WILLOUGHBY, Ohio —Kirtland football tight end Zach Samsa thought his days on the football field were over when he was hurt at the beginning of the season.

  • The Kirtland Hornets’ 2019 season was full of injuries, but also wins
  • Their 14-0 record is taking them to the state championship game
  • If they win this year, it will be their first back-to-back state victory

“I was devastated after my injury. I've really thought I feel bad because it's my senior year, get as much playing time as you can. And I wanted to play with my friends as much as I could. And it really hurt not being able to,” said Samsa.

But to even his surprise he’s back and better — just in time for the state championship game.

The Kirtland Hornets’ 2019 season was full of injuries …the teams defensive back, junior safety, cornerback and linebacker, all suffered injuries.

But despite the setbacks, the season was still filled with wins —and support from one another on and off of the field. 

“We try to encourage everyone to help everyone get them through their injuries,” said Samsa.

Their 14-0 record is leading them to the Division V state championship game, where they will play Ironton, who are currently 13-1.

Unlike Samsa, Caleb Stephenson’s injury did end his senior season, but he has not stopped coming to practices, and he hasn’t lost hope. 

“I mean, it hurts, but ultimately, like the goal is to win state, so whatever, as long as they can step up and do it, I'm all for it,” said Stephenson.

The Kirtland football team has won state championships before — four of them.

And if they win this year’s it will be their first back- to back state victory.

“It’s really the biggest game of your life, leading up to it, and you know you work so hard all summer, all year, to get to this position, and you just want to put it all out there that Saturday, get the championship win,” said Samsa.

Samsa says he doesn’t take the fact that he’s back on the field for granted, and he plays even harder now for his teammates sitting on the sidelines.

“It makes me want a little more. Makes me cherish every moment,” said Samsa.