By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — In the late 1990s, Miami East strongly considered shutting down its football program.
In the midst of a painful losing streak that would stretch out more than four years — and with numbers within the program and in the stands dwindling — switching off the lights on Friday nights seemed like a viable option.
Eventually, it was decided to give one man a chance to revive the program. That man was Miami East graduate Max Current, who took over as head coach in 1999. Current would take a moribund football program and turn it into a perennial playoff team. Under Current, the Vikings have been to the playoffs five years in a row and seven times overall.
Following last week’s win over Milton-Union, Current also became the first football coach in school history to win 100 games. This week, The Vikings will look to get Current his 101st career victory as they head to Sidney to take on Lehman.
That’s one of seven games involving local teams Friday night; Troy hosts Xenia tonight. Here’s a look at the full slate of local Friday games:
Miami East (1-0) at Lehman (0-1)
An old rivalry will be renewed as Miami East plays Lehman for the first time since 2000, when both still were members of the now-defunct Southwestern Rivers Conference. Both were playoff teams last season, as Miami East advanced to the Division VI regional quarterfinals, while Lehman was a Division VII regional quarterfinalist.
Last week, the Vikings turned in a stellar defensive effort in a 17-3 victory over Milton-Union. Lehman jumped out to a 21-0 lead over Fort Recovery last week before falling 27-21 in overtime. This promises to be one of the better games in the area this week.
Troy Christian (0-1) at Bradford (1-0)
With only one healthy returning starter from its state-ranked playoff team, Troy Christian still is looking to find its way this season. The Eagles took a step forward in a 28-13 loss to Dayton Christian last week. The Eagles found some answers at the skill positions, as quarterback Caleb Twiss completed 16 of 34 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown, running back Louden Saulbeamer had 22 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown and receiver Brady Clawson had nine catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Bradford struggled last week in a 48-0 loss to New Bremen, putting up minus-21 yards in total offense.
Tippecanoe (1-0) at Springfield Shawnee (1-0)
Before Tippecanoe left the Central Buckeye Conference for the Greater Western Ohio Conference in 2016, these two teams played on a yearly basis. While Tippecanoe was generally the team to beat every year in the CBC, Shawnee seemed to have Tippecanoe’s number the last few years, winning five of the last six before the Red Devils left the conference.
Led by running backs Josh Burritt and Cole Barhorst — both of whom rushed for more than 100 yards — Tippecanoe held off Bellbrook last week, 21-14. Shawnee opened the season with a 19-16 win over Thurgood Marshall.
Milton-Union (0-1) at Oakwood (1-0)
Milton-Union will look to get things back on track this week with a Southwestern Buckeye League crossover game against Oakwood. Recent meetings between the two teams have proven to be exciting affairs, with Milton winning three and Oakwood winning two of the past five meetings. The average margin of victory in those five games has been just 6.2 points.
Oakwood opened the season last week with a 42-41 win over Cincinnati Mariemont, needing a late touchdown and two-point conversation to pull out the victory.
Bethel (1-0) at Dayton Christian (1-0)
Up just 20-14 at halftime, Bethel exploded with 43 points in the second half last week in a 63-22 win over Northridge. If the Bees can keep that second-half momentum rolling into this week, the Bees will be tough to beat. After just missing out on a playoff berth last year — finishing ninth in their region, one spot away from qualifying for the postseason — Bethel seems on a mission this year.
Dayton Christian opened with a win over Troy Christian last week.
Minster (1-0) at Covington (0-1)
For the second week in a row, Covington will take on a team from the powerful Midwest Athletic Conference, the premier small-school conference in the state. Last week, Covington dropped a 37-7 decision to St. Henry. This week, it won’t get any easier as Minster comes to town. The Wildcats opened their season with a 20-0 win over Fort Loramie last week.
The Buccaneers will be looking to keep an incredible streak alive Friday. No Covington team has started a season 0-2 since 1991.
Trotwood-Madison (1-0) at Piqua (1-0)
Piqua was hardly tested last week in a 50-12 win over Meadowdale. Piqua led 50-6 at halftime and the entire second half was played under a running clock. Things will change significantly this week as Division III state power — and former Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division foe — Trotwood-Madison comes to town. The Rams were impressive in a 48-0 win over Troy in their season opener.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong