Corbin Hazen

Danville receiver Corbin Hazen runs for a touchdown during the first half of his team's 42-0 win over Centerburg. Hazen was selected a third-team All-Ohio receiver.

MOUNT VERNON – While Northmor is still the only KMAC team in the playoff picture in this week’s OHSAA computer ratings, two Knox County teams crept closer after a productive Week 8.

Meanwhile, two OCC teams broke into the playoff picture this week, while several others positioned themselves to have a chance at a postseason bid down the stretch.

With just two weeks left in the regular season, here’s how things stand:

Northmor (8-0) dropped from first to second in Division VI Region 23 in this week’s computer ratings, as the Knights once again traded places with Paint Valley for first. The Bearcats took care of Southeastern (6-2) while Northmor beat Mount Gilead (0-8) on Friday, which led to Paint Valley reclaiming the region’s top spot. The Golden Knights are just fractions of a point ahead of Shadyside, which sits in third place.

Aside from the one-point win at East Knox, Northmor has won by an average of 24.7 points per game this season. The Knights have defeated four teams with .500 records or better, including playoff-bound Lucas (6-2) by 20.

They will have an opportunity to reclaim first place in the region by winning their last two regular season games – at Centerburg (4-4) and at Highland (7-1).

Highland (7-1) fell from ninth to 10th in Division IV Region 14 this week, marking the third straight week the Scots have dropped in the ratings despite winning in blowout fashion. Highland was ranked sixth in the region heading into Week 6.

The Scots have dropped because their last three opponents – Mount Gilead, Fredericktown and Cardington-Lincoln – hold a current combined record of 1-23. Even though Highland has outscored those opponents by a combined score of 143-14, those wins haven't helped them in a computer ratings system that favors strength of schedule over all else.

The Scots will have an opportunity to climb back into the playoff picture over the next two weeks, when they host East Knox (7-1) and Northmor (8-0) to conclude the regular season.

East Knox (7-1) rose from 12th to 11th in Division VI Region 23 this week, although the Bulldogs are still over two points away from eighth place with two weeks left to play. They beat Fredericktown (1-7) last Friday, 54-7.

The Bulldogs have been plagued by a weak schedule this season, as their three non-conference opponents have a current combined record of 2-22. They are 1-1 against teams .500 or better, as they beat Centerburg (4-4) but lost to Northmor (8-0).

East Knox will likely need to win one – if not both – of its final two regular season games to qualify for the playoffs. The Bulldogs head to Marengo on Friday to take on Highland (7-1) and will come home to face upstart Danville (3-5) in Week 10.

Danville (3-5) has quietly crept into the playoff conversation after beginning the season 0-5. The Blue Devils won their third straight game on Friday, as they shut out Centerburg, 42-0. They jumped from 15th to 11th in Division VII Region 27 this week, although they still sit over two points away from eighth place.

Unlike many of the other top schools in the KMAC, Danville has benefited from its strength of schedule this season. The Blue Devils’ first five losses came against opponents with a current combined record of 35-5. They lost close games to Tiffin Calvert (7-1) and Garaway (7-1), and scored 27 points on Highland, the second-most points the Scots have given up in a game this season.

Danville will still likely need to win its last two games to make it into the playoffs. The Blue Devils host Mount Gilead (0-8) this week before heading to East Knox (7-1) in what should be a big-time Week 10 showdown.

The rest of the KMAC: While Centerburg (4-4) has not been considered “mathematically eliminated” from playoff contention yet by Joe Eitel’s unofficial ratings, the Trojans did drop from 18th to 20th in Division VI Region 23 this week, making their chances of qualifying highly unlikely. They will host Northmor (8-0) this week and cross-town rival Fredericktown (1-7) in Week 10. Meanwhile, the conference’s bottom three teams – Fredericktown (1-7), Cardington-Lincoln (0-8) and Mount Gilead (0-8) – were all mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after losing last week. Fredericktown is rated 22nd in Division V Region 19, while Cardington-Lincoln (0-8) and Mount Gilead (0-8) are rated 24th in Division VII Region 27 and 25th in Division VI Region 23, respectively.

In the OCC: Two teams broke into the playoff picture in this week’s computer ratings.

Wooster (6-2) leapt from 10th to eighth in Division II Region 7, as the league-leading Generals sit fractions of a point ahead of Medina Highland for the final playoff spot. Wooster won its fifth straight game on Friday, as the Generals beat Mansfield Senior (3-5) by a score of 27-7. After beginning the season 1-2, the Generals now have a serious shot at making the playoffs. They will face Firestone (2-6) and Ashland (5-3) to round out the regular season.

Lexington (4-4) rose from 10th to sixth in Division III Region 10 after knocking off Ashland on the road, 43-36. The Minutemen began the season 0-3, but now find themselves in the playoff picture with two weeks left to play. They currently sit over two points ahead of seventh-place Rocky River and fractions of a point behind fifth-place Sandusky. Lexington has defeated two of the conference’s early front-runners – West Holmes and Ashland – by a combined eight points over the last two weeks. The Minutemen will play Madison (1-7) and Canton South (2-6) to finish the regular season.

West Holmes (6-2) crept closer to playoff contention this week by beating non-conference foe West Branch (6-2), 30-8. The Knights jumped from 15th to 11th in Division III Region 9 and sit less than two points out of eighth place. They will host Ashland (5-3) this week before heading to Mount Vernon (3-5) for their regular season finale.

Mansfield Senior (3-5) dropped from ninth to 12th in Division III Region 10 this week after falling to Wooster. The Tygers are over two points out of eighth place. They will face Mount Vernon (3-5) and cross-town rival Madison (1-7) to round out the regular season.

Ashland (5-3) dropped again this week, this time from 13th to 16th in Division II Region 7 ratings. The Arrows lost their second straight home game to a team with an inferior record, as they fell to Mansfield Senior (3-5) in Week 7 and Lexington (4-4) last Friday. The Arrows lost both games by a combined 12 points. They still have a chance to climb back into playoff contention over the last two weeks of the season, however, when they face West Holmes (6-2) and Wooster (6-2) on the road.

Mount Vernon (3-5) and Madison (1-7), which played each other last week (Mount Vernon won, 41-6), were both mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in Joe Eitel’s unofficial ratings this week. Mount Vernon’s best win so far came in Week 3 against Buckeye Valley (4-4), while Madison’s only victory came at the hands of winless North. Mount Vernon will round out its regular season schedule with a road contest at Mansfield Senior (3-5) this week and a home game against West Holmes (6-2) in Week 10. Madison will close with Lexington (4-4) this week and Mansfield Senior (3-5) in the finale.

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 9, 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.