Week two of the OHSAA football playoffs gets underway Friday as a pair of Fulton County teams remain in the hunt for a state title. Swanton (10-1) advanced in Division V after defeating Apple Creek Waynedale 38-28 last week, while Delta moved on in Division VI with a 21-15 win over top seeded Bucyrus Wynford.
The Bulldogs are now paired up with the top seed in Region 16, Milan Edison, who comes in at 10-1 off a 49-28 victory over Galion in the first round. Similar to Swanton, it was also the Chargers first-ever playoff win. In addition, Edison won their first-ever Sandusky Bay Conference title this season.
“Edison is a senior dominated team with a veteran coaching staff,” said Swanton coach Mike Vicars. “We played Edison in the playoffs in 2009 when we were at Genoa and it is the same staff. The biggest challenges we face is, these kids from Edison are winners and battle-tested this year. They are a very fast well-coached team.”
In that previous meeting, the Vicars’ led Genoa team defeated Edison 62-7.
This Edison team is led by their leading rushers, all three of whom are seniors.
Halfback Owen Moyer is at the forefront with 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season, for an average of 9.46 yards per carry. Running back Dan Stoll has 715 yards and 10 TDs on the year and averages 7.01 yards per carry. Quarterback Keegan Hall has 609 yards and 12 TDs.
However, the Chargers are a bit turnover-prone, as Hall has tossed seven interceptions to only nine touchdowns, while the running backs have fumbled a combined 12 times. Hall has thrown for just under 1,000 yards, sitting at 994 yards on the season.
Edison’s leading receiver is Clay Goodwin, who has 15 receptions for 292 yards and a pair of TDs. Tyler Scott leads the way in receiving TDs with four on the year.
The Chargers utilize a variation of an option-based rushing attack that the Bulldog defense must be prepared for. Their speed poses problems as well.
Swanton no doubt made some mistakes in their 10-point win over Waynedale last week, most notably relinquishing a 24-7 halftime lead by allowing the Golden Bears to score 21 straight points. Some special teams miscues were key in the Golden Bear comeback.
“So many situations are possible in football, it is hard to always be sharp in all areas,” said Vicars of his team’s mistakes against Waynedale. “Our kids are anxious to get back to work on correcting these issues. I thought we had a very strong defensive effort this week. Unfortunately, those special teams errors put us in a hole.”
The coach also said that Waynedale deserves some of the credit for Swanton’s poor third quarter, and that, despite those issues, he liked the resiliency of his team and their ability to bounce back.
Nevertheless, a huge monkey was lifted off the Bulldogs’ backs with capturing the school’s first-ever playoff win in only their second trip to the big dance.
“Winning any playoff game is tough, but the first is always super tough,” stated Vicars. “One thing we want the guys to do is to enjoy themselves. We have some nice things planned for them this week. We have had a lot of community support, and that is helping us to make sure that happens. We know the guys will give us their best this week.”
Offensively for Swanton against Edison, the Bulldogs hope to dictate the game to the Charger defense. They also need to take care of the ball, according to Vicars.
“There aren’t many changes this time of year,” he said. “We must win the line of scrimmage and throw when we want to, not when we have to.”
The Bulldogs, with a win, would be the highest seed remaining in the region, putting themselves in prime position for a regional championship.
“The winner of this game knows one thing – that team will play for a regional championship and will be guaranteed a trophy for the trophy case. We’ve talked about what is at stake,” noted Vicars. “It will be cold and windy Friday night. We will have to be super mentally tough.
“We are thrilled to have a game 12.”
Swanton’s showdown with Edison is Friday at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Panthers focused, ready for Knights
Delta (7-4) is riding high after eliminating Wynford, but the Panthers must now turn their attention to Van Buren (8-3), the fifth seed in Region 20, who advanced after beating Gibsonburg 45-16 in the first round.
“This is a high level of football. You must bring your A game or you go home,” said Delta coach Jeff Wolford on the match-up with Van Buren. “If we play like we have been then we have a chance, but if we overlook these guys we are in trouble. They are big, fast, and very well coached. We must be disciplined and focused. It should be a very entertaining game.”
The Black Knight offense is led by senior workhorse running back Nick Devore, who has rushed for 1,191 yards and 15 TDs so far on the season. He also has a receiving TD.
Their quarterback is junior Riley Adolph, who has 1,432 yards passing, 20 TDs and only six interceptions.
Junior Brandon Bell paces the Van Buren pass catcher’s with 28 catches for 428 yards and five TDs. Senior tight end Marcus Brand (31 for 418) has seven TDs while junior receiver Braxton Fasone (21 for 300) also has five TDs.
On the defensive side for the Knights, Brand is third on the team in tackles with 89, including 26.5 for loss and 13.5 sacks. Khail Fasone leads the team in tackles with 109 total.
Braxton Fasone has a team high six interceptions.
“Van Buren is very talented and impressive on film. We must play the best game of the year to beat them,” said Wolford.
Delta, both offensively and defensively, will make it a priority to win the line of scrimmage in their match-up with the Knights.
“When we are playing well it is a total team effort,” stated Wolford. “The o-line and d-line are working, and the backs are playing hard.
“Our defense is special and plays great as a unit. When we are on we play really well, but it must be a toal team effort.”
While technically the Panthers’ win over Wynford was an upset, the Panthers are perhaps better than their eighth seed suggests, thanks to a competitive NWOAL slate.
“Our league is a tremendous asset,” said Wolford. “The teams and coaches we face each week present huge challenges and really prepare us for tough games. We have played five teams that were in the playoffs. Those contests have helped us and kept us level headed, knowing that you have to give 100 percent or we don’t do well.”
However, the Delta players and coaches aim to stay in the moment and focus solely on Van Buren this week. They do not intend on looking back.
“Every game is tough at this level, and if we overlook (anybody) or get too confident we will not do well,” explained Wolford. “We beat a great team last week but we must focus on our next opponent. They are a great team also, and want to win, just like us.”
Delta and Van Buren meet Saturday at Holland Springfield Community Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010