The Grind in the high school football playoffs is real.
Don't believe it? Just ask Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno, who has led four different teams to the Division I state championship game.
"This is the hardest thing in all of high school sports - the Division I football postseason," Trivisonno said. "You have to be ready mentally every day and prepare to grind every day for a month if you want to win a championship. I've seen teams that were very good that you could tell at some point in the playoffs just didn't want to be there anymore. So we have to make sure that doesn't happen here, otherwise, we will be turning our equipment in on Saturday."
On Friday, Nov. 2, the Cardinals open the postseason by hosting Strongsville in a D-I, Region 1 quarterfinal at the JTO. Since 1999, Mentor is 12-0 in home playoff games. This is a rematch of a Week 4 GCC matchup won convincingly by the Cardinals, 45-20.
Trivisonno harkened back again to the fact this is the postseason in Division I and no game will be a pushover.
"I'd be shocked if this game was like the last one," Trivisonno said. "They made some mistakes and we played very well that night. I expect a hard-fought, four-quarter game.
"Strongsville is a team we haven't beaten in the playoffs, I think we are 0-2 against them, so we better be ready to play or we will go home early."
The Mustangs won their last four games of the season to finish at 7-3 and qualify as the No. 8 seed. It is the team's first playoff berth since 2008.
Strongsville is led by Taylor Griffin, who has 975 yards and 27 TDs.
Mentor's defense limited the Mustangs to 23 first-half yards in the Week 4 win. Noah Potter, James Pedley, Dan Adams and Noah Gladish are among the top defensive playmakers for the Cardinals.
Offensively, Mentor hopes to get QB Ian Kipp and running back Brian Trobel back from injury. Luke Floriea has been filling in at quarterback, but can switch back to wideout. The entire unit is driven by one of the top offensive lines in Ohio.
"We have to have guys who understand what it takes at this time of the year and realize things get amped up," Trivisonno said. "There's no such thing as an easy game. It is a grind that only special teams can handle. We will see if we are that kind of team. Usually you can tell when you see the guys come in on Friday afternoon what the attitude is like in the locker room. I am confident we have a group that will handle it well."
- Bill Tilton
November 2, 2018