Waterford entertains Southern Friday night in TVC showdown

Photo courtesy of Bryan Walters Waterford’s George Pantelidis (21) follows his blockers during a high school football game against South Gallia earlier this season in Crown City.

WATERFORD — Neither Waterford nor Southern has defeated a team on the gridiron with a winning record this season.

That will change at 7:30 p.m. this Friday evening when the Wildcats (5-2) host the Tornadoes (6-1) in a key Tri-Valley Conference-Hocking Division football game.

The Cats’ only setbacks have been to Fort Frye (6-0) and Trimble (6-1). Southern’s lone loss was to Belpre (5-2).

Currently, Waterford is ranked number seven in OHSAA Division VII, Region 27 while Southern is sixth. So, this matchup could also have playoff implications.

Waterford has enjoyed a running clock in the second half in its three previous home wins against Sciotoville East, Eastern, and Wahama.

The Wildcats are coming off a 44-0 triumph over visiting Wahama last Friday night. The Cats were led by quarterback Peyten Stephens, who completed 8 of 9 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns of 4 and 24 yards to George “Doc” Pantelidas. Pantelidas finished with four catches for 39 yards and two 2-point conversion receptions.

This fall, Pantelidas has 18 receptions for 378 yards and five TDs. Zane Heiss has 15 catches for 301 yards and four TDs, while Nick Fouss and Rhys Thatcher have a combined 19 for 258.

On the season, Stephens has completed 56 of 91 throws for 949 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior signal caller has also gained 129 yards on the ground and scored two 6-pointers.

Against Wahama, Braden Bellville rushed for 173 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns of 16 and 11 yards. The 6-foot, 205-pound senior running back has gained 782 yards on 105 carries and 13 TDs on the season. He also has two receiving scores.

Waterford relies on a balanced attack, but basically is a run-first team with Bellville in the backfield.

“On offense we want to be able to establish the run and be physical,” said Waterford head coach Eric McCutcheon.

Waterford’s line is expected to feature Collin Jackson, Brock Hayes, Ethan Hinton, Haydon Reynolds, Quentin Doak, Nate Hutchins, and Thatcher.

Defensively, Waterford is expected to be tested in the secondary as Southern likes to put the ball in the air.

“Southern is a team that will spread you out and throw the ball all over the field,” McCutcheon said. “They have very good QB and skill players with speed all over the place.”

Logan Drummer, the Tornadoes center snapper, completed 19 of 32 passes for 261 yards and four TDs in a 35-19 win at Ravenswood High’s Flynn Field in Jackson County, W.Va. last Friday evening. Drummer has a nice, deep receiving corps in Trey McNickle, Austin Baker, Brody Dutton, Gage Shuler, and Weston Thorla.

“We will have to put pressure on the quarterback to help our secondary out as much as we can,” McCutcheon said.

Southern also mixes the run and pass well. Against Ravenswood, McNickle rushed for 80 yards on 15 attempts and had five catches for 71 yards.

The Cassady Willford-coached Tornadoes will need to secure the ball better than they did at Ravenswood to be successful at Waterford. Four turnovers didn’t hurt them but are a lot, and could be costly against the Wildcats.

After Waterford, Southern is scheduled to host second-ranked Trimble next Friday, while the Wildcats play at winless Federal Hocking.