Let the fun begin!
After three weeks of watching games that lacked some of the interest that area football fans truly desire, it's time for some matchups with all sorts of local appeal.
The Buckeye 8 Athletic League portion of the schedule gets under way this week and it should be a whale of a league season as five teams made it through the first three weeks with a perfect record.
The teams which avoided defeat thus far are: Bellaire, Harrison Central, Indian Creek, Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville.
All told, the Buckeye 8's membership posted an 18-6 record in the first three weeks. That adds up to some very difficult weeks for us in the Pick Parade, but some anticipated Friday nights around the area with highly competitive games forthcoming.
One of the questions that's been posed about the Buckeye 8 members thus far, despite their hot starts, is just how good are these teams?
That's a very good question and one we're not quite ready, or able, to answer fully just yet.
You see, the eight schools have beaten teams with a combined 22-49 mark. The only schools who've played teams with a combined winning record meet this Friday in Morristown in Union Local and Edison.
If you were to rate victories, St. Clairsville over Wheeling Park along with Martins Ferry's road wins at Heath and Ridgewood, along with Harrison Central over Wheeling Central would be the best for the league.
As always, the league crown will come down to which teams can continue to avoid injuries. In the Ohio Valley, depth is always a concern. Teams just simply can't afford to lose their key players.
But, when you back log physical and high-energy games right after one another, it's going to be a battle for the next seven weeks.
Players, coaches, fans and even media members won't have to wait long to see some of the matchups you've been longing for as Indian Creek hosts St. C. and Harrison Central welcomes Martins Ferry as four of the undefeated teams go at it right away.
Bellaire hosts Buckeye Local on Saturday to close out the league's opening week.
Settle in because the next seven weeks are going to be fun.
I Tweeted on Friday night that Ohio High School football needs some sort of slaughter rule as I watched Harrison Central dismantle an undermanned Caldwell squad.
Obviously, I tweeted that somewhat in jest, but something certainly needs to be done or at least agreed upon at the site of the game.
As schools scramble to find opponents and games, it often times creates many mismatches.
I realize there are only 10 football games and the experience and excitement for younger players to get into a varsity game under the Friday or Saturday night lights can be extremely beneficial to the program's growth and carrying on the success.
So, having said that, I will concede that a slaughter rule isn't the route to go, but if a team is up by 30 or more points at halftime, the game should at least be operated under a continuous clock. It should stop on scoring plays, when a penalty is being signaled and if a player is injured. Other than that, the clock runs.
Area coaches are extremely good about substituting freely and not embarassing kids. Because, what good does that do?
At the college level, coaches are becoming more and more known for keeping the foot on the gas. That's okay because those players are recruited and the coaches are paid multimillions of dollars. Obviously, on the professional level, none of this applies.
However, at the high school level, coaches aren't paid nearly enough and they must take the players that arrive at their schools and make the most of it.
It's hard to believe, but the Conotton Valley Rockets are 3-0 under the direction of rookie head coach Eric Schumacher.
The Rockets own victories over Beallsville, St. John and Bridgeport.
Against the Bulldogs last Saturday, the Rockets had to rally and scored in the game's waning moments to earn the win.
There was a time when Conotton Valley was one of the laughing stock programs of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.
Maybe, Schumacher is exactly what the doctor ordered to get things turned around. He's a young, passionate, energetic guy who has the Rockets believing. And the biggest hurdle new coaches have in trying to re-build a program is getting the kids to believe they'll win each week and not just show up at the field and hope to win.
If you remember, Schumacher guided the Buckeye State to victory in the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic this past July.
It was his first-ever head coaching experience and he's done nothing but build on it.
OTHER NEW COACHES
Our weekly check on the new coaches in the Ohio Valley finds that the first-year coaches went 4-8 this past week.
Along with Schumacher, other victors include: Phil Pest (Buckeye Local), Matt Johnson (Barnesville), Kevin Gunn (Cambridge) and Dale Broomhall (Buckeye Trail).
Five of the 12 new coaches are still seeking their first victory and Oak Glen's Ian Whittington suffered his first loss last week at the hands unblemished Indian Creek.
I ran into John Marshall head coach Rick Goodrich Saturday and it's exciting to hear how upbeat he still is despite his Monarchs falling to 0-3 last week at Buckeye Local. Goodrich can honestly see his team getting better, but changing the culture into the idea that the team is going to make winning plays rather than being hopeful of making those plays is a tough challenge.
It's a process and it's not always a fun process at first, but the rewards will eventually come.
HAVES AND HAVE NOTS
There is a really big discrepancy between some teams in the Ohio Valley. That's evident through some of the one-sided scores that are recorded each week.
In glancing at the latest OVAC standings, there are still 11 teams that have yet to suffer a defeat. Obviously, many of those are in the Buckeye 8, so the number will dwindle.
On the flip side, there are 12 teams beginning preparations for this weekend that have yet to taste victory. That's a pretty high number when you consider that's 25 percent of the OVAC's football-playing membership.
CHECKING ON THE LOCALS
FORMER Bellaire High head coach John Magistro has his Westerville Central Warhawks off to a 3-0 start after they upended winless Thomas Worthington, 41-0. For Magistro, it was his 199th career victory. He'll seek number 200 this Friday against Dublin Scioto.
STEUBENVILLE High product Todd Filtz has his Canton McKinley Bulldogs sitting at 2-0. They were off this past week and will look to continue their early season success against undefeated North Canton Hoover.
CINCINNATI MOELLER ran its record to 3-0 after another impressive victory. The Crusaders posted a 61-33 road win against Detroit Catholic Central. Senior quarterback Spencer Iacovone completed 17-of-21 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Spencer's parents are Ohio Valley natives.
COLUMBUS Bishop Hartley continued to steamroll everything that gets in its way. Jacob Matuska, whose parents are St. John Central graduates, had a big game on both sides of the ball as the Hawks ripped previously unbeaten Howard East Knox, 50-7.
NELSON FIELD VANDALISM
I received a text message Saturday morning about the vandalism at Bellaire's Nelson Field and was totally shocked.
At the time, the Big Reds were sitting at 2-0, playing well and are continuing to build their program back up under Jose Davis.
Evidently, that must not have been good enough for whoever committed the crime and decided to spray paint all sorts of derogatory and racial remarks on the fieldhouse, concession stands and other areas of the stadium.
People, it's 2012. Can we please grow up?
We're certainly hopeful that the Bellaire Police catch the individuals or individuals responsible and they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The Big Reds didn't let the incident turn into any sort of a distraction. They took care of East Liverpool and improved to 3-0 on the season entering the Buckeye 8 League portion of their schedule.
After this week's games, the Ohio High School Athletic Association will release its first official computer poll of the season.
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth