Competitive balance impact? Only one private school reaches state football finals

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Rams Head Coach Jeff Graham talks about his team.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

It might be just a coincidence, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance initiative seems to have made an impact in its debut this fall, especially in the high school football state championships.

There are 14 teams that will vie for seven divisional state championships this week at Canton’s new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Of those, all but one are public schools.

That’s significant, because competitive balance has its roots in a disproportionate amount of private schools that won state championships over about a 10-year period, particularly in football and boys and girls basketball.

All the head coaches who participated in Monday’s state-wide media conference call to address championship week were asked about that. A sensitive subject, most dodged the private vs. public issue.

“We really are isolated from that whole debate,” Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin said. “We just don’t have the types of privates around us that are going to pull kids from other schools. To be honest, you might be talking to us and our kids about politics in Washington, D.C. It really just doesn’t affect us.”

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Typically, the state football championships are loaded with private programs. Last season six of the 14 participating finals teams were privates. All but Cleveland St. Ignatius won, with Cincinnati St. Xavier defeated St. Ignatius in the D-I title game.

This season, Akron Archbishop Hoban (13-1) will be the only private school to play for a state title against Cincinnati Winton Woods (13-1) during Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. game. Hoban defeated Trotwood-Madison 30-0 last year to capture its second straight D-III championship.

Competitive balance is a numerical formula that accounts for students who reside outside a designated school district and all enrolled students. That combined number determines playoff divisions for most sports and will be annually revised by the OHSAA each spring.

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• Four area teams have advanced to Week 15 games: Trotwood-Madison (GWOC American South), Clinton-Massie (Southern Buckeye Conference), Marion Local (Midwest Athletic Conference) and Minster (MAC).

Saturday’s state-title tripleheader is loaded with area reps. Defending champ Marion Local (14-0) will play Kirtland (14-0) in a D-VI showdown of the state’s top-ranked teams at 10 a.m. At 3 p.m. it’s Clinton-Massie (13-1) vs. No. 1 Steubenville (14-0) in the D-IV championship. Trotwood (14-0) is paired with Dresden Tri-Valley (13-1) in the seven-game finale at 8 p.m.

• Six of the chosen 14 are making a return to the title games. Besides Trotwood and Hoban, Steubenville was the D-IV runner-up to Columbus Bishop Hartley in 2015-16. Marion local is the defending D-VI champ. The Flyers defeated Cuyahoga Heights in the championship last season. Heights dropped a division and will play Minster for the D-VII title. Minster was defeated by Warren John F. Kennedy in the D-VII title game last season.

• Top-ranked Marion Local and No. 2 Kirtland is the only 1-vs.-2 game. Three other teams were declared Associated Press state poll champs: Trotwood, Steubenville and Pemberville Eastwood (D-V). Tri-Valley and Minster were the only unranked teams to qualify.

• The return to Stark County for the state championships ends a three-year run at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium will no longer be the site of any games. The Benson complex was built on the site of former Fawcett Stadium next to the NFL Hall of Fame. Championship weekend will eventually toggle between Columbus and Canton, although a specific timeline has not been announced.

• Marion Local is making its 12th title trip. That’s the most of all the participating teams and is No. 5 all-time in the state. The Flyers are 9-2 in title games. Tri-Valley and Pemberville Eastwood are both making their first appearance.

• All the games will be televised live on Spectrum Sports and broadcast by the OHSAA Radio Network.

• Trotwood’s girls basketball game against Northmont has been postponed and will be played at a later date.

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