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Ohio high school football playoffs: Previews of Saturday’s games

If the new format of 16 teams making the Division I, Region 2 playoffs doesn’t get you fired up, then you just aren’t a high school football fan.

There are storied programs all across the brackets. Here are Saturday’s first-round matchups in Divisions I, IV and V.

DIVISION I, Region 2
(All games Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 7 p.m.)

#16 Miamisburg (7-3) @ #1 Hilliard Davidson (10-0) – A surprising addition to the postseason, Miamisburg has its work cut out  at Davidson. The Vikings are making their second ever playoff appearance. The Wildcats are making their 16th. They won it all in 2009. Hilliard Davidson has been stellar on defense, holding six foes to seven points. No one has registered more than 20 on them. Davidson has wins over Hilliard Darby and Dublin Coffman, who are also in this tournament. Miamisburg does not have a win over a Division I team.

#9 Fairfield (9-1) @ #8 Pickerington North (9-1) – This is too close to call. Both teams have wins over Princeton and Gahanna Lincoln by very similar scores. Fairfield can’t be in awe of being in the playoffs, especially against a Pickerington North team that won a regional title last year. The visiting Indians do not have a running back that ran for more than 205 yards this season. Fairfield gets it done through the air with a quartet of receivers who are capable of taking every reception to the end zone.

#12 Hilliard Darby (8-2) @ #5 Wayne (9-1) – Wayne will look to jump out to a big lead against a Darby squad that has allowed 21 points per game over the last four weeks. The Warriors’ offense averages 39 points and 417 yards per game behind the arm of quarterback D’Mitrik Trice, who has 28 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. Receiver Tristan Davis has half of those scoring receptions. The Panthers have a tough task on the road, but they should be focused as this is their third playoff appearance in the last four years.

#13 Dublin Coffman (7-3) @ #4 Centerville (8-2) – These two teams scrimmaged two weeks before the season began each will be familiar with what the other brings to the table. Dublin Coffman started the season 1-3 before winning its last six. The Shamrocks have three victories by three points or fewer. Centerville is averaging over 400 yards per game on the ground. The Elks have only thrown the ball 39 times on the year.

#15 St. Xavier (6-4) @ #2 Moeller (9-1) – St. Xavier isn’t going to be in awe of defending state champion Moeller. The two teams have split four games over the past three campaigns. The X-factor in this contest will be Moeller quarterback Gus Ragland, who did not play in the Crusaders’ 20-17 win over St. X in Week 5. Ragland is a difference maker, amassing 2,201 yards of total offense (1,331 passing, 870 rushing) with 32 touchdowns (16 passing, 16 rushing), of which 21 have come in the last five weeks.

#10 Northmont (8-2) @ #7 Elder (8-2) – This is the time of year where Elder has repeatedly taken its performance to the next level. The Panthers are getting healthier at the right time and depth should play into their favor. Northmont is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Thunderbolts will greatly enhance their chances to win if they can shut down the Elder rushing attack. That will give secondary members Isaiah Williams and Zach Weatherford opportunities to make game-changing plays.

#11 Springboro (9-1) @ #6 Colerain (10-0) – How Springboro sophomore quarterback Elijah Cunningham acquits himself versus the Colerain defense will play a big part in the outcome here. Cunningham has been sensational in his four starts, averaging more than 200 yards with 11 touchdowns through the air. But he has not faced a team as fast and athletic as the Cardinals. Colerain is equipped to go deep in this tourney behind an offense led by quarterback Kelvin Cook and running back DeTuan Smith-Moore. They each have more than 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing.

#14 Pickerington Central (7-2) @ #3 Lakota West (9-1) – This is the eighth straight journey to the postseason for Pickerington Central and 12th since 2000. The Tigers have 23 career wins in the playoffs. The high scoring PC offense also watched its defense give up at least 12 points in every contest. Their only two losses were to Centerville and rival Pickerington North. Lakota West is back in the tournament for the first time since 2009 and fifth overall. The Firebirds are 5-1 in games decided by four points or fewer.

DIVISION IV, Region 14
#6 Urbana (10-0) @ #3 McNicholas (8-2),
Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 1:30 p.m. – McNicholas will have its hands full with Urbana QB Nathan Mays. The junior has thrown 90 touchdown passes and only 10 interceptions in 30 regular season starts. But the Hillclimbers are 0-2 with him under center in the playoffs. The Rockets won’t be fazed by what they see in Urbana, which is very similar to Northwest at the skill positions. McNick has to avoid turnovers. The Rockets are 3-2 versus playoff teams this season. The Hillclimbers have won

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