When it comes to high school football, there are plenty of names that come to mind.
Legendary and influential coaches.
Memorable, generational players.
Names that bring back a rushing collection of nostalgia and enough stories to carry conversations for hours.
Another name that carries weight throughout Ohio comes from a guy that never played a down of high-school football.
He spent his fall seasons running trails and courses as a cross-country runner and on the football sidelines as a member of the band.
If you are familiar with high school football and teams’ furious quest to qualify for the postseason, then Joe Eitel is name you probably have long been familiar with.
He is the author of joeeitel.com, which is a website that tracks, weekly, the computer points generated by teams and how they are ranked within their respective regions.
A website that has grown to a frequently visited home for fans, players, coaches and more for the last 22 years.
It is a project Eitel himself is a bit surprised still exists considering how it started.
“I started the website in 2000 for simple reasons. I had just graduated college, and I needed programming practice,” Eitel said. “I wanted some experience in hopes it would help boost my career. I ran cross country in high school, but I had always followed football. I remember reading the playoff ranking points in the newspaper, and I wondered if I could figure how to calculate them myself.”
And so the website began.
First gaining underground popularity, then growing its audience every week and now to the point that Eitel partners with the Ohio High School Athletic Association for accurate updates on statewide scores and computer points.
“It has grown into more than I could have ever expected it to,” Eitel said. “It has been an interesting ride.”
Eitel recalls giving consideration to stop the website in the early to mid-2000s, but found that he enjoyed it and people growingly trusted his numbers as a source.
Even today, the computer points are posted on a weekly basis by the OHSAA, but in the early 2000’s, Eitel’s numbers would consistently and accurately be tabulated before the official release by the OHSAA.
With the help of social-media channels, Eitel can collect scores quicker now than ever before and can oftentimes update his computer points by Friday night for most regions and by Saturday night for almost all.
“In 2000, the Internet was still pretty young, really, so it was a mixed bag to get scores,” Eitel said. “I would use the Internet, newspapers, message boards. It would take me all night long and I would still need to wait for the Saturday or Sunday morning papers. My updates would take all weekend long.
“Now, with Twitter especially, I can find practically all scores within a couple of hours,” Eitel said.
From the comfort of his living room, with a laptop and games either on his TV or streaming, Eitel searches for scores to plug into the same program he wrote for his first year of “practice.”
He creates a master list for scores by date played, and he can search and find scores to modify as needed through his data application.
The football memory Eitel has is the 1987 Cleveland Browns season, and he also vividly remembers Ohio State’s 31-point comeback against Minnesota from the 1989 season.
For high school football, his love came as an eighth-grader when he would go to the games as a member of the school band and his Friday night routine had been initiated.
He graduated from Westfall High School, which is located in the city of Williamsport in Pickaway County, in 1996. He then graduated from Ohio State University in 2000 with a degree in Computer and Information Systems. Eitel now lives in Grove Port and works as a software programmer.
Football, though, has a special place in his heart. So much so that he has spent the last 15 years working on a project that has not been released publicly. Yet.
Eitel has been persistently building a database of statewide scores that push back to 1970, with the intention of one day publishing them to his website.
And he is getting close.
When he adds it to his site, Eitel’s unexpected statewide notoriety will expand and simply because of his passion for football and numbers.
Which is why when you think of high school football in Ohio, the name Joe Eitel is known by all.