The community believed
by Ricky Mulvey
Story courtesy of Loveland High School Roar
Ricky Mulvey is Editor-in-Chief of the Roar and Sports Director for Loveland Magazine
Canton, Oh. - After heart stopping wins in state quarter and semifinal games, the Loveland Tigers snowplowed through the Glenville Tarblooders in a 41-23 Division II State Championship victory.
There has just got to be a wee bit of irony in this. The two wins leading up to the game, where Loveland was evenly matched, were decided in the final seconds. This one though; the one where Loveland was expected to lose, the game against the number one recruit in the state, and a defense that posted six shutouts on the year; well, this game was simply a stroll in the snow for the boys from Loveland.
The keys to Loveland’s monster game were pretty simple. After the first half, former Ohio State head coach, Jim Tressel commented that, “They are keeping great focus, and creating turnovers and when that happens you get a big lead. They look to me like they are a pretty focused bunch.” Loveland ended up generating eight Tarblooder turnovers in the game, four of them interceptions coupled with four fumble recoveries. It appeared the Tigers were more at home in a snowstorm than the northern dwelling Tarblooders from Cleveland. It was a bit of a shock just how lopsided the matchup was though.
Likely the biggest surprise of the game was the shutdown of wide receiver Marshon Lattimore by Tiger cornerback Jeff Prifti. Lattimore, the top recruit in the state, is so good that he is able to play college ball wherever he wants. According to Rivals.com, he has offers from 17 different Division I programs including Ohio State, Michigan, and Alabama. On that cold December night, the Goliath was neutralized by Prifti. The junior cornerback was able to keep his body in front of Lattimore for pretty much every pass thrown to him, and held him to less than 30 receiving yards through three quarters.
While the defense was iron, and the offense superb, maybe another game changer was the community support. For the past two weeks, it has been impossible to take a drive through Loveland without seeing a Tiger football sign planted somewhere. Though the trip to Canton was roughly four hours long, and many had to buy hotel rooms and take a day off work to make the game, Loveland managed to sell 2,200 pre-sale tickets. Even in the press box, hundreds of feet away, the Loveland faithful were loud. The community believed. The team fed off the energy from the stands.
The state championship win is the first one for Loveland. It was the first time any Tiger football team made an appearance in the state championship, and it cemented this Tiger team as the best, the unequivocal best football team to grace Loveland. Even to Tressel, a man that has a NCAA National Championship and won five straight Big 10 titles, “The Loveland Tigers are impressive.”