WEEK NINE FOOTBALL FORECAST
East Palestine at Lisbon, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: One of the main reasons behind the creation of the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference was to create compelling league races. Well, this first campaign looks like it’s going down to the final week. East Palestine (6-2, 5-0) is looking to do its part to set up a winner take finale with Columbiana, but in the meantime a very tough Lisbon (6-2, 4-1) team stands in its way. Bulldogs also need this one for playoff contention in the very competitive Div. VI, Region 21.
Southern at Columbiana, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Columbiana (6-2, 5-0) has put its rough start long behind it with five straight wins and the Clippers will have a chance to either clinch a share of the EOAC title or set up a thrilling finale with East Palestine depending on how the Bulldogs do against Lisbon. For Southern (4-4, 2-3), this is the last chance to see if it can beat a team with a winning record.
United at Toronto, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: United (4-4, 2-3 in the EOAC) is done with its Div. VI portion of its schedule. Before getting to Lisbon to close the season, the Eagles must pay a visit to Toronto (4-4, 2-3). Toronto, so far, has seemed to be a bit overwhelmed by its new opponents in the first year of this league.
Wellsville at Leetonia, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Someone will get their first Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference win here. Wellsville (1-7, 0-5) and Leetonia (0-8, 0-5) haven’t had much to celebrate this season, but this will be matchup both teams will be comfortable with.
Indian Creek at Crestview, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Indian Creek (5-3) will likely be the outright Buckeye 8 Athletic League champion, but the Div. III Redskins have largely underwhelmed this season. Granted the team is coming off its best performance after a 38-0 drubbing of Beaver Local, but Crestview (4-4) has certainly had its share of quality competition to prepare for this contest. Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic 50 web site has the Rebels with a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs. A win here would go a long way to boosting those odds.
Martins Ferry at Beaver Local, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Buckeye 8 Athletic League title dream went bust for the Beavers (6-2) during last Friday’s 38-0 loss to Indian Creek. Martins Ferry (5-3) has won four straight and the Purple Riders were also winners over Indian Creek during the streak. Beaver Local will likely need this win to be in the discussion for the playoffs in Div. IV, Region 13.
East Liverpool at Weir, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Weir High (5-3) hasn’t been healthy for most of the year and it’s possible that the Red Riders will have quarterback Tyler Komorowski back from a knee injury against the Potters (3-5). Weir is sitting on the outside looking in at the playoffs and will need to win out to get in. East Liverpool is still searching for a win over an opponent with a winning record.
Salem at Louisville, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Salem’s history with Louisville goes back to 1926, but it’s only 11 games with the Quakers’ last win over the Leopards coming in 1928. Salem (5-3, 2-3 in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference) has a chance to shake things up in the NBC if it can get to this vulnerable Leopard (4-4, 4-1) team. Only problem is Louisville has shown that it’s waking up just in time.
Marlington at West Branch, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: West Branch (3-5, 2-3 in the NBC) can still reach the .500 mark and do some damage in the league, but Marlington (6-2, 4-1) will be a tough ask. The Dukes have won four straight and are still in the conversation for the league title.
Minerva at Alliance, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Aviators (7-1, 5-0) can clinch a share of the final NBC title with a victory over the Lions, 0-8, 0-5. There seems to not be much of a barrier to prevent this from happening.
South Range at St. Clairsville, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: South Range (8-0) will make its longest trek of the season against a St. Clairsville team that is 7-1, yet with a much less trying schedule than that of the Raiders. The Red Devils’ only loss came to a one-win Carrollton team in the first week. A win here locks up the top seed in Div. V, Region 17 for the Raiders.
Springfield at Lowellville, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Springfield (5-3, 4-1 in the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference) has little say in how the league will break down now that contenders Western Reserve and McDonald are in the Tigers’ rear view mirror. The Tigers will be hoping for a McDonald win over Western Reserve as they take on the Rockets (4-4, 2-3).
Western Reserve at McDonald
WHAT’S AT STAKE: It didn’t seem like McDonald (7-1, 5-0) would be at this juncture at the start of the season, but it is on the brink of a first MVAC crown. A win over Western Reserve (6-2, 4-1) would give McDonald at least a share of the title and an inside track to the playoffs. Columbiana would also benefit greatly from a McDonald victory.
Sebring at Waterloo, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Waterloo (3-5, 2-3) has had trouble staying compeitive in the MVAC, but it is far from the undermanned Sebring (0-8, 0-5). Sebring is really close to pulling off a complete schedule when its number of players has stayed in the mid-teens all season.
East Fairmont at Oak Glen, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Oak Glen (2-5) has had its fair share of matchups against struggling opponents this season and the Bees (0-7) are another one. The Golden Bears will have to be on guard though as the Bees have played several teams with strong records this season.