• 50°

Cheering Panthers to victory

CHESAPEAKE – In 1961, the Chesapeake High School football team had its first undefeated season.

Friday, November 05, 1999

CHESAPEAKE – In 1961, the Chesapeake High School football team had its first undefeated season. And now the Panthers have done it again.

The team will play against Johnstown Northridge tonight at home in the first round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Playoffs.

But before the game opens, the 1999 team members will have a chance to meet their Class of 1961 predecessors and compare strategies.

"They are supposed to come eat with us," said Andy Clark, the 1999 team quarterback. "Hopefully, we can talk and get to know them. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of stories to tell."

About 20 former teammates are supposed to join in this weekend’s festivities. They will be honored at halftime during the game, and some also attended the school’s pep rally/bonfire Thursday night.

Jimmy Miller, a former guard tackles, sees many similarities between this year’s team and his own, and is looking forward to sharing his knowledge of the game.

"Speed – they were fast, and this year’s team is fast," Miller said. "I’d like to see Chesapeake go all the way this year. And I think they can do it. I just hope it doesn’t take 38 more years before we have another undefeated season."

About 300 other parents, students faculty members and board of education members joined Miller around the bonfire Thursday.

High school guidance counselor Tommie Johnson remembers being a freshman when the 1961 team played, and she was joined by her son who is a freshman this year.

"The faces are different, but kids are still kids," Mrs. Johnson said as she watched the students rally for their team. "I think inside this year’s class is the same as the 1961 class. They have the same hopes, dreams and insecurities."

There are differences among to two Chesapeake classes, however, Mrs. Johnson said.

They have different hang outs and attire.

And the 1999 class got a glimpse of all those differences at the school’s pep rally today, Mrs. Johnson said.

"The Citgo used to be Chesapeake’s Drive Inn where everyone went after the games and now it’s a gas station," she said. "I’m also going to tell them about the differences in prices. And two students will dress in clothes from the 1960s, and two will be dressed in the 1990s style."

Despite all the celebrations, Chesapeake Panthers team members planned to be home early last night so that they would be prepared for the big game, said Robby Isaacs, 1999 wide receiver and corner.

The team is hoping to prove that they are every bit as good as the 1961 players, Isaacs said.

"I think it should be a good game," Isaacs said. "We have everything this year. But just being undefeated feels great. When we graduate, we can say we went 10-0. We won’t have to look back and say if we would’ve done this, we would’ve won that game."

Hopefully, this year’s team will go down in Chesapeake history, Isaacs added.

"When they used to say the ’61 team, they can now say the ’61 and ’99 team," he said. "They can mention them both."