Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — If you’ve doubted Southeastern this season in the least bit, the Panthers have undoubtedly silenced those thoughts in a resounding way … or at least they should have.
Southeastern, the outright Scioto Valley Conference champion, continued their perfect season last week while taking Dayton Christian to the woodshed in a 40-3 victory, claiming the program’s second-ever playoff win.
Now, the Panthers turn their attention to Week 12, where they’ll meet with Covington, a program that stands at 9-2 after a hard-fought 33-27 win over Worthington Christian 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 Friday’s game before the Panthers and Buccs meet up at Xenia High School.
|Cross County||CONFERENCE||Scioto Valley|
|Tyler Cates||HEAD COACH||Evan Gallaugher|
|2 (2018)||CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF BERTHS (LAST PLAYOFF BERTH)||3 (2018)|
|16-22||OVERALL PLAYOFF RECORD||2-4|
FOUR THINGS TO KNOW
- If you like offense, Friday night may be the night for you. The Panthers come into the matchup averaging 46.4 points per game, totaling 510 points this season and scoring at least 40-plus points in seven contests. Covington hasn’t been quite as efficient but still possesses plenty of firepower, averaging 44.6 points per game after putting up 40-plus points in six games and 70-plus points in two contests … 75-0 and 74-6 victories in Weeks 7 and 9.
- Covington’s schedule is a decent one. The Buccs’ opponents have a combined record of 57-56, including last week’s win, but contain a group of three playoff teams in Minster, Fort Loramie and the aforementioned Worthington Christian. Covington’s two losses this season are to Minster (35-25) and Fort Loramie (19-14) but the Buccs have beaten four teams with a winning record in Ansonia (6-4), Miami East (6-4), Arcanum (7-3) and Worthington Christian (8-3).
- In last week’s win, Covington had a 27-7 lead at halftime and then allowed Worthington Christian to win the second half by a 20-6 margin. Covington, however, is no stranger to postseason football. The program is in the midst of its 23rd playoff appearance. The Buccs’ playoff culture is a rich one as the program was the state runner-up in 1979 and a state semifinalist in 1980 and 1985.
- Southeastern is the final Scioto Valley Conference team left. The Panthers’ counterparts Paint Valley and Adena both fell in Division VI, Region 24 Quarterfinals last week. The Bearcats fell to Grandview Heights by a 35-28 final while the Warriors lost to Mechanicsburg 32-7. In the past three years, Southeastern has won two Gold Balls, two league titles and two playoff games.
Tanner Chenault, LB, Southeastern: Chenault may not grace the stat sheet in many places, he may not reach the end zone on many plays, and he may not appear in many headlines. But what he does do is everything coach Evan Gallaugher’s crew asks of him, which is why he’s been a huge part of the Panthers’ success this season. Chenault is big, physical and runs with speed and power. He’ll make a difference on both sides of the ball, as he always does.
Dalton Thurston, RB, Southeastern: Thurston, like Chenault, does all of the little things to be a great football player. He’s helped the Panthers’ backfield stay balanced, he’s routinely made plays when it matters most and he provides yet another threat for quarterback Lane Ruby to take advantage of. In last week’s win, Thurston scored on three two-point conversion tries. He’s an imperative part to Southeastern’s game plan and he’ll play that same role Friday night.
Brayden Wiggins, RB, Covington: After a 17-carry, 101-yard performance against Worthington Christian, Wiggins will look for an encore against Southeastern on turf. Standing at just 5-foot-6, Wiggins hits the hole hard. He’s got great field vision, soft hands in the passing game, and an instinct you can’t teach. Covington will call his number multiple times.
Cade Schmelzer, QB, Covington: As the leader of the Buccs’ offense, Schmelzer has thrown for 2,000-plus yards and 22 touchdowns. Heading into last week, he had a 22-2 touchdown-interception ratio, partly because of multiple playmakers … including Andrew Cates, Kleyton Maschino and Alex Shaffer … in the passing game. He’s accurate, he makes smart decisions and he has the weapons in place to help him be elite.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
One team will face a lengthy offseason and the other will face the winner of Mechanicsburg (9-2) and Grandview Heights (7-4) in Week 13.
You can follow live Twitter updates at @dw1509 on Friday night. Then, after the game, be sure to visit sohiosa.com for details, photos and video from the contest.