Football playoff preview
For the second year in a row the SWOC has produced three Division II playoff football teams. Mount Healthy and Northwest were there last year, but Harrison is new to the party since joining the SWOC (made playoffs in 2011). The difference this season is that Harrison and Northwest face off in the first round and No. 2 Mount Healthy hosts No. 7 Withrow. Harrison, the No. 5 seed, will travel to No. 4 Northwest for a rematch of a week nine game that Harrison won 28-13.
Mount Healthy will have to play physical to beat Withrow.
“We have to control the line of scrimmage,” said Mount Healthy coach Arvie Crouch. “Whoever controls the line of scrimmage will win this game.”
Much depends on that line for the Owls who rely on a potent rushing attack and a stingy defense. The 28 points Mount Healthy allowed Northwest last week were the most they’ve allowed all season. The rushing attack is led by quarterback David Montgomery who had 213 yards and 4 TDs in the league-clinching win at Northwest. Montgomery posted a conference record for rushing yards in a single season this year with 1,386.
According to Crouch the Owls are “jacked up” for this Friday’s home game. But Mount Healthy also knows that in the playoffs anything can happen which is why it’s been a primary concern this week to clean up the style of play.
“We turned the ball over three times last week,” said Crouch. “We can’t turn the ball over or commit penalties, it will cost us.”
Withrow comes in at 8-2, the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference champion.
“They’re fast and physical,” said Crouch of Withrow. “They have big-play potential.”
Harrison (7-3) and Northwest (8-2) are familiar with each other. That has its advantages and disadvantages.
“On the surface, it’s nice to know an opponent we’ve already scouted and schemed for,” said Northwest coach Nate Mahon. “From that end, we’re not wasting a whole bunch of time.”
In their week nine meeting, Harrison jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead which clearly took the Knights out of their game.
“We want to play fast. I felt the first time we played we didn’t play fast, we can’t be tentative,” said Mahon.
Harrison coach Kent McCullough said his team’s excited after not making the postseason last year.
“It will come down to who can execute,” said McCullough. “We’ve worked on getting better week in and week out and it’s a credit to the senior class of demanding not an average performance, but their very best.”
Both teams are loaded with skill players on offense. Northwest is led by quarterback Cory Roberson and wide receiver Darius Johnson who set a conference record this season for touchdown catches with 13.
Harrison has a lethal combination of its own with quarterback Jake Weber and wideout AJ Glines who had over 800 yards receiving and 10 touchdown catches.