PDT Sports Contributor
With three weeks left to play in the regular season, the West Senators and the Waverly Tigers each have work to do in order to make the playoffs.
However, both teams will have an opportunity to improve on their chances of doing just that as the Senators and the Tigers will square off against one another in a SOC II matchup on Friday that could potentially lead the winning team to a playoff berth while the losing team could see their playoff aspirations blow up in smoke.
Both teams will look to move up in the Division V, Region 17 pecking order as each team is looking to put themselves in a position to make a run at the final playoff spot.
However, the playoff race in Division V, Region 17 is a tight one as West and three other teams are separated by less than a half a point in the race to get to No. 8.
According to Joe Eitel, Williamsport Westfall currently holds that eighth and final playoff spot by less than three thousandths of a point over South Point. West is very close behind the pair as they are less than a half a point away from holding the eighth and final playoff spot.
Ironton, however, is breathing right down the Senators’ neck as the Fighting Tigers sit less than four thousandths of a point away from West in 11th place.
The Senators, however, are coming off of a 42-0 defeat against Valley in which the Senators were only able to muster 97 yards of total offense.
To get to the final slot, West will need to show that they can win another big game, as they did two weeks ago when the Senators defeated Minford 35-28 and handed the Falcons their first loss of the season.
West will look to control Waverly by continuing to ride the legs of Austin Bricker, Bryson Hurd, and Dylan Koons in order to set the tone against the Tigers.
All three running backs have been dependable throughout the season, especially when the Senators have needed to put the ball into the end zone. For the year, Bricker, Hurd, and Koons have combined to rush for 1,197 yards and have scored 101 of the 176 points that West has put on the scoreboard.
Waverly’s playoff hopes are not looking nearly as promising as the Senators’ playoff hopes are, as the Tigers currently sit 18th in the standings with less than three points to their credit so far this season.
However, a win against West could possibly tighten up the playoff race even further as Waverly is just over two points back of West despite being eight positions apart.
Last week, the Tigers were defeated 54-0 by Wheelersburg and were held to 130 yards of total offense. However, in an interview with the Pike County News Watchman, Crabtree was relatively pleased with the way his team played.
“We knew it would be really tough and we knew we would have to play really well against Wheelersburg. We started out well and moved the ball. We had a couple of nice drives, but we came up short,” Crabtree said.
Tyler Dray and Amin Gilbert led Waverly as the duo combined to rush for 79 yards on 22 carries in the loss.
Gilbert has been a spark plug all year long for the Tigers as he has put together a string of solid performances this year, including a 224-yard rushing display in a 56-48 win against Alexander earlier this season.
Crabtree also mentioned that he believes that Waverly matches up very favorably with West’s as far as size is concerned.
“They aren’t as big as they have been in the past and maybe not as athletic. I think we match up well size-wise and our strength versus theirs. I look for us to be able to move the ball and run the ball against them. Defensively, I think we can match up as well,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree mentioned that he wants the Tigers to simply believe that they can get the job done.
“This is a good opportunity for us to get a win. We want to go into this week, keep our morale up and be very positive. They have to believe that they can do this. These seniors we have left who are playing, it is going to be put on their shoulders to get this job done. We need these seniors to step up and do this for us,” Crabtree said.
West will be looking to obtain its second conference win of the year against Waverly as the Senators look to even their record at .500. The Tigers will look to add its first conference win of the year as the Tigers have also lost to Valley in addition to Wheelersburg.
Information from the Pike County News Watchman was used in this report.
Portsmouth West coach Merrill Triplett was not available for comment.