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Raiders in NE8 battle

GREENFORD — A lot of things have changed during the coronavirus pandemic, except South Range winning football games.

“It’s hard to believe its Week 10,” South Range coach Dan Yeagley said. “Last year we started the playoffs after Week 6. Here it is Week 10 already. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a great year.”

The Raiders have won 19 straight regular-season games and remain second in the Associated Press Ohio high school Division V state poll, trailing only three-time defending state champion Kirtland.

“It’s an honor to be looked at across the state of Ohio,” Yeagley said. “It’s awesome people are thinking about us and know who were are. But we’re looking at the next game.”

The next game is the biggest of the season. South Range will host Hubbard, ranked seventh in Division III, in a game that will decide the North 8 championship. Both teams are 9-0 overall and 6-0 in league play.

“They can’t wait. They’re ready,” Yeagley said. “They know each one is important. They know there’s a lot more on the line. This is where you want to be, playing for a league title and a playoff spot. This is what you dream about.”

Yeagley said the Raiders weren’t looking ahead to the regular-season finale when the schedule came out.

“Being the small school in that league, we had to play one game at a time,” Yeagley said. “We weren’t looking ahead to Week 10. We were looking at Weeks 1-9 first. This is where you want to be, playing for a league title and a playoff spot. This is what you dream about.”

Hubbard’s last regular-season loss was a 44-14 decision to South Range on Oct. 2, 2020.

Eagles senior T.C. Caffey returns and has emerged as one of the top running backs in the state. He has run for more than 150 yards in every game this season and joined Shaun Lane (2004) and L.J. Scott (2014) in Hubbard’s 2,000-yard rushing club.

Caffey has run for 2,220 yards and 33 touchdowns on 246 carries (9.0) so far this season. He averages 27 carries a game.

“We’ve seen some good running backs, but we haven’t seen a team feature a guy like him,” Yeagley said. “Springfield has (Beau) Brungard and (Bo) Snyder. Hubbard has Caffey and he’s for real.”

He compares Caffey to South Range’s leading rusher, although he is a little bigger.

“He’s similar to Dylan Dominguez,” Yeagley said. “They both see the holes well and have similar running styles. They pound you and pound you and then they’ll get outside.”

Both teams have similar numbers — South Range averages 45.4 points a game and Hubbard 38.8 while South Range’s defense holds opponent to 17.1 points and Hubbard’s 14.0.

“They’re 9-0 for a reason,” Yeagley said. “They are well coached, Caffey is a great running back and has a great line in front of him and they are solid on defense. They’re a complete team. We’re seen some great teams on our schedule and this is one of the best.”

West Branch (9-0) — one of the top scoring teams in Ohio, averaging 52.7 points a game –remains fourth in Division IV.

West Branch wrapped up its second straight Northeastern Buckeye Conference title outright Friday with a 77-0 win over Minerva and Marlington’s 35-28 win at Carrollton.

West Branch is two games ahead of Carrollton and Salem in the league standings heading into the final weekend.

Although nothing is on the line as far as league play, the West Branch at Salem game on Saturday night is one of the area’s top rivalries.

West Branch has won 16 of its last 17 regular-season games and is led by junior quarterback Dru DeShields, who has passed for 2,323 yards and 27 touchdowns while running for 727 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Senior receiver Nick Wilson has 54 receptions for 934 yards (17.3) and 14 touchdowns.

Garrettsville Garfield (9-0) is ranked seventh in Division V and has won 19 straight regular-season games..

The G-Men can clinch the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Gray Tier title with a win at Liberty on Friday.

Springfield Local (8-1) is eighth in Division VI. The Tigers have won 29 of their last 30 regular-season games. The lone loss was to South Range, 41-21, in this year’s opener.

The Tigers have run away with the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Scarlet Tier title heading into Friday’s game at Sebring. Springfield is outscoring its six league foes an average margin of 47.7 points a game.

LaBrae (8-1) is ranked 11th in Division VI. The Vikings lone loss was 35-14 at Garfield in the fourth week. The Vikings defeated Crestview, 34-13, on Oct. 1.

See page B2 for the complete state poll.

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