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November 4, 2010 - Michael Palmer
Every year, the opening of the state high school football playoffs is met with great anticipation. Teams play ten games to earn a spot in the post season.

Today the TL Playoff tab comes out and it is a fun project for the sports staff to work on. They are talking to coaches from different areas and scouting the opponents for week 11. I had the assignment to design the cover, but it was still a part of the project. I hope all of the local gridiron fans enjoy the tab as much as the sports staff did putting it together.

And now a new season starts. It’s as much a part of fall magic in this state as the changing color of trees. With the football tournaments being the classic one and done format, each week is critical because in the end, in the six different divisions, only one team is still standing.

The opening weekend is always full of possibilities. There are five local teams in the hunt and in the first round match ups we have four team’s hosting their games. It is both an advantage and a money maker.

However, while it is profitable for the local boosters and school athletic departments and fun for the fans; it is a high pressure situation for the coaching staff and especially for the young players on the field. Like I said, It’s one and done, any mistake is amplified by it’s potential to end a promising season.

The weather forecast is classic football playoff weather: “Expect cold rain showers Thursday night into Friday, with our first snow of the season mixing in with the rain showers by Friday evening. Precipitation should mainly be in the form of snow showers and flurries Friday night into Saturday, with perhaps a coating of snow for some of the area.”

After ten weeks of nearly perfect conditions for shooting photos on the sidelines, I guess we were overdue for a nasty Friday night. Still the wording says showers and that can mean many stadiums will stay dry, but temps are falling into the 30’s by game time, so get out the long underwear and bring the extra blankets for the stadium seats.

Everyone has their predictions and opinions, but almost all of the local playoff pundits agree that there will be some great football action in the Ohio Valley this Friday.

If Bridgeport and Shadyside can win tonight and then next Friday both are triumphant, it sets up a rematch of the week 9 showdown in the Division Vi Region 23 brackets.

The same is true in Division IV Region 13 as Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville are in different brackets and could theoretically put together a pair of wins and then set up another rematch of a local rivalry for the Purple Riders and the Red Devils with the winner going to the State Semi-Finals.

It is the best pairing scenario to keep four local teams in contention in this region, assuming they can win the opening round. The coaching staffs know when you make it to November, the teams have to step up and play to their potential every snap to reach next Friday.

The coach at my high school used to ask players to try and dribble a football on the frozen turf. Meaning: sometimes it is talent and skill and sometimes it is simply the Fickle Finger of Fate that decides who will move on for another week of football.

I have the opportunity to shoot Bridgeport and St. Clairsville and with temps in the 30’s a steaming bowl of Kelly Rine’s famous Red Devil Chili sounds even more tempting.

Joe is taking the photos for Ferry and Paul will be doing the honors at Shadyside. Rest assured I will be rooting for all of our teams to move on. Monroe Central will make the long haul to Wheelersburg Saturday night and perhaps it is appropriate that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Up north our affiliates will be covering East Liverpool hosting Newark Licking Valley and Steubenville welcomes Dover into Death Valley.

I have finally found a pair of 2XL gloves and will be picking up some hand warmers for Friday night. We hope to see all of the local gridiron fans, regardless of which colors you bleed, come out and support the local teams and watch some playoff football this Friday night.

Let’s Go Bulldogs! Let’s Go Purple Riders! Let’s Go Red Devils! Let’s Go Seminoles! Let’s Go Tigers!


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