The Columbus Dispatch

5 things we learned from the state football semifinals

- Jarrod Ulrey

Central Ohio had six teams in the state football semifinals, with Newark Catholic the only one to survive and advance.

Here are five things we learned from the semifinals:

Pickeringt­on Central isn’t the only Division I power in central Ohio

After Pickeringt­on Central won state titles in 2017 and ’19 and were the state runners-up in 2020, Upper Arlington, New Albany and Marysville joined Central as the area’s top big-school teams.

There’s no reason to think that the Tigers won’t remain among the area’s best for years to come. But the fact that UA was 3-5 last year, New Albany was 5-4 in 2020 and Marysville failed to win more than six games in any season from 201420 is a reminder that new teams can emerge quickly.

It should provide hope for programs such as Pickeringt­on North, Gahanna and Dublin Jerome, which had strong junior classes, or teams that took strides forward this fall like Hilliard Davidson that perhaps next year will be their year.

Upper Arlington possessed a championsh­ip defense

St. Edward entered its state semifinal against UA averaging 40.8 points and had been held under 28 points only twice all season.

UA’S defense kept it in the game as both teams punted seven times and St. Edward completed only three passes.

It was a memorable game for coach Justin Buttermore’s son, senior Doak Buttermore, who finished with 15 tackles and two tackles for loss.

Newark Catholic seized control early and didn’t let go

Newark Catholic has won eight state championsh­ips, but its last one came in 2007. It will appear in its first state final since 2012 when it plays Maria Stein Marion Local at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Division VII title game.

To get there, the Green Wave braved snowy conditions Saturday and avenged last year’s 20-13 loss to Warren John F. Kennedy in a state semifinal, beating the Eagles 14-7.

Grant Moore had two intercepti­ons to help set the tone in the rematch, and quarterbac­k Cole Canter extended his

single-season program record for touchdown passes to 32.

Rough sequence in second half doomed Harvest Prep

After rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit to advance to their third state semifinal, Harvest Prep was tied at 14 with Versailles at halftime Saturday in a Division V semifinal.

The Tigers scored a pair of thirdquart­er touchdowns, including one set up by an intercepti­on, and held on for a 28-22 victory as the Warriors finished 10-3.

It marked the third state semifinal finish in eight seasons under coach Milan Smith.

Bloom-carroll, Granville, West Jefferson took steps forward

Bloom-carroll, which had never been to a state semifinal until 2020, showed it’s more than ready to stay at that level despite coming up short in a 24-21 loss to Clarksvill­e on Saturday in a Division IV state semifinal.

Granville had a breakthrou­gh season, making it to a state semifinal for the first time. The Blue Aces lost to Hamilton Badin 14-0 in Division III.

West Jefferson was back in a state semifinal for the second time in three seasons and has now won six regional championsh­ips. The Roughrider­s were within two scores at halftime before falling to defending Division VI statechamp­ion Coldwater.

 ?? TY WRIGHT/THE ADVOCATE ?? Mason Hackett and Newark Catholic will face Maria Stein Marion Local at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Division VII
title game.
TY WRIGHT/THE ADVOCATE Mason Hackett and Newark Catholic will face Maria Stein Marion Local at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Division VII title game.

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