During a wedding reception last Saturday in North Bank Park (next to the Olentangy River in the heart of Ohio’s capital city), the most popular question to the bride’s father was not the expected one. (After the sun set and the night air arrived, he figured most would have questioned his wisdom/intelligence/sanity/common sense as wedding guests gathered in a pavilion designed for summer fun.)
No, the question that was on the minds of Mahoning Valley celebrants was a lot more burning: “What were you thinking picking South Range to beat Ursuline?”
Ah yes, the popularity of The Vindicator’s Blitz Picks is unstoppable. Forget the weather — it’s always time to talk football.
Who says weddings and football don’t mix?
“Don’t you know that Ursuline might be the best team in the state,” one guest queried?
Well, yes. (By the way, we needed an icebreaker to get the party started and this topic was as perfect as the Irish’s unbeaten record this season and in the past two postseasons).
Ursuline (11-0) is considered to be a Division V school by the Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, but this observer believes they are strong enough to contend with the best Division II teams in Ohio.
In Week 3, the Irish defeated Division II Mentor Lake Catholic, 14-10, at Youngstown State University’s Stambaugh Stadium. Tonight, the Mahoning Valley’s other undefeated team — Howland — plays Mentor Lake Catholic at Solon for a berth in the Region 5 championship game.
The Cougars have one loss. It’s safe to say that the winner of this game has a good shot at qualifying for the state semifinals.
As for Division I? Well, there are some pretty powerful teams at that level this year so the Irish might have to settle for the unofficial crown of best team in the state outside of Division I.
Also asked of the bride’s father: “Were you trying to be funny?”
Hmmmm ... there might be a humorous solution.
Just like drinking and driving don’t mix, he thought about linking Blitz Picks to wedding week decisions as a bad combination.
He also thought about saying that since the outcome was so obvious that he decided to pick based on the marching band performances.
Or that he wanted to ensure that he didn’t end up in a first-place tie with Joe Scalzo like season. (No worries there — thanks Dana Balash.)
Or that he wanted to give Coach Dan Reardon motivation to fire up his troops since the Mooneys and Steubenvilles are no longer on their schedule. (As if ...).
No, humor wasn’t the solution.
So the bride’s father went with the truth. (I can’t say that he was sweating at this point, but the frost seemed to be dissipating throughout the pavilion).
Scalzo loves to rip Blitz Pickers who aren’t true to their schools. (If you ever see Scalzo pick against his alma mater Lake, someone has sabotaged the system. Once asked if he’d pick Lake over his beloved Cleveland Browns, Scalzo didn’t hesitate in his reply — “Go Blue Streaks!”)
Scalzo notices when Lisbon graduates don’t pick the Blue Devils and West Branch graduates don’t back the Warriors. Believe it or not, Scalzo is quite vocal about those observations.
So the bride’s father went with the truth — family ties. One of the bridesmaids is a freshman trumpet player in the South Range band. (Is there any band from a Division V school as consistently entertaining?)
Obviously, the bridesmaid wasn’t at the game and has a five-page essay to write to get the absence excused. (Grandparents call that building character; teens call that “whatever.”)
As the reception progressed and the dance floor eventually got warmer, the magic of text messages and Internet phones kept wedding guests up-to-date on Northeast Ohio football.
The bride’s father was told that if South Range rallied for about 35 consecutive points, they still had a shot.
A former Fitch football player celebrated when his father texted him about the Falcons’ overtime victory.
So here’s the answer to the question you must have — why a reception in a Columbus park two blocks from the Clippers’ new ballpark during the first week of November?
Let’s just say that it helped that the local college football team (the one that creates hotel rooms and catering shortages on fall Saturdays) was idle. The Buckeye graduates were free to concentrate on spelling out O-H-I-O when the reception band played “Hang On, Sloopy.”
Who says football and weddings don’t mix?