LUCASVILLE — Another week, another road playoff game against a largely-unknown opponent for the Valley Indians.
The goals do stay the same, however, regardless of the opposing team: win and advance.
For Valley, a road win over Barnesville — its opponent in Saturday’s Region 23 quarterfinal matchup — would make their fourth consecutive of the season and third since the postseason began.
The Shamrocks, the Indians’ host for their 364-mile round trip and the No. 5-seed in the Region 23 seedings, enter the contest on a two-game winning streak — and with a 5-2 record.
Barnesville’s two losses — a 36-15 defeat at the hands of Division IV Beaver Local and a 27-0 defeat by Division VII River — showcase that although the location for Valley’s third straight road game plays in the Shamrocks favor, it’s a game in which Valley could come away with.
Indians coach Darren Crabtree said his team’s approach to this Saturday’s win-or-go-home contest isn’t any different than prior regular season or postseason games.
“We’ve gotten better each week in practice, and I think that’s a tribute to how hard they want to work and that they want their season to continue,” Crabtree said. “Driving three hours to play is better than sitting at home. What little we’ve done so far this week, our kids are really focused in on our scouting report, watching film, getting themselves ready to see what we can get done on Saturday.”
If you’re making the trip to Barnesville this Saturday, expect to hear the last name “Hannahs” quite often — when the Shamrocks are on the offensive.
The Shamrocks’ leading rusher AND leading receiver is sophomore C.J. Hannahs, while senior quarterback Ayden Hannahs is Barnesville’s play-caller.
The Hannahs are not brothers, but do in fact pose a brotherly threat both in the air and on the ground.
C.J. has compiled 617 rushing yards on 106 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns, while also catching 14 passes for 293 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
Ayden, who missed two games due to injury, has completed 42-of-67 passes for 758 yards and two interceptions.
Both Hannahs made huge plays in the Shamrocks’ playoff win over Marion Elgin (63-20) — and in their regular-season finale over 1-7 Union Local (24-21).
While Barnesville’s weapons have played a significant role in it reaching the regional quarterfinals, Crabtree says it’s nothing his team hasn’t faced before — when going through its daunting Southern Ohio Conference Division II schedule in the regular season.
“I think it’s why we’re here right now playing,” Crabtree said. “Going through that wasn’t fun, but whenever you play those type of teams, and there were some points in each of those games we played pretty well. Seeing the talent week-in, week-out in Division II of the SOC, when you play a Barnesville team that has talented players, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.”
In playoff wins over Northridge (34-13) and Worthington Christian (27-21), Valley has done a rather good job of limiting big plays — aside from two first-quarter touchdown passes in its comeback win over the Warriors a week ago.
For the Indians to get back to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2015, and face the winner of No. 1-seed Fort Frye and No. 8-seed Columbus Africentric, a similar recipe of limiting the Shamrocks’ big-play chances and avoiding costly turnovers will be key, Crabtree says.
“It does give us an idea that if we can eliminate our turnovers and big plays defensively, we feel comfortable,” Crabtree said. “We’re not going to go up there and beat these guys by two-three touchdowns, it’s going to be a battle for us to win. But it is something that if we play really well and do what we’re supposed to, we’re going to give ourselves that chance.”
Valley and Barnesville will square off in their Division VI, Region 23 quarterfinal matchup on Saturday — with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. at Shamrock Stadium.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved