CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The schedule is set, now bring on high school football.
Eleven consecutive weeks of marquee Friday night match-ups featuring 25 teams that qualified for their state football playoffs last season and a lengthy list of highly rated recruits highlight the schedule of games in the 2019 Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown presented by Mercy Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and Meijer.
The complete 2019 Showdown schedule was announced Thursday by In-Game Sports, the event owner and manager, on the first day that member schools of the OHSAA could officially begin practice.
In total, the Showdown will celebrate its 22-year anniversary as the largest and longest running high school football showcase in the United States – with 36 schools playing 18 games every Friday night from August 23 through November 1, encompassing the entire regular season.
The 2019 Showdown will once again serve as the official kickoff to high school football in the region – beginning on Friday, August 23 when Southeast Indiana rivals East Central (11-2) and Lawrenceburg (5-6) meet in the Hoosier state season opener. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Lawrenceburg’s Dick Meador Stadium.
Five days later, the Showdown will get the Ohio prep season started when Northwest (3-7) meets Taft (8-3) at the new Stargel Stadium located in Cincinnati’s West End. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28 in what will be the first varsity football game at the new facility.
Participating Showdown schools are comprised of the top prep football programs from the region. The defending state champions are Beechwood in Kentucky (three-peat in Class A) and Wyoming in Ohio (Division IV).
Colerain (Ohio Division I) and Covington Catholic (Kentucky Class 5A) were runners-up in their respective states, while Winton Woods (Division II) were a state semifinalist, and East Central (Class 4A) made it to the Indiana quarterfinals.
If history is any indication, officials say players in this year’s Showdown field will be impact players in college football over the next five years, and many have a legitimate chance of playing at the highest level – evidenced by the more than 20 Showdown alums who are on active NFL rosters.
Showdown alums in the NFL include Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly (St. Xavier), a perennial Pro Bowl member; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (Elder), and second-year Bengals’ defensive lineman Sam Hubbard (Moeller). Former Mt. Healthy standout David Montgomery, who played collegiately at Iowa State, was a third-round selection of the Chicago Bears in this year’s NFL Draft and is expected to see playing time as a rookie running back.
Officials say there are plenty of intriguing match-ups in the ’19 Showdown.
Here is a look at some of the top games, listed in chronological order with date, site and brief summary of what to watch:
- Colerain vs. St. Xavier, September 6 at Colerain – This non-conference annual meeting has literally become THE game in Greater Cincinnati, as the two DI powers seem to meet every year in both the regular and postseasons. There will be a new face on the Colerain sideline this fall, with former assistant Shawn Cutright taking over the Cardinals’ program. This is Colerain’s first home game.
- Loveland vs. Milord, September 13 at Milford – A rare non-conference game between two members of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, who play two weeks later at Loveland in a game that counts in the ECC standings. Eagles’ coach Tom Grippa is looking to get Milford back to the playoffs for the third straight season, while Andy Cruse takes the reins of a Loveland program that won the DII state title back in 2013.
- Highlands vs. Simon Kenton, September 13 at Simon Kenton – Highlands, which has won the second most Kentucky state football championships (23) behind only Louisville Trinity (25), appears to be back among the elite. The Bluebirds finished 10-3 last season, with two of its losses coming to state runner-up and rival Covington Catholic. This should be a good test against a Simon Kenton program that has been one of the area’s most consistent winners. The Pioneers are 67-9 the last six years.
- Anderson vs. Kings, September 20 at Anderson – This is a matchup of contenders in the ECC, with longtime Kings assistant Alex Garvin taking over for Andy Olds – who retired after last season when Kings finished 9-2 overall, made the state playoffs and were 7-0 in the league. Anderson has made three straight appearances in the DII state playoffs under Evan Dreyer, and both teams are looking to contend in the league again. Anderson has won 26 games the last three seasons after posting one win in 2015.
- Elder vs. Moeller, October 11 at Elder – This game decided the Greater Catholic League South Division championship last season, as Moeller rallied for a 24-21 victory. But Elder came back to avenge the regular season loss with a 35-0 win in the playoffs. Elder is expected to have a prolific offense, while Moeller looks to defend its coveted league title under first-year coach Todd Naumann. Elder and Moeller have combined to win four straight titles since 2000, Elder in 2002 and 2003; Moeller in 2012 and 2013.
- Fairfield vs. Princeton, October 11 at Princeton – Could one of these two teams end Colerain’s reign in the Greater Miami Conference? This game, which will feature more than five highly regarded college prospects, could go a long way in determining the GMC title. Fairfield is coming off four straight trips to the DI state playoffs, while Princeton is loaded with talent and expected to contend for a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2007 – when the Vikings wound up 8-3 and lost to Centerville in the first round.
- Lakota East vs. Lakota West, October 18 at West – As if the quest for supremacy in the Lakota Local School District wasn’t enough, consider the arrival of Tom Bolden as the new head coach at West. Bolden, who enjoyed a decade-plus of success at Colerain, now faces off against East coach Rick Haynes – a former Colerain assistant before taking over at East years ago. Both served as assistant coaches at Colerain, helping to orchestrate the Cardinals’ explosive triple-option attack that become a program staple. East has won the last three meetings in this annual rivalry.
- La Salle vs. Winton Woods, October 25 at La Salle – In a game between two of the elite DII teams in Ohio, Winton Woods will look to continue its recent success against GCL South teams. Last season, the Warriors beat both Elder and Moeller en route to a 12-2 finish and a state semifinals appearance. The Warriors again will face one of the most difficult schedules in the state, including this meeting at La Salle, which won three straight DII state titles from 2014 to 2016 and again should be a solid contender.
- Conner vs. Covington Catholic, October 25 at Conner – In what should be an outstanding late season matchup and barometer for both teams, Conner hosts Covington Catholic, who made it to the Kentucky Class 5A state championship for the second straight year before suffering its lone loss, 20-16, to South Warren in the final. Opponents know that the Colonels will have a little extra motivation to take that final step again, which CovCath did in 2017 to cap a perfect season. Conner figures to be a contender in 6A after finishing 8-4, winning its district championship and advancing to the state 6A quarterfinals before losing to Madison Central, 28-27.
- Indian Hill vs., Wyoming, November 1 at Wyoming – The game usually determines the champion in the Cincinnati Hills League. Wyoming has won five of the last six league titles, the only exception during that span was 2015 – when Indian Hill handed the Cowboys their only league loss in 42 CHL games since 2013. Wyoming is coming off a perfect season that culminated with coach Aaron Hancock’s team winning the Division IV state title – the Cowboys’ second title and first since winning back in 1977.
Officials also released a list of players to watch this season:
Tickets to all Showdown games can be purchased in advance of game day at the participating schools. Fans should contact their favorite school for current ticket office hours and prices.