WOODSFIELD - Football is a big thing in Woodsfield.
It's the dream of young boys from the time they're old enough to pick up a ball that one day they'll sport the maroon, black and gold of the Monroe Central Seminoles for head coach Jay Circosta.
"I can remember being a little kid going to games and watching and looking forward to it," said Monroe Central assistant football coach Mike Jorris, who played for Circosta from 99 to 2002.
Football, quite simply, is a tradition passed from father to son, and at the head of that tradition is the coach who has guided the Seminoles to such success that getting to the field takes you past Jay Circosta Field House.
And with that tradition of football, comes a tradition of winning unequalled in Southeastern Ohio.
This Friday night as Monroe Central travels to Lore City to face the Buckeye Trail Warriors the Seminoles are playing for more than just playoff standings - they're playing for their coach's 300th career win.
"It is a special thing. When I first started coaching, I really didn't think too much about it. When I first got 100 wins that was pretty special, didn't really think 200 would be possible. When 200 came along, that was really special," Circosta said. "Three hundred, that puts you in kind of an elite group."
If the Seminoles do secure the win Friday night, Circosta will be the second coach in the area to record his 300th coaching victory in the past two weeks as Steubenville football coach Reno Saccoccia won his 300th when the Big Red defeated Massillon 24-7 on Oct. 21.
Achieving 300 wins is an accomplishment in and of itself, but Circosta is approaching the milestone with a level of dignity and class that far surpasses the achievements on the football field.
"When you played them you knew that their kids, he makes football players. He teaches kids how to play the game. They know what they're doing. They're always classy. They're good sportsman," said former Frontier football coach Russ Morris.
The level of sportsmanship and skill displayed by Circosta's players is something long admired by opponents and the community.
It's also something many young coaches, like Morris was, try to emulate.
"I learned a lot of things about running my program when I was coaching Frontier by seeing what he does with his program," Morris said.
That same attitude holds true for the players who were under him, and the assistants who now work with him as they continue to learn the game and life from a legend in his own time.
"The thing with Coach Circosta and what he takes pride in is he runs a great program. Football is important, but developing the kids into young men is something he strives to do every day," Jorris said.
In all his years of coaching, Circosta continues to put winning teams on the field.
Entering the 2011 season, the Seminoles had won 17 straight Pioneer Valley Conference games dating back to 2008. With nine games complete this season, the 'Noles have now won 22 consecutive league games.
Winning is something Circosta's teams have simply gotten used to, and his opponents know they have to be on top of their game every time they suit up against a Monroe Central team.
And when the game is over, they know that win or lose Circosta and his team will play with class.
"I've never heard anybody that coached against him say a bad thing about him. Of course, we hated losing," Morris said. "For most people that was what was most likely to happen. You hated losing to him, but he always did it in a right way."
In all the years that the Cougars have squared off against the Seminoles, just once has a Frontier squad defeated Monroe Central, which came in 2004 under Morris.
Winning is expected for the Seminoles, but just because it's expected doesn't mean it's guaranteed, and the Monroe Central players are expected to work hard each and every week to assure their chance at victory.
"With accomplishment always comes sacrifice," Jorris said.
The Seminoles have been counting on that this season, as they've had to battle every week for victory after dropping their season opener to Columbiana, 13-7.
Putting in the work their coach expects of them, the Seminoles have won eight in a row, leading up to this week's matchup with Buckeye Trail.
While the Warriors enter this week's game as the owners of just a 1-8 record, Circosta is not allowing his team to take a win for granted. Buckeye Trail has played a challenging schedule as just two of the teams the Warriors have lost to have a losing record, and that is by the slimmest of margins as both Caldwell and Shenandoah are 4-5.
"We prepare for everybody no matter what, no matter who they are and no matter what their record is. You prepare the same every week," Circosta said.
Going up against the Warriors, the Seminole defense is focused on slowing down the running game and forcing Buckeye Trail to become one dimensional.
Monroe on the other hand, is looking to continue the success it's enjoyed on offense lately as quarterback Tyler Kinchen is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing and passing for the season. Kole Hogue gives the Seminoles another potent ground weapon while receiver Korey Lafferre has become Kinchen's favorite target through the air.
"I think our offensive line has grown up and they've improved. We started the season with only one returning starter (CJ Wise) on the offensive line and we put him in a different position," Circosta noted.
Behind that steadily improving line the Seminoles have been rolling, leading up to Circosta's 299th win last week at home against Frontier.
Now the challenge becomes getting 300, something the Seminole coach doesn't want to dwell on and deflects to the people around him.
"It's not a one person show. A lot of times I get singled out, but our coaches do an outstanding job," Circosta said.
Sitting in second place in the Ohio Division V Region 17 playoff standings, the Seminoles are assured of hosting a home playoff game next week, but they still want to finish out the season in style, securing their ninth win of the season and accomplishing a milestone for a coach who's well deserving.
"Friday night if we get the win, it's well deserving," Jorris said.
The sentiment is echoed from opponents, too.
"I'm happy for them. He'll get number. 300 and I'm glad he's getting it. It couldn't happen to a better fella. He's affected a lot of people. He's coached dads and their sons," Morris said.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Lore City for the final week of the 2011 regular season.