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Football: Demons, Eagles move into playoff hunt
Football: Demons, Eagles move into playoff huntStory by Jim Horvath
Photos by Larry Bennet



Last year, the Avon Eagles won the West Shore Conference championship, qualified for the OHSAA playoffs and advanced all the way to the Division II state championship game.

This year, with two regular season games remaining, the Eagles aren't the only Westshore area team thinking playoffs.

When this week's OHSAA Computer ratings came out Tuesday, the numbers revealed that five area teams have legitimate shots at playing in Week 11. Avon, Avon Lake, North Olmsted, Rocky River and Westlake are all in the running for post season play and are either in or close to being in the coveted top 8 in their respective regions.

The team in the best position with two games remaining is Westlake.

The Demons are 7-1 overall and in a three-way tie for first place in the Southwestern Conference heading into Friday night's game with Berea at Lou Duchez Field. With wins over Division I foes Avon Lake and Midpark, Westlake has vaulted into the Top 8 with a bullet this week.

The Demons are No. 3 in this week's Division II Region 6 ratings, second only to Toledo Central Catholic and Tiffin Columbian. Avon is No. 5 in the same region, with WSC foe Midview checking in at No. 6.

Avon Lake is No. 6 in Division I Region 2, while North Olmsted pushed into the Top 8 in the very tough Division I Region 1 field. In Division III Region 9, Rocky River has rebounded from a slow start to pull into a battle for a playoff spot, coming in at No. 9 heading into Friday night's home game with Avon.

Here's how each team stacks up in their respective playoff races:

Westlake

The Demons failed to break into the Top 8 with their big win at Avon Lake, but were within striking distance at No. 9. Last week's win over Midpark, however, helped vault them over teams like Avon, Midview and Mansfield Madison. It also put Westlake into a position to host a first-round game.

"We've been sitting at nine since we lost at North Olmsted," said Westlake head coach Mark Campo after Tuesday's practice. "But we knew if we won last week that we'd finally break in.

"Our goal this year was to make the playoffs and host a first-round game. It's nice to be in the Top 8, but I still don't think we're safe. We'll take the same approach we've taken all season to get where we want to go.

"So right now, we're not in by any stretch," he added.

Westlake has a point average of 17.0375, just ahead of Mansfield Senior's 17.0013. Avon is lurking nearby in fifth with a 16.6125. The top four teams host first-round playoff games.

The Demons have homes games remaining with Berea and Brecksville. Two wins guarantee a playoff berth and probably home field advantage.

North Olmsted

The Eagles, despite tough losses to Avon Lake and Brecksville, moved up to No. 8 in what is regarded as one of the toughest regions in the state. If the season ended today, the Eagles would take on No. 1 Lakewood St. Edward in a first round game.

But the season doesn't end today, and Eagles head coach Mike Ptacek was quick to point that out.

"I still comes down to going out and winning our last two games," said Ptacek, whose team faces SWC rivals Amherst and Olmsted Falls to finish the regular season.

"The kids know where we're at right now, and they're excited," Ptacek said. "But nothing can happen unless we continue to take care of things and remain focused. And right now, our focus is on our road game at Amherst."

The Eagles have a point average of 16.1750, with Austintown-Fitch in the seventh spot at 17.7778. Lurking behind them are Cleveland Heights in ninth with a 14.8500 and Euclid with a 13.9875.

Avon Lake

The Shoremen, who are playing in their second season at the Division I level, come in at No. 6 in Region 2. SWC wins over Midpark and Brecksville have helped them maintain a spot in the Top 8.

Avon Lake has a point average of 19.4250, just behind Canton McKinley's fifth-place score of 19.9438. Nordonia comes in at No. 4 with a 20.1000, with Hudson settling in right behind the Shoremen with a 17.9750.

The Shoremen missed last year's playoffs by a narrow margin, but look to be in better shape in 2012. Their remaining games are with Olmsted Falls this Friday and Amherst in Week 10.

Rocky River

The Pirates, after a disastrous 1-3 start, have won four in a row and have their season hanging in the balance Friday night when Avon comes to town.

The situation is clear: A win over Division II Avon would net a bushel of computer points. It would almost guarantee River a spot in the Division III Region 9 tournament field, as well as tie the Pirates for first place in the WSC.

River has been inching it's way up in the computer rating over the past few weeks and comes into Friday's game with an average of 10.2000. Jefferson Area currently has the eighth and final spot with a score of 10.8617, while Hubbard comes in at No. 10 with a 9,9732.

The Pirates close out the regular season at Vermilion.

Avon

The Eagles, after a tough season-opening loss at Avon Lake, look as tough as ever heading into Friday night's game at River. Avon on a seven-game win streak, including a decisive 28-0
win at Midview two weeks ago.

Right behind the Eagles are Midview at 16.3000 and Perrysburg at 14.8625. As of now, Mansfield Madison rounds out the Top 8 in the region with a 13.9125, with Norwalk hanging around in ninth with a 13.9000.

Wins against Rocky River this Friday and North Ridgeville in Week 10 would more than likely clinch another playoff appearance for the Eagles. A first-round playoff game at home is still in the mix as well.
      


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