CLYDE — The Buckeye football team and its fans should hold nothing but fond memories of the 2013 season.
Yes, the Bucks were throttled from the outset Friday in their 62-14 loss to powerful Clyde in a first-round Division III, Region 8 playoff game.
Those things happen with some regularity during the first weekend of Ohio’s postseason, when surprising, lower-seeded teams like Buckeye run into juggernauts such as the Fliers, who have legitimate hopes of playing deep into November.
Check, though, the dramatic turnaround the Bucks made to play one extra week of football.
They won six of their last seven games after beginning the campaign with three losses. They were outscored 91-20 in those first three games, and the 0-3 beginning made Buckeye a combined 9-24 since the team’s last playoff season in 2009. The Bucks had finished with a 3-7 record in not only 2012, but in 2011 and 2010, too.
“I want them to remember what they accomplished,” first-year Buckeye coach Mark Pinzone said. “We worked hard, we improved tremendously and we got to this point.
“The kids got to see what the caliber of play can be once you get to the playoffs, because Division III football is very, very good. We went from three wins to six wins and that’s a great jump. Now, it will take special commitment and effort to go beyond that.”
Pinzone understands the challenge the Bucks face moving forward. He coached Holy Name to a 16-14 record from 2010-12. The Green Wave plays in the tough North Coast League, which features some premier mid-division programs.
Pinzone admitted he hurt for some of his players, who could not stop Clyde from rolling to a 52-0 halftime lead.
“You don’t want to see something like that,” he said. “The kids have put in such great effort. The seniors and all of our players have great hearts.
“Credit goes to Clyde. It was classy that they went to their reserves (early in the third quarter). We did that a little later, too.”
Counting Friday night, second-seeded Clyde has averaged 50.6 points in its last five games and allowed an average of 9.6.
The Fliers will play third-seeded Sandusky Perkins (11-0), which handed Clyde its loss, 34-14, on Oct. 4 at Clyde. Perkins benefited from several turnovers in the game, especially after Clyde held a 14-6 halftime lead.
Buckeye tight end/defensive end Adam Bartinelli said he and his fellow seniors will look back at this season with some satisfaction.
“I think, hopefully, we started to turn things around,” Bartinelli said outside the visiting locker room. “We hadn’t done much in the last three years. Now, maybe the team can continue to improve and maybe win a playoff game in the next couple years.
“We all played our hardest and did what we could. We did well in the (Patriot Athletic Conference with a 5-1 record) and that was one of our goals. I think we’ll look back and feel we accomplished a lot. I think we’ll look back and think we did an OK job in starting to turn the program around.”
Sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Nathan Scott is among the younger Bucks who helped key the run to the playoffs.
“Our coaching staff did a great job,” Scott said. “The seniors did a lot to lead us in the progress we made. Hopefully, we can learn from them and carry on a successful program.”
Contact Mike Peticca at firstname.lastname@example.org.