Only one local prep football team has a winning record through the first six weeks of the season. A surprising but perhaps expected development for a county with a rich football heritage. Three teams – Urbana, West Liberty-Salem and Triad – lost their starting quarterback from last season.
After a nail-biting loss to Kenton Ridge last week, Urbana (1-5) hosts a Bellefontaine (3-3) team that was put through its paces early this season. The Chieftains have lost to teams that are a combined 17-1, so the Hillclimbers will have their hands full for homecoming.
Graham (0-6) is in the latter stages of a rebuilding phase and the Falcons have had one of the most brutal schedules in all of area football. Each of Graham’s first six opponents is above .500 save one: 3-3 Bellefontaine.
Now, the winless Falcons welcome winless Greenon for homecoming. The game is certainly winnable and would do the community a world of good.
“We’re excited for the game. The kids are amped up, for sure,” Graham Coach A.J. Woods said. “The alumni and community ares a big part of the football team. It would be a huge win.”
That’s not to say Graham is expecting anything easy. The last remaining county team without a win, the Falcons are coming in to practice with positive attitudes. That’s something that Woods is encouraged to see.
“We’ve got to stay focused all week. Come out intense and motivated, ready to play football,” he said.
West Liberty-Salem (2-4) is almost assuredly out of the playoff picture and the OHC race, but the Tigers still have the potential to finish with a winning season. That attempt will begin with WL-S taking out its frustrations on visiting Cedarville (0-6) this week.
“We just approach each week as ‘what do we need to do to get better?’” WL-S Coach Dan McGill said. “Our kids know Cedarville has had a tough year, but we talk about playing to our potential every week.”
McGill said his boys have remained focused despite the effort exerted in a loss to rival Mechanicsburg last week.
“I’ve got good senior leadership and these kids know what a privilege it is to play this sport with their friends,” McGill said. “It’s the only time in a vast majority of these kids’ lives that they’ll get to play football.”
Triad (1-5) finally got one in the win column against Cedarville last week and will look to continue that trend against visiting Southeastern (2-4) this week.
“If anything, it’s a momentum builder to show everything we’ve been doing is paying off,” Triad Coach Joe Cardinal said.
Southeastern runs a complicated offensive scheme, so Cardinal knows his boys will have to be on top of things to secure their first home victory.
“We’ve got to win in front of our crowd. Home atmospheres are definitely special and we have to bring one home,” Cardinal said. “I think those first five teams definitely prepared us, but there’s a difference between having the potential to be good and showing it.”
Mechanicsburg (6-0) is state-ranked again this season behind a mauling group of linemen who make superstar quarterback Kaleb Romero look even better than he is already. The Indians travel to take on a surprising 4-2 Catholic Central squad and are trying to avoid a letdown after winning against rival West Liberty-Salem last week.
“That’s going to be one of the bigger emotional challenges this week,” M’burg Coach Kurt Forrest said. “Coming out and swinging as hard as you can and getting the job done the right way. We like to get the ball and assert ourselves up front and get it rolling our way early.”
The Indians feast on other teams’ confusion and the ensuing chaos, since their players know just what to do in nearly every situation. It’s that “football IQ” that often separates good players from bad players and good teams from bad teams.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.