McComb’s only other state semifinal appearance occurred 29 seasons ago.
The Panthers went on to claim a state championship that season by defeating Middletown Bishop Fenwick 7-0 in a state semifinal before knocking off Newark Catholic 6-0 in the Division V championship game. Coach Bill Banning had led the Panthers to their first state championship.
No. 2-ranked McComb (13-0) and coach Kris Alge are attempting to duplicate history when the Panthers take on defending state champion Marion Local (11-2) in a Division VI state semifinal at Wapakoneta Harmon Field.
“These kids are fighters and they’ve been fighting all year because they’ve had a goal of playing 720 minutes," McComb coach Kris Alge said.
That number of minutes equates to a 15-game season, which would mean advancing to a state championship game.
The Panthers won a regional final with a 28-21 come-from-behind victory over Delphos St. John’s, which owns the all-time best playoff winning percentage (.845). St. John’s boasts an all-time playoff record of 49-9, which includes six state championships.
In Marion Local, the Panthers will not only meet the defending state champions, but a team that ranks second in all-time playoff winning percentage (.836) and is 46-9 all-time in the playoffs with five state championships.
The Blanchard Valley Conference champions are facing their second straight Midwest Athletic Conference opponent.
McComb quarterback Dalton Buck, who threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cody Wilson against Delphos St. John’s, is expecting another tough test from the Midwest Athletic Conference.
“The MAC is a strong conference — one of the strongest in Ohio — and we know coming into the games they’re going to be dogfights,” Buck said. “We just have to keep playing with our hearts and giving all the glory to God and he’ll help us through it.”
No. 7 Marion Local is led by quarterback Adam Bertke, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound junior, who has passed for 1,872 yards on 140 of 229 pass attempts, including 12 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for just less than 900 yards, including 15 TDs.
Marion Local halfback Jacy Goettemoeller has rushed for more than 1,400 yards, including 24 TDs.
The Panthers are led by BVC offensive player of the year Jerry Brown, who has rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 25 TDs, including a pair in the victory over Delphos St. John’s. Cody Wilson has rushed for more than 800 yards. Buck has passed for more than 2,100 yards, including 23 TDs.
The winner will face the winner of the state semifinal matchup between No. 9 Newark Catholic (11-2) and No. 1-ranked Mogadore (13-0) on Nov. 30 for the state title.
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.