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Published: Friday, 10/28/2005

The ins, outs and maybes of qualifying

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

This is that tension-filled week of the Ohio high school football season.

The week when dozens of coaches, or their assistants, are logging on to Web sites and pulling out their calculators to crunch the numbers.

Hopefully - after some adding and dividing and multiplying - when they hit the equals button, the number on the screen will indicate that their team will be a state playoff qualifier.

For the six divisional regions of northwest Ohio, The Blade has been punching up those same numbers to see which area teams are either already in, or at least have a solid chance at making the postseason based on the results of the final regular-season games tonight and tomorrow.

The adjacent chart breaks down the regions involving northwest Ohio teams. This is never an exact science because there is always some guesswork involved in predicting the results of Week-10 games around the state. But, the chart's "Projected" columns display the most likely final computer averages for area teams based on whether they win or lose their final games.

Last year, The Blade's chart correctly picked the eight qualifying teams in northwest Ohio divisions II, V and VI, and got seven of the eight in divisions I, III and IV for a total mark of 45 out of 48. In 2003, The Blade had all eight right in Division V, and got seven of eight correct in each of the other five divisions for

total of 43 out of 48.

Here is a local league-by-league analysis of who's in, who should get in, and what variables are involved in making these predictions hold up.

CITY LEAGUE: St. John's Jesuit (8-1) has already clinched a berth in Division I/Region 2 and so has Central Catholic (8-1) in Division II/Region 6, regardless of who wins tonight's battle for the CL championship at the Glass Bowl. St. John's will have a first-round home game if it wins, and the Titans will likely play on the road if they lose. Central should have a home game either way.

Rogers (6-3) will earn a spot in D-II/R-6 if it beats Scott tomorrow, and should get in even if it loses to the Bulldogs provided both Mansfield Madison and Lodi Cloverleaf lose their final games to favored Mansfield Senior and unbeaten Tallmadge, respectively.

Even if St. Francis de Sales (5-4) wins at Clay tonight, the Knights won't generate enough points to pass Rogers, whether the Rams win or lose. The Knights' only chance of qualifying in D-II/R-6 comes if Tiffin Columbian (7-2) loses its Northern Ohio League championship showdown tonight against Shelby (7-2), and if both Madison and Cloverleaf also lose.

NORTHERN LAKES LEAGUE: If Northview (7-2) wins tonight at Bowling Green, the Wildcats will make the Division I/Region 2 field, unless Amherst Steele (7-2) upsets unbeaten Avon Lake and North Canton Hoover (6-3) beats 7-2 Massillon Jackson. A loss by Northview means the 'Cats most likely will not make their first-ever postseason

appearance.

Southview (7-2) is not officially clinched in D-II/R-6, but the Cougars will most likely get in even if they lose to 3-6 Perrysburg tonight. A win and Southview should get a first-round home game.

Rossford (6-3) still has a slim chance in Division IV/Region 14, but the Bulldogs would need to beat 2-7 Springfield tonight, and have Elyria Catholic lose to Cleveland Villa-Angela St. Joseph's and Wauseon lose to Patrick Henry.

SUBURBAN LAKES LEAGUE: First-place Elmwood (7-2, 6-0 SLL) can secure both a berth in Division V/Region 18 and an outright SLL title tonight by beating visiting Eastwood (7-2, 5-1). A win here would provide the Royals with a first-round home game. If Elmwood loses, it should still qualify, unless Independence (7-2) beats Cleveland Cuyahoga Heights (8-1), or either Collins Western Reserve or Seneca East wins.

The fate of potential co-champion Otsego (8-1) is a puzzle. The Knights' overtime loss to Elmwood may prove costly to their hopes for a berth in D-IV/R-14. Otsego is heavily favored over winless Gibsonburg tonight, and Eastwood cannot pass the Knights, win or lose. But, upset wins by either Wauseon (7-2) over Patrick Henry (9-0) or Wellington (7-2) over Medina Buckeye (9-0) would oust Otsego.

NORTHWEST OHIO ATHLETIC LEAGUE: Unbeaten Patrick Henry, Ohio's top-ranked Division V team, has already secured a first-round home game in D-V/R-18, as has second-place Liberty Center (8-1, 6-1) in D-VI/Region 22. Wauseon needs to upset PH tonight to qualify in D-IV/R-14. Neither Montpelier (6-3) nor Delta (5-4) can climb over enough teams to make the grade in D-V/R-18.

TOLEDO AREA ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: A win tonight over Toledo Christian would secure a spot for Ottawa Hills (7-2) in Division VI/Region 22. But, if the Green Bears lose, they may need some help to get in.

After qualifying for the postseason for the first time in school history two years ago, Blissfield is making its third straight postseason appearance.

The Royals (9-0), who are led by senior quarterback Andrew Estes, host Madison Heights Bishop Foley (6-3) in a Division 6 game tomorrow at 1 p.m. Estes led Blissfield to it only its second undefeated season in school history by rushing for 533 yards while scoring 13 touchdowns. Senior running back Dustin Gardner has rushed for 969 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (8-1) looks to get over the hump after reaching the Division 6 state final only to go home empty-handed the last two seasons. The Falcons will continue to rely on running back Thomas Lieto as they host Lake Fenton (8-1) tonight at 7:30.

In Division 7, Whiteford (6-3) travels to Grass Lake (7-2) tonight at 7 p.m. George Flanner and Anthony LaRocca have led the Bobcats' running attack, each rushing for more than 600 yards.

After barely squeezing into the Division 1 playoffs, Monroe (5-4) travels to Canton to take on a 7-2 squad. Quarterback Audie Cole has thrown for a school-record 1,442 yards.

Adrian (8-1) enters the Division 2 postseason with a four-game winning streak. Quarterback Steve Threet has thrown for 1,354 yards and 14 touchdowns, while running back Markqone Russell has rushed for 1,051 yards and 13 touchdowns. But Adrian may be without the services of Russell, who was injured last Friday, when it hosts Southgate Anderson (7-2) tonight at 7:30.

- Mark Monroe



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