By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — Miami East has feasted on the teams it should beat, but now the Vikings are entering a tough four-game stretch.
Bethel has done the same, but it has struggled to get a victory that would cement the Bees’ position among the Cross County Conference’s elite.
Both teams have a lot to prove Friday night as this high school football season crosses into its second half. Both will get the chance to do so against each other as Bethel travels to Miami East for a midseason CCC showdown.
After a tough loss to 4-1 Milton-Union to start the season, the Vikings (4-1, 4-0 CCC) have cruised to four straight easy wins. The catch? Those four teams they defeated have a combined three wins among them at 3-17, with National Trail, Arcanum and Ansonia all at 1-4 and Mississinawa Valley at 0-5.
Miami Easts next four opponents, though, all have winning records — beginning with county rival Bethel (3-2, 1-2 CCC). Before worrying about 5-0 Covington and 4-1 Tri-County North and Troy Christian, the Vikings will need to remain focused against an improving Bethel squad.
The Bees, meanwhile, are at the end of their toughest stretch of the season, having dropped back-to-back games at Covington and against Tri-County North. Bethel has not had much success against the Vikings in recent years, falling 48-7 to them last season and losing the last nine times the teams faced off. The last time Bethel beat East was 2006, a 12-9 victory.
The Vikings are the defending CCC co-champion, and they’ll need to win to keep pace with the team they shared the title with, Covington — although the Buccaneers won’t have an easy Week 6 by any stretch. Covington (5-0, 3-0 CCC), which survived a comeback attempt by Troy Christian in Week 5 by stopping a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute to win by one, travels to Tri-County North, which has designs on getting into the CCC title mix this year. The Buccs held off the Panthers by a touchdown last season in a 28-21 win, and they know that they’ll have to remain focused on their Week 6 game if Week 7 is to matter.
The race in the Southwestern Buckeye League is bound to heat up on Friday night, too. Milton-Union and Madison are the two teams in the Buckeye Division with the best record, with both at 4-1 — and the Bulldogs are hosting the Mohawks in Week 6. Last season, Madison went undefeated through division play on the way to the league title, defeating the Bulldogs 14-6 in an ugly, cold, rainy game at Madison. Milton-Union is looking to flip the script this season.
Troy Christian proved itself last week in a loss to Covington, a battle between what remains the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Division VII, Region 28 playoff standings. The Eagles fought back from a 27-7 third quarter deficit to lose by one in the final minute — but they’ll have significantly less to prove this week, facing 1-4 Ansonia. Troy Christian will look to remain healthy, as next week begins a stretch of three straight tough matchups.
Lehman (3-2, 2-0 Northwest Central Conference) has won three straight and leapt into the D-VII, Region 28 playoff picture, now sitting in the eighth and final qualifying spot. The Cavaliers will face a tough test Friday, though, as they host 4-1 Riverside, whose only loss is to 5-0 Mechanicsburg.
And the number of winless teams in D-VII, Region 28 fell to six after Week 5, but Bradford is still included among them. The Railroaders host 1-4 Manchester, a team Bradford beat 36-20 last season.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.