Bolstered by a deep senior class, a lights-out defense and an era-defining offense, Franklin’s football program was destined for greatness this season. And at 9-1, it has delivered.
That will either be enhanced or dashed following a first-round playoff game against mighty Trotwood-Madison on Friday.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association released playoff pairings on Sunday. All higher seeds host first-round games, then the playoffs shift to neutral sites. Most notable:
- Thirty-three area teams qualified.
- Three teams missed qualifying by one spot; Lebanon (D-I), Carlisle (D-IV) and Cincinnati Christian (D-VII).
- Six teams drew the final spot; Miamisburg (D-I), Vandalia Butler (D-II), Kenton Ridge (D-III), Waynesville (D-V), Tri-County North (D-VI) and Cedarville (D-VII).
- Four teams are seeded No. 1; Tippecanoe (D-III), Alter (D-IV), Miami East (D-VI) and Triad (D-VII).
- Fourteen teams will host first-round games.
- Seven of 18 Greater Western Ohio Conference teams advanced, the most of any area league.
- National Trail (8-2) is the only first-time area qualifier. The Trailblazers advanced in D-VI, Region 22 and join Cross County Conference rivals Tri-County North, Miami East and Covington in the postseason.
Franklin was part of a trumped-up D-III, Region 10, which includes Kenton Ridge, Tipp, Shawnee and Thurgood Marshall, all of which also advanced.
But the wild card was Trotwood (7-2). The 2011 D-II state champ, the Rams have played in three straight D-II state title games. But like last year, they didn’t secure a Week 11 spot until after winning their final regular-season game.
Trotwood was seeded No. 6 last season and is No. 7 this time. But they’re No. 1 on everyone’s look-out list.
“We kind of saw this coming,” said Franklin coach Rodney Roberts, whose Wildcats will be a decisive No. 2 seeded underdog.
“We know everything that Trotwood is about. We have followed their success from afar and admired the things that they’ve been able to accomplish the last couple of years.”
Five GWOC teams made the expanded D-I field and three — Lakota West, Wayne and Centerville — will host. Springboro (9-1) drew unbeaten Colerain (10-0), which could do no better than the No. 6 seed.
Divisions II, III, IV and VI will play at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays. Divisions I, V and VII will play at 7 p.m. on Saturdays. It’ll take five games to win a state title, which culminates Dec. 5-7 at Canton and Massillon for the final year. Championship weekend moves to Columbus next season.