KIRTLAND, Ohio — When you talk about powerhouse high school football programs in Northeast Ohio, the names that immediately come to mind include St. Ignatius, Mentor, St. Edward's, Glenville, even Medina.
However, it's a small team 30 minutes outside of Cleveland that is dominating the field each week.
The Kirtland High School football team is making national sports headlines as they extend their winning streak, now up to 49 consecutive games-- the longest active streak in the U.S. right now.
So what do all these wins mean?
"It means I’ve got a great coaching staff, a great school system with parents that allow their kids to be coached hard and to work hard and, that’s the real thing," says coach Tiger Laverde. "What these kids do in the off-season, not everybody can do it, you know? We ask a lot of them, you know their parents let them work as hard as they can and I’m just real proud of them.”
The team also has one of the most consistently winning programs in the state, as well. The Kirtland Hornets have won six state championships, including three in a row.
Even better, current seniors have never lost a game in their high school football careers.
"Since my freshman year, we haven’t lost a game," said Kirtland High School football player Gage Sullivan. "Last time I remember our grade losing was beginning of the year, eighth grade, to Perry. And we just came out sluggish and then ever since then we’ve been full intensity, we haven’t come out sluggish and we’ve been more prepared than anything for every game.”
Additionally, the team is just eight wins away from beating the all-time consecutive victories record in Ohio, set by Delphos St. John's between 1996 to 2001. Laverde says he isn't thinking about that, however.
"I never even…a state championship was not even a single thought. I mean it was never even a thought. I just wanted the kids to graduate and say, ‘that was a heck of a lot of fun.’" the coach says, discussing his surpassed expectations.
The team will next face off against Orange High School on Friday, October 22.
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Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published, unrelated story.