The battle is like the Kentucky Derby, and you can almost hear the announcer say, “And down the stretch they come!”
Both divisions in the SOC cannot be called right now — and that’s interesting and fun for the fans to watch. The SOC I is in total gridlock with three teams tied, while the SOC II has a leader — but that leader cannot afford a mistake as two teams are within reach.
And the best part is there’s only one week to go.
This conference has a three-way tie for first place.
Clay and Green are knotted in the conference at 9-2 while Symmes Valley comes in at 8-2.
This weekend could produce a front runner, or it could at least thin out the crowd some, as Clay and Green face off Friday. Symmes Valley will host New Boston — who could play the spoiler Friday night.
Although Clay dropped a triple-overtime non-conference game Saturday to South Webster, Clay Coach Jack Trainer feels the race for the SOC I title is exciting.
“This is just fun,” he said. “This is a great, great race, and it’s a challenge for the boys.”
By staying with South Webster, who the night before defeated front-running Wheelersburg in the SOC II, Trainer feels his Panthers can use that as motivation.
“I told the boys we can play with anyone around here,” he said. “South Webster is so talented and we nearly beat them in three overtimes.”
However, Clay will host Western tonight — a team still looking for its first win.
“We cannot have a letdown,’ Trainer said. “So many times you play a really good team well, then you come out the next game flat. We cannot afford that.”
Green Coach Bobby Blanton said the excitement surrounding the race is good for everyone involved.
“It brings pride to your school and gives you something to shoot for,” Blanton said. “I’m glad we were able to put ourselves in this position at this time. It’s something you want to win as a player and as a coach.”
This race became a little more exciting this weekend as two teams climbed back into the picture.
South Webster downed Wheelersburg, and Oak Hill got back into the race with a big win at Waverly.
Wheelesburg is 10-2 while Oak Hill and South Webster are 8-3.
However, last year’s conference champs, Oak Hill, has a tough road ahead.
The Oaks will have to play their remaining games without Drew Cannon and Austin Brown — their two best players. Cannon broke his leg and Brown tore his ACL on the last play against Minford. Both players had surgery this week.
“We still have a shot,” Oak Hill Coach Norm Persin said. “We have put ourselves in this situation and we have to win out and hope someone beats Wheelersburg.”
Oak Hill is off tonight and will host Valley Friday. While Valley is in the middle of the pack in the SOC II, Persin is aware the Indians are a threat.
“They probably have the most athletic talent in the league,” Persin said. “Their record is not indicative of who they are.”
Wheelersburg is in a unique situation, one that Coach Tom Barrick prefers.
“We control our destiny,” he said. “We don’t like it when we have to depend on other teams to win or lose — we have to win.”
The Pirates will face Ironton tonight in non-league play and go right back into conference action Friday when they host Minford.
“Right now, Minford is playing as well as anyone,” Barrick said. “We take the Ironton game as a great challenge and will use it to get ready for Friday’s game with Minford.”
If we have learned anything this season, it’s that no game can be taken for granted.
It’s such a cliche, but every game means something and no team can afford to drop its guard.
This is just the way we like it.
Del Duduit can be reached at (740)-353-3101 ext. 203 or at email@example.com