Best Bets: Big battles brewing

Elder RB Cooper Johnson (photo by Shelby Frieszell/

In Ohio we are halfway through the shortened 2020 season and the things we’ve seen have been nothing short of astonishing. Multiple teams have scored 70+ points, blown leads of 20+ points, and historically great programs have started out 1-2 and looking subpar while doing it. 

Regardless, now is the time for teams to really find the next gear and hit their stride with the playoffs now less than a month away. Here are the games to look forward to in this week’s edition of the 5 Best Bets.

When looking at the most impressive teams so far in 2020, the Firebirds are at the top of the list. They continue to suffocate teams with a stifling defense, recording their second shutout in three games. And the offense continues to get better each week. Mitch Bolden had the best game of his young career against Sycamore, throwing four touchdowns with no interceptions or fumbles. Adrian Davis emerged as a receiving threat, catching four passes for 97 yards and two scores. This team has essentially no weaknesses, and the scary part is they are still getting better. The Indians have had a tough start to their season. After competing for an outright conference title last year, they have lost two of their first three games, and are dealing with the growing pains of a young team. They have been incredibly effective at running the ball, as freshman quarterback Talon Fischer has eclipsed 100 yards in every game, including a 300-yard performance in their only win of the season. The problem has been insurmountable fourth-quarter deficits. In week one the Indians were down 17-5 early in the quarter, which then ballooned to 24-5, and lost the game 24-12. Last week the fourth quarter deficit to Hamilton reached 28-12 and they lost the game 28-25. They have to play better early to give themselves a chance late in games. It will take a nearly flawless game for them to compete with the hottest team in the Tri-state area.

Lakota West RB Aden Miller (photo by Dan Beineke/

Here is a time where both teams have the same record, but they are far from being equal teams. The Crusaders have struggled mightily, mainly because they are turning the ball over at a historically high rate. They have 11 giveaways in three weeks, the astonishing part being they gave the ball away five times in Week 1 and were victorious by 17. The Panthers lost in an instant classic to LaSalle by 1 point in double overtime, and then shot themselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers in a loss to St. Xavier. This offense is as good as any in the area. The defense has been inconsistent, but that was the case last year and they played in the state championship game. Elder has forced four turnovers in three games, and with the tendencies of the Crusaders, that will continue again this week. This GCL South matchup favors the Panthers in every aspect. Expect them to come out on fire and take care of business.

Getting into some high-level Eastern Indiana football, both of these teams have looked incredibly impressive the past few weeks. East Central dominated Lawrenceburg, who is a state title contender in their own right. Hosted a perennial power in Cincinnati Moeller and suffocated them, and disposed of Franklin County last week. They are doing it on both sides of the ball, but this team feeds off their defense. They have only given up 25 points in four combined games. After a tough loss to Indian Creek to start the season the Bulldogs have been a tear, reeling off three straight wins. Unlike the Trojans, Batesville is carried by their offense. In three wins they have scored 48, 42, and 34. In their loss they were held to 13. The defense has either been really good or really bad, although the past few weeks it has been really good, allowing only 21 points combined in the last two games. The key matchup in this game is clear – can Batesville move the ball consistently on this excellent defense? If they can, we can expect a shootout, if not the Trojans are a lock to win and this game could get ugly.

This is a battle of ECC teams going in completely opposite directions. This game will come down to points, points, and you guessed it, points. The Knights have played two games, and have over 100 total points scored, including a 70 spot in Week 1 at Anderson. Star running back Ty Skylski has been unstoppable, rushing for 420 yards and scoring nine times through the first two games. He also has a 100-yard game and two scores catching the ball. Lebanon looked impressive in a 21-13 Week 1 win, but the wheels have fallen off since, losing two in a row by a combined 65-40. The defense hasn’t been able to stop the running game, giving up over 200 yards in two of their three games. This matchup has all the makings of a big Knights win, with a possible historic performance coming from the Kings’ star offensive playmaker.

Kings RB Ty Stylski (photo from

The Rams finally put their first complete game of the season together in a Week 3 shellacking of Talawanda. Brayden Fraasman led the way on offense, rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. While Brayson Bastin led the way on defense with 13 total tackles. Ross can give opposing teams fits, especially come playoff time. The key for the Rams moving forward will be their defense. Pitching a shutout could be a huge confidence boost for a team that allowed 41 points in each of the first two weeks. Ross will go as far as this unit will take them. The Wildcats picked up their first win of the season after a couple of tough early losses. The offense finally got things going with a 31-point performance against Mount Healthy. Quarterback Mason Young was the biggest difference for Harrison. He didn’t turn the ball over and let his receivers make big plays. The defense has been steady, allowing 21 points or under in every game. This is a young team that is getting better each week. Unfortunately this matchup completely favors the Rams and their running game. Harrison has given up 200+ rushing yards in two of the first three weeks, and Ross presents the best rushing attack in the conference. This game will be won or lost in the trenches.

Make sure to check out the COMPLETE PREVIEW for this week’s featured game on the Blitz 5 Tour presented by

Other games for teams ranked inside the Blitz 5 Top 25:

No .1. St. Xavier at Indianapolis Cathedral
No. 2 La Salle at Louisville DuPont Manual
No. 5 Winton Woods at Milford
No. 19 Lakota East at No. 6 Princeton
No. 11 Sycamore at No. 8 Mason
No. 25 Middletown at No. 9 Colerain
Walnut Hills at No. 16 Turpin
No. 17 Badin at Fenwick
West Clermont at No. 20 Anderson
No. 23 Wyoming at Deer Park
Edgewood at No. 24 Talawanda

Walton-Verona at No. 15 Simon Kenton
No. 21 Highlands at Ryle

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