WEEK FOUR FOOTBALL FORECAST
Salem at Carrollton, 7 p.m., Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Along with Canton South, Salem (3-0) was the only team in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference to win its first three games. The league underperformed as a whole in its non-league slate going 12-12. Carrollton might be 1-2, but the Warriors mixed it up with some decent competition. This game should be close.
West Branch at Alliance, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: West Branch (1-2) salvaged its non-league part of the schedule with a win over rival Southeast this week. It will not be that easy now that league play opens. Alliance (2-1) beat a significantly weakened St. Thomas team in the opener and struggled to get by Indian Creek last week. Against Canfield, the Aviators were never in the game. West Branch should know if it will be in the mix for the league chase by how it performs on Friday.
United at East Palestine, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: It’s fitting that the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference’s two biggest schools will meet in the league opener. This one is definitely a pace setter. East Palestine (1-2) got a much needed win over Campbell Memorial last Friday, while United (2-1) dispatched Malvern. Both teams played unbeaten Salem tough, but it may come down who is healthier on Friday night. United will be missing Cade Wood who has a dislocated shoulder and is expected to be out for a few weeks.
Canton South at Minerva, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Minerva (0-3) has a 23-game losing streak that does not look like it’s going to stop here. The Wildcats (3-0) might be a dark horse in the league now that Louisville has started 0-3. Time will tell.
Leetonia at Columbiana, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Once upon a time ago this was a feature game on the schedule for both schools but since Leetonia (0-3) has fallen on hard times it has lost its shine. Columbiana (1-2) will definitely be looking to build some positive momentum heading into the rest of the league slate.
Sebring at Western Reserve, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: What a welcome into the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference for the Trojans (0-3). This will be one of the biggest mismatches around and Reserve (2-1) might put a strain on Sebring’s sub-20 man roster.
Zanesville at South Range, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Raiders (3-0) come into this encounter ranked second in the Div. V statewide Associated Press poll. The team is certainly good. Now the Raiders will have to see how they hold up over the course of a more demanding schedule. Zanesville (1-2) is two years out from going to the Div. III state semifinals and plays a schedule mostly made up of Div. III competition.
Crestview vs. Warren JFK at Mollenkopf Stadium, 7 p.m. Saturday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Crestview (2-1) last met a defending state champion in 2012 as it lost to Kirtland in the playoffs. Warren JFK (2-1) has not shown it is ready to defend its Div. VII state title yet as it has given up an average of 28 points per game. Kennedy had six shutouts in 2016 and no one scored more than 27 points against them. Last week Girard put up 42 against the Eagles.
Wellsville at Lisbon, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Lisbon (2-1) has a short turnaround this week after a narrow 14-12 loss to Valley Christian on Saturday. Even though Wellsville (1-2) had a thorough setback in its opener, the Tigers have looked more competitive the last two weeks. Lisbon will have to be on its toes.
Jackson-Milton at Springfield, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Here’s a throwback to the old Inter-County League. The Tigers (1-2) have not lost to the Bluejays (1-2) since 2002 in a series dating back to 1949.
East Liverpool at Ravenna Southeast, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: East Liverpool (1-2) has managed just six points over the last two weeks, so that will have to improve if the Potters are to take down the Pirates (2-1). Southeast’s record is a bit misleading as its first two wins were to struggling programs in Mogadore Field and Cleveland John Marshall. When Southeast met West Branch last week it was a much different story.
Edison at Beaver Local, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Beaver Local (2-1) had a regretful setback at Wheeling Linsly last Friday, but now is the time for the Beavers to show they belong in the mix for the Buckeye 8 Athletic League North Division title. Edison (0-3) hasn’t got off the mat all season and there is little reason to believe the outmanned Wildcats will have any impact on the league.
Southern at Toronto, 7 p.m. Friday
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Red Knights (2-1) and Indians (2-1) arrive at the league opener in similar fashion. Both teams earned their two wins over winless opponents with both beating Bridgeport. In Toronto’s case, the Knight’s only loss came to highly-regarded Shadyside, while Southern was dealt a 28-0 loss to state-ranked Shenandoah. This will also mark Southern’s first trip away from home this season.