With the season’s end rapidly approaching, the Southern Ohio Spartans were looking for a big win for which to hang their hat. Last weekend against the West Virginia Storm, they got it.
Traveling with only 14 players to far-away Mt. Hope,West Virginia, the Spartans’ chances took a blow early in the game when they lost a starter with a concussion. Southern Ohio (6-3, 5-2 Blue Collar Football League) went into the locker room at halftime trailing 12-6 with little hope of earning a victory.
However, the Spartans didn’t quit. They scored twice late in the second half, including a big touchdown pass from quarterback Jonathon Schweickart to Alex Meeker, to take the lead for good. Later, defensive lineman Mark Owens forced and recovered a fumble to seal an improbable 22-18 win.
Not only did the win move the Spartans ahead of the Storm in the standings, but it guaranteed a trip to the postseason.
“We fought like dogs, man. I think it did wonder for us, a big confidence boost,” Spartan defensive coordinator Troy Adams said.
With a playoff position secured, the Spartans now turn their attention to a longtime rival — the Queen City Hitmen. Previously known as the Cincinnati Xtreme, the Spartans have never defeated the Hitmen in their three-year team history.
“There’s a little bit of a grudge there,” Adams said.
Though they sit at just 5-4 overall this season, the Hitmen are still just as big and physical as they have been in the past. Though Spartan coaches haven’t been able to find a game film from this season’s squad, they expect to be in for a challenge this weekend.
However, Adams was encourage by the resiliency his team showed a week ago against the Storm.
“Last week proved to me, if we come in with the right mindset and we do things right, we can play with anyone,” he said.
With the Dayton Bulldogs having been dissolved earlier this season, the Spartans have just two games left on their schedule — this weekend’s game with the Hitmen, and a rematch with the Portsmouth Warriors. Both games will be played at home, so the Spartans likely won’t need to worry about playing short-handed for the rest of the regular season.
Most importantly, the Spartans seem to be gelling at the right time.
“Guys are really buying into it. We’re in a good position. If we come out this week on a positive note, I think we should roll into the playoffs in really good shape,” Adams said.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter