Every team in the Tri-state has played at least two games and the contenders are slowly separating themselves from the pretenders.
This weekend features some key match-ups as teams brace for conference play in the weeks ahead. Injuries have played a hand early on in the season and will likely have an impact as the year progresses.
Here's a look at some of the area's top games:
Springfield at Sycamore
It will be a pivotal battle in the quest for a playoff spot. The Wildcats have defensive superstars in Alabama-bound Trey DePriest and defensive backs George Walker and Josh Bass. On offense, they will try to get the ball into Walker's hands as many times as possible. Sycamore has found out that they too can find success on the ground. Last week Darius Hillary became the focal point of their offense running behind UC-bound tackle Justin Murray.
Moeller at Northmont
The contest is intriguing form the aspect of the ground game. Northmont (1-1) has run the ball 54 times for just 45 yards in two games. Moeller (2-0) has allowed 296 yards rushing per contest, but only 29 passing. Something has to give. Thunderbolts' head coach Lance Schneider will make sure his home team is well prepared for an upset.
Oak Hills at Loveland
This tilt is all about "smash mouth" football between two very good defenses. Don't expect this affair to have more than 35 total points. Both squads are coming off of a confidence-building wins and neither team wants to lose that momentum as large games lie ahead in Week 4 as the Oak Hills (1-1) head to Hamilton (1-1) and Loveland (1-1) hosts Kings (2-0).
Alter at Centerville
Division IV Alter, back-to-back state champions, takes their 30-game win streak on the road to Division I powerhouse Centerville in what may be a Montgomery County game for the ages. If the Elks can use their depth and penetrate the Knights' offensive front they will end an impressive run by Alter. If not, Alter could go down as one of the Dayton area's greatest dynasties.
Kings at Harrison
Kings is in a zone right now and hope a road contest will not derail them. Under head coach Neal Kasner, Harrison rarely has back-to-back letdown games. The Wildcats will be ready on their home turf. The Knights defense is in the process of making a name for themselves and don't be surprised if they put an exclamation point on the statement after this one is over.
Madeira at North College Hill
This has all the makings of a gridiron track meet. Both teams have the athletes to put points on the board in bunches. Look for a high-scoring affair. This is real chance for Madeira to show that they belong in the upper tier of Division IV teams.
Mariemont at CHCA
Mariemont head coach Tom Crosby believed he had the horses to run his Wing-T offense before the season started. Now his wish is coming to fruition. The Warriors have to prove they can play with the Division V big boys like CHCA. Don't look for the Eagles to back down and to be on top of the challenges the Mariemont offense presents.
Bishop Fenwick at Valley View
This is great test for two Division IV schools vying for one of the eight playoff spots the region offers. Fenwick has won their last five non-conference games by an average of 33 points per contest. It is time for the Falcons to take the next step and play in Week 11. Since 1996, Valley View has missed the playoffs just twice. They are the gold standard for post-season appearances.
Hamilton at Taft
It's a must win game for Hamilton on the other hand Taft has nothing to lose and everything to gain. A win over a Division I school will look good on the Division IV Senators' resume. Wishes come with eyes closed and if Taft even blinks they will be in danger of getting knocked out early. The Senators must prove they can stand toe-to-toe with the massive Hamilton lines if they want to be considered a contender for a small school state championship.
Ross at Badin
Keep your eyes on Ross. Head coach Brian Butts thinks this might be his best team there yet. He definitely has the best skill position players during his tenure as coach and the defense is proving to be every bit as good as well. Badin is hurting at quarterback and if Ross exploits that it will be a long night for the Rams in what promises to be an electric atmosphere at kickoff.
NewCath at Ryle
NewCath is for real. but do they have the depth up front to last four quarters with the bigger Raiders squad? The Thoroughbreds are going to account well for themselves. If Ryle can show it can throw the ball against the tough NewCath linebackers and secondary it will show real progress in the development of their offense this season.
Conner at Dixie Heights
It is all about the quarterbacks in this contest. Conner's Cy Smith versus the Dixie's Zeke Pike. Both players are the focal points of their squad's offense. The team that finds a way to score in unconventional fashion (kickoff, punt, interception returns) will have the upper hand in the outcome of this struggle.
Holmes at Cooper
This affair will be full of athletic players made by gifted players. It promises to be a real fun tilt to watch from a "WOW" factor. As for Cooper they just don't have enough athletes to keep pace late in the second half. Holmes quietly continues to learn how to win. The Bulldogs best football is just beginning.
Franklin County at East Central
Will the real East Central (2-2) team please stand up? If they don't the Franklin County Wildcats (3-0) will look to become the hunter instead of the hunted. The Trojans have played well for two of three weeks, but they are in need of consistency. Franklin County is riding high and looks for their share of the EIAC crown after going just 2-28 the previous three seasons.
Anderson at Boone County
The Anderson Redskins have won 16 straight regular season games dating back to October 3rd, 2008. Number 17 is going to have to be well earned. The Redskins have had inexperienced varsity players step up and show that they can be productive. Boone County is hungry to prove that they can play with the big boys. A tough home crowd could be tough for Anderson to withstand.
Withrow at Highlands
Withrow played the Bluebirds tough at home last season, but this is a different season. Highlands has made a habit of scoring early and often to put away opponents. Expect more of the same in this one. Withrow will need to set the pass up with the run in order to keep the Bluebirds defensive backs honest.
New Richmond Simon Kenton
Size and depth should be the defining strength for Simon Kenton. New Richmond was shutout last week at McNick and their offense will have an even tougher task this week trying to solve the Pioneers front seven. The Lions need to contain Simon Kenton quarterback Chad Lawrence or he will be the difference in the game for the second straight week.
Elder at Louisville Trinity
Elder will need to prove they can put pressure on Trinity's high powered passing attack. If the Panthers can't do that then it will be a long trip back home at game's end. The same can be said for the Shamrocks they must contain the Ben Gramke to Ben Coffaro connection in order to come out victorious.
Louisville St. Xavier at Xavier
Week in and week out the Bombers have to be mentally prepared. This game versus the St. Xavier Tigers is no different. The defensive backfield for the Bombers will have to play out of their minds against the Tigers' spread aerial attack if they are to snatch an interstate win.
Written by: Greg Shoemaker, TriStateFootball.com