By DJ Yokley
EAST PALESTINE, OH- “All their bags are packed, they’re ready to go. They’re standing there outside the door.”
They might not be leaving on a jet plane like our buddy, John Denver. However, some of these teams will have to break out the EZ-Pass this weekend in order to get where they’re going. Now that we know where our teams are headed, we wanted to take an in-depth look at travel time and miles from doorstep to doorstep how much (or little) these teams are asked to trek to have “neutral locations.”
For the record- we don’t have a horse in this race, we’re just nerds that think this stuff is interesting.
Also, we will note that we have heard rumors that schools have openly rejected requests to host games based on personal reasons, so that may have something to do with the travel time.
Let’s start with Friday’s games:
CANFIELD vs. CHARDON (AT GIRARD)
CHARDON- 48.7 MILES (1-hour drive)
CANFIELD- 15.1 MILES (22-minute drive)
Take: Chardon draws the short straw, but many believe Canfield will need everything they can get to take down the D-3 Powerhouse. If that’s the case, then knock down the first domino for the Cards because this is an absolute gift, and Coach Pavlansky is going to make sure Canfield shows up in a big way to help Canfield create history in their own backyard.
PERRY vs. WEST BRANCH (AT BOARDMAN)
PERRY- 83.2 MILES (1 Hour, 25-minute drive)
WEST BRANCH – 23.1 MILES (33-minute drive)
Take: An advantage to West Branch no doubt, but if you’ve ever been to Spartan Stadium, you understand it’s one of the best venues in our area. With the ability to seat 7500, the OHSAA was right in its push to utilize such a facility. Perry probably won’t be pleased to have to be on a bus for 90 minutes, but the bigger problem comes to them once they get off the bus. West Branch is heating up at the right time and has taken every team’s best shot for the last 12 weeks. This week will be no different, but expect Spartan Stadium to look a little more like Michigan State, rather than Boardman on Friday with all the green in the stands.
GLENVILLE vs. URSULINE (AT EUCLID)
GLENVILLE- 6.6 MILES (11-minute drive)
URSULINE – 77.5 MILES (1 hour 15-minute drive)
Take: This might be my biggest question mark of all the games. At least Ursuline is well-acclimated to traveling to play teams. While this is the biggest discrepancy of any game we have from a milage standpoint, it could very well be the best game of the weekend and WORTH traveling to watch in person. Coach Reardon will put his team on the bus, and they surely won’t forget the chip the Irish will carry 78 miles along with them on their shoulders.
GARFIELD vs. KIRTLAND (AT PERRY)
GARFIELD- 40.5 MILES (54-minute drive)
KIRTLAND – 18.5 MILES (25-minute drive)
Take: With the longest winning streak in the country, Kirtland gets another feather in their cap with this draw. Having to travel less than 20 miles will always be an advantage when you get this far. However, it’s just an example of what Garfield has overcome all year. A year full of “they’ll never, they can’t, and they won’t” has kept the eyebrow up on many fan bases as the G-Men went undefeated and made some noise themselves. Teams have looked past Garfield all season long, and Coach Moser and his team are ones that would play a game in a parking lot in Akron if they had to. 54 minutes on the bus is just a few minutes longer to focus on the task at hand.
GARAWAY vs. SOUTH RANGE (AT LOUISVILLE)
GARAWAY- 39.5 MILES (44-minute drive)
SOUTH RANGE – 33.5 MILES (44-minute drive)
Take: A great job by the OHSAA with this matchup. The same drive time by each team to get to the stadium, and what a stadium it is. The home of hospitality, Louisville will serve as a great home for this matchup of undefeated squads. South Range always travels well, and as the lone representative left in the playoffs, will have some intrigue and excitement building and traveling with their brand. While the stadium is blue, expect it to be covered in burgundy and gold Saturday night.
MOGADORE vs. LABRAE (AT NILES MCKINLEY)
MOGADORE- 41.8 MILES (45-minute drive)
LABRAE – 9.1 MILES (18-minute drive)
Take: Nobody is smiling more than John Armeni. While Mogadore is still under an hour of travel, his team is set up to practically walk to their host site on Saturday. Bo Rein Stadium will be jam-packed full of Viking fans, and others trying to get a look at the high-powered offense of Labrae. Expect a heavy crowd presence for the Vikes in basically a home game, and that’s worked out very well for them this season.
COLUMBIA STATION vs. SPRINGFIELD (AT MARLINGTON)
COLUMBIA STATION- 67.6 MILES (1 Hour, 19-minute drive)
SPRINGFIELD – 36 MILES (52-minute drive)
Take: Not a bad draw for either team, playing in a beautiful stadium will be a benefit, but we know what Springfield does this time of year. Sean Guerriero has no second thoughts of pulling out all the stops, but to this point, the Tigers have been making local football fans believers (once again) in 2021. If we know anything about these Tigers, we know they travel well, and the cowbells will be ringing. The place will be packed with orange as those are Marlington’s colors as well, and Tiger Nation will get comfortable being in a home away from home.
NORWALK ST. PAUL vs. WARREN JFK (AT MEDINA)
ST. PAUL- 43.3 MILES (58-minute drive)
WARREN JFK – 66.6 MILES (1 hour 14-minute drive)
Take: Oh boy. JFK might want to get picked up a tenth of a mile away from school to avoid the milage number. However, when they arrive they’ll be all business as they’ve been in the first two weeks of the playoffs outscoring their opponents 119-28. JFK is used to traveling to play anybody, anywhere, at any time. Don’t worry how far the Eagles have to travel, just watch how far they’ll go to get the job done.