In this two-week series, Rivals.com is taking a look at the high school football talent in rival regions - breaking down the best prospects, best teams and giving our vote for which area is superior.
TODAY'S MATCHUP: Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis
The case for Cincinnati
Cincinnati is one metropolitan area that legitimately crosses a state border. Northern Kentucky towns Covington and Fort Thomas are just a stone's throw across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati, so when considering the talent in the Queen City, we also will consider those prospects in Cincinnati's Kentucky suburbs.
This year, Northern Kentucky bolsters Cincinnati's quarterback talent with SEC-bound signal callers Zeke Pike of Edgewood Dixie Heights and Patrick Towles of Fort Thomas Highlands.
Talent in the Cincinnati area is spread across all positions in the 2012 class, however. The area features prospects boasting multiple BCS offers at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and defensive back. Four area prospects are ranked in the Rivals250 and another 10 are rated as three-stars.
After Pike, who is ranked as the No. 72 player in the country, the next highest-ranked prospects in Cincinnati are Taft High teammates Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford. Colerain High also checks in with a strong squad in 2012, featuring four-star linebacker Joe Bolden, three-star defensive tackle Trae Clark and Cincinnati safety commit Andre Jones.
University of Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones is doing a good job keeping the talent in his backyard at home. The Bearcats have commitments from four Cincinnati-area kids, including three-star defensive end Ryan Leahy of La Salle High and three-star offensive lineman Kyle Williamson of Madeira.
Michigan has three commitments from Cincinnati - Bolden, Sycamore tight end A.J. Williams and Oak Hills offensive lineman Caleb Stacey. Other schools that have received commitments from Cincinnati area prospects include Auburn, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Illinois.
The case for Indianapolis
The No. 3 team in the entire country, Warren Central, carries the banner for Indianapolis this fall as well as in the 2012 class. The Warriors boast eight prospects that have already made commitments to BCS schools, led by four-star defensive tackle and Notre Dame commitment Sheldon Day.
Four 2012 Warren Central prospects - running back Deionte Buckley, defensive end Jonathan Burt, offensive guard Deyshawn Bond and defensive end Josh Posley - have committed to Cincinnati, while two more - wide receiver Kevin Davis and linebacker Jordan Wallace - are committed to Indiana. Three-star defensive back Jordan Shine has committed to Purdue.
The area's top-ranked prospect is Whiteland Community offensive tackle Jake Meador. The 6-7, 305-pound Meador is ranked as the nation's No. 241 overall prospect and the No. 2 player in the state of Indiana. He committed to Ole Miss in June over offers from the likes of Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville and Vanderbilt.
A total of 21 Indianapolis-area prospects have already made commitments to BCS schools. Indiana has the most, with six, while Cincinnati is second with five. They are followed by Kentucky with three commitments from the city, Louisville with two, Notre Dame with two and Purdue with two.
The area is very strong along the offensive and defensive lines. Meador, Lawrence Central's Wes Rogers, Bishop Chatard's Sid Anvoots, Avon's Deandre Herron and Brebeuf Jesuit Prep's Jon Toth would make a formidable offensive line. It would be a great battle matching that group against a defensive line consisting of Day, Carmel's Langston Newton, Carmel's Shawn Heffern and Pike's Pierre Aka.
The class of 2013 in Indianapolis also looks to have a strong contingent of talent, led by Warren Central linebacker Tim Kimbrough and Avon defensive end Elijah Daniel. Between them, the pair of juniors already hold a combined six BCS offers.
In most years, Indianapolis would not be able to compete with the talent pool in the Cincinnati area, but the city is having a banner year in 2012 and more than holds its own as a metropolitan area. If Indianapolis was able to count the nation's No. 1 quarterback, Gunner Kiel, it may have pulled off the upset, but Kiel's hometown of Columbus sits just outside the metropolitan line. Cincinnati pulls out the win in this matchup by the narrowest of margins on the strength of three prospects ranked in the Rivals100.
As with many of the comparisons before this one, just taking the No. 1 team versus the No. 1 team is not quite an honest measurement of the two areas. Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central enters the year at No. 3 in the RivalsHigh 100. However, between the Warriors and the No. 2 team in Indianapolis falls at least seven teams from Cincinnati, and that is a generous count as it could be more. Warren Central is a team that could prove to be among the best teams in the country this season while Colerain, St. X, Moeller, Middletown, are all inside the Top 50 in the preseason rankings nationally and that has to swing the balance of power to the Queen City. The best team in Cincinnati is almost always among the better teams nationally with the talent on the field and the coaching on the sidelines. Indianapolis is starting to inch closer to that claim as the city is perceived to be better than Louisville in the region but not quite to Cincinnati standards at this point.
- Dallas Jackson
AUG. 24: Atlanta vs. New Orleans
AUG. 25: Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati | Chicago vs. Detroit
AUG. 26: Southern California vs. Northern California