COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Less than four miles separate Colerain (2-0) and La Salle (2-0) and the West Side is primed for another memorable matchup at 7 p.m. Friday at Cardinal Stadium.
La Salle coach Jim Hilvert likes to call it a “Backyard Brawl.” Most of these players are very familiar with each other. Colerain senior linebacker Kyle Bolden notices the anticipation for the game anytime he drives around the community.
Regardless of the rooting interest, both schools have something to prove. La Salle defensive lineman Nick Rielag told WCPO.com the Lancers have more pressure this week.
The reigning two-time Division II state champions feel a chip on their shoulder after narrowly winning against Sycamore in the season opener and the loss of several key starters from last season.
“I told the kids, obviously they can’t listen to the noise,” Hilvert said earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Colerain hasn't lost at home to an area opponent since 2011. The Cardinals have their eyes on Columbus this year and an undefeated non-conference schedule will strengthen that resolve.
Kyle Bolden said, “You watch that film. We fumbled five times (in 2015) and we were still in the game. We had it. It definitely makes you mad and gets you pumped up for Friday. So it’s nice to watch it for me -- it gives me a little extra boost going into the game.”
Here are nine storylines to watch:
1. Ohio State commit may be sidelined: Colerain senior defensive back Amir Riep (hamstring) didn't appear to be ready for Friday’s game by mid-week. The Ohio State commit may be out a few weeks, Colerain coach Tom Bolden said. Riep, one of the nation's top players in the 2017 class, came out of the St. Xavier game in the first quarter due to his hamstring and didn’t return.
2. History between schools: La Salle has won two straight meetings against Colerain, including last year’s 39-36 overtime classic at Lancer Stadium. La Salle won the 2014 opener 40-21 at Miami University -- the first game between the schools since 2004. Don’t think Colerain hasn’t thought about the past this week. Colerain leads the all-time series 11-10.
3. A knack for flair: The "Cardiac Cards" is a good name for Colerain the first two weeks. A last-minute win in the opener and an overtime win at St. X last week were definitely heart-stoppers. "It's been pretty wild," Tom Bolden said. "Fun is one way to call it."
4. National rankings: Colerain (2-0) is ranked No. 7 nationally by the USA Today Super 25 computer rankings while La Salle is No. 25. Colerain is ranked No. 7 nationally by the MaxPreps computer rankings and No. 1 in the Midwest. La Salle (2-0) is ranked No. 13 in the Midwest by that site.
5. Recruiting update: Kyle Bolden will take an official visit to Indiana Saturday. He's also had offers from schools that include UC, Illinois, Iowa State and Marshall. Colerain senior offensive lineman Howard Watkins will visit Illinois this weekend. He recently visited UC and also has offers from Louisville, Indiana and Miami University. La Salle senior running back Jarell White plans to visit Purdue, Indiana, Louisville and Illinois this fall.
6. Remembering when: La Salle's White had the controversial fumble recovery for a 90-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter of the 2015 game against Colerain. Tom Bolden acknowledges the players haven't forgotten about that play. White also had 10 ½ tackles that night and is off to a solid start this season with 227 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
7. Home sweet home: Colerain has a nine-game home winning streak. The most recent home loss was to Louisville Trinity (36-27) Sept. 12, 2014, according to Colerain statistician Mitch Wilcox. The most recent home loss to an area opponent was to St. Xavier (17-14) on Sept. 9, 2011.
8. La Salle's QB situation: Junior Griffin Merritt will be the starting quarterback for the Lancers Friday night, but don't be surprised to see senior Tre'Sean Smith get reps. Smith, who plays safety on defense, is verbally committed to Louisville. Hilvert said the team will use both players this season for certain situations.
9. Future of rivalry: Both schools have told WCPO.com they want the series to continue and it wouldn’t be shocking if this gets completed soon for 2017 and ’18. The 20th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown is certainly a possibility for the 2017 opener at Nippert Stadium.
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