Preview: This weekend's Ohio state semifinal football games

Preview: This weekend's Ohio state semifinal football games

News

Preview: This weekend's Ohio state semifinal football games

By

La Salle QB Nick Watson hands the ball off to RB Jeremy Larkin.

La Salle QB Nick Watson hands the ball off to RB Jeremy Larkin.

Division II state semifinal

La Salle (11-2) vs. Perrysburg (13-0)

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Piqua

WHAT TO WATCH: La Salle coach Jim Hilvert proclaimed the Lancers as the underdog entering Friday night. That’s debatable but the reigning state champion Lancers believe this will be a challenge on both sides of the ball.

Perrysburg is athletic and physical and reminds Hilvert of Carmel (Ind.), the team La Salle defeated 35-28 in the season opener Aug. 29.

“You can just tell when you watch the film they are a team that is well-coached,” Hilvert said after practice Wednesday. “It’s about fundamentals and technique. We have our work cut out for us. We know that’s why we are the underdog. We are excited about playing that role. We have a lot of stuff to prove to people that this 2015 team is just as good as the 2014 team. I think our guys have that chip on their shoulder to be able to show people.”

Junior running back/safety Jarell White tweeted his respect for Perrysburg after watching them on film earlier this week.

“We need play physical, hard and fast all four quarters,” White said.

La Salle, the reigning Division II state champion, is making it second straight state semifinal appearance. “It’s another business trip every single week,” La Salle senior running back Jeremy Larkin (UC commit) said.

“You got to really focus on what you go to do. This is a well-coached team. Just being focused and execute the plan.”

Larkin has rushed for 1,691 yards and 25 touchdowns and has 604 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Senior quarterback Nick Watson has 1,594 yards passing and 15 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 621 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior linebacker Hayden Jester has 100 tackles, including 4.5 sacks.

Perrysburg is making its first state semifinal appearance. Perrysburg was ranked No. 1 in the season’s final Associated Press poll while La Salle was No. 4. Perrysburg is led by quarterback Trevor Hafner, who has thrown for over 2,500 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. He’s rushed for almost 800 yards despite missing two games in the regular season due to a shoulder injury.

“I love our team’s heart and tenacity,” Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel said.

“Most of our players play both offense and defense. We preach that we need to be tough enough to play against two platoon teams. Our mindset all season has been to not look ahead. We will play La Salle the same way we have everybody else, toe to toe for the entire game.”

Colerain junior LB Kyle Bolden and the Cardinals play Wayne Saturday night.

Colerain junior LB Kyle Bolden and the Cardinals play Wayne Saturday night.

Division I state semifinal

Colerain (12-1) vs. Huber Heights Wayne (13-0)

WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Saturday at Mason Middle School

WHAT TO WATCH: The talent in this game is excellent. Colerain coach Tom Bolden says he likes the fact the game will be at Mason – the third consecutive week the Cardinals will play a postseason game there. But, the advantage gap quickly closes after that. Wayne, a Division I state semifinalist last season, presents a challenge for the Cardinals.

“They’re good,” Bolden said. “They’re a lot like us. From an athletic standpoint they are much like us. Same chemistry, same kind of makeup of kids. Same dynamics of the kids – just tough, athletic kids. I think the one thing – they are bigger than we are. Overall, they are physically bigger football team than we are. So we have our hands full.”

Colerain is ranked No. 1 in the MaxPreps Midwest Computer Rankings and No. 3 nationally in the computer rankings. Wayne is No. 3 in the Midwest rankings and No. 8 nationally.

Colerain is No. 6 nationally in the USA Today Computer Rankings. Wayne is No. 5.

Colerain leads the all-time series with Wayne 4-1. Saturday is the most recent meeting since the 2008 playoffs. Wayne the first-ever meeting in 1990.

Colerain is led by senior quarterback Deshaunte Jones, who has rushed for 1,786 yards and 28 touchdowns. Jones, the Associated Press Southwest District Division I offensive player of the year, has thrown for 639 yards and seven touchdowns.

“They’ve got a dynamic team,” Wayne coach Jay Minton told the Dayton Daily News. “We’ve got to find a way to slow down that dynamic quarterback. He’s something special. He runs like Braxton (Miller) and some say he might be quicker than Braxton. Every time you see him on film he’s hitting a big play.”

Junior fullback Monalo Caldwell has rushed for 1,253 yards and 18 touchdowns.

The Cardinals’ defense has been excellent. Junior defensive back Amir Riep has a team-high seven interceptions.

Sophomore linebacker Dan Bolden has a team-leading 100 tackles, including three sacks. His cousin, junior linebacker Kyle Bolden (Tom’s son) has 81 tackles including three sacks.

Wayne quarterback Messiah deWeaver (Michigan State commit) has thrown for 2,692 yards and 29 touchdowns.

“He’s good,” Bolden said. “He’s a kid who wants to throw first and run second. …He’s big, he’s athletic and he has a cannon for an arm.”

Wayne senior defensive back Tobias Gilliam (Kentucky commit) – the AP district defensive player of the year – has 64 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions.

Watch for L’Christian Smith who has 50 receptions for 1,188 yards and 16 touchdowns. Daryl McCleskey (727 yards receiving and 422 yards rushing) and Matt Wilcox (658 yards receiving and seven touchdowns) are among other players to watch.

Division IV state semifinal

Fenwick (13-0) vs. Columbus Bishop Hartley (9-3)

WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Saturday at Wilmington Alumni Field

WHAT TO WATCH: Fenwick, ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Division IV state poll, is back in the state semifinals for the first time since 1987. The Falcons made eight state semifinal appearances in the first 16 years of the playoffs (1972-1987). The Falcons defeated Clinton-Massie 10-3 in the Division IV, Region 14 final in Xenia last weekend. The defense played well as it has all season for Fenwick. This past week, Fenwick coach Joe Snively was named the AP Southwest District Division IV coach of the year. Fenwick linebacker Ben Hinton was named the defensive player of the year. He has 65 tackles, 10.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions for the Falcons. Hartley, ranked No. 11 in the poll, is in the state semifinals for the eighth time. Hartley won the state title most recently in 2010. This will be the first time Hartley has played a Greater Catholic League opponent since that 2010 season, according to This Week News. Hartley running back Quri Hickman rushed 39 times for 193 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-20 win over Bellevue in the regional final last week.

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports