WINTERSVILLE - Another week, another crucial Buckeye 8 tilt.
That's what's facing Bellaire and Indian Creek when the two teams tangle at 7 p.m. Friday at Kettlewell Stadium.
The contest is a little more important for the Redskins, who fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last week with a loss at St. Clairsville.
The Big Reds, meanwhile, are seeking their third straight league triumph after an easy time with Buckeye Local in Yorkville.
Bellaire stands in fifth place in the Division VI, Region 21 computer rankings, one spot ahead of Monroe Central.
Indian Creek, meanwhile, is ninth, in Division IV, Region 13. The four teams Creek have beaten have a combined record of 3-17.
Indian Creek has had Bellaire's number the past two seasons. The Redskins coasted to a 28-0 victory last fall at Nelson Field, one year after a 21-0 triumph on their home turf.
''They're a tough team no matter where you play them,'' Bellaire head coach Jose Davis said. ''They are a tough, physical, aggressive team that is well-coached and well-prepared.''
The Redskins (4-1) dropped a 21-0 decision last week at St. Clairsville, as they were missing many key personnel with injuries. Despite the loss, Head Coach Andrew Connor was pleased with how his team played in a tough road environment.
''I thought we showed some glimpses,'' he said. ''We connected on some passes and our passing game is getting better. But our bread and butter is still the running game.''
Connor has made no secret that running the ball is the heart of his offense.
And Davis knows it.
''It's no secret what they're going to do, but that's the key to their game,'' he said. ''The challenge is simple - you have to man up.''
Bellaire's rushing defense was shredded, allowing nearly 450 yards in a 46-29 loss to Shadyside three weeks ago. It improved in a rainy victory at home against Edison two weeks ago, as well as last week's 43-6 triumph.
''We are getting better and that's the key, getting better week in and week out,'' Davis said.
The Big Reds (3-2) are also running the ball better themselves. Hunter Westlake became the team's first 100-yard rusher of the season with his 190-yard, two TD performance against Edison. Then, last week, Tyler West broke loose for 105 and a score against the Panthers.
''They've ran the ball more, but the biggest difference with Bellaire is they still have one of the best, if not the best quarterbacks in Spencer Badia. It starts and stops with him.''
Badia is enjoying another fine season, having completed 76 passes for 1,032 yards and 15 TDs against just two interceptions.
''I've been impressed with their running backs, though,'' Connor said. ''It makes them a little less predictable and I think it's a complement to their passing game.''
''That's big for us to have some balance to make sure we're not throwing the ball 35 to 40 times per game,'' he said.
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