2020 Week 10 (Ohio & Pennsylvania)

2020 Week 10 (Ohio & Pennsylvania)

As the regular season winds to a close in a mish-mash of regular season, playoff, and consolation games, things are getting a little easier for scheduling. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t weird things that crop up.

Then, there’s things unrelated to scheduling and travel. Such, as a brand new camera failing right before a game. But, I’ll get to that.

So, the week started easily enough. For Thursday, the only real option was to head to Ohio. Columbus had three Thursday night ‘playoff’ games in the Columbus City League.

The good thing was that I was going to be in Columbus on Thursday anyways. So, it was just a matter of meeting my friend and figuring which of the three games we’d cover. Beechcroft, Walnut Ridge, and Independence were all hosting games on Thursday. Beechcroft was expected to be the better game. While the other two would be worse. However, we never got confirmation for covering it. So, went with the next best option. Which was Walnut Ridge.

This was my first time there, and first time seeing either Walnut Ridge or West in person. Walnut Ridge Stadium is a very dim stadium. The stadium itself is a great setup, with a sturdy concrete construction on the home side. But, the lights are high up on poles mounted inside the track. Which means top-down lighting and very difficult to get sideline photos. Also, I was restricted to beyond the 10 yard lines and being that I was the only one there, I wasn’t about to feign ignorance of the stated rules.

Combining the distance and the lighting together, this was some of the worst photography with my new camera.

#35 Columbus Walnut Ridge v. Columbus West

This was expected to be a one-sided game. And, despite Walnut Ridge’s starting quarterback being out, it didn’t stray from expectations. Walnut Ridge led 16-0 after 12, 28-0 after 24, and got the running clock going in the third. A 54-0 victory for Walnut Ridge with a fast moving second half. Heavy doses of runs and the added running clock. West finished with less than 100 yards of offense.

I did the best I could processing the photos. I also forgot my camera batteries in the car, so I had to walk out and back in the second quarter. When I did, there was a couple that brought a table, a grill, and had set up a small tailgate behind the northern endzone fence. A great makeshift way to watch the game. And the aroma of their food wafted through the home stands which were lacking any form of concession for a small gathering.

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

Friday morning was the long three hour or so drive home. My Friday night game was going to be at a stadium I had been wanting to see for a while. It was my last ‘Ohio River Valley’ school, as well.

New Brighton was the first and only school I contacted for Friday night. Even though I’ve seen both New Brighton and Riverside twice each before. I had wanted to see a game at Oak Hill Stadium. It’s located between two deadend streets with very limited parking. They do have a small practice field used for parking for game official and ADA.

I took the ‘back way’ down from New Castle. Route 168 through West Pittsburg and PA18 meandering down through Beaver Falls and into New Brighton. Beaver Falls, at Geneva College, had a game that was getting set up as I passed by.

I crossed the bridge into New Brighton and stopped on the side street to get a photo of the ‘welcome sign’. Got my camera put together. Flipped it on… and nothing. No lights. No sound. No screen. Nothing. Checked the battery. Changed it. Nothing. I just bought the t8i to replace the t7i that had a shutter curtain break off while at the Knoch game earlier this year.

Wasting time, I drove up to the school to get situated and hope to finangle with the camera to get it working. I checked the door switches on the battery and SD card. Nothing. I didn’t bring my t7i with me. Which is still operational. Didn’t even have a point-n-shoot with me. So, I was screwed. Instead of standing sideline, I went up into the stands to watch the game and take notes and report on the game that way. I didn’t do regular updates other than end of quarter updates because, aside from notes, my free time was deovted to trying to get the damn thing working. And never could do it.

#36 New Brighton v. Riverside

New Brighton has a very bright stadium. With a tight geographic footprint, the stadium sits close to the field. There is no track. Sitting up in the stands, though, I got to have a ‘fans view’ of the game that I don’t generally see that often. This was my first time seeing New Brighton at home.

I knew New Brighton was the favorite, but they exploded for points in this one. Kickoff return, punt return, and another TD after a turnover by Riverside on their first play of a drive. A huge halftime lead led to a running clock. At the end, Riverside scored a few gimmes to make the final respectable. But, it was all New Brighton in this one. 56-22.

So, it was back home after the game. I returned the way I came. Stopped in New Castle for gas, and on to home. Without photos to process, I spent most of the night figuring out any possible quick fix for my camera. But, no such luck.

My Saturday was luck of the draw. The afternoon game options weren’t many. But, Brockway was hosting a neutral site Class 3A Championship Game for District 9. We already had a writer there, but then I could be the dedicated photographer.

The drive east to Brockway was an easy one. I-376 to I-80. I was a bit early, so stopped for something to drink and chicken nuggets at McDonald’s in Brookville. I saw Brockway play at Sheffield several years ago. But, I had never seen a game at Brockway. They have a beautiful turf stadium with a new scoreboard. The stands are nice, and the home side is elevated from the field on a small hillside. The endzone sits along a river with a large levy along it. A bridge across the waterway is visible from the field level to the northwest corner of the field. A large hillside sits behind the north sideline and northeast endzone.

With my old t7i in tow, I stopped while arriving into the town of Brockway at the bottom of the hill on PA 28. Luckily, my camera did work.

#37 PA 3A – St. Marys v. Clearfield

This was the first time I saw Clearfield in person. I had planned to see a game all the way back in 2013, I had planned to see a game in Clearfield. But, nothing worked out. My original plan back then was to drive to Williamsville, New York for a Thursday night game. Then, drive south to Clearfield and get a hotel. I’d attend their game on Friday night. And then drive down to Rockwood, PA for their Saturday afternoon game. And Fort Hill had a Saturday night game in Cumberland, Maryland. But, Rockwood had cancelled their season due to low numbers. Which would be their last season ever. I found out about that game not being played, with no other options, and decided to not do that trip. But, I’d still go to Buffalo on Thursday night instead of Pittsburgh. And then that game was cancelled and I didn’t know of it until I was in the parking lot in Williamsville.

So, Clearfield is still on my list. And I finally had a game to see them. But, will still have a game at Clearfield on my list for the future at some point.

For this one, Clearfield was the favorite, and though it started close, they exerted their will on St. Marys as the game progressed. Later, they made it respectable. But, the QB for Clearfield had a good game, and did more than enough to push the Bison through to the next round, 41-30.

There wasn’t a lot of Saturday night options. But, the one that interested me the most was in Marion Center, Pennsylvania. My first game in District 6 this season. Marion Center was hosting a 2A quarterfinal game. The only other option was Tyrone, but would be a much more draining of a drive home. So, luckily, going to Marion Center wasn’t an issue.

After leaving Brockway, it was a short drive south to DuBois, where I stopped for an early dinner. With a recommendation, I stopped at Buck’s Pizza behind the Walmart on the east end of DuBois. They had a $10.99 meal deal that included a salad, small pasta, and desert. Not a bad deal, at all. Got the Chicken Alfredo (upcharged), with salted caramel gelato. Definitely worth stopping again.

After that, it was a little further south along US119 toward Indiana. Marion Center’s football field is located just east of the highway, across a railroad track and some trees. But, you can hear both the trains occassionally and the car traffic consistently, from the sideline.

#38 PA 2A – Marion Center v. Northern Cambria

Dr. John R. Mallino Stadium is a great stadium with a weird setup. It’s behind the school, but you can’t access it from the school. To reach the parking lot, you must turn at the next street, climb a hill to the right, and turn left on Cemetery Lane. A small one lane road further up the hill to the entry to their large gravel parking lot above the field. You then have to walk down a considerable slope to get down to field level.

The home stands are situated from the field separated by the track. But, the press box is on the hill above the stands, separated from the stands. It is quite a drastic difference. Reminscent of Plentywood, Montana. But, there the stadium was built into the hill, and not sitting freestanding in front of the hill.

The lighting here was pretty good, and I got situated for the pregame. I wanted to get a shot of the players making an entry through the large run-through. But, their setup is a bit mixed. They gathered the band behind the visitor sideline to play the alma mater and anthem with no players on the field after getting the run through situated. I was on the field waiting like an idiot and had to leave and come back on. But, the run-through split apart and the cheerleaders who were stacked on top of one another just had to stay there for the players to run through the chasm and to their sideline.

For smaller schools, it was a bit of a shock to see the kicking game in force. Marion Center started with two field goals before finally getting a touchdown. A touchdown I barely missed getting a good shot of as I was panning with the pass, and missed the catch as the receiver was falling back faster than I had panned. But, that 13-0 halftime lead was all that was needed as they held on, 13-0.

While hanging around between games, I found that there was another game scheduled for Sunday. Western Reserve Academy was hosting Kiski School at 1pm at WRA Stadium in Hudson. I had been there a few years ago. An afternoon game between WRA and Whitney Young on a Saturday afternoon after my wife and I had just returned from a doubleheader in Ann Arbor the night before.

I hadn’t ever seen Kiski School before, so I decided to forego seeing the Browns game live and attend the high school game instead.

This meant a shorter night on Saturday. I drove US119 to US422 and took that all the way home. Did photos of the early game, but had to give up on the Marion Center games before calling it a night. Got my DVR setup for the game. My wife had already figured to miss part of the game at work and then going to pick up our daughter from my parents. So, we decided to avoid the result and watch the game ‘as it happens’ later Sunday night.

So, Sunday morning, I drove west and took the ‘free’ way around the Ohio Turnpike. I-76 west to Route 14 northwest to Streetsboro. And then 313 west into Hudson. Western Reserve Academy sits on a sprawling campus on the east edge of town. The athletic fields are to the north of the campus.

I got situated, and on a cool, overcast day, got to see my second game at WRA Stadium. This was the first time I saw Kiski School.

WRA Stadium is a nice stadium. The turf is in good repair, and is used by seemingly every sport. Evidenced by the plethora of line markings.

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

For fans that might want to attend a game. WRA doesn’t charge admission for their games. And though their stadium is very small, they have an extensive sloped grassy area to the southeast corner near the road you drive around from the campus to the athletic facilities to stand or sit on.

#39 Western Reserve Academy v. Kiski School

The one thing you can say about the prep school football is that they’re generally disciplined, and maybe athletic, but they lack the athletes to really do damage offensively. Usually size or speed is the main deficiency. This game started as a tightly contest back-and-forth field position battle.

And then Kiski School scored on two returns. A missed field goal return, and then a punt return for a touchdown. Two more touchdowns made it 26-0 at the half. Only one score from a running clock in Ohio. Which wa good, because the clock operator struggled with the rules on when to and when not to run the clock. Missing certain plays and sometimes just letting it run when it should stop. To the point the official managing the clock operation had to give a refresher course from the field, shouting to the press box, when to run and and stop the clock. Which got them to run it regularly on extra points.

The second half dragged on. Western Reserve’s offense got it together and scored twice to narrow the lead to 26-14. Which meant the fourth quarter was tightly contested. And then the announcer publicized the score of the Browns game. Third quarter, but still. I had already accidentally caught the score in the first quarter when I had accidentally refreshed twitter while posting an update tweet. And then again, this time a fourth quarter score late in the WRA game. Luckily, while driving deep into Kiski School territory, they were stopped and the game mercifully ended.

And it was a quick drive home. And then spent two hours before my wife got home. Also having successfully avoided the score of the game so we could watch it together. And glad that I didn’t know how it ended.

Now, I hadn’t expected to see five games this weekend. And I certainly hadn’t expected 6. There was three Monday night games in Ohio. Two in Columbus, and another down near Cincinnati. And there was also a playoff game in PIAA District 10. Harbor Creek was hosting Meadville. I hadn’t even considered it because I figured work would interfere with it. Or any game. But, Monday morning, I decided the 90 minute drive there was feasible. Just waiting for my wife to get home in time to leave the only issue. But, I called the school, got confirmation, and off I went at 5pm. Giving me about 20 minutes to spare.

#40 PA 4A – Harbor Creek v. Meadville

I drove through a small smattering of mist near Edinboro, so I was anticipating the weather. The forecast was clear, but the skies were overcast with a large system moving east, tailing off to the southwest. Luckily, I had my rain gear to take in with me. As, I would need it.

I barely got situated in the stadium before the pregame festivities ended with the run-through that I missed, and the game started abruptly.

This was the 7th time I had seen Meadville play. And the third time I had seen Harbor Creek. Both teams at .500 in games I’ve attended. But, my first ever game at Paul J. Weirz Stadium. And boy did I like it here. The LED lights are incredibly bright. The turf is also new, soft, and bright. The only negative is that Harbor Creek is dressed almost entirely in black while Meadville wore black lids and pants. Which makes photography a bit of an issue. But, even at 3200 ISO, photos were turning out very well at 1/800th of a second. Usually upping it sometimes to 1/1200th but never could get a feel on which setting was going to be the absolute best outcome until I could see them fullsize on the computer.

Harbor Creek started with a fumble. Meadville scored quickly. But, Harbor Creek managed to get one back. After trading interceptions, the halftime score was 14-14. The second half saw rain. And more rain. And it kept increasing in intensity. I was soaked, but my camera stayed dry. My phone, not so much.

Harbor Creek scored, but missed the PAT to make it 20-14. And then late in the game had the ball after a stop on 4th and goal at the 5 were forced to punt. And with 15 seconds left, the punt snap was mishandled, and the ball caromed into the endzone. While retrieving it, the punter was propelled out of the back of the endzone on the recovery attempt to end the threat. But, now Meadville received the free kick. One final play was enough, a long pass down the right side, to end it and giving Harbor Creek the playoff victory, 20-16.

After that, it was a long drive home in mostly a heavy mist or light drizzle. I stopped twice for something to drink. First McDonald’s was out of Sweet Tea. Stopped in Meadville instead.

For the week, I spent a grand total of $134 from Thursday night until Monday night. All of that was food out on the road.

Buck’s Pizza was easily the best food option this week. Had White Castle sliders in Columbus on Thursday. Rest was just the big chain fast food when not home.

For the weekend, from starting in Columbus, until home Monday night, I drove a grand total of 972 miles to see the six games.

Photos of the Week

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 10 Ohio

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 10 Pennsylvania

Next Week

Luckily, my Week 11 schedule is already figured out.

Thursday – Carlynton v. Riverview

My original plan was a Thursday game down in Portsmouth, Ohio. Notre Dame was hosting Chillicothe Huntington. However, the drive there and back was going to be arduous. And the forecast is for rain all day Thursday. Both in Ohio and Pennsylvania. However, Carlynton has a game scheduled against Riverview. I tried to cover the Carlynton-Brentwood game earlier this season. But due to Covid restrictions the school was under, the media was extremely limited as there was no fans allowed at all either while the school was on virtual learning.

The Carlynton Cougars are 1-5 while Riverview Raiders are 0-7. This will be my second time seeing Riverview. Saw them host Avella a couple years ago. Carlynton plays their games in Carnegie at Honus Wagner Stadium. Even in the rain, I’m looking forward to this one.

Friday – Apollo-Ridge v. Washington

I called a couple schools, and this was high on my list given my Saturday choices. I’ve seen both schools previously. But, never seen a game at Owens Field in Apollo. I saw Apollo-Ridge at Summit Academy once, and have seen Washington in the playoffs three times. Twice in WPIAL Finals. Once at loss at Heinz Field against Aliquippa. And once a victory at Robert Morris against Steel Valley. The playoff loss was at Moon against Neshannock.

Saturday afternoon – Conemaugh Valley v. Bishop Guilfoyle

After the Apollo-Ridge game, I’m just staying the night over somewhere for an afternoon game down by Johnstown. Of the Johnstown ‘address’ schools, only Greater Johnstown and Conemaugh Valley are the two I haven’t see a game at their stadium. I’ve seen two games at Westmont Hilltop and a game at Ferndale in the mud. Now, Ferndale and Conemaugh Valley have co-oped together. Conemaugh Valley is located northeast of town and also play at a field without lights. They’re hosting Bishop Guilfoyle, a team that I’ve seen three times already, going 2-1 in games I’ve attended. They’re huge favorites, even on the road.

My original afternoon plans were suspect, so I did have the option of going to Corry for their afternoon game and then to Warren for their night game. But, those are non-playoff games. And trying to get as many playoff games covered as possible going forward.

Saturday night – Portage v. Juniata Valley

The only other night games in the area are in Altoona at Mansion Park Stadium, up at Marion Center where I was just at last week. And in Portage. Which is just east of Johnstown. A quick, short drive between games midday Saturday. I’ve never seen Portage or Juniata Valley before. And certainly never saw a game at Portage. Their stadium is located, like Apollo-Ridge, away from the school. Portage Area Stadium should make for a nice cap on the weekend. It’s a 28-20 predicted final by the visitors. So, hopefully makes up for the potential one-sided affair of the afternoon game.

2020 Season

40 Games
78 Teams
40 Stadiums
6 States

38 New Teams (Week 10: Walnut Ridge, West, Clearfield, Marion Center, Northern Cambria, Kiski School)
33 New Stadiums (Week 10: Walnut Ridge, New Brighton, Brockway, Marion Center, Harbor Creek)

1,202 different teams
369 different stadiums

1,078 total 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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