It was more than 15 years ago when I made the short drive to Hudson High School one morning during the winter.
Our office was in Stow at the time and as long as I didn’t catch the train on Stow Road, I could get there in less than 15 minutes.
When I arrived at the athletic office, I bumped into then Explorers head football coach Tom Narducci, who couldn’t hide his excitement regarding what was about to happen.
I visited Narducci and some members of the athletic staff to report something that had been unprecedented at the school located on Hudson Aurora Road.
The Hudson football team had its first Division I football player sign his national letter of intent.
The special guest of honor was then senior Conor Reilly, a defensive end who signed to play at Ohio University in Athens.
I interviewed both Reilly and Narducci and wrote a story that highlighted Hudson’s most famous football player since former Cleveland Browns tight end Dante Lavelli, who terrorized high school defenses nearly 80 years ago.
Reilly, now the defensive line coach at Walsh University in North Canton, went on to a professional career with the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and the Iowa Barnstormers of the Indoor Football League.
At the time, many of us who followed the Explorers probably had a greater appreciation for this moment than others since Division I football players had been almost nonexistent in the 44236 ZIP code.
Instead, Reilly’s ground-breaking signing was just the beginning.
Hudson has sent several other Division I athletes to college since its 6-foot-2, 255-pound punishing defensive end made countless tackles at, appropriately enough, Dante Lavelli Field.
Better yet, this list of celebs includes two gifted specimens, who happen to make a pretty decent living working Sunday shifts.
When the Hudson football team offers its summer camp next month, some future Explorers are expected to be advised by six current and former Division I college players.
That includes picking the brains of two NFL players and one former player, who briefly worked in the trenches for an organization known as "America’s Team."
The two most heralded names are Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Ben Gedeon and New York Jets offensive guard Brian Winters.
Also featured will be former Dallas Cowboys center and guard Bill Nagy, who was Reilly’s teammate when the two behemoths played for Hudson.
Other former Explorers’ A-Listers include Ben’s older brother, Alex Gedeon, a former linebacker and captain at Harvard University in Massachusetts, Greg Robinson, a rising senior offensive lineman at the University of Michigan, and Mitch Guadagni, a rising senior quarterback for the University of Toledo.
Not a bad list of instructors who graduated from a rather modest-sized high school, huh?
So what has life been like since Hudson started discovering its plethora of special talents?
Not too shabby.
The Explorers have made nine state playoff appearances since Reilly’s senior year. Things really took off this decade.
Prior to last year, Hudson advanced to the postseason seven consecutive times. That includes three state semifinal appearances and one Associated Press Division I state championship.
By the way, the Explorers’ impressive streak began in 2011. Not surprisingly, that team featured a — you guessed it — future Division I offensive tackle.
His name is Quaison Osborne, who eventually played for the University of Akron.
If you’re looking to enjoy the majesty that is college football Saturday or if you have Sunday fantasies of gridiron greatness, Hudson is the place to be.
You can get your first valuable lesson soon. The 2019 Hudson Football Camp is scheduled to take place July 8-12 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
The camp is set to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sign up online or in person at the Hudson Community Education and Recreation Office at 2440 Hudson Aurora Road or visit www.hudson.k12.oh.us/HCER.
For more information, contact the HCER office at 330-653-1210.
I have a pretty good hunch this camp could change some young players’ lives. It certainly did for eight other former Hudson stars, including a trailblazer by the name of Reilly.
And who knows? Maybe a pair of instructors who wore blue and white colors or perhaps a gifted camper or two can blaze another trail not seen since Mr. Lavelli himself.
That would be an invitation to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.