BELLAIRE - The beautiful thing about the Buckeye 8 is the fact there is always something to play for.
While neither Bellaire nor Edison appear to be heading to the postseason, the bragging rights are still on the line as the 4-4 Big Reds welcome the 3-5 Wildcats on Saturday at Nelson Field.
''It's been kind of the same the last two years when we've played (Edison),'' Bellaire coach Jose Davis said. ''The games have been competitive, entertaining and I am looking for another exciting game that could come down to the wire.'
The Big Reds come into the game winners of two in a row, including last week's victory against Union Local.
Edison, meanwhile, has dropped three straight directly on the heels of a three-game winning streak. Despite the recent struggles, which include a 34-20 setback to Martins Ferry last week, Wildcats coach Mike McKenzie is pleased with the approach his team has taken.
''Our kids are coming out and battling each week,'' McKenzie said. ''These kids are a resilient group. Obviously, we'd like to finish games better because we've been in just about every game except St. Clairsville. That's the thing about this league, any team can win on any given week, but you have to capitalize on chances when you get them.''
When he began his preparations for the Big Reds, the numerous amount of playmakers on the field jumped out at McKenzie.
''They have a lot of firepower,'' McKenzie said. ''They've been able to spread the ball around to so many different kids, you just can't take one guy away.''
McKenzie hit the nail on the head because Big Reds quarterback Spencer Badia has been torching opposing defenses through the air. He's thrown for 2,055 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Last week, despite having a bad wrist after being injured against Harrison Central, Badia threw for more than 300 yards.
While the Big Reds' passing numbers are eye-popping, Davis believes it's the recent success of the ground game that has allowed his team to take it to a new level.
''Spencer has had success because we've ran the ball well,'' Davis said. ''We've had some continuity with our linemen and Josh (Davis) and Manny (Ray) have picked us up big time.''
Davis, gritty senior, has run for 439 yards and three scores. Ray has run the ball well, but is also a big-play threat in the passing game.He's one of five receivers with at least 19 receptions.
Ray leads the way with 37 catches for 528 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Chuckie Myers has made 29 catches for 514 yards and six scores, while Juwan Whetstone, a speedster, has caught 24 passes for 569 yards and seven touchdowns.
Davis and Nick Patrone are also solid options.
''Last year, (Devin) Ward was really the guy you had to concentrate on, but this year they spread the ball around really well. Plus, they run the ball better. We're really impressed with Davis on both sides of the ball,'' McKenzie said.
Edison's offense is triggered by quarterback Mark Smyth, who recently surpassed the 1,000-yard passing mark. Shane O'Brien is an impressive runner at the tailback spot with better than 600 yards.
The Wildcats' leading receiver in their spread attack is Kyle Minger, who's hauled in more than 20 catches.
''Edison really spreads you out,'' Davis said. ''They've got a really good back and their quarterback is feasible for the offense they run. You can't key in on the run because as soon as you do, they'll hit you on a big one.''