Glenville's state championship was years in the making (Video)
CMSD NEWS BUREAU
Shortly after his tears dried and the celebration among his players and community ended on the field, coach Ted Ginn Sr. quickly turned his attention away from football.
"My work is just beginning,” Ginn said. “I have 20 seniors whose futures I need to be concerned with. Football is just a game. The lives of these kids are what I am most concerned about, and making sure they have the things they need.”
On Saturday, Ginn helped provide those seniors and the rest of his Glenville High School team what had evaded a Cleveland Metropolitan School District team until now.
Behind a stingy defense and three touchdowns by junior running back D’Shawntae Jones, Glenville (15-0) defeated formerly unbeaten Cincinnati Wyoming, 26-6, to win the Ohio Division IV state title at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
It was the first football state title by a CMSD school in the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs era. Glenville, which has qualified for the state playoffs 19 times, was a runner-up in 2009 and 2013.
Cleveland mayor Justin Bibb attended the game. He is a graduate of Garfield Heights' Trinity High School, but Saturday he was a proud and honorary Tarblooder.
“It’s a big deal for Glenville,” Bibb said. “It’s a big deal for Ted Ginn Sr. and for all he’s done for our city for over two decades. It’s a dream come true for me as mayor to see these young boys get this amazing achievement.”
The mere fact that Glenville twice previously made it to the state championship game was considered a minor miracle to some critics, who could not see how an inner-city school could achieve at such a high level.
Ginn remembers those detractors.
“When I started, there were people that told me that they couldn’t see how I would ever accomplish my goal of winning a state championship,” Ginn said. “Unfortunately, a lot of those people are dead and gone. I wish they were still here so I could show them this group of kids. They’ve done a lot to take away the stigma that inner-city schools can’t achieve at the highest level.”
Glenville struck first when it scored early in the first quarter behind a memorable 39-yard TD reception by Damarion Witten. On the play, quarterback Deonte Rucker threw a long pass near the sideline. Witten outjumped the defender and made a spectacular catch before running into the end zone for the score.
Wyoming quickly tied the score behind an 81-yard run by running back C.J. Hester, a 2022 Ohio Mr. Football finalist. But Glenville's running back D’Shawntae Jones scored three straight touchdowns to seal the victory.
"It’s emotional,” said Jones, who rushed for 195 yards. “I want to cry. There are too many cameras, though. I want to be tough in this situation. It means so much to deliver this for the city of Cleveland and especially for Coach Ginn."
The victory also meant a great deal to many Glenville alumni. Jones’ uncle, Cardale Jones, a former Glenville, Ohio State and NFL quarterback, was in attendance. He said Saturday’s victory helped take away the lingering sting of his state title loss in 2009, which occurred on the same field.
“I told my nephew all week that they have a chance to do something that many great teams and players before them didn’t do,” Cardale Jones said. “And they did it. This is especially great for Coach Ginn, who continues to mold young men to become leaders in our community.”
One Glenville alumnus who couldn’t attend was Pierre Woods, who played for Michigan and with the New England Patriots. Woods was vacationing in Bangkok, but he paid close attention via the internet.
“I’m so happy for Glenville, Coach Ginn and my community,” Woods said from his cellphone. “The victory and everything that comes with it is well-deserved, because I know how hard everyone worked. I hate that I wasn't able to be there, but I’ll be back in time for the parade.”