COLUMBUS  Northeast Ohio has played a major role in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s championship process in recent years.

Now, the area is poised to have a big 2019 calendar year when it comes to seeing teams hoist OHSAA state championship trophies after the organization’s board of director approved the completion of  contracts for the 2019 baseball state tournament and the 2019 football state championships in Akron and Canton, respectively.

It’s a continuation of hosting the seven state football games for Canton, where Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was home to the championships in 2017 and 2018 after the finals were held at Ohio Stadium in Columbus in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

However, Akron is a new site for the baseball state championship games because the tournament has been held at Huntington Park in Columbus, home of the Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, since the stadium opened in 2009, but the Clippers have home games scheduled during the 2019 OHSAA baseball state tournament.

As a result, this year’s state tournament will be held at Canal Park in Akron, home of the Akron RubberDucks, the Double-A affiliate of the Indians. There will be four state title games held at Canal Park, giving teams in the Suburbanite coverage area an added boost of motivation to make a push to reach the state tournament and play a semifinal or state title game in their back yard.

“The Clippers and Huntington Park have been great hosts, but our baseball season is a week later now and it conflicts with the Clippers’ 2019 home schedule,” OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said of the move. “We looked at many sites, but for several reasons, including similar schedule conflicts at other locations, we believe that Canal Park is the best choice.”

The board’s vote was unanimous at 8-0 on both issues, with one member absent. The fate of the football championship weekend’s location had been a topic of debate among fans and those in the high school football community since last season’s championship weekend and according to Snodgrass, while Columbus remains in the discussion for future championship weekends, Canton has made a solid case for itself.

“We have a great site in Canton for the football finals and we are pleased to return there in December,” Snodgrass said. “We will continue to talk with Ohio State and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission about hosting in the future, but we wanted to make a decision this winter regarding 2019 and we would need more time to come to an agreement with Columbus. In Stark County, we have great hosts with Visit Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame and we are fortunate to stay there another year.”

The football finals were held in Stark County from 1990 through 2013 after being held at Ohio Stadium in Columbus throughout the 1980s, with most years seeing the title games split between what was then Fawcett Stadium in Canton and Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

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