The popular Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Football Series is back for the fourth straight year and has added Texas as a host state in addition to Ohio. We take a look at the expanded series and the major storylines surrounding the Ohio teams involved in the national event. We also take a look at Ohio’s other top games this weekend and TV schedules.
For the fourth straight year, the Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Football Series will kickoff and it has added Texas as a host for games in addition to Ohio.
The Varsity Series, which was formally known as the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge, ‘is the premier event for the nation’s top football teams to compete in front of a nationally televised audience,’ according to the event’s Web site.
As for adding Texas as a location, it seemed to be a natural evolution of the Series for Herbstreit and Intersport, Inc., the event marketer.
“We love high school football and it started with an idea of having a few games and it has obviously grown the last couple of years,” said Herbstreit. “The event, at this point, is as strong as it has ever been from behind the scenes. It is continuing to grow and it’s turning into a series where we have a great state like Texas becoming a host state.
“We are still growing and still learning.”
Possible future host sites include California and Florida as early as next year in addition to the Buckeye and Lone Star states.
“(Ohio) loves high school football and I think we all have the same passion. It is exciting to see what has grown here,” Herbstreit said.
“What’s great about this event is we are bringing in teams from around the country to (Ohio and Texas) to see who in fact is playing the best football. At the same time, we are having fun with it and it is a great experience for the players.”
Messin’ With Texas
Cincinnati LaSalle and Trotwood-Madison will be traveling to Texas for this year’s Series, which will be held at Texas Stadium in Irving where the Dallas Cowboys play their home games.
LaSalle will play Cedar Hill, which won the Texas 5A/Division II state championship two seasons ago.
“We scouted the spring scrimmage and learned some things there,” LaSalle head coach Tom Grippa said. “They are awful scary looking on the huff. It’ll be a big challenge for us and we’re excited about it. It will be a physical game.”
Trotwood is set to take on Arlington (Texas) Bowie, which runs a similar offense as the Rams.
“It is a good match up. We both run spread offenses,” said head coach Maurice Douglass. “For our kids to be on a stage like this, it’s an outstanding chance for them. Texas has great football players and teams down there and we’re just excited to be involved in this event again.
“Our kids will be excited. We just need to let them know that when they step on ‘The Star’ it is big time. This is the last time they’ll play any games at the stadium as far as high school is concerned after this season.”
Douglass spent 12 years in the NFL and recounted his most memorable play at Texas Stadium, which came when he was playing with the Chicago Bears.
“Slammin’ Emmitt Smith one time coming through the end zone on a goal line situation,” he said. “I caught him about two yards deep on the inside of the ball. I was excited about that.”
Rodenberg’s Degrees Of Separation
In head coach John Rodenberg’s debut for Cincinnati Moeller in the season-opener last week, the Crusaders topped Princeton 27-17 in a renewal of a classic Queen City rivalry.
Moeller is set to take on defending Tennessee state champion Montgomery Bell.
“It is a great opportunity for Moeller,” said Rodenberg. “Being a new coach, this is good for us, it’s good for Moeller and we certainly like being in games like this. We’re excited.”
Said Bell head coach Daniel McGugin: “I know that Coach Rodenberg is new to Moeller but he is certainly not new to success.”
Rodenberg coached Covington Catholic to the Kentucky AAA state championship in 2005 and CovCath will play Youngstown Cardinal Mooney at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium in this year’s Herbstreit Football Series.
Colerain is the only team to have participated in each of the first three Herbstreit events and is unbeaten.
The Cardinals will take on McKeesport (Pa.).
“They are a hard-nosed football team,” head coach Tom Bolden said. “Both teams are going to get after it running the football and it will be a great game to watch.”
Sweet Home Alabama
Colerain beat Hoover (Ala.) of MTV’s Two-a-Days fame 20-17 in overtime in last year’s event.
Defending Division I state champion Cincinnati St. Xavier will take on Prattville (Ala.) in the headline game Saturday at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium. Prattville was the Alabama 6A state champion last year and Hoover was the 6A champ 2002-05.
“You have great football in the state of Alabama,” said St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht. “They are very well-coached and very disciplined.
“(Prattville doesn’t) do a whole lot but what they do, they do incredibly well. They remind me of a (Greater Catholic League) football team. So, we’ve got our hands full.
“It is a great opportunity and your kids get to compete against the best. Regardless of the outcome, your kids become a better football team, period.”
Colerain avenged last year’s regional finals loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier last week edging the Bombers 13-8.
Cincinnati Elder is slated to play St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) after snapping Charlotte (N.C.) Independence’s 108-game winning streak in the Series last year.
Former Middletown standout, Ohio State wide receiver and future NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter is an assistant coach for Aquinas and his son Duron is a wide receiver on the team.
The younger Carter is already committed to Ohio State’s 2009 recruiting class.
Miss-take On The Lake
Conspicuously missing from this year’s Series are high school teams from Cleveland.
“We have had Cleveland teams in the past and we’ll continue to try to welcome them any year and every year they are willing to participate,” said Kirk’s father Jim Herbstreit, who oversees the game matchups.
Cleveland area teams that have participated in the Series in the past include Glenville and Lakewood St. Edward. The elder Herbstreit pursued Solon, Mentor and St. Edward and has tried to get St. Ignatius to participate every year.
“We ran into a lot of scheduling problems that we couldn’t reach in and grab a hold of and control,” he said. “There is nothing but good intentions to get Cleveland teams every year.”
As for nine-time state champion St. Ignatius he said, “For whatever reason they haven’t been able to work it out. We just have to somehow make it work.
“We would love to continue to have Cleveland area teams involved in every event.”
Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Football Series Schedule
Saturday, Aug. 30
Pro Football Hall of Fame Field, Canton, Ohio
11 a.m. – Warren Howland vs. Klein Forest (Texas)
2 p.m. – Canton McKinley vs. Cathedral (Indianapolis)
5 p.m. – Youngstown Mooney vs. Covington Catholic (Ky.)
8 p.m. – Massillon Washington vs. Jordan (UT)
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
11 a.m. – Cin. Elder vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.); ESPN rebroadcast Sept. 1
2 p.m. – Middletown vs. Warren Central (Ind.)
5 p.m. – Cin. Colerain vs. McKeesport (Pa.)
8 p.m. – Cin. St. Xavier vs. Prattville (Ala.)
Texas Stadium, Irving
Noon – Mansfield Timberview (Texas) vs. Buford (Ga.)
3 p.m. – Cedar Hill (Texas) vs. Cin. LaSalle; Versus Network (Live)
6 p.m. – Justin Northwest (Texas) vs. Woodland Hills (Pa.); Versus Network (Sept. 2)
9 p.m. – Arlington Bowie (Texas) vs. Trotwood-Madison; Versus Network (Sept. 3)
Sunday, Aug. 31
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
Noon – Cin. Moeller vs. Montgomery Bell (Tenn.); CBS College Sports (Live)
3 p.m. – Wayne vs. East St. Louis, Ill.; CBS College Sports (Live)
6 p.m. – Lakota West vs. St. Rita (Chicago); CBS College Sports (Live)
OHIO’S OTHER TOP GAMES THIS WEEKEND
Two more Ohio games will be televised to wide audiences this weekend. On Thursday night, Mentor will visit Strongsville for a 7:30 p.m. game televised in northeast Ohio by Fox Sports Net Ohio. Mentor won that match-up 44-28 last year.
Ohio News Network will televise the Newark Licking Valley-Zanesville game on tape delay at 10 p.m. Friday.
PressBox Productions will also air the Cleveland St. Ignatius at Clayton Northmont game on Friday at 7 p.m. Go to JJHuddle.com to listen to this game live.
More key games on Friday: Cincinnati Princeton at Centerville (Princeton downed Centerville 43-42 in week two last year, but dropped a playoff rematch 42-21), Akron Buchtel at Steubenville, Youngstown Boardman at Toledo Start, Columbus DeSales at Toledo St. John’s (DeSales won 31-0 last year), Cleveland St. Ignatius at Clayton Northmont, Gahanna Lincoln at Upper Arlington, Pickerington Central at Springfield, Louisville at North Canton Hoover (Louisville won 35-21 last year), Columbus Brookhaven at Hilliard Davidson (Davidson won 14-13 last year), Lima Senior at Dublin Coffman and Toledo Central Catholic at Dublin Scioto.
On Saturday: Euclid at Lakewood St. Edward (Euclid won 14-13 last year).
On Monday, Cleveland Glenville will play Clairton (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson in the Friends of Coal Prep Classic at Wheeling Island Stadium. The game is set for a noon start. Also, Steubenville Central Catholic will meet Wheeling Central, the defending Class A state champions, in the same event at 6 p.m.