Eagles to host Cougars in regional opener
For the eighth time in 12 years, the Golden Eagles are back in the OHSAA football playoffs.
Fourth-seeded Big Walnut (8–2) will host fifth-seeded Columbus Beechcroft (9–1) in a Region 9 quarterfinal game Friday night at 7:30 at Golden Eagle Stadium.
“Beechcroft is a solid team that plays in the Columbus City League,” third-year Golden Eagle head coach Joe Weaver said on Monday. “They have offensive weapons all over the field, they are aggressive on offense and will attack up front.”
Coach Bruce Ward’s Cougars, who come into the game riding an 8-game winning streak, averaged 35.8 points per game, scoring 42 or more points four times, including a season-high 69 in a 69–0 win over Columbus Centennial. The Golden Eagles scored 41 or more points four times, including 42 in victories over Delaware Hayes (42–13) and Mount Vernon (42–0), and averaged 31.8 points per game with 318 points in 10 starts.
Defensively, Weaver reported the Beechcroft defenders, like their offensive counterparts, will attack.
“They just keep coming after you and attack … they love to swarm to the ball,” he said.
The Cougar defense posted four shutouts, limiting opponents to 14 or fewer points in nine games. In Beechcroft’s lone loss, Watterson scored 7 touchdowns in a 42–14 victory in the Cougars’ second game of the season. For the year, Beechcroft’s defense allowed 125 points, an average of 12.5 per game. The Golden Eagle defense allowed 177 points, a 17.7 per-game average, surrendering a season-high 34 points twice — in a 35–34 win over Olentangy Orange and in a 34–31 loss to New Albany.
Big Walnut enters the 2011 playoffs with a 14–6 postseason record — a mark which includes a 2007 Division III state championship, a Division III state semifinal showing in 2008 and three trips to the regional finals (2001 and 2006 in Division III, and 2010 in Division II).
Beechcroft has reached the OHSAA playoffs 14 times in football, including a 5-season run from 1999 to 2003. Beechcroft and Big Walnut met previously in the postseason in 2003 in a Division II Region 10 first-round game, with the previously undefeated Golden Eagles dropping a 28–23 decision to the Cougars.
Beechcroft’s last appearance came in the 2008 season when the Cougars lost to Columbus Marion-Franklin 34–28 in two overtimes.
“The team is excited about the opportunity of having another week to play,” said Weaver, who led the Golden Eagles to the Division II regional finals last season. “Our upperclassmen have playoff experience … and they are very confident going into Friday night.”
The Beechcroft-Big Walnut winner will face the winner of the first-round game between top-seeded Columbus Marion-Franklin and eighth-seeded Columbus Brookhaven on Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.