Danville at Utica
Danville (5-3, 2-3) gave up over 400 yards of offense in falling to undefeated Johnstown in Week 8, 56-15. The Blue Devils struggled to stop the rushing of Ross Franklin, who had 328 yards and four touchdowns, but held QB Matt Smith to 1-of-9 completions and two interceptions. Danville’s rushers had very little success against a tough Johnnie line, but Utica is allowing almost 40 points per game, so the Blue Devils should have more rushing success.
Utica (2-6, 2-3) got to within seven points of Fredericktown in last week’s game, 28-21, before the Freddies spurted to a 48-28 victory. The Redskins gave up 404 rushing yards, including 241 yards to Fredericktown’s Matt Smith and 141 to Cody McGuire. QB Clay Rowley will have to be accurate against a good Danville secondary, and Artie Douglas and Jon Swint are capable receivers. Getting Travis Poland back would help give the offense some needed balance.
Johnstown at East Knox
East Knox (1-7, 1-4) did not score on offense against Loudonville in Week 8, tallying only with a punt and a kickoff return in a 48-13 loss. The Bulldogs allowed 427 yards, including 359 on the ground, while gaining only 147. QB Cody Howard was a victim of the Redbirds’ good defensive line, completing just 5-of-16 passes for 34 yards. Only Howard and Mason Lyon had more than 40 yards rushing, and if repeated that would spell disaster against Johnstown.
The Johnnies (8-0, 5-0) have only one receiver with at least one catch per game, Tyler Thompson with nine. Even when teams discount the passing game, however, Johnstown is nearly impossible to stop, with two of the area’s leading rushers in Ross Franklin (167 carries, 1,688 yards) and QB Matt Smith (94-839). The offensive line which opens the holes for Franklin and Smith also work on defense, and are just as good at stopping others’ ground attack. A 10-0 season looks likely.
Highland at Mount Gilead
Highland (2-6, 1-6) won the match between two one-victory teams last week, beating Ridgedale 69-0. Hayden Mailey carried the bulk of the offensive load with 269 yards on 27 carries, and the team combined for 550 yards of offense. Mailey and others took the burden off of QB Josh Gahm, who went just 1-of-2 for 14 yards. If Mount Gilead can stop the resurgent Mailey and the rest of the Scots’ runners, Gahm might have to pick up his game.
Mount Gilead (4-4, 3-4) trailed Buckeye Valley 23-20 late in Week 8, but the Barons held on for a 30-20 victory. The Indians managed only 219 total yards against BV, and turned the ball over four times. QB Justin Carver scored all three touchdowns for Mount Gilead, two rushing and one on an interception return, and was involved in 47 of the team’s 52 plays. His 719 rushing yards are fourth in the conference, and his 881 passing yards are second. Stopping Carver means stopping the Indians.