A preview of every local Week 8 football game:
Game of the Week: Ashland (4-3, 2-2 OCC) at West Holmes (7-0, 4-0)
Since 2006, nobody has won a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference more times than Ashland, which has eight league titles during that time. The Arrows have been consistent winners, churning out teams with talent that are also tough to match up with.
But those past championships won't matter when they step on the field against West Holmes, which is the overwhelming favorite to win a third straight OCC title.
The Knights are rolling and look every bit as good as last year's regional championship team, if not better. They've won 19 regular-season games in a row, and that streak has the potential to grow considerably.
Last week: Mansfield Senior 27, Ashland 20; West Holmes 48, Lexington 14
Playoff picture: Ashland, No. 16 in Region 6 (Div. II), 83% playoff chance (all playoff percentages are according to Drew Pasteur's Fantastic 50 projections), can clinch with win; West Holmes, No. 3 in Region 14 (Div. IV), clinched playoff berth
Outlook: West Holmes has one of the most explosive offenses in the state and a defense to match, scoring 48.1 points and allowing just 8.9 points per game. Sam Williams-Dixon and Kyle Maltarich are the offensive headliners, but Logan Zollars has broken out recently, giving the Knights another receiver with game-breaking speed. Ashland has some good skill talent, led by receiver Landon McFrederick, but keeping up with the Knights will be a tall task.
Smithville (5-2, 2-2 WCAL) at Northwestern (5-2, 3-1 WCAL)
Last week: Hillsdale 28, Smithville 21 (OT); Dalton 34, Northwestern 14
Playoff picture: Smithville, No. 13 in Region 17 (Div. V), 98% playoff chance, can clinch with win; Northwestern, No. 5 in Region 22 (Div. VI), clinched playoff berth
Outlook: Neither of these teams are used to losing in 2022, but they're both coming off tough Week 7 losses. Smithville went punch for punch with surging Hillsdale, while Northwestern played its most uneven game of the season in a 20-point loss to Dalton. They'll both be hungry for a rebound. The Huskies' talent at the skill positions gives them an edge as they try to stay alive in what has become the craziest Wayne County Athletic League title race in years.
Wooster (4-3, 3-2 OCC) at Mansfield Senior (5-2, 3-1 OCC)
Last week: Wooster 48, Madison 0; Mansfield Senior 27, Ashland 20
Playoff picture: Wooster, No. 16 in Region 7 (Div. II), 79% playoff chance; Mansfield Senior, No. 4 in Region 10 (Div. III), clinched playoff berth
Outlook: This has been one of the best games on the Ohio Cardinal Conference schedule lately, and it's a good bet both teams have this one circled this year. A win over Senior would give the Generals major momentum heading into the final stretch of the season, which still features tough games against Ashland and Villa Angela-St. Joseph. However, the Tygers will be a tough matchup. They have high-level athletes all over the field and will force Wooster to play mistake-free to stay in the game. Senior's only losses are to powerhouses Massillon and West Holmes.
Chippewa (2-5, 1-3 WCAL) at Norwayne (5-2, 3-1 WCAL)
Last week: Chippewa 27, Rittman 14; Norwayne 48, Waynedale 16
Playoff picture: Chippewa, No. 16 in Region 21 (Div. VI), 4% playoff chance; Norwayne, No. 4 in Region 17 (Div. V), clinched playoff berth
Outlook: Norwayne moved right back into a tie for first place in the WCAL with Dalton's win over Northwestern last week, and it will be looking to keep it that way. Norwayne's offensive weapons headlined by Jake Gill, Elijah Stanley, Jay Hanzie and Roman Portis have been too much for most of the WCAL and they will be tough for Chippewa to slow down as well.
Dalton (5-2, 3-1 WCAL) at Rittman (2-5, 0-4 WCAL)
Last week: Dalton 34, Northwestern 14; Chippewa 27, Rittman 14
Playoff picture: Dalton, No. 4 in Region 21 (Div. VI), clinched playoff berth; Rittman, No. 23 in Region 21 (Div. VI), 1% playoff chance
Outlook: The Bulldogs are coming off their biggest win of the season and will be trying to build on it with a Week 9 matchup with Norwayne looming. Rittman will look to stay competitive as it keeps building its program, but the 'Dawgs are tough in all three phases and should dominate the line of scrimmage.
Waynedale (2-5, 1-3 WCAL) at Hillsdale (4-3, 3-1 WCAL)
Last week: Norwayne 48, Waynedale 16; Hillsdale 28, Smithville 21 (OT)
Playoff picture: Waynedale, No. 22 in Region 17 (Div. V), 2% playoff chance; Hillsdale, No. 6 in Region 25 (Div. VII), clinched playoff berth
Outlook: The longest win streak in the WCAL belongs to Hillsdale, which is coming off impressive wins over Dalton and Smithville. The Falcons have a good chance to make it four wins in a row, but the Golden Bears are starting to play more complete football as well. Hillsdale won't do anything too flashy but plays sound defense and its misdirection on offense is tough to game plan for.
Orrville (3-4, 2-2 PAC-7) at CVCA (5-2, 3-1 PAC-7)
Last week: Orrville 45, Tuslaw 20; Northwest 29, CVCA 28 (OT)
Playoff picture: Orrville, No. 19 in Region 17 (Div. V), 12% playoff chance; CVCA, No. 6 in Region 9 (Div. III), clinched playoff berth
Outlook: Orrville's offense is in the midst of playing its best football of the past two seasons, scoring 40 or more points in three of its last five games. But CVCA's defense is one of the best units the Red Riders have faced, allowing just six points against Triway a few weeks ago. Royals star Kyle Snider has rushed for 200 or more yards four times this year but has been dealing with an injury that limited him to just one carry last week.
Northwest (5-2, 3-1 PAC-7) at Triway (4-3, 2-2 PAC-7)
Last week: Northwest 29, CVCA 28 (OT); Triway 31, Northwest 8
Playoff picture: Northwest, No. 3 in Region 13 (Div. IV), clinched playoff berth; Triway, No. 10 in Region 17 (Div. V), 98% playoff chance, can clinch with win
Outlook: Triway's season hasn't been quite as easy without star QB Zack Miller, who has missed time over the past few weeks dealing with an injury. The Titans still have the potential to play with the teams at the top of the Principals Athletic Conference and could play spoiler in what is still a wide-open PAC-7 race.
Tuslaw (3-4, 1-3 PAC-7) at Canton South (5-2, 3-1 PAC-7)
Last week: Orrville 45, Tuslaw 20; Canton South
Playoff picture: Tuslaw, No. 18 in Region 21 (Div. VI), 1% playoff chance; Canton South, No. 7 in Region 13 (Div. IV), clinched playoff berth
Outlook: Tuslaw's defense has struggled against PAC-7 opponents, with Orrville, Triway and Northwest all putting 40 or more points on the board against the Mustangs. Led by star QB Poochie Snyder, the Wildcats have been the top scoring team in the conference, making Friday perhaps the toughest matchup of the year so far for Tuslaw.
Loudonville (3-4, 1-3 KMAC) at Cardington-Lincoln (1-6, 0-4 KMAC)
Last week: Loudonville 38, Fredericktown 35; Danville 28, Cardington-Lincoln 20
Playoff picture: Loudonville, No. 11 in Region 23 (Div. VI), clinched playoff berth; Cardington-Lincoln, No. 23 in Region 23 (Div. VI), 1% playoff chance
Outlook: The Redbirds finally picked up their first win as a member of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference last week, with Zach Frankford making plays all over the field to lead the way. He'll once again be one of the top players on the field against a Cardington-Lincoln team that is better than its record, evidenced by a one-score loss to 6-1 Danville last week.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: High school football: game-by-game Week 8 preview