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Issue Date: September 2013


Why We Love Football: Blood Lines

We're home to some of the most intense rivalries at any level.
by John Hitch

St. Ignatious vs. St. Edward
When St. Ignatius quarterback Jim Kubacki lined up against St. Edward in 1971, it was the first meeting between the West Side all-boys schools in 14 years. Now, a season without this game would feel as empty as FirstEnergy Stadium on a Wednesday morning. "There were too many fights off the field," Kubacki remembers. "So they really would not play each other." The rivalry divides neighbors, cousins and brothers. Even the all-time record is fairly split (Ignatius owns a 27-22-1 edge). But Kubacki is more conflicted than most: He is president and former principal at St. Edward. Back then, his best friend, Paul DelVecchio, played linebacker for the Eagles. "You beat the living heck out of each other all game," he says. "Then you're still best friends after."
Honorable Mentions: Canton McKinley vs. Massillon, Avon vs. Avon Lake

Ohio State vs. Michigan
Four of Dustin Fox's uncles played for Ohio State University, so late November in the Fox house included equal helpings of giving thanks and harboring hatred for Ann Arbor. "It's pretty much the biggest rivalry in all of sports, in my opinion," Fox says of the 116-year-old grudge match. By the time the 92.3 The Fan afternoon sports talk host reached high school, he'd witnessed the Wolverines spoiling three perfect seasons for John Cooper's Buckeyes. "When [Jim] Tressel took over, it was game on," says Fox, a member of OSU's 2002 BCS National Championship team. While OSU's dominance continued under Urban Meyer, we're a little partial to the recent victory of 12-year-old Grant Reed, who this summer overcame the brain tumor he named "Michigan."
Honorable Mentions: Ohio State vs. Penn State, Akron vs. Kent State

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh
Unavenged late hits. A sea of yellow towels waving on our home turf. A 5-25 record, including a playoff meltdown and Christmas Eve blowout. That's all you need to know about the last 14 years of this once great rivalry. But when Hanford Dixon played, from 1981-1989, the Browns were all bite, winning 11 of 18. "We just didn't give a damn about the Pittsburgh Steelers," says the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback. "They didn't put any scare in us. We just hated those guys and they hated us." The analyst for 19 Action News' Tailgate 19 finds Cleveland's recent futility against Pittsburgh "mindboggling," especially because the fans are still so rabid. "I can't wait for that same feeling to get going again," Dixon says.
Honorable Mentions: Cleveland vs. Cincinnati, Cleveland vs. Baltimore

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