KNOX COUNTY – With just two weeks left in the regular season, things are heating up. Several area teams inched closer to booking a spot in the playoffs on Friday night, while several others were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
The KMAC’s brass held steady, while Danville won its third straight and creeped into the playoff conversation. In the OCC, Mount Vernon snapped its four-game losing streak, while Wooster and Lexington broke into the unofficial playoff picture.
But those are just the headlines. Here’s how each game unfolded on Friday night:
Mount Gilead 8
On paper, this should have been the blowout of the year in the KMAC – the league’s most proven team versus the one that hasn’t won a game in two years. Fortunately for Mount Gilead, however, football isn’t played on paper.
The Indians (0-8, 0-5 KMAC), losers of 19 straight coming into Friday night’s game at Northmor (8-0, 5-0 KMAC), shocked the KMAC world for the first 24 minutes in Galion. Northmor led 6-0 at halftime, and its only score came with 2:30 left in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a Mount Gilead fumble deep in its own territory, according to the Morrow County Sentinel.
After halftime, however, reality sunk back in.
Northmor scored four touchdowns in the third quarter – running back Conor Becker had scoring runs of 73 and 85 yards – which put the Golden Knights up 35-0 heading into the fourth. Becker ran for all but eight of his 213 yards in the second half, the Sentinel reported.
Mount Gilead had five turnovers (two fumbles and three interceptions), including a fumble that Northmor’s Blake Miller recovered and ran in 50 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. The Indians were led by quarterback Nathan Rodgers, who threw 15-of-26 for 91 yards. He also ran six times for 67 yards and a score. Mount Gilead finished with 251 total yards of offense, while Northmor tallied 353.
Northmor quarterback Hunter Mariotti threw 7-of-11 for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Wideout Cole Dille caught three passes for 102 yards and one touchdown. The Knights had zero turnovers on Senior Night.
Northmor will face Centerburg (4-4) this week before heading to Highland (7-1) in Week 10.
Highland, meanwhile, had no problem handling the KMAC’s other winless team, Cardington-Lincoln.
The Fighting Scots (7-1, 5-0 KMAC) led 41-0 by halftime, making it their third straight game leading by 40 points or more after two quarters. Highland quarterback Ian Taylor stole the show with three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in the first half. He finished with 106 yards on 6-of-10 passing.
Highland held Cardington-Lincoln (0-8, 0-5 KMAC) to 164 yards of total offense, all of which came on the ground. The Pirates went 1-for-8 on third down conversions and 1-for-4 on fourth down. They were led by tailback Mason Goers, who ran for 95 yards on 20 carries.
Once again, 12 Scots carried the ball on Friday night. Brody Matthews led the way with 67 yards on seven carries. Fullback Tate Tobin ran five times for 59 yards and scored two touchdowns. Isaiah Stoneburner caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns.
Highland won its seventh straight game on Friday night. The Scots now enter the most pivotal part of their KMAC schedule, as they will host East Knox (7-1) this week and Northmor (8-0) next week to round out the regular season.
East Knox 54
East Knox (7-1, 4-1 KMAC) rebounded from a heartbreaking Week 7 loss to ambush cross-county rival Fredericktown (1-7, 1-4 KMAC) on Friday night.
The Bulldogs led 20-0 after one quarter and 47-7 by halftime, as tailback Kasson Krownapple bullied his way to 212 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries, averaging over 17 yards per carry. He also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score near the end of the first half, following Fredericktown’s only touchdown of the night.
Despite the rainy conditions, Bulldog gunslinger Kadden Lester went 8-for-8 passing for 275 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to receiver Dawson Moreland, who hauled in four catches for 130 yards. Caleb Gallwitz also tallied two catches for 97 yards and a score.
East Knox had 342 all-purpose yards at halftime and finished with 532 for the game.
Fredericktown, meanwhile, recorded just 184 yards of total offense on Friday night. The Freddies dressed just 24 players, as nearly every starter played both ways.
Fredericktown scored its lone touchdown on a 20-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Terry Fearn to wideout Jake Partington late in the second quarter, which made it 33-7. Fearn finished 5-of-15 passing for 64 yards, while Partington caught two passes for 38 yards. Running back Jack Fitzpatrick carried the ball 17 times for 61 yards.
East Knox averaged 15.2 yards per play on Friday, while Fredericktown averaged 3.4.
Danville won its third straight game on Friday night in a home blowout over Centerburg.
The Blue Devils (3-5, 3-2 KMAC) jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and never looked back. They scored in all three phases of the game and held Centerburg (4-4, 2-3 KMAC) to just 128 yards of total offense.
Danville was led by quarterback Dalton David, who threw for 264 yards and a touchdown on a rainy night at Tough Street Stadium. He also ran for two touchdowns, both five-yard scampers. Blue Devil wideout Corbin Hazen caught five passes for 91 yards. He also scored on a rushing touchdown and a 60-yard punt return.
Centerburg’s offensive focal point, dual threat quarterback John Sheasby, was limited to 27 rushing yards on 17 carries. He completed five of his 15 passes for 45 yards, and was also sacked seven times.
Of Centerburg’s 40 rushing attempts on Friday night, 13 went for negative yardage.
After starting the season 3-1, Centerburg has now lost three of its last four games. Meanwhile, Danville is now 11th in Joe Eitel’s Division VII Region 27 unofficial ratings after beginning the season 0-5. The Blue Devils will likely need to beat Mount Gilead (0-8) and East Knox (7-1) over the next two weeks to qualify for the playoffs.
Mount Vernon 41
Mount Vernon (3-5, 1-3 OCC) snapped its four-game losing streak by trouncing Madison (1-7, 0-4 OCC) in Mansfield on Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions, as they took a 28-0 lead into the locker room. The visitors initiated a running clock early in the second half by scoring on their first offensive possession.
Mount Vernon was anchored by tailback Wyatt Gregory, who ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. Quarterback Noah Hubbard threw 8-of-13 for 98 yards and a touchdown, and added a six-yard scoring run.
The Yellow Jackets held the Rams to just 110 total yards of offense, while compiling 375 yards themselves. After scoring just 45 total points over the last four games, Mount Vernon recorded its best offensive performance of the season on Friday night.
Mount Vernon will head back to Mansfield to face the Mansfield Senior Tygers (3-5) this Friday, and will round out the regular season with a Senior Night matchup against West Holmes (6-2) in Week 10.
Still in contention: Northmor, Highland, East Knox, Danville
Likely out: Centerburg
Mathematically eliminated: Fredericktown, Cardington-Lincoln, Mount Gilead
- Northmor (8-0) dropped from first to second in Joe Eitel’s Division VI Region 23 unofficial ratings after its win over Mount Gilead on Friday night. Northmor and Paint Valley have battled for first place in the region over the last several weeks and Paint Valley beat Southeastern (6-2) on Friday.
- Highland (7-1) dropped from ninth to 10th in Joe Eitel’s Division IV Region 14 unofficial ratings after beating Cardington-Lincoln. The Scots are nearly two points out of eighth place in the ratings, although they will play East Knox (7-1) and Northmor (8-0) in weeks 9 and 10, respectively.
- East Knox (7-1) rose from 12th to 11th in Joe Eitel’s Division VI Region 23 unofficial ratings after beating Fredericktown. The Bulldogs sit over two points out of eighth place, although they will face Highland (7-1) this week and Danville (3-5) in Week 10.
- Danville (3-5) jumped from 15th to 11th in Joe Eitel’s Division VII Region 27 unofficial ratings after defeating Centerburg. The Blue Devils are still over two points away from eighth place, but a win over East Knox (7-1) in Week 10 would likely propel them into the playoffs.
- Centerburg (4-4) dropped from 18th to 20th in Joe Eitel’s Division VI Region 23 unofficial ratings after falling to Danville. Meanwhile, Fredericktown (1-7) was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after losing to Highland. Both Cardington-Lincoln (0-8) and Mount Gilead (0-8) were eliminated from playoff contention as well.
Still in contention: Wooster, Lexington, West Holmes, Ashland, Mansfield Senior
Mathematically eliminated: Mount Vernon, Madison
- Wooster (6-2) broke into the playoff picture in Joe Eitel’s Division II Region 7 unofficial ratings after winning its fifth straight game on Friday night, knocking off Mansfield Senior (3-5) by a score of 27-7. The Generals are unofficially eighth in the region, just fractions of a point ahead of Medina Highland for the final playoff spot. They will host non-conference foe Firestone (2-6) this week and Ashland (5-3) in Week 10.
- Lexington (4-4) cracked the playoff picture as well in Joe Eitel’s Division III Region 10 unofficial ratings after knocking off Ashland on the road, 43-36. The Minutemen are seventh in the region, almost two full points ahead of eighth-place Rocky River. They will face Madison (1-7) and Canton South (2-6) in weeks 9 and 10, respectively.
- West Holmes (6-2) inched closer to the playoff picture in Joe Eitel’s Division III Region 9 unofficial ratings after beating West Branch (6-2) 30-8 on Friday. The Knights are 11th in the region, less than two points out of eighth place. They will face Ashland (5-3) and Mount Vernon (3-5) to round out the regular season.
- Ashland (5-3) slipped from 13th to 16th in Joe Eitel’s Division II Region 7 unofficial ratings after dropping its second straight home game on Friday night, losing to Lexington by seven. The Arrows are nearly five points out of eighth place in the region, but will face West Holmes (6-2) and Wooster (6-2) on the road in weeks 9 and 10, respectively.
- Mansfield Senior (3-5) fell from ninth to 13th in Joe Eitel’s Division III Region 10 unofficial ratings after falling to Wooster. The Tygers will face Mount Vernon (3-5) and Madison (1-7) in their final two regular season games. They are less than three points out of eighth place.
- Mount Vernon (3-5) and Madison (1-7) were both mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in their respective regions on Friday night.
Official OHSAA ratings are released every Tuesday until October 28, following Week 10, when the playoff field is announced. The top eight teams in each region will make the playoffs.
Highland in the first half… The Scots are currently 5-0 in KMAC play. In those five wins, they've outscored opponents by an average of 32 points per game in the first half. During the last three weeks, Highland has led by a combined score of 129-0 at halftime (they led Mount Gilead and Fredericktown 44-0, and most recently led Cardington-Lincoln 41-0). Simply put, the Scots have been unstoppable out of the gate. Their first half dominance will be tested over the final two weeks of the regular season, however, when East Knox (7-1) and Northmor (8-0) come to Fishburn Family Field.
Danville QB Dalton David… The senior has powered Danville to three straight wins, leading an offense that has grown more proficient as the year has progressed. David has thrown for 592 yards and four touchdowns over the last three weeks, as he passed the season 1,000-yard mark on Friday night. He’s also been effective using his legs, as he rushed for two touchdowns last week and has five rushing scores this season. Danville’s first five opponents currently have a combined record of 35-5 heading into Week 9, which has helped the Blue Devils in regional ratings. Despite its 3-5 record, Danville is still in playoff contention with two weeks left to play.
The Mount Gilead Indians… Yes, their losing streak is now at 20 games. No, they haven’t won since October 14, 2016, which is now over two years ago. But what coach Bob Ulrey’s club has shown over the last two weeks is improvement, tangible progress that should be a sign of hope for the program. They nearly shocked Centerburg in Week 8, losing by just eight points after trailing by two heading into the fourth quarter. Then, last week, they hung with undefeated Northmor for a half, as they trailed 6-0 going into the locker room. For a team that had been shut out four times in its first six games this season, including a 58-0 loss to Highland in Week 6, this is noticeable improvement. Mount Gilead still has a long way to go, but Ulrey’s ability to keep his team motivated and hungry this late in the season (and this far into a losing streak) shouldn’t go unnoticed. The losing streak persists, but there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the KMAC’s hungriest program.
1. Northmor (5-0, 8-0)
1. Highland (5-0, 7-1)
3. East Knox (4-1, 7-1)
4. Danville (3-2, 3-5)
5. Centerburg (2-3, 4-4)
6. Fredericktown (1-4, 1-7)
7. Cardington-Lincoln (0-5, 0-8)
7. Mount Gilead (0-5, 0-8)
Week 9 matchups
- East Knox (7-1) at Highland (7-1) – 7 p.m.
- Northmor (8-0) at Centerburg (4-4) – 7 p.m.
- Mount Gilead (0-8) at Danville (3-5) – 7 p.m.
- Cardington-Lincoln (0-8) at Fredericktown (1-7) – 7 p.m.
1. Wooster (5-0, 6-2)
2. Lexington (4-1, 4-4)
3. West Holmes (2-2, 6-2)
3. Ashland (2-2, 5-3)
5. Mansfield Senior (1-3, 3-5)
5. Mount Vernon (1-3, 3-5)
7. Madison (0-4, 1-7)
Week 8 scoreboard
- Wooster beat Mansfield Senior, 27-7
- Lexington beat Ashland, 43-36
- Mount Vernon beat Madison, 41-6
- West Holmes beat West Branch, 30-8*
Week 9 matchups
- Ashland (5-3) at West Holmes (6-2) – 7 p.m.
- Mount Vernon (3-5) at Mansfield Senior (3-5) – 7 p.m.
- Madison (1-7) at Lexington (4-4) – 7 p.m.
- Firestone (2-6) at Wooster (6-2) – 7 p.m.*