By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — For a pair of Miami County football teams, Tippecanoe and Covington, the math is pretty simple — win the final three games and reap the rewards of a conference title and trip to the playoffs.
The Red Devils and Buccaneers are the only two county teams assured of both a conference title — Tippecanoe can win at least a share of the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division, while Covington could win the Cross County Conference title outright — and a spot in the playoffs with three wins in the final three weeks of the season.
Tippecanoe (6-1, 1-1 in the CBC Kenton Trail Division) currently is a game behind Kenton Ridge (6-1, 2-0) in the division standings. The Red Devils do face the Cougars in a Week 10 matchup, meaning three wins to close the season — including a win over Kenton Ridge — would earn them no less than a share of the division title. Before any of that, however, the Red Devils need to focus this week on a huge match-up against Stebbins, which boasts an identical 6-1 (1-1) record.
This week’s contest should have the feeling of a playoff game — the loser likely will fall out of the Kenton Trail Division title race. The winner will remain in the hunt, while also picking up a huge bundle of computer playoff points. Tippecanoe currently sits in fourth in the Division III, Region 10 computer points standings (the top eight teams in each region make the playoffs). If Tippecanoe wins its final three games, the Red Devils are guaranteed a playoff spot.
Covington (6-1, 5-0 in the CCC) is in an even more advantageous position than the Red Devils. If the Buccaneers — currently atop the Division VII, Region 26 points standings — win out, they not only will be guaranteed a playoff berth, but they’ll clinch a conference title outright. Covington currently is in the most brutal part of its schedule — pulling out close wins over league contenders Tri-County North and Miami East the past two weeks, and hosting Twin Valley South (5-2, 4-1 in the CCC) this week.
Miami East doesn’t control its own destiny in terms of a playoff berth or a CCC title — but still remains firmly in the hunt for both. The Vikings (5-2, 5-1 in the CCC) travel to TC North (5-2, 4-1) in a battle of teams with one CCC loss. The winner still will need someone to knock off Covington to lay claim to the CCC crown, while the loser is most likely eliminated from the title chase.
A win for the Vikings — currently No. 13 in the Division VI, Region 22 standings — also would be huge in terms of climbing into the playoff picture. A loss would seriously hurt — and possibly end — Miami East’s postseason chances.
Troy Christian (4-2) doesn’t belong to a conference, but remains in the thick of the playoff hunt. Currently, the Eagles are just on the outside looking in at No. 9 in the Division VII, Region 26 standings. Troy Christian will look to rebound from last week’s loss to TC North as it plays host to Arcanum (2-5) in a homecoming contest.
Milton-Union (4-3, 2-1 in the Southwest Buckeye League Buckeye Division) hosts a talented Carlisle (4-3, 3-1) team this week. With a loss to Middletown Madison (4-3, 3-0) earlier in the season, the Bulldogs will need some help if they want to win a share of the SWBL Buckeye title. However, the Bulldogs currently are fifth in the Division V, Region 18 standings — a win over a four-win Carlisle team would certainly help solidify Milton’s chances of making the playoffs.
Bethel (3-4, 2-3 in the CCC) is coming off its biggest win of the season with a 22-21 victory over Twin Valley South. The Bees host National Trail (3-4, 2-3) this week. With three CCC losses and a No. 15 spot in the Division 6, Region 22 standings, a conference title or playoff berth seem remote for the Bees this season, but finishing strong on the heels of the win over TV South would still be a huge step in the right direction for Bethel.
Bradford (3-4) — which did not even play a varsity schedule last season — has come back strong, winning three of its last four games. The Railroaders — currently 12th in the Division VII, Region 26 standings — take on Manchester (1-6) this week.
After opening the season 1-3 — including blowout losses the first two weeks of the season — Lehman (4-3) has won its last three games in a row and currently is No. 6 in the Division VII, Region 26 standings. The Cavaliers travel to Fort Loramie (3-4) tonight. On a side note, Lehman lost its season opener the past two years — and still made the postseason both years.
Piqua (4-3, 1-1 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division) travels to Trotwood-Madison (5-2, 1-1) in a game loaded with playoff implications for the Indians. With a loss to Butler (5-2, 2-0) earlier in the season, Piqua will need some help if it wants to win a North title. However, the Indians currently are 11th in the Division III, Region 10 standings, so a win over Trotwood would go a long way toward putting Piqua in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong