Best Bets: Week 4

McNicholas head coach Mike Orlando (photo by Greg Shoemaker/

With three weeks of football behind us, we are starting to get a solid grasp on the contenders and the teams that still have work to do. Last week we saw some high-scoring blowouts, defensive battles, teams getting massive program-building wins, and even huge blown leads. 

As we push forward with the uncertainty of COVID still with us, teams are trying to get quality games scheduled and continue to improve . With conference play kicking into full gear, it’s time for teams to lock in and take those next steps. Here are the matchups to look out for in this week’s edition of the Best Bets.

Here are two teams that sit in the top four of the GMC and each of them desperately need this win to stay on par with both Lakota teams and Princeton at the top. Each team is coming off an impressive win, as the Aviators beat Fairfield 42-18 and the Cardinals took care of Mason 21-16. 

For Sycamore, the offense was rolling in their two wins, as they scored a combined 89 points. They also won the turnover battle in both games. In their blowout loss to Kings in Week 2, they were -3 in the turnover battle and only ran 160 yards. The defense has been suspect all year, but played much better against Fairfield. When the senior tandem of William Ingle and Cody Charles are running effectively and taking care of the football, this is a tough Aviator team to face. 

On the other side, the Cardinals have struggled all year on offense, but finally showed signs of life last week. It all went through senior running back M.J. Flowers as he ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. When he struggles or can’t find his rhythm, it’s going to be tough for Colerain to get anything going offensively due to their inexperience with the rest of their skill position players. The defense played much better, but allowing a Mason team that has struggled mightily on offense to rush for 216 yards and average seven yards per carry is still extremely concerning. 

Sycamore will look to take advantage of that early and often. This game will be decided in the trenches as both teams don’t have much interest in passing the ball. The special teams and field position battle will be crucial as well. The Cardinals also struggle taking care of the ball, piling six turnovers in the first three games. The team with the most discipline and toughness will move to 2-0 in conference play.

Two of the best from ECC do battle in a game that could truly give us a frontrunner for the title. The Knights are coming off one of their best wins in a long time as they defeated reigning conference champs Winton Woods 14-13 to move to 3-0 on the year. The defense has been absolutely stifling, allowing only 11 points per game. Offensively, junior quarterback Will Kocher and senior running back Max Sanella lead the charge for a potent rushing attack. Both rank top five in the conference in yards on the ground. The Knights struggled on the ground last week, but don’t expect that to be any kind of trend. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Anderson, who after losing a tough game to Princeton in Week 1 have reeled off two straight wins. We know who this team is, they throw the ball effectively and score a lot of points, but also have a hard time stopping anyone on defense. Allowing 58 points in Week 1 and 42 in Week three, their best defensive performance was allowing 268 rushing yards and 22 points to Clinton Massie. Junior quarterback Griffin Scalf and senior wideout Joey Faulkner are both putting up astronomical numbers, Faulkner especially. He already has two 200-yard receiving performances and five receiving touchdowns through three games. 

The biggest factor in this game will be the Knights’ running game vs. a Raptors’ defense that has been absolutely gashed all year by the run, allowing 300 yards per game on the ground. Kings will look to run the ball early and often, and keep that Anderson defense off the field. Anderson has also struggled with turnovers this season, and giving a team like the Knights more possessions is a recipe for disaster. This matchup leans heavily towards Alex Garvin’s crew, but in a conference matchup like this anything is possible.

An interstate showdown between two undefeated teams that are riding high. The Bluebirds look like the team that dominated the landscape decades ago. They have won in every way possible. They had a defensive battle in a 21-18 win to start the season, a barnburner 53-38 win in Week 2, and a dominating 42-7 performance last week. This is the first time Highlands has started 3-0 since 2014. 

The Rockets also come into this game with the utmost confidence after disposing of CHCA 41-0. Their defense has stepped up in a major way so far in 2021, allowing 14 points or less in each game. Offensively, this is a team loaded with weapons. Issac White, Pierce Taylor, and Ty Snider have all been reliable pieces and have been giving defensive coordinators nightmares. 

For the Rockets, Highlands is without question the biggest and most athletic team they have played to date, and might play all year. Will they be able to handle the juggernaut from Northern Kentucky in the trenches? The Rockets have had a balanced attack as of late, tallying over 100 yards running and passing in back-to-back weeks. They will have to rely on that versatility and play their most physical game of the season if they want to move to 4-0 on the season.

This is going to be a hard-nosed battle between conference foes that love to run the football. For the Big Blue, this is only their second game of the season, while everyone else in the conference has already played three. They looked extremely impressive in Week 1, beating West Cleremont 43-28. 

Star running back Kaleb Johnson had a career day carrying the ball 20 times for 239 yards and three touchdowns. The Cal Berkeley commit is the heart and soul of this team and one of the best players in the Tri-state area. 

The Thunderhawks sit atop of the conference, and after a tough Week 1 loss to Moeller have annihilated their last two opponents by a combined score of 84-7. Granted, Milford and Middletown aren’t the stiffest of competition, but East is now playing with a new level of confidence and physicality. Senior quarterback TJ Kathman and junior running back Eric Davis have led the charge with senior Charlie Kenrich contributing as well. 

This will be an interesting game to see where both teams really are. Will Hamilton have the rest or rust factor? They allowed 28 points, but only 14 were allowed by the defense. Are the Thunderhawks more of the Week 1 team that struggled stopping Moeller or are these past two blowout victories a sign of things to come? We should get a lot of answers Friday night.

Make sure to check out the COMPLETE PREVIEW for this week’s featured game on the Blitz 5 TourPrinceton at Lakota West.

Here are some other games for teams ranked inside the Blitz 5 Top 25:

No. 1 St. Xavier at Mishawaka Penn (IN)
No. 4 La Salle at Louisville Trinity
St. Edwards at No. 5 Elder (Saturday)
No. 6 Moeller at Ironton
No. 11 Winton Woods at Lebanon
No. 12 Turpin at Milford
Oak Hills at No. 17 Fairfield
Dunbar at No. 21 Ross
Indian Hill at No. 22 Wyoming
Roger Bacon at No. 23 Badin

Dixie Heights at No. 14 Covington Catholic
No. 18 Beechwood at Simon Kenton

No. 16 East Central at Franklin County
No. 24 Lawrenceburg at Southport





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