A large task remains for Edgewood High School’s football team heading into Week 10. A little help would also be appreciated.
The Cougars have already clinched a share of their second straight Southwest Ohio Conference championship and can win it outright Friday night with a road victory over the Mount Healthy Owls.
Edgewood (7-2 overall, 5-0 SWOC) is also on the bubble in the Division II, Region 8 playoff chase.
“It’s always our first goal to take care of the league,” Cougars coach Scott Clemmons said. “The Mount Healthy game is the only thing we can control and prep for. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
EHS could end up sharing the conference title with Mt. Healthy (4-5, 4-1) and Harrison (7-2, 4-1), which hosts Northwest on Friday.
The Owls have fought with the injury bug this year and would love to get a piece of their first SWOC crown since securing it four straight seasons (2012-15).
“It’s a team that’s not just going to sit there and allow us to walk into their house and take the title,” Clemmons said. “They set the mark for this league when it was was started.”
If Edgewood can be a repeat outright champion, would it signal a true changing of the guard in the SWOC?
“I’m not going to get into that,” Mt. Healthy coach Arvie Crouch said. “They were the best team last year, and they’re one of the best teams this year. The best team has won every time, so we’ll see how it goes on Friday. But we’re going to show up. I’m excited to see how much passion our kids can put into this ballgame.”
The Region 8 race isn’t a clear picture, especially for the Cougars.
According to JoeEitel.com, 13 of the 24 teams in the region have been eliminated. La Salle, Winton Woods, Anderson and Belmont have clinched spots. Sidney, Harrison, Troy and Chillicothe control their own destiny. Edgewood, Ashville Teays Valley and Marion Harding need some help.
If the Cougars win, Teays Valley and Harding can’t catch them. Sidney (vs. Greenville) and Harrison are favored to win, while Troy (vs. Piqua) and Chillicothe (vs. Jackson) face tougher matchups.
“Of course it’s on everybody’s mind,” Clemmons said. “But I think we’ve done a good job of communicating with the boys about winning the league first and worrying about what we can control.”
Mt. Healthy is a long shot to make the Division III, Region 12 playoffs in a season that’s included the loss of junior quarterback Michael Crawford to a knee injury in Week 1.
The Owls are coming off a 37-6 loss to Harrison.
“I’m really happy with the way our kids have responded this week after the debacle on Friday,” Crouch said. “The kids know that we played horribly and made some crucial mistakes and really didn’t give ourselves a chance to be in the ballgame. They were just as frustrated as I was. They know we’re better than that.”
Mt. Healthy is using two quarterbacks, senior JuAries Montgomery (11 of 26, 122 yards) and sophomore Brandon Lanier (28 of 66, 581 yards, five TDs). The Owls also have one of the SWOC’s best defensive players in junior end Lonnie Phelps.
Clemmons said Mt. Healthy’s record is deceiving. The Owls’ five losses came against teams with a combined record of 33-12.
“As always with Coach Crouch, they don’t back down from anybody,” Clemmons said. “They still have a lot of dangerous athletes.”
Edgewood has rushed for 2,887 yards. Wade Phillips (149 carries, 1,185 yards, 14 TDs) and Elijah Williams (115 carries, 811 yards, 13 TDs) are leading the way.
The Cougars are seeking their 13th playoff appearance.
What: Edgewood (7-2, 5-0 SWOC) at Mount Healthy (4-5, 4-1 SWOC), 7 p.m.
Where: Owls Nest, 8101 Hamilton Ave., Mount Healthy
Last year: Edgewood won 49-28