With the Ohio playoffs three weeks away, the picture is starting to come into focus for Indian Creek and Harrison Central.
But one coach is willing to discuss the possibilities with his team quite openly, while the other wants to keep postseason talk to a minimum.
''In this day and age you might as well talk about it,'' Huskies coach Justin Kropka said. ''The players talk about it, so it's useless to avoid the subject.''
File Photo by Seth Staskey
Freshman Mandela Lawrence (15) and Indian Creek will play host to Harrison Central in a Buckeye 8 battle Friday.
Kropka said in today's society where computer points and rankings are at the tips of everyone's fingers through the Internet, etc., it's probably best to put those numbers in perspective for his players.
''Our goal is to get to the postseason,'' he said. ''The key is to let the chips fall where they may.
''We've talked about it and we know what's ahead and what we need to do to get in.''
As it stands, Harrison Central (5-2) is eighth in Division IV, Region 15. With games against Union Local (1-6) and Buckeye Local (4-3) still on the schedule, Friday night's battle against the Redskins at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium will go a long way in determining the Huskies' fate.
Creek (6-1) represents a boatload of computer points. Kropka knows this. But he said it's not the be-all or end-all for his team.
''This is probably the best (Indian Creek) team top to bottom since I've been (at Harrison Central),'' Kropka said. ''They do a nice job and they don't beat themselves.''
The Redskins are aiming for their four straight victory after upending Martins Ferry last Friday night in Creek's first victory at the Dave Bruney Athletic Complex.
''To get a victory against a team that is so well-coached and so well-disciplined goes a long way for your confidence,'' Indian Creek coach Andrew Connor said.
The victory sent the Redskins up to fifth in the Ohio Division III, Region 11 rankings.
''We really just do focus on the game at hand,'' Connor said in reference to the playoff talk.
''We were excited with the victory at Martins Ferry, but we told the kids Saturday that's it's time to focus on Harrison Central.''
The Redskins have two three-game winning streaks this season. The latest included road victories against Bellaire and Ferry. The only blemish on the season for Indian Creek came at home against unbeaten St. Clairsville.
''We've overcome a lot of things,'' Connor said. ''We've had a lot of injuries, have lost some key players and we've overcome a battle against turnovers.''
Despite all of the adversity, Connor said his squad is probably playing its best ball of the season.
''We're getting better when it comes to effort,'' he said. ''The last three weeks our effort has gotten better. But I'm still disappointed in the turnovers and some of the penalties and some of the big plays we've given up.
''Those are things we'll concentrate on this week.''
The Redskins' offense is led by quarterback Alex Young. Last week, he threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 75 yards and another score.
''It starts and finishes with their quarterback,'' Kropka said. ''He's really been a difference maker for them.''
Logan Woods, who ran for 149 yards last week, and Blake Roar help comprise Creek's backfield.
''They have a lot of backs that run hard,'' Kropka said. ''I like the Woods kid and Roar and their offensive line is really physical.''
Defensively for Creek, Montell McClelland and Zach Connor both had 10 tackles last week.
''It usually comes down to matchups when we play them,'' Kropka said. ''Year after year it comes down to matchups.''
Connor said both teams mirror each other in many ways.
''They do a lot of what we do,'' said Connor, who spent one season as an assistant with the Huskies about a decade ago.
''It starts with running the football with them and (Maurtice) Hython is not only physical but elusive.
''The kids know the kids at Harrison and they know the quality team they have. It's not hard to get them motivated.
''Justin does a good job with them.''
Hython is one of the top rushers in the valley, having piled up 1,367 yards and 14 touchdowns on 161 carries.
Rasheen Mitchell has thrown for 959 yards and nine TDs, four of them going to Nate Olmstead, who leads the team in receptions (17 for 417 yards).
''Then you have Nick Pelegreen, who is underrated on defense,'' Kropka said.
Pelegreen leads the defense with 85 tackles, almost double what the next defender has.