XENIA — The residents of Xenia in 2022 became re-accustomed to the lives they were used to prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the return to public events and large crowds, the Xenia High School football team provided them with a grand reason to fill up Doug Adams Stadium on Friday nights and bring the community back together in the same setting.
The staff of the Xenia Daily Gazette has decided the 2022 Buccaneers are the top headline of the year.
The Buccaneers entered the season with high hopes for a good campaign coming off a third straight appearance in the OHSAA playoffs and returning almost the entirety of its team from the year before.
Dominating wins early on set up the team’s initial test for how good they could be in a matchup with defending league champion Piqua. Passing it with ease in a 28-0 win, Xenia made the announcement it was a force to be reckoned with.
Two weeks later, the showdown for the eventual Miami Valley League title came about with a visit from Tippecanoe. Both teams entered the game ranked in the top-10 of the state polls. The Bucs again took control of a game early before a storming comeback gave the Red Devils a lead in the fourth quarter. Xenia composed itself and went on to create a 20-play, 90-yard drive taking up the vast majority of the remaining time and take the lead again in the final minute.
The crowd was as loud in celebration as heard the entire season following the win. And things continued to get better.
Xenia racked up wins, set numerous team and individual school records, and closed in on a historic 10th win which is something the program had never accomplished in a single season.
The final game of the season at Sidney played out like a coronation of the season as the Buccaneers steamrolled their opponent. Tears of joy and smiles were shared with one another throughout the post-game celebration. Coach Maurice Harden received multiple ice water baths from his players. Music blared from the Xenia locker room as the team got set to travel home. And awaiting the Bucs when they arrived were a convoy of Xenia’s finest police officers to head back into Doug Adams Stadium where the celebration would continue with the large crowd which gathered to celebrate with them.
“We did it,” Harden said after the regular season finale. “We’ve accomplished something that’s never been done before. I’m kind of at a loss for words because of what we were able to do and how we were able to do it.”
Did the season end as anyone rooting them on hoped? It rarely does for anyone except the champion. But the team’s playoff game, a first hosted by Xenia, had the local crowd lined up to enter the stadium 90 minutes before it began and was the most rowdy of the season in what turned out to be an overtime thriller.
The Bucs spoke throughout the season about keeping themselves where their feet were in the moment. In taking the community along with them, that mantra extended itself to the city residents who were more than willing to simply be there and give them all the support needed.
A season which was 120 years in the making for Xenia football will forever be remembered.
“They are in immortality forever,” Harden said.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.