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Ravens, Rough Riders to meet

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When the two teams renew their backyard brawl Friday night at 7:30 p.m., they won't do it in the friendly confines of either Roosevelt Stadium in Kent or Gilcrest Stadium in Ravenna.

Instead, the Rough Riders and Ravens will meet on the brand new artificial turf of Kent State University's Dix Stadium.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, so the Rough Riders will be considered the home team Friday night. Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna is sponsoring the game.

The schools signed a two-year contract, so next year's game will also be played at Dix Stadium, with Ravenna serving as the host in 1998.

"Kent State had been talking with me _ since they put in the artificial turf _ about moving the game to Dix Stadium and thought it would be an attractive feature. And I agreed," said Theodore Roosevelt High School athletic director and head football coach John Nemec. "The thing we were somewhat concerned with was cost, so we went to Robinson Memorial and asked them if they would sponsor the game, and they said they would.

"I think it's great for both communities. Both communities are excited about it. It's a great opportunity for both teams, bands and cheerleaders to get to perform in a first-rate Division I college football stadium. It'll be a real nice, positive event for the Kent-Ravenna area."

Ravenna athletic director Steve Reedy said anticipation for Friday's game is already approaching fever pitch.

"In my 13 years back at Ravenna, this is the most excitement I've seen in the school," he said. "The kids are really pumped for it. I think it's real, real exciting for our community, and I think it's especially exciting for our kids to get a chance to play at Kent State on the artificial turf. I think that's something we'd all have liked to have done when we played. So it should be real exciting for the kids to get a chance to do that.

"Hopefully, it'll be a nice night weather-wise. Both teams have a lot of speed, so it could be a real exciting, high-scoring game with a lot of big plays."

But there's more. This season's matchup will also have title implications at stake in the Western Reserve Conference South Division. Kent enters the game with a 5-2 overall mark and 1-1 in the WRC South, while Ravenna lost its first game of the season last week and is now 6-1 overall and 1-1 in the South.

So the winner will still be alive in the South Division title chase, while the loser will essentially be out of the running, which may fan the flames of this heated rivalry even higher.

Friday's game will be the culmination of a busy week for both communities.

On Wednesday there will a captain's lunch at Robinson Memorial from noon to 1 p.m. KSU assistant athletic director Ken Long will be the featured speaker.

On Thursday there will be pep rallies at both high schools. Also, the Ravenna Boosters will sponsor the Blue, Red & White Dinner for the team and cheerleaders.

On Friday, there will be a spaghetti dinner at the KSU Field House (adjacent to Dix Stadium) from 5 to 7 p.m. Cost of the dinner for kids 2 to 12 years old is $3 and for adults is $5. Also, the Ravenna teachers will have a pot luck dinner for their staff at the KSU Varsity K room.

Finally, a skydiver from the Ravenna Army Reserves will bring in the game ball a few minutes before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

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