Intensity ramping up at playoff time

There will be a greater intensity surrounding this week’s high school football games in Ohio.

That’s expected, because it’s the first week of the playoffs, the five-week, single-elimination tournament that players and their fans hope will end in Canton, where this year’s championship games will be played.

The games follow a very simple formula — win and you play again. Lose and you’re done until August.

Steubenville Big Red and Catholic Central will open their post-season runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Big Red will start its trip toward a Division IV title when it hosts Salem, 7-3, in Harding Stadium, while Central will open Division VI play when it visits Chillicothe Southeastern, 10-0.

Big Red, which finished the regular season at 10-0 — the 21st time in school history it had a perfect record — will be making its 30th appearance in Ohio’s post-season tournament since it started in 1972.

The school has put up some pretty impressive numbers during that period.

Those 30 playoff appearances are fifth most in the state. Big Red is sixth in playoff games participated in, at 61, and its 61-24 record gives it a .718 post-season winning percentage, which is 11th best in the state. Steubenville claimed state titles in 1984, 2005 and 2006.

The Crusaders, meanwhile, are making their 12th playoff appearance, and first since 2013. They have a playoff record of 12-10 and won a state title in 1993.

Making the playoffs in Ohio is a difficult task. According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, 719 schools across the state played football during the 2017 season. Only 224 teams, or 31.2 percent, advanced to the playoffs. Entering this season, the OHSAA reported that 62 teams had never made the playoffs. Five of those teams made the playoffs for the first time this season, including Chillicothe Southeastern.

West Virginia teams, meanwhile, still have one week left in their regular season before the playoffs begin the weekend of Nov. 10, with Weir High and Weirton Madonna looking to advance into the post-season.

Big Red and Central have earned congratulations for advancing to this year’s playoffs, and we wish them good luck on their journeys toward a state title.

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