YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When this Ursuline senior class was just freshmen and sophomores, they won just three games in those first two seasons. But now, as seniors, they are preparing for the Division IV State Championship game against Clinton-Massie.
“You know, three years ago, we weren’t a very good football team,” said head coach Dan Reardon.
“It definitely wasn’t pretty,” said senior quarterback Brady Shannon.
Ursuline certainly took their lumps in 2018 and 2019. Just 3 and 17 combined in those seasons. But since then, the Irish have won 18 of their last 24 games, averaging nearly 40 per game the last two seasons.
“Definitely a grind,” Shannon said. “Long offseason workouts, long summers, long two-a-days. This is our 16th week and we are still trying to get better.”
“We worked hard for this all years,” said senior wideout Jakylin Irving. “Since me, Brady, Dean, DeMarcus have been here since our freshman year, we planned for this and it is a great opportunity.”
It will be a clash of offensive styles Friday. The Irish high-powered offense likes to air it out and can also pound the rock as they did in the state semifinals with DeMarcus McElroy’s five touchdown effort. As for Clinton-Massie, their approach is much simpler.
“They run the crap out of the ball,” Shannon said. “I think the past three games they have passed six or seven times.”
The Falcons are certainly old-school, this season they have run the ball 616 times while taking to the air just 46, a 13 to 1 ratio. Their defense has allowed just 16 points per game this year.
“Really good football team,” Reardon said. “They run the ball extremely well. Their defense is extremely stout, they rarely miss tackles, are very sound across the board.”
Now, all those summer workouts, two-a-days and practices have brought Ursuline just one win away from history.
“It would mean the world to me,” Shannon said. “For this senior class, we have been through so much. This coaching staff, we have put in so many hours. It would mean the absolute world to me to win a state championship for this school.”
“Finally, at 10:37 a.m. on Friday morning, the final product of Ursuline football in 2021 gets to kick off and just trying the best we can be Friday morning,” Reardon said.
Interesting note on Clinton-Massie. They have some history with one of our Valley teams. The Falcons won a state championship in 2013, against Ursuline rival Cardinal Mooney.