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Published: Friday, 10/26/2007

Football playoffs get off to head start in Michigan

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> VIEW: <a href=" /assets/pdf/TO311501026.PDF" target="_blank "><b>Playoff picture</b></a> 
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<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> VIEW: <a href=" /assets/pdf/TO311511026.PDF" target="_blank "><b>Standings, statistics</b></a> 
<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> VIEW: <a href=" /assets/pdf/TO311501026.PDF" target="_blank "><b>Playoff picture</b></a> <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> VIEW: <a href=" /assets/pdf/TO311511026.PDF" target="_blank "><b>Standings, statistics</b></a>
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The postseason field is set in Michigan with several area schools hoping to make deep runs starting tonight.

Undefeated Blissfield (9-0), Monroe (8-1), Adrian (7-2) and Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (7-2) will host first round contests at 7 p.m.

Monroe St. Mary, a Division 6 school, has had the most postseason success. The Falcons have qualified for the playoffs for the fifth year in a row and 13th time overall. They finished second in 2005 and won the state title in 1991.

"We have tradition and that does help," Falcons coach Jack Giarmo said.

Monroe SMCC (7-2) hosts Clinton (7-2), which has won five in a row.

"We'll have our hands full," said Giarmo, who is in his 10th season. "They have a good quarterback and fullback."

The Falcons opened the season with five straight wins and are currently ranked ninth.

Sophomore fullback T.J. Lovell leads the run-oriented team in rushing with 678 yards on 65 carries (10.4 per carry).

"We run the straight T and it starts with the fullback," Giarmo said. "He runs well for us. But we spread it around a lot."

Senior Brandon Jukuri has 378 yards rushing followed by junior Mike Strimpel (348).

Senior linebacker Tayo Moss was named defensive player of the year in the Huron League. He led the team with 82 tackles and 10 sacks.

Blissfield (9-0) rolls into the playoffs as champions of the Lenawee County Athletic Association. The Royals, who are the No. 3 ranked team in D-6, host Hudson (6-3).

Blissfield is averaging 31 points and 300 yards of offense per game, while giving up 11.

The Royals utilize a bevy of running backs to move the ball led by senior Luke Shrader and junior Zach Waldvogel. Senior quarterback John Estes is the team's third leading rusher. The Royals top defensive players have been senior linebackers Dean Schnieder and Jon Martinez.

Blissfield defeated Hudson 21-0 on Sept. 14.

Monroe (8-1), ranked 10th in Division 1, also comes in hot. The Trojans tied for the title in the Michigan Mega Conference Red Division and have won seven in a row.

When Monroe welcomes Livonia Franklin (5-4) it will count on a pair of Johnsons. Quarterback Willie Johnson has thrown for 822 yards and 10 touchdowns, while running back Jessie Johnson leads the team in rushing with 638 yards.

Brandyn Harris, who leads the Trojans with 11 touchdowns, has 622 yards on the ground and has 15 catches for 353 yards.

In Division 3, Adrian (7-2) will count heavily on senior QB Brent Ohrman when the Maples host Fowlerville (8-1) tonight. Ohrman has tossed 13 TDs and has thrown for 1,361 yards. He is second on the team in rushing with 644 yards and nine touchdowns.

Also in Division 3, Tecumseh (6-3) travels to Chelsea (9-0). The Indians opened the season with three straight losses and had to win each of their last six games to qualify.

In Division 5, Dundee (6-3) must go to 7-2 Hillsdale. Running back Joe Lake has rushed for 1,341 yards and 13 TDs.

Also in Division 5, Onsted (8-1) welcomes Romulus Summit Academy (6-3). Morenci (6-3) travels to Reading (8-1) in D-7.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6354.



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