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Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2024

Pigskin Pick’Em: regional championships

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

It’s regional championship time around the state. Friday night’s winners will take home a big gold trophy and begin preparing for the state semifinals. Locally, just a handful of teams remain alive in the playoffs, including a pair of NWC teams and four MAC teams. 

Last week I went 8-2, with the only misses being Lima Central Catholic and St. Henry. My overall record this season is 200-43, or 82.3 percent. Five area games are on this week’s slate. 

Division III Region 12

Hamilton-Badin (13-0) vs. Celina (11-2)

Once again, hats off to Celina, as the Bulldogs knocked off No. 2 seed Tippecanoe in convincing fashion, 27-13, in last Friday’s regional semifinals. You have to like the way No. 6 seed Celina continues its march through the playoffs. It looked like the Bulldogs would get a rematch with Wapakoneta in the regional finals. The Redskins led 10-0 with roughly 3:30 left last week, but the Rams pulled out a 14-10 victory. As far as this week’s game, while I’d like see the Bulldogs advance to the state semifinals but I think the playoff run ends on Friday.

The pick: Hamilton Badin 

Division V Region 18

Liberty Center (13-0) vs. Coldwater (12-1)

Talk about a matchup of heavyweights. A number of fans believe this is the game of the week and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with them. The Tigers have rolled by every single opponent this season. The closest margin of victory has been 21 points and no team has scored more than 14 against Liberty Center. Nine opponents have been held to seven points or less. Coldwater belongs to the toughest small school league in Ohio (and beyond) and of course has endured a brutal schedule. Earlier this week I was prepared to go with Coldwater but a little voice in my head keeps telling me to go with Liberty Center. I don’t feel at all comfortable with this but I’m going with the little voice. 

The pick: Liberty Center 

Division VI Region 22 

Columbus Grove (11-2) vs. Bluffton (12-1)

If Liberty Center and Coldwater isn’t the game of the week, this one certainly is. Bluffton’s only loss came in the season finale, 14-7 to the Bulldogs. I’d like to point out that the Pirates have outscored three playoff opponents 163–6. Columbus Grove has posted three impressive playoff wins over quality competition as well. This is a tough one. My first thought was to go with Bluffton in the rematch but then I started having doubts. Can Columbus Grove make it to the state semifinals two straight years? By the slimmest of margins, I’ll say yes.

The pick: Columbus Grove 

Division VI Region 24

Versailles (11-2) vs. Anna 8-5)

Another rematch, but this one involves a pair of MAC teams. These two teams met back in Week No. 7 and Versailles posted a 41-14 win. While the margin may be closer this time I honestly don’t see the outcome being any different. 

The pick: Versailles

Division VII Region 28

Marion Local (13-0) vs. Ansonia (13-0)

At least on paper, this is the Division VII state championship game. Marion Local won the Associated Press poll championship and Ansonia was the runner up. On a side note, including these two teams, just four of the top 10 AP ranked teams remain alive in the playoffs. Another side note – Marion Local has won 13 of the last 15 regional championships, with the only miss being 2010 and 2020. Think about that – the Flyers have been in the state semifinals 13 of 1the last 15 years. Back to this game though. No disrespect toward the Ansonia Tigers, but Marion Local is the overwhelming favorite to win this game and the Division VII state title.

The pick: Marion Local 

POSTED: 11/16/23 at 4:39 am. FILED UNDER: Sports