Week 11 means only one thing to area football teams and their fans: Playoff time.
Five Lorain County schools are preparing for this week’s 41st year of postseason football in Ohio. All five have been there before, but the coaches say it never gets old and it’s always exciting.
“We’ve been there a lot but each year it’s a different bunch of kids,” Avon Lake’s Dave Dlugosz said as he prepared for his 17th postseason with the Shoremen. “It keeps it exciting. The kids have worked hard and they deserve it.”
“We’re obviously excited,” said Avon coach Mike Elder, who led the Eagles to a runner-up finish a year ago. “It was one of our preseason goals.”
Avon and Columbia — both winners of nine straight after an opening-night loss — secured home field in Divisions II and V, respectively — the Eagles hosting Perrysburg (8-2) on Friday and the Raiders greeting Archbold (8-2) on Saturday. All Friday games kick off at 7:30 while Saturday’s start at 7.
Division 1 Avon Lake travels to unbeaten Toledo Whitmer on Saturday. Midview (9-1), making its first appearance since 2007, makes the trek Friday to face once-beaten Toledo Central Catholic, which was rated first in the Division II state poll before losing to Whitmer 42-0 in a battle of unbeatens to close the regular season.
Clearview (7-3) also travels west to face Ottawa-Glandorf (10-0) on Friday.
Another team with ties to the area, Westlake (9-1), co-champs in the Southwestern Conference with Avon Lake, makes its first appearance since 1989 with a home game against Mansfield Madison (9-1), also Friday night.
Avon (8-5 in postseason play) is making its sixth playoff appearance. The Eagles lost 42-28 to Trotwood-Madison in last year’s Division II title game. Perrysburg is in the playoffs for only the second time in school history. It lost its only Week 11 game in 2005.
“We wanted to win the conference, qualify for the playoffs and hope to get a chance to host a playoff game,” Elder said. “It gives our seniors one last chance to play on their home field. I know I’d rather be playing at home than traveling to the Toledo area.
“We know Perrysburg is a good football team. They have a great quarterback who’s a dual threat and a big running back.”
Columbia is looking for its first win after three previous playoff appearances. It’s the first time the Raiders have earned a home playoff game. Archbold (15-9 in 10 playoff appearances) won the state title in 1988.
“This is fantastic,” Columbia coach Jason Ward said. “The parents are busy hanging signs outside the school in the rain and the wind (Sunday). They’re excited. We didn’t hit a lot of our goals a year ago but these guys are determined to prove not to let others tell us what our expectations should be.
“It was so much fun on Friday night. The fire department met us on our bus trip back from Clearview and escorted us back to the school.”
“We’re in pretty good shape,” said veteran Midview coach Bill Albright, enjoying the Middies sixth postseason trip. “This year’s group just never seems to get down. We had a real battle last week in the mud (an overtime win over Bay). Toledo Central has turf and it’s a real nice facility.
“We’ve had a great following of fans all year, including the student body. Hopefully they’ll follow us this week. It’ll be tough. Central Catholic is a very good football team — a little bit of Avon and Elyria rolled into one. It’ll be a hostile environment but we’re excited with the challenge.”
Central Catholic is making its 14th trip to the postseason. It won the state title in 2005 and carries a 9-12 overall playoff record.
Clearview’s roller-coaster regular season may have ended with a disappointing loss to Columbia last week but the Clippers still finished seventh in the Division IV, Region 14 rankings. It’s the 15th playoff appearance for the Clippers but first since 2008. Clearview is 6-14 overall in the postseason and finished runner-up in both 1972 and ’78.
“It was one of our goals,” coach Mike Collier said. “We’ve had an up-and-down year but to be one of the few teams to make it is really exciting. It gives us some extra time on the practice field. That’s always a good thing.”
Glandorf is in the postseason for the 11th time and has a 9-10 overall mark.
Avon Lake, state champion in Division II in 2003 and runner-up in 2004, is making its 17th playoff appearance. The Shoremen are 21-5 overall in postseason play, but this marks the first and maybe only time they’ve qualified in Division 1. Avon Lake is the smallest Division 1 school in the state and because a seventh class will be added to the playoffs next year the Shoremen figure to be back in Division II for the foreseeable future.
Whitmer, qualifying for a 14th time in Division 1, was in the Final Four the past two seasons. The Panthers (15-13 overall in the postseason) have outscored their opponents 437-68 this season.
“I’ve just watched about six hours of film on (Whitmer),” Dlugosz said. “It’s going to be quite a challenge.”
Lorain County playoff picture
FRIDAY, 7:30 p.m.
WHO: Midview (9-1) at Toledo Central Catholic (9-1)
WHAT: Division II, Region 6 quarterfinal
WHO: Perrysburg (8-2) at Avon (9-1)
WHAT: Division II, Region 6 quarterfinal
WHO: Clearview (7-3) at Ottawa-Glandorf (10-0)
WHAT: Division IV, Region 14 quarterfinal
SATURDAY, 7 p.m.
WHO: Avon Lake (8-2) at Toledo Whitmer (10-0)
WHAT: Division I, Region 2 quarterfinal
WHO: Archbold (8-2) at Columbia (9-1)
WHAT: Division V, Region 18 quarterfinal
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.