That a berth in the state final four is on the line couldn't be more fitting for Saturday's Division I, Region 3 final at Upper Arlington between central Ohio's two remaining undefeated football teams, Hilliard Davidson
and Pickerington Central
The teams have met in each of the past two seasons in the playoffs, with the Tigers winning 7-3 in a 2008 regional final and the Wildcats winning 17-7 in a regional semifinal a year ago. Davidson (Hilliard) was fourth in the final state poll and Central (Pickerington) was sixth this year.
After beating Westerville South 30-0 last Saturday in a regional semifinal, the Tigers earned the No. 25 spot in this week's Xcellent 25 High School Football Rankings presented by the Army National Guard.
"It's really exciting," said Tigers senior defensive back Eilar Hardy
, who has verbally committed to Notre Dame. "Davidson's always a good team, and the past three years they've been in the regional championship game. Our run defense and our defense overall is really good, but we just have to put the work in because we know it's going to be a good test."
The Wildcats beat Springfield 9-0 in a regional semifinal last Saturday as senior defensive lineman Keith Heitzman
led the way with two sacks and three quarterback hurries. A Vanderbilt recruit who was the Central District's Defensive Player of the Year, Heitzman headlines a defense which has given up an average of 5.5 points during a 12-0 start.
The Tigers have allowed an average of just 4.3 points during an 11-0 start, with Hardy and senior defensive back Tamani Carter
leading the way. Carter has offers from seven schools, including Stanford and Arizona from the Pac Ten and Iowa and Minnesota from the Big Ten.
"If you know anything about us you know we play offense to help our defense," Davidson coach Brian White told ThisWeekSPORTS.com. "We like to use the clock, and that means our legs are fresh on defense. That's what we did (against Springfield)."ST. EDWARD DISMANTLES GLENVILLESt. Edward (Lakewood)
got the better of Glenville (Cleveland) on both sides of the ball last Saturday during a 42-22 win in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal at Byers Field in Parma.
In addition to intercepting Tarblooders quarterback Cardale Jones three times, the Eagles (12-0) moved one step closer to winning their first state championship behind the running of Terrell Bates and Kevin Burke. Bates had 135 yards and one touchdown and Burke rushed for 73 yards and a score.
The win moved St. Edward from No. 14 to No. 7 in the Xcellent 25 High School Football Rankings presented by the Army National Guard. Glenville was 15th last week but dropped out of this week's rankings.BIG WALNUT UPSETS MARION-FRANKLIN
The state's No. 1-ranked Division II team, Marion-Franklin (Columbus), fell 24-12 to Big Walnut (Sunbury)
last Friday at Westerville Central. The Red Devils led 12-3 after one quarter but committed 21 penalties, including eight personal fouls for 165 yards, to fall to 11-1.
The Golden Eagles improved to 10-2 and will play Lake (Uniontown) for the Region 7 title on Friday at Ashland University.MAPLE HEIGHTS ROLLS SANDUSKY
Behind an offense that produced 675 yards, Maple Heights
improved to 12-0 by beating Sandusky 61-27 last Friday in a Division II regional semifinal at Avon Lake's Memorial Stadium. Quarterback Shaquille Washington
, a Cincinnati recruit, finished with 168 yards and three touchdowns and completed nine of 16 passes for 144 yards with three touchdowns. MARLINGTON MAKES FIRST REGIONAL FINALMarlington (Alliance)
had never won a playoff game before this season, but the state's No. 1-ranked Division III team will meet Dover for the Region 8 championship Saturday at Canton Fawcett Stadium after beating Licking Valley (Newark) 48-21 last Saturday. Alden Hill ran for three touchdowns to lead the Dukes, who are 12-0.TOP PERFORMER* Noah Key, Bishop Hartley (Columbus):
During a 39-28 victory over Heath last Friday in a Division IV, Region 15 semifinal, Key rushed for 242 yards and five touchdowns on 35 carries. Key has 2,326 yards and 34 touchdowns rushing on the season.COMING THIS WEEK
* Solon vs. St. Edward:
The other two remaining unbeatens in Division I along with Davidson (Hilliard) and Central (Pickerington) will match up when Solon faces St. Edward (Lakewood) on Saturday at Byers Field in Parma. While the Eagles were third in the final state poll, the Comets were seventh and are coming off a 41-0 victory over Austintown-Fitch (Youngstown) last Saturday.* St. John's Jesuit (Toledo, Ohio) vs. Whitmer (Toledo):
The premier matchup in northwest Ohio on Saturday will be at Bowling Green's Doyt Perry Stadium. Whitmer beat Twinsburg 35-14 and St. John's downed Medina 24-6 in regional semifinals last Saturday. Neither of the Region 2 finalists were ranked in the final state poll.* Bishop Watterson (Columbus) vs. Columbian (Tiffin), football:
Despite losing quarterback Patrick Rhomberg to a toe injury in the second quarter last Saturday, Bishop Watterson downed Elida 21-7 at Piqua. That sets up a meeting with Columbian on Saturday in Ohio Wesleyan's Selby Stadium for the Division III, Region 10 title. Watterson was third in the final state poll and Columbian was sixth.RECRUITING NEWS
North (Pickerington) senior tight end and defensive lineman Darien Bryant received a scholarship offer from Illinois earlier this week. He now has 16 Division I offers and has scheduled official visits to Hawaii, Nebraska and North Carolina over the coming weeks. … Central (Pickerington) defensive back Mike Brown
has received a scholarship offer from Eastern Michigan, ScoutingOhio.com is reporting. He also has offers from Brown, Cornell, Eastern Illinois and Indiana State.Jarrod Ulrey covers Central and Northern Ohio for MaxPreps.com. He covers prep sports for
ThisWeekSPORTS.com and can be reached at email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org.