Wittenberg football players sprinted toward the sideline to sing the fight song — not for the final time, they hope, because the playoffs await.
They had more on their mind than ringing the victory bell and singing to the fans. They wanted the T-shirts.
The North Coast Athletic Conference doesn’t deliver the championship trophy anymore for the clinching game, at least not in football. While that robs the players of some Instagram-worthy moments with the hardware, they were more than happy to celebrate a 56-0 victory over Allegheny on Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field by throwing on white championship shirts.
The trophy, when it is delivered to Wittenberg, will last longer, but the players can’t wear it out on the town. That’s surely what they did with those shirts Saturday night after wrapping up their fourth league title in the last five years.
“Being with the guys for four years, it’s real special,” senior offensive lineman Aaron Coeling said.
“It’s truly a blessing,” senior safety Mark Swope said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to share this with.”
The Tigers will learn who they face in the playoffs and where that game will be at 6 p.m. today. They hope to earn their first home playoff game since 2009 when they won home games in the first two rounds. They finished 10-0 in 2010 but played at Ohio Northern in the first round. Last year, they finished 9-1 and played at Heidelberg in the first round.
“The committee hasn’t been very good to us,” said coach Joe Fincham, who has now won an NCAC title in 10 of his 18 seasons. “Some of it’s been our own doing. Who knows. The main thing is we’re in.”
The 12th-ranked Tigers (9-1, 9-0 NCAC) played their best football in a 35-17 victory over rival Wabash last week. That victory clinched the playoff berth and a share of the title. This victory clinched the title outright and proved Wittenberg is still on its “A” game heading to the postseason.
The Tigers led 49-0 at halftime on the strength of two touchdown runs and two touchdown passes by Reed Florence. JaVanh Sanders didn’t get his first carry until the last drive of the first half, but he finished with 194 yards on 18 carries.
Wittenberg held Allegheny (0-10) to eight first downs and 125 yards of total offense.
“We started well and had rhythm to our play and had energy,” Fincham said. “That’s what we wanted. I thought our seniors did a really good job of making sure we were ready to go.”