PDT Sports Writer
That will be the amount of time has elapsed since the first meeting this season between Coal Grove (6-3) and Valley (10-0) and their Division V, Region 19 quarterfinal game. In that span of time, both the No. 8 Hornets and No. 1 Indians claimed championships in their respective conferences.
Since their meeting in Week 3, one common denominator has been associated with each program: Winning when they needed. But it’s the style in which Coal Grove has accomplished its feats that has Valley coach Darren Crabtree talking.
“It seems like in the past three or four weeks, they gone back to more of a typical Coal Grove dive football team,” Crabtree said. “We’ve seen less passing, more power running, more unbalanced line-type of offensive sets and just trying to line up to run the ball right at you.”
After the Indians claimed the first meeting 34-18 in Lucasville, the Hornets suffered a 72-20 loss at Columbus Bishop Ready but strung together five-straight wins to claim the OVC crown for a second time in as many seasons. A major contributor to Coal Grove’s success has been the running of Alex Bare.
In last week’s 54-10 win over South Point, Bare had 69 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns and a fumble recovery for a touchdown on defense. He will have share the pigskin with Brandon Hogsten, who had 126 yards and two touchdowns on just seven totes against the Pointers.
“They’re coming in with a lot of confidence,” Crabtree said. “When we watched our film from Week 3, there were some mistakes that we made obviously that we’ve got to correct and there were some things I’m sure they feel like if a couple of plays here would’ve gone their way, it could’ve been a different ball game.”
With last year’s regional final appearance and a No. 1 seed attached to his squad, Crabtree feels his team is ready to carve out its own path.
“It’s a great feeling to know that we’re at home Week 1 of the playoffs, I think the kids are ready to play,” Crabtree said. “I think they realize the two games we had at the end of the season were very difficult wins and have prepared us, we feel like, very well for the playoffs. Opening up with a team that you’ve already defeated once is kind of a double-edged sword.
“It’s nice knowing that you’ve defeated them but it’s always a hard thing of beating a team twice in a season. Right now our kids are very focused on Coal Grove, we’ve watched a lot of film (early in the week).”
The two games leading up to this contest Crabtree was referencing to were the wins over Wheelersburg and Minford to not only give Valley its second-straight SOC II title, but extend its regular season winning streak to 20 games. In those two games, the Indian defense combined to hold their opponents to a combined total of seven points.
“I think the thing we have going for us is that we’ve stepped out on the field for 10-straight weeks, expecting to win and we’ve been able to do that,” Crabtree said. “I think that’s what our mental approach is going to be on Saturday.”
A boost to the lineup for Valley will be the return of Brandon Jordan (lower-body injury) and Kyle Miller (illness). The move allows Hayden Dunn to return back to his tight end position a week after playing offensive guard.
“You’ve got your typical bangs and bruises when you’re going into Week 11 but for the most part, we’re pretty healthy,” Crabtree said. “No matter who’s playing, we’re going to go out there and give everything we have. I”m sure there’s a lot of people playing in Week 11 that are banged up.”
If the Indians are to advance, a possible second round match up and a rematch of last year’s regional final against Bucyrus Wynford could be on the horizon. Last year, the No. 1 Royals — who are the No. 4 seed this season — took a 54-48 nail-biter in overtime. Wynford plays No. 5 Loudonville in its first round game.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com.