HUNTINGTON — On Sept. 25, 2015, South Point defeated Fairland 32-8 in high school football.
Since then, the Pointers have gone 3-45 overall, 0-35 in Ohio Valley Conference play and have lost to the Dragons four years in a row, being outscored 26-20, 33-0, 50-20 and 47-13.
Fairland, meanwhile, is on the verge of its fourth straight winning season, has been to the playoffs, and is tied with Ironton atop the OVC standings.
The teams meet again at 7 p.m. Friday at Jim Mayo Memorial Stadium. The Dragons are 3-0, having beaten Chesapeake 28-13, Coal Grove 27-21 and Portsmouth 34-6. The Pointers enter 0-3, with losses to Gallia Academy (41-0), Portsmouth (31-14) and Chesapeake (42-0).
Fairland coach Melvin Cunningham, however, said the distant past has little, if anything, to do with this week’s game. The recent past, however, could. He wasn’t pleased with how his team played at Portsmouth. The Dragons missed several scoring opportunities and won despite being intercepted four times.
“We turned the ball over too much,” Cunningham said. “(Quarterback Max Ward) was not content with his performance. I wasn’t content with his performance. The thing I like about him is the difference between this year and last year — last year if he had a first half like that he wouldn’t have come back from it. He showed some maturity (Friday) and we’re trying to improve one game, one week at a time. I’m proud of the maturity he showed. He accepted criticism, accepted coaching and played much better the second half.”
Ward has completed 34 of 55 passes for 588 yards and seven touchdowns, with four interceptions this season. Gavin Hunt has 15 catches for 322 yards. Steeler Leep has caught four balls for 120 yards. J.D Brumfield is the leading rusher, with 198 yards on 26 carries.
All the points scored given up by Fairland this season have come in the second half of games. The Dragons have pitched first-half shutouts while building big leads. Last week, Portsmouth scored in the final seconds to avoid a shutout. Cunningham said he was pleased with his team’s defense, which forced seven punts in the first half alone.
“Our defense carried us,” Cunningham said. “We feel if we can get six turnovers, three-and-outs or fourth-down stops combined, we can win. We did, and we needed it because offensively we just didn’t play well.”