Tonight marks Week 8 in the 2009 football season ... that is if anyone is well enough to play.

All week, schools in the area have reported a rash of absences due to illnesses, or at least the fear of getting ill. And, similarly, coaches have been dealing with kids missing practice.

One game — Thursday’s meeting between Cambridge Springs and Harborcreek Youth Services — has already been canceled, in part because of injuries, but also because of illnesses.

It was Harborcreek that had to cancel, but Cambridge has had some kids out as well.

“There are a lot of sick kids,” said Blue Devils coach Walt Nottingham. “So taking a day or two (off) won’t hurt us.”

What will this mean when it comes to tonight’s games? Is anyone gonna show?

“Who knows,” said Lakeview head coach Dan York on Wednesday. “We had five starters miss (on Wednesday) ... We’ll wait and see how sick they are (on Friday).”

Over in Linesville: “We had two or three starters out during the week with the flu,” said Lions coach Pat Gould. “We’re getting a couple of them back (on Thursday). But you never know who’s going to get it after that. It’s going to be interesting.”

This isn’t the best timing for a flu outbreak, either. It’s Week 8. There are only three games left, and there are a number of teams, including a few local ones, whose postseason goals will either be made or lost over the next few games.

Here’s a look:

Bears entertain Eagles

Union City may have won the last four over Youngsville, including 45-0 last season. However, the Bears can’t afford to take the Eagles lightly when the two teams square off tonight in Union City.

Both squads have won their last three games and both can work themselves into position for playoff consideration — or out of it — over the next few weeks.

Youngsville (3-4, 3-3 Region 2) raised a number of eyebrows last week with a 31-7 win over Iroquois. That certainly got the notice of Bears coach Brian Patten.

“They beat Iroquois. We didn’t. ” he said. “They look solid. We saw them earlier in the year and they looked solid, but they came up short in their games a few times. Now they’ve started going on a little run here.”

This one is crucial for Union City (5-2, 5-1 Region 2). The Bears have a non-conference game against Conneaut Valley in Week 9. Then, they finish up against undefeated Mercyhurst Prep.

If the Bears lose both remaining conference games, they’ll have three losses in the region and that will make things really messy. A number of the league’s teams — we’re talking three or four of them — could end the year with three losses.

But a win tonight means the Bears will be in relatively good position for the postseason. Nothing is guaranteed, of course.

Spa’s table is set

Cambridge Springs needs to win out. That’s the bottom line. The Blue Devils (5-3, 4-2 Region 2) already have two losses in the league. A third could force them into a logjam with a number of conference opponents, which could include Iroquois, Eisenhower, Youngsville, Saegertown or even Union City by the end of the season.

So, the Blue Devils have to win their next two games — next week against Iroquois and Week 10 against Saegertown, both at home. With those two games in the win column, the Spa will be in decent shape for the postseason.

“All we got to do is win,” said Nottingham. “It’s nice when you control your own destiny. If we just continue to win we’re going to be OK. If we lose, now that gets complicated.”

Sailors need to battle

Right now, Lakeview (5-2, 3-2 Region 1) is in decent position in Region 1 with just two losses. But the Sailors still have a lot of work to do if they want to remain in the top four.

Step one is beating Farrell tonight at Farrell. Not an easy task. No one has done it yet.

“You know, they’re Farrell,” said York. “Very athletic. A lot of speed.”

Yet, no matter what happens against Farrell, the Sailors still have to battle over the final two weeks. In Week 9, they’ve got Kennedy Catholic. And then they have Mercer in Stoneboro in Week 10.

Should Lakeview lose to Farrell and beat Kennedy, and should Mercer win its next two against Conneaut Lake and West Middlesex, that Week 10 matchup between the Mustangs and the Sailors would be for the fourth playoff spot out of Region 1.

Of course, Lakeview could just pull off an upset this week and that would pretty much solve everything. Otherwise, the Sailors are going to have to keep fighting until that bell rings.

Lions must maintain

Sitting in second place in Region 1, it’s hard to call Linesville a bubble team. However, the Lions (6-1, 4-1 Region 1) still have three big contests left to close out the season.

First, it’s West Middlesex on Saturday night in Mercer County. The Big Reds are 3-4 and 2-3 in the region, however, according to coach Gould, “I think (Middlesex is) better than what their record shows. They are a nice size team up front, very big. I think, for the most part, they’ve had some close games that they just didn’t win.”

After West Middlesex, Linesville then has Sharpsville in Sharpsville on Halloween night. That game is huge. Sharpsville is only a half-game behind Linesville at present.

Then the Lion’s got backyard rival Conneaut Lake in Week 10.

So, there’s no resting on their laurels for the Lions yet. They’ll need to hold serve over the next few weeks in order to lock down a high playoff berth.

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