Harrison keeps playoff hopes alive

If Harrison Central hopes to taste the postseason it could ill-afford another setback.

The Huskies breathed life into their playoff hopes, snapping a two-game losing skid, with a 33-12 victory over Union Local Friday night in Morristown.

Harrison Central, in the thick of the Ohio Division IV Region 15 playoff chase, suffered consecutive losses at the hands of Bellaire and Indian Creek the past two weeks. The win improved the Huskies to 6-3 on the season.

“We understand the situation,” HC head coach Justin Kropka said. “We came out here tonight and took care of business. We had a nice drive on the first series but came up empty and that kind of took the wind out of sails.

“You have to give Union Local a lot of credit though,” Kropka added. “They really came to play tonight. There is a lot of fight in their kids and that says something about them and their staff.”

Harrison’s next step in securing a postseason berth will be Friday night when Buckeye Local visits Cadiz.

Union Local, meanwhile, fell to 1-8 on the season.

“Harrison has a really nice team,” UL boss Mark Cisar explained. “They have a senior-dominated team with some very nice play-makers.

“I am pleased with how we battled though,” Cisar added. “We have a bunch of young kids out there and I have seen zero quit in them. We know we are one or two years away, but the effort is there.”

Harrison Central used a balanced attack featuring signal caller Rashaen Mitchell doing most of the damage through the air. The senior completed 11-of-18 for 241 yards and three scores, He also scampered in from nine yards out for the first Huskies score of the night.

“We got them into a fourth down on the first TD and Mitchell makes a great play with his legs, but that’s what talented athletes do,” Cisar said.

Mitchell’s TD run came with 1:56 showing in the first quarter and gave HC a 6-0 edge.

Following a UL three-and-out, Harrison’s quick-strike offense needed just one play for Mitchell to find Nate Olmstead for a 51-yard scoring play. Rafael Teixiera booted the PAT to make it 13-0.

Union Local answered quickly with Gavin Porter finding Kaleb McDiffitt open down the left sideline for a 46-yard scoring play. The point after was no good and the Jets trailed 13-6.

Harrison was able to tack on a TD with 2:28 left in the first half as Mitchell found Olmstead again, this time from 12 yards out. Teixiera booted the extra point to make it 20-6.

“Union Local showed some schemes that we hadn’t seen on film,” Kropka explained. “They did a nice job slowing down our running game, so we went to our pass game and Rashaen did a nice job. We feel we are balanced on offense and tonight we showed that.”

Harrison forced another UL three-and-out to open the second half. The Huskies needed just one play as senior bulldozer Maurtice Hython took a little swing pass from Mitchell and turned it into a 57-yard scoring play.

Hython, who finished with 96 yards on 18 carries, added a four-yard scoring burst later in the third quarter to close the Harrison scoring.

Union Local capped the scoring with freshman Trenton Tipton finding paydirt from 10 yards out.

“We had some injuries coming into the game,” Cisar said. “And we had a few more kids get banged up during the game. Hopefully, we can get some of those guys back for next week.”

The Jets close out the season at home against undefeated St. Clairsville. The Jets lost Porter during the game and were without all-purpose running back Eric Dunfee.

“We host St. Clairsville next week and I guarantee our kids won’t lay down,” Cisar said. “I expect us to battle like we have all season.”

Olmstead was Mitchell’s favorite target with four catches for 108 yards and two scores.

Defensive standouts for the Huskies included Tyler Hood and Josh Leggett. Caleb Mitchell had an interception for the Huskies.

Tater Blake led UL with 68 yards on 14 carries. He also stood out on defense as did McDiffitt, Travis James and Nathan Ferda.