The Varsity Letters can't shake off the excitement. When's the last time this many quality games were packed into one Friday night? Two years? Three years?
Even with five games left, this weekend could ultimately decided two conference championships and two other second-place finishes. It's an incredibly important weekend for many local teams.
Let's get started with the top games.
1. Monessen at Beth-Center (5 stars)
In the Observer-Reporter's preseason football publication, I predicted Monessen to win the Tri-County South (I know, that's never a stretch) and Beth-Center to finish second. After the first four weeks, these teams not only look like the top two in the TCS, the Greyhounds and Bulldogs look pretty even.
In Sheldon Miller and Terrance Stepoli, Monessen boasts superior athleticism. Beth-Center, as always, wants to rough up opponents. Don't mistake that for a lack of talent. B-C has a large handful of strong skill position players and I've been hearing wonderful things about Jeff Tarley.
Against strong competition (Rochester and Clairton), Monessen failed to score a point. Beth-Center, the second-highest scoring team in Class A, is strong competition.
2. Fort Cherry at Clairton (4.5 stars)
Fort Cherry made believers out of many with its 17-point victory over Serra Catholic last week. Now, the state-ranked Rangers, face a Clairton team many believe is the best Class A team in the western half of Pennsylvania.
Containing Clairton's big plays, which begins with junior receiver Kevin Weatherspoon, could be key. Fort Cherry must also sustain a few more drives than it did against Serra. That means the big guys up front must block for Nate Crossey, Derric Stankus and David Phillips.
3. Chartiers Valley at Trinity (4 stars)
Last year, the Class AAA Big Seven contest, was supposed to be close. CV won handily.
In order to prevent a repeat of last year, Trinity must avoid turnovers. The Colts feasted on Trinity's pass game last year, returning an interception for a touchdown just before halftime that put the game away.
Critics were skeptical following Trinity's loss to Thomas Jefferson, but the Hillers rebounded nicely at Elizabeth Forward to hand the Warriors their first loss. Time to give Trinity some credit. Every time it loses a game, the Hillers come back focused and determined.
4. Upper St. Clair at Canon-McMillan (3.5 stars)
As far as conference openers go, this Great Southern matchup couldn't be any better.
Upper St. Clair lost in the final seconds last week to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, a team which Canon-McMillan lost to in Week 2.
Several key Big Macs are less than 100 percent but C-M always gives USC a supreme effort. Expect the same Friday night.
5. Elizabeth Forward at Ringgold (3 stars)
According to conference coaches, this Big Seven contest wasn't supposed too mean anything. Yet, both are 3-1.
This game is more important for the Rams, who are 0-1 in conference play after losing to Thomas Jefferson last week. According to some, the game was much closer than the final score. Ringgold certainly gave the Jaguars a tough opening 24 minutes.
6. Chartiers-Houston at Frazier (3 stars)
So far, the Bucs are doing what they are supposed to do - convincing beat teams they are superior to. Now, the schedule gets a little tougher.
At 3-1, Frazier is a solid team. At 4-0, Chartiers-Houston may be on the verge of a special season.
How special? Depends on Friday's result.