Friday Nights belong to high schoolers

Willoughby South's Brad McKeon (17) is sandwiched by two Willoughby South defenders during a Sept. 20 game at Madison. The Blue Streaks will face reigning Division III state champs Kenston on the road Friday.

Since the Big Ten decided to start playing a handful of games on Friday night starting in 2017, the Ohio State Buckeyes had been spared — until this year.

The Buckeyes will make their first Friday appearance this Friday, playing at Northwestern at 8:30 p.m.

OSU is ranked third in the latest Associated Press poll.

Unless multiple schools share a facility or a particular stadium has no lights, I’m a firm believer that Friday is the night for high school football to shine. 

The Buckeyes’ Friday game won’t effect Star Beacon-area teams. All scheduled 7 p.m. start times will remain that way.

One coach responded when asked if there was consideration of moving his team’s game up in time, he sent back, “No way!!!!!”

That’s the way it should be. I get what’s involved — it’s money. Games are played virtually every night of the week nowadays in pro and college football.

Other conferences certainly play Friday night games.

But I encourage fans to attend the high school game of your choosing. For a lot of these players, especially the seniors, their football careers are winding down.

And depending on the high school game, chances are good OSU-Northwestern will still be on when you arrive home or go to an establishment with televisions for those who choose that rout. Fans can DVR the game or probably be able stream it from the high school contest, anyway.

Now, on to what’s happening around here, Edgewood, Geneva, Jefferson and Pymatuning Valley are all at home Friday night. St. John plays at Spire Saturday afternoon.

Friday

Chagrin Valley Conference

• Lakeside (1-6, 1-3) at Perry (7-0, 4-0): The Dragons have a tough task in front of them against the Pirates, who are ranked second in the state in Division IV and first in the latest Division IV, Region 13 Ohio High School Athletic Association computer ratings. The Pirates have tallied 42 or more points in all seven of their wins with a season high of 71 against Orange on Oct. 4.

• West Geauga (3-4, 3-1) at Edgewood (2-5, 0-4): After starting 0-3, the Wolverines have won three of their last four games. Last Friday, they defeated Harvey 49-16. The Warriors return to Corlew Stadium after a two-week absence. They’re also looking to break a four-game winning streak. Quarterback Zach Winchell has thrown for 1,236 yards. Izaiah Harris (26 catches, 448 yards) and Ethan Colbert (32, 357) are the top receivers. Alec Katon has three interceptions on defense.

• Harvey (1-6, 0-4) at Geneva (6-1, 4-0): The Red Raiders have dropped four straight after defeating Grand Valley 34-6 Sept. 14. They’ve also yielded 204 points in the process. The Eagles racked up their fourth consecutive contest of 40 or more points in a 41-12 win over Lakeside last Friday. Blake Peet (808 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Charles Taylor (593 yards, 10 TDs) lead a vaunted rushing attack, but quarterback Ben Scibona threw for 158 yards against the Dragons.

• Grand Valley (0-7, 0-4) at Cardinal (2-5, 1-3): The Mustangs are seeking their first win on the season and in the CVC Valley Division. Receiver Ashton Zupancic has 12 receptions, including three TDs. The Huskies defeated Hawken 48-34 Sept. 27, but have lost to juggernauts Kirtland and Beachwood by a combined 112-7 since then.

Non-Conference

• Conneaut (6-1) at Conneaut Area (4-4): The Spartans claimed their second straight District 10, Region 3 championship by beating Northwestern (Pa.) 31-0 last Friday. This is a big game for Conneaut, whose last two opponents are each winless entering Week 8. Running back Seth Fedor has gained 690 yards with 12 scores and Rylan Davison checks in with 679 and 10 TDs. Defensively, Jay Green has four interceptions. The Eagles have lost three straight since beating General McLane 36-14 Sept. 20. Devin Neal has rushed for nearly 800 yards and Noah Richardson has more than 600 receiving. Quarterback Tanner Niemann is closing in on 1,000 passing yards with 11 TDs.

Northeast 8 Conference

• Poland (5-2, 4-0) at Jefferson (2-5, 0-4): The Bulldogs have posted four straight wins since falling to Howland 14-13 Sept. 13. They’ve outscored the four opponents 145-21 as well. The Bulldogs are also ranked second in Division IV, Region 13. The Falcons are seeking their first conference win. Running back Danny Bruckman has picked up 487 yards with six TDs running the ball.

Northeastern Athletic Conference

• Mathews (1-6, 0-2) at PV (1-5, 1-0): Two of the Mustangs contests aren’t counted toward the OHSAA rankings because they were played as 8-man games. Mathews dropped a 48-19 decision to Chalker last Friday. The Lakers close the season with three straight conference games. Junior quarterback Tyler Bean has passed for 827 yards and rushed for 771 with 14 touchdowns. Receiver Jonah Wilkerson has 504 yards on 22 catches. Robert Verba has four interceptions.

Western Reserve Conference

• Madison (3-4, 2-2) at Kenston (6-1, 3-1): The Blue Streaks broke a two-game losing streak with a 50-20 win vs. North Oct. 10. Madison running back Austin McCourt has gained 907 yards with 10 TDs. Quarterback Alex Dragas also has 10 rushing scores. On defense, Hunter Nazdan leads the way with four interceptions. The Bombers, who are the reigning Division III state champs, saw a 12-game win streak end with a 17-16 loss to Chardon on a last-second field goal last Friday.

Saturday (2:30 p.m.)

Non-Conference

• Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic (1-4) at St. John (0-5): The two 8-man teams played just two weeks ago in Sandusky. The Panthers won 34-14 for their lone victory of the season. St. John quarterback Caleb Hill had 103 yards rushing against Bishop Rosecrans last Friday.

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