Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — The Scioto Valley Conference is rather top heavy with four teams still in contention for the league title. But Friday’s game between Paint Valley and Unioto has the potential to cut that number to three.
The Bearcats currently sit with a 2-0 mark inside conference play, defeating Adena and Piketon while the Shermans are 1-1 after defeating Zane Trace and falling to Adena.
|8-11||All-Time Postseason Record||0-3|
|1||Consecutive Playoff Appearances||3|
|43-0 win over Huntington||Last week’s results||50-6 win over Zane Trace|
There’s also a little bit of a revenge on the line for Unioto. The Shermans lost 26-21 last season to the Bearcats after standout running back Jamarcus Carroll was injured midway through the game.
However, this time around, it’s Paint Valley who’s dealing with a major injury as quarterback Bryce Newland is still recovering from a broken fibula.
As we prepare for a knockdown, drag-out battle between two of the SVC’s best. Here’s a preview for SOSA’s Game of the Week.
PAINT VALLEY BEARCATS (5-1)
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR
- Brayden Ison (RB), Lane Mettler (RB), Ian Cockrell (QB)
Even with Newland’s injury, the Bearcats haven’t missed a beat offensively, scoring 56 and 43 points in the last two games.
With Iann Cockrell filling in at quarterback, that means the ball is only in his hands that much more, which is exactly what the Bearcats want.
In the last two games, Ison has found the end zone nine times … yes, you read that right … while his counterpart Lane Mettler has touched pay dirt three times.
Nothing about the Bearcats’ offensive attack is going to change, but then again, when you have the running back talent they possess, you don’t fix what isn’t broken.
The Bearcats comfortably sit at No. 3 in the Division VI, Region 24 computer ratings, only behind SVC counterparts Southeastern and Adena … In their three games against teams with winning records (Newark Catholic, Marion Pleasant and Adena, all of whom are in playoff contention), they’re 2-1.
UNIOTO SHERMANS (4-2)
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR
- Isaac Little (QB), Jamarcus Carroll (RB), Byrd Green (WR)
After a huge punch to the gut in a loss to Adena, Unioto got back to basics and ran the ball for over 300 yards in a 50-6 win over Zane Trace last week.
The duo of Carroll and Isaac Little have ran for a total of 858 yards and 15 touchdowns (11 from Carroll), and Little has shown the ability to throw with 575 yards and five touchdowns through the air.
The passing game could be the difference maker as the Bearcats have shown to be vulnerable in pass coverage, evidenced by Piketon’s Levi Gullion throwing for 314 yards and five touchdowns against them in Week 5.
That could mean Byrd Green, Unioto’s leading receiver with 228 yards, might see a lot of targets this week off play-action.
Currently sitting at No. 12 in Division III, Regional 11, the Shermans must run the table to get the No. 8 playoff spot … In their three matchups against playoff teams (Waverly, Amanda-Clearcreek and Adena), they’re 1-2.
BOTTOM LINE …
Unioto has everything to lose while Paint Valley has everything to gain.
A loss, for sure, seals Unioto’s fate that it misses the playoffs for the first time in four years. It also pretty much eliminates its chances for an SVC championship, something the program hasn’t won or shared since 1998.
For Paint Valley, a loss doesn’t take it out of playoff contention, but it puts a dent in its SVC championship aspirations. With a win, the Bearcats more than likely move to No. 1 in their region, having already defeated Adena, who currently holds the No. 1 spot.