North, South gear up for Classic

Steve Channell has tackled many high school football challenges over a long and distinguished career. Landing – and keeping – the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association North-South games at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium will be among his most impressive efforts.

A former OHSFCA president who’s been involved with the association for most of his coaching career, Channell no longer is a titled administrator. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a main contributor to one of its prized possessions.

The Miamisburg head coach and former Edgewood main man was an unrelenting reason why the Classic shifted from Ohio Stadium at Columbus in 2013 to Dayton. The nation’s longest-running high school football all-star game will have its 70th edition on Saturday at Welcome.

“It gives Southwest Ohio an opportunity to host a state-level event,” Channell said. “We hope to prove that Southwest Ohio will support and come out for these events. I’m turning over every stone we can to generate awareness and interest.”

The Classic has split into a doubleheader since moving to Dayton. The combined Divisions IV-VII will play at 2 p.m. followed by the combined Divisions I-III at 6 p.m.

Cost for both games is $10. Tickets are available at the gate and online at

Centerville head coach Rodney Roberts has been named head coach of the big-school South team. Dan McSurley of Clinton-Massie is the South’s small-school head coach. Among his assistants is Minster head coach Geron Stokes.

Players have practiced the last two weekends, the North at the Cleveland Browns indoor training facility at Berea and the South at Hamilton Township High School in Columbus.

Players will report to Dayton on Thursday and stay at the Dayton Marriott on South Patterson Boulevard across the Great Miami River from the stadium. They’ll participate in practices at the stadium that are open to the public on Thursday and Friday.

At noon on Saturday the OHSFCA also will sponsor a talk by former Ohio State University running back Maurice Clarett at UD Arena. He’s become a motivational speaker after landing in prison for a variety of felony offenses and has been the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Youngstown Boys.”

Cost for that is $20, which also is good for the two all-star games.

Also on Channell’s wish-list is landing the football state championship games. They’re anchored at Ohio Stadium through 2016 and likely will return to Stark County in 2017-18.

“The ultimate goal is to try and get the championship games at Southwest Ohio,” Channell said. “The key component there is we need a good turnout of fans and numbers for the North-South games.”

The OHSFCA also sponsors the Ohio Michigan Border Classic. That game will be held on June 13 at Wayne State University in Detroit.

The North beat the South 23-14 in the big-schools game last year. The South won the small-schools contest 28-27 in overtime on Clinton-Massie graduate Bayle Wolfe’s 1-yard touchdown run and extra-point kick by Colin Ballinger of Columbus Hartley.

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