For Bethel-Tate, the 2017 football season has been a weekly Hype Tour of sorts. The Tigers have navigated seven weeks without a loss and seem to be headed to a Week 11 game.
For East Clinton, their 2017 season is hanging by a thread after a 1-4 start. The thread gets more stable or snaps with the outcome of this week’s game.
“I told our kids after a week two loss to Batavia, which was very disappointing, that everything we had hoped for this season was still on the table … a winning season, a league championship and playoffs,” East Clinton Jeremy Yankey said. “Fast forward five weeks and we still have those possibilities but we know they all go away without a win this week.”
Bethel-Tate (7-0, 2-0, No. 10 AP Div. V) travels to East Clinton (3-4, 2-0) Friday night for an SBAAC National Division showdown of the top two league teams. The winner has a clear path to league supremacy. The loser will have to regroup for the final two weeks of the season and whatever goals are ahead.
“It seems that every game on our schedule this year has had some kind of hype or excitement,” Tiger coach Jeff Essig said. “Week 1 was Waynesville home opener. Week 2 St. Bernard Thursday night football. Week 4 Batavia neighbor rivalry. Week 5 Western Brown (where) I am two years removed from being their (offensive coordinator) for seven years and our (quarterback) transferred from there. Week 6 Blanchester first league Game and wanted to gain respect back after last year. Week 7 was Homecoming and people doubted our D-line versus their O-Line. This week versus East Clinton a league opponent who is 2-0 in the league.
“We seem to always be playing for something special each week. This week is big also because we have the opportunity to tie history at 8-0 with the BT 1968 team. We must win out to accomplish goal two of a league championship since the rest of our schedule is league opponents.”
Kickoff in Lees Creek is set for 7 p.m. Friday.
East Clinton scored 45 points in the first five games, 28 of them in a victory over McClain. But in the last two games, the Astros offense has been clicking with 35 and 32 points respectively.
“To be honest, they are a question mark,” Essig said of East Clinton who his team is facing for the first time in recent memory. “This has been one on our schedule that I have been looking forward to. Not because I was excited to play them, but because I was excited to see what coach Yankey was building there. I was excited to watch their film, since I have not seen much of East Clinton football over the past few years. I remember them in years past as an in-your-face style of play, very aggressive and strong everywhere. Watching the tapes this week, I really like their QB (Brendan Jenkins). His arm strength is great. He seems to be the leader of their offense. Where he goes the team goes.”
Yankey said the same thing about the Tigers quarterback Seth Becker, a Bethel-Tate resident who went to Western Brown five years after leaving the Bethel-Tate school district in sixth grade.
“Seth Becker is a super-talented QB who has passed for 1,902 yards and 17 TD plus rushed for 593 yards and 10 TD this season,” said Yankey. “It’s safe to say the Bethel-Tate offense goes through him. They have four different receivers who have at least 20 catches this season led by Cooper Dunn. Defensively they are a 4-4 defense led by seniors Nate Owens (58 tackles) and Bradly Lewis (51 tackles).”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports