Clinton-Massie will give John Glenn a new look Friday night when the two teams square off in an OHSAA Division IV state semifinal game at Hilliard Darby High School.
“They haven’t really played a running team in all 13 of their games,” Clinton-Massie head coach Dan McSurley said. “They haven’t played a team that takes a snap under center.”
The winner of Friday night’s game faces either Steubenville or Shelby on Dec. 2 in the Div. IV state championship game.
Clinton-Massie defeated Wyoming 28-7 in last week’s Region 16 championship game.
“We had a good game last week but I know we have some things to work out,” said lineman Sam Brothers. “We just have to come out and play. I think if we do that, we’ll be fine.”
John Glenn posted a 38-7 win over Philo in last week’s Region 15 championship contest. John Glenn head coach Matt Edwards is a former assistant coach at London High School.
“The thing that’s impressive about their program is that as times have changed, they haven’t,” said Edwards. “They’re still all about physical, old-school football and their kids buy into that philosophy with back-to-back state championships a few years ago.”
The Falcons have been to the playoffs 16 consecutive seasons and are 138-16 during that span.
“I’m not sure our kids know all about their tradition, but that’s probably a good thing,” said Edwards. “I came from coaching on that side of the state so I’m very familiar with Clinton-Massie.
“It’s pretty easy to see what they do. They want to run the football, probably 97-98 percent run and they’ll throw it maybe three, four times a game. They want to control the clock by gaining gain three and four yards at a time.”
McSurley isn’t trying to hide anything. He knows the way to win at this time of year is to keep the opposition offense off the field.
“It’ll be the same game plan (as Valley View and Wyoming),” said McSurley. “We’re just going to have to keep the ball, hog the ball and limit their opportunities. Maybe give them three possessions a half and hopefully we score enough points to win the game.”
Keeping the John Glenn offense on the sideline means quarterback Justin Heacock (Sr., 5-11, 150) can’t throw the ball. The Eastern District co-offensive player of the year, Heacock has thrown for 2,781 yards and 39 touchdowns in 13 games. He has just nine interceptions.
“Their quarterback is a coach’s kid, so you know he’s going to be a really, really intelligent player,” said McSurley.
Justin is the son of Jeff Heacock, former head coach at Muskingum University for 26 seasons. Jeff’s brother Jim is a former defensive coordinator at Ohio State and his brother Jon is offensive coordinator at Iowa State.
Shane Bonner (Sr., 5-11, 185) has rushed for 1,288 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Little Muskies while catching 45 passes for 523 yards and six touchdowns. Casey Smith (Sr., 6-2, 175) has 11 touchdown receptions and four John Glenn players have at least 32 catches.
“I feel like they are kind of similar to Coldwater,” said Massie defensive back Griffin Laake. “We’re going to have the same gameplan as we did against Coldwater.”
Blake Wilfong, a 6-4, 250-pound senior, is the top offensive lineman.
On defense, Nick Meinert (Sr., 5-11, 175) has 76 solo tackles to lead the way. Bonner has 13 tackles for loss while Ben Larson (Jr., 5-11, 175) is a takeaway machine with four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
“We’ve got to match their physicality and we’ve got to take advantage of what will probably be fewer possessions,” Edwards said. “They usually have long, time-consuming drives so when we do have it, we’ve got to get some points.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports