Even if you’re not from McComb, you have to feel extremely good about what the McComb High School football team accomplished this season.
By winning the Division VII state championship Saturday against Glouster Trimble, the Panthers raised the bar, again, for small-school football in Ohio. The team’s effort shows it’s possible through hard work and good coaching to have a storybook season.
Those close to the McComb program, and even those who just jumped on the bandwagon after it got rolling, now have 15 games to reflect on. The on- and off-field stories that accompanied a 14-1 season will be retold for generations.
Not only that, but up-and-coming football players, whether from McComb, Cory-Rawson, Leipsic or any small school for that matter, will aspire to rise to the top like McComb did this year. Other coaches may be wise to use the Panthers’ achievement to motivate their own players: If McComb can win a state title, they can, too.
Some of the pre-game stories in The Courier last week relived the 1983 season, McComb’s first state championship under Coach Bill Banning. The fact that current Coach Kris Alge was able to repeat the task 35 years later accentuates that first title. Relatively few small schools muster a single state title, let alone two.
McComb’s 28-3 victory on Saturday is much more than just another big win for the school, however. It provides a huge lift for the village and other small towns in northwestern Ohio, which live for Friday nights in the fall. The Panthers’ accomplishment also brings well-deserved recognition to the Blanchard Valley Conference, which many already knew is one of the best small-school leagues in the state.
Meanwhile, McComb’s reputation as a football power is solidified. The tradition there will likely continue. McComb youth who witnessed the season and felt the excitement will want to follow suit.
This season, like 1983’s, will be a tough act to follow, though. Nine seniors will graduate in the spring from the 35-man roster. Still, no one should doubt McComb will rise to the top again.
Something tells us the next chapter may not take 35 years.