By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — Let the push for the playoffs begin in earnest.
With only four weeks left in the season, most of the area teams remain in the hunt for a playoff spot — some, obviously, with better chances than others. A handful of local teams control their own destinies; if they win their final four games, they will be headed to the playoffs. Some teams will need to win all four of their remaining games and still get some help along the way.
The common denominator for all of the the teams hoping to get into the playoffs, however, is simple. Win football games. It all starts this week with the Week 7 contests:
Covington (3-3, 3-1) at Bethel (4-2, 2-2)
What a difference one game — when it’s the right game — can make. Covington, which started the season 0-3, climbed right back into the playoff picture with a huge win over Miami East last week. The Buccaneers also remained one game behind Fort Loramie in the race for the Cross County Conference title. With two CCC losses, it’s tough to envision a scenario that allows Bethel to compete for a conference title, but the Bees remain very much in the hunt for a playoff berth if they can win their final four games. This game should have almost a playoff feel to it — the loser very likely could be eliminated from playoff contention, while the winner will pick up a nice chunk of computer points.
Jefferson (0-6) at Troy Christian (5-1)
For the second week in a row, Troy Christian will face a team still looking for its first win of the season — but also a team that likely is more dangerous than its record would imply. Ponitz gave Troy Christian some match-up problems at the skill positions last week, but the Eagles were able to prevail, thanks in large part to its run game. Troy Christian coach Ryan Jones said Jefferson is similar to Ponitz in terms of its speed, so it could be another test for the Eagles.
Miami East (4-2, 2-2) at Bradford (0-6, 0-4)
Miami East will be looking to get back on track after its loss to Covington last week. Two conference losses is going to make it difficult for the Vikings to successfully defend their CCC crown — Fort Loramie, which beat Miami East earlier in the season, remains unbeaten in conference play — but the Vikings still should be a strong playoff contender if they can win their remaining games. Bradford still is looking for its first win since 2016.
Sidney (3-3, 0-1) at Tippecanoe (3-3, 0-1)
Despite its loss to Troy last week, Tippecanoe remains in the playoff picture should the Red Devils win their remaining games. Also, the Red Devils hope to remain Greater Western Ohio Conference American League North Division contenders with just one division loss so far. Last year, Tippecanoe and Sidney played one of the most exciting games of the season, with the Yellow Jackets pulling away in the final minutes for the win. Many of the key players for both teams have since graduated, but this game still has the potential to be another exciting contest.
Milton-Union (3-3, 2-1) at Preble Shawnee (1-5, 0-2)
This week, Milton will look to do something it hasn’t been able to do yet this season — put together back-to-back victories. The Bulldogs picked up a huge Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division victory over Waynesville last week, which allowed them to stay in playoff contention. If they Bulldogs can win all of their remaining games and get some help along the way, they have a chance to make the playoffs.
Greenville (3-3, 0-1) at Piqua (4-2, 1-0)
Piqua’s only two losses this season came against Chaminade Julienne and Trotwood-Madison, both of whom are ranked in the top 10 in the latest Division III state poll. The Indians have won all the rest of their games, however, which make them a Division II playoff contender should they keep up their winning ways through the rest of the season.
Lehman (4-2, 3-0) at Waynesfield-Goshen (3-3, 1-2)
After starting the season 0-2, the Cavaliers have reeled off three wins in a row. That’s not entirely surprising. Lehman started 0-2 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 — and made the playoffs all three of those years. If the Cavaliers can keep things rolling through the end of the season, they should be able to replicate that feat. All three of Lehman’s last three wins have been blowout victories.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong