CINCINNATI — The excitement was building at three Greater Cincinnati high schools Thursday as they prepared to send their football teams to state championship games this weekend.
La Salle and Elder are competing for Ohio state titles in Canton, and Covington Catholic is gunning for a Kentucky title in Lexington.
The La Salle Lancers boarded a bus Thursday morning for the long drive, surrounded by excited friends and family and determined to take home Ohio’s Division II title against Massillon Thursday night.
— La Salle High School (@LaSallePride) December 5, 2019
La Salle came up short a year ago and coach Pat McLaughlin says getting back was really important to 14 seniors.
“Cam Porter's a great leader … Jake Seibert, Luke Thiemann … said it a bunch of times - their dedication, effort, preparation never wavered.
“Pretty much a week after we lost that one game, we were in the weight room lifting. It will be a blessing to have the opportunity to win the state championship.”
A similar excitement is taking over at Elder, which plays Pickerington Central Friday night for the Division I crown.
“The atmosphere’s been incredible. Every single day there’s guys cheering, high-fiving in the hallways,” said Admissions Director Brian Hiles.
“Just seeing the whole West Side come together and supporting us is really neat,” said kicker Sam Harmeyer, who doubles as Elder’s student council president. “It just shows you how tight-knit Elder is into this community.”
“Growing up being a Panther you either dream of going to the state championship and playing in it or going to support your brother going to play in the state championship game. So it’s awesome,” said Connor Magness, an Elder senior.
“It’s really cool that an event like this can bring all of us together in some way,” said Principal Kurt Ruffing.
CovCath will try to secure Kentucky’s Class 5A championship Saturday night against Frederick Douglass.
“You can just feel the excitement,” said Principal Bob Rowe. “You feel there’s a buzz in the air not only from the students, but the teachers. You see it in the cafeteria, in the hallways.”
“It really does bring the students together,” said Athletic Director Tony Bacigalupo. “It’s a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood.”