SBAAC Football: National in focus; American up for grabs

By Mark Huber -

Goshen’s Jimmy Strunk is one of the top running backs in the SBAAC.

Goshen’s Jimmy Strunk is one of the top running backs in the SBAAC.

Gordon Cordell | News Journal File

Things are just now heating up in the SBAAC American Division.

The National Division, on the other hand, appears to be settling in to place.

As the teams head into Week 8 of the high school football regular season, the National Division looks to be Bethel-Tate’s. The Tigers are 3-0 and lead Blanchester and East Clinton by a game. The two Clinton County teams plays next week.

However, it seems the Tigers would be a safe choice to finish 5-0 in the division with games against Williamsburg (1-7) and Fayetteville-Perry (5-3) remaining.

The American Division is still up for grabs.

Following Goshen’s stunning win over Clinton-Massie, 33-31, last week, the Warriors are unbeaten at 8-0. They are still just tied for first place in the division with New Richmond, both teams holding 3-0 league marks.

The two SBAAC titans will square off with plenty on the line in Week 10.

However, New Richmond travels to Clinton-Massie this week in what will be the SBAAC game of the week.

”CM is the type of program that you want to become, because they win year in and year out, and are always a playoff team,” Goshen head coach Ryan George said of the Falcons. “They are a consistent program and that is what we are trying to become as a program, so I think it gives you the confidence that we can become that type of program, too.”

The rest of the SBAAC schedule this week is Western Brown at Wilmington, East Clinton at Clermont Northeastern, Blanchester at Fayetteville-Perry, Batavia at Goshen and Williamsburg at Bethel-Tate.

All games are set to kick-off at 7 p.m.

In terms of the post-season, Goshen and New Richmond control their own destiny in Region 12. With the two meeting in Week 10, though, that makes this week must-win for both.

“The SBAAC is tough every week, so you better be ready to play each week,” George said. “To become a successful program, you have to take it one week at a time.”

Said Bethel-Tate head coach Jeff Essig, “In league games, you cannot think about your opponent’s win/loss record.”

Likewise, Clinton-Massie gets a Week 11 berth if it wins its final two games, but it won’t be easy with New Richmond this week then county rival Wilmington in Week 10. The Falcons could win their final two games, get a Lions win over the Warriors in Week 10 and forge a three-way tie for first in the standings.

Bethel-Tate is almost assured of a playoff spot, however, there are no guarantees beyond Week 10, according to Joe Eitel’s website. Should things fall the right – or wrong for the Tigers – Bethel-Tate could be 10-0 and miss the playoffs.

But be certain, Bethel-Tate is not looking beyond its next two foes to a Week 11 game. There are too many goals in between to worry about something that wont’ happen until November.

“There is so much for us to play for this week,” Essig said. “We are playing for a league championship. Our guys know the history; there has not been a football league championship here since 2000. Williamsburg is a league opponent and in the way of our goal. Williamsburg is another neighbor rivalry game. It is senior night. We will also have the opportunity to make history by starting 9-0. The 1968 8-0 team will be in attendance. I have invited them to address our team in our pre-game meeting and they will join us on our walk to the field before the national anthem.”

The Tigers got off to a fast start in last week’s National Division showdown game with East Clinton. Bethel-Tate held the Astros on defense then scored on the first play from scrimmage on offense.

“We have been working toward that the entire season,” said Essig. “During Week 7 versus CNE we scored on the second play from scrimmage and last week we scored on the first. Offensively that is our mindset, score on the first play. During Week 7 something finally clicked for us. People talk about how explosive our offense is, but it took us until Week 7 to get a score on our first series.

“Our mantra is ‘Tate Tempo’ and early in the year we had trouble getting started. We are starting to peak at the right time. Our guys are starting to understand the importance of scoring on the first series when we are on offense. Another reason is our guys are continuing to trust each other more and more each week. There were some growing pains earlier in the season.”

Goshen’s Jimmy Strunk is one of the top running backs in the SBAAC.’s Jimmy Strunk is one of the top running backs in the SBAAC. Gordon Cordell | News Journal File

By Mark Huber

Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email or on Twitter @wnjsports

Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email or on Twitter @wnjsports