Clippers Quarterback Facing Old Friends

Columbiana starting quarterback Joe Guido will see some very familiar jerseys when he walks out to mid-field for the coin flip before the Clippers game this Friday. Standing in front of him will be the signature navy blue and white jerseys of the Leetonia Bears football program.

“It’s going to be a little bit weird,” Guido said in his soft-spoken, deep voice. “I grew up with all of those guys, they are all my friends. But they are on the other side now, we just have to go on out and play.”

“I’m sure it will be difficult for him, and I’m sure it will be difficult for his folks,” Clippers head coach Bob Spaite remarked. “Guido is a storied name in Leetonia. His dad was one heck of a player when I was coaching at Southern Local. And I heard his grandfather played some semi-pro ball. I’m sure he has taken some friendly, and maybe not-so-friendly abuse but he has handled it well. He is a really mature young man. A lot of credit goes to him and his family in the way they have handled it.”

Almost reminiscent of a graduate transfer that is seen in college football today, Guido made the unique move of transferring from Leetonia to Columbiana this past off-season, his senior year. Although transfers have become more common in high schools today, going from one arch-rival to another is somewhat rare.

“Joe came in and did such a tremendous job early on for us in the summer in seven-on-sevens, and fit right in,” Spaite praised Guido. “He fit right in. You would have never known what player was from out of town and who wasn’t.”

His ability to fit right in earned him the honor of being voted by the players as one of the offensive captains for the Clippers. His demeanor and leadership helped to build confidence in him among his new Clipper teammates.

For Guido, even though it is a rivalry game, he is trying to approach it pretty much as just another game on the Clipper’s schedule. No matter if it was Leetonia or anyone else in the league, it is one he wants to win.

“This game is very important,” Guido stated. “Obviously we want to win out. But it is one week at a time, and we have to focus on this week. It’s just another game for us. It’s week by week, that’s all we have to do.”

​“If you graduated from Columbiana in the ’40s, ’50s, or ’60s, it was East Palestine. And East Palestine felt the same way about us. If you graduated in the ‘70s or ‘80s it was the Leetonia rivalry. And Leetonia felt that way about us,” Spaite commented on the Clipper’s top rivals.

“Yeah, I do occasionally talk with LJ Rosa, and I just checked up with Noah Riffee who unfortunately got hurt last week,”
- Clippers quarterback Joe Guido

The game will also allow him to play against a couple of good friends on the Bears team in LJ Rosa, and Noah Riffee. Rosa was a key player on the Bear’s offensive line that blocked for Guido the past three years and Riffee was a running back/receiver to whom Guido would distribute the ball.

“Yeah, I do occasionally talk with LJ Rosa, and I just checked up with Noah Riffee who unfortunately got hurt last week,” Guido said of still staying in contact with a couple of the Bear’s senior players.

Although the game this Friday will be a great opportunity for Guido to showcase his abilities, the season has been a bit frustrating, to say the least for the talented 6’1 168 senior. Guido suffered an injury early in the Clippers contest with Wellsville in week four, missing essentially four games this season. And despite only playing 17 full quarters this year, he has put up some impressive numbers.

​Guido has rushed the ball for 219 yards on 55 carries and scored 7 touchdowns. He has also connected on 41 of 72 passing attempts for 642 yards accounting for another 4 touchdowns.

“This season has been a little disappointing,” Guido admitted. “But it has taught us a lot. Last year I missed a few games due to injury, and I think the whole experience makes you a better person.”

“I’ve been coaching a long time. I have never gone through anything like this,” Spaite commented on the Clippers’ injury bug this season. “At one point we had seven two-way starters out. That’s not an excuse for the season. The kids have played hard. And we lost Joe in the Wellsville game. We lost both our number and number two quarterbacks. We didn’t have a number three.”

​It may not be a game that decides a league championship or playoff positioning, but for the communities of Leetonia and Columbiana, the game this Friday night will be another hard-fought battle between neighboring rivals. Throw in the unique twist of a young man in Joe Guido playing against some of his old friends in navy blue and white.