Brock Netter, Staff Writer
MINFORD — The race for the Southern Ohio II conference championship hasn’t been this wide open in a long time, which makes Friday’s showdown between Minford and Wheelersburg that much more important.
The Pirates have reigned supreme over the SOC II since 2014, while the Falcons haven’t won the conference since 2009, which was also the last time they beat Wheelersburg.
|All-Time Postseason Record
|Consecutive Playoff Appearances
|38-7 win over Greenup County (Ky.)
|Last week’s results
|28-21 win over East Clinton
Friday is Minford’s chance to take the reins and topple Wheelersburg, while the Pirates aim to show that they haven’t lost their grip on the conference.
Here’s a preview of SOSA’s Game of the Week:
MINFORD FALCONS (5-0)
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Elijah Vogelsong (QB), Ty Wiget (RB), Drew Skaggs (WR)
For the second straight season, the Falcons are off to a 5-0 start. However, after their hot start last season, they sputtered and lost four of their final five games, missing the playoffs.
This time around, they have the firepower, experience and hunger to exercise the demons from last year’s 49-0 loss to the Pirates.
The backfield duo of Elijah Vogelsong and Ty Wiget have been nothing short of spectacular this season.
Vogelsong has thrown for 648 yards and six touchdowns, yet is also just as dangerous with his legs as evidenced by his 506 rushing yards with four scores.
Meanwhile, all Wiget does is find the end zone as he’s crossed the goal line 12 times to the tune of 880 yards on 107 carries (8.22 yards per attempt). Leading receiver Drew Skaggs has hauled in 11 catches for 250 yards and four touchdowns.
The Falcons currently sit atop the rankings in Division V, Region 19, along with being ranked as the No. 7 team in the state … Minford’s high-powered offense is averaging 40.2 points per game and allowing just 21.6 points … the Falcons’ opponents’ combined record this year is 10-16
WHEELERSBURG PIRATES (2-3)
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Aaron Masters (QB), Mayka Matthews (RB), Hunter Ruby (WR)
It’s been a long time since any Wheelersburg team has struggled this much halfway into a season. You’d have to go all the way back to 2007 for the program’s last 2-3 start.
The seniors playing now were only in kindergarten, which tells you about the consistency of the Pirates over the years.
Turnovers piled up in a 35-15 loss to Jackson last week as the Ironmen converted three turnovers into three touchdowns to pull away.
To think that Wheelersburg could miss the playoffs seemed farfetched in the very beginning of the season, but here we are entering Week 6 and it’s a legitimate possibility if another loss occurs.
That thought alone should be enough fuel to put together their best game of the season sans Ashland Blazer. But the Pirates need to unload the kitchen sink against a Minford team that can pile up the points in a flash.
Despite being just 2-3, the Pirates are still ranked No. 7 in Division V, Regional 19 with 6.05 points because of strength of schedule … The Pirates are scoring just 20 points a game and surrendering 29.8 points … Wheelersburg’s opponents’ combined record is 20-6 … Remaining on the Pirates’ schedule are five teams with a record of 17-8
BOTTOM LINE …
This is more than Minford’s chance to control the SOC II, this is a physiological test for the Falcons. Having lost to the Pirates nine straight times creates a lot of doubt whether the streak will ever end.
A win legitimizes the Falcons’ undefeated start and puts them just one win away from clinching a playoff spot.
As for Wheelersburg, its in an interesting position.
If the Pirates wins, then they knocks off Minford from the undefeated ranks and regain control in the SOC II. But if they fall, then it’s another loss to a top-tier team and only adds pressure to an already sky-high pile.
If the Pirates do lose, they must run the table the rest of the way, and they still have Waverly, Valley and rival West to contend with.