A Blue Devils and Tigers rematch in the state semis?
It’s hard to believe.
There are only two teams left from the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference still playing football on the Ohio side.
For some, the harder thing to believe is that both teams, Beallsville and Shadyside, are in Division VI.
Most people would have guessed that maybe Steubenville and St. Clairsville would have been the last teams standing on the Ohio side, but neither team survived their most recent tests.
However, the Blue Devils and the Tigers were able to survive.
Beallsville was a one-point winner against Willow Wood Symmes Valley, while the Tigers were a three-point victor against Youngstown Christian.
If you found it hard to believe that the Blue Devils and Tigers, who played each other in Week 6, are the last two teams playing, then the next fact might be even tougher to digest.
If both Shadyside and Beallsville win this week, they’ll most likely – barring something unforseen by the OHSAA – meet each other in the Division VI state semifinals at probably either St. Clairsville or Martins Ferry.
Beallsville head coach Dave Caldwell might be some kind of fortune teller because he told me, on Fleming Field after his Blue Devils fell, 7-6, to the Tigers, that the two teams might see each other again.
Well, the two are one game away from that happening.
Let me be the first to say, though, both teams have serious challenges ahead.
Shadyside will tangle with the Associated Press Division VI poll champion, Berlin Center Western Reserve, at New Philadelphia in the Region 21 final.
Beallsville, meanwhile, will trek to suburban Columbus (Reynoldsburg) to take on New Washington Buckeye Central in the Region 23 final.
Not only do both teams have stiff challengers lying ahead, they both may be a bit shorthanded when they line it up Saturday night.
The toughest part for both teams is the fact that they suffered some costly injuries, but the extent is still unknown.
Shadyside lost two-way starter Chase Kinemond, while the Blue Devils lost talented senior running back Brandyn Heath to injuries.
Kinemond was replaced quite well by freshman Austin Dorris, who matured in a hurry, rushing for three scores.
Heath, who wears numerous hats for the Blue Devils, was picked up by senior Grahamm Dauch, senior Matthew Burke and junior Teryn Jarrett. Plus, the Blue Devils’ defense rose to the occasion when it had to, getting a stop on what could have been a game-winning drive for Symmes Valley.
PLAYOFF PEDIGREE MATTERS
When it comes to being playoff tested, you would be hard pressed to find a team in Division VI – outside of Delphos St. John and Maria Stein Marion Local – which has more than Shadyside.
Say what you want about Shadyside, Division VI or anything else, the facts don’t lie. When the Tigers get into the playoffs – and they do quite frequently – they get the job done.
Again, the facts don’t lie.
Shadyside, which achieved its 500th victory in school history earlier this season, has been in the playoffs every season except one since 2000 and have never lost in the first round in that span.
They’ve claimed three regional titles and advanced to the regional championship game now three other times. All told, they’ve won 25 playoff football games in school history.
In the OVAC, only Steubenville has more tournament victories than the Tigers.
The Tigers’ playoff success is quite astonishing after you actually sit down and look at the numbers.
NEED AN OIL CHANGE?
You won’t hear the Beallsville Blue Devils complain, but geeze o weeze they’re going to be exhausted after this tournament trail ends, regardless of where that might be.
The Blue Devils narrowly missed hosting a playoff game this season, which as it turns out would have been a welcome sight when you consider they’ve since been to Portsmouth, Athens and this week will pack up for Reynoldsburg.
All told, according to the calculations from Mapquest.com, the Blue Devils will have logged 872 miles in three games during the regional tournament.
That might be more difficult to believe than the aforementioned success of the Tigers in the playoffs.
Shadyside, which hosted its opening-round game, will have traveled just 260 miles round trip.
The Blue Devils’ shortest round-trip venture will come this week and it’s still 232 miles.
IS A BYE A GOOD ROUTE TO GO?
If you take a minute and look at the regional final pairings, you’ll see five teams who’ve played only 11 games.
It seems to be more and more of a growing trend for schools – especially in the bigger divisions – to play only 11 games. Obviously, several factors play a role.
First and foremost, you’ve got to be able to fill the schedule. Some teams just can’t get 10 games. For instance, Cardinal Mooney probably doesn’t have teams beating down its door to play in the regular season.
Others, I believe, take a bye week because they play such a rugged schedule they almost need the week to recover and since there’s no formal penalty by the OHSAA for doing it, then why not?
Pickerington Central, for instance, played Cincinnati Moeller and St. Xavier in its first two games of the season. Obviously, those are big-boy games. If there’s no penalty or basically no negative affect in the computer poll, then, again, teams should take advantage of that.
Locally, all teams – outside of St. John Central – played 10 games. However, St. Clairsville and Shadyside – in particular – came down to basically the final minutes before scheduling their 10th games.
While there’s no negative in the computer poll, local teams couldn’t afford to take a bye. When I say afford, I don’t mean football wise. Local schools’ athletic budgets need a full complement of football games on the schedule to help the other sports, which are considered, “non-revenue.”
It’s simple economics.
However, personally, I think the OHSAA needs to find a way to punish teams for taking a bye in the computer rankings.
CHECKING ON THE LOCALS
Cincinnati Moeller is still alive in the tournament and will meet St. Xavier at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati Saturday night at 8 p.m.
Moeller’s quarterback, Spencer Iacovone, whose mother is a New Athens’ native and father is a Mingo native, scored three touchdowns in the Crusaders’ 42-30 victory. All three of his scores were 1-yard sneaks. He also threw a touchdown.
The West Jefferson Roughriders are alive in the Region 20 tournament and will take on highly regarded Coldwater in the title game Friday night. Matt Adams – a former Bellaire High standout – is a member of the West Jefferson coaching staff.
Hilliard Davidson is back in the regional final and will meet Pickerington Central Saturday night at Ohio Wesleyan. The Wildcats’ defense features Chase DeLande in the backfield.
Columbus Bishop Hartley will match undefeated records against high-powered Kenton Saturday night in Mansfield. Hartley features Division I prospect Jacob Matuska, who is a star at tight end and linebacker. Matuska’s father (Jimmy) and mother (Beth Bierkorette) are both St. John Central graduates.
Avon will play for the Region 6 title in Division II. One of the Eagles’ key cogs is Greg Harrison, who’s father, Tom, is a 1980 graduate of Martins Ferry. He’s the nephew of 1977 Martins Ferry graduate Jeff Harrison, who is the former sports editor of The Times Leader. Harrison is a two-way starter, playing tight end and defensive end.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org