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What to look forward to now...

September 13, 2010 - Dana Sulonen

On December 8, 2009, the area football fanatics, including us here at the Tribune Chronicle, have had September 10, 2010 circled on our calendar.

The Howland-Warren G. Harding matchup has been the talk of the town for the past eight months, and the contest lived up to the hype. The Tigers' 25-22 victory over the favored Raiders was a sight to see.

For myself, it was the first time I got to watch sophomore phenom De'Veon Smith in action. The kid is legit. His 203 yards of rushing did not come without some great blocking by Howland's offensive line and Smith's ability to get to the outside and let his speed take over is a something of wonder.

I also would like to give credit to Howland's kicker Chris McLearn. He made a 49-yard field goal in the first half that looked like a 20-yard chip shot. A kick like that does not go unnoticed, especially when three points is the difference in the score.

So now that the "game of the season" is over, what's next for area football fans? Playoffs? That's still another six weeks away, So to fill the time, let me, The First Lady of Mahoning Valley Sports (thank you to Larry Snider and John Caparanis for giving me that title), direct you to some other quality area matchups for the rest of the season.

WEEK 4: Canton McKinley at Austintown Fitch: A game that could decide the Federal League. McKinley is well, McKinley. But Fitch this year has been putting up huge numbers. This could be a very exciting game between two potential playoff teams.

WEEK 5: Hubbard at Lakeview: Hubbard is a team with a new identity this year, and so far, the new identity is working out pretty well. The Eagles held a strong Poland team to 16 points in Week 1, and came away with two big victories in Weeks 2 and 3. But Lakeview, a team that can never be counted out, is surprising a lot of people this year. Quarterback Anthony Franco has been putting up monster numbers in the air for a team that is traditionally a run-first squad. This will be a huge game for both teams in terms of the AAC Blue, as well as the playoff race.

WEEK 6: McDonald at Wellsville: A must-win game for both teams in the ITCL, Lower Tier. Western Reserve has pulled away and has become the team to beat in the Lower Tier, and if either McDonald or Wellsville wants to be in the race, this game is a very important contest.

WEEK 7: Howland at Poland: When it comes to two quality teams and programs doing battle with league and playoff implications at stake, it doesn't get any better than Howland at Poland. The Tigers and the Bulldogs were in a three-way tie (along with Canfield) last year for the AAC Red title, but more important this game is a great-tune up for the impending playoffs.

WEEK 8: Ursuline at Steubenville: It takes a brave soul to make the trek down route 7 to Big Red Country, but the Fighting Irish aren't scared. These are two storied programs doing battle. This is high school football at its best.

WEEK 9: Mooney-Ursuline. Enough said.

WEEK 10: Rivalry Week. Mahoning Valley's version of Rivalry Week comes to you in Week 10. There is the Battle of Belmont between Liberty and Girard, Poland and Canfield do battle in Mahoning County, and of course there is my favorite rivalry, Champion versus Lakeview.

And there you have it for the rest of the high school football season. The First Lady has spoken.


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