The grind of a football season comes to a halt for one after Friday night, while the other hopes things are just heating up.

Lewis County will host Mason County in Vanceburg for the regular season finale as the Lions enter 2-7 and out of the postseason picture while the Royals enter 6-3 with a game at Johnson Central next Friday on deck to kick off their postseason run.

While one may be on the outside looking in and the other looking forward to the following week, both coaches know there's still a task at hand Friday night.

"It is a tough week for a coach when your team is out of the playoffs, but we did a lot of scrimmaging, a lot of things to keep the kids interested and give good effort," Lions coach Josh Hughes said. "We went over scout team as well to make sure the kids know where we're supposed to be. Overall it was a positive week for us."

"We've stressed we have to take things one week at a time. Some of the kids were mad at me for not giving them film on Johnson Central, but we need to focus on ourselves and worry about getting better this week. Our goal is to be 7-3 and we got to take care of business tomorrow (Friday)," Royals coach Jonathan Thomas said.

After taking a two-year break in the series, the counties that border one another reconvene the matchup. The Royals and Lions have met 31 times dating back to 1979, Mason County owning a 24-7 lead in the series, including winning 19 of the last 20.

"It's a close school, a lot of people from here work in Maysville, the kids know each other. We're hoping it's a great game and should guarantee a good crowd," Hughes said.

The Lions will try and snap a three-game skid, the common denominator in those losses and throughout the year is defensive struggles, surrendering 412 points in nine contests this season. That doesn't bode well for a Mason County team coming in, boasting the second-highest scoring offense in Class 4A, averaging 38.8 points per contest. 

"They are just efficient offensively," Hughes said. "They run the ball well, are effective and seem to do a lot of the right things."

The Royals will look to keep that efficiency going, both in the run game and a passing game that got a shot in the arm last week as Chandler Dunaway threw for 148 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-8 win over Grant County. The Royals kept things pretty basic in the win over the Braves, dealing with injuries along the offensive line, but Thomas feels this is another week to work guys in spots they are getting adjusted to with the injuries.

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"I look at it like this, we are who we are at this point. We need to be good at what we're doing. We can't hide what we are doing, we're not good enough for that, not many teams in high school can hide things and save them for the playoffs. You know who you are at this point of the year," Thomas said.

Running back Malkolm Devine is five yards shy of 1,000 this year, already a 250 yard increase in rushing yards from a season ago.

"It shows he's worked his tail off," Thomas said. "People don't see it a lot of times, but some of his runs and yards he gets he makes it out of nothing."

The Lions also feature a solid back in Garrett Applegate. The junior has amassed 681 rushing yards while finding the end zone 12 times. He also leads the team in tackles defensively.

"Even though we're not in the playoffs, not everything has been negative this season," Hughes said. "Zach (Lehn) has stepped up and done a heck of a job at QB. Zach Roberison (wide receiver) has stepped up and taken a lot of pressure of Tay (Offut). Garrett is probably the best running back we've had in two or three years. There's a lot of excitement moving forward with these guys."

The two will kick it off in Vanceburg at 7:30 p.m. Bring a jacket, as temperatures are expected to creep down to the lower 50's by the second half with a possibility of rain kicking in.


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