By Rob Kiser
It is an exciting time for the community of Piqua and Piqua High School Athletic Director Chip Hare.
When Alexander Stadium/Purk Field was selected for the Division II state semifinal between LaSalle and Perrysburg last year, it was considered to be the biggest state semifinal the facility had hosted.
That will all change Friday night when Cincinnati St. Xavier and Pickerington Central visit Piqua Friday night for a Division I state semifinal.
But, Hare will be quick to tell you it wouldn’t be possible without the great support staff he has to make a game of that magnitude happen.
“We are blessed to have a lot of outstanding people from the Piqua community that are willing to take the time and do the work so that we are asked to host some of the biggest games in the state,” Hare said. “We have some outstanding people in the community and we have a great support group behind the scenes that make it possible for this to happen.”
In fact, with Sidney hosting the D-II state semifinal between LaSalle and Anthony Wayne the same night, it was quite an opportunity for local football fans to see some of the best high school football in the state.
“I think local fans are going to have a tough decision on which game to go to,” Hare said. “Those are two great matchups. I feel like we are kind of the Mecca of high school football in Southwest Ohio.”
It was part of the thought process when Piqua built and opened the stadium for the 2,000 football season, moving from Wertz Stadium.
“I think when that decision was made, one of things they hoped for was the bring some of the biggest playoff games in the state to Piqua,” Hare said.
When the grass surface was replaced with turf in 2008 — followed by a video board several years ago, Piqua had a high school football facility that was almost unmatched — including more than enough parking at the 8,200 seat facility.
“When we added the turf, it was to save the school district money,” Hare said. “But, at the same time, we hoped to get some of the biggest playoff games in the state.”
Which is exactly what has transpired.
And that wouldn’t happen without much positive feedback from visiting fans.
“We get numerous compliments at every game,” Hare said. “And requests that they come back. Of course, that is the OHSAA’s decision.”
Part of that is the staff of Piqua understanding what a special night it is for the schools and fans involved.
“It should be a night the players and coaches are never going to forget,” Hare said. “Our staff welcomes them and their fans and treats them like royalty and they should. This is a very special night for them. We feel like our facility is one of the best in the state and that is why it attracts some of the biggest games in the state every year.”
But, Hare also knows one thing.
“You can have the best facility in the world,” Hare said. “But, if you don’t have the staff and community support, it won’t matter.”
Hare also knows that is something he will never have to worry about.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.