Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Here’s a brief look at 10 area high school football games:
Unioto at Vinton County, 7:30 p.m.
Last year’s result: Unioto beat Vinton County, 21-6.
Last five years: Unioto leads series 5-0 and has outscored Vikings, 145-57.
Outlook: Let’s get this out of the way … Unioto’s Jamarcus Carroll looks to be healthy once again. Send our regards to opposing defenses. The electric tailback rushed for 1,329 yards last season, even while sitting out the team’s final 4 1/2 contests after an ACL injury forced him to watch from the sidelines. Carroll also has a new backfield mate in transfer Isaac Little, who’s more than capable himself. The Shermans, as whole, were hit hard by the injury bug last season. They’re now healthy and return a platoon of talent on each side of the football. Their first test comes against a Vinton County program that finished 4-6 a year ago. Over the past three seasons, the Vikings have floated around .500, posting an overall record of 13-17. The Shermans own the last five meetings, including 34-7, 30-13 and 21-6 over the past three. They’ll be looking for a sixth straight in Week 1.
Zane Trace at Logan Elm, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Zane Trace beat Logan Elm, 10-6.
Last five years: Zane Trace leads series 3-2 and has outscored Braves, 113-94.
Outlook: After finishing 4-6 a year ago, the Pioneers return several key pieces this fall, including quarterback Gabe Shanton, tailback Cougar Stauffer and linebacker Caden Fry. Shanton passed for 1,305 yards, Stauffer ran for 580 and Fry is the team’s returning tackle leader with 56. But are those names, alongside a host of capable teammates, enough for Zane Trace to get back to the playoffs for the first time since the program’s back-to-back berths in 2015-16? Logan Elm has endured a recent downturn … the Braves own an overall record of 6-24, including 1-9 marks in each of the last two years. The Pioneers have taken advantage of that fact, winning their season opener against LE in 2017 (33-0) and 2018 (10-6). They’ll be looking to extend their winning streak to three, and head into Week 2 at 1-0.
Northwest at Southeastern, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Southeastern beat Northwest, 34-0.
Last five years: Southeastern leads series 3-2 and has outscored Mohawks, 142-78.
Outlook: Behind dual-threat quarterback Lane Ruby, backfield hand Mikey Nusser, linebacker John Winfield and team leader Dalton Thurston, Southeastern silenced its doubters once again in 2018. The Panthers clinched a second straight playoff appearance and posted a 7-4 overall record. As for their history with Northwest, recently, they’ve had the upper hand. Southeastern has claimed the last three meetings by a combined score of 118-18. They have the firepower to put up gaudy offensive numbers against the Mohawks again this year as coach Evan Gallaugher’s Wing-T offense is now the program’s bread and butter. On paper, Northwest doesn’t look to have the athletes to slow down Ruby and company. But that’s why they play the game.
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Adena at McClain, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Adena beat McClain, 31-15.
Last five years: Adena leads series 4-1 and has outscored Tigers, 145-105.
Outlook: Last season, Adena clinched its first playoff appearance since 2011 and the program’s fifth overall. The Warriors did so behind the play of Preston Sykes, Dalton Metzger, Carson Long, among a cast of others. Those three names are back, and so is coach John Penwell. That bunch will be looking to clinch back-to-back postseason berths … if that’s to happen, it’d be the first such feat since 2005-06. As for McClain, the Tigers are 5-45 over the past five season. Having said that, the only way to go is up. But second-year coach Jake Orr-Zody is optimistic his program can take improving strides as the season goes along. Last season, the Tigers snapped a 22-game losing streak in Week 4. Then, they won a second game in Week 6. Those are baby steps. Now, it’s time to take the next step as a program. They’ll have their work cut out for them to start that process, hosting the Warriors.
Chillicothe at Teays Valley, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Chillicothe beat Teays Valley, 14-13.
Last five years: Chillicothe leads series 4-1 and has outscored Vikings, 112-106.
Outlook: This series has been about as close as they come in terms of both talent and final scores. Over the past five seasons, neither team has walked away with a victory larger than seven points. After finishing 7-3 last fall, the Cavaliers were hit hard by graduation, being forced to say goodbye to quarterback Adrian Beverly, all-purpose back J’Quan Harris, receivers Zach Coats and Chris Postage, and many others. They also said goodbye to legendary coach Ron Hinton, who has been replaced by Doug Pryor, Jr. To say the least, question marks surround this year’s team as it faces transition. A win against an always formidable Teays Valley squad would say a lot about the Cavaliers’ resolve. But the Vikings will have other ideas.
Miami Trace at Circleville, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Miami Trace beat Circleville, 27-18.
Last five years: Miami Trace leads series 3-2 and has outscored Tigers, 148-133.
Outlook: It’s no secret that neither Miami Trace or Circleville was very good last season as the two combined for an overall record of 2-18. This year, both the Panthers and Tigers are looking to start on the right foot and while playing each other, they each have a winnable game to start the year. The Panthers, led by tailback Caden Sweitzer, have 18 returning varsity lettermen and six to seven returning starters on each side of the football. Miami Trace, which has a storied history of postseason appearances, hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2014. Coach Jerry Williams’ crew would love nothing more than to break that trend. But the first step in doing so is beating Circleville on the road. It’s a task the Panthers can complete if they stick to their game plan, take care of the football and execute well.
Wellston at Jackson, Saturday, 8 p.m.
Last year’s result: Jackson beat Wellston, 54-14.
Last five years: Jackson leads series 5-0 and has outscored Rockets, 229-56.
Outlook: In what they say will be the “last” meeting between the two programs, Wellston and Jackson renew an age-old rivalry one final time this coming Saturday. To be blunt, the Golden Rockets haven’t came close to sniffing Jackson in the recent past. The Ironmen have used a mix of speed, power and agility to bury Wellston year after year … after year. This season, Jackson brings back quarterback Jared Icenhower to lead an offense that coach Andy Hall believes in. That could spell trouble for Wellston and first-year coach Mike Smith, who’s the 11th head coach in program history.
Wheelersburg at Ironton, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Wheelersburg beat Ironton, 28-6.
Last five years: Wheelersburg leads series 7-0 (including playoff meetings) and has outscored Fighting Tigers, 257-51.
Outlook: If you’re looking for a classic rivalry game that poses the threat of becoming an instant classic, we’ll see you in Ironton Friday. Some believe that after eight straight losses, including playoff contests, to Wheelersburg, this could be the Fighting Tigers’ chance to snap a losing streak. However, if they’re to do that, they must stop Pirates quarterback Makya Matthews from running wild … not an easy task whatsoever. It does, however, help when you have the state’s top-rated linebacker in junior Reid Carrico. Ironton, now under the leadership of coach Trevon Pendleton, will be in front of a home crowd with wind behind their sails. We’re going to see just how tough Wheelersburg is this year early as it tries to endure the storm.
Athens at Waverly, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Did not play.
Last five years: N/A
Outlook: New to the Week 1 schedule is a matchup between the Bulldogs and Tigers … Athens replaces Warren while Waverly does away with Piketon. The change should not only benefit both teams but also their fans. Both programs clinched playoff berths a season ago and both finished 9-2. Athens’ pair of losses came to Fairland (35-31) and Bishop Hartley (51-14) while Waverly fell to Wheelersburg (49-0) and Indian Hill (63-28). The Tigers’ offensive attack should once again be the team’s center point, led by quarterback Haydn’ Shanks and all-purpose back Payton Shoemaker. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will have holes to fill. Athens had six first-team all-district selections in 2018, all six of whom have graduated. Having said that, the program has a rich football history. They’ll find a way to manage and they have the athletes to make up for losses.
Rock Hill at Minford, 7 p.m.
Last year’s result: Minford beat Rock Hill, 27-20.
Last five years: Minford leads series 4-0 (the two didn’t meet in 2015) and has outscored Rock Hill, 90-80.
Outlook: With Elijah Vogelsong and Ty Wiget running the show, Minford has high expectations heading into the 2019 season. The Falcons were hit with a series of injuries late in the season last fall as the team finished 1-4 over its last five contests. If you remember, Minford started the season 5-0. Losses to Wheelersburg (49-0), Waverly (43-13) and Valley (42-14) kept the group out of the playoffs but you have to think, with a healthy roster, they may have just snuck in. The Falcons’ Week 1 opponent is no slouch. The Redmen lost seven games last season but all seven came to opponents with a .500 record or better, including the 27-20 loss to Minford in Week 1. Overall, the seven losses came to teams with a combined mark of 47-28. With another year of experience now under their belts, the Redmen have the talent to sneak up on opponents. Minford must be aware.
Follow Southern Ohio Sports Authority’s live game updates from Athens at Waverly (@dw1509), Oak Hill at Chesapeake (@SirBrockNetter), Northwest at Southeastern (@mikeknightrider), Unioto at Vinton County (@CoconutWallpapa), Adena at McClain (@ClayArcher3) and Wellston at Jackson (@SirBrockNetter) Friday and Saturday on Twitter at hashtag #SOSA.
Then be sure to visit sohiosa.com Friday night and Saturday morning for complete Week 1 coverage.
OTHER AREA CONTESTS
- Westfall at Madison Plains, 7 p.m.
- Piketon at South Point, 7 p.m.
- Reedsville Eastern at Huntington, 7 p.m.
- Blanchester at Washington, 7 p.m.
- Western Brown at Hillsboro, 7 p.m.
- Southern at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.
- Dohn Community at Green, 7 p.m.
- Waterford at East, 7 p.m.
- Symmes Valley at South Gallia, 7 p.m.
- Oak Hill at Chesapeake, 7 p.m.
- West at KIPP Columbus, 7 p.m.