MEDINA — At first, some Medina football players thought it was a joke.
When athletic director Jeff Harrison walked into the school’s weight room recently and asked a few returning players how they would feel about playing at Cleveland Browns Stadium, he got a lot of wide-eyed looks.
Harrison wasn’t kidding, though. Medina will play its season opener against Mayfield on Aug. 27 at 3 p.m. on the Browns’ home field. It will be part of the annual Charity Game sponsored by Home Team Marketing, with Lakewood St. Edward and Cleveland Glenville meeting at 7 p.m. in the second game of the doubleheader.
“I said, ‘Guys, what would you think about playing at Cleveland Browns Stadium?’” Harrison said. “They looked at me like, ‘Are you serious?’ You should have seen the looks on their faces.”
Making a great opportunity even sweeter, the Bees didn’t lose a home game and all four participating teams are guaranteed at least $10,000, with the opportunity to make more based on ticket sales.
“I didn’t tell (Home Team Marketing) this, but I’d be willing to play for free,” Harrison said. “Here we are going into a brand new year, with a brand new coach (Ray Hradek), coming off one of our most successful seasons. The kids are totally amped. What better way to start a new season?”
Current junior Laterian Brown, a backup running back and starting defensive back when the Bees went 9-3 in 2010 and won the first playoff game in school history under then-coach Larry Laird, couldn’t agree more.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he said. “Hopefully, one day I’ll be there again when I get older after college.
“We’re all pretty pumped about it. Medina’s never been on the map (for football) until last year. This is our year. The team is really excited. We’ve never really gotten this opportunity before.”
In the winter, Medina’s boys basketball team had the opportunity to play Stow at Quicken Loans Arena, the home court of the Cavaliers. Now, the Bees will play on the same field as the Browns.
“Not too many people get a chance to do that,” Hradek said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Harrison said Medina received 5,000 tickets for the event — he has not yet been given cost information — and has the opportunity to get more.
“This is an honor,” the AD said. “They have how many schools in Northeast Ohio to pick from? For them to look at Medina and Mayfield and invite us to play, it’s an honor. When you look at the teams that play year in and year out, it’s a who’s who.”
The Charity Game, which is entering its 43rd year (1931-68, 2005-07, 2010-11), has hosted the likes of St. Edward, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Mentor and Mentor Lake Catholic in recent years.
“It’s a little feather in our cap that we should be proud of, but at the same time, ‘There’s the bar,’” Harrison said. “We have to maintain it.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com.
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