We turn out the stadium lights on Blitz coverage this season

By Todd Franko

No. It was a pretty quick, and clear, answer from Austintown school officials about The Vindicator bringing our traveling band of buns and football that is the Blitzmobile to Friday night’s Poland-Mooney high school football playoff game.

It was a bummer to a degree, but also understandable.

The Fitch High School Stadium was packed with somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 people, and that was enough for them to handle, they felt, without having to worry about hosting a sideshow like us.

I tried to gently prod Fitch Athletic Director Rob Conklin about what a Super Bowl setting in Tampa would be like without all the off-field sideshows. He said Tampa football folks organize big crowds for a living down there. A crowd of 10,000 is nuts for a local high school operation.

Fair enough. So though the Blitzmobile was justifiably sacked from the biggest local stage this football season, we had a fun year nonetheless, and want to thank the thousands of folks who made it fun for us.

First and foremost, Blitz is about football. It’s been a fun few months getting into the lives of the players and the coaches — breaking down the game that brings out thousands each week.

My favorite story of the season was the profile of Brian Marrow as the only black head football coach in the Valley. I liked the history the story offered as well as the future that it pointed to. Search Marrow’s name on our Web site to check out the story. Thank you to those folks.

Blitz is about the fans, too. One of the best places to check them out has been the weekly FANtastic page within Blitz — where readers send us their sideline photos. In the first two years of Blitz, we had to stretch the page to work — bigger photos and our own staff shots. This year — Year 3 for FANtastic — readers solidified their loyalty to the page with too many photos for us to handle each week. But we jammed them in, so thank you.

Blitz was games, too, and our online Blitz Picks had more than 1,000 people playing each week. Congratulations to Karen Gough of Cortland for winning Blitz Picks. She has a new outdoor kitchen thanks to the folks at Youngstown Propane.

Blitz was also about tailgating, and we had fun this year with six stops for the Blitzmobile. We hit Boardman and Poland per tradition. But we ran some deep routes, too, and got to South Range, Mineral Ridge, Campbell and Hubbard.

Thank you to those schools for being great hosts. The tailgates would not have been as successful without the partnership of the folks at Lariccia’s Italian Market Place, who made the hot dogs possible.

So though football continues for another week (or longer) with Mooney and Ursuline high schools, we roll up our Blitzmobile for another year.

This is where you can jump in. What would you like to see added to Blitz or to our high school sports coverage?

I know it’s a loaded question that will inundate my e-mail box, but heck, it’s close to deer-hunting season anyway. Fire away.

We’ve grown the Blitz concept each year, and we’ll grow it next year. If you have any ideas to grow it, please e-mail me at tfranko@vindy.com.

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