ADAMS TOWNSHIP — It was a lot to ask of Springfield Shawnee to overcome the experience gap it faced Saturday night against Clinton-Massie in the Region 16 playoffs.
Since the Braves last played a postseason game, Clinton-Massie has played in 16 of them, including a state title game a year ago.
The Falcons’ current senior class competed in its 11th playoff game Saturday night.
Experience and talent were on the side of the Falcons as they dispatched Shawnee 46-0 at Frank Irelan Field.
“It makes a ton of difference,” CM coach Jeskee Zantene said. “These guys have played in a lot of playoff football. Shawnee was young. They didn’t have a lot of players.”
In addition to the difference in experience, the Braves (6-5) couldn’t match the physicality of the Falcons on either side of the ball.
The Falcons rushed for 381 yards on 46 carries. Meanwhile, Clinton-Massie’s defense pitched its fourth shutout in the last six games. Shawnee rushed for just 46 yards on 22 carries.
Clinton-Massie outgained Shawnee 432-77. In the last six games, Massie has allowed just nine points while scoring 256.
“That’s great for the kids,” Zantene said. “Our coaches, Coach (Scott) Rolf, Coach (Jordan) Phipps, they spend countless hours watching film and really devising a plan to shut the opposing team down. I’d have a hard time finding anyone that works harder than those two.”
Since Clinton-Massie began its 17-year playoff streak, the Falcons have dominated the regional level of the OHSAA football playoffs.
Including Saturday’s win over Shawnee, the Falcons are 27-12 in regional playoff football games since 2002.
This dominance has been even more pronounced since the Falcons first state title run. Since 2011, Clinton-Massie is 18-3 in regional round games.
Zantene credited the program put in place by head coach Dan McSurley.
“That’s a testament to Coach (Dan) McSurley, how he brings these kids along and how he wants us to coach,” Zantene said.
Clinton-Massie has hosted first-round playoff games in 16 of those 17 straight appearances. The Falcons are 14-3 in first round playoff games since 2002, 14-2 at home.
Saturday’s win was the 10th straight first-round playoff victory.
Zantene said much of the Falcon success can be tied to being healthy and playing their best once the playoffs roll around.
“Coach McSurley is always talking about peaking at the right time of the year,” Zantene said. “We were able to get some kids healthy. We got some key players out that were banged up that only played a half of football.”
Just four days before the midterm elections, the Senators have been voted out of the OHSAA playoffs.
A former South Central Ohio League foe awaits the Falcons in week 12. London went on the road to Taft and impeached the Senators 37-21.
Clinton-Massie and London have not played since the Red Raiders left in the SCOL at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Clinton-Massie defeated London in their last meeting in 2012, 62-13.
During the eight years in which the Falcons and Red Raiders were both SCOL members, Clinton-Massie won all eight meetings in football. The Falcons averaged 46.4 points per game in the eight meetings. London averaged just 10.9 points per game.
The winner between Clinton-Massie and London will play the winner of the other regional semifinal between Wyoming and Indian Hill. Wyoming defeated Springfield Northwestern 48-7 and Indian Hill dispatched Waverly 63-28 Saturday night.
Saturday night’s victory was the final game at Taft’s Stargel Stadium. The stadium is being demolished to make way for a new stadium for FC Cincinnati. The school will have a new stadium built as part of the deal with the now-Major League Soccer club.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton