When the Buckeye 8 switched to scheduling in the back end of the season, it hoped to create atmosphere and energy around the budding rivalries.
It also did a good job of keeping the natural rivalries together and scheduling them to play in Week 10.
For the first time in league history, all four Buckeye 8 games this weekend have some sort of implications to the playoffs or OVAC title.
Bellaire and Martins Ferry is the oldest rivalry and both teams are battling for their playoff lives. The Big Reds are 7-2 and sitting in seventh in Division V, Region 17. Martins Ferry, meanwhile, has dropped two straight and is now 5-4. The Purple Riders are clinging to the eighth spot in Division IV, Region 15.
Harrison Central welcomes Buckeye Local in a meeting for VALES. The Huskies are 6-3 on the season and sitting in seventh place in Division IV, Region 15. They control their destiny, meaning win and they're in.
Indian Creek hosts Edison on Saturday night as the Redskins on Saturday night. The Redskins are aiming at clinching their second straight trip to the Division III, Region 11 tournament. The Redskins are 8-1 and currently fifth in the region. A win and help could lift them to a home game and they're also battling for the OVAC title.
St. Clairsville visits Union Local in the other game on the league card. The Red Devils are trying to complete an undefeated regular season. They've already clinched the OVAC and Buckeye 8 crowns as well as the top seed in the Division IV, Region 15 tournament.
All of these things to play for and scenarios are going to make this week highly interesting. It's also worth noting that the league has a chance at earning five playoff bids, which would be an all-time high as well.
Again, this is exactly what was dreamt about when the league began several years back.
The Shadyside Tigers have assured themselves of practicing next week, but there's a lot more on the line when they make the trek to western Belmont County Friday night.
Coach Mark Holenka's Tigers are seeking their first 10-0 season since 1977 when they meet the reeling Shamrocks.
Shadyside has put an efficient offense with an impressive defense and a strong kicking game to cruise to 9-0 thus far. The Tigers smallest margin of victory this season has been 14 points, two weeks ago against Wheeling Central.
Along with the perfect season, the Tigers are also aiming to lock up another home playoff game in the Division VI postseason. Shadyside has hosted an astounding 10 times already in its history and has never lost in the first round.
If all that wasn't enough, a Shadyside victory will wrap up the OVAC 2A title. It would be the Tigers' second title under Holenka, who will also have the option of coaching the OVAC All-Star Game this summer.
Seeing that Holenka has such a close-knit senior class, it's an option we certainly hope he takes.
I will be the first to admit that when it comes to figuring out the computer points in Ohio, I am not real skilled. However, thankfully for websites like JoeEitel.com, Drew Pasteur's Fantastic 50.net, these numbers are available online for much of the season.
The River Pilots - in Region 23 of Division VI - enter the final week of the season sitting in ninth place.
Knowing the numbers, long-time Ohio Valley sports media member John Simonson gave some scenarios for the Pilots Sunday evening. According to Simonson, first and foremost, the Pilots must beat Frontier on Saturday afternoon. But, they'll be rooting for Bridgeport against Cameron and watching for games involving Fairfield Christian and Reedsville Eastern.
The need of Bridgeport to win proves how important - to other teams - its forfeit against St. John has become.
Martins Ferry senior fullback Trent Neavin returned to the Purple Riders' lineup Friday night against St. Clairsville. Neavin had missed the first eight weeks as he recovered from a ruptured achilles during the spring in workouts.
Neavin is a player who certainly would have made a huge impact on both sides of the ball for the Riders this season had been able to play the entire season.
Unfortunately for him and Ferry he wasn't, but you have to tip your cap to the young man for the way he worked his way back. Obviously, recovering from that serious of an injury isn't easy. It required a lot of rehab, work and dedication, but nothing was evidently going to keep Neavin off the field for his entire senior season.
High school football means a lot to a lot of people in this valley. It's kids like Neavin that make it mean that much more. How can you not root for the kid?
If the Riders win this week against Bellaire, he may gain at least one additional game.
There's one thing for certain. Neavin will certainly leave everything he has on the field and do anything he can to help the Riders get to that point.
Beallsville quarterback Teryn Jarrett will complete his impressive career at the helm of the Blue Devils' offense this week. Last week, in the victory against Paden City, Jarrett surpassed the 6,000-yard mark for his career. That's rare air in the Ohio Valley. Only Jose Davis, Nate Davis, Zach Amedro, Erik Cwalinski and Justin Fox have accomplished that total.
Bellaire senior placekicker Dalton Conroy set a new school record for field goals made in a single season in the Big Reds' win at Edison Friday night. Conroy converted two more field goals, raising his season total to nine. That number breaks the old mark of eight, which was held by Paul and Mark Marchese in 1973 and 1980, respectively.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Harrison Central senior tailback Maurtice Hython tweeted after the Huskies' win at Union Local, "This season has been amazing. #lovemyteam."
Bellaire head coach Jose Davis - who is one of three Buckeye 8 head coaches with a Twitter account - tweeted after his Big Reds posted yet another dramatic victory at Edison. He said, "How bout dem BIG REDS!!!! Fight to the end!!! #7-2 celebrate then back on the grind."
CHECKING IN ON THE LOCALS
WESTERVILLE CENTRAL'S playoff hopes took a hit last Friday when the Warhawks dropped their second straight, 29-7, to unblemished Hilliard Darby. Coach John Magistro's team is now 6-3 on the season and will meet Dublin Jerome this weekend.
STEUBENVILLE GRADUATE Todd Filtz has guided the Canton McKinley Bulldogs back to the Division I tournament. McKinley clinched a spot in Region 2 when it handled Boardman, 53-14. The win also wrapped up the Federal League title regardless of what happens this weekend when McKinley tangles with ancient rival Massillon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
BRENT WALTON, whose grandparents reside in Eastern Ohio, had another impressive game for Pickerington Central. The Tigers are now 6-2 after thumping Groveport Madison, 44-7. Central is currently sitting in the eighth spot in the Division I, Region 3 computer poll.
CINCINNATI MOELLER was involved in maybe the premier game of the weekend, but came out on the short end of a 49-42 verdict to undefeated Lakewood St. Edward. Iacovone - who is a Marshall baseball recruit - ran for two touchdowns in the game.
DUBLIN COFFMAN ran its record to 9-0 and will seek a perfect regular season at home this weekend against Upper Arlington. Coffman features three players with Ohio Valley ties, including Brent Whitehead, Tanner Zinni and Zack Murdock.