Whether they are home at Dowed Field or in another stadium, Archbishop Hoban football players gather inside their locker room on game night and mix business with pleasure.
“Everybody is getting hyped inside the locker room during pregame,” Hoban senior running back Tyris Dickerson said. “Everybody is walking around with a smile on their face and getting ready to go play football. There is music blasting.
“Then at halftime we get in there and we work on finishing out the game strong.”
Dickerson said the music is off at halftime, and the only noise is communication between coaches and players. Such communication, coupled with production on the field, has propelled Hoban (13-0) into a Division II state semifinal matchup with Avon (12-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium.
Dickerson said the music is a mixture of rap, rock, pop and country. The Knights jammed to similar tunes last year when they beat Avon 30-6 in a state semifinal at Brunswick.
Hoban is seeking its fourth state championship in a row after winning Division III crowns in 2015 and 2016 and a Division II title in 2017. The Knights have won their last 27 games and have a 55-3 record since the start of the 2015 season.
“We are on a constant grind and we are staying motivated even though we do have the state championships,” Dickerson said. “We are still trying to build our own legacy, and every team that comes up at Hoban wants to be something, so every team continues to be motivated to work hard and wants to win a state championship at the end of the year.”
Hoban coach Tim Tyrrell said he is happy with how his players are competing, but he is still not content.
“We tell the kids all the time — we are a good football team, but we are not a great football team,” Tyrrell said. “All you have to do is go play by play and watch film. There are mistakes ... but overall this is a great group of kids to work with.”
Dickerson played on Hoban’s freshman team in 2015. He played in all 15 games as a sophomore on special teams and as a defensive back. He has started the past 28 games as a running back, and played occasionally on defense.
Dickerson said each team during the past four years is unique, but all four teams have had “chemistry” and the Knights have prospered as “a close group of brothers.”
“Of course, you have a powerful offensive line and defensive line, and you have a lot of leaders in the locker room and in the classroom,” Dickerson added. “Everybody has been able to stay focused, and had that power and motivation to win a state championship.”
It also doesn’t hurt that this Hoban team is loaded with talent just like the previous three Knights squads. Five players have committed to play in college, including Dickerson (Eastern Kentucky), senior offensive lineman Nolan Rumler (Michigan), senior defensive back Matt Salopek (Miami of Ohio), senior fullback-linebacker Quan Easterling (Akron) and junior tight end-linebacker Caden Clark (Alabama).
“Every team has been different,” said DeaMonte Trayanum, a junior who plays defensive back, linebacker and running back, and has scholarship offers from several schools, including West Virginia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Stanford and Michigan.
“There are different vibes on all three teams that I have been on. Everybody has a great mindset and wants to work hard and win. Each team has something different, or something better that another team did not have.”
Dickerson, Rumler, Salopek, Trayanum and senior two-way lineman Jacob Petit are Hoban’s captains this season. Sophomore quarterback Shane Hamm, senior wide receiver Mason Tipton, senior defensive lineman Joe Michalowicz and senior offensive linemen Jaden Baxter and Owen Robinson are a few other leaders.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.