By Jeff Harrison
It’ll be a history-making weekend in Noble County as Caldwell and Shenandoah will be in the OHSAA football playoffs in the same season for the first time.
As the result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which altered the 2020 high school football season – reducing the regular season to six week before the playoffs began this past weekend – all teams were eligible for the postseason although several around the state opted not to participate.
For those who did, rather than the usual computer ratings determining not only the field but the seeds, this time it was the coaches who voted to seed the participating teams in their region.
When the votes were tabulated, Caldwell received the No. 6 seed in Division VII, Region 27 while Shenandoah is the No. 7 seed in Division VI, Region 23. By virtue of being seeded in the top eight in their respective regions, both the Redskins and Zeps not only received first round byes, both will get second round home games meaning Noble County will be a busy place this weekend.
Caldwell (4-2) is set to host No. 11 seed Reedsville Eastern (5-2) at the Noble County Fairgrounds on Friday, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
The game marks a rematch of the season opener between the Redskins and Eagles, with Caldwell a 34-20 winner in that game.
After losing to Shenandoah (14-6) and Fort Frye (26-0), Coach Grant Gaydos’ squad bounced back with three straight wins – Monroe Central (36-33), Sugar Grove Berne Union (18-13), Conotton Valley (34-8).
After falling to the ‘Skins in the opener, Eastern lost to the region’s top team – Glouster Trimble (10-7) – before reeling off consecutive wins against South Gallia (42-8), Waterford (10-8), Belpre (34-7) and Racine Southern (42-0). Eastern then advanced from the first round of the playoffs when its opponent – Portsmouth Sciotoville – withdrew from the tournament.
The Caldwell-Eastern winner will face the winner of No. 3 seed River (4-2) and No. x seed Waterford (4-3) on Friday, Oct. 23rd, with the higher remaining seed as the home team.
This is the 10th playoff appearance for Caldwell. The others were in 1985, ’90, 2005, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’13, ’14 and ’15.
Shenandoah (4-2) will have to wait until Saturday to host Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant (4-2), with kickoff in Sarahsville at 7 p.m.
The Zeps and Hornets aren’t strangers, having met in the first round of the 2017 playoffs with CGD-B pinning a tough 7-6 loss on Shenandoah.
Coach Jesse Well’s Zeps opened with wins over Belpre (48-7) and Caldwell (14-6); lost to Cambridge (35-8) and Barnesville (22-8); and then beat Johnstown Northridge (44-19) and Buckeye Local (16-8 in OT).
Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant – the No. 10 seed in Region 23 – beat Ironton Rock Hill (20-6) in its opener before falling to Proctorville Fairland (27-21) and Ironton (71-0), teams with a combined 11-1 record. After its week four contest with Gallia Academy was canceled, the Hornets have put together three straight wins – Portsmouth (66-63), Chesapeake (42-34) and last week over Columbus Grandview Heights (57-6) in the first round of the playoffs.
The Shenandoah/Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant winner will meet the winner of No. 2 Centerburg (6-0) and No. 18 seed Loudonville (2-5) on Saturday, Oct. 24, with the higher remaining seed as the home team.
This is Shenandoah’s sixth playoff appearance, with the previous trips in 2001, ’02, ’03, ’17 and ’19.