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Red Knights control own playoff destiny

LEETONIA — Toronto got a huge win over Crestwood in overtime in Week 5, which puts it in third place in Division VII, Region 25 and in control of its own destiny in the second half of the season.

The next challenge is fellow Region 25 member and former Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference rival Leetonia Friday on the road.

“We’re obviously very familiar with them,” Toronto head coach Josh Franke said. “They have a good running back and a big offensive line. It is going to be another good test for us. Last week was obviously emotional, it was a huge win for us as far as the playoffs are concerned. We have to stay focused on one week at a time.”

As big as the Crestwood win was for Toronto, a win over the Red Knights would be huge for the Bears’ (3-2, 16th in the region) own playoff aspirations.

“We have told our kids … Leetonia knows that if they can get a win from us, that could give them a ton of playoff points,” Franke said. “They are going to be coming out gunning for us.”

Caleb Leasure (632 yards, eight scores) threw the two Toronto touchdowns in the 12-6 win last week, and he leads a Red Knight offense that ranks third in the Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area, averaging 367.6 yards and 28.6 points per game. Garrett Dozier (426 yards, three scores) and JoJo Savage (310 yards, three scores) lead the Toronto rushing attack.

Leetonia averages 25.6 points per game on offense and allows an average of 14.2. The Red Knights defense averages 184.4 yards and 10 points allowed, ranking second in the area.

Harrison Central

at St. Clairsville

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Any time a team plays for a trophy, there is no added motivation needed. Harrison Central and St. Clairsville battle for the Coal Bucket Trophy on Friday night, both looking to bounce back against a rival.

“We’re always excited to go to St. Clairsville,” Harrison Central head coach Anthony Hayes said. “It is a rivalry game, the kids get up for it. It has been a while since we beat them, so we look forward to every chance we get.”

The Huskies sit at 1-4, coming off a loss to Martins Ferry. In the past few season, the second half of the season is where the Huskies have shined.

St. Clairsville is 4-1, coming off a last-second loss to Indian Creek. The Red Devils average 31.4 points per game, while allowing 18.

“They are coming off a loss just like we are and I’m sure they are going to be ready and looking to bounce back,” Hayes said. “They are fundamentally sound and their numbers great. They have depth and competition. They are very-well coached. Their staff has been in tact for a long time now and coach Brett McLean does a great job.”

Harrison Central averages 248.6 yards and 18.2 points per game on offense, led by Kobe Mitchell with 590 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Cale McAfee leads the ground attack with 215 yards and four scores.

On defense, the Huskies allow 297.8 yards and 30.2 points.

Buckeye Local at Shenandoah

SARAHSVILLE — Since its win over Union Local in Week 2, Buckeye Local has struggled to put another 48-minute performance together, getting off to a good start against River View in Week 5 before the game got away in the second half.

This week, traveling to 4-1 Shenandoah, getting back to a consistent four quarters is the focus for Roger Herbert and company.

“Our first two drives (against River View) were very good,” Herbert said. “Outside of one play, we had the ball the whole first quarter, then made mistakes as the game went on. We have to build on it and put a whole one together. We’ve done a lot better in the first quarter this year. It seems like our gameplans start off good, then other teams make adjustments. As a coaching staff, we have to do a better job of adjusting as well. Football is a chess match.”

Shenandoah has a skilled offense, averaging 29.6 points per game, they also allow some points, though, giving up an average of 23.

“We watched a couple of their tapes and I think they are pretty complex offensively,” Herbert said. “They run a ton of formations, sometimes they are five wide, sometimes in a wing-t. We have to take advantage of some things we see on defense and move the ball on them and score. We expect a high scoring game on both sides.”

Buckeye Local’s offense averages 12.2 points per game, while it has allowed an average of 38.2 on defense. Charlie Smith leads the Panthers (1-4) rushing attack with 130 yards and two scores, averaging over four yards per carry. Seth Richardson has thrown for 350 yards and a pair of scores. Jacob Zanes and Brian Palmer each had 10 catches, with two of Palmer’s going for touchdowns.

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)

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