Alder-West Jeff series draws to a close

Chris Miles - Sports Editor

It’s no secret that if you’re looking for the best doughnuts in Madison County you venture just past Jonathan Alder High School to Der Dutchman up in Plain City. That’s where you’ll find dozens of varieties of perfectly prepared pastries.

Likewise, those who know will tell you the very best lasagna in the county can be found at Ann & Tony’s right in the heart of West Jefferson. With trays and trays of the perfectly made pasta baked to perfection, this is absolutely your spot.

A quick look at my physique and you can probably guess that after my love of sports, food isn’t far behind.

There are a lot of wonderful things about the villages of Plain City and West Jefferson beyond their tasty treats, one being the communities undying support for their local high school football teams.

The two county squads will square off for the second straight year Thursday, Sept. 3, but unfortunately it will be the last time the two will play for the foreseeable future. That’s right, what was once was a heated annual rivalry that some say went away because it became too heated, was renewed last season, but it will be gone when the final horn goes off Thursday night.

Jonathan Alder director of athletics Tom Vargo said the decision to end the series after just two years was a mutual one by both athletic departments.

If you look at the numbers, the two districts are going in separate directions in terms of attendance. Jonathan Alder is growing slowly and West Jefferson is starting to trend in the other direction. In 2000 the schools were much closer in size with Alder playing in Division IV and WJ not much smaller at D-V.

But with recent population shift and the OHSAA adding a seventh football division last year, the schools are now two divisions apart and heading in separate directions. Alder is competing in D-IV and West Jeff is in D-VI and this will be the case for at least this year and next.

County rivalry games in this county are fun. The fans of all four fan bases (also London and Madison-Plains) really embrace the games when they get to play each other. There’s tremendous attendance by the away team, the student sections are engaged from the beginning to the end and the games are usually pretty competitive.

Watching this rivalry fade away just after we got use to seeing it again will be tough. Add into the fact that Madison-Plains will soon be leaving the Mid-State League Ohio Division for the Ohio Heritage Conference and you have to wonder whether their annual tilts with league foes West Jefferson and London may fade away as well, robbing everyone of a wonderful annual Friday night experience.

There are rumors out there that Alder doesn’t want to completely get out of the business of playing its neighbors and with the West Jeff game going away and Fairbanks moving to the OHC like Plains, there may be some schedule openings coming up. A possible series with London could be in the works.

This would be an ideal situation for all parties involved. A simple trip up or down U.S. Route 42 gets you to either spot, the schools are of similar size and current Alder coach Brett Glass and London coach Kyle Cutler are friends, up and coming young coaches who were once teammates at JAHS.

So there may be no need to panic about one of the better area rivalry games coming to an end. That is unless you’re in Plain City and you have a craving for a huge chunk of cheesy lasagna and no real reason to drive to West Jeff any time soon.

Chris Miles can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618, or via Twitter @MadPressSports.

Chris Miles

Sports Editor