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Momentum, strong league start on line for Plymouth, South Central

Mark Hazelwood • Sep 12, 2018 at 8:45 PM

GREENWICH — A whole lot of momentum and a leg up in the Firelands Conference is on the line when Plymouth makes the short 12-mile trip Friday night to face host South Central in Greenwich.

The Trojans (3-0) enter the game unbeaten after three weeks for just a third time in 40 years, as well as an appearance in the Division VII state Associated Press poll (No. 12).

The Big Red (2-1) also come in riding momentum, coming off a huge blowout win over Buckeye Central (47-7). Plymouth lost a wild 38-35 shootout at Willard on Aug. 31 for its lone loss.

For South Central, it's a chance for an even rarer 4-0 start and a likely spot among the top eight in Region 26 when the first OHSAA computer ratings come out next week. The Big Red will have a chance for a 3-1 start ahead of a home game with FC power St. Paul on Sept. 21.

Plymouth won last year's meeting behind a school-record performance from the graduated Seth Bailey, 56-29. The Trojans claimed a 33-27 win in overtime the last time the game was in Greenwich in 2016.

Monroeville (2-1) at Mapleton (2-1)

ORANGE TWP. — If this game is remotely close to last year's meeting, those in attendance are in for a long — but entertaining night.

The Eagles won a wild 66-41 game over the Mounties in 2017 at Marsh Field in Monroeville.

In the early going, with the way the Eagles and Mounties have put up numbers — maybe it does happen again?

Led by All-Ohio quarterback Logan Pharmer, Mapleton has scored 104 points (34.6 average). Meanwhile, the Eagles have gotten back-to-back monster games out of Adam Rogers and others, and have scored 102 points in their three games (34 average).

Last season, the Eagles were 6-4 and narrowly missed the playoffs, while the Mounties were a win away from a winning season with a .500 finish.

Given the recent history for both, this will be a key September matchup in the FC.

W. Reserve (0-3) at Crestview (1-2)

OLIVESBURG — Another tough non-league schedule has the Cougars 1-2 for the second straight year, with losses to Hillsdale (33-13) and Carey (24-7).

But Crestview has consistently been winning seven-plus games for a better part of the last 20 years.

However, speaking of tough non-league schedules, the Roughriders (0-3) have already faced playoff regulars Black River and Edison in two of the first three weeks — along with a Margaretta team that has had recent success in the SBC River division.

First-year coach Ty Stevenson is hoping his team may have found something, though, in a 35-point loss at Edison last week. The 'Riders trailed 28-13 at halftime, then proceeded to take the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drive to the Edison 30-yard line.

But Western was stopped on fourth-and-1 to halt the drive, and momentum. Crestview won last year's meeting in Collins, 41-3.

Willard (1-2) at Lakota (2-1)

KANSAS — The Crimson Flashes have been a mixed bag entering Friday's SBC River division opener at Lakota.

Willard rallied from a 20-0 deficit vs. South Central in Week 1, but fell in overtime (32-26) to the Trojans. Then came a 21-0 deficit vs. Plymouth in Week 2 — but the Crimson Flashes stormed back for the 38-35 win.

Facing rival Shelby on the road last week, however, the Flashes never got started in a 63-0 loss to the Whippets.

Meanwhile, the Raiders were roughed up by a solid Mohawk team (34-8) in the opener. But they bounced back with a pair of wins at Elmwood (26-19) and Ridgemont (58-6).

Lakota won last year's first-time meeting between the two programs, 21-12.

Shelby (3-0) at Bellevue (0-3)

BELLEVUE — Another week, another potential 'last time' meeting is on tap for an old rivalry.

Shelby and Bellevue played for the first time ever in 1944, the year the Northern Ohio League was formed.

But with Shelby's pending change in league's to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, an eight-team league, the Whippets will need to reshuffle some games to make room. That makes Friday the last scheduled meeting with Bellevue after 75 consecutive meetings.

When reflecting on the 73-year history of the Northern Ohio League, one has to look no further than the Whippets and Redmen when it came to football. From 1944-2004, the two programs combined to win at least a share of 41 of the 61 league titles.

These two teams fittingly met twice last season, with Shelby winning the regular season game (46-0) and Div. IV regional championship game (42-21) on its way to 13 straight wins and a state semifinal appearance.

Bellevue will play at Mansfield Madison next season in Week 4.

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