Mogadore football was an integral part of Bryce Huth’s life long before he put on the green and white to play under the Friday night lights at Wildcat Stadium.
He was born into this.
Huth recalls his first exposure to Mogadore football in 1996, the year of his birth, when he was brought to the state championship rally wearing a “future Wildcat” hoodie with a 00 and “HUTH” written on the back.
The number has changed, but the name on the back remains the same, as it has for generations of Huths.
But now the family’s surname is displayed on a green jersey on top of layers of pads, fit for a 5-foot-10, 175-pound, 18-year-old football captain, as opposed to the less-imposing frame of an infant nearly two decades ago.
Huth began playing football at the age of 7 with many of the boys he now calls his teammates in his senior class.
Now wearing No. 25, Huth is the starting inside linebacker and captain of the Wildcats defense.
Being the captain of a Mogadore defense is a job that comes with a great deal of responsibility, as the Wildcats have built an impressive resume in Huth’s lifetime.
Since 1996, they have made it to the Division VI state final four times, winning twice. They have made the playoffs 14 consecutive years, including advancing to state semifinals in Huth’s freshman and junior years.
“We’ve been playing with a target on our back ever since my freshman year,” Huth said. “Teams that have a 2-8 season but beat us in one game, that’s the highlight of their year. It puts a lot of pressure on us, but it also helps us not look past any one week. If we’re going to play a weak team, we can’t look past them or else we’re going to get beat.”
Huth, slightly undersized for a linebacker, uses his leadership to propel himself to the level of excellence with which he plays, modeling himself after his favorite Ohio State linebackers growing up, A.J. Hawk and James Laurinaitis.
“Being the leader of the defense is a very important job,” Huth said. “I have to know where to line up the linemen and where my other backers need to be. If they don’t have a leader, things could fall apart.”
His coach, Matt Adorni, calls him “the quarterback of the defense.”
“He’s the soul of the team,” Adorni said. “He’s just one of those Mogadore-type kids. He isn’t very big or fast but he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He’s very dedicated and committed.”
Being a quintessential Mogadore kid is not a surprise. Huth comes from a family of quintessential Mogadore kids.
Huth’s father played football for Mogadore, as did his grandfather. A couple of his great uncles have donned the green and white, and Bryce will play alongside his cousin this season.
The family’s long football history has created a friendly rivalry between family members.
“It’s a lot to live up to,” Huth said. “After every game they’re going to be like ‘Oh, I had a better game against them’ or ‘Oh, I had better stats in my senior year.’ It’s a fun rivalry between the family but having Huth as my last name, I definitely have to play the part and live up to the family name.”
Huth will continue to live up to his family’s name after high school, where he will take the leadership experienced gained on the football field and carry it over to the military as a member of the United States Marines Corps.
Huth’s great-grandfather fought in World War II and his great-uncle in Vietnam, though Huth is the first in his family to enter the armed forces voluntarily.
“I’ve always been interested in the military since I was a little kid,” Huth said. “Growing up through football and always being a leader and a captain made me want to be the best that I can be. And to me, the Marine Corps is the best there is.”
In terms of leadership and teamwork, Huth sees the parallels between the gridiron and the military as uncanny, and it’s the reason why Adorni believes Huth will follow his outstanding football career with an outstanding military career.
“Marines have got to have each other’s back and football players have got each other’s back,” Huth said. “You get knocked down on the field, we’ve got to pick you up and say ‘Hey, come back next play.’ If someone gets shot overseas, you’ve still got to pick them up and bring them home.”
Until then, Huth will continue to focus on school, football and bringing the state championship trophy back to Mogadore for the first time since 2002.
No matter what stats the elder Huth’s cite in their post-game jabs, if Bryce is able to bring home the state trophy this season, it will likely put an end to the family rivalry once and for all.