State champs share adventures with Curbstone
JFK football players, Canfield tennis athletes are among the honorees
By Greg Gulas
It took Warren JFK head football coach Jeff Bayuk 36 seasons (27 as head coach) before one of his teams advanced to the state championship game.
Conversely, Columbiana golf coach Jeff Jackson has guided all three of his Clippers boys teams to state while Canfield girls tennis coach Rob Stephens has missed state just three times in 10 seasons.
Monday, Curbstone Coaches honored the Mahoning Valley’s fall scholastic state champions: Warren JFK’s Division VII state football champions; Columbiana’s Division III state golf champ Jared Wilson; and Canfield sisters Hannah and Sydney Cianciola, the Division I tennis doubles champions.
Bayuk said he’s been impressed by “how many people we’ve touched and how many we have affected in such a positive way. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this.”
Bayuk is often referred to as ‘King of the turnaround’ having taken struggling programs at Canfield, Hubbard, Campbell Memorial and JFK, then turning them into formidable units.
“I told the team after our championship game that this is something that they will forever remember and a bond that will keep them connected,” Bayuk said.
The Eagles went 14-1, allowed 98 total points and yielded less than 100 total yards offensively to opponents.
Jacob Coates, one of the Eagles’ captains, credited Bayuk and his staff for transforming a 2-8 team his first season to an 11-2 playoff squad.
“Coach made us all go outside the school as a team to look at the sign on the junior high field that said ’91 state champions,” Coates said. “It was an awakening that has served as our motivation ever since.”
Ross Nocera said Bayuk is a motivator like no other.
“He also made sure that we understood the meaning of student-athlete and that student always came first,” Nocera said.
Wilson is Columbiana County’s first state golf champion.
“Jared has an excellent work ethic and always pays attention to detail,” Jackson said. “Whatever he does, he does to the extreme and leads by example.”
Wilson averaged 34.9 last season, is a three-time Inter-Tri County League medalist and ranks 60th nationally among juniors according to the American Junior Golf Association.
His 142 (71-71) last fall set a new course record for the state tournament in all divisions at Sunbury’s North Star course.
“Coach Jackson has been absolutely awesome and while we haven’t done much with my swing, his help when I am on the course has been invaluable,” Wilson said.
The Cianciola sisters are the second Cardinals doubles team to win a state title.
“It meant a lot to be teamed with my sister,” said Hannah, a four-time All-American Conference Red Tier first-team honoree and three-time AAC player of the year. “We’re both very competitive, feed off each other and elevate one another’s game.”
For Sydney, also a first-team conference honoree, her first state appearance was memorable.
“To experience state with my sister was a great experience because we are so close,” Sydney said. “The goal now, however, is to return next year.”