Buses carrying Clinton-Massie football players and coaches arrived at Hilliard Darby High School last Friday night around 6 p.m. for the Division IV state semfinal game against John Glenn.
That gave the Falcons just 90 minutes to get off the bus, gear into the locker room and pre-game warmup.
Little Muskies players and coaches had been walking around the Darby facility for some time.
While there’s no way to determine if Massie’s arrival after 6 p.m. led to it, there was no mistaking the team came out uninspired against John Glenn. In un-Falcon-like fashion, Clinton-Massie did not match John Glenn’s intensity.
“We came out flat,” said senior Trey Uetrecht. “We didn’t play well in the first half.”
Weston Trampler, another CM senior, attributed that, in part, to a strong Little Muskies squad.
“They came out and popped us in the mouth,” he said.
Clinton-Massie had great field position throughout the first half but managed just seven points. John Glenn struggled early but held a 14-7 lead at halftime.
As if flipping a switch, the Falcons had a little more pep in their step in the second half. Whatever happened in the lockerroom at the break, transformed Clinton-Massie’s football team.
“I told the boys, I was like, that first half was the Goshen game (a 33-31 loss) and the second half the New Richmond game (a 44-14 win),” said Luke Richardson.
Trampler said the coaches more than seized the players’ attention while preparing for the second half.
“There was some screaming and yelling but there was a general calmness,” he said. “We’ve been here before. We ain’t freaking out. We didn’t play a great half but we knew we could make something happen and step it up the next half.”
Corey Stulz, the Clinton-Massie quarterback, said coaches put together a game plan for success.
“Coach (McSurley) came in and told us not to freak out,” Stulz said. “Coach (Scott) Rolf and coach (Jeskee) Zantene came in and adjusted the offense and defense. Then coach (McSurley) said this can be your last half or we can play more but it’s up to us (players).”
The players decided to play on, defeated John Glenn 28-21 with a big second half effort in all phases of the game and will now play for a state championship.
Clinton-Massie will meet Steubenville 3 p.m. Saturday at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium with a championship on the line.
“It’s amazing,” Uetrecht said. “The community, the players, everybody. It’s awesome. I don’t know how to describe it.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports