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Time to talk football

July 26, 2011 - Michael Palmer
It is time to talk football. First we will mention the OVAC game, then we will get to the new season schedules.

Following fifteen years of dominance the balance of power in the annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic has shifted to West Virginia. I am not complaining, because this shift is a positive for the game.

Let’s face it; nobody likes to lose, even in an all-star contest. The boys in blue have been taking it on the chin for over a decade and as a result, the entire game was in jeopardy. It was the topic of conversation any time someone mentioned the football game on the island, “Should there be a format change?”

The addition of some big schools to West Virginia’s roster has moved the underdog hat to the Ohio side, but again, it will force the Ohio coaches and players to perhaps be more motivated and I still feel the right offense can counter any advantage in the trenches.

We have already finished up the cover design for the football tab, it was displayed on the scoreboard jumbotron at the OVAC game, and perhaps you noticed it. Now we begin in earnest to fill in the pages with the previews. It is always interesting to see what talent has emerged over the summer and finally get to talk football again.

There will be some changes to this year's football schedules as teams add new opponents and shuffle dates in the Buckeye 8 conference.

Martins Ferry has an all Ohio football schedule this season and in moving back across the river the Purple Riders have not lost any quality in their opponents.

The three opening games before entering their Buckeye 8 schedule are Heath, Shenandoah, and Ridgewood.

(I am a graduate of Heath High School and can attest to the fact that the team is much better than when I attended.)

Heath (Division 4, Region 15) went 10-2 last season losing one game by a field goal, 24-21 to Licking Valley (9-3) and then bowing out of the playoffs losing to the eventual state champions Bishop Hartley by a score of 26-39.

Shenandoah is usually a pre-season scrimmage for Dave Bruney and will be a bit of a breather in week 2 before week 3 when West Lafayette Ridgewood rolls into Martins Ferry. The Riders are replacing Steubenville Central Crusaders on the Ridgewood schedule, which the Generals blanked 48-0 last season. The Purple gang will have another tough opponent in the Generals, a team that went undefeated last year in the regular season, earning an Inter-Valley Conference championship before losing to Wheelersburg in the opening round of playoff action.

Buckeye Local will also go to Licking County for an opening night opponent in Division IV Utica (6-4). While the Redskins lost 4 games last season, there were to three quality opponents in Heath, a game that they lost 18-6, Granville (7-3) by a field goal 28-25 and Fredericktown (13-1) 48-20. The Panthers will also keep their sights set high for week two as they jump up to Division I as they host Grove City Central Crossing. The Comets went 2-8 last season but it may not be any gauge of their quality of football as their opposition was all D I on their schedule with the exception of Columbus Mifflin, which is a D II school.

Shadyside, which has seven home contests this season, also adds an IVC opponent; theirs will visit in week one, Strasburg. In what proves to be a confusing meeting of these two orange and black clad Tigers squads, the Northern species, which went 7-3 last season with losses to Ridgewood 26-0, Malvern 17-10 in 2 OT and Garaway 17-14 in OT will prove to be a tough opener. Adding Southington Chalker in week four is not a point intensive move as the Wildcats suffered a winless 0-10 season in 2010 this game will be played as a Saturday afternoon home contest. Also new to the Tigers schedule is an opponent from last year's St. John Central schedule, Fairfield Christian Academy. The FCA Knights hail from Lancaster and posted a 9-0 regular season mark, before falling 28-0 to Newark Catholic in the playoffs. Imani Christian Academy out of the Pittsburgh area was just finalized last week. Imani Christian would be considered a Division VI school by Ohio enrollment and is fielding a football team for the first time in the school's history, but hey, it’s a game and who knows, they have some good basketball players and athletes, could turn out to be a tough opponent.

Harrison Central adds Caldwell (9-1) in week 2. The Redskins are D VI, a lateral move for the Huskies in place of the Shadyside game last season. Caldwell squeaked by Barnesville 24-21 and lost to Monroe Central 49-13 in 2010.

St. Clairsville will add Brooke (8-2) in place of James Monroe for their across river opponent and the Jefferson Township Broncos (5-5) from Dayton will replace Nelsonville-York on their schedule this fall. The Red Devils will not change much in difficulty factor theoretically as the N-Y Bulldogs were an 8-3 team last season and James Monroe went 5-5. The Broncos are a D VI school and while they fill a week on the schedule, there will be few fans making the drive to St. C and it is a black hole in the schedule for playoff points. However the Bruins will be a much tougher opponent than the Bulldogs as their losses last season were to Steubenville, 34-21 and Morgantown, 44-20 and while they are an out of state school, a win this week would bode well for the Devils.

Union Local replaces Garaway with McConnelsville Morgan. Morgan went 2-8 last season in D III and very few Jets fans will regret switching these Raiders for the Pirates from Sugarcreek. The Raiders lost 41-7 to John Glenn last season, a team that you may recall Barnesville defeating 21-13 in their 2010 season opener.

Bridgeport replaces Steubenville Catholic Central with Buckeye Trail 1-9. It is good move for the Bulldogs as the struggling Warriors are D V and the Crusaders are D VI.

Beallsville opens with Conotton Valley (0-10) to replace Toronto (4-6) on the Blue Devils' 2011 schedule. The Rockets have more numbers this season and Blue Devils' coach Dave Caldwell likes the fit for his team as CV rejoins the OVAC full time and will play a River Valley Football League schedule this fall that will also Including St. John Central.

The Irish are happy to add the Rockets as they replace IVC opponent Newcomerstown (5-5). St. John's also adds Grove City Christian (3-7) in place of the aforementioned Fairfield Christian team in week one. Valley (5-5) and Clay Battelle (4-6) to replace Buckeye Trail (1-9) and Strasburg (7-3).

Two teams retain the same opponents as last season as Bellaire will mix it up playing the same 10 teams in a different order and River has Xeroxed last season's schedule.

I am looking forward to week one with great anticipation and with the current heat wave, I am glad I am not still a player having to deal with these temperatures for two-a-days.

Well, is anyone else ready for some football?


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