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Clad in orange-and-brown Cougars gear, nearly 2,000 Sylvania Southview High School students, parents, supporters, and residents congratulate their state championship football team yesterday.
The temperature, hovering around 20 degrees, did not keep people from showing their pride. Hundreds of supporters lined Sylvania Avenue for a brief parade before a presentation and trophy ceremony inside the warmth of the school's gymnasium.
The team was honored with a proclamation from the city of Sylvania, presented by Mayor Craig Stough.
The Cougars won a dramatic 29-25 victory Nov. 28 over Cincinnati Anderson, capturing the Division II state football championship.
The team scored a touchdown to win with only 32 seconds remaining in the contest. The state title capped a perfect 15-0 season for Southview.
"Excellence is never an accident," coach Jim Mayzes told the crowd yesterday.
In a short speech, he attributed the victory to the team's hard work, direction, and "vision to see obstacles as opportunities."
After winning its 10 regular-season games, Southview defeated Lewis Center Olentangy, Lexington, Medina Highland, and Akron Hoban in the playoffs - outscoring their opponents 614-180 over the course of the season.
In the crowd lining the parade route yesterday was school board member Vicki Donovan-Lyle, carrying a pom-pon and a homemade noisemaker.
She said she was not there in an official capacity as a school board member, but merely as a "passionate fan" of the team.
In addition to keeping up with their regular schoolwork, the student-athletes on the team were "giving us their time and talent on the field that's just representative of an outstanding young person," she said.
Also there to support the team was fan and Southview mom Sara Everly.
"I'm just a big fan of high school football, and knowing the kids on the team makes it more fun to watch," she said.
The parade passed by quickly - police and fire vehicles, the Southview color guard and marching band, with the mascot, and football players riding in the backs of trucks, two team members holding the trophy for everyone to see.
The gym was decked out with signs reading "Cougar pride," "Unstoppable," "Welcome to Cougar nation," and "Go get 'em, Cougars." The crowd cheered as team members entered.
"It's a great day to be a Cougar," school board president Dave Spiess said. He thanked everyone from the team's fans, including the Southview students, alumni, band members, faculty, and cheerleaders, to the football players and the team's 16 "dedicated coaches and their extremely supportive spouses."
Southview Principal Dave McMurray lead everyone in chants of "We are S-V" before showing a brief film of team highlights.
LaDonna Joplin, whose son, Shaun Joplin, is a senior on the team, said she was amazed by the enthusiasm and support Sylvania showed, especially the many people who traveled more than three hours to Massillon to cheer for the Cougars in the championship game.
"It's amazing," she said. "It just warms your heart."
Southview gym teacher Val Glinka said with a smile, "[The team] is going to look at this 25 years from now and be just as proud as they are today."
Mr. Glinka, the coach of the 1983 state basketball championship team from St. Francis de Sales, said a victory like this stays just as sweet over the years.
"They're going to be talking about this the rest of their lives," he said.
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