It’s Week 9 of the high school football season. That means league title hopes and playoff positioning is ratcheted up among the area’s best teams.
That includes Xenia. If that doesn’t sound familiar as the regular season winds down, it’s because it’s a first for the Buccaneers in a long time. Xenia hasn’t contended this deep into the season for a league title since Earl Knight was barking on the Bucs’ sideline in the late 1960s.
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“We’re going to play a really big football game against a really good team and we have a chance to do something special on two levels,” said Xenia coach Trace Smitherman when Troy (7-1) visits Xenia (7-1) on Friday night in what will decide the mythical Miami Valley League overall champion.
“It gives me goosebumps to even think about it, what we’ve been able to do in such a short period of time and get these guys where they’re playing solid football. It’s been fantastic.”
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Both these teams have separated from other MVL contenders. Troy (6-0) can clinch a Miami Division title by winning and has a Week 10 showdown with visiting rival Piqua (4-4, 4-2). Xenia already has secured an MVL Valley Division title and is at rival Fairborn (3-5, 2-4) in Week 10. Troy edged Fairborn 9-7 last week.
Whichever team wins – Xenia or Troy – will clinch a playoff spot. The Trojans are currently No. 3 in Division II, Region 7. That would be Troy’s 15th appearance in the postseason and fourth straight.
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Xenia is No. 7 in D-II, Region 8. Unlike Troy, Xenia is one of the few area programs that has not participated in the postseason since the playoffs began way back in 1972. Xenia was 7-3 last season and couldn’t join the qualifying eight in D-II, Region 8, finishing 13th.
The last time Xenia legitimately contended for the postseason was its 8-2 team in 2001. Xenia lost only to Wayne and Northmont that season and finished No. 10 in D-I, Region 3.
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“We have not talked about the playoffs,” said Smitherman, whose Bucs lost only 21-20 to Beavercreek in the season opener. “We talk about trying to get better every day. That’s a piece that we’re starting to see at practice that has helped us get to where we are. We’re so happy about the opportunity.”
Here are other playoff opportunities at stake for area teams:
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• Greater Western Ohio Conference: Springfield (7-1) and Springboro (7-1) are playoff bound. Springfield can secure an outright GWOC American title by winning at Wayne (3-5) and has clinched a D-I, Region 2 playoff spot. Springboro is No. 5 in D-I, Region 2 and hosts Trotwood-Madison (7-1). That winner will secure a first-round playoff game, with Trotwood anchored in D-III, Region 12.
Northmont (4-4) and Centerville (4-4) are 8-9 in D-I, Region 2. The Thunderbolts host the Elks on Friday. Wayne, No. 11 in Region 2, would zoom into playoff contention by beating Springfield.
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• Miami Valley League: Piqua, currently No. 9, must sweep Tippecanoe and Troy for a D-II, Region 7 playoff spot.
• Greater Catholic League Co-Ed: Chaminade Julienne (7-1) is the only D-III, Region 12 team to clinch. Badin (6-3) is currently No. 6 with the next-best shot. Alter (4-4), reeling with three straight losses, must win out, including a Week 10 showdown at CJ, or its streak of 18 consecutive playoff seasons is over.
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• Southwestern Buckeye League: Franklin (7-1; D-III, Region 12) and Waynesville (7-1; D-IV, Region 16) are the best bets. Bellbrook (6-2) is No. 5 in D-III, Region 11. Milton-Union (6-2) and Valley View (6-2) will have to win out to make the D-IV, Region 16 cut.
• Cross County Conference: Fort Loramie (7-1), a state semifinalist last season, is a lock in D-VII, Region 28. Covington (6-2) and Arcanum (7-1) are in D-VI, Region 24 contention. Loramie defeated Covington in Week 4 and Covington did the same to Arcanum in Week 8. Arcanum is No. 8 in Region 24.
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Mississinawa Valley (5-3) hosts Arcanum in Week 10. That will decide if the Blackhawks make it out in D-VII, Region 28.
• Midwest Athletic Conference: Anna (7-1), Coldwater (7-1), and Minster (7-1) are all lumped in D-VI, Region 23 and should make it out. Anna is coming off a stunning 49-8 defeat of Coldwater, which is at Marion Local (6-2) in Week 10.
Marion Local and New Bremen (6-2) will make it in D-VII, Region 28.
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The Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce first-round playoff pairings following the end of the Week 10 regular season.
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