A number of intriguing matchups with playoff implications are on tap for Week 9, but the second-last week of the regular season does not feature much in conference race drama.
The final GCL South game is next week and Colerain, Turpin and Wyoming are major favorites to remain undefeated, both in their respective conferences and overall.
Here are the Best Bets for Week 9 of prep football in Cincinnati:
Cleveland St. Ignatius (7-1) at St. Xavier (4-4), Saturday, 2 p.m. – St. Ignatius, seventh in the Region I Harbin ratings, has allowed just 24 points during its current four-game winning streak that includes a pair of shutouts. The Wildcats’ lone loss was to Detroit Catholic Central, and that was in overtime. Speaking of tough losses, St. Xavier lost by one last week on the final play of the game and dropped a three-point decision the week before. The Bombers also have an overtime defeat. St. Xavier has not been to establish the running game all season, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. Despite St. Ignatius’ superior record, the Bombers are in much better shape in terms of playoffs, presently holding the five spot in Region 4.
Lakota East (4-4) at Fairfield (5-3), 7 p.m. – Colerain holds a two-game lead in the GMC, so everyone else is just playing for second place. These teams are part of a five-way tie for second with a 3-2 conference record. Lakota East pulled off a three-point win vs. Mason last week on a touchdown with a minute remaining and has won three of four after a 1-3 start. Fairfield has dropped back-to-back decisions after a 5-1 start, falling to Mason and Colerain, both on the road. The Thunderhawks are 10th in Region 4 and the Indians hold the eight spot, so this is a crucial game for both teams if they hope to advance to the postseason.
Princeton (5-3) at Mason (5-3), 7 p.m. – Another GMC matchup with major playoff implications. Princeton, despite a 2-3 conference record and a two-game losing streak, currently sits in sixth place in Region 8. Mason suffered a four-point loss at Lakota East last week on a last-minute touchdown but still holds the four seed in Region 4. The Vikings’ Solomon Reed has thrown for 10 touchdowns the past four weeks and is second in the GMC with 1,476 passing yards. The Comets are second in the conference in defense, surrendering just 15.8 points per game.
Oak Hills (4-4) at Sycamore (4-4), 7 p.m. – The GMC’s top passer faces the conference’s top rusher. Oak Hills QB Jacob Woycke is 153 for 270 for 2,268 yards and 22 touchdowns, and he has thrown for 652 yards the past two weeks. As a result, the Highlanders’ Cameron Nienaber leads the GMC in receiving with 881 yards. Sycamore’s offense is led by RaVon Bonner, who has 1,322 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, including 200-plus rushing yard games each of the past two weeks. This game also is crucial for both teams in terms of qualifying for the postseason, with Oak Hills in 11th place and Sycamore in the seven slot in Region 4.
Reading (5-3) at Wyoming (8-0), 7 p.m. – With Wyoming facing 2-6 Deer Park in its regular season finale, Reading has the last realistic chance to prevent the Cowboys’ perfect regular season. The Blue Devils lost to Madeira by three points last week and have suffered another CHL loss at Madeira, so sharing a conference title is a near impossibility for Reading, which would need to win out for a shot at the Division V postseason, and Indian Hill is its final stop in Week 10. Wyoming is No. 1 overall in Region 16 and is giving up just 6.3 points per game. Andrew Marty is tops in the conference in passing yards (1,849), and his top receivers – Jake Edmonds and Garyn Prater – are Nos. 1 and 2 in the CHL with 651 and 638 receiving yards, respectively.
Mount Healthy (8-0) at Harrison (5-3), 7 p.m. – Mount Healthy is 5-0 in the SWOC, leading the conference by a game, but Harrison has just one conference loss and the Owls wrap up their regular season at Edgewood, which is also unbeaten in league play. Both teams are currently on pace for playoff berths, with Mount Healthy in third place in Division IV and Harrison holding the seventh spot in Division III. The Owls have held opponents to an average of 8.3 points this season, best in the conference, while the Wildcats scored 33.8 points per game, second in the SWOC only to Edgewood.
Loveland (4-4) at Kings (6-2), 7 p.m. – These teams are both 4-1 in the ECC, but Kings has had the tougher road, with a win over Anderson and 2-6 Withrow left on its schedule. Loveland lost to Anderson and has to play first-place Turpin next week but controls its own destiny. Tyler Knecht has passed for 1,758 yards and rushed for 515 and 15 touchdowns to pace the Knights. The Tigers have three rushers with over 480 yards, led by Luke Waddell’s 571 yards and team-best 9.2 yards-per-carry average. Kings is fifth in Region 8 while Loveland is 13th, so this is a must-win for the Tigers.