Cadets, Wildcats get home playoff games

The high school football playoffs return to Washington County Friday night.

Fort Frye and Waterford High School, separated by less than a mile, both will take the spotlight at 7:30 p.m. when they welcome their respective opponents for opening round matchups.

The Cadets (9-1) play host to Northmor (8-2) in a Division VI regional quarterfinal while the Wildcats (9-1) take on Sciotoville East (8-2) in a D-VII regional quarterfinal. Waterford and Fort Frye took the No. 2 and 4 seeds, respectively, in their regions to earn the right to host their first round playoff matchups.

This year, all Ohio playoff games are expected to take place on Fridays. Last year, games rotated between Friday and Saturday. In fact, all three of Fort Frye’s playoff games took place on Fridays while Waterford’s were on Saturdays.

“I’m kind of bummed we won’t get to watch them like we did last year,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck.

Huck has a lot to be happy about though, as his team is riding an eight-game winning streak. Fort Frye also has back-to-back wins over fellow D-VI, Region 23 playoff teams in Shenandoah and Steubenville Catholic Central.

“It’s felt like a playoff atmosphere the last couple weeks,” Huck said. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We know we’re facing a very good opponent.”

Fort Frye is in the playoffs for the third straight season and has had mixed postseason results the last two years. In 2015, the Cadets went 10-0 in the regular season but suffered an early playoff exit, losing 8-0 to Fredericktown in the first round at home. Last year was much different as the Cadets were dominant in their first two playoff games before falling to a talented Newark Catholic team in the regional finals.

“Our guys have been there,” Huck said. “They have experience in these games.”

Waterford also has playoff experience. The Wildcats are hosting the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. Last year they beat Rosecrans at Waterford for the program’s first ever Ohio High School Athletic Association playoff win followed by a win versus Trimble in the regional semi and a loss to Harvest Prep in the regional final.

All four of those teams are back in the Region 27 playoffs, but Waterford will take on somewhat of an unknown opponent Friday in the Tartans. But with the area’s leading rusher (Braden Bellville) and sacker (Teddy Smith), expect the Eric McCutcheon-coached Wildcats to be ready.

“They’re a nice team,” said McCutcheon, in his second year at the helm for Waterford. “It should be a good game.”