Playoff Preview: 4 Tri-Valley vs. 5 New Philadelphia

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After beating Philo and winning a third straight MVL title outright, Tri-Valley moved up to the No. 4 seed in Division III, Region 9. The Scotties (8-2), making their fifth straight playoff appearance, will host No. 5 New Philadelphia (9-1) Friday, Nov. 8.

Last season, the Scotties State title hopes were short-lived after a loss to New Albany in the second round. Tri-Valley had a lot of players last season with previous playoff experience, but Scottie head coach Justin Buttermore says this year’s team is different in that they are lacking that experience.

“We’ve been in the playoffs, but very few of our kids have actually played,” Buttermore said. “I think in that regard it will be new for a lot of these kids actually being out on the field, but we think it’ll be an fairly easy transition for them.”

Both teams had a common opponent in Zanesville (10-0) earlier in the season.

The Scotties’ 52-7 loss to the Blue Devils in week 4 was one of just two total losses on the season. Meanwhile, the Quakers’ 28-14 loss to Zanesville was their only loss of the season.

After Tri-Valley’s loss to Zanesville, Buttermore said the team knew it would have to win out in order to make the playoffs. Since then, the Scotties have won six straight games by an average of 34 points per contest.

Friday night, New Philadelphia will attempt to win its first ever playoff game. The Quakers lost first round matchups in each of the previous two seasons, against Tallmadge and Aurora. This season, they have a lot of momentum coming off of a huge triple overtime win against rival Dover.

In order to win, Buttermore said the Scotties must stop Quaker tailback Jamal Johnson. The senior has over 7,000 rushing yards in his career, along with 88 total touchdowns. In last week’s showdown with Dover, Johnson carried the ball a whopping 44 times for 188 yards.

The Scotties have proved to be an offensive powerhouse, scoring 400 points in the regular season, but Friday night they will have to rely on their defense.

“[New Philadelphia is] big up front and their quarterback has also played really well lately,” Buttermore said. “They are a very fundamentally sound team and you can tell they’re difficult to deal with, but I think the number one thing you have to stop is their tailback.”

New Philadelphia will provide a test for Tri-Valley, but playing in a familiar atmosphere will be beneficial for the Scotties. Kickoff is set for 7:30 Friday night in Dresden.