Week 10 of the regular season has been reserved for SBAAC rivalry games in recent years.
Blanchester and East Clinton get together on the National Division side and Wilmington and Clinton-Massie lock horns on the American side.
Don’t be mistaken, though. The fact the Hurricane and Falcons are meeting in Week 6 doesn’t lessen the rivalry one iota.
“This game is a big game, no doubt about that,” Wilmington head coach Ryan Evans Jr. said.
Clinton-Massie, the state’s top ranked Division IV team in the latest Associated Press poll, is 5-0 while Wilmington is 4-1. This is the American Division opener for both teams.
Both teams have played Mt. Healthy. For what it’s worth, the Falcons held off the Owls 28-26 while the Hurricane lost 22-7.
Clinton-Massie and Wilmington have met 14 times on the varsity football field, with Massie holding a 10-4 advantage. The Falcons have won the last six games easily. The previous two Scott Killen’s Hurricane took the Falcons down to the wire before falling 23-21 in 2016 and 29-28 in 2015.
The first meeting was in 1972 with Clinton-Massie coming out on top 21-6. Wilmington won the next meeting 20-18 then ran away with three straight games (41-0, 33-0, 47-) before the rivalry was discontinued after the 1976. The got back together in 2014 when both teams were in the South Central Ohio League.
Clinton-Massie comes in to the game off a 21-14 win at Harrison, a victory that won’t soon be forgotten by Clinton-Massie head coach Dan McSurley.
”Friday night’s game against Harrison was one of the best regular season atmospheres we’ve played in a long time.,” said McSurley. “I’d put that game right up there with Steubenville several years ago. The crowds on both sides were amazing. Harrison was ready for us and we needed several players to step up when it counted. I think going forward, this game should help us mature as a team.”
McSurley said the Falcon defense will need to begin its focus on quarterback Aiden Price who “does a nice job running and passing, so containing him will be key.” He noted several WHS players have the ability to score from anywhere on the field.
The Hurricane defeated Aiken 28-0 last week.
“We need to play better. A win’s a win but it was not good enough for what we wanted,” Evans said.
Evans said the Falcons are “big and quick on both sides of the ball. They want to run right at you and dare you to stop it. They have a powerful run attack and are very sound on defense and special teams. They have a powerful kicker that can put the ball out of the end zone.”
For Evans and Co. this game, win or lose, is a measuring stick for the rest of the season and beyond.
”We as coaches have always coached to focus on the team in front of us,” he said. “We have preached all season on focusing on the process, not the outcome. Put all the energy into the process — practice, taking care of your body, stretching properly, getting the right amount of sleep, studying film, etc. — and the outcome will take care of itself.”
For McSurley and the Falcons, this is the third in a run of four straight road games.
And the start of the SBAAC season.
”We believe the season has just begun,” the veteran coach said. “From now on we’re playing for multiple championships, because we haven’t won anything yet.”