Clinton-Massie head coach Dan McSurley feels better about his Falcons this year going into the post-season than last season.
Oh, Massie was 6-0 at the end of the Covid-19 shortened regular season in 2020 and won three playoffs games by a combined 150 to 64 point total.
But those Falcons weren’t at full strength and simply couldn’t stand up to Wyoming, a robust squad that walked away with a 28-9 win to end the Clinton-Massie season.
“We kinda limped in (to the playoffs last year) without several key players,” McSurley said. “This year is a different scenario. It’s really important to manage personnel and get guys out when games become lopsided. I think the biggest challenge for a smaller school is remaining healthy when going into the playoffs.”
Clinton-Massie will host Dayton Northridge Friday in the opening round of the Division IV Region 16 playoffs. Kickoff at Frank Irelan Field is set for 7 p.m.
“Northridge has had a really strong season and has some extremely explosive players,” McSurley said.
A member of the Three Rivers Conference, the Polar Bears were 7-3, losing to Oakwood (20-16), Carlisle (14-6) and Milton-Union (48-6). Clinton-Massie’s lone loss came to Cincinnati Anderson, 29-22, in the first week of the season.
Northridge is primarily a running team, with a 335 to 93 run to pass ratio on offense. Kavonte Turpin, a 5-9, 155 senior running back, led the way with 1,624 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. He averaged 10.3 yards per carry. Jeremy Henry, a 6-1, 190 bruiser, rushed for 723 yards and 11 touchdowns.
In all, Northridge ran for 2,879 yards and 35 touchdowns this season while averaging 8.6 yards per attempt.
Riley Holmes was 60-92 passing for 907 yards and six touchdowns. He had eight interceptions. Jayden Kelly caught 21 passes for 450 yards and three scores.
Henry was the defensive leader with 160 total tackles, eight and a half sacks and five interceptions. Tarus Hill also had five picks.
Clinton-Massie rushed for 3,005 yards and 51 touchdowns on 362 attempts. Carson Vanhoose led the way with a 114-1148-17 rushing line.
Ten different Falcons scored on rushing attempts this season with 13 players total scoring touchdowns.
“We’re not a big stat focused team like a lot of schools,” said McSurley said. “The only stat that matters is the win stat. The number of players that have scored and have carried the ball reflect our team philosophy.”
• Northridge did not play a team in a higher division than Div. IV this season. The Poar Bears played two Div. IV teams, two Div. V teams, three Div. VI teams and three Div. VII teams. The Falcons, by contrast, did not play a team in a lower division than Div. IV — two Div. IV teams, six Div. III teams and two Div. II teams.
• The Polar Bears faced five playoffs teams (Oakwood, Carlisle, Riverside, Troy Christian and Milton-Union) during the regular season. Clinton-Massie played four (Anderson, DeSales, Harrison and Western Brown) with three of them being teams out of the SBAAC.
“I think our non-conference opponents have prepared us for this tournament,” said McSurley.
• Northridge is a former member of the Southwestern Buckeye League, but had little football success there. Prior to joining the Three Rivers Conference this season, the Polar Bears were 22-57 in the previous eight years in the SWBL. They were 0-9 in 2020.
• Clinton-Massie gave up 129 points in 10 games during the regular season. By comparison, Falcons’ opponents scored 251 points in 10 games last season. Granted, there were four playoff games in 2020 but the 25.1 per game average is unusual. Consider, the three years prior to that the Falcons gave up 13.7, 10.2 and 13.3 points per game.
“The difference from last year’s defense to this year is experience and depth,” said McSurley.
• The Region 16 bracket has either Waverly or Valley View awaiting the winner of Massie-Northridge. In the upper portion of the Massie side is Taylor, Graham, Waynesville and unbeaten Wyoming.
The other two quarter brackets have Eaton, Oakwood, Milton-Union, Indian Hill, McNicholas, Washington Senior, Bethel-Tate and Cincinnati Shroder.
Make no mistake, McSurley knows enough about the post-season to know it doesn’t do any good to look ahead.
”It’s important to take each week as they come and remain consistent in our preparation,” he said.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports