The attention of many fans of high school football across Ohio, and throughout the region, will be focused on Harding Stadium Friday night.
That's when two of the state's most storied football programs, Steubenville Big Red and Massillon, will meet on Reno Field.
There's more at stake than just bragging rights. Big Red will enter the game at 8-0, as the top-ranked Division III team in the weekly poll conducted by The Associated Press and the Division III, Region 11 leader in the weekly computer ratings released by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Plus, the team will unveil its new Nike Pro Combat System of Dress uniforms, which were won in a contest sponsored by the company.
Massillon, meanwhile, is 7-1, unranked in the AP poll and sixth in Region 2 of Division I. With the top eight in each region qualifying for the playoffs and just two weeks left in the regular season, the game most certainly has playoff implications.
That said, Friday's 7 p.m. game is the type of game true fans live for. The teams are among the state's leaders in football wins. Massillon has the most wins in Ohio history, with 810, and Big Red is third with 733. Sandwiched between the schools is former All-American Conference-rival Canton McKinley, with 782 wins.
The rivalry goes back to 1930, and while it pains us, it is our duty to point out that Massillon holds a 38-4-2 edge in the series. The teams have split the last two games - Big Red took a 13-3 win in Harding Stadium in 2009, and Massillon grabbed a 28-7 win last year.
An event like Friday's game is good for our community. In addition to the thousands of Big Red faithful who support their team each week, thousands of Massillon fans - and fans of high school football from all parts of the state -will make the trip to Steubenville. That's good for local businesses, and a chance to show off what's good about our community.
We are not in the business of making predictions, but we hope fans will sit back and enjoy the best in high school football, and all of the pageantry that goes along with a big game.