Dyer: Seven storylines to watch in Ohio high school football this weekend

Posted at 10:54 AM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 17:05:49-04

CINCINNATI – The halfway point of the Ohio high school football regular season is here.

With the season’s first Ohio High School Athletic Association computer points standings released this week, teams have a better idea of what needs to happen down the homestretch to reach the postseason.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at nine storylines for Week 5 of the Ohio high school football season:

1. GCL showdown: Moeller plays at St. Xavier in the 61st meeting between the Greater Catholic League South division rivals. Moeller leads the all-time series 41-18-1, according to Moeller archivist Dick Beerman. Moeller (3-1) defeated Don Bosco (N.J.) 20-14 last week. Moeller coach John Rodenberg said it was a significant 20-14 win over a very high quality opponent. He was also pleased with the way his team handled the 11-hour trip and kept its focus. Senior tight end Matt Dotson (Michigan State commit) is expected to return this week after he missed the past two weeks with an ankle injury, Rodenberg said. Junior Michael Filipowski did well filling in at the tight end spot last week. Senior offensive lineman Jacob Gall had a solid game and junior running back Colin Thurman rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown. Moeller has outscored its opponents 42-0 in the second quarter. St. X (2-2) earned a high-quality win over Indianapolis Cathedral 34-29 last week. Injuries have been a storyline for the Bombers all season, but St. X coach Steve Specht is proud of this squad has persevered. “I told them that these games are the games young football players dream about playing in when they get to high school,” Specht said. “After traveling to Mentor and Indianapolis we get to play at home against a league opponent. It doesn’t get any better than that.” St. X senior quarterback Sean Clifford (Penn State) returned from a foot injury and threw for 224 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two touchdowns.

St. Xavier coach Steve Specht. (Michael Noyes/

2. ECC showdown: Turpin (4-0) plays at Walnut Hills (4-0) in one of the most intriguing games Friday night. It will be Homecoming Friday night at Marx Stadium and the Eagles are 4-0 for the first time since the 2011 season. “I am telling them to enjoy the moment,” Walnut Hills first-year coach Brian Lainhart said. Junior running back Robvae McDonald (340 rushing yards and five touchdowns) and junior Peyton Doughty (299 rushing yards and six touchdowns) have been among the offensive standouts. Senior wide receiver Michael Davenport is not expected to play due to injury. Sophomore defensive lineman Jowon Briggs – who has multiple scholarship offers - and junior defensive lineman Trevon Poole are among the defensive standouts. Plain and simple, Turpin will run the football. Turpin has scored 149 points – second most in the ECC. Sophomore quarterback Lucas Smith has thrown for 442 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s rushed for three touchdowns. Senior halfback Nathan Hooper has 381 yards rushing. “I think our guys understand the importance of this game,” Turpin coach Rob Stoll said. “I stress control what you can – which right now is practice and getting better.”

Walnut Hills coach Brian Lainhart. (Michael Noyes/

3. Elder moves forward after upset win: Elder upset two-time reigning Division I state champion Lakewood St. Edward on Saturday night at The Pit. But, the Panthers aren’t resting on that accomplishment. Elder (3-1) plays host to Pittsburgh University Prep at 7:30 p.m. Friday. “We have challenged the entire team,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said. “We want to keep looking forward. We all need to get better every time we step on to the field.”

Elder wide receiver Adam Schwallie (Michael Noyes/

4. A good matchup: La Salle (2-2) plays at Winton Woods (2-2) in one of the more intriguing games Friday night. La Salle has lost two straight games for the first time since the 2013 season. “We have had a great week of preparation so far,” La Salle coach Jim Hilvert said. “The kids have brought the juice and focus to practice this week. The kids and coaching staff are locked for a tough battle this week. Our kids want to bounce back from two tough losses.” Winton Woods (2-2) defeated Toledo Start 41-7 last week. Junior quarterback Kenny Mayberry threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns.  Senior defensive lineman Jerron Cage (Ohio State commit) had a game-high 11 tackles.

Winton Woods senior defensive lineman Jerron Cage. (Michael Noyes/

5. Turnaround at Oak Hills: Oak Hills has won two consecutive games for the first time since the 2013 season and the Highlanders are No. 13 in the Region 4 rankings this week. Oak Hills (2-2, 1-0 GMC) plays host to Princeton (3-1, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.  Oak Hills coach Kyle Prosser, a 2004 Oak Hills graduate, likes the focused and disciplined approach his alma mater has shown the first four weeks.

6. Interesting GMC matchup: Mason plays at Hamilton at 7 p.m. Friday in a game that could have playoff implications. Mason (3-1) is No. 7 in the Region 4 computer points standings while Hamilton (3-1) is No. 6. The GMC has six teams in the top 12 of the Region 4 standings. Colerain (No. 1), Fairfield (No. 4), Sycamore (No. 11) and Oak Hills (No. 12) are also vying for spots.

7. Extra points: Longtime playoff projections analyst Steve Shuck will provide analysis and perspective for starting the Week of Oct. 3. …The (Massillon) Independent reported former La Salle standout offensive lineman Thayer Munford is eligible Week 8 if he meets academic requirements.  …St. Xavier senior defensive back Eugene (Delan) Stallworth committed to Princeton University on Tuesday.