By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — And just like that, the end was in sight.
Incredible as it may seem, the high school football regular season is nearly at an end. Only two weeks remain for the majority of area teams. Still, though, plenty on intrigue remains as several teams are in the hunt for conference titles, playoffs spots or — in some cases — both.
Here’s a look at the Week 9 games involving area teams:
Troy Christian (7-1) at Lima Central Catholic (7-0)
The next two weeks will feel like playoff games for Troy Christian. To actually get into the playoffs, the Eagles must win their final two games of the season; an 8-2 record would not appear to be good enough to get into the postseason. The first half of that playoff bid would appear to be a little more daunting than the second for Troy Christian. The Eagles have to travel north to Lima to take on LCC, which is undefeated and currently ranked No. 4 in the Division VI state poll. Troy Christian coach Ryan Jones has said this game “is one the kids have been looking forward to all season.” That time is now. This is a must-win game for Troy Christian.
Miami East (6-2, 4-2) at Tri-County North (6-2, 5-1)
Much like Troy Christian, Miami East is essentially in a must-win situation the final two weeks of the season to get into the playoffs. It faces a stiff challenge this week against Tri-County North, which not only is seeking to make the playoffs itself, but also will be looking to remain in contention for a share of the Cross County Conference title. Miami East still has an outside shot at defending its CCC title, but would need to win its final two games and hope conference-leader Fort Loramie loses its final two games, which seems like a longshot at this point.
Tippecanoe (4-4, 1-2) at Piqua (5-3, 2-1)
Tippecanoe is a longshot to make the playoffs or win the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title this season. Still, though, the Red Devils would like nothing better than to play spoiler, and will have a chance to do that each of the next two weeks. A win over Piqua knocks the Indians out of the race for the GWOC North title and puts a serious dent in Piqua’s playoff hopes. Piqua, meanwhile, can stay in the hunt for both the North Division crown and a playoff bid with a win over Tippecanoe this week and a victory over rival Troy next week.
Covington (5-3, 5-1) at Twin Valley South (4-4, 3-3)
For the past five weeks, Covington has been proving that old adage, “it’s not not how you start, but how you finish,” true. The Buccaneers started the season 0-3, but have since won five games in a row, which has kept them in the mix for a Cross County Conference title and thrust them back into the playoff picture. The Buccaneers would need still need some help to get a share of the CCC title or into the playoffs, but considering how many were considering their season on life support after Week 3, that’s still an impressive feat.
Dixie (1-7, 1-4) at Milton-Union (4-4, 3-1)
Milton’s playoff hopes likely came to an end last week with a loss to Valley View, but the Bulldogs can stay in the hunt for a Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division title this week with a win over Dixie. Milton still trails Middletown Madison by one game and would need some help from Waynesville the final week of the season to earn a share of the title. For now, though, all Milton can do is take care of its own business by winning its final two games.
Bethel (4-4, 2-4) at Bradford (0-8, 0-6)
After going 1-4 in its last five games, Bethel will look to get back on track this week against Bradford. The Bees are out of the hunt for a Cross County Conference title and a playoff berth. Still, though, Bethel has a chance to finish the season strong with a pair of wins in the final two games. It’s been a long season for Bradford, which has struggled with roster numbers since before the season began. Needless to say, a win in either of its final two games would make the Railroaders’ entire season.
Lehman (5-3, 4-1) at Perry (6-2, 4-1)
This is a huge game for the Cavaliers, both in terms of the playoffs and the race for the Northwest Central Conference title. A win would keep Lehman alive for both, while a loss could very well end its chances at either. This will be the biggest game Lehman’s played yet this season.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong