Loudonville at Centerburg
Centerburg (4-2, 1-2) led Danville 13-12 in Week 6, only to have the Blue Devils mount a comeback drive to win the game, 20-13. The QB duo of Tyler Stoyle and Travis Poland each have QB ratings over 100, and have combined for 1,150 yards. Most of that yardage has come on shorter passes, which limits the ability of the team to mount late-game comebacks. The lack of balance in the offense also means teams can focus on the pass without much worry.
Loudonville (2-4, 2-1) has played better in MBC play than it had in nonconference action, where it faced three teams with perfect records through Week 5. The Redbirds can strike quickly, as Nate Scarberry proved with three touchdown passes of 72, 21 and 35 yards against Utica. They can also run the ball, as evidenced by 235 yards last week. If Centerburg can’t match Loudonville pass for pass, the Redbirds may have an easy time of it.
Northridge at Danville
Danville (4-2, 1-2) earned its first win in three weeks with a last-minute touchdown to beat Centerburg last week. Although the Blue Devils gave up more yards than it gained, it controlled the clock with 141 rushing yards behind Heath Buckingham. Danville also forced three turnovers to close down Centerburg drives. Northridge doesn’t have the Trojans’ passing prowess, which makes the Blue Devils’ run defense even more effective. Look for a Danville blowout.
Northridge (3-3, 0-3) has found the Mid-Buckeye Conference very much not to its liking this season. After a 3-0 start against poor quality competition, the Vikings have lost three straight in conference, and scored only 10 points in doing so. East Knox held Northridge to minus-18 rushing yards, and 6-of-16 through the air with three interceptions. Danville has an excellent run defense, which means that the passing game will have to prove itself, something it has yet to do against MBC foes.
Buckeye Valley at Highland
Highland (1-5, 1-4) let Cardington’s Blair Wolcott run wild (255 yards) in a 24-0 shutout victory over the Scots last week. The normally-good Highland running game has ground to a halt this season, and had less only 95 yards against the Pirates. QB Josh Gahm has not been the same since a Week 4 shoulder injury, completing just 3-of-11 passes for 26 yards and two interceptions. The Scots will have to estabish the run against Buckeye Valley, as they cannot fully rely on their injured quarterback to take them to victory.
Buckeye Valley (3-3, 2-3) shut out Northmor in Week 6, 50-0, beating the only team Highland has defeated this season. The Barons did better against Cardington than the Scots, falling 19-17, but BV has had an up-and-down year defensively, giving up 30 or more points in three games this season, one of which was a win. Highland has the fewest points scored in the MOAC Red Division, but BV has given up the most points. On offense, BV almost evenly splits its yardage between passing and rushing.
Johnstown at Utica
Utica (2-4, 2-1) looked horrible in a 68-7 loss to Loudonville last week. QB Clay Rowley completed 7-of-20 passes for just 72 yards, and threw two interceptions as part of a six-turnover night. Rainy, wet conditions were part of the problem, but so was the inability of the Redskins to run the ball; the leading rusher gained only 30 yards. Two fumbles directly resulted in touchdowns, and the Redbirds scored on special teams as well. Johnstown’s potent offense could mean more of the same for Utica.
Johnstown (6-0, 3-0) took sole possession of first place in the MBC with a 41-7 victory over Fredericktown in Week 6. Using the two-headed running attack of Ross Franklin (196 yards) and Matt Smith (153 yards), the Johnnies dominated the clock to keep the Freddies’ best weapon, Matt Smith, off the field. The same line that opens holes for the runners also works on defense, holding opposing offenses in check. It would seem only a complete collapse can keep Johnstown from the victory.