It is the most anticipated weekend of the high school football regular season, where the critical question is: “Did we make it?”
Not only are many league championships on the line tonight, especially in the Toledo area, but also those schools fortunate enough to be in the hunt for a playoff berth will be busy frantically tracking down scores from other games involving schools most of their players have never heard of.
Some have already pulled up the Ohio High School Athletic Association website for the computer averages after nine games, and then tried to calculate their team's chances compared to other schools in their region. Others go right to an independent Ohio website that offers predictions, and spares those with poor math skills from straining their brains in pursuit of an answer.
Still others come here for The Blade's analytical assessment of the playoff picture.
With a small margin for error, and for the unforseen upsets that inevitably materialize each year, here are our projections.
The top eight teams from each region qualify for the state playoffs. The top four teams earn home-field games in the first round.
THE BREAKDOWN: Below is a look at the seven divisional regions that include area teams, using the top 12 teams after week nine. Projected finish includes two numbers, which are the final computer averages predicted if the team wins or loses. Figures arrived at by assessing the most likely final input of second-level points expected from beaten opponents.
Also included is the probable final-week game result, and a maximum range of results from highest possible total with a week-10 win and the lowest possible total with a week-10 loss. These averages are rounded to the hundredths. The teams ranked below are listed in order of their projected average with a win this weekend.
DIVISION I (Region 2): Among the area's big schools, only Perrysburg (9-0) has a shot at the postseason. The Yellow Jackets, under first-year head coach Roger Frank, have already secured a share of their first Northern Lakes League title since 1985. But they will need to beat arch-rival Maumee tonight to clinch the school's first playoff berth. A loss would necessitate losses from several other schools to allow Perrysburg to qualify.
Projections: 1, North Canton Hoover 36.4/31.75/W/37.55 to 29.75; 2, Canton McKinley 32.5479/26.3452/W/33.98 to 22.95; 3, Massillon Washington 30.8561/26.1652/L/33.23 to 23.99; 4, Brunswick 30.1/24.75/W/33.65 to 24.75; 5, Massillon Jackson 28.8419/23.0904/L/28.84 to 22.08; 6, Perrysburg 25.1439/20.6653/W/26.32 to 20.1.
7, Cuyahoga Falls 23.8/21.55/W/25.0 to 21.0; 8, Mansfield Senior 22.2/17.95/W/24.65 to 17.4; 9, Marion Harding 21.5207/20.5662/W/23.89 to 19.96; 10, Wadsworth 21.25/17.45/W/22.3 to 16.9; 11, Massillon Perry 20.95/17.53/W/21.55 to 16.05; 12, Elyria 20.3/16.1/W/21.5 to 16.1.
DIVISION II (Region 6): The key City League championship showdown tonight between 10th-ranked Central Catholic (8-1, 5-0) and 11th-ranked St. Francis de Sales (7-1, 5-0) will also play a key role in the playoff picture. Central will get in, win or lose, but a St. Francis loss opens the door for Maumee, should the Panthers defeat Perrysburg. Anthony Wayne (7-2) would likely need a win over Rossford (4-5), plus losses from any two of the following: Tiffin Columbian, St. Francis and Maumee.
Projections: 1, Avon Lake 28.0/23.7/W/29.2 to 23.6; 2, Central Catholic 26.4734/21.5617/L/28.34 to 19.81; 3, Defiance 25.65/21.0/W/26.1 to 21.0; 4, Olmsted Falls 24.05/19.20/L/24.8 to 19.1; 5, St. Francis de Sales 23.3644/17.2882/W/25.46 to 15.95; 6, Amherst Steele 20.75/18.25/W/22.0 to 17.75.
7, Maumee 20.5724/14.9724/L/22.36 to 14.97; 8, Bedford 20.05/17.7/W/20.7 to 16.55; 9, Tiffin Columbian 18.3264/17.2653/W/19.45 to 16.65; 10, Anthony Wayne 17.2866/14.6716/W/18.52 to 14.1; 11, Springfield 14.1232/11.9753/W/15.36 to 11.51; 12, Garfield Heights 14.1/14.1/W/15.7 to 14.1.
DIVISION III (Region 10): A win over Shelby (5-4) tonight puts Bellevue (7-2) in, but Oak Harbor (6-3) will need to win and get help to avoid from dropping from seventh to as low as 10th. If Upper Sandusky (5-3) beats Galion (5-4), it will be one of three teams that can rise above Oak Harbor and possibly qualify. Fostoria has a very remote chance. The Redmen (5-4, 3-1) need to topple Findlay (5-4, 4-0) in their battle for the Great Lakes League title, and get losses from four of the six teams currently rated directly above them.
Projections: 1, Sunbury Big Walnut 30.0965/27.8798/W/32.22 to 26.26; 2, Bellefontaine 26.8/22.1/W/28.0 to 21.1; 3, Medina Highland 26.1/25.05/W/27.55 to 24.95; 4, St. Marys Memorial 24.3/19.65/L/25.35 to 19.55; 5, Willard 19.7776/19.7776/W/20.39 to 18.45; 6, Bellevue 17.7235/14.6724/W/18.79 to 14.62.
7, Medina Buckeye 15.65/12.7/L/16.7 to 11.45; 8, Upper Sandusky 15.3889/12.1667/W/16.56 to 10.94; 9, Lima Bath 15.2677/13.7576/W/15.72 to 13.3; 10, Oak Harbor 15.05/14.2/W/16.5 to 13.7; 11, Fostoria 14.9837/11.5265/W/16.11 to 11.02; 12, Wooster Triway 13.1/11.25/W/14.95 to 11.25.
DIVISION IV (Region 14): Kenton and Ontario are locks for spots 1 and 2, and Sandusky Bay Conference rivals Margaretta (8-1, 5-1) and Huron (7-2, 5-1) have secured the next two first-round home-field berths for finishing among the region's top four. Delta (8-1) has also clinched a berth for the second straight year, but Lake (7-2, 5-1) will need to beat Woodmore (8-1, 5-1) in their Suburban Lakes League title showdown to guarantee its second postseason in a row. The odds of Lake getting in, even with a loss however, are good. A win over Elmwood tonight could make Otsego the SLL's fourth playoff qualifier this season. Gibsonburg has clinched a spot in Division VI, and Woodmore, even with a loss to Lake, will likely qualify in Division V. Not greedy yet? Well, Eastwood of the SLL also has a chance in Division IV if it beats Genoa, gets losses from Marion River Valley and Clear Fork (or Otsego), and gets a little unexpected help from its beaten opponents.
Projections: 1, Kenton 30.05/29.55/W/30.55 to 29.5; 2, Ontario 23.05/22.35/W/23.55 to 20.45; 3, Margaretta 22.0/20.15/W/23.3 to 19.6; 4, Huron 20.85/20.15/W/21.4 to 19.15; 5, Lake 19.95/16.3/L/21.35 to 16.25; 6, Delta 18.9/18.5/W/20.75 to 18.5.
7, Marion River Valley 17.2384/15.8788/W/17.74 to 15.88; 8, Otsego 15.65/14.1/W/17.0 to 13.6; 9, Clear Fork 15.6/14.3/W/17.5 to 14.2; 10, Eastwood 15.45/14.45/W/16.7 to 14.1; 11, Archbold 15.05/10.85/L/16.65 to 10.8; 12, West Salem Northwestern 13.95/11.9/W/15.15 to 11.9.
DIVISION V (Region 18): Fairview, Marion Pleasant and Delphos Jefferson have secured home-field spots in the first round, but Liberty Center could lose its top-four slot if the Tigers lose at Archbold and Woodmore beats Lake. If Woodmore loses, Bluffton could climb in with a win and push the Wildcats out. But Delphos St. John's would have to beat favored Coldwater (8-1) and Ridgedale would have to upset unbeaten Marion Pleasant to clear a path for Woodmore's drop from qualification. Tinora has a very slight chance to get in, but would need to beat Ayersville and have Ridgedale and Bluffton lose (to Columbus Grove).
Projections: 1, Marion Pleasant 24.65/21.4/W/24.75 to 20.95; 2, Fairview 23.7/23.35/W/24.55 to 22.8; 3, Liberty Center 22.45/18.9/W/23.25 to 18.5; 4, Delphos Jefferson 21.7554/20.7164/W/22.79 to 20.08; 5, Ridgedale 19.3/15.0/L/20.25 to 14.65; 6, Woodmore 18.9020/15.5732/W/20.16 to 15.17.
7, Delphos St. John's 18.6/15.15/L/19.85 to 14.2; 8, Ashland Crestview 18.3/17.6/W/19.1 to 17.1; 9, Bluffton 16.9047/12.7658/L/17.86 to 12.65; 10, Tinora 15.0217/12.8535/W/15.78 to 12.8; 11, St. Henry 12.0/10.85/W/12.15 to 10.45; 12, Wynford 10.5788/8.4106/W/11.99 to 8.01; 13, Patrick Henry 10.0/8.35/W/11.4 to 7.95.
DIVISION VI (Region 22): Mohawk will likely pass McComb for the No. 1 spot if it wins its key Midland Athletic League battle tonight. That's because it will receive a large portion of points from potential MAL co-champion Tiffin Calvert (8-1) with such a win, and McComb would get little from beating 1-8 Vanlue. Either way, Mohawk, McComb and Hardin Northern have clinched home-field slots. Columbus Grove (8-1) needs to beat Bluffton (7-1) to lock up a first-round home game. Antwerp has also clinched a playoff spot, but Carey, Cardinal Stritch still need wins to secure their postseason slots. Northwood, which battles Stritch for the Toledo Area Athletic Conference title tonight, can grab the first playoff berth in school history by beating the Cardinals. Hilltop also has an outside chance of getting in.
Projections: 1, Mohawk 19.55/16.4/W/20.05 to 16.4; 2, McComb 17.8/17.1/W/18.2 to 17.1; 3, Columbus Grove 17.1138/13.8947/W/18.13 to 13.42; 4, Hardin Northern 16.4/14.6/W/16.8 to 14.2; 5, Antwerp 14.3806/12.5520/W/15.19 to 12.19; 6, Carey 13.55/11.4/W/14.7 to 11.0.
7, Cardinal Stritch 12.5418/9.7939/W/13.31 to 9.79; 8, Northwood 11.45/8.3917/L/11.81 to 7.82; 9, Pandora-Gilboa 11.1/8.95/W/11.8 to 8.9; 10, Hilltop 11.0399/9.0032/W/11.45 to 8.12; 11, Ayersville 10.3/7.4/L/11.05 to 6.35; 12, Arlington 8.55/7.5/W/9.65 to 7.5.
DIVISION VI (Region 21):
Local assessment: 1, Mogadore has clinced No. 1 spot; 2, Cuyahoga Heights 20.05/16.6/W/21.2 to 16.55; 3, Tiffin Calvert 17.6/13.95/L/18.4 to 13.25; 4, Gibsonburg 13.7/11.7/W/14.75 to 11.35; 9, McDonald 9.0/6.85/W/10.2 to 6.85.
Note: Calvert and Gibsonburg would hold Nos. 3 and 4 spots if they win, but each has clinched a playoff berth because no team below eighth now can pass them.