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Puskas: It’s the most wonderful time of the year

The Canfield Fair is over, Labor Day has passed and the best time of the year is upon us.

The schedules insist that some high school and college football teams play games that matter in August, but this is the first true weekend for football because it’s the first three-pronged weekend:

High school football on Friday, college football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday and Monday. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

HIGH SCHOOLS

Turf war in Hubbard: The Eagles finally get to play on the new synthetic surface tonight against the Girard Indians at Hubbard Memorial Stadium.

I’ll get my first up-close and personal look at the new surface tonight during WFMJ’s Window World Football Night in the Valley live remote.

Backyard rivals: The last two Warren Harding football coaches whose teams lost to Howland found themselves unemployed not long after the end of those seasons — D.J. Dota in 2010 and Rick Rios in 2011.

But Steve Arnold is safe, even if the Raiders lose to the Tigers tonight at Mollenkopf Stadium. Arnold, after all, led Harding to the Division I playoffs as a first-year coach last season.

But that doesn’t mean Arnold and the Raiders won’t step onto the field with something to prove. Austintown Fitch forced five turnovers and held Harding to 66 yards and four first downs in a 48-0 romp in Week 1.

Howland opened with a 16-0 win over Akron Kenmore. Not only did Dom Menendez win his debut as Dick Angle’s replacement, but junior running back Jaquore Marrs rushed for 238 yards and two touchdowns in his first game as De’Veon Smith’s replacement.

COLLEGES

Home improvement: Youngstown State’s 28-10 season-opening win over Dayton was not quite as one-sided as the final score suggests.

The Penguins host former Ohio Valley Conference rival Morehead State on Saturday and they have some work to do if making the playoffs — always the goal at YSU — is to happen.

The Penguins committed four turnovers, which might have spelled doom against a stronger opponent.

Home improvement II: Ohio State jumped on Buffalo early last week and led 23-0 in the first quarter. But the Bulls actually outscored the Buckeyes, 20-17, over the final three quarters.

Coach Urban Meyer couldn’t have been happy about that. Interestingly, Ohio State’s second-quarter lull seemed to coincide with center Corey Linsley’s exit with a foot injury.

Linsley — a Boardman High graduate — should play more against San Diego State on Saturday, but don’t be surprised if he splits time with a backup in order to be close to 100 percent for California the next week.

NFL

For starters: The Browns host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and if history tells us anything, it’s not to expect a victory.

The Browns are 1-13 in openers since 1999. Can the new regime change that? They’ll have to do it without wideout Josh Gordon, who is suspended for the first two games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Remember when: Former Browns quarterback Brian Sipe will be back in Ohio on Saturday. He is San Diego State’s quarterbacks coach.

Sipe is still loved in northeastern Ohio for his NFL MVP performance with the 1980 “Kardiac Kids” Browns.

It would be nice if the Aztecs’ travel plans allowed Sipe to make an appearance at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday.

Write Vindicator sports editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @edpuskas85.


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