Raiders have had a banner fall

GREENFORD-Few schools get to experience a fall sports season like the one South Range is currently enjoying.

This fall, the school’s football, volleyball, soccer and boys and girls cross country teams all emerged as league and postseason contenders in their respective sports.

“It seems like every night this fall there has been an event to see,” assistant soccer coach Joe Staffeld said. “There is always something to do.”

The action will be in full swing this week. Tonight, the Raiders volleyball and soccer teams both have regional semifinal matches occurring around the same time. The volleyball team will face off against Wooster Triway at 6 p.m. at Barberton High School. Meanwhile, 30 miles away at Twinsburg, the soccer team will take on Doylestown Chippewa at 7 p.m.

“It’s a little disappointing to be playing on the same day because we won’t be able to support them and they won’t be able to come support us,” senior volleyball player Raianne Mason. “But we are hoping to get a nice turnout for both. Hopefully the school can come together and give us both great support.”

“We are happy for any athletic team that does well at South Range,” volleyball coach Rachell Storm-Baker said. “It’s unfortunate that we both have to play on the same night, but it’s just great to have both teams still playing.”

After several down years, the volleyball program has righted itself with two straight district titles, while the soccer team-in its eighth season of existence-captured its first ever district title this fall. The success has touched off enthusiasm in the student body. Football coach Dan Yeagley is altering his practice schedule today so anybody who wishes to travel to the volleyball or soccer matches can do so.

“I asked for a show of hands to see how many players were going to one or the other and about 70 percent of the team raised their hands,” Yeagley said. “It’s great to see everyone so eager to cheer their classmates on.”

“The feeling here is really high,” junior soccer player Jonah Wilson said. “There is really a lot of motivation. Everybody is wishing each other good luck. The togetherness between the teams is a great feeling.”

The action continues later this week when the football team looks to wrap up the outright Inter-Tri County League upper tier title in a senior night game against Lisbon. Saturday could potentially be another big day. If the volleyball and soccer teams win tonight then they will both play in their respective regional finals on Saturday afternoon. Also, Mollie Pierson will represent the Raiders in Columbus at the state cross country meet. The Raiders have sent at least one runner to the state meet in 15 of the last 17 years. This year marked the first time in at least a decade that both the girls and boys cross country teams qualified for the regional meet.

“It’s been a really exciting year for our program and South Range athletics in general,” Girls cross country coach Diane Krumpak said. “The kids have all worked very hard and they deserve it.”

Coaches across the athletic department were quick to praise the school district as a whole for creating an environment that allows the athletes to reach their potential.

“I think it goes back to elementary school,” Krumpak said. “The faculty there do a great job of teaching these kids respect and a good work ethic at an early age. You can see to carry over to the classroom and the playing field.”

“It’s just a great school and a great place to raise a family,” Staffeld said. “There is a lot of community support in both academics and athletics.”