Week eight of the high school football season could be a pivotal one for a couple of area teams as far as the playoffs are concerned.
Four games are on tap Friday night as Martins Ferry (5-2) looks to rebound when Edison (1-6) visits; Shadyside (7-0) will try and remain unbeaten as it entertains Buckeye Trail (4-3); River (4-3) will try and keep its slim postseason hopes alive when it hosts Shenandoah (0-7); and Beallsville (2-5) looks for its second straight win when it journeys to struggling Bridgeport (1-6).
Games of importance that were already featured in X's and O's included Buckeye Local (4-3) at St. Clairsville (7-0); Harrison Central (5-2) at Indian Creek (6-1); Barnesville (4-3) at Monroe Central (4-3) and Union Local (1-6) at Bellaire (5-2).
Edison vs. Martins Ferry, 7 p.m.
At Purple Rider Stadium, the hosts will be seeking a bounce-back win against the reeling Wildcats, who have lost four consecutive outings since defeating winless Weir.
However, veteran head coach Dave Bruney stopped short of proclaiming this week a must-win contest.
"We don't talk about things like that," he said. "It's high school football. We just line up and play."
The Purple Riders were thumped 27-14 last week by Indian Creek, which vaulted into a Division III home playoff position with its first-ever victory over the hosts in the Andrew Connor era.
"We need to rush the ball better than we did last week," Bruney acknowledged after his team was held to 111 yards on 25 carries. "We can't be one dimensional. In the games that we've been able to run the ball, we've scored a lot of points.
"We need to be focused and consistent."
Martins Ferry has been led by the running of Brandon Laughman (364 yds.), Marcus Sutton (336) and Brian Styles (302(. However, only Styles had any type of numbers last week when he gained 101 stripes on seven carries. The other two teamed for seven yards on five carries.
Meanwhile, quarterback Eric Flowers, a transfer from Barnesville, only completed 8 of 18 passes last week for 110 yards and a TD. He is 64-for-99 for 804 yards. He has five TDs and five INTs.
Wideout Cody Schau continues to be one of the leading receivers in the Ohio Valley with 44 catches for 698 yards and seven TDs. He also excels on defense with six INTs.
Edison gave St. Clairsville fits early on last week before succumbing to the Red Devils overall talent.
"They spread the field, but they also line up in running formations," Bruney said of the Wildcats. "They've got a good quarterback, a good running back and two pretty good wide receivers.
"They've scored points on every team they've played," he added. "We need to stop the big plays and make them drive the ball."
When asked if his team was healthy for this week, Bruney quickly replied, "Absolutely not."
The Purple Riders have been playing without starting quarterback Tyler Strama who was injured in Week 3 and, according to reports, lost senior Sean McGee last week to a leg injury.
Martins Ferry sits in sixth place in Division IV, Region 15. The top eight make the playoffs.
Buckeye Trail vs. Shadyside, 7 p.m.
At Fleming Field in Tiger Town, the state-ranked Tigers are coming off a 14-0 whitewashing of mistake-prone Wheeling Central last Friday night.
This will be Shadyside's final regular-season home game this year as it travels to Bridgeport and Barnesville to complete the first 10 weeks. The Orange-and-Black are fifth in the latest Division VI, Region 21 computer ratings, which is one spot out of a first-round home playoff encounter. They are also ranked seventh in the AP poll.
However, veteran head coach Mark Holenka knows his squad can't overlook the much-improved Warriors, or anyone else.
"We've got to get the kids to come back to earth," he admitted. "Yes, that was a big, emotional win last week, but we've got to get the kids' attention back on the big picture. We've still got three games left to play.
"They are a concern," Holenka said of Division V Buckeye Trail. "They are maturing and (head) coach (Dale) Broomhall has done a tremendous job with the kids."
Shadyside is led by quarterback Chase Kinemond. The senior has passed for 693 yards and 693 yards on 41 of 67 (61%). He has thrown 13 touchdowns and only been picked off thrice. On the ground, he has accounted for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, he has a team-high three interceptions.
The ground game is led by Brooks Ramsey and Chris Littell, who have run for 358 and 248 yards, respectively. Littell has five touchdowns.
When Kinemond looks to throw, his primary targets are Cody Hudson and Austin Dorris. Hudson has 20 receptions for 290 yards and eight scores, while Dorris has snagged 18 aerials for 301 stripes and five TDs, including one last week. Hudson is the team's leading scorer with 79 points. He is 28 of 29 on PATs and had a field goal to his credit.
Dorris is the defensive leader thus far. He had eight tackles and returned a Maroon Knights' fumble 13 yards for a touchdown. Alex Quinn, Eric Howell, Cory Banco, Zach Meadows, Kinemond and Hudson all had big games last week.
Meanwhile, quarterback Morgan Dougherty has had a pretty good freshman season. He has passed for 715 yards and eight touchdowns on 39 of 74 accuracy. He has six picks. He has also picked up nearly 200 yards on the ground, scoring once.
His prime targets are Brett Shipman, CJ Beaver and Tyler Starr. Shipman has a team-leading 15 catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns, while Beaver has caught 13 passes for 327 yards and five scores. Starr has landed 10 catches for 215 stripes and a TD.
Lane Starr has come on strong with 249 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Tyler Nealey leads the Warriors with 260 stripes.
Ian Wildes is a capable kicker, as well as one of the team's top defenders. Nealey and Seth Doudna also head up the stop troops, as do the Starr brothers and Beaver.
Shenandoah vs. River, 7 p.m.
At Alumni Field in New Martinsville, the Pilots are ranked eighth in the latest Division VI, Region 23 computer ratings, nearly a full point ahead of No. 9 Plymouth.
River has won two of its last three outings and has Buckeye Trail and Frontier to finish out the regular season.
The Pilots are led by the two-headed running attack of Nick Asturi and Jordan Sapp. Asturi has a team-high 645 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Sapp adds 481 and five.
Quarterback Cody Caldwell has completed 60 of 136 passes for 1,071 yards and seven touchdowns. He has also been picked off a half-a-dozen times.
His main target is Kameron Brown who has caught 31 passes for 668 yards and five touchdowns. Asturi has a dozen catches, while Dallas Necessary has 10.
Beallsville vs. Bridgeport, 7 p.m.
At Perkins Field inside Bill Jobko Stadium, the Blue Devils and Bulldogs are playing for pride.
Bridgeport will also be playing its Homecoming 2012 contest.
Rudy Vavrock's troops haven't won since knocking off Toronto in Week 2. They have been outscored 143-14 in the last three contests, including 41-7 last week against River.
Dallas Fields in the Bulldogs' only legitimate offensive threat. The senior has run for 608 yards and four touchdowns on 130 carries. He has also caught 14 passes for 107 yards and another TD. Colin Cooper is also a receiving threat.
Quarterback Bailey McGrath injured an ankle early in last week's contest. His status is up in the air. QJ Williams filled in for him last week.
The Blue Devils are led by quarterback Teryn Jarrett. The strong-armed senior leads all eastern Ohio signal-callers with 1,722 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is 124 of 233 with eight interceptions, but only two in the last three games.
Gage Steele has come on strong after an early-season injury. He has run the ball 38 times for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Bruce Sefert is the team leader with 246 and seven touchdowns. Mikey Palmer and Ricky Tubaugh have each caught 33 passes, with Tubaugh recording 424 yards and three scores and Palmer registering 366 stripes and four TDs.
Mason Campbell has had a strong season as the Blue Devils' placekicker with 16 point-after kicks.
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