The Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic will be conducted over
Labor Day weekend with four games in Columbus at Ohio Stadium and four
games at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. That event – combined with the Skyline Crosstown Showdwon and Spielman Gridiron Classic – make Ohio a national high school football hotspot.
For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit is lending his name to a national high school football event.
The Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic will be conducted over Labor Day weekend with four games in Columbus at Ohio Stadium and four games at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Here are the match-ups for the Ohio portion of the event:
Sun., Sept. 5: Dublin Coffman vs. Westerville South, noon (ESPNU); Huber Heights Wayne vs. Canton McKinley, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU).
Mon., Sept. 6 (Labor Day): William T. Dwyer (Fla.) vs. Cleveland Glenville, noon (ESPN); Oscar Smith (Va.) vs. Pickerington Central, 4 p.m. (ESPNU).
For ticket information or more details, click here. Tickets are available at each of the participating schools. They are $15 for adults and $10 for students per day.
Herbstreit was joined by coaches and players from the six Ohio high schools participating in the event at a press conference Wednesday at Ohio Stadium. Herbstreit talked about how the event has soared since Intersport joined as a co-sponsor and promoter.
“Their expertise in putting on these kind of events, it was a perfect fit,” Herbstreit said. “They have taken this event to a whole another level in terms of execution.
“The idea originally was let’s make it Ohio against the nation. I get in arguments with players across the country about Ohio high school football. I take a lot of pride in the Ohio high school coaches and the toughness and the skill that I think is sometimes undervalued when you get into arguments with people in other states.
“I wanted to take some of the best programs and athletes from other states and bring them into Ohio and see how we compete against them.”
It moved to Ohio Stadium last year for four games over two days.
“I was blown away by the support of the communities that came out to watch their teams play in this event last year,” he said. “To me, that got me excited for the future of this event and trying to keep it here at the ‘Shoe. I see what it means to these players to have a chance to play here.
“If you win, you gain momentum. You lose, you use it as a learning tool to learn from and get better.”
Glenville, led by quarterback Cardale Jones and several other top prospects, will face defending Florida Class 4A state champion William T. Dwyer. Dwyer is led by tight end prospect Nick O’Leary, a grandson of golfing great (and former Buckeye) Jack Nicklaus.
“It is an honor for us to play in such a great event as the Herbstreit Classic,” said Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. “It’s always honor to showcase Ohio. It’s all about our state, our community and our district. We look forward to showcasing Ohio against Florida. That’s what it’s all about.”
Pickerington Central defeated Orange (Calif.) Lutheran 28-14 in last year’s event. The Tigers will play Oscar Smith from Virginia in this year’s event.
“When (Intersport’s) Drew (Russell) called to say we had been chosen to be in it, it didn’t matter who we were playing,” said Pickerington Central coach Jay Sharrett. “We were going on the field last year and Dublin Coffman was coming off after they had won and they were getting our guys fired up.
“We know that Oscar Smith is a team that is packed full of athletes.”
The two Sunday games will be all-Ohio match-ups. The first one pits Dublin Coffman against Westerville South. Those teams met in last year’s playoffs with Coffman taking the win.
“I think you have to play in the stadium and play in this event to understand it is nothing but a positive,” said Coffman coach Mark Crabtree. “It is great competition and obviously it will be a familiar team.
“Between our two schools, there are probably 10 or 11 current or former NFL players. I know (South coach) Rocky (Pentello) and I are very proud of that. Rocky has a very good team and I hope we can match up with them this year.”
Pentello’s Westerville South team played in the initial Herbstreit Classic in 2005 in Crew Stadium.
“Our kids were really excited when they found out we were playing in this event,” Pentello said. “It is a great honor. It’s nice for our players and our entire community can get excited about it. You can’t grow up 15 minutes away from Ohio State and not want to play in the stadium.”
The other Sunday match-up pits Canton McKinley against Huber Heights Wayne. It matches up a pair of Ohio State verbals in defensive end Steve Miller from McKinley and quarterback Braxton Miller from Wayne.
“I think for young men in the state of Ohio who are football players they always dream about playing at Ohio Stadium,” said McKinley coach Ron Johnson. “They get a chance to play in one of the great cathedrals in the game.”
Wayne and McKinley were in the midst of a four-year contract when McKinley agreed to move their home game to Columbus. (Wayne won the first match-up last year.)
“This is an opportunity for memories that we are all trying to create,” said Wayne coach Jay Minton. “This was their home game. That showed me a lot that they were willing to give that up. That says a lot about how much they care about young kids and giving them this opportunity.”
A week before the Herbstreit Classic, another huge high school event will take place in Cincinnati with the 13th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. For more on that event, click here.
Here is the lineup for that event:
Fri., Aug. 20 (at UC’s Nippert Stadium) – Dixie Heights (Ky.) vs. Newport (Ky.) Central Catholic, 6 p.m.; Covington (Ky.) Catholic vs. Ryle (Ky.), 8:30 p.m.
Thurs., Aug. 26 (at Mason High School) – Loveland vs. Turpin, 5:30 p.m.; Edgewood vs. Wyoming, 8 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 27 (at UC’s Nippert Stadium) – Cincinnati Anderson vs. Cincinnati Oak Hills, 6 p.m.; Cincinnati Elder vs. Cincinnati Winton Woods, 8:30 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 28 (at UC’s Nippert Stadium) – West Chester Lakota West vs. Cincinnati LaSalle, noon; Middletown vs. Simon Kenton (Ky.), 2:45 p.m.; East Central (Ind.) vs. Harrison, 5:30 p.m.; Clayton Northmont vs. Cincinnati Colerain, 8:15 p.m.
Sun., Aug. 29 (at Cincinnati St. Xavier) – Good Counsel (Md.) vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier, 3 p.m. (ESPN); Huber Heights Wayne vs. Cincinnati Moeller, 7 p.m. (ESPNU).
Spielman Gridiron Classic
For the third year in a row, the Chris Spielman Gridiron Classic will be contested in central Ohio. This year, there are five games spread over the first two weekends of the high school season. For more details, click here. Here is the lineup:
Fri., Aug. 27 – Westerville North at Worthington Kilbourne, 7 p.m.; Hilliard Bradley at Dublin Scioto, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 28 – Westerville South at Groveport, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 3 – Hilliard Darby at Dublin Jerome, 7 p.m.; Columbus Brookhaven at Hilliard Davidson, 7:30 p.m.