Ellet High School is state playoff bound in football for the second time in school history.
The Orangemen (8-2) finished seventh in the Division II, Region 5 computer rankings and will play against the No. 2 seeded Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders (9-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“It is just a tremendous privilege to get to participate in the state playoffs,” said Ellet coach Joe Yost, who is in his 34th season.
“I am thrilled to death for our team and our community. We have so many people who work a lot of hours and do so much for this program.”
Ellet clinched its first outright City Series championship by going 6-0 with wins over East, Kenmore, Buchtel, Firestone, Garfield and North.
The Orangemen started the season by defeating Springfield on the field, but took a loss in the record books after it was found that an ineligible player accidently played in the game.
“It has been a remarkable season, especially with the way it started,” Yost said. “I made a mistake and when I realized it I came forward.”
Tallmadge, the No. 1 seed in Division II, Region 5, handed Ellet its other loss. The Orangemen beat Alliance and Youngstown East in non-league games.
The state football playoffs started in 1972. Yost guided Ellet to its first state playoff appearance in 1991 as a Division I school, and lost to Massillon.
No one on Ellet’s current roster had yet been born.
“It is unbelievable to be in the playoffs,” junior fullback-linebacker Matt Geer said. “It is really special to be part of something like this. It has been a complete team effort. We have been working hard all season and it has all paid off for us.”
Junior Jake Fisher leads Ellet’s offense at quarterback behind a line comprised of senior center Cory Campano, senior tackle Anthony Sferra, freshman tackle Jacob Jones and junior guards Hussain Hamdan and John Subick.
“This is great,” Hamdan said. “I’m speechless. It is surreal. I am just happy to be in the playoffs. We have worked hard all season for this. We are really excited to show everybody what we can do.”
Geer and sophomores Jacob Ivery and Cle’Von Burch give Ellet three quality running backs, and senior Andrew Myers and junior David Smethers are capable receivers.
Yost said senior Corey Hoskinson and juniors Dakota King, Jake Williams and Brandon Brake are valuable tight ends.
“We have kids who love to play football,” Yost said. “We have a lot of fast guys. The biggest thing is they want to play as a team and they want to be coached. They want to get better every week.”
Hamdan, Hoskinson and King also contribute as linebackers, along with Burch and junior Austin Fink.
Ellet’s defensive line consists of Ivery, senior Dominique Slack and juniors Nik Ricks and Jacob Isenhart.
Yost said one of the interesting aspects of this year’s team is its inexperience, with so many sophomores and juniors playing key roles.
The Orangemen’s defensive backfield is evidence of that, with junior Dae’Shawn Clayton leading a unit that includes Burch and sophomores Jae’Vante Ray and Maurice Mackey.
Junior Andrew Neal is Ellet’s kicker, and Isenhart handles the punting duties.
“It has been a real treat to watch these kids have fun and grow up,” Yost said. “At this point in my life, to share in these kids’ dreams is precious. To be a part of watching their dream become a reality is wonderful.”
Ellet joined the City Series in 1971 under then coach Bill McLain. Yost took over the program in 1979 and led the Orangemen to a share of the City Series title in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 2006.
Yost, a 1971 Ellet graduate who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Akron, has a 201-142-2 career record.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.