Blue Devils face long trip
Among all area qualifiers, McDonald will make the longest first-round trip. The Blue Devils must make a two-hour, 120-mile trek to Lucas. The Devils (6-4) finished seventh in Division VII, Region 25 while the Cubs (8-2) finished second.
“Obviously, this isn’t the best-case scenario for any coach, but it is what it is and we’re just excited to be able to make the trip because it means we’re playing in Week 11,” McDonald coach Dan Williams said. “From a travel standpoint, we got the worst draw in our region. But we’re taking a charter bus. The game is on Saturday, which doesn’t affect the school day routine. We’ll be OK.”
Williams noted that the only noticeable adjustments will be a slightly earlier arrival time. The players also will ride to the game in street clothes and change into their uniforms at the game site.
“With such a long ride, we want them to be comfortable on the way there,” Williams said. “We also want to allow for a little extra time to unwind and stretch once we get to Lucas.”
In 2000, McDonald finished fifth in the region and made a 150-mile trek to Gibsonburg for a first-round game. The Blue Devils beat the Golden Bears 28-10.
“We were a pretty big underdog in that game, no one was really giving us a chance,”Williams said. “We jumped on them early, played well and came away with a big win.”
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
When John F. Kennedy coach Jeff Bayuk leads his Eagles into the first round of the playoffs at Independence, son John won’t be among those in attendance. In fact, if John has his way, dad will experience a long playoff run and he won’t be there for any of it.
JFK plays Saturday, the same night Struthers plays at Poland. John is the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator.
“I’ve been lucky in that Kennedy plays a lot of its home games on Saturday, so I get to see dad a few times during the season,” John said. “I was able to be there a few weeks back when he won his 200th game. The luck of the draw put both of us playing on Saturdays in the postseason.
“It’s a nice problem to have. Hopefully we face the same problem again next week.”
While father and son won’t get to see one another Saturday, they will touch base.
“I’m sure as soon as our game ends, I’ll check my phone to see how he did,” John said. “We almost always talk after games on Friday nights. I’ll phone him to pick his brain, he’ll do the same to me.”
“During the football season, we talk almost exclusively football. Once the season ends its just typical father-son talk, but right now it’s all football.”
Beginning in the second round of the playoffs, participating schools will not be provided tickets for presale. Instead, presale tickets will be sold exclusively online at the OHSAA website (ohsaa.org/tickets). Online presale ticket prices are $8, however, there is also a $1.51 processing fee per ticket. Tickets sold at the gate on the day of the game will cost $9.
Participating schools still receive $1 for each presale ticket sold online.