The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 29, 2012

Warriors gain berth

Edgewood makes playoffs for first time in school history

For the Star Beacon

— Edgewood football coach Dom Iarocci, just like the other men in the waiting room, had the cigar ready. But long after all the others got the news, he was left waiting, sweating, hoping.

Finally the doctor delivered the news.

The Edgewood Warriors are in the state football playoffs for the first time in school history.

“Today was agonizing,” Iarocci said. “The AD called, the principal called. I told both I was an expectant father.

“I can’t answer (how I feel) right now. It’s numbing feeling. It hasn’t set in yet. It feels great. It feels fantastic. I’ve been hearing from the administration, the other coaches from around the county. To get the congratulations and the good lucks from all of those people is pretty awesome.”

The Warriors (7-3), seeded eighth, will play at top-seeded Brookfield in a Division IV, Region 13 regional quarterfinal on Friday.

“The kids are about as excited as I am,” Iarocci said. “They were excited this morning before films.”

And that was before the Warriors even knew they were in the playoffs for sure. They still had to wait to see if Warren JFK had beaten Cleveland Central Catholic on Saturday afternoon to know for sure if they were in or not.

“Any time you’re the first at anything, it’s something they’ll talk about 30, 40, 50 years later. I’m so happy for the kids, the coaches, the administration and the parents at Edgewood. I’m so happy we were able to do this. It’s the culmination of the things we’ve been working for.”  

The Warriors were 13th in the computer points prior to their game Friday night. In order to qualify for the playoffs, they had to move all the way up into the top eight.

In order to get in, Edgewood had to beat Cleveland JFK and get some help from other teams in the region. The Warriors took care of their own business with a 39-0 victory over Cleveland JFK.

Then the other chips started falling into place. By a few minutes after midnight Friday, it was clear there was just one chip left to fall and that one wouldn’t fall into place until early Saturday evening.

“We sent a guy down to Warren to watch the game,” Iarocci said. “He was sending us updates every 10 minutes.

“When the scores kept coming in, it was ‘Wow. Wow. WOW!’ ”

The Warriors may have had some kind of angel looking over its shoulder.

“To jump to 13th from 8th, I guess we are a little blessed,” Iarocci said. “The kids all worked hard and they were prepared for whatever happened. I think I did more math calculations than I have since high school. We figured this, then refigured that.

“What it came down to was, first, we had to win. The kids played probably one of the best games I’ve been involved in since I was coaching at Madison.

“We decided after all the calculations, we would just let the chips fall. Then we still sent a coach to Youngstown. We were pretty in tune with what was going on. We are blessed.”

The Warriors played Brookfield just four weeks ago in a 49-13 loss at Brookfield.

“This is just the beginning of the journey,” Iarocci said. “We’re not looking to be the guinea pig for Brookfield. Playing them four weeks ago helps a bit. They’re a good football team.

“I talked to their coach and they’re not talking about playing in the third, fourth or fifth week of the playoffs. They’re talking about winning the state championship.”

That won’t scare off Iarocci or the Warriors.

“We want to go down and knock them off,” Iarocci said. “We don’t want the kids to just be happy to be in the playoffs. The odds against us aren’t good, there’s no doubt there.

“After the loss to Lakeside, we’re 6-1. The last three weeks we’ve just been playing dominating football.”

That speaks to the work the staff around Iarocci has put in.

“The assistant coaches are the guys who have really put in the time,” Iarocci said. “They’ve been working hard since February. They’re as tired as I am.

“But to get to this situation makes it all worth it.”    

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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