It’s not Christmas but it might as well be: Centerville vs Alter has arrived

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Centerville’s Tristan Boykin and Alter’s Zane Pitzer will play key roles in tonight’s game.

The biggest football game in Centerville history is the
1991 Division I state championship game the Elks lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius. Next week, those same Wildcats and their record 10 state titles
head south
for the two teams’ first face-off in 19 years ago. Huge news right? Nope. If you live in Dayton you
probably don’t even know that game exists. There’s another one everyone is talking about…


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The biggest football game in Centerville High School history is the 1991 Division I state championship game. The Elks, in their first and only state final appearance, led vaunted Cleveland St. Ignatius 14-0 before eventually falling 24-21.

Next weekend, those same Wildcats and their record 10 state titles head south for the two teams’ first face-off since that cold December day 19 years ago. Huge news right? Nope. If you live in Dayton you probably don’t even know that game exists. It hasn’t been mentioned by or in any local media. Not once.

All you know if you live in Dayton – or Southwest Ohio – is that Alter is coming to Centerville Stadium tonight to face the host Elks. It’s the first time the two teams – whose schools are separated by less than five miles – have met since 1967. And it’s HUGE news.

Centerville has been playing games at its 8,000-seat stadium since 1979. Never before has it hosted a game that’s been sold-out the day before kick-off. This one was. A capacity crowd of 10,000 is expected. No tickets will be sold at the gate.

The game is by far Alter’s biggest ever and the Knights have won the last two Division IV state titles and 57 of their last 59 games on the field (Alter had to forfeit two wins to start the 2008 season).

The Knights ticket allotment for the game? 3,500. It’s tapped.

“We don’t even sell that many for the state finals,” Alter athletic director Chris Hart told the Dayton Daily News.

So why is this contest THE most anticipated high school football game in Dayton in…arguably ever?

It’s Public vs Private.

And it’s the perfect storm.

Neither school is the norm – they are the exceptions.

Centerville is one of the state’s best schools academically and athletically and one of its biggest enrollment-wise (1,900-plus students). The Elks have won literally every all-sports trophy but ONE in the league they’ve been in since the 1970s. They own multiple state titles in multiple sports.

Alter’s resume reads the same – only slightly better.

The Knights own more state titles in a wider array of sports (basketball, cross country, soccer, volleyball, tennis and golf).

They also own more angst.

It’s safe to say that there is not a more despised athletic program – fair or not – in Dayton than Alter. And the Knights represent the resentment shared across the state for small parochial schools. At the D-I level the rage between public and private isn’t as gruesome. At the lower levels it’s a wildfire. For the record, Centerville will face Alter, but the Knights could just as well be wearing uniforms stitched with Youngstown Mooney, Youngstown Ursuline, Delphos St. John’s or Newark Catholic.

For years Alter – and other parochial schools – have been beating up on small public schools and tonight Centerville can make amends for that by beating the Knights. Some prefer handily.

Sound silly? Kind of. But a lot of people believe it. And feel it.

And that’s why this game is so important.

It’s “The Best vs The Best.”

It’s Alter vs Centerville.

And it’s about time. 

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