Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
The dream has ended for some area programs, but for others, it lives on.
Week 8 is now upon us as second round playoff contests get set for kickoff. We saw, with a few exceptions, what we expected to see a week ago.
Now the real fun begins as top-seeded programs get their first crack at the postseason.
Here’s a look at matchups throughout SOSA’s coverage area.
Division III, Region 11
Miami Trace (4-3) at London (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 16
Last week: Miami Trace beat Chillicothe 27-14, London had a bye
All-time playoff records: Miami Trace (7-8), London (5-8)
Let’s call a spade a spade … if Chillicothe would’ve been at full strength last Friday, the Panthers might not be playing this weekend. But they are and that’s the story they’re sticking to. After a 27-14 win over the Cavaliers, which avenged an earlier season loss, they’ll have their hands full with London. How does MT pull out a win? Ball control, ball control, ball control. Jayden LeBeau must have his presence felt in the backfield, just like last week when he rushed for 151 yards on 22 carries. In the passing game, Weston Melvin and Josh Gilmore hooked up seven times for 151 yards and three touchdowns as well. But LeBeau and the running game should be the focus. The longer London doesn’t have the football, the less chance its offense has to score. That could, however, be easier said than done. The Red Raiders’ defense has been stifling this season, holding opponents to 11.8 points per game. If you take the team’s only loss away, a 30-13 score to Jonathan Alder, the defense has given up a total of 41 points in five games.
Tri-Valley (6-1) at Jackson (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 16
Last week: Tri-Valley beat Centennial 50-0, Jackson had a bye
All-time playoff records: Tri-Valley (14-11), Jackson (8-14)
This one could be a toss-up. However, judging by each team’s schedule, Tri-Valley may have a slight upper hand. Though, neither team’s regular season schedule has been exactly challenging. The Scotties’ lone loss this season came to an undefeated Sheridan team, a 33-0 final. Otherwise, Tri-Valley owns wins over Morgan, Maysville, Philo, River View and John Glenn. When you throw in last week’s win over Centennial, they’ve beaten six opponents with a combined record of 12-27. Jackson’s story isn’t much different. After ending the season with a double overtime loss at Chillicothe, the Ironmen have faced opponents with a combined record of 13-28. But if Jackson simply plays like itself, the Ironmen should be playing in Week 9. Treylan Davis, Jacob Winters, Tristan Prater, Evan Spires and Cade Wolford are all more than capable athletes. Aside from Chillicothe, that group has simply overpowered opponents, outscoring them 237-42.
Division IV, Region 16
Norwood (4-3) at Waverly (6-0), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: Norwood beat Shroder 36-18, Waverly had a bye
All-time playoff records: Norwood (3-4), Waverly (4-8)
Waverly, quite simply, comes into Saturday’s contest on an absolute steamroll. The Tigers breezed through their SOC schedule, beating opponents by an average of 33.2 points. The Tigers’ two most impressive wins both came by 36-35 finals against Granville and Wheelersburg. Haydn’ Shanks is one of, if not the, area’s best quarterbacks. He’s passed for 1,694 yards while Will Futhey and Phoenix Wolf have collected 580 and 474 receiving yards, respectively. The Tigers’ offense is dynamic at every turn while Zeke Brown, Penn Morrison and Jaxon Poe have also been viable options. Waverly’s opponent this week is coming off an 18-point win last week, after beating Lockland, Summit Country Day and St. Bernard-Elmwood Place during the regular season. Norwood’s largest win came over SCD, a 49-13 final. Otherwise, not counting last week, the Indians have beaten their opponents by a total of 12 points. Shroder passed for 203 yards against Norwood’s defense last week, completing 17-of-26 passes, possibly an omen. If the Tigers’ passing game gets going, that spells danger for the Indians. Shanks and company haven’t missed their marks yet.
Unioto (5-2) at Archbishop McNicholas (4-2), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: Unioto beat Hillsboro 42-14, Archbishop McNicholas had a bye
All-time playoff records: Unioto (1-3), Archbishop McNicholas (9-11)
To put it simply, Unioto enters this week as a clear underdog. But the Shermans have been there before. Archbishop McNicholas’ two losses have come to Archbishop Alter and Badin, two teams who are 4-2 and 6-0. The Rockets, however, haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. If that’s to change this week, they’ll have to contain Isaac Little, Unioto’s do-it-all signal caller. Little was magnificent in last week’s win over Hillsboro, tallying five total touchdowns. McNicholas has its own dynamic playmaker in Tyler Snyder, who rushed for 126 yards on 16 carries in the team’s last win, a 22-0 score over Chaminade Julienne. The Rockets enter the week on a two-game losing skid while the Tanks do so on a three-game winning streak. McNicholas’ offense is averaging 20.8 points per week, so they’re human. Unioto’s defense has to stand its ground. Last week’s victory was the Shermans’ first-ever playoff win and they’re riding that momentum into a game they’re not supposed to win. Stranger things have happened.
Division V, Region 19
Piketon (3-3) at Harvest Prep (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: Piketon beat Minford 53-51, Harvest Prep had a bye
All-time playoff records: Piketon (2-2), Harvest Prep (8-6)
Minford’s defense is still having nightmares about Redstreaks quarterback Levi Gullion. What a night he had in the team’s 53-51 win. The junior was responsible for over 600 yards of offense and had a hand in eight touchdowns. That’s absolutely insane. Meanwhile, Camren Loar was Gullion’s favorite target, catching eight passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. But this week? A different beast to slay. Harvest Prep enters the matchup on a four-game winning streak. The Warriors are averaging 41 points per game and have beaten opponents by 31, 51, 26 and 38 points. The team’s closest win was an 18-15 victory over Bishop Ready while its lone loss came against Columbus Academy, 20-10. Ready is the only team they’ve beaten with a winning record. Their other wins have came over opponents with a combined mark of 4-23. Still, without question, it’s the biggest challenge Piketon has faced in quite some time. The Redstreaks’ defense has been subpar this year, surrendering 39.5 points per game. That will have to change, and fast, if the ‘Streaks hope to advance. Gullion and company can only do so much. At some point, the defense has to step up.
Oak Hill (3-4) at Ridgewood (6-0), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: Oak Hill beat Meigs 42-8, Ridgewood had a bye
All-time playoff records: Oak Hill (5-6), Ridgewood (8-14)
OK … so here’s the deal … the Generals haven’t been in a close game this season. Not even close. Ridgewood has beaten opponents by an average of 34.8 points, and that’s while taking the foot off the gas late in the game. Their closest wins came in 34-7 finals over Tuscarawas Catholic Central and Indian Valley. They haven’t just beaten bad teams, either. The program owns 42-7 and 36-0 wins over Sandy Valley (5-2) and Garaway (5-1). So, to say Oak Hill comes in as an underdog is an understatement. It is absolutely imperative that the Oaks establish a running game against a defense that’s surrendered 41 points all year long. Oak Hill’s strongest attribute is indeed its running game, led by Conor Dickens, Brandon Beam and a host of others. But the Oaks’ four losses are concerning … St. Clairsville, Wheelersburg, West and Waverly. All four are good teams and, save for a season-opening trip to St. Clairsville, the Oaks haven’t shown up in any of those contests. That’ll have to change, and by a lot, if they want to beat Ridgewood.
West (4-3) at Wheelersburg (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: West beat Chesapeake 34-14, Wheelersburg had a bye
All-time playoff records: West (8-10), Wheelersburg (39-28)
If you’re having deja vu, you’re not alone. Just two weeks ago, the Pirates beat the Senators by a 28-0 final. But that’s in the past and West is coming off an impressive 20-point win over Chesapeake. It’s also a rivalry game, where records are thrown out the window. The Senators always, always play Wheelersburg tough. The Pirates are aware of that fact. They’ve had an extra week to prep for their SOC foe as well. In the two’s previous matchup, Wheelersburg posted 385 total yards, compared to West’s mark of 91. 199 yards of the Pirates’ total came on the ground, an attack led by Derrick Lattimore and Jake Gregg. The scores in that game came on a 29-yard pass from Gregg to Matthew Miller, two field goals from Braxton Sammons, a 66-yard run from Lattimore and four-yard plunge from Kenny Sanderlin. Those are surely the main culprits circled on the Senators’ Week 8 game plan. It’s hard to beat a good team twice in a season. Wheelersburg will be up to the task come Saturday, trying to earn its 40th postseason win.
Northwest (6-1) at Bishop Ready (5-2), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: Northwest beat Portsmouth 21-20, Bishop Ready had a bye
All-time playoff records: Northwest (1-0), Bishop Ready (15-14)
The Mohawks earned quite the win last week, beating Portsmouth 21-20 thanks to a late turnover. They’re now 1-for-1 in postseason play. But they’ll be reintroduced to playoff football during a trip to Bishop Ready this weekend. The Silver Knights have a lengthy playoff history and have played right with quality opponents this season. The team’s two losses are to Harvest Prep (18-15) and Liberty Union (7-6), who are both 5-1. The SOC I champion Mohawks used 217 rushing yards and two scores from Brayden Campbell to help push past Portsmouth while Wyatt Brackman, Evan Lintz and Austin Newman also helped out, combining for 76 additional yards on the ground. The goal is to get that same push against Ready, but that’s not an easy task. Ready’s defense has held opponents to under 10 points on five occasions, including two shutouts. If they stop the run, the Silver Knights likely win the football game. Like usual, Campbell and the Mohawks’ running game is the key on Saturday.
Division VI, Region 23
Valley (3-4) at Worthington Christian (5-1), 7 p.m, Oct. 17
Last week: Valley beat Northridge 34-13, Worthington Christian had a bye
All-time playoff records: Valley (13-10), Worthington Christian (0-1)
Don’t look now but Valley has won two straight, including a thrilling 15-14 win over Minford two weeks ago. The Indians will also enter Saturday’s matchup with the upper hand … Worthington Christian has never won a playoff game while Valley has much postseason experience. The last time the Warriors played resulted in a 28-21 loss to Berne Union on Oct. 2. But that also means they’ve had ample time to prepare. If Valley wants to win this contest, it must start fast and avoid turnovers. It sounds simple but that’s simply the correct recipe for success. In last week’s 34-14 win over Northridge, the team’s first postseason victory since 2015, the Indians rushed for 201 yards while passing for 95. Northridge picked up 343 yards on the ground but turned the ball over three times. Valley’s George Arnett had 95 rushing yards and two scores while Carter Nickel added 82 yards and a touchdowns. Those two will have to get going early for the Indians to have success. It’s a winnable game. Valley just has to play like it’s been playing … establishing the run and avoiding costly mistakes.
Division VI, Region 24
Parkway (1-6) at Adena (6-0), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: Parkway beat Elmwood Place 36-6, Adena had a bye
All-time playoff records: Parkway (2-1), Adena (0-6)
To say Adena has cruised through its SVC-only schedule would be the understatement of the century. The Warriors are outscoring opponents 288-72 and winning games by an average of 36 points. Quarterback Preston Sykes, who has passed for 508 yards and rushed for another 591 more, leads the charge while tailback Nate Throckmorton has amassed 560 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. But the strength of this team? The offensive and defensive lines. Up front, the Warriors are as stout as any team in their region. Meanwhile, Parkway comes into the matchup after winning its first game of the year, a 36-6 victory over St. Bernard-Elmwood Place. The Panthers have lost to St. John’s, Fort Recovery, Anna, Versailles and Minster … five teams with a combined record of 16-23. In the win over Elmwood Place, Parkway’s Elijah Rich passed for 101 yards, rushed for another 50 and had a hand in three touchdowns. The Panthers’ backfield shared carries as Rich, Logan Green and Brendan Etzcorn combined for 22. Parkways likes to run the football, which Adena has stuffed all year long.
Greeneview (4-2) at Paint Valley (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 17
Last week: Greeneview and Paint Valley each had a bye
All-time playoff records: Greeneview (4-5), Paint Valley (8-12)
Since a season-opening 50-28 loss to Adena, Paint Valley has been on an absolute roll. The Bearcats are riding a five-game win streak and have scored at least 40 points in all five victories. Cavan Cooper, Tramel Byrd and Cordell Grubb, who are paced by a tremendous offensive line, are always threats to score when the football is in their hands. Meanwhile, the Bearcats’ defense is surrendering just 13.4 points per game in its last five outings. On the other hand, Greeneview is a team that’s averaging 30.5 points. The Rams’ two losses have been to West Liberty-Salem and Greenon at the bookends of their schedule. Against Greenon, Greeneview’s offense ran just 26 plays and held the ball for 11:57. Still, that was enough time for tailback Jayden Dehaven to rush for 138 yards and a score on six carries. Quarterback Cole Dehaven finished 3-of-7 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams can score quickly, but so can the Bearcats. Bainbridge should be treated to a good football game this Saturday.
DIVISION VII, REGION 27
Berne Union (6-1) at Eastern (5-1), 7 p.m., Oct. 16
Last week: Berne Union beat Bishop Rosecrans 63-6, Eastern had a bye
All-time playoff records: Berne Union (2-5), Eastern (0-0)
The Rockets are coming into the game after winning their first conference title since 1994. That happened thanks, in part, to a 28-21 win over Worthington Christian in Week 6. Berne Union has built the foundation of its success on running the football. Against WC, the Rockets ran 40 times for 304 yards and three touchdowns. They’re strong up front and have the backs, namely Chris Prince, to do damage. They also, however, can pass when needed. Sophomore quarterback Nate Nemeth completed 9-of-10 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns against Rosecrans. On the other hand, Eastern has the athletes to match its opponent. That starts with Logan Clemmons, the unquestioned leader of the group. Clemmons is a threat to take it to the house at any point. He’s surrounded by capable playmakers as well, evidenced by the Eagles’ 35.5 point per game average. However, the key for the Eagles is to plug the run. In three of their six games, they’ve given up at least 20 points. Prince and company can’t find a rhythm. If they do, Eastern’s season could be in jeopardy.