WILLOW WOOD, Ohio — Symmes Valley and Nelsonville-York spent many years two divisions apart in the Ohio High School Athletic Association football classifications.
At 7 p.m., Saturday, however, the Vikings (5-2) and Buckeyes (4-2) will meet at Dave Boston Field in Nelsonville, Ohio, in the Division VI, Region 23 playoffs. The contest figures to be a challenge for Symmes Valley, which moved up from Division VII, more than for Nelsonville-York, which dropped from Division V.
The squads are vastly different. The Vikings run the ground-based Wing-T. The Buckeyes the air-dependent spread. Symmes Valley coach Rusty Webb said schemes don’t matter as much as execution.
The Vikings rely on deception, with fakes being as good as blocks. Quarterback Luke Leith has gained 542 yards and scored seven touchdowns on 69 carries. Josh Ferguson has carried 56 times for 489 yards and six TDs. Ethan Patterson has 415 yards and four touchdowns on 48 attempts.
Senior quarterback Drew Carter leads Nelsonville-York. Carter has completed 78 of 130 passes for 1,145 yards and nine touchdowns, with eight interceptions. Ethan Gail, who has 27 receptions for 366 yards and three touchdowns, is Carter’s primary target. Kobi Bennington leads the Buckeyes in rushing with 216 yards on 46 carries.
Nelsonville-York, seeded sixth, received a bye in the opening round of the postseason. The Buckeyes opened with losses to a pair of strong teams, falling 34-28 to Trimble, then 24-12 to Wellston. Since then, the Buckeyes have reeled off victories over Meigs (42-16), Vinton County (17-14), River Valley (51-7) and Athens (36-6).
Symmes Valley, the 11th seed, is coming off a 36-14 victory over Southeastern in the first round of the playoffs. The Vikings clobbered South Gallia 41-6 and Green 51-0 to open the season, then lost 50-20 to Eastern-Pike. Symmes Valley bounced back with a 34-6 triumph over Sciotoville East and a 24-16 come-from-behind win over Portsmouth Notre Dame before falling to Northwest 10-8 in the regular-season finale.
The winner of Saturday’s game advances to play the victor from No. 14 Rock Hill (3-4) at No. 3 Fairland (5-1). If the Redmen pull the upset, they would travel to the winner of the Symmes Valley/Nelsonville-York game. If Fairland wins, the Dragons will play host to the Vikings or Buckeyes.