Central Catholic is very familiar with its second-round opponent in the Division III football playoffs.
The Irish scrimmage Tiffin Columbian each year in the preseason, and three times during Greg Dempsey’s 14 seasons as coach, the Irish have met the Tornadoes in the postseason.
Dempsey remembers all three of those playoff games, none better than the last one in 2005.
“That was my first game as a dad,” said Dempsey, whose daughter, Lauren, was born four days before the Irish topped Columbian 24-10 en route to their Division II state championship. Since then, Central has added another D-II state title, and Dempsey and wife Katie have added two sons (Ryan, 6, and Andrew, 4).
The Irish (11-0) will meet Columbian (10-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Fremont.
“We like scrimmaging Tiffin Columbian because that’s the type of team and coaches you want to play against to prepare you for your season,” Dempsey said. “They’re well-coached, they’re physical, and it’s a great football program. They’ve had one of the more underrated runs of any team in the area over the last 15-20 years.”
The Tornadoes advanced by surviving 34-28 in two overtimes at home against Norwalk. Central blasted visiting Defiance 69-14.
Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio relies heavily on senior running back/linebacker Ryan Lynch, who has rushed 214 times for 1,376 yards and 17 touchdowns and made 69 tackles on defense.
The Tornadoes use two quarterbacks — senior Donovan Walker (47-of-74 passing, 780 yards, 7 TDs) and sophomore Stone Simmons (34 of 69, 670 yards, 7 TDs). Their top receivers are Cody Kimmet (20 catches, 350 yards, 4 TDs) and Nate Hoyda (16 catches, 308 yards, 3 TDs).
Columbian, in its 14th postseason (11-13 record), has outscored opponents 356-136 and outgained them 384-213 yards per game.
Key members of the Tornadoes defense include 5-foot-9, 297-pound senior tackle Codey Chance (60 tackles), 6-5, 210-pound junior end Derek Dryfuse (42 tackles, 7 sacks), and junior linebacker Josh Briggs (4 interceptions).
Central is led by quarterback DeShone Kizer (2,424 yards passing, 27 TDs; 362 rushing yards, 5 TDs) and running back Tre’Von Wade (1,301 yards, 19 TDs). The defense is keyed by linebackers Chris Green (83 tackles, 8 tackles for loss) and Paul Moses (43 tackles).
— Steve Junga