The goals that the Beechcroft High School football team set at the start of the season are within its reach.
The Cougars improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the City League-North Division with a 20-0 win over host Brookhaven on Oct. 19. The victory was their third in a row in the series.
With a win Friday, Oct. 26, at Northland, Beechcroft would capture its third consecutive league championship and likely would secure a second consecutive playoff berth. The Cougars were sixth in the Division II, Region 7 computer ratings through week eight and were expected to remain in that spot heading into week 10.
The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs.
Posting a shutout against Brookhaven also provided a confidence boost to Beechcroft's defense as it prepares for the postseason. Among the teams in Region 7 the Cougars could face in the playoffs are Dresden Tri-Valley, Licking Heights, New Albany and Zanesville, each of which has scored 40 or more points at least twice.
"Now we can control our own destiny," junior linebacker and running back Adonis Davis said. "We just played our defense, stopped their quarterback run and contained them all night. We'll get some respect finally."
Senior quarterback Maurice Hale has thrown for more than 1,600 yards this season, but he burned Brookhaven for 243 yards rushing and three touchdowns (21, 4 and 9 yards). A muddy field dictated the need to run the ball, and Hale responded.
"I trust my offense to make plays, step up and do their jobs," Hale said. "It was terrible out there, but I'm used to playing in that weather."
Beechcroft has won six games in a row since losing to St. Charles 20-18 on Sept. 7 and has won 13 consecutive league contests. Its last league loss came against Northland, 12-7 in 2010.
The Cougars still won the league title outright at 6-1 in 2010 and beat Northland 26-8 last season. The Vikings beat Whetstone 34-28 on Oct. 19 to improve to 5-4 and 4-2 but have been eliminated from playoff contention in Region 7.
"It's always good to beat a good team, but it's one game for us," Beechcroft coach Bruce Ward said. "One game down, one game to go."
Brookhaven fell to 6-3 and 5-1 with the loss to Beechcroft but still has a slim chance of making the Region 7 playoffs.
The Bearcats play host to Mifflin, which is 7-2 and 5-1, on Friday, Oct. 26. They need to beat the Punchers and get help to make the postseason, as they were expected to be 13th in computer ratings heading into week 10. Mifflin, Canal Winchester, New Carlisle Tecumseh, Walnut Ridge, Hamilton Township and Mount Vernon also are battling for postseason berths.
Mifflin coach Gregg Miller, who coached Brookhaven for 17 seasons before stepping down in 2002, picked up his 150th career victory when the Punchers beat Northland 13-6 on Oct. 12.
The Bearcats beat Mifflin 48-18 last season.
Brookhaven running back Blake McEwen, who has missed most of the season with an injury, had just one carry against Beechcroft before aggravating the injury and leaving the game.
"Sometimes you just get beat," Brookhaven coach Trevor White said. "It seems like the cards were stacked against us (against Beechcroft).
"Kevin Greenhow, Marquise Greenhow and Casey Gayle have helped us to fight through a lot of adversity this year. We've had a lot of nagging injuries really pop up."
Beechcroft limited Kevin Greenhow to 2-for-10 passing for 12 yards.
Season ends for Northland runners
Junior Mackenzie Pahren of the Northland girls cross country team missed advancing to the Division I regional meet by just three spots, as she finished 27th in 20 minutes, 59.67 seconds in the district 3 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial.
The top six teams and top 24 individuals qualified for regional on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North. Securing the final individual qualifying spot was Dublin Scioto's Shayla Wigand (20:49.38).
The Vikings had only four runners compete and did not have a girls team score. Also competing were senior Jasmine Owens (48th, 21:58.89) and sophomores Dajanae Townsend (77th) and Tiffany Noble (79th).
The boys team scored 529 points in the 18-team Division I, district 1 meet to finish last behind champion Dublin Jerome (51).
Sophomore Darius Owens led the Vikings, placing 78th in 21:00.8. Senior Jacob Smiley, sophomores Chris Asebrook, Matthew Burress and Ghentry Payne and freshmen Octavius Kennedy and Isaiah Townsend also competed.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional.
"They all ran hard," boys coach Tom Fast said. "It was such a good course and such good competition. I'm happy with our underclassmen. With a season of track and summer running, we'll be better next year."
The girls team placed third (77) in the five-team City League meet Oct. 10 behind Centennial (41) and host Whetstone (42), and the boys team finished eighth (188) in the 11-team league meet behind champion Whetstone (37).