Fox Sports Ohio, SportsTime Ohio and FoxSportsOhio.com are your homes for the 42nd annual OHSAA state football championship games from Stark County. Seven championships will be decided this weekend in Canton and Massillon, including five of 2012’s champions seeking a repeat performance.
*All games broadcast on SportsTime Ohio and will be available in SW Ohio on Time Warner Cable channel 99.
Who: Kirtland (14-0) vs. Haviland Wayne Trace (13-1)
Where: Canton Fawcett Stadium
When: Friday, 11 a.m.
AP Rankings: Kirtland No. 1; Wayne Trace No. 10
Key players: Kirtland – RB/DB Sam Kukura, TE/DB Ryan Loncar, QB Sam Skiljan, OL/DL Mike Cymbal, OL/DL Dylan Diemer; Wayne Trace – QB Colby Speice, RB/LB Jared Sherry, WR/DB Corbin Showalter, OL/DL Devin Wenzlick, OL/DL T.J. Blackmore.
Key stat: Kirtland has scored 50 or more points nine times and gone over 60 six times; Wayne Trace has scored 217 points in the playoffs, most among any team still playing this weekend.
What to watch: Kirtland has won 43 of its last 44 games, the only loss coming to by one point to Coldwater in last year’s Div. V state title game. Wayne Trace had only one playoff win in school history before this season but has dominated opponents en route to the final with a high-flying offense and a defense that’s given up just 59 points in four postseason games. Kirtland’s defense has been even better, allowing just 35 points as the Hornets have played a punishing, straight-ahead brand of football. It’s a clash of styles as Kirtland wants to run on nearly every down and Wayne Trace loves to throw; Speice has thrown 62 touchdown passes. The nasty weather forecast could give the edge to Kirtland, which already holds the experience edge. Loncar will break the state record with his 58th consecutive starts.
Who: Youngstown Mooney (10-4) vs. Clarksville Clinton-Massie (13-1)
Where: Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
When: Friday, 3 p.m.
AP Rankings: Mooney unranked; Clinton-Massie No. 5
Key players: Mooney – OL Nick Bilas, LB Jordan Jones, RB/DB Mark Handel, RB C.J. Amill, QB Jon Saadey, WR Tim Durkin; Clinton-Massie – RB/LB Bayle Wolf, RB Chayse Wolf, QB Hunter Fentress, LB Dustin Seitz, LB Kelson Gauden, OL/DL A.J. Avery, DB Zach Santoro.
Key stat: Handel has rushed for 1,213 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Amill has 1,210 yards and 11 touchdowns for Mooney; Bayle Wolf has 1,784 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns for Clinton-Massie, while younger brother Chayse has 1,359 yards and 20 touchdowns.
What to watch: Both teams have shown an ability to stay focused and play from behind when necessary and this figures to be a tight contest. Mooney came back from a 14-0 hole against Cleveland Benedictine in the regional finals to win 28-21. The running games for both teams are their bread-and-butter but quarterbacks Jon Saadey of Mooney and Hunter Fentress of Clinton-Massie are capable of throwing beyond out of necessity. Bayle Wolf equaled a state finals record last season with five touchdowns in Clinton-Massie’s 46-36 win against St. Clairsville. The Falcons aren’t scoring at the pace they did a season ago when they set a state record with 822 points but they’ve still topped 50 points five times. They’ve also been able to grind out wins, as they have the last two weeks against Kettering Alter (21-14) and Kenton (21-20). Mooney hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in its last 10 games.
Who: Cleveland Glenville (13-1) vs. Loveland (14-0)
Where: Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
AP Rankings: Glenville No. 5; Loveland No. 2
Key players: Glenville – WR/DB Marshon Lattimore, OT/DY Marcelys Jones, DB Erick Smith, QB Quan Robinson, RB Davon Anderson; Loveland – RB Gunner Gambill, LB Brian Popp, OL Andrew Alten, DL Charlie Lawler, RB Luke Waddell.
Key stat: The Tarblooders have game-breaking speed across the board and make highlight plays in the passing game, but the defense has given up 32 total points in four playoff games; Loveland makes its strength and intention no secret; it has two 1,000-yard rushers and another player who comes in with 921 yards.
What to watch: Both have playmakers and momentum; Glenville has won 13 straight and Loveland stayed unbeaten by ralling to beat Zanesville in the fourth double-overtime state semifinal game in OHSAA playoff history. Glenville rolled past Medina Highland, 41-13, last week behind four Lattimore touchdowns. This week, Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. called Lattimore one of the top five talents he’s ever been around — and that’s high praise. Loveland has 12 defensive or special teams touchdowns on the season, and the Tigers will have to be opportunistic to make up for Glenville’s speed advantage. Loveland will stick with the run game, try to control the clock and hope to hit Anderson before he can throw the deep ball. Glenville held Highland to 71 rushing yards last week, and Loveland can’t get its run game going it could be a long night. If the Tigers have success on the ground early, this one could go to the wire.