Schoolboy pick of week: Ringgold
At the midway point of the football season, Ringgold was 3-1 and sitting pretty good in the Big Nine Conference standings.
Then, unbeaten West Mifflin came in and blitzed the Rams, 35-7, and after that, star running back Demetrius Louis suffered nagging hamstring and groin injuries that kept him on the sidelines far more than on the field.
Last week, starting quarterback Nico Law was injured in a 14-7 loss to Highlands.
The result has been three losses in the last four games and a two-game losing streak going into tonight's conference finale with visiting Trinity (4-4, 4-3).
It's obvious that the Rams are a different team without Louis in the backfield and the versatile Law running the offense.
However, both players are expected to be healthy and ready to go against Trinity in a game that has great meaning for the playoffs.
Ram coach Matt Humbert was emphatic that he did not want to see his team go into the playoffs next week riding a three-game losing skid. Plus, winning and finishing fourth in the conference will mean a slightly better draw in the playoffs than losing and finishing fifth.
I look for Ringgold to come out an play inspired football in an attempt to regain some momentum going into the postseason.
Of course, even with Louis and Law in the backfield, Ringgold's defense will also have to stand tall against an effective, if not spectacular, Hiller ground game.
How similar are the teams?
On the season, the Rams average 24.3 ppg compared to Trinity's 22.8. Defensively, Ringgold gives up 21.3 ppg to the Hillers' 21.9.
It's a game that could either way, but with a healthy Louis and Law, the Rams have the edge.
The pick: Ringgold, 27-21.
Best of the rest
• BV Area at Albert Gallatin. The Leps will win easily, even though their minds will be on the Ringgold-Trinity game. BVA, 34-7.
• Monessen at Carlynton. The Greyhounds win and they will be 8-1 in the rugged Black Hills Conference. Who saw that coming? Monessen, 44-14.
• Brownsville at Charleroi. Two teams' agonizing seasons coming to an end with each wanting badly to get a win. The Cougars have more weapons to battle with. Charleroi, 28-14.
• California at Brentwood. Unlike Monessen, the Trojans were not happy to be moved out of the Tri-County South. This game will be another reason why. Brentwood, 35-14.
• Mapletown at Frazier. After a slow start, the Commodores are rolling now. Frazier, 28-7.
• Greensburg Salem at Elizabeth Forward. The Warriors will win and take a 6-3 record into the playoffs. Wow. EF, 34-10.
• Yough at Southmoreland. Cougars will send their seniors off with a victory. Yough, 28-24.
• Avella at Bentworth. Things sure went wrong for the Eagles in a big way the last three weeks. This should soften the blow a little. Avella, 27-22.
Last week: 8-1. Season record: 54-13.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.