By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — And just like that, we’re almost halfway there.
As incredible as it may seem — it truly feels like we just opened the season — we have reached the midway point of the regular season. After this week’s games, half of the season will officially be in the books. As we approach the middle of the season, some league and conference races are starting to take shape, while some teams already are starting to take a look at their postseason chances.
This week’s slate of games kicks off on Thursday, as Bethel travels to Miami East in a game that will be televised locally. Here’s a look at this week’s scheduled contests:
Bethel (3-1, 1-1) at Miami East (3-1, 1-1)
With both Bethel and Miami East losing Cross County Conference games last week — Bethel to Ansonia and Miami East to Fort Loramie — this week’s game becomes almost a must-win game for the two teams if they want to stay in the hunt for the CCC title. It’s hard to imagine a two-loss team being able to win the conference this season. This game will be played on Thursday night and broadcast throughout the Dayton area as a part of Fox’s “Thursday Night Lights” series.
Troy Christian (3-1) at McClain (1-3)
Troy Christian lost its first game of the season last week, dropping a heartbreaker to Lucas after jumping out to a big early lead. With no conference affiliation and no title to play for during the regular season, Troy Christian will look to make itself playoff eligible, a tough task do in Division VI, Region 8, which is loaded with Midwest Athletic Conference powerhouses. Troy Christian will need a win to get back on track this week and remain in playoff contention.
Stebbins (0-4) at Tippecanoe (2-2)
Tippecanoe piled up a school-record 524 rushing yards last week in a win over West Carrollton. If the first four weeks of the season are any indication, that record may not last for long as the Red Devils will have a chance to break it again this week. Stebbins gives a great effort every game, but so far this season the Indians have faced a running clock in every game, including a 62-0 loss to Troy lost week. Tippecanoe will be the heavy favorite in this game.
Madison (4-0, 1-0) at Milton-Union (2-2, 1-0)
Milton-Union opened Southwest Buckeye League Buckeye Division play with a win over Northridge. This week, the Bulldogs will face one of their toughest tests of the season against defending Buckeye Division champion Middletown Madison, which advanced all the way to the Division V state semifinals last year. Madison looks strong again this year, entering this week’s game with an unbeaten record.
Covington (1-3, 1-1) at Arcanum (1-3, 1-1)
Covington ended its three-game skid to open the season with a win over Tri-County North. Covington will look to keep that momentum rolling this week against Arcanum. The Buccaneers are in a similar situation as Bethel and Miami East — they likely cannot afford another CCC loss if they hope to remain a contender for a CCC title. Covington needs to keep winning, particularly with games against Bethel and East looming on the horizon.
Piqua (3-1) at Trotwood (2-2)
Last season, Trotwoo went 15-0 and captured a Division III state championship. Nearly all of those games were blowout victories for the Rams. In fact, only two of those games were decided seven points — a 14-7 win over Wayne in the final week of the regular season and a 42-35 victory over Piqua in Week 2. Last year, the Indians gave the Rams all they could handle. This year, the Indians will try to do the same against a Trotwood team that has faced one of the most difficult schedules in the state so far.
Lehman (2-2, 1-0) at Elgin (1-3, 0-1)
After a 1-2 start to the season, Lehman got back on track last week with a 63-0 blowout win against Ridgemont to open Northwest Central Conference play. The Cavaliers will look to keep that streak rolling this week as they continue their defense of the NWCC crown. Lehman has been the team to beat within the conference for the past few years, and until that changes, have to be considered one of the favorites again this year.
Bradford (0-4, 0-2) at Tri-County North (2-2, 1-1)
It’s been a tough year for Bradford,which opened the season with less than 20 players on its roster. The Railroaders have faced a running block in all four of their losses this season but, to their credit, have not given up in any games this year.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong