Sunday, November 24, 2013

The return of Wayne Trace

Glancing at the Division VI state final four, there's obviously one program with which we're all familiar.

In addition to Kirtland, it just so happens this fall there's another team in the final four with whom familiarity exists.

It brought back some memories to look at the other end of the bracket and see Wayne Trace still in the mix. Prior to this year, Wayne Trace had only one other playoff appearance in school history - 2005 - and that season it recorded its first and only playoff victory - at home in Haviland in Paulding County along the Indiana border.

I was there.

That was the fall during which Gilmour was in Region 18, predominantly a Northwest Ohio region, instead of Region 17, and it was one of the years the Lancers were rolling under Coach Bob Spicer. They finished 8-2, and their points earned them the No. 5 seed in the region ... and a trip to fourth-seeded Haviland Wayne Trace, to which Gilmour lost, 40-14.

I've been on many road trips throughout my News-Herald career, but none were quite like that ride to Haviland. Here's Haviland on a map, and it'll illustrate my point:

In what may be an unbreakable record, it's the longest road trip ever for an opening-round playoff game for an area football team. I still remember the itinerary like it was yesterday: Interstate 71 to Route 30, 30 became a two-lane country road at one point, exit 30 at Route 127 in Van Wert and head north.

Unfortunately, the link to my column from 2005 detailing the experience is lost in time, but it can be summed up by saying the community and its genuine enthusiasm left a lasting impression on me.

We'll have to wait and see if Kirtland will run into Wayne Trace in a state final or not. But if the Raiders can join the Hornets there, it'll assuredly put a smile on my face, recalling a long-ago road trip that produced a great memory of what high school football is all about.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH


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