CANTON - Members of the St. Clairsville football team and coaching staff have nothing to hang their heads about. They should walk around town, and the Ohio Valley, with the heads held high and be proud of what they have accomplished this past season, which concluded on a somber note here Friday on the Fawcett Stadium turf.
The Red Devils saw their dream gridiron season come to a screeching halt when they dropped a high-scoring, 46-36, decision to Clarksville Clinton-Massie in the Division IV state championship game.
Heck, they made it somewhere that 705 teams don't - the state finals - each season!
ST. CLAIRSVILLE head coach Brett McLean consoles senior Justin Callarik after the Red Devils fell in the Division IV?State Championship Game to Clarksville Clinton-Massie, 46-36.
There were 717 football-playing schools this year in the Buckeye State. Included in that were 122 schools in Division IV (172-242 students). Only two can make the state finals, which the Red Devils did.
In the long, illustrious history of Ohio high school football state championships, only a half-a-dozen OVAC member schools have ever reached the finals, those being Steubenville (5 times); Bellaire (2); Shadyside (2); Steubenville Central (2); Buckeye Local (1); and Wellsville (1).
Of those aforementioned teams, only two Jefferson County squads, Steubenville (thrice) and Steubenville Central (once) have brought home the gold trophy.
It's not as easy as people, mostly fans, think. Ohio is a big state.
Of the current 717 OHSAA member schools playing football, 87 percent have made the tournament at least one time in its history. There are currently 96 member schools playing football who have never qualified for the state tournament.
So, keep your heads high and think back at the many highlights that occurred during the dream season. They were numerous.
The 2012 season was truly a unforgettable ride, so don't let the bump at the end of the road ruin all the memories.
According to the state championship weekend program, 25 of the 96 first-round playoff games were deemed upsets. Two No. 8 seeds upended a top seed, while eight No. 7 seeds defeated a No. 2 seed. Ten sixth seeds were winners over third seeds, while five No. 5 seeds knocked off No. 4s.
Of the six schools that made a return to the state playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years, none won first-round games.
Stiles Can't Remember
a Better Opponent
St. Clairsville defensive coordinator Bruce Stiles has been around football for 27 years and he's never coached against a better opponent than Clinton-Massie.
"We had a package that we used during a couple of earlier playoff games, and it was pretty successful," he said. "But I tell you what, give credit to them. They came off the ball and their backs run extremely hard.
"We made a few adjustments at halftime and it seemed to work. I've seen a couple of high-powered teams, but I've never coached against one like this."
Red Devils, Falcons
and a Beast?
McSurely might have had his animals mixed up when he called outstanding tailback Bayle Wolf a "beast.
"He banged his knee up in the first half, but we put a brace on him and he was a beast in the second half. What a performance."
All Wolf did was run for four touchdowns, catch a pass for six points and intercept a pass that sealed the deal.
Canton's Fawcett Stadium and Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon were ranked No. 1 and No. 10, respectively, among the nation's best high school football stadiums, as selected by ESPN.com in 2009. Both stadiums have also been designated "Famous High School Venues" by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
However, I have a couple of gripes about Fawcett Stadium.
First of all, a venue of its stature should have several restroom facilities in the press box. Secondly, the public address system could not be heard inside the press box.
Maybe it's just me.
Fans Turn Out in Droves
The St. Clairsville side of Fawcett Stadium was a sea of red, with a few different colors mixed in here and there. fans wearing Buckeye Local, Shadyside, Brooke and Big Red could be seen rooting for their fellow OVAC school.
St. Clairsville athletic director Kelly Rine reported that the school pre-sold nearly 3,000 tickets.
Clinton-Massie also had a nice following, but it wasn't nearly as large as St. Clairsville.
Leroy Kelly in the House
Former Cleveland Browns great Leroy Kelly participated in pre-game festivities on the field. Kelly was a running back from 1964-73 and was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
Future State Championship Dates
Canton and Massillon will once again host the 2013 state championships, but the games will shift to Ohio Stadium in Columbus for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Quote of the Night
Shortly after being doused with the celebratory gatorade cooler shower, McSurely said, "That's the best shower I've ever had. I'd take it again. I'm just glad that it's not freezing cold."
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org