WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – It has been 10 years since Warren JFK has been to the State Championship game, and 25 years since they won it.
Right now, the Eagles are one of just 14 teams in Ohio that are still playing football, and they’re one win away from making their own mark in school history.
Times have certainly changed for the Warren JFK football program. Just two years ago, the Eagles completed their second straight 2-8 season.
“All the players around here were tired of having that same old record, and they just knew they they were gonna work harder and be more aggressive in the games,” Senior Evan Boyd said.
And that’s just what happened at Kennedy. The Eagles polished off 11 wins a year ago, with 13 dominant wins to their name this Fall. Their success is fueled by a defense that is allowing just over six points per game. It’s a recipe which has them one win away from the Division VII State Title.
“All the work you put in in the off-season, in the summer, and it’s finally week 15. It’s what we always worked for. It’s just finally here. It’s just a great feeling,” added Senior Jacob Coates.
It’s especially sweet for veteran Coach Jeff Bayuk, who is coaching in his first-ever state championship game after more than 30 years on the sideline.
“My goal has always been to teach these kids how to work together like they’re gonna have to when they get out of school,” Bayuk said. “Teach them how to get along with each other. On the field, how to share the glory, how to work hard for a goal. Those are all the things that kids need to learn, and that I feel you can accomplish whether you win 15 games, or none.”
Senior Evan Boyd hopes to help deliver Bayuk his first-ever state crown.
“He’s helped us a lot with football and academics-wise. And, to get him a ring would be a very spectacular moment,” Boyd said.
The Eagles will meet Minster (10-4) Saturday morning in the Division VII State Final at 10 a.m. at The Horseshoe in Columbus.
“I remember last year, after we lost in the Regional Finals, I was watching the State Finals in Division Seven. I was just saying, man, I want to be there. And, a year later, here we are. So, it’s just gonna be a great feeling,” Jacob Coates added.
Despite taking the big stage, Bayuk is taking it all in stride leading up to kickoff.
These kids play outside in the backyard and imagine that they’re gonna hit a home run in the World Series, or hit the three in the NBA playoffs, or maybe win a state championship and play at Ohio State. So, embrace that. That’s what you have dreamt about since you were a little kid. So, why not live your dream?” he asked.