Peyton Jackson
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Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

7 football games to circle on your calendar

You won't want to miss these seven football games this fall.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

The anticipation has reached its peak, but there’s good news … the wait is finally over. 

High school football is officially back. You’d be hard-pressed to find something that excites area sports fans as much as the fall season’s first Friday night. It writes the first chapter of Cinderella stories, it renews decades old rivalries and it separates the contenders from the pretenders.

Scrimmages and 7-on-7’s are in the rearview mirror. Every snap now matters. Every down, every possession, every play call takes center stage.

It’s the beginning of a journey that’s destination is Week 11 — the state football playoffs.

Each year, our area’s football scene provides unmatched drama, legendary victories and moments that will last a lifetime. So before this season kicks off, and we get into thick of things, we thought we’d share seven games that you should already be circling on your calendars. 

These are dates you won’t want to miss.

Jackson at Ironton, Aug. 26, 8 p.m.

There isn’t a need to explain why this one will be at the top of the Week 2 slate. Each of the past two meetings have been absolute classics. Ironton beat Jackson, 13-10, with a kickoff return touchdown as time expired in 2021 before topping the Ironmen by a 29-26 final in the Apple City last fall. You can expect another knock-down, drag-out battle this season. These programs are always two of the area’s very best.

Waverly at Unioto, Sept. 1, 7 p.m.

Per usual, this matchup takes center stage in Week 3. The Tigers, led by quarterback Mason Kelly, and the Shermans, led by quarterback Newton Hoops, are both expecting to have successful seasons. If the past is any indication of how entertaining this one will be, that’s a great sign for area fans. Unioto won last year’s matchup by a 48-27 final but the Tigers earned a win in 2021, a 47-10 final. Expect a shootout.

Waverly’s Mason Kelly will lead the Tigers into battle this fall.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

Harvest Prep at Wheelersburg, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.

Perennial power vs. perennial power. Harvest Prep finished last season at 13-1 and reached a regional final. The Pirates were 9-4 and ended their year with a loss to these same Warriors by a 25-21 tally in Week 13. Similar events took place in 2021 when Harvest Prep ended Wheelersburg’s season in a regional final, 20-17. There’s no doubt revenge will be on the Pirates’ minds. This one has all the makings of a barnburner.

Gallia Academy at Fairland, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.

The Devils and Dragons each lost multiple talented starters after last season. But each program also welcome multiple starters back — starting with Gallia running back Hudson Shamblin and Fairland quarterback Peyton Jackson. Last year’s 43-35 marathon, a decision that went in the Devils’ favor, was as action-packed as any game all year long. Conference bout. Rivalry game. Get your popcorn ready.

Notre Dame at Green, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

In Week 7, Notre Dame and Green get together and will, assumedly, make a dent in the SOC I title race. Last season, the Titans nipped the Bobcats by a 45-36 final. Now Green gets Notre Dame on the Furnace’s new turf and will undoubtedly be plotting revenge. The Bobcats bring back quarterback Abe McBee and running back Nathaniel Brannigan while the Titans boast Jordan Davis and Cody Metzler, to name a few.

Zane Trace at Unioto, Oct. 6, 7 p.m.

Chess. Monopoly. Red Light, Green Light. Whatever it is that’s being played, if there’s a winner to be had, Unioto and Zane Trace make it interesting. Last year’s version of the rivalry was an instant classic as the Pioneers erased a 10-point second half deficit to win a 35-31 thriller. Both teams have their quarterback returning to the fold, both have weapons in the backfield and receiving corps and both, and both have defenses that are used to forcing stops. This one is always one of the most anticipated of the year.

Vinton County at Nelsonville-York, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.

TVC title time. That’s what this Week 9 matchup might provide. Both Vinton County and Nelsonville were playoff-bound just one season ago. The Buckeyes topped the Vikings by a 21-20 final in Week 9 before finishing 11-2 on the year. Meanwhile, Vinton County fell to Columbus East in a first round playoff game — the school’s third straight postseason berth. When these two meet, it’s always go time. Expect nothing less.


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