SCIOTO COUNTY — The start of the 2020 Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs is officially here.
Despite the possibility earlier this week that Scioto County would be added to the coronavirus “hot spot watch list”, there will in fact be four home football playoff games hosted within the county on Saturday.
These four Division V and one Division VI Scioto County programs represent nearly all of teams who opted in to play their playoff game during the opening weekend.
Wheelersburg earned a first-round bye, and will meet the winner of West and Chesapeake at Ed Miller Stadium next Saturday.
East and Notre Dame, due to health and safety concerns, chose not to play their opening-round road playoff games — advancing Meigs Eastern and Conotton Valley to the Division VII Region 27 second round, respectively.
If Scioto County’s teams prevail in each of their matchups on Saturday, football fans will be looking at four more postseason games a week from now.
As this wacky lead-up to the 2020 playoffs has proven, however, anything and everything is possible when each team faces one another in their opening games.
On to the previews…
Portsmouth (1-5) at Northwest (5-1)
McDERMOTT — History is indeed on the line on Saturday in McDermott.
For the first time in the two programs’ long histories, the Northwest Mohawks and Portsmouth Trojans will be playing against one another — playoffs or otherwise.
For Northwest, this marks the first time in school history its program has competed in the OHSAA playoffs — a week after securing its first outright SOC I championship.
Portsmouth is coming off arguably its’ best performance this season — an overtime loss to Gallia Academy, which finished in second in the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season race.
For an extended preview, see “Hunt for October” story in Saturday, Oct. 10 print edition.
Portsmouth last playoff appearance: 2019, Regional quarterfinals (56-21 L at Ridgewood)
Portsmouth last playoff win: 2002, Regional quarterfinals vs. Ironton (35-20 Portsmouth)
Northwest last playoff appearance: first
Northwest last playoff win: none
Last result between two: first meeting
Piketon (2-3) at Minford (2-4)
MINFORD — These two programs certainly have their fair share of history this decade.
When the clock hits triple zeroes on Saturday, either the Redstreaks or the Falcons will be earning their first playoff win in at least eight years — with the victor traveling to Canal Winchester to face Harvest Prep in the Division V Region 19 second round.
The Falcons have slipped since starting their campaign at 2-1, falling victim to Valley in week six in Lucasville on a last-second touchdown.
This game, featuring two rather talented offenses, may ultimately come down to who has the ball last — and who can take care of the ball best.
Minford last playoff appearance: 2019, Regional quarterfinals (28-23 L at Wheelersburg)
Minford last playoff win: 2010, Regional quarterfinals vs. Nelsonville-York (27-6 Minford)
Piketon last playoff appearance: 2012, Regional semifinals (59-27 L vs. St. Clairsville)
Piketon last playoff win: 2012, Regional quarterfinals at Minford (49-27 Piketon)
Last result between two: 2013, 58-0 Minford
Chesapeake (2-4) at West (3-3)
WEST PORTSMOUTH — One key stat for the Portsmouth West Senators if they’re to top Chesapeake in their opening Division V Region 19 playoff game is limiting the Panthers’ scoring.
In games in which an opponent has held them to less than 40 points, the Panthers are winless (0-4) this season.
West’s defense has proven more than capable of doing just that — limiting Wheelersburg to its fewest points scored in league play this season in week six, and holding SOC II champion Waverly to its third-fewest points in league play this year.
After being held scoreless in its loss to the Pirates a week ago, West must find ways to score against the visiting Panthers.
The winner of this opening-round game gets the pleasure of traveling to Ed Miller Stadium next Saturday to face Wheelersburg in Region 19’s second round.
If the Senators do in fact beat Chesapeake, West will have to make this same journey it did two seasons ago — concluding its regular-season finale against the Pirates at home and traveling to EMS for a playoff game.
West last playoff appearance: 2018, Regional quarterfinals (52-7 L at Wheelersburg)
West last playoff win: 2017, Regional quarterfinals vs. Martins Ferry (10-6 West)
Chesapeake last playoff appearance: 2016, Regional quarterfinals (41-22 L vs. Barnesville)
Chesapeake last playoff win: 2002, Regional semifinals vs. Monroe Central (26-7 Chesapeake)
Last result between two: 2013, 42-0 West
Johnstown Northridge (1-5) at Valley (2-4)
LUCASVILLE — The Valley Indians will be looking to conjure up more of their Lucasville magic as they welcome visiting Johnstown Northridge to their home turf.
Valley earned both of its wins at the home confines in Lucasville — an opening-week 28-6 win over Northwest and a 15-14 last-second win over archrival Minford.
The Northridge Vikings will make the 226-mile round trip on Saturday seeking their first postseason win since 2004 — the year in which they also last made the postseason before falling to Scioto County’s own Wheelersburg in the second round.
A win for either squad would send them into the second round of Division VI Region 23— for a road trip to face Worthington Christian next Saturday.
The Vikings, in traveling to Scioto County, will indeed be playing for a much-shorter week-eight drive if they are to upset their host.
However, scoring has been an issue most of the season for Valley’s opponent.
Northridge has yet to score more than 20 points in any one game — including its 20-15 win over Utica (0-6), the lone win.
Valley last playoff appearance: 2015, Regional semifinals (14-6 L vs. Grandview Heights)
Valley last playoff win: 2015, Regional quarterfinals vs. Chesapeake (23-0 Valley)
Northridge last playoff appearance: 2004, Regional semifinals (34-18 L vs. Wheelersburg)
Northridge last playoff win: 2004, Regional quarterfinals vs. Crooksville (33-7 Northridge)
Last result between two: first meeting
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