On Friday night in Sarahsville, the Shenandoah Zeps (4-1, 1-0) will host the Buckeye Trail Warriors (5-0, 2-0) in a Pioneer Valley Conference showdown that could go a long way in determining who wins this year’s conference title, and give a few folks something to talk about.
Heath Dawson checks in with a preview of the match up.
On Friday night in Sarahsville, the Shenandoah Zeps will host the Buckeye Trail Warriors in a Pioneer Valley Conference showdown that could go a long way in determining who wins this year’s title, and give a few folks something to talk about.
Buckeye Trail enters the game with a 5-0 (2-0 PVC) record while the homestanding Zeps are 4-1 (1-0 PVC). The Warriors from Old Washington are currently ranked No. 3 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division V, Region 19 standings while Shenandoah is No. 7 in the same computer ratings.
The last two meetings have been one-point affairs (a 35-34 Trail win in 2006 and a 22-21 Shenandoah victory in 2005). Both coaches are expecting another barn burner.
“If the last two years are an indication, everyone can expect this game to be another good one,” Shenandoah third-year head coach Tim Wilson noted.
“I would say that this is possibly the biggest game I’ve coached in. There are big playoff points at stake for both teams. It’s going to be a big win for either program.”
“It’s definitely a big game for both teams and the records indicate that,” Buckeye Trail seven-year head coach Randy Thompson began. “There are big playoff points, and key OVAC (Ohio Valley Athletic Conference) and PVC implications. There is a lot going on Friday night. Both teams have been building up to this and it should be a big game. Win or lose, this game is going to make both teams better in the long run.
“The thing is that both teams have been in these kinds of situations this year and over the last few years. I don’t think either team is going to panic. The last two years have come down to two-point conversions. We know that it’s going to be another tight game. Mistakes are probably going to determine who wins or loses this ball game,” Thompson added.
Both teams enter the PVC clash with high-scoring offenses. Buckeye Trail averages 36.0 points per game while Shenandoah has scored 35.6 points per contest. The Warriors and Zeps both feature solid quarterbacks in senior Brock Davis and junior Cody Johnson.
Defensively, both teams have also been stingy, with most of their points given up coming in mop up duty. Trail has yielded just 13.0 ppg while Shenandoah has allowed 22.8 points per contest.
Wilson and Thompson both know what their teams are up against.
“They’re the real deal,” Wilson pointed out. “They are big, physical and fast. They do a good job of mixing it up on offense. Davis throws the ball on the money and if he doesn’t have the open guy…he’ll tuck the ball and run. He’s a double threat and we’ll have to be ready to stop him.
“Defensively, they’re going to come after us. It’s going to be a big challenge for our football team,” Wilson added.
“They do a lot of things well offensively,” Thompson commented. “(Joey) Wheeler is a solid back and (Cody) Johnson can throw the ball well. They’ve also got a nice group of receivers. They’ve got a good offensive scheme.
There’s no doubt that they’re 4-1 by some sort of accident.
“Defensively, they’re big and physical. They bring a lot at you. We’re going to have to play well for sure. Any team that can run and throw the ball well, and play solid defense…that makes for a dangerous football team,”
the BTHS coach concluded.
The Zeps feature an explosive offense as evidenced by five second quarter touchdowns at Barnesville in last Friday’s 47-22 win. Senior tailback Joey Wheeler leads the way with 704 yards and 11 touchdowns on 99 carries. He also has four receptions for 123 yards and three TDs.
Johnson is 51-of-86 for 885 yards and 12 TDs with three interceptions.
He also has two rushing scores. Senior wideout Billy Miley is the top receiver with 18 catches for 336 yards and two TDs. Sophomore wideout Cody Farmer has seven receptions for 134 yards and two TDs while senior running back Brad Densmore and sophomore running back John Hronec each have touchdown receptions.
Trail’s leaders include Davis, who is 41-of-72 for 784 yards and eight TDs with three interceptions through the air while rushing for 246 yards and six scores on 53 carries; senior tailback Steve Beros, who has 728 yards and six scores on 71 attempts; senior wideout Sam Bond-Zielinski, who has caught
19 balls for 349 yards and three TDs; senior flanker Timmy Nealey, who has six receptions for 67 yards and one TD; sophomore wide receiver Bobby Beros, who is Trail’s big play guy with three catches for 179 yards and three TDs; senior tight end Brandon Ogden, who has eight catches for 121 yards; and senior fullback Dan Starr, who has 119 yards and a TD on 19 carries.
After not allowing any of his players to make mention of rival Buckeye Trail last week, Wilson has lifted the ban and even he is now anxious to face the Warriors.
“It’s going to be a standing room only crowd,” Wilson related. “It’s going to have a playoff atmosphere and is going to be exciting. I know our fans will be out in full force and their fans will be there as well. There will not be a better place to be in Sarahsville on Friday night than at the game. We’re looking forward to it. You try not to look ahead, but it’s finally here and we are happy that it’s a home game.”
Buckeye Trail’s victories have come against Massillon Tuslaw (22-12), Caldwell (27-13), Frontier (44-21), Barnesville (50-7) and Zanesville Rosecrans (37-12).
Shenandoah has defeated Frontier (29-12), Meadowbrook (41-33), Harrison Central (32-26) and Barnesville (47-22). The Zeps’ lone blemish was in Week
2 against undefeated Union Local (21-19).
Kickoff at Zeps Field is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Heath A. Dawson is the executive sports editor and assistant publisher for the Weekly Sports Gazette and The Guernsey County Gazette.