Hamilton quarterback Elijah Spradling hands off to Keyshawn Stephens during last Friday’s 15-14 victory over Middletown at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Around the GMC: Fairfield, Colerain rolling toward football showdown

The Greater Miami Conference prep football race looks to be moving toward a championship showdown in Week 9.

Colerain, the 18-time defending champion, and Fairfield are both 5-0 in GMC play heading into Week 8 contests against Lakota East and Oak Hills, respectively.

Fairfield is 6-1 and will be at Oak Hills (3-4) on Friday, and the Highlanders have taken three straight blowout losses and have lost their quarterback, Ethan Myers, to an injury.

“It’s not a fun trip. It’s windy and hilly and not real close for us,” FHS coach Jason Krause said. “It’s just always a tough place to go play, and obviously they are better than they’ve been. They’ve won three games.”

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Asked if he’ll make sure his Indians don’t look past the Highlanders to next Friday’s trip to Colerain, Krause replied, “That’s not just a this-week message. That’s an every-week message for us. But I think this group’s been pretty good at understanding the task at hand.”

Fairfield blew past Sycamore 40-7 last week behind a great defensive effort that gave the Indians several short fields. Senior linebacker Del Thomas had seven tackles, two sacks and an interception.

“That’s the fastest I’ve seen our defense play,” Krause said. “We had four false starts on offense, which is something we’ve got to clean up. All of them were not flinches. They were like anticipating a snap count to go faster. We’ve got to hold our water a little bit and understand the importance of those 5 yards.”

The Highlanders (1-4 in the GMC) are second in the conference in total defense, allowing 226.6 yards per game.

“They’re a tough, scrappy bunch,” Krause said. “I think it’s a big deal that (coach) Kyle Prosser graduated from there. I think he’s got a lot of pride in what they’re doing and that’s transferred over into their kids.”

Here’s a look at the other four GMC games Friday:

Hamilton (1-6, 1-4) at Sycamore (4-3, 2-3)

Big Blue finally got their first win of the season last week, outlasting Middletown 15-14.

HHS coach Chad Murphy said it was a gritty performance, but not really a high-caliber one.

“Obviously we’ll take it, but I don’t think we played great football,” Murphy said. “It wasn’t pretty. We left a lot of points on the field. But hats off to the Middlies. Those kids played hard.”

Big Blue’s quarterback situation remains muddled because of injuries to Khaliyal Sowell and Quincy Simms-Marshall. Murphy said barring an unexpected change, HHS will continue to use Elijah Spradling and Keyshawn Stephens at quarterback.

Stephens ran 36 times for 257 yards against the Middies. The sophomore is bearing down on 1,000 yards this season (146 carries, 865 yards).

“We know that we let a few wins get away from us this year. I think it’s just made us hungrier for these last few weeks,” Murphy said. “It was nice to see us get a stop at the end of the game against Middletown to ensure the victory. I don’t care what the statistics say … our defense has played relatively well throughout the year. We’ve just needed a couple more stops at critical times.”

Mason (5-2, 4-1) at Middletown (1-6, 0-5)

The Middies haven’t beaten Mason since 2011 and are continuing to struggle in closing out games. Their last three losses have come by a combined 11 points.

“Competitively, we’ve made great progress this season,” first-year Middletown coach Don Simpson said. “Little things continue to restrain us from finishing games like we want. We’re changing the culture and expectations of this football program. We’ll continue to fight for success through Week 10.”

Colerain (7-0, 5-0) at Lakota East (5-2, 4-1)

The Cardinals will try to stretch their GMC winning streak to 73 on their trip to Liberty Township. The Thunderhawks were given new life in the conference when they picked up a Week 4 forfeit win over Princeton.

It’s a matchup of triple-option teams, with Colerain ranking second in the GMC in total offense (369.1 yards per game) and East ranking third (350.9).

Princeton (2-5, 2-3) at Lakota West (2-5, 1-4)

West has by far the least productive offense in the GMC, averaging just 148.3 yards and 9.6 points per game.

The Firebirds have scored in double figures twice and won both games. When they don’t reach double figures, they’re 0-5.

Princeton quarterback Hosea Hairston returned from an injury last week and has thrown for 672 yards and rushed for 402.

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