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The Suburbanite
  • STEVE KING: Get ready for high school football

  • High school football is just around the corner and, according to Steve King, there's plenty to be excited about this year.

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  • If you live in The Suburbanite’s coverage area and you like high school football, especially the historical aspect of it, then you’re in for a rare treat.
    In a regular season that begins this Thursday night with a few games and then really gets rolling Friday evening, there are nearly enough good storylines to fill up any of the local stadiums.
    Indeed, there has never been more intrigue heading into a season in this area.
    COVENTRY
    At Coventry, Ed Egan, whose nickname should be “Enthusiastic,” takes over as head coach. When he was hired, he was so thrilled and excited that it sounded as if he wanted to immediately don a pair of shoulder pads, grab a mouth piece and helmet and barrel into the nearest tackling dummy. In a day and age when so many people seem upset about their lot in life, it is refreshing to see someone who is salivating over his. He couldn’t wait to get started, and he won’t have to wait much longer to do so in earnest.
    His optimism was welcome and appreciated, since he has a major task in trying to right a program that last won a league title 50 years ago. It was in late October 1963, a month before President John Kennedy would be assassinated, that the Comets finished first in the now-defunct Metro League. That was before the parents of most of this year’s players were even born.
    If desire were the only quality necessary to be a champion, then nice-guy Egan could put the Comets onto his shoulders and take them to where they’ve wanted to go for decades. Here’s hoping he gets all the other requisite ingredients and makes some history – or alters history, as it were – sooner rather than later.
    LAKE
    For the first time in 23 years, before many current residents of the Lake school district lived there, the Blue Streaks will take the field without Jeff Durbin as head coach. Durbin retired earlier this year, leaving behind a legacy that will be tough to match and nearly impossible to beat. But his successor, Dan DeGeorge, a former Lake assistant, will try. Like Egan, he has a great challenge, but in a different way. He needs to be himself, but he must also be respectful of all that was accomplished under Durbin.
    Along with all that, he will be expected to produce winning and contending teams in the tough Federal League, something that Durbin did almost every year, setting him apart from the crowd.
    There will be a real curiosity about – and hopefully a lot of support for – everything that will go on during this historic change. And that’s what this is, a change. Things always change. Nothing ever stays exactly the same. That’s true at Lake, just as it is everywhere else.
    Page 2 of 3 - SPRINGFIELD
    At some point this year, as soon as some construction problems can be solved, a new Springfield High School will be unveiled, replacing a building that had opened in 1931. For those of you who are wondering, that was when Canton Road was nothing but a dirt path and the Great Depression hadn’t hit its lowest lows yet.
    As such, everything that happens in the district this school year will carry added importance and the football program will join with the other fall sports at the high school to serve as the lead-off hitters. And head coach Kevin Vaughn’s team would like nothing better than to make a real impact in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division – to get the new school and the new school year started off on the right foot and catch everyone’s attention.
    GREEN
    By the time the season starts, Green may be on its way to a new league for the first time since the fall of 1949. Charter members of the Suburban League, the Bulldogs have been mulling over whether to stay put in the league or to instead jump to the Federal League for the 2015-16 school year. It will be the most important decision in school history.
    For decades, all the way back to the Dan Drake coaching era from 1971-88 when it was the most dominant program in the Suburban League, winning eight titles in 10 years during one stretch, Green has been known as a football school. Friday nights have long been special in that community.
    But after a little bit of a dry spell, there are some who have been saying that the Bulldogs shouldn’t go to the Federal League because they won’t be able to compete in football. Imagine that, an assertion that a football school might get tackled for a loss in its signature sport.
    Football coaches are always looking for us-against-the-world motivations, and this is a perfect one for the Bulldogs. If you’re head coach Ed Cybak, then you’re reminding your players of those comments – of the doubters and the haters – every single day. Prove those people wrong. Shut them up.
    And if this really turns out to be the first of just two more seasons in the Suburban League, then Green wants to go out on top.
    MANCHESTER, MOGADORE
    Manchester and Mogadore are two small schools where tradition never seems to graduate. Year after year, no matter who is suiting up, the Panthers and Wildcats produce not just winners, but champions. How do they do it? How can they do it? Doesn’t every dynasty begin eroding away at some point? Maybe. But not in Manchester and Mogadore. They are the little engines that could, and can, and do.
    Page 3 of 3 - Matt Adorni has been up to the challenge of following in the footsteps of some iconic Mogadore head coaches such as Norm Lingle and Scott Pollock. The program never misses a beat.
    Down the road, someone will have to follow in the footsteps of Manchester head coach Jim France. Pity that person, whenever it happens. France is beginning his 42nd year with the Panthers, and his 43rd season overall as a head coach. No one in the area – or maybe even in the region – has coached any sport at any school as long as France has coached football at Manchester. He is the all-time wins leader in Ohio among active coaches because his teams always seem to capture the Principals Athletic Conference championship and make the playoffs.
    Historically speaking, why would anyone expect that to change this season?