Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fields of Dreams

ESPN.com has posted its list of the 14 best high school stadiums in the nation. Ohio is the only state with two stadiums on the list: Canton's Fawcett Stadium, and -- of course -- Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. These are both great facilities and worthy representatives of The Buckeye State's proud tradition of high school football.

Of course, when it comes to Ohio high school stadiums, the real problem is narrowing the list of classic venues down to only one or two. We are blessed with some of the greatest high school football stadiums in the nation, and many of those can give Fawcett and Massillion -- as well as the rest of the stadiums that ESPN selected -- a real run for their money.

For example, I think ESPN overlooked what just may be the crown jewel of Ohio high school gridirons -- Steubenville's Reno Saccoccia Field at Harding Stadium, better known as "Death Valley." If you want even better views of Death Valley, go to this website, then click on "Death Valley" on the menu, and then click again on the photo of the stadium. (Yeah, the website designer could've done a better job with navigation, but his photos are worth the effort.)

ESPN also bypassed Cincinnati's Elder Stadium, better known as "The Pit." Home of the legendary Elder Panthers, The Pit was rated one of the nation's top ten high school venues by USA Today.

ESPN selected one field in an urban setting, San Francisco's George White Field. I've seen this place, and it's more quirky than anything else. It is carved into a very small spot of land in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood and its goal posts are only a few feet from the street. You want a first rate urban stadium? Try St. Vincent-St. Mary's John Cistone Field at Green Street Stadium in Akron, or Toledo Central Catholic's Gallagher Stadium.

There are other gems scattered throughout the state. For example, there's Martin's Ferry's haunting Alumni Stadium, where you can almost hear the poet James Wright's lines as you look out at the field; Dover's Crater Stadium, Lima's Lima Stadium, Toledo-Waite's Jack Mollenkopf Stadium, and Chagrin Falls' C.S. Harris Stadium (which looks like it was designed by Norman Rockwell).

There are other states with some spectacular high school venues, and the list that ESPN has compiled is worth a look. Nevertheless, there's no reason to plan a trip out of state to take any of them in -- there are plenty of fields of dreams right here at home.


old town brown said...

Great to see you back at the blog Rhino...hope you are well and enjoying some high school football games on the weekends.

Joey Peeps said...

Rhino -- Well done, and nice to see you back at it. Your post gives me more reason to wonder why spend time, money, and energy on the NFL? There are terrific football experiences all around us.

Hornless Rhino said...

Thanks Old Town Brown and Joey Peeps. I'm definitely watching my share of high school football and am keeping my fingers crossed that my son's team makes the playoffs.