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Monroeville in search of Week 2 replacement for SMCC

Mark Hazelwood • Jul 31, 2019 at 7:53 PM

MONROEVILLE — Ben Paul doesn’t want to see another school fail when it comes to simply fielding a team.

But with the start of fall football practice slated for Thursday, it may be what it takes in order for the longtime Monroeville athletic director to schedule 10 games for the Eagles’ football team this season.

On Monday, St. Mary Central Catholic announced the Panthers were going to play an eight-man football schedule because of low roster numbers. On top of its Sandusky Bay Conference River Division commitments, that also put St. Paul (Week 1), Monroeville (Week 2) and Bucyrus (Week 3) without a non-league game.

St. Paul was able to schedule Northgate High School out of Pittsburgh to replace SMCC in the opener. However, entering August, things haven’t been as fortunate for Paul and the Eagles.

The game was scheduled for Sept. 2 at Marsh Field in Monroeville. The Eagles entertain Tiffin Calvert on Aug. 30 in the season opener.

The possible loss of a home game makes the situation even more difficult.

“It’s tough to be looking for a game this late,” Paul said. “It’s nothing against SMCC, we completely understand the position they are in and everyone is frustrated and disappointed. It’s just not something you can control, but it certainly puts us in a bad spot this late in the season.

“Really, the only way we will find a game is probably if another school somewhere is unable to have a game because they don’t have a team themselves,” he added. “And you hate to root for someone else’s inability to field a team — but that’s really what it will take for us to find a game.”

Though things currently look bleak, Paul said he’s exploring every possibility and tracking down every lead possible.

“We have hopes something will turn up,” he said. 

The Eagles and Panthers met in Week 2 in each of the past three seasons, with Monroeville winning all three games by scores of 41-7 (2016), 26-19 (2017) and 28-16 (2018).

The Panthers had replaced Edison, who the Eagles had previously played from 2003-2015. 

SMCC and Monroeville also played in 1976, 1977, 1984 and 1985, with the Panthers winning three of those four matchups.

The two teams also played in two memorable playoff games at nearby venues, with the Eagles winning both. In 1988, Monroeville topped SMCC by a 14-6 score at Bellevue Athletic Field before falling to Archbold in a regional title game at Oregon Clay

In 2003, the Eagles topped the Panthers by a 28-20 score to win the program’s lone regional championship in a game that was played at Memorial Stadium in Huron. Monroeville fell to eventual state champion Columbus Grove (27-24) in a Division VI state semifinal.

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