Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Seven weeks ago, we weren’t sure if there was going to be a football season. So to say we’re happy to see playoff pigskin is an understatement.
While some area teams have earned first round byes, some have been tasked with putting their seasons on the line right off the bat.
In total this weekend, 18 teams are in action. It’s win or go home.
Here’s a preview of every Week 7 playoff game in SOSA’s coverage area.
DIVISION III, REGION 11
Miami Trace (3-3) at Chillicothe (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 9
Last week: Miami Trace lost 38-33 to Washington, Chillicothe beat Jackson 30-27 in double overtime
All-time playoff records: Miami Trace (6-8), Chillicothe (2-9)
If you’re having deja vu surrounding this matchup, you’re not alone. Just two weeks ago, the Cavaliers handed Miami Trace a 44-3 beatdown. However, MT running back Jayden LeBeau wasn’t able to play in that matchup. Would he have made up for 41 points? No. But he would’ve made a significant difference in the game’s storyline. The Cavs are coming off, possibly, the program’s biggest win this century. In the win over Jackson, Kam Smith rushed for 71 yards and passed for another 150. Two weeks ago, against MT, he was a human highlight reel, rushing for 207 and passing for 94 while scoring a pair of touchdowns. If MT wants a chance to play in Week 8, its game plan must center around No. 7 … and then address the likes of Joel Barnes, Logan Snowden, Tylin Scales and Maxwell Lee. Chillicothe’s weaponry seems to be unending and getting better each week.
DIVISION IV, REGION 16
Thurgood Marshall (1-2) at Washington (3-3), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Thurgood Marshall lost 47-12 to Dunbar, Washington beat Miami Trace 38-33
All-time playoff records: Thurgood Marshall (5-3), Washington (3-5)
First of all, Washington’s win over Miami Trace last week was anything but likely. The Blue Lions entered halftime trailing 27-6 and went into the fourth quarter down 27-18. They outscored the Panthers 20-6 in the final 12 minutes to seal their third win and their third straight. Meanwhile, Thurgood Marshall has now lost two straight, albeit to two programs who are a combined 6-0 in Trotwood-Madison and Dunbar. To beat the Cougars, Washington quarterback Ethan Rodgers-Wright will have to play well. He did so last week, completing 21-of-36 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns alongside 108 yards rushing and a score. It’ll be important for the Blue Lions to get a fast start. Playing behind a team with talent, like Thurgood Marshall, doesn’t and won’t spell success.
Hillsboro (1-5) at Unioto (4-2), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Hillsboro beat McClain 21-16, Unioto beat Westfall 41-30
All-time playoff records: Hillsboro (0-7), Unioto (0-3)
By all accounts, on paper, Unioto should have the upper hand in this matchup. However, Hillsboro’s schedule hasn’t been a cake walk. The Indians have played teams with a combined record of 20-16. Hillsboro’s Bryce Parsons leads the team’s offense. The running back scored a pair of touchdowns and collected 152 yards in last week’s 21-16 win over McClain. Containing Parsons should be the Shermans’ top concern. On the other side of the football, Unioto possesses multiple weapons in quarterback Isaac Little, tailbacks Quinlan Netter and Cameron Lohnes, and receivers Carson DeBord and Byrd Green. Little is at the center of that storm, having racked up 888 passing yards and 368 on the ground. When he gets going, Unioto is hard to beat. Neither team has ever won a playoff game, so no matter the outcome, history will be made on Saturday.
McClain (0-6) at Milton-Union (4-2), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: McClain lost 21-16 to Hillsboro, Milton-Union beat Dixie 48-15
All-time playoff records: McClain (0-0), Milton-Union (6-9)
There’s no real nice away to put this … McClain just hasn’t been very good this season. That’s what the numbers show and that’s reality. The Tigers have scored 59 points all season long while giving up 218. However, to cut McClain some slack, it’s played six teams with a combined record of 22-14. The road doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Milton-Union. The Bulldogs are a team that’s beaten Dayton Northridge, Madison, Shawnee and Dixie. They can indeed put points on the board, coming into the matchup averaging 24.3 points per outing. There’s no doubt about it … Milton-Union is the favorite to advance and play Valley View. But like they say, that’s why they play the game. It’s the postseason. Strangers things have happened.
DIVISION V, REGION 19
Westfall (3-2) at New Lexington (3-3), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Westfall lost 41-30 to Unioto, New Lexington lost 42-34 to Coshocton
All-time playoff records: Westfall (5-10), New Lexington (5-8)
After choosing not to play in Week 5, the Mustangs’ offense didn’t seem to have a problem picking up where it left off in Week 6. Led by quarterback Marcus Whaley, Westfall put up 30 points on Unioto’s defense. But it wasn’t enough as its own defense surrendered 41. See what we’re getting at? New Lexington can score like its hair is on fire. The Panthers have scored at least 28 points in four of six games this season, including 40 and 53-point outings. Whaley, alongside Lucas Blackburn, will pose a problem. Whaley passed for 260 yards and rushed for 74 last week while Blackburn had eight catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. To beat New Lexington, the recipe must include ball control, pocket protection and a stout defensive plan. If Whaley has time to find receivers, he’s dangerous. The winner gets a trip to Ironton.
Zane Trace (2-4) at Coshocton (4-2), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Zane Trace lost 46-0 to Adena, Coshocton beat New Lexington 42-34
All-time playoff records: Zane Trace (2-7), Coshocton (14-15)
Coshocton’s two losses have been by a combined 11 points to Meadowbrooke (36-28) and River View (30-27) while Zane Trace has been beaten by five, 15, 34 and 46. Those last two numbers came in back-to-back losses to end the season against Paint Valley (47-13) and Adena (46-0). This game should be won by the ability, or inability, to run the football. In the Redskins’ 42-34 win over New Lexington last week, they ran for 434 yards. Likewise, ZT’s strength is in its backfield. The two-headed monster of Daniel Barnhart and Logan McDowell has rushed for 876 yards this year, alongside nine touchdowns. That shifts attention to each team’s defense. Whichever group is able to plug the run will give their team the upper hand.
Piketon (2-3) at Minford (2-4), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Piketon beat Huntington 48-6, Minford lost 15-14 to Valley
All-time playoff records: Piketon (1-2), Minford (3-9)
This is one of the most intriguing matchups on this week’s slate. Both teams like to pass the ball, both have top-tier quarterbacks and both are no stranger to shootouts. For the Redstreaks, Levi Gullion has been nothing short of brilliant. The junior has passed for over 1,500 yards while leading his offense to 36.2 points per game. For the Falcons, it’s Mr. Elijah Vogelsong’s show to run, and he’s done an exceptional job at QB1 so far. Perhaps what both teams are missing is a defense. Piketon is surrendering 37.2 points per game, compared to the Falcons’ mark of 27.5. All of the above could make for a fun, points-filled matchup in Muletown.
Meigs (3-3) at Oak Hill (2-4), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Meigs beat Alexander 12-6, Oak Hill lost 63-16 to Waverly
All-time playoff records: Meigs (0-1), Oak Hill (4-6)
In last week’s loss to Waverly, Oak Hill allowed 359 yards through the air. Meigs is also a team that likes to throw the football. However, the Marauders’ usual starting quarterback, Coulter Cleland, missed last week’s game with a broken collarbone and the offense sputtered to a win — the unit had five turnovers, three of which were interceptions. That bodes well for the Oaks’ defensive unit, which is looking for a bounce-back performance. Oak Hill possesses a trio of capable running backs in its backfield, and has made its money through ground and pound action. Conor Dickens, Alex Firpo and Brandon Beam combined for 37 carries, 164 yards and two scores in last week’s loss. That trio, along with Brock Harden and Cameron Kerns, will be up for the challenge. When the Oaks run the football well, they have success. That will again be the key on Saturday.
Chesapeake (2-4) at West (3-3), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Chesapeake lost 42-35 to Coal Grove, West lost 28-0 to Wheelersburg
All-time playoff records: Chesapeake (3-10), West (7-10)
To put it bluntly, West’s offense was non-existent last week. The Senators managed to pick up just 91 yards of total offense against rival Wheelersburg in a 28-0 loss. But the motivating factor to beat Chesapeake may just be another shot at the Pirates, who the winner plays on Oct. 17. The Senators’ attack is led by sophomore quarterback Mitchell Irwin, who passed for 174 yards and two touchdowns just two weeks ago. Seniors Luke Bradford and Andrew Jones are often Irwin’s favorite targets while Hunter Brown anchors the team’s backfield. West’s defense will be tasked with stopping the Panthers’ offense, which is averaging 26.5 points per game. Quarterback Donald Richendollar leads that group and rushed for 186 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s loss. West’s defense has been decent this season, giving up 24.5 points per week, but 14 or less in its three victories. If that unit shows up to stop the run, Chesapeake becomes one-dimensional … which won’t be good news for the Panthers.
Portsmouth (1-5) at Northwest (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Portsmouth lost 18-12 in overtime to Gallia Academy, Northwest beat Symmes Valley 10-8
All-time playoff records: Portsmouth (8-11), Northwest (0-0)
The scoreboard operator may have a busy night in McDermott on Saturday. The Trojans have made a habit of surrendering big plays, allowing 30-plus points in four separate occasions. Portsmouth’s best showing possibly came in last week’s overtime loss to Gallia Academy. In that contest, the Blue Devils gained just 254 yards, compared to Portsmouth’s mark of 299. Northwest, on the other hand, won a barnburner against Symmes Valley — wrapping up a fifth consecutive win and an outright SOC I title. The Mohawks couldn’t get the run game going, which is their strength, but silenced Symmes Valley’s offense after a first quarter score. The Vikings had just 129 total yards. The biggest difference in that game was ball security. The Mohawks turned the ball over four times and still managed to kick the game-winning field goal with 1:24 remaining. If Northwest can take care of the football and get its ground game rolling, Portsmouth’s Amare Johnson and Drew Roe will stay on the sideline with the rest of their offense. That’s the recipe Northwest needs to use to advance and play Bishop Ready.
DIVISION VI, REGION 23
Northridge (1-5) at Valley (2-4), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Northridge lost 35-7 to Johnstown-Monroe, Valley beat Minford 15-14
All-time playoff records: Northridge (2-4), Valley (12-10)
While Valley is coming off a thrilling win over Minford, Northridge will be trying to bounce back from a 35-7 loss to Johnstown-Monroe. The Vikings’ only win this season came over Utica, an 0-6 football team, by a 20-15 final. In their five losses, the offense hasn’t been effective, scoring no more than 20 points in any contest. That bodes well for Valley, which held Minford’s offense to just 247 total yards a week ago. Carter Nickel threw for 145 yards and a touchdown while George Arnett rushed for 122 more and a score of his own. Arnett also caught a touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter, before tallying the game-winning two-point conversion. Valley’s defense will line up against a team that’s averaging 11.3 points per game. If that holds true, and the offense does just enough, Valley could absolutely advance to play Worthington Christian on Oct. 17.
Southeastern (1-5) at Symmes Valley (4-2), 7 p.m., Oct. 10
Last week: Southeastern lost 40-0 to Paint Valley, Symmes Valley lost 10-8 to Northwest
All-time playoff records: Southeastern (2-3), Symmes Valley (3-12)
Symmes Valley has played four teams with subpar records this season and has beaten those four opponents by an average of 30.5 points. Southeastern’s only win has come in a 44-28 victory over Huntington, which finished the regular season at 0-6. Both of these programs were playoff teams a year ago. However, the Panthers lost most of their skill players while the Vikings welcomed most back into the fold. SV has been paced by Josh Ferguson and Luke Leith, but that duo was held to 70 combined rushing yards in last week’s loss. This could be the week they return to normal as Southeastern’s defense has been prone to giving up yards on the ground. If that happens, the Panthers could be in for a long night. SE will have to be better on the offensive side of the football than it has been. The group, which has scored six points in its past two games, often has trouble moving the chains. With a trip to Nelsonville-York on the line, Symmes Valley has the upper hand. But SE will play like it has something to prove.