This week boasts the busiest football card of the year with 10 games featuring our local teams. However, despite the long lineup, all eyes will be at Harding Stadium tonight as Massillon Washington and Steubenville Big Red resurrect a rivalry that has sat dormant for last the three decades.
Massillon at Big Red
It's finally here. After years of rumored get-togethers, Massillon Washington and Steubenville Big Red will meet tonight on the gridiron for the first time in 31 years. The last meeting between the powerhouses took place in Week 6 in 1978 at Massillon.
It's impossible not to get excited over this game. I don't care who you are. I don't care where you went to school. I don't care where your children go to school. If you are a football fan, you care about this game.
I don't think the Tigers or the Red will disappoint tonight. Massillon, the winningest program in Ohio, and Steubenville, the third, will come ready to play and ready to win in front of a soldout crowd at Harding Stadium.
On paper, the Division I Tigers should win. They have bigger numbers. They have bigger kids. They have a schedule of bigger names. But what they don't have is bigger fish to fry. Overlook Big Red and you'll be looking back on Saturday morning scratching the horseshoe prints on your head wondering what just happened.
On the field, Division III Big Red will prove just as big and as mighty as Massillon.
I've covered Big Red football for 10 years now. I've seen highs and lows. I've seen tears of joy and tears of disappointment. I've watched as the Red reached the very top of the mountain and I've watched as they were turned away a few feet from the summit.
Tonight isn't for all the marbles. Tonight's winner will be in the same boat as the loser, eight games away from the ultimate goal of state glory.
But tonight is something special and if there's one thing I've learned in a decade of Big Red coverage, is that it's best to bet on the Red and not against them when that bell rings.
That said, I'm picking Big Red to roll on with a 26-21 victory.
University at Brooke
I've seen the news reports, heard the rumors and read about the controversies, but I still don't know what's going on with the Bruins right now. What I do know is some accusations have been made and some investigations into the matter have taken place. Did he or did he not spill the beans to "Beans?" I guess that's the question. The answer is a matter of debate.
What's not a matter of debate is how important tonight's game is for Brooke. It's a shame these internal conflicts exist to distract the Bruins. The last thing they need is distraction with University, a team that always plays Brooke tough, coming to Brooke Memorial Stadium tonight.
Despite the conflicts, the rumors, the distractions and the controversies, I think Brooke will prevail tonight. I like first-year coach Tom Bruney. He seems like a no-nonsense-take-your politics-and-stick-em kind of guy, just like another coach "B" I know. The controversies will only distract the Bruins if Bruney lets them, and something tells me that isn't going to happen.
The Bruins will win and win big tonight, 42-12.
Clarksburg Notre Dame at Madonna
The Blue Dons have yet to be challenged this season. Not much will change tonight.
Madonna is undefeated for a reason. The Dons can play football and play it well. They have talent and a head coach they love to play for. That's a recipe for success no Clarksburg Notre Dame is going to spoil.
Madonna will win by three if not four scores. I'm taking Madonna on homecoming, 41-6.
Weir at Magnolia
After falling to Hancock County-rival Oak Glen last week, things don't any easier for the Red Riders this week. Weir, which has just one win, travels to Magnolia to take on the No. 1-ranked Blue Eagles, tonight.
No, things aren't looking up just yet for the Red Riders, who will hang with Magnolia for one half, but fall out of contention in the second, as the Eagles win a 34-7 decision.
Tyler Consolidated at Oak Glen
For the first time this season, the Golden Bears are looking to go over .500. At 3-3 they've had an average season. Tonight, they'll go above average when they defeat the Silver Knights.
Tyler Consolidated will fall by a two touchdowns, 33-20.
The Wildcats are looking to get back on track after dropping their last two.
The Shamrocks took a loss last week.
That marks their second of the season, when they fell to Shadyside.
Despite a less-than- brilliant record at 2-4 and the Shamrocks 4-2 mark, the Wildcats will earn a 14-0 win tonight.
Toronto at Beallsville
A long road trip will not pay off for the Red Knights tonight. I think they will play Beallsville close, but the Blue Devils are a tough little team to beat.
The entire town will likely turn out to support those Blue Devils. The fans will cheer their team on to a 15-7 win.
Harrison Central at Buckeye Local
The Panthers are coming off a shocking loss to John Marshall to give the previously undefeated team two losses in a row. Tonight, we'll see if they can shake off the losses or if the losses still have them shaken when they play host to Harrison Central.
The Huskies are 5-1. Their only loss came to Martin Ferry, a team Buckeye Local beat. But as we know that means nothing especially in the crazy Buckeye 8.
Call me crazy, but I think Harrison Central is going to win this one, 21-14.
Martins Ferry at Indian Creek
Speaking of the Crazy 8, Robert Kettlewell Stadium will the site of a big conference game Saturday when the Redskins play host to Martins Ferry. The game was pushed back in anticipation of today's rain.
The Purple Riders a haven't lost since dropping their opener to Buckeye Local. The Redskins dropped their opener too and then lost last week.
So will the streak continue for Ferry or win things get back on track for Creek?
Sorry Rider fans, but I think your streak stops here. The Redskins will win 34-30.
Wheeling Central at Catholic Central
The Crusaders are enjoying a two-game winning streak after a rough start to 2009, but a third win will prove tough Saturday night at Harding Stadium.
Central plays host to the Class A West Virginia powerhouse Wheeling Central. The dominating team to the south has given the Crusaders fits in recent seasons.
However, if Central plays to its ability, I think it could beat the Maroon Knights by two touchdowns. If all goes well, the Crusaders will win, 41-35.
(Elverd, a resident of Toronto, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)