By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The Southeast Pirates entered Friday night’s first-round playoff matchup at Mogadore as the underdog in more ways than one.
On the surface, Southeast was the No. 15 seed taking on the No. 2-seeded Wildcats in a Portage Trail Conference rematch from Week 8 of the regular season.
Mogadore won that game 47-6.
Beneath the surface, dating back to 1972, Mogadore’s football team has never lost a home playoff game.
The Wildcats pushed that win streak to 25 games with a 48-21 victory over the visiting Pirates at Memorial Stadium in a Division VI, Region 21 first-round postseason matchup that was also Mogadore’s 100th all-time playoff game.
In the playoffs, the Wildcats are now 68-32 all-time.
On Friday, Mogadore (10-0) ran its way to the finish line and in impressive fashion.
The Cats rushed the ball 38 times for a staggering 414 yards (10.9 yards per carry), including 16 attempts of 10 yards or more.
Senior Mason Williams (Ohio University) set the tone. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound back showcased speed and power on his way to 204 yards on just 14 carries. He scored three touchdowns. And as majestic as many of his runs were, it was Williams’ run-blocking that was equally as important.
Williams, along with the entire offensive line, consistently hatched game-breaking runs for other Mogadore backs by sealing the edge or pushing down the field for blocks that sprung marginal runs to big-time plays and scores.
“Mason’s blocking was outstanding tonight, and he is always a big part of our run game that way,” Mogadore head coach Matt Adorni said. “He is a workhorse for us and tonight he helped get us around the edge on some big runs, and I thought our entire offensive line did a good job tonight.”
Collin Lehner also had a big game rushing for the Cats with 156 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns. Austin Constantine also added a touchdown on the ground to total up seven scores through the run game for Mogadore.
“We felt good about how we played offensively tonight,” Adorni said, “and overall, we were pleased with our effort. Coach Youel had his team ready to go tonight. You have to give them credit. They made us work, especially on defense. We made enough good plays to survive and advance, but they made it tough for our kids.”
After falling behind 14-0 on back-to-back possession scores by Mogadore’s Williams and Constantine — both on runs of 3 yards — the Pirates got on the board on a 3-yard run of their own by Randy Williams to cut the deficit in half (14-7). Mogadore answered right back with another score, this time from 23 yards out by Collin Lehner to make it 21-7 Mogadore.
Southeast responded again, scoring on a nice 16-yard pass from Williams to Reed Myers to make it 21-14 with 2:10 to play in the first quarter.
However, back-to-back interceptions on the next two Southeast possessions, which both resulted in Mogadore scores — a 10-yard run by Collin Lehner and a 7-yard run by Williams — helped push Mogadore’s lead to 41-14 by halftime.
The pair of picks increased the Wildcats’ turnover-margin on the season to plus-15 (18 takeaways to 3 turnovers).
Southeast head coach Patrick Youel, despite the loss, reflected on what his team has meant to him throughout the entire season.
“Just three weeks ago, Mogadore demoralized us and embarrassed us on our Senior Night,” said Youel, referencing the Pirates’ 47-6 loss in Week 8. “Tonight we came ready to fight, and I was very proud of how we battled, but you have to credit Mogadore. They are a team that could possibly go far in the playoffs, and I will be rooting for them.
“For my group, though, they have won my heart forever,” Youel added. “This is the best group of kids I have ever coached. The seniors on this team are a group I will remember forever. They do everything the right way. Everything. The entire team tonight played as hard as they could play, but we just lost to a better team. They gave me 48 minutes of their lives tonight, and I could not be more proud of them for that.”
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