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Daugherty represents Warren G. Harding one final time

Daugherty represents Harding for final time

MINERAL RIDGE — A little over a decade ago, Warren G. Harding senior Jake Daugherty, then just a little kid, would practice field goal attempts after each home game.

As the years went on, Daugherty eventually went on to kick for Harding on the very same field, living out his childhood dream as a four-year starter for the team.

Last Thursday, he represented the Raiders on the football field one last time, helping Trumbull County beat Mahoning County in the MVCA Jack Arvin Classic, 10-7.

Daugherty’s second quarter field goal, a 36-yarder and the first score of the game, served as the decisive points in the victory.

“It felt great to put the Raider helmet on one last time,” Daugherty said. “That’s something I looked forward to all my life, playing football, and for Harding especially. Just to do that one more time and play with some players I’ve never played with before, a couple of friends from other schools, and to come out here and get the win.”

Having kicked since a very young age, playing for the Raiders has been at the forefront of Daughtery’s mind for as long as he could remember.

As his time in a Harding uniform comes to a close, the Raider kicker is just grateful for the chance to live out a lifelong dream. Every time he stepped on the field over the last four years, it was a full-circle moment for the little boy who practiced kicking field goals after each game.

“It was a dream come true,” Daugherty said. “I couldn’t be more proud of myself and I’m thankful for everything that people have provided for me to be able to be here, and play at Mollenkopf and to be able to be in this spot. Big shout out to Coach (Steve) Arnold for giving me the opportunity as a freshman to play and to be playing this game.”

All-star games provide the chance for players to team up with guys they’ve gone against over the years, but in addition to Daugherty’s Harding teammates, there was another reunion on the Trumbull sideline.

Quarterback John Perry played high school football at Howland, but he and Daugherty played flag football together as kids. They never got to suit up against each other in high school, but were there to finish off their high school careers together.

“It was great to finish our high school careers out together,” Daugherty said.

Playing for Harding was a point of pride for the kicker. Both his father and grandfather suited up for Harding in the past, and joining them and keeping the tradition alive was an important thing.

“It means everything. My grandfather played football for Harding and my dad played football for Harding. Growing up, that was my dream,” Daugherty said. “I think it’s an honor to be able to play for such a program with such tradition. And I’m just thankful for all my coaches that have pushed me to this spot.”

While other kids had logos from several schools adorning their helmets — a common occurrence in all-star games — Daugherty’s was unchanged from the regular season. The same two spears, the same helmet stripe, and the same helmet stickers.

When asked why he didn’t join in the fun, the kicker kept it simple.

“I felt like it was kind of going against Harding,” Daugherty said. “I just wanted to rep the Warren G. Harding Raiders (one last time).”

Harding has been at the center of Daugherty’s core for as long as he can remember, and even though he’s now a graduate, that’s something that won’t change.

Have an interesting story? Contact Brian Yauger by email at byauger@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @_brianyauger.

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