Our Ohio teams open up the postseason tonight, while our West Virginia teams close the door on the regular season. One season is ending and another is just begininng.
Alliance Marlington at Big Red
Every year, Big Red plays for a home playoff game. Tonight, Steubenville realizes that goal when Marlington invades Harding Stadium for the first round of the Division III, Region 11 playoffs.
Steubenville also sets out to win its region every season. That, too, will be realized. The road to Massillon will run through Steubenville. It'll also run through the Dukes.
The Dukes have athletes and have played some good football teams this season, but they haven't played the caliber of competition they'll face tonight. Big Red will shut down the running game which the Dukes live by. Marlington will have no other choice but to throw the football, and unless the Dukes can do it successfully, it'll be a blowout at Harding.
I think the Red will roll and roll big, winning 47-6.
Let's here it for the Huskies. Congratulations to Harrison Central on its first-ever playoff berth. The Huskies have come along way since that 30-plus game losing streak a decade ago. Harrison Central can now call itself a playoff program.
Unfortunately for Harrison Central, it'll make its postseason debut at Dover. The Tornadoes are a top-notch team who are known for their high-octane offense. They can score and score quickly.
This will be problematic for the Huskies. If they fail to contain Dover early, they will be in for a long night.
I just can't see Harrison Central pulling this one off. It would be great if the Huskies did and I would gladly chow down on a plate of crow, but it'll be a longshot. The Huskies simply will not weather the storm and the Tornadoes will win 35-13.
Canal Fulton Northwest at Buckeye Local
The Panthers will host a home playoff game for the first time tonight when Northwest visits World War II Memorial Stadium. Buckeye Local's 8-2 record was enough for a third-place finish in Region 11. They routed Weir, 53-12, last week.
The Indians finished sixth with a 7-3 mark and are fresh from a 61-7 thrashing of Alliance.
It could be a barnbarner in Yorkville. Both teams can obviously put up points and frustrate opponents. Both teams boast athletes. Both teams are well coached.
Both teams know how to play football, but only one team will earn a 12th game.
I'd like to see the Panthers win, but I think the more playoff-seasoned Northwest will have an edge. The Indians love to throw and they do it well. If Buckeye Local can keep the ball out of the Indians' hands with clock-consuming drives the Panthers could win this. However, the Indians have the ability to strike quickly and I think a last minute touchdown by Northwest will give the visitors a 27-21 win.
This could be called the battle of the undefeated. Unbeaten Madonna, the No. 2 team in the state, will face off against the fourth-ranked 9-0 Cee Bees. On paper, this should be a game, but I don't expect a close one in Blacksville, tonight.
Sorry Clay Battelle, but the Dons are going to dominate. Madonna crushed Clarksburg Notre Dame, 52-0. The Cee Bees had to come back from behind to beat Notre Dame, 32-27.
Need I say more?
Madonna will out-muscle and out-man the Cee Bees on its way to a 49-13 victory.
Weir High at
Weir has fallen on some tough times. That happens. High school sports runs in cycles. One season you're on top. A few seasons later you're rebuilding. The Red Riders will be back. That I am sure of.
Tonight, Weir takes its 1-8 record to Tyler Consolidated. The Red Riders have limped through the season. They'll limp off into the sunset, falling 20-6.
Moments after my first son was born, his dad rushed into the delivery room, took me by the hand and said "this feels almost as good as when we won the state championship." The "we" was the 1987 Brooke football team.
Now, 22 years after what was obviously the best moment of his life and almost 10 years after what he confessed was his second, his Bruins are back.
Tonight, undefeated Brooke travels to (4-5) Musselman. The Appleman could play the spoiler role tonight, but they won't. Top-ranked Brooke will win with a bang. The Green-and-Gold will close the regular season a stellar 10-0 after a 42-6 rout.
Speaking of green and gold, my son, now a 9-year-old football player for the Toronto Titans, has a big game of his own this weekend. His junior varsity squad will take on the undefeated Weirton Steelers in the Steel Valley Football League championship game, Sunday. I wish both teams luck on what I'm sure will be a thriller at Wheeling Island Stadium, but I'm taking the Titans in this one. The boys from T-Town will bring home the hardware with a 20-12 victory.
(Elverd, a resident of Toronto, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)