The state football championships are set to return to Northeast Ohio in 2017 and 2018.
OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross announced Thursday morning in Columbus that the tentative plan is to bring the state football finals back to Stark County. The games have been played at Ohio Stadium the past two years, and will take place in Columbus in 2016.
“The plan is for 2017 and 2018, we’ll be back in Stark County and then back here [in Columbus] in ’19 and ’20,” Ross told the Canton Repository. “The contract for both of those is not finished yet, but we are in the process of doing that.”
Ross said Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton (formerly Fawcett Stadium) will be the venue for all seven games, barring any construction complications. The decision means Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon will not host any games. In the past, state championship games were split between Canton and Massillon.
Big basketball games
There are several interesting boys basketball matchups scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. Friday.
In the City Series, Firestone (11-5, 8-1) will host Ellet (10-5, 6-3).
First-place Firestone is led by seniors Jaylin Moore, Raybon Lewis, Isreal Spear and Kylan Richburg, junior Tre’Maine Gray and sophomore Justin Moore.
Ellet features a strong group of juniors — A.J. Gareri, Marquise Bridges, Marquis Smith, Jaret Jones and Joe Williams — along with senior Miller Byrd.
Buchtel (8-7, 7-2) will visit Kenmore (9-5, 7-3) in another City Series game.
Buchtel features seniors Derrick Harvey Jr., Ronald Henderson and Myles Davis, juniors Dillon Henderson and Tariq Vinson and sophomore Isaiah Rogers.
Kenmore is led by seniors Erik Palmer, Deonta Collins, Deneris Hopkins, Anthony Spooney and juniors Thomas Woods and Demond Taylor.
Walsh Jesuit (10-5, 3-3) and host Archbishop Hoban (13-2, 5-1) will renew acquaintances in a North Coast League Blue Division boys game.
Senior Anthony Christian missed Hoban’s game Tuesday, a loss to Cleveland Benedictine, to visit St. Francis University (Pa.) on a football recruiting visit.
“It was his choice,” Hoban coach T.K. Griffith said. “In his defense, he wants to get a scholarship and he was real excited about the opportunity. ... We had a nice 13-game winning streak and the kids have been playing very well. We just need to regroup.”
Hoban also relies on seniors Brenden Spaulding and Jacob Bonner, juniors Cartier Bickley and Brian Cuppett and sophomores Collen Gurley and Garrett Houser.
Walsh coach John Norris has a senior-laden team led by Mitch Peterson, Joe Iacobacci, Ben Kanieski, Nate Reich, Jack Trimpe, Noah Donald and Patrick Keough.
•?Jimmy Pesarchick (13 points) made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lead host Strongsville to a 62-59 win over Medina. Strongsville’s Jacob Yezbak scored 21 points.
•?East defeated visiting North 67-50 with Dominick Holley scoring 16 points.
•?Collin Rittman (17 points) made a 3-pointer with one second to play to lift host Highland to a 48-45 win over Avon. Highland’s Joe Wiencek had 16 points.
•?Kavon Swoope scored 30 points to lead Lake Center Christian to a 63-62 win over host Youngstown Cardinal Mooney.
•?Black River’s Allan Benson scored his 1,000th career point in a 66-62 loss to visiting Oberlin. Benson finished with 24 points.
•?Joey Bartinelli scored a career-high 20 points to lead host Buckeye to a 63-55 win over Clearview.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.