In the high school football playoffs, anything can happen.
Upsets, comebacks, record-breaking performances, all of those and more commence every year when it comes to football in November.
But when you put two teams that have met before once this season in the playoffs, there is a little extra meaning behind it.
One matchup in the area that has that storyline includes a matchup out of Division 1, Region 1 includes the 5 seed in the region, the Jackson Polar Bears taking on the 4 seed in the region, the Canton McKinley Bulldogs at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
The two teams met in week 8 in Jackson as the Polar Bears came into the game a perfect 7-0 facing a Bulldog team who’ve won five of their last six games.
The story was the last 8:23 of the game where the lead flipped sides 4 different times.
With McKinley on top 19-14, Senior Polar Bears quarterback Hunter Geissinger found senior wide receiver Jacob Fisher on the right side and Fisher stumbled 44 yards to the house and dived for the pylon to capitalize on the score to put the Polar Bears on top 20-19.
On the next McKinley drive, senior running back Khris Williams had a key 38-yard run to set up a 25-yard field goal from senior kicker Alaa Saad to put the Bulldogs back on top 22-20 with 5:07 left.
On the next drive, Geissinger and the Polar Bears faced a 4th and 12 and found Fisher for a pick-up of 32 yards. Senior running back Brendan Craig broke a tackle on the right side then found the end zone on a 29-yard touchdown to put the Polar Bears back in front with 2:43 left. The offense stayed on the field as they went for two and they converted with Geissinger’s run to put the Polar Bears in front 28-22.
The Bulldogs had one final chance.
With 57 seconds left, senior quarterback Amarion Williams threw a fade to junior wide receiver Cynceir McNeal who wrestled away from a Polar Bear defender for a 24-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28.
Coming on the field to try and give the Bulldogs the lead was Saad who had missed two PATs earlier in the game (one due to a high snap) but the senior drilled the extra point and that proved to be the difference maker as the Bulldogs beat the Polar Bears on homecoming in Jackson by the final of 29-28.
When a team like the Polar Bears has the chance to face the team that disrupted their pursuit to perfection, they will definitely prepare for this game a little bit more than the rest.
But don’t be fooled.
McKinley most definitely wants to protect home field and claim what is rightfully theirs.
Expect a lot of the same from the previous matchup between these two teams.
It has all the makings to be a classic.
Another matchup Friday night that will feature two teams that have met before this season includes a game out of Region 4, Division 15 as the 7 seed in the region, the Carrollton Warriors will take on the 2 seed in the region, the St. Clairsville Red Devils.
These two teams collided in Week 1 at Carrollton as the Red Devils edged out the Warriors 42-35.
The Warriors found themselves up 14-0 early as they picked off St. Clairsville senior quarterback Drew Sefsick twice setting up a touchdown on the ground from senior running back Chase Oehlstrom and one through the air from senior quarterback Austin Colletti to senior wideout Austin Haney.
The Red Devils found the scoreboard due to a touchdown run from Sefsick. However, senior kicker Lucas Otto missed the extra point leaving the score at 14-6.
Going into the second, the Warriors brought the lead back to two touchdowns thanks to an 8-yard touchdown run from Colletti making it a 21-6 ballgame.
St. Clairsville got momentum back as Sefsick found senior receiver Colin Oberdick as he turned on the jets 54 yards to the house. Otto’s extra point made it 21-14.
On the next play from scrimmage, Jaren Starks picked off Colletti setting up the Sefsick to Oberdick connection once more. This time for 60 yards and Oberdick found classmate receiver Carson Woodford to tie the game at 21.
With 11:40 left in the game, senior running back Jacob Jordan ran one in from 12 yards out to put the Red Devils back on top after a 2nd missed PAT from Otto, 27-21.
However the home team responded on the very next drive capitalizing on a 7 yard touchdown run from senior running back Hunter Henry. The extra point from sophomore kicker Quentin Rosenberger put the Warriors back on top 28-27.
St. Clairsville got the ball on their 20 yard line with 3:52 remaining. Sefsick wasted no time as he let one break loose for a 72-ard run followed on the very next play by a five yard touchdown run from Jordan to give the lead back to the Red Devils, 35-28.
Carrollton ended up getting flagged for intentional grounding and a false start as they turned the ball over on downs on their own 11 as junior running back Jacob Walker sealed the deal with a 4-yard touchdown run to put St. Clairsville up 42-28.
Carrollton got a garbage time touchdown when Oehsltrom scored from a yard out with 17 seconds left to trim the lead to 42-35 as that would be the final score.
In this game, it’s all about control.
Whoever takes the lead and is able to sustain it for four quarters will come out on top.
The road to Canton and the state championship game is a long one.
It’s got its ups, downs, bumps and bruises along the way.
For these four teams in particular, they will have to square off against teams that they have faced once before in the regular season.