After taking a week off, the Trimble Tomcats and Nelsonville-York Buckeyes each return to the field in their playoff openers this weekend.
The Tomcats are the No. 1 seed in the Division VII, Region 27 bracket and host No. 16 Monroe Central at 7 p.m. on Friday inside Glouster Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeyes are the No. 6 seed in Division VI, Region 23 and will host No. 11 Symmes Valley on Saturday at 7 p.m. inside Dave Boston Field.
For the Tomcats, they’ll be looking to extend their streak of consecutive seasons with a playoff victory. That streak stands at eight seasons, as the Tomcats are 16-8 in the postseason since the 2012 season.
Trimble is coming off a perfect 6-0 regular season in which it outscored the competition 222-35, including 178-0 over the last four weeks. The game will mark Trimble’s 11th consecutive season making the postseason, and 17th overall.
The Tomcats face a Monroe Central team that hadn’t made the postseason since 2014. Last week’s 46-6 win over No. 17 Strasburg-Franklin was the program’s first playoff win since 2013. The Seminoles are 7-9 all time in the playoffs, winning a regional title in 2001.
Seniors Alex Kilburn and Malachi Rose-Burton led the way in the win over Strasburg-Franklin. Rose-Burton had 97 yards on eight rushes, adding 119 yards passing on 7 of 12 attempts. Kilburn had 154 yards on 14 carries, while Michael Bunting caught four passes for 66 yards.
Monroe Central, which travels from Woodsfield in Monroe County, is 4-3 on the season. The Seminoles lost to River 28-6, to Caldwell 36-33 and to Buckeye Local 32-14. Their four wins, including the playoff victory, are against teams with combined records of 6-20.
Monroe Central has been dealing with COVID-19 over the past week as well. Head coach Josh Ischy and assistant coach John Ischy, also the school’s athletic director, had to coach the playoff game from their vehicles due to a quarantine situation. According to The Times Leader, both coaches had come in contact with a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
Both coaches are expected to return to regular sideline duties for the game at Trimble.
The winner of Trimble’s game with Monroe Central will advance in the Region 27 bracket to face either No. 8 Beaver Eastern or No. 9 Berne Union.
While the Tomcats will kickoff the playoff weekend, the Buckeyes will hit the turf on Saturday night against Symmes Valley.
The Vikings were a playoff team in Division VII last year, but lost a first-round game to Shadyside.
Now in Division VI, Symmes Valley opened its playoff season last week with a 36-14 win over No. 22 Southeastern. It marked the Vikings’ fourth playoff win in program history, as they are in the postseason for the 13th time overall.
The Buckeyes’ defense will see a double-wing offense from long-time Symmes Valley head coach Rusty Webb.
Symmes Valley ran the ball 41 times for 326 yards against Southeastern. Josh Ferguson led the way with 95 yards on 12 carries. The Vikings didn’t complete a pass in three attempts.
Symmes Valley enters at 5-2, with losses coming to Beaver Eastern (50-22) and Northwest (10-8). The Vikings’ five wins come against teams with a combined 4-26 record. They will make the long trip from Willow Wood in Lawrence County.
The Buckeyes are 4-2 and winners of four in a row. Nelsonville-York has outscored the opposition 146-43 during its win streak.
If Nelsonville-York were to win, the Buckeyes would face either No. 3 Fairland or No. 14 Rock Hill on Oct. 24.
It marks the Buckeyes’ first playoff game since taking on Kirtland in the 2017 Division VI state semifinals. Nelsonville-York is 11-16 in the postseason in 17 previous trips.
The Tomcats and Buckeyes each have a rich playoff tradition. Trimble won regional titles in 2013, 2014 and 2018, advancing to the Division VII state championship games in ‘13 and ‘18.
Nelsonville-York won regional titles in 1981, 1982 and 2017, winning the Division IV state championship in 1981.
The Tomcats and Buckeyes will each look to add another win to their playoff totals this weekend.