Number of teams down to 8 per region
In both 2018 and 2019, 11 schools from Trumbull and Mahoning counties qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association football tournament.
Heading into the third round of the 2020 tournament, 11 schools from Trumbull and Mahoning counties remain in the playoff hunt.
The field has been narrowed down to 32 schools per division (16 schools in Division I). Prior to this year, the tournament field since 1999 included 32 qualifying schools in each division.
Trumbull County schools advancing to the regional quarterfinals include Harding, LaBrae, McDonald and John F. Kennedy. Mahoning County will be represented by Fitch, Canfield, Poland, Ursuline, West Branch, South Range and Springfield.
Crestview, Leetonia, Garrettsville Garfield and Pymatuning Valley have also advanced to the third round of the tournament.
Similar to the first round of the tournament, there were very few surprises over the weekend. Twenty-three of the 25 games involving teams from the area were won by the home (higher-seeded) team.
Kennedy quarterback Cam Hollobaugh thought he had a career day three weeks ago when he scored six touchdowns in a win over Gilmour Academy.
On Friday, Hollobaugh surprised even himself when he topped that performance.
Hollobaugh scored seven rushing touchdowns in Kennedy’s 65-33 playoff win over Lowellville. Hollobaugh also ran in a two-point conversion and he threw for a touchdown — accounting for 50 points.
“I never thought it would be possible to top six touchdowns,” Hollobaugh said. “I was pretty surprised. I just go out there with the mindset of trying to score every time they call my number.
“In the second half, I almost felt like they didn’t want to tackle me, that I was having my way. In reality it was a case of my offensive line doing an amazing job. Scoring seven touchdowns kind of shows everyone what a great offensive line we have.”
Hollobaugh, who says he “loves to score, but is a linebacker at heart” also made a number of key defensive plays.
Kennedy’s win came two weeks after losing to arch-rival Howland in the regular season. The Eagles had a bye week before playing Lowellville.
“I think that week off did us good, because we got back to the basics, we got healthy and we got back on track,” Hollobaugh said.
As a junior, Hollobaugh was used primarily as a running back and wide receiver. He credits the move to quarterback as the reason for his 23 rushing touchdowns.
“Being a quarterback has allowed me to be more versatile,” Hollobaugh said. “I’m surrounded by some great skilled players. Defenses have to pay attention to those guys, and they have to guard against the run and pass so it gives me more options. Last year if I lined up at quarterback defenses knew I was going to run.”
Kennedy entered the tournament as the top seed in Division VII, region 25.
“Our goal is to win a state tournament,” Hollobaugh said.
Barring an upset, McDonald may have played its final game at A.A. Burkey Stadium Friday when it recorded a 26-14 win over Jackson-Milton.
The playoff victory also marked the 600th win for the McDonald football program.
According to the OHSAA website, only Harding has more wins among area schools.
McDonald’s football program dates back to 1921.
“Consistency has been a huge factor in our success,” said McDonald athletic director Randy Riccitelli. “We keep our coaches, we give them a chance to build the program. (Current McDonald coach) Dan Williams has been here since 2000. Before that he was coached here by Andy Golubic, who was here for a long time. It’s like that with all of our sports.”
In fact, McDonald has had just 11 coaches since 1925. Williams is in his 21st season at the helm.
“You look at our roster, and we also have some of the same last names year after year,” Riccitelli said. “Some of the players from those dominant teams from 1988 through 1995 now have kids playing today. It’s a special place.”
McDonald will play at Leetonia Friday in a Division VII, region 25 quarterfinal game.