Updated Fri, Oct 18, 2013 12:34 pm
With four teams still eligible to win the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title, the next three weeks will separate the bad from the good, and the good from the great.
Over the past four years, three different teams have claimed the SEOAL title, signifying parody among conference programs. This stat lies in stark contrast to the days when teams like Logan ripped off six consecutive conference titles between 2004-2009 and Gallia’s three-year win streak between 2002-2004.
In other words, this is still anybody’s conference to win.
Through seven weeks of play, the SEOAL rankings are as follows: (Teams with asterisks are still eligible to win the conference.)
1. Logan Chieftains* (4-3, 2-0)
2. Gallia Academy Blue Devils* (5-2, 1-0)
3. Jackson Ironmen* (3-4, 1-1)
4. Warren Warriors* (2-5, 0-1)
5. Portsmouth Trojans (2-5, 0-2)
The recent news of Portsmouth’s departure from the conference in 2015 has left doubt in the minds of SEOAL fans. But until then, there is football to be played.
Logan Chieftains (Head coach: Billy Burke)
Remaining schedule: 10/18 @ Zanesville (7-0, 2-0), 10/25 @ Gallia Academy, 11/01 vs. Warren
The positives: The whole squad has bought into coach Burke’s fast-tempo, high-intensity offense. Isaac Schmeltzer, Nick Kost and Bryce McBride have proven to be quite the three-headed running attack with1,380 yards and 15 touchdowns among them. Though the Chieftains have only passed the ball 56 times, an average of eight per contest, Kost has shown improvement with his passing. The senior went 8/10 for 151 yards and two well-thrown touchdown passes in week seven’s crucial matchup against Jackson.
Areas in need of improvement: While Kost has looked more comfortable as the signal caller, Logan is still a run-oriented team. The Chieftain defense has given up at least 21 points in six of its seven games this season; Logan will find itself in a tough spot if Kost needs to pass the ball 15 or more times a game to bring the team back from behind. The team will go as far if it’s defense keeps games close; Logan is 3-0 in games decided by seven points or less.
Gallia Academy Blue Devils (Head coach: Wade Bartholomew)
Remaining schedule: 10/18 vs. Warren, 10/25 vs. Logan, 11/01 @ Jackson
The positives: In Gallia Academy’s six wins this year, the offense has scored between 45 and 63 points. Quarterback Wade Jarrell leads the potent Blue Devil offense, having amassed 2,653 all-purpose yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground and in the air.
What makes Jarrell’s passing game even more threatening is his ability to spread the ball around to multiple receivers. Wes Jarrell, Reid Eastman and Logan Allison have 29, 30 and 46 catches respectively and 1,615 yards and 20 touchdowns among them. Gallia Academy’s strong passing game has spread defenses, allowing Jarrell to hit the holes for big gains on the ground.
Areas in need of improvement: If Wade Jarrell is contained in the backfield, the Gallia Academy’s run game will be limited. Allison is the team’s only other player with at least 200 rushing yards. Last week’s 55-49 win over Portsmouth highlighted some holes in coach Bartholomew’s defense. The first-year head coach emphasized the need to make plays in the open field to slow down opposing defenses. Gallia Academy’s defense does not need to be elite; just efficient enough to finish the job.
Jackson Ironmen (Head coach: Andy Hall)
Remaining schedule: 10/18 vs. Portsmouth, 10/25 vs. McClain, 11/01 vs. Gallia Academy
The positives: Hunter Sexton, Gabe Griffiths and Jake Crabtree have all proven that they can tote the rock under coach Hall’s fast-tempo offense. That offense has shined bright in Jackson’s wins with an average margin of victory of 40 points. Though Sexton is only a sophomore, the Jackson signal caller has shown poise under center, leading the offense to several long drives that wear out opposing defenses. On the defensive side of the ball, the front seven has shown the ability to get after the ball, delivering big hits and forcing turnovers.
Areas in need of improvement: Both of Jackson’s conference matchups have been close games, partially because of the team’s tendency to pick up penalties. Logan quarterback Nick Kost’s game-winning seven-yard touchdown run was set up by a late-hit penalty on Jackson. In addition, the defense has been gashed for several plays of 20-plus yards in their two conference games thus far. Efficient and smart play will be the key to success for the Ironmen.
Warren Warriors (Head coach: Andy Schob)
Remaining schedule: 10/18 @ Gallia Academy, 10/25 vs. Portsmouth, 11/01 @ Logan
The positives: Austin Klintworth has proven to be a viable dual-threat quarterback; the offense has been streaky at times, but Klintworth has made dazzling plays with his arm and legs. Through 7 games, Klintworth racked up 1,205 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns. Warren’s special teams have also played a big part in several games, with Alex Miller delivering booming punts and Cody Wigal being consistent since taking over kicking duties. The special teams were on display against Jackson when they blocked field goal and scored a touchdown on a botched field goal of their own.
Areas in need of improvement: In six of their seven games, the Warriors have given up at least 35 points. The offense is capable of putting up points, but giving up a lot of points will quickly make any offense one-dimensional. In addition, a small roster has made it difficult for the Warriors to stay fresh deep into games with so many players playing both ways. Coach Schob’s squad needs a herculean performance against Gallia Academy to stay alive in the SEOAL.
Portsmouth Trojans (Head coach: Jason Sparks)
Remaining schedule: 10/18 @ Jackson, 10/25 @ Warren, 11/1 vs. Chillicothe (6-1, 3-1)
The positives: Though the Trojans will not claim an SEOAL title, this season’s team has seen improvement, especially on the offensive side of the ball. In four of its seven games, Portsmouth has put up at least 27 points – the Trojans only did so once in 2012 against Ironton. In their previous two conference matchups against Logan and Gallia Academy, the Trojans put up a combined 28 points in the fourth quarter, showing resiliency and the will to play until the clock hits 0:00.
Areas in need of improvement: The defense has given up an average of 37.3 points per game, and SEOAL offenses won’t be getting any slower. The switch to the Ohio Valley Conference will make Portsmouth more competitive because for the most part, the team doesn’t have the athletes needed to keep up with other conference foes.