The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 2, 2012

Once a Warrior...

Former Edgewood head coaches could not be happier to see 2012 Warriors in the playoffs for first time

For the Star Beacon

— Many men have stood on the very same sideline Edgewood coach Dom Iarocci currently patrols at Corlew Stadium. None had ever led the Warriors to the state football playoffs.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t happy to hear about the Warriors qualifying for the Division IV, Region 13 playoffs.

“I think it’s great,” Dave Melaragno, who paced the sideline longer than any other Warrior coach, said. “It’s great for the kids. It’s great for the coaches. It’s great for the community. They’ve worked hard all year. They’ve played hard all year. The coaching staff did a great job. The defense played great all year and the offense has been able score some points.”

“Isn’t that fantastic!” Dave Six, who led Edgewood from 1963-68, said. “My goodness. That’s really great to hear.”

Others echoed those sentiments.

“I’m happy for them,” Mike Kaydo, who led the team from 1974-81, said. “I’m happy for the coach. I’m happy for the players. I don’t know much about them, I’ve only read about them, but they seem like good, hard-working kids.”

“I’m very happy for them,” Lance Hostetler, coach from 2002-07, said. “It’s always an exciting time when a team makes the playoffs, especially at Edgewood since they’ve had such a rough time. I’m really happy to hear that (they made the playoffs).”

Iarocci’s predecessor, Joe Kearney, has a limited knowledge of the current Warriors.

“It’s great,” Kearney, who coached the Warriors from 2004-08 said. “I’m happy for those guys. The guys in the junior class were going to be freshmen. I got to work with them a little bit in the winter. That was the only contact I really had with them as far as the varsity, but I know I that it was a really good class coming in. That class was a very good class when we were looking at it at that time.

“They had a super year. That’s great. It’s great for Edgewood. I think they can carry it on through next year with that junior class back.”

Melaragno, who skippered the team from 1982-97, was perhaps the coach who best understood Iarocci’s plight as he waited Saturday to hear if his team had gotten in or fallen just short.

“In 1986, we had a good shot,” Melaragno said. “We missed it by 700 hundredths of point. We didn’t make it. We were one of those teams sitting and waiting to see if we were in. It didn’t happen for us. It did happen for this team, though. I’m ecstatic about it.”

Not many other Warrior teams had even been in that position.

“It’s really an accomplishment,” Kaydo said. “I don’t think too many (Edgewood teams) have come close to the playoffs. We had one team, but they took only four teams that year. We were 9-1 (in 1986).”

The Edgewood community has left a lasting impression on the former coaches, who are happy for the Warrior faithful.

“As far as the community, our teams always had great support,” Six said. “I’m sure it will bring people out of the woodwork to come see them.

“That’s where I got started. I think a lot about them, particularly the contacts I have with the people I worked with. Even though I’ve been gone many years now, I have a warm spot in my heart for them, that’s for sure.”

“I’m really happy for the coaches, the kids and the community,” Kearney said. “I hope they do well.”

“It’s quite an accomplishment for the school and the coaches,” Kaydo said. “The fans were always good fans. They were always behind the teams. The people of Edgewood always followed a good winning team.”

Iarocci’s brethren believe he has done a good job in leading the Warriors.

“Dom’s done a great job with the team,” Kearney said. “I’ve known him for years. I remember when he was at St. John. They had some really small teams as far as the number of players. They were outmanned. Dom is a heck of a football coach. I was confident when I left he would continue the program on an upswing and he has.”

Kearney was thoroughly impressed with the Warriors’ effort just to get in position to make the playoffs, a 39-0 victory over Cleveland JFK.

“Friday was a big win over a Division I team,” Kearney said. “I think Edgewood beat (JFK) worse than Glenville did, but I could be wrong (it did).

“It was a must-win game and they came through. A lot of people didn’t think they’d win, but they did. And it wasn’t close.”

Edgewood is seeded eighth and will play top-seeded Brookfield (10-0), which beat the Warriors, 49-13, earlier in the season in Week 6.

“They’ve got a battle coming (tonight),” Melaragno said. “They have to make up their minds to give it their all. They can’t back away.”

“One of the biggest things in any sport that I see today, if you think you can’t play with somebody, you can’t,” Kaydo said. “You have to go in with your guns loaded and take the fight to them. If you wait for them, you’re done. I’d say congratulations, go get them. I’m happy for them.”

Hostetler, who had coached in the playoffs as an assistant at Massillon and Canton GlenOak, has a bit of insight as to what will be going on in preparation for Friday’s game.

“I think you approach it like you would any other game,” Hostetler said. “You study film, you break it down and look for weaknesses. You put together the best plan for your team to win.

“It depends on your evaluations of your team and their team,” Hostetler said. “I don’t think you do anything too differently. You’ve already done something right to get there. You just keep doing what you’ve done and prepare for them the best you can.”       

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

Click here to subscribe to The Star Beacon print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Star Beacon replica edition.