NASHVILLE, Ill. — It's easy to see the town of Nashville, Illinois loves its football team. From the minute you enter town you're bombarded with yard signs supporting the Hornets.
"I think the community wants us to bring it home just as much as we do. If you look in the past we always dominate at home and I think that’s in part because of the huge crowd that shows up to our games," senior wide receiver and safety Isaac Turner said.
But the Hornets are still looking to win the big one. A state title. They’ve finished second twice, most recently in 2019. Call it built in motivation for the 2021 seniors who were on that runner-up team two years ago.
“Real hungry. Especially how the state championship game played. It was a game we felt like we really could have competed in," Nashville head coach Stephen Kozuszek said. "Just didn’t play a very good game that day. So that’s motivation enough. And some of these seniors were on the field that day. So they remember the disappointment. It’s just eerie the similarities between that run and this run this year. Playing the same opponents in the second and quarterfinal and then now the semifinal.”
“I remember that day like it was yesterday. And ever since then I wanted to go back there and take the rest of the team and show them what it’s like," senior lineman Cade Ridgeway said.
This year’s Hornets are nearly perfect, with just a single loss on their record. They're looking to write a different ending than what happened in 2019, and they could punch their ticket to the title game at home against St. Teresa on Saturday.
“It’s awesome we get to play this game in front of our home crowd. It was a great atmosphere in the quarterfinal game last week. We know it’s going to be that much more exciting, obviously being at home and the stakes are even higher," Kozuszek said.
“I'm ready to show them what the Hornet nest it like," Ridgeway said.
And if they can win just two more games, this team knows they’ll secure a place in the history of this town.
“If I could be the first team I couldn’t express how it would feel. That would be insane. I’d love to be known as the team that brought home the first state championship to Nashville High School," Ridgeway said.
“We just want it so bad for everybody. For the players for all the work they put in. And this coaching staff," Kozuszek said. "The bulk of this staff has been with me since I’ve been a head coach and even a lot of them before that when I was an assistant coach. All the coaches went to school here and they know what it’s like playing in this program so it would mean that much more to get a state title.”
“I don’t even know if I could describe how I would be feeling. It would be awesome to be on the team to bring home the first state title to Nashville in football," Turner said.