Marysville’s Jeremiah McNeil (3) lunges for a Toledo Whitmer ball carrier. The Monarchs will travel to Hilliard Darby to face Springfield on Friday in the Division I-Region 2 championship game. (Journal-Tribune photo by Chad Williamson)
When you rise to the level the Marysville High School football team has reached, anything can happen.
The Monarchs will put their 12-0 record and No. 1 seed in the region on the line Friday evening at Hilliard Darby High School.
On that night, MHS will face No. 2 Springfield (11-1) for the regional championship.
The winner will advance to the state Final Four.
When you get two teams the caliber of Marysville and Springfield encountering each other, fans on both sides of the field can expect a fiercely-contested battle that could very well go down to the wire.
With the Monarchs’ habit of blowing out opponents of late, one may wonder… would they be able to withstand the pressure of a tight game?
Marysville head coach Brent Johnson thinks so.
“Sure, we’ve been in lopsided games during the second half of the regular season and the playoffs to date, but a lot of people may not remember we had some tight games, at least in the first half, during the early portion of the season,” he said.
There are a handful of instances to support the coach:
-The Monarchs led Lancaster, 7-0, at halftime before winning 24-0;
-They were up 14-0 at the break against Hilliard Darby. MHS withstood 14 points in the third quarter by Darby to tie the game and then won 21-14 in overtime;
-MHS held just a 14-0 lead at the turn against Pickerington North and then won 31-6;
-After a scoreless first quarter, the Monarchs took a 7-0 halftime margin against Dublin Jerome. They went on to beat the Celtics, 34-0.
“The guys responded very well and we separated ourselves in the second half when we faced tight games early in the season,” said Johnson. “I don’t have any worries about them doing the same against Springfield.
“They’ve been tested this year.”
MHS has not, however, been put under that type of pressure since basically the Thomas Worthington game on Oct. 8.
They held a 42-0 halftime lead over the Cardinals and went on to win 49-6.
Scores since that contest have been as follows:
-MHS-34, Olentangy Berlin-6;
-MHS-49, Delaware Hayes-7;
-MHS-49, Toledo Whitmer-14.
Springfield has been in a similar boat as it has won most of its games by wide margins.
The only close games in which the Wildcats have been involved were a 24-20 triumph over Cleveland St. Ignatius, a 17-0 verdict over Kettering Fairmont, last Friday’s 13-0 triumph over Findlay and a 22-21 loss to Miamisburg on Oct. 15.
Johnson reminded Monarch Nation the team faced a bit of adversity at the start of the Whitmer contest.
“I felt a little nervous when they recovered the onside kick to begin the game,” he said. “However, the guys didn’t panic and we held them out of the end zone after that play.”
Johnson said he told the team Saturday morning the upcoming regional title contest may not be as one-sided as games of the past month.
“We told them Friday’s game is going to be a great one and it’s going to be a street fight,” he said. “We’ll keep talking to them this week in practice about being mentally prepared, keeping our noses down and being ready to play.”
The coach also feels he’ll have some help in getting and keeping the squad in proper mental shape for what could very well be one of the most competitive games of the 2021 season.
“I think our seniors will be able to raise the team up in a pressure situation,” he said.