Northmor vs. East Knox

Northmor rose to first place in Division VI Region 23 in this week's OHSAA computer ratings after beating East Knox last Friday night.

MOUNT VERNON – If the playoffs began today, only one KMAC team would be in, according to this week's OHSAA computer ratings. Two teams would be on the fringe, while the rest of the conference would be well out of the conversation.

But there are still three weeks left in the regular season, and a lot will certainly change over that time. Here’s how things stand heading into Week 8:

Northmor (7-0) is the lone KMAC team within the playoff picture in this week’s ratings, as the Golden Knights rose from second to first in Division VI Region 23 after a statement road win over East Knox (6-1) last Friday. Northmor traded spots with Paint Valley (7-0), as the Knights now sit less than half of a point ahead of the Bearcats.

Northmor has three wins against opponents with winning records – Worthington Christian (4-3), Lucas (5-2) and East Knox (6-1). The rest of Northmor’s opponents have a combined record of 6-22.

The Knights will likely drop after this week, however, regardless of whether or not they win. A home win over Mount Gilead (0-7) won’t help much in a computer ratings system that values strength of schedule over all else. However, Northmor will face Centerburg (4-3) and Highland (6-1) on the road to round out the regular season, two matchups with major playoff and conference title hunt implications.

Highland (6-1) dropped out of the playoff picture this week in Division IV Region 14, falling from eighth to ninth after beating Fredericktown, 44-7. The Scots sit one points behind Napoleon (8th), which is preceded by Bryan (7th), Kenton (6th) and Orange (5th).

Highland has won six straight after its season-opening loss to Bloom Carroll, 44-22. The Scots have scored 46 points per game during those six games, while giving up just over 10 points per game. They have surrendered just 13 total points over the last three weeks.

The Fighting Scots might slip further this week when they face Cardington-Lincoln (0-7), however. Including Cardington, Highland’s last three opponents have a combined record of 1-20. Because of that, the Scots have fallen from sixth to ninth in Region 23 over the last two weeks. They will have an opportunity to get back into the playoff picture durings weeks 9 and 10, when East Knox (6-1) and Northmor (7-0) come to Fishburn Family Field.

East Knox (6-1) dropped from eighth to 12th in Division VI Region 23 after losing to Northmor (6-1) by one point at home last Friday night. The Bulldogs are nearly two points behind eighth-place Fairbanks (5-2), which has won four straight games. They trail Belpre (11th) and Huntington (10th) by less than two-tenths of a point.

What hurts East Knox is its strength of schedule – or lack thereof. The Bulldogs have one win against a team over .500 this season (Centerburg) and their three non-conference opponents currently hold a combined record of 2-19.

Losing to Northmor last week may not be the end-all for East Knox this season, however. While the Bulldogs won’t get any help in the ratings if they beat Fredericktown (1-6) this week, a win at Highland (6-1) on the road in Week 9 would be a massive boost.

The rest of the KMAC: The conference’s five remaining teams fell outside the playoff picture in this week’s ratings, although one made progress and could potentially have a shot at a playoff berth if all goes right down the stretch. Danville (2-5) rose from 18th to 15th in Division VII Region 27, as the Blue Devils have won two straight after beginning the season 0-5. They will likely need to win their last three games (Centerburg, Mount Gilead and East Knox) to have a shot at a playoff berth, but there’s still hope on Tough Street. Centerburg (4-3) dropped from 16th to 18th in Division VI Region 23 after narrowly beating Mount Gilead, 26-18. Fredericktown (1-6) stayed at 22nd in this week’s Division V Region 19 ratings after falling to Highland by 37 last Friday night. Both of the conference’s winless teams, Cardington-Lincoln (0-7) and Mount Gilead (0-7), remained 24th in Division VII Region 27 and 25th in Division VI Region 23, respectively.

In the OCC: No teams made the playoff cut after a Week 7 that was filled with upsets, although two teams began to emerge as contenders. Ashland (5-2) dropped from eighth to 13th in Division II Region 7 after falling to Mansfield Senior, 26-21. The Arrows now sit nearly three points out of eighth place. West Holmes (5-2) fell from 11th to 15th after losing to Lexington, 34-33. It was the Knights’ second straight loss, as they fell to Wooster by 27 in Week 6. Wooster (5-2) rose from 11th to 10th in Division II Region 7 with a 30-point win over Mount Vernon. The Generals have won four straight and stand alone atop the conference standings. Mansfield Senior (3-4) went from 12th to ninth in Division III Region 10 after beating Ashland on the road last Friday. The Tygers sit two-tenths of a point behind Padua Franciscan for eighth place. Lexington (3-4) rose from 13th to 10th in Division III Region 10 after knocking off West Holmes. Despite starting 0-3, the Minutemen now have realistic shot at a playoff berth. Mount Vernon (2-5) went from 21st to 20th in Division II Region 7 after losing to Wooster last week, while Madison (1-6) dropped from 19th to 21st in Division III Region 10 after falling to St. Charles by 27 on Friday.

The OHSAA will publish computer ratings each week until October 28, following Week 10, when the playoff field is announced. The top eight teams in each region will make the playoffs.

The computer ratings favor strength of schedule and wins over bigger schools, according to the OHSAA’s website. To see the complete ratings list heading into Week 8, click here.

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.