Football title games move to new Canton stadium for 2017-18

Trotwood receiver Dallas Daniels had four catches for 48 yards. Akron Archbishop Hoban defeated Trotwood-Madison 30-0 in the Division III high school football state championship at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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Trotwood receiver Dallas Daniels had four catches for 48 yards. Akron Archbishop Hoban defeated Trotwood-Madison 30-0 in the Division III high school football state championship at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

A three-year run of the high school football state championships at Ohio Stadium in Columbus officially ended on Thursday when the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced the games would be played at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton in 2017-18.

The OHSAA board of directors unanimously voted 9-0 during its January meeting to relocate the games back to Stark County. Title games previously had been played at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium and Canton’s Fawcett Stadium from 1990-2013 before moving to Columbus. The Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was built on the site of Fawcett Stadium and is part of a $600 million development project, the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village.

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The OHSAA intends to return the championship games to Ohio Stadium in 2019.

“We are blessed in Ohio to have so many outstanding playoff venues,” OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross said in a statement. “Our intent all along has been to rotate the finals between the two sites.”

Comprised of seven divisional title games, championship weekend expanded to three days in 2013, which coincided with the addition of a seventh division. The move to Canton will add another day of play this year, beginning on Thursday, Nov. 30 and concluding on Sunday, Dec. 3. Dates and times of games will be announced this spring.

The Benson Hall of Fame Stadium has a seating capacity of 22,375, the largest high school facility in the state. Massillon’s stadium will not be used for the title games.

Marion Local defeated Cuyahoga Heights 21-17 to win the Division VI state title last season. Trotwood-Madison (D-III), Coldwater (D-V) and Minster (D-VII) all lost championship games.

Ohio high school football playoffs began in 1972. Title games were initially held at multiple locations, including Dayton’s Welcome Stadium, Springfield’s Evans Stadium, Akron’s Rubber Bowl, Ohio Wesleyan University and even Upper Arlington High School. The games have been anchored at Ohio Stadium or Stark County since 1991.

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