While Logan found little success on the gridiron in 2018 when it came to wins and losses, it was a completely different story for three other founding and core members of the old Southeastern Ohio Athletic League.
Athens (9-1), Gallipolis (9-1) and Jackson (7-3) all will be playing week 11 football games, and all were able to put more trophies in their trophy cases.
Gallipolis (Ohio Valley Conference) and Jackson (Frontier Athletic Conference) won their first ever non-SEOAL football championships while Athens won its sixth Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division title and its first since 2014.
Athens rolled through the TVC-Ohio, defeating all six opponents by three touchdowns or more while scoring at least 39 points in every league game. The Bulldogs also beat old SEOAL foes Warren and Logan on their way to amassing enough points to qualify for the Division III, Region 9 playoffs.
The Bulldogs will travel to Columbus to take on perennial power Bishop Hartley (8-2) on Friday night. It’s the green and gold’s first trip to the playoffs since they fell to Toledo Central Catholic in the 2014 Division III state championship game despite the escapades of current LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
The Jackson Ironmen came from behind to defeat Gallipolis by a 15-9 score in week three, and the points from that victory propelled the big red to a Division III, Region 9 playoff spot.
In the FAC’s second season, Jackson won its first title, sharing with playoff-bound Hillsboro (9-1). Jackson defeated Chillicothe, the defending FAC champs, in week 10 to secure a post-season berth. Jackson lost to Hillsboro in overtime 27-21.
The Ironmen play Granville (9-1) Friday in a first round playoff match-up. The game will be played on the turf at Newark’s White Field since the rain has taken its toll on the Blue Aces’ home field.
Jackson returns to the LHS football schedule next season.
And if you’re looking for a local tie, look no further than Gallipolis.
The Blue Devils, under second-year head coach and former LHS quarterback Alex Penrod, won the OVC by a commanding two games, finishing 7-0 against their league foes. Only that week-three loss to Jackson kept the Gallians from their first unbeaten regular season since 1986.
The Blue Devils host Licking Valley (7-3) Saturday night in a Division IV, Region 15 matchup. Like Granville, Gallia Academy has moved its home game to the turf at Jackson’s Alumni Stadium due to poor conditions of Memorial Field in Gallipolis.
Gallipolis beat Ironton in dramatic fashion to clinch a share of the title. The Blue Devils trailed the Tigers 26-9 in the third quarter before mounting a comeback for the ages.
The Blue Devils took the lead with 5:19 to play, only for Ironton to answer to take their final lead with 3:32 to go in the contest. The Devils mounted a game-winning drive that ate up three minutes and culminated in a flea-flicker touchdown pass with just 24 seconds to play.
For Penrod, the 2002 LHS graduate, it was his second league title as a head coach and he and his staff will now prepare for his second trip to the playoffs. Penrod is 14-6 in two seasons at Gallipolis and 30-22 in a career that includes three seasons at Alexander High School.
Like this season, Penrod led the Spartans to a 9-1 regular season and a 2016 TVC-Ohio championship in his second season at the Athens County school. Alexander won its playoff opener over Rock Hill that season before falling to Zane Trace in the regional semifinal.
That season, Alexander became just the third Athens County school to defeat the other four Athens County high schools (Athens, Federal Hocking, Nelsonville-York, and Trimble) in the same season.
Penrod was the defensive coordinator for the French City school in its last playoff appearance in 2012. That season, the Blue Devils dramatically defeated Archbishop McNicholas (Cincinnati) 37-35 at home before losing to state semifinalist Thurgood Marshall (Dayton) 68-9.
In his playing and coaching career, Penrod has been a part of nine playoff games and has a record of 4-5 in the postseason.
In addition, later SEOAL members Ironton and Portsmouth also qualified for the post-season in Division V. Ironton travels to Johnstown-Monroe and Portsmouth visits undefeated Middletown Madison for Saturday night games.