Northeastern High School football coach Mike Roeder calls Centerville his team’s natural rival, and who could argue given the past couple meetings between the Wayne County schools.
A year ago, the Knights built themselves a big lead before the second half of the game was postponed a day due to weather.
The Knights did not score, but just hung on for a 22-20 decision, their first win over Centerville since 2003 and their first at Centerville since 1994.
In 2011, Northeastern was seconds away from giving Centerville its only defeat in Tri-Eastern Conference play, before the Bulldogs scored with 33 seconds left. The Bulldogs went on to complete a 7-0 TEC mark.
This year, Northeastern is the only team left with an undefeated TEC record at 3-0, 4-1 overall.
Centerville was a league unbeaten before falling 20-12 at home against Union City last Friday, and both coaches know what’s on the line when this year’s rivalry game takes place Friday night in Fountain City.
“I’m sure he’s (Centerville coach Perry Irwin) telling his kids if they can beat us they can get right back in the conference race,” Roeder said. “It’s a dangerous type of a team to play.
” … I would say this is our natural arch-rival here. It just seems like no matter who’s playing well when, it’s a pretty even, hard-hitting game.”
Irwin is hoping his team takes that mentality into Friday night’s meeting.
“We know every week’s a championship game for us now. We can’t afford any more losses in the conference,” he said. ” … We just got to continue to try to get better, keep working and get back on the winning track.”
Northeastern’s been down that track for four straight weeks now, including TEC wins against Winchester, Hagerstown and Tri, plus a non-conference victory against Monroe Central.
The Knights racked up 432 yards rushing and 485 total in last Friday’s 42-22 win at Tri.
Kelsy Kirkland rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns, with J.J. Fleming also scoring twice and rushing for 39 yards.
Joey Claypoole rushed for 116 yards and two more Northeastern scores, while passing for 53 yards. Tyler Sandlin finished with 77 yards on six carries.
“Northeastern’s a lot like Shenandoah that we played,” Irwin said. “They run a double-wing, they run a lot of dives, sweep counter and bootlegs and we’ve seen it from Shenandoah. Coach Roeder does a good job with what they do offensively up there, and their defensive coordinator, coach (Wes) Oler, does a good job with their defense.”
If Centerville can give Northeastern its first conference loss, the Bulldogs would do a favor for Winchester, Union City and Union County.
All three, plus Centerville, are 2-1 in the TEC.
However, Union City and Winchester will have a bigger thing to worry about: each other.
The Falcons host Union City in this year’s edition of the Randolph County rivalry Friday, while Union County will travel to Lincoln.
“That’s a big rivalry game,” Union City coach Keith Maloy said after Friday’s win. “They do a good job of running the football and we do a good job of stopping the football, so it’s going to be nice to see how we match up.”
Winchester has not lost since its Week 2 visit to Northeastern and took down Lincoln 46-14 last Friday night. Union City won last year’s meeting 19-6 and won 59-0 two years ago.
“This has been a long-standing rivalry. It’s been one that Union City has had the upper hand in the last couple of years,” Winchester coach Mike Jones said.
” … We’re playing for our life here in the TEC. We already have the one loss. We know that if we lose again then we’ve got no chance (at the TEC title). I’m not sure there is even with the way things are now. … We’re going to be ready to play.”
Union County stayed in the conference race with a come-from-behind 30-27 win at 2012 TEC champion Hagerstown.
The Tigers (0-4, 0-3) are in search of their first victory as they host Tri High.
Every area Ohio team is at home this week and every one is in conference play.
Eaton looks to rebound from its first loss, a 21-18 decision against Brookville, as the Eagles host Oakwood; National Trail hosts Ansonia after limiting Bradford to eight yards of offense in the second half of Friday’s 27-12 win.
Also in the Cross County Conference, Tri-County North hosts Bethel and Twin Valley South is at home against Arcanum, while Preble Shawnee hosts SWBL Southwestern Division foe Waynesville.