CINCINNATI -- The area's top playmakers didn't take long to shine in the first Friday night of the Ohio high school football season.
Week 1 featured nine games in the 20th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown, including a highly-anticipated matchup with Colerain at La Salle that saw 8,100 at Lancer Stadium.
Let’s take a look at nine significant takeaways from Friday night and a look ahead to Saturday's two Showdown games:
Pat McLaughlin wins debut at La Salle
La Salle coach Pat McLaughlin was all business in the pregame preparations at Lancer Stadium. So senior tight end/wide receiver Josh Whyle wasn’t going to shake his coach’s focus before the kickoff with with Colerain.
“I didn’t talk to him (in the pregame),” Whyle said with a smile. “(Assistant coach Jay Roden) said, ‘Don’t say anything stupid to him.’ I didn’t say anything to him.”
McLaughlin was clearly elated after the 7-3 win. He hugged his wife Layne near the sideline before greeting a group of cameras. “It feels good,” McLaughlin said. “It’s one win so it counts as much as the rest, but it feels pretty good.” Whyle, a UC commit, scored the only touchdown on a pass from senior quarterback Griffin Merritt to lift the Lancers.
Tom Grippa wins debut at Milford
Milford senior quarterback Blake King connected with junior running back Cameron Kells on a 4-yard touchdown with 13 seconds remaining, as the Eagles opened the Tom Grippa coaching era with a 42-39 win over host Oak Hills in the Showdown. King finished the game with 295 yards passing. He scored six touchdowns (four in the air and two rushing). Kells had 16 carries for 69 yards. He had nine receptions for 79 yards.
Grippa, a former Mount St. Joseph assistant coach and longtime area high school head coach, assumed the Milford head coaching duties in December. He previously coached at Elder, Fairfield and La Salle. Friday night was his 174th high school head coaching win.
West Clermont wins first game
West Clermont scored 21 unanswered points in the second half as the Wolves won the program’s first game 28-13 Friday night in front of a packed house at the Wolves Den. "It was very emotional," West Clermont coach Nick Ayers said. "We were proud of how they battled back against a very good opponent." Junior Hunter Eads found senior Austin Maham for a 48-yard touchdown pass connection at the 4:21 mark of the third quarter to give the Wolves a 14-7 lead. West Clermont is a new Division I program, which combined Glen Este and Amelia this school year. Ayers said the student section was very supportive Friday night. "It was awesome," Ayers said of the atmosphere. "There was a lot of great community support."
Sycamore earns shutout
Sycamore defeated host Loveland 33-0 in a Showdown game. It was the Aviators’ first shutout in a season opener since 2004, when they defeated host West Carrollton 6-0. Sycamore, a Division I regional runner-up in 2016, was led by a dominant defense. Sophomore Drew Altemuehle, sophomore Jordan McConnell and senior Jonathan Malek led the running game. Two touchdowns came from Altemuehle, who started the game at quarterback for the Aviators, according to TriStateFootball.com.
Mason senior running back Matt Sora rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns as the Comets defeated host Springboro 31-21. Sora, an Indiana State commit, had a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Mason had 426 yards of total offense. Mason earned its third consecutive win over Springboro in a season opener.
King for a day
Speaking of offense, Kings earned 515 yards of total offense in a 37-31 win over host Lebanon in that rivalry game Friday night. Kings junior Nak’emon Williams had 27 carries for 253 yards and four touchdowns for the Knights. Williams started at running back the latter part of 2016 and was a lockdown cornerback prior to that. “I truly think he could become the best running back to ever come out of this school,” Kings coach Andy Olds told WCPO.com earlier this month.
The Bluebirds are back
Highlands is 2-0 after a 27-20 overtime win over Campbell County Friday night. Cooper Schwalbach scored his second rushing touchdown of the night in overtime to give the Bluebirds the lead, according to TriStateFootball.com. Highlands forced three turnovers and rallied from a 14-0 deficit.
Kentucky Mr. Football candidate
Ryle’s Jake Chisholm rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns in the Raiders’ 34-28 win over Henry Clay at Lexington Catholic. Ryle (1-1) plays host to Boone County (0-1) Sept. 1.
Anderson senior quarterback Jay Volpenhein threw for 355 yards and rushed 16 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the Redskins’ 49-41 win over Cabell Midland (West Virginia) Friday night. Volpenhein has thrown for 300-plus yards in eight of Anderson’s past 12 games. He threw for 3,541 yards and 43 touchdowns in 2016. Cabell Midland is a 3A team in West Virginia, the largest classification.
The Showdown continues Saturday with games that include St. Xavier against Hinsdale Central (Illinois) at 5 p.m. at Princeton, and Moeller at Hamilton at 7 p.m.
St. X, the reigning Division I state champion, is 10-3 in the Showdown since 2004 and has only one loss to an Ohio team in that span (Colerain in 2008).
Moeller is making its 19th Showdown appearance (15-3 record) and has a nine-game winning streak, according to Moeller sports information director Steve Albrinck. Moeller is 46-8 all-time in season openers.
Moeller will be without senior defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins (Penn State commit) and junior offensive lineman Zach Carpenter Saturday due to injury, according to Moeller coach John Rodenberg. Carpenter, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound standout, is one of the area’s top recruits in the 2019 class.
The season's first Associated Press Ohio high school state football poll is scheduled for release at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, and every Monday throughout the regular season. …Elder improved to 17-3 all-time in the Showdown with a 21-7 win over Lakota West. Elder is the only team to play in all 20 Showdown events. …Former Bengals coach Sam Wyche will be at Saturday’s Moeller at Hamilton game. His grandson is Moeller senior linebacker Sam Wyche.