This weekend represents the official halfway point of the regular season for most of the area's high school football teams and many teams are facing critical games.
There will be little margin for error for teams looking to state their case as playoff contenders.
We get you ready for kickoff with our Weekend Watch as we look at the top matchups on the slate.
Simon Kenton at Conner
Simon Kenton is coming off a big victory at Henry Clay, now they must guard against a letdown game against Conner. The Pioneers have started to find their rhythm on offense, but the defense will be tested by the Cougars passing attack. Conner suffered a setback to Holy Cross and will be looking for a bounce back. This could be a very high scoring affair.
CovCath at NewCath
CovCath has been a Jekyll & Hyde team all season. The Colonels could use a signature win and to beat their rival NewCath would let everyone know that Dave Wirth's squad has turned the corner. The Thoroughbreds are a front runner to bring home a Class 2A state title and they have the tools to beat bigger schools on a consistent basis.
Ryle at Cooper
The Cooper Jaguars have come a long way in their short existence. This week will gage the barometer of those strides. On paper, Ryle has dominated this matchup since it began and Friday looks to be no different. If the Jaguars can run the ball with D'Vontae Bradley against the Raiders they have a shot at making this a respectable outcome.
Bishop Ready (OH) at Holy Cross
It is a good year to catch Bishop Ready (2-2), who is riding a two-game losing streak. They have made the playoff for three straight years and seven times in the last 10. Holy Cross is coming of a huge win over the bigger Conner. Indians' quarterback Jerry Arlinghaus is coming of a school record 308-yard, five- touchdown performance. Look for him to have another huge outing.
Moeller at St. Xavier
It is a game that is power versus power. The strength of both teams' lines will be where this war is decided. St. Xavier running back Conor Hundley is averaging 213 yards rushing over the Bombers' last three contests. Moeller has found good balance on offense behind their platoon at quarterback with Charlie Fiessinger and Spencer "The Cheese" Iacovone. The Crusaders are averaging a robust 390 yards. It will be the leaders on defense who come up with big plays to sway the outcome.
Lakewood St. Edward at Elder
Saturday night at The Pit will be rocking. St. Edward (4-0) invades the Panthers home turf averaging 43.7 points per contest. Elder is allowing 211 yards a game and that doesn't bode well against a huge Eagles' offensive line that includes junior Kyle Kallis (6-foot-5, 305), who recently committed to Ohio State, senior Geoff Mogus (6-foot-5, 280), who is headed to Northwestern, and his classmate Brandon Jackson (6-foot-4, 305). Elder is in a must-win situation each week in order to keep their playoff hopes alive because the last five teams are a combined 19-1.
Winton Woods at Walnut Hills
After a Week 1 loss to Elder, Winton Woods has found their rushing attack. The Warriors have averaged 328 yards on the ground and scored 17 rushing touchdowns the past three weeks. Walnut Hills will be up for the challenge on defense as they have held opponents to just 8-43 on third conversions thus far. The Eagles victories are against squads that are a combined 1-11
Turpin at Milford
Turpin (4-0) comes into this contest sitting atop the Division II AP Poll this week. Milford (3-1) looks to break the Spartans 15-game, regular-season winning streak. The Eagles are averaging 46 points against opponents, who are a combined 3-9. They will face they best defense they have seen thus far as Turpin allows just 12 points per night and will hit them harder than they have been all season.
Amelia at Goshen
Goshen (1-3) has a chance to right the ship over the next four weeks, but it has to start with a win over Amelia (2-2). The Warriors final won last week after having lost the two games prior by three and five points. The Barons are playing with confidence. The postseason maybe out of reach, but the SBAAC American title is definitely within their grasp.
Clark Montessori at Lockland
What a great small school battle this affair should be. Both squads are loaded with playmakers so expect some fireworks. Clark Montessori (4-0, 1-0) has their eyes on the school's first ever post-season berth. The next four weeks will tell a lot about the makeup of this Cougars team. Lockland (3-1, 0-1) is coming off an OT loss to Summit Country Day, so expect a focused Panthers squad to show up.
Eaton at Oakwood
Eaton (4-0, 1-0) is playing stellar defense, having allowed just 20 points in four contests. The Eagles win over St. Henry proved that they are a force to be reckoned with. Oakwood (2-2, 2-0) is struggling to find consistency. They have two league road wins, but have struggled at home against top-notch opponents having been outscored 74-15 in losses to Bishop Fenwick and Carlisle.
Trotwood-Madison at Springfield
The winner in this tilt picks up a huge quality victory. Springfield (3-1) just continues to get better each week. Trotwood Madison (3-1) has sputtered on offense trying to find their rhythm without a healthy Antwan Gilbert, who has gained just 93 yards on 28 carries the past two weeks. The Wildcats have seen former quarterback George Walker flourish at running back. His predecessor under center sophomore JC Wallace throw four touchdown passes last Friday.
Lakota West at Colerain
Lakota West (1-3, 0-1) head coach Larry Cox is throwing his young squad to wolves for a dose of what it takes to be champions in the GMC. Colerain (4-0, 1-0) should have their way early and often in this affair. The Cardinals will exert all kinds of pressure on Firebirds' sophomore quarterback Jordan Darling, who is coming off a 9-for-35 performance against Middletown.
Hamilton at Middletown
The time has finally come for Hamilton (3-1, 1-0) to show if they are a contender or a pretender for the GMC title. A win on the road against Middletown (4-0, 1-0) and their Barnitz Stadium crowd will show that the Big Blue is for real. The Middies' defense is allowing just nine points per contest and has 11 takeaways. They will force Hamilton to beat them with the pass.
Badin at Alter
It has been a tough luck season for Badin (2-2). They lost quarterback Patrick Coyne to a separated shoulder in game one and follow that up with two heartbreaking one-point defeats. The question is - are the Rams spent emotionally right now? If they are then Alter (3-1) will show no mercy with their rushing attack. This game has all the makings of rough night for Badin.
Carroll at Roger Bacon
Roger Bacon (4-0) is getting tons of respect for their early season start. They are ranked #3 in the latest AP Division III Poll. This week they get a true test as Division II Carroll (4-0) comes calling. This will be the most meaningful games at Bron Bacevich Field in a decade. Emotion may be enough to lift Roger Bacon over the top. If it comes down to the kicking game, the Patriots Ryan Adams has field goals of 52 and 44 yards this season.
The EIAC did not disappoint last week as all three league games were decided by four points or less. This week looks to be just as competitive as Batesville is at Lawrenceburg, Franklin County travels to Greensburg and South Dearborn hosts East Central. A South Dearborn victory will lead to at least a three way tie for first place with two weeks to go in league play.
Written by: Greg Shoemaker, TriStateFootball.com