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Urbana carries on grand tradition

Nick Marino grew up embracing the deep and storied history of Urbana High School football. And now he’s part of that legacy.

The Hillclimbers have had 14 unbeaten regular seasons, the latest this year in Marino’s first season as head coach. Urbana (10-0) will be looking to improve on that mark when it opens the Division IV, Region 14 playoffs at Cincinnati McNicholas at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

The game was rescheduled from Friday night because the McNicholas home field does not have lights. The top four seeds in Divisions II-VII host first-round games.

Ray DeCola is at the top of Urbana’s rich coaching heritage. Six of his teams were unbeaten in the regular season from 1976-83.

“We’ve always had great football here and some very good teams,” said Marino, a 2007 Urbana grad who was promoted to head coach when Geron Stokes moved on to Minster.

“It’s an awesome thing for a program to have that much tradition.”

The Hillclimbers are one of seven area teams to qualify for the postseason. They’ll need all that tradition and another major contribution from a pass-happy offense at McNicholas (8-2), a Greater Catholic League Co-ed Central Division member.

Urbana is the only unbeaten team in Region 14, but it could do no better than a No. 6 seed. That’s because the Hillclimbers played just one winning team, Northwestern (6-4).

Urbana’s CBC crossover games were against Bellefontaine, Tecumseh and Stebbins, which combined for 12 wins. The CBC Kenton Division was loaded with Tippecanoe (10-0), Shawnee (9-1) and Kenton Ridge (7-3).

Junior quarterback Nathan Mays has had a dream season: 194 of 313 passing (62 percent), for 2,794 yards, 32 touchdowns and three interceptions. In four games he’s tossed four TD passes.

Five receivers have 20 or more catches, including junior Cody Grim (63 for 789 yards and 10 TDs), junior Ethan Edwards (44 for 764 yards and eight TDs) and sophomore Sam Niswonger (33 for 518 yards and seven TDs).

“It’s a personnel-driven philosophy for us,” Marino said of Urbana’s air attack. “We wanted to run the football, but when you’ve got a kid who can throw it pretty well, you’re not going to not use his talents. He’s a gifted thrower so we’re gonna put the ball in the air.”

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