MANSFIELD – North central Ohio will have a vibrant Week 11 of the high school football season.
Ten area teams discovered their playoff destinations on Sunday afternoon when the prep football postseason pairings were released by the Ohio High School Athletics Association.
The storylines are all over the board, from undefeated Fredericktown winning the points title in its region to unbeaten Loudonville and Cinderella-like Plymouth hosting their first playoff games.
“Any time you put so much into something like our staff and students have and reach a goal that you set when we first got here, the feeling is very rewarding,” Big Red Vikings coach Mark Genders said. “This is something that hasn’t developed over this single season, but that has developed over the last eight seasons.
“Each year kids sacrificing and putting building blocks on a program wall and these kids this season taking all that they learned from there predecessors on how to work, how to win, and to have expectations and take that step forward back into a winning season and create history with the schools first-ever playoff appearance.”
Madison catapulted into the playoffs after beating arch-rival Mansfield Senior on Friday night.
“It’s great to play in the playoffs,” Rams’ standout Tyrell Ajian said.
The Rams (7-3) are the seventh seed in Division III, Region 8 and will travel to second-seeded Clyde (8-2) on Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. date with the Fliers.
“I’m so proud of them,” Madison coach Sean Conway said. “You can’t say enough about their hard work and we got it done. Now they get to play again.”
Fellow Ohio Cardinal Conference lodge brother Ashland (6-4) was the final team to qualify in Division II, Region V and will play at Lewis Center Olentangy on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Loudonville beat its last four opponents on the road — by a combined 228-34 over Bishop Ready (64-14), Danville (67-7), Gilmour Academy (53-13) and Shelby (47-0).
“Your reward is being at home with your family,” coach Justin Todd said. “I tried to turn this into a life lesson and they responded well.”
The Redbirds, like Fredericktown, won the top seed in their region. Todd’s team won the top slot in Division VI, Region 19 and will host No. 8 seed New Middletown Springfield (7-3) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
This is Loudonville’s first perfect season since 1990 when the Redbirds were Division IV state runners-up. Todd has taken his squad to the playoffs in all three years as coach, winning a game in 2013 before falling in the final minutes to Huron, 17-13, in Division V.
“What I really like about the playoffs is that now you’re playing for your playoff life,” Todd said. “The nice thing is a lot of our guys have been there.”
Hillsdale (8-2) is also in this region and seeded sixth. The Falcons have one of the toughest assignments in the draw, traveling to state powerhouse and third-seed Kirtland (10-0), Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Fredericktown sits atop Division VI, Region 21 as the top seed. The Freddies will host No. 8 seed Belpre (8-2) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Wynford won the inaugural Northern 10 championship and earned the third seed in Division VI, Region 20. The Royals (9-1) will host sixth-seeded Delphos Jefferson (8-2) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Also out of Crawford County, Galion grabbed the final slot in Division IV, Region 12. The Tigers (6-4) will travel to unbeaten Triway on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Division VII, Region 23 will have a strong north central Ohio flavor.
Third-seeded Plymouth (8-2) will be at home for Richland County neighbor Lucas (6-3) on at 7 p.m. The Cubs are seeded sixth.
“This type of stuff really doesn’t sink in till you are away from it for a bit and you can look back at it and reflect,” Genders said. “These seniors, team, and staff chose to take this step and as a coach I couldn’t be prouder.
“I think this community and all who have played in the ‘pit’ (Mary Fate Park) really are excited about the opportunity to watch our boys walk down that hill one last time this season and to know that it’s a playoff game is only a feeling they will all have for the first time Saturday night like the rest of us.”
Mapleton (7-3) earned the fourth seed in this region and will host Wellsville (7-3), the fifth seed, at 7 p.m.