Centerburg at Northridge
Centerburg (5-2, 2-2) has the top passing attack in the Mid-Buckeye Conference, as quarterbacks Tyler Stoyle and Travis Poland have combined for nearly 1,500 yards through seven games. Stoyle is also the top rated QB in the league at 157.9, and is second only to Utica’s Clay Rowley with eight touchdown passes. Running back Jason Ratliff carries the rushing load, averaging 20 carries a game. The defense can be a bit spotty, especially after nearly losing a big lead to Loudonville last week. Against Northridge, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Northridge (3-4, 0-4) has struggled in the MBC this season, scoring no more than 10 points in any conference game after a 3-0 start. Danville scored 50 points on the Vikings last week, and had 403 total yards while holding Northridge to just 79 yards. Centerburg’s defense is not as tough as the Blue Devils’ but it should have little difficulty keeping the Vikings’ offense down.
Danville at Johnstown
Danville (5-2, 2-2) gained 403 yards of offense in last week’s 50-6 victory over Northridge. The Blue Devils’ line dominated on both ends of the field, holding the Vikings to 79 yards for the game. Danville has four of the leading sack artists in the league in Colton Moore, Heath Buckingham, Jacob Finnell and Quinton Ferenbaugh; and they can wreak havoc in the opposing backfield. Buckingham leads the area with 714 rushing yards and 74 points, and he has almost twice as many yards as the passing game.
Johnstown (7-0, 4-0) ran up 603 total yards against Utica in Week 7, running up 456 yards in rushing alone. Ross Franklin and Matt Smith together had 17 carries for 403 yards rushing, and Smith also completed two passes for 147 yards and two scores. All is not perfect for the Johnnies, however, as they had seven fumbles (three lost) and 115 yards in penalties against the Redskins. Danville’s defense against the run is one of the team’s greatest strengths, but the Johnnies have the ability to quickly wear down any defense.
East Knox at Loudonville
East Knox (1-6, 1-3) has not played well on offense this season, and on Friday gained only 30 total yards against Fredericktown. The Bulldogs lost only 10-8, however, as the Freddies had to make due without Matt Smith at running back. Cody Howard had his first really poor game since taking over at QB, completing 3-of-12 passes for 28 yards and two interceptions. East Knox’s running game consists largely of Dylan Wears, so defenses should have an easy time picking who to defend.
Loudonville (2-5, 2-2) trailed 35-7 and 42-14 to Centerburg last week, and made a tremendous second-half comeback only to come up short, 49-48. Redskin coach Don Wilson played for the win instead of trying for a tie on the final touchdown of the game, but the conversion pass failed. QB Nate Scarberry is one of the best in the MBC, and rushed for 85 yards and threw for 275 more against Centerburg. Receiver Tim Weber is a credible long threat. Loudonville can score quickly with its good passing game, but shouldn’t need to play from behind.
Utica at Fredericktown
Utica (2-5, 2-2) had the misfortune to face the Johnstown juggernaut on Friday, and fell 56-28. The Redskins gave up scoring plays of 68, 54, 83, 20, 75, 79, 55 and 19 yards; most were running plays. Utica gave up 232 yards to Ross Franklin and 171 yards to QB Matt Smith, and allowed 603 yards in all. Fredericktown doesn’t have the running tandem the Johnnies employ, but if the Freddies’ Matt Smith can return this week, the Redskins will have their hands full again. QB Clay Rowley leads the league in TD passes, so his play will be key to the offense.
Fredericktown (4-3, 3-1) was without star running back Matt Smith last week against East Knox, and had to cling to a 10-8 victory. The Freddies had 216 yards of offense to just 30 for the Bulldogs, and Joey Burns took most of the running load, running 23 times for 92 yards. East Knox’s offense is rather inept in comparison to Utica, however, and the Redskins’ passing game could cause trouble. Fredericktown’s run defense is coming on strong, and should force Utica to go to the pass early.
Ridgedale at Highland
Highland (1-6, 1-5) had five turnovers in a 44-14 loss to Buckeye Valley in Week 7. The Barons outgained the Scots 427-273 thanks to a huge edge in the passing game, but BV’s pass defense also did a marvelous job, picking off QB Josh Gahm three times. Gahm’s accuracy has been down in recent weeks, so Highland will need another big game from Hayden Mailey, who rushed for 116 yards on 15 carries last week. The Scots need its running game to keep drives going, as Gahm’s arm problems would make it difficult for the Scots to play from behind.
Ridgedale (1-6, 1-5) won its first game of the season on Friday, taking down winless Northmor, 40-8. That game was only the second time the Rockets have scored in double-digits all season, and represented more than half of their combined 72 points for the season. Almost exclusively a passing team, Ridgedale relies heavily on QB Asch Tilley, who has 597 passing yards this season but only two TDs and five interceptions. Richie Price leads the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with 21 catches for 285 yards. With a defense giving up an average of 41 points per game, look for another Ridgedale loss.