Chaminade Julienne recognized the 10-year anniversary of the first football state championship in city and school history during the final home game of the season at Northridge High School Stadium.
Members of the 2002 Division II state title team were honored during a ceremony at hafltime of CJ's 23-10 defeat of Carroll October 19, and gathered again on campus for a reunion luncheon Saturday afternoon.
“Whenever school history is made in any area it is important to be recognized, but that championship really seemed to bolster the spirit of the entire community,” said Scott Pierce, athletic director. Pierce served as a CJ math teacher and assistant freshman football coach during the 2002-03 school year.
“You could feel the support and encouragement of so many people in this area rooting the team on to its ultimate goal,” Pierce said. On November 29, 2002, CJ defeated Macedonia Nordonia High School (13-2) 41-26 at Massillon Paul Brown Stadium.
The game would go down in the record books as the first football state title, in any division, won by a team from the city of Dayton since the implementation of a playoff system in 1972. It was also the highest scoring Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division II state final ever at the time.
“What made the team so special was how united those young men were in their sacrifice for one another. A number of players played out of their natural positions or gave up opportunities to touch the football. To a man, each player felt more excitement over a teammate's individual success than his own, and that led to the pinnacle of team success,” Pierce said.
The Eagles (14-1), led by head coach Jim Place, never trailed in the contest. Sophomore tailback and current Tennessee Titan Javon Ringer ‘05 shined, setting Ohio Division II state finals records for most rushing yards (251), most touchdowns (4), and most points scored (24) – records that stood unbroken for nine years.
Place, in 15 seasons as head football coach and athletic director at CJ from 1991-2005, amassed 110 wins and eight playoff appearances. He was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in June 2012 with a career record of 223-161-3, and is currently the head football coach at Withrow High School in Cincinnati.
“I am excited for our current and future football Eagles to see what their lives could hold. Players from the 2002 team went on to become accountants, engineers, stock brokers on Wall Street, teachers, coaches, and the list goes on and on. Those men have established successful lives and futures for themselves all over the country.
“If you asked each one of these alumni about what influenced his decisions after life at CJ, I believe they would all say that the experiences of the 2002 season helped to shape them,” Pierce said.