- The Morgan State Bears lead the pigskin charge at Saturday's Ohio Classic.
Richard Basil and Donald Hill-Eley will have one thing in common when the two coaches square off at Saturday's Ohio Classic: Their football teams sucked last year. And with two games each under their belts, they're winless this season. But the annual game at Browns Stadium will give one of the two black-college squads its first victory of the fall campaign. This year, Basil's Savannah State Tigers from Georgia tangle with Hill-Eleys Morgan State Bears from Baltimore. Before the season started, both coaches were pumped about their teams' recent workouts. "Our defense came out with a lot of fire," says Basil, whose team posted a disappointing 2-8 record last fall. "They were able to make some big plays when it counted." But Hill-Eley is confident that his Bears can improve their dreary 2004 5-6 record. "You didn't see an individual effort; you saw a team effort," he says. "I look for that as a coach." Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. at Cleveland Browns Stadium, 100 Alfred Lerner Way. Tickets are $13 to $55; call 216-861-3937. -- Cris Glaser
Row Your Boat
Kelly Blazek looks ahead to the day when Head of the Cuyahoga resembles Boston's premier rowing regatta. "They have 200,000 people bring their lawn chairs and line the banks of the Charles River to watch," says the Western Reserve Rowing Association's Blazek, the race's co-director. Last year, nearly 3,000 spectators watched 1,100 rowers compete in the 2.5-mile race, which takes contestants from the West Third Street bridge to the Powerhouse in the Flats. And competitors compare it to next month's race in Boston, since the "twisty, curvy, turny" Cuyahoga River is similar to the Charles. "You have to be fabulous at steering, and steering is about strategy," says Blazek. "Many rowers shine because they've steered a brilliant course." Action starts at 8:15 a.m. Saturday on the Cuyahoga River, between the West Third Street bridge and Settler's Landing in the Flats. It's free to watch, $60 to compete; call 216-621-6277. -- Cris Glaser
So Why Do They Call It the Flats?
Sunday's 11th annual Cats in the Flats 5K and 10K runs aren't as level as the name lets on. "It's very challenging," says Ed Zalar, one of the organizers. "As you enter the Flats, you go downhill. Then you run uphill, coming out." The treks begin and end at St. Ignatius' Wasmer Field, but most of the action takes place on the West Bank of the Flats. There's also a two-mile walk and a children's run. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. at St. Ignatius, 1911 West 30th Street. Fees range from $10 (for kids' races) to $18 (for the 5 and 10Ks); call 440-237-7155. -- Lucy McKernan