Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
As we head to Week 4, we’re starting to learn imperative details about many of the area’s programs.
Contenders are separating themselves from pretenders and, with some area teams heading into conference play this week, things will really start to sort themselves out.
Washington Court House was where my crew decided to go in Week 3 — my dad and uncle tag along on Friday nights. We witnessed a rout as the Blue Lions pressed on the gas pedal early and never let up in a win over Paint Valley.
But there’s plenty of other area excitement to highlight. Here’s this week’s edition of Sideline to Sideline.
1. Wheelersburg has grit, tenacity and is battle-tested. The Pirates are playing with Dennis Green vibes. “They are who we thought they were.” If you don’t understand the reference, Google it. This team could easily — and I stress that word — be 0-3. But coach Rob Woodward’s crew has found a way to get the job done in two of its first three contests with back-to-back wins over Archbishop McNicholas and Russell (Ky.). The win over McNicholas (42-35) came in overtime and the win over Russell (28-21) ended with a 12-yard touchdown run from Ethan Glover with 55 seconds remaining. Glover rushed 13 times for 166 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Ashland Blazer (Ky.) and Jackson are now in the Pirates’ view over the next two weeks. Will they be 4-1? Who knows. But one thing is for sure; this group knows how to fight, scratch, claw and whatever else their way to victory.
2. Circle Sept. 30 on your calendars. Unioto goes to Zane Trace that night. Heading into Week 4, both the Shermans and Pioneers sit at 3-0. Unioto has wins over Vinton County, Amanda-Clearcreek and Waverly while Zane Trace has beaten Logan Elm, Madison Plains and McClain. They’re on a collision course with each other and that crash may happen with the SVC title on the line. Each program has tons of talent. Unioto’s Newton Hoops has passed for 453 yards while ZT’s Carter Langley owns 283 alongside 166 rushing yards. In the backfield, the Tanks are led by Casey Dray and Matt Griffin, who have combined for 510 yards on 46 carries — 11.1 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Pioneers are paced by Daniel Barnhart with 336 yards on 36 rushes, which is 9.3 yards per touch. And, you can’t forget the wideouts. Unioto’s Maddox Fox has 13 catches for 199 yards while ZT’s Austen Ison has only needed five receptions to rack up a team-leading 141 yards. If both teams can stay focused, Week 8 could provide a classic and one of the most important games these two have played away from the hardwood.
3. The Washington Blue Lions will give Jackson and Chillicothe a run for their money. Coming into the fall, many believed the Ironmen and Cavaliers could be playing for a conference title in Week 10. But if Washington has anything to say about that, those predictions may fall to the wayside. Quarterback Troy Thompson throws a textbook deep ball and receivers Calum Brown, Isaiah Haithcock and AJ Dallmayer all give Thompson viable targets behind the secondary. Then there’s Rocky Jones and Trevaughn Jackson in the backfield, who are both threats to score at any time and, oh yeah, University of Kentucky commit Tanner Lemaster at the tight end spot. I’m tellin’ ya, this offense is flat-out dangerous. The Blue Lions are averaging 41 points per night. And, the defense has given up six points all year long to teams without a quarterback named Drew Novak. Coach Chuck Williamson has cooked up a recipe for success.
Chase Hall had an absolute ridiculous stat line this past Friday. Coal Grove’s senior running back racked up 28 carries for 410 yards — not a typo — and five trips to the end zone. Through three games, Hall has over 800 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.
Don’t look now but Minford is 3-0. The Falcons stayed undefeated with a 53-12 drubbing of Wellston on Friday. In that game, Peyton Caudill and Jeff Pica needed just 12 combined carries to rushes for 171 yards — 88 for Caudill and 83 for Pica — to go along with four touchdowns. Caudill added a 6-of-8 passing performance for 107 yards and two more scores.
For the first time since 2015, Circleville is 3-0. That’s a fact because of a 34-22 win over Westfall on Friday. In that victory, quarterback Scott Moats was 9-of-11 passing for 105 yards and a score and added nine rushes for 136 yards and another touchdown.
Video of the Week
Logan Elm’s Braylen Baker made just one catch in the team’s 35-10 win over Miami Trace on Friday — a game where the Braves forced five turnovers. Here is that catch, a 20-yard touchdown reception.
Thrice as Nice
Huntington, all of the sudden, is 2-1. After taking a 24-0 lead over Northwest on Friday, the Huntsmen earned a 46-22 victory. Much of that success can be attributed to DJ Crocker, who carried the football 20 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Through three games, Huntington has already matched its win total from last season.
In Vinton County’s first win this year — a 34-6 tally over Trimble — senior quarterback Isaac Molihan was the team’s engine. Molihan ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries to pace his Vikings.
It’s well-known that Hillsboro’s strength is the running game. The Indians flexed that muscle on Friday in the team’s first win of the year, a 41-27 tally over East Clinton. Sophomore running back Dominic Smart was a huge part of the final score, scoring three times and piling up 175 yards on 15 carries.
Following two losses to begin the year, Notre Dame exploded for 55 points in a shutout win over Fisher Catholic on Friday. Quarterback Wyatt Webb was 8-of-9 passing in the game for 104 yards and a trio of touchdowns to three different receivers — Carter Campbell, Dylan Seison and Myles Phillips.
In the Trenches
In Chesapeake’s 42-6 win over Symmes Valley, the Panthers had 412 yards of total offense. 404 of those came via the ground game. Camron Shockley led the team with 10 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown while Marcus Burnside ran 15 times for 84 yards and had three scores.
Fairfield Union improved to 2-1 with a 34-19 win over Lakewood. The offensive line of Jase Swisher, Gunnar George, Justin Mossholder, Keegan Arnett and Kyle Wolfe helped the Falcons rack up 330 rushing yards as a team. Hayden Collins ran 20 times for 174 yards and two scores while Jayden Pritchard tallied 66 yards and a touchdown.
Did you know?
According to the OHSAA, Athens grad and current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 11,428 yards during his high school career. Burrow was 670-of-977 passing with 157 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He added 2,067 rushing yards and 27 scores to his totals.
Shot of the Week
Zane Trace coach Heath Hinton has to be happy with his team’s performance through three weeks. Here, our Cory Hall captures him talking to his Pioneers after a 40-0 win over previously unbeaten McClain.
Also, if this shot doesn’t illustrate the definition of Friday Night Lights, I don’t know what does.