Rebels, Indians have playoff plans
Columbiana County has two representatives headed to the Ohio high school football playoffs and both teams will be on the road for Week 11.
The Crestview Rebels (7-3) earned the fifth-seed in Div. V, Region 17 and will travel to Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (10-0) for a 1:30 p.m. contest on Saturday.
Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference co-champs Southern Local (9-1) finished as the sixth-seed in the loaded Div. VI, Region 21 and will travel to Creston Norwayne (9-1) for a 7 p.m. contest on Friday.
While most teams in the state of Ohio will be playing night football playoff games, the Rebels will have the unique experience of going after it on Saturday afternoon. The village of Gates Mills is a bird sanctuary and does not allow for stadium lighting, so night games there are a no go.
The Rebels are no stranger to playing a game in the village of Gates Mills. In 2000, a Cusick-led Rebel team played an afternoon playoff game against Gates Mills Hawken and came up on the losing end.
“That was a lifetime ago,” Cusick said. “The kids on this team weren’t even born yet, but we as coaches did talk about it.”
Crestview last met the Lancers in the playoffs in 2013 and earned a 29-28 win in a second-round game at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
While this current version of Gilmour Academy is unbeaten, none of the team’s wins came against a team who finished with a winning record.
“They’re 10-0, that’s the way we look at it,” Cusick said. “They’re a good football team.”
The winner of the Gilmour-Crestview game will face the winner of top seed Orrville and eighth-seed Tuslaw in the next round.
“I think this is a wide open region,” Cusick said. “Everyone has a chance.”
Whereas Crestview sits in a ‘wide open’ region, the Southern Local Indians will have their hands full as they dive into one of the toughest regions in the state.
Norwayne, winners of the Wayne County Athletic League, comes in with the only blemish on its record being an opening loss to Mogadore, the top-seed in this region.
“This is a tough region with a lot of quality and we’re excited to be included with them,” Southern Local coach Rich Wright said.
Southern is fresh off winning its first league title since 1977 and has been buzzing all weekend.
“There has been a lot of excitement in the community,” Wright said. “This team wanted to win the league, we wanted to make the playoffs and we wanted to get a home game. We came up a little short on that last one, but the team is headed in the right direction.”
This is Southern’s second playoff appearance in school history, the first coming in 2010.
• Gilmour Academy’s Ice Arena is right next to the football stadium and there are several hockey events scheduled for Saturday afternoon. That could cut into available parking for the football game.
• Most members of Crestview’s football team should have experience playing an afternoon game. The Rebels played a Saturday afternoon game at Cleveland East Shaw last season, falling 21-0.
• Wright says he thinks some players who were around for Southern’s last league championship will show up at practice this week to talk to the team.
• Norwayne has been in the playoffs 11 times, winning the Div. IV state title in 2011.
•The Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference and Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference had one qualifier each. MVAC champ McDonald is at Rootstown in a Div. VI, Region 21 game on Friday.
• Mahoning County matchups in the playoffs include: Austintown Fitch at Euclid in Div. I, Boardman at Maple Heights in Div. II, Marlington at Canfield in Div. III, Girard at Youngstown East in Div. IV and Valley Christian at Ashland Mapleton in Div. VII.
• Defending Div. IV state champion Steubenville (9-1) will have a tougher time getting out of its region this season. Big Red opens with Akron Buchtel on Saturday, but could run into Perry, Hubbard or Youngstown East in future rounds.
• Buckeye 8 North Division champion Indian Creek will be at Hubbard on Saturday in a Div. IV, Region 13 game.