What a year it’s been for the Redmen.
As arguably the most consistent program in local football history, there was one vacant accomplishment in 115 years of Bellevue Redmen football.
And in a four-week stretch, the elusive goal of reaching Stark County and playing for a state championship was finally achieved. The Redmen used three heart-stopping wins in the final seconds to reach the Division III state championship at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
The Redmen were tied at 14-14 in the final minute of the first half in the title game against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, and trailed just 21-14 with 13 minutes left in the game. A fake punt gamble by the Fighting Irish paid off in the form of a 41-yard touchdown, which broke the Redmen’s back on an eventual 42-21 loss.
It couldn’t take away the glisten of a magical season that saw a blue-collar railroad town with 13,000-plus people rally around the team.
The Redmen claim 27 league championships in their program’s history. No other school has won more league titles. They’ve had 31 seasons of eight wins or more — that’s 27 percent of the time for a program that dates back nearly 12 decades. And 570 all-time wins? It’s enough victories to put Bellevue in the Top 15 in Ohio history.
Fully 418 of those wins have come in the last 60 years, when Bellevue has had just three different head coaches in that span. The current coach, Ed Nasonti, played for the previous two. They’ve had 14 playoff appearances in 32 seasons. Only two other area programs — Huron and St. Paul — saw as many visits to November football.
Bellevue’s appearance was the 12th state championship game for an area team in the 41-year history of state football playoffs, an average of about once every three to four years. The others were Norwalk (1974), Clyde (1995), Perkins (1999) and St. Paul (2009) have come away with championship wins, while Margaretta (1986), St. Mary C.C. (1990), Huron (1993) and Bellevue (2012) suffered losses.
Read more of the Register's Top 10 stories for 2012 in Sunday's Register.