It's put or shut up time in the Tri-state area as we are just a few weeks away from kickoff of the high school football playoffs.
With teams in the thick of conference and district play there is little margin for error.
Fall is in the air and so too are the impact games on the schedule.
We get you ready for kickoff of some of the top games from both sides of the Ohio River:
Covington Catholic at Highlands
CovCath (4-3, 1-0) has played well over their last four outings. The Colonels have shown they can score, but stopping a team like Highlands (7-0, 1-0) is a different story. The Bluebirds have posted 42 points or more five times. Highlands has outscored CovCath 137-7 over the last three seasons. The Colonels must get over the mental hurdle of being able to beat the Bluebirds if they are going to stand a chance of staying close.
Boone County at Simon Kenton
Boone County (3-4, 2-1) enters a hornets' nest on Friday night. Simon Kenton (5-2, 2-1) will be looking to sting the Rebels after their tough overtime loss at Ryle. The Pioneers had trouble stopping the run last week and that plays into Boone County's favor. The Rebels have not shown that they can stop balanced offense teams giving up 144 points in their four losses. The Pioneers will present quite a challenge.
Cooper at Campbell County
Campbell County (3-4, 2-1) is playing with a cause and a win gets them into the playoffs. The Camels passing game will be a challenge for Cooper (2-5, 0-3) to stop. They must jump out to an early lead and smash any hopes of the Jaguars coming back. Cooper's only shot is to get the running game going.
Ryle at Conner
Ryle (6-1, 230) has won three straight games by less than seven points or less. That is good news for Conner (4-4, 1-2), who is fighting for its playoff life. With four losses in five games it is going to be a tough task for the Cougars to penetrate the Raiders' defense. Ryle will pound the ball on offense. Look for Travis Elliott and Conner Hempel to have big games on ground.
Bishop Brossart at BeechwoodM
Three weeks ago Bishop Brossart (5-2, 2-1) had this game circled as the one they were going to measure how far the program has come in three years. After two straight losses the Mustangs just need a confidence-building performance against Beechwood (4-3, 3-0). The Tigers have been pounding their Class 1A opponents early and often as Cameron Vocke has scored 14 first-half touchdowns over the last three weeks.
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Moeller at LaSalle
LaSalle (7-0, 1-0) has two more steps left on their quest for league title. The Lancers appear to have it all, including a defense that can stop the run. Moeller (6-1, 1-0) will challenge LaSalle up front. The Crusaders have found a new wrinkle with the speedy Monty Madaris in the Wildcat formation. The Lancers feel their offense can match and top anything they face and are playing like it. The game will not only have huge implications in the GCL South, but will also factor heavily into the Division I playoff picture.
Hamilton at Sycamore - LISTEN ONLINE (TSF Game of the Week)
The road down the stretch is easier for Hamilton (4-3, 2-2) than it is for Sycamore (5-2, 3-1). The Big Blue's last three opponents are a combined 10-11 while the Aviators foes are 15-5. It is the biggest regular season game for both squads in years. The common denominator is Springfield (6-1, 2-0), who Hamilton beat in Week 1 and the Aviators lost to in Week 3.
Trotwood-Madison at Troy
Troy (6-1, 2-0) has six wins over teams who are a combined 16-26. The Tojans have held those squads to 27 points and the defense has three shutouts. That will all change Friday night as Trotwood-Madison (5-2, 1-0) brings a healthy Antwan Gilbert to the show. Troy must contain the senior tailback if not the Rams will be able to control the tempo on both offense and defense.
Valley View at Carlisle
This will be the toughest test for Carlisle (7-0, 3-0) since they beat Waynesville by four points back in Week 4. The Indians have held their other six opponents (combined 14-28) to 21 total points with three shutouts. A Valley View (5-2, 2-1) win will forge the Spartans ahead of Carlisle for one of the final playoff spots Region 16 Harbin Ratings with two games left in the season.
Badin at Roger Bacon
Despite two straight losses Roger Bacon (5-2, 2-2) still sits at #1 in the Region 12 Harbin Ratings. The Spartans schedule doesn't get any easier as they face perhaps the best quarterback they have seen all year as Patrick Coyne makes his full-time return under center for Badin (4-3, 2-2). The Rams play everyone close as their three losses have been by a grand total of five points.
Bishop Fenwick at Alter
The Bishop Fenwick (7-0, 3-0) program continues to progress right along under head coach Fred Cranford. Now they get the chance to take another step. Beating Alter (6-1, 3-0) would be the ultimate in regular season conquests. The Fenwick offense mirrors the Knights with their outstanding ground game. The Alter defense has not given up more than 14 points and the Falcons have been winning shootouts. This week the bullet could be off the mark.
Mariemont at Reading
It's a great matchup of two quality small school backs. Reading (5-2, 3-1) features senior Rashad Kyte, who leads the CHL in rushing 1,192 yards. Mariemont (4-3, 2-2) junior Griffin Donnelly can hurt you running or catching the ball out of the backfield. Bothe players have 15 touchdowns on the season. The Blue Devils have plenty to play for as finishing 8-2 would be a great way to end the year.
North College Hill at Summit Country Day
This is a good late season test for both squads. North College Hill (7-0, 3-0) has its passing attack in high gear and the Knights must contain it. Summit Country Day (6-1, 3-1) can make a statement and solidify a post-season berth with a victory. The x-factor is Trojan receiver Jelan Render, who has 1,443 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns on 59 touches SCD must shut his big plays down if they are to stay in this contest.
Western Hills at Withrow
Who would have guessed that the kings of West Side football in 2010 would be Western Hills (6-1, 4-0)? The Mustangs have two more wins than Elder and Oak Hills combined. It is senior night for Withrow (3-4, 3-1) and they could spoil Western Hills title hopes and even their record after a grueling start. Coach Paul Jenne has his Mustangs' defense and their running game entrenched as the backbone of their success and don't expect anything less than a quality performance from his team on the road.
Written by: Greg Shoemaker, TriStateFootball.com