Poland will be the new home of the Ohio Football League's Western Reserve Scourge, a minor league/semi-pro football team, to begin play in 2013.
The Western Reserve Scourge, formerly known as the Columbiana County Scourge, is owned and operated by Garrett Sevek, Dan Bailey, and Christian Bailey, all of Salem. Sevek, a former standout football player for Salem High School, is also the team's head coach and defensive coordinator. Sevek said he and the other owners changed the name to encompass a larger area to increase interest in recruitment and the fan base.
Sevek said he was encouraged to explore moving the team's home games to the Poland area by Jim Craven, one his players who is a Poland Village police officer. "As a second year team, we're still growing and I thought Baird Mitchell Stadium was a fantastic place for that growth. It's a great facility for our needs in a great community. Jim spoke so highly of the area that we thought he might be embellishing a little, but it's everything he said it was."
Players in the O.F.L. are not paid to play. More often in minor league football, without sponsors, there's a player fee to participate and players are responsible for their equipment.
"These guys really play for the love of the game," said Sevek.
Experience of the players varies but usually ranges from those with Division I college experience to high school. On rare occasion, there will be former players from the Canadian Football League or the Arena Football League. As with most minor league teams, ages vary, also. Last year, the Scourge age range was from 18 years old to an offensive lineman, Brad Wagner, who proudly boasts to be 48 years old.
Sevek reports that recruitment is still ongoing and will continue throughout the coming months. The O.F.L. requires that players must be 18 years old by the time the season starts.
"We're hoping to tap into the wealth of football talent in this area. With the success of the high school and college football programs in this area we believe we can build a highly competitive team," said Sevek. He also touted the O.F.L. and it's teams as "quality football."
Those interested in the league are invited to an informational meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Poland Village Hall. Those unable to attend can contact Garrett Sevek at 330-831-8169 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jim Craven at 330-502-9402 or email@example.com.