Have you seen Brian Marrow recently?
You may not recognize the Youngstown Christian football coach.
“For prostate cancer awareness, I’m going no-shave November,” he said. “I don’t normally wear beards.”
The beard isn’t as wild as Brookfield’s Randy Clark or as distinguished as Southern’s Mike Skrinjar’s goatee (though he’s not attempting the ponytail).
And after the past two down-to-the-wire Eagles playoff games, it’s getting a little aged.
“I’m getting old and you can see the grays,” he said with a laugh. “But these games are definitely putting some more grays on me.
“I’ll take the wins, though. Outcomes like these are great and I’ll take them to keep us going.”
In the first round, YCS (9-2) held off Warren JFK, 20-14, and in last week’s regional semifinal it surged past Malvern, 25-20, before the defense pulled through again.
The Eagles have given up just 13 second-half points in the two playoff games, limiting JFK and Malvern to a combined 116 yards in the final two quarters. The unit sacked Hornets quarterback Trey Tucci four times.
“We’re persistent to get the job done,” lineman Melvin Gregory said. “We’re going to show up and play four quarters every game.”
Wide receiver Nick Gonda, who has touchdown catches of 15 and 28 yards in the postseason, doesn’t want his senior campaign to end.
“Nobody is giving up,” he said. “We want to continue making history and every win is important to get to state.”
Gonda is also giving Marrow a run for his money in the beard department — without the gray.
“Oh, yeah,” Gonda said. “We’re having a race with it.”
The race to the Division VI state semifinals continues Friday for the Eagles when they face undefeated Mogadore. Last year, YCS knocked off the Wildcats in the regional quarterfinals.
Following last week’s win at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Green Street Stadium, a handful of Eagles players threatened Marrow with a water-cooler bath. After escaping from the postgame huddle, the fifth-year coach settled them down and delivered a message.
“We haven’t won anything yet,” Marrow said. “There’ll be a time and a place for that celebration, so let’s make sure we put in the work to get there.”
That’s enough motivation for a program that, just two years ago, was 1-9.
“It means the world to us,” Marrow said. “We had a great team last year and this team is great, too. We’re truly blessed to have great kids that are dedicated to making themselves better. And not just as players, but as people.
“I want them to be productive in life and I’m confident that these kids are going to go on and be loyal husbands and fathers.”
They’ll have a proud, scruffy coach to thank.