Centerburg at Cardington, 7 p.m.
Centerburg (5-3, 3-2) played shutout defense for the first half last Friday to hand Highland a 21-7 loss. The Trojans ran 76 plays to the Scots’ 53, rushing 49 times for 234 yards, with Donnell Marshall again gaining over 100 yards (18-129, one TD). The running game also got good contributions from Tyler Johnson (12-51) and Trey Kendrick (8-41), although Jack Gregory and Johnson combined for just 12 of 27 passing for 120 yards. The defense allowed 175 rushing yards, but gave up only one first down on 13 third-down tries, and held Highland QB Kadin Johnson to 25 yards on 3-of-14 passing. The score may have been higher if not for 12 penalties for 120 yards.
Cardington (1-7, 1-4) could stop neither the run nor the pass in Week 8, as East Knox gathered 555 total yards in winning, 65-20. The Pirates trailed 58-7 through three quarters, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Bulldogs’ reserves. Cardington’s final numbers looked good, with 29 carries for 144 yards, but 86 of them were on two late Ayden Plowman touchdowns. That left the Pirates gaining just 2.0 yards on every other carry. QB Nathan Hickman was 8 of 20 for 93 yard, but threw two interceptions. Plowman showed enough to get more carries this week, and the team needs for Hickman and WR Trey Brininger to take heat off the rushing game.
Danville at Highland, 7 p.m.
Danville (2-6, 2-3) gave up over 330 yards and faced a an uphill battle with a second-half running game clock in losing to Northmor, 37-7, in Week 8. The Blue Devils ran better than the Knights, taking 33 rushes for 128 yards, but QB Charlie Cook was held to 5 of 11 passing for 93 yards. Cook tossed a 65-yard TD to Nick O’Dell, but his interception in the second quarter was returned for a Northmor touchdown. RB Alex Holt was injured, and Cook and Langdon Johnson (6-30) made up some of the slack, but that took away some of Johnson’s effectiveness as a receiver. Danville showed some ability to push at the line, which should come in handy against Highland.
Highland (3-5, 3-2) ran well on Friday, but a limited passing game and a porous rushing defense allowed Centerburg to earn a 21-7 victory. Jack Weaver ran for 98 yards on 20 carries (4.9 avg.), and QB Kadin Johnson ran for more yards (64) than he made passing (25). Johnson was only 3 of 14 for the game, with only one pass over 10 yards. The Scots’ defensive line had trouble with the Trojans’ offensive front, as Centerburg’s 234 yards on 49 carries and 21 first downs helped them control the ball for most of the game. The battle in the trenches will be one to watch, and the team whose line controls the tempo and moves the ball will emerge on top.
East Knox at Mount Gilead, 7 p.m.
East Knox (8-0, 5-0) clinched its first playoff berth since 2005 in Week 8, averaging 12.3 yards per play and 555 yards in all in blasting Cardington, 65-20. The Bulldogs ran 31 times for 313 yards (10.1 avg.), and QB Kadden Lester completed 11 of 14 passes for 242 yards (22.0 avg.). RB Caleb Gallwitz scored six TDs, two receiving, rushing 192 yards on 18 carries, and Gage Steinmetz caught five passes for 112 yards. Lester had TD throws of 28, 16, 30 and 57 yards. Despite the big day, East Knox fell from first to third in the Division VI Region 22 computer rankings, getting few secondary points from Cardington, but would clinch a share of the KMAC championship with a win.
Mount Gilead (3-5, 2-3) won its third game of the season Friday after two seasons of winless ball, defeating Fredericktown, 34-6. The game was close for the first quarter, with the Indians up 7-6, but a 14-point second period gave Mount Gilead a two-score advantage, 21-6. The Indians added two more touchdowns in each of the final two quarters. The 34 points put up was the team’s second-highest total since a Week 3 win at Elgin, and the team has scored at least two touchdowns in all but two games. The Indians have been shut out only once this season, but matching its four-win total from 2016 will be a tough proposition this week against East Knox.
Utica at Northridge, 7 p.m.
Utica (0-8, 0-3) stopped a streak of four games with one touchdown or less, but still lost to Johnstown on Friday, 56-18. The Redskins have played a tough schedule, with three currently undefeated teams and one 7-1 team in its rear-view mirror. Northridge is only the third team with a losing record Utica has faced, and the Johnnies went to .500 by beating the Redskins. The defense has been the major problem, allowing 42 or more points every week, with opponents scoring over 50 points in six of the eight games. Northridge is not known for scoring a lot of points, but with a great running back in Dylon Parman, that could easily change this week.
Northridge (1-7, 0-3) gave up nearly 300 yards rushing and over 150 passing in falling to undefeated Heath, 48-14, last Friday. The Vikings gave up 10 of 13 passing for 159 yards and three TDs to Bulldogs’ QB Austin Morrow, and Heath RB Xavier Puryear rushed 15 times for 149 yards and four scores. Northridge gained 263 yards on the ground, but on 52 carries. Dylon Parman did not score despite running 32 times for 190 yards, as J.D. Miller ran in for both of the team’s scores. QB Travis Neumeyer was a non-factor, going 1 of 2 for 5 yards. Parman will face a weaker defense this week in winless Utica, and could very well pile up over 200 yards.
Fredericktown at Northmor, 7 p.m.
Fredericktown (1-7, 0-5) had another offensive letdown in Week 8, scoring a single touchdown in falling to Mount Gilead, 34-6. In all but its Week 3 victory over Utica, the Freddies have scored one touchdown in five games and shut out twice. The team’s biggest problem is a line that had difficulty opening holes for its running backs and protecting QB Terry Fearn, who has the lowest passer rating in the area. If the Freddies cannot protect better, the Northmor pass rush, led by Blake Miller and Hunter Brookover, will have a field day. And the Knights’ offense could be even more invigorated if Conor Becker can return to full strength in his second game back.
Northmor (7-1, 4-1) put up more big passing numbers last Friday, going over 250 yards for the second game in a row in defeating Danville, 37-7. QB Hunter Mariotti was responsible for 80 percent of the Golden Knights’ offense, going 19 of 22 for 252 yards and rushing for 14 yards. The Blue Devils hampered the running game, but Mariotti’s passing got them in close enough for two rushing scores. The defense also played well except for being burned on a 65-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Having already earned a playoff berth for the second year in a row, Northmor can clinch second place in the KMAC with a win over Fredericktown this week.