Utica at Centerburg
Utica (2-7, 2-4) has scored in double digits in all but two games this season, but have been outscored by at least by 20 points in every one of its seven losses on the season. Clay Rowley is second in the area with a 110.1 QB rating and 1,180 passing yards, but no Redskin running back has more than his 363 yards. The loss of Travis Baldwin has stymied Utica’s offense the past two weeks, as he was the team’s top rusher, receiver and scorer. The Redskins will have to have multiple skill players step up on offense, and then be able to keep up with Centerburg’s receivers on defense..
Centerburg (7-2, 4-2) has the area’s No. 1 passing attack, led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Stoyle. Stoyle has completed better than two-thirds of his passes for nearly 1,300 yards, and has a TD/interception ratio of 13/4. The Trojans boast three of the area’s top four receivers in Logan McGovern ( 62 receptions), Caleb White (30) and Jacob Teale (27), but had good rushing weapons in Jason Ratliff (847 yds.) and Justin Keys (351 yds.) The Trojans are still alive in the hunt for a bid in Regionals, but they’ll need more than a win — they’ll need a lot of help from other teams in order to move up the rankings.
Fredericktown at Loudonville
A share of second place in the Mid-Buckeye Conference is on the line in this game on Friday. Fredericktown (5-4, 4-2) has moved the ball effectively but has had difficulty scoring points this season, with four games of 10 points or fewer. Matt Smith is 87 rushing yards away from his second straight 1,000-yard season. However, QB Ryan Logan has seen his numbers drop as he has had to scramble out of the pocket. The Freddies will likely use a ball-control offense to keep the powerful Loudonville attack off the field.
Loudonville (4-5, 4-2) has reached its stride in Mid-Buckeye Conference play after a tough nonconference schedule. In conference, the Redbirds have scored no fewer than 31 points in a game, including a 68-point effort against Utica and last week’s 49-2 win over Northridge. Nate Scarberry is worthy of an all-conference selection, and Cody Debo and Christian Leitenberger are small but elusive running backs, as well as good receivers out of the backfield. This game will come down to the line of scrimmage, and who controls it.
Highland at River Valley
Highland (3-6, 3-5) is riding a two-game winning streak after back-to-back shutout wins over Ridgedale and Mount Gilead. The defense, which had given up 24 or more points in every game through Week 7, keyed its attack against Indians’ quarterback Justin Carver, and kept him under 100 yards combined rushing and passing. The reemergence of running back Hayden Mailey has improved the offense’s ability to keep the opposition’s offense off the field.
River Valley (6-3, 6-2) has given up a touchdown or less in five of its wins this season, and have scored two or fewer TDs in losses to Wynford, North Union and Pleasant, the latter two the best of the MOAC. The Vikings rely on running back Bo Keener (811 yards) for its ground attack, and he and Nate Carey are a defensive backfield combination that makes trouble for opposing QBs. Punter Jordan Mally averages over 40 yards per punt on special teams, which helps River Valley win the war of field position.
Check out our special Devil-Dog preview in Friday’s edition of the News.