FLORENCE, Ky. - It’s been nearly nine months since the end of the high school football season, but it has felt a lot longer than that for impassioned pigskin fans across the Tri-State.
Finally, though, after the months of waiting, the season kicks off on Friday for many teams in Kentucky and Indiana.
Fans in Ohio will have to wait until next week, Friday, Aug. 30, for the official start of football season.
9 On Your Side will be live at Boone County High School in Northern Kentucky to watch the Rebels open their season against Covington Catholic. The action at Owen Hauck Stadium is one of 13 games involving Northern Kentucky teams scheduled to take place this weekend.
Several high school games will also take place in the Tri-State's Indiana communities, including an annual early-season matchup between rivals Lawrenceburg and South Dearborn.
While in Florence, 9 On Your Side will debut its new show, Friday Football Frenzy, a weekly program dedicated to the latest high school action across the Tri-State. The broadcast features all the game recaps, highlights and interviews necessary to put you so close to the field that you'll almost feel like you're under the Friday Night Lights.
Northern Kentucky: Covington Catholic at Boone County
On Friday, Friday Football Frenzy will feature a Boone County program that is rich in tradition but looking to rebound from a rocky 2012 season.
The Rebels went 1-10 last season but could improve under the tutelage of first-year head coach Jeff Griffith, the former defensive coordinator for the Bowling Green Purples -- the two-time defending Class 5A state champions.
According to Greg Shoemaker from Tri-State Football, this season you can expect to see changes right away from Boone County, especially on defense where Griffith teaches a hard-hitting system that has proven capable of shutting down opposing teams.
Under Griffith, the Purples gave up less than 10 points per game (eight shutouts; allowed seven or fewer points nine times) during the school's current 30-game winning streak.
Despite having home-field advantage and a new coaching staff, Boone County won't have a cake walk against CovCath. The Colonels are a well-balanced, aggressive team that seems to preform well every season.
They went 9-4 in 2012 but will have to do a fair amount of rebuilding in 2013. The Colonels lost record-setting quarterback Blake Bir to graduation and the University of Dayton, so they'll rely more on their defense than they've had to in recent years.
Head coach Dave Wirth has made it a point to hold teams under 10 points per contest this year. Tri-State Football's James Adams reports that Covington Catholic returns several outstanding players from last year’s defense, but the key to dominating teams again this year will be the new faces up front in the Colonel’s 3-3-5 alignment.
9 On Your Side sat down with Griffith and Boone County senior linebacker Dru Shroder to talk about the game and their expectations for the season. You can watch that interviews by clicking on the video section in the media player above (mobile and tablet users can view the video at the following link: http://ow.ly/obZ3g).
Indiana: South Dearborn at Lawrenceburg
In Indiana, the Lawrenceburg Tigers will open their season against conference rival South Dearborn for the third year in a row.
In a unique twist, the game will also serve as homecoming for Lawrenceburg because the team has only three home games after one was moved to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Head coach Ryan Knigga guided a dynamic offensive attack in 2012 that saw the Tigers score a school-record 538 points last season during an 11-2 campaign that resulted in the program's 16th sectional title.
While the team will face challenges after graduating a few key players and being bumped up to Class 3A, Shoemaker thinks the team will be a "blast to watch on offense" this season.
Knigga discussed his team’s upcoming season and what he expects to see from his boy’s their first time out in an interview with 9 On Your Side. You can watch that video in the media player above (mobile and tablet users can view the video at the following link: http://ow.ly/obZ3g).
Lawrenceburg's coach also discussed his upcoming match up with South Dearborn.
The Tigers' offensive attack could be too much for South Dearborn to handle. While the Knights should improve over last year, the team went 0-10 in 2012 and has several talented but young players on the defensive side of the ball, according Shoemaker.
The team does feature solid talent in the backfield, with senior Josh Proctor and junior Zach Streur. Also, Shoemaker says senior linebacker/defensive end Brad Bruner should be a contender for Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
The newly designed WCPO.com website has partnered with Tri-State Football to put together a complete round up of all the week’s action:
Ohio high school sports page: http://www.wcpo.com/sports/ohio-high-school
Kentucky high school sports page: http://www.wcpo.com/sports/kentucky-high-school
High school football scoreboard: http://www.wcpo.com/sports/ohio-high-school-football-scoreboard
Vote for the Tri-State high school football all-star team: http://www.wcpo.com/sports/high-school-sports/ohio-high-school-sports/vote-2013-preseason-all-high-school-football-team