The OHSAA football championships returned to Canton recently after a three year stay in Columbus at the “Home of the Buckeyes,” Ohio Stadium. I didn’t journey to northeast Ohio but did hear many complaints from those who did, especially followers of Minster and Marion Local which both claimed state titles. The fan website Yappi.com still has much dialogue on the subject, both pro and con, some informed and some uninformed.
A few concerns were fully anticipated including driving distance and not playing where Ohio’s favorite team plays in an iconic stadium. However, many others surfaced like a poorly managed parking situation and often obscured :25 play clocks, along with chairback seats that were too small in width for big adults wearing heavy clothing causing discomfort for those obviously affected and those seated alongside.
It is worth noting that none of these were issues during the three years at Ohio State where things appeared to go very well. Apparently there will be one more year in Canton, then a return to Columbus that I hope will be permanent. I’ve been on the sidelines for parts of several title games over those three years, and the atmosphere was not a negative despite about 100,000 empty seats.
The OHSAA now permits 50/50 raffles at football playoff games but also benefits from them. During the regular season the home team decides who runs it and makes 50% of the gross while the winning ticket gets the other 50%. There have been Coldwater-Marion Local games where the winner got around $15,000 so there was anticipation that the 50/50 for their recent playoff encounter in Sidney could also be huge.
However, that did not happen. The playoff split is 50% to the winner, 25% to the OHSAA, and 25% to the home site entity that runs it (in this case SHS volleyball). Many potential buyers indicated they didn’t like the split formula and declined the purchase. The winner still took home $1874 while the two other shares netted $937 each which are big numbers for schools in Sidney and Shelby County but not in Mercer County or the Midwest Athletic Conference.
The success of a team often leads to postseason honors such as inclusion on all-league teams. However, what happens when a team’s success almost totally prevents that team from showcasing a player? That happened this year when Lehman coach Dick Roll nominated many of his players for Northwest Central Conference honors including punter Kameron Lee who only punted once in seven conference encounters, a 47 yarder against Lima Perry. Lee settled for second team recognition as Lehman had an unblemished lopsided league slate.
For the first time ever, all four football schools in Shelby County made the playoffs this season. Only Lehman (D-VII) will have the same regular season opponents in 2018.
With a new head coach, Fort Loramie (D-VII) will journey to east Cincinnati to play Madeira (5-5 in 2017, D-V) in week two to replace hapless Greenon. Eventually, New Bremen could return to this slot.
Arlington (D-VII) will be replaced by Middletown Fenwick (6-4 D-IV) and will host Anna (D-V) on opening night, thus continuing to allow the Rockets a solid computer point opportunity.
Sidney (D-II) has multiple changes beginning in week three as Dayton Carroll, Xenia, and West Carrollton (4-26 combined ) are replaced by Dayton Belmont (D-II site tba), Trotwood Madison (D-III home) , and Fairborn (D-III away). This new trio went 28-7 in 2017 including two undefeated regular seasons, and Trotwood’s state title. These are major upgrades to the Sidney schedule. In early November, SHS claimed a home playoff win over previously unbeaten Belmont.
Sidney’s two traditional opening rivalries remain St. Marys followed by Bellefontaine. In 2017 neither lost a regular season game except to Sidney, paving the way for Sidney’s first playoff home game.
In 2018, as per usual, the Yellow Jackets will open with St. Marys but where? Will the Roughriders new stadium be completed at the high school to finally close Skip Baughman Stadium downtown? I consulted an informed source from that community who said the move to a new facility will happen next summer. His logic is insightful, “All you have to do is look at the recent school board election where the three who were elected by comfortable margins all openly supported the new stadium. This shows me that the community will make this happen.”
Synthetic turf has already been installed at the new site. Once funding is in place, the rest can happen quickly.
Dave Ross is a local sports historian, regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News, and OHSAA Media Advisory Member.