By David Fong
TROY — Over the next three weeks, conference titles and playoff berths both will be decided.
Even this late in the season — it’s hard to believe how fast the first seven weeks went, truthfully — most all of the 10 area team have something to play for going into the final three games.
Here’s a look at who the local teams will be taking on this week, along with what is on the line for each of them:
Hillcrest Academy (2-4) at Troy Christian (6-1)
Next week, Troy Christian takes on undefeated and state-ranked Lima Central Catholic. The last thing the Eagles can afford to do, however, is get caught looking ahead. If Troy Christian wants to make the playoffs, it likely will need to finish the season 9-1, which means every game counts. This week Troy Christian takes on Hillcrest Academy, a Cincinnati-area team that could be better than its record would imply.
Arcanum (1-6, 1-4) at Miami East (5-2, 3-2)
Miami East is in a similar situation as Troy Christian, as the Vikings likely will need to win all three of its remaining games to ensure itself a spot in the playoffs. After a loss to Covington in Week 6, the Vikings rebounded last week with a victory over Bradford. With two Cross County Conference losses, Miami East likely will not be able to defend its CCC title from last season, but the Vikings still can achieve their goal of reaching the playoffs for the seventh year in a row if they are able to finish the season strong.
Tippecanoe (3-4, 0-2) at Greenville (3-4, 0-2)
After a strong start to the season, Tippecanoe lost to Troy and Sidney the past two weeks. The Red Devils will be looking to get back on track this week against a Greenville team that is much improved over last season. With two losses, Tippecanoe’s bid to win its first Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title likely is over. Tippecanoe still has an outside shot at earning a spot in the Division III playoffs, but will need to win out and get some serious help to do so.
Bradford (0-7, 0-5) at Covington (4-3, 3-1)
Covington started the season 0-3, but has since rebounded with four wins in a row, including huge victories over Miami East and Bethel. The Buccaneers remain a game behind Fort Loramie in the Cross County Conference standings, but already lost to the Redskins earlier in the season and would need some help to claim a share of the CCC title. Covington also has played its way back into playoff contention the past month with its winning streak. Bradford, meanwhile, continues to play hard each and every week, despite facing a daunting challenge in terms of roster numbers.
Milton-Union (4-3) at Valley View (3-4)
The Bulldogs have been on the upswing of late, posting back-to-back victories for the first time this season with wins over Waynesville and Preble Shawnee. Milton remains one game behind Middletown Madison in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division standings, although this is an SWBL crossover game and won’t count as a division game. Milton still has an outside shot at the playoffs if it can finish with three wins and get major help.
Bethel (4-3, 2-3) at Tri-County North (5-2, 4-1)
Bethel started off the season 3-0, but is reeling after losing three of its last four, all three of which were Cross County Conference contests. Things don’t get any easier for the Bees this week with a very good Tri-County North team on the schedule. A win this week would go a long way toward Bethel keeping its slim playoff hopes alive.
Piqua (5-2, 2-0) at Butler (4-3, 1-1)
Piqua and Troy are tied atop the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division standings. Both have tough games this week as Troy plays host to Sidney and Piqua travels to Butler. Piqua has a chance to stay atop the North Division with a win. The Indians’ also can earn a trip to the playoffs with wins in their final three games.
Upper Scioto Valley (2-5, 1-3) at Lehman (4-3, 3-1)
Lehman suffered a stunning upset loss to Waynesfield Goshen last week. The Cavaliers now will need some help if they hope to successfully defend their Northwest Central Conference title. Still, though, the Cavaliers should be headed back to the playoffs if they can win their final three games of the season.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong