2020 Week 5 (Pennsylvania & Ohio)

2020 Week 5 (Pennsylvania & Ohio)

This weekend started with a lot of options. In Pennsylvania, there was only one Thursday night game on the west side of the state. Meanwhile, Ohio had a sizeable number of Thursday options. This due mostly to Rosh Hashanah, moving several games from Friday to Thursday to avoid conflicting with the holiday.

However, the single Thursday game in PA was at Neshannock. Neshannock is my wife’s alma mater and I’ve been there previously for a game several years ago. When they hosted Greensburg Central Catholic in a first round playoff game.

Their opponent? Mohawk. A team I had just seen seven days pior at Ellwood City. PA Football News had no issues with covering the game, as three of us were there to cover it. I got confirmation for the game quite early, so I didn’t look into any of the Ohio options. Though a game at Middlefield Cardinal was my most likely target.

It was nice having a short drive for a game. Just over fifteen minutes from home. Even if it were teams and stadiums I had seen previously.

#14 Neshannock v. Mohawk

For a game under Covid, Neshannock did have a very small crowd of senior parents. But the stands were very limited, with no concessions or anything of that sort.

The weather was beautiful, though it is starting to cool off at nights. Neshannock did have a band and dance team at the game and did a full performance at halftime.

The other benefit of a game in Neshannock, was that the Browns were playing the Bengals at 8:20pm. And being close enough to home, I kept tabs on streaming the game in the waning moments before rushing home to watch the end of the game.

For the game, Mohawk really tried throwing the ball around the field, but Neshannock was a much tougher foe than Ellwood City. But, Mohawk did tie it in the second quarter before Neshannock pulled away. Neshannock 37, Mohawk 22.

For my Friday game, I got lucky. After starting with a list of about 20 games, I narrowed it down to stadiums I had yet to visit. I had hoped to find one with teams I hadn’t seen previously as well. But, I took what I could get. First on the list to check on? Chartiers Valley.

The Colts were hosting South Fayette in what was probably going to be a one-sided game by the visitors. I was surprised to find, under the 250 person limit, that I had just called at the right time and was the 250th confirmed person for the game.

This, of course, negated any other options as I wasn’t about to back out after just getting in under the wire.

I had seen Chartiers Valley once before, a road game at Moon for an afternoon contest. South Fayette, though, had several playoff games at Heinz Field or Hersheypark Stadium I had attended. This was going to be my first regular season game of theirs.

#15 Chartiers Valley v. South Fayette

South Fayette had started the season with a road game at perennial power in Ohio, Dover and won decisively. Chartiers Valley, had won at Montour in a one-sided affair.

South Fayette started with much more fire-power. Moving the ball easily, though resulting in a turnover deep in the redzone. A called back touchdown by the Colts kept it scoreless and a TD by South Fayette seemed nearly insurmountable.

Chartiers Valley struggled on offense, and failed at a short field goal attempt. But, a touchdown pass in the third finally got the Colts on the board. And then missed the kick. But, late in the game, Chartiers Valley stopped them, got the ball with a long field, and went down the field in less than two minutes to set up a a final play from the 5 yard line. The kicker redeemed himself, and with 17 seconds left forced South Fayette into a final play. The QB scrambled to buy time, but was sacked, fumbled, and the ball rolled out of bounds with no time remaining.

Resulting in a rousing upset for the homestanding Colts, 9-7.

After the game, it was a quick drive north where I stopped at Pizza Milano to pick up a Steak and Ranch hoagie for home.

My Saturday, though, was a mess of options. None of which seemed to work out. Until one final confluence of phone calls confirmed my day.

District 10 had Saturday games. A lot of Saturday games. Including two afternoon games. One at Kennedy Catholic and the other at Union City. Both places I had been, and neither game particularly noteworthy.

The same issue with night games gave way to a few schools getting the okay. Titusville and Beaver both had no issues.

But, the lack of an afternoon game presented a problem. And, as far as I could tell there was just one afternoon game in Northeast Ohio: East Cleveland Shaw v. Maple Heights. The game would be played at Euclid.

I had been to Shaw before, and had seen them on the road at Cleveland Heights. As for Maple Heights, I had seen them numerous times. Mostly from matchups with Bedford when they’d play their rivals on Saturday or Thursday.

I got confirmation for the game, and was left waiting to hear back on a night game. With a 2:30pm kickoff at Euclid, a night game might have been difficult to find one available.

#16 East Cleveland Shaw v. Maple Heights (@ Euclid, OH)

I had been to Euclid previously. Several years ago, Euclid hosted Shaker Heights in a Saturday afternoon game. This was Euclid’s old field, Sparky DiBiasio Stadium. Euclid had built a brand new stadium in the parking lot between the old stadium and the schools. It’s an impressive bowl structure. But, that’s not where this game was being played.

The old stadium had switched to turf, with new visiting stands, and was now hosting subvarsity games and other teams.

Shaw was playing their home games at Euclid this season for all games. Shaw plays at one of the more historic venues in the greater Cleveland area. Shaw Stadium is a venerable old stadium that once was the home stadium of the NFL’s Cleveland Rams. A team who now plays at beautiful SoFi Stadium once called Shaw Stadium in East Cleveland home.

The game had a decent crowd, with a long line waiting to get in thanks to Covid screening for temperature checks.

But, once in, the game moved briskly as neither team could make long drives and the clock ran quickly even with the continuous changes of possession.

A touchdown in the first, second, and fourth quarters by the visitors slowly turned a tight contest into a one-sided affair. Nothing Shaw did could crack the Maple Heights defense. Not enough to score, at least. Maple Heights 20, East Cleveland Shaw 0.

The night game then, had a few options at the start of the week. First up, was St. Joseph Central Catholic in Fremont. Another option, was much closer to home, in Cardinal Mooney hosting Chaney in Youngstown State’s Stambaugh Stadium. Then, there was also games at Tuscarawas Central Catholic and another game at Euclid’s DiBiasio Stadium when Villa Angela-Saint Joseph hosted Walsh Jesuit at 7pm.

Only Fremont would be a new location and teams.

And then there was St. Ignatius hosting St. Edward. The Holy War was being played at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. A home game for St. Ignatius. This was a high profile matchup and with a ton of media coverage already, was not expecting anything to happen with it.

But, PAFN got in to cover the game. Just me, though. So, had to try to write and photograph.

#17 Cleveland St. Ignatius v. Lakewood St. Edward

Though I had been to FirstEnergy Stadium for Cleveland Browns games 61 times and 5 preseason games. It wasn’t even the first time on the field. I had been on the field for a Browns game back in 2014.

But, either way, it’s still incredibly cool to cover a game in such a setting. But the game, itself, was a shock.

It was sloppy. Six turnovers in the first half and even more times where they ball slipped loose in players hands. The grass was slightly damp, but the ball itself was slippery.

St. Edward was a much better team in terms of consistency. St. Ignatius got more yards before their mistakes did them in. St. Edward 17, St. Ignatius 0.

After the game it was a short drive home and what I had planned to be a Sunday at home. Taking the week off, there was two Monday options in Pennsylvania. None of which had space for PAFN to cover. Conneaut was hosting Warren, and Connellsville was hosting Kiski Area. Of the two, my prefered matchup would have been in Connellsville. New stadium, and two new teams. And a bit of a roadtrip to get there.

But, with those out, the only option was a long, long way away in southwestern Ohio. Clinton-Massie, a two-time state champion in Division IV, who I had seen win both of those games, was set to host Batavia. The Batavia Bulldogs had been sidelined by the Coronavirus, and as such this was to be just their second game of the shortened season.

With the team sidelined, and just the general matchup, it wasn’t expected to be a close game. And for me, it was nearly four hours to get there. For a 7pm game, and I couldn’t leave home until 3 thanks to scheduling with my wife.

So,… I decided to do it anyways. The problem was scheduling. My daughter and I went to Red Lobster and my wife joined us when she was done with a work related thing. At 3, we left. I headed to Clarksville, and they headed home. It was going to cut it a little close making the 247 mile trip to the game.

Clinton-Massie had given permission for our writer to get in, so I called and get in as well. Turns out, Clarksville isn’t the bastion of media coverage and we were welcomed by the school. And had a nice conversation after the game as well before departing.

#18 Clarksville Clinton-Massie v. Batavia

And, I found out after this tweet, that the stadium is named “Frank Irelan Field”, but at the time that’s all I could find in the few minutes around kickoff before having no other option to tweet out my start of game tweet as I customarily will do.

Now, seeing as the game was projected on Calpreps to be a 66-3 curb stomp by the home side, most people wouldn’t drive 500+ miles round trip to see it. Not with Monday Night Football broadcasting the Las Vegas Raiders’ first ever home game from Allegiant Stadium.

But, if you’re reading this then you know I’m not most people. A four hour drive to get to the stadium ten minutes before kickoff is not really out of the question for me. Though I had seen Clinton-Massie previously, Batavia was the first new team for the weekend. And of course, Frank Irelan Field was a new location for me as well.

The game lived up to its projection. Clinton-Massie had a 21-0 lead after one, and a 56-14 lead at the break. I was kicking myself that I had two great touchdowns come right at me in the eastern endzone, but neither came out particularly well. The second one was decent enough that I kept the photo in my gallery for the weekend. The first, was lack of focus on the player. Instead, I got a pristine photo of everything behind him, running away from the sun. Clinton-Massie 70, Batavia 14.

With a running clock in the second half, the game ended just about two hours from start to finish. We talked to the AD, and then it was, for me, the long drive home. I stopped at GetGo in Grove City only to find it already closed for the night. And the entrance ramp back to I-71 north was closed and I had to detour around it due to the endless construction through the heart of Columbus.

I did stop twice more, once in Burbank for a little gas, and then in Austintown at a GetGo I knew would be open. Even with the stops, I got home just before 2am. Finished my photos in the afternoon, and after my wife was done with work, and picking up my daughter and some chinese food for home, finally got everything done and uploaded online.

To put it bluntly, it was a very hectic weekend of football. But one hell of a weekend. Five games. Three new stadiums. One new team to add to the list. Batavia (OH) was my 1,182nd different high school football team that I’ve seen play.

For next week, the current plan is:

Columbus Briggs v. Columbus Africentric

Knoch v. Armstrong

Shadyside v. East Hardy (WV)
Penn Hills v. Kiski Area

I had originally planned for the Seton LaSalle v. Beaver game at Dormont. But, Penn Hills had an opening, and another reporter wanted to cover Seton LaSalle instead. So, we made the switch. I’ve been to Penn Hills once before when they hosted Baldwin on a Thursday night years ago. But, Kiski, who played Monday night at Connellsville, would be a new team for me.

Also on the weekend, is a Columbus City League game between the Briggs Bruins and Africentric Nubians. This will be my first Columbus City League game. Unlike Pittsburgh, basically every Columbus team has their own stadium. And usually play on Friday nights. But, covid gummed up the works. So many games this year are on Thursday and Saturday for logistical purposes.

Photos of the Week

2020 HSF Wk 5 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 5 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 5 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 5 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 5 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 5 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 5 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 5 Ohio

2020 Season

18 Games
35 Teams
18 Stadiums
6 States

18 New Teams
14 New Stadiums

Lifetime totals

1,182 Different Teams
352 Different Stadiums

1,056 Games

For more, and larger, photos from this week, click HERE.

For photos from previous weekends and seasons, visit http://www.flickr.com/sykotyk/sets/

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