The calendar still reads ‘September’, but it’s never too early for the Trimble Tomcats to win a championship.
The Tomcats face one final regular season hurdle, as they host the Waterford Wildcats on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Glouster Memorial Stadium.
Trimble, ranked No. 5 in the Division VII Associated Press poll, is off to a 4-0 start and 3-0 in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division.
The Tomcats started the season with impressive wins at Nelsonville-York (34-28) and Eastern (10-7). Both the Buckeyes and Eagles brought back experienced units, but couldn’t gain any measures of revenge against Trimble.
Since then, the Tomcats have rolled past Belpre and Southern by combined scores of 98-0, the kind of dominance fans have come to expect for Trimble inside the TVC-Hocking.
Waterford enters at 2-2 overall, but 2-1 in the TVC-Hocking. The Wildcats suffered a close 10-8 defeat at home against Eastern last week.
The Tomcats can clinch at least a share of the TVC-Hocking title with a win over Waterford on Friday. Eastern is also 2-1 in league play, and travels to Belpre on Friday.
With a win, Trimble would then be in position to clinch the league title outright in the regular season finale at South Gallia.
Trimble has won the TVC-Hocking the previous two seasons, as Waterford in 2016 and 2017 is the last team other than the Tomcats to claim a league title in the previous seven seasons.
Waterford was unable to get its offense going in the loss to Eastern, as it fell behind 10-0 in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats only had seven first downs and 111 yards of total offense against Eastern, including only 2 yards passing.
Eastern’s Blake Newland rushed for 143 yards on 32 carries against Waterford’s defense.
Conner Ridenour was Waterford’s signal caller, completing just 1 of 4 passes, while Holden Dailey was the Wildcats’ leading rusher with 60 yards.
The Tomcats haven’t missed a beat from last year’s 11-win season thanks in large part to the offensive exploits of juniors Tabor Lackey, Blake Guffey and Bryce Downs.
Lackey has completed 37 of 56 passes for 647 yards, 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He’s also rushed for 197 yards.
Downs has rushed for 268 yards with five touchdowns, catching five passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Guffey has caught 14 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns.
The Tomcats have won 24 TVC-Hocking games in a row, and are remarkably 64-2 in their last 66 league games since a 2012 loss to Wahama.
While the TVC-Hocking could be over after Friday, a jumbled TVC-Ohio race will continue this week.
Athens plans on being back on the field on Friday with a trip to Meigs. Athens’ game last week against Wellston was postponed due to COVID-19 precautions.
Athens is 1-2, but still 1-1 in TVC-Ohio play. Meigs will look to end a two-game slide after a 41-0 loss to Warren. The Marauders are still 2-1 in league play.
The Marauders played without injured star quarterback Coulter Cleland in the loss to Warren. Wyatt Hoover took over the passing duties, completing 5 of 9 passes for 40 yards.
Meigs was able to rush for 155 yards, with Abe Lundy gaining 72 yards.
Meigs hasn’t defeated Athens since the ‘Dogs first year competing in the TVC-Ohio in 2008.
Nelsonville-York (2-2, 2-1 TVC-Ohio) travels to River Valley (0-4, 0-4 TVC-Ohio). The Buckeyes are coming off a dramatic double-overtime win at Vinton County, 17-14, thanks to Alec Taylor’s 28-yard field goal.
Vinton County (2-2, 2-2 TVC-Ohio) hosts Alexander (1-3, 1-2 TVC-Ohio) as the Spartans are coming off their first league win over the Raiders.
Wellston hosted Gallia Academy last week and fell for the first time this season, 19-14. The Rockets are still out of league play this week, hosting unbeaten Fort Frye (4-0).
Wellston still sits at 3-0 in league play as the only undefeated team inside the TVC-Ohio.
After having an open date last weekend, Federal Hocking (1-2) makes the long trip to Manchester on Friday.
The Greyhounds are 1-2 overall, with its win coming over the Georgetown Titans’ club team, 44-12.
Manchester’s only game against an OHSAA team was the opener against Fayetteville, a 55-6 loss.
Regions set for postseason
The OHSAA announced its new regional brackets for the 2020 postseason.
Every team was eligible for the postseason, with 664 schools opting into the playoff brackets. Under normal conditions, 224 teams would have qualified.
Head coaches in each region will vote to seed teams on Sept. 29 and 30, with the brackets being released on Oct. 1. Games will be at hosts schools through the regional finals, and higher seeds could receive first-round byes.
Athens remained in Division III, Region 11. Nelsonville-York remained in Division VI, Region 23, while Trimble remains in Division VII, Region 27.
Alexander and Federal Hocking were among the teams that opted out of the playoffs. River Valley, Southern and South Gallia also decided not to take part in the postseason.
The playoffs begin on Oct. 9 and 10th. Division I, II, III and VII will play on Friday, while Divisions IV, V and VI will compete on Saturday night.
Teams that opted out of the playoffs, or get eliminated early, still have the option to schedule up to 10 regular season games through Saturday, Nov. 14.
Alexander announced a home game against Belpre scheduled for Oct. 16.