YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There are 28 high school teams still playing football here in Ohio this week, and that includes South Range. The Raiders are one win away from the Division V State Championship game and the best season in school history.
But for this team, winning isn’t the only motivation.
“This is the season I was really hoping for,” South Range Senior Quarterback Aniello Buzzacco said. “I’m blessed that is actually happening and it’s so easy when I have a great team around me that can help me.”
Buzzacco is having a breakout season and statistically one of best in school history.
“We’ve had a lot of great running backs. We’ve had a lot of great quarterbacks. He’s our first thousand-thousand kid,” South Range head coach Dan Yeagley said. “He’s the first quarterback we’ve had to rush for over a thousand yards, and throw for over a thousand, breaking records right.”
Buzzacco has thrown for over 1,800 yards, rushed for more than 1,300 yards and accounted for a staggering 41 touchdowns this season — all of which end the same: with a prayer.
Buzzacco lost his mother Christine to cancer in July of 2015. He plays football for her.
“I definitely overcame a lot,” Buzzacco said. “That’s still something that goes through my mind everyday and it will forever. But going into every game, I say a prayer in the locker room for a good five minutes and then I’ll go on the field and take a knee on the field. It’s what drives me, motivates me to be the best I can to succeed and to win. I pray to her — just give me the opportunity and I’ll let my athleticism take over. And I know that she’s always with me. It really does help.”
Even the towel he wears behind him has meaning. The word “Mom” is written across the bottom. It’s his way of saying, “She’s got my back.
“It makes me think of her,” Buzzacco says. “That she gave me this life. She gave me this ability to play. She gave me something to play for. So every time I score, I dedicate every touchdown to her. Every time I throw a touchdown pass, I point up to her and say that’s for you because everything I do is for her.”
The Raiders will take on undefeated Eastwood in the Division V State Semifinals this Friday. They kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Strongsville High School.