The regular season is quickly winding down and we have two huge games this week to keep an eye on featuring the top three teams in the county.
Rivals meet in the annual Battle for the Iron Plow in Holmes Township, Galion has a tough test on the road against Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference co-leader Highland, and the other three county teams have difficult matchups.
Let's run down the Week 8 slate of games in Crawford County.
Colonel Crawford (5-2, 2-2) at Wynford (2-5, 2-2)
7 p.m. at Royals Stadium
Who'd have thought entering Week 6 this meeting would be between a team on a two-game skid and a team coming off back-to-back wins? Well, many might've, but they'd have had the teams mixed up.
Previously undefeated, Colonel Crawford lost to Carey in Week 7 — no major surprise as that game was a toss up — then stumbled against Upper Sandusky last week for the program's first two-game losing streak since 2019. Wynford, on the other hand, started 0-5 for the first time since 1975 but consecutive wins over Bucyrus and Buckeye Central have somewhat righted the ship.
The Eagles totaled 398 yards of offense in loss to the Rams but struggled on third down, converting just 5 of 10 attempts while also turning the ball over three times on fumbles. Wynford's defense is a class above Upper's, holding teams to 259.1 yards and 21.6 points per game, so another sloppy night could be disastrous for Colonel Crawford.
Just ahead of third-ranked Wynford when it comes to defense is Colonel Crawford. The Eagles are allowing just 206.7 yards and 11.6 points per game this season, having given up allowed more than one touchdown in a game three times. Offensively the numbers are heavily in Colonel Crawford's favor — 352.6 yards and 38.6 points vs. 234 yards and 12.7 points — but this Wynford offense has improved dramatically over the last three weeks and will look to snap a two-game losing streak to the Eagles and regain control of the Iron Plow.
And a win by the Eagles would be their third in a row in the series for just the fourth time since the rivalry began in 1965, joining 1965-68, 1970-73 and 1981-84.
Galion (4-3, 3-1) at Highland (5-2, 4-0)
7 p.m. at Corvette Stadium
Galion will have one goal and one goal only this weekend — stopping Dane Nauman. The Highland standout running back is already nearing 1,500 yards on the ground this season and could even push close to 2,000 by the time his season is over. The Scots just throttled Shelby 44-20 a week after Galion took down the Whippets in a rivalry game. Last week the Tigers traded points with Ontario before coming out on top 46-36.
Since Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play began Highland is scoring 39.5 points per game while holding opponents to just 13.5, but the Scots give up almost as many yards as they average themselves on offense.
Galion's offense finally found its footing the last few weeks, with a defense to back it up. Braxton Prosser under center is as good of a scrambler as he is hurling the ball downfield, and for a different look the Tigers could even put Cooper Kent in for a few plays to really open up the passing game. What makes the passing game so difficult to defend is the sheer number of weapons at the quarterbacks' disposal with Elijah Chafin, Landon Campbell, Logan Shifley, Gabe Ivy out of the back, Coen Fuson, or even Prosser if Kent is under center.
This would be another statement win for the Tigers should they pull it off in a hostile environment on the road in Marengo. Still one game behind Clear Fork in the MOAC, Galion winning out would put pressure on the Colts to do the same. And Clear Fork's Week 10 opponent? This Highland team on the road.
Carey (7-0, 4-0) at Bucyrus (1-6, 0-4)
7 p.m. at Bucyrus Stadium
The gauntlet of N10 play continues for Bucyrus as undefeated, state-ranked Carey comes to town. The Blue Devils just took down Mohawk last weekend while Bucyrus lost at Seneca East.
Defensively the Blue Devils are a class above the rest, holding opposing running backs to 0.9 yards per carry, teams to just 21.7 rushing yards a game and 123.6 yards of total offense along with a mere 6.4 points per game. Bucyrus is a team that has struggled to move the ball at times but can definitely string together quality possessions against good defenses, as seen in the Colonel Crawford and Wynford games.
It would take a pretty remarkable effort from Bucyrus to knock off Carey this week, but after seeing what Upper Sandusky did against Colonel Crawford last weekend, anything is possible. If Malachi Bayless can get the aerial game going early, Bucyrus might keep up with Carey's versatile offense.
Buckeye Central (3-4, 0-4) at Upper Sandusky (3-4, 2-2)
7 p.m. at Upper Sandusky Football Stadium
The Bucks are in a funk, having dropped their fourth straight game, and the Rams are coming off probably the biggest win in program history, beating Colonel Crawford in overtime. Both teams are very much in the postseason picture at the moment with Upper Sandusky up to 13th in Division IV Region 14 after the win and Buckeye Central sitting 14th in Division VII Region 25.
Upper and Buckeye both boast offenses capable of putting up a lot of numbers in a hurry — big-play potential galore. And both defenses have been susceptible to yards, but the way Upper Sandusky stifled Colonel Crawford last weekend might indicate the Rams defense is a little better than we thought through the first six weeks.
This is the sort of game that could come down to whoever has the ball last, or if a defense gets a stop or two early it could quickly turn into a game of catch up.
Hardin Northern (4-3, 3-1) at Crestline (0-7, 0-4)
7 p.m. at Hutson Stadium
The Polar Bears come to town fresh off suffering their first loss in Northwest Central Conference play, 28-14 last week to Upper Scioto Valley, while Crestline lost its seventh consecutive game this season, 62-8 to undefeated Waynesfield-Goshen.
Back in front of the home crowd the Bulldogs will look to continue getting the program back on track while Hardin Northern is still in the hunt for a NWCC title and will be eager to bounce back on the road. Outside of last week's loss the Polar Bears have scored no fewer than five touchdowns in a game while the Bulldogs have scored three all season.
This article originally appeared on Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum: Week 8 Football Preview: Battle for the Iron Plow the marquee game