Collectively, Joe Neves and I came within one game of going perfect last week, which should make you want to read even more this week as area league titles and playoff opportunities hang in the balance.
Sonny Fulks: Sonuva’ gun Joe. Out of the nine games we wrote about last week you got all of them right…and I missed on Loramie-Lehman because we decided not to agree on all nine. I can’t believe that Vegas hasn’t called us yet.
Joe Neves: Actually, they did call, but they only wanted one of us. :). You took Lehman, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure Loramie had a chance. On the other hand, that is always a huge game for the Redskins. I don’t think anyone expected 27-0 and the level of domination the Redskins had in that game. Incredible!
Sonny: That said, there should be a lot of additional readership this week because I will list five ‘critical’ games pertaining to league titles and playoff hopes enhanced for the winners…in the GWOC, the MAC, the CCC, and SWBL and the NWCC. Interested in what they are?
Joe: You bet. The playoffs actually begin this week for a lot of teams that we are looking at. Lose this week or next, and they won’t have to worry about week 11. It will be time for hoops!
Sonny: As always, the Friday ‘picks’ page is sponsored by Vandalia Paving and Sealcoating. Please…please…please call them for an estimate on any residential or commercial job – and mention when you do how much you appreciate their sponsorship here on Press Pros.
That said…to the games!
Tipp @ Piqua
Sonny: OK, here it is Joe…right out of the chute. You’ve been wanting to see and write this game all week, and for why…it’s pretty obvious. Both are 6-2. Tipp is ranked #9, and Piqua #10 in the region. And while I think the loser of this game still gets in the post-season, only the winner probably has a shot at the GWOC North title, or a share. Similar teams for the sake of their respective run games, but Piqua has a passing threat, as well. Tipp simply does not, to be honest. Another thing, you know Piqua’s going to have a lot of additional motivation because Tipp knocked the Indians out of the playoffs last year. Size, offensive balance, home field, and a grudge favors Piqua in this game. Indians, I think…by two scores!
Joe: Piqua can score points a lot of ways. Schrubb and Schmiesing running the ball behind a big and much-improved offensive line. Austin Davis throwing the ball. They have a huge weapon in 260 pound tight end Nate Monnin. The Indians have allowed 14 points a game during their winning streak, and have shutdown two of the best runners in the league in Sidney’s Isaiah Bowser and Butler’s Logan Flatt. I go back to the three week when Tipp gave up 43, 44 and 35 points to Trotwood, Fairborn and Troy, and I wonder how they’ll stop the Indians. Tipp needs to control the ball with its ground game, and I just don’t think they can do it for 48 minutes. I think close for a half, then the Indians by 17.
Dixie @ Milton
Joe: The Bulldogs come back home after two straight road losses, and it’s time to put on their big boy pants. The Bulldogs don’t play well from behind with their ball control offense, so a good start is essential. Dixie is having it’s best season since 2012, when it made the playoffs and got obliterated by Covington and that Ouellette fellow. No obliteration tonight, but a much needed Milton win. Bulldogs by 17.
Sonny: Simply put, at 5-3 if Milton loses again I’m not sure they make the post-season without help. Milton’s sitting #4 right now in Region 20, but I expect the deck beneath them (Anna, Aiken, Brookville, and Greeneview) to really shuffle in the next two weeks. And if Versailles wins out over Bremen and Minster I think they get in, too. If I’m Mark Lane I take no chances against 4-4 Dixie. Bulldogs by three scores!
Minster @ Versailles
Sonny: I just mentioned this game, and this is one of the toughest picks of the week. One, you don’t know which Minster team you’re going to get. And two, you don’t know which Versailles team you’re likely to get. I do like the way the Tigers’ defense has played in the past month, and I think there’s motivation enough at hand for them to get one more score than Minster. This is one of the five critical games. Gulp…I’m taking Versailles, by a score.
Joe: How do you predict this one? Minster gave up 123 points in three weeks to Delphos, Marion and Recovery, then turns around and beats Coldwater. Excuse me? They finish with Anna next week, and will make the post-season at 6-4. 5-5, maybe not, so a win tonight is essential. Versailles gave Coldwater a stern argument last week, but do they have the weapons offensively to keep up with the Wildcats? If they do, they have been well-hidden all season. Close game, but give me the ‘Cats by 10.
Coldwater @ Anna
Joe: The Rockets didn’t compete with Marion Local, lost at home to Versailles, then went to Delphos and thumped the Blue Jays. Consistency is not Anna’s middle name. This is the kind of game that Coldwater has won year after year after year. If the Cavs can keep from being rattled when the trains go roaring past their bench, I think they will be OK. Cavaliers by two touchdowns.
Sonny: If you haven’t guessed by now, this is another one of the five games from the title of this week’s column. Coldwater’s the obviously favorite here because they’re tied for the league lead with one loss…and they’re Coldwater. But Anna has impressed me in recent weeks with their competitiveness…and they’ve got athletes. It’s also a tough place to play. For whatever reason the Cavaliers have had offensive woes lately and their balance between the run and pass seems out of whack. They’ll have to get that fixed, and I think they will. Until someone convinces me otherwise, like Minster did, they’re still state champs. I’ll go with Coldwater, by a score.
Upper Scioto @ Loramie
Sonny: This is the game that probably cost me my perfect week last week, but no offense to Loramie. I just thought Lehman was better. Apparently they weren’t. But if you’re Loramie you’ve now won four straight (just like last year) and you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO WIN out against Scioto and Perry to have a shot. They’re sitting #11 this week and neither of their remaining games gives them a lot of points if they do win. They’re going to need help. I’ll bite and say they win over Scioto (5-3), because they have no alternative. Lose, and there is no post-season. ‘Skins by two scores.
Joe: I thought Loramie would get a bigger boost from winning last week, but they only moved up two spots. They are going to need help. Whit Parks’ team can only control what they do, so just win and let the chips fall where they may. The Rams have won four straight, and are averaging 50 points a game during that time. And USV still has an outside shot at the post-season. Look for a post-Lehman letdown by the Redskins. Rams by a touchdown.
Lehman @ Ridgemont
Joe: Ridgemont is the Golden Gophers. Did you know that Sonny? How bad are the Gophers? The three teams they beat are a combined 0-24, and they gave up 63 points to Riverside and 61 points to Loramie. And this: can you imagine how tough a week it’s been for the Cavaliers? I’m guessing coach Dick Roll has been in a foul mood all week. And I will say this: If Lehman loses tonight, they don’t deserve to play in week 11. This is a no-brainer. Lehman in a romp.
Sonny: Take everything I said about Loramie and scratch your head. Lehman has three losses and sits at #6 this week. Critical? If they lose to a very poor Ridgemont team….do they still get in, even if they beat Waynesfield on the final week (0-8)? They and Loramie would still have four losses each. Seems you’d have to go with the head-to-head results. That said, Lehman has no choice. They HAVE to win. They will…by three scores!
Troy Christian @ East
Sonny: The surprise team of the year in area Division VII, without a doubt, has its second real test when they go over to Casstown. On paper it makes no sense that they would win this game, but they almost beat Covington and they’ve proven that they can go on the road and play (Arcanum last week). TC is apparently real enough that they’ve got a shot every night. Still, I think East has too much and if they hadn’t gotten off to such a bad start against Covington that would have been a much different game. I’m impressed with Ryan Jones and the Eagles, but I have to go with East…by a score.
Joe: This is a tough game to pick for me. Troy Christian has been great all year, and came up with a gut-check win last week at Arcanum after trailing by 14. East is a very young team that is probably a year away. 6-2 isn’t bad, but gee, Sonny, saying the game would have been different if they hadn’t gotten off to such a bad start is like saying if the Browns had won a game they wouldn’t be winless. I think East needs this one a little more, and I think they will get it. Barely. Vikings by a field goal.
St. Henry @ Marion
Joe: You have seen a lot more of these teams than I have, so I will yield the floor quickly. Marion is Marion, and the Flyers have been very, very good lately. St Henry has made tremendous strides, but not enough. Flyers by two scores.
Sonny: You know what a conundrum is, Joe? Well, that’s what you have here in Game 5 of our critical picks. And here’s what I mean. No team that I’ve personally seen this year has impressed me more with their improvement from Week 1 to the present than St. Henry. That’s right…Marion Local, Coldwater, Covington, Troy, withstanding. So that makes this particularly tough when you consider what’s at stake for St. Henry this week. Marion is the immovable object. The question is…does St. Hank have enough to be the irresistible force? Daylon Lange has matured at quarterback, and Blake Hoyng had his most complete game of the season against Delphos last week. They can run and they can throw the ball. And the ‘Skins defense was more than admirable in the way they targeted and limited Aaron Reindel. Marion, of course, has the full complement of running and passing game. Their defense has improved of late as they’ve moved past and beyond the loss of their best player, offensive tackle John Dirksen. And then this. St. Henry’s Brad Luthman coached for Tim Goodwin as an assistant before taking the St. Henry job. He openly talks about Goodwin being his mentor and confidante in coaching. So there really can’t be any surprises here by either side. That said, “Quien es mas macho? I’d look like an Old Testament prophet if I picked St. Henry (6-2) and got it right. But my credibility would be as suspect as the Democratic National Convention if I picked them and got it wrong. I think Marion (7-1) is still too physical and too deep to make that pick, and the Flyers are decidedly in playoff mode with each passing game. They’re not giving up a lot of points these days…44-6 over Minster, 28-7 over Versailles, 41-0 over Anna, 45-0 over New Bremen, and 42-0 over Ft. Recovery. That’s three shutouts in a row and only 13 points surrendered in the past five weeks. I’ve got the Flyers winning…by two scores!