MENTOR, Ohio - The Mentor Cardinals have won 195 games under head coach Steve Trivisonno entering Friday's Division I playoff showdown with Canton McKinley. But for nearly two decades -- in spite of its talent -- Mentor hadn't sent any of its seniors to the Buckeye State's college football factory.
That has changed in a big way for the Cardinals. Twice.
Offensive tackle Ryan Jacoby and defensive end Noah Potter verbally committed to play for Ohio State in March and April, respectively, and plan to sign their National Letters of Intent in February.
"It's the team I grew up rooting for," Jacoby said of the Buckeyes. "It's the best place to be in the country."
Jacoby became the first Cardinal to commit to Ohio State since Jason Caldwell in 2000 when he made his verbal pledge on March 1, passing on offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and Kentucky.
But his work wasn't finished. With Potter's commitment still up in the air, Jacoby became an unofficial Buckeye recruiter for his Mentor teammate.
"I remember the day. I was like, 'When are you gonna commit, dude? Why haven't you committed yet? What are you doing?'" Jacoby said with a smile.
"It was a lot of pressure," Potter said of his college choice. "I was really close to committing, but I needed to see some other schools that offered me."
Ohio State eventually secured its second commitment from the same high school. Potter held offers from Alabama, Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame, but decided to take his talents to Columbus alongside Jacoby.
"Two guys in the same class going to the same school is pretty, pretty insane," Potter said.
It's probably no coincidence these future Buckeyes practice against each other daily.
"Sometimes you gotta get out of the way," Trivisonno said. "You don't want to get squished."
But before the pair chases a championship with the Buckeyes, there's some unfinished business to attend to in Northeast Ohio.
"Getting one of those rings on your hand, that's the goal," Jacoby said.
"I've accomplished all my goals as a high school football player except for one, and that's to win a state championship," Potter said. "We got to take it one week at a time and try to get all five weeks and win the last one."
One week down; four weeks to go.