Everyone dreams of “what ifs” in any sport. Fans love to see the best of the best play each other and square off. It could be any sport. We finally got to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight, albeit four years too late. Most of the “hyped” games each season, in any sport, are those where the teams play each other every year.
Ohio State-Michigan in football, Duke-North Carolina in college basketball, Red Sox-Yankees in baseball, and locally here in the Cleveland area St.Edward-St. Ignatius in high school football. While these are strong rivalry type games, it doesn’t answer the question that many sports fans have, which is: What would happen if (Team A) played (Team B)? At least in high school football last season, that question arose when Cincinnati LaSalle dominated in Division II, and many wondered if they could beat St. Edward, who was the Division I champion. For the diehard high school football fan in Ohio, the dream matchups come at the lower divisions, and one that most people who love to see may actually happen in Division VI
Kirtland v.s. Marion Local
Kirtland and Marion Local. Two teams that have dominated the lower divisions in the last five years, but have never been in the same Division to compete against each other. Until this year. To really see how dominant these two teams have been at the lower levels, just keep in mind these facts for both of these teams.
Lets start with the Kirtland Hornets. They have been to four straight championship games in Divisions V and VI. They beat Coldwater 28-7 in 2011, lost by a single point to Coldwater the following year 10-9 in 2012, beat Wayne Trace 44-16 in 2013, and lost to Minster 46-42 last season. They have been one penalty and one recovered onside kick away from winning four straight state championships. This season they had their 56 game regular season winning streak broken, but still come in with a 12-1 record.
Marion Local comes from the mighty MAC Conference, the most successful conference in Ohio. The Flyers have won four straight small school division championships, and haven’t really been tested in any of them. They may be the best sports program in Ohio. They bumped up to Division VI this season and haven’t missed a beat. They also come in at 12-1, with their only loss being to another MAC team, Division V favorite Coldwater.
Why is this game being looked forward too so much? Because they are both so much alike. They are hard nosed, play hard, win with class programs. Marion Local is a bit more open on offense than Kirtland is, but when it comes down to it, it is just basic “My man is better than your man” type of football. The fan bases of both teams are both off the charts, and neither team seems spoiled by their successes.
Know what else is great?….They are both PUBLIC schools. None of this “We need a quarterback, so lets scour the country and bring one in” that the bigger private schools do (If you are a fan of high school football in the Cleveland area, you know what school I am talking about). In the smaller divisions, you play with who ya got. Plain and simple. It’s much, much harder to maintain a dominant program at a lower division.
All that being said, both teams have to win this weekend to meet in the state championship game, and neither one of these teams have a cakewalk getting their. Kirtland will take on newcomer Grandview Heights at Mansfield Madison High School on Saturday. Grandview Heights is a lot like Kirtland in the fact that they LOVE to run the ball. This game may take 45 minutes to complete. Marion Local looks to have the tougher match-up on paper, as they take on perennial power Defiance Tinora. Tinora is another small school that makes the playoffs every year, and is a pain in the neck to play, because they are so good defensively. The Rams were a blocked extra point away from playing Kirtland in last year’s Division VI final. The Flyers of Marion Local will have their hands full.
It isn’t often when a “dream scenario” comes up. This could be the time it does.