A battle for Ohio Route 800 bragging rights is set for Friday night in Woodsfield.
The reeling Barnesville Shamrocks, who've lost two in a row since winning four straight, continue their brutal backhalf of the schedule when they visit Monroe Central, which is also 4-3 and snapped a two-game skid last Friday.
"It had been a long couple of weeks, so it was nice to get back in the win column," said Monroe Central head coach Jay Circosta. "We hope that does a lot for the mental aspect for our kids. It's good to get back on track. Now we've got to get to get ready for a game that's developed into a nice little rivalry and I think it'll be a good game."
Colton Pritchard is one of the Shamrocks’ top offensive weapons. He’s an adept receiver and has also been one of the top ball carriers. Pritchard and the Shamrocks travel to Monroe Central on Friday.
The Seminoles got there in an impressive fashion, blasting Shenandoah, 48-0.
The Shamrocks, meanwhile, are trying to get back on track and have a short week to do so after they dropped a 63-14 reversal last Saturday to a talented Steubenville Central team at Harding Stadium.
"Our kids are pretty even keel," said first-year Barnesville head coach Matt Johnson. "We're not doing some of the fundamental things that we need to do. Plus, we're competing against good teams. Steubenville Central is just a better team than we are. We've not tackled well for the last two games."
The Ohio computer poll hasn't been kind to either team. Currently, the Shamrocks find themselves in 13th place, while the Seminoles are sitting in 17th in Division V, Region 17.
Prior to stubbing their toe the past two weeks, Barnesville had been one of the area's best stories. Regardless what happens this week and beyond, Circosta has been impressed with the work done by Johnson and his staff.
"They've done an outstanding job," Circosta said. "Not many people gave them a chance to do much of anything, so you have to credit those guys. I think their game last week just kind of snowballed with some turnovers and things."
The Shamrocks' offense is led by Colton Pritchard, whom Johnson is hoping to get even more involved in the offense this week. Pritchard has accounted for 632 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns.
Kyle Yaquinta is the Barnesville quarterback. He's thrown for 817 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He's ran for 227 yards and three scores.
His other receiving targets include Kyle McIntire (11-223-2td) and Brandon Burkhart (14-161-2td).
"We need to get back using our skill people the way we were the first half of the season," Johnson said. "Monroe is always sound on defense and they always tackle well, so we'll have to make some plays."
Circosta, one of the area's most tenured coaches, has been dealing with a rash of injuries and sickness that's probably unmatched in his highly successful career. However, he expects to be somewhat closer to full strength this week.
"It's just been one of those years," Circosta admitted. "We expect to get Jake Schuerman back this week after he didn't dress last week. We're like a lot of teams where we're just not deep enough to overcome all of these injuries."
Senior quarterback Korey Lafferre has been a pleasant surprise under center. The first-year signal caller has ran for a team high 606 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also thrown for 557 yards and three scores.
Levi Brown is a solid option at tailback. He was banged up last week and didn't get fully involved in the game. He's ran for 415 yards and two scores.
"Monroe runs the ball well with both Brown and Lafferre," Johnson said. "They run the read option well, they show some spinner series. Defensively, we have to get back to letting our kids play instead of having them think so much."
The Seminoles' passing game is fueled by receivers Chase Carothers (11-123) and Cameron Jorris (7-305-2td).
"Barnesville has a lot of size," Circosta said. "I don't think last week is a true indication of their defense. They're certainly going to present some challenges for us."