Yesterday Tom and I were able to go to a Mogadore football game. Mogadore is the little town where we lived for 25 years before beginning our nomadic life. John went all the way through school in Mogadore and he played football there. Mogadore is in Division VII in Ohio High School football, which means that there are fewer than 97 boys in the high school. Every year about 60 of these boys are on the football team.
Mogadore football is a tradition in this little town. From the time the boys are small, they play. They learn the same 15 plays that are used in every level of the program through High School. They look up to the high school players and eagerly await the day when they will be old enough to play on “The Team.” Mogadore doesn’t do anything fancy. They play “smash-mouth” football, running the ball over and over until they wear down the other team. They consistently play in the state playoffs. 1998 was the last year they didn’t make it to the playoffs.
This year the Mogadore football team sailed through the season. They had one loss, to a much bigger school, but won by commanding leads over all the other schools they played. We were able to go to the first game of the season in August, and we could tell that this team was special. The quarterback and many of the other position players are all seniors who had been on the varsity team for the last three or four years.
Although the playoffs are a new season, Mogadore had dominating wins over all the teams they played. The defense shut the teams down while the offense ran the ball, controlled the clock, and racked up one touchdown after another. A couple of games ago, Senior running back Nate Alexander tore his ACL, which finished his season. But the other running backs stepped up and continued to dominate the offensive game.
Until yesterday. Yesterday the Mogadore football team played Fort Recovery in the state title game at the Ohio State Stadium in Columbus. From the opening drive you could sense that this game would not go according to form. On the second play of the game, Mogadore threw a pass that was intercepted. One play later Fort Recovery had its first touchdown.
That was really Mogadore’s only mistake. Mogadore didn’t play badly – on this day Fort Recovery was the better team. Fort Recovery played an excellent game: they shut down Mogadore’s offense and found ways around the defense. Fort Recovery had an excellent quarterback, running back, and receiver who consistently made big plays. Mogadore had one drive after another shut down. By half-time the score was 27 to 7.
Mogadore played better defense in the second half, but the offense just couldn’t get going. The final score was 33 to 14.
I know the young men on the Mogadore football team feel like they let everyone down, but sometimes people in Mogadore forget how unusual it is for a team to make the playoffs every year. It was a great season, a great team, and I was proud to be at the game and support such a fine group of young men. At the end of the game the Seniors were hanging their heads, but they have nothing to be ashamed of. They played their best, but on this day they got beat. Any team (besides Fort Recovery) would have gladly stood in their place.
Mogadore football is a proud tradition in our little town and this team held up the tradition in fine fashion. It was really neat for them to get to play in the Ohio State Stadium – another proud football tradition.