One WPIAL football team expects hundreds of fans at its opener: South Fayette

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Friday, September 4, 2020 | 5:28 PM


South Fayette’s football team will travel two hours for its season opener, but there is an obvious silver lining. By playing a game out of state, the Lions can have a couple of hundred of their fans in the stands.

“It worked out perfect,” coach Joe Rossi said.

South Fayette will visit Dover, Ohio, at 7 p.m. next Friday. The Lions’ original opponent, Peters Township, had to cancel after the school closed temporarily because of covid-19 cases.

Schools in Ohio can fill their facilities to 15% of capacity under state guidelines, so a 7,000-seat stadium can allow 1,000 individuals. Dover supplied South Fayette with around 200 tickets, Rossi said.

Teams that play next weekend in Pennsylvania are expected to have far fewer fans — if any. Stadiums here are limited to only 250 individuals, a total that includes athletes, coaches, officials and other game-day workers, leaving little or no room for spectators.

Once Peters Township canceled, and without a good option locally, Rossi searched online schedules to see who had an open week in West Virginia or Ohio. South Fayette will reschedule its game against Peters Township later in the season, likely Sept. 25. Both teams have a nonconference game that week.

An email from a coaching friend pointed Rossi to Dover, which is about 20 miles south of Canton in eastern Ohio. Rossi coached from 1998-2001 as an assistant at nearby Carrollton, so he has connections to that part of the Buckeye state.

Rossi’s wife, Karley, is from that area of Ohio, so there will be extended family in the stands Friday night. Their son, Charley, is a senior wide receiver for South Fayette.

“Charley has a bunch of relatives over there that will be able to use up some of the coaches’ tickets we get and some of his player’s tickets as well,” Rossi said.

Dover, 7-4 last season, is a Division III school — the state’s third-largest classification. Ohio has seven classifications.

The school is the alma mater of former Upper St. Clair football coach Jim Render.

“Dover’s been a power over there, so it will be a good game,” Rossi said. “It’s like a mirror (image) team. They’ll spread it out four and five wide. The game might not end until midnight.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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