LUCAS, Ohio – The Lucas football team is taking its entire community on an emotional ride, even those who are unable to see them perform.
The Cubs have reached the Elite Eight of Ohio’s Division VII football playoffs, sending their village into a tizzy. On Tuesday morning, a group of senior football players were invited to the monthly Senior Citizen Breakfast at Lucas Elementary/Middle School to mix with their most veteran fans.
“I don’t get to the games, but I follow them on Facebook,” said Barbara Swihart, who arrived from Mansfield before 9 a.m. “I lived here for 29 years. Still, at heart, I’m from Lucas. We get real excited about our football here.”
Lucas Elementary/Middle School principal Kari Case said every month a group offers a presentation for the Senior Citizens Breakfast. With the village buzzing about football, she invited the senior players to join this month’s event.
“We have anywhere between 25 and 40 here every month,” Case said. “We just thought it would be neat to have the football players here this time. Everybody is really excited. They’re making history.”
Two weeks ago the third-seeded Cubs hosted their first playoff game, and blasted West Unity Hilltop 51-6. Last week they captured their first playoff road victory, topping Tiffin Calvert 44-35 at Bellevue High School.
On Friday night in Tiffin, they’ll challenge top-seeded McComb (11-1) for the Region 24 championship and a ticket to the Final Four. Just getting to this point is uncharted waters for the program, and the staff.
“All the years I’ve been around, I’ve never experienced an Elite Eight football team,” said superintendent Dan Friend, who stopped in to visit with the seniors and the players. “Most of these people have graduated from Lucas. When coach (Scott) Spitler talks about family, he means it. Family roots run deep in this community.”
Senior football player Nathan Ulery accented that message.
“It’s very family-oriented around here," Ulery said. "A lot of people show their support any way they can.”
Beatrice Schaad said she doesn’t get to the games, but is keenly aware of what the Cubs are achieving.
“My granddaughter is in the eighth grade, and my son went to the game last week,” Schaad said. “We’re all very proud of these boys. This is all we’re talking about.”
Valorie Mounts is a 4th grade teacher’s aid. She’s also the mother of quarterback Rueben Luna. She knows how special the Cubs’ season has been to the players and the village.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Mount said. “Rueben has a lot of confidence and a lot of faith in himself and his team. He wants so bad to pump the boys up to do something they’ve never done before.”
Luna has led the Cubs to an 11-1 record and is on the brink of taking the team to the state semifinals.
“I think we’re more excited than nervous,” the quarterback said. “We walked in here and people started clapping for us that we haven’t even met before. Everybody around here is pretty happy.”