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Important week on the gridiron
October 21, 2013 - Dana Sulonen
The high school football season is winding down are playoffs are starting to take shape. Week 9 is upon us, and there are some big matchups around the Valley this week. * HOLY WAR WEEK: For many in the Mahoning Valley, it doesn't get better than Holy War week. That is, the days leading up to the annual Week 9 contest with Cardinal Mooney and Ursuline at Stambaugh Stadium. While the game is always a heated contest between arch rival schools, this year's game means pretty much the fate of the season for both schools. For the 5-3 Cardinals, they have a good spot in the computer rankings sitting in the third spot of Division III, Region 11. However, the Cardinals, though a quality football team, haven't picked up that high-profile win of the season. Yes, they beat Mentor Lake Catholic, a traditional power in the state, but the Cougars are suffering a down year, only holding a 2-6 record. If the playoffs were to start today, Mooney would be hosting a first-round playoff game. However, if they were to lose this week to Ursuline (a Division V opponent) and local power Austintown Fitch in Week 10, it's likely the Cardinals will hit the road for Week 11. As for the Fighting Irish, they pulled one out of their hats on Friday against Steubenville. While many had counted Ursuline's season nearly over prior to Friday's game against the Big Red, the Irish dominated Steubenville, winning 46-21. The win has propelled them back into the playoff hunt. Likely, when the computer polls are released on Tuesday, the Irish will be sitting in the third spot of Region 15 -- with a 4-3 record. That's what happens when a Division V school can hang with the big boys of the upper divisions. With so much riding on the line for both teams heading into the game, this will likely be one of the best Holy Wars played in years. * THE BATTLE FOR THE AAC NATIONAL: The All-American Conference, National Division, schedule has been leading up to this week's battle between Liberty and Lakeview -- with the winner taking at least a share of the conference crown. The best part of this game is the teams are both quality teams -- but in much different ways. Liberty, under first-year coach Kevin Cylar, is a team full of athletes that will run the ball till they are blue in the face. Liberty has run the ball for 2,411 yards this season -- 1,255 of those coming from the legs of freshman sensation Lynn Bowden. Then there is Lakeview, which is one of the most disciplined and traditional teams in the area from year in and year out. The Bulldogs are also balanced this season. While averaging 353.4 yards per game, 197 of those are on the ground and the other 156 are in the air. This proves to be a very hard thing to defend. Even though I don't have a crystal ball, I can see this game coming down to kicking -- and in that respect, Lakeview has the edge. Liberty routinely goes for two as it struggles on place kicking, while the Bulldogs have a clutch guy in Jake Pishotti -- who kicks 30-yard field goals routinely. That could be the difference in this game.
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