Not too many teams can lose their first two games and get into the playoffs. And not too many teams can lose their last two games and get into the playoffs.
The Kenston Bombers (6-4) managed to do both this season as they hit the road Friday to kick off postseason play in Division II Region 5 at 7 p.m. against the top-seeded Tallmadge Blue Devils (8-2).
"Yup, we back-doored our way in," Kenston head coach Jeff Grubich said.
After getting upset, 21-17, against West Geauga in week-nine football, the Bombers either had to win their week-10 game against Aurora or count on Madison losing to Riverside.
They chose the latter.
Aurora not only downed Kenston, 48-20, but also stole the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title from the Bombers.
"They were just more physical than us. That's the bottom line," Grubich said. "They won the game in the trenches, and they dominated the line of scrimmage. And when a team does that to you, it's hard to be successful. That's a very good football team over there, and it's a great football program."
Not knowing the outcome of the Madison game, Grubich said he told his players after the loss, "We have got to continue getting better, whether we're turning our equipment in and we're getting back in the weight room, or if we're lucky enough to back-door our way into the playoffs. Then we have to come back in and get back to the grindstone."
Lucky for Kenston, Madison (6-4) lost to Riverside, 21-20, in overtime, and back to the grindstone the Bombers went.
Tallmadge, meanwhile, ended its regular season on a three-game win streak with a 35-7 triumph against Green last Friday. In that game, quarterback Anthony Gotto cooked up a recipe for success as he rushed for three touchdowns in the first half on 1-yard, 80-yard and 11-yard runs. He also threw an 87-yard touchdown reception to Jim Aumont.
As a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, Gotto has thrown for 2,014 yards, including 18 touchdowns, and he rushed for 478 yards.
Throughout the regular season, the Blue Devils' offense has averaged 33.3 points per game, while their defense has allowed 16.1 points per game. Their only two losses of the season were to Ravenna, 29-26, in week-one football, and Nordonia, 34-28, in week-seven football.
Ravenna (6-4) advanced to the Division III playoffs, and Nordonia (7-3) advanced to the Division I playoffs.
And while Tallmadge is the top-seeded team in the Region 5 computer points, third-seeded Aurora (9-1) actually was ranked fifth by the Associated Press among Division II teams statewide. Tallmadge was not ranked in the state poll.
And since Aurora dominated Ravenna, 37-31, the week after Tallmadge lost to Ravenna, one would have to assume that Aurora is the better team. But with CVC foes like Harvey, Wickliffe, Perry, Orange and West Geauga, of all which had losing records this season, the Greenmen just didn't gain many computer points in conference play this season.
Nonetheless, the eighth-seeded Bombers have their work cut out for them.
"Aurora is a very good football team, and we didn't do what we needed to do to be successful, and that's the bottom line," Grubich said. "There's nothing broke here. We've just got to clean up our mistakes, because we're going to have to be able to play a perfect game against Tallmadge. That's what we're going to do. We're going to strive for perfection and see what happens Friday night."
TONY'S TAKE: The Bombers execute an upset, 21-20.