Barnesville and Steubenville Catholic each entered last weekend with what looked like tune-up games to get ready for their matchup this Saturday night at Harding Stadium.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Oct, 6 for the Shamrocks - an unexpected and shocking loss to previously winless Caldwell.
First-year coach Matt Johnson and his team took a 4-1 record into that game, led by a point at the half and never scored again in falling 25-6 to the Redskins.
Coach Steve Daley's squad did handle their business, pounding Conotton Valley by a 54-7 count, Catholic Central's third consecutive victory.
And even though it is still only Week 7, both teams could be in a fight for their respective playoff lives sitting at 4-2. Barnesville is ninth in Division V, Region 17 after having its four-game winning streak snapped while the Crusaders are seventh in Division VI, Region 21.
"There are a lot of good teams in our region and we can't afford a lot of mistakes if we are planning on making the playoffs," Johnson said. "Last week we just didn't seem to get the same breaks or make the plays that we had been making earlier in the season.
"Caldwell really didn't do anything fancy, they just powered the ball right at us and we just didn't get to the ball carrier or tackle very well."
During its current winning stretch, Steubenville Catholic has outscored its opponents by a 131-20 margin. With its high-powered passing game clicking, the Crusaders racked up 350 total yards a week ago, but allow 330 to the Rockets. The difference was the four turnovers that the defense helped create.
"Offensively we want to take advantage of every opportunity and value each possession," Daley said. "Not only taking care of the ball and picking up yardage, but getting the ball into the end zone.
"Our theme defensively is, "every player, every play. We want to play team defense and that is something that we have been able to do well our last few games."
Junior quarterback Brenton Colabella is the triggerman and is not afraid to sling the ball around with good accuracy. He has hit on 96 of 157 throws for 1,583 yards, 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions so far.
And Colabella has a fine array of receivers to hook up with. Senior Zach Herrington is the main target with 27 grabs for 488 stripes and eight scores, but there are also Kyle Lauckert (18-366-4), Ryan Fletcher (19-299-3) and Michael Caraoellotti (15-161-3), just to name a few.
When Catholic isn't throwing the ball the like to hand it off to senior Doug Maslowski who has provided 406 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
The Crusaders defense will be facing a Barnesville team that was limited to 155 yards of offense a week ago against Caldwell.
The defense, meanwhile, allowed 294 yards, all on the ground.
"They have some very nice skill players at quarterback and receiver and some very elusive kids," Johnson added.
"And defensively they give you a lot of different looks and get to the ball very well."
Senior Kyle Yaquinta has thrown for nearly 700 yards on the season with six touchdowns and a pick. Since being moved to running back, senior Colton Pritchard has accounted for 336 yards and four trips to the end zone.
"It is a typical Barnesville team, very strong up front and athletes that make plays," Daley said.
"You have to be focused on defense and know what is going on at all times."
Barnesville defeated Catholic Central by a 27-7 count last year, the Shamrocks final win of the season before dropping their last three.