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Archbishop Moeller at St. Ignatius headlines 10 Ohio high school football games to watch

Springfield at Centerville also on the list of must-see games in Ohio this week
Photo by Jeff Harwell

Photo by Jeff Harwell

Believe it or not, there are just three weeks left in the Ohio high school football regular season. There are a number of games this week that could shuffle not only the SBLive Ohio Top 25, but also the Ohio High School Athletic Association computer rankings and playoff standings.

The top 16 teams in each region will make the playoffs, with the top eight all getting the option of hosting in the first round. The top four seeds remaining after the first round will then have the option of hosting a second-round game. That means that if there aren’t any upsets among the top four teams in each region of the first round, a team earning a top-4 seed has the chance to host two playoff games.

Here are some of the games we are watching this week:

Archbishop Moeller (7-0) at St. Ignatius (4-2)

Boasting the highest computer average in Division I, the Crusaders make their second trip to Northeast Ohio this season when they visit St. Ignatius at Byers Field on Saturday afternoon.

Ranked as the No. 2 team in the SBLive Ohio Top 25, Moeller easily took care of Elder a week ago, defeating the Panthers 42-14 after scoring four touchdowns in less than three minutes. The Moeller offense is led by junior running back Jordan Marshall, who is nearing 1,000 yards on the season and has scored 16 touchdowns on the ground. He also has four touchdown catches.

St, Ignatius fell out of the SB Live Ohio Top 25 after a 48-6 loss to St. Edward, where the Eagles racked up nearly 300 yards rushing and scored 34 straight points after St. Ignatius pulled to within 14-6 in the second quarter. Three of the four wins for the Wildcats this season have come by seven points or less.

Massillon Jackson (4-3) at Canton McKinley (3-4)

After starting the season 0-4, Canton McKinley is now in the thick of the discussion for a home playoff game in Division I, Region 1 after winning three games in a row. After not scoring more than 28 points in a game through the first four weeks, the Bulldogs have flipped the switch offensively and are averaging 43 points per game in their three wins. The offense is reliant on Nino Hill - a junior running back who transferred from Alliance – as he has averaged over 170 yards per game in the last five games and has run for four touchdowns in each of the last two games.

Jackson, meanwhile, has alternated wins and losses all season and finds itself sixth in Region 1. Led by the running attack of Jason Davide, the Polar Bears defeated GlenOak 38-0 last week, after falling 21-7 to Lake the week before. This is the last chance for Jackson to get a Division I win to help their computer average, as their last two opponents are Division IV Canton Central Catholic and Division II North Canton Hoover.

Springfield (5-1) at Centerville (6-1)

Both teams enter week 8 at 3-1 and in a four-way tie for first place in the Greater Western Ohio Conference and are in the top 3 spots in the Division I, Region 2 computer rankings. They are coming off wins last week after they each lost their first game of the season the week before.

Springfield, No. 15 in the SBLive Ohio Top 25 and currently the second-ranked team in Region 2, are coming off a 54-14 win over Springboro (who beat Centerville in week 6). The Wildcats were led by senior quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer, who threw for 492 yards and five touchdown passes in the win. Anthony Brown caught five passes for 146 yards and three scores and Daylen Bradley had seven catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. Jayvin Norman had 72 yards rushing and 72 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns.

Centerville, No. 17 in the SBLvie Ohio Top 25 and third in Region 2, defeated Beavercreek 37-6 last week. The Ells used a balanced attack on offense, with 138 yards passing and 162 yards on the ground. Defensively, they held Springboro to under 100 yards of total offense.

But the Elks lost starting quarterback Drake Wells to a season-ending injury and turned to sophomores Braylon Newcomb and Gavin Monturo, who combined to finish 13-of-21 for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Pickerington North (5-2) at Grove City (5-2)

After a 3-0 start, Pickerington North has alternated wins and losses over the last four weeks and now finds itself in a battle for the last double home game spot in Division I, Region 3. Meanwhile, Grove City sits in the second spot in Region 3.

The Pickerington North offense has been led by junior quarterback Landon O’Connell, who has completed nearly 68% of his passes for 1,195 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception. Senior running back Dawaun Green leads the running attack with 458 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Panthers’ defense has pitched three shutouts and have allowed more than 14 points just twice all season – in a 47-21 win over Reynoldsburg and in a 42-15 loss to Westerville Central in weeks 5 and 6 – but rebounded to shut out Westland last week.

Grove City’s offense has averaged 38 points per game in its five wins and have scored 41 or more three times.

Junior quarterback Matthew Papas has orchestrated the offense, throwing for almost 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has also added 326 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Running back Jaeson Thrweatt has run for 509 yards and four touchdowns.

Lakota West (7-0) at Fairfield (6-1)

In what could be a matchup of strength on strength, the Fairfield offense enters the game averaging nearly 36 points per game, while the Lakota West defense that hasn’t allowed more than seven points in any of its last six games and allowed a season-high of 13 points in week 1 against St. Xavier.

Fairfield is led by dual-threat quarterback Talon Fisher. The junior leads the Greater Miami Conference with 884 yards rushing and is fourth with 916 yards passing. He has accounted for 17 touchdowns. Jordan Jackson has added 580 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

The Vikings, ranked No. 14 in the SBLive Ohio Top 25, are currently fourth in Division I, Region 4.

The Lakota West defense is led in the front seven by linebackers Jacob Asbeck, who has seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss, Mike Brankamp who leads the team with 51 tackles and Micah Markley who is second on the team with 43 tackles. Defensive lineman Elijah Davis has three sacks and five tackles for loss.

Notre Dame commit Ben Minich and Ohio State commit Malik Hartford roam the secondary for the Firebirds.

Lakota West, the top-ranked team in the SBLive Top 25, is second in Region 4, only behind Moeller.

Winton Woods (7-0) at Milford (6-1)

Winton Woods, the No. 13 team in the SBLive Ohio Top 25, currently sits second in Division II, Region 8 behind Xenia.

The defending Division II state champions have won 16 straight games going back to last year, including a 28-23 win over previously unbeaten Kings last week.

The Warriors offense is led by senior Trey Cornist, who leads the Eastern Cincinnati Conference with 1,096 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. He has run for over 100 yards in five straight games, including a season-high 343 yards on 18 carries two weeks ago against Anderson.

Milford has yet to score less than 41 points in a game this season and is led by quarterback Austin Hardin. The senior is second in the ECC with 1,922 yards passing and leads the conference with 26 touchdown passes.

He will face a stiff challenge against a Winton Woods secondary that is anchored by Ohio State commit Jermaine Mathews Jr. and Cincinnati commit Cameron Calhoun.

The Eagles are currently sixth in Division I, Region 4.

Archbishop Hoban (7-0) at St. Vincent-St. Mary (5-1)

The annual “Akron Holy War,” this game will once again be for the Shillelagh Trophy, awarded to the winner of regular season games in this rivalry. Hoban has taken home the trophy in each of the last seven years and added two playoff wins in those seven seasons when the teams were both in Division III, Region 9 in 2015 and 2016. Overall, Hoban has beat STVM nine times in a row.

Hoban, the second-ranked team in the SBLive Ohio Top 25 and the top team in Division II, Region 5, have been rolling through the regular season. Led by the running of Lamar Sperling and a tenacious defense, the Knights are 7-0 and have been winning games by an average of more than 28 points per game.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish have bounced back from a 25-0 loss at the hands of Glenville in the season opener to win five straight and are now fifth in Region 5 – their first season in Division II. A win for STVM in this game would not only return the Shillelagh Trophy to Maple Street for the first time since 2014, but could also put the Fighting Irish on a path to host games in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Austintown-Fitch (6-1) at Wadsworth (5-2)

This looks to be a high-scoring game, as Fitch has averaged more than 39 points per game and Wadsworth has scored 35 or more points in five of their seven games.

Fitch’s offense is led by dual-threat quarterback Deshawn Vaughn. In last week’s 35-3 win over Strongsville, the junior was nearly perfect passing, completing 16 of his 17 pass attempts for 231 yards and four touchdowns and added 82 yards rushing. The Falcons currently hold the fourth spot in Division II, Region 5 and would get a boost in points if they can defeat Wadsworth, a Division I opponent.

For the Grizzlies, they have moved to Division I this season and are currently 5-2 and sitting third in Region 1. They have done most of that without starting quarterback Luke Fischer, who returned last week to throw four touchdown passes in a 49-3 win over Stow. Will Stack, who had filled in for Fischer, moved back to wide receiver and grabbed six passes. Wadsworth also poses a threat in the run game with Kyle Fuguray. The Grizzlies could still host multiple playoff games, but won’t get much help form the schedule from here on out, as they play only Division II teams to close out the regular season.

Canal Winchester (5-2) at Westerville South (6-1)

While Westerville South currently sits in the second slot in Division II, Region 7 and is the conversation for one of the top four seeds, Canal Winchester is fighting to host a first-round playoff game. The Indians are ninth in Region 7 after seven weeks.

Canal Winchester is led by its defense, who has allowed 11 points or less in six of the seven games, including two shutouts. Offensively, sophomore running back Corey Howard leads the rushing attack with 627 yards and five touchdowns and junior Kaseem Wade with 229 yards and four touchdowns.

They will face a Westerville South team that has scored 27 or more points in six of its seven games, and 30 or more four times.

Junior running back Nasir Phillips has rushed for nearly 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns and has over 100 yards receiving as well. Junior quarterback Dominic Birtha has thrown for almost 800 yards. On defense, senior Drew Goff has 49 tackles, five sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

West Branch (6-1) at Alliance (6-1)

West Branch is in one of the closest battles for a top-4 seed in the state, as the Warriors are currently second in Division IV, Region 13, but are just 0.3329 behind top-seeded Girard but also less than a full point ahead of fifth-place Jefferson Area. A win over a Division III opponent could pay huge dividends for West Branch.

The Warriors offense is led by dynamic quarterback Dru DeShields, who is coming off another game with nearly 300 yards of total offense. He threw for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also running for 110 yards and a score in a 53-16 win over Marlington. On the season, he has thrown for over 1,900 yards and has run for more than 400 while accounting for 32 touchdowns.

Alliance is also in a tight race for a double home game in Division III, Region 9, currently sitting fifth.

The Aviators have a balanced offense, led by junior quarterback Brendan Zurbrugg, who has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns and senior running back Kayden Davis who has over 1,000 yards rushing and 12 scores. The Aviators had more than 500 yards of total offense last week in a 47-14 win over Carrolton and are averaging 45.5 points since a loss in their season opener.