Wilmington will be a hotbed of activity Saturday, especially in the evening as the annual HoliDazzle parade winds its way through the streets and folks from the Middletown and Columbus areas descend on Alumni Field.
Bishop Fenwick High School and Columbus Bishop Hartley High School will face off 7 p.m. Saturday in a Div. IV Ohio High School Athletic Association state semifinal football game at the newly-turfed Alumni Field.
Fenwick has a couple of players with connections to Clinton County. Ironically, at this holiday time of year, both players are named Nick — Nick Wysong and Nick Saddler.
Saddler, a 6-3, 336-pound sophomore lineman, is a transfer to Fenwick from Clinton-Massie. His brother Cory Saddler played basketball at Clinton-Massie and graduated this past spring.
Wysong, a 6-2, 190-pound senior, sealed Fenwick’s 10-3 overtime victory against Clinton-Massie with an interception in overtime. He is the stepson of Dusty Goldie, a 1998 graduate of Blanchester High School and a 2002 graduate of Wilmington College. Goldie and wife Tracy have been married since 2008. Both parents teach in the Kings School District. They own and operate Goldie/Wysong Farms in Clarksville.
“The emotion of watching your step-son help win the game versus Clinton-Massie was overwhelming,” said Goldie, who played and coached with George Rise at Blanchester and also coached with Jim Horne at WHS. “It was a moment we all will remember forever.”
Tickets for the state semifinal game Saturday night are $10 each. Gates will open at Alumni Field at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
“I can’t thank everybody enough who put in the time and the money to get Alumni Field where it is to host something like this,” said WHS athletic director Troy Diels. “With the facility that we have, it puts our school in the larger picture. It’s on the state level, which is great. We hope this is a yearly routine for us. We have also expressed (to the OHSAA) the desire to host tournament soccer action as well.”
Diels said without artificial turf Alumni Field would not have been considered as a host site for state playoff games in either football or soccer.
“This is something our board (of education) wanted, something (superintendent) Mr. (Ron) Sexton wanted,” Diels said.
Diels said OHSAA officials visited Wilmington during the first week of the state football playoffs.
“They walked away pleasantly surprised with our facility,” said Diels.
The mechanics of hosting such an event at WHS can be daunting but Diels believes Wilmington hosting of Clinton-Massie in Week 9 of the regular season helped prepare the workers who will be involved Saturday.
Diels said capacity for Alumni Field is approximately 3,750. Against Clinton-Massie, there were 3,200 in attendance.
“Our Week 9 matchup and all our preparation we did for that was a good test for us,” said Diels. “That game was a good test for anything we’d have to do at our facility. We are primed and ready to host a first-class event.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.