At the start of each high school sports season, most prep squads choose a mantra or rallying cry to be used as a unifying theme throughout the upcoming campaign.
In August, the Chagrin Falls High School varsity football team selected “Chagrin – ALL IN” as its motto for the 2012 season.
With five offensive starters – including senior stalwarts Tommy Iammarino, Jack Campbell and Bradley Munday – and four defensive starters returning, the catchy slogan seemed like it would serve simply as a morale booster with little practical significance.
But the proverbial injury bug bit the Tigers early and often this fall, quickly eroding some of the team’s experience and depth.
Younger, less experienced players were asked to step in and help Chagrin Falls continue its proud winning gridiron tradition.
The Tigers had compiled a 40-4 record the previous three seasons, including two state runner-up finishes and a state final four appearance.
Even with having to juggle its personnel at times throughout the season, this year’s squad added yet another chapter of success to the program’s history books.
The Tigers posted a 9-1 overall record in the regular season and a 6-1 mark in the Chagrin Valley Conference’s Chagrin Division.
Quarterback Tommy Iammarino threw for a school-record 2,259 yards and 29 touchdowns while Matt Iammarino hauled in 44 passes for a school-record 901 yards and 14 scores.
Senior linebacker Dan Kuenzig tallied a team-best 96 tackles.
Chagrin Falls concluded the regular season ranked second in the final Associated Press Division III state media poll.
The top seed in Region 9, the Tigers began postseason play last Saturday by defeating eighth-seeded Woodridge, 60-28.
Chagrin Falls (11-1) is now set to play fifth-seeded Ravenna (7-4) Saturday night at Solon’s Stewart Field.
Before the start of the playoffs, Tigers head coach Mark Iammarino answered questions about his team and its standout season for WKYC’s usatodayhss.com Web site.
WKYC’s usatodayhss.com Web site: What are three adjectives that describe your team and/or its play this season?
Chagrin Falls football coach Mark Iammarino: Experienced, talented, resourceful.
WKYC: What has been your team’s greatest strength this season?
Iammarino: We have a backfield that played in the 2010 state championship game. We average 43 points per game.
WKYC: What has been your team’s greatest weakness this season?
Iammarino: We have had to overcome a lot of injuries to key players.
WKYC: What has been the high point of your team’s season thus far?
WKYC: What was the low point of your team’s season? What did it learn from the experience?
Iammarino: We lost to Kenston. We got back on track with work ethic and getting better in practice.
WKYC: Who are your team’s leaders? What do they bring to the team?
Iammarino: Running back/linebacker Jack Campbell, quarterback Tommy Iammarino running back/defensive back Bradley Munday, offensive tackle/defensive tackle Grant Lingafelter and center/defensive tackle Wes Bomback. They have experience, talent and leadership.
WKYC: Who has been your team’s unsung hero(es) this season?
Iammarino: Defensive end Tommy Murtaugh and wide receiver/defensive back Ben Esterer.
WKYC: What must happen for your team to make a deep playoff run?
Iammarino: Stay healthy, continue to gel as a cohesive unit and focus week-to-week.
WKYC: When the season is long over, what will you remember most about this year’s squad?
Iammarino: Its desire to persevere [through] adversity.
For more Northeast Ohio high school sports news, scores, photos and videos, visit usatodayhss.com/Cleveland.