ADA - Once-beaten Ada will meet tradition-laden St. Henry (8-3) in a region 24 semifinal showdown Friday at Lima Senior in what may prove to be their toughest test of the campaign thus far.
The fourth-seeded Redskins ran out to a 24-7 halftime lead and whipped visiting Ft. Loramie 45-21 in their first round game last Friday to set up the regional semifinal battle.St. Henry has won five state football titles, the last coming in 2006 in Div. V.
"St. Henry is a very good football team," said Ada head coach Mike Fell. "They run the spread and quarterback Kyle Stahl is 6-4, 220-pound college prospect. He has a great arm and is tough to bring down.
"They have three receivers with over 30 catches," he continued. "Their running back was a second team all-league player and runs hard with quick feet. Defensively, St. Henry is big up front and runs a 4-4. They have good defensive backs and like to hit."
Playing on the fast turf of Lima Stadium for the second week in a row could be a slight edge for Ada.
All three of the Redskin losses came on the road in league play as they finished 5-3 in the rugged MAC this fall, tied for fourth with Delphos St.
St. Henry lost at St. John's (21-17) in week three, then fell at unbeaten Coldwater (41-7) and at defending state champion Marion Local (38-22) in weeks six and seven, respectively. Since then, they have recovered to win four straight by a combined total of 110-50.
Coach Fell knows his 10-1 Ada squad has a difficult hurdle to overcome this week.
"We will have to step up and raise our level of play to beat them. Our region is difficult with tough, playoff-tested teams. In order to move on, we need to play our best game," he warned.
Ada has seen its season ended each of the last four years at the hands of a MAC team, and hopes to avoid that fate again. From 2008-10, DSJ eliminated the Bulldogs in three close battles - twice in the regonal finals - and last year eventual winner Marion Local took out Ada in round two.
The last five years the team who defeated the Bulldogs advanced to the state finals, and three times they emerged as the champion. In 2009, DSJ lost in the final minute to Norwalk St. Paul in the championship game.
In 2007 Hopewell-Loudon edged Ada 41-38 in overtime at the state semis, then lost to Newark Catholic 28-14 in the title game.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to the region 24 finals against the Minster/Marion Local survivor Nov. 16 at a site TBA. Ada went to the region finals three times in a row from 2007-09, winning in 2007.