Friday, November 19, 1999

Trenton goes 'football-crazy'


A shot at the big game fires up town

BY KEVIN ALDRIDGE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TRENTON — This quaint little city — population 8,700 — is the type of place a person could miss in the blink of an eye while driving along Ohio 73. But many locals feel that's about to change, thanks to the most successful football team in Edgewood's 29-year history.

        The Cougars, 12-0, put their undefeated season on the line tonight. They take on the defending state champion Lebanon High School Warriors at Welcome Stadium in Dayton, in the regional finals for Ohio Division II.

        “This is the game right here that's going to put Trenton on the map,” said Tony Taylor, 25, a 1993 graduate of EHS. “The whole city has gone football-crazy. Everybody's on the Cougar bandwagon.”

        Thousands of fans, parents and students are expected to drive up Interstate 75 today to watch the Cougars continue their quest for the school's first state championship.

        Trenton Mayor Roy Wilham hasn't been to an Edgewood football game since his three daughters graduated more than a decade ago. But he's got his tickets for this game.

        “The excitement is up,” Mr. Wilham said. “There's a lot of pride and concern in the community. I firmly believe they will wallop Lebanon.”

        City Council is planning Edgewood Cougar Day.

        “Most people don't know where Trenton is,” the mayor said. “This draws attention to us. We're swinging on the coattails of the football team.”

        For the past week, downtown merchants have decorated their store windows in blue and white. Along Ohio 73, signs show support.

        “We are a very close-knit little community to begin with, but the football team has really pulled everyone together,” said Pam Hembree, a clerk at Trenton Party Mart. “I've lived here all my life and have never really seen anything like this.”

        Mike Sword, a 1972 EHS graduate and owner of the Mayor's Place tavern on East State Street, could affectionately refer to his business as the “Cougars' Den.” A huge blue-and-white banner drapes like a curtain over the storefront.

        Today's game represents a chance at redemption for 45-year-old Mr. Sword, who played football for Edgewood in 1971. “We didn't win very many games when I played for Edgewood, so this is pretty special for me,” he said.

        In restaurants and over dinner tables, the Cougars are the topic of conversation.

        “I can't even walk into the grocery store without somebody asking me how I feel about the next game,” said senior running back David White, 17.

        “Everything around here for the past few weeks has revolved around football,” said senior Natalia Mendez, 17. “Most of us haven't even been able to concentrate on school work.”

        PREP FOOTBALL PAGE



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