ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Special teams has proven, over the years, to be a big advantage for Clinton-Massie in most games.
The Falcons have utilized the third, many times forgotten, phase of the game in winning playoff games under Dan McSurley.
“We practice on it clear back to two-a-days,” said McSurley. “Special teams is our focus (on Tuesdays). But there is never really a day where we totally neglect special teams. We think that’s where we have an advantage.”
The Falcons blocked two punts last week against East Clinton, one of which was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
Generally, the main focus of special teams is the kicker. Chris Demler, a sophomore, has a strong leg and helps Clinton-Massie force opposing offense to cover a long distance.
“Demler has 10 games under him now,” said McSurley. “We try to use his leg to set our defense up to where they (opponent) hopefully has a long field.”
McSurley isn’t afraid to alter special teams lineups in the playoffs. During the regular season, some starters are rested on special teams. Once the calendar turns to Week 11, though, it’s the best 11 on the field at all times.
“We do tweak the special teams units but pretty much we’re the same,” said McSurley. “We want to go in and try to win that phase of the game.”
STREAKING: Clinton-Massie has won six consecutive home playoff openers. The last home playoff loss for the Falcons came in 2008 at the hands of Hamilton Badin, 33-27 in overtime. The Falcons were the No. 2 seed in the region while the Rams were the No. 7 seed.
During its streak of 14 seasons in a row of making the playoffs, Clinton-Massie has opened on the road just once, 2002 against Jonathan Alder. CM lost that game 21-7.
Clinton-Massie’s only other playoff-opening loss in the last 14 years came in 2004, a 41-6 defeat at the hands of Versailles.
DIVIDING LINE: Dating back to 2002, Clinton-Massie has had more trouble with schools situated north of its Lebanon Road location.
In fact, the Falcons have been put out of the tournament 11 times in the previous 13 years and nine came at the hands of a team geographically from the north.
The two exceptions are Hamilton Badin (2008) and Blanchester (2006).
Those northern schools have been Kettering Alter (twice), Kenton (twice), Coldwater (once), Versailles (twice) and Valley View (twice).
Region 14 playoff teams this year located north of Clinton-Massie are Alter and Bishop Fenwick.
THIS ’N THAT
• Only four schools have a current longer playoff appearance streak than Clinton-Massie’s 14 straight years — Steubenville 15, Kettering Alter 15, Mogadore 17 and Coldwater 19. Cleveland St. Ignatius made the playoffs 22 straight years from 1988 to 2009, which is the longest streak in state history.
• The OHSAA created the playoffs in 1972. The Associated Press started its state polls in 1947. Before that, media was the primary group that declared a state football champion. And it wasn’t all together as many organizations simply declared the best team in their respective area to be state champion. Research of mythical state champions dating back to 1895 can be found on the Internet at http://www.ohsaa.org/sports/ft/boys/OhioHighSchool-StateChampions1895-1946.pdf.
• Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit made the 2001 Div. II Region 5 playoffs with a 3-6 record, the fewest number of wins by a playoff team since 2000, according to the OHSAA. All nine of Walsh Jesuit’s regular season opponents made the playoffs that year. Walsh Jesuit defeated 8-2 Mayfield, 9-1 Strongsville and 7-3 Akron St. Vincent St. Mary. The Warriors lost to 9-1 Youngstown Chaney in the playoffs. Six of the regular season losses were by a combined 30 points with the only “blowout” a 42-25 loss to Lakewood St. Edward.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.