Indians, Bears crack state poll

Seniors Austin Frischkorn and Roman Ferry of Leetonia have led their football teams to 3-0 starts and spots in the state poll. (Morning Journal/Patti Schaeffer)

COLUMBUS — People are noticing the sudden emergence of the Southern Local and Leetonia football teams.

Both received their first state ranking in years in the first 2018 Associated Press high school football poll released Monday.

Southern and Leetonia are both off to 3-0 starts with the Indians ranked ninth in Division VI and Leetonia ranked 17th in Division VII.

Southern, under the direction of head coach Rich Wright, was won each game by at least two touchdowns. The last time the Indians were in the state rankings was 2011 when they were 11th in Division V after winning their first five games.

Leetonia, under new head coach Paul Hulea, has won two games by seven points or less. The Bears are 3-0 after winning three of their previous 47 games entering the season. They haven’t appeared in the final poll since 2004, when they were 14th in Division VI.

Both teams open Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference play Friday as Southern hosts Toronto and Leetonia entertains Columbiana.

All five area teams that are 3-0 appear in the state poll.

Springfield Local is sixth in Division VI, Salem is 13th in Division IV and West Branch is 17th in Division III.

Springfield has rolled to wins over South Range, Brookfield and Columbiana. The Tigers will begin their bid for a third straight league title at Jackson-Milton on Friday in Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference play.

Salem has staked its claim as the top team in Columbiana County with wins over East Palestine, United and East Liverpool.

West Branch is the area’s highest-scoring team, putting up at least 48 points a game. The Warriors beat Crestview 48-35, Beaver Local 50-7 and Ravenna Southeast 49-19.

Salem and West Branch start play in the new Eastern Buckeye Conference on Friday with Salem hosting Carrollton and West Branch entertaining Alliance.

See Tuesday’s Morning Journal for the complete state football poll.

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