Doug Miller is still due to debut as head coach on Friday night, but the new head of the North football program is suddenly preparing his team for a different opponent and venue.
North will start his season Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Fairport Harbor against the Fairport Harding Skippers.
The Vikings were scheduled to open the season against Cleveland Collinwood at Ellet, but the game was canceled because Collinwood cited a helmet shortage for his players.
The contract for the North Collinwood game was canceled Friday and the pact for the North Fairport-Harding game was finalized late Sunday night, Akron Public Schools assistant athletic director Ron Linger said Monday.
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“It would have been the first home game in the school’s history to start the season and now it’s just an away game,” Miller said.
Fairport Harding was scheduled to face Cleveland East Tech in Week 1 before moving north. East Tech canceled Fairport Harding due to lack of helmets for its players.
North, a Division II program, went 0-10 last season. Fairport Harding, a Division VII program, went 3-5.
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Miller said he’s traded films with Fairport Harding coaches and he and his staff and players are “preparing for Friday.”
“Everything was a mess on Friday,” Miller said. “I spoke to Collinwood and they said they can’t play. We heard rumors that other teams had to cancel due to lack of helmets.
“…You just have to roll with the punches and do your best.”
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Miller was hired earlier this year to fill a coaching position previously held by Sonil Haslam, who died suddenly on November 2, 2021 aged 46.
Haslam attempted to build North into a more competitive football team, which proved difficult with small teams that lacked depth and size.
Haslam was hired as North football coach in 2016 and has managed the Vikings touchline for the past six seasons. During that time, North won one game.
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Despite all the setbacks, Akron Public Schools athletic director Joe Vassalotti, Linger, and North athletic director Carrie Stewart always raved about the effort and love Haslam brought to his players.
Coaches ranging from the City Series to the Suburban League to the Metro Athletic Conference and unaffiliated teams valued and respected Haslam’s approach to coaching his players.
Miller, 35, is one of the managers who has watched Haslam from the other touchline while he has been an assistant at Kenmore-Garfield for the past three seasons.
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