The Ohio high school football season begins Thursday night with a handful of games across the state. The balance of the state's 700-plus football playing high schools will then be in action over Friday and Saturday. (See below for some of the key games scheduled this weekend.)
ONN has made some major announcements regarding high school football.
First, the network will televise a special edition of its Grange Insurance Sports Site show this week to preview the season. The special, hosted by Dan DeCrow, will feature J.J. Huddle and Jerry Rudzinski as they comment on some of the state's top teams. Then, Ohio High managing editor Steve Helwagen will comment on some of the state's top prospects and Mr. Football award candidates.
That 30-minute preview special will air Wednesday at 8 p.m., Thursday at 11 p.m. and Friday at 6:30 p.m.
ONN's other big announcement is that the network will be televising a game each Friday night on tape delay throughout the fall. Beginning this Friday and continuing each week, ONN will bring Ohioans the Army National Guard Big Game of the Week. The regular match-up will feature one of the most significant games of the week appealing to football fans across the Buckeye state.
"High school football is an important part of Ohio's past, present and future and ONN is the place to see it all." said Tom Griesdorn, ONN vice president and general manager. "A weekly game is what Ohioans have been asking for since ONN launched. We've explored it for years and finally have been able to make it happen in 2005."
The weekly Big Game is an element of an expanded ONN Football Friday lineup dedicated to high school sports. The exclusive statewide programming begins with a 9:45 p.m. pregame report followed by the Big Game each Friday at 10 p.m. The state's longest and most comprehensive high school football show, the Grange Insurance Sport Site, will air immediately following the game each week at midnight.
ONN is the official television partner and has been the exclusive home to the Ohio High School Athletic Association's football, boys and girls basketball and hockey state championships since 1998.
"ONN always has been the place for scores and highlights on Fridays," said ONN programming director Jason Pheister. "Now, we're excited to be the place fans turn to after their local game for the best in the state."
The games are selected by the ONN sports department based on record, previous success and interest. The first six scheduled games for statewide telecast are (schedule subject to change):
Aug. 26 -- Cleveland Glenville at Mentor
Sept. 2 -- Toledo St. John's at Columbus DeSales
Sept. 9 -- Dubin Scioto at Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 16 -- Akron Garfield at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
Sept. 23 -- Columbus Watterson at Cleveland Benedictine
Sept. 30 -- Cincinnati Elder at Cincinnati St. Xavier
The Big Game play-by-play announcer will be Eric Thacker. Dave Bacon will provide color commentary. Thacker, an Ohio native, has returned home after several years as the play-by-play voice for college and high school games on Comcast Sports South. Bacon is a longstanding sports reporter and anchor in Cleveland, as well as a multiple Emmy recipient. He has done play-by-play and color for several years in Northeast Ohio.
Classic Teleproductions of Twinsburg, Ohio will produce the game for ONN. Classic Teleproductions regularly produces weekly regional games and has received more than 70 Emmy awards.
Sport Site will be more comprehensive than ever this fall with more scores and highlights from all divisions across the state. J.J. Huddle and Jerry Rudzinski will also appear with DeCrow and reporter Dave Chudusky each week on the show. For viewer convenience, the Big Game and Sport Site will replay Saturday mornings, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
ONN is available in 83 of Ohio's 88 counties on these cable systems: Time Warner Digital, Adelphia, Insight, WOW!, Armstrong, Charter, GLW Broadband, Medina Cable Access, New Knoxville Cable, Bellaire TV Cable and AT&T Broadband.
If you are unable to receive ONN at the present time, contact your local cable company.
Games To Watch: Week 1
Here is a look at games to watch over the first weekend of Ohio high school football:
There are a number of big events planned for the opening weekend, including the Crosstown Showdown Thursday through Saturday in the Cincinnati area. The festivities begin Thursday as Cincinnati Western Hills meets Winton Woods (with junior RB Hosea Simpson) at 6 p.m. and Cincinnati McNicholas takes on Cincinnati Princeton (with OL Aaron Brown) at 8:15 p.m. at Princeton.
The scene shifts to Miami's Yager Stadium in Oxford Friday as Liberty Twp. Lakota East meets Lebanon at 6 p.m. and West Chester Lakota West (with OSU verbal WR Josh Chichester) tackles Mason at 8:15 p.m.
Finally, Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium will host four games on Saturday: Cincinnati LaSalle (with junior DL Ben Martin)-Sycamore, 11 a.m.; Cincinnati Moeller-Cincinnati Withrow, 1:45 p.m.; Cincinnati Colerain (with OSU verbal OL Connor Smith and LB Tyler Moeller)-Cincinnati St. Xavier, 4:30 p.m.; and Cincinnati Elder-Huber Heights Wayne, 7:15 p.m.
Clayton Northmont (with OSU verbal CB Kurt Coleman) will try to avenge a 39-36 defeat at the hands of Dayton Chaminade-Julienne when they meet Thursday at Welcome Stadium. Also that night, Tom Stacy will debut as the coach at Massillon Washington as the Tigers host Dover. And, Akron Hoban (with OSU verbal RB Chris Wells) hosts Akron Garfield (Hoban won 13-7 last year).
As for ONN's Big Game Friday night, Cleveland Glenville will visit Mentor without head coach Ted Ginn. He recently underwent surgery and is recuperating. He could miss one or more games as he recovers. Glenville, which downed Mentor 29-6 last year, features DL Robert Rose, WR Ray Small and OL Bryant Browning among others.
Other games of note Friday: Columbus Brookhaven at Chillicothe, Troy at Dublin Coffman, Canton GlenOak at Hudson, Dublin Scioto at Westerville South (Scioto won 35-24 last year), Mentor Lake Catholic at Euclid, Hilliard Davidson at Middletown, Kings Mills Kings at Springboro (with OSU verbal TE Jake Ballard), Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit at Youngstown Mooney, Kenton at Coldwater (with OSU verbal LB Ross Homan; Coldwater won 25-0 last year), Washington C.H. Miami Trace at Circleville, Columbus DeSales at Toledo St. Francis, Bloomfield Hill (Mich.) Brother Rice at Worthington Kilbourne, Cleveland JFK at Warren Harding and Avon Lake at Mansfield Senior.
Games of note Saturday: Washington (D.C.) Friendship Edison Academy at Cleveland St. Ignatius (7 p.m.), Macedonia Nordonia at Tallmadge, Toledo Start at Canton McKinley, Findlay at Toledo St. John's and Wheeling Park, W.Va., at Bellaire.
Also Saturday, Mike Golden debuts as the Upper Arlington coach as the Golden Bears meet Columbus Watterson, his former school, in the Kickoff Classic at Crew Stadium. Watterson defeated UA 17-14 in the schools' first meeting in 24 years last season.
And, there will be an Ohio-Pennsylvania doubleheader at Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway as Pittsburgh Central Catholic meets Lakewood St. Edward and Gateway hosts Cleveland Benedictine.
OSU Verbal Outside Ohio
Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County QB Antonio Henton opened his season this past weekend as his team dropped a 30-12 decision to Warner-Robbins (Ga.) Northside. Henton made his first appearance after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his ankle weeks earlier. Peach County was held to 115 yards total offense. His team is off this weekend.