NO. 8 ROCKY RIVER VS. NO. 4 NORWALK
For the record: If there is one thing that the Division II, Region 6 playoffs appear to prove year in and year out, it is that teams with a balanced offense and a defense that are above average see the most success. Hence why Avon and Whitehouse Anthony Wayne often find themselves as teams to beat in the region. Those traits are once again apparent in this year’s teams. On Avon’s side, it is quarterback Ryan Maloy (129-for-212, 1,740 yards, 22 touchdowns, seven interceptions; 90 carries, 709 yards, 10 touchdowns) and running back Nick Perusek (116 carries, 1,181 yards, 13 touchdowns) who are the sparkplugs of a multi-faceted Eagles’ offense that has scored over 40 points in all but two games this season. And on the defensive end, it’s a turnover-strong defense — led by the likes of Jack Roesch (five sacks), Niko Pappas (five interceptions) and Mark Steinmetz (91 tackles) — with 18 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries that has allowed the Eagles to hold opponents to an average of 18.7 points per game this season. It’s a similar picture for Anthony Wayne, as the offense is led by quarterback Max Denman (123-for-196, 2,054 yards, 32 touchdowns, four interceptions) and running back Ezra Scott (243 carries, 1,431 yards, 17 touchdowns) that has the Generals averaging 40.8 points per game with the lowest scoring week for Anthony Wayne being 31 points in Week 2. Defensively, the Generals have allowed only 85 points this season for an average of 7.7 points per game. The suffocating defense comes courtesy of a blitz-happy pass rush that has 65 tackles for a loss (paced by Ben Allen’s 15, Nolan Bishop’s 13 and Nolan Barber’s 11) and 29 sacks (paced by Bishop, Allen and Barber with five each). This game is going to be high school football at its best, so sit back and enjoy. necessarily mean that facet of the game will be where the fireworks come out. Both teams have shut-down defenses more than capable when it comes to the turnover department. That could be where the true entertainment comes. Which team is going to get that key stop? Get that crucial turnover? Score that defensive touchdown? The Fighting Irish have been one of the top defenses not only in D-II, but all of Ohio this year. In 11 games, Toledo Central Catholic has pitched six shutouts and has allowed only 47 points all year for an average of 4.3 points per game. In other words, good luck trying to get in the end zone. Offensively, the Fighting Irish average 42.8 points per game and are paced by a rush-heavy attack that features four players with at least 300 yards on the season: Troy Durden (102 carries, 748 yards), Jonzell Norrils (82 carries, 511 yards), Sharif McGee (60 carries, 336 yards) and Jase Bowen (37 carries, 307 yards). Expect the ground game to be featured by both offenses, as Avon Lake’s Konner Riggs (273 carries, 1,839 yards, 26 touchdowns) showed he is in peak form after his 251-yard, three touchdown performance in a regional quarterfinal win over Olmsted Falls. This is undoubtedly one of the stiffest defensive tests that Avon Lake has faced this season. What: Division III, Region 10 semifinal When: 7 p.m., Nov. 9 Where: Ranger Stadium, 34600 Bainbridge Road, North Ridgeville Records: Rocky River 7-4, Norwalk 8-3 Last playoff appearance: quarterbacks at a record rate. The Truckers have 23 interceptions this season — a record for Norwalk — led by a program-record nine picks by Ryan Sowders. Additionally, Norwalk has allowed just 10 touchdown passes this season, meaning Rocky River quarterback Michael Finnegan will need to bring his best in order to lead his team to victory. Additionally, the Pirates’ defense will need to be top notch, as Norwalk features a balanced attack that might skew a bit more toward the run depending on what the Rocky River defense shows. Norwalk running back Trevon Raymore is putting up historic numbers. His 218 yards against Bowling Green put him at 2,026 yards on the season, making him the second player in program history to break the 2,000-yard plateau — joining Eastern Michigan’s Breck Turner. When Raymore isn’t doing damage, quarterback Garrett Chapin is a threat. Against Bowling Green, he was 14-for-19 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with Brandon Haraway seven times for 99 yards and a touchdown. In other words, Rocky River is going to have to earn everything in this game, both on offense and defense.
Records: Elyria Catholic 9-2, Genoa Area 11-0 Last playoff appearance: Elyria Catholic 2010, Genoa Area 2017 The road here: Elyria Catholic — Def. Anna, 42-35, in a regional quarterfinal, Genoa Area — Def. Millbury Lake, 4721, in a regional quarterfinal For the record: After knocking off the Division V AP poll No. 7 team Anna last week, things get no easier for Elyria Catholic with the top-ranked D-V team, Genoa Area, on tap for a regional semifinal. Genoa Area features a smothering defense that has allowed an average of 12.6 points per game combined with a high-powered offense that averages 37.6 points per game. In fact, the defense is so strong that only Northern Buckeye Conference foe Millbury Lake has broken the 14-point threshold against the Comets, doing so twice this season. That makes things interesting for the Elyria Catholic offense. The Panthers have been kept under 28 only twice this season — both of which were losses. Otherwise, Elyria Catholic is averaging 47.2 points per game in nine wins, led by quarterback Cameron Engrish and running back Leighton Banjoff. So, there’s no reason to believe that the offense shouldn’t be able to hang with the Comets. Rather, it will be defense that decides this game. Can the Panthers’ defense, which has been mostly strong this season, stop Genoa Area? The key will be containing dual-threat quarterback Jacob Plantz (61-for-96, 1,195 yards; 68 carries, 424 yards) while also respecting the game of running back Daniel Novotney (166 carries, 985 yards, 15 touchdowns). In their quarterfinal win over Millbury Lake, Plantz was 9-for-15 for 120 yards and a touchdown along with 21 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while Novotney had 118 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Turnovers will be a key in this one, and both defenses have been proficient at causing takeaways this season. Elyria Catholic will once again be the underdog, but the Panthers won’t care. In fact, that is where they have thrived this season.
— Jon Behm