Coal Grove finds way into playoffs
HUNTINGTON -- Around 10 p.m. Saturday night, the Coal Grove football team assured itself another outright Ohio Valley Conference championship with a 54-10 victory over South Point.
To qualify for the playoffs, though, the Hornets would need help and they got it. Nelsonville-York also lost Friday night and Danville walloped Howard East Knox, 46-21, Saturday night. Other variables worked in Coal Groves favor and Sunday coaches and players learned they'd climbed to No. 8 in Region 19 and that got them the last spot in the Ohio Division V playoffs.
"We knew it would be a longshot," Coal Grove coach Dave Lucas said. "We told the kids all week to be ready. All the variables worked in our favor. I'm glad to see this group get another shot."
Coal Grove (6-3) will meet No. 1 seed Lucasville Valley (10-0) in a regional quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lucasville Valley. It's a rematch of Week 3 when the Indians beat the Hornets, 34-18, at home.
Five other area Ohio teams made the playoffs.
In Division III, Southeast Ohio Athletic League champion Gallia Academy is No. 4 seed in Region 12 and is home against No. 5 Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas (7-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m.
In Division IV, Ironton is No. 2 seed in Region 15 and home Friday against No. 7 Bloom-Carroll. Game time is 7 p.m.
In Division V, Oak Hill and Wheelersburg also made it in Region 19. No. 2 Oak Hill is home against No. 7 Jeromesville Hillsdale and No. 3 Wheelersburg (8-2) entertains No. 6 Baltimore Liberty Union (8-2). Both games are Saturday at 7 p.m.
In Division VI, Symmes Valley (8-2) is fifth seed in Region 23 and visits No. 4 Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans (7-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Thanks to the Week 3 matchup, Coal Grove has a scouting report on Lucasville Valley. The Indians, who won the Southern Ohio Conference Division II title, rode momentum from Nate Arnett's 52-yard interception return for a score in the second period to victrory.
"We had two turnovers and they got two quick scores," Lucas said. "Other than that, it was fairly event. Our kids know they can play with them."
Coal Grove started the season 1-3, but won its final five games to claim the OVC championship. Lucas, the players, coaches and fans enjoyed the moment, but they want more.
"It's big for us," Lucas said of winning the OVC. "It's something the whole community takes a lot of pride in. We went about business Friday (against South Point)."
While many teams are done for the year, the Hornets live for another week. Lucas has a message for his team prior to the start of practice Monday. It goes: "Aren't you guys glad to get another chance?"
This is Coal Grove's 10th trip to the playoffs overall and third in the past four years. Oak Hill is in for the third time in school history. Wheelersburg is going for the 24th time. This is Ironton's 30th playoff trip and first for new coach Mark Vass. And Symmes Valley has advanced for the fourth straight year and 10th in school history.