Slow starts to their respective seasons likely will keep both the Northland and Beechcroft high school football teams out of the playoffs, but both have plenty of incentive entering their regular-season finale Friday, Oct. 27.
The host Cougars have won 25 consecutive City League-North Division games and already have clinched at least a share of the league title, their fourth in a row, but would like to earn it outright.
If the Vikings can snap Beechcroft's league winning streak, they, too, will earn a share of the title along with Mifflin.
The Cougars are 5-0 in the City-North, while Mifflin is 5-1 and Northland is 4-1.
"We've got a chance to at least get a piece of the North title," Vikings coach Brian Staats said. "It's the same defense they've always had. They do what they do and, as the year goes on, they've gotten better at it because they've gotten more reps."
Northland still is holding on to hopes of making the Division II, Region 7 playoffs, where they'd likely join Mifflin, which is 8-1 overall heading into its non-league game Friday, Oct. 27, at Aurora. The Vikings were projected to be 13th in the region entering Week 10 and need a win as well as help from numerous others to make it.
The Cougars aren't mathematically eliminated, but they were projected to be 15th in Division III, Region 11 and need several teams ahead of them to lose to have a chance.
"We can drop zone and we can blitz (on defense)," Beechcroft coach B.J. Queen said. "Bill Brown, our defensive coordinator, has been around forever and there isn't anything he hasn't seen. It's just been the kids buying in more and more each week."
According to Queen, senior running back Shemar Samuel has rushed for more than 1,000 yards to lead the Cougars' offense.
Sophomores Alhaji Sidibe (LB/OL) and Devon Wooden (DB) have provided strong contributions for the first time this season as well.
"I like how the team has come together," Sidibe said.
The Vikings have been led by junior running back J.J. Branham, senior wide receiver Mike Williams, junior wide receiver Jesse Prewitt III and sophomore wide receiver Kalil Branham.
J.J. Branham rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns and Williams scored three touchdowns in a 48-13 win over East on Oct. 20. Prewitt III has returned after missing more than six games with an injury.
"We're getting better," Staats said. "It goes back to spreading it around some because we've been able to make adjustments to our base stuff."
Scots, 76ers to meet for City title
The race for the City-South championship will be finalized when the Walnut Ridge football team plays host to Independence on Friday, Oct. 27.
The Scots improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the league with a 36-28 win over Marion-Franklin on Oct. 20 to earn at least a share of the title. Their league contest Oct. 13 at South was canceled because of an incident that occurred at Walnut Ridge on the day of the game.
Despite losing the potential playoff points, the Scots were projected to be first in Division II, Region 7 with a home playoff game in the first round. They last made the postseason in 2009.
"The kids are super excited," said Scots coach Byron Mattox, whose team has won 12 consecutive games dating to last season. "Our kids are unassuming. (This) week's big and we've done something we haven't done for a while and we're real proud of it. We're locked in and focused on what we've got to do. We practice hard because they need all the reps they can get."
Walnut Ridge outgained Marion-Franklin 526-278 in total yards and had 24 first downs as quarterback Isaiah Murphy threw for three touchdowns.
Independence is 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the league after beating South 54-6 on Oct. 20.
Demontae Taylor rushed for 203 yards and Daleron McCarrell and Darante Ervin both scored two touchdowns against the Bulldogs.
Eastmoor boys run to regional
The Eastmoor Academy boys cross country team is headed to the Division II regional meet Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North.
In the 12-team district 2 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, senior Chris Chandler captured the championship in 15 minutes, 58.04 seconds to lead the Warriors to a fourth-place finish (136 points) behind champion Heath (50) as the top four teams advanced to regional.
Senior Omavi Hamilton was fourth (16:24.66) and junior Bushra Bonkiye placed 11th (16:59.98) to lead the Warriors. Also competing for Eastmoor were senior Sean Hathorn (55th, 19:18.75), sophomore Ira Graham (68th, 20:12.72) and senior Jason Farmer (69th, 20:21.86).
Last season, the Warriors earned a regional runner-up finish as Chandler, Hamilton and Bonkiye were the top runners. They went on to place 17th at state.
At regional, the top seven teams and top 28 runners advance to the state meet Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
76ers make district semi in boys soccer
The 10th-seeded Independence boys soccer team upset sixth-seeded Watterson 3-0 in the second round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 21.
The 76ers improved to 14-4 and advanced to face 12th-seeded Jonathan Alder in a district semifinal Oct. 25, with the winner playing top-seeded DeSales or ninth-seeded Marion Pleasant in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at a neutral site to be announced.
The district champion plays Zanesville, Steubenville, Warsaw River View or McConnellsville Morgan in a regional semifinal on a date and at a site to be announced.
Through 18 games, Abdoul Mamadou had 44 goals and 12 assists, Edwin Brown had 35 goals and 19 assists and Wilmer Mendez had 26 goals and 15 assists to lead the 76ers.
Independence had won 10 games in a row since losing to City-South champion West 3-2 on Sept. 19.
Warriors volleyball team has strong year
The Eastmoor girls volleyball team's season ended with a 25-18, 26-24, 25-20 loss at 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg on Oct. 17.
The Warriors, who were the 31st seed, lost just one other match all season and captured the City League championship with a 20-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-22 win over Whetstone on Oct. 14.
"We had a bit of adversity this year, so it was exciting (to beat Whetstone)," said coach Rhonda Peck, who has guided the Warriors to three City titles. "We have some strong players coming back next year."
The Warriors will lose four seniors in Kyla Burnett (setter/defensive specialist), Kenadee Dixon (right-side hitter), Lauryn White (setter/opposite) and Brooklynn Williams (middle hitter).
Juniors Mallory Barnes (middle hitter), Joelle Lalla (middle hitter) and Jade Morant (libero) and freshman Sydney Morant (outside hitter/opposite) should be among the top returnees.
"It's been a lot of fun," Peck said.