A team, with so much experience, they’ve pushed themselves as far as anyone, they’ve sacrificed more than anyone. Yet, they still have not reached their ultimate goal. That championship ring that most of these kids grew up serving water on benches for kids who won theirs, has eluded them.
In 2018, a year removed from their last state championship, they let a seven point lead slip with 1:20 left against one of the countries best teams. The game, which Coach Schlabach claims he thinks about every day, is possibly the toughest in Hiland history to swallow. The following year they lost to the same Africentric team in the state semifinal, after having the heavy favorites tied 33-33 in the final quarter.
Then these youngsters, grew up, it was their team, it was now on their shoulders.
2020 was supposed to be their year. Anyone who was anyone had them as the clear favorites in D3. Not only were they prepared, but Africentric graduated a huge class the year before. The lone Hiland loss last year was to the 10th ranked team in the nation, Winston-Salem Christian, by two points, at the Classic.
Their second loss in 2020? That was to COVID…
They aren’t alone. 15 other high school teams experienced the same thing. Some were on their one and only chance to win a title, some were heavy favorites, and some just wanted to have a fighting chance. Ashland lost a chance to have their undefeated, and maybe best class ever, finish as national champs. Baldwin Wallace had their greatest season ever ended early. The list goes on and on, but this story belongs to the Hiland Hawks. This was a team perfectly constructed, so much time and effort has been put into winning that ring. More than you could know, more than I can express, more than they’d ever tell you.
To understand the Hawks last flight, you have to understand when they began flying, all the flights in between, and how important it is to this group to fly together…
No one can paint that picture quite like they can…
On Saturday, March 13th at 2:00PM, the Hawks make their last flight, right where they’ve always dreamed they’d be. It’s only fitting that the Class of 2021 makes their last flight, in the birthplace of aviation, the home of the Fliers, together.
Win or lose, this is it.