SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Jon Sheehan walked up the path toward St. Xavier Stadium Tuesday afternoon and smiled.
“It’s about the kids,” he said without hesitation.
No doubt Friday’s Division I state football final in Columbus is about the players, first and foremost.
But the St. Xavier linebackers coach is making his first state final appearance in 38 years of coaching high school in Cincinnati. That’s a fact that can’t be denied. Even if he doesn’t want to draw the attention.
Sheehan, a 1969 Purcell High School graduate, shed a few tears after the Bombers’ win over Pickerington Central in the state semifinal last week at Piqua.
“I was very giddy primarily because of the kids,” said Sheehan, who lives in Amberley Village. “They have persevered all year long and have never gotten down on themselves. Not only have they played to a high level but they have listened to the coaches very well.”
All of his Purcell friends are fired up about the Bombers’ opportunity against Cleveland St. Ignatius (8 p.m. kickoff).
Sheehan, who has been at St. X for the past seven years, watched four hours of film on Tuesday morning. He is a substitute teacher and he got some film watching in during the day.
Princeton defensive coordinator Steve Sheehan, Jon’s brother, is watching closely. Steve won state titles with Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education in 1985, ’86 and ’92.
Steve Sheehan advised his brother to celebrate the opportunity this week instead of waiting until late Friday night. Steve Sheehan believes the Bombers have a good opportunity against St. Ignatius who defeated St. X in late October.
“It’s tough to beat a team twice,” Steve Sheehan said. “Maybe it’s in the stars for St. X to win.”
Jon Sheehan, 65, said earlier this week hadn’t thought of what it will feel like to walk on the Ohio Stadium turf before the game. After all, there is a task at hand to prepare for the game.
Jon previously coached at Northwest, Oak Hills and Indian Hill among his other stops.
“I’m so happy for Jon,” St. X Athletic Director John Sullivan said. “He’s a great coach and has been a great addition to our staff.”