CANTON -- Out of 710 schools that began the 2019 Ohio high school football season, just 14 are left, including Mansfield Senior and Lucas.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association football state championships kick off Thursday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. All seven games will be held at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, which is adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Spectrum News 1 will televise all seven games live and the OHSAA Radio Network will broadcast the games to 63 affiliates statewide.
Four schools are playing in their first football state championship game, including Mansfield Senior (Div. III), Anna (Div. VI), New Middletown Springfield (Div. VI) and Lucas (Div. VII).
Meanwhile, Maria Stein Marion Local has set a state record by advancing to the state finals for the 15th time.
Only one state championship game features schools that have ever played each other before in the playoffs (Elder vs. Pickerington Central).
Of the seven teams that won poll championships by being ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, four have advanced to play for a title on the field. They include Massillon Washington (Div. II), Kirtland (Div. V), Anna (Div. VI) and Maria Stein Marion Local (Div. VII).
Fans are encouraged to buy their playoff tickets in advance online at www.ProFootballHOF.com/tickets, as the participating schools keep a portion of presale ticket revenue. For state championship games, tickets are $11 online in advance through a participating school, or $15 if not associated with a school, or $17 at the gate.
2019 OHSAA Football State Championships
Pairings listed with record and final Associated Press rank.
Home team listed first.
State Finals Schedule
All Games at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton
Home team listed first. Pairings shown with record and final rank.
Division II State Championship: No. 1 Massillon Washington (14-0) vs. No. 6 Cincinnati La Salle (12-2) is Thursday, Dec. 5, 7:00 PM
Division VI State Championship: No. 1 Anna (13-1) vs. No. 2 New Middletown Springfield (14-0) is Friday, Dec. 6, 10:00 AM
Division III State Championship: No. 9 Mansfield Senior (13-1) vs. No. 7 Trotwood-Madison (11-3) is Friday, Dec. 6, 3:00 PM
Division I State Championship: No 9 Cincinnati Elder (12-2) vs. No. 3 Pickerington Central (13-1) is Friday, Dec. 6, 8:00 PM
Division VII State Championship: No. 7 Lucas (12-2) vs. No. 1 Maria Stein Marion Local (12-2) is Saturday, Dec. 7, 10:00 AM
Division IV State Championship: No. 4 Newark Licking Valley (14-0) vs. (not ranked) Clyde (10-4) is Saturday, Dec. 7, 3:00 PM
Division V State Championship: No. 5 Ironton (13-1) vs. No. 1 Kirtland (14-0) is Saturday, Dec. 7, 8:00 PM
Championship Games Return to Canton
After hosting the OHSAA state championship games in Ohio Stadium in Columbus throughout the 1980s, natural grass was installed in the ‘Shoe in the spring of 1990 and OSU asked the OHSAA to move its football state championship games to another location.
The OHSAA found a home in Stark County, with Canton Fawcett Stadium and Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium sharing the state championship games for 24 years from 1990-2013. The finals returned to Columbus from 2014-16 before returning to Canton for 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The location for the 2020 state championship games has not yet been determined.
Past Meetings in the Playoffs
Only one state final features schools that have played each other before in the playoffs. Cincinnati Elder and Pickerington Central have played each other once in the playoffs. That occurred in 2008 when Elder won 24-10 in a state semifinal.
First-Time State Final Qualifiers
Mansfield Senior (Div. III), Anna (Div. VI), New Middletown Springfield (Div. VI) and Lucas (Div. VII) are making their first football state championship appearances in school history.
Additionally, two storied programs are also looking to win their first football state playoff title in school history: Massillon Washington (Div. II) and Newark Licking Valley (Div. IV). Combined, they account for 73 all-time playoff wins. The two schools rank first (39) and third (34) in the state, respectively, for most all-time playoff wins without a state title.
There were six first-time state semifinal qualifiers this year, including Springfield (Div. I), Mansfield Senior (Div. III), Anna (Div. VI), Howard East Knox (Div. VI), New Middletown Springfield (Div. VI) and Lucas (Div. VII).
State Finalists by Seed
No. 1 seed – 6
No. 2 seed – 4
No. 3 seed – 0
No. 4 seed – 1 (Elder)
No. 5 seed – 1 (Anna)
No. 7 seed – 1 (Trotwood-Madison)
No. 8 seed – 1 (Clyde)
Two state final games feature No. 1 regional seeds facing each other:
Div. II: Massillon Washington (14-0) vs. La Salle (12-2)
Div. V: Kirtland (14-0) vs. Ironton (13-1)
Proving the Pollsters
Four schools that ended the regular-season ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press state polls will play this weekend for a chance to win a state title on the field. They include Massillon Washington (Div. II), Kirtland (Div. V), Anna (Div. VI) and Maria Stein Marion Local (Div. VII).
All seven teams that ended the season ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll advanced to last weekend’s state semifinal games, including Mentor (Div. I), Massillon Washington (Div. II), Columbus Bishop Hartley (Div. III), Cincinnati Wyoming (Div. IV), Kirtland (Div. V), Anna (Division VI) and Maria Stein Marion Local (Div. VII).
All 70 teams that were ranked in the final Associated Press state poll qualified for the playoffs. 58 of those teams advanced to the second round and 36 advanced to the regional finals.
Disproving the Pollsters
Four teams that qualified for the state semifinals did not appear in the final AP poll, including Poland Seminary (Div. IV), Clyde (Div. IV), Howard East Knox (Div. VI) and Mechanicsburg (Div. VI). Of those four, Clyde has advanced to the state finals.
Noting the Undefeated and .500
Four teams will look to cap off a perfect 15-0 season this weekend in Canton, as Massillon Washington (Div. II), Newark Licking Valley (Div. IV), Kirtland (Div. V) and New Middletown Springfield (Div. VI) all remain unbeaten. There are no state final matchups between two undefeated teams.
Only 28 teams in Ohio went undefeated this season. Of note, two undefeated schools, Gibsonburg and Northwood, did not qualify for the playoffs. Of the 26 undefeated schools that did qualify, all of them except two hosted a first-round playoff game. There was only one first-round game that featured two undefeated teams. That occurred in Div. VI, Region 21, when Glouster Trimble hosted and defeated Salineville Southern Local.
Six teams with 5-5 records qualified for the playoffs this year and two of them advanced to the regional finals, including Lewis Center Olentangy in Division I and Carey in Division VI. Both teams were defeated in the regional final.
In 2018, of the 24 teams went undefeated, which marked the fewest number of undefeated teams was 2015 when only 22 teams went undefeated. Last year a state record 11 schools with 5-5 records qualified for the playoffs. Only one of those 5-5 teams - Warren John F. Kennedy in Division VII - won their regional quarterfinal game and advanced to the regional finals.