With all of the commotion lately revolving around the outstanding play of the Reds and the beginning of a big year for the Bengals, many including myself have lost sight of something that we really pride ourselves on in Cincinnati, “The Friday Night Lights.” High school football arrives this weekend with the usual Skyline Crosstown Showdown. Games for this annual event will be played at Nippert Stadium (home of the Bearcats) and at St. Xavier High School’s beautiful football venue, Ballaban Field.
This is the 13th year of this major tradition in the tri state area, and this year features teams predominantly from the local area, but also a highly acclaimed Good Counsel High School squad coming in from Maryland. In my eyes, this is the year after the “year.” Sure last year was unusual for Southwest Ohio in that no local team won the State Championship. The area has been spoiled in the past decade with numerous state champions coming from Region 4 (Southwest Ohio region). But do not be surprised to see a local team reclaim the title back for the area.
Last year was a year that the tri state area was richer on Division 1 College talent than I can ever remember. I mean the area was flat-out stacked. Especially at the Quarterback position. There were 4 big time quarterbacks in the area with 3 going to major Division 1 programs and the other going to a major NAIA school. These top guns were Luke Massa (St X now heading to Notre Dame), Andrew Hendrix (Moeller now heading to Notre Dame), Spencer Ware (Princeton now heading to LSU), and Mark Miller (Elder now heading to Ohio Dominican). Not to mention the local area featured one of the top 5 rated offensive lineman in the country (Matt James who was headed to Notre Dame) and the overall number 1 rated linebacker in the country (according to most polls, Jordan Hicks heading to Texas). I mean the area was simply amazing. And though this year does not include nearly the amount of high-profile names, you better believe it will be another exciting year. Here are some reasons why:
1. High school football in Cincinnati is always exciting. It is always the “it” thing to do on Friday nights. The UC Bearcat football boys mainly play on Saturdays and the Bengals mainly play on Sundays. So for football hungry Cincinnati, why not go out and watch the next generation of stars?
2. The level is outstanding in Ohio. Football in Ohio is widely regarded as one of the country’s elite consistently producing many Division 1 players and consistently putting teams into all of the National Ranking polls. There is a reason why Ohio teams have dominated the Kirk Herbstreit Classic since the idea came to fruition a few years back. Ohio says bring on the rest of the country. We will teach them what high school football is like in the Buckeye State. For those of you who do not know, the Kirk Herbstreit Classic is an annual event that has Ohio teams play against top high school programs from all over the country.
3. Though I hate to say it, we feature the Greater Catholic League (GCL). This league has consistently put out some of the country’s elite teams for years now. And though at times I and many others feel like these schools have an unfair advantage over the public schools, they do produce some pretty strong teams every year. The discipline of these kids is absolutely amazing and is a testament to great coaching. Do not forget that legendary College Coach Urban Meyer got his start handling the defensive backs job at St. Xavier.
4. Colerain is full of outstanding talent this year. The public school power is looking to atone for a very unusual absence from the Ohio State playoffs. Be on the lookout for this team to really make some noise this upcoming season. Featuring major Division 1 talents such as Tyler Williams, Traylon Durham, Jarret Grace, Andrew Smith, and Chris Dukes. These guys are simply loaded and will wow fans with their amazing triple option attack.
5. The GCL South is really up for grabs this year. All 4 of the teams are expected to be tough as usual. But for once, the favorite appears to be the Lasalle Lancers. Lasalle has traditionally been the doormat for this conference in football for some time now. This year though, they boast a quarterback heading into his 3rd year as a starter. You better believe this Andrew Kummer kid (the QB) will come in very handy late in games during the major pressure situations that define GCL Football.
6. And this is my final reasoning. Do not act like you have something better to do between 7 and 10 on Friday nights. Go watch your current institution or your alma mater. We are very fortunate to have an amazing level of high school football in Southwest Ohio. Not to mention games typically cost 3 to 5 dollars to get into. So take advantage of the opportunity that has been given to you.
Friday Night Lights are back baby. Can a Southwest Ohio school bring back the state title crown?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.