MONROE CENTRAL, Martins Ferry and Shadyside each passed their opening-round OHSAA playoff tests this past weekend.
The Seminoles posted a mild road upset against previously unbeaten Centerburg, Martins Ferry rallied past Williamsport Westfall while unbeaten Shadyside bombed Fairfield Christian, as the Purple Riders and Tigers had the luxury of playing on home turf.
The post-season road gets rockier in Week 12. Soft touches are few and far between in the regional semifinals.
Monroe Central undoubtedly has the toughest task of the three local teams. The Seminoles will square off against powerful Columbus Bishop Ready at Sulsberger Memorial Stadium in Zanesville Friday night in a D-VI contest.
The Seminoles are 8-3 on the season, while the Silver Knights are 10-1. Their only loss came to Columbus Bishop Hartley in week 10.
Both Martins Ferry and Shadyside will compete on Saturday night.
The Purple Riders appeared perilously perched on the ledge of elimination against Westfall. But another patented Purple rally yielded a 30-28 triumph.
The Purple Riders will now have another rugged assignment against Wheelersburg, matching 10-1 teams, at Hamilton Township in D-V. The Pirates loom as a formidable foe.
Shadyside, meanwhile, finds itself 11-0 for the first time in school history. Next up in D-VII for the Tigers are the surprising 9-2 Caldwell Redskins, upset winners over Malvern in the opening round.
Regional semifinals and Shadyside are becoming synonymous. This marks the fourth time under Mark Holenka's direction the Tigers have reached week 12. They will play at New Philadelphia High's Quaker Stadium.
Monroe Central and Martins Ferry, like Shadyside, are supremely coached, as the Seminoles' Jay Circosta and the Purple Riders' Dave Bruney have earned the right to be regarded as legends in their profession.
The Seminoles, Purple Riders and Tigers this season have exhibited all the ingredients needed for success. They have added a sparkling chapter to three programs with rich football traditions.
We commend and congratulate three models of success. We wish them the best of luck in extending their respective seasons another week.