A crazy season is about to get even crazier, and most of it revolves around the River Valley football program.
The Raiders are on the verge of securing their first-ever playoff appearance, and the Silver and Black also have a big say in South Gallia’s postseason chances as the regular season comes to an end this weekend with Week 10 finales throughout the Buckeye State.
Headed into Friday night’s contests, half of the Ohio Valley Publishing area is still in contention for an OHSAA playoff berth. Southern (3-6) and Eastern (2-7) have both been eliminated from the postseason chase before their annual bout Saturday night in Racine, while Gallia Academy (1-8) will be making its season finale Friday night at Jackson.
That leaves RVHS, the Rebels and Meigs all still clinging to some shred of hope headed into the final week of October. Both Gallia County programs, however, have a more realistic chance of being under the lights in Week 11.
River Valley (7-2) has continued its season-long trend of breaking down barriers, which has the Raiders within four quarters of being guaranteed a spot in the program’s first postseason game. Since opening its consolidated doors in the fall of 1992, the Silver and Black had never won more than six games in a year nor posted a winning record since 2003.
RVHS enters Friday night ranked seventh in the Division V, Region 17 bracket and is assured a playoff spot with a win at Shadyside. In all reality, the Raiders will also advance to their first-ever postseason with a loss — unless an extreme number of improbabilities become a reality.
Wheelersburg (9-0), Zane Trace (9-0), Alexander (8-1), West Lafayette (8-1) and Cadiz (7-2) have already secured playoff berths in Region 17, leaving only three spots available entering the final week. Rock Hill (5-3) is currently ahead of RVHS in the rankings, while Coshocton (6-3) and Ironton (5-4) hold the eight and nine spots.
Oak Hill (5-4), Northwest (6-3), Portsmouth West (4-5) and Minford (4-5) are still mathematically alive in Region 17, but the final three spots are likely to go through RVHS, Rock Hill, Ironton and Coshocton. RHHS travels to Fairland (0-9), IHS is at South Point (2-7) and CHS travels to River View (1-8) in their respective finales.
The other element working either for or against River Valley this weekend will be secondary points. The Raiders will get points regardless of who wins the Athens-NYHS and Wellston-VCHS contests since they have wins over all four programs this year, but the Silver and Black could get a bigger boost if either Gallia Academy or Eastern posted season-ending victories.
The Raiders have a very slim chance of hosting a playoff game, so they are looking at road trip if they qualify for the postseason. But more than likely, the Silver and Black will have a football game somewhere in Week 11.
A wild Week 9 allowed South Gallia to get back into the Division VII, Region 25 postseason discussion, thanks in large part to Wahama’s shocking upset of Miller and the Rebels’ big victory over Southern.
SGHS (5-4) is currently 10th in the Region 25 bracket, but the Red and Gold can get into one of the top-eight spots with a win and a little bit of outside help. And this is where River Valley once again comes into play with the local postseason puzzle.
The Rebels travel to Miller (6-3) for their TVC Hocking finale, and the Falcons are currently holding the eighth and final spot in the Region 25 rankings. A South Gallia victory allows the Rebels to overtake MHS for at least the eight spot, as long as two other key things come to fruition.
SGHS needs Fisher Catholic (6-3) — currently rated ninth, just ahead of South Gallia — to lose to visiting Whitehall-Yearling (5-4), then it needs RVHS to defeat Shadyside (3-6). A Raider loss likely allows Shadyside — currently 11th in Region 25 — to jump ahead of both the Rebels and Falcons for the final playoff spot.
Danville (9-0), Trimble (7-2) and Caldwell (8-1) have already secured postseason berths in Region 25, while Harvest Prep (7-2), Belpre (7-2) and Symmes Valley (6-3) are assured spots with wins this weekend. Sciotoville East (5-4) currently sits seventh and is also likely in with a victory, but a loss could open up a second spot for SGHS to contend for.
The Rebels — who appeared in the 2005, 2006 and 2011 playoffs — can get an extra boost in points if Federal Hocking (0-9) defeats Trimble, Manchester (1-8) beats Hillcrest (2-6), Waterford (5-4) tops Belpre, and if Southern wins over Eastern.
Meigs (6-3) is the final postseason hopeful in the area this weekend, but the Marauders may ultimately have to settle for hosting Alexander with a chance to share a league championship. MHS enters Friday night ranked 13th overall in Division IV, Region 14, which leaves the Maroon and Gold as the lowest rated team left alive in that region.
Essentially, Meigs has to beat Alexander and also needs a ton of help. The Marauders, just from a secondary points standpoint alone, need GAHS to beat Jackson, RVHS to beat Shadyside, Amanda Clearcreek (2-7) to defeat Liberty Union (1-8) and NYHS to beat Athens. MHS will get points either way from the Wellston-VCHS winner, but a Rockets’ victory would be more beneficial.
After all of those things, Meigs would also need losses by Hamilton Badin (7-2) to McNicholas (4-5), Monroe (5-4) to Preble Shawnee (3-6), Oakwood (5-4) to Bellbrook (4-5), and Logan Elm (6-3) to Teays Valley (7-2) just to have a possibility of sneaking into the eight spot.
Bishop Fenwick (9-0), Clarksville (8-1), Indian Hill (9-0), Kettering Alter (8-1) and Reading (9-0) have already secure Region 14 playoff spots, while Badin, Wyoming (7-2) and Taft (6-2) currently holding the six through eight positions. Monroe, Oakwood and Logan Elm are currently ranked ninth through 11th, leaving seven schools in all to bid for three playoff openings.
Coincidentally, the Marauders — who appeared in the 2008 playoffs — handed River Valley its first loss of the 2015 campaign during a 26-21 decision in Week 5 at Bidwell.
River Valley is the only Ohio football program in either Gallia or Meigs counties to never appear in a playoff game. Southern was the last OVP team to make the Ohio playoffs, doing so in 2013.
Jackson, Lucasville Valley, Paint Valley, Wheelersburg, Zane Trace, Alexander and Trimble have already secured playoff berths for southeastern Ohio in their respective divisions and regions.
The official OHSAA postseason pairings will be released early Sunday morning on the web at ohsaa.org
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.