The Woodridge High School football will play its second state playoff game in the history of the program at 7 p.m. tonight against undefeated Girard at Lake High School.
The Bulldogs defeated host Martins Ferry 49-28 this past week in a Division IV, Region 13 quarterfinal matchup.
Woodridge coach Eric Ervin said his team is confident heading into the game against Girard (11-0).
“The Martins Ferry game was big for us for a lot of reasons, the first being it was the first time in school history Woodridge has qualified for the OHSAA football playoffs,” Ervin said. “Secondly, we had a long road trip in front of us and we weren't quite sure how that was going to go over, but I think we approached the trip the right way and our kids responded.”
Woodridge (9-2) trailed 14-0 early in the game, but persevered and responded with a stingy defense and explosive offensive effort for the remainder of the game.
“Going down early 14-0 could have been a big issue for some teams, but our guys just continued to believe and fight and fight,” Ervin said. “We always tell them to play the whole game, to play the last minute of the game just like they played the first minute.”
Senior running back Anthony Kelly and senior quarterback Anthony Westren were the primary playmakers in the comeback.
“Offensively, Anthony Kelly again showed why he is such a special player by going out there against a very, very stout Martins Ferry defense and carrying the load for us on the ground,” Ervin said. “Of course, you can't mention Kelly without mentioning the offensive linemen who just absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage. That ground game combined with the ability of Anthony Westren to make the right decisions, quickly, proved to be a big factor in the game.”
Woodridge’s defense forced six turnovers and was steady in the second half.
“Defensively, again our front seven made play after play after play,” Ervin said. “After we limited their run game, which is what they hang their hat on, they were forced to put the ball up and that is when our defensive backs got in on the action.”
Ervin praised the play of Kelly, Sebastian Dodds and Brandyn Peters on defense. Dodds and Kelly each had one interception and Peters grabbed two interceptions.
“He might have had one of the best all around performances I've seen from a football player in quite some time,” Ervin said of Peters. “He had 100 yards receiving, some rushing yards and two big interceptions, one of which went for a touchdown.”
Senior linebackers David Charles and Cameron Hilling have also been key defensively. Senior Brennan Owens and junior Jared Page have paced the offensive line and junior A.J. Graham is a playmaker on both sides of the ball.