There are a few similarities between the football teams at Clinton-Massie and Kettering Alter.
Both teams like to run the football on offense. The Falcons and Knights are both among the state leaders in consecutive playoff appearances.
There are more but there are a couple obvious differences between the two teams.
The most glaring of which might be the number of seniors on the respective rosters — Clinton-Massie has 11 and Alter has 33.
“Fenwick had 28 last year, so we knew we were going to have our hands full,” CM head coach Dan McSurley said. “We have 11 (seniors) and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They’re all good.”
The Knights, a perfect 11-0 this season, will face the Falcons, 10-1, in a Region 16 semifinal game 7:30 p.m. Friday at Centerville High School.
For Alter, this marks the 16th consecutive season in the playoffs, dating back to 2001. Clinton-Massie’s streak of 15 straight playoff seasons started one year later in 2002. The best current streak statewide is 20 straight appearances by Coldwater.
Clinton-Massie and Alter have never met in the second round of the playoffs. The last meeting was in the 2014 regional final, when the Knights defeated the Falcons 35-7 at Monroe High School.
“That was a whole different Alter team,” said CM senior Trey Uetrecht, who started at tight end in that game. “This is a very sound, very good Alter team but it’s not the same Alter team as the 2014 team.”
In 2013, the Falcons were victorious over Alter in the regional final 21-14 at Welcome Stadium.
In 2009, the two teams met at Centerville High School. The Falcons went on top 7-0 when Jordy Scanlon broke off a long touchdown run on the first possession of the game.
“Then they went on to dominate us,” McSurley said of the Knights’ 32-7 win.
In each case, the winner of the game would advance to the state championship. Alter fell short in 2014 to Benedictine, while Clinton-Massie defeated Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in 2013. The Knights won the state title in 2009 over Chagrin Falls.
When looking at the two offenses this season, Alter ran the ball 405 times in the regular season while passing it 47 times or a run-pass ratio of 8.6:1. Clinton-Massie had 479 rushes and 28 passing attempts, or a run-pass ratio of 17.1:1.
While the Knights have two quarterbacks with similar numbers, the running attack is much more diverse. Ryan Markoff and Connor Bazelek have combined to complete 25 of 47 pass attempts for 638 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season.
The top rusher is Holden Rushing, but he has just 70 attempts. Rushing has 836 yards and 14 touchdowns. Seven other players have at least 20 runs but none have more than 64 attempts. The top three rushers average at least 10.6 yards per attempt. As a team, the Knights have 3,528 regular season yards and 54 touchdowns.
“They are more like us than they ever have been,” McSurley said. “We know exactly what the plays are that they run because we run similar plays. We know what stops their (wish)bone. They know what stops our (wish)bone. We have to be ready for the shotgun. They have a great kicker. We have a great kicker.”
The Falcons had three runners who 70 or more attempts in the regular season — Devon O’Bryon with 70, Christian Poynter with 115 and Jaycob Wolf with 149. As a team, the Falcons ran the ball 479 times for 3,046 yards and 45 touchdowns in 10 games.
Said Cole O’Bryon, CM senior who played on special teams in the 2014 matchup with Alter, “They’re pretty big. They’re fast. It’ll be a good game.”
David Rueth, a 6-1, 205-pound senior linebacker, leads the defense for the Knights. He also is the goalkeeper on Alter’s statebound boys soccer team.
McSurley believes the outcome could hinge on miscues.
“This is one of those contests where it’ll come down to penalties and who makes the fewest mistakes … and field position. A lot of it is going to be (about) field position. It’s a challenge. Anything can happen. It’s football and that’s why you play the game.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports
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