(10-29-17) Shawn Murlin was a Senior member of the 1993 Celina Bulldog Football Team, it was a great year for Jerry Harris and his team.
The Bulldogs went 9-1, the only loss they suffered that season was to Grand Lake rival St. Marys 35-19, which is always a game Celina would love to win. St. Marys went 9-0 in the WBL and won the conference title, Celina hwould have to settle for a 2nd place finish. The news didn’t get any better, the Bulldogs would be left out of the D II playoffs. To top that off, in the State title game St. Marys (Celina’s only loss) would shut-out Uniontown Lake 21-0 and finish a 14-0 undefeated season and a big trophy to take home to sit by the WBL trophy. That was a tough pill for Bulldog fans to swallow after such a great season.
This season Shawn’s son Kole has been the ‘iron man‘ for the Bulldogs and now he knows exactly how his dad felt back in 1993. The 7-3 Bulldogs, under first year Head Coach Brennen Bader, had a great season and just missed the playoffs by the slimmest of margins (due to several circumstances) in 2017.
In 1993 only four schools advanced in each region in five divisions for the playoffs, the 9-1 team was a victim of that rule. In 2017 eight qualify in each region and now there are seven divisions.
Several Bulldog teams in the past have missed the playoffs with 7-3 records.
OHSAA Playoffs From The Beginning…
The OHSAA playoff system began with the 1972 season. All football schools were divided into the three recognized classes of AAA, AA and A, based on their enrollment, with each Class subdivided into four regions. An early computerized system developed by Jack Harbin assigned point values to each school in an attempt to mathematically determine a team’s strength and that of its opponents. At the end of the regular season, the team with the highest point total in each region qualified for the playoffs. In those earliest days of the playoffs, therefore, only 12 teams from the entire state qualified for post-season play – three classes of four regions each – with only one school from each region able to qualify. This system remained unchanged from 1972-1979.
In 1980 the categories of the schools were renamed from “Class” to “Division,” and were increased in number from three to five, with Division I representing the biggest schools, down to Division V for the smallest. Each division was still broken down into four regions, but now the top two schools in each region qualified for the playoffs, for a total of 40 schools now eligible for the post-season. In 1985 a further expansion of eligible schools took place when it was decided that the top four schools in each region would make the playoffs, doubling the number of qualifying schools to 80. In 1994 a sixth division was created, adding 16 more schools to the state football tournament.
In 1999 the number of qualifying schools was again doubled when it was determined that the top eight teams in each region would play for a state championship, for a total of 192 teams.