FOOTBALL: Wapak honors '86 team
Jim Elshire remembers that day in the summer of 1986, the one when senior Kyle Stroh pulled into his driveway and told him the Redskins were going to win the next season.
And win they did.
A lot — becoming only the second Wapakoneta football team to go 10-0 in the regular season and the first to make the playoffs.
Elshire, the coach of that ’86 team, was among the honorees in attendance at a reception and ceremony honoring the team Friday night before the Redskins’ season opener against Bellefontaine at Harmon Field.
Stroh remembers that day too.
“It wasn’t rah-rah talk,” he said. “We expected to.”
Stroh, now an attorney in Westerville, was the only player on that team to play at a Division I college (Cincinnati).
“It was a whole, close-knit bunch,” Stroh said. “It was an unbelievable family atmosphere.”
Daren Stiles concurred.
“We had a bunch of guys that just worked their tails off,” he said.
Said Elshire, “It was probably a team that played as a team more than any group of kids I ever coached.”
The road to a 10-0 regular season began with a 35-14 drubbing of Cincinnati Indian Hill. After the game, senior Mark Law, now the offensive coordinator on the Redskins varsity football team, began a chant that became a rallying cry for the season — “Nine more! Nine more!”
“That gradually worked down to one (more),” Stiles said. “We stayed close. We had one goal in mind and we didn’t deter from that.”
The Redskins’ season ended with a loss to eventual state-champion Purcell Marian in a regional semifinal at Dayton Welcome Stadium.
“The most important thing about the whole playoff experience was what it did to the entire community,” Stroh said. “We had at least 5,000 people who met us in the parking lot. Just the way it brought the community together. People were so excited about it. It was a — boy, it makes me choked up just thinking about it.”
The reunion was sweet for the team members.
“Some of these guys, I don’t see because they’re in South Carolina or Tennessee,” Stiles said. “I was really happy to see Coach Hunter and Brad Rex do this. I’m really happy to see the guys come back. ... A lot of these guys look like they could throw them on and go right now.”