Its no secret Southern Locals football team is really craving a break through victory. For most of its history in the Inter-Tri County League, those big wins have been just out of reach.
Put it this way: during the ITCL era starting in 2006, the Indians have beat a total of three teams that have finished the regular season with a winning record. Those teams were Malvern (6-4) and Bridgeport (6-4) in 2006 and Wellsville (7-3) in the season finale in 2008.
The Indians (5-2, 3-1 in the ITCL lower tier) will get another crack at the elusive big win on Friday as they travel to Western Reserve (5-2, 4-0). The Blue Devils have won five straight. The opponents they have lost to Cuyahoga Heights and Malvern are 6-1.
Western Reserve has been a good solid program in the lower tier for a while now, Southern coach Mike Skrinjar said. We look at this game as a chance to stay in the race because theres a lot of tough teams out there that might have an impact. Were also want the playoffs and know we have to win out to get that chance.
Skrinjar said his team has learned from the earlier losses to Crestview and Columbiana. He said mistakes will have to be eliminated and good team defense will be neccessary.
Skrinjar said Howie Bott, who was injured in the Columbiana game, might get a clearance to play on the line Friday. In the meantime, hes stressing readiness.
Especially in the lower tier, when you have guys go down you have to have others step up if youre going to be a good team. (The backups) have to be ready to make some plays, Skrinjar said.
After a thrilling win over rival Leetonia on Friday, Columbiana (6-1, 4-0) is still in a position where it will struggle. Clipper coach Bob Spaite said senior quarterback Nate Huk and senior running back Britton Steiginga are out with injuries for Fridays game at Lowellville (1-6, 1-3).
Were missing basically 2/3 of our offense, Spaite said. At any small school, thats tough. Were fortunate that our offensive and defensive lines are taking it upon themselves to step up.
Spaite expects nothing to be easy the rest of the way. Lowellville hasnt played Columbiana in the regular season in quite some time, but Spaite is not fooled by the Rockets poor record.
I know everyone say Yeah, theyre 1-6, but theyve played everyone pretty close, Spaite said. Theyre a scrappy bunch of tough kids.
Undefeated Crestview, ranked No. 4 in the latest Div. V state media poll, is quickly approaching its fifth straight ITCL upper tier title.
On Friday the Rebels will be dealing with winless Jackson-Milton, a debut member of the upper tier.
Theres no sugar coating this one. It will most likely be ugly.
Crestview is scoring 54.3 points per game, while the Bluejays are giving up 43.9 points per game.
We dont worry about those things, Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. Were just focused on what we have to do to win a championship.
Cusick said the way things have been going this season have given the team opportunity to try new things.
We like to add something like a new stunt on defense or a new pass route on offense every week, Cusick said. Its all about getting better.
The Rebels especially the line were really proud of hoisting Nick Blower to the all-time school rushing lead in the homecoming game last Friday.
I think the kids were real excited, but I think theyve learned to move on, Cusick said. Theyve all starting to really get that one week at a time mentality.
Crestview is pretty much in as it stands now. A home game remains a question mark, but a 10-0 season should get it done in an extremely tough Div. V, Region 17.
Cusick said the team is already laying the groundwork for the playoffs with potential advance scouting.
Dan Hill, Carter and Corey Hills dad, isnt coaching for me this year and he already asked if there are any games I need him to scout, Cusick said.
Columbiana will be in good shape if it can win out. Even an 8-2 mark will leave the Clippers a decent shot at getting a seventh or eighth seed in Div. V. Region 17.
South Range needs to win out to have any shot at extending the season.
I dont see a scenario where Southern makes it in Div. V, Region 17. Heres the problem: Sugarcreek Garaway, Kirtland and Crestview are undefeated. Thats three spots already booked. St. Thomas Aquinas is 6-1 and has games against higher division opponents the rest of the way. Beatable opponents at that. Cuyahoga Heights also only has one loss and has a very managable schedule the rest of the way. Bellaire is 5-2 and its next two games are against Div. IV teams that are 1-6. Parochial power Ursuline is 4-3, but probably would only need one win out of its next three to be in the clear. Columbiana, if it stays consistent, would be the next in line at this juncture, mainly because of its non-league win over Steubenville Central. South Range, Beverly Fort Frye and Campbell Memorial might also have their say before Southern if they manage good finishes.
Leetonia has an outside shot in Div. VI. Region 21. Drew Pasteurs Fantastic50 playoff prediction web site has the Bears with a 53 percent chance if they win out.
All of the Div. III teams in the area are eliminated.
Crestview and South Range appear headed to the much-anticipated Week 10 showdown. Both teams are 4-0 in league play, while everyone else has at least two losses.
It hasnt been close for either this season. In league play, the Rebels are averaging 62.3 points and South Range 48.8 points.
Speaking of scoring, four area teams are averaging at least 35 points a game Crestview (54.3), South Range (38.4), Southern Local (36.0) and Columbiana (35.0).
In their five victories, Southern Local is averaging 44.8 points and Western Reserve 33.6 points.
South Range has had 14 players score touchdowns this season. Robby Seman leads the Raiders with eight touchdowns, all receptions, followed by Jake Arsuffi and Billy Goodall with six apiece.
The Harvest House of Wellsville will be collecting non-perishable food items at the gate of Fridays game with McDonald. The items will be used to feed hungry families at the holidays.