WILMINGTON – Clinton-Massie will face a familiar foe to kick off its 16th straight trip to the Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs, the Jonathan Alder Pioneers.
They met 11 times from 2002 to 2014, with the Falcons holding a 7-4 advantage.
“Our current seniors played JA back in 2014,” CM coach Dan McSurley said. “They’re coaching staff has remained the same, so they still do the same things now that they did then.”
Following a close loss to Goshen in Week 8, the Falcons (9-1) have defeated New Richmond and Wilmington by big scores.
“This team is playing well right now in all three phases,” McSurley said. “A goal we have coming in to every season is to be two-platoon and to be able to play our most explosive players on the coverage and return units. I think that’s an area where you can really exploit another team.”
The Pioneers won a 2002 playoff matchup in Plain City 21-7 and the first two meetings in a 10-game series that started in 2005.
Massie won seven of eight from 2007 to 2014; the lone loss came in 2011 when the Falcons blew a 28-0 halftime lead.
The series was hotly contested between 2005 and 2011, with the margin of victory being 5.3 points. This included three one-point games in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Massie won the final three games in the series by a combined score of 133-14.
Jonathan Alder is the only program to beat Massie twice at Frank Irelan Field during the Falcons’ 16-year playoff run.
CM has just seven home losses in that span. Besides the two to the Pioneers, there are two home playoff losses – Versailles in 2004 and Badin in 2008.
That 2008 overtime loss to Badin is the last time Massie exited the playoffs in the first round.
The Pioneers enter the 2017 playoffs 8-2, with a 28-14 loss at Bellville Clear Fork, the top seed in Division IV Region 14, and a 19-6 home loss to Bellefontaine, the top seed in Division III Region 11.
Usually a perennial state power, the Pioneers are looking to end a five-year run of playoff futility as they missed the playoffs from 2012 to 2014 and suffered first-round playoff defeats the past two seasons.
Clinton-Massie and Jonathan Alder have a common opponent in 2017 – Springfield Shawnee. Massie beat the Braves 30-7 in week 3. Jonathan Alder beat the Braves 35-21 in week 9.
The Falcons, entering the 2017 playoffs at 9-1, are seeded fourth in Division IV Region 16. That’s the lowest seed CM has earned since 2005 when it lost to Germantown Valley View in the regional semifinal. Ironically, Valley View, the top seed this year, was the top seed in 2005.
Lurking on the other side of the Region 16 bracket are Wyoming and former South Central Ohio League foe London in the 2-7 game and Cincinnati Taft and Indian Hill in the 3-6 game. Waverly is the eight-seed.
Massie beat both Taft and Indian Hill in the 2015 playoffs. The Falcons also knocked Taft out of the first round last year and in 2010, an overtime game. Massie knocked Wyoming out in the first round of the playoffs in 2005, 2006 and 2007, a double OT thriller.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mark Huber contributed to this story.