My day after Thanksgiving started well and actually got better as the hours advanced. I began by watching Dayton play men’s basketball on ESPN against fourth ranked Kansas which appeared headed toward a Kansas blowout in the early stages.
Then I recalled a similar scenario against Kentucky 22 years earlier when the Flyers came back to win. Gradually they also caught up this time and won on a shot that was released just before the buzzer and went in after a rim bounce and bank. I have many ties to the University of Dayton and have worked there twice. I really enjoyed this one.
My attention then turned to the Russia at Fort Loramie boys basketball game where I was a guest commentator on the Fish Report webcast for a second straight season. My connection is that my second cousin, Craig Fiessinger, is the “Fish” of Fish Report. However, we didn’t know we were related until about 18 months ago. Craig lives in Russia and I reside near Fort Loramie, making the experience even more mutually rewarding and enjoyable. His Raiders went home a winner. This matchup, when played at Loramie, is a standing date between us that will be repeated on the first Tuesday of January 2023.
This high school basketball contest was my priority for the evening despite the huge football playoff game in Sidney as Springfield took on Cincinnati Moeller in a state big school semifinal which I’d have normally attended. I was on the original steering committee that guided the overall process resulting in Sidney Memorial Stadium’s opening in 2004. I then served as press box manager and media coordinator through the 2020 season when I retired.
The online hoops broadcast went well and I headed home to see TV coverage of the football game in Sidney. Springfield pulled it out at the end as southwest Ohio watched the entire contest “live” with the closing shown on statewide cable. There was our stadium in the spotlight and I loved it. On this evening Sidney was the epicenter of Ohio football.
Then it was time for the 11pm Dayton TV sportscasts. On the day UD beat Kansas, the lead story was from Sidney Memorial Stadium. There was our scoreboard and the Sidney logo at midfield. I relished the moment and reflected on another phenomenal day. Just as I had the day before, I gave thanks.
Crowds and MAC
Last Friday’s Springfield win attracted the third largest crowd in the 18 year history of 7000 seat Sidney Memorial Stadium with a throng of around 5500. Game manager and Sidney AD Mitch Hoying points out that some informal estimates were higher due to the “winter coat factor” within the audience. Bulky clothing on that number of fans can make a crowd look larger than it really is.
The biggest gathering at SMS was about 6500 to see Marion Local eliminate Mechanicsburg and amazing QB Kaleb Romero in 2016. Some 6000, none wearing winter coats, came a season later for Sidney’s late August opening win over St. Marys that propelled the Yellow Jackets toward a 10-2 finish. That Sidney squad featured the notable trio of quarterback Andre Gordon, running back Isaiah Bowser, and tackle Devan Rogers, all of whom remain in Division I college athletics.
Elsewhere…..Last weekend’s results sent three more teams from the Midwest Athletic Conference to the state finals. Marion Local, Coldwater, and Versailles will all tee it up in Canton on Saturday. I’d love to see the MAC run the table.
The MAC’s great statewide reputation is enhanced by having successful members in three of the seven football divisions, affording the opportunity for multiple titles in a single season. When a league wins two or three Ohio football crowns in the same year, it gets people’s attention.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has been a fixture in local sports media since 1975.