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PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Wheelersburg meeting with Ridgewood in Division V, Region 19 Semifinal

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

WHEELERSBURG — As expected, last week’s postseason contest between Minford and Wheelersburg — much like the two’s regular season matchup — was an exciting one.

But for the second time this season, the Pirates walked away victorious with a close win. 

Wheelersburg, now at 8-3, pushed their winning streak to six games while beating the Falcons by a 28-23 final to stay alive and advance.

Now, the Pirates turn their attention to Week 12, where they’ll meet with Ridgewood at Lancaster High School, a program that stands at 11-0 after an impressive 56-21 win over Portsmouth one week ago.

Both programs have fought to get to Week 12, both still have plenty to prove and both are hungry for a postseason win. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s game.

THE FACTS

WHEELERSBURGRIDGEWOOD
Southern OhioCONFERENCEInter-Valley South
Rob WoodwardHEAD COACHJohn Slusser
8-3RECORD11-0
31PLAYOFF APPEARANCES14
8 (2018)CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF BERTHS (LAST PLAYOFF BERTH)2 (2018)
39-28OVERALL PLAYOFF RECORD7-13

FOUR THINGS TO KNOW

  • Both programs have a storied playoff past. The Generals were a state semifinalist in 2009 and have made postseason appearances in 14 times since 2003. The only years they’ve missed clinching a playoff berth since that time are 2012, 2013 and 2017. As for Wheelersburg, the Pirates are the midst of their 31st postseason appearance, where they’re 39-28. ‘Burg has been a state semifinalist in three of the last four years and eight times overall. They’ve won two state championships, coming in 2017 and 1989.
  • Ridgewood’s 56-21 win over Portsmouth last season came alongside 415 total yards, 237 of which came through the air. The Generals held the ball for 23:56 while committing nine penalties for a total of 70 yards. They picked up 18 first downs, held a 29-0 lead after the first quarter and a 42-7 edge at halftime.
Wheelersburg’s Evan Horsley can hurt opponents with his arm and his legs.
CREDIT: Jenny Campbell/SOSA
  • Wheelersburg has played in seven consecutive regional semifinals, all of which have been wins. Against Ridgewood, the Pirates are 4-0 all-time with their last win coming in 2016 (37-6). The others have happened in 2007 (21-13), 2010 (21-12) and 2015 (42-21). In three of those contests, current coach Rob Woodward was the Pirates’ head coach. He was an assistant coach in the 2007 win over the Generals.
  • The Generals’ schedule this season has featured just three teams with winning records, including Portsmouth (7-4)  last week. During the regular season, Ridgewood faced Indian Valley (9-2) and Garaway (9-2), beating the two by a combined margin of 77-16. They also faced Malvern (5-6), a playoff team that lost to Cuyahoga Heights last week, and won 39-6. As for Wheelersburg, Ridgewood marks the team’s sixth opponent that has qualified for the postseason … Ironton (10-1), Bishop Hartley (10-1), Jackson (11-0), Minford (7-4) and Waverly (9-2).

PRIMETIME PLAYERS

Gabe Tingle, QB, Ridgewood: If you’re the quarterback of an undefeated team at this point in the season, then you’re doing something right. Tingle did a lot of things correctly in last week’s drubbing of the Trojans, throwing for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 12-of-19 pass attempts. He’ll face a better defense this week, but it’s something he’s done all year long.

Kaden Smith, RB, Ridgewood: Smith is as tough as they come in the backfield. He’s consistently lightened the load for Tingle this season while leading the Generals’ running backs. Last week, Smith had nine carries for 81 yards and two scores. He also caught three passes for 84 yards. If he gets space to roam, don’t blink.

Wheelersburg’s Makya Matthews rushed for 204 yards in last week’s win over Minford.
CREDIT: Jenny Campbell/SOSA

Evan Horsley, QB, Wheelersburg: Since taking over the reigns of the Pirates’ offense, Horsley has led the program to six straight wins. In fact, this season, he hasn’t yet lost a start. In last week’s win, he was just 4-of-8 passing for 38 yards. But his legs led him to 93 yards and a score on 14 carries. He’s equally effective in both phases of the game.  

Makya Matthews, RB, Wheelersburg: Simply put, this section isn’t complete without Matthews. He’s the Pirates’ most dangerous playmaker, his mix of speed and agility has frustrated opponents all season long and he’s coming off yet another monster performance. In the Pirates’ win over the Falcons, Matthews rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. 

WHAT LIES AHEAD

One team will face a lengthy offseason and the other will face the winner of Ironton (10-1) and Amanda-Clearcreek (9-2) in Week 13.

You can follow live Twitter updates at @SirBrockNetter on Saturday night. Then, after the game, be sure to visit sohiosa.com for details, photos and video from the contest.

SPONSORED BY SCHMIDT FAMILY RESTAURANT GROUP

About Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.
Read All Posts By Derrick Webb

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