CANTON, Ohio — All eyes will be on Canton as the Ohio High School Athletic Association's (OHSAA) state football championships will take place starting Thursday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
It’s part of a three-year deal between OHSAA and the Pro Football Hall of Fame to bring back the high school championships to Stark County.
More than a dozen teams will make their way to Canton this weekend, with four Northeast Ohio teams competing in the seven title games.
“The lighting, the sounds, the scoreboards, should all add to the experience for the kids,” said Rich Desrosiers, Chief Communications Officer of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Thursday night, Archbishop Hoban will look for their second straight Division II state crown and fourth in five years as they'll battle Winton Woods.
Two more area teams will be in action on Friday as Chardon seeks to repeat as Division III champs when they face Hamilton Badin. That will be followed by St. Edward squaring off against Springfield in the Division I title game. You can hear both of those games on WKYC.com, with our coverage kicking off at 2:50 p.m.
On Saturday, the Kirtland Hornets go in search of their fourth straight state title as they take on Versailles in the Division V state championship game. We'll also bring you that game on WKYC.com starting at 7:20 p.m.
For the next three years, Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame will be hosting the state championship games. Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium has recently been upgraded to include two massive scoreboards.
"I think putting your uniform on in an NFL-level locker room, walking out that tunnel and feeling that experience. It's an intimate setting," says Desrosiers.
The championships also bring 14 communities to visit Stark County for the weekend. It's an opportunity for a big economic boost for the city, with some nearby hotels sold out and local businesses expecting more guests.
Local shops like Italo’s Pizza in Canton say the events help to bring in much needed businesses.
“A lot of the coaches, parents come buy big orders for the team,” said Glenn Bender, owner of Italo’s Pizza on Harrison Avenue in Canton. “So it helps us out.”
VisitCanton estimates $5 million in economic impact for the city.
You can watch our state championship preview with Dave "Dino" DeNatale and Tyler Carey in the player below:
- WKYC.com to provide audio webcast of 3 high school football state championship games involving Northeast Ohio teams this weekend
- Archbishop Hoban beats Avon 31-24 in WKYC.com High School Football Playoff Game of the Week, advances to D-II state title game
- Dave 'Dino' DeNatale's "Final Thoughts" after Archbishop Hoban defeats Avon in WKYC.com High School Football Playoff Game of the Week