By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald Writer
ADA - When the Div. VI region 20 football playoffs began, few might have predicted an elite eight battle between the fifth and seventh seeds, at least as they were rated by the computer.
But those two squads, Wayne Trace and Ada, are playing the best right now. Their convincing post-season advancements illustrate how little difference there was between the top six or seven teams in the region, and also point up the question of how well the computer is truly capable of rating teams.
"I thought there were six real good teams in our region," said Bulldog first-year head coach Bob Olwin. "A lot of it also has to do with just playing your best at the right time at the end of the season."
Had Ada (9-3) beaten LCC in its regular season finale, they would have vaulted all the way from sixth to second in the region 20 ratings.
High-powered Haviland Wayne Trace (11-1) enters the fray on a four-game win streak after whipping fourth seed Colonel Crawford 52-28 in round one, and crushing top seed Defiance Tinora 40-7 in round two.
The fifth-seeded Raiders boast an extremely potent offense that tallies a whopping 49.6 points per game, and WT also possesses a solid defense.
"Wayne Trace runs a unique offense from the standpoint of people haven't been able to put a lot of pressure on their quarterback," said Olwin.
"They are very talented and very fast," he continued. "They can run it a bit but they throw about 85 percent of the time. They have quality receivers and a nice quarterback who keeps plays alive. He is very shifty and chucks it up."
WT is not just an offensive juggernaut. Their defense allows only 13.2 points a game.
"They play real tough defense, (featuring) man to man and bump and run," warned Olwin. "They will blitz and come after you."
When asked which teams Ada has faced that stack up with the Raider defense, he mentioned Delphos Jefferson, LCC and Crestview (the first time) as being comparable.
"But Wayne Trace is unique in that they play exclusively man to man. They have superior speed."
A victory over Wayne Trace would advance Ada to the state semifinals for the second time in school history. Their previous semifinal showing came in 2007, where they lost to eventual runner-up Hopewell-Loudon in overtime, 41-38.
Last week's 35-0 blowout of Crestview ended a string of three straight second round playoff losses by the Bulldogs.
Like Ada, WT also advanced to the region 20 final by avenging a regular season loss to their second round foe. The lone Raider loss this season came at Defiance Tinora in week eight by a 27-16 count.
Last week WT jumped on top early by scoring on the first play, and rode that momentum to earn a measure of revenge by whipping Tinora at Lima in the other regional semifinal.
"It's hard to beat a good team twice," noted Olwin.
Explosive WT has scored 40 or more in 10 of their 12 games, with a high of 80 coming during a shutout of Holgate in week five. Against their two common opponents with Ada, the Raiders outscored Crestview in a 54-41 shootout back in week three, and also blew out Paulding 60-20 in their season opener.
The Bulldogs beat Paulding 30-6 on Homecoming in week six, and split two with Crestview by a combined score of 47-63.
Ada averages 29.3 ppg and permits 19.3 per outing.
WT will be playing at Lima Stadium for a second straight week. Ada is 1-1 in their last two games at the venue shared by Lima Senior and LCC. The Bulldogs beat Waynesfield 50-15 there in first round playoff action in 2012, and lost to LCC on the turf in week 10 this season, 34-20.
"We are excited to be playing in week 13, and we will have to play a clean game from here on out as far as turnovers and penalties," said Olwin.
"We want to possess the ball as much as possible. Forty-six minutes to two would be good," he joked.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.