COLUMBUS — Orrville Heartland Field at Red Rider Stadium will be the site of East Knox’s Division VI State semifinal football playoff game, as the Ohio High School Athletic Association released the pairings for all divisions Sunday. The winners will advance to the state championship games Dec. 5-7 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
The undefeated Bulldogs (13-0) will face another unbeaten team, New Middletown Springfield (13-0), on Friday at 7 p.m. The matchup is only one of three remaining playoff games, and the only one in Division VI, to feature two unblemished teams. The other two are Massillon Washington vs. Avon in Division II and Kirtland vs. Oak Harbor in Division V.
In addition, both East Knox and New Middletown Springfield are both first-time semifinalists. Others include Springfield (Div. I), Mansfield Senior (Div. III), Anna (Div. VI) and Lucas (Div. VII).
During the first four rounds of the playoffs, all games will kick off at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Division I, II, III and VI games are on Fridays, while Division IV, V and VII games are on Saturdays.
Maria Stein Marion Local is making its 18th appearance in the state semifinals, Massillon Washington is making its 13th appearance and Ironton is making its 12th appearance. Newark Catholic, which lost in a Div. VII regional final Saturday, holds the record with 25 state semifinal appearances.
Only three state semifinal matchups feature schools that have played each other before in the playoffs. They include: Pickerington Central 56, Mentor 28 — 2017 state final; Newark Licking Valley 41, Poland Seminary 7 — 2008 regional semifinal; Maria Stein Marion Local 42, Hamler Patrick Henry 20 — 2007 state semifinal; Maria Stein Marion Local 36, Hamler Patrick Henry 7 — 2016 state semifinal.
All seven teams that ended the season ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll are still playing, including Mentor (Div. I), Massillon Washington (Div. II), Columbus Bishop Hartley (Div. III), Cincinnati Wyoming (Div. IV), Kirtland (Div. V), Anna (Division VI) and Maria Stein Marion Local (Div. VII). Four teams that have qualified for the state semifinals did not appear in the final AP poll, including Poland Seminary (Div. IV), Clyde (Div. IV), East Knox (Div. VI) and Mechanicsburg (Div. VI).
Four state semifinal games feature No. 1 seeds facing each other: Div. I: Mentor (13-0) vs. Springfield (12-1); Div. II: Massillon Washington (13-0) vs. Avon (13-0); Div. II: Cin. La Salle (11-2) vs. Tol. Central Catholic (13-0); and Div. V: Kirtland (13-0) vs. Oak Harbor (13-0).
All state semifinal playoff sites will feature presale online ticketing at www.ohsaa.org/tickets. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets at their local schools in advance, as participating schools keep a portion of presale ticket revenue.