Published in The News-Herald
August 29, 2019
Never forget where you came from.
It took the Kenston football team’s entire existence, including two near-misses in previous state finals, to hang its first state championship banner on the wall last season.
To think the Bombers are going to lay back and spend the 2019 season reminiscing about their 2018 state championship season would be a mistake.
If anything, the 2019 Bombers are more hungry than ever.
So while many might think Coach Jeff Grubich’s crew is going to stand atop the mountain-top it ascended to last season with the mindset of knocking off anyone who nears them, the opposite is true.
Kenston is looking at the 2019 season as a fresh start from the bottom of the mountain, where they started last year on their quest for greatness.
“Oh, there’s no doubt we have a target on our backs and people are gunning for us,” Grubich said. “But our focus hasn’t changed. We’re making a climb back to the top one week at a time.”
A year ago this time, the Kenston football team was grousing over a 2017 season in which an 8-2 record left then three-tenths of a point out of a playoff position. The Bombers trained in the offseason with a chip on their shoulders, practiced viciously and played angry.
It measured up to a 14-1 record in 2019 and the program’s first state title, courtesy of a 42-6 bludgeoning of heavily favored Kettering Alter.
The same mindset has fueled the team this offseason, even though there is a state championship banner on the wall and a golden state championship trophy in the new Gurd Family Fieldhouse.
“Same mentality as last year,” said two-time, first-team All-Ohio running back Jack Porter. “Don’t get ahead of ourselves. We’re going to work hard every day, every play, every practice.”
Most of the Bombers admit they dreamed of winning a second state championship even before they departed from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium last December. Even though Kenston was going to be graduating a ground-breaking senior class that led the program to the promised land of Ohio High School football, they knew eight starters were returning to an offensive side that averaged more than 40 points per game last year.
The defense, with only three starters returning, would be green. But the dream was there.
“I think that’s always been in our minds since the game ended,” said senior linebacker Logan Vargo of winning back-to-back titles.
“Probably since we were little,” chimed in senior offensive tackle George Sell, a Wake Forest commit.
“Who doesn’t want to win two?” Vargo said. “We got one. Let’s go win another.”
But it won’t come without hard work, they warned.
So when Grubich and his staff gathered the group for winter lifting, when the summer workouts started, and when Aug. 1 arrived for the first day of practice for the 2019 season, the Bombers treated it like the 2019 team had won nothing.
Because actually, it hadn’t.
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