If you notice a large contingent of kids sporting dyed-red mohawks this weekend in Stark County, chances are they are from Glouster Trimble.
The Tomcats face Maria Stein Marion Local in Massillon on Saturday night in the Division VII state title game.
Some of the Trimble players began sporting mohawks early this season in a show of team unity. They shaded them pink for cancer awareness one week, and that evolved into dyeing them red — one of Trimble’s main colors. Eventually, they earned the nickname “The Mohawk Mafia” as their numbers grew.
Tomcats head coach Phil Faires also is a sixth-grade teacher at Trimble.
“I think there’s more kids with red mohawks than not in the elementary school,” he said. “So it’s really spread.”
MAC is back — again
The Midwest Athletic Conference — the SEC of Ohio high school football — has at least one team playing in the state finals for an 11th straight year. Coldwater and Marion Local are both MAC schools playing here this weekend. The MAC has won a record 28 state titles in football, part of the 105 overall state championships its member schools have won.
Ready for a challenge
Mooney is known for always playing a challenging schedule, and head coach P.J. Flecko thinks that’s a big reason Mooney is an eight-time state champ.
“It’s something that has clearly benefited us through the playoffs over the years,” he said. “... It conditions your guys to play at a certain speed ... to play with a certain physicality.”
Division IV Mooney played two Division I playoff teams this year — Lakewood St. Edward and Austintown Fitch — in addition to Division III state finalist St. Vincent-St. Mary. They also played two out-of-state teams that went a combined 17-3 this season.
75 in five
By reaching the state finals for a fifth straight season, Coldwater will become the first Ohio school to play 75 games in a five-year stretch.
Coldwater, though, has some work to do if it wants to set the state record for most consecutive trips to the state finals.
Newark Catholic set it by going to eighth straight from 1980-87. Ignatius appeared in six straight title games from 1991-96.
The Ignatius streak was snapped by McKinley in 1997 when the Bulldogs were on their way to the first of two straight Division I state titles.
Why not eight?
Count Moeller head coach John Rodenberg as a fan of the new seven-division format for the state playoffs.
“If anyone thinks it’s watering down the playoffs, I think that’s crazy,” he said. “This is my third time in a state championship (including one trip as a coach in Kentucky) ... and just the excitement ... you wish every kid would get chance to play in a state championship.
“High school is probably one of your last pure excitements in sports. If you want to add an eighth division next year and give two more schools a shot, why not?”
Been a while
When Moeller and Mentor meet in the state finals the coaching staffs at least will have some recollections of playing each other. The two programs played a home-and-home series in 2008-09.
Mentor won at home 34-26 in Week 5 of 2008, and Moeller won at home 45-7 in Week 5 of 2009.
Lots of new faces
This Moeller team will look vastly different from the one that won the 2012 Division I state title.
“We’re coming back with pretty much a different team,” said Rodenberg, whose team graduated 18 starters from last season. “To be able to make it back with this new team is an honor. We started out this season not talking about repeating. It’s a great situation for us.”