By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Elder, which played its most complete game of the season in last Friday’s first round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament, will attempt to put forth a similar effort when it meets Lakota East for the first time in school history in the Division I, Region 4 semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Mason High School’s Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium.
The No. 3 seed Panthers defeated Greater Catholic League South Division regular-season champion and No. 6 Moeller, 35-0, at The Pit in Price Hill to advance, while No. 7 Lakota East went on the road to knock off No. 2 Mason, 20-17, to move to the second round.
No. 1 seed Colerain (11-0), which beat GCL South member St. Xavier, 35-9, in the opening round, meets No. 4 Milford (9-2) at 7 Friday night at St. Xavier Stadium’s Ballaban Field. Milford recorded its first playoff victory in school history last Friday at home, rallying from a 35-7 deficit in the final 11:20 to record a 39-35 win against Fairfield.
The playoff win was the third straight for Elder (7-4), which had lost to Moeller, 24-21, at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium on October 5 in a game that clinched the league title outright for the Crusaders. Las Friday, though, Elder senior quarterback Michael Bittner accounted for 230 yards total offense and two touchdowns, while the Elder defense held Moeller to just seven first downs and 158 total yards and recorded its first shutout since blanking Gahanna Lincoln, 31-0, in the season opener August 24 at home. Bittner’s performance came five days after league coaches voted him GCL South Player of the Year.
East (8-3), which beat Sycamore, 42-21, in the regular-season finale to clinch a postseason berth, also has won three consecutive games. The Thunderhawks got a 20-yard field goal from junior Gavin Myers with 4:02 remaining to snap a 17-17 tie and post the opening-round win against Mason in a matchup between two Greater Miami Conference teams. Mason led 10-7 at halftime, but East scored 10 unanswered points in the third quarter on a 2-yard TD run by senior quarterback Sean Church and a 31-yard field goal by Myers to take a 17-10 lead into the final quarter.
Senior fullback Jack Dobrozsi leads the East offense. He has rushed 184 times for 1,180 yards this season, averaging 107.3 yards rushing per game and having eclipsed the 100-yard mark five times. He finished with 21 carries for 79 yards against Mason. He has scored 21 rushing TDs, and ran for a season-high 240 yards on just 13 carries, scoring three times, in the Thurderhawks’ 36-3 victory against district rival Lakota West on October 5. East’s three losses this season are to teams that qualified for the state playoffs in Kings, Fairfield and Colerain.
Tickets are available at participating schools this week for $8. All tickets are $9 at the gate on game day.