Several teams have clinched playoff spots, the Buckeye State hosted some of the best football of the week, and the national all-star games have named most of their participants. The high school season isn't over yet, but some squads have only one game remaining, and contending teams must soon be thinking about the playoffs. Playoffs? Probably. And that joke isn't funny anymore.
Week 9 has concluded. The rankings barely moved, but the playoff tension is growing.
And since it provided the best storylines of the weekend, Week 9 Power Rankings is the Ohio Edition: From Cuyahoga to Great Miami.
Most Americans are probably more concerned with Ohio's 18 electoral votes than they are with the state football circuit, but the prep stars have earned the ink just two weeks before the election. The Buckeye State produced three of the top games this weekend: One included a team that started the season unranked and has since rocketed into the top five, another that won after a 21-point deficit, and a third that rolled up 509 yards of total offense and 57 points.
Wildcats keep winning: St. Ignatius (Cleveland) has played teams from four different states and has not had a bye week. It doesn't matter to the defending state champions since it will still enter next week's game 9-0 ranked No. 1 in the state. The Wildcats trekked across the state to Cincinnati this past weekend to take on another top program, St. Xavier, and again leave victorious. Sturdy running back Tim McVey ran for 151 yards and four touchdowns in the 32-21 win over the Bombers, and St. Ignatius furthered its dominance in one of the most exciting states in the country.
The Wildcats have earned widespread praise with its disciplined play and steady dominance despite a demanding schedule. Veteran coach Chuck Kyle, who is in his 30th year at the helm, coaches a traditional brand of football that relies heavily on a successful running game and a highly physical offensive line. The discipline Kyle has instilled is reaping its benefits.
But the hardest matchup still remains; St. Ignatius will take on St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio), ranked No. 2 in the Cleveland area by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, next week for its final regular season game of the year.
Even if it plays St. Ignatius, St. Edward will be itching to return to the field after a weekend thrill ride.
St. Edward stuns Moeller: Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) is one of several Ohio schools to play a brutal non-conference schedule, and its excitement might be deflated with another of the nation's best teams (Louisville Trinity) waiting next week. The Fighting Crusaders ran out to a 35-14 lead and led 42-21 in the third quarter.
But St. Edward had an undefeated record to preserve, so it rattled off 28 unanswered points.
Running back Dwayne Aaron ran for 250 yards on an astonishing 36 carries, and would clinch the game with a 26-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Head coach Rick Finotti preached "no breaking point" to the Plain-Dealer after the game, and his defense only allowed seven second half points (none in the fourth quarter) after surrendering five touchdowns in the opening half.
The Eagles now move to 9-0 and enter the battle for Cleveland against St. Ignatius next week.
Ice Cole: The Cincinnati Enquirer's top two teams squared off on Friday, and Colerain's (Cincinnati) victory over Lakota West (West Chester) was another offensive showcase. The two sides churned out 917 total yards and 111 points in Colerain's 57-44 victory. Cardinals quarterback Alfred Ramsby combined for 388 yards of total offense and four touchdowns (one passing, three rushing). Both the Enquirer and MaxPreps state that Ramsby, who doesn't have a verified Division-I offer, should be a front-runner for Cincinnati area player of the year. Colerain has hovered around the top-10 all season, but has yet to appear in the rankings.
Quick Hits: Sunday Night Football even devoted some of its airtime to some Cincinnati football; NBC commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth briefly discussed the end of Highlands' (Cincinnati) 28-game winning streak during the Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals. ... Derrick Henry, who already rushed for a Florida record 502 yards in one game this season, ran for 455 yards and five scores on Friday night to continue his spectacular senior season. ... They fell out of the rankings several weeks ago, but do not sleep on Skyline (Dallas). The Raiders have dominated every opponent since losing to Bowie on September 14. Since that loss, Skyline has scored at least 42 points in every game and is now 6-1 with three games remaining in the season. ... Cheverus (Portland, Maine) set the Maine Class A record with its 32nd consecutive win this past weekend.
And onto the rankings:
Previous rank: 1
Last week: Defeated Venice (Fla.) 56-27
Next week: vs. Palmetto (Fla.)
The Hurricanes' recorded another dominant win (they were winning 28-13 at halftime), but the defense allowed over 20 points for the second consecutive week. This is a team that is too powerful to displace from the top spot, but the last two performances have been less impressive.
Previous rank: 2
Last week: Defeated Liberty (Renton, Wash.) 49-11
Next week: @ Mercer Island (Wash.)
If you proof of Bellevue's dominance this season, then simply look to its performance against Liberty. The 11 points allowed by the Wolverines was the highest total it allowed to an in-state opponent in 2012. The win is also Bellevue's 34th in a row.
Previous rank: 3
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. Clark (New Orleans)
The Patriots were off this week, and they have two regular season games before entering the playoffs. Curtis has allowed 31 points all season, they have scored at least 31 in six of its seven wins this year.
Previous rank: 4
Last week: Defeated St. Xavier (Cincinnati) 32-21
Next week: vs. St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)
The Wildcats recorded a great win last weekend, but the battle for the city bragging rights takes place next weekend. Athletic director Rory Fitzpatrick told SI that the school has already sold out over 7,000 tickets for the upcoming tilt against St. Edward, which might be the best game in the country next week.
Previous rank: 5
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. Brunswick (Ga.)
Camden County is chock full of Division-I prospects, but it is a rare school that has four players committed to three different SEC schools (Georgia, South Carolina and Auburn). The Wildcats get a fairly easy Brunswick side before two difficult road games (at Lowndes and at Colquitt County to end the season).
Previous rank: 6
Last week: Defeated Monte Vista (Danville, Calif.) 41-9
Next week: @ San Ramon Valley (Danville, Calif.)
The Spartans recorded one of their most complete victories of the season, even if they have won the last five games by at least three scores. The victories are expected for a team that simply doesn't lose in the regular season, but Friday's victory should propel coach Bob Ladoceur's squad into the CIF Playoffs.
Previous rank: 7
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati)
Trinity will be facing a reeling Moeller side (which, as we mentioned before, blew a 21-point second half lead on Friday). The hyper talented Shamrocks have blown through most of their opponents this season, but Moeller will be a significantly tougher challenge.
Previous rank: 9
Last week: Defeated Seven Lakes (Katy, Texas) 38-13
Next week: vs. Strake Jesuit (Houston)
The Tigers have solidified themselves as probably the top team in Texas, and a big win over a city rival only helped matters. Katy has now clinched a playoff berth with three games remaining until the playoffs begin.
Previous rank: 8
Last week: Defeated Murrieta Valley (Murrieta, Calif.) 45-17
Next week: @ Murrieta Mesa (Murrieta, Calif.)
The Broncos won the battle of Murrieta in dominating fashion (they led 31-7 at halftime) over Murrieta Valley. The explosive offense continues to succeed, and Murrieta Valley may be Southern California's finest squad.
Previous rank: 10
Last week: Defeated South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.) 58-0
Next week: vs. Independence (Charlotte, N.C.)
The star-studded group continued its defensive dominance by posting its third shutout of the season. The Bulldogs close the season with one of Charlotte's finest in Independence, who is 9-0 and has scored at least 31 points in nine of its 10 games this year.
Next five:Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.), Ensworth (Nashville), Hoover (Ala.), University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), DeSoto (Texas).