For the past three years, state championship high school football games have been played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Starting this Friday with the Division I state title game, they’ll be played at Fortress Obetz, a multi-purpose sports complex located on the southeast side of Columbus.

According to a release issued last week by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, attendance limits set by the Ohio Health Director played a role in moving the seven games, six of which will be played over a three-day period from Nov. 20-22, with two games taking place per day.

Attendance rules during this COVID-19-impacted season state that stadium attendance is to be capped at 15 percent of capacity, or 1,500 spectators. Fortress Obetz seats 8,000, and will be set up to socially distance 1,500 fans. The 50-acre venue also hosted the state cross country championships last Saturday.

“Fortress Obetz is an outstanding facility and we are grateful for the partnership with the Village of Obetz and stadium director Steve Adams,” OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute said in a statement. “The teams will get to play on a fantastic field, and the large grandstand will allow us to permit the maximum number of fans to see their teams play for state titles.”

This Friday at 7 p.m., Pickerington Central will meet Cincinnati St. Xavier in the Division I state final. Specific dates and times for the state’s other six divisions will be released after this week’s semifinals are played.

All-SWC teams released

Keegan Dawson of Avon and Liam Reutter of Avon Lake were both named Most Valuable Player in the Southwestern Conference as it released its all-league list last week. Avon’s Ryan Poling was named Goalkeeper of the Year, and Eagles coach Chris Dore was named Coach of the Year following his team’s league championship season.

Logan Brown of Avon was named First Team, as were Zachary Ramsey of Avon Lake, Kyle Matko and Ryan Sanborn of North Olmsted, Trevor Rose of North Ridgeville and Sam Falcone of Westlake. Landon Dawson, Ethan Sier and Nathanial Vakos of Avon, Logan Allemeier and Cullen Reutter of Avon Lake, Gannon Graf and Owen Reyes of North Olmsted, Jaacob Jackson of North Ridgeville and Justin Shreffler of Westlake were all named to the Second Team.

Among the SWC girls soccer ranks, John Bena of league champion Midview was named Coach of the Year, while a pair of Shoregals in Tori Copfer and Andrea Parker were named the Most Valuable Player and Goalkeeper of the Year, respectively.

Avon’s Mara Jaracz and Mackenzie Muir, Avon Lake’s Emma Gedeon, North Olmsted’s Elena Kobak, North Ridgeville’s Mady Rosado and Westlake’s Summer Salem were all selected to the First Team. Avon’s Catie Geiger and Ela Kisin, Avon Lake’s Sarah Van Euwen, North Olmsted’s Chloe Hess, North Ridgeville’s Bella Antonio and Westlake’s Sophia Kontak were all named to the Second Team.

Avon senior Emily Gardner was named the SWC’s Most Valuable Player for the volleyball season after her team secured its fifth-consecutive league championship. Olmsted Falls’ Brigid Radigan, whose team became the first in the league to defeat the Eagles during the regular season since 2017, was named Coach of the Year.

Among All-SWC First Teamers were Alyssa Joeherl of Avon, Madison Olinger and Kai Rybarczyk of Avon Lake and Katie Whitesell of Westlake. Avon’s Avery Abfall and Emma Farney, Avon Lake’s Alexis Meyer, North Ridgeville’s Emma Schupp and Westlake’s M.E. Hargett were all named to the Second Team.

Locals impact MAC rivalry game

The Mid-American Conference kicked off its football season last week, and several area athletes made their presence felt during the Battle of I-75 between the University of Toledo and visiting Bowling Green State University.

The Rockets won the opener in resounding fashion last Thursday, 38-3, with one of their touchdowns scored in the first quarter by sophomore receiver Devin Maddox on a nine-yard catch with 9:05 left put his team up 13-0. Maddox is a Lakewood native who played at St. Edward.

On the other sideline was Bowling Green redshirt sophomore kicker Mason Lawler, an Avon native and also a St. Edward grad, who handled a pair of kickoffs for the Falcons in the loss, averaging 65 yards per kick.

Falcons sophomore linebacker Darren Anders, a North Olmsted product, led the team with 11 tackles and recovered a fumble.

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