The two Catholic school rivals in Akron might not play each other in football next year.
Archbishop Hoban and St. Vincent-St. Mary are set to meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Green Street Stadium’s John Cistone Field in a Week 8 showdown.
Hoban has a 7-0 record this season and has won five state championships.
STVM is 5-1 this season and has won six state championships.
As of Wednesday, there is no agreement for the game to take place next year and rumors are swirling that there might be a pause on the rivalry game.
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“Hoban really, really wants to play this game and we would maneuver our schedule around and move opponents around just so we could play,” Hoban 10th-year coach Tim Tyrrell said.
“We would do anything it possibly takes to continue to play the rivalry game. The main reason being is I think it is bigger than football. It is the students, it is the alumni, it is the city of Akron. A lot of people embrace this. There are a lot of people that go to the game that have nothing to do with either school. I think it is a lot bigger than a football game.”
STVM first-year coach Terry Cistone said the decision will be an “administrative call at the end of the season and I don’t have anything to do with that.”
Hoban has beaten STVM in the football regular season in each of the past seven seasons to earn the Shillelagh Trophy. The Knights also topped the Irish in the Division III playoffs in 2015 and 2016 on their way to state titles, and then moved up to Division II and won state titles in 2017, 2018 and 2020.
This run comes after STVM won Division III state championships in 2012 and 2013, and beat Hoban eight games in a row from 2007-2014. Hoban won nine games in a row over STVM from 1998-2006.
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“I have heard talk about this game,” Cistone said. “Some alumni don’t think we should play anymore because of the level of the program that Hoban is now. There is some alumni that say ‘You gotta keep playing.’ The administration will make that call one way or the other, and whatever they decide, I am fine with.”
The schools did not play football against each other from 1978-1995. The rivalry was renewed in 1996 and Hoban won. STVM triumphed in 1997.
Hoban won the first football meeting against St. Vincent in 1959, and Hoban played St. Mary in 1958 and 1959 and won both games. The Knights and the Irish played each other from 1959-1971, with St. V holding a 7-6 edge.
St. V and St. M merged in 1972 and STVM went 5-1 against Hoban between 1972-1977.
“My junior year was the last year we played Hoban in 1977,” said Cistone, a 1979 STVM graduate with 38 years of coaching experience. “We didn’t play Hoban for almost 20 years after that.”
Hoban’s success in football is comparable to STVM’s success in boys basketball.
“Hoban is an elite program now, and I say that out of respect to the program that they have built,” Cistone said. “I don’t know coach Tyrrell. I have never met him before, but I give him a lot of credit for what he has built.”
STVM generally featured better teams when the rivalry was paused from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s.
“Back in the 1970s, I think the top two teams [in a region] went to the state playoffs,” Cistone said. “You had to schedule teams that were going to win to get the points. You really don’t have to do that anymore. The top 16 teams [in a region] get in the playoffs. You win five or six games and you are probably going to make it.
“I think Hoban’s enrollment was down back then and they were struggling a little bit as a football program. I think the last year we played them they were 2-8 or something and they decided to go their own way and STVM thought it was a good thing to do. To be honest with you, I think it worked out for both schools. We won a couple more state championships and Hoban’s program got better.”
Tyrrell, who has 25 years of coaching experience, said meetings have taken place.
“We have met on this with them,” Tyrrell said. “Before Terry was hired and they were in-between coaches, we had a meeting and we were told that they would make a decision after this game. I noticed that they posted this week open and already filled it for Week 8 for next year, but they also have two games open that we have two games open too, so I don’t know if they are thinking we are just going to move the game. I don’t want to speak for them. Terry is obviously a great coach and he is a good guy. I respect him and their school.”
Tyrrell said when he was Hoban’s athletic director in the past he would meet with former STVM athletic director Willie McGee at Akron Family Restaurant on W. Market St. to finalize scheduled sporting events between the two schools for the fall winter and spring seasons.
“We are in our Spirit Week and the kids dress up every day,” Tyrrell said. “Everybody in the school from the teachers to the students to the maintenance workers are dressed up in a jersey today,” Tyrrell said. “Yesterday was Adam Sandler Day. Everybody picked a different Adam Sandler character to dress like. This is bigger than the football game on Friday for everybody else. Yes, the football teams go at it and you get the bragging rights for a year, but I think it is so much bigger. It is the same thing in Youngstown with Ursuline and Mooney, and St. Edward and St. Ignatius have the same thing up in the Cleveland area.”
In past years, the Hoban versus STVM football game was played in front of large crowds at either the University of Akron’s Rubber Bowl or at UA’s InfoCision Stadium on campus. UA did not host high school events in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic so STVM hosted Hoban in 2020 and Hoban hosted STVM in 2021.
“This game gets a big crowd,” said Tyrrell, a 1993 Ursuline graduate. “It is a big gate. There is a huge amount of money. … I would think it would be at UA or another neutral site if we are playing next year.”
Crowds of between 5,000 and 10,000 routinely attended the game at UA in recent seasons. A limited crowd watched the 2020 game and the 2021 game was sold out with more than 4,900 fans at Dowed Field.
STVM first-year athletic director Kyle Sasala said he wants “to experience the environment on Friday and as coaches would say, "Take it game-by-game and day-by-day."
“I have been in talks with Hoban,” Sasala said. “They have reached out about next year and being a new AD and having a new coach, I kind of wanted to take in the whole week. We have this Spirit Week every single day where we have different things going on throughout the week and then Friday we obviously have the game.
“I want to take the week to embrace it all and take it all in, and see how the game goes. I know the game is going to be competitive and I know there are going to be a lot of emotions. I love the tradition and history that we have behind the schools. We are on a pretty good run with five wins in a row and Hoban is 7-0. They have played a really tough schedule and we have played a pretty tough schedule, too.”
Hoban first-year athletic director Matt Bing is optimistic the rivalry football game will continue in 2023.
“We want to play the game,” Bing said. “We we will do anything we can to move it around wherever we have to on the schedule like we have done before to make it happen. … I am looking forward to Friday’s game. I am sure it will be a great atmosphere.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Beaven on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Rivals Hoban, STVM set to play football game Friday; maybe next year