Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Youngstown in the New York Times

The following link takes you to an article in the Dec. 10th NY Times, entitled "Creative Shrinkage." The story discusses Youngstown's attempts to purposely downsize in order to survive and reinvent itself. Thanks to Adam for the link:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Another Football Season in the Books

The Penguins, Cardinals, Irish, Falcons, Cowboys, Eagles, Raiders, Spartans, and a slew of other creatures have all packed it in for the year.

With Youngstown State's loss tonight in the I-AA Semifinals, another season of Youngstown-area football has come to a close. All in all, it was a successful year. This was undoubtedly YSU's best season since the Tressel Era, and, as always, several local high school teams went deep into the playoffs. Cardinal Mooney brought home yet another state title, and Warren JFK nearly did the same, falling short in the title game. South Range put together a strong playoff run as well, until they met up with JFK in the later rounds.

This was also the final football season for both Wilson and the Rayen School. Next year, with the opening of the new East High, the Redmen and Tiger football teams will both cease to exist. Rayen memorialized their final season by holding their last homecoming game at the old Rayen Stadium, rather than at their usual home venue, YSU's Stambaugh Stadium. (Somewhat ironically, Rayen Stadium, which hasn't been used for high school ball in years, was the longtime home of the YSU Penguin program, before Stambaugh was built in the early '80s.) The demise of these two programs really symbolizes the end of the old days of football glory in the Youngstown city school system. When Rayen closes its doors for the final time, the remaining half of the old Rayen-South rivalry will be gone. There are lots of people around town who still remember the old Rayen-South games, which usually took place on Thanksgiving Day and pitted some of the area's top players against each other in an extremely well-attended and well-publicized gridiron battle.

Of course, there still exists a strong rivalry within the city limits. I'm referring, of course, to the annual Ursuline-Mooney game, Youngstown's Holy War. Although the games have been somewhat uninteresting over the last couple of years, its still an important game that draws a strong crowd- and one that will likely swing back and forth from north to south for as long as the two schools stay open. And, with the opening of the new East High, a new rivalry will likely develop between the two public schools, both strengthened in talent from the absorption of Rayen and Wilson athletes.

Ultimately, it's only football, and few people outside of the Mahoning Valley truly care about what happens on the fields in and around the city. But, for many residents of the city, Friday nights are very important. School pride, civic pride, and bragging rights for the year are on the line week in and week out until the final games of the state playoffs and the YSU season. Few finish on a happy note. But, as with sports everywhere, there's always next year.