-0 and averaged 45.4 points per game. Last week, the Vikings were one of two No. 8 seeds to topple a No. 1, beating Mohawk 40-14 as quarterback Dylan Schroeder threw for 240 yards and three TDs on 18-of-23 passing. A week after beating Leipsic in the regular season, the Panthers stumbled to their only loss of the season, a 19-14 loss to regional semifinalist Pandora-Gilboa. And since that loss, McComb has reeled off four straight wins while averaging 50.5 points, including a 45-21 win over Patrick Henry in the first round. Do-everything Tanner Schroeder has thrown for 854 yards and nine TDs while rushing for 1,174 yards and 25 scores, averaging 10.7 yards per carry. He’s also the Panthers kicker, hitting 63 extra points and seven field goals this season. The Panthers, who are making their ninth straight playoff appearance, are looking for their first trip to a regional championship game since 2016, when they advanced to their second straight state semifinal.

    Directions to Donnell Stadium