SHARPSVILLE — His football team is entering uncharted waters, and Tri-Central coach George Gilbert is perfectly comfortable with it.
The Class A No. 8-ranked Trojans (11-1), already holding the school records for wins in a season, will ride their program-best 11-game winning streak into Berne tonight to face South Adams (5-7) in the visitors’ first appearance in the regional round since 1991, when they fell to Frontier 22-16.
“We’re in a whole new world for these kids,” Gilbert said. “No one’s worried about it. The big task was to win the sectional. Now, we can relax and play football and do what we do. We’re pretty doggone good this year. I don’t think it’s ever going to soak in with the boys. You hear coaches say that when you’re having success. It’s just a wonderful ride, and when it’s all over it’ll soak in with them. Right now they’re focusing on winning. We’re not tight. We’re not going to consider this a live-or-die situation. We’re just going to go out and play football. I’ve been at this level three different times before this year, and I thought our kids went out tight and we’re extreme underdogs. This team, we’re going to go out loose. We’re favored to win. We just have to bring it. So, it’s important for us to just go out and have fun.”
Awaiting TC, after the nearly two-hour trip to Berne, will be a Starfires squad that’s riding high after shaking off a six-game losing streak during the season to get hot at the right time and capture their first sectional title since 1996. Both of their last two contests have been one-point victories after they avenged a regular-season loss to Adams Central with a 14-13 victory in the sectional semifinals round, and then blocked an extra point in overtime to down Southwood 40-39.