OLIVESBURG — Saturday night may as well be Super Bowl Sunday for Firelands Conference football fans.
Undefeated Crestview (8-0, 4-0) hosts undefeated Norwalk St. Paul (7-0, 3-0) in what is the defacto league championship game — every other team in the league has at least two conference losses.
Crestview and St. Paul shared the Firelands Conference championship with Monroeville during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. All three teams finished with 5-1 league records.
Last year’s conference crown was the eighth in the past nine seasons for the Flyers.
St. Paul didn’t lose a conference game in winning six straight outright FC crowns from 2013 to 2018 and shared the title with Western Reserve in 2012 under veteran coach John Livengood, who has been in charge since 1991.
“They’re very well-coached and they have been that way for 30-some years,” Crestview coach Steve Haverdill said. “That’s why they’ve dominated our conference for the most part.
“We’ve got our hands full.”
Before last year, Crestview’s last FC crown came in 2011. The Cougars beat St. Paul 28-24 in Week 9 that year, the last Crestview win in the series.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, both teams are virtually guaranteed spots in the expanded-format playoffs — the top 16 teams in each region qualify for the postseason this year.
Crestview is second in Region 22 of Division VI, while St. Paul sits atop the Division VII, Region 25 ratings.
Here is a capsule look at some Richland County games coming up in week nine of the season:
Norwalk St. Paul (7-0, 3-0) at Crestview (8-0, 4-0): The Flyers are coming off a bye week after blanking Western Reserve 10-0 in Week 7. The game’s only touchdown came on a 34 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Fisher to Dylan Deppen on a fourth-and-17 play early in the third quarter. Defensive lineman A.J. Meyer set up the TD with an interception and later recovered a fumble near his own goal line late in the fourth to preserve the win. For the season Fisher has completed 35 of 57 passes for 597 yards and seven touchdowns. Will Stieber leads a rugged ground game with 840 yards and 11 touchdowns on 150 carries, while Quincey Crabbs has 581 yards and seven TDs on 97 attempts. Crabbs leads the defense with 66 tackles, while Stieber has 62 stops. Norwalk punter Tyler Perkins averages 44.8 yards per punt and is committed to Iowa State.
The Cougars christened the newly-installed artificial surface at Scott Bailey Memorial Field with a 43-8 win over Plymouth. Quarterback Hayden Kuhn completed 12 of 13 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Connor Morse rushed for 162 yards and two TDs on 35 carries. For the season, Kuhn has completed 71% of his passes (55-78) for 1,096 yards and 13 touchdowns with just one interception. Morse has rushed for 1,261 yards and 23 TDs on 177 carries. Gabe Smedley has 21 receptions for 314 yards and six touchdowns, while Adison Reymer has 16 grabs for 368 yards and three scores. Defensively, Morse leads the way with 82 tackles. Owen Barker has 57 stops and 10 sacks.
Marion Harding (5-3, 2-2) at Clear Fork (6-2, 4-0): The Presidents beat River Valley 56-40 in a shootout last week and are ninth in this week’s Division II, Region 7 ratings. Quarterback Brady Wink has thrown for 2,002 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 117 of 225 passes. His favorite target is Wesley Stokes, who has 26 catches for 604 yards and six TDs. Trinity Keith leads the Harding ground attack with 406 yards and eight touchdowns on just 46 carries. Defensively, Jacob Arndt ranks second in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with 102 tackles. Rashawn Turner leads the conference with 16 sacks, while Jacob Barr ranks third with nine sacks.
Clear Fork is coming off a 28-19 win over Marion Pleasant. The Colts continue to boast the MOAC’s most balanced offense, averaging 183.9 yards per game on the ground and 171 yards through the air. Quarterback Victor Skoog has thrown for 1,324 yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 98 of 177 passes and rushed for a team-high 440 yards and six TDs on 91 carries. Slot receiver Deven Freeman has 30 catches for 395 yards and four touchdowns. Larry Firmi has 21 catches for 207 yards while freshman Jay Jackson has 13 grabs for 262 yards and four scores. Linebacker Kaleb Hollar leads the defense with 64 tackles. Junior Kaden Riddle is one of the top two-way linemen in the league. He has 53 tackles.
Fort Loramie (3-5) at Lucas (6-1): Fort Loramie will make the 2 1/2- hour bus trip from Shelby County in extreme west central Ohio. Fort Loramie is coming off a 24-14 win over Division II Sidney in a game that was delayed for two hours because of lightning. Quarterback Caleb Maurer completed 25 of 36 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Logan Eilerman caught 10 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown and Owen Pleiman had seven catches for 73 yards.
The Cubs are coming off a bye after trying unsuccessfully to find a replacement for Hilltop last week. Lucas’ last action came in Week 7, a 36-14 win over Tiffin Calvert. Grant Barrett rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries as the Cubs piled up 379 yards on the ground. Corbin Toms ran for two TDs and blocked a punt.