You wanted the best, and the Tornadoes and Quakers did not disappoint.
New Philadelphia and Dover completed their 116th chapter of one of the most storied rivalries in all the land, and gave fans the nail-biting action this time of year is all about.
Ridgewood and Newcomerstown closed the book on their yearly rivalry in style, while Sandy Valley appears to have squeaked their way into the playoffs with a 9-1 record.
Rivalry Week lived up to the hype, but what lies ahead? Join us for more.
Recaps brought to you by Pretorius Insurance Agency.
Indian Valley 60, Claymont 8 (Thursday)
Call in the dogs and put out the fire.
The Braves handled business in their last regular-season game inside the storied Kelly Field with a thumping of their arch-rivals. There will be one more contest on the schedule for the red, white and blue before varsity games move away from Midvale, but it likely won’t have the same luster as Thursday night’s game due to the rich history of Indian Valley vs. Claymont.
In weather that pretty much dictated how the offenses had to play — good thing both teams like to run — only five passes were thrown all night.
The Braves averaged over 11 yards per carry on a night where Shane Thorton stole the show, going for 174 and three touchdowns. Senior Zach Love, who was given a somewhat light load given that playoff football is a week away, toted the rock five times for 83 yards and a score.
Things got rolling quickly when Trevor Myers scooped up a dribbling opening kickoff and rumbled for 95 yards and a touchdown to put the Braves up with less than 15 seconds off the clock.
Credit to the Mustangs, who still showed heart this season, even though they walked away without from 2019 without a victory. Sophomore Adrian Holmes got Claymont on the board with a late touchdown run from 47 yards out to at least put some positive spin on the blowout.
Claymont can now put this year in the rearview, and focus on rising from the bottom for the Twin Cities. Indian Valley appears to be headed for a crash-course with Bloom-Carroll, a familiar foe who the Braves met in 2013 at home, which was the first playoff game hosted at Kelly Field. A fitting end to a long-time venue.
Dover 34, New Philadelphia 28
All teams, no matter how skilled and efficient, will face adversity in a season.
Unfortunately for the Quakers, that adversity comes with the playoffs now here, as senior quarterback Baron May went down with a right-arm injury. May has been the main catalyst for coach Matt Dennison for multiple years, and replacing him is one of the more difficult challenges the team has faced since he started as a freshman in the playoffs.
Be that as it may, no credit should be taken from Dover, a team that many had written off after a third loss earlier in the year. The Tornadoes matched the Quakers blow-for-blow, never losing faith and showing the kind of grit that can take teams far.
Quarterback Ayden Hall finished 23-for-30 for 264 yards and four touchdowns, throwing one pick and adding 43 yards on the ground. His two favorite weapons, Keaton Hall and Nathan Ravine, were integral as well. Ravine had 167 yards and a score, with Keaton Hall putting up 108 total yards and three touchdowns.
The Dover defense forced May into some scramble drills and kept his completion percentage at 50, while picking off two passes, including the game-sealing snag from Tyler Sweitzer.
Dover has wrapped up a playoff spot, a thought that seemed almost impossible a few weeks ago. As it currently stands, their next opponent would be a familiar face in Steubenville.
New Philadelphia must now regroup and rally around Kobey Hoover, the quarterback now entrusted with the Quakers’ quarterback duties if the worst fears about May’s injury are true.
Heroes are made in the fall, so who knows … A playoff showdown with St. Vincent-St. Mary, as it stands currently, would be the perfect time to etch your name in the history books.
Ridgewood 50, Newcomerstown 21
If you want to know what perfection looks like, head on over to West Lafayette.
The Generals exit the regular-season phase of 2019 with an unblemished, 10-0 record, thanks to a stingy defense and the poise of sophomore quarterback Gabe Tingle.
Tingle was his normal, show-stopping self, going 7-for-12 for 201 yards and two touchdowns, along with 62 yards rushing and two scores.
Defensively, the Generals yielded a handful of touchdowns to a Trojan offense that has surprised some this year.
Kigenn Millender, Kaden Smith and Isaiah Lamneck also found paydirt on the ground, Koleten Smith and Connor Kunze nabbing Tingle’s touchdowns.
The Generals appear as they will have Minford up first in a tough playoff region, a team they last met in 2009, winning 36-10.
The Trojans round out the year at 5-5, a performance worthy of applause considering the last few seasons. Dirk Gadd has things rolling entering his fourth year at the helm heading into 2020.
John Slusser, meanwhile, continues to raise the bar. Adding another playoff win would bolster what has been an illustrious career to this point.
To no one’s surprise, the league crown went to Ridgewood as of last week, but a 50-21 win puts the cherry on top.
Sandy Valley 41, Malvern 0
Control what you can, let the rest come as it may.
That kind of attitude can be credited to the tear Sandy Valley has gone on to end 2019, after falling to Indian Valley near the midway point. The Cardinals knew they had to win out for a chance at the playoffs, and sure enough, they did just that.
Junior quarterback Cam Blair increased his eye-popping career touchdowns mark to 85 with one more season to play, earning five touchdowns through the air, linking up with Demetrius Evans and Brodie Kelly on all of them. He had 300 yards and all his touchdowns by halftime.
The playmaking of Sandy Valley has been the story, as Brian Gamble has a team that’s capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Take into consideration Kelly’s second-touchdown reception went 77 yards, and it was on a tip-drill. Refer to the video below if you need evidence the Cardinals might have the most prolific offense around in the passing game when things are clicking.
Defensively, 189 yards were given up to a Malvern offense that is more than capable of moving the ball. The Hornets’ Derk Hutchinson threw two picks, forced into decisions faster than he wanted due to a stout pass-rush.
Sandy Valley capped-off their own shared on one side of the IVC with the victory, putting a smile on the face of all Cardinal faithful.
Garaway 62, Tusky Valley 7
Who remembers last year anyhow?
Spurred by their 13-9 loss to Tusky Valley int he previous season, which kept them from playoff football, Garaway put a statement game on the books prior to OHSAA tournament time.
The Pirates doubled the yardage total of their opponent — 520 to 252 — and held a 56-7 halftime edge. Quarterback Garrett Newsome returned to form, going 16-for-17 for 203 yards and two touchdowns, with 120 and a trip to the end zone as well.
Five Trojan turnovers were forced by the Pirates. It was an old-fashioned trip to the woodshed.
Credit to Noah Love who stood out for Tusky Valley, carrying the ball 18 times for 82 yards. Wide receiver Tristan Tesch also had a positive night, catching five passes for 84 yards and the lone touchdown.
Garaway only faced two third downs, while averaging over 10 yards per play.
It’s not an easy path from here on out though, as the 6th-seeded Pirates now must take on a 9-1 Garfield G-Men team that beat the always-tough Rootstown Rovers this year.
Garaway displayed the damage they can do if things click, and they will need more of that next week.
Tusky Valley, meanwhile, moves on to 2020 with some reasons to feel good about the returning group of players on both sides of the ball.
Carrollton 28, Minerva 7
Always end anything you do on a high note.
Carrollton’s season concluded with a two-game win streak, sending off the senior class with some memories in the process. Three turnovers by Minerva were key, including two turnovers on downs.
A big round of applause for Brady Benner, who returned the opening kickoff of the second half 82 yards for a touchdown, snatching a Lions pass on defense and hauling in a touchdown reception. That’s making an impact in all three phases of the game.
Neither side was overly sharp offensively, although Warriors’ quarterback Austin Colleti did eclipse 100 yards passing and connecting on the aforementioned touchdown pass.
Ryan Walker and Joe Beard each punched in touchdown runs, combining for 90 yards rushing.
Defensively lineman Alex Johnson deserves a tip of the cap for 1.5 sacks and two solo tackles. Johnson was apart of the key sequence following the kickoff return, earning a sack of Brayden Costea, setting up a punt situation, followed by a Beard touchdown run.
Carrollton will move on under Jim Tsilimos now, looking forward to what’s to come next go-round.
Mt. Vernon 32, West Holmes 24
Crumple the paper, toss it in the trash, take the can to the curb and put in a new bag.
That’s exactly what coach Zach Gardner will do now with a year of frustration behind him. Derailed by injuries and bad luck, 2019 was a year to forget for West Holmes.
Or was it?
Sure, the record was far from great, as West Holmes finished 3-7. But led by a sophomore quarterback in Noah Clark thrust into the spotlight, the Knights had things clicking in the passing game. He finished the night 19-of-29 with 231 yards and a touchdown, while Hayden Baker capped off his high-school career with 13 carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
Youth showed on defense at unfortunate times for West Holmes, including allowing 328 yards rushing. The last few games of the season were rough in rush defense, which is something that can be corrected with so much young talent still learning their roles.
The Knights held a 14-13 lead at the half but allowed a 72-yard drive after failing to capitalize on the opening drive of the second, which started a back-and-forth affair that saw the Knights fall behind for the open of the fourth and the rest of the evening.
Who knows what’s ahead for Gardner and company, but Clark’s guts and room to grow on defense mean next year could be a very different outlook in Millersburg.
TCC 47, Strasburg 13
Up-and-down season or not, the Saints exit 2019 with another blowout win under their belts.
Following two-straight tough losses, senior quarterback Alex Price rounded out his career with a well-rounded performance, throwing three touchdowns with 208 yards and rushing for for just a hair shy of 100 yards yards. He even hauled in a 54-yard touchdown pass from Jake Miller.
Miller hauled in his own touchdown reception, while Bradyn Nussbaum added another to his solid season. Running back Ryan Dick rushed for two touchdowns, and caught one, single-handedly giving his team a 21-7 halftime lead.
Strasburg came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, scoring from short-yardage on a Lucas Lindsay rush. However, until the later stages of the fourth quarter, it was the last Tigers scored.
TCC need under 11 minutes of possession to rack up 47 points. Defensive adjustments and focusing on finishing drives with points on the board will likely be at the top of the list for Strasburg coach Curtis Metzer.
As for the Saints, Cummings will lose his best offensive pairing in Price and Nussbaum, but it will be interesting to see the next gunslinger coming out in gold and black in 2020.
Conotton Valley 14, Weirton-Madonna 14
A point of clarification here — Ohio High School Athletic Association games cannot end in ties. A winner must be determined during regular season meetings.
However, due to this game being played in West Virginia, the Rockets were subject to home-state rules, ending things after three overtime periods. It’s a shame, considering Conotton Valley was on their way to a playoff spot with a win. Madonna, too, needed a victory to advance.
Quarterback Braden Caldwell put the Rockets up early with an 89-yard scamper just five minutes into the night. Both defenses held firm, until the Blue Dons broke through in the third. After an uneventful first overtime, each side locked up a touchdown, before heading to the last frame.
A field goal attempt that would have given the Rockets the win was blocked, ending Conotton Valley’s year at 4-5-1.
That extra digit just doesn’t seem right.
An overall positive attitude seems to surround Bowerston currently over the work done by Mike Winland in his first year, so it will be interesting to see what’s ahead with new faces cycling in.
Copyright WTUZ Radio Inc., 2019