By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — Most fans probably feel like high school football season began only yesterday.
Most of the players, and maybe even the coaches, would probably disagree with that.
But Friday night marks a milestone in the season as area teams officially reach the halfway point. After Week 5’s games, the race for league titles and the playoff push will begin in earnest — with Friday’s action going a long way to deciding what teams will need to do over the next five weeks.
And Week 5’s premiere matchup, oddly enough, isn’t between league rivals.
Both Covington and Troy Christian enter the night with perfect 4-0 records and atop the Division VII, Region 28 computer standings. Last season, the Buccaneers were 3-1 and the Eagles were 3-0 … but Covington took an early lead and held on for a 28-14 victory. The Buccs won four out of the next five and made the playoffs, while the Eagles finished 5-4 and narrowly missed out.
This season, Troy Christian is defeating opponents by an average score of 40.8-8.5, only having allowed one team to reach double digits in a 41-13 win over previously-undefeated Fairfield Christian last week.
Covington, on the other hand, has a pair of big victories to its credit, defeating St. Henry 27-13 in Week 1 and routing Bethel 48-7 last week — the only loss for both the Redskins and Bees. Covington is currently ranked No. 1 in the region, while Troy Christian is right behind at No. 2.
Those Bethel Bees (3-1, 1-1 Cross County Conference) face another big test, too, hosting Tri-County North (3-1, 3-0 CCC). The Bees are currently No. 9 in Division VI, Region 24, one spot away from playoff contention — and a win over the Panthers would be a large boon to their chances. Last year, Bethel was competitive in a 28-0 loss, and the Panthers have yet to beat anyone with a win — not just a winning record, but a win. Tri-County North lost to Brookville in Week 1 then has defeated Ansonia, Arcanum and Mississinawa Valley, all of which are 0-4.
Milton-Union’s Week 5 game will also be a big test, as the Bulldogs travel to Preble Shawnee. Both teams have matching records, 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division, and Madison — which lost to Preble Shawnee last week — is the only other team in the division with a 3-1 overall record. The matchup could be an early-season division title game … oh, and the Bulldogs are also currently No. 5 in the Division V, Region 20 standings, with Preble Shawnee right behind in sixth.
After its Week 4 loss at Trotwood, Tippecanoe (3-1) finds itself in a very unfamiliar position — on the outside of the Division III, Region 12 playoff standings looking in at 11th. The Red Devils will get a chance to pick up momentum heading into its first run through Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play this week as it hosts 0-4 Fairborn.
Miami East (3-1, 3-0 CCC) will look to remain healthy and avoid unexpected mistakes as it travels to Mississinawa Valley, its third straight winless opponent to finish the first half of the season. The Vikings will then head into a stretch where its final five opponents have a combined 16-4 record.
Since losing its star running back for the season to an injury in Week 2, Piqua got a break last week by facing a woeful West Carrollton team — which it took its frustrations out on in a 63-6 win. The Indians travel to Xenia this week, which, despite its 0-4 record, should put up more of a fight. Thus far, the Buccaneers’ opponents’ combined record is 12-4.
After beginning the season with a pair of losses, 2-2 Lehman has moved up to 10th in the Division VII, Region 28 playoff standings with easy wins over Graham and Upper Scioto Valley. This week, the Cavaliers continue Northwest Central Conference play at home against 2-2 Perry.
And Bradford, one of nine winless teams in Division VII, Region 28 at 0-4, will look for its first win of the season at 1-3 Northridge.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.