AKRON, Ohio - Players, coaches, students and the St. Vincent-St. Mary community are fired up for Saturday's Division III state championship game. If the Fighting Irish win, it would mark the first state football title for the Akron private school since 1988.
SVSM (12-2) battles Bellevue (13-1) Saturday at 11 a.m. at Canton Fawcett Stadium. The Irish beat Dover 48-13 to advance to the state championship game.
On Friday, students transformed the gymnasium into a sea of gold and green for a pep rally.
Members of 1988 championship football team showed up to wish the 2012 squad good luck.
Quarterback Clayton Uecker, a senior, said the school spirit has the team ready to roll.
"The mood is crazy. Everyone, all our students, are pretty excited and our football team is pretty excited," Uecker said.
Wide receiver Jordan Hargrove, also a senior, said coach Dan Boarman delivered a speech on Thursday that has the team anxious to bring a state title home to Akron.
"It's not just about us. It's about the whole family, the school and the community honestly. We haven't seen one since 1988, so (we're) past due," Hargrove said.
Dante Booker is the number one recruited junior linebacker in the nation, according to Andy Jalwan, SVSM's athletic director.
Booker said he has already received scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and several other major universities. Booker said he's leaning towards a couple of the colleges, but won't divulge any secrets.
For now, his focus is on Saturday's game and he feels the Irish are ready.
"We've got great offensive players and great defensive players. Our defense, we get to the ball quickly. We've got everything on the team," Booker said.
Tickets for the game are on sale until 4 p.m. Friday at the school's student bookstore. Fan guides, directions and other information will also be available in the bookstore.
The forecast is calling for temperatures around 50 degrees ad clear skies.
A victory would mean the seventh football state championship in the school's history.