Gridiron Glory week three game predictions

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Welcome to the first edition of the score predictions for Gridiron Glory! Starting this week, I will be offering you my predictions about the slate of games that will be covered at 11:30 P.M. on the show. Before I begin my predictions, I just want to state that I wish the best for all of these teams, and I hope the team I pick to lose in all of the games exceeds all of my expectations. In addition, these are all my personal opinions regarding the upcoming slate of games, not WOUB or Gridiron Glory.

(2-1, 0-0) West Muskingum @ (2-1, 0-0) New Lexington (Game of the Week)

Easy Verdict: Tornadoes blow away the Panthers

Prior to this week, the Tornadoes and the Panthers were riding high on 2-0 records, but one week later, these two teams are looking a little bit worse for wear. Coming into the game that determined the fate of the MVL Small-School Title, West Muskingum was thrashed 28-0 by Garraway and New Lexington fell in the final seconds of an ugly game at John Glenn, 14-13. West Muskingum cruised to victory twice at home against Lakewood and Marietta, but when they left the confines of West Muskingum Football Stadium, it was a different story.

Garraway kept the Tornadoes grounded throughout the night, preventing West Muskingum from getting on the board. The lack of scoring isn’t as concerning when you look under the hood, as the Tornadoes compiled 221 yards of total offense. The issue for West Muskingum was a crippling turnover in the final minutes of the second half which set up John Glenn to go ahead 21-0 and at the end of the half, the game’s final score was already set in stone, 28-0. As for silver linings from a brutal defeat, the Tornadoes’ defense showcased the growth in the second half. Both teams kept their starters in the second half, and the adjustments West Muskingum made are an encouraging trend for next week’s heavyweight bout for the game that determined last week’s MVL Small-School Title.

Why are those adjustments important for the Tornadoes? Let’s move to last week’s matchup for New Lexington. John Glenn’s defense forced five interceptions last week, but to the credit of the Tiger defense, despite being on the field for the majority of the night, they managed to contain John Glenn’s offense. For New Lexington, this season has been a major infusion of youth into the ranks. The most significant change for the Panthers is junior quarterback Isaiah Stephens who has impressed coaches coming into the season. Stephens assumed control from Lucas Ratliff who led New Lexington to a playoff berth against Bishop Hartley. The Panthers were bounced in the first round at home but replicating that type of season will be no easy feat for Stephens and the young New Lexington squad. The Panthers entered this year with just two seniors on the roster, but thus far, New Lexington has met their expectations for the reigning MVL Small-School champions.

Another important part of this squad is running back Carson Kellog. In spite of excellent play thus far, the running game had a hard time getting started against John Glenn last week. To defeat the Tornadoes, it is vital that the Panthers run efficiently and often. New Lexington threw the ball 33 times last week, and while Stephens has impressed outside of last week, it is risky to replicate the same game plan that resulted in five interceptions. For West Muskingum, watch out for Rashid Sesay. Sesay, the Tornadoes’ star running back, was the focus of the Garraway defense last week, and the Panthers will be eying the film to replicate that same approach to the run.

Final Analysis: This young New Lexington team will put up a good fight, but the West Muskingum team will capitalize on the same turnovers that gave John Glenn the victory last week. Friday’s matchup will also prove the deciding factor in the MVL Small-School Title race.

Tornadoes: 38, Panthers: 20


(2-1, 0-0) Meadowbrook @ (3-0, 0-0) Crooksville

Easy Verdict: Storybook run coming to an end?

The beautiful part of any new season for high school football is the surprising teams, and no team has changed the narrative around their program more than the Crooksville Ceramics. For anyone who hasn’t been following the recent history of the Ceramics, Crooksville entered this season on a 21-game losing streak. That wasn’t the only first for this squad. In just this season, the Ceramics achieved: their first win in their new stadium, their first Week One victory since 2017, their first 3-0 start since 2010, and their first win under new Coach Gabe Lotozo.

Needless to say, we are in uncharted territory for Crooksville football as they enter MVL football. Two players, in particular, will be vital for the Ceramics if they want to knock off Meadowbrook and continue this streak. Senior running back Daniel Chapman has been the boogeyman for opposing defensive lines, compiling 291 total yards and five touchdowns in the curse-breaking game against Fisher Catholic Week One. The other vital component of this upstart Crooksville squad is freshman quarterback Brayson Hill.

For a freshman quarterback, he has defied all expectations, similar to this team as a whole, and he has been startlingly efficient. Onto the Colts. What’s behind this resurgent Meadowbrook squad? Last season, the Colts finished with just one win on the year. That Meadowbrook squad was only one year removed from an incredible team that won 10 games en route to a trip to the regional semifinal against St. Clairsville.

This season seems to be a bit of normalization for the Colts. They haven’t quite returned to the heights of that season yet. However, this is an impressive Meadowbrook team, built in a similar manner to the great teams of the past. In the battle for Guernsey County, the Colts dominated the second half versus a youthful Cambridge squad, 60-35. Those 35 points should be of concern to Meadowbrook, especially facing a Ceramics offense that posted 59, 31, and 47 points in their first three games.

In any case, the Colts have played stiffer competition than the Colts, something that’s reflected in the Divisions for Meadowbrook’s opponents. On a more statistically oriented basis, according to Drew Pasteur, the Colts are 53rd out of 106 teams in Division Five strength of schedule. In Division Six, the Ceramics are ranked 56th out of 106.

Final Analysis: If the Colts want to win this, they would do well to prevent this game from becoming a barn burner. A high-scoring matchup is where Crooksville thrives. If Meadowbrook can keep the scoring low, putting the Ceramics in unfamiliar territory, the Colts will win this game.

Colts: 45, Ceramics: 20


(2-1, 0-0) Bloom-Carroll @ (2-1, 0-0) Amanda-Clearcreek

Easy Verdict: Bulldogs take care of business

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Similar to Meadowbrook, the Aces appear to be rebounding to form after a disappointing 2022 season where they failed to tally a single victory. That stood in stark contrast to their 2021 campaign which saw the Aces finish with seven wins, including a playoff victory over Minford. And this wasn’t any run-of-the-mill victory, as that Amanda team steamrolled the Falcons 31-6.

This season has been a refreshing return to form for the Aces, who thoroughly defeated both Linden McKinley and Adena. They fell in Week Two against Unioto, but that night saw history on the part of Sherman’s quarterback, Newton Hoops. Hoops set the single-game record for passing yards in Unioto history. Last week, facing Adena, Amanda returned to form, scoring on every drive in the first half as they cruised to victory, 48-14.

How can the Aces hope to replicate that success against last year’s state runner-up, the Bloom-Carroll Bulldogs?

Well, let’s start with the positives. The Bulldogs have proved fallible, dropping their Week One matchup on the road versus Harvest Prep. What’s the bad news about that loss? Last year’s state-runner-up squad also lost to the Warriors and proceeded to finish the season undefeated en route to the state championship game. The Aces can’t exactly hang their hat on the early loss slowing down the Bulldogs. In addition, this Bloom-Carroll squad retains many of the cogs in their impressive machine. Army commit Dylan Armentrout returns to torment Southeast Ohio, and he hasn’t relented since the calendar flipped to 2023. For the Aces, it will take a Herculean effort to overcome the odds stacked against them.

Final Analysis: Everything needs to go right for Amanda-Clearcreek, and everything needs to go wrong for Bloom-Carroll for the Aces to win. This is an outstanding Bulldog team, and Amanda-Clearcreek needs more time for the nucleus of this team to come together.

Bulldogs: 56, Aces 13


(3-0, 0-0) Chesapeake Panthers @ (3-0, 0-0) Gallia Academy

Easy Verdict: Blue Devils continue the decade of dominance

Since 2013, these two teams have squared off six times with Gallia Academy claiming five of those contests. In addition, the previous two games between the Panthers and the Blue Devils haven’t been nail-biters. Gallia Academy defeated Chesapeake 42-7 last year and 55-27 back in 2019. How is this matchup different for the Panthers? Well, Chesapeake is off to its best start since 2017. The Panthers have overperformed according to projections, routing Symmes Valley 39-7 on the road and stunning the Minford Falcons at home, 22-21.

Chesapeake also earned a convincing victory over Southern at home last week, but that Tornadoes squad is yet to win a game. What’s fueling this unexpected start? The Panthers have been opportunistic, something that shined through against Minford when cornerback Drew Plantz made a house call on a 52-yard interception return. That turnover proved pivotal for Chesapeake, and the Panthers’ defense has leaned heavily on their secondary to make plays. Against Symmes Valley, Chesapeake’s secondary forced four interceptions, and this time, the pick-six came courtesy of Corey Davis. A fumble was the only turnover last week versus Southern, but the Panthers were up 41-0 at the half and did not need big plays of that nature. Still, the plus-three turnover differential for Chesapeake is more important than for most teams. Two fumbles by the Panthers against Minford nearly cost them the game, and if Plantz hadn’t registered that pick-six, Minford would have been up 21-0 before Chesapeake’s offense responded.

In terms of impact players for the Panthers, look for running back Cameron Shockley, who had a monster night against Symmes Valley and was effective versus Minford. Dannie Maynard was also a force against Symmes Valley, but he only had three carries against the Falcons. For a team that almost refuses to attack through the air, that carry breakdown will be a story to watch against Gallia Academy. Phillip Thacker was a workhorse against Minford and Symmes Valley, compiling the most carries of any Panther player through the course of those two victories. Chesapeake likes to share the wealth in the backfield, so keep an eye on the number and the name of the runner.

As for the Blue Devils, another year, and yet another dominant squad. Gallia Academy has finished with nine wins in each of their last full seasons (This excludes 2021 and 2020 because they did not play nine games those years). This Blue Devils squad has hardly broken a sweat so far in the year. Through their first three games, Gallia Academy has allowed just 12 points, and all of those came last week versus Point Pleasant. Even then, Point Pleasant was unable to keep it close, falling 42-12 to the Blue Devils. In Weeks One and Two, Gallia Academy shut out the Athens Bulldogs and Meigs Marauders 39-0 and 30-0 respectively.

In any case, Gallia Academy has run rampant on their opponents this year, something that should concern a Chesapeake squad that was gashed by Minford running back Jeffrey Pica, who finished with 221 yards on just 21 carries and two touchdowns. The Blue Devils have put up comparable numbers this year, something highlighted in their performance versus Meigs where Gallia Academy finished the night with 286 yards on the ground. That isn’t the only concerning element for this Panthers’ squad as last week may have served as a breakout performance for the Blue Devils’ quarterback Bray Rathburn.

Rathburn scorched Point Pleasant to the tune of 18 completions on 26 attempts for 398 yards and one touchdown. That’s not a typo, a quarterback finished with nearly 400 yards of passing. In high school. Needless to say, even with a great secondary, it could be a long night for Chesapeake. As for the receivers making this aerial assault possible, Hunter Shamblin and Keyon Frankin both eclipsed 150 yards receiving last week. Shamblin’s final line is just absurd, totaling six catches for 186 yards. This is the same player that finished with 91 yards on 12 carries versus Meigs. He is putting Division Four on notice. This is a unit to keep a close eye on for some record-breaking performances.

Final Analysis: While I think the Panthers’ secondary poses a much greater threat than previous opponents, it will prove too much to keep up with the Blue Devils’ offensive juggernaut and suffocating defense.

Blue Devils: 42, Panthers 6


(1-2, 0-0) Alexander @ (0-3, 0-0) Athens

Easy Verdict: Bulldogs Flip the Script

There’s nothing better than the Friday night lights, and an old-fashioned cross-town rivalry. That’s what is in store for Athens County as the Spartans travel to face the Bulldogs in an attempt to write a new chapter in the rivalry. Alexander’s victory last year was the program’s first since 2015. Athens has dominated the recent history of this matchup, and even though these teams have struggled out of the gate this year, a victory here would be positive momentum toward the TVC-Ohio part of their schedule.

As for the pre-conference performance of these two squads, both struggled to launch. Athens started their schedule by hosting the Philo Electrics, a matchup resulting in a solid victory for the Electrics, 28-13. The non-conference slate of games did not improve for the Bulldogs as they hosted Gallia Academy, and Athens was shut out 30-0. The Bulldogs improved last week, but they failed to earn their first victory against Marietta, falling 28-19. What can we take from the initial efforts of Athens? Last week, the Bulldogs were ahead 19-14 at the end of the third quarter, but costly penalties undid the efforts of Athens to close out Marietta.

It’s clear that the Bulldogs are making progress behind Braden Young as the season progresses, and he excelled on the ground. Young totaled two of Athens’ touchdowns on the ground, and he has the Bulldogs poised to sneak into the Region 11 playoffs if they can ride this momentum. The Spartans have already gotten their first victory, which got their season on the right track. Not only that, it was the first time that Alexander’s units both played in cohesion with the defense pitching a shutout and the offense taking full advantage, beating Belpre 44-0.

When it comes to analyzing the success of both of these teams, I lean slightly towards the efforts of the Bulldogs, mostly on the merit of their strength of schedule. While it’s hard to judge across divisions, Athens has faced two Division Three teams and acquitted themselves admirably. While Alexander had similar results in their contests, the Spartans haven’t played a team better than Division Five, and Athens proved that they can punch above their weight class.

Final Analysis: Athens’ momentum paired with home-field advantage will prove to be too much for the Spartans. In my opinion, the Spartans will drag this to the wire, and it will require smart football on the part of the Bulldogs.

Bulldogs: 28, Spartans 13