PDT Sports Writer
Last year, West and Valley combined to go 19-1 in the regular season.
The difference was the meeting between the schools in Week Seven. The Indians held serve at home with a 28-20 outcome and was one of their key moments towards winning their first-ever SOC II crown and finishing with the best record in school history.
The two teams will meet up Friday night in West Portsmouth with different looks from a year ago but similar goals in mind. Win an SOC II contest.
“I’m impressed with what they do, they do it with good people and their kids have good technique,” Senators coach Merril Triplett said. “They replaced a good quarterback (Blake Yates) with another good quarterback (Will Howard) and they replaced a heck of tailback (Luke Keller) with another good tailback (Nate Arnett).”
Valley coach Darren Crabtree used history to provide an insight on how difficult the game may be. In the Indians’ last three wins, the average margin of victory has been around six points.
“Even though we’re 6-0 and West is 2-4, we’re expecting that kind of a ball game,” Crabtree said. “They started off with a couple of early losses but have played much better as of late.”
One thing that has helped improve spirits for the Senators has been the return of Jesse Scott.
“We still have a couple linemen down but other than that, for this time of the year we are pretty healthy,” Triplett said.
Both coaches are aware of how much the game inside the trenches may decide the outcome of this contest. Crabtree said the battle between Scott and JJ Hettinger may be one for everyone to focus on outside of the skilled positions.
For Triplett, reading keys will be crucial.
“(We have to) play very solid, disciplined defense and stay in (our) zone,” Triplett said. “They don’t run many reverses but they let the backs work down field out of the backfield.”
West, which is coming of a 17-6 loss last week to Minford, doesn’t want to lose back-to-back games to unbeaten squads and fall further behind in the SOC II race. Valley, winners of 16-straight regular season contests after defeating Waverly 35-7, wants to continue on the same path as last year.
Something’s got to give between these two SOC II heavyweights.
PDT Sports Editor Bob Strickley contributed to the report.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.