Staff photo / Brian Yauger. South Range’s Aidan Dominguez carries the ball and prepares to stiff arm a defender during the Raiders’ regional final win vs. Perry last week.
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — South Range coach Dan Yeagley has been here before. Over the last 28 years at the helm of the Raiders’ program, this season marks the third time South Range has been to the state semifinals.
The Raiders are looking to make it past the semifinals for the first time and get a crack at the state title.
Their opponent? The Liberty Center Tigers, another program with a solid playoff pedigree. In fact, they compare pretty well to the Raiders.
“Obviously, they’re good. They’re very well-coached and it’s a great program,” South Range coach Dan Yeagley said. “Traditionally always good and they have some players. They like to run the ball, so we’re thankful it’s gonna be nice tomorrow. They’re aggressive up front and our offensive and defensive lines are both pretty good.”
“You can compare them at times to a Mooney, you could compare them at times to a Jefferson or even Hubbard last year, with some of the things they did. They’re very similar to us. That’s the scary thing is they’re very similar to what we do offensively and defensively.”
That being said, while they’ve prepared for what Liberty Center could potentially throw at them, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters at this point is being the best possible version of your own team as you can.
“I’ve learned that it’s more about your team,” Yeagley said. “You can’t worry as much about the other team because you don’t know that much about them. You don’t know what adjustments they’re going to make or what they’re going to do differently, so we’ve got to worry about South Range. That’s something we’ve been doing for the last few years is, let’s make South Range better every single practice and let’s get better ourselves and whatever they throw at us, we’ll be prepared because we’re better.”
Start time for the Raiders is set for 7 p.m. at Bob Bishop Stadium in Clyde.
Thanksgiving is a day for football. On the TV and on the practice fields for South Range, Canfield and Kennedy. The three schools won’t be worried about which games are on TV, but are focused on their respective matchups this weekend with a chance to punch their respective tickets to the state finals.
South Range had its weekly team meal Wednesday evening, as opposed to the normal Thursday. Safe to say they had a traditional holiday meal.
“We had Chick-Fil-A, Arby’s and mac and cheese,” Raiders lineman Chris Colucci said.
Outside of that, it was just a run of the mill practice for the Raiders.
“Today’s just a normal Thursday,” Yeagley said. “(Then) go home and spend time with your families.”
Kennedy is no stranger to Thanksgiving practices. Given their postseason success as of late, practicing on Thanksgiving has become somewhat of a tradition for the Eagles.
“First of all, we always talk here about tradition in the history of our program and how kids from the past, players from the past always stay in touch and want to know how we’re doing. Thanksgiving Day, our kids get to see that up close and personal. I’ll bet we’ve had 15-18 former players — we’ve even had guys come by that were as old as me,” Kennedy coach Dom Prologo said. “But we’ve had a lot of kids from the past 5-6 years show up (Thursday) for practice, talk to our kids and walk around here. It’s been nice because they know how important it is because we’ve had the ability to do this a few times. I think this is my fifth or sixth Thanksgiving I’ve practiced on.”
“But we’ve learned a long time ago that you have to try to keep this as a work day. The kids have to understand that even though it’s Thanksgiving and it’s a holiday, when they walk out on that field, we have to put in three hours of work so that we’re ready to play Saturday.”
Cardinals coach Mike Pavlansky mentioned that anytime you can practice on Thanksgiving, something is going right with your season.
“I think it’s a special thing, there’s no doubt about that,” Pavlansky said on Wednesday. “It’s a neat deal for our kids and neat for us. We’re gonna have some former players come back and talk to our guys. When you’re playing this deep into November, you know you’re having a special season.”
Canfield faces Parma Heights Holy Name tonight at 7 p.m. at Euclid Community Stadium. Kennedy takes on Newark Catholic at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Red Rider Stadium in Orrville.
As an extra tidbit, there are two high schools with the nickname “Green Wave” in the state of Ohio. Both just so happen to be playing Mahoning Valley schools, the aforementioned Holy Name Green Wave and Newark Catholic Green Wave.