While there’s no argument Clinton-Massie and Steubenville are the best Division IV teams in Ohio this season, it’s also not likely to be considered a stretch when you say these are the two premier Div. IV programs in Ohio.
The Big Red will be making a third straight title game appearance and hope to earn a championship for the first time since 2006. Steubenville lost to Columbus Bishop Hartley the last two seasons in the Div. IV title game.
The Falcons won back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013 but have not been to the championship since 2013.
Steubenville has made the playoffs 17 consecutive years, one more than Clinton-Massie’s 16.
Steubenville is 40-3 in the last three seasons while Massie is 34-5.
The Big Red is powered by its offense. Jacob Bernard had rushed for 1,607 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. Bernard had 152 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-22 win over Shelby in last week’s state semifinal.
Quarterback Javon Davis has thrown for 1,785 yards and 21 TDs. He is completing 68 percent of his passes.
Davis is the son of Jose Davis, who led Bellaire High School to back-to-back state finals game in the 1990s. Nate Davis, Javon’s uncle, was an All-Ohio quarterback at Bellaire and a standout basketball player who went on to play at Ball State and in the NFL.
Clinton-Massie traveled to Steubenville in 2015 and lost 37-18. CM quarterback Corey Stulz, who did not play in that game but made the long trip, remembered halftime of that game.
“I remember going in at halftime and seeing guys crying, guys on the trainer’s bench … that was the most hectic halftime I’ve ever seen,” he said. “That game was terrible for us. I think it would feel really good to avenge that loss.”
BUCKING A TREND
Only one team remaining in the state playoffs across all seven divisions was seeded lower than Clinton-Massie. The Falcons were No. 4 seed in Region 16 while Tri-Valley was a No. 5 seed in Region 11. Minster also was a No. 4 seed.
With that note, only five No. 4 seeds have gone on to win state championships since the OHSAA went to eight state qualifiers per region in 1999.
THIS AND THAT
• The Big Red is one of six teams playing for a state title while also looking to finish an unbeaten season. The others are Trotwood-Madison, Marion Local, Pemberville Eastwood, Wheelersburg and Kirtland.
• Clinton-Massie has outscored its opponents 582 to 169 this season (41 to 12 average per game) while Steubenville has outpointed its foes 517 to 174 (37 to 12 average).
• Steubenville was ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press polling, earning 17 of the 23 first-place votes cast by statewide media. Clinton-Massie was 7th.
Only one team last year – Marion Local – was ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll and earned a state championship.
• Parking at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium will not be available to the general public, according to the OHSAA.
Fans are being directed to the Stark County Fairgrounds for parking. There is a $5 admission fee to the fairgrounds, located at 700 Wertz Ave. NW in Canton, but a free shuttle will take fans to the stadium.