OHSAA Football championships preview

The OHSAA Football Championships kick off on Thursday night with another great slate of seven games across three days in Canton, Ohio. Here’s a quick viewer’s guide with predictions for all seven games this weekend. will have full coverage throughout the weekend.

Division II – Thursday, 7 p.m. No. 2 Akron Archbishop Hoban (14-1) vs. No. 5 Toledo Central Catholic (14-1)

The Division II championship once again pits two of the state’s premier programs against each other. Hoban is back in Stark County once again, looking for its sixth state championship since 2015. The Knights have cruised through the state playoffs, winning all playoff games by at least three touchdowns, including a 21-point drubbing of rival Massillon Washington last week.

Toledo Central Catholic has been tested the past two weeks, but have pulled out close wins over Avon and Kings respectively. Ironically, both teams’ only loss this season is to Lakewood St. Edward who plays in the Division I game on Friday night.

This is one of the great matchups this weekend on paper and should be an extremely close and exciting contest. Hoban running back Lamar Sperling has over 3,000 yards and 55 touchdowns this season and I think he will be the difference in what I suspect could be the best game of the weekend.

Prediction: Hoban 35-28

Division V – Friday, 10:30 a.m. No. 1 Ironton (15-0) vs. No. 2 Canfield South Range (15-0)

A matchup of two undefeated programs will kickoff Friday’s action. This is another tremendous matchup on paper as both teams played challenging small school schedules and were mostly dominant in their 15 games.

Ironton has been so close over the years, losing to Kirtland in the state championship game in both 2019 and 2020. This might be their best chance yet during this impressive recent run with standout seniors, Cincinnati linebacker commit Trevor Carter and Wisconsin running back pledge Jaquez Keyes, leading an impressive ground attack.

Prediction: Ironton 21-20

Division III – Friday, 3 p.m. No. 3 Canfield (13-1) vs. Carroll Bloom-Carroll (14-1)

Canfield’s road to Canton was an impressive one with ones over a pair of programs who found themselves in Stark County a year ago in Youngstown Ursuline and Chardon.

After a season-opening loss to Harvest Prep, Bloom-Carroll has ripped off 14 straight wins and this is a program that has seen its share of deep playoff runs recently.

Ultimately it’s hard to go against Canfield in this one given the impressive road the Cardinals took to get here.

Prediction: Canfield 28 Bloom-Carroll 20

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Division I – Friday, 7:30 p.m. No. 1 Lakewood St. Edward (14-1) vs. No. 4 Springfield (13-1)

We’re getting a rematch in Division I between these two great programs. St. Ed’s got the best of Springfield a year ago and took advantage of some offensive miscues by the Wildcats.

The contrast of styles between these two teams is evident and part of what makes this such an intriguing matchup. St. Ed’s would like to ground and pound behind the state’s top offensive line which features a trio of top flight junior prospects in Ben Roebuck and the Armstrong twins, Devontae and Deontae.

Springfield would prefer a track meet with their outstanding skill on the outside led by senior receivers Daylen Bradley, Anthony Brown and Shawn Thigpen. Brown has hauled in 75 receptions for 1,543 yards and 20 touchdowns, while Bradley has been one of the state’s breakout stars with a line of 90 catches, 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer has thrown for more than 4,400 yards and 47 touchdowns.

Defensively, Springfield boasts one of the state’s top juniors in lockdown corner Aaron Scott, a priority Ohio State target.

This game is a coin flip to me, they have a common opponent in Moeller with both teams winning a close one. Can the Springfield O-Line hold up against Northwestern defensive end commit Michael Kilbane and a stout St. Ed’s front and can the Wildcats avoid the drops and miscues that plagued them last season?

Prediction: Springfield 24 St. Ed’s 21

Division VI – Saturday, 10:30 a.m. No. 1 Maria Stein Marion Local (15-0) vs. No. 2 Kirtland (15-0)

The two best programs in Ohio? You could certainly make that argument, and I’ve made the argument that Marion Local is Ohio’s best high school football program. What the Flyers have done over the years is truly amazing and they are looking for their 13th state championship on Saturday, all since 2000.

Both of these teams have 10 state championship appearances since 2011 and Kirtland will be looking for its seventh title on Saturday.

This is a dream matchup for small school football as these two teams have been as dominant as any programs in Ohio over the past dozen years. This will be the fourth meeting between these two programs with Kirtland winning two of them, including most recently a 16-7 win in the 2018 Division V championship game.

The best part about this monster matchup? We seem to be getting elite versions of both programs. Marion Local has 11 (E-LEVEN!) shutouts this season, has given up just three points in the playoffs and hasn’t yielded a touchdown since September 23rd.

Kirtland has six shutouts on the season, has won every playoff game by at least 30 points, and hasn’t given up more than six points in a game since the eight they allowed to Lakeside on October 7th.

What a slugfest we’re about to watch.

Prediction: Marion Local 15 Kirtland 13

Division VII – Saturday, 3 p.m. No. 7 New Bremen (12-3) vs. No. 1 Warren John F. Kennedy (13-1)

New Bremen brings that MAC conference pedigree that we always seem to see in this game. Don’t let the three losses fool you, the Cardinals put up 16-points on the above Marion Local defense, something no other team accomplished this season and also lost a close one to perennial power Coldwater.

JFK’s loss came to D6 power Mogadore so both of these teams come in well tested and have been challenged in their playoff runs as well.

I just can’t go against the MAC conference in these types of matchups.

Prediction: New Bremen 23 Warren JFK 16

Division IV – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. No. 2 Cincinnati Wyoming (15-0) vs. No. 1 Cleveland Glenville (14-0)

This isn’t always the case, but what a way to wrap things up this weekend. Two tremendous programs from opposite corners of the state with coaching legend Ted Ginn Sr. in a position to finally grab that elusive state title.

The Tarblooders are loaded again with a trio of Ohio State targets in 2023 linebacker commit Arvell Reese, 2024 defensive back offer Bryce West, and 2024 athlete offer Damarion Witten.

Both teams have mostly rolled through their schedules, with Glenville having some competitive games early against D1 program Olentangy Liberty and D2 power Avon.

Wyoming has 10 shutouts on the season and boasts one of the state’s top defenses.

Prediction: Glenville 28 Wyoming 21

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