Howland at Chardon
The Division III AP No. 1-ranked Chardon gridders (6-0) should have a cakewalk when they host the Warren Howland Tigers (4-3) in the Region 9 playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field.
The Hilltoppers, who had a first-round bye, are making their 18th postseason appearance, including seventh under 10th-year head coach Mitch Hewitt, who now owns a 76-31 record at the helm.
Earning the top seed in the region, Chardon averaged 42.3 points a game while only surrendering 6.8 points a game in the regular season. The Hilltoppers’ biggest test so far came during a 35-14 week-five victory against a Division II Mayfield team that is set to host a round-two playoff game this Friday.
After two weeks between games, the Chardon boys might have to knock off some offensive dust, but it shouldn’t take them too long to get back to the rhythm of domination.
Warren Howland, under third-year head coach Steve Boyle, who owns a 9-18 record at the helm, is in the postseason for the 12th time as a program, with the Tigers’ last clinching a playoff berth in 2016.
Seeded No. 17 in the region, Howland is coming off a 27-0 road victory against No. 16-seed Akron Buchtel (2-1) in a game that Tiger 185-pound senior tailback Eric Babinchak ran, ran and ran some more on 44 carries for 313 yards with all four touchdowns, including a 66-yard jaunt out of the I-formation.
Babinchak has eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark through seven games this season.
Defensively, Howland held Buchtel to 95 yards and just four first downs.
On special teams, junior kicker Ashleigh Macias was three-of-three for extra points.
Chardon and Howland last collided during the opening round of the 2012 playoffs, when the Hilltoppers were the 42-16 victors during a 10-3 regional runner-up campaign.
TONY’S TAKE: Chardon wins, 35-7.
Kenston at Canfield
The Kenston gridders (3-2) will be facing their second-biggest task this season when they hit the road to take on Division III AP No. 3-ranked Canfield (6-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in Mahoning County.
The Bombers already faced AP No. 1-ranked Chardon (6-0), which turned out in a 37-6 disaster, in week three.
Kenston, which owns the 19th seed in Region 9, is coming off a 41-7 whooping of No. 14-seed Alliance Marlington (3-3) in a game that featured a record night on offense.
Sophomore quarterback Nikko Georgiou was 12-of-23 passing for 301 yards with five touchdowns, while junior receiver JP Germano had eight catches for 255 yards with three touchdowns. Georgiou’s touchdown completions and Germano’s receiving yards established single-game program marks.
Defensively, the Bombers weren’t fooling around on fourth downs, forcing a turnover on downs during all four of Marlington’s attempts. Marlington’s lone score came on the heels of a 65-yard kickoff return.
Discipline wise, Kenston lost zero turnovers and committed four penalties for 25 yards.
Canfield, which is seeded third in the region, after Chardon and Streetsboro, earned a first-round bye. The Cardinals are making their 12th playoff appearance, including 10th under 20th-year head coach Mike Pavlansky, who owns a 148-68 record at the helm.
Canfield’s toughest test this season ended in a 31-24 victory against AP No. 10-ranked New Philadelphia (5-1) in week three.
Most recently in their regular season finale two weeks ago, the Cardinals put together a 35-7 victory against Division II Boardman (4-3) in a game that 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore quarterback Broc Lowry was 11-of-15 passing for 133 yards and had 21 carries for 148 yards. He connected with six receivers in that game.
Defensively, Canfield surrendered 138 yards rushing on 26 carries by Boardman’s main back.
On special teams, Canfield 6-foot junior Drew Carrocce blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.
Kenston and Canfield last collided during the 2018 regional championship game, when the AP No. 4-ranked Bombers put a 33-7 hurting on the AP No. 3-ranked Cardinals.
TONY’S TAKE: Canfield wins, 34-14.
West Geauga at St. Vincent-St. Mary
Not too many folks will be giving the West Geauga gridders (6-1) much of a chance when they hit the road to take on St. Vincent-St. Mary (4-2) in a Region 9 playoff game at Green Street Stadium in Akron.
Earlier this season, before losing a 37-9 battle against Division II AP No. 1-ranked Archbishop Hoban (5-0), SVSM was ranked No. 12 in the Division III AP poll.
West Geauga, meanwhile, is 6-1 for the first time since 2015, when its 10-2 campaign came to an end with a 42-0 loss against St. Vincent-St. Mary in the Division III regional semifinals under former head coach Lou Cirino.
Under third-year head coach Adam Sopkovich, the Wolverines are seeded 11th in the region and are coming off a 26-0 victory against No. 22-seed Akron East in a game that junior kicker Joey DiLalla split the uprights on 30-, 41-, 38- and 32-yard field goals to become the 23rd player in Ohio high school history to connect on four or more boots in one game.
The West G boys also scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of that game. They could have run out the clock but opted not to after East danced around on their logo before the game and jaw-jacked throughout the game.
St. Vincent, under third-year head coach Bobby Nickol, who owns a 19-9 record at the helm, is seeded sixth in the region with the Fighting Irish coming off a 68-0 victory against No. 27-seed Akron Springfield (0-7) in a game they had four rushers with 70-plus yards combine for eight touchdowns.
Specifically, St. Vincent’s ground-first offense features 190-pound senior back Josh Nickerson, who led the Irish to a 28-7 victory against Solon with three touchdowns in week four. The Irish rushed for 333 yards in the game.
Defensively, St. Vincent deploys 5-foot-10 senior safety Darrian Lewis, a first-team all-Ohioan last season, who has had his fair share of pick-sixes, including one against Solon.
West G seeks to avenge that 2015 skunking, but it’ll be a tough road for the Wolverines.
TONY’S TAKE: St. Vincent wins, 28-13.
Chagrin Falls at Field
The Chagrin Falls gridders (5-2) will hit the road south to take on Mogadore Field (4-2) in a Division IV, Region 13 playoff game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Kenneth W. Lohr Stadium in Portage County.
The visiting Tigers, seeded 10th in the region, are coming off a 56-6 rout of No. 23-seed Hawken School (0-3) in a game they broke loose for 518 yards rushing on 26 attempts with a quartet of ball-carriers at the century mark, including seniors Cam O’Connor and Xavier Perez, sophomore Donny Hardy and junior Camden Amata.
Defensively, Chagrin collected three turnovers and held the Hawks to 164 yards passing on 27 attempts and 87 yards rushing on 30 attempts. Hawken had gained 400-plus yards in each of its previous two games.
Mogadore Field is under head coach Matt Furino, who had previous stints with the Falcons from 1996 to 2007 and 2012 to 2015, before returning for a third go around this fall. He owns a 92-74 record at the helm.
Seeded seventh in the region, the Field Falcons had a first-round bye. They last played Oct. 2, when they put a 48-7 hurting on Akron Springfield (0-7) in a game that 6-foot-3 senior quarterback Dallas McAmis had four touchdown runs, while 190-pound senior back Zachary Davis eclipsed the century mark with two more touchdowns.
Field’s two losses this season came against a 5-1 Cloverleaf team, 35-21, and against Division III AP No. 4-ranked Streetsboro (6-0), 35-0.
Chagrin Falls and Field last met on the gridiron during a regular-season series in 2010 and 2011, with the Tigers earning 21-14 and 31-16 victories, respectively, amidst their glory days of deep playoff runs from 2008 to 2013.
TONY’S TAKE: Chagrin pulls off the upset, 24-21.