Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
With just two weeks left in the regular season … which is still hard to believe … questions are starting to be answered, conference favorites are starting to identify themselves, and playoff contenders are starting to pick up steam.
My crew — my dad and uncle tag along on Friday nights — made a trip to Wheelersburg to witness the Pirates’ 42-28 win over Waverly in a thrilling SOC II matchup.
And, while we’ll be discussing that matchup further, there’s plenty of other area excitement to highlight.
Let’s dive right in to Week 8. Here’s this week’s Sunday Morning Quarterback.
Week 8 Takeaways
A. Let’s start in Wheelersburg, where a whale of a game now has a result. There’s many different directions we could go here but senior Makya Matthews’ performance was special so that’s what we’ll focus on. The Pirates, in their biggest SOC II game of the year, continued to call upon Matthews … and he continued to answer in a resounding way. Matthews carried the ball 31 times for 264 yards and three touchdowns, none bigger than a 42-yarder with less than five minutes to go. We’ve known Matthews’ capabilities for some time, but with Evan Horsley firmly set at quarterback, his skillset can now be displayed on all cylinders. After a 2-3 start, Wheelersburg has now won three straight, scoring 118 points in the process. Coach Rob Woodward and company seems to have, once again, figured out a winning formula … and Matthews is the key ingredient.
MORE FOOTBALL COVERAGE
STORIES: Wheelersburg uses ball control, running game to knock off Waverly … Cavaliers force five turnovers, win second straight … Panthers erase 15-point deficit to beat Unioto
PHOTOS: Images from Wheelersburg’s 42-28 win over Waverly … Images from Southeastern’s 28-21 win over Unioto
VIDEO: Chillicothe’s Cade Williams discusses Friday’s win over McClain … Makya Matthews talks about Wheelersburg’s win over Waverly … Southeastern’s Lane Ruby talks about offensive line, win over Unioto … Oak Hill beats Minford on last second field goal
B. How about Oak Hill’s 17-14 win over Minford? If you’re like me, you saw the final score Friday night and raised your eyebrows. The win undoubtedly affected the Division V playoff rankings, unofficially dropping Minford from a top-four spot in Region 19 to the No. 6 seed. And for Oak Hill? The Oaks have snuck into the playoff race, as they now unofficially sit at No. 8 in the region. If Oak Hill can win out — they have West and Waverly remaining — they’ll clinch a playoff spot at 6-4. They’ll travel to play the Senators before hosting the Tigers. It’s a task easier said that done, especially concerning a win over Waverly, but Oak Hill has already beaten three teams with winning records … Northwest, Valley and Minford. You never know.
C. Did any one happen to catch the stat line out of Franklin Furnace? Mr. Brayden Campbell, Northwest’s star sophomore running back, tied an OHSAA record with nine rushing touchdowns in Friday’s 67-32 win over Green alongside 360 rushing yards. He had touchdown rushes of 69, 13, 13, 34, 8, 44, 59, 10 and 1 yards. On the year now, Campbell has amassed 75 carries for 1,078 yards … only 14.4 yards per carry … and 20 touchdowns. I’m sure Southern Ohio Conference defenses are just oh so happy they get to deal with him for two more years.
Aside from Campbell’s huge night, Piketon’s Levi Gullion also had a big night in a 48-34 win over Westfall. Gullion completed 14-of-18 passes through the air for 331 yards and a pair of scores. He also rushed for 87 yards and two more touchdowns.
Lost in the shuffle of Matthews’ performance Friday was Wheelersburg’s Hunter Ruby. The senior slot receiver did a bit of everything, rushing for 85 yards, racking up 66 receiving yards and scoring twice.
Chillicothe’s Hunter Thomas rushed for 62 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries in Friday’s 44-14 win over McClain. Over the past two weeks, Thomas has 124 rushing yards on 22 carries. Talk about consistent.
In a 27-21 win over Hillsboro, Washington’s Ethan Rogers-Wright completed 9-of-16 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns. That was paired with the performance of Jameson McCane, who had 80 yards rushing on 13 carries, and receiver Eli Lynch, who caught five passes for 72 yards and two scores.
One Final Thought
While Southeastern sits at 8-0 this season, the Panthers will now face their two biggest tests to date in Weeks 9 and 10. This coming Friday, they’ll travel to Scioto Valley Conference co-leader Paint Valley before making a trip to Adena to end the regular season. We know the names, we know the coaching philosophies and we know the passion the Panthers play with on a weekly basis. But in the first eight weeks, Southeastern’s opponents have a combined record of 24-36, and just one has a winning record. I’m not, in the least bit, saying Southeastern isn’t a good team because they indeed are. However, the Panthers will go through a gauntlet over the next two Fridays. Two wins would allow them to pool momentum towards the postseason and absolutely secure a top playoff spot in their region. It’ll be interesting to see how the program performs in both games with so much on the line. Coach Evan Gallaugher and company have been here before, as has quarterback Lane Ruby. They have the firepower. Now it’s about execution.
- Jackson (8-0) … 2. Wheelersburg (5-3) … 3. Waverly (6-2) … 4. Paint Valley (7-1) … 5. Southeastern (8-0) … 6. Adena (7-1) … 7. Minford (6-2) … 8. Oak Hill (4-4) … 9. Symmes Valley (7-1) … 10. Miami Trace (5-3)