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Here's why Cincinnati falls in love with high school football every year

Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 12:21:00-04

Hypeville High is WCPO’s four-part docuseries following the Princeton Vikings football team’s preseason. Watch Episode 1 above. And look for new episodes this week wherever you stream WCPO (Roku, Amazon Fire, Android TV and Apple TV), on and at noon daily on WCPO’s Facebook page.

CINCINNATI — High school football returns in Ohio this week, and we can't wait.

As 713 Ohio high school varsity football teams prepare to take the field, an annual rite of fall will be renewed.

High school football is in the fabric of Cincinnati. You don't have to have played the game to feel connected.

Maybe it’s a return trip to your alma mater to meet up with friends and family. Or maybe it’s a chance to see Cincinnati through a different prism on a Friday night, watching teenagers compete in the ultimate team game through the heat and humidity of August and September, the chilly rain of October and the snow flurries of the postseason in November (and hopefully December).

The season opener is a celebration of a new school year.

The marching band will put a pep in your step as you approach the campus. You may already have heard music and drumbeats reverberate in your neighborhood.

RELATED: Join the Cincinnati area high school sports Facebook group

The aroma of meats on the grill or popcorn at the concession stand is synonymous with Friday night. It's a picnic with hundreds — if not thousands — of pigskin pundits, soundtracked by the thrilling roar of cheerleading squads and student sections as kickoff approaches.

Select a stadium in any part of town. You're bound to find a game in any of the seven tournament divisions (Divisions I-VII) nearby.

Whether you prefer The Pit, Lancer Stadium, Cardinal Stadium, Tomahawk Stadium or Firebird Stadium or venues with more formal names like Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium, Bernie Barre Field at Bob Lewis Stadium, Mancuso Field at Viking Stadium, Charles L. Brown Stadium or Stargel. Each location has its own unique style.

St. Xavier Stadium is one of the most recognizable high school venues in Cincinnati.

There's nothing like watching a game in the bleachers on the edge of your seat in the fourth quarter. A true fan knows where to check scores and watch highlights (WCPO 9 on Your Side, of course) afterward to see what else is happening around town.

A chance for a sneak peek at the stars of tomorrow is too valuable to pass up.

“When you look at a Saturday of college football, how many guys when you hear their name called you go, ‘I remember that guy at La Salle or I remember that dude played at Colerain,’” said longtime Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown organizer Tom Gamble.

There are 20-plus active players on NFL rosters who participated in the Showdown. We take a great deal of pride in that fact.

We also know some of our teams play the toughest schedules anywhere. So we cheer when Colerain, Moeller, La Salle and St. Xavier receive national recognition for being among the state’s most dominant programs over the past 10 years.

There is a reason why the nation’s top college football programs fly into the area to check out our top players each year. And it’s why University of Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has made a concerted effort to recruit in the Tri-State, as evidenced by the number of area players on the Bearcats’ roster.

The Cincinnati-area brand of football is worth the price of admission. It's special, and we like sharing that news with others — boastful or not.