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Dragons face Pirates in rematch to open playoffs

Fairland Dragons’ Kyle Sowards (10) makes a catch during a win earlier this season at Coal Grove. Fairland plays at Wheelersburg Saturday in the Region 17  Division V playoffs. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Fairland Dragons’ Kyle Sowards (10) makes a catch during a win earlier this season at Coal Grove. Fairland plays at Wheelersburg Saturday in the Region 17 Division V playoffs. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

As Humphrey Bogart said to the piano player in the movie Casablanca, “Play it again, Sam.”

Although this line is actually a misquotation of what was really said in the movie, it amply applies to the Fairland Dragons and Wheelersburg Pirates who will play it again when they meet at 7 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Region 17 Division V football playoffs.

Fairland played at Wheelersburg in the fourth week of the season. The two spread-style offensive teams treated fans to a high-scoring affair as the Pirates came away with a 49-32 win.

The other Region 17 games have No. 8 seed Zane Trace (5-5) at No. 1 Columbus Bishop Hartley (9-1), No. 7 Westfall (5-5) at No. 2 Martins Ferry (9-1) and No. 5 Liberty Union (8-2) at No. 4 St. Clairsville (9-1).

Hartley won the state title in 2010 and St. Clairsville was the runner-up last season. Hartley is considered the Region 17 favorite.

In the regional semifinals, the Zane Trace-Hartley winner will play the Liberty Union-St. Clairsville winner and the Fairland-Wheelersburg winner will face the Westfall-Martins Ferry winner.

All games will be on Saturday night.

Ironton had a chance to crash the party in Region 17 but lost a tough game at Raceland, Ky., on Friday, 17-0. A win would have put the Fighting Tigers in the playoffs despite a 4-6 record.

The Rams (8-2) came into the game as the district champs and averaging 41 points a game. They had scored no fewer than 32 points in a game this season.

However, Ironton had only two scoring threats and was unable to finish their drives.

Several area teams qualified for the playoffs.

Lucasville Valley (10-0) was the top seed in Region 21 of Division VI and will host No. 8 Beverly Fort Frye (8-2). No. 7 seed Oak Hill (8-2) will play at No. 2 Columbus Bishop Ready (9-1). Both games are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Ready — whose only loss was 21-14 in overtime last Friday to Bishop Hartley — is considered the favorite in the region.

In Division VII, No. 7 Portsmouth Notre Dame (8-2) will play at Covington (10-0) on Saturday.