April 18, 2014

Intermittent clouds

Hornets are a classy bunch

Highland head coach Tom Lombardo led the Hornets onto the field against Glenville. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk


Highland quarterback Bruce Kinsey and his teammates almost never lose their composure on the football field.

But when a remarkable ride comes to an end, as it did Friday with a 41-13 Division II state semifinal loss to powerful and incredibly fast Glenville at Byers Field, the emotions come pouring out.

There were tears aplenty when the best postseason showing in school history was halted one win short of a state title game appearance, but these are intelligent, caring, thoughtful kids who also realized exactly what they had accomplished.

They are so smart, selfless and team-oriented, in fact, that what made the end so difficult to accept wasn’t the loss, but that they were done playing together as one.

“I can’t believe it’s over,” said Kinsey, who was inconsolable for several minutes following the game but fought through it and ended up being every bit as classy, cooperative and complimentary as he was after Highland’s 13 victories. “I’ve poured my heart and soul into everything we’ve done throughout the season. It’s something I’ll remember the rest of my life. I love these guys.”

Even in defeat, the Hornets exhibited the kind of class and togetherness they exhibited in each of their victories. Heck, they may have displayed even more.

Glenville was up 13-0 before Highland even had a first down, but the Hornets battled back to tie the game at intermission, only to give up a long touchdown pass 33 seconds into the third period.

The Tarblooders ended up scoring 28 unanswered points in the second half, but don’t let the final score fool you: They had to work for the win. The Hornets made sure of that.

“They’re the most athletic team Highland’s ever played,” Kinsey said. “All those guys are fantastic football players. If I had to lose to somebody, I’m glad it was them. I hope they go out and win the state championship.”

While the Tarblooders proved over and over that speeds does indeed kill — quarterback Quan Robinson Jr. threw four touchdown passes to Marshon Lattimore, who might be playing on Sundays in a handful of years — the Hornets showed that guts, savvy, preparation, hard work and great coaching can take a team a long way.

In this case, it took them further than any team in school history. That they did things the right way, the classy way, made their accomplishments even more special, even more memorable.

“You conducted yourself with dignity and you conducted yourself with humility,” Highland coach Tom Lombardo told his players in their final postgame huddle. “That’s the biggest victory of all.”

Highland fans didn’t need to be told that. They already knew it, and they responded by giving the players a standing ovation as the Hornets approached the visiting stands to join the marching band in singing the alma mater one last time.

Highland’s crowd was once again large and boisterous — it outnumbered Glenville’s at least 10-to-1 — and don’t think for a minute the players didn’t recognize it.

Students, parents and everyone else who supported the team throughout the season became one big family, and when the seniors gather at their 20-year high school reunion in 2034, there will be tons of great stories to tell.

“I’m sad it’s over,” 6-foot-4, 280-pound two-way lineman Myles Houska said. “I’m not so sad because of the loss. I’m sad that (14) weeks with these guys is coming to an end.

“But we’ll always be together in our hearts. We accomplished some things Highland never had done.”

Like the seemingly always unflappable Kinsey, the massive Houska shed plenty of tears after the final gun sounded, as did a lot of Highland players.

It was a reminder not only of just how much they meant to one another all season — and what they will continue to mean to one another — but that they are kids. Mature, positive, likeble kids, but kids nonetheless.

More than that, it showed just how much each player cared. Not about individual accomplishments, but about the team, about the process, about the journey.

In that respect, the 2013 Highland football team still has a perfect record.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.

  • joebialek

    From: JOE BIALEK n Sent: Saturday, December 14, 2013 3:47 PMn To: Medina Gazette n Cc: tlombardo@highlandschools.org ; Dana Addis ; Curt Johansen ; Edward Marquette ; aukerman@highlandschools.org ; marzano@highlandschools.org ; highlandalumniband@gmail.com ; curtis.mall@jmsmucker.com ; bfolkerth@highlandschools.org ; tpollock@highlandschools.org ; Linda Hutchings ; hgrayson_500@yahoo.com nn Subject: Letter to the Editor—2013 Highland Hornet Football Seasonnn This letter is in response to the articles covering the 2013 football season of the Highland Hornets.nn In a word: Outstanding! I attended Hinckley Elementary and Highland Middle School with the future class of 1981. However having been raised Roman Catholic {along with my parents concern for my education} I transferred to Padua High School in Parma, Ohio. I lament that decision everyday especially after I had the opportunity to attend the Hornet graduation. Thank goodness for Facebook.nn At any rate I have always followed Hornet football {with Highland as my adopted alma mater} and this year my diligence came to fruition. I started playing closer attention as the season was winding down and looked forward to watching the playoff games on STO or listening to them on internet radio. The final option would have been to don my Green Hornet Halloween costume and make a cameo appearance; perhaps next year. One game after another was full of excitement and even anxiety trying to anticipate the outcome. I’ve watched a lot of high school football over the years and have never witnessed such professionalism at this level. These “kids” are disciplined and focused which can certainly be attributed to the entire coaching staff.nn It was the Massillon game that brought back so many memories. My official alma mater encountered the Tigers back in 1979 at the old Akron Rubber Bowl. I will never forget that sea of orange trying to intimidate our “boys” but they still pulled the upset 12-0 and went on to face Cincinnati Moeller the following week. That game was close for one quarter and then the Fighting Crusaders took charge by winning 41-7. All the Bruin players took a lesson away from that game and realized that if they were to defeat Moeller they would have n to play “over their heads”. A similar event occurred when the Hornets encountered Glenville; a former Division 1 school that was bumped down to Division 2. Sometimes no matter how hard you try you can’t defeat Goliath. But next year{oh next year} things will improve even more for the Hornets as this year was a plateaus to build on; stinger marks left on the summit. I will certainly keep following Hornet football because this is one fan who knows the best is yet to come. n Thank you coaches and players for a great season by {in the best essence of the clichu00e9} inspiring your fellow students to excel in other areas besides sports and believing that if you work hard, stay focused and always give it your best failure will never be a option. Take care and good luck.nn Joe Bialekn Cleveland, OHnn PS: Ed, I hope you will find the time and wherewithal to get the band ready for next year with it’s debut of “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” Perhaps the “unofficial” them song of the Highland Hornets.nnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIwsqFjfKPsnn”Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Bertrand RussellnGreen Hornet Open http://www.youtube.comnThe opening credits to The Green Hornet television show tht aired on ABC in the 1960s