There always seems to be a Cinderella story when you take a look at teams in the state Final Four of any sport.
At least in Friday’s Div. IV state semifinal matchup at Jonathan Alder’s Performance Stadium at Volunteer Field between Clinton-Massie (12-1) and Bloom-Carroll (14-0) that is not the case.
Both teams felt like a state championship was in the cards as the 2021 season unfolded.
“This is not a shock to us,” Bloom-Carroll head coach Wade Bartholomew said in a telephone interview with the News Journal Tuesday morning. “This is where we expected to be.”
The winner of Friday’s game will play 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton for the OHSAA Div. IV football crown against either Youngstown Ursuline or Port Clinton.
Last season, Bloom-Carroll lost to Mentor Lake Catholic in a state semifinal game 17-10.
“A lot of our kids had the look ‘We’ll be back’,” Bartholomew said.
Clinton-Massie lost to Cincinnati Wyoming 28-9 in last year’s Region 16 title game.
Bloom-Carroll made the post-season in 2000 then went on an 11-year hiatus without a game in Week 11. In fact, the Bulldogs won just 26 games in those 11 seasons.
But the tide began to turn in 2012 when BC made the playoffs with a 5-5 record. Another year of post-season came in 2013 but also another first-round loss.
Bartholomew took over in 2014 and a steady progression has been in place ever since. The 2018 BC team won a playoff game, then the 2019 team won two and 2020 won four.
Now the 2021 team has matched that and the logical progression is for a fifth win which would be this week against the Falcons.
“I truly believe no matter where I go I want to have that (state championship) mindset,” Bartholomew said. “We’re built to get here. It is definitely part of the plan.”
For Clinton-Massie, the post-season run is much longer. After going 2-8 in 2001, Dan McSurley has guided the Falcons to the playoffs in each of the next 20 seasons. Massie won state championships in 2012 and 2013.
“The expectations here are always high,” said Kody Zantene, the CM quarterback and safety. “It’s always the same goal.”