Home sweet home.
After three weeks on the road, the unbeaten Crestview Rebels will finally get a taste of some home cooking Friday against rival Columbiana.
"Just getting a home game is nice," Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. "It's not like anything has been close either. Everything has involved a little bit of travel."
The Rebels are the talk of the Inter-Tri County League upper tier after ripping off a 3-0 record in non-league play.
"Crestview is the class of the league at this point," Columbiana coach Bob Spaite said. "They're a cut above everybody else. I think this is their best team since 2005."
Columbiana (2-1) comes off a hard non-league schedule, which involved Steubenville Central, Leetonia and Struthers. Spaite said this year's complete schedule is the hardest he has seen at Columbiana.
"It's probably not the hardest Columbiana has ever faced though," Spaite said. "Back in the old days of the Tri-County League, the schedules with Minerva, Poland and Louisville were probably tougher according to some of the people who were around back then."
Columbiana has not beaten Crestview since 2003. Cusick doesn't know why the Rebels have had success recently, but he'll take it.
"I don't know what it is against them," Cusick said. "Our kids really seem to keep their heads against Columbiana."
The Rebels enter the game having just witnessed running back Corey Hill break the school rushing record (307 yards) against Oak Glen last week.
Spaite said his team, which he describes as physically tired and beat up, has an uphill (no pun intended) battle against the Rebels.
"The odds are definitely not in the Clippers' favor in this one," Spaite said.
McDonald at Wellsville
Last season Wellsville (3-0) shocked playoff-bound McDonald with a 14-12 victory on the road. Wellsville coach Dave Skinner knows the Blue Devils (3-0) remember that.
"They're going to come in here with a chip on their shoulder," Skinner said. "We're just going to have to come in with a bigger chip on our shoulder."
Despite the non-league success of a lot of the ITCL lower tier schools, Skinner said it's not clear if anyone is for real yet.
"We haven't played anybody, McDonald hasn't played anybody, Southern hasn't played anybody and Western Reserve hasn't played anybody," Skinner said. "We'll find out in the next few weeks who is for real and who is not."
It's not often that Springfield (3-0) comes in with a better record than South Range (2-1), but that's the case in this heated rivalry.
While some coaches have called the Tigers a surprise, South Range coach Dan Yeagley knows better.
"We knew they were going to have a good team," Yeagley said. "They had a lot of young kids last season."
Yeagley said despite the opening loss to Tuslaw, he likes what his team is doing.
"We've gotten better and we've grown as a team," Yeagley said.
East Palestine at United
What a difference a week makes.
United (2-1) and East Palestine (1-2) both enjoyed huge victories last week after sputtering out of the gate.
This could be the game that builds confidence for the winner heading into what looks to be a treacherous league slate.
SOUTHERN LOCAL AT WESTERN RESERVE: Southern (3-0) will find out if it's for real if it can find a way to beat the unbeaten Devils on the road.
SALEM AT HUBBARD: Quakers have been outscored 125-33 in three losses. Hubbard comes in with wins over Howland and Warren JFK.
ALLIANCE AT WEST BRANCH: Northeastern Buckeye Conference went 19-5 in non-league play. That points to a tough road ahead for the Warriors.
LEETONIA AT SEBRING: Sebring has been outscored 134-52 in three losses. Meanwhile Leetonia is clipping along at 3-0.
NILES AT BEAVER LOCAL: Red Dragons looked bad in losses to Cleveland John Adams and Liberty, but have rebounded with a win against Warren JFK. Beaver Local (1-2) looks to gain its first win in the All-American Conference red tier.
LISBON AT MINERAL RIDGE: Mineral Ridge (1-2) could be the team Lisbon (0-3) is looking for after two lopsided losses in a row.
ALLIANCE at WEST BRANCH: A battle of the unbeatens looms at Heacock Stadium. West Branch will have to play better than it did against Salem if the Warriors are going to beat the Aviators.