Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Trenton agog as Edgewood aims for title

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TRENTON — There was a distinct sound in this rural town Tuesday. It was a buzz.

        The kind that comes with news that game tickets are selling quickly, that television stations and newspapers from throughout the state are coming to do pregame in terviews and, of course, that Edgewood High School fans are convinced their team — already the most successful in school history — will be victorious Friday against Sylvania Southview in the state semifinals.

        For many residents, this is a new sound. Cougarmania is gripping this Butler County town of 8,700, 35 miles north of Cincinnati, as the undefeated football team has sparked new life in an area better known for breeding cattle.

        “The entire community is on fire — the excitement is so high. There is a feeling of electricity in the air,” said Edgewood Schools Superintendent Dale Robertson, who coached football at EHS from 1974 to 1979.

        “I think the win last week against Lebanon really put this city on the map.”

        And within a game of the school's first-ever state championship appearance.

        The Cougars' 19-7 win over defending Ohio Division II state champion Lebanon High School Warriors leaves them as Southwest Ohio's only surviving prep football playoff team.

        “You know, I don't think it has quite sunk in for me yet that we are just a game away from the state championship,” said Mr. Robertson, whose nephew Josh is a placekicker on the team. “But it's nice to look in the paper and see on TV that "little Edgewood' is ranked higher than the big schools like Moeller and Elder.”

        A shortened Thanksgiving holiday week has kept things more low-key at EHS this week. But the rest of the city is gearing up to head to Troy on Friday.

        “Every week you see more and more people getting into it,” said Cougar junior quarterback Brandon Osborne, 17. “What kind of team are we? What's the next team we're playing like? How does it feel to win? That's all anyone ever talks about around here anymore.”

        Bill Back, a 50-year resident of Trenton, braved Tuesday's morning chill to be among the first in line at McGee's IGA to get tickets. He forked over his $35 for five tickets without a second thought.

        “I love to watch them play,” said Mr. Back. “This team has brought the whole community together for a common purpose. I've lived in Trenton my whole life and have never quite seen anything like this before.”

        From the dentist's office to the barber shop, the Cougars' exploits are the talk of the town.

        “I'm pretty excited about the game and I don't even live in Trenton; I just work here,” said Jennifer Hartmann, an employee at Trenton Family Barbershop on East State Street.

        A sign reading “Country Boys Rule” hangs in the storefront window, while pictures of Edgewood football players, young and old, adorn the inside of the shop.

        “People who don't even get their hair cut come inside just to see the football pictures,” Ms. Hartmann said. “This town is really proud of these boys. I think everybody in town that owns a business has something in their windows showing support.”

        Blue and white streamers decorate telephone poles, while yard signs in front of homes and automobiles painted with messages of support dot the community.

        Mr. Robertson, who bought his tickets early Tuesday, said he expects the Cougar caravan to pull out early Friday for the hour-long trip to Troy.

        “I'm not going to be late for this one,” he said. “I expect a lot of people to take off in the afternoon to beat the traffic. There'll be a lot of tailgating, that sort of thing, going on. But come Friday night, Trenton will be a ghost town.”

        For tickets, call (888) 863-4911. All tickets are $7. Children under 6 will be admitted free. Tickets will be on sale at Edgewood High School and Edgewood Middle School, the Seven Mile Market, in addition to Ameristop and McGee's IGA in Trenton.


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