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Chasing a Championship: Columbia football

10:15 AM, Nov 9, 2012   |    comments
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"There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there -- you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

It is unknown how many members of the 2012 Columbia High School football team are fans of movies directed by or starring the late Bruce Lee - or even know anything about the 20th century pop icon - but it's clear by their performance on the gridiron this season that they believe the above motivational quote attributed to him is true.

Despite having only four seniors on the roster and returning no skill position starters from the 2011 squad that posted a 7-3 overall record and a 4-1 mark in Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division play, the young Raiders have made history this fall.

After losing its first game of the season, Columbia (10-1, 5-0 PAC Stripes Division) has rattled off 10 consecutive victories, including a 39-34 win against Archbold in the team's first-ever home playoff game.

"This team refused to set limitations on what they could accomplish," head coach Jason Ward said when asked what he'll remember most about his team long after its dream season is over. "They set their goals high and have achieved most."

Columbia is led offensively by junior dual-threat quarterback Jay Banyasz

Banyasz has thrown for 1,324 yards and 12 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,009 yards and 17 scores. His 439 yard, six-touchdown performance last week earned him national recognition as ESPN RecruitingNation's "Beast of the Week" selection.

Junior linebacker Jacob Kleinhenz has tallied a team-best 106 total tackles.

Columbia will look to continue its historic season on Saturday night when it plays Hamler Patrick Henry (9-2) at Fremont Ross Harmon Field at Don Paul Stadium in a Division V, Region 18 semifinal contest.

Earlier in the week, Ward answered questions about the Raiders and their season thus far for WKYC's usatodayhss.com Web site.

WKYC's usatodayhss.com Web site: What has been your team's motto this season?

Columbia football coach Jason Ward: Our team's motto is "Focus, Fight, Finish."

WKYC: What are three adjectives that describe your team and/or its play this season?

Ward: Physical, determined, focused.

Ward: What has been your team's greatest strength this season?

Ward: Our defense has been solid all year and very opportunistic. Our offensive line play has picked up as of late and our quarterback has been outstanding.

WKYC: What has been the high point of your team's season thus far?

Ward: The high point of our season thus far has been winning our first playoff game ever in our first home playoff game ever. This was our fourth time in the playoffs in school history and our first home playoff game.

WKYC: What was the low point of your team's season? What did your team learn from the experience?

Ward: The low point of our season was losing in week one. We learned that we were a physical team that day.

WKYC: Who are your team's leaders? What do they bring to the team?

Ward: Our leaders are our quarterback/free safety Jay Banyasz, our inside linebacker/tailback Jacob Kleinhenz, our inside linebacker/offensive tackle Foster Tucker and our nose guard Bryan Horn. They all bring a burning desire to win and a hatred of losing.

WKYC: Who has been your team's unsung hero this season? Why?

Ward: Bryan Horn has been our unsung hero because he plays the nose guard position at 5-foot-4 and 145 pounds.

WKYC: What must happen for your team to be able to make a deep playoff run?

Ward: We must eliminate mental mistakes and continue to improve along our offensive line.

For more Northeast Ohio high school sports news, scores, photos and videos, visit usatodayhss.com/Cleveland.

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