Hayden Jester didn’t need another reminder.
But there was the La Salle senior linebacker sitting in a school assembly recently with senior running back Jeremy Larkin when the conversation started about another state title.
Larkin, the Division II state co-offensive player of the year and University of Cincinnati commit, explained how badly he wants another state championship ring.
“He just says he is so hungry for another one,” Jester said. “He wants it so bad. He stays up at night just wanting another ring. He looks at his old ring and he is saying how he wants another one.”
Jester, who has 106 tackles, chuckles at the obvious. He wants another ring too.
“We all want it bad,” Jester said. “…The grind all the seniors are putting in right now it’s pretty cool. All the seniors are coming together and just working pretty hard.”
Jester and Larkin are two of 24 seniors on the La Salle football team. There are 22 of the seniors with a 2014 state title. But, they aren’t satisfied.
The sense of urgency and hunger on the part of his La Salle football team is palpable in the players and coaches’ voices and mannerisms this week.
“We try to come into every game with the same mentality that it’s a championship game and just treat it the same every week,” said Larkin, who has rushed for 1,829 yards and 28 touchdowns and has 639 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
“It’s just that this week everybody knows that it’s a little more important. The last week – everybody is going to go lay it all out on the line. Especially the seniors with it being our last game.”
La Salle (12-2) plays Massillon Perry (12-2) in the Division II state final at 8 p.m. Friday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The Lancers will try to become the first Division II team to repeat as state champions since St. Marys Memorial in 1992 and ’93.
The game will be televised live on SportsTime Ohio. In Southwest Ohio, the games will be televised on Time Warner Cable channel 99 and channel 1311 HD.
The La Salle broadcast team will have the game on Class X Radio (88.9, 89.1 and 105.5 FM). The OHSAA broadcast can be heard live on Cincinnati’s WSAI-AM (1360).
La Salle coach Jim Hilvert has spoken about the seniors wanting to leave their legacy and what better stage than a repeat in the state championship game. The Lancers don’t want to go home without another ring.
“So whenever we are in the playoffs and we thought it was getting hard especially last week when we got down by two touchdowns (to Perrysburg) we just remembered how it felt to lose to (Elder and St. X in the regular season),” senior defensive lineman John Willcox said. “We just brought it back in gear and we got the hunger back to go out and win.”
IRON MAN: La Salle senior offensive lineman Luke Doerger (Toledo commit) will make his 50th consecutive start Friday night in Columbus.
FUTURE BUCKEYE: La Salle senior punter/kicker Drue Chrisman (Ohio State commit) will play his final OHSAA game in his future home field at Ohio Stadium Friday night. Chrisman, a 2016 U.S. Army All-American, verbally committed to the Buckeyes in May. Chrisman has made 59 consecutive extra points, according to the school. That ranks him 16th on the OHSAA state record list.
SIGNIFICANT IMPACT: La Salle junior running back/strong safety Jarell White continues to perform well this postseason. He is the only two-way starter for the Lancers and has been excellent on both sides of the ball. He has 413 yards rushing and seven touchdowns along with 75 tackles. “No. 2 is an excellent player – one of the better players I’ve seen on film,” Massillon Perry coach Keith Wakefield said. Hilvert says White has increased his leadership over the past month and it has paid dividends. “Just being a vocal leader,” White said. “Coming out every day pushing everybody else including myself and every day coming out with a positive attitude.” White had a key 39-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter last week that helped tie the game. He has offers from UC, Illinois, Toledo, Miami University and Ohio University.
HISTORY BOOK: With a win Friday night, La Salle would become the first area team in Ohio to win back-to-back state football titles since Moeller (2012 and ’13). La Salle would also join elite company statewide with another state title Friday night. Since 1980 when the Ohio High School Athletic Association went to five divisions, there have been two Division II teams that have won back-to-back state titles including Akron Buchtel (1987 and ’88) and St. Marys Memorial (1992 and ’93).
EXTRA POINTS: The La Salle football team will depart for Ohio Stadium at 12:30 p.m. …The Lancers are playing their 30th game within the past two seasons….La Salle won its ninth consecutive playoff game with a state semifinal victory over Perrysburg Nov. 27. …La Salle is the home team Friday night. …Hilvert held practice Tuesday on his 45th birthday. …Freshman linebacker Brody Ingle is continuing a tradition of brothers in the La Salle program. His brother Bryan (2015 graduate) was a member of the 2014 state championship team. Ben (2011 graduate) was on the GCL co-champion squad. …Massillon Washington coach Nate Moore, who coached the Lancers to the 2014 state title, plans to be at the game Friday night.
(Enquirer reporter Adam Baum contributed)