All four Division IV Region 16 teams — Blanchester, Clinton-Massie, Cincinnati Taft and Valley View — have shown the ability to score points, keep their opponents off the scoreboard and play strong special teams.
“Valley View has a nicely-balanced team,” CM coach Dan McSurley said. “They’re pretty fundamental in all phases.”
Clinton-Massie will host Valley View 7 p.m. Saturday at Frank Irelan Field while Blanchester travels to Stargel Stadium to face Taft 7 p.m. Saturday.
BHS coach Jon Mulvihill said Taft is athletic, big, aggressive and fast.
“Taft is a very good football team,” he said. “They have quick-strike ability.”
Quarterback’s Cade Cradlebaugh (Valley View) and Robert Brazziel (Taft) are the clear leaders of their teams offensively.
Cradlebaugh passed for 18 touchdowns and was the leading rusher for the Spartans. He passed for 350 yards and six touchdowns in a 42-20 win over Monroe.
Brazziel has 21 touchdown passes and a team-best five rushing touchdowns for the Senators. Gianni Rudolph is the leading receiver with 32 catches for 832 yards (26 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns. Brazziel had five games of at least three TD passes in the regular season.
• Among Division IV regions, Region 16 has had the most past tournament success. The eight qualifiers have nine total state titles. Valley View has three while Massie, Wyoming and Kenton have two each. Four Region 16 teams have at least 24 wins while among the other 24 Div. IV teams only Licking Valley’s 30 wins is higher.
• Among Division V regions, Region 20 has the least past tournament success. While Blanchester last appeared in the post-season in 2016, the seven other Region 20 teams were in the 2018 tournament. The last state championship won by a current Region 20 team was West Jefferson’s 1982 title.
Blanchester’s last playoff berth came against Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. BHS was defeated by CHCA 42-0.
• Clinton-Massie and Valley View have the coaching connection of Jay Niswonger, who led Valley View to state championships in 1994, 1996 and 1997.
Niswonger, a Wilmington College graduate and former head football coach at WC, began his hall of fame run at Valley View in 1984. He was head coach at Clinton-Massie in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He compiled a 10-19-1 record on Lebanon Road. In Germantown, Niswonger led the Spartans to a 243-78-1 record in 28 seasons.
In 1981, Niswonger’s Falcons were 5-4-1, the best win percentage at Clinton-Massie since 1973 when Tony Lamke led CM to a 6-4 record and the best win percentage until Jeff Kloppenburg’s Falcons were 9-0 in 1993.
A four-year starter and two-year captain for the Quakers football team, Niswonger was inducted into the WC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
• Clinton-Massie defeated Valley View 28-20 in the 2017 regional semifinal round. The Spartans were the No. 1 seed in the region.
• Taft has lost five straight playoff game in the Division IV bracket. The Senators lost 37-21 to London last season, 47-22 to Indian Hill in 2017, 26-12 to Clinton-Massie in 2016, 70-14 to Clinton-Massie in 2015 and 21-20 in overtime to Clinton-Massie in 2010.
• Clinton-Massie has made the playoffs 18 consecutive seasons, meaning many of the players on the current Falcons roster were not yet born when Massie missed the playoffs in 2001.
The streak is the fifth longest active streak and tied for sixth all-time. Coldwater has made a state-record 23 straight playoff appearances, dating back to 1997.
• From the OHSAA, five schools are in the playoffs for the first time in their school’s history, including Xenia (Div. II), Delaware Olentangy Berlin (Div. II, opened in 2018), Columbus Centennial (Div. III), Worthington Christian (Div. VI) and Cincinnati College Prep Academy (Div. VII).
• For the first time since 2001, an undefeated record wasn’t enough to qualify for the playoffs. It happened to both Northwood (Div. V, Region 18) and Gibsonburg (Div. VI, Region 23), which both went 10-0. Previously, Newcomerstown in 2001 was the last school that went undefeated but didn’t make the playoffs.
• At the other, six 5-5 teams made the post-season with one, Warren John F. Kennedy, set to host a regional quarterfinal game.
• Several schools are back in the playoffs after a long hiatus. Leading the pack is Cleveland Heights Lutheran East (Div. V) and Reedsville Eastern (Div. VII), which both qualified for the first time since 2001.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports