After Friday night’s football game ended in the rain, the Greeneview players walked dutifully to the locker room as if it was any other game.
But it wasn’t.
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The Rams had just beaten Madison-Plains 35-0 to finish the school’s second 10-0 regular season, win the Ohio Heritage Conference South championship and secure a fourth straight Division V playoff berth. The players were happy, but the locker room was calm.
Then first-year head coach Ryan Haines arrived and started a chant, and the players stopped taking off their pads and raised the decibels to a deafening level.
“O-H-C, O-H-C,” they chanted over and over.
“I’m just happy for the seniors to go out with a bang,” said linebacker and running back Clay Payton.
The Rams, who last finished 10-0 in 1996, are expected to be on the road for a first-round playoff game in Region 20 on Friday. The Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce the pairings Sunday. The Rams have won a first-round game the past three years but have yet to advance past the second round.
“The seniors don’t know what not making the playoffs feels like, so they’re ready,” Haines said. “On their goal sheet at the beginning of the year they wanted to beat Cedarville — rivalry game. They wanted to win the OHC South — we checked that off tonight. And most of them put on there get to Week 13.”
Haines was the defensive coordinator under former head coach Neal Kasner, who has served this year as offensive coordinator. Haines got the job in June when Kasner had to step down because he became assistant principal. A perfect season was not an expectation.
“I didn’t know what to expect since I started at the end of June,” Haines said. “I knew that we would have a lot of hard-nosed kids, I knew that we had a great coaching staff and we’ve got a lot of tremendous support. We’ve got something going here, but coming into it I could have never imagined this.”
If Haines or anybody else on the Greeneview sideline wondered if the team would be tight with so much on the line Friday, that thought evaporated on the opening kickoff. Collin Wilson returned it 80 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 lead. After forcing a punt, the Rams drove 80 yards on the ground and took a 14-0 lead on Payton’s 14-yard run. Madison-Plains (5-5, 3-2) followed with an 18-play, 69-yard, nine-minute drive that the Rams stopped at the 1. From there, the Rams dominated with their ball-control offense and run-stopping defense, led by Payton.
“I think Clay Payton’s the best defensive player in the conference,” Haines said. “The kid plays fast. He’s an instinctive linebacker and makes a lot of plays for us.”
The Rams took a 21-0 halftime lead after Caden Anderson recovered a fumble at the Golden Eagles’ 43 with 1:33 left in the half. Quarterback Nick Clevenger, who rushed for a team-high 92 yards, scored from the 1 on the last play from scrimmage in the half.
Clevenger added a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Tyler Robinette scored on a 40-yard run in the fourth.
The Rams did all this with only six seniors: Jacob Green, Griffin Mangan, Lane Goodbar, Hunter Grim, Tylor Tackett and Robinette. Mangan said the team was as dedicated as ever to its offseason training.
“We’ve been working hard all offseason,” Mangan said, “and putting in the time no one else has.”
And putting up a record not many can match.