It was a good night for a couple of Italian Stallions at Harding Stadium.
Hard to say who would prevail in a pasta-eating contest between Steubenville Big Red's Reno Saccoccia and Oak Glen's Tony Filberto. Could be pay-per-view worthy.
Their respective football teams, in turn, are off to 1-0 starts following Thursday's McDonald's/OVAC Kickoff twinbill before an enthusiastic turnout.
And why not? King Football is back in all its glory - the season which begins in t-shirts and cutoffs and ends in the bitter chill of early December.
BIG RED took apart Morgantown's Mohigans and did so in relatively short order. By halftime, Steubenville was a 31-0 leader and long lines were forming to get a taste of those specialty baked Peppe 'Reno' Rolls.
Coach John Bowers' Mohigans gift-wrapped an early seven points for Big Red and things got nothing but worse for the Mountain Staters.
Senior quarterback Marcus Prather acquitted himself well on opening night. Big Red's run game was also effective, led by senior scatback Jo Jo Pierro and several other quality runners.
Defensively, Steubenville's first unit was primarily solid. Morgantown's second half points were the result of a safety and a TD against the host's backup defenders.
WHILE Thursday's opener was a blowout, the nightcap was a four-quarter scrap, eventually decided by a blocked extra point attempt in the game's final five minutes.
Locked up at 14 following two quarters, Filberto's Golden Bears took advantage of Edison turnovers on consecutive possessions to tally 15 unanswered points for 29-14 command.
But Mike McKenzie's Wildcats were not out of contention.
The Cats appeared in dire straits, facing fourth and 17 when OG was flagged for pass interference. The ensuing first down led to a quick TD scamper by QB Mark Smyth. A two-point conversion resulted in a 29-22 lighting.
Moments later, Oak Glen was driving before coughing up a fumble. When Smyth responded, connecting with favorite target Kyle Minger for another six-pointer, Edison was within a PAT from evening the score.
That didn't happen as the Bears' Lucas McDowell broke through for what proved a game-winning block.
On the Cats' last possession, Smyth was intercepted for a third time and Filberto's Bears had held on.
Thursday doubleheaders at Harding and on Wheeling Island served as perfect appetizers for tonight's traditional season openers on both sides of the river.
THAT'S a nice gesture on the Twins' part, permitting future Hall of Famer Jim Thome to return to Cleveland, though Tribe management is trying to convince hometown fans Thome can play an integral role in helping the Indians recover and eventually overtake Detroit in the A.L. Central.
Unfortunately, that's not happening as we see it. While Cleveland overachieved a large part of the season, the Tribe would need a minor September miracle to rebound and get it done....
AS for the Pirates, Black & Gold supporters can only hope the ball club doesn't completely fade into obscurity after shocking most of America with an improbable late July run to a short-lived lead in the N.L. Central....
Milwaukee figures to win that division, as do the Phillies and Giants, respectively, with Atlanta a likely wild card entrant. For what it's worth, a Brewers-Tigers Fall Classic is on my wish list, though certainly not MLB's.
Gibson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org