By Josh Brown
CASSTOWN — Miami East’s first year in a new division went very well.
The Viking football team — which moved up from Division VI to V in the offseason thanks to the OHSAA’s realignment — finished the regular season 9-1, winning an outright Cross County Conference championship and qualifying for its sixth consecutive postseason berth. Not only that, though, Miami East clinched the No. 1 seed in the D-V, Region 20 playoff standings in its first year in the division, earning the right to host No. 8 Reading Friday night in a first-round game.
Needless to say, Miami East coach Max Current was pleased.
“Well, I’m not going to lie, it feels good,” he said. “Our No. 1 goal every year is to be the league champs. We figure if we do that, Week 11 should take care of itself. We were fortunate enough to do that this year. We only had one loss, and a couple teams that we beat had good seasons, so that helped our point totals. If you take care of business in the regular season, everything should shake out for you in Week 11.”
The last time the Vikings earned a No. 1 seed in its region was in 2013, when it defeated Tri-County North in the first round for its only playoff win.
This year’s Vikings are a special group, too. The junior and senior classes are the first in the program’s history to win two league titles — East last shared the CCC crown in 2015.
“The senior and junior class are the first classes to have two league championships in their career in football. That’s pretty good bragging rights in Viking country,” Current said. “There’s been some pretty good football teams through the years, but nobody’s ever won the league twice as a class until now. These juniors and seniors can now say that they have.”
Now the Vikings will face an entirely new opponent, though, taking on the eighth-seeded Reading Blue Devils in Friday’s opening round. Reading went 7-3 during the regular season, losing its opener to 4-6 Roger Bacon and then also falling to a pair of playoff teams, league rivals 8-2 Indian Hill and 10-0 Wyoming — with the Blue Devils finishing third in the Cincinnati Hills league standings behind those two teams.
“They’re a very fast team,” Current said. “They’ve got really good team speed on offense and defense. Their skill guys can get up and down the field. They’ve got a big 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver (Mancini Jackson), and they like to throw him the ball. He was third in their league in receiving yards (711). They’ve got a couple other quick receivers, and their running back is 5-10, 215, has nice size and good speed when he gets going (Adryian Simmons, 1,030 rushing yards). And their quarterback is really tall and has a good arm (Johnny Miller, 1,425 passing yards).
“They’ve also got some nice size on their offensive line, and defensively, they’re flying to the football. They try to put a lot of pressure on you. Their one defensive end (Tanner Cromer) is only a sophomore but has 16 sacks. That’s pretty impressive. To compare them to who we’ve played, they’re like a Lehman and a Fort Loramie combined.”
Which is a tough prospect for the Vikings to face — Lehman was the only team to defeat the Vikings, winning 31-14 in Week 2, and Miami East won a thrilling Week 4 battle with Fort Loramie 27-26.
But East already knows what playing in the postseason is like.
“It’s Week 11. Everybody is good in Week 11,” Current said. “They’re battle tested, and we’re going to have to play well — just like everyone in Week 11 will. It’s just a different opponent. We’ve played teams like Marion Local and Mechanicsburg and Coldwater over the years. We’re looking forward to it. It’ll be kind of a new adventure for us.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.