Win or lose, Buckeyes fans came to party

Buckeyes fan packed the
restaurant for the title game.



BOARDMAN — If there was such thing as a Louisiana State University football fan in Ohio, they weren’t at the Youngstown Sports Grille on South Avenue.

A sea of scarlet and gray washed over the crowded restaurant as Ohio State University fans anticipated the opening kickoff of the BCS National Championship.

A mixture of conversation, food orders and commentary from the television mixed into one loud noise as people tried to muscle their way in to find an empty seat.

Some people were there to cheer on the Buckeyes, others came for the crowd, and some came for an excuse to drink a lot of beer.

Don Pasquale and Kyle Jones, both of Boardman, gathered with several friends all wearing OSU clothing to eat onion rings, french fries and talk about the Buckeyes year.

“I didn’t think they would make it,” Pasquale said. “I thought they were too young.”

“I was very, very surprised,” Jones said.

The two said they had been OSU fans for about 10 years. Both predicted the team would win by a close margin.

Meanwhile, two longtime fans were split on predicting the game’s outcome.

Both born and reared in Poland, Kurt Stoeber and Paul Villani said they’ve been Buckeyes fans for about 40 years. Stoeber argued the game would be a close Buckeyes victory, while Villani said they’d lose by a close score.

“I’ll give them one thing — they’ll play better than last year,” he said, referring to the Buckeyes’ disastrous 41-14 upset to the Florida Gators at last year’s national championship contest.

Stoeber said he was so superstitious he asked his wife not to wear her OSU shirt because the team lost both times she did.

“She only wore that shirt twice. Once last year for the national championship and this year against Illinois,” he said.

There were a lot of die-hard Ohio State fans like Chazz Sutton, of Youngstown, who said the Buckeyes could do no wrong.

“They’ll definitely win — they always make it,” he said.

Some unexpected OSU fans were in attendance as well. Joe Gregory of Boardman said he’s a big fan of OSU’s Big Ten rival — the University of Michigan Wolverines.

“I root for OSU every game but one,” he said.

Seated next to him, dressed in a sweater vest similar to OSU coach Jim Tressel’s, Mahoning County Administrator George Tablack was preparing to cheer for his alma mater.

“I’m from the Class of ’78 — the Archie Griffin era,” he said, referring to the two-time Heisman Trophy winner.

Richard Duff of Boardman said he’s was using the night as an occasion to cheer on the Buckeyes, bond with his son and celebrate.

“Sixty years ago today, I joined the Marine Corps,” he said. “It’s a good reason to celebrate.”

As the game drew near, chants of the famous “O-H-I-O” grew while the team’s signature song, “Hang On, Sloopy” blasted through the speakers.

Some fans said a silent prayer while others were busy yelling at the TV screens.

Even if the night would end with an LSU win, many of the fans said it was a personal victory for the school and Ohio.

“It’s pretty amazing that one school has been to two national championships and the basketball tournament championship in just two years,” Tablack said.

“We would be sad [if OSU lost], but it would be OK — we’ve come a long way,” said Sharon Ilovsky of Poland said.

When LSU booted the opening kickoff to the Buckeyes, it was apparent. Win or lose, this night belonged to Ohio State.

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