Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ohio-Michigan HS All Star Football Game

       Yesterday, Ohio and Michigan high school football people finalized the plans for the first Ohio-Michigan High School All Star football game. The game will be played at Donnell Stadium in Findlay, Ohio, on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
       After the news that Pennsylvania was no longer inviting Ohio to the  "Big 33," because they were tired of losing money and the game itself,  Mike Mauk and I talked about a possible Ohio/Michigan game. Last January, I made contact with Larry Merz, Executive Director of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association. He met with the Michigan high school coaches, and they liked the idea. Mike Mauk, head football coach at Kenton High School and the OHSFCA's treasurer took the lead, and after a few meetings with both groups, plans were finalized yesterday.
      We wanted to keep the game as close to the Ohio Michigan border as possible. Driving six hours to Hershey, PA, really did not excite me. Originally the University of Toledo was the site. Due to  NCAA rules regarding sanctioning, the game could not be played in a Division 1 stadium. As I searched, Donnell Stadium became attractive. Actually, Donnell Stadium is not owned by the University of Findlay, which made the site even more attractive.
      Findlay High School Athletic Director Nate Weihrauch has done a tremendous job in coordinating this game. We have toured the sites twice. The University of Findlay is providing the dorm and the use of the cafeteria for the players and coaches. On Friday night UF will host the banquet the Friday before the game.  Findlay High School will provide buses for transportation. Both groups have gone overboard to help make this game possible. The entire Findlay community is embracing this game.
      Each team will have 40 players and six coaches. The selection process will be much the same as the selection process for the "Big 33." Ohio will take forty players, with no certain requirement for each position. Teams will rotate practices between Donnell Stadium and the Oiler's practice field.
      Players will report on Wednesday and play the game on Saturday. Additional activities have been planned to help start building relationships that go beyond the game. Since day one, the goal of this game has been to start building friendships between both coaches and players from both states. Words like "border war," "battle," and "rivalry," have no place in this game. Hopefully, that mentality can stay with the Ohio State - Michigan fans and not filter down to the high school level.
       Both Mike Mauk and Larry Merz have emphasized that proceeds from this game will go toward the already established scholarship funds by the high school football coaching associations in both Ohio and Michigan.
        I am really excited about the good that can come out of this game. As I should have expected, some of the more uneducated, out spoken  O-State football fans have already made comments using "grudge-battle," " border war," "rivalry." This is the first Ohio-Michigan High School All Star football game, not the Ohio State - Michigan college game. In fact, the colors scarlet, gray, maize, and dark blue are not part of the uniforms. High school football will always be a great time, especially in Ohio.

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