The best rivalry in Portage County is coming to an end this Friday when the Garfield G-Men and the Windham Bombers will play their final football game in the Portage Trail Conference (PTC), as Windham will exit the PTC at the end of the year. This year’s game will be held at Garfield and promises to be the game of the year and maybe the game of the decade, as it just might be the last football game these two schools play against each other, making the final chapter of the rivalry somewhat bittersweet. It will have all the elements of a great game, two fired-up teams, two fantastic bands and some of the best high school sport fans around ready to cheer their team to victory in the historic game.    Residents from both communities said they are saddened that this could be the final football game between the two rivals, leaving many to take a stroll down memory lane. Old timers all say it was always the biggest game of the year, they all say it was the game they waited for all season. Some residents also remembered the some of the pranks associated with the rivalry, some good, some not so much. The younger ones remember the positive rivalry that started two years ago, where the two schools came together for a good cause. Those in between just remember the great games and the blow outs. Regardless of their memories, they all said they will attend Friday’s game to see the end of an era.

The book on PTC athletics is closing for Windham, but they will begin a new chapter next year, when they become a member of the Northeastern Athletic Conference (NAC).  They will compete against schools that are much closer to their size, allowing them to be more competitive.  Some of the schools in the NAC are Ledgemont, Maplewood, Bristol, Grand Valley, Bloomfield, Lordstown and Chalker.

The decision to exit PTC was made two years ago after The Board of Education voted to leave the conference and enter one that will allow them to compete with schools their own size.  The Bombers will become part of the Northeastern Athletic Conference (NAC) in 2013-2014 school year. Superintendent Gregg Isler stated that “It was a bittersweet for me because I am a graduate of

Windham School District and have deep ties to the PTC.” He also stated that “The league has been very good to Windham but they (the school district) needed to do this for the kids.” The declining enrollment in the district and the rapid growth in the PTC played a role in their decision. Isler stated that with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) increasing the number of volleyball games and basketball games played each season by two will ensure that Windham will still play rivals like Garfield in those two sports. This was an important factor in the decision.
Although it remains to be seen if this is last Garfield-Windham football game, one thing is for certain, it is the last time the two rivals will compete against one another in PTC, bringing an end to an era.

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Denise Bly has been a correspondent for the Weekly Villager for five years. She also does the public relations for Garrettsville Summerfest and the Garrettsville Area Chamber. In her spare time, she can be found at most local events, especially J.A. Garfield’s, high school and middle school athletic and musical events. When not out and about in the community, she can be found at home reading, sewing, cooking and spending time with her family.