MANSFIELD — Ty’Lheir Grose and his Mansfield Senior teammates were blown away by the sendoff they received last week.
The Tygers can expect more of the same when they leave town for their Division III state semifinal game.
Senior High (12-1) will take on Aurora (13-0) at Nordonia High School in Macedonia at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Tygers were escorted out of town on their way to last week’s regional championship game at Clyde High School. Well-wishers lined the route, cheering and holding signs to show their support.
“When we were coming here tonight, we had a police escort out of town and there were people lining the streets, holding up signs and cheering for us,” Grose said after the Tygers beat Sandusky 15-9 in overtime. “This is bigger than us.
“This is for our community. They come out to support us so this is for them, too.”
Angelo Grose agreed. It was the Michigan State-bound Grose who scored the game-winner in overtime against the Blue Streaks.
“This is the first regional championship we brought to our school and our city,” Angelo Grose said. “I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
Like Mansfield, Lucas has rallied around the regional-champion Cubs. The visiting bleachers at Canal Fulton Northwest’s Smilek Stadium were nearly filled to capacity despite the driving rain and near-freezing temperatures.
The Cubs will take on Canal Winchester Harvest Prep in the Division VII state semifinals at 7 p.m. Saturday at Columbus DeSales.
Lucas had fallen in its two previous trips to the regional championship game in 2015 and again last year.
“”It’s wonderful. It’s nice to see hard work pay off,” said Tommy Zirzow, who scored two of the Cubs’ three touchdowns in Saturday’s 21-13 win over Cuyahoga Heights.
Junior linebacker Ethan Wallace recovered a Cuyahoga Heights fumble at the Lucas 1 yard line with 27 seconds remaining to preserve the win.
“It’s amazing,” Wallace said. “Cuyahoga Heights had been (to the playoffs) 22 years and won three straight regional championships. For us to beat them is a dream come true.”