Philo and Tri-Valley battling for conference positioning


Philo is as physical of a team as Tri-Valley has faced all season, but they will need more than toughness on their side as well to beat the 4-0 Scotties.

By Nick McWilliams, Sports Director

Tri-Valley is continuing its reign at the top of the Muskingum Valley League as many expected.

Friday against Philo, however, the kings of the county might meet their match against the Electrics.

The Scotties and Electrics are scheduled for a clash in Duncan Falls that can shake up the entire MVL outlook. With Sheridan still undefeated and looking to be the heavy favorite against West Muskingum, the Electrics can vault themselves into second place at the midway point of the season.

Philo escaped New Concord with a win over John Glenn that established them as one of the teams to beat this season, powered by a hard-nosed rushing attack. That kind of physicality can be daunting for opposing defenses, but Tri-Valley coach Kevin Fell said his team has seen that kind of attack this season.

“In the four games that we’ve played, Zanesville’s the only team that’s run the ball,” he said Thursday. “Everyone else has tried to run off tackle. It’s hit or miss. You know, we make some plays, they make some plays. The big thing is to make them … not give them cheap ones (plays). Not give them that 35-yard run. Make them get six, seven or eight at a time and if we can keep them from doing that, it’s to our advantage.”

While other teams have brought an inside running attack against the Scotties, nearly no one has found much success, with Zanesville being the one outlier. Last week, against Crooksville, Fell’s defense, thanks to players like linebacker Chase Kendrick and defensive lineman Garrette Miller, held the Ceramics to -10 yards on the ground.

The trio of Hunter Adolph and Aaron Philip at quarterback and running back Casey Munyan has given Dirk Lincicome a dynamic backfield. It was those three that provided much of the offensive punch for the Electrics in Friday’s night, combining for 160 of Philo’s 190 yards.

The kind of physical, downhill running that has earned the team its 3-1 record to this point will likely be on display once against this Friday night. Lincicome liked what he saw from his defense last week, and credited a combination of players keeping true to their assignments, while also recognizing looks before plays from their opposition.

“I think it’s a mixture of guys knowing where they’re supposed to be lined up and what they’re supposed to do after the ball is snapped and being in the right place like you’re coached to be,” he said. “And some times, guys have to freelance and make plays. So, there’s a fine line between what’s coached and what’s credited after the snap.”

Freelancing might not be such a great idea against a Tri-Valley team that has a starting running back averaging 7.4 yards per carry and a passing game that can burn even the fastest cornerbacks. The Blue Devils learned the hard way in Week 3 just how lethal the connection between Luke Fargus and Blayze Taylor is.

While the skill advantage seems to lean towards the Scotties if statistics are a proper measurement, the Electrics will boast a different kind of physicality. Fell and his players are well aware of how difficult it is to meet Philo in their own stadium.

“We’re looking forward to a real tough football game,” he said. “And over there, I’m sure it will be.”

All eyes will fall on Sam Hatfield Stadium at 7 p.m. to see just how shaken up the MVL can be in 2018. Prepare for some fireworks.