In just two weeks 224 Ohio high school football teams will move into playoff mode with about 500 not qualifying. The opening weekend will be contested on the home fields of the top four computer point qualifiers in each of 28 regions. The following three weekends will feature neutral site games at places like Sidney Memorial Stadium along with Piqua and Wapakoneta. Seven championship contests will be played in Canton on the first weekend of December.
Like many high school football followers, I consult joeeitel.com throughout the regular season for game results, standings, and projections. 2019 looks very good for the fifteen year old Sidney facility to host one or both Shelby County teams who will qualify. Anna and Fort Loramie will both open with home games and be favored to advance. Other area squads are in the mix who played here in the past. It appears that five of the seven divisions could potentially visit Sidney as the OHSAA factors both geography and facility quality into decision criteria. It also matters how many facilities are needed in a given area on a given night.
The smallest divisions are favored by Sidney officials since they include most of the powerful Midwest Athletic Conference (in addition to Fort Loramie) and often bring the largest crowds. Let’s look at the local November prospects for the second and third weeks.
Division VII- Some combo of Loramie, Marion Local, and New Bremen could play here.
Division VI- Similar scenario for MAC members Anna, Coldwater, and Minster with intriguing sidebars. Anna just blew out Coldwater and doesn’t play Minster this season.
Division IV- If Kenton meets Milton Union or Waynesville.
Division III- Wapak or St. Marys against a team from Dayton or south.
Division I- Springfield versus a Toledo area team.
State semi-finals are the last weekend of next month. Matchups and site assignments get tricky once the field is whittled down to 28 teams. Sidney has hosted several state semis but was not included a year ago for which the OHSAA admitted making an error. They continue to recognize Sidney Memorial Stadium as a preferred playoff site in the entire state.
I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating due to misconceptions about how much the host site makes on these events. It makes no money on actual ticket revenue even though attendance does drive most host revenue. The host gets a stadium rental fee, parking, concessions, programs, and a share of the 50/50 raffle if one is held. Staffing is paid by the OHSAA.
Sidney will likely not do a 50/50 because it’s not the cash bonanza found in the MAC during the regular season. Sidney tried it but discovered that many regular season buyers didn’t like a cut of the proceeds going to both the OHSAA and the host before the participating schools got any money.
Local restaurants and gas stations also benefit from this annual influx of enthusiastic visitors which has become a November tradition. The road to the state football finals definitely runs through Sidney.
Next week: Fort Loramie’s Jared Hoying is back from South Korea and looks to 2020.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has spent 44 years in the local sports media and serves as OHSAA Media Coordinator for football playoff games in Sidney.