Cutting down on miscues has been the focus for the Beechcroft football team as it heads into the season's final four weeks.
On Friday, Oct. 11, the Cougars will play at Whetstone in a City League-North Division game. Beechcroft has defeated the Braves each of the past 20 seasons.
After falling to Centennial 28-7 on Oct. 4, the Cougars were 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the City-North. Whetstone beat Mifflin 12-6 on Oct. 4 and is 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the league.
"We're starting out games OK, but we're making a lot of mistakes," Cougars coach Lee Snyder said. "We got up on East (in a 29-15 win Sept. 20) and we got up on (Toledo) Waite (in a 20-12 win Sept. 27) and then we started to put the ball on the mat. We're trying to work on discipline and conditioning."
The Cougars had won two in a row before falling to Centennial. The Stars are 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the City-North.
Beechcroft struggled on offense in its non-league schedule, opening with a 15-12 win over Dayton Ponitz on Aug. 30 and then scoring a combined six points over the next two games, both losses.
Through give games, sophomore running back Diante Latham had rushed for four touchdowns and junior quarterback DeShannon Butler had thrown three touchdowns to Davon Wooden and rushed for two other scores.
Wooden scored on a 27-yard run to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead over Centennial, but the Stars didn't allow another point.
Senior De'Marj'eon Harris and junior Muhammad Ali-Kobo are linemen who have joined senior linebacker Alhaji Sidibe as top players on defense, according to Snyder.
Harris also has been among the top offensive linemen.
"One of the problems is that a lot of our guys are going both ways," Snyder said. "We're trying to platoon our defensive line. We run a 4-3 attack defense, so there's a lot of movement and a lot of running around, and six or seven of the guys start on offense, so we're trying to get them some reps but not fall apart late in the game.
"We're getting a lot of contributions. We're just having those plays where we lose focus. Waite had some big plays where they had a long touchdown and a long run to get them back in the game. It was the same thing against East. We've got to learn to finish games."
City-South football title race heating up
One of the key matchups in the City-South football title chase takes place Thursday, Oct. 10, when Marion-Franklin plays host to Independence.
The Red Devils are 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the league after beating Briggs 48-8 on Oct. 4, while the 76ers lost to Eastmoor Academy 41-6 on Oct. 4 to fall to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the league.
Independence had lost to Marion-Franklin seven consecutive times before beating the Red Devils in both 2016 and 2017. Marion-Franklin won last year's matchup 14-12.
Marion-Franklin was projected to be 11th in computer points this week in Division IV, Region 15, so a win over the 76ers would help in the Red Devils' playoff pursuit. They still have matchups remaining Oct. 18 at home against Walnut Ridge and Nov. 1 at South.
Marion-Franklin has been led by senior quarterback Jeremiah Tucker, who had thrown for 767 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 298 yards and four scores through five games.
For Independence through five games, sophomore running back Jalin Sample had 933 yards and 10 touchdowns on 120 carries and senior quarterback Damariyea Williams had thrown for 607 yards and 10 scores.
Another important meeting will be held Friday, Oct. 11, when South plays host to Walnut Ridge in a matchup of teams that are 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the league.
The Scots, who were runners-up in the City-South to Eastmoor last season, are fighting for playoff position in Division II, Region 8 and South is in the playoff race in Division III, Region 11.
Walnut Ridge is led by junior quarterback Howard Thornton, who was 48-for-90 passing for 686 yards with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions through five games. Junior running back Javarus Leach had rushed for 300 yards and three touchdowns and sophomore running back Antonio Felts had 43 carries for 267 yards and five scores.
For South through five games, junior quarterback Ronmel Robinson had thrown for 548 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 241 yards and six scores. Senior running back Davion Greene-Tucker and junior running back Dawson Clark-Croone had rushed for 331 and 291 yards, respectively.
City holding fall sports championships
The City League held its boys and girls cross country championships Oct. 9 at Walnut Ridge, with its girls volleyball title match set for Saturday, Oct. 12.
In volleyball, Whetstone was leading the City-North at 11-0 before playing Linden-McKinley on Oct. 8 and Africentric was leading the City-South at 9-0 before playing Eastmoor on Oct. 8.
In soccer, the City title games will be held Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Mapfre Stadium, with Centennial and Whetstone playing for the girls title.
West beat Mifflin for last year's City boys soccer title, and Mifflin again will represent the City-North after going 6-0 in league play.
The City-South representative had yet to be determined entering the week, but Walnut Ridge was 4-0-1 and West was 3-0-2 in league play before their matchup Oct. 8.