Facing a formidable foe in Toledo Central Catholic, the Greenmen gridders were up to the challenge in the Division II state semifinal game.
As in any close athletic competition, a break here and a break there could have launched the locals into the state finals Nov. 30 at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, a venue they’ve never played at.
Unfortunately, the key break or breaks needed to bring a victory didn’t happen, and the gridders’ season ended with a 20-13 loss.
Last year in the Division II state semifinals against Avon, the Greenmen faced tremendous adversity after the Thanksgiving Day traffic death of teammate Paulie McGhee.
It was an emotional strain to play a game with such sadness encompassing the community, but the team fought on. Things just didn’t go their way, though.
This year, with the memory of McGhee still strong in their minds, the squad looked forward to gaining a berth in the state finals for their deceased friend, themselves and their faithful fans.
All season long, players wore McGhee’s number 57 on the back of their helmets as a tribute to him and the enthusiasm he brought to life and the game of football.
The players have nothing to be ashamed of. It was a great season, which saw the squad capture its third regional championship in five seasons (also 2008 and 2011).
The Greenmen fought to 12 victories — the only losses were to Chagrin Falls and Toledo CC — and tied with the Tigers for the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title.
AHS, which won the Division III state title in 2008, will return to the finals some day and will win another crown. Having built such a tradition in football, it’s bound to happen.
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The football team’s season was not the high school’s only athletic highlight this fall.
Football is the fall sport which attracts the most attention for most high schools. It draws the most fans and provides the most revenue.
But there were two other outstanding achievements turned in by Greenmen teams which are quite worthy of mention.
In the excitement of the football season — and although the Advocate has reported on the other successes — many local residents may not have noticed that the boys soccer team reached the state semifinals for the first time and the boys golf team competed in the state tournament.
The boys soccer squad finished a stellar 16-4-2 season, and lost a heartbreaking 1-0 double-overtime match to Sylvania Southview in the state semifinals.
The boys golfers placed eighth in the Division I state tourney, and senior Andrew Hinton carded the seventh best score among the 72 competitors and was named to the second team All-Ohio. The squad also won the CVC tournament.
Not be outdone, the girls tennis team captured its fourth straight CVC title. Unfortunately, after two straight state tourney appearances, Maddie Gilley failed to make it to Columbus this year.
As for other fall sports at AHS, the girls soccer team had one of its best seasons, the volleyball team managed a .500-plus season and the girls golfers placed third in the CVC.
The high school JV football team posted an undefeated season, as did Harmon School’s seventh- and eighth-grade football teams.
So now it’s on to colder weather and the winter sports season, where hopefully more outstanding Greenmen achievements will transpire.
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Although it’s a bummer that the Greenmen won’t play in Massillon this weekend, I am thrilled to see the St. Clairsville Red Devils will be in the Division IV finals at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
St. C. was where I lived during my first post-college newspaper job, and I’ve returned to the Belmont County seat several times in the last six years.
The Red Devils are unbeaten in 14 games and are making their first state finals appearance. I didn’t think they’d beat previously undefeated Norwayne, but they did, 40-27, last weekend. They will play Clinton-Massie, also undefeated.
My only regret is that since the game will be played late Friday morning, I won’t be able to attend.
Here’s an interesting tidbit about the Red Devils.
Earlier this year when they had a big lead against one team, a running back was heading toward the endzone on a long run with no defenders near him.
At the one-yard line, he stepped out of bounds and everyone in the stadium was stunned. The nearby referee signaled a touchdown, but a St. C. -player ran up and said “No, he stepped out of bounds!”
Turns out it was a planned play. A reserve player’s dad had died days before the game, so the coach instructed players before the game to do exactly what that running back did.
On the next play, the player whose dad had died was handed the ball and scored the TD. The incident made national sports publications and broadcast networks.
Although Dover is a bitter rival of my alma mater — the New Philadelphia Quakers, which Aurora beat in the first round of the playoffs this year — I had hoped the Tornadoes would make it to the Division III state finals, but they lost badly to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
I also would have loved to see Mentor make it to the finals, but Toledo Whitmer was just too tough for the Cardinals.
By the way, the 2014 and 2015 OHSAA football finals will not be played in Canton and Massillon, but at the Horseshoe in Columbus for the first time in many years.
It will be a huge thrill for players in those games to have the chance to play on the turf in the huge stadium, but at the same time it will be awkward to have a crowd of 6,000 to 10,000 people in the 102,000-capacity Shoe.
The site is more centrally located than Canton and Massillon, but I’d rather see the action at Fawcett or Paul Brown. It will take away a big boost to the economy of those two cities, too.
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