Blanchester and Bethel-Tate have split the last four SBAAC National Division championship honors.
East Clinton hasn’t won an SBAAC title since 2011.
The Astros and Tigers square off in the first league game of the season Friday night at BTHS.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday.
”Bethel-Tate is a good football team,” EC head coach Steven Olds said. “They are the team to beat on our side of the conference, year in and year out, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to test ourselves against them. Offensively, they are balanced and able to both run or pass the ball effectively. On defense, they have good size and play fast. It is always a physical affair when we get together and I suspect that this year will be no different.”
The Tigers are coming off an 82-0 win over Batavia while East Clinton lost to Minford last week 16-14 on a last-second field goal. EC started the season 3-0 but has lost two in a row.
”The last two weeks have, no doubt, been tough, but we are far from dejected,” Olds said. “The boys are in good spirits and we are encouraged by how we played against Minford. We know we have some things to clean up but we are excited to see what the second half of the season has in store for us.”
The loss to Minford was particularly disheartening because Olds believes his squad did not take advantage of opportunities presented them and beat themselves.
In recent years, Bethel-Tate has had the upper hand in this rivalry. The Tigers have won the last four meetings since the Astros rejoined the SBAAC by an average score of 50-7.
Prior to that, though, East Clinton nine straight games in the series.
Olds isn’t concerned with either streak going in to Friday’s National Division lidlifter.
”We aren’t spending any time looking backwards,” he said. “The past is of no concern to me, my staff, or this year’s football team. We have a tremendous amount of respect for coach (Jeff) Essig and the program that he has built, but we are approaching this game the same as any other. On Friday night we are going to go down there and do everything we can to try and get a win.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports