Kenyon Commins is like most coaches. He worries about staying on an even keel, about not getting too high or too low, and that’s the approach he’s taking with his Ross High School football team this week.
Yet the euphoria from one of the program’s biggest wins won’t be going away anytime soon.
“I’m not going to lie, singing the fight song that night was a pretty special feeling,” Commins said of last Friday’s 10-6 home victory over previously unbeaten Edgewood. “Then seeing my daughters run out there and being able to give my wife a hug and kiss … it was all pretty sweet.”
Ross has never won a playoff game in six attempts, so trying to choose the biggest triumph in school history is a regular-season thing.
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Some might point to 2009 when the Rams topped Edgewood 16-7 to end a 12-game losing streak in the series.
The one game that’s always in the conversation is the 26-21 win over visiting Lebanon in 1998. It was the Warriors’ only loss that year en route to the Division II state championship.
Certainly an argument can be made for last Friday’s contest, especially for a program that needed a signature victory to truly start turning the corner.
“That’s for other people to decide,” Commins said. “At the end of the year, we’ll look back on it and maybe it’ll be one of those great wins that propelled us to where we think we need to be and where we can be. But I hope it’s not the highlight of our year. We’ve still got four weeks of football to play.”
Senior cornerback Jordan Hodge said the team’s confidence increased as the game went on.
“The enthusiasm kept getting higher and higher,” Hodge said. “I could tell people wanted to win as the game went on. It just felt like it never has before.”
The Ross triple-option offense earned a large time-of-possession advantage for the hosts, and the Rams’ defense limited Edgewood to 158 yards on the ground.
The key to the defensive performance?
“The teammates really came together and played as a team instead of trying to get their own stats, and it all worked out,” Hodge said. “We’ve been prepared the past few weeks. We had a hard loss against Harrison and knew what we had to change.”
Commins said the defensive effort across the board was so good that it would be unfair to focus on any one player. He credited defensive coordinator Casey Meyers for bringing it all together.
“Those kids were so prepared for what we were going to see,” Commins said. “You don’t beat Edgewood on accident. It doesn’t just hapen. It’s a relentless effort each play to read the guards and understand the situations and what’s going on.”
Offensively, freshman quarterback Brayden Fraasman was victorious in his first varsity start. Sophomore C.J. Boze has been out with an ankle injury, and his status for Friday’s game at Northwest is uncertain.
“Brayden’s not a freshman mentally,” Commins said. “I’ve gotten to coach him from first grade all the way up because he’s in my son’s class, so I had him in youth football. He’s come a long way from vomiting in the garbage cans before the start of a youth football game because he’s nervous to starting on a Friday night.”
The RHS coach said the offensive line — tight end Tanner Meale, tackles Kaden Rogers and Trevor VanVliet, guards Nathan Seidholz, Charlie Byers and Keith Colyer, and center Will Mischke — was outstanding against Edgewood and has continued to grow as a unit.
That group contributed to seven offside calls on the Cougars, four that resulted in first downs.
“I think our kids have a lot of confidence in themselves and our system,” Commins said. “We do a performance principle every week, and our performance principle for Edgewood was conviction. We talked about playing with conviction and how you’ve got to have conviction in yourself and this program.”
He wasn’t surprised that the Ross win was viewed as a huge upset by a lot of people.
“It makes sense,” Commins said. “You’re not just playing a team. You’re playing a very, very good football program, and it’s a level that we’re still trying to get to. I talk a lot about my admiration for certain programs, especially somebody like Edgewood and Scott Clemmons. They have a system that’s proven.
“We need to focus on Northwest. We’re not good enough to just continue to look in the rear-view mirror. We’re a 3-3 football team, nothing more, nothing less. We beat a very good team last week, but that can’t be the pinnacle of where we are. We’ve got to continue to climb the ladder.”
What: Ross (3-3, 1-2 SWOC) at Northwest (1-5, 0-2 SWOC), 7 p.m.
Where: Camelot, 10761 Pippin Road, Colerain Township
Last meeting: Northwest won 28-21 last year and has a six-game winning streak in the series