By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — Friday’s matchup between Troy Christian and Covington could very well be a playoff preview.
It will also go a long way in deciding who qualifies for the postseason.
The Buccaneers will host the Eagles in a critical Week 5 matchup Friday night in Covington, a rare Miami County showdown that took a lot of strange things happening over the past few years to bring to fruition — and it’s but one of many big games as the season reaches its halfway point.
Troy Christian enters the week 3-0 after its Week 4 opponent, Cincinnati Christian, cancelled. The Eagles are currently in second place in the Division VII, Region 26 standings behind MVCA, and they’ve won their three games by an average score of 47.3-7.
Covington, meanwhile, is 3-1 after holding off Cross County Conference rival Bethel with a strong second half in a 30-8 victory. The Buccs have recovered from their opening-week loss at St. Henry, and they’re currently No. 5 in the D-VII, Region 26 standings.
Both were playoff teams last year, with Covington getting in with a 6-4 record — so a loss by either team Friday night in no way eliminates anyone. It’s also Covington’s second non-league game of the season, a rare occurrence only made possible by Bradford not fielding a varsity team last season and losing its spot in the CCC.
Troy Christian, oddly enough, was in the same position as Bradford two years ago. This season the Eagles picked up a slew of CCC opponents — including Ansonia, Tri-County North, Arcanum, Miami East and Mississinawa Valley to finish the season from this point.
Speaking of Miami East, the Vikings are currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, sitting in 13th in D-VI, Region 22 despite a 3-1 record. After a 62-40 shootout victory over winless Arcanum in Week 4, the Vikings host winless Mississinawa Valley Friday.
The second half the the season will make or break Miami East’s playoff hopes — the combined record of the Vikings’ final five opponents is 14-4.
Bethel is also on the outside, in 17th place in D-VI, Region 22 with a 2-2 record. The Bees travel to 3-1 Tri-County North Friday, the third of five straight 3-1 teams they have faced or will face. After a big win against previously-unbeaten Dayton Christian and a tough loss to Covington, the Bees will be looking to prove themselves against another quality opponent.
The Milton-Union Bulldogs are also busy proving themselves each week, and they currently sit in sixth place in the Division V, Region 18 standings with a 3-1 record. More importantly to them at the moment, though, the Bulldogs won their Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division opener against 2-2 Northridge, showing once again that they know how to win a close game.
Milton-Union will complete a three-game homestand Friday against 2-2 Preble Shawnee, which is coming into the game off of back-to-back losses to Greenville and Madison. The Bulldogs currently own the best record in the Buckeye Division — and they’d like to stay on to the rest of the way, too. That playoff talk can come later.
It’s hard not to talk playoffs when it comes to Tippecanoe, though. The unbeaten juggernaut scored more points in one game than it had since at least 2002 in a 76-22 victory over Ben Logan in Week 4, and the Red Devils will look to go 5-0 at 3-1 Indian Lake.
With games against a pair of winless teams in Weeks 6 and 7, the Lakers — who lead the Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division — could pose a decent test before Tippecanoe enters CBC Kenton Trail play. But Indian Lake is coming off a narrow 28-21 victory over 0-4 Bellefontaine, so it also could be another night where the Devils put up points in bunches — though a 41-0 second quarter against Ben Logan will be hard to match.
With Tippecanoe sitting in second in D-III, Region 10, the Piqua Indians are still just on the outside in ninth despite two straight losses. Piqua will get a chance to bounce back Friday at home against 1-3 Fairborn before entering Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division play.
Could the Indians sneak into the playoffs — and possibly even face the Red Devils, who will join the GWOC North next season? There’s still six more games, Friday’s included, for that to be decided. But it is a possibility.
Lehman failed to replicate last season’s run, where it lost the first two games only to go on a 10-game winning streak including two postseason wins. After two straight losses to begin the year then a win against Graham, the Cavaliers opened Northwest Central Conference play with a 28-20 loss at 2-2 Upper Scioto Valley to fall to 1-3.
The Cavs play the second of a three-game road trip Friday at 1-3 Perry looking to get back on track, but any further setbacks could put this year’s playoff hopes in danger.
And on Saturday, Bradford will look to follow up last week’s 34-18 victory over Hillcrest with a matchup against the Northridge Vikings from Johnstown. The Vikings enter the game with a 3-1 record, while the Railroaders are still celebrating their first victory since Week 10 of the 2012 season.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.