Four schools making first state semifinal appearance, while five schools now in double-digit final four trips
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio High School Athletic Association has announced the pairings and neutral sites for the football state semifinals November 23 and 24. The winners will advance to the state championship games at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton November 29, 30 and December 1.
During the first four rounds of the playoffs, all games will kick off at 7 PM. Division I, II, III and VI games are on Fridays. Division IV, V and VII games are on Saturdays.
OHSAA Football State Semifinal Pairings
Home team listed first. Pairings include AP state rank and record.
Division I – Games at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23
Powell Olentangy Liberty (9-4) vs. 9 Lakewood St. Edward (9-3) at Mansfield Arlin Stadium
8 Pickerington Central (11-2) vs. 1 Cin. Colerain (13-0) at Piqua Alexander Stadium
Division II – Games at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23
6 Cin. Winton Woods (12-1) vs. 3 Massillon Washington (13-0) at Gahanna Lincoln Wilbur C. Strait Field
1 Akron Archbishop Hoban (13-0) vs. 8 Avon (12-1) at Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium
Division III – Games at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23
1 Kettering Archbishop Alter (12-1) vs. Norwalk (10-3) at Wapakoneta Harmon Field
7 Cols. Eastmoor Acad. (12-1) vs. 4 Chagrin Falls Kenston (12-1) at New Philadelphia Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium
Division IV – Games at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
5 St. Marys Memorial (12-1) vs. 1 Cin. Wyoming (13-0) at Piqua Alexander Stadium
Girard (12-1) vs. Newark Licking Valley (10-3) at Dover Crater Stadium
Division V – Games at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
8 Liberty Center (12-1) vs. Orrville (11-2) at Sandusky Perkins Firelands Regional Medical Center Stadium
4 Johnstown-Monroe (12-1) vs. 3 Wheelersburg (12-1) at Jackson Holzer Field at Alumni Stadium
Division VI – Games at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23
Beverly Fort Frye (12-0) vs. 1 Kirtland (13-0) at Massillon Jackson Robert Fife Stadium
Attica Seneca East (12-1) vs. 3 Maria Stein Marion Local (12-1) at Lima Spartan Stadium
Division VII – Games at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
4 Fort Loramie (12-1) vs. 6 McComb (12-1) at Wapakoneta Harmon Field
Cuyahoga Heights (11-2) vs. Glouster Trimble (12-1) at Sparta Highland Fishburn Family Field at Covrett Stadium
More on Neutral Sites
Neutral sites are selected by the OHSAA. There are many factors that go into determining playoff sites, such as quality of field surface, seating capacity, quality of lighting, size of locker rooms and distance from field, press box size, parking, and a separate locker room for officials. After all those factors are taken into consideration, it must be confirmed that the site is available and willing to host a playoff game on the date needed. The OHSAA cannot mandate that a specific site be available and it is rare to have an available site exactly halfway between the two competing schools. Host sites keep revenue from concession stands and parking and they also receive a predetermined rental fee from the OHSAA, which covers game expenses.
Welcome to the State Semifinals
The 2018 OHSAA football playoffs have reached the state semifinals, as 28 schools have advanced to week 14. The OHSAA has selected neutral sites for these 14 games and the winners will advance to next weekend’s state championship games at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
State Championships Schedule
The state championship games stay in Canton this year at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. One division will be selected to play its state championship game on Thursday, Nov. 29 (7:30 p.m. kickoff). Then there will be three state championship games on Friday, Nov. 30, followed by three championship games on Saturday, Dec. 1. Game times on Friday and Saturday are 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. The divisional assignments will be announced after the state semifinal games.
Fans are encouraged to buy their playoff tickets in advance at the participating schools, which keep a percentage of the revenue. For state semifinal games, tickets are $9 presale and $10 at the gate. regional playoff games, tickets are $8 presale and $9 at the gate.
All-session ticket books for the state championship games are on sale. The top tier ticket option includes indoor access in the stadium club during and between games. A premium parking pass is also available for sale. Access to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is included with some ticket packages.
Noting the State Semifinalists
Four teams are making their first football state final four appearance this year, including Girard (Div. IV), Attica Seneca East (Div. VI), Beverly Ft. Frye (Div. VI) and Ft. Loramie (Div. VII). Of note, Seneca East had not won a playoff game prior to this season.
Four other teams are making a return trip to the final four for the first time in a long time: Norwalk (last appearance in 1974), Chagrin Falls Kenston (1995), Liberty Center (2000) and St. Marys Memorial (2004). Speaking of Norwalk, after winning a state title in 1974, the Truckers went 29 years before qualifying for the playoffs again (2013).
Five of this year’s semifinalists are in the double-digits for state semifinal appearances, including Lakewood St Edward (10th), Massillon Washington (12th), Kettering Archbishop Alter (11th), Orrville (10th, Maria Stein Marion Local (17th). Newark Catholic is the leader in that category with 25 final four appearances.
Semifinalists by Final State Rank
Of the 28 state semifinalists, 19 appeared in the final Associated Press state poll. Five of the seven teams that won poll championships are still playing, including Cin. Colerain (Div. I), Akron Archbishop Hoban (Div. II), Kettering Archbishop Alter (Div. III), Cin. Wyoming (Div. IV) and Kirtland (Div. VI). The final AP polls appear on page 8 of this packet. Last year, three teams ranked No. 1 in the final poll went on to win a state title – Trotwood-Madison (Div. III), Steubenville (Div. IV) and Maria Stein Marion Local (Div. VI).
The last unranked team to win a state title was Minster in Division VII in 2017.
Division II is the only division in which all four state semifinalists were ranked in the final AP poll. Meanwhile, there are two state semifinal matchups in which neither team was ranked in the final poll. They are:
Div. IV – Girard (12-1) vs. Newark Licking Valley (10-3)
Div. VII – Cuyahoga Hts. (11-2) vs. Glouster Trimble (12-1)
State semifinalists not ranked in the final AP poll include Powell Olentangy Liberty (Div. I), Norwalk (Div. III), Girard (Div. IV), Newark Licking Valley (Div. IV), Orrville (Div. V), Beverly Fort Frye (Div. VI), Attica Seneca East (Div. VI), Cuyahoga Hts. (Div. VII) and Glouster Trimble (Div. VII).
There are six undefeated teams still alive in the playoffs, but there is only one state semifinal game that features two undefeated teams facing each other. In Division VI, Beverly Fort Frye (12-0) takes on AP #1 Kirtland (13-0).
Division II Déjà Vu
The four Division II state semifinalists—Akron Archbishop Hoban, Avon, Massillon Washington and Cincinnati Winton Woods—are all repeat qualifiers from 2017. In last year’s state semifinals, Hoban defeated Avon 30-6, and Winton Woods defeated Massillon Washington 56-21. Hoban went on to defeat Winton Woods 42-14 in the Div. II state championship game in Canton.
Noting the Division VI Match-ups
The Division VI semifinal match-ups both feature newcomers vs. experience. Kirtland, which has been in the semifinals seven of the last eight years (and won three state titles) takes on Beverly Fort Frye, which is making its debut appearance and had won only three playoff games in school history prior to this season. In the other semifinal, Maria Stein Marion Local, which has been to the state semifinals 17 times and owns 10 state titles, faces Attica Seneca East, which had never won a playoff game prior to this season.
State Semifinalists by Seed
Only two of the 14 state semifinal games feature No. 1 seeds facing each other. They include:
Div. II – 1 Cin. Winton Woods (12-1) vs. 1 Massillon Washington (13-0)
Div. V – 1 Johnstown-Monroe (12-1) vs. 1 Wheelersburg (12-1) at
The following seeds have advanced to the state semifinals:
No. 1 seed – 12
No. 2 seed – 5
No. 3 seed – 3 (Avon, Marion Local, Trimble)
No. 4 seed – 3 (Olentangy Liberty, Norwalk, Eastmoor Acad.)
No. 5 seed – 2 (Girard, McComb)
No. 6 seed – 1 (Pickerington Central)
No. 7 seed – 2 (St. Edward, Licking Valley)
No. 8 seed – 0