GLOUSTER — The Tomcats just won a game a week ahead of schedule.
Though the calendar shows it’s only week 7 of the high school football season, Trimble already knows it will win the week 8 game — at league rival Federal Hocking. The Lancers (1-5) are cancelling the rest of their games this season citing a shortage of players.
Trimble (6-0, 4-0 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division) learned of the Federal Hocking’s decision early this week. The Tomcats, as of right now, won’t have an opponent in week 8.
Trimble head coach Phil Faires said he wouldn’t be opposed to finding a replacement for the Lancers on the schedule, but knows that would be a tough task. Only a handful of teams across the state are likely to have an open date at this point in the year.
Faires didn’t rule out a makeup game entirely, but acknowledged the Tomcats simply missing playing a game that particular week is the much more likely scenario.
“We’ve heard a couple of things, about a couple of teams out there, and we might be open to something,” Faires said. “But nothing ridiculous.”
Complicating matters for Trimble is its standing in the OHSAA Computer Point regionals standings. The Tomcats will head into this weekend at second in the region — in Division VI, Region 21 — behind Fort Frye. Will the Lancers canceling the game affect how Trimble’s computer points are tallied?
Faires said he’s been told that won’t be the case.
“Everything that I’ve heard is that the game will count, it’ll just go down as a 1-0 forfeit win,” Faires said. “The divisor won’t be changed.”
The divisor is the number used to help calculate the computer point average for teams in a region. If you play 10 games, you take all the level two computer points you’ve earned and divide by 10. In Trimble’s case, it could be a huge difference if the Tomcats’ computer points are divided by 10 (the number of games scheduled) or nine (the number of games actually played with the Federal Hocking forfeit).
But if the divisor won’t be changed, there’s less incentive for Trimble to go out and find a replacement game for week eight.
“It’s not completely decided yet, but it just feels like we’ll have that week off and pick it up from there,” Faires said.
Long-time TVC rivals, Trimble and Federal Hocking have been yearly opponents on each other’s schedule for decades. The Tomcats have won 12 in a row in the series. The Lancers haven’t won a league game in four straight seasons, assuming the rest of this year’s games are cancelled.
Faires has been aware of the low numbers of the Lancers’ roster for a few weeks. The news this week wasn’t a complete surprise.
“We’ve been thinking this could happen,” Faires said.
First things first
But the Federal Hocking game is a week eight issue. The Tomcats, meanwhile, will host old rival Miller (2-4, 0-4 TVC-Hocking) at Glouster Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Like most other Hocking Division opponents, Trimble has enjoyed an extended run of success against their neighbors from Perry County. The Tomcats have beaten the Falcons in 18 straight meetings, with Miller’s last win coming in 2000.
The difference this time around is it appears this meeting will be the last in the foreseeable future with the teams both playing the same league. Before the season, Miller accepted a bid to join the Mid-State League and 2019-20 is expected to be the Falcons’ last in the TVC.
The Falcons won’t be gone from Trimble’s schedule, however.
“We’ve talked about that some,” Faires said. “I think probably about in every sport we’d still play, it’d just be as a non-league game now.”
Trimble has four games, well three now, remaining, and just one opponent — Southern at 5-1 in week 9 — has a winning record. The Tomcats are in a position of strength in the regional computer point standings, and checked in at No. 4 in the Associated Press Division VI Top 10 poll this week.
The Tomcats have won 17 straight TVC Hocking games, 11 straight regular-season games, and boast an obscene 245-6 scoring edge against the opposition in 2019. If Trimble closes the season strong against the weaker part of its schedule, the Tomcats are looking at an undefeated season and a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re not overlooking anyone,” Faires insisted.
The Falcons opened the year with a 28-25 home win over Beallsville, but then suffered four straight league losses to Wahama (24-20), Belpre (42-7), Southern (39-18) and Waterford (46-7). The Tomcats shut out both Belpre and Waterford by a combined 83-0 score.
Miller will lean on senior quarterback Colby Bartley in its hopes of a monster-sized upset. The returning starter has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, and leads the Falcons with 421 rushing yards and four more scores.
— QB Cameron Kittle threw a season-high 13 times, with eight completions for 168 yards, in Trimble’s 37-0 win at Waterford last week. Kittle has thrown for 522 yards, rushed for 391 and accounted for 12 total touchdowns. “We had to ice his arm down after that,” Faires joked.
— RB Conner Wright sits at 1,022 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns after six games. His chances at a 2,000-yard season, however, were likely not helped by the Federal Hocking decision. He’s had 100-yard games in five of six games this season, and had 100 or more yards in 13 of 15 games a year ago — a combined run of 18 of 21.
— Trimble has five shutouts in six games this season. The Tomcats need four more to match last year’s school record of nine, and need five more to tie the state record of 10.