The Lowellville High football team is about to be tested by the Inter-County League's traditional powers.
Coming off a 41-6 victory over Mathews, the Rockets (5-0, 2-0) will now face ICL rivals South Range and Springfield in consecutive weeks.
It begins Friday when Lowellville travels to South Range and continues Oct. 4 when the Rockets play host to Springfield.
How's that for a barometer into the type of team a coach has?
"We're happy about being 5-0, but now we have South Range and Springfield back-to-back, so we need to keep playing well," Lowellville coach John Protopapa said. "We've never beaten either team in my three years here."
South Range (3-2, 1-1) enters Friday's game having won three of its last four. The Raiders lost to Springfield 33-28 last weekend.
"Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win the league, and anytime you want to win the league, you have to go through them," Protopapa said of South Range and Springfield.
The Rockets will be without senior starting center Ross Morrone, who injured his knee against Jackson-Milton on Sept. 13.
Also in the ICL, Mineral Ridge (4-1, 2-0) visits Springfield (3-2, 2-0), while Jackson-Milton (1-4, 1-1) plays host to Western Reserve (2-3, 0-2) and Mathews (1-4, 0-2) welcomes McDonald (1-4, 0-2).
MAC attack
Fresh off its Metro Athletic Conference win over Howland, 23-8, Canfield (5-0, 1-0) travels to Niles (0-5, 0-1) with hopes of continuing its move up the statewide ladder, without looking ahead to a Week 9 showdown with Poland.
"We want to put ourselves in a position to win the league, and the only way to do that is to get ready for a tough Niles team," Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said. "I'll tell you what, you go into Bo Rein Stadium, you know you're going to have a heckuva football game."
Also in the MAC, Howland (4-1, 0-1) tries to rebound by playing host to Salem (2-3, 0-1). Poland (5-0, 1-0) and Struthers (2-3, 1-0) go outside the conference this week, with the Bulldogs, coming off three straight shutouts, playing host to Chaney (3-2) and the Wildcats welcoming Wilson (0-5).
"We've got to pick up the pieces and get ready for the rest of our league play," Howland coach Dick Angle said following the loss to Canfield. "That's what good football teams do."
SVC at Stambaugh
The Steel Valley Conference plays at Stambaugh Stadium, where Warren Harding and Ursuline meet on Friday and Austintown Fitch and Mooney tangle on Saturday.
Ranked No. 1 in the Division I state poll, the Raiders (5-0, 1-0) have been impressive. They blanked Toledo Whitmer 71-0 last weekend. Ursuline (3-2, 0-1) is also coming off a shutout, 31-0, over Burlington Assumption Catholic.
Boardman tries to rebound from a loss to future Federal League opponent Massillon Jackson when the Spartans (4-1, 1-0) play host to Painesville Riverside. Fitch (3-2, 0-0) plays in its conference opener against Mooney (3-2, 0-1).
In the Trumbull Athletic Conference, the game to watch is in Girard, where the Indians play host to Newton Falls in a match-up of 4-1 teams Friday.
Hubbard (5-0, 2-0), extended to overtime last week against Liberty, risks its perfect start at home against Lakeview (2-3, 1-1). Brookfield (3-2, 1-1) travels to Champion (2-3, 0-2), and Liberty (3-2, 1-1) visits LaBrae (0-5, 0-2).
To the south
East Palestine and United highlight the Tri-County League schedule as both teams enter at 4-1.
Also in the TCL, Crestview (0-5, 0-2) travels to Lisbon (4-1, 2-0), which has won four straight games, while Columbiana (3-2, 0-2) goes to Southern (3-2, 2-0), and Sebring (0-5, 0-2) visits Leetonia (3-2, 1-1).
In the Northeastern Buckeye Conference, West Branch (4-1, 3-0) puts its perfect conference record on the line at unbeaten and state-ranked Louisville.

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