Let the hype begin!
For the first time since 1950, Bellaire and Shadyside are about to meet on the football field.
The first year of the two-year contract will unfold Saturday at Nelson Field when the 2-0 Tigers come to visit the 1-1 Big Reds.
It's going to be quite a week in both communities. This is a game that many have been pointing toward and hoping for, for a long, long time.
The contract was finalized and signed by both schools early this year and the buzz began almost immediately.
Both communities have been selling t-shirts for the game and countless other activities are planned.
There is already a wager between the two high school principals. Should Bellaire prevail, Shadyside principal John Haswell must wear a Big Reds' shirt to school next week and the same goes for Bellaire principal Kevin Roseberry should the Tigers prevail.
There will be countless other stories and sagas surrounding this game
It's kind of odd that there could be so many distractions during a week three game, but when teams haven't played in 63 years, the distractions come with it.
I'm hopeful that both coaching staffs can limit those distractions as much as possible and get their preparation in for what should be a heck of a game on Saturday between two teams with contrasting styles.
We'll certainly have more on this game as the week progresses
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT?
There are nine 2-0 teams remaining in Division V, Region 17 and a third of those are in Belmont County.
Many expected Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville to be there, but I can't imagine too many people had thought the Union Local Jets would be in the mix.
I realize the Jets' opponents haven't won a game yet, but when a team had lost 28 of its last 30 games begins with a new coach and starts 2-0, it's a big story.
When a team expects to lose, it usually loses. When a team expects to win, it can often times find a way to get it done. The Jets are believing and they're making believers out of others, too.
After two straight weeks on the road, Bruce Stiles makes his home debut as head coach when Union Local welcomes rival Barnesville for a battle for the 'Milk Bucket' Trophy that goes to the winner.
The Jets will be favored to get it done again. The Shamrocks have struggled and are 0-2, having dropped two decisive decisions to John Glenn and Meadowbrook.
Union Local has been running the football well with Eric Dunfee, Jake Leishman and Tater Blake carrying the bulk of the load. Travis James has played well at quarterback, especially having never played the position before this season.
Plus, Stiles' defensive unit has only allowed 18 points thus far.
More can be read on this game in Wednesday's Xs and Os section.
Running the football has been very, very good to the Martins Ferry Purple Riders over time.
This season that philosophy has been no different as the Purple Riders have been racking up infantry yards with regularity during the first two weeks.
Last Friday, in a come-from-behind win against Wickliffe, the Riders ran the ball 44 times for 310 yards and four scores. The thing about Ferry's attack that's been impressive is how Dave Bruney has been able to spread the ball around to a bevy of carriers.
After Bruce Burger provided the big game against Allderdice in week one, Marcus Sutton had the big night last week. Sutton carried 25 times for 220 yards and two scores. All told, six players saw quality time running the ball. Arjay Burress and Bryce Coleman are also viable options.
On top of having talented runners, the Purple has an experienced and big offensive line, which has played well.
It'll be interesting to see how the Riders' running attack matches up with Linsly this week. Don't forget, the Cadets stymied Parkersburg South's Brendan Schwendeman last week after he went for more than 300 yards in the opening game.
The Purple Riders hosting Linsly will be one of the games you'll be able to read more about in Wednesday's Xs and Os section.
KEEPING THINGS TOGETHER
Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka will be the first to admit that he was - and probably, to a degree, still is - fit to be tied about the call that went against his Huskies in week one at Wheeling Central, denying them the victory.
You never would have guessed that, however, judging by the way the Huskies took care of business at Weir last Friday.
Harrison Central was never challenged en route to a convincing 46-14 victory against the Red Riders.
That's just what the doctor ordered for the Huskies. On top of being the first win of the season, the Huskies can officially clear their heads from opening night and dial in on the rest of the season.
I give a lot of credit to Kropka and his coaching staff for getting the players focused and keeping their psyches up because dealing with 15-, 16- and 17-year old kids can be a challenge at times.
The Huskies make their home debut this week against a 2-0 and talented Berlin Center Western Reserve combine.
For a local reference, Western Reserve has eliminated Shadyside in the last two postseasons.
Actually, this week begins a stretch of four straight weeks against teams that have won each of the first two weeks.
If you're heading to Hannibal this Friday for the Pilots' home opener against Monroe Central, you'd better take a radio to pass the 23-minute halftime break.
Remember, none of the three Switerzland of Ohio Schools have marching bands because voters rejected a school levy, which forced the school to eliminate music programs.
Totally unfortunate that an opportunity for kids was taken away. I understand budget constraints and such, but the bands provide atmosphere to the games. The marching bands are what separate high school and college football environments from the professional game.
It'll be interesting to see what River does for the National Anthem. I am guessing an individual will sing it or they'll play a recording. Hopefully, the fans of the two schools know the words to their respective fight songs, so they can sing after scoring plays.
Speaking of the River Pilots, it's been a rough start to the 2013 campaign. After suffering a tough loss at Fort Frye, River was blitzed by Bishop Donahue on Saturday night.
On top of playing a county rival this week, the Pilots should have no trouble with motivation as they return to play their first game at Flannery Field since Oct. 21, 2011.
The Pilots played their entire home schedule at Magnolia's Alumni Field in 2012 because of construction at the renovated River High School area.
Heck, the Pilots weren't even able to take their team photos at the field this year. Those were held down by the Hannibal Locks and Dam.
Head coach Mike Flannery is certainly looking for something to jumpstart his team and maybe the return to the friendly confines will be it.
CHECKING IN ON THE LOCALS
CANTON McKINLEY improved to 2-0 under the direction of former Steubenville Big Red standout Todd Filtz. For the second straight week, the Bulldogs prevailed by a 35-0 score. This time, Filtz's squad defeated Sir Frederick Banting of Ontario, Canada. McKinley hosts 1-1 Dublin Coffman this week.
WESTERVILLE CENTRAL, which is coached by former Bellaire High mentor John Magistro, scored 50 points against New Albany. Unfortunately for Magistro and the Warhawks, they allowed 57 in the loss. Westerville Central visits 1-1 Independence this weekend.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org