Panthers, Huskies to play for VALES trophy

ADENA – When the planning for the VALES Trophy began, a lot of big ideas were thrown out.

Many have been implemented to make the annual Week 10 showdown between Buckeye Local and Harrison Central an experience that the players, coaches and fans won’t forget.

The winner of Friday’s game, which is slated for 7 p.m. at Yorkville’s World War II Memorial Stadium, will take home the VALES Trophy and each participating senior will receive a commemorative coin and all of the players and coaches will be recognized at the VALES Banquet Sunday afternoon.

During the kick-off press conference for VALES, which is an acronym for Veterans, Athletics, Legionaires, Education and Sportsmanship, week at the Adena American Legion Post 525 Monday, Cadiz American Legion Commander Ed Long announced a new initiative.

One scholarship of $500 will be presented to a senior member of each team during the schools’ respective awards ceremony in the spring.

“VALES wants to help with education,” Long said. “All seniors on the teams will receive an application and the VALES committee will meet and determine the recipients. We’re excited to be able to offer this and we hope to increase either the amount or the number of scholarships as time and money allows.”

The entire criteria for the scholarship hasn’t been fully finalized yet, but the VALES committee will seek input from the schools.

Along with the addition of the scholarship, Buckeye Local Athletic Director Sam Jones, who originally approached the Adena Legion about the possibility of creating this type of event, also announced that Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran Rodney Roe will serve as the honorary referee.

“All veterans fought for you guys,” Roe told the players on both teams. “You’re our future. I am proud to do this and I just want both teams to play their hearts out and be sportsman.”

This is the third season that the Huskies and Panthers have played for the trophy with each school winning on its home field.

“I’ve been involved with since the ground floor, and it’s amazing how people get behind a good idea for kids,” Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka said. “We’ve stressed to our kids that without these veterans and what they did, there’d be no football. This is a game that stands for a lot of things and will connect many generations, which is just awesome.”

Neither the Huskies nor the Panthers will be playing beyond this week, but this one last time on the field this season is something both teams are anxiously looking forward to.

“We need to show our respect to our veterans,” said Buckeye Local head coach Phil Pest. “These young guys need to know how much they owe to our veterans. I am proud to coach in this game and I know our players are proud to play in it.”

With proper identification, all veterans and active service members will be admitted to the game for free. Those folks will also serve as honorary captains.