2020 Week 6 (Ohio & Pennsylvania)

2020 Week 6 (Ohio & Pennsylvania)

My weekend went exactly as planned. Which is a bit of a shock. I had hoped for different games. But, options were limits and the options themselves had limits. So, Ohio is where I started on Thursday.

There were two games, but one just didn’t look interesting. Indian Creek was hosting St. Clairsville in Wintersville. I’ve seen Indian Creek a few weeks earlier, and got handled easily by Beaver Local on another Thursday night.

I’ve also been to Indian Creek’s Kettlewell Stadium before. So, even the novelty of a new location was lost on me. We were, however, already covering a Columbus City League game Thursday night.

With the OHSAA’s push to play in the fall, most school districts which had originally voted to play in the spring or outright cancel fall sports, has gone back on that decision. Columbus being one of them.

With the shortened season (only three weeks before the start of the expanded OHSAA playoffs), also saw with it a huge increase in the number of Thursday and Saturday games in the city. Traditionally, the schools of Columbus have played primarily on Friday nights. Owed to the fact they all have lit stadiums and the prospect of competing with Ohio State on Saturday made things problematic at best.

However, this year, there was a bevy of Thursday and Saturday options. Two, in fact, on this Thursday as well.

#19 Columbus Briggs v. Columbus Africentric

Now, this was my first time seeing a game at a high school in the Columbus area. I had been to several Kirk Herbstreit Kickoff Classics at the Shoe. They were usually played on Labor Day Weekend, and on Sundays and Mondays to just add to the number of games.

But, for a game at a high school? This was cool. The Briggs Bruins are from the southwest corner of the city. Africentric is an “Early College” High School in the city, operating K-12 on the east side of the city. The Nubians have a strong foothold in Girls Basketball, where they’ve amassed seven state titles, including 5 in the past decade.

Briggs Stadium is a simple stadium. It’s all aluminum seating is old-school with the open gaps between walkways and benches. The pressbox is a simple box structure at the 50. Visitor stands sit lower to the ground. A track runs around the field and a small, unused due to Covid, concession stand and restroom facility sits to the northwest corner of the home stands.

Though you’re in the city, it’s wide open grass fields all around the stadium, with a smattering of trees on the large open campus at Briggs. The stadium being a short walk from the rear parking lot behind the school itself.

The one noteworthy, and unfortunate, part of the stadium is that the lighting is old, inadequate, and the poles are situated between the track and the field. Limiting the spectator’s view.

They do perform well enough, and despite the low light from two of the six standards (two had traditional yellowish incadescent lights, while the four had cleaner, non-blue white lights.

Standing on the field, it is actually dimmer than when viewed from the stands due to the ‘top down’ angle to lighting gives. At field level, the shadows are prevalent.

The game itself was a fun one. Two evenly matched teams putting it all out there. Africentric was the slight favorite, and scored first. A one yard run in the second quarter. They added a second TD before the break.

It seemed like Briggs would falter, and fail to score. The running game had moments of success, but they kept going back to the pass to generally unproductive results. Until midway through the third, they connected on a tipped-and-caught-in-stride 90 yard TD pass.

But, just as easily as Briggs scored to close the gap, Africentric scored another 1 yard run to make it 18-6 after 3. Another TD pass, a 32 yarder, made it 18-12. But that’s as close as the homestanding Bruins could make it on senior night. Africentric 18, Briggs 12.

After the game, it was a short drive to my friend’s house. And then the long 2.5 hour drive home from there. Not the short drive I would prefer on a Thursday. But, with options being what they are, it was that or nothing else essentially.

I did have a great time though. Briggs Stadium is what I remember high school football being when I was a kid in the 90s. It’s a shame that many would take a pass on a city league game when they played an enjoyable exhibition for roughly two hours on a Thursday night.

So, the next afternoon, I had really only one option for a game. Knoch was hosting Armstrong in Saxonburg, PA. Knoch is part of the South Butler County School District, and encompass an area south of Butler. I saw them play once, when they were in the WPIAL Finals at Heinz Field.

Armstrong was a recent consolidation of two Armstrong County schools: Kittaning and Ford City. Kittaning being the county seat and also they were athletic and social rivals between the two. The schools elected for a less ‘traditional’ mascot as part of their merger, and went with the River Hawks. The colors being an orangish red with blue. An A, reminiscent of the old Arizona A on the helmets. Armstrong was a new team for me.

#20 Knoch v. Armstrong

Knoch Stadium is a great grass stadium. It actually sits slightly elevated above the track level. It has a large home stand with a quality concession/restroom building to the northwest corner. The ticket booth and entrance is on the northeast corner by the school and the main road that bisects the parking for the campus. A band shell is located to the southwest end of the home stands.

The lighting here is great. Especially for a grass field that has a tendency to trend darker than it appears. Of course, this would be the night my camera would break.

Not all the way, but the shutter curtain would break, and black out part of the photos. That was, until I forceably removed it from the shutter. This gave me a new problem. Without the image sensor being fully covered, there was now a bar, roughly one-fourth the way across the top of the photos that was much whiter than the rest. This the result of the camera lens inverting light. Just as your eye actually sees everything upside down, your brain just corrects it. So does the camera.

But, this was a big problem. I could either shoot higher than normal, and just plan to crop everything below the faded line. Or, as I quickly learned. Use the LCD screen. For camera novices, and even some experts, on the older mirrored DSLR camera, the mirror redirects the light from the lens to the viewfinder. When you go to take a photo, that mirror lifts up, the shutter opens, and the image sensor has light reach it. When the shutter closes, the mirror drops back down. It’s why when you take a photo, you see the black flashing in the viewfinder.

When you use the LCD screen, the camera ‘always on’. The mirror raises up, the shutter opens, and the image sensor is constantly receiving light to display the image to the screen. Since the entire sensor is picking up the same amount of light top to bottom, it doesn’t give the ghostly white bar that a blotted out photos received using the traditional shutter action.

So, at least I got to shoot something. But, i did miss a good portion of the game fiddling with it. I also ordered a new camera. One which hopefully, according to FedEx, will be in my hands sometime Wednesday evening. It’s a generation newer than my previous camera. Going from a t7i to a t8i. I plan to get the older one repaired. I’ve seen costs for the shutter curtain being as little as $30 online), and someone’s knowledgable skill to replace it probably not being too ghastly a sum. Then, I’ll have a dedicated camera for wide angle shooting. Hopefully.

But, back to the game.

Knoch Stadium is also sometimes called Knoch Knight Stadium. But, the sign above the entry says, simply, Knoch Stadium. So, that’s the name I consider it, officially.

Armstrong opened with a 65 yard TD pass in the first, and added three more TDs in the second quarter. A 27-0 halftime lead turned a once promising game into a rout. Knoch wasn’t going away though, and the Knoch Knights notched their own scoreboard changer. A 14 yard TD pass on the last play of the third. At this point, though, that was all the Knights could muster. Armstrong 34, Knoch 7.

It was an hour ride home, or so, and then to get ready for a long two-plus hour drive to Shadyside, Ohio.

I had decided against renting a camera for the day. The cost wasn’t so much the issue, though sizable, it was the logistics of getting it, getting to the game, doing the games, and then returning it later. My camera did ‘work’ in a sense. So, I could manage with its limitations. I figured.

#21 Shadyside v. East Hardy

Fleming Field is a recently updated stadium along the Ohio River. Just south of Bellaire, the Shadyside Tigers have one of the iconic river town stadiums. Recently adorned with field turf, the stadium sits uphill from town, behind the school. Perched on a flat outcropping from the riverside hills the town sits below.

It was homecoming for this afternoon’s game. And the pageantry was on full display. The East Hardy Cougars made a long drive, said by a reporter who followed them, they quite early for this afternoon contest. Located east of Moorefield, a town I’ve been to more than once, they’re located in the eponymously named Hardy County.

It was a gorgeous afternoon. A slight breeze with incoming cloud cover as the afternoon wore on. It was warm, though, so the clouds were welcome. They didn’t portend any ran or bad weather. Just a nice shade from the sun.

The colors were great for a fall contest. Dark green and gold for East Hardy, and vibrant orange jerseys with black lids and pants for Shadyside. Their new turf hadn’t began fading to a dull brackish white as many ‘rubber-fill’ turf fields do. The huge midfield logo, the orange sidelines complete with tiger stripes. And the view around the field in all directions.

It was an afternoon in the fall. Leaves on the cusp of changing colors.

Now, I had seen both teams previously. I had seen Shadyside in a neutral site state semifinal at Harding Stadium in Steubenville when they played Mogadore. And then once in the state final when they played Delphos St. John. That latter game being one the Tiger faithful would probably opt to forget. Delphos St. John rolled to a 77-6 victory. Still the high water mark for championship game margins.

East Hardy, though, was at a WVSSAC state championship game. They were played annually in Wheeling’s Wheeling Island Stadium. I’ve seen two years of finals in West Virginia. Though, they only have three classes due to the small number of teams in the state.

So, nothing new on that front. But, at least a new venue and a great one, at that.

For the game itself, the Tigers struggled early. East Hardy didn’t have much going their way, but they did crack the scoreboard first. just 2:51 into the game on a 5 yard TD run. After a great catch brought them to the redzone.

The score would hold up despite Shadyside’s frequent trips into Cougar territory. Finally, late in the third, the Tigers got on the board with a 2 yard run, but their two-point attempt failed. Leaving them trailing, 7-6 after 36 minutes.

But, Shadyside’s frequent trips toward the redzone began bearing fruit. A 23 yard field goal gave them the lead on the first play of the fourth. And then the ground game got going. An 85 yard TD run, followed by a 24 yard TD run to salt the game away with 58.1 seconds left. By that point, whatever umph the Cougars had in them was gone. The game ended with a remarkably ‘normal’ score of 21-7, despite the entirely remarkably abnormal way it got there.

Now, for the night game, I had sought out a few of the Saturday night games around PA, but had settled on the first, and at the time only, one to get confirmation. Seton LaSalle was hosting Beaver. I had missed the traditional Saturday Night Beaver homecoming game the week prior. So, seeing them this year was a slight bit of normalcy this year. But, another call opened up Penn Hills, who were hosting Kiski Area.

Kiski Area was the school that played Connellsville on Monday, necessitating the game being moved to Saturday. Connellville, meanwhile, was playing at West Allegheny. And despite my best efforts, West Allegheny was sitting firm at their attendance number, despite the recommendation by the governor no longer being legally applicable.

But, with another PAFN cohort wanting to cover the Seton LaSalle game at Dormont Stadium, I went to Penn Hills instead.

#22 Penn Hills v. Kiski Area

I’m just having typos all over. It’s not ‘#BeyondTheKeystone’ being in PA. But my predictive text gets the best of me. Also, it’s Yuhas-McGinley Stadium, not Yulas… Not sure where that typo came from.

Aside from that, it was a bit eerie being back here with no fans on the home side. I counted. It’s 50 rows of seats on the home side. Going up the hill to the west of the athletic complex. The few home fans that were allowed in were seated on the visiting side. Only the band, cheerleaders, and one reporter perched at the top were sitting in the massive grandstand.

Now, I had been here before. Which is why it was eerie. The stadium was lively and quite full for a Thursday night televised game years earlier. when they hosted Baldwin. The final score was 10-8 and was a thrilling contest.

An interesting aspect of this game, was that despite being the home team, Penn Hills wore their road white jerseys. While Kiski Area was donned in navy from head-to-toe.

This game, lacking most of the usual fans, felt stagnant. And it played that way for the first part. Until Penn Hills busted a long run of 62 yards for a TD. The two point try was converted on the ground. But, Kiski Area responded immediately. Returning the kickoff for a touchdown. The conversion failed, and Penn Hills held an 8-6 lead until almost halftime. When they added a 26-yard field goal to go up, 11-6.

In the second half, Penn Hills scored early, and then had an explosion, so to speak, of points late. An 18-6 lead after three. Kiski Area cut it close at 18-13 with a 16 yard TD pass, but Penn Hills finally pulled away, answering the 16 yard TD pass with one of their own. And then following it up with a short pick six to make it 31-13 and put the game away.

After the game, it was a long meandering drive home. I took the ‘free’ route of I-79 until Cranberry. After stopping for gas earlier, I wanted something to drink and was shocked that the McDonald’s in Cranberry, at the junction of I-79 and I-76 was closed for the evening. After that, I just stayed on US19 until US422 and took that home. Finally stopping in New Castle for something for the short drive home.

All in all, it was another fun week out and about. I plan to be away from home again sometime later this season. But, for now, I’m content to mosey around Ohio and Pennsylvania. I have my Week 7 itinerary almost set. Only one game I’m waiting for confirmation. The rest are good to go.

Peters Township v. Upper St. Clair

Carlynton v. Brentwood

Western Beaver v. Seton LaSalle
North East v. General McLane

If things hold up, that would be three new stadiums, and five new teams. I had to go back and check, but I could have sworn that at one time I saw Greenville host North East. But, I now remember the last opportunity for that was a season finale game as a prelude to the playoffs and I had gone elsewhere that weekend. And back when I was in school, Greenville was very much in the Northwest Conference, and though matchups with Erie County schools outside the NWC were possible, they weren’t common.

And though I’ve been to Linden Field in Edinboro, this would be my first time seeing the Lancers of General McLane.

Hoping it all works out. And hoping my new camera arrives and I’m good to go for the weekend.

For travel and food this week, not much going on. The trip to Columbus included a stop at Lee’s Famous Chicken in Dover. Commonplace in Kentucky and many throughout Ohio (since it was founded in Ohio), but hard to come by on the eastern edge of the state. Friday was Long John Silver’s and trying their grilled shrimp for the first time. A bit pricy, at $10 for 15 grilled shrimp. But tasted great. Saturday was Arby’s pregame, a Popeyes sandwich between games, and a Rally’s burger and wings not far from the stadium in Penn Hills postgame.

For Sunday, it’s strange sitting at home when the Browns were playing in Cleveland. Watched the game with my wife and my daughter. Though my daughter’s interest was mostly with her tablet, toys, and watching TV in the bedroom.

Now, food tip for those in the area. Try out Big Shot Bob’s. Their wings, and their selection of wings, are amazing. We tried them before, and we’ve gotten them frequently since then. Their prices aren’t bad considering their wings are quite meaty. $16 for a baker’s dozen might be a bit much. But, they’re worth it.

My favorite flavors have been the Magic Man, which is a wet cajun rub in hot sauce. My wife likes the Eye of the Tiger, which is hot and tangy sauce mixed with ranch. Which blows away any Arizona Ranch flavor you’ll find at QS&L.

BSBs seemed to have popped up all over Western PA and Eastern Ohio. The only way we knew about it was one of our favorite pizza spots to get calzones in New Castle closed and at some point a BSBs was in its place in Neshannock, north of town.

Photos of the Week

2020 HSF Wk 6 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 6 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 6 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 6 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 6 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 6 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 6 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 6 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 6 Pennsylvania

2020 Season

22 Games
43 Teams
21 Stadiums
6 States

22 New Teams
17 New Stadiums

Lifetime totals

1,186 Different Teams
356 Different Stadiums

1,060 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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