Brock Netter, Staff Writer
My, oh my, what a final week of regular season action.
Four Gold Balls were clinched last week … congratulations to Northwest (SOC I), Waverly (SOC II), Adena (SVC) and Chillicothe (FAC) on their victories and perfect conference seasons.
But now, ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the best part of football season.
It’s playoff time. Win or go home. All in or all out. Sink or swim. You get the picture. While some teams hit the road for do or die games, others will host, including some for the first time in school history.
Good luck everyone.
Before the playoffs kick off Friday with the area’s first postseason contest between Miami Trace and Chillicothe, here are the final SOSA Power Rankings of the season.
1. Waverly (6-0)
Previous ranking: 1 … —
Week 6 result: 63-16 win over Oak Hill
Remember what I said last week about this being the best team in Waverly’s football history? I will double down on that after they put up 63 points on an Oak Hill team that pushed them to the limit last season. On top of that, the Tigers clinched a Gold Ball in the SOC II, successfully checking off one of the goals on their list. This offense is the best in Southeast Ohio, and there’s no doubt about it. I believe this team has all the makings to make a regional final run.
2. Adena (6-0)
Previous ranking: 3 … +1
Week 6 result: 46-0 win over Zane Trace
Six-game season, ten-game season, it didn’t matter. Adena was going undefeated because that’s how good the Warriors are. Running game, passing game, play-making defense … this team has all the elements to be the best team in Adena’s history. Others may say otherwise, but the proof is in the pudding. The Warriors have dominated every single game, leaving no doubt as to who was superior. Now it’s the playoffs and they have a first-round bye before potentially going on a lengthy postseason run.
3. Wheelersburg (5-1)
Previous ranking: 4 … +1
Week 6 result: 28-0 win over West
It wasn’t the prettiest or most efficient game Wheelersburg has ever played, but last week’s result was still a shutout over West. Maybe that’s just how high the standard is for Wheelersburg when scoring 28 points is seen as an “OK” night. Kenny Sanderlin and Derrick Lattimore each found the end zone on the ground, and Jake Gregg threw a touchdown pass to Matthew Miller. Now the Pirates have a week off before potentially playing West again, if it beats Chesapeake.
4. Chillicothe (5-1)
Previous ranking: 6 … +2
Week 6 result: 30-27 double overtime win over Jackson
OK, so here’s where I openly eat my slice of humble pie. I didn’t think there was any chance the Cavaliers would beat Jackson, but I was wrong. My apologies, Cavaliers. I couldn’t put them ahead of Wheelersburg, though, because of the loss head-to-head. Although, admittedly, 31-0 wouldn’t happen again if two two met this week. But through all the doubt, they believed in themselves and won the FAC, notching arguably their biggest program win since 2015 or longer.
5. Jackson (5-1)
Previous ranking: 2 … -3
Week 6 result: 30-27 double overtime loss to Chillicothe
Arguably, the Ironmen were on the losing side of the biggest upset of the season. Nothing went right for Jackson. The team turned the ball over five times and looked out of sync offensively. But the loss does more good than harm as they’re now refocused with the playoffs ahead. The one saving grace is they have a first-round bye as a No. 7 seed, two weeks to get fully healthy and prepare for either Centennial, who they beat in the playoffs last season, or Tri-Valley, who was in a state semifinal just three years ago.
6. Paint Valley (5-1)
Previous ranking: 5 … -1
Week 6 result: 40-0 win over Southeastern
Can we just pause for a minute and acknowledge what Tramel Byrd has done this season? While all the talk earlier this season surrounded on how Paint Valley might be taking a step back, Byrd been an absolute monster and has made sure that didn’t happen. He’s ran for over 800 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also being tied for the SVC lead in sacks with four, alongside teammate Nick Mills. He’s a big reason why the Bearcats have a first-round bye and can quite possibly be the most dangerous team in Division VI. Seriously, who wants to play this team right now?
7. Northwest (5-1)
Previous ranking: 7 … —
Week 6 result: 10-8 win over Symmes Valley
It was ugly, sloppy and any other verb that can describe a less than spectacular looking football game. But the Mohawks came out with the most important thing … the win. In doing so, they won the SOC I outright for the first time in school history. They stifled Symmes Valley, holding it scoreless in the final three quarters and won on a field goal in the fourth. Whatever it takes to get the job done. Now, they host Portsmouth in their opening playoff game.
8. Unioto (4-2)
Previous ranking: 8 … —
Week 6 result: 41-30 win over Westfall
Penalties, and a lot of them were committed by the Shermans against Westfall, but that didn’t prevent them from earning the victory. They continued to rely on Isaac Little, who continued to deliver for them with five total touchdowns (two passing, three rushing). It was all about momentum, and the Tanks rode it to a win. Now, the Shermans host Hillsboro in their first home playoff game in school history.
9. Eastern (5-1)
Previous ranking: N/A
Week 6 result: 40-6 win over Green
The Eagles ended their season with a smacking of Green, despite a few key players playing minimal snaps, which is understandable as they want to be as healthy as possible for their first playoff game. Wyatt Hines threw two touchdown passes and ran for 116 yards on just six carries to lead the charge. The Eagles have earned a first-round bye and will now await the winner between Bishop Rosecrans and Berne Union.
10. Westfall (3-2)
Previous ranking: 10 … —
Week 6 result: 41-30 loss to Unioto
Despite the loss to Unioto, Westfall looked relatively solid on the offensive side and put up 30 points after having nearly two weeks off. Rust didn’t settle in and it showed. Marcus Whaley threw three touchdown passes and had a rushing touchdown as well. The Mustangs, in my opinion, were slighted when the playoff rankings came out. They’ll travel to New Lexington. Hopefully, the disrespect they were showed motivates them to pull out a win.