Hiner family

Amy and Chris Hiner -- seen here with their children, Evan, 1, and Maeley, 5 -- will cheer for opposing sides on Saturday when Orrville (12-2) takes on Johnstown-Monroe (13-1) in the Ohio high school football Division V state championship game in Canton.

ONTARIO -- Chris and Amy Hiner have seen eye-to-eye on most everything since they met as freshmen at Muskingum University in New Concord and then married nine years later.

That all changes Saturday at 3 p.m. when Orrville (12-2) takes on Johnstown-Monroe (13-1) in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division V state championship football game in Canton.

Not to worry, though. It's a natural sporting disagreement built along geographic and employment lines for the Richland Bank president and the former school teacher.

Chris won a state football title as a freshman center at Orrville in 1998. Amy taught elementary school in the Johnstown district from 2008 to 2013.

Chris, 35, still has his Orrville state championship ring, Red Rider football helmet and 20-year-old t-shirt. His blood runs all Red Rider.

Amy, 34, who graduated from Berne Union High School in Fairfield County, will have former students on the field, in the band and in the stands for the Fighting Johnnies.

The duo will attend the game at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, along with their daughter, Maeley, 5, and son, Evan, 1.

"Some of my teaching friends will be there. There will be some of my former third graders on the field, and cheerleading and in the band ... the Johnnies have an awesome band," Amy said. "I am really looking forward to it."

Chris responded quickly. "The Johnnies can win the band competition. I am coming for the game."

Amy replied, "Chris is a little more competitive."

Chris was just as quick with, "I just want another ring."

state title ring

Chris Hiner earned this ring as a freshman at Orrville High School when the Red Riders won the state football championship in 1998. He is now the president at Richland Bank in Mansfield.

Amy predicted a 28-21 Johnstown victory, though she is admittedly worried about Orrville sophomore running back Marquael Parks, who has rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 53 TDs this season.

Chris called it for Orrville, 35-14, and feared he was being too generous to the Licking County opponent.

Both of them laughed frequently during the exchange. This is truly a loving, marital rivalry.

A FOOTBALL LIFE: The two met during a freshman seminar in 2002 on the small Muskingum campus in the village of about 2,500 people. Sports is a big part of the scene at "the school on the hill," which features about 1,500 students, 21 buildings, a football stadium and a small lake.

Chris was a geology and business major. Amy studied early childhood education.

Chris played on the Fighting Muskies football team as a center for the NCAA Division III school that competes in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Amy attended the games and the two became good friends, though they didn't officially date until they were juniors.

"That was my greatest sales effort," Chris said with an easy laugh. "It took me over three years to get her to date me."


Here is an aerial view of the Muskingum University campus, where Chris and Amy Hiner met in 2002. (Photo courtesy of Muskingum University)

Though the Muskies didn't experience great success on the football field, Chris used his time on campus to gradate in December 2005 and accepted a management associate position at Park National Bank. He worked as a branch manager in Gahanna and relocated to Newark, where he quickly worked his way up to vice president and retail regional manager.

In April 2016, he was promoted to president of Richland Bank in Mansfield, one of 11 affiliate banks in the Park National Corporation, becoming the youngest president in the company.

Ironically, Chris had never intended on a banking career.

"I thought that sounded kind of dry and boring. I am a little more vocal. But once I got into it, my competitive juices started flowing. I decided I wanted to be a bank president and I set that goal early in my career. I am grateful for it."

Chris is heavily involved in the community with organizations and boards, including the Richland County Foundation, United Way, Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, Richland Young Entrepreneurs Academy and many more.

Amy taught school and then became a stay-at-home mom when the children arrived. But she more than stays busy now working "part-time" as a student-teacher advisor at The Ohio State University-Mansfield and Ashland University.

"We talk about it a lot (how busy I am)," Amy said. "But I love that I get to use my degree."

In her "spare" time, Amy is also an entrepreneur, recently pitching her Gate Genie idea, a fashionable, but affordable fabric cover for child and pet safety gates. The idea is inspired by the two children and the family's 10-year-old dog.

During a recent public pitch of her idea, Hiner said she hopes to wrap up beta testing by March and to have Gate Genie ready to market to households with pets and young children by May. 

THE GAME: All of that gets pushed to the side for both of them on Saturday when the Red Riders and Fighting Johnnies square off in Canton.

The debate continued on Wednesday evening in their Ontario home. Chris has shown Amy video highlights of Orrville and the sensational running back. She has lowered her initial predicted Johnnies' victory margin by a TD.

Chris had asked Amy if she planned to sit with him on the Orrville side of the stands. Amy responded by singing the Johnnies fight song, before agreeing to join him -- while still visiting with friends on the other side during the game.

No doubt it will be a family sporting event. Maeley was in a cheerleader uniform, complete with pom-poms, though volleyball may also be in her future.

Evan, meanwhile, who turns 2 in February, demonstrated he is already prepared to take up his father's initial family business.

When Chris said, "ready, set," the youngster dropped down into a three-point football stance, ready for action.

Clearly, the Hiner family will be ready for some football on Saturday in Canton, regardless of who wins.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"

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