You might know the scores, but care to know the stories?
Week 8 was a stretch of blowouts in the Tuscarawas Valley, with a handful of close ones sprinkled in. Ridgewood dominated, Indian Valley rolled, Newcomerstown asserted dominance [especially Wyatt Conner] and New Philadelphia continues to impress.
Just two weeks remain before the tensest times of the year for coaches and players.
The playoff push is here — who’s ready for the final drive?
Indian Valley 42, Garaway 13
With IVC implications on the line, the Braves stormed the hill in Sugarcreek and never looked back.
Indian Valley’s Zach Love, Mr. Do-It-All for head coach Matt Lancaster, steamrolled ahead for 243 yards and four touchdowns on just 15 carries. For those of you who are not fans of math, that’s over 16 yards-per-carry.
The Braves outgained the Pirates 452-243 on their way to easily their most impressive win of the year. Sure, An early-season Indian Creek thriller was tough and hard-fought, but this was against a team who, on paper, was an even matchup. But football isn’t played on pieces of parchment.
Shane Thorton added 172 all-purpose yards including his kick returns, while quarterback Ty Myers found brother Trevor Myers for two touchdowns through the air.
Garaway’s Garret Newsome went 13-for-21 for 139 yards with 53 on the ground on 25 attempts, along with both of his team’s scores. But three costly turnovers, including an early poor snap that put the Pirates behind the 8-ball in the first quarter, were signs of rough waters ahead.
Garaway has two interesting showdowns with Newcomerstown and Tuscarawas Valley ahead. Indian Valley, meanwhile, has two very winnable games against Tusky Valley and Claymont, closing out the year against their rivals in the last varsity game ever at Kelly Field.
Ridgewood 48, Tusky Valley 7
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Gabe Tingle.
The calm, cool and collected sophomore has not wavered, no matter who is in front of him. Walking into Zoarville can be daunting for any player, but Tingle strolled out with a 10-for-17, 229 yards and three touchdown night on his résumé. And once again, he wasn’t even needed for the second half.
That brings his yearly total to 1,593 yards through the air with 17 touchdowns. Oh, and he has 625 yards on the ground with 12 touchdowns. That is what you call elite.
12 different Generals got at least one carry, while six different receivers got in the action. The offensive line is sound, the defensive front-seven in terrifying, along with the back-half of the stop troops.
As for Tusky Valley, quarterback Tanner Phillips impressed against, throwing for 160 yards and a touchdown, although there was one interception. The Trojans fumbled the ball twice, losing both, but were able to churn out a respectable 250 yards. Once again, Ridgewood’s opponent did not play awful, they were just simply outpaced.
Ridgewood rounds out the year against Claymont and Newcomerstown, while Tusky Valley has Indian Valley and Garaway to deal with.
New Philadelphia 49, Marietta 14
Enter Sandman … or something like that.
Like Mariano Rivera did for the New York Yankees, the Quakers keep bringing opponents up and sitting them down.
New Philadelphia, the No. 1 team in the entire state in Division III, remained an unbeaten force, toppling Marietta in convincing fashion. For the second-straight week, the Quakers return a kick for a score, earned a defensive touchdown and posted a crooked number on offense.
Senior quarterback Baron May had a 13-for-21, 212 yards and three-touchdown night. It’s the kind of evening fans are accustomed to seeing every Friday.
Reise Meechan, Jent Joseph and Sam Zemis stuffed the statsheet as well, combining for 294 yards and five touchdowns combined. And Joseph added a 60-yard punt return for a score.
Marietta made little noise other than a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a late tally.
And now, with a Zanesville team traveling to Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium coming off a 35-21 loss to Dover and a tilt against their most hated rival who is sitting at 5-3 closing the year out, the chance for an undefeated New Phila team is high.
Dover 35, Zanesville 21
And hey, speaking of those Tornadoes …
Dover’s playoff hopes were pretty much hanging on by some of the thinest fishing line you can find, but a convincing 35-21 win over Zanesville might mix some things up a bit in Division III, Region 9.
Everything about Friday’s game was working against Dover. It was an away contest, with a sideline heater not working, and players dropping like flies due to injury. Plus, they were facing a 6-1 Blue Devils team hungry for some more playoff points.
And yet, the Tornadoes looked like they were back in sync, even with all the outside factors.
Quarterback Ayden Hall went 19-for-31 for 250 yards and a score, while a surprise rushing attack from Keaton Hall provided 118 yards and two touchdowns. Both Ayden Hall and top receiver Nathan Ravine suffered some bumps and bruises, but determination and adrenaline helped the pair push past the pain.
The key was always going to be preventing Zanesville quarterback Ben Everson from causing too much damage, and that’s just what Dover did. Sure, the senior had 254 yards passing and two rushing touchdowns, but the Tornadoes did not yield a passing touchdown while picking Everson off once and forcing a late fumble, returned for a score by Nolan Little, icing the game with under two minutes left.
Right now, if the season ended, that win and the victory by Wooster over Madison Senior means Dover sits at No. 8 according to Joe Eitel’s unofficial results?
And did we mention that would mean Dover played New Phila in Round 1? The Tornadoes need to remain perfect, meaning they must top Marietta and the aforementioned Quakers to stay alive.
… so you’re saying there’s a chance?
Sandy Valley 41, East Canton 6
Z-Country has the Blair Gardner show at midnight Saturday, but Cardinal Country has Cam Blair on Friday evenings … so it’s a win-win, right?
Junior quarterback Cam Blair is piling it on late in the year, going for 229 yards through the air with four touchdowns, bringing his career total to 79, good enough for a tie at 27th all-time with Nathan Keller from Tiffin Calvert. That number will continue to grow, naturally, with two more games this year and a full season in 2020.
The Cardinals completely eliminated dynamic East Canton star Nathan Suntheimer, even though he did find the end zone for their only score. Suntheiemer finished with 84 total yards on 30 touches, far from his standard offensive output.
Brian Gamble’s team pulled off three turnovers while limiting East Canton to right around three yards per play.
Sandy Valley is hovering around the cutoff point for the playoffs in Division V, Region 17, which is a shame considering fans know exactly what the team is capable of. But games against Buckeye Trail and Malvern could really help their playoff cause.
Sandy Valley remains at the mercy of the computer rankings, but the goal has not changed — win out, and see what happens.
Newcomerstown 55, Claymont 28
Everything about Newcomerstown is enjoyable this year.
Coach Dirk Gadd’s passion for his players, a no-quit attitude from all the Trojans and a community rallying around their much-improved team. Those are all pieces to the winning puzzle.
Newcomerstown had 566 yards total Friday, with Wyatt Conner looking like a high school version of Ezekiel Elliott [they both wear No. 21 after all,] rumbling for 316 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns. Those are not normal numbers for any teenage athlete.
Gavin Little, Ryan Miller and Trenton Newkirk all deserve love as well after each found the end zone. On 23 combined carries, the trio had 202 yards and four touchdowns.
Claymont was plagued again by its defense, as the offense found success through the air. Quarterback Kadin Presutti had 268 yards and two touchdowns, along with powering in two scores on the ground. But outside of Michael Lesiecki pulling in 119 of those passing yards and one of the scores, there was little going right for the Mustangs again.
Claymont’s path now must go through Ridgewood and Indian Valley to conclude their season, while Newcomerstown draws Garaway and Ridgewood, hoping to pull off the shocking win they’ve been looking for.
Buckeye Trail 52, Tuscarawas Central Catholic 7
Ever see that Ron Burgandy meme about things escalating quickly?
Buckeye Trail hopped out to a 16-0 lead in the first before TCC pulled things closer at 16-7. From there, it was all Warriors.
Smashing through for 410 yards rushing, Buckeye Trail was all business. Both Franko Rome and Jack Parry had over 120 yards on the ground, with Rome earning two touchdowns and Parry tallying three. Quarterback Isaac Hickman threw just one pass, completing it for 27 yards and rushing in a late third-quarter score.
The Saints were not clicking on offense, as quarterback Alex Price going 8-for-24 with a touchdown and two picks, connecting with Jake Miller for the lone TCC score.
Statistical numbers do not put the dominant performance fully into perspective in this one, but they paint the picture of just how good the Warriors are this year.
Those earlier losses to Barnesville and Indian Valley seem like distant memories, although a 6-2 record has Buckeye Trail still on the outside looking in for a playoff spot.
Computer rankings, show some love for the Warriors.
Alliance 21, Carrollton 12
Turnovers are the downfall of any team with potential.
Three interceptions thrown by Carrollton are the bullet point fans can refer to when finding out what happened against Alliance Friday. Quarterback Austin Colletti had a decent night with 164 yards passing, 89 rushing and two touchdowns by land, but his three picks were hard to push past.
The Aviators secured a 14-0 lead at halftime before the Warriors found paydirt to make it 14-6. Alliance’s Jeff Talbert took a dive in the fourth for his third rushing touchdown of the evening to put this game out of reach, even after Colletti powered in from close to the goal line with two minutes left.
Carrollton forced two turnovers as well, but could not put the pieces together offensively to build momentum.
In another heartbreaker, the ultimate goal of the first win of the season was in reach. But Lady Luck has yet to smile on the Warriors.
The season concludes with tilts against 2-6 Canton South and 1-7 Minerva, so maybe she will finally come around.
West Holmes 56, West Branch 34
It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
That’s a motto made by Rocky Balboa, and applied to perfection by West Holmes head coach Zach Gardner.
The Knights do not want to hear a sob story about how they’ve had too much adversity or how the odds are stacked against them. They just want to prove that the next man up mentality is real.
Sure enough, it was again. Sophomore quarterback Noah Clark put up 210 yards through the air with two scores and two picks. He added 128 on the ground with two scores. The hero of the night, perhaps, was Gavin Freeman, who totted the rock 13 times for 184 yards and three touchdowns, helping give the Knights the early lead before securing two late trips to paydirt.
Overall, it was far from the most polished performance fans have ever seen. But it was more than enough to get the job done. West Branch picked up 297 yards but gave up 563. That is quite the gap. Each side was guilty of three giveaways.
Tucker Kaufman deserves some appreciation for his seven receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown on offense, but it was his two picks on defense that really set the tone for the Nights’ performance.
The Knights have Ashland and Mt. Vernon to round out 2019.
Conotton Valley 22, Beallsville 19
Certain memories will last a lifetime, and kicker Hugo Cenzano will likely remember his time in the limelight for years to come.
The foreign exchange student was entrusted with the game-winning kick for the Rockets, and banged it through from 24 yards out, helping provide Conotton Valley with their third win this year.
Quarterback Braden Caldwell went 4-for-9 for 86 yards with a touchdown along with 70 yards on 12 rushing attempts. Running back Ben Mauge earned an important touchdown before the halftime break, pushing his team ahead 19-7.
After allowing two second-half touchdowns, Conotton Valley did not waver. That’s the sign of a mature unit.
Did we mention Mauge and Caldwell each had interceptions on defense as well?
It’s feel-good moment in Bowerston, but attention has now turned to two matchups against West Virginia squads in Clay-Battelle and Weirton-Madonna.
Malvern 33, Strasburg 26
Teams lean on their best players when the going gets tough, and that’s what Malvern did with Derk Hutchinson against Strasburg.
The junior provided the juice with 349 total yards and four touchdowns. His efforts alone outgained the Tigers by roughly 50 yards.
Strasburg was locked in a dogfight after dropping multiple blowouts, doing most of their scoring damage with Tayshaun Curtis, who accounted for three total touchdowns, tossing a touchdown to Jaden Willaman and punching his ticket to the end zone twice through the tackles.
However, even while forcing three turnovers, Strasburg’s 27-6 hole at halftime was a steep mountain to climb. Curtis’ 1-yard touchdown plunge with a minute and a half to go gave a glimmer of hope, but Malvern sat on the ball after recovering an onside kick, icing it away.
Strasburg running back Lucas Lindsay was fairly quiet, churning out 56 yards on 13 carries. Zach Chaney rallied for 105 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
The Tigers have two below .500 teams to end the year in East Canton and TCC.
Copyright WTUZ Radio Inc., 2019