CANTON, Ohio -- The Clinton-Massie Falcons saw its bid for a third state title in six years fall short Saturday, losing to Steubenville 50-36 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
The result doesn’t diminish what head coach Dan McSurley and his team have accomplished over the last 16 years.
Clinton-Massie’s football team continues to put the school on the map, even if many Cincinnati-area high school football fans couldn’t find it on a map.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association is no help either. The OHSAA’s official name for the school is Clarksville Clinton-Massie. Drive to Clarksville, and you won’t find the high school.
However, if you journey north out of Clarksville on George Road, passing farmhouses and cornfields along the way, you’ll come to Lebanon Road.
There you’ll find the home of one of the state’s best mid-sized high school football programs.
Clinton-Massie has qualified for the playoffs 16 seasons in a row. During that stretch, the Falcons are 174-27, scoring 50 or more points 48 times.
Before losing to Goshen on Oct. 13, the Falcons had won 61 consecutive league games. During the last 12 seasons of South Central Ohio League play, Clinton-Massie was 74-2.
It is one thing to have regular season success. How did the program grow to point where they would play in three state title games in a six-year period, winning twice?
McSurley gave all the credit to his players, especially his leaders. All five of his senior co-captains sat alongside him after the game.
“It’s these guys right here sitting beside me,” McSurley said. “One group of leaders graduate, another group comes in and replaces them. They don’t lead by just running their mouth, running their gums, they lead by example.”
One by one, he listed their accomplishments. Sam Brothers, Luke Richardson, Weston Trampler, Trey Uetrecht and Cody Collingham all helped carry the Falcons to the title game.
It was a Clinton-Massie team that had all three starting running backs - Collingham, Christian Poynter and Grant Rudy - miss a significant amount of time due to injury during the playoffs.
That would be devastating for any team. Clinton-Massie primarily runs the wishbone offense, putting an increased emphasis on its running backs.
Players such as Tyler Beam, Daulton Wolfe, Weston Trampler and even Uetrecht tried to fill in for the injured backs.
Despite the injuries, the Falcons plowed through the Division IV field. However, Steubenville proved to be too talented.
McSurley knew the Big Red were going to be tough to beat.
“They had athletes galore,” McSurley said. “When you’ve been doing this 32 years, you know when there is a matchup issue. You try to scheme. I’ve never seen a coaching staff work as hard as they did to get these guys prepared.
“Sometimes, the matchups just don’t work out for you.”
Next year’s seniors will have their work cut out for them to match the outgoing class. Don’t be surprised to see them making another long playoff run.
“We’re going to have another group next year that’s going to fill their shoes,” McSurley said. “I promise you.”