YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Springfield won’t just be trying to make school history this week, but Mahoning County history as well.
The Tigers will look to become just the third public school from Mahoning County to bring home an Ohio high school football state championship.
They say the message is very simple this week, treat their biggest game of the season like the previous 14.
“We are not satisfied yet, we want it all,” said senior running back David Duvall.
Fourteen weeks and 14 wins for Springfield this season has put the Tigers in uncharted territory, playing in their first state championship game on Friday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
“It is going to be different,” Duvall said. “It is going to be crazy, we just can’t let that emotion get to us too much.”
“We know what is up on the line for the state championship,” said fellow Springfield senior Garrett Walker. “For the ring, for the bragging rights, but we are just going to treat it like any other game, any other practice.”
That might be hard for some teams as they prepare to play in a stadium that sits 23,000. But this team’s business-like mentality has stemmed from an off-season full of heartbreak and doubters.
“For us, we have always kind of been the underdog except for the people in our locker room,” said head coach Sean Guerriero. “No one has really given us a ton of credit for a team that oh, you have a chance for states. I put that to our seniors, and they have had that chip on their shoulder and I still go back to the summer and not making the playoffs.”
But they haven’t been alone in this journey — they have had support from the entire New Middletown community.
After every win, the Tigers head back to the school and celebrate on “The Rock” outside the stadium. After the win in the state semifinals, the town didn’t disappoint with a party to remember that even included fireworks.
But that celebration would certainly be overshadowed if the Tigers bring home the title this week.
“I don’t even have words for that,” Duvall said. “That is what we all want and hopefully we can do it.”
“It would be absolutely insane,” Walker said. “To do it for 14 weeks and to come back and have a championship trophy for the state in our hands, it would be crazy.”
“I really don’t know,” Guerriero said while laughing. “Thinking about that stuff almost brings a tear to my eye and I feel like a little kid.”