Division V, Region 19
#8 Belpre (7-3) @ #1 Columbus Bishop Ready (9-1)
The Silver Knights are heavy favorites in a game featuring two teams heading in different directions. Belpre has snuck by in quite a few of its games, while Ready has run roughshod over the majority of its opponents. The Eagles started the year 0-2 before winning seven straight. Belpre was throttled in its regular season finale 42-6 by Eastern Meigs. Ready’s lone setback came at the hands of Plain City Jonathan Alder, 27-20.
These two outfits have one common opponent and that being Nelsonville-York. The Eagles narrowly escaped with a 10-6 triumph, while the Knights rolled to a 47-0 victory.
The Silver Knights biggest win of the year came over Lima Central Catholic (9-1), 17-12. That was a huge win for Ready, but other than that game and the loss the Knights have routed every other opponent by a combine score of 363 to 27 including five shutouts. Impressive number to say the least for a team that many would consider the favorite to win the region.
This game will be lopsided to say the least. Belpre can hang its hat on ending Williamstown’s (WV) long winning streak, but this game will belong to the Silver Knights in a big way, 49-7.
#5 Minford (8-2) @ #4 Johnstown-Monroe (8-2)
The Johnnies started the season just 1-2, but has since racked up seven consecutive wins to host a playoff game. However, those losses don’t look too bad now that the dust has settled. Granville and Licking Heights both had fine seasons and have playoff reservations. Minford, on the other hand, started the year 5-0 before losing two straight to Waverly and Wheelersburg (both playoff participants). However, the Falcons closed the season with three straight W’s.
Shane Sheppard leads the way for the Johnnies with his 1,292 yards rushing including 13 scores.
The Johnnies defense will need to find a way to shutdown a balanced Minford offense.
Senior running back Trent Reynolds (6’0, 205), who has rushed for 870 yards and 21 touchdowns is the team’s leader. Reynolds has 21 receptions for 288 yards and three scores.
Running back Ethan Gaines is another option with his 599 yards on 78 carries and four TDs.
Sophomore quarterback Aaron Oesch has completed 58 of 101 passes for 874 yards and four touchdowns.
On defense, Reynolds leads Minford in tackles with 108 from his linebacker spot, while linebacker Aaron Ostrowski has 86 stops.
I think Johnstown will be able to run the football regardless of how many the Falcons stack in the box. The Johnnies don’t want to throw the ball at all. To me, Minford’s offense lacks big play capability to win this game. I like the Johnnies, 24-13.
#6 Ridgewood (9-1) @ #3 Wheelersburg (7-3)
The Wheelersburg Pirates have seen it all this season. The Pirates started the year with an impressive win over Ironton (39-6) followed by a victory over South Point, but then proceeded to lose three straight to very good teams (26-3). The first of those three losses was to Portsmouth, while trying to run out the clock the Burg turned the ball over and lost on a last second score. Since starting the year 2-3, the Pirates have rolled off five consecutive victories including an impressive 31-7 throttling of rival Waverly (9-1).
Ridgewood, on the other hand, lost in week two before winning its next eight games to close out the regular season. The Generals average 33.7 points per game, while only giving up 10.6 markers a night. The West Lafayette-based school’s lone setback was to rival Coshocton (30-25).
The Burg comes into the contest scoring at 26 points an outing. The strong defensive unit is giving up just 10.5 lighting a meeting. Over the Pirates last five contests, all wins, the offense has scored 33.6 ppg, while the defense has been stingy allowing just 7.6 ppg.
Senior Drew Spradlin, who has completed 113 of 201 for 1,680 yards along with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season, leads Wheelersburg’s offense onto the field. The 6-foot-5 senior will be headed to Division I Elon College (Southern Conference) next year to continue his fine basketball career.
His main target has been Dustin Cook who has hauled in 32 passes for 477 yards and seven touchdowns. Cook is a big target at 6-foot-1. Senior speedster Matt Jenkins is also a big playmaker for the Burg.
Senior linebacker Craig Stamper leads the defense.
For the Generals, junior Derrick Young (5’11, 195) has rushed for 1,128 yards on the season and 10 TDs to lead the Orange and Black's ground attack.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Conrad has only put the ball in the air 50 times this season completing 23 of those attempts for 281 yards including 4 TDs to just 2 INTs.
Wheelersburg is playing extremely well after a tough three-game stretch earlier in the season. The offense has become more wide open, and the defense is playing really well. Call me crazy, but I think the Pirates are the team to beat in this region. After a 2002 season in Division IV, Ridgewood will be making its fifth straight appearance in the Division V post season. The Generals only have one win coming over Chesapeake 33-14 in 2004. However, they have played the likes of North Lima South Range, Warren JFK, and Amanda-Clearcreek twice. With all that being said, I like the 1989 Division IV (Wheelersburg) state champions in this one, 21-7.
#7 Fredericktown (8-2) @ #2 Buckeye Trail (10-0)
Buckeye Trail will be hosting the Freddies of Fredericktown tonight in Old Washington. The Warriors recently completed their first undefeated regular season, while the Freddies have two close setbacks on the campaign.
The Warriors come into the game with a very balanced offense with a plethora of weapons. The Blue and White offense is averaging 33.1 points per game and is led by senior quarterback Brock Davis.
The senior has controlled the Trail offense this season completing 85 of 148 of his pass attempts for 1,493 yards including 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Davis has totaled 594 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Trail's leading receiver is senior Sam Bond-Zielinski with 32 receptions for 550 yards and four touchdowns. Brandon Ogden has 18 catches for 323 yards and 3 TDs, and sophomore Bobby Beros with 11 catches for 346 yards and five scores to give Davis just a few more options to ponder.
Senior Steve Beros heads the ground game with 1,146 yards on 127 carries including 11 touchdowns. The younger Beros has netted 370 yards and three scores, while senior Daniel Starr churned out 218 yards and 5 TDs.
Head coach Randy Thompson’s defense has been stout giving up just 11.6 ppg. Starr leads the defense with 109 tackles from his linebacker spot, while Bobby Beros checks in with 79 stops. Ogden leads the teams in sacks with five.
The Warriors have quality wins over Massillon Tuslaw, Rosecrans, Shenandoah, and River.
The offense the Trail defense will be trying to stop is led by senior running back Ryan Hathaway (5’11, 175). He is the team's leading rusher with 828 yards on 111 carries and top receiver with 46 catches for 643 yards. The senior has 11 TDs rushing and six receiving.
The quarterback is senior Merrit Zollars (6’1, 170), who has completed 117 of 195 pass attempts for 1,514 yards including 15 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
Tight end Taylor Hitzfield (6’4, 215) is the second leading receiver with 32 catches for 407 yards and 6 TDs.
The Freddy offense is scoring 31 ppg., and the defense is allowing 12.6 ppg. The Freddies own a quality win over Danville, which is the only team they have defeated with a winning record. Their two losses came to Highland (9-1) by 10 and Johnstown-Monroe (8-2) by seven.
I don’t trust the Mid-State Conference in football, which is a big reason I think Trail is the better football team. The Warriors have so many playmakers to account for and that will end up being the difference. The Blue and White make three or four big plays and Trail wins at home 34-14.