FROM STAFF REPORTS
As the Division II state semifinals at Huron Memorial Stadium approach, the Greenmen football squad hopes to stop a potent Toledo Central Catholic offense which has averaged 46 points a game.
Aurora will travel west to the port city of Huron, located on Lake Erie’s southern shore between Vermilion and Sandusky.
The Irish have scored 597 points while compiling a 12-1 record. Their only loss was to Division I undefeated Toledo Whitmer, 42-0, which is in the state semifinals against Mentor.
Other than being shutout by Whitmer, Central’s lowest scoring output in the regular season was 35 points against Perrysburg. The Irish have tallied 40-plus points in 11 of their wins, including at least 60 twice.
The Greenmen have posted 519 points on offense and given up 192. Central has scored more than AHS, but given up a few more (217).
Central has competed in the Ohio playoffs 14 years, including the last nine straight. The Irish won the Division II crown in 2005 and the Associated Press poll title in 1962. They won 12 Toledo City League crowns from 1936 to 2008.
This year, the Toledo team finished second to Whitmer in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, while Aurora tied with Chagrin Falls for the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title.
Central beat Avon, the team that eliminated Aurora in the state semifinals last year, 42-14 in last week’s Region 6 championship game at Clyde.
CC senior running back Amir Edward rushed 19 times for 134 yards and three touchdowns. He has gained 1,502 yards and scored 27 TDs this season.
He is complemented by junior running backs Paul Moses (just over 600 yards and 13 TDs) and Cedric Gray (about 400 yards and five TDs).
CC junior quarterback DeShone Kizer ran for 77 yards and was 9 of 16 passing for 108 yards and a score against Avon. He passed for six TDs and ran for four in CC’s playoff wins over Midview and Mansfield Madison.
For the season, he has completed passes for nearly 1,500 yards and 17 TDs. He’s been intercepted only once.
DERICH WEILAND and tight end Keith Towbridge, who is headed to the University of Louisville, are Central’s top receivers. Central has averaged about 390 total yards a game (about 280 on the ground).
On defense, some of the Central standouts are tackle Jon Perrin, end Towbridge, linebackers Chris Green and Ian Butler and backs Jayme Thompson (headed to Ohio State), Mitch Cochell and Joe Solomon (four interceptions).
Named to the Associated Press’ Northwest Ohio all-district first team were Towbridge, Edwards, Perrin, Thompson, Kizer and offensive linemen Jeff Dew and Zach Harmon.
“There’s no doubt they [CC] are a very talented team and it will be a great challenge for us,” said AHS head coach Bob Mihalik. “I think people think they and Trotwood Madison are on a collision course to meet in the title game. We haven’t been able to play that underdog role much this year, so we’re looking forward to it.”
As if preparing for a state semifinal game isn’t tough enough, teams must do it on Thanksgiving week. Mihalik said Aurora tries to keep things as normal as possible while giving the kids time with families.
AHS was to have normal practices on Monday and Tuesday since school was still in session. But with no school on Wednesday, Mihalik said coaches will let the players sleep before bringing them in.
The normal pregame dinner on Thursday was moved to Wednesday, and the squad will have a quick walk through Thanksgiving morning before spending family time.
“It’s a lot for them,” Mihalik said. “It’s a long tournament and a lot of time. You’ve got to remember these are still kids with homework, family, girlfriend and friends that take up their time.
“NFL players have trouble getting up every week and they only have to deal with football. For our kids to remain focused is a credit to them.”
Huron Memorial Stadium has a ProGrass artificial surface. The Huron schools’ website bills it as “the finest Division IV Stadium in Ohio.” The artificial turf was installed in 2008, when the surface was named Kalahari Field after the indoor water park at Sandusky.
The Aurora-Toledo CC winner will face the New Albany-Trotwood Madison winner on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.