Prep football regular season winding down

Some teams have two weeks left in their high school football season, while others have already clinched a post-season berth, or are on the bubble as week nine approaches.

Martins Ferry (7-1) is one of those teams that will be dancing in the Division V, Region 17 playoffs as the Purple Riders are in the fourth spot with 15.65 computer points.

However, Dave Bruney’s battle-tested squad makes the trip to Richmond this week to meet Edison (4-4) in a Buckeye 8 matchup at Cartwright Field at 7 p.m. before closing the regular season at rival Bellaire in week 10

That is just one of six games on tap for this weekend, with five of them set for Friday night at 7. The others include St. John Central (0-8) visiting Dragon Field to face Cameron (3-5); Buckeye Trail (3-5) treking to Hannibal to meet host River (3-5) at Flannery Field; Barnesville (1-7) entertaining Conotton Valley (1-7) at Shamrock Stadium; and Monroe Central (5-3) welcoming Frontier (4-4) to Woodsfield.

On Saturday night, Bishop Donahue (4-3) hosts Beallsville (5-3) at Monarch Stadium in Moundsville at 7:30.

Martins Ferry vs. Edison

The Purple Riders should have the services of senior quarterback Brian Styles this week after he sat out last week’s game at Indian Creek.

Sophomore running back Arjay Burress continues to be a bright spot for the Purple as he has accumulated 760 yards and seven touchdowns. A total of 598 of those stripes have come in the last four, including 257 against Harrison Central in week 5.

Classmate James Edwards stepped in under center last week and filled in admirably, completing half of his 16 attempts for 168 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown to Jack Fitch with 26 seconds left to play. Fitch, a junior speedster, caught the ball with one hand before breaking a tackle and tight-roping his way down the sideline to complete the 65-yard strike.

Junior Jake Barritt also returned a punt 41 yards for a touchdown as the Purple Riders’ special teams got into the scoring act.

Frontier at Monroe Central

Both of these teams must basically win out to advance to the postseason.

Monroe Central is sitting in the seventh spot in Division VI, Region 21 and controls its own destiny as Buckeye Trail looms in week 10. Frontier, meanwhile, is currently ninth in Division VII, Region 25 and meets River in the regular-season finale.

The Seminoles started the season 0-2 before reeling off five wins in the next six weeks, the lone blemish coming at the hands of West Virginia-ranked Magnolia in week six. Since that setback, Monroe Central has outscored Shenandoah and Barnesville by a combined 100-9 margin.

Keying the turnaround was the move of senior Curtis Nixon from running back to quarterback. In last week’s rout of Barnesville, Nixon accounted for 340 total yards of offense, with 234 of that coming on the ground on just 10 carries. He scored three touchdowns, including a pair of 80-yard jaunts, and passed for a fourth.

Classmate Levi Brown is also a threat on the ground as he has 742 yards and 13 TDs. Nixon has 688 and 11 six-pointers.

Buckeye Trail at River

The Warriors still have a slim – very slim – chance at playing in week 11, but they must beat the Pilots and Monroe Central, which won’t be an easy chore.

Junior quarterback Morgan Dougherty has come into his own the last two weeks with 399 yards and five touchdowns rushing, and another 312 stripes via the air and three six-pointers.

Tailback Travis Pontius has 728 yards and seven TDs.

The Pilots are led by senior tailback Jordan Sapp who went for 128 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s shootout victory over Shenandoah, 40-34. He has 626 yards and a dozen TDs on the ground.

Sophomore quarterback Joey Flannery has 578 yards and four TDs. His favorite target is senior Bryce Cross with 29 receptions for 293 yards and two scores.

Conotton Valley at Barnesville

A pair of struggling teams will meet in Western Belmont County as the Rockets and Shamrock have one win apiece. That means something has to give, right?

Barnesville broke into the win column in week five against Shenandoah, but the Shamrocks have been outscored 142-7 in their last three games, including 100-0 in back-to-back shutouts to Steubenville Central and Monroe Central.

Conotton Valley hasn’t tasted victory since week 2 after a 12-6 decision over winless St. John Central. The Rockets have been outscored 121-14 in their last three outings.

St. John Central at Cameron

The Irish are really struggling right now as they have lost eight straight, while the Dragons have won two of their last three.

Cameron Opic returned the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown last week, and sophomore Kyle Coppa took once back 76 yards in the fourth quarter. Coppa also scored on a 40-yard sprint.

Cameron lost 40-20 to unbeaten Clay-Battelle last week.

Beallsville vs. Bishop Donahue

The Blue Devils are also in a must-win situation if they are to make the Division VII, Region 25 final eight. They are seventh with 7.59 points. Willow Wood Symmes Valley is eighth at 5.91.

They have won five of their last seven after an 0-2 start, including two in a row.

Junior quarterback Chase Mercer has been the offensive catalyst, while seniors Dalton Secrest, Bruce Sefert and Aaron West headline a stiff defense. Secrest has 21 quarterback sacks.

The Bishops are coming off a victory, but have dropped three of their last five after a 2-0 beginning.

Beallsville closes at home with St. John Central.

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