The Valley Indians are prepared to make their 10th appearance in the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Football Playoffs, as they will face the Division VI Region 21 seventh seeded Chesapeake Panthers. Valley (8-1) will host Chesapeake (8-2) in their first round matchup, which is scheduled with a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday evening at Valley High School.
The Indians will enter the 2015 postseason with high expectations and excitement from Head Coach Darren Crabtree his coaching staff, and with the team itself.
“Obviously, you know, we’re excited to be going again in the playoffs, especially coming off the year we had last year making it all the way to the state final four, or state semi-finals,” said Crabtree. “Ending the season 8-1, we feel like that we have a great opportunity in front of us again, and our kids are excited about returning to the playoffs.”
However, with all the expectations and excitement, the Indians are solely concentrated on defeating the Panthers on Saturday night.
“We’re going to be playing a very good Chesapeake team,” said Crabtree. “It’s not going to be an easy game for us, by any means, but it is something we are looking forward to.”
The Panthers finished their regular season in second place in the Ohio Valley Conference, behind Ironton, who was one of two teams to defeat Chesapeake during the regular season. In that Week 9 game against the Fighting Tigers, the Panthers were edged out after a fourth quarter score by Ironton, losing the game 21-14.
Chesapeake’s only other loss on the season came at the hands of the Rock Hill Redmen, which ended after a Redmen touchdown in overtime.
Both losses for the Panthers have come on their own field, as the team has been perfect on the road this year, with an impressive 5-0 record.
Valley’s single blemish on the season came at a home game against Wheelersburg in Week 9. After the setback to the Pirates, the Indians showed their resiliency the following week defeating the Minford Falcons 41-14.
Stopping the big play, will be essential for the Indians on Saturday night.
“They are a very big play offense,” said Crabtree. “Their quarterback does a lot of nice things like running the football, and their team speed is very good.”
Crabtree added that it will be really important for his defense to play disciplined football and to run their assignments.
“They run a lot of option and different things,” commented Crabtree. “We need to make sure that we eliminate their big plays.”
It is Crabtree’s goal to maintain a balanced offense when his Indians meet the Panthers on the field.
“We have to try to do what we’ve been doing all year,” said Crabtree. “We need to be balanced, as far as run to pass in the number of times we put the ball in the air as to on the ground.”
According to Crabtree, the Indians must also take advantage of their scoring opportunities, and if they are successful in that, he feels his team will come out the winner against the Panthers.
For the seniors on the team, it will be their fourth consecutive year to make the OHSAA Football Playoffs, which will provide Valley with the all important tournament and big game experience.
“With the success from last season, they understand that you have to go out and be your best every week, because it is win or if you lose you’re going to go home,” said Crabtree. “That will be very important for us.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931 or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82