Updated Thu, Sep 27, 2012 3:28 pm
It’s Week 6 of the regular season and for the first time in a few years, the SEOAL conference is wide-open heading into conference play. With the two-time defending champion Jackson Ironmen losing three straight games, the door is wide open for a team such as the Gallia Academy Blue Devils, who have been runner-up the past two season, to steal the spotlight.
Gallia Academy Head Coach Mike Eddy stated before the season even began that his team is going to stir up the league this year and, “anything short of a league championship” would be a failure on his part. After beating the Athens Bulldogs in Week 1 and suffering a tough one-point loss to undefeated Ironton, the Blue Devils have won two in a row heading into their matchup this Friday at Memorial Field against the Chillicothe Cavaliers.
But this Gallia Academy team is not your typical Blue Devil squad like in years past. Their offense has been on point through the first five games of the year. They have scored 103 points over the course of their current two game-winning streak and have only allowed 25 points over that span.
“Controlling the clock and keeping drives alive will be crucial,” head coach Mike Eddy said. “We need those 10 to 12 play drives.”
Junior quarterback Wade Jarrell has been pinpoint accurate through the first five weeks. He’s completing 65 percent of his passes and has thrown for 10 touchdowns. But the one category Jarrell has been flawless in, is the turnover category. The two-year starter has yet to throw an interception this year.
His ability to escape pressure and tuck the ball in and run has helped keep drives alive so far this year. Jarrell has also tallied just over 250 yards on the ground and three touchdowns for the Blue Devil offense, which has helped get his team three wins in non-conference play.
For Ron Hinton’s Chillicothe Cavaliers, the same can’t be said about their nonconference success heading into league play. The Cavs had matchups against Hamilton Township, Big Walnut, Portsmouth West, Thurgood Marshall and St. Francis DeSales.
Chillicothe did manage to beat Portsmouth West and find their first victory of the year in Week 3, but have dropped two straight since and sit at (1-4) overall.
Nevertheless, Coach Hinton believes the tough nonconference schedule has only benefitted his young team in preparation for this week.
“Gallia Academy has a lot of good skilled players, players like what we faced in our first five weeks,” Hinton said.
He added later that his team can’t give up the big play, and needs to do a better job of being physical at the line of scrimmage and controlling play upfront.
Pushing the line may be a little easier to come by this week considering Coach Hinton will be able to start his same five linemen in consecutive games for the first time all season on Friday night.
“We’ve yet to break 200 yards rushing in a game yet this season,” Hinton says.
The ability to put the same five guys on the line for this game could help the Cavaliers get over the 200 mark.
Junior quarterback Ryan Mathis has only thrown three touchdown passes so far this year, but will be looking to improve this week and add to his 566 yards through the air. Both teams would love to start their second half of the regular season with a conference win and shake up standings.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 from Memorial Field in Gallipolis.