HANOVERTON, Ohio (WKBN) – For the third straight season, United Local found themselves in the playoffs, chasing an elusive first playoff win in program history.
In an epic 62-49 round 1 game, the #9 seeded Golden Eagles went on the road and finally broke through.
“It was an incredible scene, especially from our seniors who, you know, being in the playoffs three years straight in a row and finally getting over the hump,” said Coach DJ Ogilvie. “So hopefully in the future, it’s just expected that you get to the playoffs and you win and then go from there.”
“Everybody was like, jumping and around after the game and the locker room was crazy. We had the speaker going, everybody yelling and screaming,” said wide receiver Grant Knight. “We didn’t leave that place until like 11, 11:30 and it was like an hour drive, so when you get home it was late. So it was crazy.”
As one of those seniors, Knight has racked up over 1,000 receiving yards on the season to cap off an illustrious Golden Eagle career.
“You know, league championships are standard, but we want to be in a playoff win to raise the bar for our future teams and the future of our program,” Knight said.
He’s been able to rack up those numbers, thanks in part to QB1 Luke Courtney, who believe it or not, is in his third season ever playing football while never playing quarterback until this year.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to be the first quarterback to win a playoff game at United,” Courtney said. “Then take three years ago not knowing if I wanted to play football and then just kicking and last year playing more, now this year playing quarterback. It’s been a lot more fun doing more stuff.”
Not just filling in either, as Courtney posted more than 500 yards and eight touchdowns in just that playoff win at Rootstown alone.
“As a freshman came out just to make me just be the kicker. Then by the end of the year, hey, I think I could try a little defense,” Ogilvie said. “Now, he’s our quarterback, so the transformation he’s had and made is incredible.”
United was put to test all season, including a 19-point comeback victory on the road against Crestview that fueled this team to never back down.
“I believe that we could come back to win in the second half, but I wasn’t sure that we would and coming back from that game, I think that gave our kids a lot of confidence that they can overcome any obstacle on the season,” Ogilvie said.
Round 2 brings quite the obstacle in #1 seed Kirtland, who is on a historic tear since 2010 — going 164-8 with six state championships in 11 appearances.
“No one really thinks we’re going to win, but like, everyone on this team and our community, I think we’re getting a pretty good run. So I think we might come out on top,” Courtney said.