La Salle Senior RB Cameron Porter

We preview the second round of the Ohio High School Athletic Associations football playoffs with a focus on the Division Two teams from Southwest Ohio in Region 8. Games are set for Friday night.

DIVISION TWO

REGION 8

#1 LA SALLE VS #5 WALNUT RIDGE @ BELLBROOK HS

Both teams enter this contest enjoying great seasons. Walnut Ridge head coach Byron Mattox is a veteran head coach who has coached some great players in the past and will bring in a solid team playing great defense giving up only 61 points this season. But Walnut Ridge also has an offense that can light up the scoreboard.

Leading the Scots offense is Howard Thornton but the player to watch is Qian Magwood who holds a handful of reported scholarship offers. Another top talent is Kaveon Ross, a multi-sport athlete who stands 6-foot-5, 220-pounds and while listed as a tight end, lines up more as a receiver.  The Scots also show a solid offensive line on film and not a team La Salle can take lightly.

However, we feel this will be the Scots first major test of the season as the Lancers come into the game having won the always tough Greater Catholic League and are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and on special teams.

On offense, junior quarterback Zach Branam is a dual threat having passed for 1,268 yards and 17 interceptions while also rushing for 934 yards and 10 scores. When Branam is not running the ball, future Northwestern Wildcats back Cameron Porter gets the call. The 5-foot-11, 207-pound senior has rushed for 661 yards this season and 11 scores. Branam’s main targets throwing the ball are junior receivers Jaylen Norwood (249 yards, 3 TDs) and DeVonte Smith (232 yards, 4 TDs).

Defense is what has made the Lancers one of the top teams no matter the division. This season the Lancers gave up 67 points during the regular season. Senior linebacker Luke Thiemann led the team with 77 tackles but the player to watch is junior Jaylen Johnson who has already seen reported offers from Ohio State, Penn State and Kentucky to name a few.

The difference maker in this game could be future Ohio State kicker Jake Seibert for La Salle. Ranked as the top kicker in the country, Seibert is also athletic enough to play wide receiver and has four touchdowns on the season. But his future is kicking the ball and this season the future Buckeye has gone 6-of-9 in field goals and made 43 out of 45 extra points. If needed, Seibert can hit from 50+.

This should be an exciting game and the game FirstStarFootballReport.com will be covering on Friday night.

#3 HARRISON VS #7 ST. FRANCIS DESALES @ MIAMI TRACE HS

Those who follow Ohio High School football know the tradition the Stallions bring over the years. Much like La Salle, the Stallions will play up against Division One and Two teams during the season and this season was no different with games against Division One playoff team Dublin Jerome and Division Two St Charles. The Stallions spilt those game with a 45-14 loss to Jerome in Week Two.

Quintell Quinn is a player to watch coming off a 38 carry, 278-yard rushing performance last week against Turpin in where he scored the final three touchdowns on the game. Quinn can also catch the ball out of the backfield.

Harrison has been playing some of the best football in the region led by Southwest Ohio Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Connor Kinnett. The Wildcats have been lighting up the scoreboard while playing top notch defense for head coach Derek Rehage.

However, the big story has been Kinnett, one of the more under the radar prospects in the region who has passed for 3,305 yards and 33 touchdowns while also rushing for 347 yards and eight scores this season. This season alone the 6-foot-3, 225-pound signal caller has posted six 300 yard passing games.

The last time Harrison reached a second-round playoff game was 2014. A win over DeSales would give the program another big milestone reached.

OVERALL

The winner of these two games will match-up next weekend with the winner earning a regional championship and getting one step closer to their goal of playing for a state championship.

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Dave Berk

Team publisher and recruiting analyst for Scout.com from 2002-2017. Founded Dave Berk Consulting (DaveBerkConsulting.com), a football recruiting consulting company focused on helping families through the recruiting process in 2016. Founded First Star Football Report in fall of 2018. Has appeared on national, regional and local television and radio including NFL Network, FOX Sports Radio, Sporting News Radio, 700 WLW, 980 WONE, WCPO CH9 and more. Provided recruiting analysis for FOX Sports Ohio weekly high school game of the week in Southwest Ohio area and was an analyst for the Time Warner Sports (Spectrum Sports) Ohio National Signing Day show.

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