Arvie Crouch may not have been satisfied with the Hamilton High School football team’s season-opening loss to hometown rival Badin.
Then again, he admitted it was the best thing that happened to his Big Blue.
“Our first game, we had a lot of jitters,” the second-year Hamilton coach said. “I blame a lot of that on myself. That was probably good that happened to this team and for us to go through what we did that night. I think it lit some fires within our team.”
Hamilton (3-1), now winners of three in a row, take its momentum on the road against Greater Miami Conference rival Princeton (4-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Big Blue has given up just 13 points and turned the ball over only once in their three victories.
“Everything is going well — super positive,” Crouch said. “I think the program is in a good place. We’re hoping to carry it on, make some plays and take it to the next level. We’ve got an opportunity in front of us, and we will see how that goes.
“Princeton is very, very good. Princeton executes. They fly around and are very athletic.”
Three Hamilton players are in the GMC’s top five in tackles — sophomore CJ Bryant (44, second), junior Gracen Goldsmith (40, fourth) and junior Carter Isaacs (34, fifth).
Princeton is led by sophomore quarterback Deangelo Birch, who has thrown for 308 yards and two TD passes and rushed for 204 yards and a score.
Sophomore running back David Hambrick has 237 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore defensive back Andrew Wells leads Princeton with 34 total tackles.
“They’ve got a new kid at quarterback, and he’s pretty solid,” Crouch said. “He does a really good job of running that offense that they’re trying to run. The effort is there at Princeton.
“But it’s the same with us. Our effort is there — the kids are coming around and doing their assignments. It’s going to be an interesting night on Friday night.”
Crouch said several underclassmen made their presence felt in all three Hamilton wins — including junior quarterback Antonio Mathis and junior receiver RJ Shephard-Ruffin. They’ve connected17 times for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve got some younger guys that are getting some good playing experience who are playing really good right now,” Crouch said. “That’s been the key to our success.
“Overall, we’re having a good time. Everybody is pretty positive,” Crouch added. “Our kids are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and getting better every week. I’d rather be 4-0. But the school has good vibes, and the student body has good vibes. The players have good vibes. Everybody is doing their part to be the best they can be.
“I think we’re taking care of business in the GMC like we’re supposed to. We know that we’re going to get their best shot, and we’re going in knowing that. They’re going to get our best shot. We’re going to try and put this program in a good situation with where it wants to be.”
LAKOTA WEST AT COLERAIN
The Firebirds (2-2) have won two in a row, while the Cardinals (0-4) are winless after their first four games for the second straight season.
MASON AT FAIRFIELD
The Indians (1-3) snapped a three-game losing streak when Aiden McGuire booted a 27-yard game-winning field goal to beat Lakota East in Week 4. The Comets (1-3) have lost two in a row.
LAKOTA EAST AT MIDDLETOWN
The Middies (2-2) have lost two in a row after a 35-0 loss to Lakota West in Week 4. The Thunderhawks (0-4) fell to Fairfield on a last-second field goal a week ago and are off to their worst start since 2009 when they lost their first five games.
HUGHES VS. BADIN AT HAMILTON
The Rams (4-0) are ranked second in the state in Division III and have won a school-record 32 regular season games in a row. The Big Red (1-3) knocked off Monroe 21-7 a week ago to end a three-game losing streak.
TALAWANDA AT CARROLL
The Brave (0-4) have been outscored 156-14 in their four losses this season. The Patriots (2-2) beat Northwest 35-28 last week.
CHAMINADE JULIENNE AT EDGEWOOD
The Cougars (1-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with their blowout win over Talawanda in Week 4. The Eagles (3-1) average a Greater Catholic League Coed-best 35 points a game.
ROSS AT JACKSON
The Rams (1-3) begin a three-game road trip with a two-hour bus ride to face the Ironmen (3-1), who are on a two-game winning streak. Ross fell to Wilmington last week on a last-second TD pass.
BROOKVILLE AT MADISON
The Mohawks (4-0) are ranked ninth in the state in Division V and off to their best start since the 2018 season when they went 12-1. The Blue Devils (3-1) had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 21-14 loss to Waynesville last week.
MONROE AT WASHINGTON COURTHOUSE
The Hornets (1-3) are coming off a 21-7 loss against Hughes. The Blue Lions (3-1) are on a three-game winning streak.
NEW MIAMI AT FAYETTEVILLE-PERRY
The Vikings (0-4) have been outscored 86-7 in their last two games. The Rockets (0-4) fell to Eastern Beaver 39-13 last week.
FRANKLIN AT CARLISLE
The Indians (2-2) have lost two in a row, while the Wildcats (0-4) are coming off a 34-28 loss to Chaminade Julienne in Week 4.
FENWICK AT MOUNT HEALTHY
The Falcons (4-0) are off to their best start since 2015 when they finished 13-1. The Owls (3-1) suffered their first loss of the season after falling 28-26 to Clinton-Massie last week.