OHSAA football playoffs: Which NE Ohio high schools are playing?

WKYC has compiled a comprehensive list of all games involving schools in our viewing area, as well as some analysis on teams to watch in each region.

CLEVELAND — It’s that time again!

The high school football playoffs begin this weekend in Northeast Ohio, and for the first time in years, all games will take place on Friday night until the state championship games in Canton. Of the 448 OHSAA teams making the postseason this year, 117 are from the WKYC viewing area, with many viewed as legitimate title contenders and perhaps among the best squads in all of America.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all first-round matchups involving Northeast Ohio high schools, with such teams listed in bold. Check below for the full schedule, as well as some analysis on the teams to watch in each region.

Division I

Region 1

  • (16) Elyria (1-9) vs. (1) St. Edward (9-1)
  • (9) Lorain (8-2) vs. (8) GlenOak (6-4)
  • (13) Strongsville (3-7) vs. (4) Canton McKinley (7-3)
  • (12) Saint Ignatius (2-8) vs. (5) Mentor (7-3)
  • (15) Euclid (1-9) vs. (2) Cleveland Heights (9-1)
  • (10) Jackson (5-5) vs. (7) Berea-Midpark (6-4)
  • (14) Brunswick (3-7) vs. (3) Wadsworth (8-2)
  • (11) Cleveland John Marshall (4-5) vs. (6) Medina (7-3)

Analysis: In the only region exclusively featuring teams from our area, it’s truly everybody vs. St. Edward, which is seeking its third consecutive state title. Led by three Big Ten recruits on the offensive line as well as stud pass rusher Loghan Thomas, the Eagles are looking to improve on their 14-2 record in regional bracket games since 2018, with just one of those wins being by less than 10 points.

RELATED: St. Edward comes back to beat Archbishop Hoban 14-7 in battle of nationally ranked football powers

If anyone here has a chance to beat them, it’s likely Marquise Davis and Cleveland Heights, although Scotty Fox and the Mentor Cardinals have also been hitting their stride as of late.

Division II

Region 5

  • (16) Akron Ellet (3-7) vs. (1) Archbishop Hoban (8-1)
  • (9) Shaker Heights (7-3) vs. (8) Barberton (6-4)
  • (13) Maple Heights (5-5) vs. (4) Painesville Riverside (8-2)
  • (12) Twinsburg (6-4) vs. (5) Nordonia (8-2)
  • (15) Akron Firestone (5-5) vs. (2) Walsh Jesuit (9-1)
  • (10) Austintown Fitch (6-3) vs. (7) Cleveland John Hay (4-5)
  • (14) Benedictine (4-6) vs. (3) Hudson (7-2)
  • (11) Warren G. Harding (4-6) vs. (6) St. Vincent-St. Mary (5-5)

Analysis: To put things into perspective on how large the gap currently is, top-seeded Hoban handed No. 2 Walsh its only loss of the season. The final score? 57-7.

Yes, it will be a miracle if the Knights don’t win this region for a sixth time in seven years, with the key to their success this season being a crushing defense led by Rickey Williams, Devin Bell, Eli Lee, and Elbert Hill. A sleeper tough opponent in the regional semis could potentially be Riverside, which lost both its games by a combined nine points and boasts Washington commit Dom Kirks in the front seven.

Region 6

  • (16) St. John’s Jesuit (4-6) vs. (1) Avon (10-0)
  • (9) Brecksville-Broadview Heights (5-5) vs. (8) Westlake (7-3)
  • (13) Cleveland Rhodes (5-4) vs. (4) Sylvania Southview (7-3)
  • (12) Oregon Clay (4-6) vs. (5) Olmsted Falls (7-3)
  • (10) Fremont Ross (4-6) vs. (7) Avon Lake (6-4)
  • (14) Midview (4-6) vs. (3) Granger Highland (8-2)
  • (11) Parma Valley Forge (4-6) vs. (6) North Ridgeville (7-3)

Analysis: Like Hoban, Avon enters the postseason as the heavy favorite in Region 6, with Jakorion Caffey and Luke Hamilton helping earn wins over big-time opponents like Canton McKinley, Glenville, and finally rival Avon Lake in a 45-0 rout. To make things easier, the team they lost to in last year’s regional finals — Toledo Central Catholic — got dropped to D-III due to declining enrollment.

So the only real question seems to be this: Can Mike Elder and the Eagles finally break through and get to the state championship game? Either Hoban or Massillon will likely be waiting in the semifinals.

Region 7

  • (16) Central Crossing (4-6) vs. (1) Massillon Washington (10-0)
  • (13) Perry (4-6) vs. (4) Lake (7-3)
  • (14) St. Charles Prep (5-5) vs. (3) Green (7-3)
  • (11) North Canton Hoover (5-5) vs. (6) St. Francis DeSales (5-5)

Analysis: Speaking of Massillon, the unbeaten Tigers enter the playoffs with a computer average of 45.7555, the highest of any team in Ohio regardless of division. New quarterback DaOne Owens got a signature 15-13 win over St. Edward in Week 5 before finishing the regular season with a resounding 35-0 triumph over hated rival Canton McKinley.

The road back to the state semis appears to be an easy one, but Mark Geis’ Green Bulldogs have also been here before, having upset Massillon just two years ago in the regional finals. That will surely be on the Tigers’ minds as they seek their first state title in 53 years.

Division III

Region 9

  • (16) New Philadelphia (6-4) vs. (1) Ursuline (10-0)
  • (9) Canfield (6-3) vs. (8) Akron East (8-2)
  • (13) Dover (6-4) vs. (4) Kenston (9-1)
  • (12) University School (6-3) vs. (5) Villa Angela-St. Joseph (7-3)
  • (15) Hawken (6-4) vs. (2) Geneva (9-1)
  • (10) Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (8-2) vs. (7) Chardon (7-3)
  • (14) Alliance (6-4) vs. (3) Aurora (9-1)
  • (11) Madison (8-2) vs. (6) Gilmour Academy (8-2)

Analysis: This region has typically been one of the most entertaining in Ohio, and 2023 is no exception. Locally, Sean Patrick and Kenston can already count big wins over Chardon and VASJ, the latter of which is dazzling crows with four-star running back Bo Jackson. Don’t sleep on the Toppers, either, as Leo Colombi and the defense recovered from a rough start to cap the regular season with a victory over Painesville Riverside. Even Akron East carries a trio of college recruits, including the safety tandem of Ibraheem Kamara and Derald Mitchell.

And of course, Aurora is Aurora, delivering another ho-hum 9-1 campaign that could once again give Bob Mihalik a chance at a title.

Yes, Region 9 is as deep as ever. The only question now is if any of them can get past Ursuline.

Region 10

  • (9) Defiance (7-3) vs. (8) Bay (8-2)
  • (13) Lexington (5-5) vs. (4) Mansfield Senior (8-2)
  • (12) Clyde (5-5) vs. (5) Rocky River (9-1)
  • (15) Revere (5-5) vs. (2) Norton (10-0)
  • (10) Sandusky (6-4) vs. (7) Buckeye (8-2)
  • (14) Ashland (5-5) vs. (3) Tiffin Columbian (8-2)
  • (11) Lutheran West (7-3) vs. (6) Ontario (9-1)

Analysis: Running back Lucas Dobbins has led Norton to its second unbeaten season in three years, giving the Panthers another shot to overcome their history of playoff futility (they have yet to make it past the regional semis). Mansfield is also loaded thanks to the stellar play of seniors Ahmaan Thomas and Elias Owens on the offensive and defensive lines, respectively.

Unfortunately, it will be hard for any of these teams to get past top seed Toledo Central Catholic, last year’s D-II champions who have since moved down a level. The Fighting Irish have outscored their opponents this year (many of them larger schools) to the tune of 407-103.

Division IV

Region 13

  • (16) Lawrence Northwest (5-5) vs. (1) Canton South (10-0)
  • (9) Akron Buchtel (5-5) vs. (8) Cardinal Mooney (5-5)
  • (13) Woodridge (5-5) vs. (4) West Branch (9-1)
  • (12) Beaver Local (6-4) vs. (5) Streetsboro (9-1)
  • (15) Field (4-6) vs. (2) Lake Catholic (8-2)
  • (10) Edgewood Senior (6-4) vs. (7) Niles McKinley (6-4)

Analysis: Region 13 runs through Stark County, where quarterback Poochie Snyder has Canton South clicking on all cylinders. The senior has completed 76% of his passes for 2,547 yards and 30 touchdowns while running for 11 more, putting himself in the Mr. Football conversation as the Wildcats average 42 points per game.

Adding to the intrigue is Lake Catholic, just three years removed from a surprise berth in the D-IV state title game. Junior tight end Cross Nimmo has been the Cougars’ biggest weapon with 11 TD grabs so far.

Region 14

  • (16) Vermilion (3-7) vs. (1) Perkins (9-0)
  • (13) Bryan (5-5) vs. (4) West Holmes (8-2)
  • (12) Firelands (6-4) vs. (5) Galion (7-3)
  • (15) Bath (4-6) vs. (2) Cleveland Glenville (7-3)
  • (10) Napoleon (5-5) vs. (7) Bellevue (5-5)
  • (14) Cleveland Central Catholic (4-6) vs. (3) Shelby (8-2)

Analysis: Glenville may not have the unblemished record of a year ago thanks to a brutal schedule against top division teams, but the Tarblooders still enter the playoffs as the prohibitive D-IV favorite. Ohio State commits Bryce West and Damarion Whitten are looking to cap their careers with a second straight title, while edge rusher Kareem Jennings is looking to join in on the fun after transferring from Benedictine.

So, who could possible unseat the defending champs? How about top-seeded Perkins, whose resume includes dominant wins over established programs like Rocky River and Milan Edison? Junior running back Isaac Bunts leads the way with 1,308 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns, while senior QB Logan Lesch has 26 scores through the air. The Pirates and Tarblooders seemingly appear to be on a collision course for the regional finals.

Region 15

  • (16) Carrollton (6-4) vs. (1) Steubenville (9-1)
  • (13) Indian Valley (7-3) vs. (4) Logan Elm (9-1)

Analysis: The Warriors and Braves have both been consistent playoff teams over the years and should be commended for their efforts, but just winning a game this postseason will be a tall task for either. One player to watch is Indian Valley running back Grady Kinsey, who has scored 23 touchdowns so far this season.

Division V

Region 17

  • (16) Crestwood (5-5) vs. (1) Perry (10-0)
  • (9) Sandy Valley (6-4) vs. (8) Lakeview (5-5)
  • (13) Triway (5-5) vs. (4) Harrison Central (8-2)
  • (12) Conneaut (5-5) vs. (5) Garrettsville Garfield (10-0)
  • (15) Fairless (4-6) vs. (2) South Range (9-1)
  • (14) Liberty (5-5) vs. (3) Norwayne (9-1)
  • (11) Berkshire (5-5) vs. (6) Clearview (8-2)

Analysis: Perry announced itself to the entire state back in Week 3 with a 24-6 dismantling of Kirtland, the Hornets’ first regular-season loss in seven years. Bob Gecewich’s crew is normally known for its potent offense, and that remains the case this season. However, now the defense is grabbing the headlines, as linebacker and Kent State commit Jayden Studio (also the star running back) leads a unit that is surrendering less than 10 points per game.

Question is: Is it enough for the Pirates to finally take home their first state title?

Region 18

  • (9) Genoa Area (7-3) vs. (8) Huron (7-3)
  • (15) Spencerville (3-7) vs. (2) Milan Edison (9-1)

Analysis: Two years ago, Edison became the first 16-seed in the expanded playoff system to knock of a 1-seed in the opening round. Now, the Chargers find themselves as the hunted, ending the regular season with a dominant 35-7 win over Huron.

Jim Hall’s offense is averaging roughly 36 points per game, with a sound rushing attack that includes Cy Finnen and dual-threat quarterback Marcus Medina.

Division VI

Region 21

  • (16) Columbiana (5-5) vs. (1) Kirtland (9-1)
  • (9) Cardinal (6-4) vs. (8) Canton Central Catholic (6-4)
  • (12) Rittman (6-4) vs. (5) Cuyahoga Heights (8-1)
  • (15) Southeast (7-3) vs. (2) Rootstown (8-1)
  • (14) LaBrae (5-5) vs. (3) Mogadore (8-2)
  • (11) Columbiana Crestview (5-5) vs. (6) Pymatuning Valley (7-3)

Analysis: For the first time since 2016, Kirtland enters the postseason with a blemish in its loss column. The Hornets are also dealing with a championship drought, having lost in the state finals each of the past two years (yes, that’s considered a “drought” for this program).

Despite this being the “weakest” Tiger LaVerde team in almost a decade, don’t think for one moment that Kirtland isn’t capable of winning that seventh title, as the squad already sports victories over perennial powers like Dalton and Cuyahoga Heights. This year’s stable of running backs includes Will Beers and Rocco Alfieri, both of whom also star on defense.

If anyone in Region can take them down, its likely Mogadore, a team that has given them fits in the past. Canton Central Catholic did beat the Wildcats earlier this season, however, and could be a popular upset pick.

Region 22

  • (9) Black River (7-3) vs. (8) Collins Western Reserve (7-3)
  • (13) Weller Crestview (4-6) vs. (4) Carey (8-2)
  • (12) Mapleton (5-5) vs. (5) Columbia (9-1)
  • (11) Margaretta (6-4) vs. (6) Ottawa Hills (9-1)

Analysis: Region 22 is wide open, as evidenced by Black River’s 24-20 upset of Columbia in the regular-season finale. The loss may very well have cost the Raiders the No. 1 seed, but Jason Ward’s team is still Northeast Ohio’s best shot to get to the state semis from this bracket. Senior Marco Cirgliano leads the way with 26 total touchdowns.

Region 23

  • (16) Rock Hill (4-6) vs. (1) Garaway (10-0)
  • (14) Tuscarawas Valley (4-6) vs. (3) Fort Frye (8-2)
  • (11) Newcomerstown (6-4) vs. (6) Grandview Heights (7-3)

Analysis: This year’s local D-VI unbeaten hails from Sugarcreek, where Garaway is still in search of its first state title game berth. They may finally have the offense to do it, as quarterback Brady Geibel has thrown for 23 touchdowns (13 of them to Jenson Garber) while running back Dillon Soehnlen is averaging more than six yards per touch with 18 scores. Linebacker Jackson Reifenschneider also has six sacks on defense.

Division VII

Region 25

  • (16) Conotton Valley (4-6) vs. (1) Dalton (8-1)
  • (9) Lucas (7-3) vs. (8) Hillsdale (8-2)
  • (13) St. Paul (6-4) vs. (4) Toronto (9-1)
  • (12) Salineville Southern (8-2) vs. (5) Malvern (9-1)
  • (10) Monroeville (7-3) vs. (7) Springfield (7-3)

Analysis: Dalton recovered from a close opening loss to Kirtland by throttling Modagore and Hillsdale before edging out rival Norwayne in Week 9. Greyson Siders is the star of this show, carrying the ball as the star running back while also helping anchor the defense as a linebacker.

The big obstacle for any D-VII team, though, is going to be Marion Local. Enrollment issues pushed the Flyers down even after winning the last two D-VI championships, and they are once again heavy favorites to get to Canton.

https://www.wkyc.com/article/sports/high-school/hs-football/2023-ohsaa-football-playoffs-1st-round-matchups-northeast-ohio-teams-to-watch/95-0c8b3359-65f4-474e-b725-c5f7ef801265 OHSAA football playoffs: Which NE Ohio high schools are playing?

Exit mobile version