It’s Halloween weekend … and the 13s are coming to scare people in their own backyards.
Both Gallia Academy and Eastern — a pair of 13-seeds in their respective divisions — begin their postseason journeys on the road this weekend with opening round matchups in the 2021 OHSAA football playoffs.
The Blue Devils (4-3) travel to fourth-seeded Heath (8-2) on Friday night for Division IV, Region 15 at Swank Field, then the Eagles (4-4) head to Howard on Saturday night to face fourth-seeded East Knox (8-2) in a Division VII, Region 27 contest at Chet Looney Stadium. Both contests will kickoff at 7 p.m.
Both GAHS and EHS have been to the playoffs in each of the last three postseasons. Gallia Academy is making its fourth straight playoff appearance and 14th overall, while the Eagles are making the program’s fifth playoff run in school history.
The Blue Devils snapped an 8-year skid without a postseason win last fall after defeating Vinton County by a 46-8 count, while Eastern notched the program’s only playoff win last year during a 26-14 triumph over Caldwell.
GAHS is 7-13 alltime in postseason play, while the Eagles are 1-4 overall in their previous four appearances.
The Heath Bulldogs are making the program’s second straight postseason appearance and sixth overall, and it is only the second time in HHS history that the team is appearing in a repeat playoff run. The Bulldogs do own a 5-5 alltime mark in the postseason.
The East Knox Bulldogs are making their third consecutive postseason appearance and 10th overall. EKHS is 7-9 alltime in postseason play.
None of these four programs has ever advanced to the state final four or won a regional title.
Here’s a brief look at each matchup this weekend.
Gallia Academy at Heath
The Bulldogs enter Friday night with a 5-game winning streak and a 4-1 home record. Their lone losses came in weeks four and five after falling 21-21 at unbeaten Granville and then suffered a 48-7 setback to visiting Zanesville.
Heath has recorded a single shutout this fall — a 45-0 win over Circleville — and has scored 40-or-more points four different times this year, including wins of 68-14 over winless Lakewood and 63-7 over Utica.
HHS also handed Newark Catholic — the top-seeded team in Region 27 — its only loss of the year during a 28-21 decision at NCHS.
Heath is averaging 35.3 points per game offensively and allows 15.5 points per outing.
The Blue Devils have recorded one shutout — Athens 34-0 in Week 2 — and have also been shut out once by Ironton (43-0) this season. GAHS is also 3-1 in road games this fall.
Gallia Academy is scoring 21.4 points and allowing 20.1 points per game this year.
Eastern at East Knox
The Bulldogs enter Saturday night with a 3-game winning streak and a perfect 5-0 mark at home. Their lone losses came in Week 3 at unbeaten Crestview (41-21) and in Week 7 at Northmor (24-7).
EKHS has not been shut out and does not have a shutout to its credit this season, but the Bulldogs have scored at least 35 points in six of their 10 matchups. East Knox also has a win over Division IV, Region 15 qualifier Highland (27-20).
The Bulldogs average 33 points per game offensively and are allowing 18.2 points each night defensively.
The Eagles have a pair of 46-0 shutouts to their credit with wins over South Gallia and Belpre, part of Eastern’s current 3-game winning streak.
EHS — which has scored 35-or-more points in half of its contests —is scoring 28.9 points offensively and allowing 16.5 points defensively per outing.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.