Football teams should make their points by “playing up”

Like most perennially winning high school football programs, Alter’s greatest challenge is landing non-league opponents. Teams just don’t want to play the Knights.

It’s the same at Wayne. The Warriors will open the season on Friday against visiting Austin-East Magnet, a Tennessee power anchored at Knoxville.

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Marion Local belongs in that top-end classification. The Flyers also will open on Friday at Woodlan, an Indiana small-school state power located the Ohio side of Fort Wayne.

Those promise to be great games, but they were agreed upon out of necessity. It shouldn’t be that way, according to Alter head coach Ed Domsitz, and he has an answer.

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As of now, said Domsitz, there is no incentive for Ohio teams to “play up.” That’s a smaller division team – of seven – playing a larger division program. That’s common in league play; not so much in non-conference matchups. Why? Teams don’t want to risk losing to a bigger and more dominant program.

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That’s an issue because advancing to the postseason playoffs in Ohio is based on a numerical computerized formula of wins and wins by a defeated opponent. The unforeseen fallout of that win-only criteria has led to scheduling woes.

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What if teams were rewarded to play up, no matter the outcome? Not the amount of current Level 1 points – it’s a sliding scale, D-I affording the most points – or even Level 2 (wins by a beaten opponent). It would be a new Level 3 scale, something less in point value, but nonetheless available. The only way to earn Level 3 points would be to play up.

“There would be some incentive for Marion Local to play Alter,” Domsitz reasoned. “We wouldn’t be having the scheduling problems.”

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Alter, now D-III and an established mid-division state power, will open the season at Fairmont (D-I) in a great traditional matchup on Thursday. Roush Stadium in Kettering will be rocking. ABC 22/FOX 45 will televise the game in the first of its 10-game Thursday Night Lights series.

Alter also will play at Centerville, another Greater Western Ohio Conference D-I program, in Week 3. That game only came about when two Canadian teams pulled out of a doubleheader.

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“The scheduling problem occurs because people don’t want to lose those (playing up) games,” Domsitz said. “If you played up and would get some kind of point value – and it wouldn’t be nearly the point value that you would get for winning the game - there would be some incentive to play up.”

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This kind of proposal would have to generate momentum by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association. The Ohio High School Athletic Association would have final say. The OHSAA’s competitive balance initiative and the reversal of its transfer bylaw are recent moves that indicate the OHSAA is proactive in making landmark decisions. This has the potential to be another.

• Northmont has lost one of its most celebrated sports figures: Rick “Fireball” Roberts. The Northmont Thunderback Club acknowledged his passing on its website this week.

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The former Northmont teacher was a beloved Thunderbolts football and baseball coach for nearly 40 years. He was an assistant football coach under Ned Booher, Domsitz and Lance Schneider in a T-Bolts career that spanned three league affiliations. He was inducted into the Northmont athletic hall of fame in 2012.

Northmont, 8-3 last season, is the area’s No. 1 team in the preseason Cox Media Group Ohio D-I ratings. The Thunderbolts open Friday at Lima Senior.

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• There are two other games that involve area teams on Thursday. Carroll is at Stebbins and Thurgood Marshall is paired against Taft at Cincinnati’s Stargel Stadium in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. All the games are at 7 p.m.

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• Schools are reminded to send game results by email only to as soon as possible. Include the final score, where the game was held, significant stats, notable plays and team records.

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