Hard as it might be to believe, this weekend marks the end of the 2019 high school football regular season in Ohio.
Even harder to believe is that in seven days, the playoffs will be beginning in the Buckeye State as the regular season winds down in West Virginia.
Here in the Ohio Valley Publishing area, there are still four gridiron teams jockeying for position in the playoff chase. Two of them have legitimate chances to qualify for the postseason, and two more are still mathematically alive entering Week 10 play.
Meigs, River Valley and South Gallia have already been eliminated from any playoff hopes in Ohio, while both Wahama and Hannan are also out of the running in the West Virginia postseason.
Those programs, as they stand, are simply playing for pride the rest of the way — rather it be this weekend or over the next two weeks.
Gallia Academy and Eastern are trying to lock up postseason berths with wins this weekend, while Southern and Point Pleasant both need wins to keep their slim chances alive … and then need some help along the way.
Here’s a brief look at the scenarios each of the four playoff-eligible programs are looking at headed into this weekend.
The Blue Devils currently sit fifth in the Division IV, Region 15 playoff bracket and can lock up the program’s second straight postseason berth with a win at South Point this Friday night.
GAHS is very likely in already, regardless of Friday’s outcome, but a victory secures that matter and also leaves the Blue and White in the slimmest of runnings for a possible home game.
There is a chance, however, that Gallia Academy actually falls as low as sixth in the playoff bracket with a win at SPHS. St. Clairsville, currently sixth, can move ahead of the Blue Devils with a win over Wheeling Central Catholic Thursday night.
That potential drop in the Region 15 playoff bracket could be the difference between ending up at Waverly instead of playing at New Concord John Glenn in Week 11. The Blue Devils should fall no lower than sixth with a win over the Pointers.
The Eagles currently sit sixth in the Division VII, Region 27 bracket and a win over host Southern on Saturday would very likely result in the program’s first playoff appearance since 2001.
EHS appears to have no chance at moving up into the top four spots of the region, so the Green and White are likely making a road trip if they qualify for the postseason.
Eastern could finish as high as fifth with a win and would be no lower than seventh in that scenario. The Eagles also have a slim shot at qualifying for the playoffs with a loss Saturday night at Roger Lee Adams Memorial Stadium, pending on how other games in that bracket turn out.
The Tornadoes — currently 11th in the Division VII, Region 27 rankings — will very likely be out of playoff contention by the time kickoff rolls around on Saturday night against Eastern.
With that said, SHS needs Fisher Catholic, Symmes Valley and River to lose their regular season finales for there to be any mathematical chance of making the playoffs — and that’s before the Purple and Gold participate in their own season finale.
The Vikings are at Northwest and Pilots travel to Frontier, while Fisher Catholic hosts Troy Christian. FCHS currently sits in the eighth spot, with Symmes Valley and River parked in between Fisher Catholic and Southern.
If they are still mathematically alive by kickoff, the Tornadoes obviously have to beat Eastern for there to be any chance at a playoff berth. Southern has no chance of finishing higher than eighth in the Region 27 bracket with a victory.
The Big Blacks have a chance to pick up some extra bonus points this Friday night against visiting Ripley, a Class AAA program.
PPHS currently sits tied with Roane County for 27th in the Class AA ratings, so the six extra points for defeating a larger program would be huge as the Red and Black try to extend their postseason run to a 12th consecutive fall.
The problem facing Point Pleasant, however, is that there are currently 17 teams in Class AA with at least six wins. If they win out, and they must win out to have a chance for the playoffs, the Big Blacks’ maximum number of victories this fall would be four.
There are also a quintet of 5-win teams and a quartet of 4-win teams currently in the Class AA field. And like PPHS, almost all of these teams have two more games to add to those win totals.
The Vikings are also chasing a playoff spot in triple-A as they are currently 18th overall. Point Pleasant also closes its season at James Monroe, which is currently tied with Mingo Central for 15th in the double-A ratings.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.