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Thursday night doubleheader on tap at Harding

May 3, 2010

aMr. Cub, Ernie Banks is known for the phrase, "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame - let's play two."

That will happen on Aug. 26 at Harding Stadium, although in a different sport.

The high school football season will kick off with a bang that evening as Steubenville Big Red will face Inkster, Mich., at 6 p.m. and Catholic Central will take on Bridgeport at approximately 8:15 p.m.

That's a great way to begin the 2010 campaign.

Rumor has it there is also a game in the works at Harding Stadium for Friday evening.

Big Red and Central are selling tickets to the game as a part of their respective season ticket packages.

The cost is $10 for both games.

I know you have nothing better to do that night if you are a high school football fan.

This is not a Big Red thing.

This is not a Catholic Central thing.

This is a Steubenville thing.

This is a night for people in the valley to come watch two good football games.

This is also a night for the Madonna High School coaching staff to scout the Bulldogs and Crusaders, as the Blue Dons will play both teams. Madonna will visit Harding Stadium on Sept. 11 and host Bridgeport on Oct. 2.

This is a wonderful thing for the last Thursday in August and I hope it is a thing that happens often.

The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference recently added Morgantown and University and, effective the 2011-12 school year, expect there to be five, 10-team divisions.

That, in itself, brings up some interesting scenarios.

Five championship baseball games at Vaccaro Field cannot be done unless you want to start the first game at 8 a.m. I know this is done in youth baseball, but this isn't youth baseball.

It also brings up some logistical challenges in volleyball, softball and basketball.

Five basketball games in one day at Ohio University-Eastern means a more compact schedule and clearing out the gym between each game must either be done much quicker, or not at all.

The same goes for volleyball at Steubenville High School.

There are also softball issues of a different sort.

It was recently voted by the OVAC executive board that all the sports where playoffs are held - volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball - will have the same point system and all games will count.

Football does not count. It has its own point system and that still is a mess.

It was proved two years ago when a 10-0 Big Red lost to 9-1 Wheeling Park for the OVAC title. The Patriots' only loss was 41-7 to Big Red.

Last year Buckeye Local, a good team, won the Class AAAA title with an 8-2 record. Brooke was 10-0 and Big Red was 9-1.

Sorry, I digress.

I am trying to figure out why non-conference games will count in conference standings.

I understand what people are saying why this change was made.

I am trying to understand why a Steubenville Big Red baseball game against Hebron Lakewood should count in the OVAC standings.

I am trying to understand why an Edison softball game against defending OHSAA Division II state champion Hamilton Ross should count in the OVAC standings.

I am trying to understand why a Wheeling Park basketball game against defending West Virginia Class AAA state champion Logan should count in the OVAC standings.

My strange way of looking at this is rather simple.

If Ohio State goes 9-0 in the Big 10, but loses its two non-conference games, it is 9-2.

If Michigan goes 8-1 in the Big 10, with its only loss to Ohio State, and wins its two non-conference games, it is 10-1.

So, you're telling me that Michigan wins the Big 10 title because of its non-conference wins?

If I'm wrong, please tell me. That's the way I see it.

And, by the way, there really needs to be a better way of telling it to coaches than the way Edison softball coach Spencer Bendle found out from Ed Cihy during the softball playoffs.

I sat in the press box at Harding Stadium Sunday watching two high school soccer games, the 14th-annual OVAC Senior All-Star Classic.

Before I get to the good part of the day, I am proposing this all-star game gets moved to a Sunday in November two weeks before the Thanksgiving break.

There are too many problems with the all-star soccer game being held five months after the season - cannot practice because of other spring activities, most of the kids are no longer in soccer shape and a good bit of the players haven't touched a soccer ball since the end of November.

That Sunday in November would be the week before the West Virginia North-South game, would still be played on a Sunday, the kids would still be in soccer shape and the game would probably be a little more cleaner and crisp.

The kids bust their butts and are fun to watch. There are a lot of smiles out there.

After I finished interviewing Brooke's Brittany DeCapio and Catholic Central's Anna Shaw about the girls game, I talked to St. Clairsville's Jaclyn Dutton about the game. She scored all three Ohio goals in the win.

She told me she dedicated the game to the family of 12-year-old Adam Snider, who was killed Saturday in a dirt bike accident.

She said, "Please keep his family in your prayers."

Dutton didn't say, "Please keep his family in your thoughts."

She said "prayers."

Folks, thoughts don't help a family one bit.

Prayers do.

Nice job Jaclyn.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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