Sep. 17—When the sun rose on Sept. 17, we entered the second half of the high school football regular season.
Because of the earliest start in OHSAA history, five weeks of high school football games are in the books — and we're only halfway through September.
To be sure, there is plenty of action yet to come. League games are just getting started, conference championships are on the line each and every week, and then there's the grueling playoff run that will last six weeks for those teams who are good enough (and lucky enough?) to get to the state championship weekend at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
So what did the first half of the regular season tell us? Well, here are some midpoint awards, which don't mean a heck of a lot because half a season does not a season make.
But what the hey — let's go for it.
—Offensive player of the (half) season: Frankie Trinetti, Lake Catholic: The junior quarterback has thrown for 1,482 yards and 20 touchdowns at the midway point. Over a 10-game slate, that comes out to 2,964 passing yards and 40 touchdowns. The Cougars (4-1) have already won more games this year than last year (3-7).
—Defensive player of the (half) year: Alexander Ash, Chardon: The junior linebacker probably had this "award" wrapped up before a 14-10 loss at Bishop Watterson in Week 5. He entered Week 5 with 60 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. An absolute wrecking ball.
—Special teams player of the (half) year: Dylan Tackett, Mentor: With two more field goals against Cleveland Heights, he has five this season — and he's automatic on conversion kicks. Virtually every kickoff is non-returnable and out of the end zone. NDCL's Ryan Cvitkovic, the latest in a line of standout kickers at his school, deserves a nod here, too.
—Coach of the (half) year: There are a lot of candidates here, including Riverside's Dave Bors (5-0) and Lake Catholic's Marty Gibbons (4-1 after going 3-7 last year) — to name a few. But how about Madison's Mike Gilligan, whose Blue Streaks are 4-1 after winning a total of three games the past two seasons COMBINED!
—Defensive coordinator of the (half) year: Perry's Scott Niedzwiecki's defense held Kirtland to six points, gave up only 13 points through four weeks and of the 20 points given up in Week 5 to Geneva, 14 were with back-ups in the game. The dude can coach defense.
—Offensive coordinator of the (half) year: Rick Lytle of Gilmour has the Lancers averaging 35.4 points and 326 yards per game, numbers that are skewed a little because the Lancers were without a few starters — including dual-threat QB extraordinaire Jake Kavcic — in a Week 5 loss to VASJ. Lytle must feel like a kid on X-box with all the cheat codes when he calls plays with this offense.
—Game of the (half) year: Riverside's 34-31 win over Mentor had it all — 8,000 fans crammed into Riverside Stadium, an electric atmosphere, perfect weather and a nip-and-tuck battle in which the Beavers topped the Cardinals for the first time since 1961. This one might be tough to top from here on out. A solid honorable mention goes to Perry's 24-6 win over Kirtland, ending the Hornets' 57-game regular-season winning streak, that same night.
—Dennis Green award: You know when the former NFL coach said, "They are who we thought they were?" Well, that's the Riverside Beavers. Coach Dave Bors' team is 5-0, scary on offense with Mikey Maloney running the show at quarterback and defensive coordinator Jeremy Ishmael dialing up pressure all night.
—Close but no Cigar award: Mentor is 2-3, but has lost those three games by a total of six points — 16-14 to St. Ignatius, 34-31 to Riverside and 14-13 to Cleveland Heights. Chardon has its hat in the ring here, too, with two losses by a total of five points — 50-49 to Tiffin Columbian and 14-10 to Bishop Watterson.
The only area conference that has started league play in the Greater Cleveland Conference. The rest of the area will ramp up its league schedule this coming weekend.
With that in mind, which conferences did the best with their non-conference slates?
—CVC Chagrin 17-13 (Perry 5-0, Hawken 4-1, Lutheran West 3-2, Orange 2-3, Chagrin Falls 2-3, West Geauga 1-4)
—CVC Lake 17-13 (Edgewood 4-1, Geneva 4-1, Madison 4-1, Conneaut 3-2, Lakeside 2-3, Jefferson 0-5)
—CVC Valley 17-13 (Kirtland 4-1, Crestwood 4-1, Cardinal 3-2, Berkshire 2-3, Harvey 2-3, Grand Valley 2-3)
—Western Reserve Conference 17-13 (Riverside 5-0, Kenston 4-1, Chardon 3-2, Mayfield 2-3, North 2-3, South 1-4)
—Greater Cleveland Conference 10-14 (Shaker Heights 3-0, Cleveland Heights 2-1, Medina 2-1, Mentor 1-2, Euclid 1-2, Strongsville 1-2, Brunswich 0-3, Solon 0-3)
—Northeast Athletic Conference 7-18 (Pymatuning Valley 2-3, St. John 2-3, Windham 2-3, Fairport 1-4, Vienna Mathews 0-5)
—CVC Metro 6-23 (Cuyahoga Heights 3-1, Trinity 1-4, Wickliffe 1-4, Brooklyn 1-4, Independence 0-5, Beachwood 0-5)