Dayton-area Bengals fans: ‘Whole communities coming together over this team’

From left, Keegan McCarron, Darin Powers, Elizabeth Powers, Killian McCarron, Carly Maguire and Cassie McCarron, all super Bengal fans from New Lebanon. Elizabeth Powers has been a Bengals fan for more than 30 years. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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From left, Keegan McCarron, Darin Powers, Elizabeth Powers, Killian McCarron, Carly Maguire and Cassie McCarron, all super Bengal fans from New Lebanon. Elizabeth Powers has been a Bengals fan for more than 30 years. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Longtime boosters don’t see Super Bowl win as a long shot anymore.

Longtime Bengals fans across the region say they are pumped for the team’s first trip to the Super Bowl in 33 years and ready to shout “Who Dey” following another victory today.

Elizabeth Powers, 56, of New Lebanon, traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, for the AFC Championship game late last month and when the Bengals won: “I cried, screamed and cried some more. (It was) one of the best days of my life.”

“I want it for the team and the city so much and all the surrounding area because it’s been so long,” she said. “I just see our whole communities coming together over this team and it’s just so exciting to me to see this. It’s just going to be a win for so many people.”

Powers grew up rooting for the Bengals starting in 1981 while a freshman in high school and watched them lose Super Bowls in 1982 and 1989, crying after each.

Her late brother, Donnie Kincaid, was such a big fan that he had the Bengals helmet etched on his headstone. “So (being a Bengals fan) is kind of in our family blood,” she said.

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Seeing the team be so successful this season has been “the best feeling,” she said.

“The way that we won and the heart that they show each game has been fascinating to me,” Powers said. “I can’t get over Joe Burrow being so calm under pressure . . . and I feel like our team is so stacked with awesome players, and it’s just so fun to watch.”

Crushing the Baltimore Ravens 41-17 on Oct. 24 marked a “turning point” for the talented Bengals team, Powers said.

“At that time I thought, ‘We’ve got it. We can go all the way,’” she said. “I still can’t get over it.”

Powers, who filled a recreation room in her home with Bengals decor, said she is excited for the team to win the Super Bowl and bring back the Vince Lombardi trophy.

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Jim Harrison, 71, of Centerville, said he was at the first game the Bengals ever played, a preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Nippert Stadium in 1968, and has been a fan ever since.

“Some years it’s tough to be a fan, but years like this make it all worthwhile,” Harrison said.

He said the end of the AFC Championship game left him “astonished,” especially with it happening with a young team and quarterback.

“I just started hooping and hollering like a kid again,” he said.

Harrison said he will be “even more happy” if the Bengals win the Super Bowl.

“They’ve got as good an opportunity to win this game as Los Angeles does,” he said. “If they just do what they’ve been doing, they can play with anybody in this league.”

What gives the Bengals the edge, he said, primarily is Burrow, the second-year quarterback.

“He’s the real deal,” Harrison said. “He seems to have what it takes. He lets everybody on the team know that they have a chance. He’s got the swagger.”

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Rob Bornhorst, 60, of Piqua, said he has been a die-hard Bengals fan for every step of the way of their more than five-decade history, including being on the 50-yard-line at Paul Brown Stadium with family for the Wild Card game where the Bengals beat the Las Vegas Raiders for the team’s first playoff victory since 1991.

The Bengals winning the AFC Championship left him stunned and speechless.

“I really couldn’t believe it,” Bornhorst said. “I mean, I thought they had a chance, but, you know, this thing has been a magic ride, to a degree.”

Bornhorst said the Bengals have a “great shot” at winning the Super Bowl.

“They’ve proven that, at this point in time, they’ve got nothing to lose and they’re going to put everything on the line and I think that’s an advantage,” he said. “No one expected them to get here, so just go play to win.”

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Susan Kinser, 52, of Tipp City, said she was born into a Bengals family and her favorite memories are of going to training camp at Wilmington College every year.

“My dad had me go up to the players (at Riverfront Stadium) to get autographs, and then I watched them play, telling everyone around me that I met them,” Kinser said. “Win or lose, I’ve always been a fan. My love for my team will never die.”

Kinser said she and her husband will fly to Tampa, Florida, to watch the game with her brother-in-law and his family.

“We’re ready to party,” she said. “It’s almost hard to believe. It still feels like a dream.”

She’s been amazed at the way Burrow recovered following last season’s injury and took the Bengals to a place where no one thought they would go.

“There isn’t one person out there in the media that thought Cincinnati was the real deal this year,” Kinser said. “Nobody picked them to go to the Super Bowl. We’ve been the underdogs all year long, and to watch it happen has been one of the most exciting seasons I’ve ever experienced.”

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Jack Kerr, 64, of Miami Twp., said his father purchased season tickets in 1977, and he and his father went to games together. When Paul Brown Stadium was built, Kerr’s father transferred the tickets to his son.

“When Dad got to the point where he was too old to go, I started taking my son and daughter to the games,” Kerr said. “I have been part of the highs and lows of the Bengals. I attended the Freezer Bowl, where we beat the Chargers for the AFC Championship, which was a major highlight for me.”

Kerr, who plans to be at a Super Bowl party with his family, said it has been great to see the team’s success this year.

The Bengals “stand a very good chance” at vanquishing Los Angeles in the big game, he said.

“We’ve got a quarterback in Joe Burrow that seems to find a way to get the job done, and I don’t see the Rams being all that much better than the Bengals,” Kerr said. “It’s going to be a pretty close game. I’m hoping we can pull out a win.”


A Bengals Fan’s Favorites:

Name: Elizabeth Powers

Resides in: New Lebanon

Favorite Bengals moment before this season: “In 2011, when Jerome Simpson did that front flip for a touchdown against Arizona. It was amazing and he ‘stuck the landing,’ and my other favorite is any time and every time we beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Favorite Bengals moment this season: “Definitely the (Evan) McPherson kick in the Kansas City game. That was unbelievable.”

Favorite player: “I loved Andy Dalton, He’s just such a good guy. He did a lot for the community, so I would say probably Dalton was my favorite and Joe Burrow’s coming in a close second and then Boomer (Esiason), of course.”

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