OHIO — What better place to begin the 2023 Ohio High School Athletic Association Game of the Week on Spectrum News 1, then where it will end?
Of course, Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium is the site of the OHSAA state championships Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, but it’s also the venue for a gathering of state champions—including from outside Ohio—on Saturday.
It’s all part of the “Northeast Ohio vs. America Showcase”, a series of four games featuring top teams from that part of the state, as well as schools from Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia.
That’s just a fraction of a mega opening weekend for Ohio high school football with six games on Spectrum News 1 and the Spectrum News App.
It doesn’t get any bigger than Friday’s contest in the “Northeast Ohio vs. America Showcase”. Valdosta, Georgia, travels north to battle Massillon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. That’s our OHSAA Game of the Week in Northeast Ohio, however the rest of the state can see the game on Spectrum channel 314.
These are two of the winningest high school programs in the entire country, with matching tradition and history. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the Wildcats’ 941 all-time wins are most of any school in the United States. That’s nine wins ahead of the Tigers, who come in third on that list. It’s thought to be the most combined wins among teams a game in the history of high school football.
Massillon is coming off a 12-2 season in 2022, including an appearance in the Division II state semifinals. The Tigers have reached the state championship game in three of the past five years, and figure to be a contender again. The program claims 24 state titles and nine national championships.
Valdosta also claims 24 state crowns, most recent in 2016, and six national titles.
Tigers’ head coach Nate Moore passed Paul Brown last year for most wins (83) in school history. Meanwhile, Wildcats’ head coach Shelton Felton is a former assistant at the University of Akron.
The other OHSAA Games of the Week on Friday includes the 35th meeting between Wheelersburg and Ironton. The Fighting Tigers fought their way to a 12-3 win last year in the traditional season opener, and lead the series 20-14 all-time.
While Ironton has won three of the last four meetings, the Pirates enjoyed an eight-game winning streak from 2013 through 2018, including two playoff contests. Both programs have experienced recent post-season success, as Ironton has advanced to the state championship game in three of the past four years, with Wheelersburg preventing that appearance in 2021. The Pirates won a state title back in 2017.
This will be the primary game for viewers in Central and Southeast Ohio. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, the winner of the Colerain and La Salle game will earn temporary bragging rights in a series between two of Queen City’s premier programs of the 21st century.
The Lancers won 17-13 a year ago, to even the all-time match-up at 13 wins each. La Salle’s four state titles have all come since 2014, while the Cardinals won it all in 2004. Colerain employs a new head coach, as former assistant Carl Huber earned the promotion.
Both proud programs are hoping for bounce-back seasons after 2-9 (La Salle) and 4-7 (Colerain) marks in 2022.
All three games from the “Northeast Ohio vs. America Showcase” on Saturday will be played at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and will air statewide on Spectrum News 1 and the Spectrum News App.
It’s the same field where St. Edward has won back-to-back OHSAA Division I titles. The Eagles’ opponent, Center Grove out of Indiana, has three straight state championships in Class 6-A, the largest in the Hoosier state. This contest begins at 12 p.m.
As you might expect, the head coaches for these schools are legendary. Tom Lombardo has four state championships overall in his nine years, while the Trojans’ Eric Moore has five state titles in 25 years.
Then at 3:55 p.m., Frederick Douglass (from Lexington, Kentucky) squares off with Akron Hoban. The Broncos are the reigning Class 5A champions in the Bluegrass State, their first-ever title. The Knights have reached the state championship game seven of the last eight years, winning five OHSAA titles.
It all wraps up at 8 p.m. with two more defending state champs. Dinwiddie took home the Virginia Class 4A state title last year, while Glenville earned Ted Ginn his first-ever OHSAA state crown in Division IV.
There will be no shortage of talent for these four games, with 17 players currently committed (verbally) to Power Five conferences, including four future Buckeyes:
Two of the four Showcase games, Center Grove vs. St. Edward and Frederick Douglass vs. Hoban, are included on a list of the ten best games this weekend in the country, according to MaxPreps. The same website ranks St. Edward 16th in the entire nation, Center Grove 48th and Frederick Douglass 81st.
It’s only week one! Check out the full regular season schedule for the OHSAA Game of the Week on Spectrum News 1 and the Spectrum News App.