The Bradford football team had a remarkable season this year.
The Railroaders made the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs for just the second time in school history and the first time since 1982. Most of their players weren’t even born the last time Bradford had a winning record in football, back in 1994.
More recently, Bradford went through some tough seasons, including a 1-9 year in 2009 when the current seniors were freshmen.
In the last three years, Bradford has turned its program around. The Railroaders have gone from being at the bottom of the Cross County Conference to one of the top teams in the league.
And even though they lost in their regional quarterfinal playoff game, the Railroaders had a great season.
Bradford was up against a tough opponent in Marion Local, which has never lost a regional quarterfinal game. The Flyers have been in the playoffs in 13 of the past 14 years and have won the state title five times in that span.
Marion Local has established a strong program, and Bradford can do that, too.
I’m not saying Bradford will is going to win a bunch of state titles. There are more than 700 football-playing schools in the state, and only a handful finish the season with a state title.
Rather, Bradford should set other goals (and maybe it can build to a state championship program).
It starts with winning each Friday night. You build off each win and try to get enough of them to qualify for the playoffs again.
Winning breeds winning. If a team can start getting some success, it makes it easier to attain even more. The key is to continue creating a winning atmosphere and create an expectation of winning.
With wins, hopefully more people will be interested in the program. Students will want to join the program, and fans will want to come out to watch them.
The team will need more players as the Railroaders will lose 10 players to graduation. That’s a lot of talent to replace, and coach Curtis Enis will have to find kids willing to step up.
Fans coming to the game will help persuade more players to join the team. Bradford had a great turnout at its playoff game, and that needs to continue.
Bradford also should try to find some tough opponents for its scrimmages and week one game. One of the reasons why teams from the Midwest Athletic Conference have been so successful in the playoffs is they are tested in the regular season. Those tough tests force teams to get better and help when playing the top teams in the postseason.
And this things aren’t just limited to Bradford or to football. We’ve seen teams such as Greenville softball and Tri-Village basketball build their programs. You can see the enthusiasm those teams have, their desire and expectation to win and the community support they receive.
Bradford football can continue to build on this year’s success. Kyle Shaner is the sports editor for The Daily Advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com.