The Raiders coach and Chaney's Ron Berdis spoke at Monday's luncheon.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Don't misunderstand South Range High football coach Dan Yeagley. He's impressed with how his team has handled success this season.
But he's more impressed with how the Raiders have handled adversity.
After losing starting tailback Jeff Johnston to injury in a week 10 victory over Jackson-Milton, the Raiders have proven to be resilient, beating Columbia Station and Warren Kennedy in consecutive playoff games to advance to Friday's Division V regional final against Bedford St. Peter Chanel.
"They just keep on going," Yeagley said of his team. "It's amazing."
First regional final: The seventh-year coach, who spoke at Monday's Curbstone Coaches luncheon, will coach in the school's first regional final.
"The kids rose to the occasion," Yeagley said of the JFK game. "We went to an unbalanced line and ran the ball with Brad Johnson and kept a great offense on the sideline. I thought, 'Woody Hayes would be proud of this.' "
Top-seeded Chanel has a 2,400 yard running back and a line that averages close to 275 pounds.
"So I asked my scouts if Chanel was small on defense," Yeagley said. "They said, 'Nope, it's the same kids.' "
South Range has excelled both athletically and academically this season -- two Raiders are considering Ivy League schools.
They'll have their toughest assignment on Friday.
"We have to step up and play," Yeagley said. "But it doesn't matter what happens because nobody will be able to take this away."
Chaney coach Ron Berdis, speaking before the Curbstoners for the 12th straight year, was just three days removed from the Cowboys' loss to Green in the Div. II regional semifinal.
"It's been a really humbling experience," Berdis said. "People want to know what happened Friday. Well, we got beat by a really good football team."
Rebuilding year: This season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Chaney, who went undefeated in last year's regular season before losing to Niles in the playoffs. Seven players from the 2000 team are playing college football.
Chaney nearly went undefeated again this year -- it's only loss came on a last-second field goal at Boardman. The Cowboys made the playoffs for the sixth time since 1991 and were ranked second in the final Div. II poll.
"After we pulled out an overtime win over Fitch in week one, our kids started to believe," Berdis said.
Berdis, a graduate of Chaney, went to Mount Union College and was a graduate assistant at Syracuse. He coached at Campbell before coming to Chaney 15 years ago, where he's compiled a 99-53 record.
"I could never imagine myself coaching anywhere else," he said. "I'm refreshed. I spent the weekend wallowing with my family and they picked my chin up off the ground. I can't wait to get ready for next year."