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Irish repping Valley in state football finals

Ursuline’s Brady Shannon runs away from a Port Clinton defender during the first half of their State Semi-Final game, Saturday night at Euclid High School. (David Dermer/Warren Tribune Chronicle)

For the 32nd year in the 50 year history of the Ohio High School Athletic Association football tournament, the Mahoning Valley will be represented in the state finals.

In this case, Ursuline will fly the banner for the Mahoning Valley in the 2021 Division IV state title game.

This past Friday, Ursuline defeated Port Clinton 34-17 in a Division IV state semifinal contest. The Irish (11-3) will now face Clinton-Massie (13-1), which advanced to the championship game with a 24-21 win over previously-unbeaten Bloom-Carroll.

The Irish and Falcons will play Friday morning at 10:30 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Springfield and Warren John F. Kennedy were both eliminated over the weekend.

Ursuline is no stranger to playing in state title games, having already appeared in five with a 4-1 record.

Ursuline won its first title in 2000 under Jim Vivo. After finishing runner-up in 2007, the Irish won three consecutive state championships from 2008-2010 — all of which came under current coach Dan Reardon during his first stint at the school.

Ursuline owns a 49-17 playoff record with 22 postseason appearances.

Clinton-Massie is certainly no stranger to the playoffs. The Falcons are in the postseason for a 20th consecutive year. During that span, they appeared in three state title games, winning back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013.

The ’13 final was a 27-21 win over Youngstown Cardinal Mooney.

Clinton-Massie owns a 39-18 playoff record. Head coach Dan McSurley, now in his 26th year at the school, has a record of 248-65 with the Falcons.

Clinton-Massie has won 13 straight games since losing its season-opener. The Falcons are averaging 43.7 points per game. During a four-game stretch in mid-season, the Falcons scored 69, 42, 79 and 70 points.

Ursuline is hoping to snap a four-game losing streak by area teams in state final games. Warren JFK was the last area team to win a title (2016). Since then, Girard, JFK and Springfield (twice) have lost championship contests.

AREA PLAYOFF HISTORY

When the playoffs were introduced to Ohio high school football in 1972, Mahoning Valley schools made an immediate impact.

Warren Western Reserve won the first-ever Class AAA title in ’72 with a 37-6 win over Cincinnati Princeton. Reserve would return to the title game the following year, only to lose to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. It marked the only time in playoff history that a pair of Valley teams met in a title game.

In 1974 Warren G. Harding completed the hat trick for area teams by winning its first state title with a resounding 41-8 win over Upper Arlington.

From 1972 through 2020 the Mahoning Valley was represented in state title games 42 times. Nine different area schools have combined to win 21 state championships.

State championships have been won by Cardinal Mooney (8), Ursuline (4), JFK (2), Warren G. Harding (2), Warren Western Reserve, Brookfield, West Branch, Poland and Lisbon.

Six area schools lost in their only final appearance. They include; Girard, Boardman, Campbell, Youngstown Chaney, Canfield and Wellsville. McDonald and Springfield are 0-2.

The Mahoning Valley has sent two teams to the state finals in the same season on seven different occasions. A trio of area teams advanced in both 1989 (Campbell, JFK, McDonald) and 1994 (West Branch, Wellsville, McDonald).

In 2009 Ursuline and Mooney both won trophies – the only time a pair of area teams captured titles in the same year.

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