Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
The spirit of Reed lives on for Coldwater
By Gary R. Rasberry
COLDWATER - Going to a state championship game is not a new feeling for the Coldwater football team.
The last week of November or first week of December, depending on the year, has seen the Cavaliers in Stark County playing football more often than not.
But this year there is a difference.
The casual fan may not notice it when he or she watches the Cavaliers in warmups or for their traditional waiting for the other team to take the field before they storm out of the end zone.
But on the sidelines, there will be someone missing, but only physically.
When Coldwater takes on Youngstown Ursuline on Saturday, it will be nearly seven months since former longtime coach John Reed passed away after a battle with cancer.
Last year, Reed found the will and determination to lead the squad into the state championship game, while forgoing treatment for esophageal cancer until the season ended. The Cavs fell to the same Irish they'll play at Fawcett Stadium on Saturday.
While the team has paid tribute all season to their longtime coach - a "JR" sticker adorns every helmet and the words "Never Forget, Never Give In" abounds from signs throughout the hamlet of Coldwater; the spirit of the Hall of Fame coach lives on.
While Chip Otten, the man who has taken over for Reed as the head coach of the Coldwater football team, is getting his team ready for the state finals, he acknowledges that Reed has been a focal point of this season.
"There is certainly a lot of John with us," said Otten, who served as an assistant coach for several years before taking over this spring. "... The philosophy hasn't changed. (Our) personalities are a little different (but) the core values and core beliefs, along with the discipline and doing things right have not changed. John's name has come up pretty much on a weekly basis."
For the Cavs' seniors, who played three years for Reed and were part of a state championship team as freshmen and state runner-up squad last year, this week brings back the memory of their former coach.
"He taught us so many great things, not only football (but) more importantly about life that we carry on through our lives," said senior linebacker/running back Aaron Rammel. "I think that's what has stuck with us most."
"We just took it as this year, coaches and ourselves, to put the season in memory of him a little bit," said senior receiver/safety Reese Klenke. "But it was pretty much doing it for each other, doing it for fans, doing it for the tradition he taught us; how we should play and how we should win with class on the field."
One of the keys to the team remaining successful has been the fact that the Cavaliers' coaching staff from last year has remained intact, with Tim Hoyng, Randy Wright, Jason Hemmelgarn, Jerry Kanney and Thad Forstoefel staying on the staff. Jeff Kerr and Chuck Alig, both of whom have coached in the program in the past, rejoined the Coldwater coaching staff this season.
"Nothing changed from when coach Reed passed away to when coach Otten took over," said Rammel. "The coaches try to get everything out of us in two-a-days. It really wasn't different, just the aspect of coach Reed not being there."
And at times this season, it seemed like the Cavaliers have had some help from the coach, be it a gust of wind to blow a kick wide or the Cavaliers coming up with a big play to keep their season going.
"He's definitely watching over us in some of those games," said Klenke. "He's always watching out for us."
A new tradition began this year with a rock honoring Reed located in the west part of Cavalier Stadium.
The players touch the rock before every game. On road trips, a football is brought along to serve as the rock.
"We always touch this rock, or football, on the way out," said Klenke. "It's something special we do before every game."
Otten knows that Reed will have an eye on the Cavaliers on Saturday.
"I'm sure he's looking down and is proud of us and happy how things are going," said Otten. "That's how he would have wanted it: to take what he taught us and move forward."
John Reed's career numbers:
Record at CHS: 168-31 (15 seasons)
Career Record: 283-162-1
MAC Record: 102-14
MAC Titles: 9 (6 at Coldwater, 3 at Parkway)
Playoff Appearances at Coldwater: 14 (1995, 1997-2009; Missed playoffs just one season as Cavs' coach)
State Finals Appearances: 5
State Championships: 2 (2005, 2007)
Voted into OHSFCA Hall of Fame: 2006