Kelley, Steinke tackle

Edon’s Parker Kelley (right), Ethan Steinke (left) and Garrett Skiles (bottom) tackle Antwerp’s Carson Altimus during Saturday’s OHSAA Division VII, Region 26 football quarterfinal at Leanne Field in Edon.

EDON — Throughout nearly the entire regular season, Edon used its high-scoring offense to cruise past its opponents.

During the OHSAA Division VII, Region 26 football playoffs, though, the Bombers have had to find different ways to win. And through two postseason games, they’ve gotten it done.

“I think it’s having trust in each other because we believe in each other,” Edon senior wide receiver Ethan Steinke said. “If you believe in your guys next to you, you can do anything and get the job done and just survive and move on.”

Whether it’s making a big defensive stand, diving for a loose ball or punching it in the end zone in the final minutes, the Bombers (11-1) have been able to keep their historic season intact. Edon, the No. 2 seed, will make its first regional semifinal appearance in school history when it takes on No. 3 Lima Central Catholic (10-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Donnell Stadium in Findlay.

“It’s awesome getting to go this far and do something our school’s never done before, like getting a (Toledo Area Athletic Conference) championship and winning playoff games with the guys that I’ve been playing with since fifth and sixth grade,” Steinke said. “It’s just a great time.”

The road through the postseason hasn’t been easy for Edon, which was nearly unstoppable in averaging 45.9 points per game during the regular season and winning eight of its nine contests by at least 14 points. The rugged Region 26, which features four of the top 10 teams in the final Ohio Associated Press Division VII poll, has provided two huge tests for the Bombers.

Edon overcame several obstacles to edge No. 7-seed Antwerp 26-21 in Saturday’s Region 26 quarterfinal. After the Archers took a 21-20 lead with 5:29 left, Edon was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, and after the Bombers’ punt return for a touchdown was called back due to a penalty, Edon had to make a couple more big plays to win.

Gannon Ripke snatched a 10-yard reception on a pass from Drew Gallehue on fourth-and-8 from the Antwerp 19 with 1:43 left, then scored on a 9-yard touchdown with 1:14 left to give the Bombers the 26-21 lead. Several pass breakups defensively in the final minute sealed the victory.

In Edon’s 28-20 Region 26 first-round win over No. 15 Spencerville, the Bombers were shut out for more than two quarters as the Bearcats trimmed a 22-point deficit to nine late in the third quarter.

Ripke’s 43-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-19 with just over two minutes left gave Edon a 15-point lead, and after Spencerville scored a touchdown, the Bombers recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure the single-digit victory.

“Even though we didn’t have the best two weeks, we still came out with a ‘W,’” Gallehue said. “That just gives us motivation to continue to work harder and be better, that way we can put up bigger numbers than we have the past two weeks.”

Added senior wideout Hayden Dye: “We didn’t play to our full potential, but we always find a way to come back and win. That’s what we’re trying to do, just keep winning.”

Playing in pressure-packed moments and big games over the past several years has paid dividends for Edon.

Two years ago, the No. 7 Bombers gave No. 2 Norwalk St. Paul a battle before falling 35-21 in a Region 26 quarterfinal.

Last season, Edon played two playoff games and earned its first postseason victory in school history after beating Arcadia 34-7 in an opening-round game.

Even during the 2021 regular season, the Bombers have passed numerous big tests. Edon toppled Ottawa Lake Whiteford, one of the top small school teams in Michigan, 52-32 on short notice and held off Fort Loramie 24-21 in a low-scoring game. The Bombers nearly outlasted St. Paul in a shootout on short notice as well early in the year before falling 45-44 at Norwalk.

St. Paul (10-1) is still competing in the Region 25 playoffs; Fort Loramie (5-7) reached the Region 28 quarterfinals before losing to powerhouse Marion Local; and Whiteford (10-1) is still alive in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 8 playoffs.

“They’ve given us looks at competition,” Steinke said. “Sometimes our league might not be the strongest, but there’s always going to be at least a few games each year where you’re going to have to fight to win. Seeing all of those big games helps keep us focused in crunch time.”

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