BEVERLY - Eric Huck had been getting doused after late-season Fort Frye wins on the gridiron - but not last Saturday in Zanesville.
"I was already wet from all the rain," said the FFHS head football coach, whose Cadets (8-2) clinched a berth in the Ohio Division V playoff with a dramatic 34-28 come-from-behind triumph over Rosecrans at John D. Sulsberger Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
Fort Frye hadn't been in the postseason since 2000 when it actually hosted a playoff game and lost to Johnstown Northridge, 20-6, in the opening round. Back then, B.J. Scott was the boss, and he guided the Cadets to a 9-2 record.
Fort Frye running back Spencer Lang, left, is a major reason why the Cadets advanced to the postseason for the first time since the 2000 high school football season.
Fast-forward to 2012, and The Fort will be on the road in the playoffs this time - in northwest Ohio, in a community not too far from Cleveland. At 7 p.m. this Saturday, the Cadets, who are ranked No. 8 in Region 17, will face top-ranked and defending Division V state champion Kirtland.
Oh, yes, the Hornets are also undefeated at 10-0.
Not surprisingly, this will be the first grid meeting between Fort Frye and Kirtland.
"We exchanged film," said Huck, who was on the road Sunday morning after the Saturday night win against Rosecrans. "We met halfway in Dover."
No doubt, during the trip on Interstate-77 North, Huck was probably reliving the game from the night before - and what a great win it was.
"Those guys made it happen," Huck said. "They wanted to make the playoffs, and they battled back."
Indeed, they did.
After a scoreless first quarter, The Fort drew first blood against Rosecrans and led 7-0. The Bishops however got a touchdown just before the half, and it was all tied up at 7.
After the break, Fort Frye found itself in a hole as Rosecrans scored three touchdowns and led 28-14 late in the third quarter.
"I think we were a little shell-shocked at that point," Huck said.
Shell-shocked perhaps, but far from out of the game. With 34 seconds left in the period, the Cadets cut it to 28-20 on quarterback Chandler Lang's 1-yard run.
In the fourth quarter, Fort Frye got two more scores on TDs by Spencer Lang and Max Alsbach, respectively. Alsbach's 1-yard run, which proved to be the game-winner, capped a 10-play, 91-yard drive.
Rosecrans still had a chance to pull it out, but the Cadet defense rose to the challenge and got a stop. Game over, and let's go to the playoffs. Now, it's on to Kirtland in Lake County.
"We know that Kirtland is very good," Huck said.
The Hornets, who compete in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division, are quarterbacked by senior Scott Eilerman, and led by 6-foot, 170-pound senior tailback Damon Washington, who rushed for 1,385 yards on 104 carries and 28 touchdowns this past fall.
In Tiger Laverde-coached Kirtland's regular-season finale, Washington rushed for 128 yards on 12 attempts and three scores in a 63-28 win over Independence. Adam Hess, a 5-11, 210-pound sophomore, added 108 yards and a TD as the Hornets amassed 580 yards of total offense.
Fort Frye's defense figures to get tested. But the Cadets hope to do the same to Kirtland's "D" with the likes of Chandler Lang, Spencer Lang, Max Alsbach, Justin Massey, and Tyser Shilling.
"That's been a big part of our success this season, being able to spread the ball around and making the defense play us honest," Huck said.