Jackson Milton @ Western Reserve: After a brutal three game out of league schedule, the Blue Devils (3-0) host the Blue Jays (2-1) to open league play in the Lower Tier. Western Reserve opens up the first ever Division VII football poll as the No. 2 team in the state, while the Blue Jays come in a play away from an undefeated record after not winning a game in 2012. Their lone loss was a heartbreaker that saw a lead slip away late against Chalker. Reserve sits in first place in Ohio Region 23, just ahead of ITCL rival Wellsville.
Leetonia @ Wellsville: Both teams come in with fast starts to their out of league schedule, as Leetonia sits at 2-1 with their lone blemish coming in a 1-point loss to Lisbon, while Wellsville comes in 3-0 after two straight shut outs. Wellsville is ranked 8th in the initial Ohio Division VII state poll, and needs the win to keep pace with Region 23 leading Western Reserve. Leetonia sits in 8th place in the same region, and will need to overcome a stingy defense in Wellsville to stay in the league race. Wellsville has given up just 6 points in their first three contests.
Mineral Ridge @ Lowellville: The teams come into week one of Lower Tier play with a combined 5-1 record, Lowellville’s 28-6 loss at Springfield last week being their only blemish. Coming off of a shutout of Southern Local, Ridge sits in 3rd place in Region 23 behind Wellsville and Western Reserve. Lowellville sits in 15th place as their wins have come from opponents – Windham and Youngstown Christian – with a combined 0-6 record. Both teams need a win as league play gets tougher from here on out.
Sebring @ McDonald: After its first 2-0 start in over a decade, Sebring’s only setback of the season came at the hands of Cleveland Villa St. Joseph last week. McDonald comes in with the same record, suffering a loss to perennial powerhouse Cuyahoga Heights. Both teams need the win to stay in the early season playoff hunt as McDonald sits in 8th place in Region 19, and Sebring sits in 10th in Region 23. Sebring has never beaten McDonald, but the Blue Devils can’t lose focus and look ahead to rival Western Reserve in week 5.
Columbiana @ Springfield: It’s been a rough start to the season for the Clippers, their 0-3 record comes with two heartbreaking 1-point losses – one in overtime to rival Leetonia in week 2, the other to OVAC foe Bridgeport in week 1. The season has been a little friendlier to Springfield as their 2-1 record comes with big wins over Youngstown Christian and Lowellville. The Clippers will have to keep their spirits up to start league play, and Springfield will try to keep rolling before matchups with Crestview and South Range in the coming weeks. The two teams last played in 2011 when the Tigers came away with a 22-19 victory.
Crestview @ South Range: In what could be the Upper Tier championship game, the Raiders and Rebels bring undefeated records to week 1 of league play. Both teams have quality wins to their out of league schedule with the Raiders topping Warren JFK and Garfield Trinity, while the Rebels have W’s over the larger schools Beaver Local and Liberty. Crestview sits atop Division V, Region 15, while the Raiders are 3rd in Region 19. This will be a big game for both teams as the loser may not be able to fight their way back to the top of the Upper Tier. The Rebels won last year’s game 57-14, and haven’t lost a league game since 2009.
Lisbon @ East Palestine : It’s been a rough start to the season for the Blue Devils and Bulldogs. The young teams come into league play with a combined 1-5 start – the lone win via Lisbon’s 1-point victory over Leetonia in the Spaghetti Bowl. The Bulldogs had a tough 7 point loss to Matthews in week 2, but both teams were shut out in week 3. A win is mutually needed as it doesn’t get any easier next week – the Bulldogs host South Range, while Lisbon gets a visit from Crestview.
Southern @ United After a 23-8 record to start his coaching career at Southern Local, coach Mike Skrinjar’s team has seen better days. The Indians earned a week 1 win over Waterloo to open up their newly remodeled stadium, but since then they haven’t scored a single point. Things have been a little bit better for a scrappy United team, but a 1-2 record with close losses to formidable foes will have the Eagles battle tested for Upper Tier play. The two teams haven’t faced each other since before the ITCL merger in 2005 when both were members of the Tri County League. The Eagles have won their last four matchups against the Indians.
Courtesy: Gary Althiser, ITCLFootball.net