PARMA, Ohio — Each week, 3News has featured one local high school football matchup and given it a live audio broadcast as well as video highlights online and on television. However, we're not sure any matchup can top this.
It was the matchup many had anticipated, and now they'll get it: The Division I, Region 1 final between the St. Edward Eagles and the Mentor Cardinals will be WKYC.com's High School Football Playoff Game of the Week this Friday night. The showdown will take place at Byers Field in Parma, which has hosted many a postseason classic over the years.
Not only are the Eagles and Cardinals rated as the two best teams in all of Ohio, but both are also ranked in most or all major national high school football polls. MaxPreps' Freeman computer rankings currently have Mentor at No. 8 in the country, while St. Edward is 15th.
With legendary head coach Steve Trivisonno planning to step down at the end of the season, Mentor has played like a team on a mission, blowing through the powerful Greater Cleveland Conference as well as Cleveland Heights and Canton McKinley in the playoffs. While the defense has been solid, it has been the offense that has shined brightest, led by the connection of quarterback Ian Kipp and receiver Luke Floriea along with Brian Trobel and a strong running back core.
BEST IN THE MIDWEST: Mentor enters OHSAA football playoffs at 10-0, near top of national rankings
For St. Edward, the season is merely an extension of last year's run that saw the team surprise everyone and win its fourth state championship in nine years. Receiver Montorie Foster, running back Joey Formani, and defensive end Jeff Pietrowski are just some of the stars that have led the Eagles through a tough state and national schedule and later blowouts over Medina and Euclid in the playoffs.
HAIL TO THE GREEN & GOLD: St. Edward outlasts rival St. Ignatius in 7-3 struggle
This will be the second meeting between the two powerhouses in 2019: Back in Week 1, Mentor came from behind to edge St. Edward 29-28 in Lakewood and give the Eagles what remains their only loss of the season so far. However, that eerily parallels last year, when the Cardinals won the regular season meeting only to be upset by the Eagles in the regional final.
Additionally, while St. Edward has won four state titles in its history (all since 2010), unbeaten Mentor has never won it all in its history and is 0-4 in the championship game during Trivisonno's tenure as head coach. This is their last chance to take the crown under his leadership, and the squad is also vying to become the first Northeast Ohio public school to go the distance in D-I since Canton McKinley in 1998.
All that sets the stage for what should be a memorable night on the gridiron. Dave "Dino" DeNatale and Dennis Manoloff will call the game live via audio stream starting at roughly 6:50 p.m. on WKYC.com, the 3News app, and the 3News Facebook and YouTube pages; video highlights can also be seen on that night's edition of What's Next at 11 p.m. as well as on the internet.
Be sure to also tune in to Facebook and YouTube this Wednesday at 5 p.m., when Dino and Tyler Carey will preview the game along with the rest of the local regional final matchups.