Clinton-Massie faces another uphill battle this week in the form of No. 3 seed McNicholas.
The Falcons, the No. 4 seed in the region, will play the Rockets 7 p.m. Friday at Princeton Jake Sweeney Automotive Stadium in the Region 16 championship game.
McNicholas is the second straight higher seed to face Clinton-Massie in this season’s playoffs. Massie edged No. 1 seed Wyoming 42-14 in last week’s semifinal contest at Little Miami.
The Rockets, seeded lower than the Cowboys, may have a more impressive slate of wins. McNicholas defeated Kentucky power Highlands 27-21; a stout Div. V Roger Bacon squad, 31-6; Div. III Alter, 20-7 and Div. IV powers Bethel-Tate 49-13 and Eaton 33-14. The wins over Bethel-Tate and Eaton came in the last two weeks, so the Rockets are on a roll.
The only loss for 11-1 McNicholas is to Div. III state title contender Badin in the regular season finale, 48-21.
“They are a highly-skilled team,” CM head coach Dan McSurley said of McNicholas. “They pass the ball more (than Wyoming). It’s mid-November, so if you’re going to throw the ball you better be daggone good at it.”
Pierce Taylor, the MHS quarterback, was good enough in the air last week to pummel Eaton. In addition, Taylor had 149 yards and 3 touchdowns on 11 rushing attempts.
“We have to keep that quarterback contained,” said CM defensive end Nate Wildemuth.
Braden Rolf, another CM defender, knows Taylor is a tough one. The two were state wrestling qualifiers in 2021 and Taylor finished third at 138 pounds in Division III.
Ty Snyder had 125 yards and a score on the ground against Eaton.
Taylor, a diminutive sort at 5-9, 140 pounds, is the engine that makes McNick go. He has 1,526 yards and 19 touchdowns passing and 808 and 10 touchdowns rushing.
Snyder, a bruiser built for cold weather at 5-9, 230, has really come on as of late. He is averaging more than 100 yards and almost two touchdowns per game in the last five contests. Prior to that, he averaged around 70 yards and just over one TD per contest.
The Rockets appear to have the best defense the Falcons will face to this point in the season. They held high-powered Eaton to 159 yards total offense last week. McNicholas is allowing just 16 points a game this season.
Jack Suttles, Will Reusss and Hunter Molnar led the defensive effort last week for McNicholas.
Clinton-Massie, also 11-1, has won 11 straight since opening the season with a 29-22 defeat at the hands of Div. II Anderson.
Massie has good wins over St. France DeSales 17-7, Western Brown 42-35, Northridge 55-13, Waverly 49-28 and Wyoming.
The Falcons offense is averaging 409 yards per game so it will be tested by McNicholas, who is surrendering a paltry 239 yards per contest. Massie will be prepared, McSurley vowed.
“We have been preparing consistently the same way each week and not looking toward any opponent in the future,” McSurley.