Stark County, OH - A few years back, a mantra was born when Ohio State 'snuck' into the College Football Playoffs to the dismay of other collegiate fan bases. That mantra, 'Ohio Against the World' has become a rallying cry for not only the Buckeyes but for the state as a whole. It's a mantra that was on display this weekend in Stark County, Ohio, the birthplace of football, as 4 of the top programs from Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia came to town looking to flex their football muscle on some of the best North East Ohio has to offer.
The showcase kicked off Friday evening in Tiger Town USA, home of the Massillon Tigers, #4 on the nation's all-time victories list for high school football. They welcomed the #1 team on that illustrious list, the Valdosta Wildcats to Paul Brown Stadium which was packed to the gills with fans, an estimated 11,000 capacity crowd. The Wildcats got out to an early lead, but the Tigers, on the back and legs of QB DaOne Owens scampered to victory, giving Ohio an early 1-0 lead on the weekend series.
Saturday featured an unprecedented triple header, kicking off at noon when the Center Grove Trojans of Indiana faced off with the St. Edward Eagles of Lakewood. It was a battle of the trenches, with the Eagles relying on Ohio State commits Deonte and Devonte Armstrong and Michigan commit Ben Roebuck on the offensive line and Notre Dame commit Logan Thomas leading the D-line. The final score in this one was 27-10. It would be the most contested battle on the Saturday slate.
Akron Hoban welcomed Frederick Douglass (KY) to Ohio with a first-play 46-yard touchdown pass from Tyrell Boykin to Parker Falkenstein. From there, the Knights kept the pedal to the medal and cruised to a 45-6 victory. The Knights were the only team on Saturday's docket not to be a reigning State Champion, and they made it clear from the jump that they plan on changing that narrative this year.
The nightcap looked to be one that was going to be in doubt for much of the evening, as Dinwiddie County (VA) held a 7-0 lead after the first 12 minutes of play. On the first play of the 2nd quarter, senior RB D'Shawnte Jones took a hand-off and rumbled 51 yards to pay dirt. Jones would score 3 more times in the quarter, on consecutive rushing attempts. Ruel Tomlinson would add a passing touchdown and the Tarblooders carried a 36-7 lead into halftime. Coach Ted Ginn Sr. used the advantage on the scoreboard as an opportunity to get some younger players in, and they held their own, only allowing a touchdown on the games last play, making the final score 36-13.
After going 4-0 on the weekend, many took to Twitter, or X as Elon Musk wants it to be known, to give opinions. Former Massillon Tiger and Ohio State Buckeye Gareon Conley gave his thoughts:
Many from states such as Florida, Texas, and even California were quick to jump in and say they still are the cream of the crop, and that Ohio faced off against weaker opponents from states not known as football powerhouses. Although Valdosta owns the #1 spot in all-time wins, they haven't been as dominant in recent seasons. The DMs are open, as Matt Hankins of NEO Big School starts planning for an event he hopes becomes an annual event. Some kids say "Who wants this smoke?" but we will go with a question more commonly known, that is asked on park basketball courts from NY to LA "Who got next?". Whomever it is, Ohio will be waiting and ready to flex its football muscle in the birthplace of the sport we all love.