Best wishes to all HS football teams still competing

For an incredible 42nd time in the 50-year history of the Ohio High School Athletic Association football tournament, the Mahoning Valley will be represented in the state semifinals.

This year’s state playoff run comes with not just one Valley team or even two. Three teams — each with a very plausible chance to advance to state title games — will compete this weekend.

It’s no less than incredible that after beginning strength and conditioning training in the broiling July heat, fans still today are rooting for the teams that continue on this long road.

Ursuline, Springfield and Warren John F. Kennedy all won regional titles over the weekend. As a result, those three schools are among the remaining final four teams in their respective divisions.

Last week Ursuline defeated West Branch 64-35 to capture the Division IV, Region 13 title. Springfield downed Mogadore 43-27 to win the Division VI, Region 21 championship. And Warren John F. Kennedy rallied to defeat Dalton 20-13 in overtime to win the Division VII, Region 25 crown.

Each is to be commended for this amazing journey.

West Branch and South Range were eliminated this past weekend, but they too deserve much praise for long and exemplary seasons.

This weekend, the local teams play again. If they are successful, they will advance to the state title games Dec. 3 and 4 in Canton.

The Ursuline Irish (10-3) will play Port Clinton (13-1) Friday at Euclid Community Stadium. It’s the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Springfield (13-1) returns to the state semifinals for a third-straight year — the first public school in the Mahoning Valley to accomplish that feat. The Tigers will play Carey (13-1) on Saturday at Euclid Community Stadium.

Warren’s JFK Eagles (10-2) return to the state semifinals for a second-straight year to face Newark Catholic (13-1) in the semifinals. The two teams will meet Saturday at Duke Stadium in Marlington.

As our sports writer Steve Ruman wrote earlier this week, this marks the sixth time a trio of area schools will advance to the state semifinals in the same year. Prior to this year, it last happened in 2005.

Since the playoffs were formed in 1972, a total of 21 area schools have combined to make 69 trips to the state semifinals. Through 2020, Mahoning Valley schools own an impressive 42-24 record in state semifinal games.

To reach this point in the season, the players on each of these organizations truly exemplify the meaning of the word “team.” Indeed, team sports are dependent on the strength of every player’s skills and hard work. That hard work, evidenced by the blood and sweat of each player, coupled with the time and knowledge of each coach has propelled them to this level of success.

But success as an excellent, well-prepared football team is only part of the equation.

The rest of it comes with dedication, commitment and heart. The Eagles, the Irish and the Tigers certainly have proven each of these qualities.

It also comes with the love and support of family and friends who realize the importance of the sacrifices each player has made throughout the season and, truly, for many years leading up to this point.

We wish all the best to each of these teams. Of course, we especially hope for success for the seniors who soon will be bidding farewell to high school. We can only hope their memories will include a senior year varsity football state championship.

But if that’s not meant to be, the excitement and memories of this season and long championship run should leave them proud.

Win or lose, congratulations to the JFK Eagles, the Springfield Tigers and the Ursuline Irish.



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