It's been a long five weeks for Lance Jacob.
However, at the same time, it's been an awful lot of fun.
That's what happens when you're listed on one of the state's top six crews for football officials and get to work a game during week of the tournament.
Jacob and the four other members of his crew will work their final game Saturday night when they put the stripes on for the Division I state final, pitting Pickerington Central against Cleveland St. Ignatius.
"I'm excited," Jacob said. "There are always a few butterflies and some nervous moments before the game, but once the ball is kicked, it's just another game."
As is the case each week during the regular season, Jacob will work in his normal back judge spot.
"I've been working back judge since my first year of varsity eligibility," Jacob said. "I got on Butch Minkemeyer's crew and that was the spot he needed me at, and I've just stayed there."
This marks Jacob's second state final in three seasons. In the Buckeye State, you're only allowed to work state tournaments every other season.
In the 2009 final, Jacob also worked the Division I title game, which pitted Hilliard Davidson against Cleveland Glenville.
The slightly more than 100-mile trip to Canton will seem like nothing for Jacob, who's the only member of his playoff crew from the eastern side of the state.
"I was thinking about the mileage I've racked up the other day, and I think it's about 1800 miles, including this weekend," Jacob said.
In the first week of the playoffs, the crew worked Trotwood Madison. In the second round, Jacob packed up for Northmont High in Clayton, which is near Dayton.
In the third round, Jacob worked the Division I regional final pitting Cincinnati St. Xavier against Cincinnati Moeller at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.
Last week, Jacob returned to Northmont High for the Trotwood Madison vs. Columbus Marion Franklin state semifinal.
After getting back to the Ohio Valley in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday, Jacob snuck in a few hours of sleep and was back up at it en route to Martinsburg to work a West Virginia Class AAA state semifinal.
"I've worked all of the Ohio guys with the same crew, so that's nice," Jacob said. "We've got three from the Northwest district and one from the southeast district. I've worked with one of them before this season."
Though they've worked together for the past month, Jacob and his crew will have a nearly hour-long pre-game meeting where they go over all sorts of things, including where each guy will be on kicking plays and other certain plays.
One member of the crew will also bring a scouting report in essence.
"We do some research so we have an idea of what kind of offense each team runs, whether they use spread or no huddle," Jacob said.
"We just have to be as prepared as we possibly can."
Jacob will get his tuneup for the state final Friday night when he begins his basketball season by working Edison and Indian Creek.
"It seems like I just go right into the next sport every year," Jacob said. "I've been doing it for so long that it really doesn't slow you down."
Jacob has worked two state basketball tournaments, one for boys and one for girls. He's also worked six state baseball tournaments in his 19 seasons.
Still relatively young and in good shape, Jacob, who is a Martins Ferry graduate, plans on officiating for a good many more years, but now that he and he and his wife Nikki have three children, he might slow down a bit.
"The support from my family is huge," Jacob said. "Obviously, as my kids start growing up and getting into their activities, I will cut back on my officiating. I will go as long as I can do it physically and I'm not too busy at home, I plan on still being active."
PICKERINGTON CENTRAL has a pair of ties to the local area. Sophomore Andrew Meyer is a starting wide receiver for the Tigers. He's the son of Jeff and Missy (Sherry) Meyer. His mother is a 1984 St. John Central graduate.
Andrew had two receptions in the Tigers' state semifinal game against Cincinnati St. Xavier. He had four catches the week prior against Hilliard Davidson.
Andrew's grandmother, Fran, still resides in St. Clairsville.
Junior Brent Walton is a backup defensive player for the Tigers. His father, Brian, is a 1987 Magnolia High School graduate and played football for Dave Cisar.
AVON will play for the Division II state title Friday night. The Eagles will tangle with Trotwood Madison at 7 p.m. in Massillon. One of the key contributors to the Avon lines as an end is senior Greg Harrison, who was named second-team all-Ohio as a tight end.
Harrison's father, Tom, is a 1980 graduate of Martins Ferry High School.
I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family of Bob Rossell, who passed away last weekend after an illness.
Rossell was an institution around Weir High athletics. The school is actually naming the press box at its new football stadium after him.
I first met Bob about 2 years ago when he and I came onto the OVAC Hall of Fame Committee together. Bob was simply a great guy who loved sports, but he loved prep sports and Weir High sports more than anything.
Though I only knew Bob a brief time, I was proud to call him a friend.
Again, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to his family and the entire Weir High Athletic Department.
IN APRIL, former Martins Ferry basketball player Nate Alexander was hired as the head basketball coach at Osceola High School in Florida. Alexander hasn't wasted anytime in getting things going. His Kowboys are off to a 3-0 start. The Florida prep basketball season opened on Nov. 22.
A MAJOR announcement concerning the Cancer Research Classic will be made today during a press conference at Wheeling Hospital.
The event has another top-shelf lineup slated for Jan. 6-7 and features a matchup of the top two prep teams in the nation when Simeon, which is based in Chicago, takes on Miller Grove, which is based in Lithonia, Ga. at 8 p.m. on Jan. 7.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE High graduate Kurt Stubbs II has become highly respected in the world of Ohio High School basketball since re-locating to Pickerington.
After starting a website, ohiohshoops.com, Stubbs latched on with Ohio High and J.J. Huddle as a basketball analyst. He provides the website with its basketball preview and weekly rankings. It was recently announced that NBC 4 News in Columbus would be using Stubbs' rankings as its official poll for the season.
IT WOULD sure be nice if the Eastern District Board got a little more on the ball in terms of technology. The sectional and district assignments and sites have yet to be announced for the 2012 basketball, swimming and wrestling tournaments. In the era of knowledge being spread within seconds, the Eastern District Board moves at a snail's pace.
I am guessing that I am not the only person who's been clicking on the Eastern District board website (eastohsaa.com) seeking those.
You never know, there might be some coaches out there who are interested in them. The Eastern District Board should release this info as soon as it's finalized, and I know this has been completed.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org