ZANESVILLE — Tri-Valley has ruled the Muskingum Valley League with four consecutive undefeated league campaigns.
Sheridan aims to topple the Scotties on Friday with first place on the line at Paul Culver Jr. Stadium.
Tri-Valley (6-1, 5-0) has won the past four matchups by an average score of 47.5-11.5, with the Generals (5-2, 5-0) winning 42-14 in 2010 — that was the Scotties’ last loss in league play.
Sheridan has run for more than 1,660 yards and 17 touchdowns with Deryk Grosse leading the attack with 724 yards and seven TDs on 133 carries.
“This is familiar territory for us, and we’ve played in plenty of big games over the years,” Tri-Valley coach Justin Buttermore said. “You have to be disciplined against (Sheridan). They run the option, run out of the spread and have a power run game. There’s not a lot of teams who can do that so it takes a lot of preparation.
“We have preached discipline this week. Everyone needs to know their responsibilities and read their keys.”
Across the league
Elsewhere in the MVL, Philo (3-4, 2-3) heads to New Lexington (3-4, 3-2), Crooksville (3-4, 2-3) visits Morgan (0-7, 0-5), John Glenn (1-6, 1-4) entertains Maysville (6-1, 5-1) and West Muskingum (1-6) travels to Buckeye Trail (2-5) in a nonleague contest.
Zanesville (6-1, 1-1) aims to rebound at Cambridge (3-4, 1-1) and Rosecrans (1-6, 0-3) entertains River View (1-6, 1-1) for homecoming in East Central Ohio League games.
All games kick off at 7 p.m.
The Scotties have had few challenges outside of a 10-7 loss to Zanesville in Week 3. The rest of the games have featured running clocks, with four of their six victories also being shutouts.
Yet Buttermore said his team has not reached its potential.
“We want to see constant improvement and see our position groups getting better every day,” he said. “But, that window is closing, and I don’t believe we’ve played our best football yet.”
Another element wants to see is how his team performs for four quarters. There haven’t been many opportunities for it, but Buttermore expects his team will have to overcome that challenge against the Generals.
“We want to see four quarters of execution,” he noted. “We’re not going to be perfect. Even in the Licking Valley or Zanesville games, our execution was hit or miss. We’ve played sloppy at times, and we need to find that overall consistency for four quarters.”
Zanesville vs. Cambridge
A disappointing loss may have derailed the Blue Devils from an ECOL title, but they still have the playoffs in sight. Preparing for the postseason is the focus with the Bobcats awaiting.
“Going 10-0 is hard to do, but our goal coming into the season was making the playoffs,” ZHS coach Chad Grandstaff said. “We need to get this game behind us and get back to playing at a high level. We have to continue to improve our fundamentals and translate our effort in practice to game nights. It’s about getting the team prepped for the postseason.”
Cambridge is coming off a 37-23 loss to Dover where Tornado freshman quarterback Alec Sayre threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bobcats are led by dual-threat quarterback Josh Lewis, who can be a handful to contain. The Blue Devils also must take advantage of an aggressive Cambridge defense.
“He’s a threat throwing the ball and running it,” Grandstaff said. “Their defense brings a lot of pressure. Their linebackers play off their defensive line, and their cornerbacks are athletic and can make plays.”
This also will be Zanesville’s first game on grass, and the Blue Devils are looking forward to the challenge.
“You used to be excited when you got the chance to play on turf, but now, you’re excited about playing on grass,” Grandstaff said. “It’s going to be like playing some old-school football. Our guys are looking forward to it.”