A season of success

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Fuller Central Crossing High School football players celebrate a record-breaking season, making it to the playoffs for the first time in the school’s history.
Photo courtesy of Tiffany Fuller
Central Crossing High School football players celebrate a record-breaking season, making it to the playoffs for the first time in the school’s history.

For many years, the Central Crossing Comets football team has been seen as “the easy win” for those in their conference. For their rivals, it was a practice game of sorts, a way to put up big numbers and pad their stats. For the players on the Comets team, it was beyond frustrating.

As the head coach of the team, Chris Harr has seen the dejected look on the faces of his players after a game all too often. He has watched as talented athletes transferred out to play at schools that were more competitive. He was at a loss as to how to encourage them not to give up.

“It was hard,” Harr said. “When you constantly have a 2-8 record it’s hard to buy into the positive reinforcement you give them,” he said.

It was not for the lack of trying to excel either. The student-athletes worked hard in the summer to improve their strength and conditioning and the coaches worked on their own improvement methods as well. Still, when the new season came around, the same results were found in the loss column.

But there was something different about the team this year – a renewed dedication. Harr credits the seniors – who had experienced only five wins through the beginning of their senior year – with the change.

“They woke up an hour early for our 6 a.m. workouts to provide rides to the weight room for those who didn’t have cars and they were so encouraging,” Harr said. “There were carloads full of people who just wanted to be there.”

In addition to a commitment for their strength and condition, Harr and the rest of the coaching staff invited motivational speakers to address the team. Their message seemed to have gotten through.

“Sometimes you need outside help to buy into something,” said Harr.

August 29 was the first game of the season. They were playing Mt. Vernon, a team that had a lot of hype coming into the game. The Comets beat them handily.

“I would say – for sentimental reasons – that it was our best win of the season,” Harr said. “We had never been 1-0 to start the season.”

Though invigorated by the milestone, they lost the next game to Beechcroft, won the next against Linden McKinley and then lost to Olentangy Liberty.

The 2-2 was familiar for them.

“They could have put their heads down at this record and just said ‘Well, that’s just old Central Crossing headed toward another 3-7 record’ but they didn’t.”

It also did not hurt when they beat conference powerhouse Hilliard Davidson the following week.

“I pinched myself when that happened,” said Harr.

It seemed to him that the win against Davidson changed everything.

“The team started to believe that they could play with anybody in the state.”

For the reminder of the season, they won four out of five games, including a win against rival Westland at the end of the season. They thought they had a decent chance of making the playoffs for the first time in school history. They found out two days later that they had.

“Everyone just went nuts,” said Harr.

The community went nuts for them as well.

On Nov. 8, the Comets, who were the 15th seed, traveled down to Cincinnati to take on perennial powerhouse and the 2nd seeded St. Xavier. Unfortunately, the Comets lost the game 50 to 13.

“It (being in the playoffs) was a great experience,” said Harr. “Our kids fought hard.”

He said the best thing about the night was the support they received from the band and the fans that had traveled over an hour to root them on.

“They gave us a standing ovation and chanted CCHS,” he said. “It brought tears of joy to our eyes and it was a pretty remarkable feeling.”

He said he hopes the team keeps that feeling of pride and resilience with them, even as they say goodbye to the 20 seniors who have provided so much leadership.

“Now they know that hard work pays off,” said Harr. “They never imagined that people would say we now have a target on our backs in the conference but we do.”

He said they would be ready for the challenge next year, though they will not take anything for granted.

“It’s not a guarantee that we will make it to the playoffs again next year,” Harr said.

But it is certainly the goal after their first season of success.

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