Updated Thu, Dec 5, 2013 6:41 pm
Phil Faires had high expectations for his 2013 Trimble squad. An undefeated season packed with a conference championship, the top seed in regional playoffs, and a trip to the state championship game would make any coach’s mouth water.
But the Tomcat head coach is ready to check another goal off his list: an OHSAA Division-VII state title.
“We’ve always imagined what it would be like to bring our kids to Massillon and get to play on the field,” Faires said. “With the surroundings and everything that has to do with high school football at Massillon, to finally get there, we won’t believe it until we get there on the field.”
Trimble’s road to the title game has been challenging to say the least, starting with regular-season competition from the defending conference champion Wahama White Falcons and a hard-nosed Southern Tornadoes club.
A forced fumble recovery kept the Tomcats’ season alive against Steubenville Catholic Central in week 12, as Trimble narrowly escaped the Crusaders, 27-22.
In the Region 25 Final, the Tomcats shut out the Shadyside Tigers in the second half to earn a 21-14 victory and advance to the State Final Four.
Trimble held Berlin Center Western Reserve to its fewest point total of the season in week 14 in a close 14-10 battle with the Blue Devils.
Maria Stein Marion Local, Trimble’s last foe of the season, will have experience on its side. The Flyers are the two-time Division VI state champions and come into the game with a 14-0 record.
“After films on Monday the players said, ‘Coach, (the Flyers) look like us and we can play with them,’” Faires said. “I don’t even know if they know they are two-time defending state champs, but it really doesn’t matter to them.”
Faires expects to stick to the usual game plan and focus on defense when going up against Marion Local. “We’re going to have to play our defense and get off the blocks and make tackles.”
The Tomcats and Flyers will face off for a State Championship in a televised game (FSN/STO) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.