By Jeff Harrison
New season….new coaches….fans back in the stands…more playoff games.
The countdown to kickoff for the 2021 high school football season is on, and both Noble County schools are rarin’ to go.
It’s now less than a month until the season begins, with Shenandoah getting the honors of going first thanks to a special edition of “Thursday Night Football.” The Zeps will debut under new coach Johnny Jones on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Newcomerstown while the Redskins and first-year coach Chance Rucker open on day later, hosting Buckeye Trail on Friday, Aug. 20.
The 2021 schedules feature some changes for both schools, due in part to some changes in 2020 resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teams Shenandoah played in the regular season last year that aren’t on this year’s schedule include Belpre, Cambridge and Buckeye Trail and new faces on the docket this fall are Newcomerstown, Shadyside, Southern Local, Union Local and Waterford.
For Caldwell, eight of the 10 regular season opponents were played last year, with the new additions being Strasburg and Buckeye Local.
CHS finished 6-3 and SHS was 4-4 overall last season, with both teams falling in their playoff openers – Caldwell to Eastern (26-14) and Shenandoah to Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant (41-38).
Of course, the regular season ends with the annual “Noble County Super Bowl” on Friday, Oct. 22, this year with Caldwell hosting at the Noble County Fairgrounds. Last year, that game was moved to Week 2 with the Zeps prevailing by a 14-6 score for the third year in a row.
Scrimmages will take place from Aug. 6-14.
The Zeps will have only one scrimmage – Friday, Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at River.
The Redskins will be at Union Local on Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. and at home against Southern Local on Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.
The OHSAA’s expanded playoffs – featuring 16 teams in each region – will begin the weekend of Oct. 29-30 with first-round games followed by Regional Quarterfinals (Nov. 5-6), Regional Semifinals (Nov. 12-13), Regional Finals (Nov. 19-20), State Semifinals (Nov. 26-27) and State Championships (Dec. 2-4).
Thursday, Aug. 19 – at Newcomerstown, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 27 – Shadyside, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 3 – Southern Local, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10 – at Johnstown Northridge, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 17 – Union Local, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24 – Buckeye Local, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 1 – at Monroe Central, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 8 – at Waterford, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 15 – Barnesville, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 22 – at Caldwell, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 20 – Buckeye Trail, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 27 – Berne Union, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 3 – at Strasburg, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10 – Monroe Central, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 17 – at Eastern, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24 – Conotton Valley, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 1 – at Buckeye Local, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 8 – at Fort Frye, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 15 – at Waterford, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 22 – Shenandoah, 7 p.m.