MASON – It’s every young athlete’s dream who laces up their cleats to play high school football in Ohio, getting to the playoffs then a shot to play in a State Championship in Columbus.
There were 715 schools in Ohio that competed this season in Division I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and VII. A total of 72 schools compete in Division one, but only two teams arrive at the State Championship. Wayne will be making their second straight appearance to the state finals at 3 p.m. Saturday against Lakewood St. Edward at Ohio Stadium. The Warriors punched their ticket to the state final with a 28-21 win against Colerain Saturday night at Mason Dwire Field.
“It’s a tremendous feeling, It doesn’t translate into words, “said Matt Wilcox. “It’s a great feeling to know that our team overcame all the adversity to make it back to our main goal, 15 weeks.”
“It feels good, “said Tobias Gilliam. “It was a lot of hard work, nothings been handed to us, we worked for it.”
“It feels great, “said Mazon Walker. “It feels good to know we are actually part of something this time, which we made sure we did our part in sending our seniors out the right way.”
“It’s unbelievable, really a blessing from God, “said Daryl McCleskey. “It’s not luck; you need a little bit of everything to make it to a State Championship. We put it all in, it feels great, we put the work in and we are now getting the results we wanted too.”
“It’s a blessing, “said sophomore Alex Reigelsperger. “I give it up to my teammates and coaches, I’m learning from the best, and I am surrounded by the best.”
In 2014, Wayne lost to the state powerhouse St. Edwards 31-21. This year Wayne will face-off against St. Edwards in a rematch and seek to avenge the bad taste that has lingered from the disappointing loss in last year’s State Championship game.
“We know the pain, “said Coach Jay Minton concerning the loss last year. “Tyree Kinnel (former Wayne player, Michigan DB) told our team last year after the State Championship game that we lost, ‘you know this feeling right here, I can’t do anything about it, I’m not going to be here anymore, it’s up to you guys to never feel it again,’ and our kids took it to heart.”
Wayne has already made school history by becoming the only undefeated team to win a third round playoff game. Wayne is now the only undefeated team in their school history to make it to a State Championship. According to the latest CBS MaxPreps Top 150 Computer High School Football Ratings, Wayne (14-0) is ranked No. 4 nationally while Colerain and St. Edward are ranked seventh and eighth. Going undefeated is a great feat in and of itself and getting to their second straight State Championship is a major accomplishment.
“First of all our kids know they deserve to be there, “said Coach Minton. “We have been there before and that’s a big part of playing in that game. So our kids know we are not going up there just to represent, we are going up there to get that State Championship. It’s the one thing our program lacks and our whole Miami Valley lacks. When you represent Region 2 it’s an obligation to bring one back, that’s what we will preach to the kids this week, and they will be ready.”
Reach Stephen Granata by contacting Greg Smart at 937-684-8088 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com