Playoff excitement awaits three local teams

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 31, 2005

The drama has long been over.

Unlike in the early years of the Ohio High School Athletic Association postseason football playoffs, the anticipation of making the playoffs, finding out one's opponent and the site of the game have been eliminated in the first round.

Computing the points system has become more understandable to schools and available on Web sites.

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But it's still exciting to be in the playoffs.

The excitement begins this weekend for three Lawrence County teams - Ironton, Rock Hill and Symmes Valley - after qualifying for the postseason.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers (8-2) were second in Region 15 of Division IV as expected and will host a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Saturday against another local team, the Rock Hill Redmen (9-1) who finished seventh in the region.

It will be the third time the two teams have met in the playoffs and the second time in three seasons. Ironton won 21-0 in 1995 in the regional semifinals and 48-7 in 2003 in the first round.

Ironton will be making its 24th trip to the playoffs, tied for the second most in OHSAA history along with Cincinnati Moeller. Newark Catholic is the all-time leader.

Rock Hill, winning its first outright Ohio Valley Conference championship since 1968, qualified for the third time.

The Ironton-Rock Hill winner will go against the winner of the Westfall-West Muskingum game. Both teams are 8-2.

The rest of the region has No. 1 Bellaire (10-0) plays Zane Trace (9-1) and Columbus Bishop Hartley (8-2) facing New Lexington (8-2).

The Symmes Valley Vikings (7-3) qualified for the Region 23 Division VI playoffs for the fourth straight season and seventh overall. The Vikings were sixth while Shadyside was third.

The Vikings will be on the road as they travel to Shadyside for a 7 p.m. game Saturday.

If Symmes Valley wins, it could possibly set up a regular season rematch with South Gallia (6-4) which qualified for the first time in school history. The No. 7 seed Rebels play at No. 2 seed Hannibal River (7-2).

The Wheelersburg Pirates (8-2) finished third in Region 19 of Division V and will host Centerburg (8-2). Lucasville Valley (9-1) climbed to No. 4 in the region and will host Columbus Grandview Heights (9-1).

The two winners will meet in the second round.