In the weeks leading up to last Saturday’s game with the Kentucky Warriors, the Southern Ohio Spartans seemed to be on a roll. They were riding a small winning streak, and coming off a big 22-20 victory against the River City Bulldogs. Now, they’re smarting after a 34-9 beat down at the hands of their cross-town rivals.
“One week we look good, the next week we’re a totally different team and we look terrible,” Spartans owner Jojo Parker said. “We have kind of a Jeckyll and Hyde thing going on. We’re not really sure what we’re going to get week to week.”
Luckily, the Spartans (4-4) will have a chance to catch their breath against the struggling Carter County Wildcats (1-7). Earlier in the year, Southern Ohio defeated the Wildcats by a score of 40-6.
Always looking for an opportunity to help his team improve, Parker hopes the Spartans can establish a power running game in this weekend’s match up, something Southern Ohio hasn’t had this season.
“We’re approaching this week as smash-mouth, and we’re going to predominantly run the ball,” Parker said. “We’re looking for a lot of other people that haven’t been involved in the run game to get touches.”
They’ll have to establish smash-mouth football without the help of running back Jonathon Estes, who was injured in last weekend’s game. He’ll miss the remainder of the season with bruised ribs and an issue with his wind pipe. As they will be playing on the road, the Spartans will also be missing a number of starters due to work obligations.
At 4-4, the Spartans find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt. Locked in a tie with the Cincinnati Xtreme, Southern Ohio will be keeping a close eye on Cincinanti’s match up with the Warriors this Saturday. But ultimately, the Spartans will need to win out if they want to grab the eighth and final seed in the Northern Frontier Football League playoffs.
“Win out. That’s it. I don’t want it to come down to points,” Parker said.
And while Carter County is in the midst of a rough season, it doesn’t mean they can’t come out and surprise the Spartans.
“I expect them to come out and play four quarters, regardless of what the score is. That’s what they’ve done all season,” Parker said. “If they get beat up one week, the come back the next week and they still come out and play hard.
“Just because they’re 1-7 doesn’t mean they’re a pushover.”
Alex Hider can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter